Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Like father like son.....

Today is the first day Spencer is wearing his Junior ROTC uniform to school. Him and Jerome were up early this morning to make sure everything is done right....shaving, hair trimmed, uniform put on properly.

Spencer asked me last night if I thought his dad would be able to help him get his uniform on right so that he doesn't fail inspection. Then he said to me, "Mom, what if I fail inspection?".

I laughed and said,"Do you really think your dad, a Navy Chief, is going to let his son fail an inspection?".

He laughed and agreed that he knew he wasn't going to have to worry about failing inspection.

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When Spencer started his first ROTC class, he couldn't wait to tell us about getting to do a flight simulation. When we asked him how he did, his reply was, "I crashed and burned." and then laughed along with us.

I'm not sure where he wants to go with his life. He talks about joining the military, but then he has also talked about being a sports doctor. I know he has a few years to figure it out, but for now I think he is doing an amazing job.

He told me the other day he wants to try and get a 4.0 this next semester since he won't be playing football he'll have more time to concentrate on his academics. We were wanting him to wrestle, one, because we know he enjoyed it so much last year and two, it will give him something to keep himself busy when Jerome deploys. But I can't argue with him wanting to focus on his grades, that I found was wonderful to hear from him.

This picture is one of my favorites from this morning.....

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I am proud of my boys, my son who is quickly growing into a man and my husband who I adore.

~Amber Hope
What Matters Most

Monday, September 26, 2011

The bond he shares....

{ 2006, a surpise homecoming at Spencer's elementary school }

You can't see him, but Spencer is there in the picture on the left. He was hugging his daddy here so tight and crying, that you couldn't even see him.

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Spencer has been taking the upcoming deployment hard.

He can't sleep at night.

He gets upset when his dad has to work late, because it reminds him of what it will feel like again.

He tells me almost every single practice after I pick him up that he is going to miss getting to tell his dad how his practice went.

He doesn't want to play football next year because his dad won't be there to see him play.

He doesn't have the same appetite.

He cries at night.....and it breaks my heart into a million pieces.

I don't know how to help him. We talk to him, reassure him, comfort him, we do whatever it takes to make him feel OK again, even though I know deep down he is not.

He is hurting inside knowing that Jerome is getting ready to deploy.

He is hurting and I feel like no matter what we do, we can't help him deal with this deployment.

I contacted Military One Source, spoke with someone about getting counseling.

He starts counseling Friday morning.

I hope it helps.

Other than being here for him, talking to him, listening to him, trying to comfort and reassure him.....I don't know what to do.

It is hurting me inside to see him hurting so much.

He was eight years old when Jerome left for his first deployment and ten years old when his daddy returned. I know that it has cost him many missed memories to be made and moments to be shared. I know that he is thinking ahead now of all that Jerome will be missing of his for this deployment (reason in not wanting to wrestle or play football).

He has quite a bit of anxiety over this upcoming deployment.

And I can understand, kind of.

The relationship he shares with his dad is different than the relationship that he shares with me. He has a special bond with Jerome, as any father and son would. They wrestle here at the house together all the time (most of the time here lately Spencer winning), they play football, talk football, go paintballing together with most of Spencer's friends in tow, they talk about everything with each other....I could go on and on.

I know that he is going to need his dad when he is gone. I know that those are shoes that I can't fill.

He has a bond with Jerome that I know he is going to miss when he is away in Afghanistan.

I have been making it a number one priority to get in as many memories as we can before he leaves, so that they will have that to hold on to and look forward to while Jerome is deployed again.

Paintballing was their most recent father son trip. They are planning another one here in a few weeks. I know he enjoys every single minute of time he has with his dad right now.

I just want to do something to make him feel better....but I can't.

I am hoping the counselor will be able to guide and help us more than what we have been able to do.

~Amber Hope
What Matters Most To Me

Make believe

Yesterday we had decided to go out to a nice dinner, just us as a family. Jerome was working outside and I was working inside. I told the kids to go ahead and get their showers and be getting ready to go out to dinner.

A little while later Natalie walked into the kitchen where I was working, she was all dressed up.

Dressed up wearing my high heels and jewelry.

"How do I look Mommy?", she asked me (it makes me smile that she still calls me mommy).

"Beautiful Natalie", I replied.

"I wanted to dress up." she said.

I smiled soaking up this moment.

For it wasn't long ago she was dressing up as fairytale characters and princesses that filled her books she read at night.

She would get in my make-up then but smear it all over her face, but beautiful as ever because she was proud to be wearing make-up like her mommy.

Now she doesn't dress up as Dorothy and sing Somewhere Over The Rainbow with me. She doesn't dress up as Snow White and sit wide eyed watching her favorite movie. She doesn't dress up as Cinderella or Tinkerbell, or play mommy to her new baby doll.

Now she dresses up to be the young woman she wants to be.

She puts on my pearls and high heels, even though they are still just a little to big for her. She carefully puts on her make up and still asks to borrow my red lipstick. She doesn't talk about happily ever afters to me anymore, instead she talks about how she can't wait to dress up for prom and what her dress will look like.

Where did my daydreaming, horse collecting, princess loving little girl go?


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We made time before going to dinner to take some pictures of her all dressed up.

We went to Olive Garden for dinner and as we were leaving I put my arm through Jerome's and whispered to him to watch Natalie walking in my heels. She was doing her very best, but you could tell she was new at wearing them.

~Amber Hope
What Matters Most To Me

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September, One Project A Month

Just a daily reminder of what I need to finish. I trimmed out our entry wall in board and batten and loved it so much that we've decided to go ahead and do the rest of the dining room in it. The dining room has been a work in progress (along with several other half finished projects around the house) for a while now. But this room is closest to being finished, so this is the room I am starting with.

I'm headed to Home Depot to buy some semi-gloss paint for the bottom half of the walls and to repaint the board and batten I did this past week on the entry wall. I learned my lesson the hard way of hanging the boards then painting it all......it took FOREVER with all of that trim work to do. This time.....I'm painting the wall first, then the boards and then hanging them (hopefully with Jerome's help this time).

Here will be my check off list:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Less than 18 weeks....

Seasons have come and gone.

Time has gone by so fast since April.

I've learned to deal (or for better words, not deal) with Jerome deploying again by just not thinking about it. By enjoying each and every minute we have together. Celebrating the birthdays and holidays together as a family, knowing in the back of my mind it will just be me and our kids next year here at home.

As the deployment date gets closer, it is getting harder and harder to "deal" with it. No matter how hard I try to push the thought of it away it has a way of creeping in our lives whether we want it or not. Just in everyday things, simple questions from our kids friends parents asking when Jerome deploys, or in a song that plays on the radio that I listened to over and over when he was gone last time, planning last minute family trips before he leaves, tucking our kids in bed at night and listening to them tell Jerome how they don't want him to leave and watch him as he wipes their tears promising them that everything will be OK.

Yesterday Natalie had an orthodontist appointment. They gave us a school excuse with the stamped time of the time we left the office and sent us on our way. I had lunch with Natalie because she missed it at school. On our way back home she was asking if she could just miss the rest of the day and that her teacher had given her her homework already. I told her no and that she needed to go to school. She kept asking, kept begging to stay home. I kept telling her no, she kept asking. She asked why and I told her because we need to save our parent excused days. Not understanding she asked again if she could stay home and then asked why we have to save them. I told her, "because we do".

I didn't want to tell her why, I didn't want to think about why we have to save them. I didn't want the mention of it to even come up. But she kept asking me why, so I finally told her, "because we have to save them for when Daddy leaves so that we can go see him".

She looked at me with tears in her eyes that swelled up just from the mentioning of him leaving. She started crying and looked at me and told me, "Mommy, I told you I don't want to see him go! I don't want to see him walk away from me!".

My heart felt like it was breaking and my throat felt so tight, I wanted to cry. I wanted to cry like my little girl sitting in the passenger seat beside me. But I couldn't, I had to calm her down, comfort her and reassure her. Such a heavy thought for such a little girl.....not wanting to see him walk away.

Something as simple as a conversation about not skipping out on school turned into something like this.

We talked it out. I got her laughing again. And the conversation we had just had was far from her mind. I think they are "dealing" with it the same way that I am.....just trying not to think about it until you have to.

I dropped her off at school. Gave her a kiss and told her I'd see her in a bit.

I came home, unlocked the door, set the bags by the door, walked to our room, sat on the edge of the bed and just cried.

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Lately I've been listening to a song on a CD I bought last week. The song I listen to isn't one I had ever heard, I bought it for another song that is on it. But as I was listening to my new CD playing, I was cleaning the kitchen having a normal day and then this song came on. I stood and listened to it for a minute, then cried again....in the middle of washing dishes.

The words in the song sound harsh but you have to know that everything that I feel, everything that I keep bottled up inside me about this deployment some days are just to much to bear. To much to think about, to much to feel....it just hurts so much sometimes.

I am proud of my husband for who he is, our freedom that he is going to fight for, his loyalty and patriotism to his country, his unconditional love to his family. I know that this is him, this is what makes him him. But sometimes I can't help but wish we didn't have to go through this, these emotions, the deployment, the feeling of being alone again separated by thousands of miles. But then I remember how much he loves us, how much he loves his country and know that these both go hand in hand. It is what makes him who he is today.

The chorus to

Cold As Stone

I wish I was cold as stone,
Then I wouldn't feel a thing
Wish i didn't have this heart
Then i wouldn't know the sting of the rain
I could stand strong and still, watching you walk away
It wouldn't hurt like this, or feel so all alone
Wish I was cold as stone

Oh and I don't think this pain is going to go away.

Lady Antebellum

September 10th, Katie's Birthday

Katie was excited about her birthday party this year, she knew that when she turned 10 that she would be having it at a hotel like Natalie had had.

She was only allowed to invite a certain number of girls. But having lunch with her at school Friday I realized she had invited the whole school. As I'm sitting there at the lunch table with her, her party was the conversation at several of the tables. Little girls were coming up to me saying, "Katie invited me to her birthday party","Yes, me too and she invited my sister too" and then another said, "There is a lot of people coming maybe you should just have it at your house and have cake and ice cream!". I about choked on my bite of food as I looked over at Katie that said, "What were you thinking? Inviting the whole school?". She then smiled and shrugged her shoulders.

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Oh Katie, what were we to do.

The only thing we could do was keep it hush hush. We invited her cousins and a few of her very closest friends. It ended up being a great party. We stayed at the same hotel we had for Natalie's party. The indoor pool is a great hit for a party in the fall. They had so much fun.....very little sleep....but so much fun.

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I had all the girls jump into the pool together. It made for some funny pictures, but what is more funny than that is the family behind them.......made me laugh going through these pictures.

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After swimming in the pool we went up to the hotel room. Jerome went and got the pizza's. We ate pizza, had cupcakes, sang happy birthday and opened presents. Jerome stayed for a while then left and kissed me goodnight and told me to have fun, laughing as he said it because he knew I wasn't going to get any sleep.

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Happy Birthday sweet baby girl Katie!! WE LOVE YOU!!

~Amber Hope
What Matters Most To Me

September 9th

What? Were you expecting another football post?

It seems to be the main thing on here right now, but with good reason.

This time of year sometimes it feels like we eat, breath and sleep football.

It is a huge part of our lives and that just happens to be what I photograph 92% of the time this time of year.

~Amber Hope
What Matters Most To Me

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September 8th, Parkersburg Game

September eighth we played Parkersburg, an away game.....two and a half hours away.

I knew our girls would get in bed late if we made them tag along, so I found a sitter for both of them. They were staying all night with their friends.

I loaded everything we needed for the game, Spencer rode the bus up with his team and I met Jerome at work with a change of clothes. He didn't get off work as early as planned so we started on the road a little later than planned as well.

We rushed there, found a parking spot in a very crowded parking lot, stood in the parking lot as the national anthem was sang and then headed on into the stadium to buy tickets to watch the game.

All of that rushing, all of that planning, all of that traveling.......

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And this is exactly how it went. Spencer didn't play a single play the entire game, of course neither did at least half the other players either.

We watched the game, cheered on the team, and in between kept watching and waiting for the coach to put Spencer in.

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After the game Jerome was able to talk to Spencer before he got on the bus. It was visible seeing Spencer walking out of the locker room that he was mad and upset. Jerome reminded him to keep his chin up and just let it out on the field at practice next week, while I talked with several other moms, each of us asking the other if their kid had a chance to play.

It is disheartening I know to Spencer to put so much into this and then get to game day and stand by on the sidelines. I know us telling him to keep his chin up, let it out on the field at practice and someday, someday the coach will pay attention and notice him, sounds like a broken record to him. But until then all we can do is keep encouraging him, cheer on the team and hope that the coach will switch out some of the players, at least for some of the game. But until then.........this is where we are at.

~Amber Hope
What Matters Most To Me

September 6th, BFF's

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Katie and Sydney have been joined at the hips here lately. They've been spending a lot of after school evenings together playing and having fun.

They like to ride bikes outside, that is when Natalie will share her bike.

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Sometimes I just think these two are inseparable.

Katie loves her new bike that Grandad and Grandma got her for her early birthday present.
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~Amber Hope
What Matters Most To Me

September 4th, Mountaineers Game

Bradley found Spencer's radio in his room and was having fun playing with it. Spencer put it on the Mountaineer's football game. In between drinking his sippy cup of juice he would put the radio to his ear and listen to the announcer at the other end.

Welcome to football little man...
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And this, this is the REAL way to watch the game....

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And Caleb, he was as happy as a camper just taking turns putting the binky or banana in his mouth....

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~Amber Hope
What Matters Most To Me

September 1st, Lincoln County Game

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September first was our game against Lincoln County. We were all excited about this game. Grandad and Grandma came out to see Spencer play and so did my sister Savannah and her two boys, Bradley and Caleb.

For most of the game, this is where Spencer was...
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Then the coach had him play kick return...
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This was one game I didn't have to constantly tell the girls, "No, you can't go to the concession stand" and then listen to them beg why and then explain to them for the tenth time that they were just there five minutes ago. I actually was able to watch this game because Natalie and Katie were preoccupied with "babysitting" Bradley and Caleb.
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Bradley kept pointing and yelling for "Pincer" from the stands. Earlier that day Savannah and I had lunch at Penn Station with her boys. They had a tv that was set to a sports channel. When a football game started playing on the tv Bradley stood up in his seat and start yelling, "Dat's Pincer....Pincer pay football (That's Spencer....Spencer plays football)".
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I love that little nephew of mine!

He sat for a good while watching Spencer on the field.

But unfortunately even when asking the coach to go in, Spencer spent most of the time standing on the sidelines (he was asking the coach to go in here)...
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The coach played him for three kick returns and that was all that Spencer was put in for.
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After the game the coach had a meeting with all the parents. It was the usual, asking for parents support and fundraising info. At the end he told the parents to call anytime, that he will discuss anything but playing time with them. And, that he only plays the players that want to be there.

After the meeting Spencer took Bradley out for a run on the field. Bradley was LOVING it! I think he looks up to Spencer, and Spencer adores him as if he were a brother to him (something Spencer always wanted but never had).

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Jerome was able to talk to Spencer on the way home about the game. Spencer was irritated that he was put in for only three plays the whole entire game. Jerome reminded him to let it all out on the football field at practice next week.

Later Jerome and I talked about what the coach said. He and I both disagreed with what the coach had said, Spencer has the heart and the want to to be out on that field. He just isn't given the chance to be.

~Amber Hope
What Matters Most To Me
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