Monday, August 22, 2011

On This Date 19 Years Ago...

Honey and I got married.

Here's a short list of our highlights:

August 22, 1992--Got married and moved away to a house in the country. What a culture shock I endured!

May 1993--Honey rejoined the Army after a 6-month break in service. Moved to Fort Campbell, Kentucky and bought our first house.

November 30, 1993--Daughter was born. What a lovely gem God gave us!

1995--Moved to Escondido, CA for recruiting duty. Agh, that was rough. I worked as the Assistant Director at a small preschool while there.

1998--Back to Fort Campbell. Daughter started kindergarten, and I was the "class mother."

2001--Moved to Fort Benning, GA for Drill Sergeant duty. September 11 changed the way a lot of things were handled in the military. Beside the obvious War on Terror, you couldn't just drive onto a military base anymore. You had to have a picture ID with you that got scanned through a database, and your car was subject to throrough searches at all times. Traffic back-ups at the front gate became a way of life.

2003--Moved to Vilseck, Germany. The best assignment we ever had, in my opinion. We had a great church, I had an awesome job as a substitute teacher at Daughter's school, we had great neighbors, and lived close by to some friends we knew back in Escondido.

2005--Honey went to Iraq. That was an experience in trusting God to take care of my Honey! Thankfully he and all his subordinates came home un-hurt. Several of his superiors were killed, though. Honey can tell you lots of ways the Lord protected him while he was there. The biggie--while in Fallujah, Honey's Bradley Fighting Vehicle was shot with a rocket-propelled grenade. There were 5 soldiers in the vehicle with him at the time. The grenade missed every one of them, and only took out their communications radio.

2006--Back to the States. I finished school and became a paralegal, thinking that I'd work full-time once Honey retired from the military, so he could finish up his degree. Ha ha ha, the Lord had very different plans!

2008--Honey volunteered to go to Afghanistan so that our family could avoid having to move again. Daughter was about to start high school, and we didn't want to uproot her again. We'd bought a house, got involved with a good church, and I'd landed my dream job working for a great attorney.

Honey left on a Monday. On Friday, I found out I was pregnant. Daughter, our only child at the time, was 14 1/2 years old! Talk about shock!

January 16, 2009--Our first boy was born. Honey was trying to get home on R and R leave, but he got stuck en route because of the weather. First he had to leave his base, which was practically in the middle of nowhere (seriously, the Bedouins roam the area), then he had to catch a plane to Kandahar, then up to Kyrgyzstan, then up to Ireland, then to Maryland, then to a more local airport, then catch a shuttle bus to get home. He didn't make it home to see his son's birth. His two weeks' of R and R were too short! Saying goodbye again when he had to return was the worst goodbye we ever had.

August 2009--On Honey's last mission on his deployment, his truck is hit by an IED. It killed my Honey's young driver, who was on his first mission. Honey was in the passenger seat. If the truck had been a few inches in another direction, it would have killed my Honey. Only by the grace of God was my Honey unscathed. I often think about the family of the young soldier who died. What a waste for that young man to die so young. War makes no sense. Even if the cause for war is justified, it takes people away from their families, sometimes forever. And for what? The terrorists are still trying to annihilate our country. I sometimes wonder if the war over there is just fueling their anger even more. Yes, I respect our leaders, but sometimes I think, "what's this all for?" Thankfully though, praise God, my Honey came home for good!!

September 2009--Pregnant with our second son. (This one we planned.)

January 2010--Honey starts school full-time, since his commander knows that he's retiring and there's really no official "job" for him to do. He does have to show up and take care of occasional paperwork, but otherwise he's free to do whatever other business he needs to take care of. That's a real blessing, because Honey doesn't need to collect any financial aid at this point. We'll be needing it later, for sure!

June 1, 2010--Honey is retired from the Army. The pension begins, and our frugal ways are stretched!

June 4, 2010--Our second son is born. (We nickname our first boy our "going away present." Our second boy is the "welcome home present.")

Today--I am just now learning what real love is. It's not the flowers, candy, smiles, dates, or rushing hormones. That stuff never hurt, though! But real love is waking up next to a spouse with bedhead and morning breath, and giving each other a kiss anyway. It's getting up three or four times a night with babies, even if you have to take a midterm the next day. It's nursing your sick spouse and kids when there's a stomach virus running through the family. It's putting aside the things you wanted to do that day so your mate can get something else done. It's entertaining children in the bedroom for a full hour so your Honey can work on a term paper in peace. It's giving  up your Spring Break to paint the house. It's wearing the same old shirt and slacks to church so your wife and daughter can afford to buy new dresses. It's taking hand-me-down clothes and wearing them with dignity. It's using your birthday money to buy toys for your kids, or to take your family out for ice cream.

True love is hanging out with each other, without needing to say a word. It's choosing to hold hands through your life's journey. These last 19 years with my Honey have been a wonderful adventure that I would never trade for anything. I hope the Lord gives us many, many more years together.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Get Your Final Affairs in Order!

I live in a state that is NOT a community property state. That is to say, what is mine is mine, what's Honey's is Honey's. The government does not view anything as "ours." I won't go into whether or not I think that's right.

But I want to share with you a sad story about my neighbor, hoping that you'll take some extra time to get your affairs situated in case the unthinkable happens.

Many years ago, my neighbor married a lady with grown children from a previous marriage. Their house was in her name, and her Will stated that everything in her estate went to her kids upon her death. At the time, it seemed all right. Neither the husband nor wife were thinking about death, they were newlyweds! Most ladies outlive their husbands, right? Uhmm, not so fast...

A few years ago, my neighbor's wife developed Alzheimer's disease. It was really sad to watch her decline so fast. She'd wander off in the neighborhood and couldn't find her way back home. She would come over to our house sometimes, and talk to us about random stuff that we didn't know anything about. She treated us like we were her childhood friends. (She was old enough to be our grandmother!) She was pleasant though, and we would visit with her until her husband came over looking for her.

He ended up getting a monitoring system that would sound an alarm if she opened any of the doors in her house. The system also had a "panic button" thingie that if you pushed it, 911 was automatically called. If you didn't speak to the 911 dispatcher once you pushed that panic button, they assumed that you were passed out or worse, and they'd send out out every first responder known to man--fire trucks, ladder trucks, ambulances, police, sheriff, you name it--they all came speeding down the road to help in your emergency. Our neighbor's wife pushed that panic button more than once, and the whole neighborhood came out to see what the ruckus was about!

Eventually, her husband put her into a 24-hour care facility that specialized in Alzheimer's patients. She passed away shortly after that.

Her grown kids have since become the most gruesome set of greedy, money-hungry wolves that I've ever known. It's shameful that people act like that when they're grieving. But they have done everything they can to kick their stepfather out of his home, since the deed was in their mom's name, and everything is supposed to go to them once she died. My neighbor has hired an attorney to help him do whatever he can to stay in the home until he passes away, but the kids are adamant that they want that house right now. I know they're "lawyered up" to get that house too. My neighbor confided that if they do get the house, he'd have to rent an apartment or buy a fifth-wheel, because he just doesn't have enough money to buy another house. I can imagine that most of his savings went to care for his ailing wife.

Early this morning, my neighbor was gone. A moving truck pulled up, and three very loud, obnoxious people were yelling at the driver to back up into the driveway. The moving truck has been there for a while, 5 hours later. I was getting worried about my neighbor, because it's not like him to be gone from home when people are at his house. Especially a large moving van! I was worried that something happened to him in the middle of the night, or the kids were able to kick him out of his home.

I called his cell phone, and he seemed sad to tell me that his stepkids have demanded to get their mother's belongings from the house. He is staying away while they're at his house, to avoid any conflict. Today they will take away the bedroom furniture, dining room table, china cabinet, and two desks, among other things. My heart breaks for him--how can family treat each other this way?

I know lawyers are expensive, but I really do think they're worth the expense if you want to get a Will made that will be legally binding. Please make sure that you have:

1. A Last Will and Testament. Make sure you specifically state who you want to get your stuff. (And also make very sure that you specifically state who you DON'T want to get your stuff, if necessary.) Make sure you name a guardian for your children. Make sure you name an Executor who will take care of your final affairs.

2. A Life Insurance Policy. Most experts recommend you get enough life insurance to cover 10 years' worth of salary. Even if you are a stay-at-home parent with no income, please get an insurance policy anyway. Your surviving spouse will have to pay for your funeral, take time off of work to finalize your estate, and your kiddoes may have to go to day care when your spouse does return to work. Those things cost money! Your grieving spouse shouldn't have to worry about money while he's dealing with all the other things associated with your death.

3. A Living Will and Power of Attorney. What would happen if you were in a coma? Would your family know what your wishes are regarding life support, organ donation, etc? Would your spouse have the right to sign off on any of your daily business if you were incapacitated?

An untimely death is not a pleasant thought. In fact, it's awful! But it must be dealt with, so please make sure your wishes will be carried out by getting your affairs in order. I'm sure my neighbor never could have imagined the mess/grief/anger/strife that his own family has caused him. He may end up losing almost everything he owns. His wife would have never wanted him to go through this awful experience. She'd be ashamed at the way her children are treating her husband! Please don't let this become your story, too.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Don't Know if I Shared This Photo Yet

Brittney at Baseballs and Bows just posted the cutest pictures of her kiddoes playing in the house. (You gotta visit her blog, she's got the best photos!)

Her blog post reminded me of a pic I took a while back of our older boy, shortly before he turned 2:

How's that for utter destruction?! This was taken in January, before the baby was crawling (now he's walking and climbing), but you can see him wearing PJs in the background trying to get to the exercise bike. (We no longer have that bike, because the kids kept trying to climb the pedals, which would always turn around and smack them on the face.)

The basket in the foreground used to hold their books, which are dumped out between the mauve chair and bicycle. The basket has since been destroyed, and we now use a big Rubbermaid tub to hold them.

My son is OBSESSED with snuggly blankets, and he loves to drag them out and leave them where they drop. He does the same thing with shoes and socks.

The foam letters belong in the white box behind his head. I don't remember if we still have those letters. If we do, I've put them away in the top of his closet for later days.

He managed to do this damage within 30 minutes. (He's getting better about cleaning up, thankfully!)

Someone once said, "If you want to come over to see me, come over anytime. If you want to see my house, make an appointment!" I know what she meant.

I know I haven't posted this photo. I'm keeping it as a "blackmail" photo if my son brings home a trampy girlfriend when he's older:

This was taken back in June. He had just started potty training. Okay, this is gonna be "TMI", but I need to explain:

He would ALWAYS do his "business" right behind that chair. We nicknamed it his "pooping spot." He hadn't done his "business" yet that day, and I was really hoping to catch him in time. I put the potty chair there on our fireplace hearth and stripped off his diaper so he'd be ready to sit down if the moment struck. He was also in love with his bicycle helmet at the time and wore it around the house all day long.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Back to School Expenses

Agh, my checkbook is screaming for mercy!

Daughter's second day of senior year was today. Personally, I think August 8 is ungodly-early to start school, but what are ya gonna do...

These are fees for public school, keep that in mind--

Senior dues--$230 (that's a $60 discount because I paid for a "package deal") She cannot walk at graduation, attend prom, or get her diploma without paying these dues.

Locker fee--$10 (it's mandatory that every student have and use a locker, but they're still charged $10 a year to have one.)

Parking permit--$15

PTSA membership fee--$6

There was a computer glitch with the cafeteria accounts. Daughter ended last year with $23 in her lunch account. Mid-July, that balance was wiped out to $0. But the week before school started, the $23 was back in there. But on the first day of school, the balance was $0 again, and Daughter had to pay cash for her lunch. Lucky thing she had money with her, because there is a no-charge policy at her school cafeteria. Either you have money, or you don't eat. (How wrong is that? Don't get me least give the kids a lousy PB&J sammie or something.) So last night I put another $50 in her lunch account. The administration of the cafeteria is looking into what happened to the original $23 that disappeared.

Daughter is right now at Staples buying her school supplies, which I anticipate will be at least $80. She also has to go to the bookstore to buy two novels for her English Lit class. Those will cost about $20.

She had her senior portraits taken earlier this summer. We paid for the cheapie $30 setting, which got her the drape pose for the yearbook plus one other outfit. The portraits are beautiful, but we simply can't afford to buy any. It costs $30 for ONE 8 x 10. Yep, that's right...$30 for one. (Uhm, I don't think so!) I told Daughter we'd keep the proofs, but if she wanted to give any photos to her friends, I'd take her to a pretty park and take a few photos with our own camera, then get them developed at Wally World for a much cheaper price. It breaks my heart that we can't buy the studio portraits she sat for, but it's just not do-able at those prices. We might also go to a portrait place that offers $40 package deals. Of course you have to listen to the sales pitch, but $40 for a whole package is a lot more reasonable than $30 for ONE 8 x 10. (Package deals ran around $450! Yikes!)

Cross-Country Team fees will probably be $150, as they have been every other year. Plus 2 or 3 pairs of running shoes at around $80 each. Daughter is not allowed to have an after-school job while she's on the cross country team. Coach has a strict policy that the kids must give 100% to the team during the season.

Daughter does want to get a job after cross country is over, around mid-November. With unemployment rates being so high in our area, any job she can get will be a huge blessing.

If you have young children, start saving NOW for high school. The expenses are a killer!

***The big blessing in all this is that the cross country coach at the local university wants to talk to Daughter about a potential scholarship. She'd have to get her run times WAY down, but he likes her attitude. But...she needs to join the NCAA as soon as possible (aka--TONIGHT), which costs around $48. ***sigh*** (I'm considering it an investment in her college education...)

It will be exciting to see how the Lord provides for our family during this school year. Honey starts back to school next week, and his textbooks cost about $400. The scholarship he is using won't be covering all his tuition and expenses any more, so the difference will have to come from our savings, which are dwindling at an alarming rate. We had to get Daughter's car brakes repaired yesterday, which cost almost $200.

We are very blessed that Honey is able to go to school without having to work, and we are very thankful for that. Another blessing is that my former boss e-mailed me last week and asked if I'd come back to work. There's no way I could accept the offer since child care would not be feasible, but it was a real ego boost for a while. It was like a message from God, saying "Things will be okay."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Please Pray for the Wilson Family

Some good friends of mine are having a terrible time with flooding. Here is a recent update:

Just wanted to give everyone an update. I hate to send such a downer of an email, but it's easier than answering individual questions and that big one I'm tired of hearing, "when do you think you'll be able to go home?"
Roy made the trip in to the farm via tractor yesterday.  I haven't been in for several weeks, so I'm relaying what he saw.
First off, he thought the water was down enough to get the tractor in, but it wasn't. The water went over the front tires and he did float the tractor. However, he made it in and out and won't be going back in the tractor again.
He said as of yesterday the water was down about 4 inches at the house. At the current level it was still as high as it was last year at its highest point. You hear a lot about the water going down, but it's really not changed at out house. There is so much width to the river that it'll take a while.
Roy reported that all the trees in front of the house were dead as well as all the little trees I planted this year.  The maples next to the house seem to be ok, he couldn't tell yet how much of the timber was dead, but some trees were starting to look stressed. Sadly, he thought the big sycamores out front by my arena were also beginning to look like they were dying. All the pasture/native grass is dead. What was alive in the yard was stripped from grasshoppers.
Last year on Aug. 6 we were able to move home.  This year as we approach Aug. 6 it is becoming painfully obvious that we probably won't be going home this fall. The electricity was off at the house while Roy was there(apparently they disconnected some power at the substation while looking for the missing trooper in water to the south of us), so he wasn't able to assess how the a/c's and dehumidifier were holding up. He did think the house smelt pretty musty. There is still a good 4 foot of water in the basement.
Still no idea about the barns and other outbuildings. We do know that the river took out my fence behind the house. We won't be able to assess the foundations and such until much later.
The Army Corp of Engineers released their water management plan for the next year. It basically said they are going to proceed exactly the same way they did this year.
To top it off we've dealt with an unrelenting heat wave with temps near 100 and heat indexes around 110.  The goats suffered badly having to be locked in the barn with fans and we lost one doe. I haven't been able to get the goats sold and now they've dropped some weight and the kids aren't growing. They still have to go, since there's nowhere to take them home to. I was riding everyday at about 7am on my dressage horse to prep her to sell, we made it to one show and the next morning she had a severe allergic reaction to something. I had to pull her out of the stable due to the heat, she looked better but seems to be having difficulty today. So much for selling and showing at the time being. Trying to reorganize and figure what to ride next, have been on my young mare this week and will be bringing the other two here in the next day or so.
The boys are doing great. Willis is back to school work and Caden is really into movies....sigh.... Both Roy and I have put a little weight back on and other than some colds, we've been pretty healthy. We're still living in the camper and using the bathroom in Mom's house. She seems to be tolerating us pretty well, but I'm sure it's annoying. We're looking for some alternative living for the winter.
Things are looking up for the vet business and we're committed to staying in Holt County.
That's all the news for now.
Please pray for this family, as well as the family of the missing trooper.