Monday, January 11, 2016

Kiddo's & Deployments

Tips for Children & Military Deployments:
-Show videos (we watch a random youtube one of his boat) of where Daddy/Mommy is. It really helps them understand where they are and why. We talk all the time about how Daddy is fixing airplanes and jets and helicopters and how Daddy is keeping us safe.
-We have a map up in the kitchen with a point of where we are, and where Daddy is. The map is on a cork board so that we can move Daddy's pin around, while they don’t understand it, it helps for them to visualize that Daddy is far away.
-Talk, talk, talk. Let them know its okay to be sad. Let them know you’re sad too. Talk about adventures you’re going to do while Daddy(or Mommy) is gone, and what you’re going to do when Daddy comes home. They don’t understand 8 months, but what they do understand is that right now they are three, and when Daddy comes home they will be 3.5. Daddy is gone for a while
-A jar of kisses. By far, their favorite. We have a big jar full of kisses that they get one every night from Daddy.  It’s easy enough to refill for an extension, or if you live in Nevereverland, eat a ton before homecoming.  I really hated the idea of a paper chain, or a countdown, because it’s just frustrating, especially when you see so many chain links still to go. That isn’t fair to anybody. But a jar of kisses, is a sweet reminder of their Daddy and is less of a countdown tool.
-Have them color pictures and paint pictures for Daddy. Have them go to the store to help do care packages. It helps them feel included.
My biggest advice is to keep the same routine you had before deployment. Don’t drastically change things, or lighten up on things that were done before Dad left. Trust me, I know first hand it’s hard, especially with a newborn, but the older kids need that security.  They need a lot of talking about what’s going on, I’m finding that even if I think they’re okay, which most of the time they are, they still need to be reminded that Daddy IS coming home and that he does love and miss them terribly. They need a lot of reassurance and it’s much easier to give them that security than to deal with the tantrums.  

I hope this helps someone if they find themselves in a similar path, any questions or advice? Would you of done something different? Leave them in the comments. 

Deployment resources for Children:
Military One Source – They have a great guide of things to talk to your children about prior to the deployment and highly encourage talking to even the youngest about what will be happening.
Daddy’s Deployed – A wonderful, wonderful personalized books about the deployment – from beginning to end. It helps put the cycle of deployment into an understandable cycle for children.
Daddy Dolls – I can not rave enough about the quality of these ‘dolls’. They’re really stuffed, shaped pillows. But my boys adore being able to hug dad when they’re missing him.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Pre-D Meltdown

Well, it was a matter of time until the pre-deployment meltdown hit. And my dear, it hit hard.

I've not felt so full of anxiety, worry, and stress in a very long time. All of these changes, all of the enormity of the situation now sits on my chest like a mountain. I'm not so sure if it is the deployment that is really hitting me, or the change of adding our third son to the picture in the same timeframe of the deployment. Not having the familiarity of having Dad around for H&L, but instead having Grandma here for a few short weeks until Mom is cleared from recovery.

I have never felt so terrified in my life that I am doing or going to be doing something wrong. Have I loved them enough? Have I been here enough? Have I explained what is going to happen enough? Why didn't I pay closer attention to a possible early fertile window? What am I doing?

Ironically, I had been looking somewhat forward to this time with H&L prior to finding out about our new addition. The adventures we were going to go on, the fun we would have. They have reached this age where independence is a blessing and life is really a good balance. And now.. I will be adding a newborn to that. Terrifying doesn't begin to explain how I am feeling.

The reality of doing this solo is becoming much more than I can handle, the reality of not having my best friend and biggest ally here during what are going to be the hardest of days is what hits the hardest. It's a lot to even think about.

Sigh... Everything will be just fine. I have to have faith in that, because if not - it would look much more daunting.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The D Word

Well – every time I type this post, I stop. The truth is, I think I’ve tried to ignore it for so long and focus on other things I can control. Ironically, I think that’s a big reason as to why I am 31 weeks pregnant, and still hardly have a nursery or much organized for our newest addition. But, unfortunately, I need to face the music. Deployment is coming, and it’s coming fast.

                The Mr and I haven’t done a deployment in roughly 5 years, we’ve been lucky enough to enjoy a nice shore duty tour and a year of sea duty without a deployment. It’s inevitable, and we knew there would be one coming. Last time he was deployed I was only a girlfriend, and we lived in the same town as my family. This time – we are 800+ miles away, homeowners, and parents. So, a lot has changed for us.

                My biggest concern isn’t myself, or handling it all solo. That is going to be hard, without a doubt, but my biggest concern is my boys, all 4 of them.  The boys have handled the underways pretty seamlessly, but classically get a little antsy and frustrated when Daddy isn’t here to do things that Daddys do. They’re really great about understanding that “Daddy is working” or “Daddy is fixing airplanes and helicopters” or “Daddy’s on the boat”.  I’m just worried about keeping the connection there. 8-10 months for anyone is a long time, but 8-10 months for two three year olds may as well be a lifetime.

                Thankfully there are programs out there, like the United Through Reading Program that the USO promotes and there are resources like Daddy Dolls that I think will help. I’ve seen a couple of pins through pinterest of good books to read to the boys to help them understand. One thing I’d like to stray away from is the chain links with the countdown, homecoming date can change so rapidly, especially in the early days, I really don’t want to give them a specific date and probably won’t tell them until the morning we go to pick him up.

Ultimately, I want to keep this time fun for them – but as routine as possible. I know I have some pretty big challenges ahead with adding our new baby to our family right as he is leaving but it’s really my hope that a sense of normalcy will help curve any hard issues. I’m trying not to get too overwhelmed myself and trying to be mindful to be kind to myself. It’s rather intimidating to be left alone with 3 kids, a dog, and a house to maintain and keep everyone happy, alive and trying to have fun through it all.

If anyone has some good tips and tricks about keeping Dads connected and making kids feel connected – I’m all ears!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Catching Up!

Wow - so it's June, already. Where has time gone, and where has it taken my brain off too!

So let's see, what's new? Well, the boys are doing fantastic! They are growing and are so, so much fun now. I really, really love this age regardless of how exhausting some days may be. They're doing fantastic with their milestones and have really, really done well with their speech therapy. It's fantastic to see how much they've grown and to hear their progress.

Otherwise, things are picking up in some other ways around the H house. We are expecting a baby boy who will complete our family in early November! We're so very excited to add another little boy to our hearts and our home. Nervous in many ways, but thrilled!

Things are also picking up with the Navy life. The Mr. is currently out on an underway and will be deploying days after our new addition makes his grand debut. It isn't exactly how things were planned, or how we pictured them but that's life, right? It's definitely a new learning curve on parenting for me, and a bit of a juggling act but we knew and were waiting for the big Deployment to come and it is starting to make an appearance.

With the Mr. underway I am learning new tips and tricks on how to juggle life at home with the boys (while pregnant) , Most of my posts will probably be about that, not so much just being Mom but things that I have found that are helping us and making my life easier to manage when solo.

So - if you're still following and still around, I'm venturing back! I'm really hoping to get better with blogging and updating this time and keeping a better habit at it.

Look forward to more posts soon! :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Am I selfish?

Sometimes I often wonder if I am a selfish mom. Selfish for working, for taking on business trips. Am I selfish for willingly leaving my boys at home with their Dad for a few days? Am I selfish for wanting to better my career, for nothing other than my personal pride and work ethic?

All too often I hear, that someone's child is so much better off because their mom was able to stay at home with them. That the only reason that they turned out okay was because their mom was around all the time. While, I have no doubt that's true, and that is what works for their family, it makes me wonder if my work has made me selfish.

Let me elaborate a bit more.

I work at home, averaging about 30 hours or more a week. I work in IT Sales and Management, specializing in solutions. I'm working hard to make the transition into a full time position with my company. I also don't work because of a need for two incomes. Furthermore, I have maintained the stance that I won't sacrifice my career, or job rather, simply because my husband is in the military. I was very lucky to have this job and have strived very hard to prove myself.

I often wonder, or rather feel that I am highly selfish for not turning down work trips to remain the sole caretaker of my children, or the stability in our house. I know that our home life is much different than other families because of my husband's job in the military. Not only is it much different from the "norm" but it is also much different from other military families.

Sometimes I question whether or not I am paying someone to raise my kid, or that I am a part time mom. That I am really causing more harm than good, or that I am trying to do too much, only to cause a lot of damage on the way. I hate that by working, I feel guilty and feel like I'm being too selfish. That in someway, I am ruining my children. I know deep down I'm not, but when I hear comment about how great someone's kids are because their mom stayed at home, I wonder if I am just plowing the way for my children to be not-so-great.

There are some days, that seem to flow so seamlessly and feel so content. Then there are others, the rough ones. The ones were work is busy and stressful, there are a hundred house chores that need to be done, dinner to be made, and the boys are on a biting, screaming streak. Those are the days I question everything so much more. I question on if I would have more time if I didn't work, if the boys wouldn't have a speech delay if I were around narrating my day more. Maybe if I didn't work, we wouldn't eat so much take out and L wouldn't bite H as much as he does. Maybe if I didn't work, we would have more friends with families, the boys would have friends their own age. We would have time for coffee and doughnut play dates, park and more zoo trips. I question it far more than I should on those days.

I've spoken with other working mom friends, well co-workers.They get it to an extent. I think part of the issue lies within my inner critic, and the mom guilt. While there are a hundred ways to skin a cat, I feel like there are two main ways to raise children and that I'm kind of falling in this grey area. Not quite a full time in-office working mom, but not a start at home mom either. The grey area is what makes it tough, what makes me feel like I'm walking in an uncharted territory.

I hate that I feel selfish over working, because working helps with my feelings of self worth. It's good to be selfish in life, good to want to better yourself. I work because ultimately, I enjoy it. I can only hope that I'm teaching the boys that it's okay to be selfish, without losing sight of what is best for your family. I hope that I can teach them there are more matters to life than work, but that there is more than family. It's okay to put your family first, but you shouldn't lose sight of your own goals and aspirations. You don't want to look back one day and think 'What if...' that being said its important to not put work first all the time, and it's not quite always the best timing to put your goals first either. It's a fine, fine line to walk. One that I'm leery of almost all the time, to walk this line that divides maintaining your identity without pushing your family away, and becoming so engulfed in your family you lose focus and you lose who you are.

"It's not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It's necessary." -Mandy Hale

Monday, January 26, 2015

Why I hate the 'Military Wife' Stigma

Many of you may not be aware that I grew up in the military lifestyle, a "navy brat" as many called it, a term my mother couldn't stand. "You're not brats!" she would say, and while we weren't golden all the time, I agree.

My issue with the "military wife" stigma is something that I'm coming to notice more and more as I become more of an outsider in this 'community' if you will. Many wives claim that their 'job' is a Navy wife, a Marine wife, an Army, Coast Guard, Airforce wife. That's not my job. My job is in the IT field, a job I have worked at for the past four and a half years. I go to work every day, well Monday-Friday, I'm also a mother and a wife every day. But being a mother and a wife is not something I would consider a 'job', and here is why:
  • A job by definition is:
A noun
1.  a piece of work, especially a specific task done as part of the routine of one's occupation or for an agreed price:
She gave him the job of mowing the lawn.
2.  a post of employment; full-time or part-time position:
She was seeking a job as an editor.
  • To me, being a mother or a wife is more than a job. It is a lifestyle change, it is a choice one made to care for one or more people for quite literally the rest of your life. To put your needs last in some occasions, and to know when to put your needs first. Is being a mother a responsibility? Yes, absolutely. But it's more than that.
  • A job, is a place of employment, a place of an employment that you chose to work at and that you can chose to leave at any given time. Being a mother, or a wife, is not a position that you can just wake up one day and decide to leave. You can't walk into your child's room and say "Mom quits today, make your own bottles, change your own diapers and occupy yourself" (well I suppose you could, but I wouldn't suggest it.)
  • My husband is the one in the military, not myself, it's his job. Not mine. I really don't feel like I do anything different than what any other wife, who loves her husband, would do. Sure it sucks when he goes away for a bit, but I like to think that is what makes our relationship work so well. It's based on more than just the day-to-day, more than physical attraction. Any normal wife would support her husbands endavors, and make sacrafices for the family. So, no, I don't think being a military wife in the broadest sense is some sort of super job.
  • To kind of contradict what I stated above, there are aspects that make it difficult. Like when the washer breaks after he's only left 12 hours ago. Or when the kids are screaming and you just want a break, but your husband isn't due to be home for another 2 months and your families are 10+ hours away. Those are trials and tribulations, and they make us who we are. They can be hard, they can be joyous, they can be heartbreaking and they can be overwhelming but I'm a firm believer in that's how we grow.
I just can't hope on board with making it my life, making it my job. Is the military a big part of our life? Yes. Do they have more control on your family life than you're average career? Yes. But it's not our life, it's not my life. My life is a compilation of things, my children, my husband, my dog, my home, my family, my job, my friends, doing things I love and enjoy doing. You get the picture. I don't wake up and live and breathe the military. I don't deploy to a war zone, I don't see steel grey walls everyday for extended amounts of time. I don't work 16 hours a day when I'm deployed.

I'm lucky to have a husband who wants to pursue this career, who wants to not only protect his family but his country. I'm lucky to have a husband who provides for his family. The most important thing though is that is his choice, his doing. I feel like the "military wife" stigma takes a lot away from that, and that makes me really sad.

Friday, January 9, 2015

A late Update

I feel like because I haven't blogged in so long, that an update is called for.

The boys are now 26 months, two years old. They have been receiving speech therapy once a week since October and have made huge leaps and bounds! Hayden went from only saying a handful of words at 23 months (handful, as in less than 10) to saying 10-30 words spontaneously and is now using phrases like ‘thank you’, ‘I want’ (when prompted),  ‘bye bye’, and Hayden is now mimicking myself and his Dad. Liam, has skyrocketed. He has gone from less than 20 words, to now saying 2 words phrases. They adore their therapist and I have to say I do too. She is hands down amazing and has helped us in more ways than we could of thought.

We also have found a Nanny, not really an accurate word but kind of the only word for her, and the boys also love her. I’m so grateful for her, because day-care prices were outrageously high for two kids. Not to mention, I’m glad that I don’t have to worry if they are sick, I don’t have to take sick days, I’m not exposing them to germs other than the normal park germs. I don’t have to wake them up in the morning to take them to a place other than home and they get to nap at home. The list goes on, and on, and on.

I weaned off of Zoloft back in July of 2014, and while it was a bit difficult at first, I’m SO much better. At first it was kind of difficult, because there were things that I had buried deep down that started bubbling to the surface. Things I guess you could say I ignored, that I had to face again. But it was refreshing. I started using Essential Oils to help with my moods and thyroid, and they have been so wonderful.

The Mr is now on sea duty, and is getting ready to start deploying. Part of me is sad, because of the time he will miss with the boys, the other part of me is looking forward to all that I will accomplish while he is gone. The time I will have to grow as a person and refocus my energy, the fun things I can do to update the house while he is gone.

Other than the normal ins and outs, I’ve been working on rebuilding some family relationships sand working on how I want others to go. I’m still working and hoping that I will be granted a ‘full time’ position soon. I currently work about 30 hours a week and up, but I’m really hoping to go full time due to the benefits of PTO and sick days. I’m in the process of re-starting school to finally finish up my degree now and just figure out what career I really want to be in.

I’m really hoping that now that my time management has gotten SO much better, I’ll be able to blog more regularly, about in things going on in my life, and maybe help others in similar spots in life. Twin mom life, military wife life (although I really hate that term, but that’s a different post for a different day), working mom and working at home life and just life in general. In the mean time, I have a whole lot of laundry to catch up on and bedtime is drawing near.


Hayden Climbing at the Park

Liam Climbing at the Park
Snuggles after naptime.