Sunday, December 23, 2012

Greetings from Kansas


The girls and I have spent the last few days out in western Kansas visiting Trent’s family for Christmas.  No worries my Mizzou friends, I fully represent the black and gold while I’m out here.  :)  Yes, I get many weird looks from people, but I feel like I have to do my part, so my wardrobe, while out here, almost always is Mizzou gear.  Here is a conversation had at the Topeka tollbooth between the money taker and myself.

           
Me:  (Drive up to the tollbooth in a Mizzou long-sleeved t-shirt, and I'm greeting by friendly older gentlemen.)

Money taker: Good evening ma’am, that will be $2.50... Out of $5.00.  That makes $2.50 your change back.

Me:  Thank you, have a good night.

Money taker:  I sure hope you find yourself a new t-shirt here in Kansas.  That one doesn’t seem to have the right colors in it. (insert wink)

Me:  Oh, (big smile) I think this shirt will do just fine sir. (insert return wink)  :)



The girls have been extremely spoiled over the past few days.  They have opened so many presents, played barbies and dollies for hours, had tea parties, rode four-wheelers, rode horses, enjoyed rides on the tractor, checked on the chickens, cows, and oxen, and just had a grand ol’ time.

Trent was able to call and talk to all of his family while we’ve been out here.  I’m so glad he was able to talk to them.  The other week I posted some pictures of the girls, and I said that I would post the others later.  Well…it’s later.  I had to wait until a few Christmas presents went out before I posted them on here.  I had the girls’ pictures taken with Trent’s yellow ribbons that I had made.  They were beautiful pictures that we will cherish forever.  Here are those pictures for you to enjoy now.








I hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's the little things...


Five Things I’ve Learned To Do Since Trent Left:
1.     How to change the air filter for the house.
2.     How to explain things to a car mechanic (though my explanations are probably quite comical.)
3.     How to feed the dog on a somewhat regular basis (I’m getting much better at this one.)
4.     How to take out the trash every Wednesday (with the help of the alarm that I have set on my phone.)
5.     How to pick up my own glass off of my nightstand (It may take five glasses before I do it, but I will eventually get it done.)

Five Things I Need To Learn To Do:
1.     How to light the pilot light in the fireplace.
2.     How to change the light bulb in the globe light fixtures (we may be living in the dark by the time he returns.)
3.     How to make it through the grocery store with both girls and not get shopping cart road rage.
4.     How to slow down and enjoy my days.
5.     How to ask for help before I’m emotionally overwhelmed.


 Miles Away
      Trent is getting into the swing of things at his new "home" away from home in Afghanistan.  Any and all prayers are very much welcome right now for him.  He seems to be extremely stressed and has a heavy heart when I talk to him.  My prayers are for peace to come to his heart and his worries would be washed away.  I pray that the people of Afghanistan will embrace the help that our soldiers are giving them and that they will treat them with kindness and respect.  I pray for the safety of Trent and all of the soldiers serving overseas.  

 
 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Four Days and Farewells


The four day pass came and went way to fast, and absolutely none of it went according to my plans.  Regardless, it was still a great four days.  If Trent was going to come home and be with us for a couple of days, might as well make it the real thing.  :)  So it went down, something like this.

Tuesday morning, prior to picking Trent up at the airport, I took Joanna to the doctor because she was running a fever for the second day.  What did she have?? None other than Influenza B.  It’s a good thing the Army gives a shot for every possible thing, and Trent didn’t get it.  Never have any of us ever gotten the flu, so getting the flu shot is not something we have ever done.  So, that morning, both girls got the flu shot, and the entire doctor’s office and surrounding city heard it.  Then we headed to the airport to spread our germs and pick up Daddy!

The fun didn’t stop there, at 7:00 that night, I started turning into a pirate!  Or, at least that is what the girls kept calling me.  So, apparently you have a gland in your eyelid.  Somehow I got an infection in mine and it kept swelling, and swelling, and swelling.  Thankfully, I got right into the eye doctor Wednesday morning and things started looking up and less like a pirate with some antibiotic.

We spent the rest of the day Wednesday at Crown Center.  We sent to Sea Life, Kaleidoscope, and Fritz’s.  We had a blast!  On Thursday, Trent and I went Christmas shopping together for the girls, and spent the evening with the girls.  Then, all of a sudden, it was Friday, and it was time to say our goodbyes.  It was very difficult actually leaving the airport.  Trent didn’t want to say goodbye to the girls at the airport, so it was just me.  When he went to get on the plane, I literally had to give myself step-by-step directions on what to do next.  Head up. Walk out the gate. Find the door. Walk across the crosswalk.  Find the car. Stop crying enough to see.  Drive home.  I did it, it wasn’t fun or easy, but I did it.

Since Trent left, the girls and I have spent the majority of our time recuperating.  We have all been sick.  Joanna is over the flu, and is still working on getting all better with her breathing, but that’s something she always has to work with.  I ended up with sinusitis and laryngitis, plus the eye thing, but I’m doing so much better now.  Abigail just started having an earache yesterday.  According to her, she has a snake in her ear and that is exactly what she told the doctor.  Even though he assured her there is not a snake in her ear, apparently he doesn’t know what he is talking about, because she stands firmly behind her thoughts that it is most definitely still in there.  :)

Trent is officially overseas now.  Please know that I cannot actually give you his exact location on this blog, since it is a public blog.  I’ve talked to him twice since he has been overseas.  He isn’t to his final location yet, but will be in a few days.  He is doing well.  I hope to hear from him again tomorrow. 

Thank you everyone for your continued prayers for our family and the soldiers of the 603rd. We are so very thankful for each of you. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

With a Thankful Heart


The girls and I have been very busy the past few weeks.  Thanksgiving was very low key as I wasn’t sure how I would be.  Sometimes things that I think are going to be hard, I can breeze right through.  While other times, things I don’t think will be a problem, it is all that I can do to not flood the earth again with my tears.  Thanksgiving though, I did really well.  The girls and I just had dinner with my mom and dad, and then I watched Breaking Dawn 2 with my fabulous friend Erica.  Yes, I love the vampires and werewolves.  (Don’t judge!)  The day after Thanksgiving, I took the girls to get their pictures taken.  They took beautiful pictures.  As of now though, I will only post a few on here.  The others are a surprise, and I will have to wait a bit before I post them.  They will be up soon enough though.  Here are a few of the regular pictures they took. 





 
 

The rest of my break has been devoted to a huge project for one of my graduate classes.  I will not be doing any homework this week even though I do have some due in the other class.  Why, you ask?! Well, I get to see my husband this week!!  I have off work, the sub plans are made, and 4 days worth of stuff is all planned out.  Homework is not a priority this week, and my professors will just have to understand. 

I have very strange emotions rolling through me again.  I’m so excited to see Trent, but I also have this heaviness on my heart knowing that this is it for a while.  I remember from the last time Trent was deployed, and he had his pass right before going overseas.  The anticipation of the “time is up” moment hovers over you the entire time.  It’s like those moments on TV when there is a countdown on a device and all you want is for someone to deactivate it, to freeze time for a while.  But, this isn’t a movie, this is a real life thing.  We’ll take it a moment at a time, and try to enjoy every second of it. 

Moving onto the next subject, thankfulness.  It seems as though everyone on Facebook is doing this thing where they write down daily something they are thankful for.  I’ve never done this before, but I thought that it would do my heart good this week to list a few.  The end of this week will be very difficult, when Trent leaves after his pass, and I know the down poor of emotions is headed my way again.  As mentioned in a previous post, I need to give thanks at all times, not just in the good.  So, here is a short list:

·         I’m thankful for a loving family who sticks it out with all my craziness.

·         I’m thankful for friends, no matter how close or far away they are, my true friends are always there for me.

·         I’m thankful for my job, coworkers, and bosses who have been nothing but supportive and make going to work enjoyable.

·         I’m thankful for my little girls.  Their laughter can brighten the whole world.

·         I’m thankful for my husband, who leads my daughters and me to a stronger relationship with our Savior.  He has the heart of a servant of God, and it is one that I aspire to have as well.

·         And most of all, I am thankful for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  There is no other, and His power is beautiful and mighty.

A few weeks ago, Pastor Rusty mentioned a difference between those who have the love of Christ in their hearts and those that haven’t found the love of Christ yet.  We all still have the hard stuff in life (cancer, loss of loved ones, deployments, unemployment, divorce, heartache, etc.) regardless of if we are saved or not.  The difference is, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are never ever alone during those hard times.  I have thought of that often the past few weeks and how very thankful I am that my heart belongs to Jesus, how He is always with me, and how He will do all that He can to help me through this.  But, as Pastor Rusty said today, when those terrible times do come along, we can’t just sprinkle a little bit of Jesus in there and think it’s going to make it all better.  We have to give everything we have to Him.  He will fight for our hearts, but we have to give it all to Him.  So, I guess what I’m saying is this….I am so very blessed to have my Savior, and it is what I am most thankful for.  This next year will be an uphill battle, but we’ll get through it just fine with the help of Him.  But, we are not the only family out there going through this.  Pray for the other families preparing for this long journey.  Pray for their hearts and their healing.  Pray that they will find strength in our Lord.  He loves us, all of us!  He wants all of our hearts! Be thankful for that.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Random Thoughts


Daily Life = Balancing Act
Shower, get ready, eat breakfast, let dog out, get two little girls ready, let dog in, go to preschool, go to work, teach 23 fifth graders, do lesson plans, grade papers, go to meetings, go to preschool, fix or get supper, let dog out, eat supper, let dog in, feed dog and fish(if I remember), bath time, story time, bedtime, laundry, make lunches, work on grad homework, go to bed, sleep, shower, get ready, eat breakfast…..

So that’s pretty much how it goes on a “normal” day.  That’s not including all the randomness that pops up on a regular basis.  So at the beginning part of this mobilization I was struggling with keeping up with all this.  Now, I’m not sure how it happened, but I seemed to have found my balance.  I don’t feel like pulling my hair out at the end of the day, or wonder if I have any hair left after pulling it out throughout the day.  :-)  Yes, life is still nuts!  I guess I’ve just gotten into the swing of all the craziness.

Acts of Kindness
It absolutely amazes me how some people continue to always be there for me.  My parents are amazing!  They have got to be getting tired of helping me, I mean it has been 29 years, and for some people 1 day of me is too much.  ;-) I honestly don’t know how they do it, but all it takes is one phone call and they can solve the world’s problems.  I will be forever grateful for their love and kindness. 

I also have some very close friends who have dropped what they are doing, because I need to go somewhere without my two little shadows, and they are there in a heartbeat.  And there are those who take their one day off work to stay home with Joanna when she isn’t feeling 100%, so I don’t have to take one of my slim number of sick days left.  Or, they know just when I need that special pick-me-up phone call (Erica, I will never know how you always know when to call, but you do.)

I am so undeserving of all of this kindness and love, but I am so thankful for each of you!

Little Ones
As mentioned earlier, Joanna is on her first of the season breathing issues.  We are moving right on through it though.  The sudden burst of cold weather was not ideal for her airways.  A slow transition is a little easier on her, but the steroids, breathing treatments, and meds are doing their job. 

Abigail, is learning some hard lessons these days.  As her preschool put it so nicely, “she seems to have lost her listening ears.” (This was actually on her daily sheet last week.) Right now her two favorite toys are on top of the refrigerator, because she received two time-outs at school today. According to her teacher her hardest time of the day to listen is at “circle time.”  I asked Abigail why she wasn’t listening and she replied with, “Cause she’s always talkin’ when I want to talks!”  It’s hard not to smile when she says stuff like this.  She will get her toys back for every day she doesn’t get a time out.  If she gets more time-outs at school, then she’ll have to relinquish more of her toys.  So…either she’ll learn her lesson and get her toys back, or I’ll need to get a bigger refrigerator.  On a positive note though, it’s been a long time coming and she has regressed multiple times with all the changes in her little world, but Abigail is 100% potty trained!!!!  High-fives all around!!   

The Husband
Training is coming to an end in the next couple of weeks.  They have a few more field exercises to do, and then that’s about it. He’s doing well, and we are both looking forward to his 4 days home (though it is actually a ½ day, then 2 days, and then another ½ day) but let’s look at the glass half full and round up to 4!  Oh yes, and they changed the rules and he gets to come here now, instead of us going to El Paso!  (That helped out the pocket book a ton!!)

I love how close we get when we are apart from each other.  Don’t get me wrong, I miss him so much that my heart literally aches, but we learn things about each other that I don’t think we would have ever known without going through these times apart.  You just appreciate each other so much more, and all the things that you love about each other is just magnified.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Make Me New


So, yes, I lied.  I didn’t post the next day, like I said I would last week.  I’m really glad my pants didn’t catch on fire for lying.  :)  

Trent is still training away.  Not too much time left down there either.  We get to see him in a month for four days, and that is really just right around the corner.  It will be a difficult four days, anticipating him leaving again, but it's four days together, and we'll take it.  Then, it's a completely different ball game after that.  But, we'll just take it a day at a time. 


So the title, what does it mean??  It wasn’t my best week or weekend, nor Trent’s.  It seemed like we were both a little down this weekend, we both had worrisome hearts, and topped with crazy schedules to boot, it wasn’t a great combo.  Then Sunday rolled around, and the girls and I went to church.  There’s just something about church lately!!  I cannot go without some sort of emotion rolling through me like a freight train.  This week, that emotion was grace.


Our wonderful worship team sang beautiful songs that just soothed my soul.  I wasn’t really singing, just taking it in.  Then, this song started being sung. (Love this song!)



It hit me hard what exactly God was up to.  This is what God does when things seem out of control... He breaks it down, breaks down all the walls, so He can put us back together, piece-by-piece, whole again with all of Him.  He makes us new!  I love His grace as He makes me new.  How grateful I am to be the daughter of the Highest King who would love me enough to help me through this process; to take this time of weary hearts and change it into something beautiful.  I only know of one who can do that, do you know Him?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Life Lessons from a Five-Year-Old


I promise to post again tomorrow about how things are going, but tonight I’m going to blog about something else.

Today my little girl, Joanna Lynn, turned five.  I posted on Facebook that I didn’t know what happened to the time?!  There is no way she could be five already!  She has turned into this amazing little girl who surprises me daily with things that she says and does.  Not to brag or anything, but she truly is incredible!

On Thursday, I picked the girls up from school and I found out that Joanna was going to be Student of the Week the week of the 29th.  There is this big packet that Joanna and I have to do together and then I also had to pick 6-10 pictures of Joanna and her family from baby years until now.  So, Thursday night I got on my iPhoto and started looking through all of Joanna’s past pictures.  I am in absolute awe of how much my little girl has gone through in the past five years.  In five short years, she has taught me so much, and here are just a few of those lessons. 

 
The day Joanna was born, I learned what it meant to truly love someone the moment I met them.  She left me after my first 15 minutes of seeing her, and I learned that I had to let go and let God take complete control.
 


In the next few weeks of Joanna being in the NICU, I learned just how strong this little girl was and how much of a fighter she was and would continue to be.  She was so beautiful and calm.  The nurses fell in love with her and always told us how quiet and easygoing she was for a baby.  (Just like her father.) 







Right after Joanna's intestinal surgery, Trent and I found out about Joanna’s heart condition.  Then just about 10 days later, Joanna and I had to say goodbye to Daddy as he went back to Iraq.  Again, I learned about the power of prayer, as I wondered how on earth I was going to do this by myself. 



Joanna started seeing her cardiologist and went through so much testing over the next 9 months.  We fought for every ounce that she gained, as her heart was burning more calories than we could get into her, praying that she would be strong enough to have her surgery.  At 9 months old, she was finally strong enough to have her open-heart surgery.  Probably one of the scariest moments of my life, watching her be carried away.  But did my little girl cry, nope!  She just held onto her stuffed puppy, sucked on her pacifier in her cute little strawberry jammies, and went willingly with the nurse.  But she showed her mama’s feisty side later that night, after surgery, in the PICU.  She was pulling out tubes and ventilators like crazy!  Then later on during her hospital stay, she pulled out her IV!  She is her mama’s child.  :)  Nobody messes with a Rhea girl!  She was ready to go home in just 5 days.  Amazing how she always bounces back so quickly.


She was now finally able to live and play and not worry about getting sick.  With her heart fixed, she could play with other kids, go to regular daycare, and just be Joanna.  And boy has she lived!



She has taught me to soak up the sunshine!



To clap our hands and rejoice in the beautiful days our God has made for us!



To let the wind blow through our hair.



To stop and kick our feet up every once in a while.



To smile and love our family as much as we can.





And to simply enjoy life!  Thanks to my, now big girl, Joanna for teaching me so very much.  Happy Birthday, sweet girl!



Saturday, October 6, 2012

Catching Up (Take 2)

Last week left me really behind in all accounts, therefore, making this week catch up time.  Laundry, dishes, graduate homework, grading, bills, lesson plans, soap opera, etc. are all caught up now.  I’m not sure how I made it through the week without watching Days of our Lives, but I’m all up to speed now.  :) 

The girls and I spent some time having fun this week.  After the hard week last week, and the first two days of this week weren’t the best either, we headed out for a night at the Pumpkin Patch.  It was a ton of fun and a beautiful night!  We were all filthy after a couple of hours out there, but the girls smiled the whole time.  A little dirt never hurt anyone, just ask Abby, because that dirt just seemed to be glued to her.  Here are some pictures of our evening out.














Trent is doing well.  We have been skyping daily with him, which is sucking up his data on his mobile internet device.  That’s going to be an expensive bill these next two months, but it is completely worth it.  Seeing his face and talking to him makes the girls’ days and nights so much better and mine too. 

This week, Trent has been in classes and they go and qualify with their weapons tomorrow.  He sent me some pics of him helping out his squad with ‘dime drills.’  Apparently, this is when you balance a dime on the barrel and practice pulling the trigger to see if you are pulling to the left or right.  You want to pull it straight back and be smooth to avoid moving your sight picture when you are shooting.  If you can do it without the dime falling off then you are doing good.  Interesting…




They also received their new uniforms this week, which he sent me pictures of (the boots don’t look so comfortable to me.) 






Another week down is one week closer to having him home again.  We’re that much closer.

Catching Up


Last week left me really behind in all accounts, therefore, making this week catch up time.  Laundry, dishes, graduate homework, grading, bills, lesson plans, soap opera, etc. are all caught up now.  I’m not sure how I made it through the week without watching Days of our Lives, but I’m all up to speed now.  :) 

The girls and I spent some time having fun this week.  After the hard week last week, and the first two days of this week weren’t the best either, we headed out for a night at the Pumpkin Patch.  It was a ton of fun and a beautiful night!  We were all filthy after a couple of hours out there, but the girls smiled the whole time.  A little dirt never hurt anyone, just ask Abby, because that dirt just seemed to be glued to her.  Here are some pictures of our evening out.














Trent is doing well.  We have been skyping daily with him, which is sucking up his data on his mobile internet device.  That’s going to be an expensive bill these next two months, but it is completely worth it.  Seeing his face and talking to him makes the girls’ days and nights so much better and mine too. 

This week, Trent has been in classes and they go and qualify with their weapons tomorrow.  He sent me some pics of him helping out his squad with ‘dime drills.’  Apparently, this is when you balance a dime on the barrel and practice pulling the trigger to see if you are pulling to the left or right.  You want to pull it straight back and be smooth to avoid moving your sight picture when you are shooting.  If you can do it without the dime falling off then you are doing good.  Interesting…




They also received their new uniforms this week, which he sent me pictures of (the boots don’t look so comfortable to me.) 






Another week down is one week closer to having him home again.  We’re that much closer.