Where’d the Girl I Use to Be Go?

Once upon a time, I was a young, well-rounded girl.  I was confident.  I wasn’t the most beautiful or the skinniest girl in the world, but I was comfortable in my own skin and I was confident in myself.  I was confident in my dreams, in my life choices, in my goals and aspirations.  I knew I was on the right path and I had plans and dreams.

When I was 19, I started attending a university and I began a mini-career in retail while I attended the university inside a children’s speciality toy store.  I worked full time hours, I had an apartment with roommates, and I attended school full time.  I spent many, many day just sitting at Starbucks pondering the world and video games and books.

I still have those books and video games sitting on a bookshelf in my house.  They sit alongside my parenting books and behind photos of my children.

I had this insane plan.  My major was in English, but my concentration (cause English majors are one of the fields that is so large, we have to narrow down what we want to focus our degree on) was in cultural studies.  I loved every single class I took.  Ok, not every class, but almost every class I took that applied to my concentration.  After I graduated, I planned to join the PeaceCorps so I could experience these cultures that fascinated me.  I would be able to improve my spanish I had been drilling in classes for the last 5 years.  I would be able to live a full life and have stories to tell and share.

Then one day, I met my now husband.  And all these plans kind of came crashing down.

You see, you can’t join the PeaceCorps if you have a relationship back home.  They don’t want you to have attachments and reasons to bail on your commitment to them.  But when I met my husband, I just knew.  It was instant.  I fell hard and fast for him and him for me.  I’ve been riding a whirlwind of a different train since that day we crossed paths.

Within a year of being together, he joined the Navy.  A year later, we were engaged.  Then we discovered I was pregnant, so we bumped up the wedding and were married 2 years and 3 months after our first date.  My husband was sent to live in California to be with his ship.  His Mom passed away 2 months after we were married.  We moved me to California 2 months after that.  I gave birth 4 months after that.  My husband deployed 1 month after the birth of our daughter.

By the time I gave birth to my daughter, it was 2009.  Two years after I graduated college.  I would have been finishing up my PeaceCorps contract.  But so much life happened in that time that I couldn’t have planned for, I can’t imagine a what if scenario.

I’m not saying I’m ungrateful for my husband or my children.  They all make my world go round and make my life so much fuller than I could ever imagine.

But the point of all this is, where did I go?  I basically have been holding tightly to this ride for the last 8 years since I met my husband.  I’ve come to the point in my marriage and in my motherhood, that life is slowing down and opening a whole for me to rediscover who I am now.  Where do I go from here?

I’m not the same girl I was in college.  Those dreams still have some hold on me, but I need to reshape them.  I want to write, I want to be a librarian, I want to teach, I want to give back to the world.  I want to be more than just a mother and a wife.  I want to make an impact.  I want to live for something.  I want to be heard.

I just need to figure out how to pull my head out of the clouds and solidify this “wants” I have into a career.  Into something more than just a dream.  I read a quote today that said something to the extent of if you want to change your life, look at your daily routine, the change you need to make is there.

I have some real soul searching to do and for the first time in my life, I need to take life and direct it instead of just holding on and praying I’m not thrown off this wild ride too soon.

Pumpkin Patch

One of our first Fall Bucket lists every year is the Pumpkin Patch!

Living in San Diego the last 3 years, I was super excited to live somewhere that has fall weather and green farms :).

We found a local farm hosting a special even for military members the last week of September.  They gave the military member a free pass into the corn maze and the dependents were 50% off.  So we went to make use of this offer and check out my first corn maze ever.  We didn’t have any in our town growing up, so I was pretty excited!

We bought some snacks and drinks and then headed into the maze.  My husband and I were pretty laid back at first and didn’t really take a chance to look at the map.  There were 8 check points inside the maze you were suppose to find and use the hole punch at each check point on your card.

taking a photo before entering the maze

After we got inside the maze, some where between super lost and just kind of lost, my husband and I became competitive.  So we were determined to finish the maze.  DETERMINED.

along for the ride

she thought all the corn was “so cool Mommy!”

We did finish the maze.  It was a bit hectic, I was sweating by the end after trekking through all of the maze.  We had to back track a few times after getting a bit lost on our way to the next posts.  We had fun though and I really enjoyed it.

After the corn maze was over, we let Cecilia go through the hay maze they have set up for the kids.  She had fun, but got lost and had to have Daddy come to the rescue :).

running through the hay maze with Daddy’s hat on

I’m glad we got the chance to take them this year.  I wanted to make a second trip, but the timing just never worked out.  Timing it out with all the colds we’ve seem to have caught this month cycling through the 4 of us, and getting out of the house in time to get there before nap times would be ticking away at us [the farm is about 30 minutes away from us].  But I loved it, the kids had a blast, it’s one of my favorite fall activities :).

my son and I after surviving the corn maze!

The funniest part?  It was a Sunday and my husband wanted to wear his jersey [patriots] to the pumpkin patch, but I asked him not to cause I didn’t want it to get ruined!  We show up and guess what we see?  Another guy wearing a Tom Brady jersey.  SERIOUSLY!?  It had to be the exact same jersey my husband would have worn.  Sheesh.  Wife fail at that moment :).

my husband and I lost in the maze

Cecilia playing with the trikes they had set out for the kids

my little farmer ❤

Autism Spectrum

There I said it.

I said the two words I have hated hearing since approximately a month ago when I first heard them uttered from our pediatrician’s mouth.

There are many things parent’s never want to hear when at their child’s check up.  Anything outside of “he/she is doing fine and right on track” pretty much fits the bill of never wanting to hear it.  Some things are more easily accepted than others [“Johnny has a small speech delay, but will catch up soon”, “Sarah isn’t walking yet, but it’s ok cause some kids take a bit longer”] — so you worry about those things, but rest assured that things should smooth out sooner than later.

We went in for my son’s routine check up last month.  It was for his 15 month check up, two months late, but still his 15 month check up nonetheless.  Prior to this appointment I had already spent many appointments in the doctor’s office clearing up my son’s eczema and finding out his allergies [he has a peanut, tree nut, and egg allergy for those curious].  So by the time his 15 month check up time rolled around, I think I had seen enough doctor’s that I put it off for a bit.  By the time I called to schedule, I had to schedule 3 weeks out and there you have it.

The appointment itself was horrible.  Apparently sometime in those two months without seeing a doctor my son had decided the doctor’s office was the WORST PLACE in the planet.  He screamed the second the doors shut behind us until the second we walked back out those doors.  I am not exaggerating in the slightest.  He didn’t want them touching him, measuring him, weighing him, comforting him, or anything with him.  He wanted to leave.  Now.  But unfortunately, we still had a visit to deal with.  So we waited. The doctor waited outside to see if he would calm down with just me in the room and he never did.  Not once.  Nothing helped him calm down.  Nothing.

That was apparently red flag #1.

Red flag #2 came with the admission of his speech.  He has a list of words.  A few words, mostly half syllables that are the word to him, but they work.  He says them when presented with an item (“sha” for shoe for instance).  He does not use these words to communicate what he wants to us however.  They are just words he kind of knows.  Nor does he use them all the time.  The most consistent would be “sha”.  But the other words are give and take the day if he chooses to use them.  I go most days with only hearing “sha” and “nom nom” (when he sees food is present) and that’s it [mixed in with plenty of screaming and crying].

No, my almost 18 month old son does not call me Mama.  Nor does he call his Dada.  I’ve heard him say Mama a few times — but I’m still not 100% sure he was calling me.  I’ve heard him say “Dada”, but I know for a fact it was not talking about Daddy, but me trying to get him to use the syllables.

And there in lies red flag #2.  He has words and sounds, but he cannot use them to communicate his wants and his needs.

Those were enough to get us a special appointment with the behavioralist this past week.  So she could see exactly what was going on with him.

This appointment went a bit smoother.  He still did not want to be touched/weighed/measured, however, he did calm down in my lap a little bit while we waited for the doctor.  She appeared and took us back to her room [a nice room full of lots of toys!  fantastic right?].  Most kids would have jumped off Mommy’s lap to see all the toys.  My oldest would have left me in the dust for those toys.  My baby boy wanted nothing to do except sit in my lap.  She eventually got him warmed up enough to take one toy from her and to sit in my lap with it.  He would not leave my lap for 3/4 of the appointment.  It wasn’t till the very end of the appointment did he venture over to the other toys and bring them back to my lap.

His gross motor skills are advanced.  This we’ve known for awhile.  He can do lots of things most kids his age can’t [he eats perfectly fine with a spoon and a fork — almost better than my 3 year old does some days].  So this was not a worry.  The tasks she put in front of him for this skill he passed and enjoyed.  He did well with these things.

The red flag here was the lack of eye contact.  My son will make eye contact with you on a normal basis.  But he does not make eye contact when he is playing with you.  He doesn’t really play with you either.  Red flag #4 — he does not come to Mommy or Daddy or anyone to play with him.  He does not come to us for help either.  For example, he has a box of crayons that won’t open, he will sit and cry/scream rather than seek me to help him open it.

Red flag #5 — this comes from at home, but he’s a head banger.  As in, he will cry/scream, stop for a second, but his hands on the wall and bang his head, then go back to crying/screaming.

Red flag #6 is the only one I give some discredit to.  At the appointment, he hoarded things in my lap.  I think part of this was him hoarding out of knowing Mommy’s lap was safe, but I’m not 100% sure on that either.  But it’s something to keep an eye on it, just like the rest of these flags.

What does all this mean?

Honestly, nothing at the moment.  He’s [almost] 18 months.  All of these things could just be delays.  They could be things he can grow out of, they are also normal for his age to some degree.  The speech delay is normal — lots of kids have it.  Hoarding toys is normal for this age.  Banging their head is quasi normal and lots of kids outgrow it by 2.

Where is our biggest concern?  The communication barrier.  The fact that he doesn’t seek us for help.  He does come to me all day for love, hugs, etc.  He gives me lots of hugs all day.  Lots of smiles all day. If I’m sitting on the floor, he will come and sit in my lap in a heartbeat.  But he will not come get me to show me the cool toy in his hand, he will not stack a tower of blocks and look back to see my reaction, he doesn’t have imaginative play with stuffed animals, etc.  These are our concerns.  He can outgrow it all apparently and it could all just be a temporary delay.

But that doesn’t stop the worry.  That doesn’t stop all the pamphlets I now have.  The future appointments I have scheduled to check up on him.

It also doesn’t erase the gut feeling I’ve had for awhile that something was wrong.  I don’t know if my son has autism, is on the autism spectrum, or has any other kind of developmental disorder.  I do know I have known for awhile that his behavior was exhausting and frustrating on me.  That I felt like I couldn’t get through to him to understand me.

I know it’s not normal that he cries and there’s absolutely nothing that will console him at any given time during the day.  I know it’s not normal for him to prefer playing by himself at his age.

I do know that when the doctor told me the possibility of him having an issue, it was like a weight lifted off my shoulders.  It was heartbreaking news, but at the same time it was like somebody said the thing I couldn’t say.  I pray he outgrows this and we can work through this and at the same time I pray for strength that I can handle things if he doesn’t.

We have another evaluation to get another set of eyes on him next month.  Based on that evaluation will show us our next steps.

I have no idea where this journey will take us.  I do know I have an amazing son who I love with all my heart.  Who is the sweetest, most loving child.  That no matter what they say, what label they stick on him, all of that won’t change about him.  Whether he’s normal or not, he will still be the same kid.  He will still be my baby boy.

my handsome boy — taken a couple days ago

Fall Bucket List

I love fall.

It’s my absolute favorite season.  Most of my favorite memories are during the fall months.  After living in San Diego the past 3 years, I was ecstatic to get to enjoy fall weather up here in Washington.  I’m having flashbacks of my college years.  Of grabbing a cup of coffee from the coffee hut and making my way to my favorite area of campus to curl up and study or read.  Of getting out of class in the afternoon and taking the country back roads home to enjoy the fall weather.  Of curling up and watching movies with my boyfriend [now husband] on dates.

I just love this time of year.  So having a little family makes it easy for me to want to bring all my love of the season to them.  It’s the one time of year my husband and I can agree on [he’s a Halloween fanatic] and we both go a little crazy.

So let me share our bucket list this year!  I got the idea from Marie over at http://picklebeanbooks.blogspot.com/, here’s a link to her fall bucket list post 🙂

So here’s our family’s bucket list for this fall!  We’ve already cross a few items off, but I still need to write posts about those.  I will get on that soon hopefully!

  • Pumpkin Patch see blog post! Pumpkin Patch
  • Carving Pumpkins
  • Hot Apple Cider
  • Leaf Projects with the kids
  • Fall treasure hunts outside
  • Spooky corn maze
  • Make homemade pumpkin bread
  • Pull out the fall clothes
  • Some fun fall crafts
  • trick or treating with the kids
  • dressing up halloween night to hand out candy
  • fall drive through the backroads out here to enjoy the changing leaves
  • pumpkin pie 😀

I’m so excited to enjoy this season with my little family.

Image

beautiful fall tree in our town

We Weren’t Crazy

we headed out to California
everybody tried to warn us
said we wouldn’t make it any further
than that worn out Chevy would

we broke down a time or two
thought “maybe we didn’t think it through”
we were all we had to turn to
when it wasn’t looking good

we’re looking back laughing
cause they called us crazy

just a couple kids a couple years ago
now we gotta a couple kids of our own
we turned out right, proved them wrong
look at us going strong

we were young, we were wild, we were restless
had to go, had to fly, had to get away
took a chance on that feeling
we were loving blind, borderline reckless
we were living for the minute we were spinning in
maybe we were a lot of things
but we weren’t crazy

could’ve set it down when things got tough
could’ve walked away from this love
but that’d be crazy…

[[song by Josh Gracin]]

I’m feeling sentimental tonight.  Forgive me for reflecting, but here’s some photos for your time 🙂

first year of dating 2006

early morning kisses 2007

spending time together 2007

boot camp graduation 2008

Mr. & Mrs. 2008

first homecoming 2009

Christmas 2010

pre-deployment 2011

Miramar Air Show 2011

Christmas 2011

life in Washington 2012

4 year wedding anniversary 2012

now 🙂

it’s been a long journey, but I wouldn’t want to have gone down this road with anyone else.  every day is an effort to make this marriage, this life, work.  but it’s worth every ounce of that effort.  I couldn’t imagine my world without him in it.  he makes me unbelievably happy.  I still get the same butterflies in my stomach when I see him after being apart for a little bit or longer.  he still makes me knees weak, I still see fireworks when we kiss.  I feel like we’ve lived a lifetime together already.  we’ve dealt with more in our 6 years together than some deal with in double that time.  I’m proud of how far we’ve come. we weren’t crazy no matter what everyone else thought back when we were so young.  back when our lives revolved around a LEGO store.  I know most of my friends thought I was insane for dating a high school boy while in college, but I just knew.  I knew then and I still know now.  he’s my lobster :).

Life After the Navy

So recently, obviously, we talk a LOT about life after the Navy.

For those that don’t know, Rich is due to get out of the Navy in January 2014.  He was not allowed to reenlist because of the little rule that says you have to have two good evaluations [back to back, not overall in your career] to be able to reenlist.  My husband had the misfortune of letting the last deployment get to his head and he punched a guy in the jaw.  I don’t hold it against him, they had been stuck on the boat for almost 2 months at that point with no port call and this guy had been bugging him since day 1 and we were on 7 months and still going at that point.  The guy pissed him off and he punched him.  They both went to Captain’s Mast [or Mass?  no one can ever give me a clear answer on that] and he got put on restriction.  It’s why we missed out on homecoming last year.  Don’t even get me started on my slightly unresolved emotions about not only not having my husband at the birth of our son because of the deployment, but then also being denied the “New Mom” moment on the pier.

Moving on…

So then the following evaluation of course was not a “good” eval.  It wasn’t super bad, but they had to take that CM into consideration.  That only leaves room for one more evaluation before his contract is up.  So based on that rule, he can’t reenlist.  Period.  There is not enough time for him to get another eval in.  Lame sauce.

My husband is upset.  He was a lifer at heart.  Wanted to do at least the full 20, but I wouldn’t have pushed it past him to be a man that reached for the 30 year retirement.  He goes back and forth at what to do come 01/2014 — for awhile it’s been pretty steady looking at getting a civilian job.  Which is fantastic in a lot of ways.  There’s a high chance we’d get to move home to Virginia and be close to family. YAY.

But recently, he’s been liking the idea of going Army a lot.  To the point he’s going to go see the recruiter again this week.  I support him no matter what, but there is a small part of me that it’s a “grass is greener” scenario where it sounds like life in Army will be better than life in the Navy moment.  But we both like the security the military gives our family and we both enjoy moving around the country.  So that’s a plus.  I do know that if he goes Army, that gives him even more experience for life after the military.

I’m torn and it’s not even really my decision.  I just want him to be happy.  I want him to come home from work not being pissed off that he’s been on the same boat for 4 years now because of this.  I want him to be able to further his career in the direction he wants it to go.  I want to be able to go back to school and get my Masters once C is in school.  I want to eventually settle down somewhere and grow old with my kids and my husband.  So whichever road keeps us on that direction, I’ll be happy.

 

And just for the record since I mentioned, our little homecoming was still memorable and amazing.  It was still the first moment my husband got to hold his son — so that made it worth the wait.  I might have some emotions about not having the big homecoming, but we were still blessed to get these moments.

the simple things

So the easiest post to type up about leave would be the lazy days.  I don’t think we spent a lot of days at home 100%, but we spent a lot of days just doing the normal things.  Waking up with the kids, still getting our workouts in, letting the kids play around the house, going out on the patio before lunch, getting naptimes at home for both kids, and then maybe heading out to the store afterwards.

I have no words to explain why it’s SO NICE to just go to the grocery store as a family.  To be able to divide and conquer always makes things easier, to have my husband there to push the kids, to help distribute snacks, so nice!  Especially at places like Target.  We have a solid routine for Target — he takes J in a cart and I take C.  None of the giant carts that I hate that are like driving a boat, but we each have a kid and it stops any fighting, any jealousy over attention, and we both can go look at the things we want to look at [men’s clothes for him and sadly, baby clothes for me!  lol].  We almost always get two pretzels [unsalted, no butter] when we get there to split with the kids and it’s such an enjoyable shopping trip.  I love it.

We also went to the mall out here a few times to let the kids play in the play area.  It’s really nothing all that special, it’s actually pretty lame compared to most mall play areas, but it works and the kids have fun running around for a bit.  We’d let them play for about 30-45minutes [which I observed is way longer than most parents, most parents average 5 minutes, 10 minutes max there] and then head out to either get lunch in the food court or get a cookie at Mrs. Fields for the 4 of us to split.   We even got to shop a bit.

It was just nice.  In the evenings are kids were pretty calm cause they would get all their energy out at the mall and both parents were home, so life was good in their worlds.

After the kids would go to bed, we’d watch movies or play board games!  My husband and I really got into board games during his leave and I loved it.  We played Risk and Settlers of Catan [the card version, since the board game needs 3+] mostly, but it was so fun and had me researching for more games like those for us to play.  We even played Halo a few times together [I’m a video gamer girl at heart, but first person shooters are hard for me to follow cause I get dizzy too easily, lame I KNOW — I’m working on it!  My husband helped me with the controls and realized that I work much better with a the buttons set up differently — so I’m doing ok, still learning though, lol — and still prefer Final Fantasy games over this :P].  I loved our evenings together.  I love how geeky we are :P.

So life was just nice those days and that was the majority of the days he was home.  For the last 4 years of our marriage, he’s been deployed for almost 2 of those 4 years.  Ridiculous right?   We’ve officially been living together for the longest straight amount of time in our marriage and it’s definitely brought us closer, fixed a few holes we had, and given us a great routine that we’ve never had.  He was never home long enough for us to have a family routine.  So I think his leave accomplished what we really needed, time to just be a family <3.

 

 

playing Risk with the husband — with tea and cookies 🙂

 

 

I WON!!!!  🙂

 

we also did some minor rearranging of our living room.

 

most of his leave was like this — sunny, cool, and nice 🙂

 

family photo 🙂