Deployment Week 1

51 or so to go!

So far so good around here.  There haven’t been any meltdowns around here – from me or from Lovebug. 

I do miss my best friend so much and I wish I could be with him (or he with me, or both of us on an island somewhere), but we are getting to talk every day and that makes him feel not as far away.  It makes me so thankful for technology and the mail system though.  Talking to Hubby’s grandmother, who was also an Army wife a long, long time ago – they had to wait 6 months or more just to get a letter.  Maybe.  Now, I can get emails, text messages, letters, packages, and we can even Skype – see each other’s faces as we talk!  Wow.  So much to be thankful for!

Lovebug and I are settling back into our school routine which is something we’ve missed for the last few months.  We’ve been doing school, just not the same way.  Not following our curriculum, but rather focusing on working our school around our life and not the other way around.  Hey – it’s Kindergarten.  It should be relaxed.  Really, it should.  Dealing with the move, living in a hotel, moving into a new home, unpacking, preparing for deployment – it all knocked us out of our routine as we focused on spending every moment possible with Daddy.  That’s one of the benefits to homeschooling – a flexible schedule.  I’m so thankful that while Hubby was on leave for a couple weeks, we could just relax our schedule and spend time with him.  When he comes home and gets leave again, we’ll do the same thing.

But now, it’s time to get back to our routine.  I’m glad really.  I like to be able to plan our days and know what’s going to happen for the most part.  We’ll continue to school into the summer anyway because we like to spend more time on school when it’s crazy hot or insanely cold outside so we can take more time off during the beautiful Spring and Fall days.

Although, I’m definitely thinking that a couple school days at the beach are in order!

Daddy Daughter Dance (at home)

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About a month before Hubby left for his deployment, Lovebug asked for another Daddy Daughter dance at home “in our fancy clothes”.  No way was he going to turn that down!  So, once again, Hubby got all dressed up in his tux to twirl his daughter around the living room to a few songs.

It was PRECIOUS! They were both beaming with love for each other and I know those moments will last a lifetime in their minds.  I love that Hubby puts such a priority on taking Lovebug out for dates.  He’s showing her through his example how a man should treat a lady, and he’s also showing her how special and deserving of his love she is.  That relationship between a daughter and her Daddy is so important, and I’m thankful that my little girl has such a great Daddy!

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No dance is complete without cookies and punch, so I made them homemade cookies and root beer floats!

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After the dance, they went out for their usual date – SUSHI! It’s Lovebug’s favorite!

The deployment has begun

I can now officially tell you that the deployment has begun.  Hubby is safe and sound, but way too far away from me.  I miss him so much!

Saying goodbye to Daddy… (she didn’t like the flash from the camera…she’s not as upset as she looks)

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Daddy praying over Lovebug

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Self-portrait in the middle of the night

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Lovebug took this one! Pretty good, huh?

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So far, I’m really doing ok.  Some might say it’s because I’m new to all this and still naive.  Or that it’s because I’m used to it after only seeing him for 2 out of the last 8 months. 

But really, it’s because I have zero doubt in my mind that this is where God has called us.  That’s an amazing feeling.  I may not understand all the “whys” for this calling, and why we couldn’t have made the beach-bum-scuba-diving lifestyle thing work out instead (that dream isn’t dead though!), but I do know that this is where we are meant to be…and I love it here!

I also feel good because I have the most amazing husband! We have spent the last 9 1/2 years building our marriage.  We started with a foundation of friendship and love, combined with our faith in God.  To that, we added years of trials – multiple job losses, deaths of close family members, infertility, a miracle baby girl, infertility again, my hysterectomy, foster parenting, serious financial struggles, Lovebug’s special needs, and homeschooling.   Through each and every one of those we have grown closer to each other, and to the Lord.   We’ve also been separated before – for a few months when he had a job in another country, and then during all of his training.  While I know it’s not the same, it did give us a very recent taste of it to help us prepare.

Our relationship is based on trust and respect.  We share everything.  We don’t keep secrets.  What’s mine is his, and what’s his is mine (except our favorite coffee cups!).  We share our bank accounts.  He knows my passwords, and I know his (at least as much as I remember my own).  We are individuals with different interests, different tastes, and who both enjoy our own alone time….but we are ONE.  One team.  No matter how far apart we are.

I feel so fortunate to have such a great marriage.  In my short time as a military wife, I have already seen so many spouses who don’t trust each other.  Who don’t even KNOW each other before one of them goes on a deployment.  They are terrified that their spouse will cheat, or take all their money.  The soldiers even get a speech about what to do if they come home from a deployment and their wife has taken all of their money.  Seriously.  It’s that common. 

I don’t have to worry about those things.  I don’t have to worry that if I don’t hear from him for a few days that it’s because he doesn’t want to talk to me.  I can be patient (or try!).  I know that he loves me and wants to talk to me as much as I want to talk to him, and that he will when he can.

I’m also not going to worry about something happening to him.  The Bible tells us that our days are numbered.  God knows the day that each of us will die and it won’t matter if Hubby is in another country, driving on the highway, or sitting next to me.  When it’s his time, it’s his time.  So I have to put my faith in God and trust in that or else I’ll drive myself crazy with worry.  Besides, I’m not a huge worrier.  I come from a long line of them in my family, and I just can’t do it.

So, while I miss him terribly, I do so because he’s my best friend and I love spending time with him.  I love doing everything with him – playing games, running errands, cooking, camping, hiking, laughing.  I miss waking up with him, and falling asleep with him.  I will miss his logical side to balance out my emotional side.  I will miss his humor.  I will miss sharing experiences with him, and getting his advice.  I will miss him every single day until he’s back home in my arms.  

But I’ll also be ok.  Lovebug and I have a lot of plans to keep us busy – adventures to go on, recipes to try, homeschooling to do (FIRST GRADE!), and friends to play with. 

And I have my beautiful ribbon charm on my necklace that Hubby gave me for my birthday, to keep him close to my heart while he’s away.

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Here we go!

The JOYS (no, really!) of pre-deployment

It’s coming.  The bags are packed and ready.

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I much prefer seeing our suitcases & beach bags packed by the door.

I’m not looking forward to my husband deploying, of course.  He’s my best friend, my partner, and my lover.  He makes me laugh, he holds me when I cry, and he is my biggest support & encourager.

I will miss him terribly, but I have to tell you…God is SO good! We’ve only been at this duty station for 82 days and already God has blessed us abundantly! I am so thankful!  God can take something like getting ready for a deployment, and shine his blessings through it all!

First, he provided us a home.  A home on post, close to friends, activities, & the commissary.  Sure, there are things that I dislike about living on post and I’m sure we’ll move off at some point, but for now – in this season – this is exactly where we need to be.

He has also already put some amazing women in my life – some through my FRG.  These ladies are going to be by my side during this next year.  Their husbands are serving along side Hubby.  These ladies have already been through deployments, so I know that not only are their friendships priceless to me, but also their experiences will be.  Get involved with your FRG!! I am so thankful to have these women in my life.

I am also blessed to have good (friendly, and not-rowdy) neighbors. There are a couple very young moms that live in the couple of homes next to ours, and we are able to hang out in the backyard chatting while the kids all play.  Never mind that most of the kids are quite a bit younger than Lovebug – she doesn’t care.  It’s someone to play with.  One of the girls is actually the same age as Lovebug, and they get along wonderfully.  It’s a huge blessing to have friends for her right in our backyard – literally!  I don’t have as much in common with the moms because we are just in different seasons of life, but while we might not be lifelong friends, that doesn’t stop us from being able to laugh and chat while the kids play. I pray that I can be an example to them in my words and actions – especially my marriage and how a marriage can be a truly wonderful partnership.

I have another neighbor around the corner (met through PWOC), and one in the next neighborhood over on post (met when I was selling some toys on a local Facebook page) – both with kids the same age as Lovebug, and these are ladies I really enjoy spending time with and look forward to hanging out much more with.  One of them has a husband deploying soon too, and the other’s will in the Fall – so we’ll be going through the same thing together.

The Lord has also brought into my life a very special friend through PWOC.  Not only do I feel we have a lot in common, I also feel we are in similar places in our walk with the Lord.  Sure, we have different experiences that have grown us in different ways, but we are both seeking Him.  Words cannot express to you how much this means to me.  Not only are we able to talk, and have already built a trust, but we are accountability partners praying together and keeping each other in the Word!  I can count on one hand the number of friends that I’ve had this type of relationship with, and I treasure each of them so much.  In fact, those friendships were the hardest for me to leave when we moved, but the Lord knew that and He went before me to put this person here.  She literally arrived here just a short time before I did!

This morning at PWOC, I had another friend ask me how I was doing with the upcoming deployment.  I mean, she *really* asked.  Not just in passing.  She really wanted to know.  Then she even offered to watch Lovebug for us if Hubby and I needed a date night before he left.  Again, she really meant it.  So many people (myself included) say “let me know if I can do anything”, but never follow through.  She was so genuine, and it just moved me today.

After that, I just kept thinking about her question….”How am I doing?”

I’m really doing ok.  How can I not be? I am so blessed! It’s obvious that God is watching over me and our family.  He has provided friendships for us that anywhere else would have taken years to build this strong.  He’s put children right in our neighborhood that Lovebug can play with almost daily.  He’s provided me with other mommies to hang out with, as well as the PWOC group where I can go weekly and worship with other believers, study God’s Word, while Lovebug interacts with other homeschooling kids.   We are still looking for a church home, but I know God will lead us and I’m trying to be patient as I know He has a plan for us there too.

He even put old friends of Hubby’s right here in the same city! Yep, 2 old Army friends of his – that are also friends with some of our best friends – live right here.  Hubby was stationed with them overseas years and years ago, and I think it’s been about 13 years since they’ve seen each other.  We were able to have dinner with them and their families about a week ago and it was like they’d never been apart.  The awesome thing is – when we had dinner, each one of the guys shared how they had been saved since the time that Hubby last saw them.  Now, these guys are Christians and leading their families.

God is good!

So, if you are wondering how I’m doing….I’m great!  I’m better than I deserve as Dave Ramsey would say.  It’s going to be an interesting year.  I expect some sadness and hard times now and then, but I also expect a lot of growth and goodness.  Hubby and I have been through many trials together and we’ve come out of each of them stronger in our faith and our marriage.  I pray this one would be no different.

How we are preparing for deployment

My Hubby wrote recently about his packing list as he prepares for deployment, but I also wanted to share with you how we are preparing as a family.  These ideas have come from a variety of sources – some are my own, some I read online, others were from books.  I thought I would share them with you so you can use them too!  Even if you are not a military family, a lot of these ideas would work for business trips as well.

 

Recording bedtime stories on video

I don’t remember where I first read about this idea, but it is my favorite by far!  Hubby did this before when he left for WTC & AIT last year, and it helped Lovebug so much.  He spent a lot of prep time making videos on our camera of him reading some of her favorite bedtime books.  I think he ended up with enough for her to have a different one every night for a month.  Then, every single night before bed while he was gone, we could sit down at the computer, pick out a story (I named each file the name of the book) and watch Daddy read a bedtime story to her.  Now that we are in pre-deployment mode, he’s recording a lot more so she’ll have more choices.  He’s also recording himself reading her favorite set of chapter books, Magic Tree House, a chapter at a time.  I know we’ll cherish these for years to come, even when he’s not deployed.

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He even showed her the pictures!

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Daddy Doll

We ordered this Daddy Doll when Hubby was gone for 5 months of training, and it was a lifesaver for Lovebug! She slept with it at night, and carried it everywhere with us during the day.  We even took it with us on some excursions and took Daddy’s picture at some of the fun places we visited around town.

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Having “The Talk”

Even though it’s not fun, we made sure we went over the “What-Ifs” and his wishes if something should happen.  I’d rather plan for it all and not have to try to figure things out in the moment. We already had our wills drawn up before we came to the Army anyway, as well as a general Power of Attorney.  We also added a few “special” POA’s since we were getting mixed reports about whether certain offices on post accepted the general one or if they needed a specific one.  Better to have it and not need it, we figured.

 

Cards, cards, and more cards!

Hubby bought lots of blank greeting cards to take with him, so that when he has time he can jot down a note for me or Bug and drop it in the mail.  Then he went ahead and bought a birthday card for Lovebug, filled it out, and left it with me since her birthday is only a month away.  That way, just in case he is too busy or can’t get it done in time, I’ll have it ready for her on her special day.   He also left me with a couple “generic” cards for her, with notes from him so that just in case he gets busy and she doesn’t get mail from him for a while, I can always sneak one into the mailbox for her.

 

Personal Videos

Hubby also recorded personal messages to us on video, then named the files by when we’re supposed to watch them.  Lovebug’s birthday, Christmas, and other times throughout the year.  We don’t know how communication will be while he’s gone, so this way I can play a special message for Lovebug from time to time from her Daddy!

 

Books about Deployment

I also ordered a few books from Amazon to read to Lovebug about children and a deployed parent.  She loves to read, and it helps children to read about other kids going through the same things they are.  The books I bought are:

* Butterfly in the Sky

* A Paper Hug

* Daddy’s in Iraq, but I Want Him Back

 

and one for Hubby! This was written by the same author as a “new dad” book he really enjoyed, so he expects to enjoy this one as well.

* A Military Father: A Hands-on Guide for Deployed Dads

 

Cutting back unnecessary costs

We’ve been married for 9 years, so we already had our finances/bank accounts in order and we stick to a budget Dave Ramsey style, so for the most part we were set.  We will have a couple big changes while he’s gone though.

The first major thing we did was to SELL OUR MINIVAN!  We have a truck that is paid for, and we had a minivan that wasn’t.  Since I can only drive one of them, we decided to get rid of the one that costs us the most money.  While Hubby is gone, I’ll take the money that we were spending on a car payment, set it aside in savings each month, and then when he gets home we’ll go pay cash for a little car for getting around.  In the meantime, it also cut our auto insurance bill in half, so that will add to our savings during the deployment.

Second, once he’s deployed, I will be putting a “military hold” on his cell phone account.  That means that they will keep his account open, keep his phone number, but the phone will not work and we will not be charged each month! That will save us money too!  He’ll be picking up a pre-paid phone once he gets overseas to use, so he won’t use this one anyway.

 

Those are the main things we are doing, other than just spending lots of time with each other!

How do YOU prepare for a deployment or long time apart?

Did you put on your armor today?

As my husband prepares for his upcoming deployment, he is packing all sorts of things to take with him.  One of those is, of course, his body armor.

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I’m very glad he is taking it! However, there is something even more important for him to take with him – and for all of us to have with us each day.

In Ephesians 6, Paul talks about putting on the armor of God.  He says,

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

He continues,

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,

with the breastplate of righteousness in place,

and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

In addition to all of this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Each of us face our own battles each and every day.  For some, the battle is dealing with your special needs children and all the therapy & school appointments.  It might be dealing with infertility, or a failed adoption.  Maybe you are struggling to forgive yourself for something in your past.  Maybe the battle is with a rebellious teenager, or a struggling marriage.  Maybe it’s dealing with a “new normal” as a widow and single mom, or a medical diagnosis.  Or any number of other things.

Don’t face your battle alone!  Let God be your ultimate “Battle Buddy” and walk through this time with him.  He WANTS to help you through it.  Notice I said “through” it, not “around” it.  Open your heart to him, and give the Lord a chance to show you how He can grow you during this time.

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

I get spoiled easily!

Hubby had to go back to work today after being off work for just a 3-day weekend, and already I miss him!  Of course, that might be because out of the last EIGHT months, I have spent ONE of those with him.  I love waking up with him, going to bed with him, staying up late laughing and talking about random things with him.  Everything!

I’m not looking forward to this upcoming deployment.  It’s approaching way too fast.   This 12 month deployment is going to be much different than the previous 8 months.  At least when he was in WTC & AIT, we were able to talk almost every single night.  I was even able to visit him a couple times for a weekend.  This past time at JRTC was probably a better preview to what deployment would be like since for the majority of the time we weren’t able to communicate.  My cell phone was having serious signal problems (I am now with a new provider – YAY!), so I missed most of his calls.  Even when he did call, we only had a couple minutes to talk.  But it was ok because I knew I’d see him in a month.

This time, I’ll have a whole year to wait.  I know I’ll be ok.  I know Lovebug will be ok.  We have both already made some great friends here that I know will be a huge support as we go through this.  Several of them have husbands that will be going with mine, and others have husbands going elsewhere or at a different time, or have already been through it.  I’m so thankful for the many many military spouses I have met in just the last several months!  I prayed for friendships, and God provided!

We also already have plans to do some fun things while Daddy is gone to help pass the time.  We’re going to travel to see some friends, explore fun things in the area, hang out at the pool, and do some schoolwork.  Yes, school 🙂  As a homeschooling family, I like us to get some schoolwork done in the summer when it’s crazy hot outside, so that we can take off more days in the fall when we want to spend more time outside.  We’ll also be busy with karate classes, swimming lessons, and camps.  I’m planning to work my way through a certain cookbook trying some new recipes, and see if I can find an online photography class.  Oh, and work on my scrapbooks! I’m so far behind, it’s like I haven’t started!

So, I know we’ll get through it.  It’s just that I’m going to miss my best friend.  We love hanging out together and enjoy doing just about anything together.  It’s going to feel odd doing some of these things without him, and I kinda feel a little guilty about planning to have so much fun while he’s gone working so hard.  Just a little guilty though, not enough to not do it 🙂

As we talk about our Pre-Deployment To-Do lists, I can see that the time is going to fly by and that we will stay busy.  We have most of the big things out of the way, emergency plans in place, Power of Attorney taken care of, finances in place.  But we still need to pick up some supplies he wants to take with him, discuss some “what if” situations (not all bad, just things that might come up so I can get his opinion ahead of time), and we are hoping to sell our van before he leaves.  No sense having a car payment and paying for insurance for a vehicle that won’t be used much.  We can put that money aside and buy a car when he gets back.  I’ll drive our (paid-for!) truck while he’s gone!

Well, I have a few piles of laundry to get back to.  I’ll be back later because I have some pictures to share.

Happy Monday!

My family is complete again!

Hubby got home from JRTC a few nights ago.  I know, I’m late in announcing his arrival (and behind on some blog posts…), but I’ve been soaking up the joy of having him home!

Friday night, he called me around 9 or so to let me know he was on post! The soldiers had a lot of work to do unloading their gear, so I didn’t get the call to go pick him up until midnight.  I woke up Lovebug, got her loaded in the car, and off we went!  She was so tired, but on the way there she woke up enough to be super excited when she saw Daddy!

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and a really bad quality phone photo of me & hubby in the dark! 

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It’s been awesome having him home! I missed him so much over the past month, I know his time here at home will go by all too fast, so I am cherishing every moment I can.

He’s been unpacking, washing all the camo, and will be re-packing to get things ready for the upcoming deployment.  I can’t believe it’s coming up so fast!  I’ve been making lots of lists in preparation…

* Things to do before he leaves

* Supplies to get that he needs/wants to take with him

* Care package ideas

* Things to do while he’s gone to keep me & Lovebug busy

 

It’ll be here before we know it!

I finally talked to Hubby!

For the last 10 days, I haven’t spoken to or even been able to text with Hubby.  Evidently there is one little pocket of space at JRTC where Hubby’s cell phone gets a signal.  Back here at home, my cell phone has had ZERO signal.  To say I am fed up with Sprint is an understatement.  We are seriously close to switching to another provider.  I have missed at least 5 calls from Hubby because my phone didn’t even ring, went straight to voicemail, and then alerted me to said voicemail over an hour later!

ARG!

We were doing fine, and really, it’s only been 10 days, so we were hanging in there.   I mean, once he deploys I can expect to have periods that long or longer, so I just figured it was a practice run.  At the same time, it’s incredible how much I missed just hearing his voice.  He’s my best friend, my true love – the one I talk to about everything.  I missed just being able to hear about his day, tell him about mine, and laugh together.

Today, we finally had SUCCESS!!

It seems that many people at JRTC were having cell phone coverage problems, so the MWR (Morale, Welfare, & Recreation) stepped in and helped out.  They are routing phone calls through the MWR so the soldiers can call through a landline instead.

Great idea, but it didn’t help since he was calling my cell phone – with no signal whatsoever.  I missed a couple more calls.

Today I had the idea to check out the Skype website.  We have Skype set up so we can video chat with the grandparents, computer to computer.  I knew I had seen something on the website about calling to/from a landline, so I checked that out.

Turns out, for just $18 for 3 months, I could buy a phone number that could be called from a landline or mobile phone.  It might sound like a lot of money, but at this point I would have paid $18 for one phone call with him!  So, I signed up!

I sent Hubby a text message with my new phone number.   He called from the MWR landline straight to my computer, and presto! We were able to talk…for 33 whole minutes!!

YAY!! It felt so good to hear his voice.  We quickly caught up on the last week and a half, professed our love to each other many times, then said goodbye.  Ahhhh, relief.  Hopefully we can do this again soon but even if he gets too busy with work to call, I think I could make it the rest of the way off this one call.  I don’t want to, but I could.

So, if you find yourself in the same situation missing call after call due to bad cell coverage, check out Skype.  It fixed our problem for now, but we’ll still be looking at getting new cell phones and a new provider.