27 February 2011

26 February 2011

Books books books!

I was browsing other blogs and I came across this really neat blog. It's called Book Chick City. She has a "Read 100 books in 2011" challenge going on right now, so even though I'm not going to participate, I wanted to share it with those who read my blog, in case you wanted to participate. :) So click here if you want to participate in her challenge and read reviews from hundreds of other blogs who are participating! I think you could still read reviews from other bloggers even if you aren't participating.

What a great idea she came up with! :)

"The Complete Civil War Road Trip Guide" by Michael Weeks

I really do love history, and always have. I think that the love of history that I have was instilled in me from a young age by my Dad, who also loves history, but also by where I grew up (mostly), in Fredericksburg, Virginia. You cannot escape history in Virginia unless you are totally isolated in yourself. It's everywhere. It did help that we lived in Historic Fredericksburg, down the street from Kenmore, the mansion that George Washington's sister lived in, and across the street from Mary Washington Monument, where George Washington's mother, Mary Ball (whom our street was named after) is buried, along with other family members in a tiny cemetery at the top of a hill. It also helps that I have several famous historical figures in my family tree such as Patrick Henry (fifth great grandfather -direct descendant), Gen JEB Stuart (a x-th great uncle) and families members who fought in the Civil War - including one who is Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg and another who was captured at the Battle of Missionary Ridge, Tennessee and was taken to Rock Island Prison Camp, IL and walked home (to Virginia) after the war.

So it was not unusual for me to be perusing the history section of Borders Books one day and pick up Michael Weeks "The Complete Civil War Road Trip Guide". I was browsing through it, but then I had to leave, so I decided to buy it because I wanted to read more. It was definitely worth it, in my opinion!

Michael Weeks wrote a road trip guide that takes you (if you so choose to travel all ten of his routes) to over 400 Civil War sites across the US. As a road trip guide, he covers different sections of the country and gives a brief overview of famous figures involved in the battle (usually generals), a brief overview of the battle itself and then he has site details about where you can visit the battlefields and other sites. He includes web address and sometimes tid-bits of information that the traveler might find helpful.

There are a few things that make this road trip guide really good. It is definitely a complete guide - he covers not only the major "Class A" battlefields, but also some of the smaller, lesser-known sites. He personally visited every site that he wrote about - and he has pictures. If you're going to visit somewhere, it helps that you're using a guide written by someone who has recently been there. And he covers the highlights of the history - just to give you an idea of what was going on. He also writes as if he is talking directly to you, which is really nice. It gives the guide a personal appeal.

That being said, I would not use this book as a "history" book - it does not cover enough information, although it does include quite a bit, to become a buff about the Civil War. The author admits to this though in the introduction, and he refers to other reading if you are interested in learning more about the Civil War in detail. I really liked that about him.The other thing I didn't particularly like was that the book doesn't cover the battles in chronological order, it jumps around quite a bit throughout the war. But again, it's not a history book, it a road trip book and battles happened at the same places sometimes numerous times during the war. So you can't have it both ways in this case. The books covers the war geographically, not chronologically, so be prepared for that if you're going to pick it up.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in visiting any number of Civil War sites. It is a lengthy book, 449 pages plus indexes, but it is very easy to read and I was able to read through it very quickly. I also learned a lot about the Civil War, especially about battles that took place outside of Virginia (and there were a lot!). For example, I didn't know that there was battle at Glorietta Pass in NM that has been designated a Class A battle site! I'm definitely going to be heading up there for a visit!



Disclosure of Material Connection: I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
If you are interested in reading more book reviews, head on over to Tegan's Thoughts! :)

"The Complete Civil War Road Trip Guide" by Michael Weeks

I really do love history, and always have. I think that the love of history that I have was instilled in me from a young age by my Dad, who also loves history, but also by where I grew up (mostly), in Fredericksburg, Virginia. You cannot escape history in Virginia unless you are totally isolated in yourself. It's everywhere. It did help that we lived in Historic Fredericksburg, down the street from Kenmore, the mansion that George Washington's sister lived in, and across the street from Mary Washington Monument, where George Washington's mother, Mary Ball (whom our street was named after) is buried, along with other family members in a tiny cemetery at the top of a hill. It also helps that I have several famous historical figures in my family tree such as Patrick Henry (fifth great grandfather -direct descendant), Gen JEB Stuart (a x-th great uncle) and families members who fought in the Civil War - including one who is Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg and another who was captured at the Battle of Missionary Ridge, Tennessee and was taken to Rock Island Prison Camp, IL and walked home (to Virginia) after the war.

So it was not unusual for me to be perusing the history section of Borders Books one day and pick up Michael Weeks "The Complete Civil War Road Trip Guide". I was browsing through it, but then I had to leave, so I decided to buy it because I wanted to read more. It was definitely worth it, in my opinion!

Michael Weeks wrote a road trip guide that takes you (if you so choose to travel all ten of his routes) to over 400 Civil War sites across the US. As a road trip guide, he covers different sections of the country and gives a brief overview of famous figures involved in the battle (usually generals), a brief overview of the battle itself and then he has site details about where you can visit the battlefields and other sites. He includes web address and sometimes tid-bits of information that the traveler might find helpful.

There are a few things that make this road trip guide really good. It is definitely a complete guide - he covers not only the major "Class A" battlefields, but also some of the smaller, lesser-known sites. He personally visited every site that he wrote about - and he has pictures. If you're going to visit somewhere, it helps that you're using a guide written by someone who has recently been there. And he covers the highlights of the history - just to give you an idea of what was going on. He also writes as if he is talking directly to you, which is really nice. It gives the guide a personal appeal.

That being said, I would not use this book as a "history" book - it does not cover enough information, although it does include quite a bit, to become a buff about the Civil War. The author admits to this though in the introduction, and he refers to other reading if you are interested in learning more about the Civil War in detail. I really liked that about him.The other thing I didn't particularly like was that the book doesn't cover the battles in chronological order, it jumps around quite a bit throughout the war. But again, it's not a history book, it a road trip book and battles happened at the same places sometimes numerous times during the war. So you can't have it both ways in this case. The books covers the war geographically, not chronologically, so be prepared for that if you're going to pick it up.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in visiting any number of Civil War sites. It is a lengthy book, 449 pages plus indexes, but it is very easy to read and I was able to read through it very quickly. I also learned a lot about the Civil War, especially about battles that took place outside of Virginia (and there were a lot!). For example, I didn't know that there was battle at Glorietta Pass in NM that has been designated a Class A battle site! I'm definitely going to be heading up there for a visit!


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Disclosure of Material Connection: I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

25 February 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

It's that time of week again! Every Friday WifeOfASailor posts questions for military spouses to answer so we can get to know each other in the blogging world. If you want to participate, just head on over to WifeOfASailor! There's also a Mr. Linky thing for you to put your blog in after you've answered the questions so people can see what you wrote.

1. Aside from deployments, what is one thing you would want to make the MilSpouse life "perfect"? submitted by Oh How Delightful
Being able to travel with all your friends in a group PCS. That would be pretty neat.

2. Just how many peppers did Peter Piper pick? submitted by Married into Army

I think he picked a bunch! Maybe enough to make several cans worth to last him the whole year . . .


3. If you could have any career in the whole world, with nothing holding you back, what would you do? submitted by It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To
I would be a nurse in a hospital - maybe a med surg floor . . . not for sure what kind of nursing as long as the practical skills were being put to good use. Maybe a nurse at Tripoli Hospital in Hawaii - all the history there - that would be really neat. Plus living in Hawaii . . .


4. Do you have a service oriented tattoo and if so what is it? If you don't, what would you get? The Squid’s Accomplice

No, can't say that my tattoo is service oriented . . . unless it's a naked amphibian army . . . are frogs amphibians? Or are they reptiles? I don't think they're reptiles . . . But anyway, I digress. I don't think I would get a service oriented tattoo - because I'm not in the service and that would be kind of faking it and I don't like faking things.


5. Image a block of time has been opened up in your busy day for you to a take a class in anything you like. What subject would you choose? submitted by To The Nth
Ah, that is a tough question! Actually I have been pondering this a lot lately. Assuming I already had my nursing degree and would not be taking classes for said degree, (which I would thoroughly enjoy and love), I would probably take a history class. I really love history. If I had to choose which history class today, it would be a class about the Civil War, since I'm reading about that right now and am interested in learning more . . . Although a Literature class, or a Creative Writing class or a psychology or a meteorology class would also be really fun!

22 February 2011

Baby update

I'm supposed to be writing something for PWOC, but I'm having a hard time concentrating, so I'm taking a break.

I had an OB appointment yesterday, so I thought I would give an update on VB Baby #3.

Things are going all right. My blood pressure was up something like 30 systolic points (which they didn't notice because it's still within normal limits), but I had had a tension headache with neck pain for days, so I'm pretty sure that had something to do with it . . . My weight is still the same, so I have officially gained 0 pounds this pregnancy. Now this I am a bit worried about, since I'm 15 weeks along. Technically I should have gained 5 pounds by now. Normally I would contribute this to morning sickness, but I haven't had much of that, so I'm going to contribute it to the raging monster. Which actually is starting to calm down, which is really nice (meds are wonderful - I can't wait until they're working fully, which will take another 4-6 weeks). The thing is, my stomach is getting bigger - I mean my jeans still fit fine, in fact they aren't even tight yet, but it is definitely growing. (I can tell anyway and some close friends have noticed.) So I'm not sure exactly what is going on . . . I thought for sure the two boxes of Mint Fudge covered Oreo's would do the trick, but it didn't . . . or maybe it did, but then I lost that weight. My midwife didn't say anything about the not gaining weight.

I have a new mid-wife. I like her. I think. They are switching to electronic medical records at her office, and she was still getting used to it the switch, so I think she was a little flustered by that.

The baby's heart rate was good and strong, although she didn't tell me what the rate was.

She did test my thyroid, which since hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism can both affect your mood.

I switched midwives for two reasons. One: distance. My new midwife is 25 minutes closer than the old one. Two: I'm a bit ticked (or would be if I had more energy) because I told my old midwife at last OB visit in January that I was crying all day 4 days out of the week on average and she told me that was normal!! Um, NO, that is NOT normal. Just because I have a toddler and an infant and am pregnant again, that does not mean it is normal to cry that much. So that was my cry for help that I'm feeling [very] depressed, and she totally blew me off. Meanwhile I got a heck of a lot worse, to the point of at times incapacitating crying and not being able to function in my life. It just erks me so much that I might not have gotten as bad as I did if she had taken me seriously. Does she know that untreated depression in pregnancy, especially severe depression (which is what I have been diagnosed with), can cause a baby to be premature, have a low birth weight and even cause birth defects??? (I am getting treated now, so hopefully none of those things will happen.)

Ladies (and gentlemen) if you are reading this: you have got GOT to be your patient advocate. If you are feeling something (whatever it is), and your doctor doesn't agree with you, get a second opinion. Don't wait, on whatever the issue is, like I did, until it gets so bad that you can't function in your daily life or until you're so sick you're on death's doorstep. Doctors (and midwives and physician assistants and nurse clinicians) practice medicine. They don't get it right every time. If you have to, research and then talk to your doctor. Do what you have to to be heard and get the treatment/tests/whatever you need.

Schooling

I really need to work on my French. French? Yes, French.

It has been 13 years since I took any form of a french class . . . but I have always wanted to go back and finish what I started. I only took two years of French in high school, but I did retain a few words. Very few words.

I just had my very rusty French tried out on me, by complete surprise, on Facebook.

Mike has a friend from his TDY in the fall who friend-ed me on Facebook. Which is great. Except he doesn't speak English. Just French.

And he instant messaged me today. In French!

Yikes!

We actually were able to have a small conversation. Asked how the other was doing, how the family was doing. He asked if I liked the pearls Mike brought back for me (which I do!). He is visiting Tahiti with his family. He told me that Mike really missed us when he was gone and we both agreed that he is a good man. Just the usual small talk.

Except it was all in French.

Ok, I did cheat. I did get out my French Assimil book to look up a few words . . . but still . .. . I could understand almost everything that he said. It really was quite the ego boost and lifted my spirits. :)

And it was nice that it wasn't a face to face conversation so I could have some time to figure out what he was saying and look up words as necessary.

This has motivated me to try to continue my French studies that I had tried to restart in the fall. There is a French Academy here in Albuquerque . . . maybe I could take a class the next time they start up . . . unfortunately I'm just three weeks too late to begin the latest class, which is on Thursday during the day when the kids are in school, so it totally would have worked out. Hopefully the next class will be on a Thursday too.

We shall see . . .

Au revoir! :)

20 February 2011

It's not string

In my last post I wrote about how we took Missy, our kitty, to the vet and she was supposed to have surgery the following day.

When I took her into the vet specialist clinic on Friday morning, they opted instead to do an ultrasound, so that's what they did, instead of surgery, which turned out to be a good thing. During the ultrasound, they also did a biopsy of the large lump that Missy has.

The ultrasound revealed that Missy has a large tumor and several smaller tumors. So it was not what we had hoped for (that she had eaten string and it could just be removed and she would be ok). I was pretty upset about the news. The tumors are not operable.

The vet called this afternoon and said that the pathology/cytology was back and that Missy does indeed have an adenocarcinoma - in other words, she has cancer.

Chemo could possibly be an option. But probably not. Especially since she has several tumors, indicating to me, that her cancer has already metastasized, or spread. I did some research on it, and it doesn't really sound like it's an option . . .

Mike and I know what we have to do, but we can't seem to bring ourselves to talk about it, to decide on when. I, at least, just can't say the words out loud. It's too painful.

I've been trying to spend as much time loving on Missy as I can. She usually sleeps curled up next to my belly at night when I'm pregnant, so I've been waking up at night and petting her a lot. I can't believe that her days are numbered. She is so young - she's only five. She's such a sweet, loving kitty - very affectionate and doting.

I took some pictures of her yesterday afternoon when we were resting together on the bed. I am going to miss my Missy kitty so very much.



17 February 2011

Decisions

Today was an up and down day.

Sophie was super excited when we arrived at school this morning and couldn't wait to start playing. I think she is really just thriving in that environment. She is so happy and chattery when I pick her up at night.

Edward got to go to the toddler room today and just loved it. They said he was unsure for the first few minutes, but then he just settled right into playing and was much more content that being in the infant room. I figured that he was bored there . . . he's kind of developmentally beyond infant-only toys at this point . . .he already plays with blocks and tries to stack them on occasion. Not trying to brag or anything, he just does what his sister does. . . and she stacks blocks.

Went to therapy, which was really good. We did some relaxation techniques which I think will help. I felt a little more relaxed after I left.

Went to Borders while I waited for Mike to be able to leave work for lunch and wrote a bit. Found a great Civil War book about battle sites to visit called The Complete Civil War Road Trip Guide. I was reading through the Richmond section and found one of my relatives mentioned, so I just had to buy the book. (General J.E.B. Stuart was my third great uncle.) I really hope to be able to put it to good use visiting more battlefields one day (I used to visit them regularly when I lived in Virginia - even went to a reenactment at Antietam, which was really cool.

Mike and I had a really great date at Ming Dynasty, the Chinese restaurant I blogged about last week. We tried some different Dim Sum dishes and then after we ate we just sat and drank tea and talked for over an hour. It was really great to connect with Mike. Apparently he is feeling a lot of the same things that I am feeling about our family and being overwhelmed and stress and all that. We made some decisions for our family that we feel really good about. Of course we will pray about them too. I know that sounds backwards . . .but anyway . . .

We came home and Mike mentioned how he concerned he was about Missy, who got pretty thin while he was gone on TDY. So I called the vet and they were able to get her this afternoon, which was really good because apparently Missy is a very sick kitty. We wanted to take her in because she's still throwing up a lot, even after switching her to a diet cat food (the vet thought she might have been throwing up because she was allergic to her regular cat food - this was about a month ago). Now she's not eating as much, still throwing up, although it is mostly just fluid, losing weight and drinking lots of water.

So while the vet was examining her, she felt a lump in her abdomen. They decided to do some x rays and some blood work. A little bit later the vet came in with Missy and said that she had several masses in her abdomen - a really big one and a few little ones. She said that it could be a foreign object (Missy does have a penchant for string) or it could be lymphoma or it could be an adenocarcinoma growing on her bowel wall. Either way the mass is pressing against her small intestines pushing them all together. They didn't do the blood work since they found the masses and said she would have to go to an off base vet and they would probably want to do labwork in their clinic right there, if they wanted. It would take the base vet at least a day to get the results . . .

So our options were to take her to a specialist to do an ultrasound to see more clearly what was going on and then decide from there, which would probably be surgery after that. Or we could just go straight to the exploratory surgery. If it's a foreign object, they could try to remove and most cats survive and do very well afterwards. If it's lymphoma, they most likely can't remove it and we can do chemo and prednisone. And if it's an adenocarcinoma, they can try to remove it, it will just depend on how it has attached to blood vessels and where it's located and how big it is.

So we are taking her to a vet off base tomorrow to do the surgery. Tonight though Mike and I are going to talk about decisions - what if it's A, or B or what we'll do if this happens and how much we're willing to spend on treatment and so on. I feel really sick with the anxiety of it all. I could hardly eat anything for dinner. I don't want to lose my Missy Kitty, my sweet loving kitty who curls up next to my pregnant belly whenever I'm pregnant and has been my faithful kitty for almost six years. My timid kitty who bravely handled a month in TMO and moving to another state. Oh Missy . . . I've known you longer than I've known my husband . . .

Jack on the left, Missy on the right, when she healthy and not skinny.

Day 5 of Thankfulness

Today is the fifth day of writing about what I am thankful/grateful for. I am thankful for modern communication technologies. As I write from Borders cafe . . . hehehe


Not so long ago, even forty or fifty years ago, one could not just send an email and have a reply the same day or the next day, depending how often that person could check their email. Now we can.

This has a variety of purposes, but what I am thinking of is communicating with our military men when they are TDY and/or deployed. Our men go off fighting in a war and a lot of times, though not every time, we can still talk to them, at least on a weekly basis. Sometimes even every day via email. We can have instant message chats with them, we can Skype with them – hear their voice from thousands of miles away without even being on the phone. Sometimes we can even see them on a Skype conversation.
During every war before Vietnam, you couldn’t do that. A woman and her husband would write letters the old fashioned way – by hand – and send them by post, hoping they would get through. Sometimes months would go by without a single word. Months, I can imagine, full of worry, fear, concern at the unknown. Sucks to be the woman who married a man who didn’t write.


Even as late as World War II, years might go by without hear a single word of any kind from spouse. I suppose the wives used to think that no news was good news. If they weren’t hearing any word, that meant that their husband hadn’t been killed in action.

During the Civil War, a wife might have gone the entire war without hearing anything, especially if her husband became a prisoner of war early on. And lived.

In most cases today, that isn’t the case. Our men aren’t even gone for years. Some in the Army might be gone 18 months, which is a heck of a long time to be separated from your family and spouse, but most deployments don’t last that long. Especially in the Air Force. When my husband is only going to be gone for a few weeks, or 2-3 months, or even 6 months, I try not to complain because I know the reality is that he could be gone for so much longer than that. I should feel lucky that he is only going to be gone a few months. And while he is gone, I can still talk to him at least once a week.

I know there are times when communication isn’t that great, or even possible. When my brother was in Iraq with the Marines, he was a convoy commander, so most of the time he wasn’t even at the camp – he was out patrolling the Iraqi countryside. And when he was at camp, the internet connection was incredibly slow, so he didn’t bother to try to get online. It would take an hour to download one email – never long how long it would take to upload an email. Forget Skype. And other things were more important to him – sleep, for instance, and eating. However, he didn’t have a wife waiting at home eagerly awaiting the sound of his voice. Had he been married, perhaps it would have been different. Other things, too, hindered communication. When there was a causality at the camp, which apparently was pretty often, all communication out would be shut down until the family had been notified – which I can understand. I would not want to find out on FB that my husband had been killed by an IED.

I’m digressing . . . the point is that we have the technology to stay in touch with our men when they are gone long distances. We don’t always have to wait for weeks for that precious letter to arrive and that is the only source of communication. As wives we can write emails, we can hang around on FB or Skype hoping our man will come online so we can talk to him. I am grateful that we have that ability.

What about communication technology are you grateful for? How do you communicate with your spouse when he is TDY or deployed? Do you have a “skype date night” with him on occasion?

16 February 2011

Day 4 of Thankfulness - Modern Medicine

Mike is home! Yay!!!

On with the blog . ..
On Day 4 of my 30 days of Thankfulness (I know I keep interchanging that with gratefulness . . .), I am thankful/grateful for modern medicine. I'm not really sure what I'm more thankful for - the modern technological advances or pharmaceutical advances . . .

Here's just a few medicines I'm grateful for: Tylenol, Motrin, Bendryl, Antibiotics (all of them). Without those things Sophie would have been living in a continuous world of pain for months and months on end with no relief . . . Sophie's got an ear infection now, and if I don't give her at least Tylenol before she lies down, she wakes up screaming, even during nap time. Before she got her tubes, she pretty much had a continuous ear infection from mid January through April, despite being on six different antibiotics. There were lots of sleepless nights . . .

Technological advances in modern medicine - ultrasonography, fetal heart monitors, oxygen (although technically that's considered a drug), the ability to put tubes into an infant or toddlers ears to relieve pain and get rid of fluid, surgical advances to correct strabismus - without that Sophie would have double vision her whole life or her right eye would just stop working, the list could just go on and on . . . There are so many surgical procedures and medical procedures that save lives - either a life threatening condition or diagnostically to find a condition that could become life threatening. BP cuff anyone? If people didn't know they had high blood pressure, the would just walk around like that until they had a heart attack or a stroke.  There's a lot to be said about preventative medicine.

I'm grateful for formula, which was considered a medical advancement in its' heyday when it first came out in the early 1900's. Without formula, my children might not be here. I can hope I could have found a wet nurse, but fewer people have babies now than any other time in history, so a wet nurse would have been pretty hard to find.

I'm grateful for the technology to stop reproducing if I feel the need. Which, it's looking like this baby will be our last natural baby . . . I just can't have a baby every year - I don't think I could emotionally/mentally survive that. (I am not going to get into the whole birth control subject here.)

I'm grateful for vaccines. People tend to forget that a lot of the diseases that we vaccinate against are deadly. The flu used to kill millions every year. Mumps and rubella can leave a person with heart defects if it doesn't kill them.  Not every disease that there is a vaccine for is eradicated, but they certainly aren't prevalent in our society. There is a reason that people started looking for ways to get inoculated from diseases. I think that people tend to forget how serious and often deadly these diseases are because they just don't see them and how devastating they can be. There was a time when it was common place for most families to lose at least one child to death, a lot of times from an illness that is now treatable or preventable. It still happens now, but not as much as before. Browse a microbiology book if you ever want to see pictures of people, including children, inflicted with diseases for which there is now a vaccine.

I'm grateful for glasses. Yes, something as "simple" as glasses (and contact lenses). I would be walking around blind if it weren't for the technology that invented glasses. Without my contacts in, I can't see what I'm writing on a piece of paper in front of me. In fact, if I lay my face down on the paper, I can only see what I'm writing half way across the page. I'm that blind!

I'm grateful for the discovery of germs, which eventually led to the practice of hand washing. Did you know that child birth used to be the number one killer of women until the early 1900's, and it was mostly because doctors and nurses didn't wash their hands between births. They just wiped the blood off and moved on. It took thousands of years for someone to realize, "hey, we might be contaminating this mom! We should wash our hands - with water - and soap." Maternity mortality rates dropped significantly after hand washing with soap went into wide practice.

I think it really hit me how grateful for modern medicine I am when I was a child. Yes, I'm that weird kid that used to ponder what life would be like if I lived in a different age (you know, like 200 years ago). I came upon the realization that I wouldn't exist. I would not have survived infancy. And if by some chance I had, the number of times I had strep throat probably would have killed me before I reached the age of ten. I had strep throat about twice a year every single year until I got my tonsils out at the age of 25.

Now that I have children, and have been through childbirth, I am even more grateful for modern medicine. Neither of my children would probably be alive if they had been born at home, even today. I probably wouldn't have survived either birth either . . . especially Edwards'.

So today, and every day really, I am thankful for modern medicine.

What aspect of modern medicine are you grateful for? Have you or someone you loved been saved by a surgery or a drug? Or have you taken all that we have in the world of medicine for granted, that's it has just been there and available? Be honest now . . . :)

15 February 2011

Proved wrong

Sometimes I love it when I get proved wrong. That's all I'm going to say.  >:)

Following blogs

So I have run across a few blogs that I really enjoyed reading.

And now I can't find them.

Either because I didn't write down the URL somewhere, physically or on my computer, or they didn't have a Follow button, or I thought I would follow them later when I came back to their blog (but never could), or because the original way I found them (like through a Mr. Linky link) no longer exists.

Have you ever had this problem? Did you ever find the blog again? How did you find them?

Day 3 of Thankfulness

Okay, so today is Day 3 of Thankfulness.

Sophie, 1 month old.

Edward, 1 month old
Today, I am thankful for my children: Sophie, Edward and Baby VB #3.

I am thankful, first, that they are still here on this Earth with us. I am thankful for their laughter and smiles, their playfulness and curiosity (most of the time), their hugs and cuddles, tiny fingers and tiny toes.

I am thankful that Sophie made me a Mommy. Something that I never thought I would be. If you knew me even as close as six years ago, you would have heard me say many times "I am never going to have kids!". Sophie-Bug changed all that. My loving Cuddle-Bug, my FussyPot. Sophie who refused to hold her own bottle until she was 12 months old because she knew I would hold it for her every time. Sophie who loves to be worn (probably comes so close to cuddling), Sophie who loves to go for rides in the stroller and slide down the slide, and who can forget the swinging on the swings! Sophie who loves to eat (and boy can she put it away sometimes!)

I am thankful that Edward made me a Mommy of a man-child. And he is my Little Man, who is almost the spitting image of his Daddy. My handsome, laid back little guy, who is mostly go with the flow and loves to climb and explore - he's already climbing on the couch!! At 10 months old! Edward who loves to make huge splashes in the tub, who loves to follow his sister around and copy everything she does, Edward who loves to put everything in his mouth, including his GrandDad's hearing aides. Edward who sat early, crawled early, and walked early. And now is saying his first words (Jack! - the cat) early. Edward who is starting to give giant bear hugs and loves to climb the stairs.

I am thankful for this third child that we are being given, whom I have yet to meet. I have already felt the baby move several times, letting me know that they are there and they want to make a mark on my life and in this world too. I wonder if it will be a boy or a girl (I really, really hope it's a girl.) What they'll look like. Whereas I used to hope that at least one of my kids would have my eye color, I'm hoping that this child will have the beautiful dark brown eyes that Sophie and Edward do (they have their Daddy's eyes). I wonder what kind of temperament and personality this baby will have. I wonder if they'll be born with black hair that will fall out and come back in brown, just like I did, and Sophie and Edward did. I guess I'll have to wait and see.

Yes, even though I am having a hard time dealing with my children lately emotionally, I am very thankful for them. My life would not be the same without them apart of it. So hold your children close today and smile that they are there, even when they might be driving you crazy. :)

Up sides and down sides

As I have written, the kids go to school two days a week. Besides the ups and downs for me (ups- I get a day with less stress, downs - I get extreme guilt), there are ups and downs for the kids.

Up sides - Sophie loves it so much that she doesn't want to leave. Her teachers tell me she is great all day and has a lot of fun. I believe it from all the chattering she does telling me all about her day.Some of the other kids already know her name, so she is making friends.

Edward does fairly well, although I don't think he is adjusting quite as well as Sophie is. He is so close to Sophie, so I'm sure he doesn't like to be away from his sister. I almost wish they could be in the same class. Edward is also eating more solid foods - we discovered yesterday that he loves goldfish!

Down sides - and this is a huge one.

Neither child will nap while they are there. Neither Sophie nor Edward slept for even 5 minutes yesterday. So when they normally have 2.5 hour naps, and they aren't getting any nap, it's not so great. They act fine while they are at school - happy and chipper and playful. Even on the way home. Well, Edward crashes on the way home and sleeps.But once we are home . . . not so happy and chipper and playful.

Edward, I had suspected and now am pretty sure is a reality, will not have a bowel movement away from home. He's always been like this when we are out running errands in the morning or at PWOC or church. I thought I was just lucky! No poopy diapers to change at the commissary! Wahoo! No. It's not just that. He just won't go when he's not at home. Which mean massive amounts of poop the next day . . . I'm sure that's not good for his system, but I don't know what to do about that . . .

So back to the whole not napping thing. I plan on putting them to bed earlier (like 1830 even) on days they go to school. Well, last night, I gave them snacks as soon as we got home because dinner was going to be a lot later. Sophie just started having a meltdown. She ate her snacks, but was fussy. When she finished her snack, including dumping half her bowl of yogurt upside down on the floor (thanks Kirtland Family Housing for putting carpet in the dining room! grr . . . ), I got her down so she could play while she waited for dinner.

Except she didn't play. She screamed. And screamed. And screamed. She just stood at the baby gate and screamed.

I got so stressed out from her screaming and not being able to quiet her that I just started shaking all over. My concentration on cooking dinner (the ignoring method) went out the window. Kind of hard to chop vegetables when you're violently trembling and your thoughts are being scattered like fish in a pond hit with a rock. It was like every time she screamed, which was about every 2-3 seconds, my brain had some kind of shell shock reaction and I just couldn't handle it.

So I grabbed her pacifier, took her upstairs, changed her diaper, got her dressed for bed, gave her nightly dose of Tylenol, Benedryl and Motrin for her ear infection and put her to bed. I didn't care if it was 1730 and she had only had a snack. I could not handle her screaming like that. I figured if she got hungry, she would wake up and I could feed her then.

Bu tI didn't hear a peep out of her until the morning. Which tells me she went right to sleep and slept for 14 hours! (I did sneak in to give her her dose of Amoxicillan at 1930, and she went right back to sleep.)

The reaction I had to her screaming was really alarming. It took me ten minutes to stop trembling. My kids' cries have always produced a stress reaction in me, from the time that Sophie was born. (Actually baby cries started stressing me out and causing a major anxiety reaction when I was pregnant with Sophie - we had this downstairs neighbor in our apartment with a little baby, who would occasionally cry in the middle of the night, as babies do. I would just lay awake listening to that poor baby, and praying that the parents would be able to sooth it.) Which is why I detest the cry it out method. It stresses me out to the max, especially when they are little (i.e. under 9-12 months old). Like my anxiety level just skyrockets, usually to the point of getting nauseous and tense.

Have I used the cry it out method - yes. We started it with Sophie when she was 12 months old - it took one night of Mike sitting in her room with her, but not getting her out of the crib to comfort her, letting her cry it out, to get her to self sooth enough to go to sleep on her own. I cried in the bedroom the whole time she was crying. And then for hours after that. It was a gut-wrenching experience for me. I can't imagine what it was like for Sophie. With Edward, we started a little younger - about eight months old. Mike had wanted to start at that age with Sophie, but I had refused and it had caused a lot of problems in our marriage. Same reaction for me - he would be crying in his room, usually in the middle night after waking up and we had changed his diaper and laid him back down with some water, and I would be laying in bed extremely anxious wondering if I was doing the right thing and torn between comforting my baby boy and wanting to please my husband and trying his method of parenting in this situation (we do agree on almost everything else). It would take me at least an hour after Edward had gone back to sleep for me to get back to sleep, I was so stressed out and bothered by his crying.

I have friends who use the cry it out method and they swear by it. Good for them. They aren't me and don't have the same reactions (that I'm aware of) to their children crying. I have friends who never use the cry it out method - they seem to have more peace . .. maybe it's a coincidence - and they swear by their method too. I guess each parent has to figure out what works best for them and their child. No child is the same as another. People, child and adult, have different reactions to different things . . . When your child is born, they don't come with instructions on all the specifics for that particular model - you just have to do what you can. I try to research a number of different methods, including talking with friends, and then pick what I feel would be best for my family. Mommy getting super stressed out and incredibly anxious, I'm pretty sure is not what is best for the family.

Reality

**This was also written yesterday.**

Reality. Some humans embrace reality, come what may.

In reality, ironically, most humans utilize some sort of defense mechanism to not embrace reality - at least not immediately.

My defense mechanism of choice is denial. Denial can be great. Until reality steps in to shatter the fragile self-encasing bubble of denial.

Twice that has happened to me today - and I'm only half way through the day.

Today is a school day for the kids. So after an appointment and running some errands I went to McAlister's for lunch. I wasn't even feeling terrible [emotionally]. The sun had warmed the air to more than just a hint of spring. It was downright nice out - especially for February.

I didn't like the fact, I realized after I ordered my food and sat down, that I was eating out alone on Valentines Day. I tried to focus on something else - writing for instance, while waiting for my food.

Being alone on Valentines Day was caused by the military of course, which has no regard to holidays, birthdays, anniversaries or other such days, or even child birth on occasion.

About halfway through lunch I got a text message from my husband. His return date had gotten pushed back - confirming my expectations that he would not be arriving home when he had said he was supposed to. I think I physically winced. Unfortunately I had secretly begun to make plans for Mikes' return. Something I had sworn I wouldn't do (because I suspected he wouldn't be home on time). Darn hope. Of course it would be dashed against the harsh rocks of reality.

Suddenly my lunch didn't taste so good; the sky seemed to cloud over more, and when I left after hurriedly boxing the remains of my lunch, holding back the tears, the air outside even seemed chillier.

When I'm living in a world where emotionally I just cling to the thought that I'll have help and support soon from someone who loves me deeply, and won't be alone - and sometimes it seems like clinging is how I make it hour by hour, day by day - and suddenly a whole 24 hours minimum is added to what I have to rake and claw and make my way through - it just hurts.

And then driving home, I round the bend on the circular road leading to my street and I see the familiar blue and white Atlas moving van. Parked outside the house of my best friend in New Mexico. Suddenly my heart jumped a little and a little pain sprung up in my chest. Another reality check.

I parked in my driveway and walked over to my Alaskan friend's house to return a borrowed plate. Her house was already mostly packed. The reality of the situation - stark hard real and boxed by efficient packers - was hard to swallow. I don't want her to PCS. I have known since I met her that she would be PCSing within half a year . . .it was just hard to believe the time had actually arrived.

Of course I know she must follow her husband. It is the reality of the military wife life. How I will miss her though!

Day 2 of Gratefulness - Mike

Okay, so I didn't post on my second day of 30 Days of Gratefulness. I did write though - I just didn't happen to be near the internet . . .

Okay, so on this second day of being thankful/grateful, which was really yesterday, I am thankful for my wonderful husband Mike. This is what I wrote yesterday when I was at McAlister's waiting on my lunch.

Valentine's Day.

Alone.

Ce la vie en le military!

I never realized really how much more of everything my husband is, until this particular TDY. Sure, he's been gone before. Of course I miss him terribly - talking with him, touching him, kissing him, being with him. It's more than companionship and intimacy with him that I miss though.

Yes, he helps with the children. Helps during dinner, while I'm fixing dinner, helps with bathing the kids and getting them ready for bed.

He does so much more than that. He speaks words into me, into my life. Words of love, of encouragement, of rationality, of support - even when he doesn't understand how I'm feeling or what I'm going through [emotionally]. He's there. To love and comfort, cherish and treasure.

He is my rock here on Earth.

The more I get to know my husband - on a friend level, on a marital level, on a lover level - the more I love him, and the more I fall in love with him.

Never have I experienced this before. Where, after a few years, the love is deeper, fonder, more passionate, more supportive than when we started out. Our love waxes, not wanes.

If this is how marriage is supposed to be - I am thirsty for more and so excited about spending the rest of my life with my love, my husband, my best friend - Mike.

Happy Valentines Mike - I love you so much! *poke poke* I can't wait to celebrate with you when you come home!

13 February 2011

Blast from the Past

Photo courtesy of Turkey Creek Stables
Just wanted to post a little blast from the past here. 

This is the horse that I used to own, when I was a teenager. His name is Billy. This photo was taken after I had sold him - that's his new late owner riding him around a barrel pattern during a speed show at Turkey Creek Stables in Plant City, Florida (where I used to live).

(I was the one that taught him how to barrel race.)

Billy was an awesome friend who is still very missed. Sometimes it's good to stop and think about the friends that we have had along the way - both human and animal. 

Do you have a special animal friend that will always have a place in your heart?

30 days of Thankfulness

I saw this on a few other blogs, so I thought I would do it too. I think it will help to remind me of things that I am thankful for, especially in the current state of my mind and emotions. So for the next 30 days (in a row) I will attempt to write everyday about one thing that I am thankful for. I know thirty isn't very many things to be thankful for at all, it's the writing for 30 consecutive days. So on each day I will write what I am thankful for and a little bit about why.


So this would be Day 1.

Day 1: I am thankful for the Lord Jesus Christ in my life and for Saving me.

I wasn't always a Believer. In fact, I used to be a hard core femi-nazi atheist. I was the feminist that refused to shave her legs because that would be to conform with a male dominated society's expectations and ideas of beauty in a woman. I was the atheist that refused to use the Lord's name in vain because that would be to admit that He existed, even if on a subconscious level, which I refused to do.

Then one fall a few years ago I was taking a class at Oklahoma City Community College and there two women in that class that I became friends with. I began to realize that they had something that I didn't. They had this peace about them, and a happiness. Not a materialistic kind of happiness, but a deep happiness that you can't get from earthly possessions. They were Christians. They never talked to me about the Lord or tried to convert me. They just befriend me.

Sometime later in the fall I had this powerful urge to go to church - a place I was absolutely terrified of going (what if He was real??). Some years earlier a friend had invited me to church with her, which I promptly, flatly, but nicely, refused. So even though it had been years I called her up and took her up on that offer. She was surprised, but glad to oblige.

When I walked through the doors of that church, I knew I couldn't deny Him any longer. He was real. And we hadn't even made it to the sanctuary yet! During the praise and worship, I knew that He was real and I was unworthy because my life was so dark in sin - and I hadn't just lived in sin, I had loved it, I had relished it, I had embraced it. I felt that I wasn't even worthy to look in the direction of the light that He was because I was so dark and had been in the dark for so long.

Honestly I remember next to nothing about the sermon. I think it was about Jehovah - something. Rapha maybe.

I went home and cried. I cried because of all the things I had done in my life that were so wrong and because I had rejected and denied a God who sent His son to die for me, for my sins, for so long. Who loved me so much that it didn't matter what I had done, just that I was.

The next day I called my Dad, who was a Christian, although I had asked him not to ever talk to me about the Lord, and he had kindly respected my wishes. I talked to him and we prayed. I repented and asked the Lord to forgive me of my sins and to be my Lord and Savior.

The Lord has done so many other things in my life, too numerous to count, at least for now. You can go back through my blog and read about some of the things that He has done. Although that's a lot of reading and I wouldn't blame if you if you didn't. :)

So what are you grateful for today?

11 February 2011

Rays and Gratefulness

So today was starting off rather rough - Sophie was up on and off all last night screaming (turns out she has an ear infection behind a tube that's coming out) so there wasn't very much sleeping going on. A tired Mommy is not a happy Mommy. A tired Mommy that's already got super frayed emotions is just not good. I really needed help today, but as usual, even though people offer, I don't feel like I can actually take them up on it.

I have major pride issues. I am working on it though . . .

So anyway, a good friend called me shortly before lunch and after a few minutes of talking, she offered to come over and help out. Which I agreed to because I was just really feeling overwhelmed and the day seemed so long . . . and anyway.

So my good friend who wishes to remain anonymous came over shortly thereafter. She even brought me flowers! (A recent, hidden desire for fresh flowers is suddenly satisfied -wow! And they are beautiful and I am enjoying their fragrant scent even now as I write this.) She helped me feed the kids lunch and then she made me a smoothie! And then she helped put the kids down for a nap and while I went and took a nap, she cleaned! (She's really good at cleaning.) She even did a load of laundry! And folded it! And it doesn't end there! I had to take Sophie to the doctor because I suspected an ear infection, so she stayed at the house and watched Edward for me. I didn't arrive back home until after 1700 and I was going to take the kids out after dinner to fill the prescription for Sophie (she did have an ear infection), and my friend offered to feed the kids dinner while I went and filled the prescription!

What an amazing, selfless friend! I have no idea what she had planned for today, but she sacrificed seven hours of her day to help me out. I am so incredibly grateful for this sweet friend - I don't even know what to write to express my gratitude. Except that she was an answer to prayer today and a gift from the Lord, who knew exactly what I needed. I feel like her gift of self and time has brought rays of hope into my life - I was able to get through another day - and I didn't cry today!! I can't remember the last time I had a day when I didn't cry.

And there are other friends who have been encouraging me and helping me and I am so grateful to them. Sometimes there comes a time in our life where we just can't do it on our own. Not even the tiny stuff of every day. Sometimes it's right after you have a baby, sometimes it's during an extreme illness or injury or hospitalization, sometimes it's during a period of grief at the loss of a loved one. And there is a friend who comes along side you and helps you or encourages you or even carries you - that is a priceless gift. I am so grateful to all my friends - so grateful for you. Thank you.

I am trying to organize, for a few weeks, some help watching the kids when they aren't at daycare during the week. I am getting some help of the chemical kind on Monday, and until that starts to work, I just feel like I can't do this alone anymore. Putting the kids in daycare two days a week is a huge help. And I wish it were enough, but I realized this morning that unfortunately, right now, it isn't enough. I hate that I have to ask for so much help, but I just can't do this alone anymore. So if you have already offered - I'm going to be emailing you or calling you. :)

Thank you friends for being the fulfillment of this verse in my life: "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2

10 February 2011

Day off

So I had a day off from motherhood today, which I posted about earlier, sort of, and well, it dawned on me that I didn't really finish my post. Just a major sidetrack explanation . . .

So what did I do today while my kids played and learned?

First I went to Borders and enjoyed a hot, toasty cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese. I wasn't really hungry, but since I brought my own book to a huge book store, I felt I should buy something, and I wasn't really feeling a super-expensive drink, I brought my own drink too, I settled for something with carbs and protein. I wasn't hungry, but I ate all of it, and boy was it yummy! While I was there, I also read the book I am currently reading, Virginia Woolf's The Lighthouse. It's a little hard to get into at first (what Virginia Woolf book isn't?), but now I'm about 2/3's into it and boy is it hard to put down.

Then I went to my therapy appointment - more book reading while waiting.

When I was leaving the therapist's office, as I walked by the staff lounge, I got a whiff of some Chinese food - Lunch! I didn't really feeling like driving down Central to Chopstix, the place I usually get Chinese food to go from, so I decided to drive around the NE Heights area.

Up to Eubank I went and just drove along until I saw a Chinese restaurant. Of course it was on the left, and I was in the far right hand lane, so I switched lanes and did a u-turn when I was able to and pulled into a wonderful Chinese restaurant whose name is currently flittering away from my brain.

The food was pretty good, the service was spectacular (lots of bowing) and the ambiance was very relaxing. Just what I needed. And the book came too. For company. The walls were painted a cool green and there darker green table clothes on every table, with real chopsticks (not disposable, wooden ones). Green is a very relaxing color, in case you weren't aware.

There weren't very many people in the restaurant, and I love it when I stumble upon such a golden hour as that. Well, golden for me, probably not the owners and serving staff.

I was seated opposite a beautiful painting of a Chinese landscape complete with lush green fields, a stream with a small waterfall, deer, cranes and two women in traditional dress. I did a lot of staring at that painting - it was just so relaxing.

I ordered my favorite along with some egg rolls and a cup of hot and sour soup and of course a pot of tea. After eating a little bit, I boxed up the rest and just sat and enjoyed the tea and my book. It was a really relaxing time - much more relaxing that Borders actually. Sorry Borders, but red just isn't a color that makes you want to relax.

Then I went over to a good friend's house and we hung out and talked. Probably one of the last time we'll get to really hang out since she's PCSing next week. I'm going to miss my friend so much. Even though we haven't known each other that long, I feel like we've really connected and grown close. I'm looking forward to staying in touch for many, many years.

Even though I got up earlier than usual today, and I didn't get a nap, I feel rested. I feel emotionally rested. Sometimes the kids just bring out such a strong stress response in me and I think my system is a little overloaded (to say the least) from continuous stress responses. Having a break from that for 7.5 hours (not sleeping) really did a lot for me. I know I still have a long way to go before I'm back to "normal", but this is a start. A small start, but a start nonetheless.

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

 Okay, so there is no MilSpouse Friday Fill-In this week. WifeOfASailor is having a really tough week and is working super hard for our wonderful Navy, so you'll have to tune in next week! :)

25 things not to say

I wanted to post this article, from here, because I have been hearing some of these and let me tell you that it doesn't help. I'll also repost the 25 things not to say to women who suffer from Post Partum Depression below.

1. Just [go for a walk/go out with your friends/have a drink/take a vitamin/go shopping/go back on the pill] and you'll feel all better.
2. Women have been having babies for tens of thousands of years, and they got through new motherhood just fine. Toughen up.
3. Yeah, I had a few bad days there after my baby was born. I know what you're going through. Or ... I just finished my [album/thesis/marathon/political campaign]. I know how you feel.
4. Maybe postpartum depression is God's way of letting you know you don't have enough faith. I think you should pray harder.
5. Stop making this about you. This is about the baby. You should be thinking about him/her rather than yourself.
6. Quitting breastfeeding is selfish. The baby's health is so much more important than yours.
7. I know breastfeeding is really important to you, but you have to quit so you can be treated for PPD.
8. This is the exact medication and dosage I took for my PPD. Just take that and you'll be OK.
9. I would never take antidepressants. You shouldn't need that stuff to be a mother.
10. You're just mad the baby is getting all the attention.
11. PPD is just a fad. Only spoiled, Western women get it, and now that it's "popular" on the blogs, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon.
12. Can't you see how lucky you are? You have a beautiful baby! You should be grateful.
13. This will probably go away on it's own, so don't worry about it.
14. I wouldn't talk about this with anyone. You don't want them to think you're crazy.
15. You don't need to worry about your symptoms unless you're having thoughts of harming your baby.
16. You're just using postpartum depression as an excuse to get out of the hard work of being a mom.
17. Once you go back to work you'll probably feel fine.
18. Why can't you just talk yourself out of this? I don't think you're trying hard enough.
19. Do we need to take your child away from you?
20. If you would just try ______— (fill in the blank) parenting style I think everything would be okay.
21. You have [a supportive partner/wonderful home/great family/good job/food on the table/healthy baby]. You should be happy.
22. All of this crying is bad for your baby, you know.
23. We all have days where we don't want to get out of bed.
24. Did you think motherhood was going to be easy? What did you expect?
25. Postpartum depression isn't real.

It's similar (but not the same) as saying to a grieving parent that you understand because your iguana that you had for 25 years died. Not the same!!

If you haven't been there, then don't say you have. Don't pretend that you get it, because you don't. And it's insulting to say that you get it. Sure, you may have gone through your own hells, but each hell is different and they have different attributes. So if you haven't been through PPD, don't say you understand. It's infuriating really. It's not comforting and it doesn't help.

Oh yeah, and all you health providers out there: when a newly pregnant mom comes in to her appointment, and tells you that she's been crying all day 4 days out the week, don't tell her that it's normal because she had a toddler and an infant and she's pregnant. It's not freakin' normal!

Okay, rant over.  

First day

Today my kids went to their first day of daycare. Well, actually it's "school", but since they're 10 months and 22 months, it's more like daycare with a slant for more education than say a regular "daycare".

Edward actually seemed to like it almost right away - he was a little clingy at first, but I showed him the cool toys and the giant bin that he could bang his hands on, he was content. When I came back 20 minutes later (after settling Sophie in) to bring him his sippy, he was contentedly eating his breakfast and didn't give me a second glance as I left the room.

Now Sophie, who is normally all about new places, was much more clingy. They were just starting to serve breakfast, so I sat at the little toddler-size kids' table and she sat on my lap (she insisted) while she ate her breakfast. After she ate her breakfast, then she was content to wander off and play and I said my goodbyes.

Now picking the kids up was a different story. When I pulled up to the school, Sophie was out with the other 2 year olds (they put her in the 2 year old classroom since she'll be two in six weeks) on the playground and was swinging away. She really loves swings. The teacher saw me and got Sophie down from the swing, and Sophie immediately asked to get back into the swing by saying please, well, by signing please. I told the teacher I had to get her brother, so she might as well stay out and play until it was time to come in. So she did.

Edward was again sitting in the high chair with bottle when I went into the infant room and was quite upset. I felt so bad. He had little tears just streaming down his face and I could tell he'd been crying for a few minutes. I picked him up and the tears immediately stopped. After looking at his little sheet of notes that they make for you all day, I could see why he was crying - he only napped for 20 minutes (instead of 2.5 hours). So my little man was so tired. I didn't think he would nap for very long there, since it's a new environment and my kids just don't nap away from home (or sleep at night, for that matter, unless Mommy is there). He did eat quite a bit of big people food that day, which is really great. Getting his used to solids has been a bit of a challenge. Sometimes he's up for anything and other times he's not. And he really won't eat much baby food anymore, so sometimes we're stuck in the middle and so he ends up eating lots of puffs for dinner . .. anyway, that's another story.

When Edward and I went back to the 2 year old classroom to get Sophie, the kids hadn't come in yet, so I gathered Sophie's things and within a few minutes they were back. Sophie was trailing the pack, apparently not wanting to leave the sunny outdoors, despite the cold. When she got into the room, she was having so much fun with the giant red rubber ball that she had discovered, that she really didn't want to leave. We did though, much to her disappointment I'm sure.

So Edward started off well and ended rough and Sophie started rough and ended really well. Oh well. Sophie didn't nap either - zero minutes instead of 2-3 hours. I figured she wouldn't. She just doesn't sleep unless it's at home or in the car. Edward did catch a nice nap on the way home and they both went to bed early.

We had been home all of ten minutes and Sophie was already demonstrating new skills that she had learned at school - like how to open doors using the door knobs. And apparently how to open the fridge. And they gave her a cup to drink from instead of sippy (although, now I need to wash my scarf and coat because she spilled her milk on me before I left that morning). I'm sure she loved that. Drinking from a cup that is, not spilling her milk on me. Just thought I should clarify.

So why exactly am I putting my kids in daycare even though I'm a stay at home mom that doesn't work and isn't going to school? Well, you see, I seem to have developed this little problem. Okay, it was probably little last summer and fall and now has turned into a giant, raging monster that runs my life. I apparently have PPD, otherwise known as Post Partum Depression. Or really, since I'm pregnant, Ante Partum Depression. Maybe I have both and that's why I'm so depressed. Although I don't really think depressed really describes how I have been feeling lately. It's more like a hell of emotions gripping my mind and soul from which there is no escape. It involves lots of crying jags, laying on the floor uncontrollably sobbing, lots of anxiety, an extreme dose of guilt, a fair dose of cursing - usually at myself for doing or not doing something, avoiding people and a wide range of situations which in turns brings on lying because I just can't handle being around people/places and I don't want to tell people what's really going on (this includes occasionally not answering the phone/returning texts/IM's), lack of appetite and sexual desire, hiding from the kids because I just yelled at them and I feel extreme guilt and of course feelings of complete and total isolation. I think that about sums it up. I think. I haven't really been thinking very clearly for a while now. I find that coping with life is not something I am capable of right now. I can handle feeding the kids when they get hungry (but not always cleaning up), changing diapers and even on some days every gets dressed out of their PJ's. Everything else is out the window and frankly I don't care. I can't handle cleaning the house or anything that goes with that. Most days I break down doing the dishes. Yes, the dishes. So the table gets cleaned off every two or three days and the food gets picked up from under the table every three or four days. When the kids run out of clothes, I do their laundry. When I run out of clothes, I just re-wear the dirty ones as long as they don't smell too bad, although I really don't care. That's just the best that I can do right now. I'm not apologizing to anyone because I'm doing the best that I can right now. I cry every day, some days several times a day or even on and off all day long.

I did finally get help after reading another blog written by a MilSpouse who suffers from PPD as well. It was like she was eavesdropping on my thoughts. It was scary. And it was reality. Well, reality in the sense that it make me realize that maybe I have a problem (as if the crying hadn't given it away already) and I should see someone about that. So now I have a wonderful therapist. Well, I've seen her twice. She says that I'm in crisis mode right now and just surviving (whatever that is) is my focus for right now. Hence the kids in daycare. It's not everyday. Just two days a week. And so far just having a break for 7.5 hours has been really great. I made it a whole 20 minutes at home before I almost lost it (again). But I didn't cry. And I'm coherent enough to write this post.

Daycare at a "school" is not something that we can really afford right now, but again, I just don't care. We have a lot of money in savings and so I'm putting it to good use.

This week I think has been especially bad because my husband is gone (of course). He's supposed to be back soon, but I'm not counting on it - i.e. I'm expecting delays. So it's just me and my raging monster and the poor kids. I feel so sorry for them. They really do deserve so much better than me. Again, hence the daycare. Although, honestly, I know my husband loves me with all his heart, but I really think that he doesn't know how to handle what I'm going through. So mostly he ignores it. At least it feels that way to me. I told him what my therapist said about being in crisis mode via a text and I haven't heard from him since. That was over eight hours ago. Maybe he's busy. He says he's too busy to talk to me. Maybe that's why he's only called once since he's been gone (and its' been a week). I know he is busy with this mission or training or whatever he's doing and he's working long hours but I need to talk to him. I need to connect with him. And the more time that passes that I don't, the more isolated and disconnected I feel. Which really sucks and makes me feel even worse.

Well, I think this may be one of the most personal posts I've ever written, but it feels good to get it out. I may delete later. We'll see. I wish I could say that I'm looking for some light at the end of the tunnel, but honestly, I just want to survive tomorrow. Forget the weekend alone. That's too much to think about. I don't even want to think about tomorrow, so I'll probably stay up reading and working a crossword puzzle from a book a good friend gave me. So is there some light at the end of all this blackness and crying? I'm told there is. Maybe they're right. I wish I could hope so but hope is just something that doesn't exist to me right now. Not right now.

**If any family is reading this, please don't freak out, ok?**

This Is Your Brain In Love by Dr. Earl Henslin



As soon as I saw the title of this book, This Is Your Brain In Love by Dr. Earl Henslin, I was intrigued. Having always been interested in psychology and matters of the brain and how the brain affects our daily lives, I couldn’t wait to dive right into this book. This Is Your Brain In Love goes into five areas of the brain that can affect our marriages, and lives, if they are not working right. Including stories from real people  (names changed of course), images of brain scans of the part of the brain in question compared with normal brain scans and antidotes to increase that part of the brains productivity, Dr Henslin brings all these pieces together to show how a problem in one part of the brain can affect the way we love and receive love. Furthermore, all of this to say that the two people in every marriage should “bring their best brain to the table” to increase the level of love in their marriage and become “master-level lovers”.
                The five areas of the brain that Dr. Henslin talks about are the Prefontal Cortex (or the Scattered Lover), the Cingulate Gyrus (the Overfocused Lover), the Deep Limbic System (the Blue Mood Lover), the Temporal Lobes (the Agitated Lover) and the Basal Ganglia (the Anxious Lover). Did you know that an injury the Temporal Lobes (such a fall on the playground as a child) can turn you into an angry, agitated person which in turn can make you an angry, agitated lover? This and so much more is covered in this book.
                I would recommend this book to any couple that is married or considering marriage. Sometimes the problems that we bring to our marriage may be caused by a chemical problem in the brain that we have no control over. Dr. Henslin’s book goes over ways to balance out that problem, and it doesn’t always have to include medication – he includes herbal supplements, brain activities and sometimes physical activities to help a person overcome a problem so that they can “bring their best brain to the table” and be the best partner for their spouse.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

05 February 2011

So Much for Will Power and Discipline!

Normally, although when am I ever normal??  . . . normally, I can resist the temptation to buy cookies and sweets and other such desires.

There is an exception to my normally stone-walled discipline though. Baby wants it! Yep, that's right. When I'm pregnant all will power goes out the window and poof: look what I brought home!

I must say it didn't help that there was a coupon if you bought two boxes!

In fact I was so hungry when I got home from the commissary (it was lunch time) that I couldn't even wait a few minutes for my lunch to finish cooking. Sure I was making the kids wait to eat while I fixed their lunch . . . but baby really really wanted some mint chocolate cookie! (I had to really struggle to push the thought that I'll probably ruin my lunch out of my mind.)

And that is the story of how I spoiled my lunch! Because I couldn't just be satisfied at one explosion of minty chocolate yumminess in my mouth. No, I had to have three more. So over three hundred calories later, I was content.

And also no longer hungry for what would have been a delicious lunch of cheese ravioli (not Chef Boy R Dee but the good stuff from the frozen section) with zucchini meat sauce. I did make myself eat my ravioli lunch (which was good, just not as good as it could have been), on point of principle.

So now I'm sitting on the couch de-stressing from this morning, finishing off the box (yes the box!!) of cookies.

My justification for eating so many cookies at once, something I hardly ever do, is that I'm officially in my second trimester, I'm still 108# (that's what I weighed when I found out I was pregnant) and I can still easily fit into my size 2 jeans. So I'm not worried about a box of cookies. My wonderful midwife in Oklahoma would have said "Go for it!"

I will say that though Mint Fudge covered oreo cookies are sinfully yummy, Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies are still better. And cheaper. And you get more of the GS cookies in a box. And I have downed an entire box of GS TMC in one sitting while so far I've only gotten half the box of oreos down in one sitting (and there are less oreos in box). I'm sure the oreo making company didn't have GC Thin Mint cookies in mind at all when they released their limited edition cookies . . . (right).

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In





It's that time again! Well, actually it was yesterday, but whatever. :) Head on over to WifeOfASailor for this week's questions! I love learning about other Mil Spouses and what they do to cope with being a military wife. Ok - here we go!

1.Since most of the country has had nasty weather, what has your weather been like this week? Well, we got a little bit of snow (maybe 4 inches this side of the mountains), a good bit of wind and frigid temps. So frigid in fact that the state of New Mexico has had a natural gas shortage so there are several communities across the state that are without heat - including us on Thursday. Not fun when the high is 11* and the low is -6*!! More on that in other posts further down. Did I mention the bursting pipes everywhere too? Check out Tervo Times' story - not fun times at all.

2.What is/are your best money saving tip(s)? Meal plan, coupons, grocery list, cloth diapering, having some form of self discipline so when you see something you want at Target, you don't just buy it. I have others, but I think that's enough for now.

3.What was your favorite vehicle you've ever owned? That would definitely be my Ford Ranger - I love it! Unfortunately I don't really get to drive it much anymore because I can't put both kids in it, but I still own it, so at least I can take it out when my hubby stays home with the kids.

4.What is a question you'd like to see asked on a future fill-in? Hmm . . . What is your most memorable reunion with your spouse after a TDY/Deployment and how did you celebrate together? (I.e. hole yourselves up in the house for days or go on a romantic getway, etc)

5.Fill in the blank: You might be a MilSpouse if . . . you're heard mortar rounds going off on in the background of a phone call during a deployment and that was considered "normal". (yes, heard that before!)

03 February 2011

Man what a week!

In my last post, I wrote about this massive pending winter storm that was supposed to slam the midwest through the northeastern parts of the country.

Slam is right! There was lots of snow, lots of ice, lots of wind and a lot of sub-zero temps, even in the southern plains.

Although Albuquerque hardly got any brunt of the storm at all, we were not without snow or wind. I'll have to add pictures later because they're downstairs on my computer and I am not moving from my comfy spot in bed to go and get my camera and camera cord to upload them.

As I was saying - snow and wind. Yes, we got them. Not too much snow - a few inches - maybe 4 at the most. It was definitely windy though! And cold. Yes. It was frigidly cold. And still is.

It was so cold that the housing office sent out a message to drip faucets and open cabinets because of the risk of pipes freezing and bursting. They weren't kidding that there was a risk. Although we have been spared (so far), I have several friends who now have flooded garages, dining rooms, etc because their pipes burst. Please keep them in your prayers. The local chapel also had pipes burst - I don't know the extent of the damage, but I happened to be driving by the chapel at one point in the day yesterday and the whole street had about 4 inches of water in it . . . 

I think the worst of the whole thing actually came today. Last night the temp reached -6* F. That's pretty freezing if you ask me. I think the warmest it got today was 11*. Not totally sure. I just know that my toes started to go numb after standing outside for 2 minutes.

Anyway, when I went downstairs this morning with the kids, while I was getting them dressed I noticed that it was a bit chilly. Now there is a minimum 5 degree temperature difference between our upstairs and our downstairs, so it always feels colder. Usually you acclimate after a few minutes. This morning I wasn't acclimating. So I took a peek at the thermostat. It read 67, instead of the usual 71. So I bumped it up a degree to get the heat to kick on. Nothing happened. I started to get a sinking feeling . . .

Not wanting to jump to conclusions and thinking that maybe it was operator error, I went ahead and called base housing maintenance. Sometimes it just takes someone to point out something obvious to me to get things working again. I'm not exactly mechanically inclined. I know we're talking about a thermostat here, but still . . .

Not the case this time.

"Mam, the entire base has lost gas power. And your heater is run on gas."

Um, what?? The entire base?? I repeated what I heard back to the maintenance person on the other end, just to make sure I wasn't hearing things - I have been a little stressed lately.

Nope, I wasn't mistaken. And it was a problem with the power source in the city, so there wasn't anything the base could do to fix it. And they had no way of knowing how long it would be until gas power would be restored.

"But I have an infant and a toddler" (and I'm pregnant). "Should I find someone off base to stay with?"

"You might want to do that." was the reply. I could tell the poor guy just felt helpless and I knew he'd be repeating this to dozens of probably angry people. I felt bad for him.

Enter meltdown. I've been a little stressed lately, and honestly I have had really bad PPD and it's only gotten way worse in the last 2 months and I only just sought help for it yesterday. So I was not exactly emotionally fortified to deal with something like this. I haven't even been able to deal with the dishes lately, or laundry, let alone no heat in the house and finding somewhere to go and having to pack everything for the kids and what about the cats and the likelihood that the pipes would burst for sure and flood our house and the uncertainty of it all and all sorts of things went through my mind. And did I mention that my husband is gone right now?? So I have to face this alone. Cue kids to start whining/crying. That didn't help. And I had to leave for a WIC appointment 25 minutes later and we weren't even close to ready to go. And since the base didn't have heat, would the WIC office even be open?? So there was all the stuff dealing with getting ready to go out the door . .. in single digit temps . ..

Military wives have a reputation for being strong. And rightly so. They deal with a lot when their spouse is gone. If it can go wrong, it will go wrong while hubby is away.

I so do not fit the typical description of the strong military wife. Having a meltdown because your heat went out when it's freezing cold outside (the temp was 0* when it went out) and you have a toddler and an infant does not qualify as being strong, in my book. Being pregnant too doesn't help. A strong woman would have quickly assessed the situation and stepped up to the task, pushing away fear and uncertainty and the urge to cry somewhere else. Maybe for later when everything was taken care of. More than that a strong woman of faith would have immediately been praying. I think I prayed . . . I remember praying that the heat would come back on this afternoon (which it did - Praise the Lord) and the pipes wouldn't burst (which they haven't.)

I did pick up everything off the floor just in case the pipes do freeze and burst and flood the house. Toys, laundry in the laundry room, blankets, bags, the pack n play, anything that could go on top of the furniture did. And I did again after the kids took everything down to play with after we came home after the heat came back on. Just that tiny bit of preparedness helps. It helps me feel more in control of the situation, even though I know that I'm totally not.

I will say the Family Advocacy office and the Wing were really awesome. I called the Family Advocacy office after my WIC appointment to find out if the base would be putting up anyone in a hotel since the heat was out. I wasn't worried so much about myself as the kids. The Family Advocacy office called a Sgt at the Wing who loaned me some space heaters (which I never would have thought of!). He also said they were talking about opening up some shelters around base if the need arose. That was comforting. And the space heaters helped a lot.

I did make plans to go and stay with a friend off base who didn't lose heat and whose husband is also gone right now. We ended up changing the plan - instead of me staying with her and her two space heaters, she loaned me the space heaters (now I have four) and if her heat goes out, she'll come and stay with me. She said it would be easier for her to bring her son, who is a couple of months younger than Edward, then for me to come to her house with my two kids. I thought it was a good plan.

There was a small moment of victory though. You know how I wrote earlier if it can go wrong, it will while your husband is gone? Well, the heat did come back on, but the hot water heater had to be reset. Guess who had to reset it?? Yep, me. I totally had no idea what I was doing and I was rather intimidated. So I read the instructions and prayed that I wouldn't get blown up and went for it. It wouldn't light the first time, so I had to go and wait the 5 minutes and try again. And then the pilot light lit! And stayed lit! But when I turned the gas control know from "pilot light" to the setting I wanted it at, there was a loud rushing sound and the flame got a lot bigger and brighter. Is that normal???? It really freaked me out, but there was no explosion. So I watched it for another few minutes and then went back into the house. I'm still here, so we haven't exploded yet.

I realized today that I have some great friends who look out for each other too. Several people called/texted to see how I was doing and if I needed anything. Including resetting the hot water heater, but I had already done it. I am so grateful for the people that the Lord has placed in my life. :)

Now just praying that the heat stays on all night (it's supposed to be another COLD one, temps around 0* again) and that the pipes don't burst.

I really can't wait for my husband to come home!! I am all the more appreciative of all that he does around the house. And for the comfort and encouragement he is to me. He speaks a lot of words of encouragement into my life and I really need that, apparently. What a blessing he is!