Monday, September 30, 2013

31 Days 2013: beauty{full}

This year, because he's deployed and has some extra time on his hands (and possibly because he wants to show me up when he gets home and I have yet to take off all the pregnancy weight), the Man is engaging in a military fitness challenge. You've got to keep yourself entertained somehow while on deployment...  

Since he was doing something productive (working out counts as productive, right?), I thought I would join in the fun too. I'm not the likeliest contestant for any kind of fitness contest at this point, but every year one of my favourite bloggers, The Nester, hosts a 31 day blogging challenge (more details here). And this year--taking a deep breath because I might be crazy for doing this--I'm going to jump in and give it a shot. I made this life changing decision today, sometime after discovering that Tiny might have pneumonia but probably doesn't and before chasing down the Trig-dog following yet another escape attempt. I'd want to escape me too.

So, for the next thirty one days you can come here (yes, literally, right here to this exact post), and read my series on beauty--inner and outer, obvious and hidden, brilliant and broken. Clarifying that I meant brilliant beauty, not brilliant writing. I promise not to take myself too seriously (and also not to make too many bad jokes at my own expense), and I will diligently tie in all the weird aspects of my life that you all so enjoy laughing about with me. Each post will be listed below so you can just click and read as the month progresses.

And so (seriously, I am super nervous about this), here we go!

Day One: a starting point
Day Two: the pursuit
Day Three: my history
Day Five: worship
Day Six: an overflow
Day Seven: trust
Day Eight: rest
Day Ten: longing
Day Eleven: leaving space
Day Thirteen: a little inspiration
Day Fourteen: scars
Day Fifteen: A Break from Beautiful
Day Sixteen: his scars
Day Seventeen: spoken love
Day Eighteen: messy
Day Nineteen: ugly/beautiful
Day Twenty: uncooperative life
Day Twenty-One: finishing
Day Twenty-Two: trash trucks
Day Twenty-Three: spirit
Day Twenty-Four: being personal
Day Twenty-Five: re-scarring
Day Twenty-Six: home
Day Twenty-Seven: brave
Day Twenty-Nine: the unexpected
Day Thirty: the secret
Day Thirty-One: the goal

Friday, September 27, 2013

Accompanying Hope

Last week on one of the not so perfect days in our house, I texted my sister and asked her this semi-rhetorical question:

Is it blind faith or unsubstantiated optimism that always tells me tomorrow will be a better day?

Then this week happened--with sleepless nights of coughing and steam showers and elbows in my belly as I discovered a couple extra boys trying to climb in bed with me. Let me just say, I am not a natural co-sleeper to begin with. Add twinancy to the mix and there better not be anything or anyone else in bed with me other than four extra pillows and possibly the cat, but only if he curls up very, very small and doesn't make a single peep.

Anyway, this week happened, in all its glory, and I told the Man yesterday that I wanted to quit. I wanted to quit parenting. I wanted to quit pregnancy. I wanted to quit this deployment. Yes, I realize none of those are possibilities, but sometimes just saying it out loud (or typing it in an email?) makes reality more bearable.

But you see, that's the thing about being an adult: you have to take care of yourself. And the thing about being an adult with kids of your own: you have to take care of them too. And the thing about being an adult with sick kids: no one else is going to make the decision about whether or not to take them to see the doctor. The buck stops here.

No one is coming to take care of you (unless you ask--and thank God for that wonderful friend who made a Walgreens run to pick up infant tylenol when Tiny couldn't stop shaking and wouldn't get out of my lap and the two bottles of pain meds we did have decided to mysteriously run out at exactly the same time). And no one is coming to save you.

Except for Christ.

And that's when I think I may have been wrong. That's it's not blind faith or unsubstantiated optimism. It's hope. And "hope does not put us to shame". Why not? "Because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." (Romans 5:5)

If I trust that Christ has come to rescue me, to be my knight in shining armour (if you will), to be my Saviour, in all senses of that word... if I trust that the sovereign God is pouring out his love for me (yes, even in ways I don't understand, perhaps in the form of croupy sons and diarrhea laundry and twin B shoved up underneath my rib cage)... if I trust that the Spirit of my Saviour and of this Sovereign God resides in me, walks with me, and does not leave me alone (not ever)... then how can I keep from hoping?

Even if sometimes it feels like hope is nothing more than grasping at Truth and making a breakfast donut run to appease the restless natives.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. 
Romans 15:13

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Help Wanted (and Not Just of the Psychiatric Nature)

The time has come, the Walrus said,
To pick some twin-net names.
Like Frick and Frack
Or Jill and Jack
Or something in between...

Yes, I killed the rhyme scheme. But if you were sitting on the couch with two fever flushed boys being forced to watch multiple back to back episodes of Clifford until your brain seeps out your ear holes, you would be incapable of good writing too.

So, here's the deal: the Man and I picked names for the twins before he left on deployment. We learned a long time ago that I prefer international/hippie names and he leans towards hyper traditional, so it's better to meet in the middle while we're still capable of in person argument. It's much more fun that way too. But that's still not helpful for blogging purposes where I try to avoid using my kids' real names. I'm old fashioned like that. And creative. Or just paranoid-delusional.

Anyway, it was easy picking the Little Man's nickname. He really is a little version of the Man. Not necessarily in his personality (he opens his mouth and his mother comes out), but in looks, for sure. Then Tiny was my own snide literary reference. God bless us every one! So you would think that coming up with nicknames for the twins would be easy. It has not proved to be the case. Why, I don't know. Maybe because there are so many options!

I refuse to use Thing One and Thing Two, simply because that seemed too obvious to me, and referring to them as the Little Boy Twin and the Little Girl Twin seems a bit ponderous, and really, no one other than me is hearing Shawn Spencer's voice from Psych saying it (Little Boy Cat, anyone? anyone? Bueller?). I did briefly consider Tweedledee and Tweedledum, but that's inevitably shortened to Dee and Dum, and that just seemed mean. I'm mean but not that mean. I hope. Then I considered Lucy and Ricky, Fred and Ginger, Bonnie and Clyde, Salt and Pepper, Flotsam and Jetsam (yes, I thought it was funny), Hansel and Gretel, Mutt and Jeff (haha), Sonny and Cher, and even Kermit and Miss Piggy. I've even thought about getting my hippie kicks in and punnily naming them Sun and Star. And it was at this point that I realized I had absolutely no clue what I wanted or what I was doing.

But here's the fun thing, not only do I still have about three months to make this naming decision, but I can also recruit you to give me your two cents (aside: Littles paid me one penny the other night for baking bread and one more for making dinner--I'm rolling in dough). So, weigh in here: what do YOU think I should nickname the twins?

{Please, keep in mind that at our last ultrasound the Little Girl Twin had not only stolen enough of the Little Boy Twin's food to have a whopping 2 ounces on him, but she also had her rump shoved in his face. So personalities are coming into play early on.}

And while I'm seeking input, tell me what you think about our nursery plans, which you can access over at my friend Rachelle's blog. Should we go white or cream? I thought I'd made up my mind and now I'm second-guessing myself.

Do opine, opinionated readers!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Brown Paper Packages (Tied Up With String)

Last week we had a couple nights of wonderful thunderstorms. Wonderful for me--not so much for Littles who asks me to pray every night that there won't be any thunder. Yes, even when there is not a drop of rain in the forecast because we live in Oklahoma. Anyway, the second night, in a fit of inspiration, I channeled Julie Andrews and burst into a spirited rendition of "My Favourite Things". There may or may not have been crickets following my impromptu performance. I may or may not have then resisted the urge to cut up the curtains to make play clothes for the kids.

But today the boys were treated to an encore performance after we received a package from the Man's great aunt complete with real live brown paper packages tied up with real live string. It was fantastic. And I have continued singing as I flipped through pictures of yesterday's baby shower, unpacked bags and boxes, found yet another baby gift on the front porch, and received from my fairy god-aunt the twin stroller the Man and I had picked out.

I will tell you a secret (though it won't be one once I tell you). This pregnancy there have been cry days. Days where, inexplicably perhaps, I am crying about everything. I chalk this up to twin hormones wrecking havoc on my already strained emotional stability. And, this is the part that was supposed to be a secret, Sunday was a cry day. I cried going to church, cried at church, cried coming home from church. I'm just a weeper.

So I'm getting ready to go to the baby shower that my wonderful friends are wonderfully throwing for me and the twin-beeberts (that's a Littles-ism), and I'm still feeling weepy. Which is not appropriate for party going. Even pregnant party going. I mean, imagine this:

"Thank you for the gift! I love these adorable onesies so much I can't stop crying about them!"

Or this:

"Please have a piece of cake. It's lovely with some extra salt. Here, let me cry on your slice for you."

Or this:

"You came to celebrate me and the twins! Please may I sob hysterically on your shoulder?"

It's just not pretty. Thankfully I pulled myself together sufficiently and was able to tearlessly enjoy all the wonderful women who came and overwhelmed me with presents. Seriously, I'd broken a sweat by the time I finished opening gifts. It was perfect. The shower, not the sweating. Although I needed a real shower after all the sweating...

Then last night I came home and obsessive compulsively put away every single thing except for the diapers and wipes that are currently taking over the guest bed. I had to get help because (since we're being honest here) I'm losing mobility fast and it's not always easy to get everything where you want it when you have a gigantic belly getting in the way. In fact, while putting baby wash and lotions underneath the sink I got stuck sitting on the boys' bathroom stool and had to make clever use of the towel racks to hoist myself up again. For the inquiring minds that want to know, no, I am still not yet in my third trimester.

Anyway, the teariness has returned today, but they have been happy tears. It's hard not to want to cry when I see just how blessed our family has been time and time again. In my mind I'm recounting some of my favourite things--and since I'm pregnant, tears of joy might just be on the list.

Closely followed, of course, by little boy football, fairy god-aunts, soul integrity among friends, unpacking and organizing, books by lamp light, the counting of blessings, letters that make me laugh, getting to be a helping hand, advice from wise sources, and, of course, brown paper packages (tied up with string).

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Air Quotes and Autumn

There was a plan tonight (there really was) to get to this blog as soon as I got the boys asleep. But then I got side tracked by second dinner.

Then "Nilla" wafers (I can't say that without the mocking air quotes) and chocolate pudding.

Then some impressively blatant stalling on instead of actually writing on my own blog.

Then piddling around doing other completely unnecessary things while I waited for the pictures to make it from my phone to my computer so I could officially sit down and start (because what's the point of writing something if your visual aids are not yet available?).

But really, I just couldn't get this blog rolling without this completely creepy picture that I found on my phone when I was going looking for the rest of the photos I needed for today.

Hey, creeper:

Let me explain (no, let me sum up). This is Rolly. He has made repeat appearances on this blog in the past. But as the Little Man's photographical acumen has sky rocketed, so has his adoration of this dog. Sentimentally, it was the Man's when he was a kid and I am so grateful that Rolly is helping Littles survive this deployment, but if anything happens to Rolly--and I've already sewn his head back on three times--we're in big trouble. Anyway, I'm not sure why I was scared out of my mind to find this looking back at me as I scanned through my photo gallery. Maybe it's something about those unnerving eyes looking straight into my soul. Rolly has now become the Chucky of stuffed animals to me.

He's watching me. And he does not approve.

But that's not the point of today's post. Frankly, there may not yet be a point, but I did have an end game in mind. Mostly, I wanted to tell you that autumn arrived! Ish. I mean, of course, the Oklahoma version of autumn which is completely devoid of things like changing leaves that wash the world in colour. But it was in the 50's this morning and so wonderfully cool that the boys and I packed up some fruit and a loaf of pumpkin bread, threw on hats and hoodies (well, I had to wear a sweater because none of my hoodies fit any more for obvious reasons), and went to the creek for a picnic breakfast as the sun was coming up. Note, I did bring coffee for myself otherwise we might never have made it out of the house.

For the most part, I will admit, I was celebrating actually getting a decent night of sleep. And the fact that I just really like these kids. More so when they sleep than when they don't.

How could I not? Look at this face! I mean, look at this face! (Are you looking?)

The Little Man lovingly took a picture of the me and the twins to prove that I was actually awake and out of bed at this hour, and while I will be honest and admit that it's not my favourite photo ever, I'm obligingly posting it for those of you who would otherwise accuse me of kicking the kids out of the house on their own under the pretense of a picnic just so I could get more sleep.

I wouldn't do that. I might think about doing that, but I wouldn't ever follow through with it in reality. I did roll over in bed yesterday morning though and waste my breath telling my three year old, "Go get your own breakfast!" but I claim partial insanity after being up all night long with his teething baby brother. Littles just looked at me in confusion. The fact that he gets his own yogurt and spoon every morning for breakfast and knows how to access the fruit drawer in the fridge is apparently lost on him. It's not breakfast if I'm still in bed, evidently.

Anyway, it was great. The long shadows stretching off the Little Man's bike spokes, the sun coming up behind the boys as they competed to see who could stuff more pumpkin bread in at one time, pulling out some of the cold weather clothes, the tantrum Tiny threw about not being allowed to wear sandals--all of it was great...and then I found a garage sale lamp for $1 as we were walking the dog after breakfast.

I love fall. It always reminds me of visits to the tea plantation when I was a kid. It must be the similarity in the weather. Plus, autumn always provides me with the excuse to make home made bread and stew. I love stew. For that matter, I love bread. Or maybe it's just that I love food.

Someone tell me quick: do you think it's possible I'm pregnant?

And now the cat has his head in the empty "Nilla" (weird...) wafer bag, so I think that's a sign that I should go to sleep. The End.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Lessons from an Off Day

This morning as Reveille played insistently from outside my window, I sat up in bed and cheerily greeted my sons and the new day. 

And that pretty much used up the sum total of my natural ability to be nice today. I had to work really hard at it after that. It wasn't pretty. 

You know those days when you stress-eat your weight in dessert or when you play hide and seek with the kids and instead of seeking go and lie down for a nap or when you take extended bathroom breaks just so you can have a moment by yourself? Yeah... I'm not saying I did any of those things. I'm just saying I thought about them longingly.

However, I did learn a few nuggets of wisdom through today's survival exercises. Allow me to share:
  • Upon finding that both your pairs of maternity shorts are in the wash, don't idiotically assume you can just wear a pair of regular shorts by using the hair tie through the button hole trick. You are twenty four weeks pregnant with twins: maternity bottoms are not optional. If you persist in your idiocy you will spend all day trying to re-zipper your shorts as the Little Girl Twin desperately tries to shove them off of her.
  • When you go to take a quick shower in an attempt to get yourself in a better mood, put the markers out of reach of the one year old. We know you're blonde and pregnant, but...really?
  • When you make an excellent meal for yourself and the in-utero twins and then graciously allow your other two ingrates to partake and they respond with a whiney "I don't like dinner", resist the urge to release a primordial scream while upending the rest of the meal over their heads, and instead choose to lovingly teach them how to say, "This meal isn't my favourite, Mommy," before mentally labelling them "uncultured philistines" and resolving to thoroughly enjoy some solitary seconds the moment you get them to bed.
  • Don't waste your time reading The Little House Books while you wait for your children to fall asleep at nap time. You will only end up feeling desperately guilty for not living up to Ma Ingalls' standards.
  • Similarly, avoid exposing yourself to other moms who give even the appearance of having it together. Though normally you will be encouraged and challenged by how well they are doing, today you will irrationally hate them and want to do mean things to them. Remind yourself that you are not in your right mind and go eat some chocolate.
  • Try for a little fresh air. It may not get you out of your funk but it might make it a more functioning funk.
  • Do not, I repeat, do not read or watch anything that might in any way reference military kids being separated from their parents or moving away from their friends. You will cry so hard that the Little Boy Twin will literally try to rip his way out of your belly just to get away from all the excess estrogen. That will not feel good.
  • If you're already having massive issues with heartburn, don't try to convince yourself that your normal mug of morning coffee is still a good idea.
And (last one and a drum roll, please, because I refuse to learn anything else from today):
  • If nothing actually bad happens and you just feel grumpy and grouchy, it's not actually a bad day. It's just a day like any other where you get to choose whether you go hide in bed or at least try to make the best of it.
I tried. I'm not saying I succeeded, but I tried. And hopefully neither of the boys will be scarred for life from what I put them through today. Hopefully... And if they are, we've lived next door to a shrink for the last two years so at least I'll know where to send them.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Parenting: Kicking It Deployment Style

Saying good morning to Daddy.
I started writing this post last night in my head, about all the things I've been learning while parenting the boys solo since the Man left. I'm not saying it was a pat on the back post, but it was a "this is not the easiest thing I've ever done, but I feel decent about the progress we're making as a family" post (and this is an awkward sentence). Thankfully, I had other things to write about yesterday so you didn't have to hear me go on and on about how well I'm doing. Because today, well, let's just say it was survival of the fittest, and Tiny won.

In my defense, he does not have a gigantic, kicking watermelon strapped to his front.

Anyway, so today, I was not at my best, for a multitude of reasons, and I definitely lost it more than a few times, which was making me reconsider writing about the parenting lessons I truthfully thought I'd learned because, to a certain extent, today I felt like a failure as a mom. But the truth is that the lessons God has been teaching me over the last week are no less true just because I had a rough day. On the contrary, they might be more applicable than ever before. And possibly more accessible because I don't already have them down.

Let me preface the rest of this post by saying that on Friday night I had a couple of wonderful high school girls over to watch Beauty and the Beast and make brownies (so I can get back in touch with my girly side before the Little Girl Baby arrives--bloggy nickname debate coming soon). We got to the part of the movie where Belle's curiousity gets the best of her and she explores the forbidden wing of the castle, only to be caught by the Beast. He roars at her, "Why did you come here? I warned you NEVER to come here! Do you realize what you could've done? Get out! GET OUT!" And guys, I just died laughing. I mean, laughing til I cried. And those two poor girls sat there and lovingly looked at me like I had gone crazy, but seriously: that is exactly how I feel every single morning Tiny and Littles come running into my room saying, "Mama! Mama!" in their happy little voices.

Because I am a mean mommy to little people. And because I am sleep deprived.

These sleep issues have constituted a good portion of what I've been learning. Mostly because bed time since the Man left has been extremely long, drawn out, and full of tears. With that has come a severe decrease in the amount of alone time and rest I have been getting. I love my kids. I truly do. But my time without them is precious to me. And necessary for what remains of my sanity. So when, all of a sudden, it takes them an hour and a half to fall asleep every night because Littles won't stop crying for Daddy, I start to get more than a little ragged around the edges.

Yesterday at nap time I had just sat down to read my Bible, all finally quiet on the western front, when Littles popped his head back out of their door, crying (yet again) for the Man. Frustrated to not get the time I felt I needed with Jesus, I went and laid down with him until he fell asleep. Yes, incredibly, I still fit in the twin bed with him. It's a small miracle, I know.

As I was lying there, trying to pretend that I was asleep so he would take a hint and do the same, I privately bemoaned the fact that I wasn't spending serious time with Christ, which, as all good Christians know, can only be done with a Bible, a pen, and a really swanky looking journal. Except back in the day, you know, when the apostles were still helping establish the early church, they didn't have Bibles, pens, or really swanky journals. All they had were the commandments of Christ and his Holy Spirit to enable them to be obedient. And what does Christ ask of us? To love others. And also to let the little children come to him.

So perhaps I was even more truly spending time with Jesus by sacrificing my own time to love on Littles than I would've been if I had, yet again, sent the Little Man back to bed with a stern warning to not get up again and then basked in a spiritual glow while reading a chapter of the Bible.

Then again: perhaps this is backfiring on me since he crawled in bed with me at nap time today, and I've spent the last two nights sitting on an old crib mattress between his bed and Tiny's holding hands and reading on my phone for a solid hour while they fell asleep. May I just say, it's very uncomfortable to sit on the floor while the Little Boy Baby jabs his bony back into my rib cage and the Little Girl Baby squashes herself down as far as she can so that my legs go numb.

Moving on...

The other big thing that I've been learning, which is related, perhaps, is just to slow down. Naturally, this means we were late to Sunday School this morning. Regardless, I'm forcing myself to slow, to clear my schedule, to pay attention, to cuddle more. These boys, they need their cuddles and hugs and hand holding all. day. long. And as I've done so, as I've taken more time to put down whatever "work" I'm doing and talk to them and listen to them, I've fallen in love with them all over again. Especially Tiny, my little wild child who pushes my buttons and drives me up the wall and gives me daily heart attacks.

And for the most part, I've seen the time and energy invested return to me in less whining and swifter obedience and a decreased need for punishment. Not today of course. Today everything went catawampus, especially with Tiny who grinned cheerfully at me every time I asked him to do anything and then promptly pitched a full blown tantrum, who used me as a jungle gym during church, and who refused to utilize his extensive vocabulary to tell me any of his wants, instead relying on grunts and screams.

Somehow, though, that's okay. Tomorrow is a new day, but in the meantime, I made it through today and Tiny fell asleep holding my hand while I sat on a junky old crib mattress and got internally pummeled by his younger siblings. And Littles was out by 845 instead of 930 tonight. It is progress, however small,  and so here I am, sharing about it with you, mostly so that tomorrow I will remember that serving my children is being with Christ and slowing down is worth it in the long run.

And if you think I'm in danger of forgetting, maybe I need yet another reminder, but maybe I also just need a pot of coffee and another book to read on my kindle in a dark bedroom while I hold small hands indefinitely and my entire body stops circulating its blood. Who knows?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

About Deployments (and Solidarity)

Packing is fun.
Hard to find everything he needs in all that camo.
In April, we sat down at the dinner table and the Man gently told Littles about the deployment. We had known for a few weeks, and even though it was still far off, we knew it was time to talk straight to the little guy. He was picking up on stuff, and we thought it was only fair to be honest with him.

After the Man told him, Littles looked him straight in the eye and said, fearlessly, "I'm going to miss you, Daddy."

You don't get over those words.

By the time the Man gets home from his deployment, we will have been in the deployment cycle for a whole year. And really, it won't be over even when his bags are unpacked. You see, most people don't realize that the deployment doesn't begin when you say goodbye. Neither does it end when you say hello again.

As soon as he walks through the door or makes that phone call to let you know that he will be leaving, it starts. Every tiny moment from then on out is inextricably tainted. Every kiss tinged by the knowledge of him leaving. Every fun family moment carrying extra weight. Every night's sleep one less that you have before goodbye. And you know in the back of your head that, even when he gets home again, readjustment takes time (especially when the number of kids will have doubled).

There are days you forget. Life feels normal. And then it hits you over the head again unexpectedly, and you find yourself blinking back tears while your husband shares Saturday morning donuts with the kids. And no, you're not crying about that touching moment in Mayberry with Aunt Bea and Opie.

Ready to go.
In a way, the goodbye is almost a relief because the waiting for it, the dreading it, can end and you can get on with the reality. You know that the days will settle into a routine that rotates around only one adult's schedule. You find aspects of the deployment that you almost enjoy, like not having to share the bed any more when your belly is taking up more than its fair share or having less laundry to do. You adjust. Because you have to.

Yes, there are the hard moments. The tired days without the knowledge of a second adult coming home to provide relief,  the ache of not being able to laugh about an inside joke with your best friend, and worst of all hearing over and over again "I miss Daddy" when barely a week has gone by.

Today at lunch, Littles asked me to pray that he wouldn't miss Daddy as much.

You don't get over those words.

But the dread is no longer there. The days have begun ticking by and as each one passes, you are that much closer to the end.

Let's be honest though: I don't typically write specifically about military spouse issues here. They like to come up on the sidelines, creep in at the corners, you know, but this isn't a mil spouse blog, and I certainly don't think I have enough experience or knowledge to write in any way expertly on the subject. Still, I'm learning that when I really don't want to write about something because it makes me feel exposed, that generally that's what I should be writing about. Besides which when I mentioned earlier that I was contemplating writing something specific to deployments, there seemed to be overwhelming consensus among my readers that I should man up and do so.

So maybe... perhaps... it's that you, like me, are in the middle of a deployment cycle that seems to have no end and you occasionally think seriously about checking yourself into a mental institution (especially during that pre-deployment phase when you keep asking yourself why in the world you're already falling apart when he hasn't even left yet). Or maybe, you're in one of those blessed lull periods in between deployment orders and just need a reminder to kiss your husband and say thank You. Or maybe you have a friend or sibling or child who is somewhere in the deployment cycle and you just want to know more. I don't know.

And I'm not typically one for pedantic bullet point instructionals (5 Easy Steps to Becoming Awesome or 18 Ways to Fix Everything Ever), but I thought, if you would allow me, I could give just a few general suggestions for ways to minister to a deployed spouse--regardless of where they are in the deployment cycle. These are ways that I have been blessed and have seen other spouses blessed repeatedly.

Last morning snuggles.
First, pray. For the deployed spouses, for the airmen and sailors and soldiers and Marines  who are far away from them, for their kids. Oh, please, pray for their kids. And don't just pray for us, let us know. Sometimes the knowledge that we are being remembered before God is as powerful as the actual prayer.

Second, don't underestimate the little things. Honestly, the little things matter just as much as the grand gestures. Thursday morning after yet another night of interrupted sleep, when I thought it would be impossible to go through the motions and put on a smile and be mom, when all I wanted to do was put my head down and cry from exhaustion, I had a friend text and ask if she could bring me chicken noodle soup for dinner--she had just put together a crock pot full. Then I really did cry. But it was just what I needed to make it until I got a little more sleep. She had no idea of how God was using her timing to encourage me. It was just a container of soup to her. It was a life line to me. I have so many other examples of little ways I have been encouraged these last few months and specifically this last week--quick messages on facebook, a trash can brought up the driveway for me, an extra set of hands with the kids. Those little blessings are seen and treasured. And they add up.

Third, allow us to serve you. One of my dearest friends shared with me this week some struggles that she was going through. I was so glad to listen and pray for her. She afterwards admitted feeling guilty about venting to me since I had "so much more on my plate." But I can't tell you how special it made me feel that I could still do something other than just survive. I took cookies to a friend whose husband left for a TDY (temporary duty) on Sunday. She was shocked that I would think of her when the Man had just left, but serving someone else made me feel like I wasn't quite so powerless. Obviously, I have limits. My kids are demanding a lot of hands on time right now as they adjust to their dad being gone. But when I get the chance to bless someone else, it blesses me. It also reminds me that what I'm going through is not the end of the world or the hardest thing that anyone will ever experience. And that's truth I need.

I won't give you a long list of things not to say to a deployed spouse or specific needs we all have, because really, what we need, just like anyone else, is to be loved--and I know that you long to do that and are doing so already. I also know that each deployment is different. With each deployment we are different. I am not handling this deployment the same way that I handled the last. Pregnant with twins or not, this one is much, much easier. And I know that with the next deployment things will have changed as well.

I share merely to give you a little glimpse into the window of one deployed spouse's experience and hoping that as I write about this I too will better understand how to love and encourage those who are going through deployment alongside me. Because wouldn't it be nice if at the end of the day we could just rest in the fact that you've got my back and I've got yours?

And I hope you know that I do. Have yours, that is. And I thank you for having mine.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Twin Blurbs {Part Deux, also known as "The Twin Twin Blurbs"}

Some of you ingrates complained about my last post, so in order to pacify you, I am adding pictures. And a few of the blurbs I couldn't remember last night.

So, once again, you know you're pregnant with twins when:

  • Your one year old plays trucks on your belly saying, "Up, up, up the hill chugs red truck!" (well, his version of that, but you know what he's saying because the whole family has the book memorized).
  • He also tries to play trucks on your back but you can't lean forward far enough to give him a good road.
  • When Tiny tries to take a picture of you, he literally cannot get all of you in the frame.
This is what you guys meant by a picture of how big I've gotten, right?
  • Incidentally, you also thoroughly enjoy leaving a really long pause between "I'm due in January" and "It's twins" just so you can fiendishly enjoy the look of shock on everyone's faces.
  • You start imagining the following conversation between your post-utero children. Littles: Your momma's so pregnant that the valley in her bed is giving the Grand Canyon a complex. Tiny: Maaaaan, your momma's so pregnant that even the doctor thinks there must be five more babies in there. Littles: Oh, snap!
  • You can literally balance a bowl of cereal on it...while standing (keep in mind that I am applying this to a half-term, not full-term belly).
Images have not been enhanced or altered
in any way by the use of computer technology.
And yes, that is my hallowed belly button.
Anyway, if you were hoping for a "more complete" belly shot: life is hard; come back in two weeks. Or just come visit. Sure, I'm revamping the nursery/guest room, but we still have sheets on the bed and stuff like that. And I can put you to work while you stare, googly eyed, at my expanding girth.

{Also coming soon: a nursery update. Plans so far include an international theme, brass lanterns, and possibly a long lost world map that finally made a reappearance. Inspiration and help is being received from a friend of mine who writes a decorating and DIY blog.}

Monday, September 9, 2013

Twin Blurbs

You know you're pregnant with twins when:

  • At 23 weeks, you're praying for tights weather because you've grown out of almost all of your maternity shirts, and, when wearing dresses sans tights, every vagrant breeze and the curious hands of your toddler children threaten to dispose of the last shreds of your modesty. Incidentally, there are many vagrant breezes in this neck of the woods...and the curious hands of my toddlers seem to get curiouser and curiouser every time we are in public.
  • Your belly has grown so fast that you keep accidentally bumping into people and things with it. This includes, but is not limited to, your children, the stroller, the floor, unfortunately strangers, anyone who attempts to hold a door for you, the shower stall, etc.
  • You can see Baby B moving around excitedly but not Baby A...because the bottom part of your belly is completely out of your line of sight.
  • Rolling over in bed causes a small earthquake. The dog refuses to sleep with you on account of past psychological trauma.
  • People start asking you if you're due this month when you still have half the pregnancy to go. In an attempt to not respond hormonally, you unintentionally shame them for their ignorance of your twin pregnancy. You then eat a carton of ice cream in order to deal with the guilt.
  • You are seriously considering rearranging your entire fridge so that everything is on the top two shelves and you don't have to bend over to get food the twenty times a day you feel a deep need for sustenance.
  • I know I've said this one before but: your sheet of ultrasound pictures is almost as long as you are tall.
  • Your stretch marks have stretch marks (that possibly have stretch marks).
  • You can't remember any of the other twinant jokes you've come up with over the last few days that would've done such a good job of the self-mockery you so enjoy.
{More serious deployment blog coming soon by popular request. It is still in the works.}

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Survival Crafting

So. I'm sitting here watching my right leg swell up and turn black and blue and thought I would put this time to good use by diligently sharing with you some of the little changes going on around the house. 

In case you're wondering: I tripped over a large wooden chest while running through our darkened bedroom trying to get to Littles who was screaming blue murder from his bed. When I limped into his room, battered and bloody, to find out what was wrong, he blithely informed me that he "doesn't like going to bed". 

Yes, he is still alive. Yes, it was a close one. 

Since then I have managed to change the light bulb that had blown out which caused me near dismemberment. Which then answers the age old question: how many blonde, twin-nant deployed spouses does it take to change a light bulb? One, only one, but she will nearly kill herself before she gets the time and energy to do so.

Anyway! Let's talk about some of the fun and extremely easy things that I have done around the house since the Man left. First off, I found this beautiful printable right here, printed it off and stuck it in a frame. It's by Jennifer at Studio JRU, who also provided my free Easter printable (there's a picture of it on this blog in that exact same frame with that exact same Pathetic House Plant--which has actually grown an inch--and that exact same little chest of myrrh to remind me to be a living fragrance, though not in the way I have been since this pregnancy began). Anyway, the verse reads: 

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

I couldn't have asked for a better verse to keep me company over the next few months.

See how my Pathetic House Plant has grown?
It's because I'm trying this new thing called watering.
The big reveal though (it's only big because I did it, and me doing crafting of any kind is shocking) is my new schedule board for the Little Man. I wrote a few weeks ago about some changes that were happening around our home and one that I had in the works but hadn't brought to completion yet. This is it, people. I've been writing down notes and finding cheap materials to rework this old bulletin board so that I can help my extremely Type A child know what to expect from day to day. Two days in, he's a huge fan. And honestly, so am I. But mostly because it required little to no effort on my part. Seriously. I didn't even buy the ribbon myself. A friend picked it up for me at the Hobby Lobby an hour away. And everything is attached to the bulletin board by tacks, which means that as soon as I am bored with the board (please, calm your hysterical laughter), I can do something else with it.

The day of the week is at the top next to the weather (I only had to make one weather's always sunny here). Underneath it is our memory verse, Deuteronomy 31:8 ("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."), and then 12 halfed envelopes with the items for the day tucked in. It's easy enough to switch out things like "Mother's Day Out" or "library" or "play date" and leave the more regular ones like "feed the pets" and "walk the dog".

The last aesthetic change that's happened is courtesy of aforementioned friend who bought me the ribbon. Her husband, who happens to have the same name as mine, was deployed last year during this same time frame (he's also Security Forces). Being of a more craft-oriented and awesome persuasion, she and a friend of hers put together a deployment chain to help her daughter count down the days Daddy was gone. They included cards for every new month, for holidays, and for birthdays, and then you just move Daddy's picture from one link to the next with each new day. One of the great things about it is that you can see how far you've come through the deployment as well as how far you need to go. Naturally, there's always the possibility that more links will have to be added to the chain before he gets back, but what a great visual.

She went through and changed up all the cards to make them specific for our family and then brought it over for us to use while the Man is away. So far the boys have really enjoyed moving the Man's picture every morning. He's on day three above, as you can see. I have to admit though: I saw with chagrin where my friend had handily placed a card with the twins' due date. It was two walls over from the beginning of the chain. Guys, I'm not sure I'm going to make it. 

Incidentally, when she dropped off the chain for us, she also hung it, so that I wasn't crawling on top of chairs and beds to do so. I'm very spoiled. But considering how accident prone I am these days, she was probably just trying to keep the deployment chain from somehow killing me.

As is always the case, it's the little things that get you through the day: encouraging verses, making something pretty, being blessed by a friend giving from her heart, or just knowing what the plan is. Also, cookies. Cookies can get you through almost anything. And today double chocolate chip cookies were on the menu.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Dealing with Deployment (for Crazy People)

I don't know what normal people do when their husbands leave for six months. Personally, being more than usually crazy these days, I waved goodbye, had a quick and succinct weeping, and then started a load of laundry and cleaned the bathrooms. I have problems.

Then I dressed the boys up to go to International Night at the chapel where I was manning the Indonesia table (curry and shadow puppets!). Unfortunately for me, the twins don't fit in any of my Indonesian clothing, so I busted out the Indian kurta my sister gave me last year and let Littles handle the batik on his end. Tiny was stuck as an all-American boy since I didn't have anything that fit him. He's such a loveably awkward size.

Then this morning, the boys and I went to the fair in town with some friends and saw Lil Sebastian! Surprisingly, I was the one who got the most excited about this. There may have been squealing. 

I don't know what Littles is doing in this picture. In all honesty, I've given up asking when it comes to this kid. Further examples below.

I also took the time to get the Little Man finger printed, because with his cop dad gone for less than 24 hours, I thought it was appropriate to introduce him to what his future could hold if he chose to pursue a criminal life or one of international travel.

Littles also talked me into busting out the roller blades he was given two months ago. This is the effect that deployment has on me: I'm much more apt to stop putting off things like roller skating and bike riding (he's been doing a lot of that too--thankfully with training wheels, because the twins would make getting him balanced a little difficult). I think this is going to backfire on me in the long run, but he's so persistent...

Anyway, not a long blog tonight as I'm fighting off a cold and need to go get some sleep. I'm just waiting for the towels to finish in the dryer so that I can go shower and wash off all the Oklahoma fair dust--not to be confused with fairy dust. But at the very least this was: Live from Small Town, OK! It's Saturday Night!

I have another two blogs in the works, a more serious one about the deployment cycle (that I'm still debating posting because I'm chicken) and a kind of craft oriented one (yes, it was an out of body experience), so keep your eyes open!

Monday, September 2, 2013


It will continue to be a little bit on the quiet side in this space for a few more days. Once we get the Man packed up and on the road, regular posting will recommence. Right now, though, our time is taken up with training wheels and bowling balls and swimming trunks as we try to pack in a few more family memories this summer.

Incidentally, I remember past family separations, with my parents and my sisters, thinking six months was such a short time, and how wonderful it was to get to see them again so quickly. But six months without the Man... the kids are going to change such an awful lot in the next six months.

At any rate, I'm distracting myself from reality by doing really early nesting and driving the Man crazy by making longer and longer To Do lists for him (because he can't leave while there are still items on the To Do list, right? this makes sense to everyone else, right? right?). But there are two large black duffel bags and a huge backpack taking up the entire floor of the nursery/guest room that are very hard to ignore. Until they are gone, I'm going to keep pretending as long as possible.