Thursday, April 19, 2012

From Baby Booties to Yellow Footprints

Monday was a big day. Krystyne decided that she would enlist in the United States Marine Corps. To say we couldn't be more proud of her doesn't seem like enough.
She took her ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) last month and got her scores back a couple of weeks ago. She did pretty well. I've always talked to the girls about joining the military. I am not a big believer in parents paying for college. It's great if you can, but I think a higher education is a privilege.  If you want to go to college you're going to have to work for it. I've always stressed to my girls that if they want to go to college their best option was to join the military. If they join they go to school for "free". Yes, they have to work. Yes, they could potentially be put in some less than safe/ideal situations. But, the military will pay for your education as long as you are enlisted. I've explained that I would not be able or willing to pay for their college education. So, better to put on a uniform they can be proud of, go to work, and get your school paid for. It's either that or put on a McDonald's uniform, go to work, and hope you can pay for school. Even if they don't want to go to college join anyway. No one else is going to provide you with a job and  food and a place to live. It's a good option kid, and unless you can come up with something better ...
So after taking her ASVAB and getting the scores back we took a trip to the recruiters' office. We had talked about it for a long time and there really wasn't any preference from one branch to the other. Monday the Army guys had PT (physical training); we talked to the Navy who said that they couldn't do anything until she was officially a senior. That left the Marine Corps. We went in and talked to the nice Staff Sargent there. She laid it all out for Krystyne. She basically explained all that she would be getting out of her service. Not only money for school, but pride in herself and personal accomplishment. She showed her the money - which isn't much - but when you're looking at that or minimum wage at McDonald's and living at home it seems like the damn lotto!  I was impressed with the questions Krystyne asked and the answers she gave to questions asked of her. She had real reasons that at some point she had been thinking about. Her "future" was not just some magical-mystical thing that we we always bothering her about, it had become something she was actively thinking about and really figuring out what that was going to look like.
When the recruiter asked her if she was willing to make the commitment to the Marine Corps I held my breath. I wasn't expecting a solid answer. She's 17. But when she said "Yes, I do" I had to contain myself and not cry (and I didn't - yay me!). That was one of those defining life moments. The ones you can point at and say "My Life Changed In" kind of moments. That was the most adult decision she has ever made. And I am PROUD! The best part is she is proud of herself.
In two weeks she leaves for her medical processing. Two days spent seeing every kind of doctor there is to make sure she is fit for military service. I'm scared to death. I think this will be my normal state from here on out - the new hum in the background. Your children growing up and moving out is always going to happen. You know it. You live with it and sometimes look forward to it. But now there is a looming date; or there will be soon.
In just over a year I will be putting my little girl on a plane and I will get back a Marine. She will stand on the yellow footprints of Parris Island, SC and finish the transition from child to adult - she will begin the transition from civilian to Marine.
I have started my research. It's what I do when faced with any unknown. I read. I look up. I read some more. I look at books, and blogs, and chats, and message boards. I talk to everyone I can think of or find. This is the most unknown for me. When I send her off I will not be able to go with her. I will not be there to help her and offer her strength that she will need more than any time in her life. So from now until then I have to give her all that I can. I have to arm her with the most information I can cram in her pretty little head. I have to help strengthen her body. I have to tell her, show her and remind her every day that no matter what I will be there in her heart. I have to stop friggin' crying every time I think about this. I downloaded the Family Guide to Parris Island. It's an 11 page PDF that is a very basic walk through of what they should expect and what we, as parents, should and should not do. I cried through the whole thing. I looked up the books they suggest and will be ordering them. And I cried sitting on Amazon thinking of the books about Marine life that I will be ordering for my daughter. I sit here writing this and I have had to stop to wipe tears at least a dozen times.
I will keep this updated with what's going on in this amazing journey as I see it and work through it.
One day soon I will be able to stand proud and say "I raised a United States Marine". Today I stand proud and say I am raising Krystyne.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Time to Refocus

I've been restless lately. I've been trying to figure out what's been causing it and trying to figure out how to fix it. What I've figured out is I've not been taking enough time for myself. Not just quiet coffee time or time to relax, but no time to do anything for Me.
When you're up to your eyeballs in kids and work and home and and and and... you tend to let your self get lost in the shuffle. I've decided that the time I don't take for myself is just causing more chaos. There's no time to get my head on straight. There's no focus. There's no chance to see that everything is not falling apart when I feel like I am.
I am very lucky. I have a husband who understands how important this is. When he comes home at the end of the day and all the kids are alive and well the fact that the house is a mess, dinner is still only an idea I had once goes fairly unnoticed. I've managed to pass the laundry on to him and the bulk of the chores in the house to the kids, yet I still feel like I'm not accomplishing anything in a day. Fiona is in daycare full time. Where is my focus? I should have it all together and I don't. It's been bothering me. I've struggled getting everything done. I've struggled keeping my emotions in check. I've just been locked in chaos and  trying to figure out how to get out of this spiral.
So I decided it's time to refocus my attention back on myself. We've been here for about nine months now and I really haven't made many friends. I sent email requests to some Meetup groups. Time to dive back into the Mommy-Group-Circut. While I had a really bad first experience in the setting I was able to turn it around and met some of the most amazing women. I miss my circle of friends and the comfort they provided. I enrolled everyone in the local YMCA and have only once used the facilities. It's time to kick it up a notch. I've lost a good amount of weight since we've been in California but it's time to actually get myself in shape. We have a pool and I want to be able to use it without embarrassment.  I want to be able to look at pictures of gatherings where I thought I looked awesome when I left the house and not wonder how I gained 10lbs between the house and the car!
My belief is that if I can focus more on myself then I can be a better mommy and a better wife. If I concentrate on the woman then I can more adeptly handle the tasks my family need me to. I don't believe in putting everyone's needs above my own because then they are not getting the best of me. I think every woman/mother/wife should make sure her needs are met so she is better equipped to deal with the needs of her family. And yet I'm failing to do that myself. So here I go. Head first into caring for ME. Into being better to myself. I need to figure out specific goals.
What would you do if you could? Where would your personal work-shop start? What is something important to you that you let get lost in the shuffle?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Long Time No See

I can't believe how long it's been since I've been here. It seems that life has gotten in the way of writing about life.
We've settled into the new house - sort of. I still need to get pictures on the walls and the kitchen (more) organized but for the most part we're settled.
The girls are doing fantastic. They keep me running most days. But I love it .
Recently the older girls and I took a trip to Las Vegas to visit with my friend Daniel. It was a much needed vacation and break from routine. During dinner we had a great conversation about life and what we're doing and where we're going. What our goals are and what we're dreaming about. I mentioned something about getting a "real job" once Fiona and Georgiana are school age. We talked about what ideas I have and what I want to do. Honestly it's not really all that amazing. There's no real life-dream thing that I want to do. I felt foolish at 35 still having the "I-don't-know-what-I-want-to-do-with-my-life" conversation.  I love this blog (not that you can tell from the amount I post or anything) and I'd love to take up photography with some kind of seriousness. Baking has always been something I enjoyed and we once toyed with the idea of owning a bakery. But, for the most part, I don't have much of a Bucket List. (My Lord I'm boring!)
This conversation was something that really bothered me. I percolated in my brain for the rest of the night and well into the next day.  The thought that came back time and time again was "I have all I want". But there has to be more... Doesn't there? The more I thought about it the more I realized that no, what I have and where I am is enough. I have FIVE beautiful, healthy, and fun kids. Five. I have a husband that adores me. Even when  he shouldn't - let's be honest, I'm kind of a pain in the ass. I have a house I love (with a pool!), enough money to manage, a running vehicle, food on the table, clothes in the closet. I am able to give my kids what they need - love, attention, discipline, full bellies. I am content.
When I was growing up things were not ideal. My parents all had issues that didn't leave much room for me. At times I'm angry. At times I'm resigned. For the most part I've come to understand that my parents are human and even though I had to suffer through their mistakes it was no fault of mine. I knew early on that I did not want to make the same mistakes with my children that were made with me and I feel like I've done a pretty good job on that. Not that I haven't made mistakes. I'm far from perfect, but I feel like I've done my absolute best with my children. And the older I get and the more experience as a mother I have the better I feel about what I'm doing.
My point in this is that I had the realization that I AM doing what I love.  I am living the dream, so to speak. What I will do when the littlest girls are finally in school and I have the time and attention span for a "real job" when the time comes is still up in the air. I have ideas. I have things that I think I could do for the next 25 years. But the time for decisions is not now. Now I get to enjoy this dream "job" that I have. It's not easy, there's no days off, there's no sick-days and the pay sucks; but they benefits are nothing short of extraordinary!
I am making a point to get back here regularly to update and write and use the part of my brain that this satisfies more often. I miss it.I hope that I haven't lost both of the people that stop by to see what's going on and peek in my virtual medicine cabinet.
Remember to count your blessings and realize that you may be closer to living the dream than you think you are.