Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Liam Turns 9 Months!

Holy cow, baby boy! Another month gone!!

Liam is crawling. Standing. Shifting weight on his legs.

Things have changed a lot this month!

Bath night has gotten complicated again. Liam is so squirmy in his bath sling so I've been working on a safer solution for him. We have a textured bathtub so unfortunately a bath mat doesn't stick to it, so I had to brainstorm a bit to keep Liam stable while sister sloshes in the tub next to him! When I get them out of the tub, they scatter! It's a race to get them dried off and diapered before they start peeing everywhere!

Ok, it's not as dramatic as it sounds but I always feel so rushed to get their tushies covered!

Ava has been experimenting with Liam a bit. I have caught her pushing him over when he's sitting. And it's not because she's upset with him, I think she is literally just exploring cause and effect. And then as soon as he falls over and cries, of course I come over to comfort him and pick him up, and then Ava asks to be held too. So she's definitely exploring that "what happens if..." scenario! It's a litte frustrating for me because now I feel like I can't leave them alone out of my sight for even just a minute because she might push him. I remind Ava to be gentle and she will eventually learn that she doens't get any attention when she pushes Liam. I am usually overly dramatic when I comfort Liam and I walk out of the room with him so she is literally getting NO attention and Liam gets it all.

She also will either bring him lots of toys, or she will take them all away. She'll say "NOOOO!" and yank it out of his hand and toss it across the room! Again, she is experimenting, and thankfully Liam doesn't care too much, but it's still frustrating! I spend half my time fetching Liam's toys again and telling Ava that he is still playing with that toy. I think she does get a little confused because there are some of her toys that Liam gets ahold of that aren't safe for him, so she sees me taking them away from him, so I think some of it is imitation (although I don't yell NO at him!). I mean she's not even 2.5 yet so she doesn't know! The struggle of having 2 kids close together!!

Liam goes to bed about 30 minutes before Ava, and it's working out really well. Liam is down to 2 naps per day now, so he is usually ready for bed by 630. Then I get quiet playtime with Ava! I just started putting her in underwear for those last 15 minutes before bed, just so she can get used to wearing them and talking about them. She's peed a few times while wearing them, and the first time I didn't realize it until I looked up at her and she was wiping her leg with a shirt on the floor, hahahah!!! I don't mind her little "accidents" because she is learning about bladder control and what happens! I don't know when we will both be ready to move forward with full-blown potty training, but I figured we could start bringing more awareness so she can tell ME when she's ready to wear "unnah weh uh" full time! We are reading lots of potty books too! She does so good at telling me right after she's pooped or if I smell it first, she willingly goes with me to be changed. Lots of good signs! But I am dreading starting it, so I'm waiting a bit more!

Liam finally found a sippy cup he likes! He's not great at tipping it up far enough to get water out, but if I hold it for him, he will chug it! He is still hit or miss with crunchy textures but is a BIG fan of baby puffs!

I feel like I was sick for most of this last month. The kids were sick too! I feel like it was a big setback because I did nothing but survive for most of the time. No meal planning, no cleaning, minimal laundry, no fun outings...so I have lots of catching up to do and I need to get back into my routines! But I am SO thankful to be feeling better. 24 hours worth of antibotics in my system and I feel like a whole new person!

I'm thankful that Chris and I have the opportunity to communicate daily. But the time difference (now 9 hours apart since the time change - Kuwait does not partake in Daylight Savings Time) makes it hard. I am going to bed as he is waking up and vice versa. The bulk of one person's awake time is the other person's sleeping time. And as you can imagine, when I'm out and about with the kids, I don't have 2 hands for texting whole conversations very much. So our communicating goes in spurts. Most of it is through snapchat or our shared photo album of the kids. I want to keep him up to speed with the kids as much as possible!

Ava and Liam are always playing together. Ava thinks he is the greatest! They've started crawling around together and laughing and sharing toys. Or Ava just decides what he will play with next!

Liam is SO into food now. He recognizes the puffs container and grunts for it when he sees it! He cried last week when Ava was next to him with her goldfish - he spotted them and then she left, and that was when he cried - he didn't get any! He literally burst into tears. SLOW YOUR ROLL, KID - you're barely 9 months old!! He has THIRDS sometimes at dinner. Ava was a crazy eater as an infant too - sometimes he eats more than she does now! The amount of poopy diapers I change during the day is kind of crazy...usually about 5 or 6 between the two kids!

I DO have something BIG to look forward to though - Chris is planning his leave to come home for a bit! Hopefully we will see him soon-ish!!! It feels like a dream come true. And then I'm sure it will feel like a nightmare because I will have to send him back again. But it will be enough of a break for both of us to feel at least a little recharged! All I am imagining is us, together, as a family of 4. Playing in the living room. It seems like an eternity since he has been gone!

Liam is now entering my favorite age, at least it was my favorite with Ava: the "9-12 month" range! I think most people don't like this phase because that is typically when a child becomes mobile and is more of a challenge to keep safe and keep up with. But I just loved it so much with Ava. She was more expressive and interactive, and her personality really started to emerge. I'm already seeing that with Liam - the things he prefers and the things that make him cry or chuckle.

The holiday season is upon us!! While we are REALLY missing daddy, it will certainly help time move faster and, before we know it, he will be home for a visit!! I CAN'T WAIT!!!!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Deployment "Blues"

My feelings on this topic were taking over Liam's 9 month post for tomorrow, and I wasn't liking the direction the post was going.

So I decided to give those thoughts their own space.

I had hopes of being uber organized and busy and distracted to keep my mind off of Chris being gone.

And those are still aspirations of mine, but it is SO MUCH HARDER than I thought it would be. I'm realizing the biggest struggle is NOT going to the grocery store alone all the time. It is NOT cleaning the house by myself. It is NOT figuring out who is going to help me with car maintenance or lawncare or baby gate installation or a broken closet door or toilet repair or smoke detector battery replacement on 9-foot ceilings.

The biggest struggle is my emotions. More specifically, my emotionl "tank", if you will. I feel so emotionally drained a lot of the time. Trying to keep my poker face with the kids when I'm feeling sad/overwhelemed/frustrated. Making sure the kids get what they need from me each day is more exhausting than I imagined.

Take today for instance - long story short, Ava was diagnosed with a bad case of strep throat today. So Liam was kind of forgotten about. Ok, maybe that's not the best word - his needs weren't made a priority today. Ava was very miserable today - I've never seen her like that. So I felt like she needed me more, and I felt resentful toward Liam when he woke from his nap and my ability to snuggle Ava was over. And then I felt bad for feeling that way. Thankfully Ava was happier after her nap and she had some medication flowing through her. Fast forward through the rest of the day (and the entire contents of Liam's dinner in his lap and one yogurt cup that went flying off the table onto the wall) and it was finally bedtime. I put Liam down first, like always. Then I started Ava's bedtime, and just as she and I were snuggling in the rocking chair, Liam starts screaming. Ava looked at me, and assumed I was going to put her down and go to him, because that's what I always have to do to her. UGH THE MOM GUILT. But I told her that he could wait and that this was my time with her. We rocked for a little while, with Liam screaming in the background. I finished up with Ava and then went in to Liam. The poor dude just wanted mama. I picked him up and he got another turn to be rocked. And within a minute, he was asleep on my chest. That's rare for little buddy to do that. It made me a little sad, like maybe he hadn't gotten enough snuggling in today. Another reminder of how much my kids need me. And I'm also filling in for daddy so I feel like they deserve more than I can give.

And THEN guess who started crying?!

The dang cats - right in Liam's doorway.

They know it's dinnertime after the babies go to bed.

I held on to Liam for a few minutes longer before I got up to feed the cats.

It is constant needs from everyone, ALL. DAY. LONG. Week after week. Month after month.

Tonight made me really stop and think about how spread thin I am, not just when my kids are sick, but every other day, too. Day after day after day.

It's no wonder I can't accomplish anything after the kids are in bed. I'm just spent. But it's not so much physically as it is mentally and emotionally. I don't care to clean up the messes. I'm pulled in so many directions during the day that I just want to zone out.

And on top of the needs that happen within these walls, there's also the rest of the world. My friends. My family. Finding the emotional energy for outside commitments when I'd almost rather sulk in my misery. Keeping up with the shopping lists and laundry. I'm so behind on organizing anything that I almost feel like I'm moving backwards a little bit. I cannot keep up with it all. I seriously need to start checking some things off my list. Heading into the holidays isn't helping either. I'm feeling a little swamped!

I need a magic wand to *tap* all of the millions of tasks around the house that need fixing or cleaning. My to-do list is relentless.

I'm losing control and I don't like it. I'm not used to this feeling!! I'm usually SO good at keeping up with life. And things. I feel like I can't do anything but get through the day. And that sounds really sad, but y'all...this is how deployments are!!

This is what a family goes through during a deployment. This is a tiny part of what our military families sacrifice.

I was messaging a friend a few weeks back, and she had mentioned to me that she reads my blog and enjoyed reading about what I've been up to. She thanked me for being so honest with everything, and that it made her so much more grateful for Chris's service, seeing what it's truly like for a military family and the struggles of a deployment. I'm not at all trying to be "woe is me...look at me...give me attention" because there are A LOT of families who struggle with separations in the civilian life. Not everyone works 9-5 in-town jobs! But I also know that, before I met Chris, I didn't personally know a single person in the military. It was only something I read about. And I think it is very true that you don't know a person until you've walked a mile in their shoes. So I'm just hoping to fill you in on a little corner of the military life, from a spouse's point of view. There are people out there (and maybe you are one of them) who don't understand why military families "get so much paid for" - the healthcare benefits, housing benefits, discounts at stores, and the like. It is for the sacrifice. Not only for deployments, but for signing a contract saying that they will do whatever is asked of them, including uprooting your family to move across the country (or the world) every few years. The sacrifice Chris makes to defend and protect this nation we live in. I remember when I worked at Maurices and we would have ladies who didn't want to accept our military discount, even though they had a valid spouse ID, because they didn't feel like they deserved it. But the discount is a THANK YOU to military families - the whole family unit makes a sacrifice when their soldier is serving. I'm getting a little off subject here, but it amazes me that people still don't understand this. I had an old coworker approach me about this subject - on the clock, when Chris had literally just come home from his last deployment - and she didn't get why people say "thank you" to soldiers. Wow. That one was rough.

I dunno guys...I'd love to be able to write that this deployment junk is getting easier, but it's really not. I have my good days, or good moments, and then it swings the other way. At times I feel like life is falling apart and all I want to do is go hide in bed. I try my best to make the most of things and keep a good attitude, but that can't be maintained at all times. It just can't. Ususally it is the whole "the straw that broke the camel's back" type thing. Everything is fine until I just can't. Ava has seen me cry so much lately and I think we are kind of helping each other through it, as much as her little 2 year-old self can. I tell her, "mommy is just really sad right now" or "mommy just really misses daddy"...and even "mommy is sorry for yelling at you" or "mommy just needs a break right now; you'll have to wait". I'm not proud of some of my parenting moments lately. This deployment really stresses every aspect of life and challenges your inner strength in so many ways. If I had to try and describe it, it feels kind of like a touch of depression in an otherwise happy life. The sadness kind of comes and goes unexpectedly and there are triggers as well. Sometimes I cope very well, and other times I know I just need to let myself be a grump or be sad in order to be able to move forward. And thats hard when I have 2 little sets of eyes watching me.

I'm trying hard to keep my chin up and not be disappointed when things don't go right or when I can't get to as many things as I was hoping. And I know that for this year Chris is gone that I'm going to have to settle for a lot of "well, that's good enough for now".

But every day is another day closer to when we will have our soldier home.