Saturday, December 15, 2012

Jason - Month 16

I always remember the 13th of every month. Partly because it reminds me that I'm another month older, but mostly because it's another month of alive-ness for my husband. So we're sixteen months out from when our lives changed forever, and it feels like it's been five years already.

We had another group Thanksgiving at our house, like we did two years ago. Most of our Army friends have PCS'd away, but a few remain, and it was wonderful to get together with everyone in a pretty low key dinner. Jason cooked the turkey, and did a fabulous job. 

A couple of nights later, we were all asleep and Jason shot up out of nowhere which startled and woke me. Before I could ask him what was wrong or grab his arm, he was on the floor screaming. Apparently he had some sort of dream or nightmare, and he got up to try to walk, and went to step with his right leg which of course has no foot, so 225lbs landed on the nub, which happens to have fairly sharp bone underneath there. It's not made to support that much weight either. Needless to say, the fall woke him, but he couldn't control his pain. I was on the floor next to him within seconds, and my heart was racing. I didn't know what to do for him. We tried ice, but it was way too sensitive and he couldn't have anything touch it. I fed him motrin, and got him back in bed. The next day it was bruised, and obviously sore, but he could still walk which was encouraging. No one pushed him to get an x-ray, and I didn't either for a couple weeks.

In hindsight, I wish I had pushed it. And I wish his nurse case manager had too. There should be a standard of care for lower limb amputees, that if they fall on the residual limb it is an automatic x-ray whether you like it or not. I made him go a couple weeks later when he showed me a fluid filled perfect circle on the edge of his nubby. Thank goodness there was no broken bone. They think maybe there was some scar tissue that was knocked loose and was floating around in there though. 

On a slow day at work, I decided I'd had enough of Jason not getting any prosthetic care. For some reason I had let it go far too long. I don't know if it was being busy with Cooper, work, or just life, but I let that one get away from me, and I definitely shouldn't have. In my defense, he shouldn't have either. It's hard for me to explain to him how important it is that he take care of that leg, because it is much more prone to infection and injury. And if anything happens to it, he won't be able to wear his leg, and there goes walking or driving for who knows how long. It's kind of a big deal. Our house is definitely NOT handicapped accessible, is two stories, and they don't make baby gates with openings wide enough for wheel chairs, that's for sure. But, in his eyes, I'm being too mothering or I'm nagging if I ask/tell him to take care of his leg. "I knowwwww, I've got this under control..." is the answer I usually get. 

Anyway, I googled prosthetists in the area and got quite a few results which is interesting since at the WTU, they told him he'd have to go to Denver for his care. They were "trying" to get him an appointment with the VA in Denver which was going no where. His nurse case manager called, I called, he called, you never got to speak to an actual person, and then they would call us back and say "we'll call you in the next 4 days with an appointment." Four days would come and go and still we wouldn't hear back. I called a few places in the area and one woman talked to me for at least 30 minutes about the process to get him care there, and the processes we'd have to go through. Sounded easy enough which pissed me off that they've waited this long and it could have been done in the area in less than a week. It was 8 months of no prosthetic care! Completely unacceptable. This woman even gave me all of the Tricare insurance codes so that instead of having the initial appointment and then deciding what supplies he might need, and having to put in for approval for all those supplies and then coming back a second time to get them, he could just get it all done the first time. We went, and were there for two hours while they adjusted and measured and figured out a plan of care. They decided the way his scar is healing may require a revision which stresses me out a tad thinking about recovery time. It would only be a couple weeks provided the procedure went well. But the time daddy is out of commission or using his crutches around the house (I hate seeing him come down the stairs on his crutches, I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for the next fall) would be a little stressful with a pre toddler. It is doable, and if it needs to be done, it needs to be done. His scar never healed cleanly, there's one part that kind of folded in on itself, and while all of the skin is closed, there is a big cavern that can open and close when he puts his leg in his socket and it can be painful for him. He also worries about infection there. 

My brother, the connection connoisseur and triathlete met a double amputee who completed two Ironman races at one of his triathlon events. He struck up a conversation, exchanged emails, and he referred us to his leg guy in Denver. Turns out, this guy used to work at Walter Reed, and actually adjusted Jason a couple times while his normal prosthetist was out. So, if all else fails, we can suck up the drive, and go see someone who we know will be great. Small world, though huh!

We opted to stay in Colorado for Christmas, and thank goodness, because we're struggling to budget ourselves with this new (and less!) income. With talk of baby #2 in the near future, budgeting and money is a daily conversation in our house. I can't say I enjoy it much at all. Mom Mom and Pop Pop came out to see us instead, so my mom has kept Jason busy. It was a culture shock for him at first, but now he enjoys all the productivity...or so he says. 

We are planning a beach trip next summer, and I am already looking forward to that after missing it the last two summers, I am more than ready to be down there. More than ready. 

Jason completed his first college class and I am so proud of him! It only took us four years of arguing for him to start. Once he started, he got the bug, and now he's so excited. It was an 8 week class held on post so it was a night class which sucked with my work schedule, but we survived it. It was a preliminary English class since he didn't quite test out of it in the placement test, but he got an A, did all his homework on time, and never slacked or took the easy way out for projects. I am excited for him for next semester because he's signed up for two classes this time, and they're at the actual campus instead. I think he'll feel much better being there, where it's less Army and more regular students. He'll have morning classes twice a week, and I think he'll do great. He's hoping to go to school full time once he gets out of the Army and I'm sure that will be pretty hard, but I think we can make it through :) 

His formal hearing for his VA rating is 5 February where he'll do a video conference and explain to them why he believes he deserves 100% disability rating instead of the 80% they gave him initially. I think I am to go with him and explain how this injury affects our every day life. We're more worried about 15-20 years down the road, and how his body will deteriorate faster and his mobility will decrease much quicker than normal. Hopefully it goes well because that's how we're basing our financial decisions for the future right now. 

This time last year, we were at home and Jason was withdrawing from whatever medication he was still on, but I think it was one of his last ones. I remember him laying in bed all day with fever, chills, and nausea, and convinced he was getting sick. We were sleeping late, napping, and eating a lot of wonderful home cooking anxiously awaiting the arrival of our first baby. Long gone are the days of sleeping late and napping! But we have a wonderful boy in exchange for that. 

This month, we're excited to celebrate our first Christmas in this house, and as a family of three. 
Happy Holidays to you and yours! xoxo

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cooper - 11 Months




Dear Sweet Cooper -

Every day you amaze me. You are a little sponge, and show me something new you've learned almost daily. You can wave bye bye and blow kisses. You kind of know the sign for milk, although your wave bye bye and sign for more look the same as milk. You can clap your hands, and love to dance. At daycare you beeline for the toy bells, and have one in your hand all day long. At home, it's the measuring cups. You've always got one in your hand, even when you're crawling around. You love the sound they make when you bang them on just about everything.

We have been taking a swim class on Saturday mornings, and you love the water! You're almost able to blow bubbles, but still aren't the biggest fan of going under water. You do, however, enjoy drinking your bathwater on purpose! You also like standing in the bathtub and knocking everything off the ledge in to the water.

Night time used to be easy for us, but lately you're showing signs of separation anxiety (at least that's what we think it is). We can't figure out any other reason why sometimes you go right to sleep and stay asleep until the next morning, and other times you don't go right to sleep, and will also wake up crying a couple hours later. I have to go in and pat your back until you stay asleep. There's no method to your madness, and it stresses mommy out! It also makes me extremely grateful that you are, for the most part, a wonderful sleeper. On those late nights that I'm trying to get you back to sleep, I'm thanking the good Lord you didn't make a habit of this. Generally, you know when I have to work the next morning, and those are the nights you like to stay up late!

You play peek-a-boo all the time, and think it's especially funny while you're nursing. You are very ticklish and we can get some very hearty laughs out of you that way. It melts my heart! You are starting to know when you're doing something you're not supposed to. You peer over your shoulder to see if I'm watching, and then start giggling really loud when I start coming towards you to put a stop to your wrongdoings. Setting boundaries for such an active little boy is becoming harder and harder.

You continue to be a favorite at daycare because you're so easy going. You are now the oldest in your class, which makes mommy a little sad. You are growing up so fast!

You eat everything we eat now, and absolutely refuse to be spoon fed unless it's yogurt or applesauce. We have to sneak vegetables in anyway we know how because you will put them in your mouth, and give me a yuck face, and spit them out. You have four teeth on the top, and two on the bottom so far.

You are the light of our lives; mommy and daddy love you so much! Please keep smiling, it's so contagious.

xoxo handsome boy,
mommy


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Jason - 15 Months

The time between these posts is feeling longer and longer. That's a good thing, right? Or we're getting busier and busier.

He came up to my work one day, all flustered, excited, and out of breath and said "Soooo, what if I got out of the Army?" I just stood there and was thinking "What the ....." (you fill in the blank) For as long as he's been recovering, his plan was to stay in the Army. He would put in a continuation on active duty or COAD packet when we returned to Colorado, and he'd get approved of course, and then we'd go back to normal. Nope. Now he has to go and change things up again. The main reason he wanted to stay in was for the medical benefits. If anyone knows how good they are, it's me. And he knows with a family now, it would be pretty stressful getting out of the Army and having to find affordable medical insurance for a family. Well, who knew that since he will be medically retired if he does decide to get out, his whole family (us) will qualify for Tricare for life. Life, people. That's huge. There are people that pay a grand a month just for health insurance!

Bring on the (pardon my French) clusterfuck of options. Does he still apply for COAD? There are drawdowns coming, especially now that Obama has been re elected. Will that affect his chances to stay in? One person tells us he will likely be denied since he has less than 15 years. I say that's bullshit. You have a soldier who was wounded, severely, and wants to stay in and continue serving, but you're going to tell him no thanks? Ha. That would be horrible PR for you, US Army. Other people say, oh you'll definitely get approved (he has to apply to stay in the army), and that they've never seen one denied. If he does stay in, what job would he do? Some people say he would go back to his original MOS which was Infantry. Yeah right. Some say he might deploy again. I say, no way, even if you do stay in, you can totally argue the deployment part. Well, he wouldn't, but I would for him. Some say, no no you will get to change your MOS. Well what jobs are open? We don't know, we have to wait until the COAD packet comes back. They'd only let him do jobs where his rank is needed. Then he may have to go somewhere else for training for that new MOS. Depending on the job, it could be weeks to months long. Then we go back to normal military life, we move around, and deal with silly army bullshit for 12 more years until he hits his 20 year retirement. Then when he gets out, hopefully he'd get the VA disability AND his Army retirement pay. Which still isn't that much for those of you who think we'd be sitting over here collecting all kinds of moolah from the government.

Or does he get out? What will he do if he gets out? How much money will he get for disability? Will I need to work full time again? Will he be able to work full time and go to school? Or will he only work part time and go to school? For these decisions we would need to know how much money he is entitled to from the VA and disability in order to decide who works where and how much. This has been the biggest headache thus far. You would think they would have this process streamlined by now, but they most certainly, do not. Every single person we talked to, including legal, told us something different. None of them were right. I still wonder if we've gotten any correct answers.

Jason signed his 199 which is a form stating the rating the VA gives him. He signed that he agreed with it, and did not want to appeal it. Mistake. He should've signed that he disagreed with it, and that he did want to appeal it. We only found this out because we happened to be sitting in an office with other guys who are also going through the process (who, by the way, have all four limbs and a higher disability rating than Jason). But let's not get on that soap box. Jason was almost in tears out of frustration. "How am I supposed to know what I can and can't appeal or what I should or shouldn't sign? I've never done this before! Why is no one telling me anything right?!"

I have been trying to be more involved since we've gotten back, but it's awfully hard with work and Cooper. I have also been trying really hard to let him take care of these things on his own because I can't do everything for him forever. The issue lies within his military training, I'm convinced. For eight years, he was taught to never question orders. You do what you're told. Except for now. But it's taking him quite a while to realize that. He believes what people tell him because he doesn't know any different (and neither do I!) and that is the most frustrating part. It feels like they are just pushing him through, trying to get him to sign whatever they need signed so as to speed the process up and they can move on to their next case. I refuse to be one of those cases that finds out after it's too late what we should've done. I've told him that over and over again, but I can only do so much.

 All this, and they didn't even rate his mangled arm and hand. And then he was told he had to be a veteran before he could appeal the VA rating. Not true. But had we listened, he would've been out of the Army, out of a paycheck, and waiting and waiting for the VA to rewrite his rating. Sounds like fun, right? I just get annoyed because the families going through these huge changes have already been through so.much.stress. Adding financial stress on top of it, and the stress of the soldiers future, is huge. I mean, we are by no means headed for a divorce, but it's quite easy to see why people do after dealing with all this. This is our LIFE! How is that so hard to understand? We cannot sit around and wait for you to decide how disabled you think my husband is because that doesn't pay the bills! Such is life, right? People do this every single day, and we have to put our big girl panties on and start pinching pennies.

It stresses me out to think about it anymore. On a happier note, Jason has been meeting with the personal trainer I set up for him twice a week unless he has other Army fun stuff to do. Today he informed me that he has lost 15lbs so far, and 7% body fat. He's pretty excited about it, and hopefully his progress will motivate him to continue working hard! I'm still meeting with my trainer twice a week, and I've lost around 10lbs and holding strong there. If we were better about our nutrition, we'd both be seeing lower numbers on the scale. It's so hard to stay motivated after working all day. How do you do it?

He is scheduled for laser hair removal in a couple of weeks for his leg. He gets ingrown hairs all the time, and they're hoping this will take care of the problem. He's going to shave his leg soon to prepare, and you can be sure I'm going to document that!

This Veteran's day we celebrated a year with half a middle finger. Ha. It was a year ago, and I remember because it was my baby shower weekend, and he was so bummed that he had to be readmitted to the hospital over Veteran's day weekend. That hospital stay was nothing like the first, of course, and as soon as he was discharged we hopped on a bus and went to Ocean City for the weekend.

Maybe next month, we will have a more clear view of where this life is taking us. More and more, this is becoming our home though. I am so ready to buy a house here, and stop wasting money on rent. We will make it back out East, but maybe not until he's done with college. And you better believe I'm excited as all get out to be saying that :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Cooper - Month 10

Dear Cooper,

This month has flown by. You are growing so fast, and learning something new every single day. I know I've probably said that for the past few months, but I can really see the gears turning in your smart little brain these days. One day you discovered the stairs, and made it up three of them before I ran to be your safety net. You still haven't figured out that they could be a pretty fun game, which is fine by mommy. You will crawl all the way to the top if we let you, though.

You continue to be so flexible and mellow. You often only take one nap a day because we're always out and about. You still refuse to nap at daycare for anything longer than 30 minutes. If you get tired or fussy, your thumb is still your best friend. You still sleep through the night, and wake up happy as a clam every morning.

You've had a couple bouts with the stomach bug, and teething, which have made you a little less the happy you everyone knows. You pulled through, and now have 6 teeth! Your upper incisors came in before your middle two, so you look a little like a vampire until the middle two finish coming in. I think you're a pretty cute vampire, myself.

You now scrunch your nose up and get squinty eyes and smile so big you show me all your teeth. It is one of my most favorite things to watch you do.

You are almost standing by yourself, but no efforts to walk yet without holding on to anything. Everything still goes in your mouth, including the dog food. Her water bowl is one of your favorite things to play with. You also love measuring cups. You have a heap of toys, but always go straight for the measuring cups. You carry them around, and love to bang them on the walls to hear the different sounds.

You continue to impress me, and make me so proud to call you my son. You are the light of my life, and I really want to freeze time to keep you this small forever.

I love you, sweet Cooper!
xoxo

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Jason - Month 14

Holy busy life, batman! 




We have been real busy these past few months. I'm sure I've mentioned all the trips we've been on in past blogs. Our biggest trip was to Texas so Jason could play in the Warrior Open hosted by George W. Bush in Dallas. Say what you will regarding politics, but this was an absolutely amazing experience. 

Let me back up a few months. 

When we got back to Colorado, Jason got really in to playing golf again. Like, playing 3-4 times a week. I was google searching one night, and just searched for tournaments in the area for military. The Warrior Open website came up, and I started reading about it, and all the events that took place last year. Jason thought it was just a one time deal since the scores were still up from last year. But there were 2012 dates, and they weren't until September. Oh you better believe I bookmarked that page, and checked it every single day until the application date was set. We applied, and didn't think we'd actually get picked. We waited and waited, and finally had to email to ask the status because it was getting fairly close, and he needed to know whether or not to put paperwork in for TDY. Jason was the first one to be called and invited, and she said "George Bush is really excited to play golf with you!" 

It was a 5 day, all expenses paid, 36 hole golf tournament especially for wounded warriors. If you could plan a trip - a golf trip - this is how it would've gone. Seriously, it was that good. It was a whirlwind, and went by way too fast, but it was also SO fun. The organization was ridiculous. All of GW's worker bees had huge binders on them at all times, and everyone knew everyone in our family by name, especially Cooper. They could answer any question I could possibly muster up right there on the spot. They greeted us at the hotel and said all of our special requests had been taken care of, and they definitely were. We stayed at the Four Seasons, and felt totally out of our league. We fidgeted when the bellhop guy brought our bags to our room and took the laundry to be pressed. We ate room service Texas Pecan Chocolate Chip Pie and Pepperoni Pizza on the floor of the hotel room so we wouldn't wake Cooper (who is very hard to get to sleep in a hotel room, by the way). We walked around and basked in the humidity of Texas, and enjoyed the less-itchy-because-it's-not-as-dry Jason. 

Photo courtesy of warrior open.com
Jason felt like a professional golfer, and loved every second of it. Chiropractors were walking around asking if anyone needed adjustments after each day of golf. He refused every single time even though I was practically begging him to give it a try. The members of the Las Colinas Country Club were allowed in to watch and participate, which made it feel even more professional like, because he had 'fans'. People were walking around watching him play and following his games. One guy came up to me and said "Is he the one tied for second? I saw his shot on nine, and now this one, and he looks really good!" Sadly, he was not tied for second, but I still thought that was cool that this guy was following him. The first tee off was pretty nerve wracking; he was surrounded by at least 350 people, and the guy who held up the 'Quiet' sign, and an announcer who said his name and where he was from, and George W. right behind him watching. No pressure. Just hit the ball. That's all I was thinking. I don't care where it goes, just hit it. And Cooper, please don't choose this time to scream! They provided me with my own cart to follow him around for all 18 holes each day. Cooper's MiMi was a very helpful babysitter for the last nine holes of each day so I could finish watching Jason play. Tom Watson was there the second day, and was at one of the holes offering his advice. When Jason teed off that day, I videoed GW talking to 'some guy' (that's what I called him since I had no idea it was Tom Watson, or who that even is). He said "He's got a good swing!" And GW replied "Yeah, he's a really good player" They went on to have a conversation about him but I couldn't hear what they were saying. 

That was one of those moments where you're not really sure what your husband does, or if what he does is good compared to everyone else - I've seen him play golf, but I sure as hell don't know what's good and what's not - (I knew he wasn't horrible if he was getting asked to play with some older men in our town, and we were getting invited to his house and such) - so when they had that little conversation, my heart just throbbed with joy for him! I was so proud of him! 

The ninth hole proved difficult both days for him, but he improved the second day at least. His putting was costing him a lot of pars and he said he was having trouble 'reading the greens'. That's about as far as my golf talk goes. I do know that he played the worst I've ever seen him play on that first day, and rightfully so. If you were playing with George W. watching you, you'd probably be a little nervous too.  We were treated to a special dinner at GW's house, with Jay Leno as a guest as well. We had fried catfish and steak on his front lawn, and listened to a stand up routine from Jay Leno afterwards. We got to see a private show by the Eli Young band after another special dinner with GW on the last night we were there. 

The event was really perfect. I just can't express to you how much we appreciated everything they were doing for us. I'm just not sure how to put it in to words. To be given that opportunity, and treated like that, is something everyone dreams of. We didn't do anything to deserve that, except have a bit of bad luck. We certainly hope to participate in that event as long as they will allow us to, but understand we may not be lucky enough to experience it more than once. I do believe the event will grow and get bigger and bigger each year, although I hope they don't allow too many more guys to participate at once. It was already so big with only 22 participating warriors. To make it bigger, would take away all the personal touches that were afforded. So I'm sure soon, getting accepted to participate will get harder and harder. 

Long story short, he handled everything so well. He would be the most humble famous guy ever. He gave an impromptou speech in front of at least 250 people including the president, teed off twice in front of crowds (and GW and Tom Watson!), smiled after missing countless birdie (?!) putts, and continued to be a positive role model for a lot of people, including myself. 

Photo courtesy of warrioropen.com 
We said multiple times throughout the trip how amazed we were that we were even there. It was hard to soak it all in. When Jason was down on himself for missing those putts, I tried my best to be supportive since I know nothing about golf. "Just soak it in, babe, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, make the experience everything you want it to be." We reminisced about 14 months ago, and how we never, ever, thought this is where we'd be. Back then, our outlook for the future was pretty gloomy and didn't go much further past 2 or 3 months. Now, we are amazed at how far we've come in such a short amount of time. We often wonder where we will be this time next year.

Phew, I guess I'll stop with the Texas trip. I'm sure you're all bored to death with that. We also went home for a weekend which was a long trip for such a short amount of time. We squeezed in playdates, weddings, and crab feasts though. It was a lot of fun, and very busy again, but it was nice to be home for a little bit and see everyone. 

In other Jason news, he's still itchy. Awesome. This has been going on since February, and still the best explanation is Eczema. He still does is nightly cocktail of creams and steroid creams and foams and ointments. Nothing is really making it all go away. 

He's miserable in the WTU, and I've finally had to step in. I only hope it gets resolved soon. He got his 'unfit for duty' rating back, and today he got his disability rating which he doesn't agree with so he'll probably have to appeal that in the near future. He's not excited about returning to the Army and not being in the infantry, but he's excited about working again. 

I'm excited for that too, although I have to say, I've been very spoiled with how our schedule has been lately. He's able to pick Cooper up from daycare early in the day which is wonderful because I refuse to have him there all day long. He's usually free to do things any day of the week. 

I'm scared to see where our future is going to take us. I've become so used to this place, and after three years, we call it home now. Is that how every Army station is? Do you find the perfect job, and friends and your favorite nail place and hair dresser and grocery store and fast food place and mall all in a new city? Every time you move? What if you don't find friends? Or the perfect job? What if it's not the same as you've been used to? These are the thoughts that have been consuming my mind lately as we talk about this changing jobs thing for Jason, that means we'll likely be moving soon, and by soon I mean in the next year or two. Which is soon for me. I need a good 5 years to prepare. I don't know why I'm stressing so bad; I picked up and moved out here not knowing anyone three years ago, and look now. I have a bunch of great friends; many with babies Coopers age so we have fun play dates. My job is ideal. That's probably my biggest worry. I don't know where I will find another employer so willing to work with me like they have been here. I absolutely LOVE my job here. Love it. Not ready to say good bye to that. Found my favorite hair dresser, nail salon, waxer, Target, Safeway, Chick-Fil-A, outlet mall, etc. 

Let's put it this way - when I go 'home' and see all the Virginia license plates, it looks weird. When I come back here, and see all the green and white Colorado license plates, it feels like I'm home. And that's weird - so I know that wherever we move next, I will be able to feel home, it will just take a while. But it's even scarier with Cooper now, wondering how he will adjust, and if we will find a house with enough room to call home again just like we've found this one. Will his room be as cozy as it is here? Ah, the joys of a military wife. This would be our first true military family move, though. 

So I've been rambling. A lot. I'm sorry. It's been a long day, a long week rather, even though I only work two shifts a week these days. I'm off to love on my husband while we watch Friends as we do every single night. (I remember when Nick@Nite had I Love Lucy on...not a show that was on when I was younger. I feel old) 

omg. It's the leather pants episode. You all know what I'm talking about. :) 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cooper - Month 9

Where oh where has my little boy gone?! 

You are so grown up now! You crawl and climb and stand and squat and side step and are learning the stairs! You love your mommy these days, and that's ok, because she loves you very much. You love to snuggle with her, and it makes daddy jealous sometimes. You are currently cutting three teeth at the same time! You already have one on the bottom, and the one next to it is coming in, as well as two on the top. Not the middle two though, the outer two - so that will probably look funny. 

You are still as talkative as ever, and make new sounds almost every day. You love to sing and play patty cake with mommy. Bath time has become an adventure since you're over the bath seat, and now just like to play with the faucet and splash the whole time. You love daddy's xbox, and go straight for the power button every time. We finally had to unplug it! 

You stand up in your crib and cry and cry until someone comes to sit you down. You haven't quite figured out how to sit back down once you've stood up. You look so pitiful when we go in to rescue you! You still sleep through the night, and well in to the morning (unless you're not feeling well). 

Throughout your eighth month, you traveled a lot! You went to England, Texas, and Virginia. In Texas you got to meet another president! George. W. Bush. He put his hat on you at daddy's golf tournament, and even held you for a few seconds, but you were tired and started crying so he gave you back to mommy. You were certainly a hit at the golf tournament, everyone still comments on how much you look like your daddy. You are quite the frequent flyer these days, too. It's hit or miss though, sometimes you sleep right through the flight, and other times you cry the whole time. In Virginia, there was a constant flow of people at mom mom's house coming to visit you since we were only there for a weekend. You played with your cousin Max, and friend Jocelyn! You saw your favorite Lauren again, and wooed her with all your new tricks. You gave Tammy & Philip baby fever the day after their wedding, and you might have even given it to David. You hung out with your pop pop a lot, because he basically lived with us in Colorado for 6 weeks to babysit Sadie while we were out doing all this world traveling! 

You still enjoy meal times, although we haven't strayed too far from the general baby diet. Mommy may be a little reluctant to let you grow up too fast. You have graduated to Cheerios, which are much cheaper and easier to haul around with us. You still love sweet potatoes and applesauce the best. You are starting to get excited about yogurt, too. You especially love the fruit and yogurt popsicles I make for you since your gums are so sore these days. We have a very relaxed schedule, and a semi routine when we're home all day. Usually, that all gets thrown out the window if we're out running errands, though. Generally you take one or two naps during the day, and then we snuggle in our rocking chair at night before bed and then you sleep peacefully until the morning. Nap times are getting harder though, since you stand and walk around the edges of the crib and then fuss until I have to come lay you down and say night night again. Today, we had to do that three times before you actually fell asleep! 

While life with you has gotten easier in some respects, it's gotten harder in others. You are in to everything. Everything you're not supposed to be in. So we have to watch you like a hawk, but still allow you to explore your home. It's wonderful to be able to put you in the shopping cart in stores instead of lugging the stroller or strapping you to me, but then you're putting the lovely shopping cart with all it's cleanliness in your mouth. You have a mind of your own now, and know what you want. iPhones in particular, are one of your favorite items to grab and chew on. You don't like it when mommy walks out of the room, and really don't like it when she puts you down! 

We can't wait to see what this month brings, I hope you continue to grow in to a sweet, loving boy like you already are. Keep smiling, Cooper boy! Mommy & Daddy love you!


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Jason - Month 11

Every other day I catch myself thinking I've missed his 11 month mark, but nope, it still hadn't been a whole month since the last time I posted about him. We've been busy, too, so I don't know why it wouldn't feel like it's gone by faster. At any rate, it's been another month. I'm sure I can stop counting months soon, but I know I will never forget what the 13th of any month means to our family.

This month, we experienced pilonoidal cysts, migraines, and London (and their social healthcare). Fun combination, huh? He started waking up in the middle of the nights with fever and chills, but they would go away during the day. He was taking motrin every morning to help with his migraines, and so I think that was masking some signs of infection brewing. He started complaining about his tail bone hurting, and I just thought that was weird, and that it'd go away within a couple days. It got to the point that he couldn't sit down without being in pain, though. He was also feeling nauseous all day long for at least a week. We were supposed to go to a parade of sorts that the WTU was sending soldiers to, and he made the decision at 0630 to call and see if he'd be able to stay home. Woo boy, maybe not the best time of day to be calling - some yelling was involved, and some cuss words were thrown around when they probably shouldn't have been, I may or may not have said "ya'll are parading him around like some dog and pony show, and I don't appreciate it..." and it ended with him having to go to the ER to prove he wasn't lying just to get out of going to the parade. And that, in a nutshell, describes our experience in this WTU. Miserable.

Anyway, it's a good thing we did go to the ER, because he ended up getting 10 days worth of antibiotics. The doctor tried to lance the cyst, but it wasn't ready yet. I got a text the next morning while I was at work saying "it just exploded everywhere..." I was so wishing I was home to witness that. Not to worry, it would come back while we were in England of course. So his mom and I got to squeeze some more gunk out of it. They should add this to wedding vows. "to have, and to hold, to squeeze pus out of your butt, honor, cherish..." He experienced real socialized health care there. I didn't go with them, but he said the facility was really run down, but the care was good. He got more antibiotics, and then got some more when we got home. He's been on antibiotics for a month now. He takes them like vitamins. He's started taking probiotics because he was having such digestive problems, and I honestly think that's helped immensely. He's really excited about being on a regular pooping schedule, in case you wanted to know that. I mean, it's kind of a milestone, if you remember last year this time - we were doing enemas and suppositories and struggling to get to the toilet, so just settling for the bedside commode instead while your wife sits on the other side of the room keeping herself busy so you don't get too embarrassed.

One more infection tackled. The trip to London was awesome. We were there during the Paralympics and that was a lot of fun. People just thought Jason was one of the athletes. We went to a day of track and field, and there were so many people in Olympic Park it was crazy. They built a mall right in the middle of it all, which of course was packed too. We were on the escalator, and I was standing behind Jason. There was a father and son standing next to me, and the father poked the son and pointed to Jason's leg (right next to me!). Really? Way to set an example. I like to walk a few steps behind him when we're in the mall or any other place with lots of people, because it's almost guaranteed that someone will stare. They always look down first, then up at the man with the fake leg and see that he's pretty young, get a surprised look on their face, and look back down at the leg. I always try to make eye contact with them just to make them feel uncomfortable. Like, 'yeah, I see you staring and being annoying, any questions?' I hope I'll grow out of that immature phase soon.

In England, we celebrated his birthday, did all the touristy things, and met all kinds of family. Jason played golf with his grandfather, and I bought all different kinds of chocolate to try. Cooper learned to sit himself up from crawling, and started standing. It was a very productive, and eventful trip!


In about a week and a half, we'll travel to Texas to watch Jason play in the Warrior Open with George W. Bush. We are really excited for that trip. Right after that, we'll travel home for a wedding. We're hoping to go home for Christmas too, so I'm hoping we'll be able to stop by Walter Reed again soon and visit with Joe and Bob. Jason has decided he wants to try for a career in prosthetics, and I would love for him to go talk to his old prosthetist about where to start. I'm really excited for him if he does follow through with that goal.

All in all, another good month with only a few setbacks. Hopefully they will become fewer and farther between!

Now, excuse me while I go change my shirt from four hour old partially digested peaches and breast milk. Ugh.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

One for Me

There's a small box in the bottom left corner of my screen with my mom jabbering away as I write this. She's checking up on Dad and making sure I ate lunch today. I love her. But I can't say that I love that I showed her how to Skype. It's taking over our lives. Nevertheless, I certainly hope I can have this relationship with Cooper when he gets older. I had a realization today; I'm trying to keep my baby a baby forever. I picked him up from daycare, and a couple babies were sitting at the table eating lunch. A grown up lunch, with spoons and everything. I'm still making his baby food, and feeding him, and crying on the inside every time he sits up on his knees inspecting a toy. So, I need to stop the baby food making factory, and start introducing more finger foods. We've done Cheerios and bananas. Maybe pasta?

Either way, I'm struggling. Big time. Just a month ago, he wasn't crawling, sitting, climbing, or eating by himself. Now he's doing all of those, and learning new things every. single. day. It's seriously killing me. I love watching him learn new things and figure it all out. I hate seeing him grow up. All I picture is him driving away in my Jeep, which will be the old ugly hand-me-down by then, off to college or wherever he decides he needs to go to be a grown up all by himself. It all flashes before my eyes when he sits up on his little knees and picks each toy out of his box one by one. Today it's toys and cheerios, tomorrow it's college and girls.

Lately I've really been feeling the emotions that come with a fast growing son, and a husband who is still not 100%. It's draining. How do you motivate someone who is so far down on themselves, without being a nagging wife? How do you push someone to better themselves without pushing them away? How do you ask someone to help you without making them feel like they're worthless for not helping? (that's a little extreme, I don't really do that, but it's how I feel sometimes) I've been praying for compassion and patience while he figures this all out on his own. I'm not feeling the answers to those prayers anywhere right now. I'm trying to be encouraging and positive about his choices. I'm just tired. The hardest part of this 11 month old life changing event is only just beginning! When we were sitting in the hospital a year ago, and we never thought we'd see this day, I never imagined the emotional obstacles we'd have to overcome too. I'd much rather have it all done and dealt with than this long, drawn out process. I'm sure it happens this way for a reason. Humans probably cannot undertake all that stress at once, and so here we sit 11 months later, still trying to figure out our emotions about it all.

I've been calling to make a counseling appointment, if for nothing else, just to vent without offending my husband. But they're always busy, or never get back to me. It's just one of those things that just gets put on the back burner as we try to have a normal life at the same time.

Maybe I'm picking up a lot of his emotional stress for him. He just shuts down, as most men do. I choose to stress for him, about deciding on a new job in the Army, about which classes to take in school, about which school to go to, when to start, how to start, life after the Army, etc. If I don't, he won't either. And then we'll just be back at square one.

All this stressing will make me go gray way sooner than I anticipated. I have been going to the gym much more, and that helps. Just leave it to me to find stress in every situation; I will. A trait I hope to NOT pass on to Cooper.

Long, somber entry ends now.



Saturday, September 8, 2012

Cooper - Month 8



Dearest Cooper, 

You are really starting to express yourself these days. You are still a very happy baby 99% of the time. You really only cry if you're tired, or when Mommy leaves the room (which makes Daddy sad). 

You traveled to England this month, and you got to meet your Nana's side of the family which was very exciting. While we were there, you learned to sit yourself up after crawling, and now you look like such a big boy every day. You went on the London Eye, and saw Big Ben, the Tower of London, Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, went to the Paralympics, and ate British baby food. The plane rides were a little tough for you (and your parents), because you just love to crawl around and explore things, and you weren't allowed to do that on the airplane. 

You are now a professional crawler, and sitter. You've started pulling up on things and getting up on to your knees. Sometimes when you're too far away, you'll try to take your hands down and then bump your head on whatever you've pulled up on. That's how you got your first incident report at daycare, and bruise on your forehead. 

You've got your first tooth coming through, too. It's your bottom left, front and center. Mommy is not excited about teeth - it's only another indication that my little boy is growing up too fast. 

You're very talkative, and making new sounds every day. "dada" is still your favorite. I'm still waiting for a "mama"! I'm convinced you're still the favorite at your daycare, because let's face it, how could you not be?! 

Your favorite foods are mommys milk (in any form), pears, peaches, bananas, apples, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, and mangoes. You're really not as excited about peas, green beans, or avocados, but mommy still makes you eat them since they're good for you :) We've tried yogurt a couple times, but I think it might upset your tummy a little bit. You still love it, though! You've gotten so good at picking up your little puffs, and have gotten even better at chewing them up instead of gagging on them! It's probably about time to start giving you more finger foods, but that's another sign that you're growing in to a little boy, and it makes mommy depressed. 

This month, you will fly on a plane two more times,  get to meet President George W. Bush, go back to Virginia and see more family, and probably start pulling up to standing soon! Mommy and Daddy have to start really baby proofing now, not just the locks on the cabinets either. Some furniture might have to be rearranged so you'll have more room to explore without getting more bruises! 

Please stay little forever sweet handsome, you are so fun at this age, and you are so snuggly with your mommy. It makes my heart melt every time you nuzzle in to my chest, and I already dread the day you grow up in to a man even though its years away. 

Your Daddy and I have very high hopes for you, you will be a joy in everyones life, and we are already SO proud of you!

xoxo



Monday, August 13, 2012

Jason - 1 Year

Holy Moly, a year! Can you believe it? I can't. It really feels like just yesterday I was running around here in a tizzy trying to get things together to go see my injured husband.

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I'm going to warn you right now - I've never posted this picture anywhere on the internet. It's very graphic, and if you're squeamish in any way, DON'T look at it. I periodically look back at this picture in amazement of what he's been through, and how far he's come.

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Upon arrival to WRNMMC at Bethesda

8.18.11 - First time I saw him - always smiling :)

Countless surgeries, who knows how many different kinds of drugs, three sockets, four prosthetics, infection after infection (still), migraines, months of occupational and physical therapy, two trips to the White House, a couple trips to the ER, a baby born, one trip to the Pentagon, a couple trips to the OBX, a road trip back across the country, and here we are back to 'normal' a year later.

We celebrated his 'alive day' a couple days early since more people would be able to participate on the weekend instead of during the work week. We did the Incline - it's no joke. He's done it once since he's been back with a couple guys, and he did it much faster than we did it this time. He's not at 100% right now, we're in the process of trying to figure out what's going on. But, he finished it, and that's all that matters. Because, a year ago, laying in the hospital bed, with everything but his right arm numb from epidurals and nerve blocks, he never even imagined a year from then he'd be back in Colorado, doing the Incline. He was still trying to figure out how to poop by himself. I'd say he's come a long way, wouldn't you?

We've definitely had disappointments, moments where we would give anything to have his leg back, and the feelings of "why me" or "why us". But with this turn our life has taken, so many new opportunities have opened up for us that we never would have dreamt about before.  He will play in the Warrior Open in September with George W. Bush; no pressure there. He has the opportunity to change his job in the Army to virtually anything, it's just a matter of trying to decide what. The world is at our fingertips even moreso now than it was before. Unfortunately some people view this as undeserved or get jealous of the opportunities, and we're still learning to deal with how that hurts. We try so hard not to act differently or talk excessively about who we've met and what we've been able to do but those are the kinds of things you want to be able to share with your friends. And I guess if they can't handle it, they shouldn't be considered friends anyway. We're just trying to figure out how to live this new normal with humility and grace.

We are so blessed with the people we've met out here in Colorado, almost everyone has been absolutely wonderful throughout this whole process. Unfortunately its PCS season, and I'm reminded every time I leave our house and see at least 3 moving trucks at different houses, that a lot of our really close friends here are getting ready to move :( I still have work friends, but I'm very worried for Jason after everyone leaves. He has a really hard time relating to the guys in the WTU here, and there isn't a sense of camaraderie or the kind of cohesion you'll find in a regular infantry unit.

We will continue to grow and strengthen our marriage together. We will continue to find joy in the simplest things because we know how quickly they can be taken away. We will continue to be strong, loving parents for Cooper, because he deserves nothing less. Most of all, I hope we will continue on this new journey by each others side, with respect, devotion, and more love than we ever thought possible.


The start of The Incline - 8.11.12


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cooper - Month 7

Oh Cooper boy, you are growing so fast! I wish I could freeze time, because you are absolutely divine right now. I love just about everything you do, and every single day you're learning something new. It's amazing to watch. Your dad and I still distinctly remember the days when we thought there would be no end to your crying, we'd never figure out a good routine, and you'd never be able to do anything on your own. It's absolutely breathtaking how much you've grown and developed in only seven months.

You are now almost crawling, you get up on your hands and knees and rock back and forth until you just propel yourself forward and face plant in to the carpet. You have gotten the turning in circles thing down to a science, and you can use that to your advantage as you somehow turn in circles on your belly all the way across the room! You are reaching for everything, and it's getting harder to take you out to dinner with us because of that! You can't quite sit up on your own yet, but you're very close.

We've started taking baths in the big tub, no baby tub for you anymore. Except that you roll over and sometimes put your face right in the water which scares you, and you think you can't breathe even when Mommy rescues you, so you get really upset and then bath time is over :)

You still love sweet potatoes, and have had peas, green beans, prunes, peaches, and apples too. And I've homemade all of that food for you. Mommy is really paranoid about you choking, so you haven't had anything hard yet, except for those Baby Mum Mum crackers that are supposed to dissolve really quick. You gag on them, and aren't quite sure about them, so we'll work on that more this month. You're getting really good at holding and actually drinking out of your sippy cup although the water still freaks you out because it comes out faster than the bottle or mommy, and you spit most of it out.

You're learning how to pinch now, and it really hurts! You're teaching mommy to keep your nails short all the time, or else! You're also learning how to pick up all the things you're not supposed to pick up and put in your mouth. When Mom Mom and Pop Pop were here, Pop Pop started baby proofing the cabinets for us since you're definitely going to be on the move soon. I have a feeling we're going to have to put the dog bowls up out of reach once you start moving.

Everywhere we go, and I do mean everywhere - people (mostly women) crouch down to you if you're in the stroller and comment on how happy and smiley you are. You always flirt with the ladies and give them huge gummy smiles, and they all swoon over you! It's one of my proudest moments. They say "he's so happy!" And I don't know what else to say other than "yeah he is!" I'm thinking, "Man, how did we get so lucky to have such a wonderful and perfect baby who really IS happy all.the.time. ?!" You are one perfect little baby, and I'm not just saying that! You really, really are!

You continue to suck your thumb and are able to entertain yourself for hours.  Both your thumbs are bright red, and cracked from all the sucking and it breaks my heart, but doesn't seem to bother you. You prefer your left, so we're hoping you'll be a lefty like your mommy ;) Even when you're not asleep, you'll stay quietly in your crib and practice crawling, inspect your feet, or try to rip the crib bumpers off.

I can't wait to see what you'll learn this month! You amaze me every single day, Cooper Graham!




Sunday, July 22, 2012

Differences

Perhaps this is not the best time for me to be writing a blog.

I was overwhelmed with emotions, though, and couldn't help it.

I feel our friends slipping away, and I hate that. I hate *almost* everything that has happened to us in the past year. No one wishes to go through this, no one wishes to know what it's like. Well, most people don't anyway.

Do I want everyone to bow down, feel sorry, and invite us to every event ever? No. But, do I feel offended and like its because of his injury that we're (or he's) not invited some places? Yes.

I'm not quite sure how to remedy this other than to just get over it and grow up.

I know he feels it. He just doesn't put it out there like I do.

Maybe one day we'll be completely accepted wherever we end up, and I can't wait for that day.

Remember almost a year ago when I was staying how I couldn't wait until we were out of the hospital; well now I'm saying I can't wait until we're accepted by society as normal again.

Here I sit, on the verge of tears, while he's upstairs asleep, not knowing (or caring) the difference. Maybe I'm just crazy. Or maybe he's just not telling me everything. I just know I'd be in full fledge tears if I saw my closest friends doing something obviously planned without me in mind. (Take me back to high school, Stephanie!) I know, that's what it seems like. The more I read what I'm writing, the more I know I shouldn't even be posting this at all. Hey, whatever, it will make for entertaining reading tomorrow right?!

For as many emotions as I am feeling, I certainly seemed to sum it up in those few paragraphs! Shocking.

Thank you to those who have always treated us as if we were normal. Because we are.

What is normal anyway?!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Jason - Month 11

I think I missed month 10 because it fell on my birthday, and well, frankly, I was pouting on my birthday. We'll leave it at that :)

Hard to believe next month will be the year mark. Never EVER thought we'd be here. I remember it like it was yesterday. Where I was when I got the news, how I sat at the kitchen table and scribbled questions on random pieces of junk mail as they came to mind. I remember all those days sitting in the hospital in the most uncomfortable chairs wondering what the end of all this would feel like. And now we're here. Not really at the end, but far from where we began.

Sadly, we've already had to feel some negative effects of all this. Besides the obvious life changing events, there are the things that no one really ever thinks of in situations like this. I'm not quite sure how to put it without jumping on the gossip train either, so I'll try my best.

Jason said to me the other day, "Sometimes I think we should've just stayed at Walter Reed." His point being, we were so hoping to come back here and return to normal, except that we're far from normal anymore. I know I've written that before, and probably in exactly those same words, but now reality is setting in, and we're living it. At Walter Reed, we were normal. We got to go on special outings, and he probably would've been selected for many different awards, and received all kinds of extra attention. Walter Reed is one of the biggest military hospitals, and it's right outside of DC. It's where famous people go for their 'good deed checklist' - ok I made that up, but that's what it felt like sometimes. That's neither here nor there, the real point of this whole paragraph is this: No one there would ever judge us for getting special treatment. 


Unfortunately, we've encountered that here. Jason relates it to the HBO series The Pacific. If you've seen it, you know the main guy (I don't know it well enough) gets the medal of honor, and gets brought home from deployment to go around and be a spokesperson I guess (I could be way off here, sorry). So his friends get upset that he's at home getting all this attention while they're still there doing the dirty work and not getting any recognition at all. Same story applies to us. Jason has said that from the get go; he's always been afraid his friends would get mad at him for getting to do cool things, or getting nice benefits because they were the ones who were deployed the whole year, away from their family and friends. Honestly, he would even get upset when I'd post pictures to Facebook of the different things we were doing. He was so afraid he'd upset his friends who were still in Afghanistan. I empathized, but honestly never thought we'd have to deal with that personally. I always reminded him that yes, they were all deployed for a year, and yes it is insanely difficult, but after that year is over, the deployment is over. After this year is over, you will still have no leg. This is something you will have to deal with for the rest of your life, and no one will ever know what that's like, not even your closest friends. Unless they've gone through it too.

I still don't think people fully recognize the agony that is an amputation. All his friends are back now, and they're (mostly) all treating him like they normally would. I think part of this has to do with the fact that Jason acts just like he used to, and doesn't let his leg affect him. He's not a complainer, so they don't see that side of him either. He's still dealing with the mysterious itching, he sleeps in long pants and cotton gloves every night. Anyone who knows him knows his core temperature is about 400 degrees, so sleeping in long pants and gloves isn't exactly awesome. He's still taking medication to help him sleep because of the itching. He is struggling daily with motivation to get back to the gym, because at the WTU, PT is a joke. It seems like each time he goes back to the doctor, he's got a new infection of some sort, so he's constantly on antibiotics. His immune system is terrible. He's struggling even more with figuring out where this new path in his life is going to take him, and it's taking a toll on our marriage all at the same time. It's not all fun and games to go and get your leg blown off, kids.

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On a positive note, I'm back at work PRN, which is absolutely fabulous. I've been working 3-4 shifts in a two week period and I love it. I'm not there long enough to dread going back, so every time I go to work, I feel like I have a great attitude (which for anyone who knows me, knows this is a huge thing)!

Cooper is in daycare only when I work or have to run errands without him. Jason is usually able to pick him up early so he's never there the full day, and has never been 5 days a week since he started.

Sadie is adjusting, although probably not as well. Her grandfather was much more attentive to her, and so she misses that, I'm sure. We take her to the dog park when we can, and we've been boarding her when we are gone for long periods during the weekend so she'll get to play with other dogs more. She seems to love that, so that's good.

We're planning our big BBQ to have as celebration when his one year marks comes around. Some people call it an "alive day", but we're calling it "One Year with One Leg". We're going to hike up the Incline to show everyone just how far he's come in his recovery, and then have a typical Army style BBQ with beer pong and corn hole at our house that night. I'm excited; we've been dying to have people over since we got back but everyone always beats us to the punch.

All in all, life is good. We're trying to consciously remember that each day. Even though it sucks, it could be even worse. So we're practicing being grateful for the gifts we have been given.



Cooper - Month 6

A week late, but that doesn't mean I don't love you my dear.

I was just upstairs nursing and rocking you as we do every night before bed, and I realized I hadn't written to you this month.

Boy oh boy have you grown! You can sit up by yourself for a few seconds, but then you either lean so far forward you're doing a V sit and reach, or you look like a tripod, or you just fall over to the side and give me that big gummy smile that melts my heart. You love to lay on your belly and flail your arms and kick your legs real hard like you're going to get somewhere, then you push up on your arms and examine your surroundings. It's so funny; you think you've gotten somewhere, and you're trying to figure out what's new around you, and then you go down and repeat the whole process again.

Your smile lights up rooms, and makes strangers come up to us and tell us what a cute baby we have. Even when Mommy is at her grumpiest, she can't help but smile back as big as she can.

You are babbling more and more every day, and the 'da da' sound is still your go-to favorite. You turn at the sound of your name, and your feet finally touch the floor from your bouncer. You love to bounce in it.

You have had your first solid foods now, and so far your favorite is sweet potatoes. You've had avocados, sweet potatoes, bananas, and oatmeal. Tomorrow we will try squash! You've even had your own food to try to eat on your own, but it freaks mommy out so bad she'll only let you do it for a few minutes because she's so terrified of you choking. You've tried avocado, banana, and a baby mum mum rice cake thing. You love sitting in your big boy high chair and eating, and drinking water from a sippy cup.

Your mother might be a little over protective, and take you to the doctors prematurely. She took you the other morning for what she was convinced was the start of pink eye. Well, it never turned in to pink eye. Turns out you were just getting a virus, and apparently when you are congested, you also get crazy eye boogers. Your first cold :( Mommy is heartbroken. It's from daycare, no doubt, and I feel terrible. I know it's good for your immune system, but it just kills me to hear your stuffy little nose, and cough. Even though you smile your way through it. Mommy is sure she's traumatizing you with the bulb syringe, but there's just so much snot up in that tiny little nose of yours!

You are still an angel baby, and are sleeping through the night (with the exception of last night when you woke up twice...we're not really sure why, it could be a number of things these days). You entertain yourself for as long as we need you to, if you get tired of entertaining yourself, you just put your head down and go to sleep!  Your father and I often wonder if we're terrible parents for keeping you out late. But you power through it, and either go to sleep in the middle of it all, or cheerfuly keep watch on everything going on around you.

You are still toothless, and I'm ok with that. Everyone always asks if you have any teeth, and they always attribute any symptoms you may have, to cutting teeth. I'm quite ok with no teeth yet. When they do start coming, I'm going to wonder where my baby boy went, and where this grown up little boy came from.

I'm trying so hard to freeze time, but it's just impossible. You're so big now, you have such a wonderful personality. Your father and I could not have asked for a more perfect child, and we cannot wait to see how much more joy you will continue to bring us. We love you Coop a loop!



Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day

This is the first July 4th we've spent together since we met almost 5 years ago. And there will be no fireworks anywhere close. Bummer. 

But we have our family, and we will celebrate that. We are together, and free, and healthy, and alive. That's a lot to celebrate these days as there seems to be so much negative happening around us. 

Happy Independence Day from a family who knows first hand the sacrifice made for our freedom.




Readjusting

Whenever we tell our story (which is often now that we're back in Colorado), people usually hang their mouths open, and say "Wow, you guys are amazing. You've been through so much." But here's the thing; it's only just begun.

The physical recovery was step one. Now we're on to the mental recovery, and that includes me. We had a lot of life changing events happen within one year, enough to make any young newlywed couple question their marriage. But now that we're trying to get back in to life again, I'm finding it harder and harder.

When we were at Walter Reed, I had a lot of control. A lot. And I liked it. No, I loved it. I got to go with him to all of his appointments, and be the annoying wife asking a billion questions while he got more and more irritated with me. But at least I was able to hear everything the doctors were saying myself. Now, we're back to the regular Army in that he goes to 'work' in the morning, and meets with his Nurse Case Manager or Social Worker or whatever the flavor of the day may be, and I stay home and take care of Cooper or go to work myself. Now I have no control over what he does or doesn't do during the day. I realize that sounds terrible, like I'm mothering him way too much. I know I am. But you have to understand I just spent the last 8 months being at this mans beck and call, and making sure he did everything necessary to get back to Colorado when he wanted to, and making sure he covered all his medical bases while we were in Bethesda. I'm a woman. I like control.

So our days go like this:

If wife works all day, her phone is in her locker due to the horrible new scrub situation at work, and the phone falls out of her pocket all the time, so she just decided to forego the phone in pocket deal, and leave it in her locker for fear of it falling in a toilet or something. Therefore, the wife doesn't get to nag the husband all day long.

When the wife gets home, the husband is usually cooking her dinner which is absolutely divine even though she doesn't recognize it at the time. The wife proceeds to nail him with question after question about whether or not he asked about his leave paperwork, if the WTU has tickets to this event or that event, are there any events we can sign up for and get involved in, what about the warrior open, how the placement test taking is going, when he thinks he will register for classes, does he know infant CPR and what to do in case baby chokes, etc.

(I'm serious.)

The husband is then thoroughly annoyed that the wife did not appreciate his cooking dinner for her, and is even more irritated that she's interrupting his movie watching (even though he's seen it 45 times), and the attitudes flare, and it all goes downhill.

Our days end separately now; either with him playing video games until really late and with me going to bed first, or vice versa (except I sure as hell don't play video games. I Facebook.) It's sad, but it's the only way we can make it to the next day without staying mad at one another.

This is hard. 


We are both so sensitive, no matter what the other person says, it is taken the wrong way. When will we grow out of that? We admire so many other marriages where they tell each other like it is, and instead of taking offense, a good laugh is had, and an honest effort is made to fix the problem and move on. No looking back, no resentment.


We're trying. It's just so hard, not to mention the hormonal adjustments I'm feeling after Cooper. I'm sure that doesn't help. 

No matter what, I'll stand by him, I may be negative, but I've never been much of a quitter. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

hot hot hot

So we're sitting here watching continuous coverage of the Waldo Canyon Fire which is now in Colorado Springs. It started on Saturday when Jason and I were in Old Colorado City at a farmers market. While we were walking around the town trying to find a bike pump to put air in the BOB tire, we noticed a big plume of smoke coming from the mountains directly north of us. We took pictures and thought "I hope they get that under control soon, that's pretty close." No one could've imagined how far it would come. Three days later, homes are burning and it's creeping its way in to the city we've grown to love and call home.

I'm scanning the room trying to decide what will go and what will stay if we have to leave. I'm contemplating packing a bag or six, and trying to go through in my head what is the most important stuff to have. I just cannot imagine losing everything. Everything.

We should know by now how to live on little. We did it for eight months. We accumulated everything we needed, and we had family support. And well, we did have a place to live even though it wasn't home. And yes, everything in this house is just a thing. We have our family, and we're (mostly) healthy.

I always tell Jason about the time growing up I watched an episode of Rescue 911 and two girls were trapped inside their burning home. One made it out, and realized her sister was still inside so she went back in and got her. Ever since then, I slept with my bedroom door open so I'd be able to get out faster. I now realize that was the dumbest thing I could've done. And since I've become a mother, I'm even more paranoid. I've debated getting one of those rope fire ladders for upstairs.

Now I'm so glad I made that important documents binder I found on Pinterest. At least I don't have to worry about sorting through all those files for everything in case we are evacuated. The dog crate will surely take up a lot of space, but we will be filling two cars with stuff. At least nowadays, photos are mostly digital, and we'll just have to be sure to grab the 8 computers we've accumulated. Jason has informed me that the golf clubs will surely be going. Clothes of course. We just stocked up on water, and I did buy jarred baby food just in case of an emergency, so I suppose that will have to go. Not that we're going anywhere just yet. But, I'm planning. And my mental notebook is filling up quickly.

But, I just can't imagine starting over, with everything. We have renters insurance, but when we got the policy, we had way less than we do now. Maybe we should update that.

The rebuilding of this community will certainly take a long time. The prediction for the containment of the fire was for July 16, now it will be much later I fear. One of the fun outdoor entertainment venues has burnt down. I took my mom there two summers ago. We were going to go again this summer.

It doesn't help that it's been over 100 degrees here every day for the past week or so. No rain in the forecast. I'm just terrified that at any moment another fire will spark somewhere else. So far, 32,000 people have been evacuated and 5,100 acres have burned. Just never thought I'd witness something like this much less be less than 15 miles from it. I'm terrified to go to work tomorrow. I do not want to leave Cooper at all. I may just not go.

Jason said he's tired of living through things that will go down in history. I am too.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Things We've Learned So Far...

I said to Jason the other day, "There have been so many things lately that I've done, that I'm so pissed at myself for. I should know better by now."

Some of these things include, but are not limited to:

- When your husband puts his iPhone in his swimsuit pocket. Just don't let him. Be a nag, and tell him to put it in the pool bag right that second instead. Because you will forget to remind him to take it out of his pocket, and he will swim laps with it in there.

- Back up said iPhone so all your important information is not lost forever after it's submerged.

- Get insurance on your next iPhone. And if it happens again, don't tell them you went swimming with it. Tell them it fell in a big deep puddle, and it took a while to fish it out.

- When your mattress pad has plastic in it because it's the waterproof one...don't put it in the dryer. It will melt. Duh.

- When your husband finishes the Tough Mudder race, don't wash his muddy clothes with all your normal clothes. You will ruin most of the once normal clothes.

- When you have a handicapped placard and you park in a handicapped spot; be sure to make the placard visible. Otherwise, you will get a $350 ticket.

- When you have 20% off coupons to use at Bed Bath & Beyond be sure to get there before 6pm on a Sunday. Otherwise you will end up at Target, and spend $100 more than you intended to.

- Don't wash and dry the dog blanket with your normal clothes, either. Especially when your dog is black and your shorts are white.

---

It's been ten months since Jason's injury. I can't believe it! I was at work today, my first 12 hour shift since leaving, almost exactly to the day, 10 months ago. A couple of times I caught myself thinking "I can't believe I'm back at work. Things are semi-normal. I'm working again, like I was before he was injured, and we really were still normal. Except for this time we're still not really normal, but I'm back at work like everything is normal."

Could I put 'normal' in there one more time?! I wonder if that even makes sense. It just feels so weird. We went through so much. And yet, here I am, back at work, doing normal things, when just 10 months ago, Jason was flying in a helicopter across Afghanistan butt ass naked (a detail I recently learned) and clinging to life.

That just doesn't even sound right. But such is life. It goes on. I must learn to accept this, I cannot focus on August 13, 2011 forever. Sometimes I feel like I'm back where I started. I want to scream, "But my husband only has one leg!" And then I have to remind myself that I'm a big girl, and he's a big boy, and we have a sweet baby boy who needs us to be normal for him. People will no longer cater to us or for us. We are grown ups, and we must start sucking it up like all other grown ups do!

Since everyone has come home, we have been super busy. Birthday parties, BBQs, Jason's picking back up on his golf and video games, Cooper, Tough Mudder, etc. It's nice to do things with our own friends again, and we're really bummed that a lot of them are leaving this fall. I've heard everyones side of the story, from the day Jason was injured. It's so wonderful to get their perspectives. I want to know every minute detail, of course. I just wish I could've been there with him.

Getting back in to the swing of things at work has been a painstakingly slow process. I have to pump every 3-4 hours, and finding time to do that while caring for patients is proving to be extremely difficult. We've almost made it to the 6 month mark of exclusive breastfeeding, and if we can get there I will be so happy. Luckily I am not working full time, so that is extremely helpful.

The weather here has been nuts, as usual for Colorado, but now that I've become a Mommy, I might have also become a little crazy. I worry about all kinds of weather coming our way, and what we should do in the worst case scenario. Some may call it doomsday prepping. Ha, ok I'm not that serious about it, but I have been trying to stock one cabinet with food, water, and supplies if something did happen to where we were out of power for a while for some reason. Call me crazy, but now, all I think about is Cooper and what we'd do if the worst happened so that everyone in my family could stay safe.

Ok, I just re read that last statement. I probably need drugs instead of a cabinet full of canned goods.

And no, the Nano hasn't exploed yet. But we haven't plugged it in yet either.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cooper - Month 5

Dear sweet Cooper boy,

You have grown so much this month! You are rolling over like a champ now, back to tummy and tummy to back. You mostly sleep on your tummy now, too. If you're really tired, you'll still fall asleep on your back or side, but you do prefer your belly. You also inch worm your way to the corner of the crib every night, so your head is right in the bumper just like it's not supposed to be. Thank God for video monitoring, otherwise I'd be in your room all night making sure you weren't wedged somewhere you aren't supposed to be! You have been sleeping through the night since you were about 3 months old. Mommy counts her blessings every day for having such a perfect child. You even let me sleep in! I usually have to go in and wake you around 9am unless it's a work day, then it's much earlier. Either way, you always have a beautiful smile on your face!

You're a very serious thumb sucker now, and you don't care which thumb it is. You used to only suck your thumb when you were laying down, but now you've found it when you're sitting up too. We got you an exersaucer, and you love that. You also love sitting up in your high chair with us at the dinner table. You play with all your toys like such a big boy while you sit there with us.

You've become an expert at Skype since all your grandparents are far away and love to see you. You've probably skyped more than they have already!

You are the happiest baby I know! You smile and laugh at everyone who smiles at you. Your giggles are contagious, and you make your mommy and daddy laugh at least once a day.

A big milestone for this month was you starting daycare. Mommy started back to work, and she was not thrilled about leaving you at all. I knew you'd be in great hands, and I also knew you would do great because you're so happy and so laid back. Really, I just didn't want you to come home with green snot dripping out of your nose like the other kids, or turn in to a whiney baby like a lot of the babies there. Hopefully you won't go often enough to pick up on those habits. You don't like napping there yet, so you come home very very tired. After your first day, you slept for 14 hours!

You make funny faces, and always make all the ladies swoon. Pretty much everyone we see, stranger or not, tells us that you look just like your daddy. I have to remind them that I carried you for 9 months, so you are half mine!

You are very good at picking things up and putting them in your mouth. No signs of teeth yet, but I think they might be pretty close. You love studying faces, especially mine and your daddies. I can see you taking in all of the details, and you definitely know we are your parents now.

When you eat, you love to take breaks and look around. You stare at me, and give me a big smile, and then continue eating. Those are the best parts of mommies day.

You are growing up to be such a happy and laid back baby, and we are so proud of you! Mommy and Daddy love you so much!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Nano

So, we don't check our mail every day like normal people. I think I let it go almost a week this past time. When I checked it, it was jam packed. We got lots of fun things like Cooper's passport, the title to my jeep, Jason's car payment book, etc.

Then there was a package with an iPod Nano in it. I was thinking "why the hell would he order a nano? I have one that I don't even use and he could've used that one!" So I look at the invoice, its addressed to SGT [my husband]. Weird. Then I look at the 'bill to' address. Arabic name, and an address from New York. Even more weird. I text Jason and ask if he knows anyone by that name. He says he thinks it could've been one of the interpreters they worked with while in Afghanistan, but he wasn't sure. So I'm driving along, and I start thinking. "Oh crap, what if this is a bomb of some sort?!" Unlikely, but not out of the question. I talk myself down, scold myself for being a typical, ignorant, stereotypical American, and call Jason and ask what he thinks I should do. I'm just a little freaked out that some stranger has our address, but I guess it's considered public knowledge.

We decide I should take it to the police station. It looks legit, there's an invoice, and a company name, etc. But people are smart these days, and anyone can make anything with photoshop. So I decide to take it to the police station on post, because I figured they'd have more experience with this weird sort of thing since it had to do with a deployment and such.

Boy, was I wrong. The lady at the front was a you know what, and practically laughed at me. I just said "I have a piece of mail that is suspicious, and I want some one to look at it for me." She gave me the "um, I'm not sure what the hell you think I'm going to be able to do for you" look, and came back and said "We can't open your mail. You have to take it to the post office." I said (in my head) "Look bitch..." (out loud) "It's already open." So a uniformed police officer came out in to the lobby and just read over all the papers that were inside with it, and said "Oh, this is in Fountain. That's not in our jurisdiction." By this point I'm tearing up because I have skin thick as tissue paper, and can't handle anything apparently. I said "Fine." And was going to take it back, but he read over it some more. I said "Look, my husband was recently injured in Afghanistan, and I am apparently very paranoid. I don't know how this person got our address, and I'm just worried." He said, "Well, I'd take it back to the post office in Fountain and tell them you didn't order it. There's not much I can do."

So I run outside and just start crying - which is probably a good thing because I haven't cried in a while, but it was kind of in an inopportune place, right outside the MP station on post. It did feel good though. I called Jason after we got back in the car, in tears, and he promised he'd go talk to them. I had also already called his Rear D CO to ask if they had a list of the interpreters that they were working with while deployed. He said no one had heard of that person, but that he had gotten gifts from interpreters before. He also informed me that sometimes, deals are worked with the interpreters to get them to America if they work for the Army for a certain amount of time, and also that some of them are contractors. This doesn't really make me feel much better.

Jason did go and "rip them a new one" as he put it. But that made me feel good that he stood up for me. In the end, the iPod is still sitting on the counter, and we're not really sure what to do with it. I didn't know I was paranoid, but apparently I am. I can't say I enjoy it much, either. I'd much rather just go about living life believing unicorns are real, there really is a pot of gold at the end of rainbows, and quarter pounders are diet.

Monday, May 21, 2012

2 Years

Holy Moly the amount of things a marriage can go through in 2 years! We've probably done all of the "life's most stressful events" in our measly 2 years of marriage. We've moved, got pregnant, experienced a long separation followed by a long traumatic injury & recovery process, had a baby, and moved again. And we still love each other! Imagine that. It's definitely been hard, we've argued like children and fought and cried and have had every other emotion you can have. We continue to struggle with communicating effectively; we communicate a lot, it's just not always effective or constructive. We compare our problems to every other married couple that we know, to make sure we're still normal.

How many young married couples can say they've made it through what we have, and are still in love and rooting for each other all the time? I'm so glad I found someone so wonderful just four short years ago. He is so humble, compassionate, sensitive, and respectful. He tries so hard to put his family first, and he always thinks of others feelings before his own. He is such a wonderful and loving father; Cooper is so very blessed, although he will probably disagree when he's a teenager. 

I remember our wedding day very clearly still. May 22, 2010. It has only been two years. The day was absolutely perfect, and if anything went wrong, I didn't notice it. Seriously, it was perfect. We got married on the beach, and the weather couldn't have been nicer. People danced at the reception, and it was a fun wedding! How many weddings have you been to and there's that awkward "should we dance or not" moment. Not at ours. The beer was flowing, and people were filling pitchers to bring back to their tables. We had an impromptu photo booth in the corner of the room, which produced some awesome pictures as the night went on. We had about 10 best man speeches because people kept coming up to 'save' the last person, and ended up giving their own speech as well. Every single guest (about 100!) came from out of town, since it was technically a destination wedding. How loved are we, that people came that far to celebrate our special day with us! 

I thought this picture was a little ironic; us brushing the sand off our feet after our beach wedding...who knew that two years later my husband would only have one of those. (I'm obviously still obsessed with finding pictures of him with both of his feet showing. We miss his right foot. Bad.) 

Photo by: Sincerely, Liz Photography 

An adventure filled two years to say the least. I would never want to go through the recent events again, but I am glad it was with him. No one else would handle it with such grace as he has. The only reason I didn't loose my mind, was because he was/is so strong and so grounded throughout the entire process. And he continues to be. 

I hope Cooper grows up to admire his father for all he has become even though life has thrown some crazy shit his way. 

I have to stop writing now, because then I won't have anything to say for Father's Day! 

Happy Anniversary my love. If you ever read all these blogs, I hope you will finally know how much of an inspiration you are to so many people. How much we all love and adore you, especially your wifey and son. I hope you always find the good in every situation, and I hope you never lose your handsome smile and that beautiful sparkle in your gorgeous blue eyes! 
xoxo