Sunday, March 28, 2010

Just a Quickie...

Real quick post today. Things are "speeding" down back into normalcy this weekend. Well...as normal as you can get with this kind of lifestyle. My meltdowns have come on less frequently in the last few days. And Aidan...he's as goofy as always. But really...I can't tell you how he is handling it all. We went over to a friends house last night for a birthday get together. There was ONE man there. I didn't realize how much my little guy needed the company of other men in his life. He immediately attatched to this guy like he was his best friend. They had conversations that only men can understand. The ladies all just sat there dumbfounded by what was coming out of my 10 yr old's mouth. I could not believe the facts stored in his little head. Military facts. History facts. What?!?! I guess there comes a time when you have to let go and realize that your children are becoming young adults. But 10 yrs old? I still can't trust him to brush his teeth in the morning. John and I have always been very open and honest with Aidan. If he was curious about something...we told him the brutal truth. But does that make them grow up faster? Maybe not in maturity...but mentally. I don't know if I like it. He is too smart for his own good. Honestly...it scares the hell out of me. I wish John was here to tell me that this is natural. And that boys will be boys I guess. But I don't have to like it!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

And now it begins...

I need to get this out now so that I can start the "healing process" as John calls it...

We finally got the call that John would be heading out bright and early. We kept Aidan out of school one more day to have some "family" time. It wasn't the most fun day for me... but it was time. First, I begged him to help me fold the laundry. This is an issue with wives of deployed soldiers. Folding and putting away that last load of his laundry. It's one of those things that make you break down. Because we won't be doing it again for a while. I still have a basket waiting for me, but at least the majority of it is already put away. He also cleared off his dresser top and his side of the bathroom. I don't think I could stand to look at it. There were just too many reminders. Now looking back...I kind of wish it was all still there. See...its little things that get to you.

We hit up our favorite arcade...Dave and Busters...and then drove around Nashville looking for portrait sites for April and I. John insisted on getting a box of Krispy Kremes for his breakfast the following morning. Clarksville doesn't have them...so it was a must before we left. The rest of the day is pretty much a blur because I spent it crying and begging him not to go. I know he doesn't have a choice...but I still couldn't help myself.

He set the alarm for 2am. I didn't get much sleep thinking about the dreaded next morning. And the dogs...they hogged the bed...and he wouldn't let me kick them off. It's cute how attached he is to these dogs that he is always telling me to get rid of. I wonder if they know what's going on. They keep jumping up when they hear a truck drive down the road. And when I say the word "Daddy" they cry at the door. It's sad really.

2am came real early. I quickly got myself ready because I wanted to take pictures. Lots of pictures. Then I discovered that my house was not a great place to take pictures that early in the morning. So I just watched him get ready. I watched him throw on his uniform and lace up his boots one more time. He grabbed his gear and said his goodbye's to the animals. And we were out the door.

My friend Tiffany said she wanted to come with me to support me and also to see John off. I'm extremely happy that she did...because he was leaving with another company. His had already left a few days earlier. I didn't know anyone in the hanger...so it was nice to have her there by my side. We had about an hour to hold each other and tell each other how much we'd miss the other. I tried to keep my mind off of it by snapping more pictures. It made John uncomfortable...but I needed to do it. I wanted to have those moments saved. At the end of the hour, someone came over the intercom and said a quick prayer. I watched John pray, but I had to have that saved as well...so I snapped a few more photos. If you know me...you know that pictures mean the world to me. So I just couldn't help myself! At the end of the prayer we were told to say our goodbyes and for the soldiers to get in line and gear up. Aidan and I fought for the last hug. He would hug him, and then I would hug him...and so on. Finally John said we just needed to do a family hug. It was such a good hug.

The soldiers started lining up. But there were still a few families behind the red line saying their goodbyes. It's a hard thing to watch. It hurt even more to see a family of 5 huddled around in a circle...each of them with tears streaming from their faces. Even the soldier. But they had to seperate. The hanger doors opened and behind them we saw the buses. The group was called to attention and ordered to face right. Red, white and blue came over the speakers and they filed in front of us and out to the buses. John was three rows back...but I watched him closely. When it was his turn to cross in front of us...he gave us the “I love you” sign. We watched them march through the doors and onto the buses. It was hard to tell which one he was on...but it didn't really matter because we couldn’t see them through the tinted windows. We stood outside and waved to all of them. The buses honked and then were gone. I had to catch myself from falling to the ground sobbing...but I looked over and Aidan was almost crying too. You would think after soo many times you would get used to them leaving. But you don't. Our bond has become soo much stronger every time he leaves. It just makes it that much harder to see him go.

I miss him soo much already. But the first couple of days will be the hardest. I have soo many friends to keep my spirits up. And Aidan...he is such a little character. He said he would make me a cake. I love that kid. I promised him a trip to Wal-Mart...so I guess we should get ready for that! And maybe a movie. We need a good, happy movie. Maybe Diary of a Wimpy Kid :). If I had a movie...it'd be called diary of a Wimpy Mommy! And now the happy countdown for John's homecoming is on!

video

Monday, March 15, 2010

Saying Goodbye to a wonderful Friend...

These deployments bring pain in soo many ways. When I thought it was bad enough to say goodbye to the love of my life, I realized that I am also losing the company of an incredible friend. Trina, one of the strongest women I know...will also be heading out shortly. We have had soo much fun together...and also some heartache.

I will never forget the night I met her. I felt a bit out of place in a room full of soldiers with their wives who had been in the unit for years already. But when Trina walked through the doors she looked right over at me and waved. I just assumed she was a spouse like me. I whispered to John and asked if he knew her. Why was she waving at me? "She is a new pilot too", he said. Her welcoming smile immediately put me at ease. She came over and sat by us. John introduced me and she introduced her husband, Jesse. That was the beginning of a friendship I will never forget.

Every other weekend following that night, we spent enjoying time together at their house or ours by a fire. We even bought four wheelers together and took trips to Land between the Lakes to ride. Our children became good friends as well. When John and Trina came home from the last deployment, we picked up right where we left off.

In May, we had a Memorial Day BBQ. We invited several of our close friends. The pool was set up and we were all having a great time. That evening, something awful happened. Jesse jumped into the pool and had an accident. He hit his head on the pool floor and broke his neck. In that instant, all of our lives were changed forever. What I've watched their family go through is so inconceivable. Trina's strength through all of it has amazed me. And she still finds time to be such a great friend to me. You can read more about her experiences here: Trina's Blog.

I will miss you Trina and will always pray for you and your family. Come home soon!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

THIS SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Seriously...this F'ing Sucks again. Excuse my language. I am mad...sad...and irritated! Comon already...make up your friggen minds!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Comfortable Darkness...

I already prepared myself for him to have left by now. But he's still here. Don't get me wrong...it is wonderful to have him home for a bit longer. But this just means I'll be starting the emotional stages all over again. But when? We are still in the dark about actual dates. It is soo very frustrating not knowing exactly when. I've had to put alot of things on hold to make sure I wasn't in the middle of working when the time came. Now instead of sad...I am irritated. I hate telling my clients that I can't schedule sessions right now. And if I did schedule, I would feel bad for having to cancel. The good part about this is that I am not the emotional wreck I was last week. I am comfortable. For now.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Grown-Up Night with my LADIES...

Sometimes you need a night to get out and not have to worry about all of your troubles. I received a text last night asking if I wanted to join the Ladies for some trivia. Our favorite local brewery in downtown Clarksville (The Blackhorse), hosts "trivia night" every Tuesday night.


My first thought was..."No...I need to spend time with John". Well, I turned over my shoulder to see what he was doing, and he was passed out. Snoring like a banshee. So I said..."Why not"! After all, it would probably be the last time, in a long time, that I could just go and not have to worry about who was taking care of Aidan.

It was soo nice to get out with these girls. They are the ones I go to when I am down. And I can always count on each of them to pick me up. Allow me to introduce them from right to left.

First there's Trina. Trina works with John as an army pilot as well. Her strength and courage is what makes her such an amazing person. She recently had a huge life changing experience, but continues to push through and show us all how tough you can be when times are down. I will truly miss her during this deployment.

Next there's Reisa. I met Reisa also through our Husbands. In fact...on the same night I met Trina. At a hail and farewell dinner when we joined the unit. Reisa is an artist. I had never met a "real" artist before. Her pieces are beautiful! I will one day hang a Reisa Peters on my wall. But another thing about Reisa is that she is such a beautiful person, inside and out. She is soo kind and caring to anyone that crosses her path. I love her for that!

Then there's Tiffany. I'm not quite sure how to explain my feelings for Tiffany. I felt a connection with her immediately. We met through a mutual friend at Jazz on the Lawn night at Beachaven Winery. I knew as soon as I met her, that she was a wonderful friend. She is a great shoulder to cry on. She's another one of those strong women that inspires me. I feel soo lucky to have her in my life and can't imagine going through this deployment without her.

Last but not least, there's April. April is a friend of Tiffany's. She just moved here from Chicago. April is also a photographer and will be shooting Weddings alongside me. I had originally planned on not taking on anymore weddings. But when she said she was coming to town, I knew we'd make a great team. I am soo happy she moved here. It is awesome to have a friend to "talk shop" with. It is soo hard to find real friends in the photography field because there is always that factor of competition. But with April, I don't feel that way. If anything, I feel like she and I can learn from each other without having to worry about those kinds of things. Welcome to Clarksville April!

So those are the ladies! We had a nice night. I wasn't much help on the trivia part, but it was soo much fun to get out and hang with my ladies :)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Keeping myself busy!

To add to my list of things to keep busy this year, I have finally made the leap to go back to school! My business is doing great, but I wanted something to backup my work. A degree that says "Yes...I am a trained Professional Photographer". I also want to expand my knowledge of photography. And what better time to do it than NOW!

First I looked around for photography schools and found the Nossi College of Art based in Nashville. The program really fit what I was looking for, but I'd have to make a drive back and forth to Nashville at least twice a week. That really wouldn't work with my busy schedule. And then what happens if we move when John returns?

So I started looking for online training. My good friend Suzanne mentioned that a friend of hers was doing photography training through the Academy of Art University...ALL ONLINE! How amazing would that be? To train in my free time. At 2am in the morning if I had to! So I looked them up and guess what? Their Associates program was EXACTLY what I was looking for. But, their tuition is really high!

The next question is: "How the heck am I going to pay for this"? For some reason I thought that my GI Bill money was expired. But it wouldn't hurt to look into it. So I made the phone call, and found out that I still have 16 months left of benefits!!! And I have until April 2015 to use it! I was almost in tears with excitement! Silly, I know...but I am soo excited about this venture...I can barely stand it! The GI Bill still won't pay for all of it. So I am applying for financial aid (which I am assuming is a FAT CHANCE). And the school also has a portfolio grant that will pay for half of 2 classes. Keeping my fingers crossed. I know I'll figure out a way to pay for the rest. But I just really need to do this!

Here's hoping it all works its way out and I can enroll for the Summer Semester in June!!! It better, because I already paid the $100 application fee!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Build-A-Bear

Last weekend we promised Aidan a trip to Build-a-bear to have a bear custom made with a recording of Johns voice. Well...at 5am the day we were supposed to go, Aidan woke up sick. He spent the entire day in bed with cartoons. At the end of the day he said..."ah man". "We were supposed to go to build-a-bear today". I told him we could go any day even after daddy was gone. Which he replied... "but I wanted daddy to make a recording for me".

So...this afternoon we took him out of school early and headed up to Nashville to get his bear. He enjoyed it and now has a special little message recorded from John that he can listen to anytime he wants to hear his voice :). What a great day!

PS....the bear's name is Wiz-o-poop. Boys are weird!

Anticipation is the hardest...

It's the waiting that gets to you. Not knowing when it will happen. When your life will be turned around. The days before and a few days after are always the worst. After that initial hump...things start falling into place and you get used to the new way of living.

I was doing great in the months leading up to this change until about a week ago. That day, he gave me a few dates to linger over my head. That's when it hit me. All the talk was actually becoming a reality. A reality I said would be easier this time around. But in all honesty, I can't even remember how I felt last time. All I can see is what I am feeling now. In this moment. My head is numb with the thought of not having him there when I need him. Silly things make me cry. I went to check the mail on Friday and when I tugged the handle I noticed it was wobbling. The bolts were coming loose from the ground. He had already fixed this problem, why was it loose again? Then came the tears. Silly, stupid, little tears. Over a Mailbox! Comon Paige....get a grip! I guess it just got me thinking about all the little things I count on him for.

I asked John if I am always this emotional when it's time for him to leave. His words were..."oh yeah...you are always a basketcase...every time...stop making that pouty face". And I will do what I always do to keep my sanity and his "essence". Little things around the house will go untouched. The little sliver of soap in the shower that he was the last to use. The shirt he dropped on the floor one night...that I secretly stashed in my own dresser. And the newest thing. The couch pillows. I insist that the patterned side face up. He prefers it face down. We are constantly switching them without the others attention. How do you think the pillows will be faced next week. That's right... patterned side down. Because that's the way HE likes it. Psychotic a little? Maybe. But who cares.

I'm not trying to come off like a weak person. Because I'm really not. But I do have those moments...as we all do. Now more than ever. I will have happier ones to share with everyone. I promise. I have some great friends here going through the same thing. We will all survive. And our summer trips to Jazz on the Lawn will be amazing! I am looking forward to sharing those outings here.

Our History...

This blog was really not my own idea. Several of my friends have started them to document their lives during this separation. So here I am...jumping on the bandwagon! And hopefully this will help keep all of my friends and family and especially my John-o up to speed with our lives. I am no writer, so please disregard the typo's and bad grammar!

Some history.

John and I met in November 1997 while we were both stationed in NC. Both privates in the Army, we were young and crazy kids.I like to say that he was the one doing the chasing and I loved it!


After a few months I realized he really was the one. So we dated for 3 months and then decided to tie the knot. Everyone around us thought we were moving to fast, but I knew we'd make our lives together work. On October 23rd, 1998 we got married in front of the NC, JOP followed by an IHOP celebration lunch. So romantic right :). We are still promising one day to give our parents that White Wedding they missed out on.


3 short months later we were pregnant with our baby boy, Aidan. Again, people said we were moving too fast. But we were soo very happy.


Then, something unspeakable happened. John came up on orders for Korea. Newly married and pregnant. I was terrified! He left in June but with some Red Cross phone calls, my mother and his were able to get him home for the birth of our premature son in August. I had high blood pressure and little Aidan stopped growing. At birth, he weighed a whole 4lbs,spent a week in the nicu and had a hole in his tiny heart.



I spent the rest of that year raising our baby boy alone and continuing my duties as an Army soldier. It was extremely challenging for me. But it made me a stronger person.

I know it had to have been hard for John too. Not knowing his new son until he was nearly a year old. When John tells me the story of the first time he met Aidan upon returning I laugh. You see...Aidan had a really huge head! Bless his heart. He was such a cute kid though! And always smiling...when he wasn't keeping me up all hours of the night with his colic.

I did get a chance to visit John in Korea for a week. I cherished every second of it.


When John returned from Korea, I decided it was time for me to get out of the Army. I didn't want to risk being the one ever leaving Aidan. John re-enlisted and I asked him to move us to TX. I wanted him to be close to his family there.

In 2004, John went on his very first deployment. Iraq. Back then the word Iraq was another mind blowing experience. It felt like one of those old movies where the women send their husbands off to war. It was scary. After he left, I spent several weeks crying and sleeping. They were sent to a place that didn't have sleeping quarters. Only tents. What he sacrifices for us is truly amazing. And I am soo proud of him.

The phone lines weren't set up yet either. So I didn't hear from him for about a month and a half. When I finally did, the connection was always bad and we would get cut off after about 5 minutes. So our communication was mostly through letters which were like Christmas morning to me. He would also send me these beautiful poems.

To keep myself busy, I decided to focus on what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. It was then that I discovered my love of photography. Before I knew it, he was home.


When John returned from Iraq, he got picked up for Flight School! Woohoo! We skipped on the orders we had to Hawaii and went for the career advancement opportunity. Who wouldn't? Alabama was a wonderful place. I came out of my shell there and met many great friends.

After Flight School, we were sent here. Fort Campbell. Wow. This place is deployment crazy. I mean seriously. We were here for a few months and they were already talking about leaving for Afghanistan. He left in 2007. Our third year long separation. For this deployment, I decided to really dive into my photography, and opened my business. It was my solace. Again...before I knew it...he was home.


We are coming up on our 4th year long separation very soon. It feels like he just returned. We didn't get very long this time. It seems that if he is not deployed, he is at some month long training. When we do actually get a chance to just be together, I don't take it for granted. Yes, we have our differences and sometimes we tire of being around each other. But it is NEVER easy to say goodbye. It is the hardest thing I ever have to do. And when he comes home...we are newlyweds again.


If you've read this far, thanks. My future posts will definitely not be this long. I just wanted a clear understanding of what we've been through and now of whats to come.