Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Simple things.

I didn't pick up my camera today.

I wish I would have.

There were so many simple things that I enjoyed.

This morning I met a goal I've been working towards.

This afternoon I found inspiration when I needed it most.

This evening I lit the charcoals on our grill and fixed a delicious dinner.

Jerome is the one who always does the grilling....he is a great cook on the grill. I knew I would miss him being here when I lit the grill, but I decided we have a long summer ahead and there is nothing better than the taste of homemade food from the grill.

A strong storm hit just after I lit the coals in the grill. I opened the windows and let the fresh air in our home. When the rain stopped I went outside to put our dinner on the grill and the smell of the fresh spring air after a good rainstorm was wonderful.

I enjoyed watching the kids nibble away at their fresh ears of corn at the dinner table.

This evening after dinner was all cleaned up, I enjoyed watching Natalie and Katie playing with their bicycles and jump rope as I sat on the porch and read another chapter in my book (God Strong, a book about finding the strength to make it through a deployment).

Tonight I rocked Katie on the front porch as she cried. One of her friends she has gone to school with since kindergarten is changing schools and she was upset. I told her about how one of my childhood friends I had when I was her age moved away too. And how I always enjoyed going over to her house to play in her treehouse. I told her that that is just something that happens in life sometimes. Then a song came to my mind but for the life of me I can't remember the name of it. It is an older song, one about a little girl watching her friend waving from the backseat as they move away, then her mother telling her that that is just a part of life. I wish I could remember the name of that song.

Tonight I was happy that I was able to get the girls in bed almost on time (we are still working on that one).

Tonight I felt blessed when I gave the girls a goodnight kiss on their heads, their hair still wet from their shower, and sound asleep in bed.

Tonight I was happy to see Spencer cleaning his room, on his own without being asked. He is bored I am guessing. I took him to the doctor today and he is sick and won't be back in school until Friday. He made me laugh because he was happy as I told him he could stay up and watch a little TV but to keep his door closed so he didn't wake his sisters.

Tonight I am happy to hear the quiet through the house as they all sleep and I have a minute or two to my own.

Tonight I am also happy to be able to climb into bed before midnight.

Tonight I wish I could have been able to talk to my husband today. But I can go to bed knowing that he is still here in this country and know that I can close my eyes and go to sleep knowing he is safe from harm.

These are the simple things in life I enjoy.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fort Polk, day one and two.


Early Wednesday morning we started our long trip to Fort Polk.

We had over 1,100 miles to travel but the thought of all of us being together as a family again, even if just for a few days, made the trip all the more exciting.

Natalie took a lot of pictures on my camera, and I'm thankful that she did.

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They all three brought along their books to read, homework to do (we took three days of military leave from school), Ipods to listen to, DVD player, pillows and a blankets.....they were ready for the drive.

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Katie was the only one who brought her DVD player. It had a battery life that lasted three hours, after that three hours she fell asleep and slept for a few more hours.

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The first day of driving was a long day.

I kept driving until I knew I had to stop for the night. I managed to get eleven hours of driving in.

We checked in a hotel not far from Jackson, Mississippi.

By the time we all had our showers, brushed our teeth and put our pajamas on, it felt so good to climb into bed, stretch out and get some sleep.


I slept until 8am Thursday morning. I had done most of the driving Wednesday and knew I would be able to make it to the base to meet Jerome when he was able to leave.

We ate our breakfast, packed up our suitcases and reloaded ourselves into the car.

Then we were on the road again.

This time, knowing we didn't have as long of a drive to go and that at the end of the day we would all get to see Jerome.....we were all really excited.

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We made it through an awful hail storm that only lasted about 5 minutes but it felt like it lasted forever. The sky was beautiful, the weather was beautiful.....I couldn't have asked for better traveling weather to drive in....minus the hail storm.

Spencer was the official window cleaner.

Every time we stopped to fill up the Escape on gas, I filled up while he cleaned the windows.

Spencer took this picture with my cell phone as we crossed the Mississippi River....

We made it to Louisianna finally and the driving was completely different to what we had had for the past thirteen hours.

We drove through miles and miles and miles of farm land.

It was very flat, you could see the sky and the land go for miles and miles.....not like the mountains we are used to.

It was very pretty, I kept watch of the gas tank, making sure we had plenty of gas to get us where we were going. There was one long stretch of road that seemed to go on forever. The gas tank was down to a fourth of a tank and there was nothing but farmland as far as you could see. I was beginning to worry that we were going to run out of gas in the middle of nowhere.

Finally we came to a little country gas station along the road. I was very relieved.

We all got out to stretch our legs. I filled the tank up while Spencer cleaned the windows. Then we all went inside to grab a snack. It was hot out so they all three picked Choco Tacos ice cream to eat.

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Natalie and Katie were loving having the wind blow their hair all around and having some fresh air. They played hand games in the backseat while I drove. It made me happy listening to reminded me of when I was younger and doing the same hand games with my sisters.

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We passed a fresh Pecan and Praline shop. The kids all begged to turn around and go back. It was just a little country store alongside the road.

We bought two pecan pies, a large bag of fresh pecans, and a bag of sugared pecans and pralines. I knew Jerome and his fellow Chiefs in his room might enjoy a fresh pecan pie and I also knew my mom would love to have one too. I'm freezing the pecans and saving them for Thanksgiving this year.

The elderly woman in the shop was asking where we were from and the kids all happily told her where we were from and why we were traveling to Louisianna. She then told them, "Well, as my Mama would always tell are on the last leg of your trip here".

Once we got to Alexandria, LA I knew we didn't have that much further to drive.

We passed an older man, a farmer, along the road who had a stand set up selling fresh strawberries. I knew Jerome didn't get much fresh berries and knew that he would love the strawberries. I bought a whole flat of strawberries....I knew they would happily be eaten.

We stopped for lunch in Alexandria and then made our way to Fort Polk. I had planned on checking in our hotel, getting a shower and meeting Jerome looking not as "wind blown hair, driving for hours" look as we did.

As it turned out his convoy was heading into base right as we were headed into town. He called and wanted us to just meet him there. He wanted our kids to be able to see everything, the convoy and it's troops coming back from a long day at the range.

I made it to Leesville and the sight of all the yellow ribbons tied on all the trees in town was a beautiful sight to see.

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I have never seen so many trees with so many yellow ribbons.

It was just beautiful.

We made it to Fort Polk and saw the convoy Jerome was with as we pulled in. He told us where he was and that we had to stay in the car and he would come to get us when he was finished.

We were all looking for him. Finally we found him among all the soldiers and convoy trucks.

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Once we was finished he came to get us. We all had lots of hugs and kisses for him.

Then he took us to the MRAP that he drives and took the kids into it to show them where he rides and some of the things that he does.

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We all left the base. We went to the hotel, we all took showers and got cleaned up and then went to dinner.

Jerome had to be back at the base that night. He wasn't free to stay with us at the hotel until Friday.

It felt so good to feel like a family again.

To feel home again.

No matter where we are in this world, being together just feels like home.

141. the feeling of being all packed up and starting out on a long journey in the early morning.
142. sleepy kids in the backseat
143. my helper, the navigator, Spencer, who sat up front with me the whole time
144. crossing the Mississippi River and knowing we are closer to Fort Polk with every mile
145. driving through all the farm land in Louisiana will make you thankful for a little gas station alongside the road after miles and miles and farmland
146. the warmth of the sunshine in the South
147. watching the kids enjoy an ice cream from that tiny gas station
148. being asked where we are from, because of our "Northern" accent 
149. glancing over to see Spencer enjoying reading a book during the drive
150. long hair blowing in the wind
151. the sound of the girls hands clapping and rhyming games behind me
152. remembering playing the same games with my sisters
153. arriving in the town near Fort Polk and seeing all of the yellow ribbons
154. the feeling that swells up inside that comes from these yellow ribbons
155. looking at a convoy and trying to find my husband in the middle of it
156. seeing him for the first time
157. the sound of our kids voices yelling "Daddy" out the window
158. being a family again

(I love the words and music in this video below)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Happy Birthday.

Today is my husband's birthday. Another one of many that we have learned to celebrate it even though we are apart.

Before he left we had one more Friday night date night.

We took Spencer and his girlfriend to Outback with us to have dinner. They sat in a different part of the restaurant from us and had their own dinner date.

Spencer, to be sneaky and play a joke on us, told his waitress that his parents were here and it was his mom's birthday.

After our dinner we were surprised to find a handful of waiters and waitresses coming to our table to sing happy birthday and gave us a chocolate covered scoop of vanilla ice cream with a birthday candle burning.

Jerome and I both laughed at it and just went along with it.

After they finished singing and left our table we started talking about it.

I told him I know Spencer planned this as a joke on us but it actually ended up working out pretty good.

We both were going to be apart on each of our birthdays, so blowing out the birthday candle and sharing the ice cream scoop was nice, we were able to celebrate our birthdays together before he left.

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This past Monday I spent the morning in the kitchen doing this.....

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Reese cups are his favorite candy and I found this cake recipe a few years ago and made this cake for him on his birthday.

This is his cake from 2010 that I made him.....

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I made it a little different this time. I knew that it was going to be packaged as well as I could and shipped to him at his base over 1,000 miles away. I decided to COVER his cake in reese cups this time to help and hopefully keep his cake in one piece.

He knew I was planning on making a cake and sending it and he kept teasing me saying that there is NO WAY that shipping a cake to him, that it would all stay in one piece. I insisted on making one and sending it anyway, I told him he was not going to have a birthday without a cake. He laughed and said, "OK then, I'll send you a picture of the cake when I get will be all smashed and nothing but crumbles".

I made his reese cup cake Monday and shipped it out to him that afternoon.

I kept my fingers crossed that it would get there in good shape and that using almost a whole package of cling wrap, three bags of paper confetti and the napkins and plates I put in would help keep in in one piece.

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I received a text Wednesday morning that said, "It made it safe!!". I was very excited to see the picture he sent but even more excited about the short video he sent just a little bit later. He had a slice of his cake and a candle and blew it out for me and said, "Thank you baby for my cake", then he laughed and so did the other men that were in the room. I miss hearing his laugh.

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We also sent him this other birthday package with his present (a watch) and a bunch of other birthday goodies.........

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Oh, and Spencer picked out the Spider Man wrapping paper for him. He wanted to make sure Jerome knew that.

I don't like that we are apart today for his birthday, but we are looking forward to our trip we are planning soon. We will be traveling to see him before he leaves to go to Afghanistan. It also makes me happy to know that this time next year we will be together for his birthday.

134. the excitement of putting a birthday care package for my husband together.
135. watching the kids put the stickers on the box.
136. baking him a chocolate cake from scratch.
137. knowing he will have a little bit of home for his birthday.
138. proving him wrong that I CAN ship a cake and it not be in a million pieces (wink)
139. watching the video he sent me saying, "Thank you baby for my cake", then watching him blow  out the candle and hearing his laughter.
140. finding the perfect watch for his birthday present.

Jerome- Happy Birthday!! I love you!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hard Work.

I debated a long time whether to write about the journey I have been working on since Jerome left. I decided that it is a part of me, a part of my life right now and a goal I am working very hard for.

When we found out last April that Jerome was going to deploy again I took it pretty hard. The last deployment to Afghanistan he was gone 20 months, which felt like an eternity. I was not looking forward to going through it again. The reality of him being gone set in when he did two weeks in Williamsburg and was gone. It made me remember then what it felt like to be alone again.

I was very anxious and depressed about it and finally after months of battling the emotions within (and putting on quite a few more pounds) I decided to make an appointment with my doctor. She put me on some antidepressant/anxiety medicine to help me through it. I had a reaction to the first set she gave me. Then we tried something new, a different pill....I had a reaction to it and ended up spending the night in the ER with Jerome at my side. After that night I decided I didn't want to be put on any medicine, that I was going to battle this on my own.

I started exercising more and watching what I ate. We still ate out, ate the same things....I just started watching my portion sizes. That little bit helped and gave me a jumpstart to really get started on this journey.

After Jerome left for training my life was nothing but chaotic. It took a while to adjust but we are all learning how to cope with being apart again.

Recently I was able to fly to the base my husband is on for training and see him again. It was wonderful and we enjoyed every minute we had together again.

I knew that I wanted to see him again and for our kids to be able to see him again before he leaves. We are planning a trip to see him soon and we are all excited.

I have used this time to give myself a goal to reach. It all started with working out on the elliptical one morning. Usually I do a program that I found on Pinterest. It is a 20 minute program and I used to do 20 minutes, take a break and switch a load of laundry while the elliptical resets itself and then do another 20 more, then another 20 more minutes.

This day I wanted to try to do all three sets in one session on the elliptical. During that 60 minutes I hit a calorie burn of 1,000 calories and it felt great! So I then set a goal for myself to continue this for the next 14 days to see where this takes me.

I am on day three of my goal today.

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The progress I've made since October is amazing to me. It feels great to be on a journey that I have wanted to be on for so long, so many times and have failed.

It isn't always easy but when it starts to get really hard and I want to quit and just do a shorter workout "just for that one day".....I think of my husband.

I think of him and the training he is going through now, the physical training he does every morning and he doesn't have the option to quit. I think of him and it makes me feel stronger.


A song that I love has a few lines that sum up how I feel about him. How he makes me feel when I don't think I can do this anymore....

You give me the strength I need to be the one I want to be,
Cause you're the best of me....cause I got you....

Along with this I have been changing what we eat, slowly so that our kids will adapt. My kids are really good with eating salads, but the dressing.....the dressing we all love is ranch dressing. I wanted to make a healthier version so I decided to try something new.

I was in the kitchen working on making the dressing and Spencer walked in. He saw the ingredients I was using and insisted that he wasn't going to eat it at dinner. So what did I do? I did what any other mom would have done (keep in mind Natalie and Katie didn't know the ingredients yet), I used a clean, empty glass jar from the dressing we usually use. I poured the dressing I had made into this jar. We sat down at the dinner table. The each poured the dressing on their salad, except of course Spencer, and they ate every bit of their salad. The girls even had a second helping of salad and poured their usual amount of dressing on (which is quite a bit). After they finished their salads, I asked them how they liked the dressing. "It was great mommy!", they said. Then I told them what I made it out of and they scrunched their little noses up at it. I reminded them that they didn't do that when they were eating it, and that they liked it and even had seconds of it. They agreed and started laughing at the fact that I had tricked them.

Here is the recipe of the ranch dressing I made for us the other evening....

Ranch Dressing

My goal is to lose the weight I need to while Jerome is deployed.

I am doing this for me, but thinking about the homecoming just gives me a little bit more motivation!

Jerome, when you read this know that you are my strength and encouragement. Also know that when you come home we are going to go ziplining!!
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