Sep 24, 2014


Matt wakes me up almost every morning.  He sends his first text right around 6am and then texts me incessantly until I wake up and respond.  Even on Saturday when he forgets that some people don't have to get up and go to work on Saturday.  It is truly one of the best parts of my day.
Yesterday was no different.  My phone was firing away text after text and even though I shoved the phone under my covers, I could still hear it going off.  When I finally looked at the phone through my sleepy, squinted eyes, I saw that the first text was not from Matt, it was from a friend of our family.  Since 6am texts usually only come from Matt, my interest was peaked.
The friend was writing to tell me Matt was on his heart and in his prayers today.  With the chaos that is filling the middle east these days he felt compelled to remind me that he is praying for Matt and told me to let him know if he needs to "intensify his prayers" if Matt's location or status changes.  I chuckled about his intensity of prayer remark.  I replied "no need to up the threatcon level, prayer intensity can remain at code orange".

Anyone remember Bush's color coded terror threat level chart?  Am I the only one considering a new and improved "Prayer Intensity Chart"?

Later that morning I sent Matt a message, letting him know that our friend was praying for him.  Matt's response forced tiny drops of rain to flow slowly from my eyes. He said "that is nice of him, I have not once felt down here...and I can only attribute that to those like you and him who keep me in their thoughts and pray for me".
If at ever you think that your prayers don't matter, think again.  To spend 180 days away from family and the comforts of home and to be in an environment where life is truly in danger and to still be able to say "I have not once felt down here" is testimony to the power of prayers lifted up on his behalf.
So thank you to all who have prayed over Matt.  He has truly been touched by your prayers.

Sep 23, 2014


Eli: mom, you left something in my backpack.
Mom: huh?  I haven't put anything in your backpack.
Eli: well it was sure in there.
Mom: what was it?
Eli: well, when I was changing into my soccer clothes after school your underwear fell out of my bag.

Yep.  I'm the mom that stopped using dryer sheets because it is trendy and now my underwear is getting stuck to Eli's soccer shorts.

Speaking of soccer.  Today was Eli's first soccer game.  Supermom didn't go.  Supermom chose to go to curriculum night at Gabe's school instead.  Supermom secured a ride home from the soccer game for Eli and made dinner for Gabe, left it on the counter and figured Gabe would only be home for about 30 minutes alone while mom headed to the curriculum night.  Mom returned at 7:30 and found that Eli wasn't home yet.  Supermom really didn't know where Eli was because he didn't respond to any texts.  Supermom finally found Eli,  put Gabe to bed, started a load of laundry and then left....her two wee little lads home alone on the dark rainy night because mom had some last minute errands to run.

Tomorrow is Gabe's birthday.  His 10th birthday - a big deal.  In an effort to meet every last one of Gabe's birthday requests supermom ran to Subway to get a sandwich to take to him for lunch tomorrow.  Mom told them to put mayo on the sandwich.  Gabe hates mayo.  So mom brings the sandwich home, uses her grubby paws to scrape off the mayo.  Unfortunately, the scraping also removed the lettuce, pickles and olives.  Supermom chops up pickles and olives in very thin subway approved slices, adds mustard and closes up the sandwich hoping he doesn't notice the minimal shreds of lettuce left on the sandwich.

Supermom also made a stop at Safeway to get the kid a cake.  Yes, at 9pm the night before a child's very important 10th birthday supermom is looking for a cake at safeway.  The choices were carrot or german chocolate.  Supermom tells herself that surely at one point Gabe must have requested a german chocolate cake and swoops it up...out from an older man's hands.  Since it is 9pm there is nobody in the bakery to write on the cake, if it is even possible to write on a german chocolate cake, so mom gets those $56 candles that spell out "happy birthday" slaps them on the cake and calls it good.

Supermom also wanted to get Gabe's favorite breakfast pastry, but since breakfast items have long since been depleted from the bakery aisle, mom grabs a box-o-coffee cake mix and after a pleading text from Eli wondering where his mommy has gone, she heads home.

Doesn't sound too much like supermom?  
What makes mom super?
This mom is super because she willingly accepted help.  The dinner I made and left on the counter for the kids was made with love by a dear one who generously made me a ton of freezer meals.  And that birthday treat that is ready for Gabe to take to was picked up by a friend of mine who was at costco and saved me a trip.  The missing Eli?  He was being fed and safely carried from the soccer game in Tacoma to home.
One may think with all that extra help I could have planned a little better for Gabe's birthday.  One may be right, but I didn't.
This mom is super because she problem solved.
This mom is super because she didn't lose her cool.

The kitchen is cleaned so that Gabe can make his birthday feast tomorrow, the presents and cake, however untasty or lame looking it may be, are laid out on the table.  Lunches are prepared, birthday snacks ready for school, clean clothes are ready for tomorrow's dirty adventures, everyone is safely tucked in to bed and that box-o-coffee cake is ready for me to put in the oven in the morning.  
It doesn't matter how I got here, I made it to the end of the day, with help, with grace, and with a whole lot of laughter because really who else sends their 12 year old to school with a pair of black lace unders?

Sep 7, 2014

More = Tears

When we lived in Germany we had AFN (Armed Forces Network) television service.  I think there were nine channels and in lieu of commercials there were public service announcements.   Most of them were depressing: don't kill yourself, don't beat your wife, don't drink and drive, don't say "bomb" at the installation gates, and don't leave your pets on the curb when you move back to the US.  There were also come interesting ones that detailed how to marry a local national, schedule your appointment to make a will, and one that actually saved us, rules for transferring your GI Bill to a Post 9/11 college plan. Since AFN didn't have any recording capabilities like DVR, and rarely had any shows on that I wanted to watch when I was free to watch them, I didn't watch TV much.

When we moved back to the States I was very excited to have more than 9 channels and recording capabilities.  So naturally we bought another TV, subscribed to all 86,000 channels, and digital recording in two rooms.  We were in a digital entertainment disneyland.  But when I think back, I realize I rarely ever watched TV.  I wonder why?

After five months of being without our dish subscription, we just restarted it this past week. We now have 560,000 channels, two Genies, and a remote that you don't even have to point at the box to use.  Woohoo!  I'm excited.

Today I sat down on the couch and attempted to turn on the 49er game.  
I was scrolling through all 560,000 channels trying to find it.
I tried googling "what channel is the 49er game on?"
I remembered I am a Sunday Ticket subscriber so I get all the games...somewhere.
I got out the instruction guide to find what channels the Sunday Ticket is on....59 pages of reading later I find the channel range.
I scroll through all the Ticket games and can't find the one I want, but I know it is on.
Finally I realize it is blacked out on the Ticket but showing on local channels.
Where are my local channels?????
Back to the 59 page "quick guide"...
The game is now half over and I spent the entire first half scrolling through my half a million channels.
I started crying.
No kidding, tears welled up in my eyes.
I just want to watch the football game and I cannot find it in the midst of all these other channels.

Then I remembered why I didn't watch TV last time we had the super dish... I cannot properly use the remote. It isn't because I am doing far more important things that I don't have time to waste by watching TV, it is because I simply am overwhelmed by the TV remote.
Is there a "Firefly" remote for small-minded people who cannot figure out the Genie?
Where is the "page down" button so that I can scroll through 10 channels at a time instead of one by one?
Where is the GAME?
Is there a voice option "find 49er game"?
MAAAAAAAAAAAAATT can you turn on the game for me?

Finally, I got it.
Nobody touch the TV.  
It might send me into a complete nervous breakdown if I have to find this channel again...ever.

Sep 5, 2014

Who Are You?

The beginning of the school year always brings some activity where the boys tell their teacher and/or classmates a little about themselves.
I love reading these!

Here is some of my favorite from Gabe's questionnaire:
People who live with me: Matt, Riss, eli
School would be better if: we had swings
If I had a million dollars I would: build a restaurant
Something I want you to know about me: my family travels a lot
Favorite vacation spot: blank
Favorite tv show: blank
Favorite food: blank
What?  Apparently there were about 10 questions that he deemed too bothersome to answer so he left them blank.  
So disappointing.   
I made him go back and answer a bunch of them.  I was quite irritated that he filled in the favorite vacation spot as "Europe".  Little stinker.
But this does say a lot about him, he doesn't like being pelted with questions about himself, his day, or anything else that he doesn't feel like sharing.

Eli didn't get so lucky as to simply fill out a form, his "all about me" work was in his language arts class.  His teacher required a creative writing piece.

Where I'm From by Eli
I am from baseball games, from books and art
I am from the house that has a forest in the background larger than the others
it sounds like birds chirping and kids playing
I am the vines that go everywhere and the tree that people climb
I am from the beach house on Thanksgiving in Florida every year
I am from the tall woman in the back of the room
From Matt, Riss and Gabe
I am from forgetting important stuff and a traveling family.
From "treat others the way you want to be treated" and "if you don't have nothing nice to say, don't talk at all"
I'm from a church that is like a family of Christians
I'm from Tennessee, Mexico and England, fish and chips and tacos
From the man who is saving lives, the woman teaching others
I am from Clarksville, Tennessee a small house with a big yard
I am from America.

One thing I noticed as I looked over the kids' papers....they both write my name down as Riss.  I wonder if they know my full name?

Sep 4, 2014

First Day of School

Yesterday was the first day of school for us.
We took the obligatory front door photos.

I constantly get comments about how much the boys look alike.
I don't see it.
Maybe my view of them on the outside is skewed by what I know of them on the inside.
Their very different personalities reveal themselves in every aspect of their lives.
Both kids picked out their own outfits for school.
Gabe chose a long sleeve stylish shoody (what he calls a shirt with a hood), layered with a down vest and finished off with hair a la gel and zip up converse (because he is too lazy to tie his shoes).

Eli threw on shorts (no matter what the temperature is) a school t-shirt and school hoody, and his signature Sambas.  He doesn't brush his hair unless it is sticking up straight. He only wears black sambas or chucks. And he would prefer shorts and a hoody to any other articles of clothing at any given point in time.
Eli was more interested in showing school pride and getting to school asap.
G wanted to look handsome.

I opted for white pants because there are only 4 weeks out of the year that I wear white pants.  The first two and the last two...not because I care about that whole "can't wear white after labor day" thing but because these are the only 4 weeks that I don't have students threatening to ruin my clothes!

Sep 2, 2014

Last night was rough for Eli.  I got out of the shower and thought I heard him crying in his room.  One look at his reddened face and I knew disaster must have rocked his world.
I looked around....was something important broken?  Where is is phone?  Did he break his new helicopter?

"What's wrong?"
His voice quivered but he managed to spit out the words "I...Miss...Dad"
He was suddenly, uncontrollably overwhelmed by the absence of his dad. 
5 months rushed in like a wave.
A birthday spent with greetings over FaceTime rather than face-to-face was too much.
And he crumbled.
And I freaked out.

I was in my robe at the time, so I told him I'd be right back and went to my room to get dressed.  
In between jumping into my jammie bottoms and finding a t-shirt, I sent a panicked text to Matt... "please be there....Eli needs you".

Eli didn't want me or need me, he needed dad and since that was not something I could produce I felt completely helpless.  I didn't know what to say, and feared opening my mouth at all would send me into tears.  As I struggled to find the words, I got a text from Matt...he can't call right now, this is on me.
With my phone now in hand, I knew my next step.... I pulled up my blog from earlier that day (the birthday post) and read parts of it to Eli.  And when I was done I looked up at him, he had stopped crying and tears slowly ran down his face.  He was ok.
We spent the next few moments laying on his bed talking about school and ideas to display his baseball cards, prayed and said goodnight.
About a half hour later my phone was Matt.  I went in to Eli's room and found him hiding under the covers with a flashlight and notepad (note to self - revisit this later) then handed him the phone to talk to his dad.  They talked for a bit and Eli went back to bed, and Matt texted me..."this is why I need to get OUT".

This morning when Eli wasn't in his room I went in to see what he was doing on that notepad...I couldn't find it.  Later, I was passing by my bed and found a note pulled from that notepad and left on my pillow.....
The first page was a note to me thanking me cheering him up and for writing those things about him on my blog.  Included in the note was a $20 bill and a $10 amazon gift card.  On the back was this....

Sep 1, 2014

Happy Birthday E!

This guy is 12 today.  He weighs 109 pounds and is 5'2" and in a few days he starts 7th grade.
He is sweet, has an adorable smile, he is fearless, adventurous, out-going, and just a really fun kid to be with.  
He has aged more in this past year than seems possible.
I hope I never forget the days when he sensed I was stressing out a little and he would look at me with those giant big brown eyes and ask what he could do to help me.  He has done everything I asked and more.  I could not possibly be more proud of how he has helped me and handled this deployment.  His helpfulness, obedience and generally mild temperament made my life so much easier.
This kid misses his dad desperately.
As we traveled this summer I found him regularly aligning himself with father figures, desperate for the attention that he misses from his dad.  Just the other day I overheard him telling his cousin how he missed snuggling with his dad and talking to him about "guy stuff".  
As I look over at him and no longer have to bend down to look into his eyes, I know my sweet baby E is growing up.
I'm so thankful for him, for his heart, his personality, and his love of being with his family.  Playing games together, watching movies as a family, family meals and bedtime prayers are all still so very important to him.  As I watch with pride as he grows into this great young man, I also cling to him so tightly not wanting to let him go!
Eli Eli Oh.