Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What I've Learned: The First 45 Days

1. I didn't need to worry so much about how everything would get done without Jake being home...we're actually managing quite well. The dishes get done, the laundry gets folded (although probably not put away), the bills still get paid, and Asher and I usually have dinner and get bathed with enough time to have a couple of bedtime stories every night. In fact, there is actually a lot less to do without one more person to pick up after (*ahem*)!

2. I'm a lot better at being a single parent than I thought I would be....and that makes me glad that I'm able to do it, but sad that I have to. There is no substitute for the best partner, lover, husband, and friend, and certainly no substitute for this little boy's daddy whom he adores.

3. Asher knows something is up...still not sure what...but he knows. Lots of waking up at night, lots of wanting to sleep in our bed, etc. The saddest thing I noticed one day was when I hadn't made our bed yet and the covers were sort of lumpy on Jake's side. Asher said, "Daddy!" and went over to the bed. When he touched the bed, he could tell there was no Daddy under the covers, and his face just fell. That will rip your heart out.

4. I have the BEST friends possible. The ones who have taken one thing I've merely mentioned in passing & run with it...from invites to dinner, or an offer to clean our gutters, or even to vacuuming out my car...that is the stuff that I cannot thank you enough for. Perhaps it's "no big deal" to them or something that's easy to do, but it's huge in my book and it means so much. THANK YOU.

5. I have the BEST family imaginable. Whether I need a break, a favor, or they just want their "Asher fix," I've been able to depend on them from the beginning with the smallest of things to the big emergencies. Lawn mowing, taking Asher for the night, or just listening to me blubber and cry...I appreciate it all more than I can adequately express or "pay back." THANK YOU.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day

- to the daddy who is pitching balls to his child.
- to the daddy who is tossing candy to children from his Humvee.

- to the daddy who is giving his child a bath and reading a bedtime story.
- to the daddy who hasn't had a shower in 4 days and would like nothing better than to read his child a bedtime story.

- to the daddy who is throwing his child into the air.
- to the daddy who is being flown in a helicopter to another war zone.

- to the daddy who is tying his child's shoes.
- to the daddy who sees all the children with no shoes to tie.

- to the daddy who kisses scraped knees.
- to the daddy who sees what war can do to bodies.

- to the daddy who points out the names of the stars to his child.
- to the daddy who is wishing on a star that his child is thinking of him at this moment, too.

- to the daddy who is there, every night for his child.
- to the daddy who can't be there every night, because he is off making the world a safer place.

- to the daddy who loves his child, snuggled in his arms.
- to the daddy who loves his child, no matter how far away he is.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I have been asked the question of why I am willing to serve, why I am choosing to leave my family and friends, why are we (as a nation) still at war and so on quite often since coming on orders on the 10th of May. There are several reasons, but at the same time, there are no reasons.

First, let me try to address the reason why I am willing to serve in the military. To do that, there has to be a disclaimer placed in front of any statement I am going to make. The military is just like any other organization in so much as there is always a lot of BS you must deal with and have to overcome. That being said, part of the reason that I am willing to serve in the military is that I truly love my country and want to defend it. This might seem like a grandiose idea and one that is a little romantazied (not sure if I spelled that right, but whatever). My father, his younger sister and parents came to this country in 1953 with absolutely everything they owned either on their backs or in their hands. They didn't know the language of the country they were going to, but it was damn sure a great deal better than from where they were coming from. Because of how our country is set up and the founding principles, my grandfather (Opi) and grandmother (Omi) were able to build a life from scratch and have three children (my uncle was born here in the States) go to school and acquire things my Omi and Opi only dreamed about. No where else in the world would they have been able to accomplish what they did during that time. So part of why I serve is because I feel like I still owe the founding ideas, traditions and thoughts a great deal to protect them.

The second part, why am I choosing to leave my family and friends is very difficult for me to answer. Believe me when I tell you, in my heart of hearts, I would like nothing better in my life than to be the husband and father that Emily and Asher deserve and be able to see them every day and be with them every night. Part of the reason I am not there goes back to the above paragraph, but at the same time, I feel like God put me on this earth to carry the fight of those that can not fight for themselves to enemy. Now, the counter arguement can be made, "well, isn't that what you do on the police department?" To that I say yes and no. Yes, we as police officers put ourselves last and our communities first, however the fight is not always in our hometowns (thank God, because if it was, things would be a lot different). I fight because at one time, men better than I stood up and said "enough is enough, the enemy has to be vanquished" and left their homes and safe places and met the enemy head to head and beat them. So, why would I choose to leave my family and friends and go to war and fight? I have been blessed with talents that make me an asset in the fight and have embraced what I believe God is calling me to be...a warrior and protector of not just my family and friends, but those that are unwilling or unable to do the same thing...my time away from my family is the hardest thing I will ever endure, but I will endure.

Thirdly, why are we still at war? We are still at war because we (the US military) has always been the one fighting force that has always been held to the highest standards in terms of fighting the fight. If we fought the fight like the enemy did, the war would have been long over and I guarantee we would never be attacked again because of the level of devasation that we would / could bring down on the other side. We don't fight that way. The autrocities that were leveled at the soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors of the Vietnam War were for the most part, not entirely, fabricated. We always say (like I said earlier) that we are fighting for those that can't or won't...that means we have to hold ourselves to the highest standards of conduct at all times...and as we have seen, those who act outside of those regulations are punished. So, we are still at war because we are fighting the good fight in the good way...even though war is ugly, nasty and stays with you forever.

Many of you who read this blog may not understand why it is that I do what I do, but please, accept me for what I am - a man trying to do what I feel best protects my family, friends and our way of life. What I am is a husband, father, son, cousin and friend...what I do is protect me and mine against anyone or anything that would threaten it the best way I know how. I love my wife and son with all my heart and I will fight for them forever.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Message From Daddy

Cell phones have changed so much over the last 5 years. I don't recall if we had "texting" the last time Jake was preparing to mobilize, but now we have the opportunity to text, with pictures and videos, and it makes a world of difference.

When Asher does something cute or funny, I can take a photo or record it and make sure Jake sees it. I've asked Jake to send Asher a video, because Asher really enjoys watching the videos...especially the ones of himself!

This morning when we woke up, Jake had sent a video message for Asher. I couldn't wait to show it to him, and I told him that I had a surprise for him. When I began the video, Asher chirped, "It's Daddy! Hi, Daddy!" Jake asked Asher some questions, and Asher was responding to the video....it was the sweetest thing ever. Then he watched the video 10 times in a row. When it was time to head downstairs for breakfast, Asher asked, "Can I bring Daddy?" Do you know how it feels to have your heart smile? "Of course!" I told him.

This is my heart smile.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Why Psalm 91?

During Jake's last deployment to Afghanistan, we were told (I believe first by Jake's mom Chris) that Psalm 91 is also known as "The Soldier's Psalm." She printed a bunch of copies and had them laminated...and every day Jake was away, I read that Psalm, praying for my new husband's protection from evil, pain, and death.

Jake and I were quite lucky that we were able to communicate so much on his last deployment. We spoke often on he phone and connected by email and instant messenger when we had the chance.

During his first deployment, though, I faced a lot of anxiety. Every time I heard a car door slam, I had to go to the window & look out. I had a fear that "they" were coming to tell me that my husband was dead. I made up my mind to try some new activities...but that didn't make me feel good. I tried doing the things that used to make me smile...and nothing seemed to work. I was in a major funk.

But when Jake and I were on the phone or on the instant messenger, the closest that we could be to each other was when we were reading Psalm 91 "together." Sometimes we would type the words to each other, line by line. Other times we'd read it to ourselves, but at the same time, while chatting. Or, if we were on the phone we'd read it to each other, or read it aloud together. It was one of very few comforting things that we had...and that we could do....together.

I don't find it ironic that today the closing song at Mass was "Blest Be the Lord," which is based on Psalm 91. I love the way God gives me little "pick me ups" when I need them...

So, again, this time we ask you to join us in praying Psalm 91 daily...for Jake's safety, and for all soldiers' safety, until they come home.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

2 Questions

I've been getting two popular questions lately, so I'd like to address them here.

#1) Is Jake gone yet?/Is Jake still here?
#2) How is Asher handling his daddy being gone?

So, diving in...

#1) Is Jake gone yet?/Is Jake still here?
Answer: Yes and no, is my favorite way to answer this question. Since May 10, he's been on orders and is spending Monday-Friday full time in Des Moines. He does get to come home on weekends (when he doesn't have drill). However, this month he has Annual Training...basically all month long. Therefore, we will not see him again until July. Again, as far as I know, this will be limited to weekends when he doesn't have drill (and yes, I do think it's insane that they still have drill weekends...aren't you sucking the life out of my husband almost 24 hours a day already?!) It is estimated that he will be "deploying" at the end of July/beginning of August. So...as it stands, the answer is still yes and no.

And on this topic...it has been a bit difficult to be in our routine during the week without daddy and then have him return on the weekends. Not that I don't live for and love those weekends...but when I'm the only adult making decisions for the two of us, when my dear husband comes home it's difficult to yield and allow him to make some of those decisions. It seems I've been "overruling" him on a lot of things...heck...I probably do that anyway, but it's been very apparent that this behavior is coming out more when he is so absent during the week and so present during the weekends. For example, one evening Jake was giving Asher a bath & he told him it was time to get out and get ready for bed. Asher began throwing a fit, as he wanted to remain in the tub. The bath was a bit hurried...and we had no timetable that he needed to get out, and so Asher playing a bit longer didn't seem like a big deal to me. Unthinking, I asked, "Why can't he stay in and play a little longer?" And just like that, I had "overruled" my husband...which was pretty disrespectful of me. Jake mentioned aloud that he had been "overruled" again, and Asher piped up, saying, "That's the way it is, daddy!" Jake and I both looked at each other with wide eyes.

#2)How is Asher handling his daddy being gone?
Answer: I am not sure what he understands and what he doesn't. Kids have a weird sense of time...and with the coming and going on weekends, I don't really know what Asher thinks.

I do know that when he asks where daddy is, that I tell him that daddy is at work. This is very true, as Jake has been doing nothing BUT work it seems when he is away! Asher and I keep to our weekly routine and it seems to be working well. However, bedtime has become a bit of a struggle. The 2 story limit has been pushed. We end up singing a few more songs and reading a few more stories. We have to ensure that all blankies are accounted for. And then there is the new request of wanting to go to sleep in mommy & daddy's bed, which is promptly met with a "no." Or the waking up multiple times each week in the middle of the night crying. Upon entering his room, we used to be able to soothe him by laying down with him in his race car bed, and then quietly sneaking back out when fell back asleep. This week he's woken up 3 out of 4 nights and cried that he wants to come into our bed. At 1:30 AM, I'm not in the mood to argue with a two year old. Last night he even said in the middle of the dark, "Daddy's at work..." "Yes, daddy's at work...." I replied. It just breaks my heart.

So, Asher obviously understands that something is different and that daddy is not around as much. I don't know what will happen when we aren't getting these little weekend respites with daddy home. I don't know, as Asher grows and develops this year what he will know or think about Jake being away. I hope that through videos and technology that we will be able to keep better connected this time by being able to see each other, as well as hear each other.

Friday, June 4, 2010

It's a conspiracy

I believe it's a conspiracy against me.

The animals of the neighborhood have gotten together and have conspired an evil plot.

They've instructed each other that if any among them is going to die, that they should go ahead and die....in MY yard!

They all know my husband is no longer around to pick up their deceased carcass and dispose of it.

They also know I have a very busy and inquisitive 2 year old and a dog who likes to roll in smelly animal death.

They all know that I jump around like a ninny (and have done so in my bathrobe with a towel wrapped around my head) and scream like I'm being stabbed to death when I see any sort of dead animal within a relative proximity to me. As a reference, relative may equate to almost stepping on with bare feet to being able to see it from safety inside of my home with all the doors locked.

So far, there have been 6 deaths in my yard: four "just barely hatched" birds, one baby bird, and one chipmunk.

Thus, I am certain they are all against me.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Onward we go...

I am going to attempt to contribute to this endeavor, however, many of you will have to bear with me...I do not possess the literary gifts my wife does!

At this point, my unit is preparing for Annual Training which will be the entire brigade's first opportunity to put into practice all the training they have been conducting over the last year. It should be a very good measuring stick as to where the brigade's readiness is.

Aside from getting ready for Annual Training, I am still trying to figure out exactly what the expectations are of my command for my position. I know that the work I do will directly affect troops on the ground, however with my perosonality I would rather be running missions with troops "outside the wire." Being put into this position, however has allowed me to take a very close look at what is important to me. Although I spend a lot of time away from home, my family remains ever present in my mind and constant in my heart. I am truly blessed to have my wonderful wife and our families that continue to be ever present in our lives.

I will hopefully be able to blog more as the time goes, however access to the internet will be restricted in the upcoming days. Love to all of my family and friends and hope to see you soon!