Oct 29, 2014

A few weeks ago I caught Gabe in one lie right after another.  I was so frustrated with him and his tendency to deny the truth regardless of the evidence presented against him.  I text Matt and told him what was going on.  He suggested Gabe do a little research on liars and theives.
In addition to some other consequences, Gabe was required to look up two stories in the Bible that talk about lying and stealing.  He read the passages, wrote a summary and then answered some questions about the passage and about his own circumstances.  It was a consequence or punishment as he hates writing, and it was also an open door to talk about why he lies, who he is hurting and what lying does to his reputation.

Excellent call Matt!  It proved to be a great way to see what God says about and how he deals with people with the same issues that Gabe is struggling with.

Last week I received an email from Gabe's teacher about some social behavior issues Gabe is having in class.  There were a few disrespectful things he has said or done to his peers but the bigger issue seemed to be that his peers consider him a liar.  He has gained a reputation for denying any accusations that are brought against him, even when others can vouch for the accusations being true.

I was so frustrated with Gabe, just sad that he is willing to hurt others and to be burdened by lies in order to attempt to avoid consequences for his behavior.  Gabe had a good chat with his teacher and actually owned up to some of the accusations, and then he talked with Matt and I at home as well.

The following morning I was getting ready for work and Paul came to my mind.  Paul was Saul, a man who knowingly, willingly killed Christians because he thought their beliefs were wrong.  Saul's story doesn't end there, he turned his life around.  He had a powerful encounter with God on a dusty road and become the person he had spent much of his early years killing.  He became a follower of Christ.  And is wasn't enough to just change his thinking, he hit the road to tell everyone about the gospel.

I thought about how Gabe can stop the lying now, and change his reputation.

Over breakfast that morning I shared Paul's story with Gabe.  He had heard about Paul before, but this  time we were talking about Paul as his story can relate to Gabe's, if Gabe chooses.

Today was conference day for Gabe.  He is doing great academically!  We are so thankful he is in the TAG program and given this opportunity to learn in new ways, and be challenged to push himself harder and think deeper.
After the short blurb on his academic levels the teacher switched to talk about the social issues.  She said she had a great conversation with Gabe at school, she really felt he was open and honest with her and now that is all in the past.  She said she was a firm believer in moving on and starting fresh.

I assured her that we are going to keep working on honestly and accountability at home and I mentioned that we also talked about a great example of someone who can change his reputation.

Gabe looked up at me and said "yah, Saul to Paul".
Without the slightest pause his teacher said "he is probably the best example of someone who made a decision to change his life and was able to shake off his former reputation".  She went on to talk about how people feared Paul because of his former actions, but all of that can change.

I leaned over to Gabe and said "and lets not forget about Barnabas".

See Paul wanted to jump in to the missionary journey and tell the world about the gospel, but some disciples didn't trust him because of who he used to be.
Then there was one guy, Barnabas, who looked at Paul and said "ya, I'll vouch for this guy, he can come"

I wanted to teach Gabe that when he makes true changes in his behaviors his friends will see it and they can vouch for him, they can stand up for him and speak on his behalf.  I want him to know that he isn't alone, in his class he has a few good friends who can vouch for him when he makes the right choice.

His teacher looked at Gabe in the eyes and said "Gabe, I'll be your Barnabas.  I'll be the one.  I will stand up for you because I believe you are changing".

Joy filled my heart when she spoke those words.

So I'd say it was a good conference.

Oct 26, 2014

Oh yah...I have a wife...and kids

Bringing a family back together after an long time a part is much more challenging than the civilian type person can probably imagine.

As I was planning an outfit and grocery shopping for the big homecoming I found it more difficult than it should be to answer the simple question "what does Matt like?"
I don't know. 
I can't remember.
It has been a while since he complimented an outfit I was wearing.  It has been a while since he has seen me in an "outfit".  Its not like the kids are like "hey mom you look cute, I'm going to take a picture of you and send it to dad".  So short of the photos of the boys and I at sporting events this summer...I don't think he has seen an outfit since he left!  
I know some of his favorite snacks, but some things have changed and he likes different things now.  He is trying really hard to live healthier so does that mean no chips?  No Tiramisu? Its so confusing.

We went on our first date (aside from the pants incident) yesterday.  We went to a Sounders game and then out to dinner.  It was great to spend the day together.  We shared stories of the past 6 months.  Tough ones, like the day I had to put our cat to sleep, and fun ones like the day the two A's and I went SUP and saw a ton of dolphins, and driving through Jackson, WY and camping in the rain.  We talked about the future and dreams, we laughed at each other, ran in the rain, and for a moment it would have seemed like there wasn't a gaping whole of 6 missing months in our lives.

And then today Matt left the house for a run without me.  Without me!  OK, so I wasn't home at the time but we talked about running together today.  I had an errand to run and when I got back home he was gone.  It was sunny, chilly and beautiful outside.  The perfect day for a run.  As I walked in the door the boys said "dad just left for a run".  I was pretty irritated.  I put on my running clothes, not willing to let the ditching take away my chance for a good run and headed out.

When I got back Matt said "it stopped raining and was sunny so I went for a run".
I gave him my glare that said "pardon me, no yo intiendo"
About 20 minutes later he came down stairs and said...and I really am quoting him "sorry about leaving you, I forgot I had a wife"
Or maybe I'm not quoting him.  Maybe this is me making up things again...
I think he actually said 'I'm sorry, I'm still getting used to thinking about someone more than myself"

I accepted his apology, but I'm totally going to put a time limit on this very believable excuse.  Like maybe another week.
Then I said "listen for the boys, they are in the back yard playing, I'm getting in the shower"

I get out of the shower and say "where are the boys?"
To which he replies "I don't know they are gone."

Oh ya he was supposed to be paying attention to the boys.

It isn't necessarily about the run or listening for the boys while I was in the shower.  It could be a dozen different stories and likely will be at least a few more.  Its getting used to each other being more present in the other's life.  
It is different, it is new, and we are still working through it all.

Oct 23, 2014

Even in the midst of celebration you're gonna have a bad day.
I went to bed super grumpy last night.
Two reasons: Matt doesn't want new jeans and I'm a little crazy.
Matt has 5 pair of jeans.  This is weird for me to start off with because I have about 15 (cut me some slack I have bootcut, skinny, black, blue, dark blue).  2 of those pairs of jeans are acid wash.  Not the new trendy acid wash, I'm talking straight out of 1989 acid wash.  Two others are really nice and happen to be brand new - his mom bought them for him in Feb because she too was irritated by the acid wash, tattered jeans he was sporting. The other pair is fine, not great, but not acid wash.  So until the jeans purchase with his mom, the man looked the fool in jeans.
Matt comes home from deployment and he doesn't have quite the same physique he did before....by a lot.  Picture a hobo holding up pants that are 2 sizes too big with a dog leash.  So ridiculous. So when he was at the mall the other day, I told him to buy 2 pair of jeans.  He didn't feel like it, so he came home with a leather case for his cell phone.  Seriously?  Leather case for his phone.  His phone is dressed better than he is.
After seeing that his pants were literally pegged at the waist, I decided to take things into my own hands and took him shopping last night.  We get to the mall and he declares he doesn't want jeans.  Ok, we came to the mall for the sole purpose of buying jeans and now he tells me he doesn't want them?  I coerce him toward a store that carries the exact jeans he is wearing (a style we know he likes) and upon arrival at the store, and selecting the exact jeans he is wearing but a size smaller he scoffs at the price tag and declares he will not pay $60 for a pair of jeans.  I almost....almost blurted out "$60?  I've totally paid more for jeans" then decided that wasn't information I really needed to reveal.  So off we go to a store that will have cheeper jeans, however a store that he doesn't own a a pair of jeans from so he is going to need to try something on.  And he refuses.  Then when I gave him the glare that would make Superman cry. He succombed to my shopping superpowers and went into the fitting room with 2 different styles.  He came out, spun, went back in, put the jeans back and said "I'm not buying jeans".
And in my head I think I said "and I'm not going to be happy with you until you do".
The kids were at church, we skipped out to have a "date night" jeans shopping.  His reward for jeans shopping was going to be a cold one at the pub inside the mall.  He got a cold one...a cold beer and a cold shoulder because I was pissed.
Needless to say, I went to bed angry.

I have this amazing ability to spin something really quite simple into something super complex or something innocent into a personal attack, while sleeping.
Aside from the jeans thing, I was slightly irritated over something ridiculously small last night when I went to bed.  Like really, ridiculously minute in the grand scheme of life, but by the time I woke up this morning I had turned that mole hill into a mountain!  I'm not talking about exaggerating an issue, I'm talking about making up an entirely new one.
For example: lets say I'm the last one to get an invitation to some event and a little hurt about it.  I have the power to create a story in my head that there was a big event and I wasn't invited at all.  Then I take it to another level and have a dreamed up confrontation fight and then I rally people on my side and I storm off angry and hurt and everyone feels bad for me.... all while sleeping.  A big fat dose of crazy.  I admit it.

So with the pants and the made-up problem stemming from a real life pothole.....I woke up grumpy.
Not good. Never good.

Gabe woke up late, his pants were too tight (seriously with the pants issue again?) and he hadn't cleaned out his lunch box from the day before so everything needed to be dumped, packed and he was already running late.  So he got grumpy real fast.
There were raised voices.
Mine.
Gabe stormed out of the house to wait for the bus and a few moments later I heard the door open and close.  I called out his name and there was no answer.  I peeked out the door and I found my sweet Eli, standing outside with Gabe, waiting with him for his short bus.
I told Eli is was nice of him to wait with Gabe and I asked why he did it.  His response..."because it seemed like he was having a bad day, so I thought I should wait with him".
My heart....so full.

Moments later I get an email from Gabe's teacher explaining he was having problems with his peers in class.  My heart sank.  I know this kid has some social issues....it is so hard to parent that.  I can teach him how to be friendly, kind, open, and fun....but I can't make him be any of those things.

The drive to work was tear filled as I pondered Gabe's struggle with friendship and cooperation, and then I arrived at school and got waived down by a super sweet little student who, in the most adorable way possible, told me that Raymond puked.  Yay.

I'm mad at my husband, I'm irritated with the other semi-fake situation, Gabe is struggling, the lady on the radio is dating a married man and thinks its ok, and now Raymond pukes.

There are going to be bad days.....even during a time when everything is supposed to be grand.  The reality is, there are going to be bad days.

Matt and I worked through the pants issue. He understands my pants perspective and is now the proud new owner of two well fitted pairs of dungarees, Gabe had a good meeting with his teacher and we are looking toward some steps to making his social aspect of school become more successful and Raymond went home after puking his way from the ball shed to the front office.  As for the lady that thinks dating married men is ok, well I'll just keep praying for her twisted soul.

Tomorrow is a new day.  I truly hope everyone has well fitting pants and I don't make up some drama while sleeping.


Oct 20, 2014

Matt was off Saturday through Monday and will return to work tomorrow.  He won't be doing his actual job quite yet, he will spend the next few weeks in-processing (fancy word for paperwork, briefs and meetings) and then get back to his unit in November to start to put things back together.

I was prepared for just about anything this past weekend: Matt feeling overwhelmed, the kids' feelings being hurt if Matt didn't want to spend every single moment with them or play, watch or do all the things they wanted him to.  I was prepared for emotional breakdowns, disappointment, and moments of forgetting that our family dynamic has changed.  I was prepared for Matt to be so excited to be back in the land of his electronic toys and tv and high speed internet that he forgets about the 3 humans begging for his time.  I really was prepared for just about everything.

I'm so happy to report that there was none of that.

I did freak out a little when I woke up in bed scantily clad and thought one of the boys had climbed into bed with me.  The horror....then I remembered it was Matt in bed with me and it was perfectly fine that I wasn't wearing long-sleeved footy jams.

Matt has been so gracious with his time.  He has made a conscious effort to balance his own desires with the desires others have for him.  He has battled sleep deprivation and jet-lag to spend more time with us and he hasn't freaked out yet about the boys fighting or doing any of the other annoying things that kids do.

So far the reentry has been smooth, and sweet, and I hope I remember the tender moments that I've witnessed between Matt and the boys forever.

I walked out of the room the other night and found Gabe and Matt sitting on the couch pretty close.  Gabe was laying his head on Matt's shoulder and they were hand in hand..... so precious.
During prayers at night the kids each spent time telling Matt how happy they were for him to be home, how much they missed him, and continue to make lists of things they want to do with him.

As we head in to this week we have soccer games, concerts, birthday parties, and church related events.  There is no time to transition, we are just thrown back into life.  Just like that.  As if nothing has changed and no time has passed and yet so much has.

I've probably never looked forward to getting off work and the weekend as I do right now!  My brain feels like it may explode with all the stories I want to tell, the things I want to do, the questions I have and the plans I want to make with Matt.

There is a lot of smiles and love and laughter in our home.  Busy or not, too little time...doesn't matter.  We are so blessed to have Matt home.

Oct 19, 2014

The Last Night

** This post was written the night before Matt came home but then I got locked out of my account and couldn't post until today**

Tonight is our last night before Matt comes home.  It is a night of celebration and mourning.

I mourn the loss of this season of our lives being "the boys and I".  The summer of adventures we shared, the times that we rallied as a team to make things happen, that we lifted each other up when we needed it most and laughed, and cried, and rose above challenges.  These are memories that I treasure so dearly.

I mourn the loss of the season of blessings.  Oh how we were so blessed throughout this deployment. The genorosity of others leaves me speechless...even today as I received a "welcome home" gift from a friend.  I cannot stop the tears from falling as I think of this gift and the many other acts of kindness, notes in the mail or via text or email, and the number of people who poured into the lives of myself and the boys.
It isn't the gift or act itself that I will miss, although there were some awesome gifts, I will miss witnessing first hand the sacrificial, amazing love of my friends and family who tried to fill me up with joy in a potentially dark time. There truly are not words to express the gratitude that fills my heart.  Each person who bestowed love, and generosity upon us will forever be etched in my heart.

I mourn the loss of the freedom I had to just do what I want without regard to someone else's opinion or schedule.  I''ll miss taking up the whole bed, Fantasy Football Free Sundays, not fearing for my life when I get up in the middle of the night to pee and just as I'm almost to the toilet realizing the toilet seat has been returned to its upright and locked position.  I'll miss quiet hours and a clean house.  I'll miss morning and night time texts from Matt, I'll miss reading notes from him that articulate his feelings for me in a way that comes across so differently and permanent and beautiful than when spoken.

We toasted with cupcakes.
We raised our cupcake and I thanked the boys for a fabulous 6+ months, thanked God for his protection, and we said farewell to this chapter of our lives.....and we celebrated!

We celebrate having this person we all love so dearly back in our lives.  We celebrate that he is no longer living in a container, plopped in the middle of a war zone.  We celebrate that we have access to talk to him, hold him, love him any time we want.  The boys are excited to watch movies and play games with their favorite partner.  They look forward to cuddling and laughing and to showing off their new abilities and skills.
I celebrate that I no longer have to make the tough decisions on my own, that I have a partner to tag when I no longer want to be "it".  I celebrate the feeling of looking into the eyes of the other person who makes me feel complete.  I celebrate that he will know my mood without me speaking a word, and that he will be here when things get dicey.
I look forward to dates and laughter...we have so much fun together.

I celebrate an end to a journey that went well.  I celebrate that we walk away feeling that we did this well.  And knowing that we could do this again....if we absolutely had too, but pray that God keeps us together for a long time.

Memorial stones were left on an altar when the Israelites crossed over the Jordan and into the promiced land.  Stones to remind those that came after of all that God had brought them through.  These stones are a reminder to celebrate the success, mourn the loss, and bless the Lord for his providence.

I need to get some stones.