Friday, September 30, 2005

Bill's parents fly in this morning to welcome him home. The original plan was for them to greet him as he got off the bus upon his return from the sandbox but his homecoming came earlier than expected so now it's more of a "hey, can I really touch you and see that you're not broken" kind of a thing. They'll only be here until Tuesday morning so this weekend is sure to be filled with quality family time. While they're leaving the crisp cool air and colorful foilage of Cincinnati, we'll be greeting them with hot, dry air blowing in from the desert and fires. Woohoo! Fall in So. Cal. Wouldn't have it any other way. Ok, so maybe not but at least I know what to expect.

In all my talk about Glen Ivy (I've mentioned it on my blog at least three times) I thought I'd leave you with some very glamorous pictures of our time there. There's not a whole lot since pool + camera = bad idea but here's what I've got:

Here's the entrance into the best place on earth:

This is the view we had all day

We're not quite sure what to do without little kids constantly seeking our attention at this point

Hey, do I look tan?? This might seem gross but it's so awesome. This is the natural clay mud that comes up from the earth in this part of the state.

Muddy buddies

We had such an awesome time that we're trying to figure out when we can go back. The first time I went I was eight months pregnant with Trey and I went with some girlfriends. Then I went again with my mom when Trey was about one. This was my first time with Bill. He's hooked. Of course we splurged and got him a massage but he can't wait to go back. Gotta look into season passes.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Surprise! I'm still here.

Time flies when you're not trying to cope without your husband. Bill's been working half days and I've been pretty busy during the mornings so my poor blog has been abandoned.

Since Bill's been home we've gone to Glen Ivy for a wonderful day of relaxation followed by a trip to Ontario Mills where they have the BIGGEST Children's Place outlet in the world. Ok, I don't know if it's the biggest in the world but it's pretty darn big. They've got tons of racks full of $3.99, $2.99 and $1.99 items. Score!! I wish it weren't a two hour drive but it was so worth it. We had dinner at Dave and Busters and cruised the other stores (Old Navy outlet, Nordstrom Rack, Gap outlet, etc.) Love outlets. I'm so cheap. I searched all over that mall for a pair of Robeez for Leah since she absolutely refuses to wear normal shoes. You would think that I was asking the sales associates to explain E=mc2. No one there knew what I was talking about. Oh well, just another excuse to go shopping...which we did. We headed out to our own little outlet mall and got her these. Too cute.

I've been pondering employment for a while now. The only way we were able to afford to send Trey to preschool was using the extra income Bill gets for being deployed. I knew once he was home there was no way that we'd be able to rely on his paycheck to cover our expenses AND preschool and the last thing I'd want to do is rip Trey out of there. He's been doing great, the school is awesome and being a student there now reserves a spot for him in the elementary school. My awesome mother in law is helping us a bit. It covers just under half of the tuition but there was still that pesky other part. Out of the blue, our youth pastor called and said there was a new position created in the church to be his admin assistant and the first person he thought of was me. Well, I should hope so! I do some volunteer work for him every week which falls into that whole admin description. I told him I would let him know for sure, but I was interested. I could pick which days and which hours but I would have to find someone to watch Leah. He even covered that. He got a young college student to watch my little Leelee in the church nursery so I bring her with me! How awesome is that?? I'm working 10 hours a week while Trey is in school. After paying for Leah's babysitter, I don't end up with much, but it's certainly more than I was making before (big fat nothing). My first day was yesterday. Hardly anyone in the church works Mondays since they work through the weekend so there was only 3 people in the whole building and it's a very large building. I was back in the cave, or Jim's (the youth pastor) office. There's roll up doors in the back of the building (picture doors large enough to fit a semi truck's trailer through) and everytime the wind would blow they would rattle making me think someone was coming. Fortunately, the church is remodeling and I will soon be upstairs with the rest of humanity.

As I got ready to leave I noticed that the room would start to shimmy and that my eye sockets hurt. Then my neck, arms, back, legs and even my toes hurt. I dropped Leah's babysitter off at her other job, picked up Trey and came home and collapsed on the couch. Bill got home at 2 and I crawled upstairs, freezing cold even in slippers and a hooded sweatshirt. It didn't matter that it was 90 degrees outside. I had a fever of 101.9. I popped an 800mg Motrin left over from giving birth to Leah and fell asleep. By the time I woke up I was boiling hot and I was now at 102. Body aches, fever and swollen glands. Great. I can't possibly call in sick already. How lame is this??? Leah had croup last week. Did I pick something up from her?

I'm slightly better today. I skipped my Bible study today which I'm totally bummed about since I love the gals I'm in it with. Guess I'll just lay low today and get some laundry done and wreak some havoc on those dang ants that are insistent on living with us.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

He's Finally Home

Start here and click next to view the homecoming pictures.

Thanks to everyone who sent a note of thanks, said a prayer or just stopped by to say hi during these last seven months. We're all happy to be together again as a family. A lot has changed to each and every one of us so we're all getting to know one another again. Bill is back to work until the rest of the unit comes home. He was part of the advanced party so only about 40 guys came home with him. The remaining 200 or so should be home within the next couple of weeks. After that they will all have about three weeks of leave.

Trey couldn't be more thrilled that his "buddy" is home. "Daddy, watch this. Daddy, come play. Daddy daddy daddy." He has so much to share with his daddy. Leah is slowly warming up to Bill, flirting cautiously but still prefers to be with me. Give it a month. She won't want anything but her daddy.

We have family coming out at the end of the month, I start work next week (another post) and Trey's birthday right around the corner. Then comes the holiday season and a whirlwind of activity. We'd planned to have a huge welcome home party but Bill's having a difficult time coping with crowds right now...a common thing when returning from war. He's making the rounds to those he wants to see and the rest will have to take a number =Þ

More to come...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Today was Ask Jennie the Same Question, but Have it Come From 50 Different People Day.

"How Many Days?!?"

Everyone is excited that Bill is finally coming home. They are excited for me, for him and some of them are excited for themselves. Yes, my husband is very personable and people really like him. They like me, because I happen to be married to him. Bwahaha. I am evil.

Ok, so not really. If you look back through my yearbooks the common message was "Stay sweet!" Yeah yeah, put a sock in it!!

Although my answer was the same for everyone (3 more days!!!) I got different responses from a few. If I have to hear, "Wow! That sure went by fast!" one more time I just may break out my list of activities that have gone on in the last seven months and ask the person to imagine going through those things sans spouse. For some, it would be better. I happen to really like my spouse and don't believe in separate vacations, bedrooms OR lives. But hey, maybe that's just me. I could even give a description to those who have never had a spouse leave due to work. When I say leave, I don't mean a day or two here or there. My honey does that almost monthly when he's home. It's just par for the course. On with my metaphor. Having a spouse gone for seven months, which by the way is the shortest amount of time America will send it's troops to the middle east, most are sent anywhere from twelve months to eighteen months, is like being in your 14th month of pregnancy. Your stretch marks have stretch marks, your intestines are threatening to move into your neck and the baby is knocking on your cervix because he really would like a bit more leg room in there. You go out to eat and instead of being able to enjoy your meal you wonder how many Tums it will take to actually keep it from making you feel like your chest is on fire at 2am and then the day finally comes for you to do the hardest work you've ever done, realizing just why it's called labor, you could care less about your fragile private parts being ripped to shreds as long as this behemoth of a baby comes out NOW and you really want some Gatorade because since you've been tapped, or given your IV, you haven't been able to have anything but ice chips and that was 18 hours ago. Then, all of your childless friends exclaim how easy pregnancy and birth must be 'cuz "gee, it sure flew by"...for them.

Let's take a trip down the past seven months, shall we? Humor me, this is good therapy.

February: Bill leaves for Ramadi, one of THE most dangerous cities in Iraq. He's an admin guy attached to a grunt unit (read: the guys whose job it is to be on the front lines) so he won't be out patrolling the streets unless things get really bad, but he's still there. It's almost as if he's a rich, white guy in the middle of East LA at sunset and the only thing he has protecting him is a refrigerator box.

March: Bill's grandma passes away. We have to decide whether or not we're going to pull him home for the funeral and if we do, is that going to make it harder on the kids since he just left. Ultimately we decide he will say his goodbyes when he comes back home and we make a trip out to Ohio.

Trey and I get the stomach flu and I have to ask my mom to take off work to help take care of us. I certainly can't nurse an ill three year old, take care of myself and a baby if I can't even sit up straight.

Two years ago Operation Iraqi Freedom began. We're in the third installment now.

Trey is finally and completely potty trained. I thought he'd be going to Kindergarten in Depends!
Leah finally learns to crawl.

We were told that Bill was highly recommended for promotion but we won't know anything until June.

April: Trey starts preschool

We have a major earthquake.

Bill's unit lost a few men. I wonder how their wives are dealing with the loss of a spouse. How will they tell their children? Were some of these women the ones who were pregnant when we saw them at the Deployment brief?

I get food poisoning.

I celebrate my 29th birthday.

I get my first day out alone since he left.

I have to pull Trey out of preschool due to some security issues and lack of supervision.

I spent a total of 45 minutes talking to my husband this month. MONTH.

May: This month starts off with a bang...literally. Ramadi is involved in a firefight and attacked by mortars.

Leah's third and fourth tooth emerge.

Leah says her first word other than Mama or Dada.

Leah is very sick and has a high fever.

Bill's mom and sister come out in preparation for the big birthday bash.

Leah turns one. We throw a huge party for her and videotape so Bill can watch when he gets home. Leah will be fifteen months when he returns.

Six men are killed in one day in Ramadi.

Bill's mom and dad come out to visit since his dad was teaching earlier in the month and couldn't make it.

Father's Day. We're saving his gifts for his return.

We find out that Bill's been passed over for promotion. We'll keep our fingers crossed for next year.

Leah walks!!

Again, another whopping 45 minutes of phone time. Much better than in 2003 where it was few and far between, and on satellite phones. Phone cards are the way now, but a 600 minute card equals 60 minutes when calling the US from Iraq.

July: Leah gets three more teeth

Trey starts preschool again, at a much better facility. I'm hoping we can stay stationed here so he can go on to elementary school here as well.

Leah begins to realize that she's pretty cute and starts to ham things up for an audience. Gee, I wonder where she gets that from?

I go on a retreat with the leadership team from MOPS. My very first getaway without both kids...ever.

Bill and I celebrate our ninth anniversary half a world apart and my dear friends take me to dinner.

One hour of phone conversation.

August: The kids are absolutely rotten, both of them. I just may send them to their Oma and Opa in Cincinnati.

My mom and I decide to take the kids to the beach and on our way out, I kick the back tire of my car, cracking my perfectly manicured toenail. Grumbling I tape it up and we proceed to the beach where Trey ingests more than his share of saltwater and gets sick. Right there. On the sand. Come home and then it's Leah's turn. She falls right into the corner of the wall and gets an immediate gooseegg on her forehead which eventually turns into a gnarly bruise. It's officially hell day.

I finally go to the reunion brief.

One phone call.

September: It's finally here.

Bill's made it to Kuwait.

Leah goes in for her doctor's appointment...three months late. The signature sheet for her shots is filled with my husband's signature. Now I have to be the one to hold her down and listen to her cry in pain.

Leah gets her one year photo done...three months late.

Tomorrow is Back to School Night for Trey which I will be attending alone.

It's been an extremely long seven months without him here. Everyone has felt it. I can't wait to see my best friend on Wednesday.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

I'm So Not a Morning Person

I decided to go to bed early last night since I'd been working on the house all day and "done wored myseff out". So at midnight, I turned out the lights...yes, that's early. My alarm was set for six so I could lie comatose while half listening to the morning show before deciding I really need to get up and get going so I can get Trey to school. Yeah, that was my plan. Leah wanted to start the show an hour earlier. We sat in my room in the dark at 5 stinkin' am. I tried and tried and tried to get her to go back to sleep. I gave up at 5:45 and we came downstairs for coffee and a quick email check before going on to the other things of the day. Thirty minutes before we need to walk out the door, she passes out. I place her on the couch and Trey and I go about our morning business, doing the Morning Mambo, eating cold cereal and all other great things that belong to three year olds. I wake Leah up, put her and Trey in the car and off we go. I'm hoping at this point that she'll fall asleep on the way home and we can both take a little nap before it's time to retrieve the child from school. Power napping is not cool to a mom when it's the baby that actually got the power nap. Again, thirty minutes before we were to leave is when she finally fell asleep. I put Leah in the car again, but this time she started to cuss me out in baby speak which comes in the form of high pitched screaming and "din-din-din"ning at me.

After greeting me Trey immediately asks if we're going to the store. I don't know why this has become a Pavlovian response when I get him from school but I figured why not. "Which one do you want to go to" I ask.
"The Baby Store".
"Ok, sure." We spend a decent amount of time checking out all the baby store goodness when I decide it's time to head home. Both kids fall asleep in the car. Finally. I'll get to rest. Trey wakes up as soon as I get out.
"I'm so hungry!"
"Ok, you can have lunch but then you're taking a nap." I gently lift Leah out of her seat. Her head is heavy and so is her breathing. I'm holding the pacifier between my teeth just in case she wakes up. I carry her upstairs and lay her down oh so gently all the while holding my breath. I start to walk away...waaaahhhh! &%@#*!!! Back downstairs. Lunch to all. Kid number one is upstairs and tucked in by 3:00. Not too bad. Kid number two is...awake. She's so incredibly awake. She is not slowing down. Kid number one wakes up. No rest for the wicked.

Finally, at 6:00 Leah crashes. Hard. Only 30 minutes I promise her. An hour later I retrieve her. She wasn't easy to wake up. She wasn't easy to be around. For a solid hour she fought sleep. She looked like a character from the movie Dazed and Confused. I gave up and decided to put her back to bed at 8:00. Then the phone rang. And it rang again immediately after the last time it rang. And it woke Kid number two up.

So here I am with five hours of sleep and two awake children.

10:00 Trey is down
10:30 Leah is down
10:35 Jen is eating cereal for dinner...again.
11:15 Jen is running upstairs to see why Trey is crying and make sure he doesn't wake Leah.
11:16 Jen is running upstairs again for the same reason
11:20 Back upstairs
11:22 OH. MY. GOSH. Whatisyourproblem???

There was even hesitation at the top of the steps each time and as soon as my foot hit the bottom floor, Trey would start complaining. He's got a gift, that boy. He's inherited his father's dream/awake state and was dreaming while being audibly awake and was really pissed about something. I was trying to wake him up to get him out of it but he kept slipping back in. Finally, he realized he had to go to the bathroom.

Now I'm extra sleepy and typing this silly post about lack of sleep instead of actually doing so and in the process, have made it easy for YOU to sleep.

But wait! I have good news! I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to...oh wrong thing. I found out today that Bill is finally in Kuwait and he is due home...
(dun dun dun)

{Doing a sleep deprived happy dance}

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I'm feeling uninspired to write anything postworthy. I actually just feeling overwhelmed with the amount of things I have left to do before the arrival of my husband. I have a laundry list that goes on and on and when one thing is checked off, three more make their way onto the end of it. I know that Bill really doesn't care if the grout in the kitchen is pearly white but he hasn't been home in seven months and I don't want him to see anything needing attention other than us. Besides, the last thing I'm going to want to do is clean when he's home. We are planning a short little getaway right after he gets back and it would be nice if I could leave the house with my to-do list done.

I think Bill is now in Kuwait. I'm not positive. I haven't received the official word yet but an unexpected email that greeted me this morning from Bill stated that they were headed out this morning, my time. One step closer. The government is great at hurry up and wait. He'll be in Kuwait until they get a plane to head back to the States.

I hope he doesn't mind, but I wanted to share an exerpt from a letter I received just the other day. You never realize what you truly have until you see what others lack:

"I want to feel a cool breeze on my face--not a wind that feels like it's from the fire of Hell.
I want to hear children laughing in their play without being afraid of getting blown up.
I want to wear something red or blue or even yellow for a change.
I want to be able to NOT shave one day a week and when I do shave, I want to use hot water.
I don't want to have to check and make sure I have my pistol when I go to church.
I want to sit in a large crowd and praise God with all the media we can use.
I don't want to hang up any more pictures [referring to those lost in the war]
I want to read my children bedtime stories.
I want to drive and if I have to walk, I want to do it without wearing 50+ pounds of gear to stay alive.
I want to drink water from a glass.
I want real coffee.
I want chinese food.
I want to chase Trey and marvel at Leah."

He then goes on to say he's selfish for wanting those things. Not at all Love...not one bit.

His welcome home banner is almost complete and my shipment of patriotic decorations arrived last week from Oriental Trading. When I get the phone call that they're in the air, I'll decorate the car and make arrangements for the kids. Beware...future posts are sure to have lots of pictures.

Monday, September 05, 2005

How to Wash a Car

Set up Pack 'N Play in the garage with an assortment of toys, but not too many or the baby can get overstimulated.

Gather items such as sponges, squeegee, car wash and bucket and place in driveway.

Reel the hose out of the garage and wonder whose idea it was that a garden hose or spiggot is so darn un-aesthetic that it has to be put in the garage where it does no one any good and must have a bucket underneath the faucet in order to catch the drips.

Get mind back on idea of actually washing the car.

Go inside and pick up baby and tell preschooler that it's time to clean the car.

Listen to preschooler tell you five times in thirty seconds that he wants to use the blue sponge.

Say oKAY just when you think the vein in your head will burst from repetitive information from the small person.

Put baby in Pack 'N Play. Listen to baby cry when you walk away.

Hose car down. Repeatedly tell preschooler "no" when he repeatedly says to you, "I wanna do it!"

Do not make eye contact with baby while she is whining pathetically amongst her expensive toys which she is now throwing out of Pack 'N Play.

Begin to wash the car. Wonder what preschooler is doing on the other side of the car. Realize he is also "washing" the car, with his requested blue sponge.

Rinse off the part of the car that was just washed before moving to next section.

Exclaim loudly to preschooler to please not wash where mommy has just rinsed. Go back on the other side.

Repeat last step six times.

Pretend that you are watching preschooler every time he says, "Mommy. Watch this!" as he repeats same motion but thinks it's more interesting the next time he does it. Yes, the sponge sticking to the car with the physics of car wash is extremely interesting. Good job, honey.

Rinse off car while continuously telling preschooler he can water the grass as soon as you're done using the hose. Continue to ignore whiny baby in the garage that has absolutely no interest in the carefully selected toys for her entertainment.

Give hose to child to water the grass which doesn't need it due to the sprinkler system but realize he's occupied and try to dry the car quickly as baby is full on screaming now and it is echoing throughout the neighborhood. Hope that the nosy neighbor on the corner doesn't call CPS for neglect.

Yell at preschooler to move further onto the grass since he is getting the newly dried side of the car wet.

Give up momentarily and drag both children (one sopping wet and one finally saved from abandonment) in the house and prepare a quick dinner for them. Put in a VeggieTales video, set down plates of food and return to car to clean windows and put away car washing supplies.

Have preschooler run out of the house five mintues later asking to water the grass again and going into mini meltdown when you tell him no. Divert with promise of chocolate pretzels.

Finish putting all car washing supplies away and pull car into garage.

Start dinner for yourself and *tsk* loudly when preschooler asks what you are making for him.

Vow to just spend the $10 next time and have someone else do it.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Here's a Post I Should Have Put in Two Weeks Ago

My mom met her best friend in seventh grade. They stayed friends through adulthood, marriage, kids, divorce, the 80's and lots of other terrible things. Now the kids are grown and we have kids of our own. Our families couldn't be more different unless there were another species of human out there. Now that I think about it, that may just be it. My mom and her friend grew up in San Bernardino County (home of McDonald's and the Hell's Angels) and my mom got out of there as quickly as possible and moved to San Diego. Whew! To think, I could have grown up a desert rat. Her friend moved one county south, to Riverside about fifteen years ago. Two weekends ago another birthday party was thrown and even though gas is terribly expensive we made the 90 minute trip up north to celebrate...because we're family. And frankly, I had nothing else planned. Ha!

All RIGHT!! Paris, only 17 more miles! Oh, wrong one. Well, in this Perris you can go soak in the hot springs. That was one of my grandma's favorite things to do.

It's HOT. If you look closely, you can see Trey passed out in his carseat.

A whole lotta nothin'. That's what I like to see. Unfortunately it won't stay this way.

Would YOU pay $400,000 for one of these houses, at least an hour outside of town?? Notice how much land is in front of them, but between them, not much. That's so you can squeeeeze as many in there as possible.

This is what I'm getting ready to get on to.

Follow that Truck!!

And now, Blogger will not allow me to add any more pictures to this post, so I will have to continue on another.

Part Deux

What do you mean the presents aren't for me??!?

There should never be pot at a kids birthday party, even a little pot. Hahaha. Ok, so that was only funny to me? The pots....on the table...they're little....oh nevermind.

Hi, Leah.

Bye Leah.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

A Freak by Any Other Name...

Cleaning. Cleaning. Cleaning.

I have two weeks to get my house *perfect* before my hubby comes home.

I have what's called OCD, commonly referred to as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. My brain gets stuck. I'm not satisfied until it's done just so. This isn't easy when you have little ones right behind you messing up what you just did. I'm changing the name to Obviously Cares Deeply.

I have gone through the bedrooms with my vacuum and attachments, my swiffer duster, my Old English and clean white rag, my lint roller, Windex, Clorox CleanUp (for the windowsills as we are a coastal city and a lovely inhabitant called mold likes to move in) and my Febreeze. The rooms still needing tending to are the office, the upstairs bathrooms, the living/dining room and the constant Family room and kitchen. I've gone through the laundry room, moving everything out to mop and dust and disinfect. The downstairs bathroom was cleaned top to bottom to include me getting on the floor with my cleaner and scrubbing. I've done the kitchen countless times but it always needs tending to. The family room is a whirlwind of primary colored plastic and no matter how many times it gets picked up in a day it looks the same at the end of the day. Oh yeah, did I mention JUST HOW MUCH LAUNDRY I have?? Both kids have just leapt out of their prior sizes so not only to I have to wash and fold and hang clothes but now I have to store clothes for two kids which includes finding a container to put said things in and a space in the garage to keep them.

Countless blog entries have gone through my head, but because I wasn't able to get them out exactly how I wanted them (to include numerous pictures hanging out in my camera) they are still with me.

Perfectionism is a curse.