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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How 9/11 Shaped our Lives

I was twenty-three years old with three children and recently separated from my ex-husband. Sitting in my first home of my own, a small three bedroom single wide in rural Virginia, I looked around at the suit cases packed for my “separation celebration.” We were going on our first cruise! My children, 2, 4, and 6 at the time, were starting to stir out of their rooms and pitter patter down the hallway when my phone rang. It was my mother and I was sure she was going to tell me that she was on her way as we were leaving that day from my house to make the drive to Miami, Fl. All I heard, instead of the excited squeal that I expected, was a somber “turn on the TV.”

I remember collapsing. I remember pulling my children close and sitting down on the floor in front of the television unaware of their stares as they watched their mother sob in fear. They, of course, were unaware what those images on the screen meant to their world but I could not imagine the world beyond that very moment.  Everything was over and all I could do was take in these last moments with my children in my arms.

Then it hit me. If this would be their last moments, what kind of mother would allow them to be spent in fear and uncertainty? What kind of mother would I be if I allowed a group of terrorists to take away the last smiles on their faces? No, I would not allow this. I would not be a victim nor would I allow my children to be victimized.

I called my mother back and said to come on and bring her suitcase. When she arrived, we sat for a moment and knew what we should do. I spoke with my father who thought it was a bad idea to go on with our plans and, perhaps he could have been right, but my decision that day made all the difference for my family.

That day, we made a decision to live. We live cautiously, but never scared. We boarded that boat on September 13, 2001, and we set the tone for our lives ever since. Eleven cruises later and I cannot say that I have ever learned more in three days than I did that maiden voyage.

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I learned that there is more to the world than what we see in our daily lives.

I learned that fear keeps us from seeing the most beautiful places, experiencing the most beautiful moments, and connecting with the most beautiful people.

I learned that my children need my strength in order to find their own.

I learned that the ocean is large enough to hold every hope and every dream.

I learned that there it is possible for people from all around the world, even in the face of such events, to come together and enjoy the beauty of the world.

I learned that wars are fought in politics not people.

I learned that everything in life must be learned and that this cannot occur without experiences.

Most of all, I learned that we can all live in fear, as the terrorists wanted, or we can continue to win every day that we choose to experience life.

To those who lost their lives that day, we owe it to you to continue to win!

“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.

Hold your Apologies: What not to say to the family of a Child with Down’s Syndrome

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First Day of School!!!

Can you imagine, you are holding what you believe to be the most perfect child in the world. She has blonde hair like her mother, hazel eyes like her father, and the cutest little dimple on her chin. Now, the lady in the next room also has her “perfect” child and recognizes that your baby does not have brown curls like her new bundle of joy… “Oh, I am so sorry,” she says! SORRY FOR WHAT? Sorry because your child is different from hers? Sorry that she believes her baby to be superior to yours due to one characteristic? Sorry because she does not understand having a child with blonde hair?

Can you imagine how you would feel? Immediately you would jump to defend your precious new gift or perhaps you would be so shocked that you could not even find the words to say. Are there even words to say? To need to apologize, one would have to have done something wrong. In order to empathize, one would have to have experienced something similar. To need either of these responses, there would need to be something wrong!!!

Of course, this situation would not happen in the newness of a labor and delivery wing so I will go beyond the color of their hair. Moving forward, let’s look at high school graduation. The little blonde girl graduates at the top of her class while the brown haired baby with perfect curls finishes her high school career among the middle range of her classmates. While the blonde may deserve congratulations for her hard work, the brunette would not expect sympathy. She completed her studies and did so respectfully. How would you feel, if someone offered sympathy because your child was “just average?”

What about glasses? Braces? Stuttering? Speech difficulties? A freckle? Birth mark? Do you apologize to the parents of these children? Do you say, “I am so sorry that your child is different than mine?” Do you say, “I’m sorry that your child has less the ‘perfect’ traits?”

Of course, you don’t because that would not be NICE! That would not be ACCEPTABLE!

When my granddaughter was born, we all stood around the nursery noting every little finger, every little toe, every cry, every smile just as the other families did for their new additions. We were elated that she would soon come into our home and brighten our lives forever. We prayed together when she was on oxygen. We leaned on one another when they mentioned flying her to a larger hospital. We waited together to hear the doctors tell us that she was going to be okay. And she is! She is better than okay. She continues every day to laugh and learn, grown and amaze us. She is PERFECT!

Yet, for some reason, when one of the family says, “she has Down’s” the immediate response, without exemption is “Oh, I’m sorry…” and we want to yell “WHY?” We are not sorry that your child has blue eyes or straight hair. We are not sorry that your child has freckles. We are not sorry that every time your child learns something new the whole family does not celebrate. We are not sorry that your child’s first steps or clearance from a heart doctor did not send you straight to the bakery to pick out a cake. Instead, we are thankful that your child is perfect in your eyes and would like for you to know that Gloria is perfect in ours.

 Happy Birthday, Gloria! 

A Race To The Finish Line 

There is nothing wrong with her. She is in excellent health and is moving along the developmental chart at a steady pace. The pace may not be the same of your child, but your child’s pace is not at the same pace as someone else’s child. And they are NOT SORRY!

I get it, you may not know what to say. You may have heard scary things about Down’s Syndrome. You may think that this is some form of life threatening situation and that your heart felt “I’m sorry,” refers to the inevitable loss of her ability to have any quality of life. I get it. You do not know about it so maybe your apology is for your lack of awareness. I do not know a thing about raising a child with red hair. I have no clue about freckles and sensitive skin. But I am not sorry for the parents who have children with red hair because this is a beautiful characteristic of their perfect child. I feel no need to stare or apologize but, if I really felt the need, I would ask respectful and caring questions like, “what brand of sunscreen do you use to protect his/her beautiful skin tone?” or “what type of conditioner makes their hair shine like that?” I could even accept questions like, “Do you have extra health care concerns because of this characteristic?”

To apologize to a parent because of a single characteristic that makes their child unique or special is not only disrespectful but also hurtful. Families of children with Down’s Syndrome are simply families with children. Please think before you speak and, if you cannot compliment or ask a question tastefully, then please just smile.

 

Normal is unattainable for anyone! Special is in our DNA!

“Gigi”