Resilience

We always say it’s not going to happen. We’ll be there for each other, even after they move. Or we move. Or we both are flung to opposite sides of the world.

And we swear, “This time. This time will be different. This time we’ll really stay in touch.”

Military friends are a special breed.

Ever so slowly, life happens. New friends slip in to our lives, boots on the ground, in the current duty station, in your every day life friends. While they open our hearts again, it becomes more challenging to keep up with kids and day-to-day stuff and maintain all those long distance friendships. They seem to get lost somewhere in the everydayness of our new home, among new friends. And we get lost in the memories of their new place.

The calls are replaced with texts. Texts start out frequent, but slowly fade to weekly occurrences, check-ins. More and more of the detail of their daily lives are missed and so it goes. Then it’s merely pictures on social media. Those pictures of their new life without you in it, those are so bittersweet.

They sting just a little. And once again you remind yourself that it’s all part of the process. This breaking of hearts. Sometimes it’s a wonder that we do this not only once, but many times over and over, risking, grieving, and being open again.

As we got up this morning from air mattresses on the empty floor, the moving truck having left the day prior, Hannah quietly asked, “Mom, can we do the ‘Why I love moving, by Hannah’ thing?”

We do this ritual in our family where I say, ‘I love Hannah because, by Mommy’ and then list out all the reasons and things I love about her. Eric and I even did this practice before the kids were born. Items on the list include big things, but also very specific things, and current milestones etc. It’s a tangible way to say “I love you. I see you. Just as you are.”

As she asked to do this and apply it to moving, I was struck by how resilient and strong she really is. This has been a tough week for the little emotional heartbeat of our family. She loves fiercely, and her heart breaks with the same passion. She listed her positives of moving – we all did. Hannah reminded us that while the sky may be overcast – the sun still shines, regardless of whether we can see it or not.

Kids are so dang resilient.

Hearts are resilient.

Tender hearts that are open enough to get broken, repeatedly, are among the strongest ones.

Fair winds and following seas, Corpus Christi!

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Ready

To say I hate bugs would be an understatement. I’ve dealt with cane spiders (the size of my hand!), centipedes, and B52 bomber cockroaches in Hawaii, large and small spiders that crawl up the bath drain in Washington, water moccasins and fire ants in Florida and of course the beloved scorpions, mutant mosquitoes, crickets, wolf spiders and of course roaches here in Texas. Bugs are a part of life. And big ones are a part of life the closer to the equator we live.

I had bailed on our bike ride, not going near as far as we usually go, basically going as fast as I dared pushed them on their poor little legs. I sat in the tub as the tears came down my cheeks after having stripped off my workout clothes is a frenzied panic while the dogs watched, curious at my odd behavior. I looked down at my skin now covered in bites that were quickly becoming large welts as I frantically scraped my nails across my skin. Mosquitoes had swarmed me. Even in the breeze the insects clung to my skin, undeterred in their bloody mission. I really hate bugs. Like I probably have a phobia or something. I let the tears fall as I realized I was just mostly pissed off. Sometimes emotions just come up like that.

86 mosquito welts bring up the fact that I’m irritated.

I’m not in the place I want to be.

But here I am. I will continue to be here for a while longer, then I will leave, grateful for the light at the end of…

the school year

Corpus

humidity

Texas

deployment

the south

all the bugs

…the tunnel.

PCS Like a Four Year Old

I wrote this post a few weeks ago as a submission to another blog. They have passed, so I am posting it here.

Sitting in the Navy Lodge smack dab in the midst of house hunting in our new duty station, it would be so easy to have a pity party. I want to have that party. I want to roll around in the “Ugh, not again!” and the “Oh my goodness we have so much STUFF!” I want to cry because we’ve left everything familiar, just when it was getting familiar (AGAIN). But I have little ones who are watching and gauging just how to process this life-upheaval, so I can’t stay at the party for long.

We all handle a duty station transfer differently, but I’d love to experience it like my 4-year-old. This is what a military move looks like to her:

The Pool

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Hotel stops along the way are all about the pool! Does this hotel have a pool? Can we pleeeeease get a hotel with a pool tonight? When will we be going swimming? Can we swim tonight and tomorrow before we leave? Please, please, please?! You’d think she was part mermaid or something. Perhaps being born in Hawaii has something to do with it…

Sleeping Whenever, Where Ever You Are

 

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A nice air-conditioned ride, just enough road noise to dull the senses, a full tummy and a well-timed potty stop all coincide for the perfect nap! Swimming goggles are optional.

Make It An Epic “Adventure”

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“Camping at a KOA along the way?! No problem! I’m so up for that Mom! I love the tent! I will run around like a crazy person with my brother while you and dad try not to scream while putting it up!”

Stairs (and other ‘inconveniences’)

IMG_6648And I quote, “This is the best day ever!” as she was lugging up our toiletry case up stairs in a hotel that had multiple floors with no elevator. (Seriously?! Why are hotels with multiple floors built without elevators!?)

Throughout this transition, she has never once worried about where we will stay, how house hunting will go, or what life will be like when we get ‘there’. She’s in the moment, enjoying what comes her way. Instead of her watching me, gauging my reactions to life’s upheavals, perhaps I should take a cue from her:

1. Enjoy the ride

2. Take what comes, even if I don’t like it or think it’s inconvenient and make the best of it.

3. Get up each morning excited about what ‘adventure’ may await.

4. Sleep like the dead.

5. Swim every chance you get!

What a PCS Move Feels Like

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A PCS move, or military transfer, is a common thread for us active duty folks. Moving every 2-3 years for many of us, is simply part of the deal. There are those few lucky ones that may get to stay in one place for a couple of tours consecutively, but that isn’t how it goes all the time. We’ve bounced around the country for over a decade and are just about to move into our 8th home. (I still hope for orders to Italy or England, but by the sound of my husband’s laughter, it’s not a very likely possibility!)

This particular move has been drawn out the longest. All together, we’ll have lived out of our suitcases for 50 days. It’s quite a time to be nomads, particularly if you are a natural homebody like myself. We of course market the journey as an adventure to our minions, and in some ways, it really is. All the “life is what you make it”, “bloom where you’re planted”, and “home is where the navy sends us” platitudes apply. I believe these things about 95% of the time. I consider ourselves fortunate to have lived in the places we have and have met incredible friends along the way.

That remaining 5%? Yeah, that’s where I’m at now. The anticipation, the waiting for the household goods to arrive, the dream of sleeping in my own bed again (in sheets washed in my own washer) are the thoughts currently occupying my mind. That 5% is the yuckiness, the blahs. The sick of eating out. The “I can’t wait for our first home cooked meal!” and bringing back the familiar routines. The limbo phase. The vacation is over, the novelty has run it’s course. I’m ready.

So what does a PCS transfer feel like? It’s like holding your breath as you travel place to place, keeping it all together, making it an adventure, until it’s time to set up the new nest. And finally, finally being able to exhale.

I’m ready to put away the suitcases. I’m ready to breathe again.

Insomniac Ramblings

It’s 12:02 a.m. Day 42 of our PCS/nomad existence. I cannot sleep. When I can’t sleep, I write. My thoughts are all over the place tonight. I can’t promise this will turn out coherent. I can’t promise clarity, just some midnight ramblings…

Robin Williams

I wasn’t alive when Kennedy was shot, but everyone that was knows exactly where they were when it happened. Everyone knows where they were and what they were doing with vivid detail when the towers fell that Tuesday morning. I’m not comparing the magnitude of the death of a gifted man with these other events necessarily, but it does serve as a reminder when impactful things occur, time seems to slow down, or shift suddenly. I remember watching Happy Days with my mom when Mork landed and froze the Fonz. I remember watching his movies. We collectively remember him as a comedic and dramatic soundtrack to our lives. I never knew the man, but because of his gifts, I was able to witness a small portion of his work. I don’t know that I’ve ever been really affected or saddened by the passing of a celebrity before, but this seems different somehow. Perhaps because of the big “D” word everyone keeps rambling on about – telling everyone to “get help” and to call 1-800 numbers and such. I just keep thinking that if a man that had means, access, and capability to receive help, but couldn’t; what hope is there for the countless others of us who have experienced true depression? The D-word is an equalizer. It really doesn’t matter who you are, how much money you have, or what side of town you call home.

Middle East Conflicts/Violence Here and Abroad

Being in a hotel (and camping) for 6 weeks, we’ve had more screen time than normal. In our current location, we actually have 2 televisions, one in a little living room, and one in the bedroom of our suite. (We usually only have 1 television and more often than not, Disney Jr. or PBS is the channel of choice.) Now that the option is there, we’ve been able to watch the news and view other non-animated, grown-up television.

I think I want to go back to not knowing.

I hate watching the news. It makes me feel helpless. I don’t like the world I see on my screen as I hear my kids chattering around the wall. It scares me. It drives me to my knees in prayer. I wonder what kind of world they will grow to inherit. The world has always had hate, murder, war, etc., but it sure feels like we are experiencing a rising tide of evil. Is it because of the 24 hour news cycle? Or is it a true rise? I don’t know.

Grief

It comes in all forms, in varying depths. Family tragedies, anniversaries, birthdays of loved ones no longer with us, or even diagnoses we didn’t want to face bring grief to the surface. It’s as if grief picks at the healing scab just to see if the underlying skin is tender. If it still feels the sting.

It does. It hurts. And it sucks.

Hope

I’ve complained of roaches, living out of suitcases, and other minor inconveniences experienced through a military transfer, but when I look at the bigger picture – I can do nothing but feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I’m not on some mountaintop fearing for my life. I’m here. I have a family I would lay down my life for. I have no want for any material thing. And I get to move into a new home and own a small patch of dirt again in just a few days. Grief is real. Tragedy and death are real. But so is love. So is faith. And hope. If there isn’t hope, if there isn’t something good to come out of the dark, what really then is the point? I’m grateful for hope, despite the evidence that points to a lack of it.

Fist Pumps!

I love days where you just want to pump your fist and say, “YEAH! It was a good day!” Today? Meh. We were all crabby today. The novelty of being in the same room (same car) with the same people for 5 weeks has worn off. Having space in our new joint will be a good thing, for all of us!

Having a few things on the agenda for the day, we started out with swim lesson number 2. The kids are doing great, becoming more comfortable in the water. Hannah is getting better and putting her face in the water and blowing bubbles. Jacob hollers at the instructor that he’s “NEVER DOING THAT AGAIN!” but then ends up going under water again. She’s amazing at pushing to the edge of his comfort zone, but then backing off and giving him something to do that builds his confidence again. She’s very gifted with kiddos. Unfortunately, the lesson got cut just a tad short as the thunderstorms rolled in.

Overall breakdown:

Hannah: Happy in the water.
Jacob: Crabby at the instructor, but his desire to learn is overcoming his disdain for her. Also dislikes being told to get out of the pool. Who cares if there’s lightening?
Me: I’m just happy that I’m not the bad guy! Yay!

From there we went to Target to pick up a couple things and an air mattress. (Jake’s popped from taking one too many jumps.) Target is always a good time and I found a lycra swim cap and goggles so I can swim some laps on the really hot days instead of running. (Running in this humidity feels like running into a hair dryer on the hottest setting. No bueno for this chick.) Note: If you have curly/large hair, lycra caps are SO the way to go! They don’t pull/snag/stick to your hair! And they are easier to put on!

Overall breakdown:

Hannah: Flibbertygibbet self. Happy to be. Although slow to buckle up and get into/out of the car.
Eric: Mildly irritated that Hannah is in her own world. He cannot comprehend why it takes her so long to get buckled every time we get into/out of the car.
Jacob: Happy to have his iPad back. Slightly irritated that the A/C doesn’t blow cold air as fast as he’d like.
Me: Sad I can’t be in Target solo. Happily dreaming of swimming laps at the pool in new goggles and swim cap. Solo, of course.

We stopped by the new house (which is near the Target! YES!) to check on progress. Looks like we should be moving in next week! Yahoo! Every time we go and check things out, it fuels the anticipation. (Or the impatience.) I cannot WAIT to live in this space.

Finally, we rounded out the day with a “Dive-In” at the base pool. We loved our local drive-in back in Whidbey. Sadly there are no drive-ins here, but the base pool opens up occasionally for an evening kid movie on a giant screen while we swim! It’s awesome! And the bonus was the kiddos got to practice their swim skills waiting for the Lego Movie to start!

While splashing and swimming around, Jacob thinks its fun to “kick off” of us. It would be fine, except we are given no warning. No heads up, nothing but a swift kick in the gut. Or the leg. Or other places. It was getting painful. One kick too many, stern words, etc., a meltdown ensued. Jacob and I both gave each other space for about 3 minutes. I played with Hannah on the other side and Eric hung out with Jacob. A moment later, Jacob swims up and says, “I’m ready to do the apology thing.”

Okay.

What followed was something that I have been working on with both kiddos, but I’ve had to lead them through it with them essentially repeating what I say. It’s a 4-part apology that teaches more than just saying “magic words” to get done with being in trouble:

*I’m sorry for…
*It was wrong because…
*In the future I will…
*Will you forgive me?

Jacob did it by himself. He apologized using all 4 components. No prompting. (I checked with Eric – he didn’t prompt at all!) It was purely Jacob’s initiative. He was thoughtful and logical with his reasoning. I was beyond astounded.

Overall breakdown:

Eric and Hannah: Swimming happily, waiting for the movie to start
Jacob: Apologizing to me. Of his own volition. Not necessarily enjoying it, but doing it without anger.
Me: Blubbering mess, fist pumping the day.

Welcome to My Nightmare

I took the minions to the base pool yesterday. It was sunny and wonderful and hot! The pool felt amazing!

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This kiddie pool was HUGE! The kids loved it!

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They even have a little tube slide that shoots them into the big pool. (You’ll forgive the lack of pictures as I was playing “catcher’ when they came flying down!) We swam the length of the pool, went down the slide, and floated, played motor boat, blew bubbles, and all the water fun we could come up with. Then they suggested “Humpty Dumpty”.  This is where they sit on the side of the pool and we sing, “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great faaaaaaal!” and you pop the minion from the side and splash them down into the water. Okay. So off to the side I go, while they swim to the stairs leading out of the pool to sit on the side. I went to reach up to Hannah and I am nose to nose with a cockroach in the pool gutter.

I, of course, let out some kind of freakish terror-filled guttural moan followed by a scream to which the lifeguard looked at me questioningly. While running backward (read: stumbling and trying not to drown) in the water, I pointed and mouthed the word ‘cockroach’ as I pointed to the side of the pool where it walked along the edge, completely unfazed by my horror and outright panic.

The lady lifeguard took matters into her own hands. Well, she called someone over to take matters into someone’s hands. This big lifeguard dude came over, snapping on a surgical latex glove. He laid on the concrete, draped his burley arm over the side and karate-chopped the vermin. He then deftly scooped up the carcass, and carried it to it’s final resting place. While overwhelmed with gratitude, I may have clapped. I’m sure he thought I was a lunatic. My relief outweighed any sense of cool I had left.

I realize we live in Texas. I realize that bugs, like cockroaches, thrive in warmer climates. I also know that “everything is bigger in Texas”. The bugs are no exception.  I was stumbling in the dark to make some coffee this morning, I flipped on the microwave light to see a roach scurry across the kitchenette stove top. Again with the shudder, the moans, the general freakout as I hopped barefoot back on to the bed and scrambled to my phone to type a hasty text to Eric who had already left this morning: IMG_6892

I went to the front desk. As she said she would let housekeeping know, I think she was trying not to laugh at me.  I don’t care. You think I’m a pansy, a wimp, whatever who can’t deal with bugs? Okay. Yup. That’s me. Sue me. Just come kill my bugs first.

As I type this, I am cowering and trembling with dread sitting on the bed with the kiddos waiting for housekeeping to arrive. It’s been about an hour. I refuse to go back into the kitchen. I think I’ll be throwing on a ball cap and taking the kids OUT for breakfast. And perhaps lunch. This must be what it felt like for ocean swimmers after seeing Jaws.

I think I’m gonna need more than a bigger boat.