Saturday, January 12, 2013

Jason - Month 17

I mean, this looks like a scar to you, right? 

Well, we get to uproot our family for three days, lug a one year old and all his crap, piss people off at work because I'll have to change my schedule last minute, and Jason will have to miss a day of class, to go up to Fort Lewis and argue that this needs to be in his file because the VA failed to recognize this painful scar.

Let me tell you, this scar has gotten way worse. I wish I took monthly pictures of Jason's scars like I do of our son. I have one from right after the surgery, but not too many after that. At least that I can find in the 11,500 pictures I just organized the other day. There has always been an open area on part of his scar. When he was still in the hospital, the occupational therapists told me I could pick all his scabs so long as they were ready to come off. Every night, we'd sit and pick and pick and pick. So much so that I'd have to ask to have his sheets changed because of all the skin flakes and scabs that had fallen off. It. was. gross. Nevertheless, there was one really dark scab about an inch long that was really deep, and took forever to come off. In the picture to the right, it's the darker spot towards the right side of that scar. When it did fall off, there was a little cavern as Jason likes to say, left. They explained that the scar had kind of folded in on itself, and that's just how it would heal. It never gave him any problems, and was mostly just really gross looking, until recently.

Now, it's painful, and obviously way bigger than when he started. When he puts his leg on, the scar spreads apart and is almost unbearable for him. He limps a lot, which is not good for his hips, and most of the time will just take the leg off if we're at home. And let me remind you, we have a one year old who requires baby gates. Jason has already face planted in the kitchen from hopping around the house and missing the ledge from the baby gate. He's promised me he wouldn't hop anymore, the last thing we need is another injury on top of this one, but that only lasted about a week before he decided getting his crutches from upstairs was way too much work since he'd have to go upstairs on the painful leg.

See how the folds are continuing up his nub now? Never there before. I don't know what's going on, but this will likely require a surgical revision, if not more than one, which will mean no leg wearing for at least a couple weeks each time. I'm not sure if you've tried, but carrying a one year old while using crutches is not advised, especially if I'm your wife. So, that would mean no work for me.

And the VA apparently forgot about giving this scar any sort of rating. The scar on the leg that he's missing half of. They just decided it wasn't going to give him any problems ever, I guess.

And, pictured above, also a 0% rating. These injuries apparently don't affect his daily living, so they don't deserve compensation. Just don't even get me started.

Back and forth, back and forth, that's how we've spent this month. "No, it won't make a difference whether or not you go to Fort Lewis, the outcome will be the same." "Are you kidding me? It makes a huge difference if you show up here in person!" Great. So three weeks before his formal hearing, we're deciding last minute to go. Trying to figure out childcare for the time we're in the hearing, and rearranging our lives for the billionth time for the Army.

Jason does not handle this stress well; I seem to thrive on it which seems odd. It kind of motivates me to prioritize things that need to be done now, and things that can wait. I refuse to come out on the other side of all this and wonder if we did everything we could. I want to know that we're doing everything we can now, before it's too late and we're sitting at home with our thumbs up our assess saying 'coulda, shoulda, woulda'!

We're trying hard to stay positive, to not jump down each others throats in the midst of all this, and to count our blessings. We have wonderful plans for life after the Army, but we are really trying to keep things in perspective as we know the Army generally has very different plans.

For now, the VA claim is our focus, because it will determine how the rest of our lives are lived in financial terms. I know the light is at the end of the tunnel, and while that is a very scary thing, it is something else to look forward to.

Cooper - 1 Year

Turning one is one of those things that you never remember. But I will always remember my sweet little boy at his first birthday party. It is so surreal, he is so big already.

In your first year, you have learned how to sleep through the night, breastfeed, suck your thumb, crawl, stand, walk while holding on to things, dance, clap, talk, sign, feed yourself, play peek-a-boo, smile, laugh, cry, and give mommy hugs. You are so smart. You have likes and dislikes now, and a major dislike is vegetables these days. You still love applesauce and yogurt, and those are the only things you allow to be spoon fed to you. Everything else you must pick up and put in your mouth yourself. You were born in Maryland, and have visited Virginia many times, also England, Texas, North Carolina, and Colorado.

If we say "Where's Cooper?" You put one hand over one eye and smile. You also do the same while you're nursing.

If there's music on, you wiggle, dance, laugh, and clap. You use measuring cups as drumsticks and beat on everything to hear the sounds. I'm sure you will be musically inclined.

You love to throw toys, go pick them up, and throw them again.

In and out, in and out. Mom Mom always says it's a Piaget developmental stage, and you sure do love doing it. Put it in. Take it out. Over and over again.

You've mastered the sippy cup, and are so busy throughout the day, you really don't like drinking milk from the cup or bottle anymore, just mom, when she's home. Daddy manages to get that milk in you though because he stays home with you most days, and you love to wrestle together.

You love to play with Sadie's toys too. Sometimes you try to give them to her, but she doesn't quite understand that you're helping her out yet. She thinks you want to play and starts jumping up and down and racing around the room when you crawl towards her with one of her toys.

You understand the word "No" but also are testing your limits. You know when you're somewhere you're not supposed to be, or playing with something you shouldn't be because you look at us with a very sly grin and wait to see what we will do. Saying no doesn't stop you in the least. It's when we move you or take away whatever it is, that the temper flares.

You continue to love bath time. No matter your mood, a bath always leaves you smiling and laughing. You love to splash and eat the bubbles.

You still have only 6 teeth. I've been waiting for those other two bottom two to break through, but still no luck. You are able to chew everything we give you just fine though.

When we give you a new food to try, you usually give it a few chews, and give us the yuck face and stick your tongue out until all the yucky food falls off. After a few tries, sometimes you'll eat it, other times you'll continue to refuse.


Your first birthday party was the Saturday before your actual birthday. A lot of friends came to help you celebrate, and you had a blast. You LOVED your cake. Mommy made you a yellow cake with chocoalte icing all for yourself, and you wasted no time digging in. In a matter of about 20 minutes, you had the cake in crumbles and were still shoveling it in. You probably would have eaten the entire thing had I let you. We went straight to the bathtub to get it all off afterwards. If it was summertime we probably would have just taken you outside and hosed you down!

After cake, we opened presents, and you were so excited to play with all your new toys, but still enjoyed the tissue paper just a little bit more.


On your actual birthday, the 7th, Mommy and Daddy took you to Denver. We ate lunch at the Aquarium and you loved the fish. You wanted to touch them all! You had fish sticks for the first time, and ate almost all of them! Then we took you across the street to the Children's Museum. Most of the museum is geared towards older kids, but there was a large section for kids your age, and you had a ball. You loved playing in the different houses, and were especially fond of a cash register that opened and closed. You kept putting eggs inside it, and took them out again. You and Daddy did some laundry in the tree house, and then you planted some vegetables in the garden. You went down the slide a couple times, through the tunnels, over the bridge, and then went fishing. You sat in a boat, and climbed a tree.

You slept the whole way home, and I hope you had sweet dreams. We tried to give you the best birthday we could, and we will always strive to do that.

My sweet one year old, mommy loves you so much. You bring joy to my heart every single day, and I often catch myself staring at this sweet boy we created in awe. Thank you for the most wonderful year of our lives to date. We can't wait to see how you grow and learn this year!


Saturday, January 5, 2013

growing up

Here's one thing I never thought about before marrying in to the military life - birthday parties.

We just celebrated our son's first birthday, and while it was a wonderful celebration, I was so homesick. Yes, all that really should matter is the fact that my sweet boy is turning one. Whoever wants to help us celebrate that fact is more than welcome, but the problem is we don't have that many friends out here any more. The ones that came to the party are our very near and dear friends, but there was no family.

Maybe it's just an all around emotional time for me, but it hit me especially hard today as we sang "Happy Birthday" to Cooper. I remember in the very moment I blew out his candle, I was literally telling myself to etch these memories in to my heart forever because there was no other family here to witness it.

Having Cooper has made me realize this. Before, birthdays were still celebrations, but certainly not milestone and emotional celebrations such as this. They were "let's go out to eat somewhere and then get drunk" celebrations. Now, we're creating childhood memories for our firstborn. And that's a huge deal to me. Man, I'm getting deep here.

The point of my emotional tirade here is this: I miss my family. I miss being able to go home for dinner, or Christmas, or birthday parties. It makes me second guess our decision to buy a house and further establish our life out here. Will I be able to give Cooper the best childhood memories possible? I hate knowing that he won't be able to see his grandparents very often. So when he does see them, he will be afraid of them because they're his grandparents, and they're old, and lets face it, who wasn't scared of their old grandparents when they were little?! Only those who saw them on a regular basis like Cooper won't be able to.

I know the reality is he won't remember a thing from this party. And when he's old enough to remember his parties, he'll be old enough to have made friends of his own (I hope!). Then we shouldn't have to worry much about whether or not our party is fun since there will be a billion kids running around making themselves sick off cake and ice cream and all will be right with the world.

Here's where I realized I need to start reaching out to friends here, because they will hopefully to become our extended family. Jason and I both are perfectly content sitting at home every single weekend doing nothing, but that doesn't get you great friends either.

Here's where I also realized that mommy needs to grow up and quit getting so emotional about these things.

Having a baby was supposed to make me grow up, but it's only made me an emotional wreck when it comes to anything 'my baby is growing up' related. And that is what is happening. Every single day. He learns something new, he hugs me tighter, he melts my heart. Anyone who is reading this already knows I am crazy. I mean, I already think about the day he gets married and leaves his mommy. Seriously crazy. (But that day does terrify me!)

Thank goodness I still have at least a good 17 years left with my sweet boy before any of that happens. So for now, I'll try to focus on each day and remind myself to hug him as tight as I can for as long as he'll let me.