Friday, September 30, 2011

The Plant

When someone that I love loses someone that they love
It stinks to think that in lieu of the words I cannot find to say
I can only give a plant.

A plant cannot smile brightly at you
Or make you laugh
Or wrap you in a warm embrace and tell you that everything will be okay.
It is just a plant.

A plant will not replace the life that was lost
Heal the hurt that surfaces
Make the lonliness go away
Or bring answers to any of the "why's" we are sure to ask
Because it is just a plant.

But I will send it anyway
Because I don't know what else to do.

And especially when I can't be there to tell you in person,
I wanted there to be some clear sign to show you
That I love you
That I am praying for you
That I hurt and grieve with you
That I miss them too
That their lives mattered to me--and you matter to me too.

So, just this once,
Let it be more than just a plant.

Dear God,
Thank you for Folse, Betty, and all of the angels you have added to your kingdom to keep watch over us here. And please let my Boudreaux family know I love them more than my plant could ever say.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Just One of Those Days...

Today was a day full of promise that ended in poo...

The morning started beautifully. The dishwasher that was falling out of its under-cabinet mount was secured back into place by a friendly maintenance man. The kids behaved wonderfully at the library. We all got to see Daddy on Skype in the afternoon and the connection was the best it's been so far--albeit, Jack was a bit crabby during the call because it was nap time, but I digress. And whilst Bubba napped, Sammi and I baked brownies together ("no-good-reason brownies" aka the best kind of brownies.) Just another day in paradise...

Now insert the afternoon from Hades.

The kids and I needed to make an afternoon run to the PX to pick up some meds for Jack. Upon entering the store and flashing my I.D., the power goes out. We are all asked to leave. I think to myself, "Should I wait it out, or should I drag the kids elsewhere?" Deciding not to risk waiting for nothing, I went ahead with the latter. This time to Target, where the power did not go out, but where my precious 4year old daughter decided she was going to exit the store with a toy we did not pay for.
I was so distracted by this offense that I did not notice the cashier making another one. I was charged twice for the most expensive item on my list. I noticed it just as I was entering the gates to post-- mere minutes from home-- and had to circle back around and drive my unhappy butt and thieving child back to Target to get the refund.
By the time we FINALLY made it home, I was able to throw together dinner, (an hour later than usual) bathe the kids, and sob quietly as I put them to bed, after which I would spend an hour or so of my "me time" looking for appliance repair people for my broken washing machine and talking to an insurance representative to replace my son's lost insurance card. Blah.

But now that it is over, what's done is done, and I can step back and look at it from a better (loopier, more sleep-deprived) place, I realize how blessed I am, even in my crappiest of days.

No, I didn't want to drive all over the place to get Jack's medicine, but I am glad that I had the means to do it, that my kids are such good travellers, and that Jack is indeed getting better!

I did not want to deal with a child taking a toy from the store today, but I am fortunate to have a bright girl with a capacity to understand right from wrong and a God-given desire to do right MOST of the time.

I did not want to pay extra money for nothing and make an entire extra trip to get my money back, but I needed cash for the kids to ride a train on Thursday, and now I don't have to stop by an ATM to get it. (It's the little things, People, the little things...)

I did not want to set our night-time schedule off by an hour, but my children were uncharacteristically flexible for me tonight, and we survived the night without any major meltdowns.

I don't want my major appliances to break, but I have wonderful friends who are offering to help me with my laundry woes until I can get it fixed (which is looking to cost less than I originally thought...Praise God!)

I don't want to make late-night calls to the insurance company, but for once, a 24 hour call line has come in great handy to me. There is a quick solution to my problem and all will be well in "our dental world" soon enough.

I have said this before, but sometimes little problems can stack up so high that they overshadow the good things that are happening right alongside them. So no, today was not the best day ever. But it was a day that the Lord hath made--so I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to rejoice a little more joyfully ;)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Leaky Creation

My husband and I have not been active duty military very long (3 years,) and even so, I know how fortunate I am to have had him as long as I have. I have often struggled with the thought of him leaving on his first deployment. How do you let go of your husband gracefully? How do you keep your composure in front of a crowd? How do you stay strong for your children and your husband when your heart is literally breaking?
As I was questioning these things a few weeks ago I stumbled across a story in a book my husband had given to me. It gave me a new perspective on the whole situation, and it’s one I’d like to share with all of you.
(Taken from The Army Wife Handbook-Second Edition by Ann Crossley and Carol. A Keller)
“The Good Lord was creating a model for military wives and was into his sixth day of overtime when an angel appeared. She said, "Lord, you seem to be having a lot of trouble with this one. What’s wrong with the standard model?"
The Lord replied, "Have you seen the specs on this order? She has to be completely independent, possess the qualities of both father and mother, be a perfect hostess to 4 or 40 with an hour’s notice, run on black coffee, handle every emergency imaginable without a manual, be able to carry on cheerfully, even if she is pregnant and has the flu, and she must be willing to move to a new location 10 times in 17 years. And oh yes, she must have six pairs of hands." The angel shook her head, "Six pair of hands? No way!"
The Lord continued, "Don’t worry, we will make other military wives to help her. And we will give her an unusually strong heart so it can swell with pride in her husband’s achievements, sustain the pain of separations, beat soundly when it is overworked and tired, and be large enough to say "I understand" when she doesn’t and say, ‘I love you’ regardless".
"Lord," said the angel, touching his arm gently "Go to bed and get some rest. You can finish this tomorrow". "I can’t stop now", said the Lord "I am so close to creating something unique. Already this model heals herself when she is sick, can put up six unexpected guests for the weekend, wave goodbye to her husband from a depot, pier or runway and understand why it’s important that he leave."
The angel circled the model of the military wife, looked at it closely and sighed, "It looks fine, but it’s too soft". "She might look soft", replied the Lord, "but she has the strength of a lion. You would not believe what she can endure."
Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek of the Lord’s creation. "There’s a leak", she announced. "Something is wrong with the construction. You are trying to put too much into this model."
The Lord appeared offended at the angel’s lack of confidence. "What you see is not a leak", he said, "It’s a tear." "A tear? What is it there for?", asked the angel. The Lord replied, "It’s for joy, sadness, pain, disappointment, loneliness, pride and a dedication to all the values that she and her husband hold dear." "You are a genius!" exclaimed the angel.
The Lord looked puzzled and replied, "I didn’t put it there".”

When I said good-bye to my husband as he left to deploy, I was in tears. Not the pretty, quiet happy tears that you cry when you are watching the sweet part of a sappy movie. I wish! No, I was crying the big, fat, red splotchy-faced, snot running out of your nose, having a hard time trying to breathe kind. And even though they may not have appeared all that graceful, I think they were still beautiful, because I know exactly why they were there.
Of course, I was crying because I was sad. It is hard to watch your best friend, your love, and the better part of your very being walk away from you to go to war. It is painful to think that he is going to be in harm’s way a half a world away. It is disappointing to think that there will be so many memories my children and I will share that my husband won’t. Holidays and special events will feel really lonely without him.
And though I know that freedom is indeed not free, I have to admit that there have been several instances where I secretly wished that my husband was not one of the ones paying for it…but not this time.
In spite of all the sadness I felt, I was totally overwhelmed by an enormous sense of pride. I love my husband more than anything in the world. And he loves his country. I feel so grateful that he answered the call of duty that has led him to this career path. I am so appreciative of the sacrifices that he makes to protect others. I am proud of his undying service to his countrymen. To me, he is the epitome of strength and valor. There are signs everywhere that talk about the strength of Army Wives, but I know I would be nothing if not for him. He embodies everything I think an Army officer should be. I am proud of the way he is able to lead others with his knowledge, his character, and his passion. I am confident in his abilities, supportive of his mission, and SO honored to fight for our family here at home while he is away fighting for us.
Even now, I am crying. I hate that he is gone, but I know why he had to go. I love that man so much and I am so proud of everything he and his buddies are doing for me—for all of us. HOOAH!
God, bless all our troops! (And especially watch over my soldier!)
A proud, leaky creation

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Little Miss Perfect

One of my self-appointed mottos is "You only get to make one first impression." For whatever reason, I try my darndest to make sure that when people meet me for the first time, they think, "This is a chick that has got her stuff together." And if all goes according to plan, that is the impression of me that I hope to keep with them.

I always try to make sure that my house is neat, the kids and I are well-dressed, the kids are on their best behavior, and I appear happy, friendly, and controlled. In short, I want to look like I am the perfect mother, the perfect wife, and I have the perfect life.

I don't feel that this in and of itself is not a bad thing. There is nothing wrong with wanting to make a good name for yourself.
However, I have made the poor assumption that if I spot a mother struggling to wrangle her misbehaving children, I walk into a house that is unkempt, or I see someone in a public outburst of anger then they are less than perfect--and I am somehow better than them.

So here comes the point where I get ferociously bucked off of my high horse.

I decided to take the kids to Story Time Hour at the library today. We were only there for an hour, but we did enough damage to last a week. Here is the run through-Jack runs around the children's center tearing books off of the shelves. I apologize for the mess and finally get him to calm down by reading him a book on my lap. During this time, he wets himself and his diaper leaks through his shorts and onto my pants. (So much for being well-dressed.) I change him into his spare outfit and we meet Sammi at the coloring table. Sammi refuses to go listen to the second story because she wants to finish her coloring page. I agree to this and try to occupy my newly quieted children by teaching Sammi how to write the number four onto her paper. Little did I know that while I was giving Sammi a mini-lesson, Jack was directly underneath me coloring all over the library tables with a black crayon. Sammi, my little tattle-tell, screams at the top of her lungs in the middle of the library, "MOM! JACK IS COLORING ALL OVER THE TABLE!" (This gets the attention of the librarians and I am scrambling for wipes to try to remove the markings, which by the way, didn't work.) About the time I admit defeat, Sammi jumps up from the table and says, "I need to go potty." I ask her to wait and she yells no and runs away out of the room. I am at my breaking point by this time, so I yell accross the library at her to come back. (So much for being the self-controlled, or the perfect mom for that matter.) By the time we get back from the bathroom, I have a two screaming babies that I have to hold in the line to check out our books.
And here is the icing on the cake...right when we are called to the checkout desk, I notice that one of the new moms from my MOPS table had been at the library the entire time. She says to me," Hi, Liz. How's it going?" And I look at this practical stranger all teary-eyed and say, "Oh, I've been better." (So much for a perfect first impression.)

So here's the truth about me, in case you haven't already figured it out. I am not Little Miss Perfect. A few glorious days, purely by the grace of God, I really do seem to have it all together. But the majority of the time, I am a frenzied person, frantically trying to make it through the day.

I am not the perfect wife: Sometimes my husband and I have fights. Sometimes I spend money I shouldn't. Sometimes I burn suppers. Sometimes I make him come home to a house that is not clean or fix appliances that I've broken.

I am not the perfect mom: I am trying to figure it out the best I can and hope I don't screw them up in the process...just like every other mom before me. Sometimes I yell. Sometimes I punish them unnecessarily. And even though I love them with all of my heart, sometimes I disappoint them.

(I hesitate to say that I do not have a perfect life, just because I feel blessed with so many things that I don't deserve.)

What I am is human. And no matter how people think I should act because of my husband's position, or how I think I should appear to please everyone else, I am me. I make mistakes. And I get by just like everyone else.

What I will make an effort to be is a little more real. I don't think I am a fake. I will probably continue to be well-dressed, because I like looking nice. Sometimes, getting ready for the day is the only thing I get to do strictly for me, so I like to do it right. And I will probably try to make sure my kids are dressed cute, simply so I can deal with whatever God-forsaken fashions are popular when they become teenagers. I will keep cleaning my house because I like the idea of everything having a place. It is one less thing to worry about when everything else goes haywire. I want my kids to be on their best behavior so they become respectful members of society. And I want to have a pleasant attitude, because happiness is good for the soul. But I want to do all those things for those reasons, and not because of how I think it will affect other people's impressions of me.

So maybe I should steal my new motto from Popeye the Salior Man:
"I yam what I yam-And that's all that I yam."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I Will Remember...

It is the eve of September 11th, and because we are approaching the 10th anniversary of that tragic day, the news reports, radio stations, and Internet are swarmed with images and stories of 9/11.
I am sure there are millions who would love to forget about that day, but I will always remember...

September 11, 2001- I was a completely self-centered high school sophomore who's biggest concerns were how my outfit looked and what my peers thought about me. I strutted into school that day and settled into my desk in Ms. Tuttle's chemistry class.

I remember a lot of the terror of that day.

I remember people were already talking about the plane crash--I didn't find out through a news report, I heard about it all through my friends and announcements over the P.A. system.
I remember asking "What is the World Trade Center?"
I remember school administration restricting teachers from showing us the news reports from the classroom. (I wouldn't catch glimpses of the images until at home that night with my family.)
I remember our school principal announcing that our school was under a "Code Red Alert." I didn't even know our school had color-codes for safety until that day, I had no idea how a "Code Red Alert" would affect the school's daily operation.
I remember hearing when the plane struck the Pentagon. I did not have to ask what that one was...
I remember hearing when the last plane went down in a field in PA.
I remember everyone succumbing to a state of panic. Students were being pulled out of school. It was the first time in my life I felt completely vunerable and unsafe. It was as if everyone felt like a walking target. World Trade Center, Pentagon, Mesquite High School...silly now, but very serious then.
I remember finally seeing the footage at home. The plane crashing into the tower. The images of brothers and sisters jumping out of the windows and plunging to the earth below. The tower tumbling to the ground. The clouds of smoke and ash.
I remember thinking, "This is what Hell must look like."

But I also remember that from the terror, hope gave rise.

I remember people flowing into churches. I remember that as a people with no courage left, we turned to God and cried out to Him in desperate prayer.
I remember regular people doing astonishly heroic things. The police officers and firefighters of Ground Zero who worked tirelessly and sacrificially. Strangers on the street reaching out to help people in need. A plane-full of passengers who sacrificed themselves to save others.
I remember seeing an American pride reborn. Flags flying in all their glory. A million new songs with patriotic rhetoric. People standing to say the Pledge of Allegiance no longer out of obligation, but with duty and purpose. The National Anthem bring tears to people's eyes for the first time in a long time.
I remember a totally, self-centered teenage girl turning into a patriot.

September 11th will always bear great meaning to the people who lived through it. And for the first time, it will bear an even bigger meaning for my family. As my husband leaves to serve in Operation Enduring Freedom, I will remember that we are still fighting because of that day. Heroes are still being born in honor of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 on foreign soil. Hope is still rising-even thriving-within our nation that we will overcome the horror of that day.
My hope is that we never have to face terror like this on our own soil again. My hope is that we will never forget the sacrifices made, the lives lost, the strength realized.
I know I will always remember...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Multiple Personalities

One of my favorite songs from Reba's newest album is called "All the Women I am."

Today at my first MOPS meeting I took a personality quiz for an icebreaker game that really got me thinking about all the women I am, and how each new season, life changing-event, and day is allowing me to tack on addition roles.

My highest score with 14 points: The Golden Retriever
Characteristics as follows
1. Always loyal and faithful to friends--I think they would back me on this
2. Listens carefully to others--I talk a whole lot, but I am trying to listen more...and when I do listen, I am all ears.
3. Likes to help others. Feels sad when others are hurt--Guilty...I am probably TOO good at empathizing with people. And I am a cronic helper which has caused me some of my own problems (see my post "No Nonsense")
4. Is a peacemaker. Does not like it when others argue--True. Also makes it really hard to be an Army Wife/woman in general. I am always working lol
5. Patient and willing to wait for something--Hey! Who has heard this quote before? "Hurry up and Wait." Sometimes I think "waiting" is my middle name.

Coming in second place at 10 points: The Otter

1. Talks alot and tells wild stories--I think if it would have said "talks constantly," it would have been a better description :)
2. Likes to do all kinds of fun things--True, of course my opinion of what fun is has changed tremendously after graduating from college and having babies.
3. Enjoys being in groups. Likes to perform--I thrive when I am surrounded by people and all those people are looking at me :)
4. Full of energy and always eager to play--This one might have been a miss. I am totally drained of all energy, yet I schedule my calendar like I have extra to burn
5. Always happy and sees the good part of everything--I think it was just yesterday that I was talking to a hurting friend and told her to "just call me Mrs. Bright Side." Of course, I am a lot better at looking for the good in other peoples' struggles than I am at finding them in my own.

Bronze Medal with 8 points: The Lion

1. Is daring and unafraid in new situations--I am actually very cautioned and terrified of new situations. However, motherhood does bring about scary "firsts" that force you to just dive in-all or nothing.
2. Likes to be a leader. Often tells others how to do things--This makes me laugh. I love being in control. I have no trouble being a boss in my own home, or to my children. But I cower at the thought of leading other peers. I want them to like me too much.
3. Ready to take on any kind of challenge--only if I have to, but darnit, if I have to do it, I'm going to do it right :)
4. Is firm and serious about what is expected--one thing my middle name is not is serious lol
5. Makes decisions quickly--define quickly. Also, does making a decision count if you waver about nine more times after you make it?

Rounding up the rear with 7 points: The Beaver

1. Is neat and tidy and notices little details--my house may look clean, but the lady running it is a hot mess. And I actually am pretty good about noticing little details, but often at the expense of missing the obvious.
2. Sticks with something until it is done. Doesn't like to quit in the middle of the game--This one holds. No one likes a quitter or a flake. Thank you to my parents for instilling this trait in me.
3. Asks lots of questions--I used to hate doing this, but since becoming a mom I have started doing it a lot more. Also, asking questions is a form of talking so I am pretty gung-ho about it
4. Likes things done the same way--This is true. I do not like change. As a mother, I have come to embrace and depend upon routines, and change disrupts the schedule. However, I have also come to embrace that change is inevitiable, and in many cases it is good, so I transition easily too.
5. Tells things just the way they are--Another middle name of mine: P.C. I don't like to hurt feelings and avoid it at all costs. So here's some fun info to tuck into your back pocket...if I am ever rash with you, it is probably because you really deserve it.

I circled a lot of things on that sheet. What I don't like about personality quizzes is that a lot of people take them as a one answer approach. What are you? My answer sheet says a Golden Retriever, but in reality I am really a mutt. And I'll be different things on different days. And sometimes different things in different times of the same day. Motherhood has brought about certain traits in me that I never would have thought I'd possess. So has marriage and adulthood. But it is this mix that drives all the very unique women that I am :)