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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Daddy's Home (AGAIN)

Folks do not be fooled when you hear "land unit"--please don't assume it means "home everyday/night". I didn't think he was going to be safe from traveling. Actually the break is nice and welcome once in awhile, but my goodness. Lately, he's been a coast trottin' fool. We've talked to him on the phone more than in person these past few months.

At any rate, I apologize for my absence. We've all been enjoying the return of my husband. The kids were a little bewildered at first. I was a bit moody. Can you blame me? Our schedule was thrown out of whack!

Things are blissfully wonderful again and he actually returned to work today after a few days off. That was nice as we were able to work out in the yard and get some things done around here. He actually had his buddy over to help him put up a small fence in our yard. You can pick yourself up off the floor now, Coasties do actually DO WORK. I have some pics to prove it! Shhh, don't tell them I caught them on camera, they may not ever lift a finger again. Too used to riding the desk these days (I'm kidding, or am I?)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Things Daddies miss.

When daddy is away, he misses the tantrums and the sibling rivalry. He also misses the swallowing of pennies or marbles and umpteen million requests for one just one more drink before bed. Some kids skip school and dad misses the calls home from the principal while other children stay out past curfew worrying mom as she paces the floor. Maybe he misses the awards ceremony at school or at the soccer field and other momentous occasions.

I know the things my husband misses when work takes him away from home. While he misses the tough stuff and parenting struggles, my heart knows he’d rather be here for he misses the precious and tender moments of childhood too. He misses the cuddles and smiles, discoveries and silly secrets and most of all he doesn’t get to hear them say the words I hear all the time about how much they miss him. You dads who are gone for deployments or even just a regular work day know that, if your children are anything like mine, they think of you often. They are eager to share with you the simplest things upon your return whether it’s how an ant ran across the yard or how they wished upon a star you were also sleeping under. Children don’t need extravagant gifts or superheroes to brighten their day. You, daddy, are their hero and the best gift of all and is greeting them with open arms upon your return.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Issue in Need of Attention

Sexual assault and rape aren’t new to the military. In fact, many women suffer in silence and never report their attackers. That isn’t the point of my post though. What I recently read is a tad concerning, but will hopefully be addressed with expedience and great care.

Medical News Today (20 Jun 2008) reported that, VA officials said that nearly one in five female veterans seeking care has been diagnosed with military sexual trauma; however, some believe the figure could be almost one in three.” One in five is a lot and one in three is downright frightening. Resources are out there though, what’s the concern, you may ask? Truth be told, the resources are limited. In fact, this is something I’ve been working on in the back of my mind and really hope to make something come to fruition in the not to far future. My concerns stem from personal experiences as well as a concern for the greater good. Any one interested in learning more about my intentions to this end is welcome to contact me.

The article also referenced that a quarter of a million (give or take) female veterans were treated at VA facilities last year alone, with the expectation that this number will only continue to rise. I’m sure that’s just a drop in the bucket compared to how many male vets are treated at these facilities, but still, one would imagine and hope that with the increase of need for treatment, more resources would be readily available. You know kind of something to do with the law of supply and demand. Oh wait, didn’t we hear about budget cuts and the VA being shortchanged not all that long ago?

The White House had published a succinct little fact sheet concerning the VA budget, but one might ask how much of this has and will realized. Read the FACT SHEET

In February 2008, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs discussed requirements for FY 09:

“The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) requires, at a minimum, $4.577 billion in additional funding in FY09 over FY08 to support its medical care operations. Our requested medical services increase is $2.562 billion over the Administration's request. The total required for all of VA's discretionary accounts is $6.614 billion over FY08.”

For a look at the full press release, please visit the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs site. It’s a lengthy but easy read. Let’s hope this budget, if not more, is approved and shall more than compensate for the shortfalls referenced in the aforementioned Medical News Today report.

I’m far from an expert on this subject and only know what I read and try to absorb from reports that come down the pike. Regardless, I’m a female veteran, so the matter hits close to home for me. Additionally, I’m largely concerned about veterans (regardless of gender) and the care they may or may not be getting. Still, this whole issue begs the question about PTSD. No, I’m not talking about PTSD as a direct result of combat. Rather, I’m concerned about the PTSD for the females who are assault and rape victims. I think that not many folks would consider this issue. We are so wrapped up in the combat end of things (a worthy concern, no doubt), that we may overlook the other causes for PTSD.

Last fall, a doctor writing for reported about this very concern of mine. Matthew Tull, PhD (26 Sep 2007) stated that:
“The experience of a sexual assault (ranging from unwanted sexual contact to rape) is also a widespread problem in the military (often referred to as military sexual trauma or MST). Studies indicate that around 23% to 33% of female veterans report experiencing a MST. In addition, there is some evidence that women who have experienced MST are at high risk for developing PTSD. One study found that approximately 42% of women who had experienced a MST also had PTSD as a result of the MST. Other studies have found that MST was more likely to lead to PTSD than other military or civilian traumatic events.”

PTSD or MST, whatever you want to call it, exists, and it’s not a new issue for concern. On a military discussion board I frequent someone took an anonymous poll last year about how many women were the victims of assault and/or rape (whether reported or not) and the numbers were staggering. I don’t have the poll in front of me, so I cannot say for certain what the actual figures were, but it was eye-opening. A great number of the responders were either female veterans or women currently on active duty.

There is good news though, well if you can consider anything in this subject matter good. Victims and PTSD/MST sufferers have help available to them. That is the counseling through the VA. This is why the funds need to increase because female vets and active duty women have few places to turn to for military sexual trauma issues. If the VA loses funding and can’t provide for these women, who can? Who will step up to the plate? If I had a billion, even a million, or just a few thousand dollars, oh what I would do. Of course, I don’t, but my wheels are in motion. I’m researching and looking at options. I urge any of you with thoughts on this, again, please contact me. One person can make a difference, two people and more can make an even bigger difference.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Feeding the Lonely

Sure, your beloved is gone, and it’s tough. You find yourself giving in to cravings and trying to feed the pain. Your brain says “No”, but your taste buds and aching heart say “feed me”. You don’t want to pack on the pounds while he’s away. Truthfully, you want to look pretty svelte upon his return. So, you hit the gym and start working up a sweat. Girl, doesn’t that feel great? You know the saying Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. Well, I’m here to inform you that something does taste as good. In fact, it tastes so good, you may think about hoarding them in cold stores in your own home. Trust me, you will want to fashion something to keep them safe—away from any animals, bugs, dust, warm weather, children, spouses, visitors that might try to get to them.

What is this spectacular treat? Champion Chip chocolate chip cookies by Newman’s Own Organic (The Second Generation) are a gift from the heavens. They are beautiful. They are delicious. They are why my husband might come to a whale of a wife. Try them, if you can find them at your local store. Oh, and put them in the freezer—they are extra yummy that way.

If this current deployment of my husband’s gets extended, I won’t cry. Rather, I might just run (or waddle) out to the store to pick up some more cookies. They make my soul happy. Of course, they can’t cuddle like he does (that can’t be replaced). Maybe I’ll cut back on the cookies just a bit. Nah, I’ll just have to go to the gym more so I can justify this coping mechanism.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Go do The thing With the Boy

These are words uttered to me in the middle of the night to my husband. What do they mean though?

I crashed hard the other night. I think in part because I was exhausted and also because I had a cooling fan blowing on me. That and the white noise invited deep sleep. Apparently, the baby awoke in the middle of the night. I reacted to the loud crying by saying to my husband in a muffled muttering " that --- Thing-- With the boy."


That was his reaction too apparently. Now, mind you, I don't remember saying this, but he does and he said he turned to me (from his own sleep) and said, "Honey, what are you talking about" only for me to repeat it. He reports that he laid there and hoped the baby would just stop crying and fall back to sleep. He didn't. The crying started up again, at which point, my husband nudges me, "Go get the baby, he's hungry." In a trance-like state, I actually got out of bed and retrieved the little booger from his crib.

Seriously, why didn't my husband just go do the thing with the boy and let me sleep? Me!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Blisters and X-Rays

My most recent stupid move was not wearing gloves today. I had the brilliant plan of hand tilling my backyard. It was a bit of a big job, but we need grass back there. It's quite barren and gets awful muddy with any amount of rain. So, I decided to pick up where I left off a few weeks ago. I was doing great, until I started to get tired. I think I tilled 10 square feet at this point. Sad, I know.

Here's the kicker...

Gardening Gloves are not just for beauty. No, my friends, they serve a purpose. A purpose for which I did not utilize them. Now, I'm sporting a very sore and raw open blister. Nasty, isn't it? There's today's stupidity for you.

Rewind to this morning...

After discussing my penny-eating child with the doctor yesterday because of recent complaints and symptoms from her, they asked me to bring her in for today. Doc checks her out and all appears fine. To err on the side of caution, she ordered an abdominal x-ray. The man in blue was doing "darkened ship" work today, so couldn't miss work. As such, I had all of the children with me. Well, you, obviously, can't bring all the little ones into the room with you when once child is being x-rayed. So, the screaming baby and worrisome older sister were "watched" by some of the lovely nurses at the hospital. Meanwhile, inside the radiology room, I was begging, pleading and fighting against a very anxious and frightened little girl.

It broke my heart. She was so scared. She's normally not, so that's what made this all the worse. I couldn't calm her down. The radiologist, well he had the bedside manner of Attila the Hun. He was no help. The sweetest nurse did come in to help me. Still, it was traumatizing and they couldn't get a good shot for the little one was writing and squirming so much. So, we had to endure too many tries. Heartbreaking I tell you.

Afterward, as we were on our way out, I saw the film. There it was. The big ole coin (which now I wonder if it was a penny) in my tiny girl's body. We saw the doc for a follow-up. She recommended a few things and if we don't think/know that it's passed in another week, we have to go back.

So, there you have it. My day in a long-drawn out, very winded blog post. And, that's just two of the things that happened today. Can you imagine the book you'd be reading, if I told you everything?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Day Without Words

I don't normally participate in "Wordless Wednesday", but I've been "wordy" lately in my blogs. So, here is goes. I'm not talking/writing any more today. :)

I took this photo a few weeks ago, at a local Air Force Base.

Monday, June 9, 2008

From the mouths of military babes....

Mommy, we are getting deployed.

Honey, what do you mean? you know what deployed means?

Yes, it's when daddy goes away.

That's right, when daddy goes away for work, just like other members of the military do, he is deploying.

OK, well, since we are going somewhere this weekend, we are going away this weekend deploying.

For the record, we have no plans to go anywhere. Additionally, I don't know if I'd call a family vacation or trip a deployment. Of course, it often does require extensive preparation and strategic planning as well as packing, reconnaissance for sustenance and studying of a map for logistical purposes. Perhaps, it could count as a deployment after all. I wonder if we could start claiming per diem and mileage for a weekend jaunt to the coast?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Under Heavy Fire on the Homefront

Irritable troops in the heat often bewilder me. Sometimes nothing I can do or provide for them appeases them. The phone rings a great conversation with a good friend is consistently intruded upon by whining individuals getting into everything. On the other end my friend notices my “niceness” fading away. Those little ones sure know how to push my buttons and many of you know trying to diffuse them and redirect their attention while you are fielding a phone call and cleaning house is no easy task.

The afternoon leads to a semi-calmer evening (for a bit). Dinner goes relatively smoothly and bedtime is soon underway. Whilst getting things squared away and wrapping up some things in the living room, a child tells me her sibling has money and it was taken from the baby’s piggy bank. Great, a preschool thief. Hand it over. Do not go in your brother’s piggy bank again.

I search the bedroom and am sure all of the money is confiscated. Good. It’s all taken care of. I go back to wrap up what I was working on. Not even five minutes later a little cherub comes skipping towards me. Mommy, I have money in my throat.


I immediately go into panic mode. I’ve never had this happen before—amazingly enough. Though, if it were any one of my children to swallow coins, my money would have been on her (sorry for the pathetic pun).

Scooping her up the grilling commences: Is it stuck in your throat? Can you breathe? What color was the money? Does it hurt?

Okay, we learn that it’s not stuck in her throat. She is conversing and the money was “gold”. So, I’m 99.9% sure she swallowed a penny. At least it wasn’t a quarter. Sitting her on the couch, Okay honey, I want you to open your mouth, stick your tongue and say Ahhhhh. Peering in with a Maglite, I discover nothing. I don’t really know what I expected to see. I guess part of me imagined the penny would be sitting there on the back of her tongue ready for me to pry out safely. Well, no such luck. At this point, she says, It’s in my belly now.

I panic and call my husband who is still deployed. That was another “huh?” moment of mine. What did I think—he was going to rescue the penny from thousands of miles away over the phone? I tell him, I’m going to go to the ER. Down the hall, one of my other children starts to panic. My calm husband says, Just call the doctor. Whilst, I’m calling the on call doctor, my other daughter totally goes into freak out mode. She gets severe anxiety attacks about anything medical. She goes pale and clammy. Great, I’m now expecting her to pass out on me. What the…

The phone rings back. It’s a nurse from the doctor’s office. She asks me about it and as I’m telling her the story, I do realize that millions of children probably do this a year and that I’m far from the first parent to lose my mind over the simple situation. The nurse assures me that as long as the child is breathing, eating and drinking, that the penny will just make its way on down and out (at some point). I chuckle at my ridiculous panic and the nurse reassures me that it’s alright to worry about this kind of stuff. You’d have thought I was a brand new mom or that something far worse had happened.

After I get off the phone, I struggle to calm the other panicky child. She’s pleased that we won’t have to spend the evening in the ER. Though, she’s still very concerned about her little sister. It’s okay. She’s going to be fine. Mommy shouldn’t have gotten so worked up, honey. It’s alright. So, off to bed, she went. The money-swallower is now back to normal and running and jumping and getting into stuff again. She never stops! The baby, thankfully, had slept through all this craziness.

Lest I forget, that during all this chaos, the money-swallower also managed to mess her pants twice. This is completely out of character for her since she's been potty trained, and I have no explanation. So, you can imagine how unamused I was when I had to change her twice. For fear of setting her into regression (which we endured last year), I didn't yell. I didn't pitch a fit. I just calmly asked Why? To this, she replied, Because I did. Oy.

At this point, it’s after 9 pm and I’m exhausted and hoping that all the children will be safely sleeping and not causing concern for the rest of the night. The hubby calls to check on me and the kids. Why couldn’t he be here? Why does he miss all of this kind of stuff?

Well, fast forward a few days, as I’ve said, he’s home now. I’m sleeping like a baby at night (which is very unusual for me) and the extra set of hands with the troops is greatly appreciated.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

He's home.


Well, the man in blue returned home late last night. It was a long day. You know the typical preparations for the return home, cleaning house and all. Well, we had a bunch of other stuff going on too, which made it an interesting day, but I'll spare you the details.

Anyway, his flight was delayed and the piece of that which really stinks is that our home is an hour from the airport he was arriving at. So, not only did we have to wait for him to take off to begin to track his flight home, but we also had to wait for him to call us. This was because he also had to go back to his office to unload all of the equipment he and the guys were using on this trip before even thinking about going home.
Two thirds of the children were still up and and awake, excited beyond belief, when I loaded them all into the van for the hour ride. We didn't actually make it to the base until about 11:45 pm. Thankfully everyone slept almost the whole way there and the whole way home, save for a few crying outbursts.

He's so glad to be home, and we are so happy too. You know that refreshing feeling of peace once your whole family is under the same roof again? Yeah, that's how it feels. I love that feeling.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Flags on Memorial Day (2008)

Starting a new chapter--literally.

Currently, I'm trying to start a new chapter of the Women Marines Association in my area. Sadly, there's not one here. The closest one to me is either an hour east or west of me. That doesn't seem to bad, right? Well, with gas prices, five minutes in either direction is far these days. Okay, so that's not really my motivating factor.

Since I live in an area where there are a lot of veteran organizations, I figured it would be a nice addition to have a WMA chapter close by. The WMA is a great organization. I love being a part of it and truly think that every former Marine should join. Yes, men can join too as can family members. The Loyal Escorts of the Green Garter is the official auxiliary of the WMA. The Loyal Escorts are members sponsored by WMA members in good standing.

My biggest challenging right now is finding at least five potential active members to petition for this chapter. Wish me luck!