Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Card/Stickers Came Arrived!!!

As you know, a few weeks ago I held a Giveaway from UPrinting.com and was able to giveaway 250 stickers! On top of giving them away to my winner, I was also able to receive 250 stickers! They arrived today and look GREAT!!!

I've Learned

I've learned.... life can be taken away at any given moment, so we must cherish the time we are in.

I've learned.... even the best of people will make mistakes and to forgive takes a big person.

I've learned.... it really is the little things in life that mean the most.

I've learned.... time is valuable, therefore we must cherish every moment we are given.

I've learned.... that no matter how much someone hurts us, if we love them, we should never leave a situation or end a call with hurtful words... After all, we are never guaranteed the next minute, day, week, month, or year.

I've learned.... that we each have more strength inside of us than we know or realize. Sometimes it just takes unusual or unforeseen circumstances to bring that strength out.

I've learned.... the ones I least expected to be here for me were in fact, the ones that kept me going during my hard times.

I've learned.... that not everyone that promises to be there, will be there in the end or when most needed.

I've learned... that no matter the distance or time apart, true relationships and friendships can never be broken.

I've learned.... the meaning of true love every time I look at my husband and children.

I've learned... that I would not be the person I am today without my husband and children.

I've learned.... that time and distance are never an obstacle in life when hearts truly matter.

I've learned.... no matter how old you are, maturity is measured more by the experiences you have overcome and gone through as well as the way you handle situations and obstacles you face.

I've learned.... even in my darkest of times, family won't always be there to help guide you through. Sometimes it's the ones you least expect that help you pick up the pieces and push though. Families are not always blood...

I've learned.... even at my weakest of moments, I am still strong.

I've learned.... no matter how much I try to hold on to my children's innocence, life has other ideas in store.

I've learned.... my children are only little for a short time, I better love and cherish every second I have with them.

I've learned... my husband and those closest to me, really are my backbone when I need strength.

I've learned.... true love never gives up.

I've learned.... no matter how much I try to make someone see my point of view on things, there are just times they never will.

I've learned.... death doesn't factor in age when taking someone we love.

I've learned.... to smile through my weaknesses and learn from every experience.

I've learned.... I may not be where I planned to be at this point in my life; but where I am now, is where I am supposed to be and I love what I have been blessed with.

I've learned.... things worth having are things always worth waiting for.

I've learned.... time and distance does bring two hearts closer together.

I've learned.... the harsh reality and the truths on life.

I've learned.... life is definitely not measured in the breaths we take, but more so in the moments that take our breath away.

I've learned.... no matter how rough times may get or what life may throw at us, it is always worth the fight.

***More to Come***

What have you learned?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Happy 31st Birthday Weekend, Kevin

Happy Birthday to the most amazing man and husband that I have been blessed to have by my side, through the most amazing times, and of course the most trying times in our lives. Without him, I am not sure where I would be in this crazy, everyday life we live!

On Friday, September 16, we celebrated Kev's birthday.... He turned the big 31!!! It's kind of nice to sit back and say I am still in my (late) 20's while my husband is racking in another year on the 30's chart. Haha. On Friday Kevin didn't really want to do much of anything, so we ended up eating at Burger King, more or less something to allow the kids to be kids. They had a blast, being able to get Kid Meals, which is an extra treat for them! Following that we stopped at the grocery store for a huge tub of Vanilla Ice cream and then headed home to enjoy the dessert! See, the girls and I were going to make him a cake as soon as they got home from school because as we all know, we should of had time to do that. However, Kevin had other plans and came home a tad earlier than we had anticipated! In other words, there was no cake baking! This is the first year we have not been able to do that! Friday ended up being very enjoyable, other than him having to go back to work for the first time in a month! Yes, he was able to take a full month off of work for two reasons. The first was obviously so he could help me recovery from this complicated surgery and recovery that I fully needed. The second reason was because he has over 100 vacation days and 35 of them were considered "Use or Lose". This, in the Army ways, means that had he not used any of those "use or lose" days by October 1, he would have been completely out of luck and just lost them. So, what better time to use them than to help me out with everything, including the kids starting back to school! Perfect timing and great quality time! I was honestly sad to see him go back to work! I had truly enjoyed the month I had with him and no Army time! (We are still waiting on his retirement rating, so there is nothing to report on that as of now. As soon as we know more, I will post more....AFTER we share with our close family and friends! Thanks for all your support and understanding. We would not be where we are without each of you!)

On Saturday, we spent most of the day cleaning and just being complete bums around the house. Really, nothing at all too entertaining. We did watch a little football, of course, we watched as the Gators beat the Vols! Go Gators! Did you know that in all of the Gator's history, there has only been one coach that lost to TN their inaugural year? That was in 1990. So, congrats to their new coach, Will Muschamp on Saturdays win! Oh wait, I did redesign both blogs and we love them! Hope you do too! (You can check out my other blog, which started out as an outlet tool, athttp://southerngirlsstand.blogspot.com/)

New Designs:

(for Biddle Buzz)

(For Southern Girl's Stand)

Today was a bit more entertaining and quite possibly the most fun we have had since before my surgery! After breakfast and a little downtime enjoying American Choppers, we decided to take the little ones to the Rio Grande. They have already started the damming process in New Mexico, at Elephant Butte. The Rio feeds from that before flowing down to us. Before the fall hits, this process starts and within a few weeks the Rio is completely empty. Right now, there is still some flowing water, but not much at all. In most spots the river bed is in the openness. Of course, I think Nic would rather it be that way because he can run, play, and splash around more than other times! We stayed out there for a little over an hour while the kids ran some of there energy out. It is still plenty hot enough here for them to swim and not get sick. It was kind of odd in a way for them to run through an area freely that not too long ago we floated down! The pictures that I took do it no justice in showing the depth of it. I will take better ones the next time we are out there!

Right before going to the Rio, Caitlin was begging me to take her to the store so she could spend her Tooth Fairy money. She lost one of her teeth on Friday at school. Well, we all know how money just burns the holes right through a child's pocket, so I took her with me to the store when I went for butter. The Dollar General is right outside our neighborhood, so to me, it's easier to stop there versus driving for ten or so minutes to an actual grocery store. When we got there, they had an entire display of outside toys for children that were marked 70% or more off. Caitlin found herself digging through the boxes of toys and decided that she would rather spend her money on toys they could play with instead of purchasing candy or something in that area. I am so proud of her for this one! With $5 ($2 of her own) she was able to buy four outside play sets because of this markdown! How awesome is that? May not be the best quality, but it sure kept them entertained all afternoon.... including Kevin on this one! They ended up with two Lacrosse sets, a Frisbee, a t-ball set, some other game set, three plastic bats, and I have no idea on how many balls between them all. For over four hours they played and played and played! It was great seeing them play as they did.

Of course, little man took right to the t-ball set and was determined to not give it up to anyone. He claimed it before we were even able to get it out of the bag and spent almost the entire time with it. I have never seen Nic so focused on something for the amount of time that he was today. I guess that's a sure sign of baseball being in his near future! You won't see me complaining on this one! He is such an athletic child! We love it!

While Nic took over the T-ball set and refused to let anyone else play with him, Kev and the girls got out the Frisbee, Lacrosse game, and football. Caitlin spent a lot of time sitting beside me on the patio watching them, while Bre and Kev played close to nonstop. Of course, they each took a spot on opposite sides of the yard to just stand there and throw things back and forth, because it still hurts for Kevin to do too terribly much. But they had so much fun together. We learned today that Bre has a mean spiral when throwing the football! 

While they played and the chicken grilled, I started to get restless and decided to take some pictures of the blooming flowers on the bushes that we have at the back of the house. Nic refers to these bushes as the "pokey trees". At least that is how he explained to me where he brought the picked flowers to me from! Of course, while taking pictures, I had to find a creative way in getting some good shots! I took a few after Nicholas had watered them. They turned out with a pretty cool look, I think! I have a few more shots on my computer saved.

As the Chicken came close to be grilled all the way, I wanted to make an attempt in taking a photo of all three kids side by side. Well, for anyone that knows these three, you know that sometimes that can be almost impossible... Let me show you what I mean by that....

After many attempts, the best one I could get with three smiles, is this one:

I think that one captured their personalities! Haha. Definitely frame-worthy!

After the attempt in taking a picture of this crazy trio, I was able to capture a few cute shots. I managed to get one of the girls side by side. Can you all see how close in height they are now? It is crazy! This could explain why everyone always asks me if they are twins. How can you not help but to love the one of Kevin picking on Caitlin? She was so mad and grumpy because she "throws like a girl". At least that's what she said. So, she sat in the chair and pouted. Kevin decided that was completely out of the question and decided to go all out on picking on her! It cheered her up! Nicholas became overly tired at one point and decided to throw himself on the ground and pout over something Caitlin did! Best part: I was able to get in a quick click of a button on my cell phone and get his "I'm going to sit down in front of my toys after throwing them down and pout" move with his arms crossed and all! Once he calmed down, he decided to water the grass again... or should I say play in the water again? Not sure if more water made it to the grass or his clothes....

Hope each and everyone of you had a wonderful weekend! Get out and enjoy the rest of the nice air before fall gets here and cooler weather takes over! Have a fantastic week everybody!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Happy 10 Months Sweet Scarlette!

Very often I will receive a text or in the middle of a conversation someone will ask me about my friend Kayla and her baby Scarlette. Scarlette was born at 25 weeks gestation as a micro-preemie. After five long months and many ups and downs, Ka and her husband, Jeff were able to bring their sweet daughter home. During this time and even today, so many have prayed their hearts out for Scarlette. We cried when Ka cried from worry and fear of what her daughter was facing. We smiled and laughed at the stories that Ka would share while in the NICU or the progress that Scarlette made. We all shed many tears when Ka announced that Scarlette would be allowed to go home with her, even when there wasn't a set date. And we really shed the tears when Ka posted on her blog that Scarlette was home...even when she discovered as a mom of a preemie she may wear the same clothes for days or forget the simplest tasks. Haha, I have been there Bre being a preemie! Our hearts were stolen by this innocent, beautiful, and sweet little girl, even though we had never met her. We have loved her and prayed since Kayla openly shared her story, experiences, fears, laughs, and everything in between. With each of us, Jeff, Kayla, and Scarlette hold a special place...

This past week Scarlette turned ten months old! Ten months!!! That is absolutely amazing and a true gift from God. Seeing photos of her with a big smile, hearing videos of her little giggles, seeing the wonderful changes over the past ten months, and reading as Ka swells with pride and completion; brings a smile to each and everyone of us. There are no words of the love we all have or the happiness we have for this family! It is so hard to believe that Scarlette is two months shy of turning one!

To read more, check out Kayla's blog.... http://www.kaylaaimee.com/2011/09/scarlette-ten-months/#comment-15217

It was a Crayon Cupcake Kinda Day

This weekend was spent pretty much lounging around the house and not doing much of anything...except making sure I stayed off me feet in order to recover from this summer and the past few weeks. Kev and I also spent a fair amount of time trying to lay out the upcoming months and our move. At times I feel like it's an overwhelming mess! I know it will all fall into place, it just seems things are taking place so quickly now! 

Yesterday evening I walked across the street allowing the kids to play at the park for a bit. How the fall has crept upon us! It seems like just a couple days ago the days were turning into night around 9:30... However, last night showed me how much I have missed through the past few weeks! Turns out that it is now dark a little before 8:00. Sad to see the summer go, but ready to see what the next season has store.

This afternoon we pulled some crayons out and made Crayon Cupcakes with them.This is a great hands-on type craft to do with children! It is one that you can consider mess free, easy to make, easy cleanup and plenty of smiles after cooling down and coloring! We are going to make more in the next couple of weeks and make them bigger than today's. The kids had a blast watching as they colored and the shade changed from one color to the next!  (See below for pics and directions). This is also a great way to bring in holidays with holiday colors, you can add glitter for the glistening look when coloring, fun little thing to do when there are multiple kids or on a rainy day!

Crayon Cupcakes

How to Make Crayon Cupcakes
Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees F and let the fun in making these begin!
Use inexpensive crayons, or old, broken leftover pieces. (Great way to recycle left behind pieces!). Remove wrappers of your color choices, break into pieces and place into the cup holders. Now, place the pan full of the variety of colors you have chosen into the oven and begin watching as the crayons melt! Allow time for the heat to go to work, but keep an eye on them…depending on brand and quantity in each cup will depend on the timeframe for melting. Of course, allow time to cool once removed from the oven before touching! Once cool, remove crayons from cupcake liner and let the little ones go to town coloring!
This works out great entertaining one child or an entire group! You can mix colors depending on the day or holiday using them towards a theme! 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Closing One Chapter as Another One Opens

We started this morning off like every other morning... Wake up, get the girls up and ready, then off to the bus. Following this, at 645 in the morning, I headed upstairs to finish getting ready and Kevin off to Nic's room to wake him and get him dressed. Once we were all ready around 715, we loaded up in the XTerra and headed to Fort Bliss to meet with Kevin's PEBLO (Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officer). The PEBLO is the one responsible for processing the documents and Service Members case, making sure all appointments are scheduled and kept, counseling the soldiers, and providing answers or resources to the soldier and soldiers family when going through the Medical Evaluation Board for a Medical Discharge. The meeting this morning consisted of us going over all that has been done over this past year, the reasons Kev is unfit for duty, and for him to sign everything for it to finally be sent to Fort Lewis. Yes... you read right! We are finally at the step that we have been waiting on for months now. The NARSUM (Narrative Summary) is now complete and is being sent to Fort Lewis, along with medical records for the Board to review everything and give him his retirement rating. With the condition Kev is in from deployments, he will be retired, we are just not sure on the percentage yet. 

Once his packet is back with his rating, he has the choice to either accept the percentage or appeal the decision from the Board. Neither of us see appealing becoming a part in this. Following this step, the VA Claims Process is started along with other things, as the transition is heavily started. After next week, Kevin should go on Terminal Leave within eight weeks (give or take some days, after all, we know how the Army works). After his Terminal Leave ends, he will be retired from the Army. Retired....

Retired.... That doesn't even look right at this point in our lives and there really aren't words to express the thoughts rapidly running through my mind right now. I am honestly not sure if there ever will be either. It all just seems so surreal. I have taken many steps back and tried to look at everything from outside of the box, yet I can't quite place anything. I am 28 and my husband is one week shy of turning 31 and he will be medically retired from the Army due to injuries sustained while in combat. My husband, who has fought in the middle of war more than once, who has permanent damages from these deployments, will be retired by the end of this year. 

While he is still young, combat has taken so much away from him...and us. All five of us. During the 2006-2007 rotation in Mosul, Iraq; Kevin was lead or tail gunner. He was a NCO (non-commissioned officer). He was a true leader and hero. He left here the man I had fallen in love with and returned a complete stranger. He came home with not only physical injuries from multiple IED attacks, mortars, rockets, fire fights; but full of mental injuries as well. He came home a man that I had to learn and discover things that I never imagined I would. His eyes have never sparkled like they did before he left. His smile is not the same, bright and innocent smile. His laugh isn't full and from the heart as it use to be. His face has aged, his hands have aged.  His thoughts are not that of the majority of people his age. He has seen more, witnessed  more, acted on more, smelled more, and heard more than more than 99% of the United States has. Yet, even through all these changes, he is still my husband and the man I madly love.

So, here we are, after eight years of living this life and everything that we know is about to change. While we were once young adults, barely out of our teens, learning and adjusting to the military life; so innocent in many ways. We walked into this lifestyle not knowing what to expect and we are leaving it with more experience than most our age, wiser beyond our age, with open eyes knowing the realities of war and of life. We are closing a chapter in our lives in order to begin a new one, unaware of what the future holds or how we will transition into a life without all the rules and restrictions of the army life. We are facing a world we know very little of, yet, we are fully welcoming it all. 

Over the next few weeks and couple of months we are going to try to make this transition as smooth as we possibly can, while we discover a whole new world. One that people don't live walking on eggshells or knowing how harsh reality really is because they have never seen really anything outside of their normal day to day life. I have no idea how we will fall back into the lives of others because we have done far more than others our age, especially Kevin going overseas and fighting in a war. We know and we have seen how quickly life can be ripped right from under our feet. We know firsthand how short life truly is. 

There are days that we cannot wait to get past the army life and start anew. There are days that we are both terrified to leave the life we have come to know, understand, and in many ways love. There have been days that Kevin has questioned the reasons behind choosing this life. Yet, there are not days of regret. Without the Army, we would have missed out on so many things. We never would have traveled the world. We never would have learned how strong our love and marriage truly is. The Army, this life, the people, the missions, PCS's, deployments, FTX's, NTC's, TDY's, and everything else have shown us how strong we are not only as individuals, but also as a couple and family.

To all of you that have remained by our sides through this crazy roller coaster of a life, thank you! As hard as it is going to be to bid this chapter goodbye, we know that there is something bigger and better on the other side and we also know that many of you will remain in our lives and always in our hearts!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My Heart Just Aches

Over the past couple of weeks my inbox on Facebook has become overwhelmingly full of the Breast Cancer Awareness emails that we are all so familiar with. As we all know Breast Cancer Awareness month is next month and FB female friends always get a jump start in September playing the "update your status with..." email game. Typically the emails consist of the color or something or where do you like to keep your purse with an answer that sounds somewhat sexual. It always raises eyebrows of the men and giggles from the women. Well, this year it seems to raise a little more than good humor in smiles in some women. I for one have no desire or interest to even play along this year. As always, I will speak my mind in hopes to raise awareness for Breast Cancer because it holds a special place in my heart. It has run through my family like crazy, Kevin's grandmother passed away from it when he was two, and in 2006 my best friend was by his mothers side as she passed away after battling cancer off and on for years! However the game this year is asking for women to write their status as... "I'm (your birthday month) and craving (your birthdate that ends up being coded with candy/food)" which to the majority would imply you are expecting.  Notice right below to see the email I am referring to, then below where I continue with my thoughts...

It’s that time of year again in support of Breast Cancer Awareness! We all remember last years game of writing your bra color as your status? or the way we like to have our handbag handy?
Remember last year so many people took part that it made national news and the constant updating of status reminded everyone why we’re doing this and helped raise awareness!
DO NOT tell any males what the status’ mean, keep them guessing And please Broadcast this to all ur female friends to see if we can make a bigger fuss this year than last year
I did my part… So now its YOUR turn!
The idea is to choose the month You were born and the day you were born. Pass this on to the girls only and lets see how far it reaches around. The last one about the bra went round the world.
So you’ll write… I’m (your birth month) weeks and I’m craving (your birth date) !!! as your status
Example: Feb 14th= I’m 2 weeks and craving Choclolate mints!!

So, after reading this, maybe some of you can instantly see my reasons on not taking part in any of this. It is a slap in the face to those of us that want (more) children, yet are not able to have them. "Hello, I am 28 years old, a mother of three (thankfully!) while enduring incredibly high risk pregnancies, with major medical problems that has led to an extreme amount of surgeries, intense chronic pain, and never again being able to experience pregnancy, growth, and the delivery of a precious newborn." Can I place that as my status? Probably not because it would rub people the wrong way.  Instead, we have to look for a way to adopt a newborn, which many of us know is a very complicated process. There is no way I could put this implication on my status while trying to raise awareness. I had many surgeries with many complications, almost costing me my life, in order to have a full hysterectomy in order to save my life in the end. There is nothing right about any of this. What I would do for another baby and how my heart just aches for that little one....

What about the ones who are capable of having children, yet have not at this point, and place this on their status? Is it right for families and friends to read so much into it and become filled with joy and pure happiness and more excitement than they know what to do with it all because they instantly think someone is pregnant? Why is it acceptable to toy with the emotions of others by placing this as a status? I know there are others like me that see this and their hearts just sink because there are so many actively playing along with this, probably not seeing the harm in any of it because we know that it would not be done intentionally. Yet, it does not help to ease the pain or sinking feeling to ones that are in the shoes that I am in or ones that have never been blessed with having a child.

In the end, this is just not something I agree with as a way to raise awareness for Breast Cancer. There are many more ways to do such a a thing. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

If You Still Had Your Funny Bone....

As many of you know, Kevin had to undergo a surgery on each arm at the end of 2009 from injuries sustained while deployed in 2007. Long story short, he was thrown from the turret while gunning and broke his elbow, has permanent TBI, had a gash on his head and has nerve damage. The surgeries that were performed were Bilateral Ulnar Nerve Replacement.  The Ulnar Nerve is a nerve that travels from the wrist the the shoulder. They had to cut and remove the nerve around the elbow to wrist area. He also has muscle atrophy from this, or as we know muscle deterioration. Kev had lost most all movement and feeling in both hands before the surgery. Now, he lacks strength in pushing, but has strength in pulling and grasping.

When it comes to to the kids, we tend to try to make things as easy as possible for the kids to understand. So, just as when Kev was set to deploy the first time, we explained to the little ones that he was going to Iraq to make the bad guys nice. Seems like a good way for the kids to understand what he was doing instead of outright telling them the exact truth. So, when the surgeries in 2009 occurred, Kevin told the girls that he broke his funny bone and had to have it removed.... I am sure many of you can already see where this is going...

The other day, Kevin and Breanna ended up having to drive to the store for something we needed and he was in one of "those" moods because it had been one of "those" type days. Out of nowhere, Bre looks at Kevin and says, "If you still had your funny bone maybe you wouldn't be so grumpy..." All he could do was laugh at that one. Straight from the mouth of a child.....


After reading through emails and comments of people entering the UPrinting.com giveaway, I would like to announce the winner....

Congratulations Kari Robinson!

Kari has two sons that were each diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis, or EE as many of us hear. Eosinophilic Esophagitis is a condition due to an allergy condition that leads to inflammation of the esophagus. With her children, it is due to different types of foods. Both boys have had to undergo multiple surgeries and procedures, they have had the feeding "button" placed in their belly buttons, and have had to give up many things that young children should never have to. This has of course taken a toll on the Robinson family, yet Kari manages to keep a smile and always makes sure her boys are happy and well taken care of. Since learning about EE, Kari has stepped up and tried to raise as much awareness as she can and plans to do so even more with the 250 2x3.5 stickers from this giveaway. 

To read more about Kari and her families ups and downs as well as more on EE, please read her blog at http://lifeofthebreedenfamily.blogspot.com//