I’m a city girl at heart.

Last week I found myself thinking about my friend, also named Jenny, who is an Army wife and preparing to move to Germany in the next month or so.  Jenny and I were fast friends when we met in grad school in Hawaii.  She is a spunky, firey redhead with an Alabama accent, and we share a mutual disdain for stupidity.  She is perfectly snarky and sarcastic, and upon meeting her I knew she was my spirit animal.  We spent most weekends (and many night classes) together for the entirety of our grad school program, and our husbands ended up being good buddies too.  When I think of my time in Hawaii, she is one of the best memories I take away.

Of course, as a military wife, you quickly learn that even the best friendships are forced to separate in just a few short years.  We moved to Washington, and she moved to the desert of California with her husband, and had a baby boy a couple years before I had Claire.  Anyway, we always stayed in touch and talked about meeting up somewhere in the country ever since we moved apart from one another.  This last Christmas, we did end up meeting her and her family in Orlando for a quick but wonderful Harry Potter experience at Universal Studios.  The park was great and our inner Harry Potter nerds were sufficiently pleased by the trip, but the best part was reuniting with our friends, babies in tow, and picking up right where we left off, as if we hadn’t not seen each other in almost four years.  Those are the kind of friendships you know will last.

Flash forward to last week, as I was thinking about Jenny moving, and a wild and crazy idea popped into my head.  As they are currently stationed in upstate New York for another month or so, I texted her late at night asking if she’d be free for a girls’ weekend in New York City – one last hurrah – before her big move.  I have a TON of airline miles burning a hole in our bank account.  The more I thought about how amazing a weekend like that would be – no kids, plenty of time for girl talk, leisurely meals at fabulous restaurants, no toddlers trying to run free around the place or nap times to worry about – the more excited I became.  I waited almost a whole day in agony before she texted me back and accepted my proposal!

So in two weeks’ time, I will get to fly (in a plane….by myself) to the Big Apple, see a Broadway show, eat at delicious restaurants, and walk and shop the city with one of my best friends.  I am absolutely ecstatic.  Sean volunteered to take a day off of work, and will stay home with Claire so I can have an escape, and I am so grateful.  I know he would love a few days in New York too, but he knows what a hard time I’ve been having lately, all the sadness I’ve been working through, and I just feel so lucky to have a compassionate and supportive husband… who is going to let me go party in the big city without him!

This will be my first time away from both my husband and my daughter since… well, since my daughter was born.  I know I am SO ready for some time away, but I also know I will miss them both.  I’m just not good at being away from Claire.  Do you know any moms who seem to be so good at being away from their kids?  Who don’t ever seem to have a single worry when they are apart from their little ones, and can let loose and be themselves?  I envy those moms.  I don’t have that gene (yet).

Don’t get me wrong, I love nap time – it’s my favorite time of day – and I have a lot of interests and hobbies I try to indulge in when I have time to myself, but as for being able to be away for days on end, or even daycare situations, I haven’t gotten good at relinquishing her to the care of others.  I worry.  And I feel guilty.  And I count the hours until I can pick her up.  And I convince myself it’s good for her, even if she cries and I feel terrible.  Which, for the record, I know it is good for her, but I still feel terrible about leaving her in someone else’s care when she cries for me as I walk away.  Does that ever get easier??

I ran into a mom friend last week who has a daughter a month younger than Claire.  We were talking about the Mother’s Morning Out program that I’ve written about before, and she asked me if I had enrolled Claire in the pre-(pre?) school program for next school year.  I just looked at her blankly and said no, I had no idea what she was talking about.  It’s basically a preschool for two year-olds a few days per week.  I walked away from that conversation feeling kind of stupid for not knowing that Claire should be in preschool already, and confused as to why she should be in preschool already because she is only 20 months old!  For crying out loud.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was definitely not ready to put Claire in anything remotely resembling a “school.”  While the alone time would be nice, I can still use the Mother’s Morning Out program without having to enroll her in a school at two years old.  If I am going to stay home with my daughter while she is so little, I want her to be home with me for most of that time at least.  There is so much time ahead of her where she will have to be in school, probably even starting the following year, that I can’t bring myself to be ready for that stage yet.  She’s still my baby.

Motherhood is a constant inner struggle of feeling guilty for literally everything, wanting freedom and your old life back, and also wanting to keep your babies close to and dependent on you, forever.  I’m always tired and confused and wanting “me time,” and then when I have it, I miss my baby.  The old me would not recognize the new me, I am sure of that.  But I’m also cool with that, because despite the exhaustion and constant struggle, motherhood is simply the greatest gift.

So, in two weeks when my inner Big City Girl is basking in the one true Big City, I will remind myself of the gift that this free time is, and force myself not to feel too guilty.  Life has been a bitch lately, and I deserve some rooftop cocktails and shopping in Soho.  Hell, I may not ever come back.  🙂

 

Tuesday really is my least favorite day of the week.

Happy Tuesday!  I have had so much going on, I don’t even know where to start.  So I guess I’ll make this a catch-up post and maybe that will get all the things swirling around in my brain to stop, well, swirling.  I’ve heard exercise can really help with that, but seeing as how I’ve worked out EVERY DAMN DAY for the last nine days, I’m not sure it’s true.  Or maybe it would be so much worse if I hadn’t?!

Sometimes I don’t know how I have so much going on, when I don’t even have a job.  Maybe that’s why.  I know, I know… never say a stay at home mom doesn’t have a lot going on.  You’d think I would know that by now, being that I have a near 20-month old.  If I was bored to tears everyday, I’d have gotten a job by now.  But I digress.

Back to the marathon workout routine: my friend in Japan (Hi, Amber [she sneakily got ahold of my blog website even though I haven’t shared it with anyone, so I know she’s now reading this]) got me into following this fitness expert on Instagram, who is hosting a free 14-day challenge to follow her 20 minute workouts everyday for 14 days.  Then she will draw a winner and give them $1000 for completing the challenge.  Now, I’ve never won anything in my life, and I’m not about to starting believing I could win this one, but the challenge was FREE, which is my favorite thing in the world… Plus, I’ve been needing a different approach to working out, just to shake things up… Plus, it’s 20 minutes a day, which means I can workout, shower, and still lay around OR be productive during nap time.  Basically, it works perfectly with my schedule.  So Amber and I keep each other accountable everyday via Facebook messenger, and I’ve made it through day 9 so far!  If you want to look into it, go to http://www.loriharder.com.  She hosts these freebies every so often.

workout
What I think I look like while working out…..

I have combined this with focusing on what I’m eating the last two weeks.  My jeans were starting to feel a bit tight, and I went to the doctor two weeks ago and was a little surprised to see the number on the scale when they weighed me, so I decided I need to reign in my eating… Namely, my sweet tooth.  I can eat sugar like a champ, and I LOVE candy.  Always have, and I’m sure I always will.  So I have been eating pretty clean, and the only “sweet” things I’ve allowed myself are Kashi cookies, yogurt, and the occasional small handful of dark cacao chips.  I gave myself a break over the weekend because I firmly believe one can not deprive themselves of all the good things in life, so on Saturday I shared a bowl of popcorn with my husband while we watched a movie, and Sunday night I was too tired from experimenting with more macarons to then cook dinner, so we ordered pizza.  But on Monday I was back on track (although I did sample one of my new macarons, you know… for science).  Wednesday I will have to take a break from the clean eating because it is my husband’s birthday, and he has requested my grandma’s baked zitti for dinner…and chocolate cake.  There’s basically no hope for me tomorrow.

Claire is teething yet again, and the last few months have led me to believe that the “Terrible Two’s,” which I’ve been told can come at any time during the second year of life, not necessarily when they are actually two, are just a result of never ending teething.  Wouldn’t you be grumpy if you constantly had these huge mounds of pointy teeth poking their way through your flesh?  The poor dear seems to be grumpy every other day, constantly chewing on her fingers, and fussing for no discernible reason.  I’m trying my hardest to be patient but sometimes the fussing just makes you want to lock yourself in a padded room.  What’s worse is that we seem to have lost the amber necklace we have her wear when we have no more tricks up our sleeves.  I’m not entirely sure they work, but it’s my last resort, and now I don’t have a last resort.  So if you need me, I’ll be scaling the walls of my house by my fingernails.

And lastly, we are giving back our Volkswagen to the dealership today.  We bought our beloved Jetta wagon in 2015 when I was quite pregnant, thinking it would be a good family car…. Which it was, until the VW diesel emissions scandal broke and we learned we would have to give back our car eventually.  Well, today is that day, and I’m a little bummed about it.  Yes, they are going to give us a check for basically what we paid for it almost two years ago, and yes, we’ve already purchased a new vehicle, but it has been a stressful situation and we are a little bitter for having to go through this process.  It will feel good to finally give it back and move on, as it was just one other ball of stress from the last six months of moving and settling and hemorrhaging money.  So, goodbye, faithful car.  I hope wherever you end up (probably somewhere like Africa or Asia or India) is full adventure.

Well now that does feel a bit better.  Now say a little prayer that my sweetie takes a three hour nap.

Jumbled thoughts from a jumbled mom-brain. Sounds about right.

I need to wake up earlier in the mornings, to get my thoughts into writing more often.  I hate how I wake up, get in the shower and have all of these thoughts and ideas during the day (does that happen to you in the shower?  It’s like Owen Wilson says in “Midnight in Paris” – you get all those “positive ions flowing” in the shower.  For me, anyway), and then by the time I put Claire down for her one nap and sit down to write, my mind goes blank.  She exhausts my brain so much some days that I literally go sit in my bed, pull a blanket over me and I stare at the ceiling for a good twenty minutes before telling myself to get up and exercise.  Or clean.  Or eat.  You know how it goes.

I love my morning time to myself, and almost on a daily occurrence I tell myself that I should wake up earlier tomorrow, so I can sit and drink some coffee in bed, take a longer shower, and do more blog posts.  Usually I get up in just enough time to get a shower and put half my face on and sip some coffee for maybe 10 minutes before I hear the inevitable fussing on the monitor.  Time for the day to start!

idea bulb

Anyway.  That being said, I had a bunch of inspired ideas this morning and can maybe recall two of them?  So I thought I’d bullet point them today, to get them out of my brain.  I’m going to start carrying a notebook around with me wherever I go.  You know, for science.

  • I’m starting to meet some other SAHMs through Claire’s activities at the library and Kindermusik.  It’s really been nice.  This morning Claire was driving me nuts with asking for things, and saying things over and over (and over and over) again until I acknowledge what she says (if I don’t she starts to scream at me.  It’s just a phase, right?) that I was starting to get a little short with her, which always makes me feel like mom of the year.  So I finally stuff her into the car seat and get to music class, and she is her usual painfully shy self among all the other littles.  But I started talking to the other moms a lot more than normal today, and it felt so good to have some adult conversation!  So it made me think, maybe (probably) her little baby activities are as much for me as they area for her.  I found out about a few more weekly activities through these moms, and at least one of them includes me dropping her off for three hours while she plays and mommy gets some sanity time.  I’m scared Claire will freak out judging by how she acts at music class, but with time I think it would be good for her.
  • My dad is coming to visit us this weekend – in fact, my husband will be picking him up at the airport in about 2 hours, so I better finish cleaning.  He and Sean are going to build Claire a playset this weekend, and I just know she will love it.  I am not loving spending all the money on it (have you ever shopped around for one?  Insanity!), but we got some donations from the grandparents so hopefully that softens the blow a bit.  Which brings me to:
  • We have had a lot of expensive things happen to us ever since – and just before- the big move.  Crazy expensive car fixes, the cost of moving, buying a new oven in our new home because the one we got with the house decided to die, various home repairs, and a couple of repairs at our home that we own and lease out in Washington.  We have always been good savers so it hasn’t ruined us or anything but it is so hard to watch our money go to stuff like that.  I’m hoping our bad luck has almost run its course, but this year has taught me that Murphy’s Law is in full effect so I better be careful not to talk in absolutes.
  • For that reason, I am starting to look a lot more closely at our monthly expenditures.  I feel like we have a comfortable monthly budget, my husband makes good money, yet we always feel like money is tight.  So I started looking at what we spend money on every month, and I realized after just a quick analysis yesterday that I am spending a TON of money on groceries.  Groceries!  The last thing I thought money was being wasted on.  It’s true that I am always experimenting in the kitchen, and that our daughter is an eating machine, and that we rarely eat out anymore because we have been trying to reign in our spending, but even given all of that we are spending too much.  Maybe I should become one of those crazy couponers.  Thoughts?

coins-currency-investment-insurance-128867

  • How I wish I had time to post about the home/design projects I’ve been doing around the house.  Nothing major, but little touches can make such a big difference.  I have several (dozens) of photos in my phone and on my fancy camera that I am dying to post on here, but I never feel like I have the time to do it justice.  I need to have Sean keep Claire occupied for a few hours on the weekend so I can sit down and do it!
  • Lastly, we have started talking about trying for another baby.  We only want one more, and I’m starting to feel like we should start trying and then I don’t have to think about when to start trying anymore!  Sounds weird but I don’t want to wait forever- for the most part I feel like we should just have a second baby (God willing) and then our family is complete and we can move on from that phase of life.  I kind of feel like I’m in this in between limbo period of raising a family, and I literally think about it every day.  These days of just me and Claire have been and are so special, and I do cherish every single one of them.  But I feel like a year or so from now would be a good time to welcome another blessing (again: God willing), and that gives me another year or so alone with Claire.  That, and I’m surrounded by military wives who seem to be baby factories and I kinda think it’s rubbing off on me.  Help.  When do you know when the time is right??  I really don’t want to rush on this.

I better get back to cleaning before my dad arrives.  Pray for me – we haven’t always had the best relationship, but in the last year or two he has really tried to be a part of my life and so I have tried hard too.  It might be a little awkward at first.  I promise to report back.

À bientôt.

 

 

 

 

 

Doctor! Doctor!

Think about, for a moment, all of the things or people in your life that you rely on for services.  Do you have a regular person you go to for a haircut?  One who knows just how you like it cut?  Do you have a great doctor who knows your medical history?  How about maybe a chiropractor, who knows why your neck is literally bent the wrong way, and also knows just how to adjust you to relieve that chronic ache you get?

Back home, I had a gal who knew never to cut my hair too short, because if I asked for it short she knew I’d end up crying and feeling like I looked like a boy.  I had an OB who delivered my daughter, and who knew exactly how much damage that wreaked “down there” (she should, she stitched me up after all); she also knew the ins and outs of my pregnancy experience, and brought my daughter into this world (one day I’ll tell you her birth story, and why I think my doctor is literally an angel).  And yes, I had a chiropractor because of my bent neck and he knew just where to adjust me that gave me instant relief.  I also had a dental hygienist who knew why I have gum issues (its genetic) and who did an AMAZING job cleaning my teeth.  I trusted her endlessly.  Really, she was my bff because she basically saved my teeth.  That sounds like I don’t brush or floss my teeth, but I promise you I take better care of my teeth than anyone I know, even you!

dentist

I have been in Florida for almost four months (which I can NOT believe), and am just now starting to feel like I almost have all my ducks in a row.  I never gave much thought to how much a person relies on various services to keep them running healthfully… But I guess now that I’m 31 and actually need to see doctors every now and then, and have to pay extra attention to my teeth, etc., I am painfully (pun intended) aware of how hard it is to find people you can trust for all of these things when you are in a new city, all the way across the freakin’ country.  Here’s a little checklist of all the services I’ve had to locate since moving, just to give you an idea:

  • General practice doctor
  • Gynecologist
  • Chiropractor
  • Dentist
  • Hair stylist
  • Pediatrician
  • Pediatric dentist
  • Gym/yoga studio

Not to mention a great place for a pedicure, which I have yet to find.  Or an eye doctor if you’re most people (I still have great vision but I’m sure that’ll be an issue one day too).  Or the perfect coffee shop or favorite restaurant.  We have found a Chinese takeout place that is better than anything in our little town in Washington, so I guess that’s a plus.

Anyway, up until this week, when I finally got an appointment with a general practice doctor, I felt like I was flying blind, listless in the wind because I didn’t know who to see to clean my teeth, or where to go for a pap smear, and so on.  I have slowly been finding all of these services since we moved, but only recently found an OB/GYN whom I LOVE (without any recommendation, too!  Score.), a good dentist (though I’m not yet convinced they are as good as my previous one) and a doctor for Claire.  And because you probably never thought much about all of the doctors and services you need in your life, you probably have never considered what it feels like to not know who to go see if you’re sick, or have a tooth ache, if your baby is sick, etc.  I know I never did.

(I know, I know: first world problems.  I promise I am not complaining- I am very aware that my family is so very lucky to have these services available to us through insurance and Sean’s job.  I would never complain about having these options or even paying for them.  I believe it is everyone’s right to have these types of services but that is a different discussion altogether.  I’m just trying to express that it’s difficult to constantly change everything every three years, just when you start to feel good about your choices.)

I can tell you, it makes you anxious.  Unrooted.  Like you have no support system, and you don’t know where to go if an emergency occurs, God forbid.  And it’s hard to find all of these people and trust them at the same time.  You’re new in a city, you don’t know a lot of people, how do you know you can trust all these doctors?  It takes a lot of work finding ones who seem to actually listen to you.

Luckily, I knew one gal from our time living in Hawaii, who lives here now with her husband and baby.  She has been a life saver- she pointed me in the direction of my chiropractor, Claire’s pediatrician, and told me about a great yoga studio.  She also connected me to some other Navy wives who have told me of other good places to go for various things.  I discovered a great park only ten minutes from our house thanks to her, and Claire absolutely LOVES it there.

As much as I like to call myself the anti-military wife, I have sure relied on her for help adjusting to this place… Hey, just admitting that is progress for someone like me, who thinks they can do everything themselves (and tries to).  Have you tried finding a doctor based solely off of a list on your insurance company’s website?  How are you supposed to choose from a random list of names??

So I guess my advice to you, the military spouse moving somewhere new and far away, is to think of anyone you might know from your past who might live in your new duty station.  And if you can’t think of anyone, search Facebook for a military spouse’s group in your new city (I guarantee you there is one).  Maybe you do know someone based off of that group’s members… And if you don’t, post on that page and ask for any recommendation for anything you need: daycare, groceries, the best fro-yo in town, whatever.  Even someone like me, who is fiercely independent and likes the challenge of figuring everything out on my won, reads every post on my local mil spouse groups, and has asked for numerous recommendations for things.  It can also go a long way in making you feel less isolated and alone.  Seeing new people join the groups, and others moving away reminds you that it is a constant cycle and there are many many other wives out there feeling everything you are feeling.

You might even make new friends that way- this gal I’m speaking of was only really an acquaintance in Hawaii, but now we’ve gotten together for several play dates with our little ones, have done a girls’ night and have another one coming up next week.  Without her I’d still be so lonely!  One friend is better than none!

In all my lamenting and indulging in loneliness, I will say I am thankful for the way in which military spouses are so willing to help each other out.  The more I live this life, the more I realize how important it is to lean on each other when you can.  And that folks, is hard for me to admit, but there you have it.

Now that I have a doctor, I can check all those things off my list.  I even found a hair stylist a month ago who gave me one of the BEST haircuts I’ve ever had!  I am feeling much more at ease, knowing I know who to take my daughter to if she gets sick, knowing I have a trustworthy chiropractor to help with my chronic neck pain, and where to get my annual physicals at a fantastic OB clinic.

I’m not ready to admit to liking it here yet (I’d still move home at the drop of a hat), but finding all these services definitely has me feeling more settled.

Progress.

Ch-ch-ch-changes 🎵

claire-beach
My little southern transplant, taking a walk along the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s a weird Tuesday.  Yesterday was a holiday so my husband had the day off, and we got some things done around the house.  We finally cleared out and organized the spare bedroom (which we have been calling ‘The Room of Requirement,’ as everything we didn’t want to deal with since the move had been haphazardly piled on top of the bed), because my mother-in-law is arriving tomorrow night (joy).  My husband moved more crap from the garage to the handy dandy attic we didn’t know we had when we bought the place, so we are a little bit closer to parking both cars in the garage.  We bought a couple potted plants to decorate the back porch with, and Sean has started getting the hot tub in working condition so we might be able to enjoy it in the coming weeks.  Progress.

All these little things add up to helping us feel just a bit more settled.  Emphasis on just a bit.  Despite my insistence on being miserable still, I have had some chances to be social, including today when I met some other moms at the park.  Everyone seemed perfectly nice, but I haven’t met anyone here that I just connect with.  My friend Amber back in Washington was my best pal from the day we met at a work barbecue, and though she lives in Japan now and I live in the South, we message each other back and forth almost every day.  Friends like her are special and don’t come around super often, but I still hope to make one or two girlfriends I can just be regular old me around, without having to try too hard.

amber
My bestie, Amber (left).  How I miss her!

I posted this chain post on Facebook yesterday when I came across it on my Newsfeed, and I thought I’d post it here too, because it really hit home for me right now.  Though I am blessed that my husband won’t be going anywhere while we live here, we did just come from what is considered “arduous sea duty,” meaning he was gone all. the. time.  So many of the other statements ring true: we sold the couch we had since we were first married because there was no place for it in this new house, I haven’t hung a lot of curtains because they just don’t “go” where they went in our old house, I have purchased a home, sold a car, fixed a toilet, and mowed the lawn while having an infant; I left so many good friends and a stable social life, and I basically did not want to move here, but I bucked myself up somehow and followed my husband because I love him and it was the right thing for our family.  And so here we are.  So many military wives have it so much harder than I do, and I have the utmost respect for them.  But I have to recognize that my situation is hard too, and though we are blessed with enough money and creature comforts, it’s so hard to move every three years and constantly reinvent yourself.  This move has been the hardest yet, I think because we have a baby now and I really feel the desire to be settled and to establish a real life, and also because I am 31 and no longer feel like moving all the freakin’ time is some “great big adventure” like they tell you it is.  I said in an older post that I am very aware that this move coincides with a new chapter of my life, and part of that means I am starting to really understand what I want in my life, what makes me happy, and what I truly need in order to have that happiness.  And while I continue to try and adapt to my new surroundings, I’m trying to justify with my inner self where my family needs to go from here.  Deep thoughts, I tell ya.

But without further ado, here is the sentiment that hits close to home right now.

“Lots of moving. Moving…moving…moving…far from home. Moving a car, a baby and a dog. Moving sofas to basements because they won’t go in THIS house. Moving curtains that won’t fit. Moving jobs and certifications and professional development hours. Moving away from friends. Moving towards new friends. Moving her most important luggage: her trunk full of memories.
Often waiting. Waiting…waiting…waiting for housing. Waiting for orders. Waiting for deployments. Waiting for phone calls. Waiting for reunions. Waiting for the new curtains to arrive. Waiting for him to come home, for dinner…AGAIN!
They call her ‘Military Dependent’, but she knows better. She is fiercely in-dependent. She can balance a check book, handle the yard work, fix a noisy toilet, bury the family pet. She is intimately familiar with drywall anchors and toggle bolts. She can file the taxes, sell a house, buy a car, or set up a move. All with ONE Power of Attorney.
She welcomes neighbors that don’t welcome her. She reinvents her career with every PCS; locates a house in the desert, the Arctic, or the deep south. She learns to call them all ‘home’. She MAKES them all home.
Military wives are somewhat hasty. They leap into: decorating, leadership, volunteering, career alternatives, churches, and friendships. They don’t have 15 years to get to know people. Their roots are short but flexible. They plant annuals for themselves and perennials for those who come after them.
Military wives quickly learn to value each other. They connect over coffee, rely on the spouse network, accept offers of friendship and favors, and record addresses in pencil.
Military wives have a common bond: she has a husband unlike other husbands; his commitment is unique. He doesn’t have a ‘JOB’ he has a ‘MISSION’ that he can’t just decide to quit. He’s on-call for his country 24/7. But for her, he’s the most unreliable guy in town! His language is foreign: TDY PCS OPR SOS ACC BDU ACU BAR CIB TAD EPR. And so, a military wife is a translator for her family and his. She is the long-distance link to keep them informed; the glue that holds them together.
A military wife has her moments. She wants to wring his neck and refuse to move to Japan, but she pulls herself together. Give her a few days, a travel brochure, a long hot bath, a pledge to the flag, a wedding picture, and she goes. She packs. She moves. She follows.
Why? What for? How come? You may think it is because she has lost her mind. But actually it is because she has lost her heart. It was stolen from her by a man who puts duty first, who longs to deploy, who salutes the flag, and whose boots in the doorway remind her that as long as he is her military husband, she will remain his military wife. And would have it no other way.”