Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Unthinkable.

Jason and I have been separated a ton during our marriage. We've been through trainings, TDY's, trips to gunnery, NTC, JRTC, courses, and four deployments.  Never in a million years did I ever think we'd volunteer to live separately during his dwell time. But that's what's coming at us in less than a week.

It looks like we're going to have to rip our family apart for the chance to keep it together.

I haven't blogged a lot... okay... at all, lately. Why? Because a lot of what's really going on in our life, can't be public knowledge. I can't really tell you what happens in court, without violating privacy. I can't explain what's going on in vague terms for fear that one day this blog that I love will be used against me as was the case of a friend.

If I can't tell you what's really going on? I'm not going to give you some half-assed glossed over version. So what can I tell you?  Emotions, I suppose.

Our absolute joy when we lock eyes above Little Miss' tiny frame as she picks up on something we've been working at teaching her.

Our laughter as she wrecks the block-village our boys made for her in Godzilla fashion.

Her laughter at belly kisses or hand puppets.

Our hope that they'd give her permanency at her year-mark in foster care.

Our devastation that the court chose not to, but instead kept her in limbo.

Our anger that the primary legal consideration in her permanency is just...flawed.

I can tell you the way the car door sounded, soft yet final, as Jason tucked me into it after court. I can tell you the way my sob shook my body when I looked at him a few moments later and said, "I'm stuck here until May, at least."Because Jason is headed out. I can tell you that I couldn't stop crying that night as I had to explain to our boys that what little time we're guaranteed to be together, we are choosing to be apart.

I can tell you that our boys chose to stay here, with no resentment toward their Little Miss, knowing we could still be leaving without her eventually, because they want to hold her as long as possible.

Sometimes the strongest souls dwell in the tiniest bodies.

Most of all, I can tell you how desperately we love her.

Yes, we asked the army to delay his orders, but they would have simply sent him somewhere else. We tried everything we could think of to stay together, but when it comes to the army, well, he signed a contract, and I signed a marriage license. They say go, he goes.

That night, we started to make the hard decisions we knew might be coming. Not to sell the house, to keep our kids in their own home since everything else is so uncertain. To sneak away with them for a weekend and soak up as much family time as we could.

So, I went home to Colorado for a few days, since it had been two years, and I missed my family, my mountains, and my friends.  I took the time to do a little recharge, and make peace that we weren't moving home when we'd hoped we would be.


The nephew. We will call him Mini-Neph, as opposed to Large-Neph or CO Niece. ;)



Mrs. Greenbay, who now lives in CO


Running Woman, of course!






The best friend, who needs no other title. 

Nothing heals my soul like a few days in Colorado. Well, except maybe coming home to Jason and our little tribe of hooligans. I spent my last day with my sister, hoping in and out of her ridiculously large truck as we tracked down every house in school district 12 that will fit our family and then stalked the houses, scaled decks and took notes. The good thing about being so similar to your sister? She pretty much knows which house you're going to like before you pull away. Big hill? No bueno for Rebecca. Flat land? Yes, ma'am. It was so easy to envision us living there, being with our family, which we will, once Little Miss is settled. It was so hard to fly away when I know that we should have been there last month to put the boys into school. 

We took the kids to Great Wolf Lodge, listened to them scream down the slides and tucked them into bed when they stayed up entirely too late. 








Canadian Mosquitos, man. They don't F* around.




So now we're home, and we're prepping to be separated and well.... I'm kind of emotionally compromised. I know everything I need to do for work. I finished my first round of edits, I hired a wicked awesome publicist, and I'm booking up my summer travel. But I'm incapable of really... moving yet, afraid that the second I acknowledge that we're about to be separated for 8 months by... "choice,"... well, that's tough to swallow. 

But please don't tell us, "you're so dedicated," or anything else I've heard lately, like there was any other way we could have played this out. As Jason sat on the floor, playing with our Little Miss, and I drew up a list of things around the house I need help with before he goes, we talked honestly about why we're doing this. 

If someone told us Iron Man couldn't move with us, we'd stay, too. We're not leaving one of our kids behind, and I'm sorry, but after this last year in our home, we think of her as one of our kids. It's the easiest decision to make with the toughest consequences, and as Jason actually said (and my fave Stephen Amell, which makes this PERFECT)

'

There is no choice to make. 

I firmly believe that our world is a beautiful place, but when things go wrong, it's because those who actually know what the right thing is don't do it. We know what the right thing to do is when there's such a little life at stake. But that doesn't mean this doesn't suck.  

Yes, I'm stuck here, sole-caretaking 5 kids with therapists, visitations, 3 hockey teams, scouting and Lord-knows-what while Jason goes to school and then on to Colorado. Yes, I'll be shoveling snow in another Fort Drum winter I never thought I'd see. Yes, I'll be alone when my next book releases, and we'll be apart for birthdays, holidays and milestones... again. But we're choosing to look at the big picture, and in the words of one of my favorite people, Gordon B. Hinckley, we're not forsaking what we want most for what we want NOW. 

And what we want is our family.  

So we'll fight for our family, and we'll wait for the day Little Miss has permanency, one way or another.  And anyone who's ever known Jason and I... well, we excel at the hard stuff. We kick ass when the times get tough. 

We've got less than a week left together. Good thing we're in the mood for some ass-kicking.






Monday, September 1, 2014

And this year... I'll be better. Right?

School is almost in session.


Right? Seriously, when we took the boys school supply shopping yesterday, This was what ran through my head:

It's almost as great as Christmas, except the gift I'm getting is TIME. It also seems like this last week, which is the last of this summer, the boys are a wee bit insane. Okay, more like they've lost their ever-loving minds. Ahhhhh, yes, my tiny -


Yeah, they're killing me. Within the first few moments of walking down our steps, well, I'm bound to see this:


So I figure, hey, they need large muscle activity. They need to get the heck out of the house. So by lunch time today, I come home from the store and find them still in their pajamas, fighting over what? MineCraft.
And what do I say? "Get dressed, and get outside and play." 

To which Thor responds, "Why? We didn't do anything wrong!"

Yeah, apparently playing outside has become punishment? Oy. They would probably think Jason and I grew up being tortured medieval-style, because I think neither of us saw the inside of a house during the summer growing up... and we liked it that way.



So anywhoo, it occurs to me how much nicer, happier the boys are when they're on a gluten-free diet. How much happier, nicer they are when they're scheduled, stimulated without each other.  How much they need school just as badly as I do.



In fact, just before I sat down to type this? I was rewarded with the following exchange: 

"Ow!" Thor yells.

"Sorry!" The Hulk immediately cries loud enough so that I hear him. Refusing to apologize is a cardinal sin in this house, so he knocked that out of the way early.

"What's going on?" I call back, dreading the answer.

"YOU HURT MY NOSE!" Thor shouts.

"I said I'm sorry!" The Hulk argues.

"Boys!" I yell, trying desperately to get some form of work done before they....

"YOU HURT MY NOSE WITH YOUR FART!" 

Wait... what?


The joys of raising boys. 

Right, so we're just a few days out of the start of school. Supplies are bought and divided between their new, monogrammed back packs, new shoes have been purchased, clothes too - and I've made it through turning over two of the four boys' wardrobes for school clothes. 

I love the sense of rejuvenation I get with the beginning of the school year. In some ways, it feels more like New Year's to me than turning the calendar on January 1. Everything is new, from the pencils to the clothes, and I can't help but feel a little new too. After all, once that school bus takes my tiny boys to their school, it's just Little Miss and me... all day. 

After a summer of writing to a deadline (which is new for me, so have some mercy), traveling, summer camps, and a little bit of insanity, I'm ready for routine and structure. 

I'm ready to ROCK this. 


So instead of New Year's Resolutions, let's try some School Year Resolutions, because I'm feeling all motivated and stuff.

1. This year, I will get up before ALL children, yes, that's 6 a.m., and I will greet the morning with a smile even BEFORE that first strong cup of coffee. 


2. This year, I will check all four backpacks both before and after school. 
   * Perhaps this will alleviate the moment I get the phone call where a laser tag gun has been taken to school because The Hulk wanted to play at recess. 



3. This year I will diligently sign the teacher correspondence notebooks. Even when the child in question (Oh, who am I kidding, this is always The Hulk), has perhaps not emptied his backpack (see number one), or worse, has maybe hidden said notebook so I don't see that he's decided to not do whatever he was asked to do. 


4. This year I will pack only nutritious, gluten-free lunches that I will lovingly prepare earlier than five minutes before the bus. Heck, I'm going to prep the NIGHT before!


5. This year I will make sure that completing number 4 doesn't completely consume the entire grocery budget. 


6. This year, I will schedule my time as rigidly as I schedule our kids'. I will hold myself accountable for my working hours so I can spend more time writing when they're gone, and more time with them when they're home. This will help me avoid looking like THIS, when I procrastinate a deadline and I'm up until 5:45 a.m., only to get up two hours later. 


Oh, seriously, who am I kidding. My schedule is usually shot to shit after the first round of "look at the germs I picked up in Kindergaten" makes it's way home and all four are out with fevers and doctor's appointments until I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off like:


But wait, we're all about making resolutions here, right? Right. 


Back to the positive.

7. This year I will use my kid-free (a.k.a. Little Miss nap) time to block out the rest of the world, write, and catch up on my beta work. And if the phone rings, unless it's one of the trio - (Jason, Aaron, or the School), I'm not answering it. Nope. I'm going to be like:


8. This year, I will promptly stop working the moment they walk in the door. Well... unless I'm on deadline, then all bets are off. But as I tell my little guys, if you want to play hockey... well, mama's got to edit, because man, those skates aren't cheap. 


9. This year, I will make sure to hound them for their project due-dates and then I'll make them do it... you know, like... before the night before. This way we avoid the inevitable dash to the store after school for poster board so Captain America can then write "Just say No to Mariwanna," on his D.A.R.E. poster. Then again, having a kid who knows so little about drugs that he misspells marijuana? Yeah, that's really NOT a bad problem to have. 


Oh, and amendment - this year I will watch as he's writing to avoid said typo.


10. This year I swear I'll get everything prepped, or heck, teach them to prep their shoes/bags themselves, so that there's a lot more, "have a great day, I love you soooooo much," going on, and a lot less, "Oh my Good Lord, the bus is going to be here in less than five minutes, what do you mean you can only find two left shoes? And why haven't you brushed your teeth? Yes... WITH TOOTHPASTE!" Yeah, I'm going to rock that organization and get everyone out of this house so smoothly that I'll be able to sit down with my post-bus-rush coffee and say:


11. Lastly? Yeah, I'm going to forgive myself when the calendar turns to October and this list has gone to shit. Because I'm a mom, not a domestic goddess. I'm still figuring out this whole balance career / five kids thing, and well... some days are butter, and some days are sour cream... that's gone bad. But hey, we're a work in progress.

Welcome to the school year. We're geared up, monogrammed, ironed, washed and ready to go. Oh, and the kids are, too. ;)



See 'ya on the flip side.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Pucking Mess of a PCS: (Vol. 2) The Binder.

Ah, yes, welcome back to our messy little PCS.

Okay, so when I approach a PCS, that first initial look is kind of like.... well....


Yeah, it's a whole heaping mess of "honey, here's our orders, and our transport dates... did you pick up the kids records?" Um... Yeah, hold on... somewhere. 

THIS is my somewhere.



With everything swirling around us regarding this PCS, we're doing our best to organize what we can. Control isn't exactly something we have in spades, but hey, I'll use this little pink binder as compensation. Because in this little binder, everything fits into a neat little compartment and then I can close it up. 

Maybe you're thinking: 

 Well, guess what?

This little wonder is something that makes our complicated PCS just a little more simple. The pink version is the 2nd we've gone through. Our trusty red one finally gave out. Boo. To be honest, this one isn't my favorite because it's missing some of the pockets we've grown accustomed to, and I might just sneak out and purchase another one because if anything, I am very much a creature of habit. But for now, it works, it's bright (a MUST in our house), and pink makes me happy. 


So what do we keep in our PCS Binder?

1. Orders - Yup, those pesky little papers that says you're on the move. I usually have Jason print out about 20 of them, because you need them at the oddest times. To get out of leases, or cell phone contracts, and the movers need them. If you're headed overseas, you'll need them at the airport for your baggage, or heck, if you're flying anywhere to a duty station. It'll help you out with those over-stuffed bags. You never know when you'll need these, so I also scan them in and email them to myself. That way I can send them quickly from my smartphone if someone needs them that moment. 

2. Transport - This is where you put all your information regarding the movement of your stuff. You know, your household goods and hold baggage. So appointment papers, any paperwork they give us when they show up, our weight tickets if we're doing a DITY. Then we make sure as they unpack, we pay close attention to what is damaged/broken, and we use this slot to keep records of all that in one place as well. 

3. Storage - If moving Overseas, this is where we keep the info on everything we're putting into storage. But this PCS, we're using it to keep tabs on what's in our storage unit while we stage our house to sell. Also, because we need to store our things in Colorado before we buy our house, it will keep that info too. 

4. Records. - You know... Birth Certificates, marriage license, passports, Social Security cards... yup, the identity theft jackpot. At this point, since everything is already out, I go ahead and make a copy of everything, and email it to myself.  I also take a copy of Jason's ID, and our Power of Attorney (GET ONE), and email them to myself with orders in one PDF for easy "yes, I have authorization to talk to you about my freaking utilities." Sigh. Especially with our crazy PCS situation, I'll need a power of attorney to sell our house, and handle just about everything while Jason is at WOAC. 

5. Travel - This is where I store all of our hotel reservations for the trip to our new duty station, or airplane tickets for OCONUS moves. This folder is with me at all times during a PCS (hence the DO NOT PACK), so when I keep gas receipts or anything regarding our travel (U-haul reservations, and such) in this little pocket.

6. School - Anything regarding the kids' school, from their records from our current duty station, to any forms I'll need completed to enroll them at the new one. If I know I need a physical to enroll them at our new duty station, I make sure to have that completed here, and then stick it in the pocket. PCS's are all about making sure things run as smoothly for the tiny humans as possible. 

7. Drum - Anything random that we need while we're HERE. 

8. Rucker - Anything we need pertaining to Jason's TDY in Fort Rucker.

9. Carson - Any new information we get about the new post. Because Colorado Springs is my home, this will stay pretty empty, but in other moves it's been full of "what to do while in..." lists, maps, language-guides... you get the gist.

10. Little Miss - Anything regarding what's going on with our Little Miss, since we'll start packing our filing  cabinets where we keep her records/court papers. 

11. We leave random compartments for anything we need to adapt! (Something tells me it will be hockey stuff... yup.) 

Booyah.

There's our PCS Binder. It's great to have everything in one place, but it's also a PAIN IN THE A## to lose. My best advice? Keep it in one place, and one place only. Then, the day the movers are set to arrive, lock this bad boy in your car so it doesn't accidentally wind up in your household goods. Yup. 

This one little slice of organzation makes me feel like we can get through this without tearing my hair out... or my husband's hair. But I can't stress enough - DON'T LOSE IT. This is the tiny something that makes this just a teensie bit less of a Pucking Mess. Yup. 

 So for just this minute, I feel totally and completely like an under-control, PCS Badass. 


Yeah, I'll take it.