Smile! The Sun made another Spin!

Now that Mikey has landed safely in Japan, Clarabelle has noticed that Mommy says “good night” and “good morning” at weird times. She thought her mommy was being silly or that Mikey needed a nap. So, we reminded her about our discussions of the map. For instance, she knows we go up to West Virginia and down to Florida. She knows that California (where Mikey was stationed) is way across the map and she knows that Japan is across the water. (Pretty good grasp for a 3-year-old). But, we had never really thought to cover time zones. I mean, seriously, she is THREE!

Of course, she is a very inquisitive three-year-old and was not letting this go. So I found this video on youtube and we began to work through her questions. About 4 minutes into the video, she asked if we could switch to music. I asked her if she understood about the times and, as usual, she simplified it just right. “The earth spins around because we are supposed to share the sun. When we have night, it is Mikey’s turn for the sunshine.”

So, we switched to the music and went on about our evening. Isn’t it just amazing how simple life really is? If we could wake up each morning and realize that the other half of the world is sharing with us, then maybe we would be a little quicker to share with others.

So, this morning, as you sip your coffee and plan out your day, pencil in some kindness and enjoy the gift of sunshine!

May you all have a beautiful day!

“Gigi”

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Understanding the Military: Toddler Talk

There are some things that we wish children would never have to understand. Death. Distance. Alienation. War. Danger. Just to name a few. But the fact remains, that these things do occur and this is the world that we are passing off to our children and grandchildren. Hell, this is the world that was passed on to each of us.

Today, Clarabelle and Elliott’s stepfather will be boarding a plane Washington state where he, along with other members of the United States Marine Corps, will check in to prepare for their flight to Okinawa, Japan. The following is our exchange this morning about his departure:

Clarabelle: Mikey is leaving today. Mommy looks a little sad. I feel a little sad too.

Gigi: Well, it is okay to be sad that you are going to miss someone but remember, he can call you a lot and he will be home before you know it.

Clarabelle: What if it is a long time? It is a long job to keep us safe. (This is how we had described his work…keeping everyone safe).

Gigi: Yes, well, when his time is up keeping us safe, someone else will take his place so he can come home.

Clarabelle: Maybe no one will have to leave their family to keep us safe. That would be good, huh?

Gigi: That sure would be good, baby. That sure would be good.

 

Isn’t it amazing that a toddler understands how wrong it is that families have to be torn apart because grown-ups cannot get along? A three-year-old should be dreaming of ponies and princess castles instead of world peace and safety. But this is her world. This is all of our world. And this is what we have made it.

It makes me sad that she is so aware but so proud of her awareness at the same time. Perhaps, one day, she can simply dream a little girl’s dreams.

Today, let’s remember the families torn apart and pray that one day, we can see the world through a toddler’s eyes!

“Gigi”

A Real Date Night for the NewlyWeds: A Mother’s Worries for the Years to Come

Tonight, as I sit and listen to the rain, our happy newlyweds are out on the town dining and spending time together. For most mothers, this would be a moment of happiness. A moment where I realize that my daughter has found the one who makes her smile. A moment where I am thankful that the two of them waited to put the children to bed before heading out because they do not want to miss a moment with them. A moment where I am smiling because my daughter is finally with a man who has family values is committed to her and her children and puts the needs of others before his own. For all of these things, I am happy and thankful.

But it is in this happiness, this gratitude, that I find my concerns. You see, in eleven days, my daughter will be waving to an airplane that will take her new husband on a journey to Japan where he will spend the next 24 months. She will proudly speak of her marine who is serving his country and find comfort among the many support groups related to those who are missing their loved ones who serve. They will face time when possible and send sweet letters or packages to one another. He will continue to use Amazon to send gifts to her and the children (Amazon actually wraps or uses gift bags!) while she continues to make silly “open when” cards to stay in touch and show him how much she misses him. And they will count down the days until they see each other again.

I see her so happy right now and want to just enjoy this time. But, as mothers, we know to always have a plan. To always think ahead. In this mentality, I sit here wondering how hard this will be for them and how I can make it easier for her. Of course, there is nothing that I can do to change the situation, but I am sure as Hell gonna try to help time pass. Hmmm, I am thinking lots of vacations and beach therapy. Maybe this won’t be so bad after all (Just Kidding, Mikey!!!)

But seriously, this will be hard. I wish I could take away the hard parts of life for her. But instead, I will just sit here and wonder. I will plan. And I will pray.

 

To all the men and women who sacrifice on either side of this, I send my thoughts and gratitude!

“Gigi”

 

 

 

 

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Blogging Journey Day 18: To New Friends

I believe that this was the primary reason for beginning this blog, to know that we are not alone and to let others know the same. Life is hard but it is so worth it and much more enjoyable when we have others to walk beside. So, thank you for being by our side.

WOW! I never would have guessed that only 18 days into this journey that we would have had a day yesterday with over 500 views reaching more than 1700 views to date. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for letting us know that we are not on this journey alone.

I believe that this was the primary reason for beginning this blog, to know that we are not alone and to let others know the same. Life is hard but it is so worth it and much more enjoyable when we have others to walk beside. So, thank you for being by our side.

There are so many different avenues that we discuss because there are so many different aspects of our lives that we feel others may also be encountering. A lot of our views have been related to our CPS case and I pray that we are providing a sense of hope for those who are going through this and a greater awareness to those who continue to believe the assumptions about CPS. Ashley has opened up about her relationship with Mikey and has found support from other men and women who have a significant other serving in the armed forces. There is a great pride for their loved ones but also a loneliness that can be lessened through these friendships. Ashley has also been able to connect with other mothers to discuss tips and swap stories. I have met countless of other families of children with Down’s Syndrome and we have been able to discuss the beauty of celebrating every milestone. You all have celebrated my Gloria’s birthday with us, prayed for my dear friend Heather as she nearly lost her life and underwent amputation. You have tagged along to the beach and heard the wisdom of my granddaughter, Clarabelle. There are so many journeys to come and more details to provide. We look forward to continuing to meet others and grow as a community who will overcome all obstacles together!

Together, we are better!

“Gigi”

Missing You Comes In Waves. 


Military relationships are some of the most rewarding, heartbreaking, stressful, love filled relationships out there. And no one understands unless they have been through it. That’s why it is so important to find a friend in all of this. Someone who understands what you’re going through, so when the waves hit, you have someone to lean on when you can’t lean on your SO.

We always miss them. Every second they’re away. Some days are just worse than others. It comes with the territory. It’s the down side of the lifestyle.
Some days seem so ‘normal’. We go about our routines, text when we can, tell each other about our day on FaceTime at the end of the night before we fall asleep together.

Some days I don’t stress constantly over the “what-ifs”.

Some days I’m not scared.

But then there are the in between days.

These are the days that I wake up and sit on my bed staring off into space, wishing you were there beside me.

These are the days that everything seems to be going wrong, and he isn’t there to hold me.

These are the days my chest hurts and I feel like I can’t breath because I miss him so much.

These are the days I have to remind myself that my love for him is stronger than the stress that distance puts on our relationship.
But there are so many great things about loving someone in the military. Like having your first kiss over and over. Or pride you feel talking to someone about him/her.  Or love that just grows stronger by the day. Hell, just sitting beside them when they finally come home is one of the most beautiful things.
On days you feel hopeless, on days when you feel more alone than you have ever felt, try to remember why you’re going through this. Try to remember why you fell in love with them in the first place. Try to remember (however long ago it was) the last time he hugged you.

Hold on to the ups. They will carry you through when you need it the most.

-A.

Prisoners of War: Bringing our Children Home from CPS Captivity

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I will once again preempt this post by stating that everything on this site is intended to promote hope and bring awareness to obstacles that we have faced in our family. I understand that our tactics in working through the hell of CPS may not work for everyone and may come across as somewhat sheepish as we smiled through our tears, spoke politely, and held our tongues about our anger with the system. Regardless of these differences in approaches, the fact remains that my grandchildren are safe at home and we did not have to jump through mandated hoops. Our anger at the system, our shock that this could happen in a “free” country, was the same as so many others are feeling right now and all that we could find online was stories of TPRs and brutal war tactics. We chose to use war strategies that worked in our case.

However you fight your battle, know that it is possible to win. That was all that I wanted to hear the entire case. I wanted to know it was possible. I wanted to know that all of the stories online did not have to be MY story. I wanted to know that there was a way to bring my family home. Just as when two families have of Prisoners of War received the news that one has been freed, the other family then has hope that their soldier will come home, I wanted to hear that my grandchildren would be returned. Not being able to find this could have led me to a state of depression with no way to come out of it. Not being able to hear that there was a chance could have cost me my life as it has so many other broken parents. I WANTED TO LIVE THROUGH THIS! So, I decided that I would be that positive outcome at all cost and that when it was over, I would tell others that it is possible and that they must continue to fight every day.

The difference in how I tell my story is that I am not filled with hatred. I could be. I could wake up each day fueled with anger and go into attack mode. But (A) my grandchildren need my happy goofy self to play on the floor and I cannot do that if I only focus on the negative and (B) we did not win our case by coming off as being in attack mode. Yes, THIS IS WAR but WARS ARE NOT WON WITHOUT STRATEGY!

When you enter a war, you assess the situation. You learn as much about your enemy as possible. You find out what allies you have and who is still on the fence that may serve your cause with a little bit of influence. You find out who the actual enemy is and who is simply a soldier following orders. You can take out all the soldiers that you want but unless you go for the true enemy, then you only win a battle rather than the war.

When we watch the news, we often wonder why our military leaders make certain decisions that seem to be detrimental to the primary cause. Why do they appear to be diplomatic when there are clear threats to our safety, our freedoms, and our way of life? There is a bigger picture that the news does not cover. There are interactions that we may never know about. There are moments that even these leaders question their own tactics but move forward with confidence so as to not show weakness. But the fact remains that all tactics, all strategies, all methods of winning are justified when the outcome is favorable. One battle at a time. One soldier returned. One life saved. Every win serves to justify the choices of these leaders.

In the war against CPS, and trust me this is a war against the entire system, we have assessed the primary enemy. We are aware that we must stand together against the corruption of the system and this must be done with all of our emotions. When the military wages war, it does so with a primary goal of defeating the enemy. THIS IS THE PRIMARY GOAL and we cannot waver in our efforts. However, when a soldier is taken captive, we must first be diligent in bringing them home. Often times, we must use diplomacy rather than aggression.

OUR CHILDREN ARE PRISONERS OF THIS WAR!

Make no mistake, throughout our case, we were aware of the primary enemy. We knew that we would continue to fight once our battle was won. We knew that bringing home my grandchildren would not be the end of the war. But we were in that battle at that time and there was no one else that could fight it for us. We read all of the posts that told us to scream and yell and never be agreeable. For some, this tactic was working but for most, I watched their battle continue with devastating outcomes. I grieved as I watched prisoners of war essentially become casualties of war. I feared for my own family. I feared for the families of others. I spent countless nights watching and listening. I studied the battles of others and strategized accordingly just as military leaders review previous battles and adjust their tactics.

To some, we may have appeared weak and, even as we tell our story, our tactics are under scrutiny. In fact, many times we question ourselves. Some moments throughout the case are not without regret. But I will stand by our choices because, at the end of the day, we won our battle and came back up to continue to fight the war.

Our children did not enlist for this war. They did not come into this battle with an understanding that they could become prisoners. They are not trained to withstand the manipulation, the hardships, and the emotional distress of being taken a prisoner. They are depending on us to bring them home from their captivity at all costs.

When one tactic fails, do not give up, re-strategize!

“Gigi”

Long-Distance/ Military Relationships: Always Make Time.

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For most people, going on a date involves getting dressed up, going to a nice restaurant or to see a movie. For me (and many other women like me), however, things are a little different.

Mikey and I met through my best friend about a year ago. He is now a marine, 2,200 miles away from me. Being in a military relationship is exceptionally difficult. Between time differences, busy schedules, and last minute changes, it’s hard to actually spend time together. At the beginning of the week, Mikey and I decided that we were going to go on a date Saturday night. As Friday came and went, I found myself growing nervous and excited. It had been so long since he last took me out on a date. Saturday evening, after I put the kids to bed, I started to get ready. I carefully put my makeup on, paying attention to every detail. I slowly straightened my hair, making sure every piece was perfect. I picked a nice shirt and made sure my phone was charged. I walked out to the back porch with a candle and moved my chair around for 10 minutes using my camera to make sure the lighting was perfect. Then I propped my phone up, lit my candle and waited for the call. At 10 pm/ 7 pm (my time/ his time) I had the most amazing, candle-lit, romantic date I have ever been on. We laughed, learned new things about each other and discussed future plans. This is so important, and if you haven’t tried it, I absolutely recommend it!

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Make time

I can not stress this enough. When you get comfortable in a long-distance relationship, video calls consist of no makeup and baggy t-shirts. It is so incredibly easy to get wrapped up in your day to day lives and forget to make time for each other. Make time to sit and talk. Make time to put on a little extra makeup and look cute for him. Make time to remind him/her how much you love them. It’s so easy to get caught up in missing him/her, you forget that you don’t have to miss out on everything. You don’t have to miss out on dating just because you don’t get a goodnight kiss at the end. Don’t forget to talk about your day just because he/she isn’t sitting beside you in the car after work. Don’t forget to be romantic just because you’re comfortable. Be spontaneous. Send him a cute picture every once in a while. Always let them know when you’re thinking about them. Make. Time.

Always remember, It’s only as difficult as you make it!

-Ashley.