Saturday, April 21, 2012

last days

I figured I'd post another blog quickly, before the chaos ensues back in Colorado. Currently, Jason is on his way back with Sadie and a 6'x12' U-Haul trailer. I was convinced that once the trailer was hooked up,  it would look like a cartoon and the Jeep would just lift straight up in to the air. That didn't happen, but I'm still worried about it. He's on the other side of St. Louis, and has had Pizza for dinner for the second night in a row. When we first started discussing the trip back, Cooper and I were going to go with him, no question. My parents would follow a couple weeks later with more stuff, and the dog. Then, we thought about how much longer and more stressful the drive would be with a 3 month old who needs to eat every 3 hours. So, when we decided I would fly instead, he got excited about the time alone, during the drive.

Tonight he told me he missed me, and that the nights were lonely without me :) That made my heart smile. 

The stress in our relationship has been at an all time high during the last couple of weeks. We have literally been with each other 24/7, since last August. Maybe with the exception of a couple of weeks ago, and a weekend here and there. But that's it, 24/7, otherwise. I remember in college, my roommates and I would go through phases where we would all be so irritated with each other just from living together. Jason said it's the same in the Army, especially during deployments. Apparently about this time in the deployment, no one is speaking to each other for that same reason.

We're only human, I guess. But to be less than perfect is hard for me. I'm not sure when I became so wrapped up in being perfect all the time. Making sure no one's feelings get hurt, making sure we don't forget anything ever, wondering if all the decisions I've made or am making are the right ones for our get the picture. So, Jason and I have always been great at communicating. Sometimes I think, too good. We're both overly sensitive it seems like, so feelings are always getting hurt. The consensus seems to be that this is normal. That most married couples go through these growing pains in learning about one another and how to communicate effectively, not necessarily more.

I got way off topic there.

But, in looking back on the last two weeks, the stress level is what I remember most. I'm sure it's not over yet. Packing and cleaning our tiny government issued apartment, Jason became very overwhelmed with the amount of stuff we accumulated. Mom continued to try to send stuff back with us, while we were packing the trailer. More stress. The height of it all came when he left, and two hours later I remembered his golf clubs were in the back of my moms car. Ugh! When I called him to ask if he had gotten them, he just laughed and said "Ah well, no big deal." What! No big deal!? It was to me. And he's right, it's totally not a big deal. But I beat myself up about that one Ridiculous. I don't understand why I do that. Anyway, I decided I would just take them on the flight with me. He hasn't played golf in years, and he sounded so excited to get back in to it. I was excited to see him excited about something for once. So I can't not take them back for him.

Cooper and I will fly out on Monday. It's really all still surreal. Eight months ago, I was struggling to accept the fact that my husband has no right foot. Now, we're still in shock that we're actually going home again. It will have been eleven months since Jason has been in that house. Back to house maintenance, dog walking, exercise, cooking dinner, finally decorating a nursery, etc. Out of our little bubble at Bethesda where Jason was as normal as normal can be in this situation. On to bigger and better things. I know he'll have new stares, and new people to explain his story to, and I know he'll probably resent this. He is the most humble person I've ever met, and hates that we have had to ask for so much help lately. He hates that people feel honored to know him, or talk to him, or help him. He just says "I was doing my job. It's the guys who are still there, who have been there for a year that deserve all this. Not me." He won't take free stuff from anyone (people were always giving out free girl scout cookies, free t shirts, etc. at Bethesda). He says "My time is done. It's someone else's turn." Because he always sees me looking out of the corner of my eye at the tables of free stuff - I was raised in a family that turns down nothing free of charge. There comes a point though, when we just have to accept that some people genuinely want to do nice things for us. We've had so many nice things done for us, we can't even begin to repay everyone. No matter how he feels about the situation, politically, I told him, he's got to learn when to just accept it for what it is.

There are still nights when he throws things across the room, and hangs his head so low I think he'll never be able to get out of this. But, then morning comes, and he is his wonderful happy self again, although I know there will always be some sort of 'what if' or 'why me' going on in his head. There are times that I stop and think that I've gone too long without a good cry. Sometimes when I feel like I want to cry, I just feel numb, like I can't even begin to process why I need to cry. So I just don't.  I get worried that I'm too far past all the initial emotions, and it's going to take a lot for me to get out of it as well. I wonder if I have lost myself in making sure he's always okay, and in supporting him through this. I worry that after all of this, after we've made it through the hardest year of our lives to date, different emotions and feelings will surface, that maybe we won't be able to get through together.

It doesn't help that on top of his medical issues - which, by the way, he still itches terribly all the time - I'm having my own as well. It's not something I want to go in to detail about on here, but it's not an ideal situation for us in any sort of the way.

So, in short, to add to our to-do list upon returning to Colorado, finding a church I like is going to be at the top of that list. Those who know me well, know I have always been skeptical of anything religious. I'm learning that I need something more, because I'm not sure how much more I can handle on my own. I'm not sure if Jason will be interested in going with me, and that's okay. At this point, I just need something to keep me sane.


This has been a long post about everything I did not intend to write about. I intended to write about how we are so excited to get back to Colorado. How I'm still so jealous I am not welcoming my husband home at a ceremony, that instead we've been attached at the hip for the last eight months in a not so fun way. I wanted to tell you all that this has been the longest eight months of our lives, and even though we are so ready to move on, we are still so scared and nervous for what our new future will bring. I was going to say that I'm over-the-moon excited for Cooper to meet all of our Colorado friends, and for us to have play dates. I was also going to add that I am looking forward to running errands, and going grocery shopping and making dinner for my husband all by myself. I should have said that I'm slightly excited about working out again, but I'm more excited to get skinny again! I meant to say that I would be spending the next months returning millions of favors that were done for us while we've been gone. I was going to say something along the lines of how I'm still nervous about returning to work, and still don't really know the details on that one.


A lot of times, when I write these blogs, I end them feeling like I should have done one of those brainstorm web things we were taught to do in elementary school. To organize your thoughts. Maybe I'll try that next time. If this were an SOL test, I'd totally fail.

I'm off to bed, the next time you hear from me, I will be in the Rockies, and my post will likely be insanely sporadic and chaotic. What's new, right?!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Jason - Month Eight

We still have a mystery rash. This is going on two months now. Talk about being tired of something. He said to me the other day; "Why do I always have to go through all of this? I was just doing my job." I wasn't really sure what to say to that. I can't say that I empathize with him, because I physically don't understand what he's going through. But, I am going through it with him. I will tell you, I cannot stand the sound of fingernails scratching skin. But I'm sure he can't stand itching, after being itchy for two months now. The doctors haven't been able to tell us anything. He goes to dermatology at least three times a week, and they never have a good answer. He's tried different lotions, creams, antifungals, oral steroids and topical steroids. He takes a drug at night they gave him for itching, that basically just knocks him out so he can sleep. He has wrapped his arms and legs with saran wrap after glopping cream on them. He covers his hands in cream at night, and sleeps with gloves on. He has tried putting his hands in a UV light box for treatment. He no longer showers for 30+ minutes, in the hottest he can stand, even though this was his only relaxing time. His showers were his alone time, and his time to reflect, and he doesn't even want to do that anymore for fear of drying his skin out too much. He spends way too much time on google, searching for any answer to what this skin affliction could be. Currently, he believes it's eczema. Eczema can be flared up by stress, and I'd say he's going through a considerable amount of stress at the moment.

A friend asked if he's gone through all the stages of grief yet. I hadn't really thought about it.

Denial. Well, it's kind of hard to deny what's happened. He has to see it every day. He's said it usually hits him the most at night, when he's lying in bed and looks down and only sees one foot sticking up under the covers. Some days I still think "I just can't believe this is our life now." 

Anger. Depends on the day. For both of us. The fact that we're together 24/7 doesn't help this either.

Bargaining. We would give anything, except his right foot and middle finger, for him to be back in Afghanistan. Seriously. We would much rather be having Skype dates than dealing with this day in and day out. I would give up a lot to be raising my son on my own if it meant my husband would come home intact, and we would be able to continue on our normal lives after deployment. It's a Catch-22 I guess, because we would never, ever understand and appreciate the sacrifices so many make, if he stepped on a land mine, if he didn't. Does that make sense? While I'm sure a lot of people are upset that I have my husband home with me, they can't understand our daily struggles. After they all come home, everyone will return to their normal lives. But this is our normal now, and it's far from normal. I feel like I'm backtracking.  More than ever, recently, we've both been really missing Afghanistan. Weird, huh? He misses those guys so much, and is so afraid they will be upset with him when they get back. He so wants to be there, doing his job, instead of here, being babied and bored out of his mind in Bethesda. I miss him being gone. I miss the excitement of the countdowns to when he comes home, and hearing the Skype phone ringing. I miss seeing the pictures he used to post on Facebook of their missions and his gym time. We both know that when everyone comes back, they're going to want to spend a lot of time with their wives, while we are going to want to spend a lot of time away from each other :)

Depression. We both think we're in this stage now. Probably he moreso than I. This mystery skin rash ordeal has not helped. On top of that, the leadership at Bethesda is a joke. They try to make it feel like the regular Army, with squads and units and all that, but really, they are just treated like children and he does not appreciate that, especially since he outranks his squad leader. Once we get back to Colorado, we'll probably take advantage of the counseling services offered, individually and together.

Acceptance. Some days I think we're there, others we're not. It will probably be a little while longer before we're all the way there.

I've decided that on August 13, 2012, we're going to do the Incline. It's an old cog rail way in Manitou Springs that people walk up for exercise. It's pretty physically demanding, and quite frankly, torture. The first time we did it, it took us 4 hours round trip. The second time, it took us 2 hours round trip. It's about a mile up, with a 2,000 foot gain in elevation. It feels good when you get to the top, though. What a perfect way to celebrate his alive day, to show how far he's come in a year.

Finally, he has received his official orders to return to Fort Carson. His report date is April 24th. We could not be more excited! With the excitement comes a little sadness though, as we pack up and prepare to leave our families again. We've been spoiled for sure being so close to everyone, and having free babysitters on hand whenever we could need them. It will be a big adjustment going back, but we are so ready. I only hope the transition lives up to his expectations and he feels more comfortable out there. I've already got a big to do list of things we need to take care of when we get out there. No surprise there I guess.

We can't wait to see all of you who are reading this from Colorado! And as far as all our VA/MD/DC friends and family, we'll be back to visit soon...but not too soon :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Cooper - Month Three

My little boy boy - Mommy has a new nickname for you, and Daddy thinks it's really dumb. I think it's cute. I've also started singing to you every morning. 

"Good Morning, Cooper
Good Morning, Cooper
Good Morning Cooper
It's time to get out of bed!" 

For anyone 4-H reading this, you'll know the tune to that :) Again, Daddy thinks it's silly, and he hates when I wake him up singing that song. But you, my sweet boy, you love that song. And you smile at me like there's nothing else in the world to smile at! It makes Mommy's heart melt. 

You smile regularly now, and laugh occasionally when you're playing on your play mat. You've started tolerating tummy time a little longer, but Mommy has to get better about putting you on your tummy. You usually throw up when you're on your tummy, so I try to avoid that. These days, you have been going through about 3 to 4 outfits a day. You love to throw up all over Mommy. You are starting to be able to hold up your head now, so we've tried the Bumbo chair a couple times. You're pretty top heavy still though, so you lean forward after a while. 

You have met Sadie a couple times, but she's not quite sure who you are yet. I have high hopes that you two will be the best of friends. 

When you were 11 weeks old, you rolled over for the first time at Mom Mom's house. You rolled from your back to your tummy which they say is even harder than the other way! Your daddy and I are convinced you are a genius already :) You have rolled over a couple of times, but you don't make a regular spectacle of it yet, which is good because that means I don't have to worry about you rolling off any furniture just yet. 

You have officially found your thumb! You are now a thumb sucker. I always thought you would have found that from the beginning, but you used a pacifier for a while first. You have always put your fists in your mouth, and I think your thumb was much smaller than the pacifier, so you weren't used to the size difference. But you finally figured out how to close those tiny little lips around it, and you love it now. It makes night time much easier for our whole family. You go down for naps and night time so much better now, but only if you're truly tired.

For about a week, you were waking up at 4am, and Mommy was very sad. I think this turned out to be a growth spurt, because you have gone back to your normal wake up time of about 7am. You have slept through the night since you were about two months old. You go to bed between 8 and 10pm and sleep until 7am. Now, you probably wake up earlier than that because I hear you sucking your thumb feverishly, but Mommy is determined to at least sleep until 7. Now that you've found your thumb, you suck on that until Mommy gets her lazy butt out of bed. I am already not excited about the day we have to break you of that habit, and the fact that it pretty much guarantees your need for braces. But, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it, right Mom? 

You celebrated your three month birthday at the beach. Your first time to Mom Mom's beach house! Unfortunately the weather has been a little chilly, although sunny. We've been down to the beach once, but the sand flies were out so we didn't stay too long.

You have epic blow outs usually every afternoon. When you go a couple diaper changes with no poop, I always know there will be a blow out that day. 

You've also discovered your hands. You love to inspect them, especially while you're sucking your thumb.

Mommy loves to hear you talk, and watch you grow and learn something new every day. By the time you're four months old, you'll be a Colorado resident, and we'll have a whole new list of things you've done! I can't wait to see what month four has to bring my sweet little boy boy! 

Monday, April 2, 2012


I'm taking a break from packing to write this. That's right, packing. As in, we're going back so soon we can taste it! Let me remind you, I came here 8 months ago, with 2 big suitcases, and that was it. (So big, I argued with the man at the ticket counter that I was on government orders and should not have to pay the baggage fees. He could tell I was in a frenzy, and pulled me aside to tell me they would definitely charge me on my flight back, but waived the fees for that day. Little did he know I would not be flying back for another 8 months!) It's amazing how much you accumulate. And now we have to add all of our accumulated stuff to a house already full of stuff!! Stress.

Of course, as with everything in the Army, nothing is for sure until it's happening. But everything has been approved, he's just waiting on official orders, which should come later this week. Then he has to out process and clear this base. I'm officially not on orders anymore, so they don't care what I do! The 'official' date is April 22nd for his return. I'm not sure what the timeline is though, when he will actually leave here and start the trip back. We're pretty sure he's going to drive by himself, with the U-Haul trailer (because that's how much stuff we've accumulated) and Sadie, and I'm going to fly in once they get back and can pick me up. I worry about him driving alone, but he knows his limits, and unlike my father, doesn't mind spending money on a hotel room when he's tired.

So, instead of the 'when are we going to get the hell out of here' worry, now I'm worrying about what life will be like when we get back. So many things to do, to catch up on, etc. Sadie will need a vet visit that I'm sure won't be cheap with all the immunizations, and heart worm tests. They'll probably tell us she's a little overweight, too. The yard will probably need a lot of attention, and I hope the weeds haven't gotten out of control yet this year like they had last summer. I ended up paying someone come take care of it all for me because I didn't feel like dealing with it since I had let them get so bad. Jason will have to order new windows for his Jeep before we trade it in, and we'll have to figure out how the VA Grant works - I have a feeling that won't be a smooth process. I want to put ceiling fans in all the rooms of the house - Jason seems to think he'll be fine this summer with the window units. We only have two, one downstairs, and one upstairs in our bedroom, and then the house has forced air, which pushes all the cold air around the house. Sounds like a great idea except that those window units don't cool the whole house down that much. I tolerated it, but it was still warm for me. I know he'll be sweating all summer. We're talking about a man who has worn shorts all winter because his leg makes him so hot, a man who has also gained a bit of weight, and now, just walking to the car, he breaks in to a sweat. He's not going to like it. And I'm probably not going to enjoy sleeping next to a sweaty man all night :) So, ceiling fans it is.

And I have to figure out what to do about work because we didn't win the Mega Millions. Blah.

We're thinking of going to England this summer. We've been wanting to go, but he knows how important it is for me to get to the beach each summer. Since we're going next week (to the beach), I said we should try to go to England this year. Cooper will fly for free for 2 years, but who wants to fly overseas with a one and a half year old if we wait until next summer. That will mean a passport for him, too. Add that to the list.

We're in such a bubble here. We walk around here and everyone is like us, going through the same things, if not much more. I'm worried that when we return, we'll have to start all over. New people to explain our situation to, new doctors to figure out or not figure out what's wrong with him, new people to stare at us since this is not as common outside of our bubble. Our life stopped when this happened, we had to put it on hold. Everyone else's life continued on. So sometimes I feel like people have forgotten that we're still on hold, and it's still going to be a big adjustment to move back and get back in to the normal swing of life again. I feel like some expect us to just jump back in to things right where we left off. Now, I don't want to keep making excuses for myself and us, but we're definitely still going to need time even when we get back in to the swing of things.

Insanity - we're doing it when we get back, too. I can make myself fit in to my summer clothes, but I become one of those women who you say "ugh, she should not be wearing that", and so I only wear athletic shorts. I refuse to buy more clothes, I have way too many already. So, we're doing Insanity until I fit in my clothes again.

My little boy is feverishly sucking on his fist, "I'm starving, Mom. Duh. I only fit in to 6 month clothes at 3 months!" So this blog will end here, and I will resume packing, and being a mommy. Next week, he'll officially be 3 months old, so keep a look out for my note to him!