Saturday, July 23, 2011

Enjoy it while it lasts...

Today was packed. I usually schedule about one outing or "event" per day, whether that is a playdate or simply going to the grocery store. It seems neither the kids nor I can handle much more than that. But today, for some reason, I agreed to THREE different events-- gymnastics class, a 1-year-old's birthday party, and an adult friend's birthday/dinner gathering. I was a little worried my kids would have shortened naps in the afternoon, be cranked up on sugar, and go into total meltdown stage by early evening. However, they actually did just fine!
Sophie was so excited to go to the 1-year-old's party that she kept coming up to me during gymnastics asking if it was over yet. She had a huge smile and had a good time with the teacher, but she just couldn't get party and cupcakes off her mind! We went to the party directly after class, and it was nice--just 3 families with our kids, so they played together pretty well, the adults got to sit around and eat and talk, and everyone had fun in a low-key way.
We came back home, napped, then went off to the dinner party. This was at my friend's apartment, and she just had a baby, but no toddler toys. I didn't know how my kids would do with limited entertainment in a confined space, but they were mostly happy to eat, cuddle on the couch, and watch some older kids play video games. So I actually had adult conversations and got to sit down! And eat! Yay!
I have decided that while there are many challenges to having a 3-year-old and a 19-month old, it's also a pretty nice age. I can just grab their juice cups and go out the door. The older one is potty trained, and the younger one only needs diaper changes a few times a day, so I don't have to think about that too often. They eat most adult food. They can play together and entertain each other with moderate supervision for short periods of time. This is nice.
Unfortunately, I only have a few weeks before we will have a newborn and be back on that crazy schedule of no sleep for Mommy, and a household controlled by baby's eating and sleeping whims. Sure, I know it's just a phase that will be over in a few months. That doesn't mean I have to look forward to it! So I have resolved that the next few weeks are the closest thing I am going to get to a vacation during this deployment. I intend to enjoy my time as a Mommy-of-2 as much as possible, before I forever become Mommy-of-3.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My new best friend: nook app on my phone!

Since receiving my new phone on mother's day, I have been gradually exposed to the amazing impact a "smart" phone can have on your life. I LOVE having internet on my phone, and the fact that I can access e-mail, Facebook, and the Meetup website whether I am in the car, at the grocery store, etc. I have been finding all kinds of useful apps, and am surprised how many of them are FREE!

But my favorite by far is the Nook app from Barnes & Nobles. I love to read, but since having children, I have often complained about the inability to sit down for more than a few minutes at a time and get into a book. When I did try to read, I usually kept the book on my nightstand, where it did me no good if I got a few unexpected quiet moments in the car, or when the kids were playing outside.
My husband is also an avid reader, and we got him a Nook for Christmas, knowing he would make great use of it during deployments. So by the time I got my phone, he already had a Nook account with tons of books downloaded. I downloaded the Nook app for FREE, and instantly had access to everything in our account! Since I always have my phone on me (a deployed husband has that effect on everyone), I can read a few pages throughout the day--when I wake up, when the kids are watching TV, during naptime, when I sit outside and play with them, etc. I have read at least 6 books in the last month--way more than previously. Best of all, my husband and I have access to the same library during the deployment, so we can read the same books together, each at our own pace, and feel a little more connected and in touch during our separation. I love that! Even though we don't have exactly the same taste in books, it is nice to have a hobby that we can share over this distance. Thank you Barnes & Noble's!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Life is not a Strategy Game

Growing up, I played a lot of board games with my sister, who was just 2 years older. The problem was, she is incredibly smart. So she always wanted to play strategy games--Stratego, chess, etc. To even my odds, I always preferred games of chance. My favorite was always Life. You remember, the game with the little car tokens full of pink and blue pegs to represent your family. You spin the wheel and... oh! You wrote a bestselling novel! Collect $150,000! But then next turn... oh! Your house burned down, pay $500,000!

Anyway, I was thinking of that game today, and how unpredictable my real life is now. Since we chose a military life, I think we expected a certain amount of surprises. (The "pegs" in our little car are adding up quickly, and we're about to add another blue one. :-) ) But deployments always heighten the sense of unpredictability. Spin the wheel one day and oh! the car is not working! Spin it again and discover you need to file some obscure paperwork somewhere, and of course they want your husband's signature. So far, so good for us here, but I find myself constantly wondering/worrying-- what problem is going to come up next? I know I CAN and will handle it, because I have to. I just wish I knew when something would go wrong and how hard it will be to fix it. But if I knew that, then I could strategize for it... and life is not really a strategy game is it? If it were, wouldn't that take out all the fun?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Deployment Coping

Well I might as well admit that this is now a deployment blog... at least until February that is! Sure, I will also be having a baby and sharing all kinds of adventures with the kids. But I won't be able to avoid an underlying theme of deployment.
Overall, I admit that I am pretty optimistic about this one. I've been through this enough times before that I know what to expect. Communication should be much better this time than last year's. My husband is in a much safer job position now, so I won't be so worried about bodily harm. I had a newborn (Danny) when our last deployment started, and got through that pretty well, so my confidence is pretty high that I can do it again. And I'm not even taking any online courses this time around, so honestly all I have to do in the next 7 months is have a baby and take care of our 3 small children. Easy, right? :-) That's what I tell myself on good days.
Anyway, we are only on Day 2, so it barely even feels like a deployment yet. However, even though I have hardly cried, I find myself already slipping into my typical coping mechanism: organizing and cleaning. I have always been a bit of a neat freak (just ask the younger sister who had to share a room with me!) but I have become comfortable with a certain level of messiness in the house, caused by husband's gear and hobbies, children's toys, etc. As long as everything is relatively clean and I can work in the kitchen, I'm fine with that. But as soon as husband leaves, I find myself on a rampage to reorganize the whole 4-bedroom house! Last deployment I came home late at night after saying goodbye to him, and immediately started cleaning up his clothes and everyday items that were around the house-- no more boots by the door, shaving cream on the sink, etc. This time I at least waited until the next day to do it. :-) I then started cleaning up all his books and games that were in the downstairs area. Instead of his hobbies taking over the dining room, it is now cleaned out, his things are neatly put away in our closet, and I won't have to look at them for half a year. I think my motivations are 2-fold. Partly, I am doing this because we are about to have a baby and I need to reorganize some parts of the house to accommodate the new little guy: the guest room/ study will be baby's room, so I had to move around some books and make some room in the closet. The dining room will temporarily hold his swing and pack-and-play, so I had to move the table and clean out the corners. But I think the other reason is purely emotional: when I see his things laying around the house those first few days, I get a little catch in my throat and feel melancholy. He was just here a few hours ago, leaving a damp towel in the bathroom, dishes in the sink, food in the refrigerator, etc. Seeing it just reminds me that he won't be around for a long time, so it seems easier to remove all those reminders. I'm not taking his pictures off the walls or anything crazy! It just seems to make sense to temporarily move the things he won't need while he's gone. I've read that there is a psychological benefit to leaving his boots by the door, as a reminder to me and the kids that he will be home soon. That may be true... but it seems silly to trip over them for months at a time when he obviously won't need them.
What do you think? Do you leaves his things around as reminders when he is deployed? Or do you clean and rearrange the house to claim it as YOURS?