It's around 1 in the afternoon on a Sunday, and instead of passing out from sheer exhaustion, I'm going to take a few minutes to write an update on how we're faring as we approach the one-month mark of this deployment. I've had a few ideas floating around after what feels like a long dry spell, but has probably only been a couple weeks.
What else have we been up to ...?
I've been working on some long-overdo organizing projects, chief among them a storage solution for the kids' schoolwork. It was very simple but too easy to procrastinate for the last couple of years. I didn't like having one old cardboard box to toss the things in that they bring home and I actually like. The result was that I threw out most of it and I knew I'd regret that one day. So I bought two gigantic file boxes and hanging folders. There is now a place for everything I want to save from preschool through 12th grade. Yay me.
Next month I need to sort through the kids outgrown clothes and put them away in the enormous Sterilite bins that are slowly but surely taking over our house. I know that one day I'll have to start going through those and at least get rid of some of it, but I don't even want to think about it right now. I also need to tackle the shelves in the laundry room AGAIN because the art supplies are turning into a mess again, refusing to be contained by the stackable bins we got for that purpose.
I am waging a war on clutter. Nothing is safe. I plucked a Webster's Dictionary and Thesaurus off the overcrowded bookshelf in the office today. Who uses these anymore? We've got Google, we'll never need a thesaurus or dictionary again. Lately I feel like I'm about to be swallowed by stuff.
Annie has been moody and prone to temper tantrums, and changing her pajamas 10 times every night. She cries, "It's NOT okay!" when Delaney apologizes for accidentally bumping into her. She can also be very sweet and agreeable, and is continuing to come out of her shell at school. Timmy has been wanting to climb up on everything and get into everything, including the stove while I'm cooking. He also tries to stick pencils in his eye because he has watched me apply eyeliner and is a big copycat. He scares me. Delaney has been cheerful and easy to get along with for the most part, happy to practice reading, work on an art project or play with her Littlest Pet Shops. They all like to run around the house screaming every chance they get.
I implemented the plan I talked about a couple of weeks ago, where I leave Timmy at the drop-in daycare and go to Saturday evening Mass with the girls. I've had mixed results. Last Saturday was a debacle, with girls arguing over crayons and crayons being used on things other than paper. Last night was much better. At the sign of peace, an elderly man sitting in our pew told me that my kids were very well behaved and I should be proud of them. I wondered if he was hard of hearing but thanked him all the same. He said, "You've got to be proud of them." Delaney turned to me and said in an excited whisper, "Mama, we just got a compliment! At school if we get 10 compliments we get a party!" To me a compliment is its own reward. It is so much nicer to be on the receiving end of smiles instead of scowls (and that has happened too.).
After the awesome WiFi connection that Tim for the few days he was in Kyrgizstan, it's been disappointing to us both how crappy the connection has been since he arrived in Afghanistan. We have maybe Skyped once. A few times I've seen a FaceTime call coming in from him, but when I answer it nothing happens. So that's a bummer. We have email when Tim has time for it. He's been super busy, way more than he was on the ship.
But not too busy to shop online for a new laptop. After two straight years of complaining about the uselessness of the iPad on deployments, he has finally broken down and bought a good old-fashioned laptop. It is now on its way here, where I will load it up with whatever he requests before mailing it to Afghanistan. Sigh. I don't know anything about computer stuff. But I know how much of a difference it will make to him to be able to watch a show in his rack before he goes to sleep at night, and do whatever else with it that he can't do with an iPad. Like watch a DVD. I also think that if he hadn't been sick the last few days before he left, he would have put more stuff on the iPad. But honestly, it was time to just admit the iPad wasn't working out. It was not what he thought it was going to be. The only thing it is now is a really nice photo album, and he'll be so much happier with a laptop. Before he went on the MEU a couple years ago he went back and forth for months between new laptop or fancy newfangled iPad 2. Back and forth, back and forth. In the end he couldn't resist the siren call of a new Apple product. I remember waiting for the email from Best Buy and driving to pick it up only two days before he left. It was our lucky day! It's funny how it worked out. And by funny, I mean more than a little annoying. But as annoying as it is for me, I know it's way worse for him over there with nothing to watch during what little downtime he has.
Just like last deployment, we have some fun things on the calendar to look forward to. Karen's coming to visit for Easter. Tim Sr is coming a few weeks later, I'm pretty sure. Annie has told me she wants a pool party for her birthday like Delaney had. I think I can do that. She tells me every other day, "I want a Barbie cake. No, I change my mind, I want a princess cake. And I'm not changing my mind again." I try to tell her she can change her mind as many times as she wants in the next three months, but she still talks about it like it's happening next week. Right after school gets out we are going on vacation with my family at Topsail Beach. That's right here in NC, only about an hour-and-a-half away. So excited. And we have lots of smaller plans in between the bigger plans. The days are full and busy but I still say holiday weekends are the devil. I never realized how many of them there are until the first time Tim deployed. One next week as a matter of fact. I know what I'll be doing on that Saturday -- taking Delaney to a birthday party at a rollerskating rink that I've heard is straight out of the '80s. Should be fun. I hope there's a disco ball and they play the hokey-pokey. I really hope I don't fall, or at least not on top of Delaney. And I hope the babysitter doesn't cancel because there's no way I'm taking them all.
There are many of us around here shouldering the burden of solo parenting. We bump into each other and say hi with bright smiles that belie our anxiety and fatigue. There's somebody down the street with three kids 6 and under and a deployed husband. We live parallel lives. We see each other everywhere we go, to the point where it's comical. We come and go from our neighborhood at the same time. On nice days we chat while our kids ride bikes up and down the street. I feel a little less crazy seeing the others in my boat. And not just the military wives. I have a friend whose husband works 70+ hours a week, her family is all in Indiana, she has three kids under six and a fourth on the way. This pregnancy has been a tough one for her, she has constant aches and pains, and she's homeschooling her oldest while meeting the demands of toddlers. She always has a smile on her face that is genuine because it is lit by an inner joy that does not depend on life being easy. Nobody has it easy anyway. They might make it look easy, but everyone has a cross to bear. So when people say to me, "How do you do it?" Or "I could never do that," I never really know what to say. This life is not without its challenges and sacrifices, but it's a good life. Now if you ask me about the last deployment, the one that was 10 months long, during which I had Timmy, that's another matter. I actually don't know how I did that.
And that is my long-winded update on how we're doing. Busy, busy, busy, but happy and well.