Wednesday, December 12, 2012

First Month

Woo hoo!  Our first milestone!

A very wise woman, whose husband is retired military, told me that the first few months, and the last few months of a deployment are the hardest.  I assume every situation is different, but she gave me hope.  Because life is so good to me.  We are doing really well.  We miss Mr. Smith around here like crazy, but we are blessed to be busy, and the kids are my saving grace.  Yes, I'm more tired than usual, chasing those munchkins around by myself, but they keep me laughing and fulfilled everyday. This is mostly for my own record keeping, but some may be interested in the details of our deployment experience, so I hope you don't mind me sharing our story on occasion.

The last several days before Harrison left were the worst.  Tears, tears, tears.  The anticipation was awful.  Trying to picture (and trying to ignore) what that final goodbye would be like.  How would Jack take it? What would I do?  Would Harrison be safe?  He was scheduled to leave on November 10th, but we found out a few days before, that he was pushed back a day to November 11th in the evening. Then, a few hours before he was supposed to report, we received notice that his flight was pushed back to the next morning.  So we wake up on the morning of the 12th (Veteran's day of all days) to find out his flight had been pushed back again another four hours.  And every time we had a change of plans, our first thought was, "Yay! More time together!" Then the thought that quickly followed was, "Oh no, I have to start this goodbye process all over again..."  Yuck.  It was a roller coaster of emotions for three days.  When it was time for him to leave, we had my sister in law (thank you, Liz!)  come sit with the boys at our house, and Harrison said his goodbyes to them there.  That was hard.  I hate thinking about how much older and how different they'll be when he gets back.  But thankfully Jack was excited to play with his cousin, so he had some distraction.  We left and grabbed a quick lunch, and drove up to post, only to find out, we were STILL TWO HOURS EARLY.  Are you feeling my pain yet, people?  Let's just get this over with, already!  We had already eaten, and we didn't want to drive the 20 minutes back home to have him say goodbye to the boys again, so we got dessert somewhere and talked for awhile, then went to the store and got him a few last minute things for his trip.  While we were out, Harrison was in uniform, and a sweet man thanked him for his service.  I wanted to yell, "Yeah, and he's deploying today!"  haha, but I know Harrison would've killed me.  He's much too humble for that kind of attention.

When it was finally, finally time to go back to his office, there were many Soldiers and families there spending what time they had left together, and everyone was trying to keep the mood light.  With the send off of the deployment, there are no big ceremonies, just simple and private goodbyes.  I was doing some FRG tasks, and talking with other military wives, while Harrison was working on getting his men organized with last minute things.  His company had a final formation, (roll call) and then it was time.  Our goodbye was simple and sweet.  (I'll spare you the mushy stuff).  By this point, we were both ready to get this deployment started, so we could begin the countdown. That first night was not a fun one, I'll be honest.  But I am so blessed.  I have great friends who are going through this right along with me, and we find comfort in our common situation.  My family and Harrison's family have been so incredibly supportive. Friends who live far away have made such an effort to reach out to me, and let me know they were thinking of me.  I think one day in particular, I had four friends call me - some of which I hadn't talked to in months! I felt so loved.  And my friends here at church have lifted me up so much.  Everyone has offered (and insisted!) on watching the boys to give me a little break - and I hope they know their kindness has not gone unnoticed.

I have had a few bad days, but the good days have far outweighed the bad!  I am so blessed to talk to Harrison pretty often through email or on Skype.  He is loving what he is doing there, and does such a good job of telling me what his missions are like, so I feel apart of his day to day life.  But he's also very good at not worrying me with the details of what he's doing. haha.

One month down, eight to go! 
We've got this. 
So far, so good. 

This was about 30 minutes before goodbyes, so I took what I could get from the boys

We are laughing so hard, because Jack is taking the picture. The camera was bigger than his whole head. 
But it turned out pretty good, for a three year old!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fisher's First

Mr. Fisher,
Anyone who has spent time with you at all, would say you're such a good, sweet baby.  You are always happy and easy-going.  You love to snuggle! You constantly make your way on to my lap just to give me a quick squeeze and often rest your head on my shoulder.  You love playing with your big brother Jack.  You are eating and sleeping well, which explains the 24 pounds on your little body.  You love walking around, and trying to keep up with Jack.

We had fun celebrating your birthday last weekend, and you would not put your cupcake down until it was finished. 

Thanks, Emma for the great pictures!


A video for the grandmas and grandpas, and aunts and uncles who missed the party:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I can do hard things.

I've been putting this post off for months, and trying to decide how to go about it. So,  here goes:

Harrison will be leaving next month for a deployment to Afghanistan for nine months.
It turns out that sentence is difficult to both say, and type. No wonder I've been avoiding telling people.  There have been rumors about this deployment since we moved here nearly a year ago, but it was made official about 6 months ago.  I kept telling myself, "It's so far away, don't think about it now..." but now that he will be leaving in a matter of weeks, I'm doing my best to be realistic about it.

The Bad (and probably the most obvious)
Nine months is a long time apart.  A very, very long time.
Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be right now, and Harrison is in the Infantry branch of the Army, meaning it is he and his guys who will be on the ground, doing the majority of the fighting and missions in his area. I try not to dwell on that part.
I worry about my boys being away from their dad for so long.  Even if Skype is available, it's obviously not the same as Harrison being here to play and interact with them.
I worry about myself as a single parent.  I feel exhausted just thinking about it.

The Good
My family is two hours away, and Harrison's brother and his wife are 15 minutes away. I am thankful for these blessings everyday.
I have so much to keep me busy while Harrison is gone - the boys, church responsibilities, teaching within Jack's co-op preschool group, and being the Family Readiness Group Leader for Harrison's company (which is looking after the well-being of the 120+ Soldiers' families).
I have a support system here of friends whose husbands will also be deployed - we'll be in this together.
My church community is awesome.  There are so many  members who I know will look out for my little family.
His deployment is only 9 months.  I say that because some of these men have had deployments that have lasted as long as 18 months.

The Great
Harrison has trained for this for a long time.  He is honored to serve, and I am honored to be married to him. This is his profession. When many people hear he is deploying, their response is "I'm sorry..." He definitely is not sorry to be going.  Of course, he doesn't want to leave his family, but he has prepared for this, and is looking forward to fighting for our country.  I'm so proud of him and what he does.  He is so passionate about defending our freedoms, and protecting our blessed nation. We are honored to join the cause in which so many soldiers and families have sacrificed. Realizing that Harrison is not the first who has had to leave his home and serve, we are grateful for those who have gone before to keep this nation safe and free.  

So, it's time to put my big girl pants on.  I can do hard things.  And as Harrison's awesome Battalion Commander said to some of us wives recently, "You are not victims. You are some of the greatest people in the world.  Your husband is leaving and you're going to stay home and kick ... [butt] while he's gone."

I have good days and bad days as we prepare for the months ahead, but for now we're taking advantage of the time we have together.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

If I can do it, you can do it.

I'm usually not the "tutorial type" of blogger, but I had to share this one with you. A little shout out to my friend, Pinterest for helping me.  Our guest bed is a bed we inherited from Harrison's grandmother when we got married and I've been wanting to upgrade the headboard.  It was a little time consuming, especially when it came to individually nailing in the trim, but I love the end results!

Original headboard - in great shape, I just wanted to modernize it a bit
I cut foam (I think one inch thick...) to fill in the inside of the already framed headboard and glued it to the wood
 Then I covered the entire headboard with quilting batting and used a staple gun to staple it in the back, then repeated the same step with fabric, making sure it was really tight.
 Then I individually nailed every single nailhead for the trim by hand.  It also comes as attached rows of nailheads that would have been faster, but in my opinion it didn't look quite as nice. For each nailhead, I first took a real nail and hammered it in a bit to "pave the way" for the nailhead trim and I found the trim went in much easier. It took about 250 nails, a rubber mallet, and two nights of Olympics watching, to finish the trim but I love it!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dear Time,

Please slow down! I swear it was only yesterday, I became a mom for the first time to a sweet, little, blue-eyed boy. He was a little chunk who could sleep in my arms, and I knew exactly how to make him stop crying. For entertainment, Harrison and I would just watch him sleep and play, and we couldn't get enough of him.

Now, that baby will be four in a few months.  He makes us laugh everyday with his silly voices, funny jokes, and curiosity.  He loves anything to do with a ball, singing, dancing, and superheroes. As of late, he calls Harrison Captain America, I am Fantastic Four (which yes, I realize is four people), and it's only when he is Batman, that Fisher becomes Robin.

Where have the years gone? As much as I love the little boy Mr. Jack is becoming, I'm sad to know he is growing up!

The Mother of a Preschooler

Monday, September 10, 2012

Smith Week Review

Smith week was spent at a gorgeous cabin near Stevens Pass, WA.

The view from the deck at the cabin!

We went to a cute little German town, Leavenworth
These two were the best of friends! Fisher (10 months) and Boston (13 months)
Walking around Leavenworth, WA

My nephew Jacob, and Dad Smith
We had a picnic at a park

The boys went fishing
 We sat around the campfire
Jack LOVED telling campfire stories
Kalee and Fisher
The whole gang in our sweet "Smith shirts" :)

Kalee, Mom Smith, Grandma Smith, Liz, and me
The grandsons! Fisher (10 months) Jacob (7) Jack (3 1/2) Boston (13 months)
 We played down by the river

It was so great to spend so much time with my Smith family who hasn't all been together (although we missed McKay!) since Christmas 2010! This was the first time Mom and Dad Smith have met Fisher since they are living so far away in the U.A.E. near Dubai. Thanks for a wonderful week! Hoping it won't be another year and a half until we're together again!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Poulson Week Recap

We were lucky enough to spend two weeks of August with our families!

The first week was spent with the Poulson clan in Eagle Crest, OR - outside of Bend.
The resort we stayed at had so much to do!
We spent the week playing tennis, swimming, hiking, white water rafting, playing games, and watching movies.
So much fun!

Harrison, Me, Lindsay, tour guide, James, Dad, Emma, JW

Jack with Lindsay (and my soon to be niece or nephew!) and JW
Emma, James, and Mom
Mom and Dad Smith, Kalee, and Boston had come into town a couple days before we got home, and were staying at our house so we all met up at a park halfway between my parents house in Vancouver, and our house in Lacey.  Harrison's parents and my parents were friends before we even met (in fact, that's how we met!) so we couldn't pass up a chance to get everyone together!
Mom Smith, Fisher, and Kalee
Dad Smith, Fisher, and Dad Poulson
My sweet little nephew, Boston

Fisher is 3 months younger than Boston, but that didn't make him shy!

My sweet grandmother

We had such a blast during "Poulson week"! We miss Linds and JW so much - since we only get to see them once or twice a year. Thanks mom and dad for the awesome week!