Five Whole Years

What is it about the fives that really makes us think?
I mean, I know I don't miss an anniversary without thinking, but there's something about intervals of five that are so profound.

Five years.
Five ridiculously long, painful years.

I wanted to cling onto you that night. Well, let's back up. Let's start from the beginning. We knew it was going to happen from day one. But then the rumors got closer and closer. You were supposed to go in August, but that was to Iraq and for some reason someone didn't want the unit going to Iraq. I guess there wasn't enough action there? There were rumors for the reason, but we'll stay away from those now. So, it became the waiting game. You'd leave for training upon training and the deployment wouldn't come and at one point, dropping you off for training I said, "I kind of wish this was just the deployment. Not that I want you to go, but I want to get it over with."

All I wanted was to get it over with.

Anyway. We (the families) would be told things like, "24 Hour Standby," and "Leave at a Moment's Notice." It started to get more specific; "Don't expect your Marine to be here until Halloween."

Halloween came, you were a cowboy and I was a leopard. We went to a friend's house for a Halloween party and had so much fun. I was hormonal though, and we got in an argument that night. We made up because it was stupid. I'm sorry I was so damn emotional.

Then we heard, "Don't expect your Marine to be here for Thanksgiving." We went to Maryland because my mom had planned a surprise baby shower. It was such a great time. I think you were the most involved dad-to-be I'd ever seen at a baby shower. You handed me the gifts, smiled in the photos, and generally played along.

We had planned to spend Christmas in Florida with your family. At the rate things were going, of course you were going to be here for Christmas, they kept warning us with no consequence. It wasn't really going to happen, was it?

Things were changing in Afghanistan. The command over there were asking for more troops. The president was stalling on his decision. December 1st there was a press conference. He announced he would indeed be sending more troops (although not the number that was requested...) and we knew immediately you would be in that surge.

December 4th was a regular day. We went out to eat at Golden Corral. I was eating banana pudding, a delicious combination of banana flavored goo, Nilla wafers, and whipped cream. Your phone rang right as I was about to take a bite. I tried to listen. It was the sergeant from the armory. I heard a lot of "yes, sergeants," spoon hovering mid-bite. What was happening? You ended the call. You looked me in the eye and said, "I have PT Monday morning and then... Tuesday afternoon." I crinkled my brow... "Why are you PTing Tuesday afternoon?"
"No babe. I'm leaving Tuesday afternoon."

The spoon remained midair as the tears slid down my cheeks, salty paths of the composure I could no longer hold. There was only one place to which you'd be leaving. You were worried I wasn't okay. We had taken separate vehicles and you were so concerned about me driving home. I assured you I'd be fine and off we went to our little duplex in Richlands; you following, always watching to make sure I was alright.

We decided to blow up the air mattress that night, the nice king sized double stacked one we borrowed from my parents, and put it in the living room. We watched movies and cuddled so tight I briefly thought of crawling into your skin so I never had to be without you. How was I going to survive without you?

Four days. We had four days to prepare for the inevitable. You went through your packing lists and I double checked them behind you. "Where is your side arm holster?!" I looked for that damn thing for hours. It was missing one piece. And I knew without that one piece the world would fall apart. "Babe, I can rig it up and it'll be fine." I made you show me. It looked fine. I questioned your packing style, shouldn't you have the most necessary items at the top of your sea bag? You laughed it off and I'm sorry I was such a pain in the ass. I just needed you to be ready. We joked about how you weren't allowed to go on convoys. About how you'd get there and dig a hole in the ground with a bubble over it and just wait out your 7 months. It was funny, but really I was terrified.

We went and picked out the final colors for the house we'd bought pre-construction. Blue with wine colored shutters. Countertops, the shape in the front door, carpet styles... we were so glad we got to do that together. We went to our plot, talking about all the things we would do in our brand new house when you got back.

We had a Christmas. We went out and bought a little tree and some bulbs, put it up and decorated it. We did presents. I had bought you new pajama pants, you loved pajama pants, and a new digital camera. My mom tried to get the camera to us in time before you left but it didn't, so I gave you my own. I wrapped a picture of the pajama pants (that I'd left in Maryland, thinking I had time) and a picture of the camera in cereal boxes. You drew me a card. Inside there was a picture of a blue house with red shutters, a woman, a Marine, and a little girl. You wrote, "My promise to you." You were gifting me our dreams, our life together.

You called your family and said you were leaving. Your mom and Emilie came up and we had a great visit. You got promoted that weekend. I was super proud. You let me pin you. I tried not to slap you too hard, but enough for you to feel it.

Decemeber 8th came. We loved and it was so ridiculously hard to walk out of that house, knowing I'd return without you. It was such a beautiful day, the sun was shining  and it was relatively warm but my spirits couldn't match. Lady Gaga's Bad Romance came on the radio and we laughed and laughed about such a ridiculous song. We went to the 7 Day Store for some last minute items. An officer was there and he welcomed you home, you told him you were just leaving and he told you he'd see you soon then.
We had to go in early because you were an armorer and you had to hand out the weapons and all that other stuff. It was a special day so I got to go in. I talked out the window to the Marines in line and got a good scolding for that. Your sergeant told us it was stupid to think you'd never convoy, I let him know I was aware of that, it was just our joke.

We went to the staging area. I didn't want to let you go. People were taking pictures, many women looked so presentable with their makeup. I hadn't worn makeup that day because I knew I'd cry and it would run down my face.

There was a lot of standing around and socializing. We were just killing time. You spoke to your daughter. You told her how much you loved her, and told her to take care of mommy, you promised her you'd see her soon.

All of a sudden, you were called to FORM UP. I watched you walk away, a quick kiss but no real goodbye, and join the rest of the Marines. You were spoken to, then told to head to the bus. I watched you walk toward the bus. Everyone was walking away. Could I go? Could I follow? I would've folded up into your pocket if I could, just to stay by your side. A couple wives started walking that way and I did this skid/walk/run maneuver to get to you. I wanted to remain professional and composed and show you I was strong enough to handle this. I didn't want you to know I was falling apart inside.

I caught up to you. Our last kiss. Our last hug. Our last spoken I love yous where we could look in each others' eyes. I watched you walk up the steps. You took a window seat. You signed that you loved me, the way we would, and I watched the tears slip down your cheeks. You didn't want to go, I think you would've folded me into your pocket if you could. What was I without you? What were you without me? I Love You sign language, and tears, and then the buses rolled. I couldn't look away. I stood there, watching until there was nothing left to see. I wanted to fall apart but I wouldn't allow it. I tried to detach.

I numbly walked to the FRO's office where a few of my friends were. I returned the FRO's coat. She'd let me borrow it as the sun sank and I started to shiver. Your sister called you, I had your phone because it was against the rules to take it. Hearing your ringtone ripped another piece from my heart.

I went to a friend's house, as I wasn't ready to greet an empty house. They made me eat dinner. They reminded me I had someone else to think about, growing inside me, who needed nourishment.
I drove home to an empty duplex. The tiny house that had felt so cramped was now far too large, an echoing mansion mirroring the emptiness inside me. Baby furniture had arrived on the porch and I had to wiggle it inside without lifting it, my huge belly bumping it the whole way. It was my first task alone.

I paced the halls. I didn't want to be alone, but I didn't want to be with anyone else or in any other place. Our home was both a prison and a sanctuary.

As I lay on the couch, unable to lay in our bed without you that first night, drifting to sleep, I thought of when I'd see you next. In 7 months, you'd be back in my arms, and my loneliness would be relieved. I could make it. I'd be alright. You needed me to be strong and I would be what you needed.

That was the last time I saw you, soul present in body, on this earth. The last time I felt the warmth radiating from your skin, the last time I felt the tingle of your kiss, the last time I felt safe and whole.
I look to my right and there you sit. Your body in a small wooden box. I look to the Heavens and there you live. Your soul, watching down on me reminding me that I will be safe and whole once more.

Old Fogey

There are so many times that it smacks me right in the face… I’m old.
Ok, maybe not old, old, but I’m certainly getting there.

I’m in grad school these days, so I have to go to a college campus twice a week. The first time I went there, to meet with my advisor, I looked around at all the college students and I just thought how small and young they looked. Did I look so young? I thought I was grown back then…

I had class tonight at 630. It was raining and around 50 degrees. I was wearing my awesome camo double lined hoodie, zipped up, head down, walking with purpose. I look up, and there is this college gal in a short sleeve shirt (with a fashionable scarf, of course), hugging herself and shivering as she hoofed it to the parking garage. And do you know what I thought?

I can’t believe you didn’t bring a coat.

Oh. My. Oldness.

When did I bring a coat in college? Especially when I looked cute. I immediately flashed back to New Years Eve, nearly 7 years ago. 2007 into 2008. My roommate and I had searched all day for a dress to wear to this party in the city. Yes, we were procrastinators, and yes our selection was limited, but we were going to look fancy regardless! I found this shiny black dress that I thought, even then, looked kind of like a trash bag, but it was shiny and black and short, and my options were limited. So of course this tiny trash bag ensemble became my New Years Eve attire. In Baltimore. In January. And hell no, I didn’t have a coat!

Finding a cab in Baltimore on New Years Eve is like finding all the matching socks for my 4 year old… impossible. Unless you’re lucky or you know someone. We waited somewhere around two hours before we finally broke down and called a friend's mom to scoop us up. And thankful we were, because we were those girls in the tiny dresses, outside in January, arms hugged tightly around ourselves shivering.

And tonight my first thought was that she should have a coat.
Man, I am such a mom. And I am officially getting old…

In other news, if you miss me tons and tons here at Little Pink, I have been doing some writing over with Highly Offensive Mom at ManyKind Regards (in fact, my newest post went up today). It’s such an awesome project that I am so excited to be a part of, so if you’ve got a minute, head on over there and check us out, leave some love, and be excited to see me writing more than a couple times a month ;)

The Winter Time Blues

What is it about winter that seems to steal all my joy? There's tons of good stuff that happens in winter, all the good holidays are here (including my birthday) so I should be excited right?
There are a ton of hard dates that happen in winter, but I really feel like it's more than that.
I'm at a point where I have to literally drag my body out of bed in the morning. I can't focus, I'm always tired, I'm irritable. Damn you winter - you are draining and awful!

Things have been going well, besides my opening this post with complaining. Grad school is amazing and I am happy there. I love how much writing I have been doing with it and I seriously wish I could be doing more. I'm sorry that it seems to have taken me from here. Work is going well, I got a new job within the same company and I'm really enjoying it. It's a tech writing job so it's finally kind of in my field. Woot. I'm also writing over at Many Kind Regards with Highly Offensive Mom (perfect for me, or what?!) So if you get a chance go check them out and leave me some love over there too.

A is doing well, she is such a diva and has so much personality. She's been talking a lot about her dad lately, which I love. In fact, a few weeks ago she asked me something about when he was coming back. I tried to gently break it to her that he wouldn't be, that that simply wasn't possible as much as we might want it to be. She said, "Well mommy, the people who die are always with you as long as they are in your heart." Schooled. Again. By a 4 year old. She's the best. Speaking of school, she's doing awesomely in her Pre K program. She can spell words now. SPELL. WORDS! It's pretty exciting. Maybe we have another little writer on our hands? She is certainly an observant person, which gets me in trouble sometimes, but for the most part she's my tiny best friend and that's how I like it.

I wish I had more thrilling things to report, but I've missed y'all and I've missed my little space on the interwebs so it's just a check in. I'm sure I'll have something more thrilling shortly ;)

What Are We Doing To Our Future?

"I believe the children are our future..." Mm, sing it Whitney!

So. This past weekend, I took A to her bestest buddy's 5th birthday party. It was Frozen themed and super cute. There were crafts and food, and even an appearance by Elsa, (which we had to miss so don't ask A about it). I am good friends with her buddy's parents, so I was chatting with them a bit when I inquired into something I had noticed upon walking up. There were a lot more kids here than in years previous. I asked my friends about it, wondering if that was just part of kids growing older and going to school or what. They then told me that their daughter's teacher had told them they had to invite everyone in the class.

Here is where the record scratches and the party goes silent.

Umm. Come again?? Yup, they couldn't bring their invites to school (aka the easiest place to bring the invites for distribution since half the time you've never seen the kids' parents outside of school) unless the entire class of around 20 kids received one. They went on to say that it wasn't really a big deal because their daughter probably would have wanted everyone anyway, but it really got me thinking...

What in the world are we teaching our kids? Okay, I get it. You don't want to hurt any 5 year old's feelings because, let's face it, they can really make you feel bad when they cry. But seriously. I just can't get on board with the "Life is fair for everyone" crap. Yup, crap. Life isn't fair. It certainly sucks sometimes, but it's something we all have to face. I can remember a number of parties I would have wanted to attend but didn't get invited to growing up. Guess what? I was disappointed, sure. But I survived. All these fairness rules, in my humble opinion, are teaching our kids to be entitled little jerks. 

Oh gosh, did I just say that our sweet angels could ever be jerks? Yup, I did. And I'm saying we are the cause of it if we keep this up. These sorts of things are teaching children that just because they want it, they can have it. Where is the lesson in that?! They are learning to be entitled, they're learning they don't have to work for things. They are not learning how to deal with disappointment, or hurt feelings, or being left out, or not getting what they want - all of which happens in real life.

Not only do we have to invite every kid to the party, no teams lose, everyone has to share...
Every team wins?! What the hell?? Nope. In life, there are winners and losers. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. It happens to all of us. I lost student council secretary in 5th grade. I was super disappointed. I lived. I tried again in high school. I lost that too. I have definitely learned how to lose. I've also won some stuff at some point, all of which are escaping me at the moment (see, the losing really does shape us!) Our kids need to learn how to lose AND how to win. They need to learn how to lose and cope and deal with their feelings, they need to learn how to win graciously.

Everyone has to share. Ok I get it. Sharing is caring and all that character counts jazz. But seriously, kids shouldn't have to share everything. Sometimes, kids need to learn it's okay to say no about a special item or something they aren't done using. And the kid who wants it needs to learn to respect no. That either that thing belongs to that person and he's not getting it, or he needs to patiently wait his turn. He's not entitled to what that other kid has. A has things that I don't make her share. I'm sorry parents, if you or your kid are offended by that, but there are things that are special to her (or to me) that I don't require her to share. It's not everything and sure, I intervene if she's not sharing at all, or if she's hoarding toys, or just being generally selfish, but I also respect her personal boundaries. She has learned the other way, too. If another kid doesn't want to share, well, she has to deal with it. It's called coping and it's important because life isn't fair. At all.

Let's just look at some of this from the perspective of adulthood. Winning and losing. Pretty obvious. If there were no winners or losers, we'd have no presidents, no scholarships, and the Superbowl would be really lame. Winners. Losers. Real life.
As far as sharing... well, if you have to share everything, then I would like to use your Lamborghini for the day good sir. New iPhone6? Don't mind if I do. I mean come on. Sure, it's cool to borrow things from friends or family, certain things, but there are limits. That's the point I'm making here.

I think as a society, we've gotten soft. Come on, now, I'm not that old. Things can't have changed that much... but they have! I love my little girl more than anything in the world. And I want to give her everything she wants in this world and keep her from all pain. But I know, unfortunately, that that is just not realistic. It is my responsibility as her parent to make sure she doesn't turn into an asshole. We aren't just raising kids, we are raising people. They are one day going to be adults, and what was ingrained in them in childhood is going to carry over into their adulthood. So let's teach them how to cope and deal with inevitable disappointment, how to respect others' space, how to work hard and earn things, how to be caring and curious and polite and generous but be just tough enough. I don't want to thicken her skin into rough calluses, I just want her to be just tough enough. It's a fine line to walk, I know, but right now, I think the general way it's being handled is teetering dangerously off that line and into a very bad place.

What say you? Let's have some open communication on this. I'm interested in what you have to say. Respect others' opinions while standing your ground and let's have a dialogue on preparing our children for the big, scary world out there and whether or not this is helping.

do you Believe in Heroes?

It's super obvious how important the military community is to me. I mean, if I have to tell you that, you're probably a first time visitor, so hello and welcome. To the rest of you loyal folks - hey there, it's me again! Anyway, back  to the topic at hand... The military community. So important. As the daughter of a Vietnam Veteran and the widow of an Operation Enduring Freedom Marine, I have seen first hand what war does to our loved ones. I have seen friends come home injured and I have met women who have lost their loved ones after sustaining injuries. War is real and it is brutal. That is why it is so incredibly important to support our military. Those who are serving, those who have served, those who remain after those who have fallen, and those who are injured.

Wounded Warrior Project is a pretty huge organization for America's Wounded Warriors. I doubt there's a person reading this that hasn't heard of WWP, even folks not affiliated with the military community on a personal level have most likely come across WWP at some point, if only at their local Walmarts. Like I said - HUGE organization in support of Wounded Warriors. That it was I was greatly honored when I was approached to be a part of the Believe in Heroes Campaign that raises funds for WWP.

Believe in Heroes is a national campaign that was started in 2010 to unite people doing every day thangs with the WWP. We all grocery shop, right? (Well... I do sometimes... when my kitchen is bare... but let's not go there) Wouldn't it be awesome to save money but raise funds for an awesome charity like Wounded Warrior Project at the same time? If you head over to this link, you can have access to great coupons that will aid in your shopping needs while also raising money for WWP. Awesome right?

Let me give you the low down on how you can get involved:

  • You can head here to download over $25 worth of coupons.
  • You can spread the word through social media. Tell all your friends about this awesome opportunity. Help them save money (they'll love you for that) and support a great cause (I'll love you for that)
  • You can purchase Believe in Heroes merchandise in stores or online
So let me ask you something... Do you Believe in Heroes? Then what are you waiting for?! Get clicking, get shopping, and get helping! The campaign runs through Veteran's Day - November 11th - and coupons are available until November 30th, so you've got plenty of time to get your shop 'n' save on!

Disclosure: I’m participating in the 2014 Believe in Heroes® blogger campaign and received compensation as part of the program. 

My Friend, Like Me

I am sitting here and I honestly don't know where to start this post or really how to go about it. The words have been floating around in my head but I just can't organize them. Maybe it's because I still can't grasp the fact that my friend is like me. This young widows club I've belonged to for nearly 5 years has been extended, once again, to include one of my own. And honestly, I am totally and completely not okay with it. I guess I'll begin where logic makes sense, at the beginning.

On Thursday, August 14th at 0559, my phone was vibrating. This was unusual because I'd already silenced my alarm twice and that makes a really annoying ringing sound. The different sound roused me from my sleep and I checked the caller ID. It was my friend Katie. She was in Chicago. I quickly tried to calculate the time difference, "what is it there? 3... 4... in the morning... is she drunk? I guess I should see what's up." I answered and was floored. Right off the bat she told me that our mutual friend, her best friend, had lost her husband the night before. I was still asleep and rambled some questions, still not quite comprehending what she was telling me. As it slowly sunk in I could only think... Fuck. Fuck. Not waking up like this again. Fuck. I texted my dad to see if he was up. Maybe if I talked it out this would make some kind of sense. There was no way a friend of mine from "before" had become one of "us." No. Way. I told my dad what I'd heard and talked it out. This wasn't the first time I'd called him in the wee hours of the morning with terrible news. Things felt too familiar. This must have been one of my nightmares. I texted with Katie, still trying to grasp my bearings. She had said she'd spoken to Raechel so I knew she was up. I called Raechel. She was going to tell me this was some mistake, or I was going to wake up. There was no way this was real life. It was real life. "How did you do it?" She asked me. Fuck. I don't know how I did it. We talked about logistics. I realized if I stuck with business, I'd be okay. I called my then-boyfriend. Things were not okay. I called my boss. I'm going to be late, I need to get myself together. I texted a fellow widow in a similar situation for advice on how to proceed with the business side of things. Stick to business, stick to logistics, stay away from any emotion because the emotions would crush me.

Raechel, what can I say about Raechel. I start to cry as I write this, thinking of my beautiful, strong, graceful friend. Raechel was the girl who introduced me to the 1/6 family.  When I was lost in North Carolina with no friends and wandered into the FRO's office, Raechel was there helping with the tour of Camp Lejeune. She was there when I said, "Hey, can I just come hang out with you guys every day?" She was there was I became a Family Readiness Assistant. Along with a couple others who were present that day, she was my first friend in Jonny's unit. Raechel came to the hospital when Ariana was born. She had just gotten back from a trip to Florida and had to drop some things off to a fellow 1/6 wife. She had the knowledge that that particular 1/6 wife talked with her husband over the internet regularly and could let Jonny know his baby girl was coming. She returned to the hospital and snuck me McDs french fries when I was so hungry after being there for hours. She asked what I wanted to listen to and had a Bob Marley song ready when I asked for it. She witnessed Ariana's birth and made Jonny's phone call to witness it possible. She was one of the first ones through the door when the CACO and the Chaplain told me Jonny had died the day before. She walked with me on the side of the road when all I wanted was a fight, keeping me toward the inside of the road in case I got any crazy ideas. She drove a group full of my friends from North Carolina to Delaware to be present when Jonny arrived home from Afghanistan. She came back to North Carolina when I got back with my friends and piled in my bed. She slept at the foot. We told "ghost" stories, and she witnessed Jonny's presence. She came down to Florida for Jonny's services even after finding out her husband had been injured. She stayed as long as she could. She introduced me to Katie. She always understood and never judged. She snuck into my house with me before I closed to check it out.... She's been there for ridiculous amounts of the most important moments in my life.  And that's just how she has been present in MY life. 

I went to work. I tried to work things out logically. I'd told my dad I wanted to get down there but wasn't sure when was the best time and I'd talk to my mom about it when she woke up. I thought I'd probably go down on the weekend. I tried to work, I only thought of Raechel. I called my best friend. Dammit, another one in our club. Not one of my own from before. I couldn't stay at work. I talked to mom and Mandy more. There was no way I could be here and her there. I told my bosses that and I headed south. There might have been nothing I could do but I had to be there. Maybe I wouldn't be the one pushing the chaplain out of the way, but there was no way I wouldn't be there for my friend.

She was surrounded by great people. Thank God for the great people in our lives who pull us through this shit. I did what I could. I never felt it was enough. Sometimes, I felt it was more for myself. Stay busy, stay logical. I needed to be there for her, but I couldn't let myself slip back 4 years and 5 months ago when I'd entered this. I never expected to be so close again. I did what I could to make things easier, to be there. I learned what my friends have known for years after being next to me during my step into the journey of grief - you have no idea what to do. You do what you can and you pray that what you do makes even a little bit of difference. You pray so hard you can take the pain away but you can't find a way, so you help in any way possible. I knew the pain. Maybe I could absorb it. I'd already done this for our group - wasn't that enough?! Let me take it, I already knew the pain. I didn't want anyone I loved to go through this. My aunt, so close to me, had just gone through this a few months prior and I couldn't do anything about it, please let me just take some of the pain from Raechel. Wasn't there any way to sponge away her pain?

I hate talking about Rob in past tense. It just doesn't feel right. Raechel found him. We all believe it was a bad medicine combination. He was a fucking warrior, how could he just slip away from us? You might know Rob Richards as the badass who was featured pissing on the Taliban. Oh man, how I wished I could have pissed on them, but thanks Rob, for doing it for all of us, including us widows who lost our loves to them. Rob was a sniper. He was injured during Jonny's deployment and made it through. He was hand selected to return. He did his job and he did it extremely well. He was medically retired following the little peeing incident and was well on his way to a new life. He was going to college to become an engineer and work with prosthetics or weapons. I remember the day he came home to Jacksonville from Bethesda. I hadn't been up to visit him, dealing with my own loss and emotions, but had the pleasure and honor of being there when he returned. Even with a cane, he still walked tall. His voice was gruff and rugged, fitting for a warrior but certainly different from the times I'd heard it before the deployment, before his Adam's Apple was replaced with a titanium piece because of the insurgents who pulled a string and detonated a bomb on him. They didn't get him. They didn't win. He thanked me for being there, I thanked him for a job well done and for fighting. He might not have known it, but I thanked him for returning home to my friend. Many others thanked him for returning their loved ones safely. Rob saved lives. He was a warrior and a hero. Over the years I stayed in Jacksonville, I saw him here and there. His fervor for the fight never ended. He wanted to finish what he started. I wasn't surprised to learn he was going back again. Again, he came home. Again, his badassery reigned. Not long after his final homecoming, we learned of the scandal and I will not deny, I was proud and a little jealous.  How I wish I could have peed on those men who stole my love from me. Thanks, Rob. Just a little bit of karma! Of course it erupted into a huge ordeal but Raechel stayed strong. Damn, that girl was graceful. There were court hearings and media attentions and changes galore and still she held fast. There were rough times, but they wouldn't get her down. She was an inspiration. Someone to aspire to be like every day with the way she held herself, fought for what she believed in, and most importantly stood by the man she loved the most.

The funeral was held at Bay Pines in St. Pete. I suggested Anderson-McQueen funeral home, the folks that handled Jonny's, for their kind and considerate manner. I attempted to organize what I could and take away as much stress for Raechel as possible. It helped me feel like I was doing something, anything, to help her, and it kept me in the present. Rob was honored. His bike club, American Infidels, rode by his side on the way from Jacksonville to St. Pete. They stood guard while he rested in both cities. Friends far and wide journeyed to honor and remember him, and to lay him to rest. It still wasn't real. I stayed busy. We were surrounded by such amazing people. We found ways to laugh and celebrate a life lost too soon. 

The services were beautiful. The services hit close to home. I made it. She made it. We made it. A few hours later, with a little help from alcohol and wondering thoughts, I lost my shit. Repeatedly. I cried over Jonny. I cried over Rob. I cried over all that had happened in the last 5 years. I cried over Raechel's addition to this stupid club. I cried over the absense of light. Raechel let me know it was okay. I apologized. I can't believe after all this, I'd let go and lost it and she was consoling me. Of course she would, because that's Raechel's way - strong, and graceful, and caring. But man... I lost it. I knew better. I knew better than to drink and I knew better than to let myself feel too much during this time, but still I unraveled. Wasn't I supposed to be an example? I assured her time and time again that she would be okay. That I was okay and that I knew she would be okay, and then I proved to her that the pain was still something that couldn't be muted when it wanted to present itself. I kick myself for that. And dammit, this wasn't about me! It was not my time to fall into the depths of my grief. It was my time to be a friend and to be strong for someone I loved. I know that she is fully aware that I hurt. I know she knows so many people hurt along side her. But dammit, couldn't I keep myself together for just another couple days to show her that after time you can make it through. Maybe it was good. Maybe she felt less alone knowing her pain was inexplainable and here was her long time friend with similar inexplainable pain. I hope to God I didn't make her pain worse. The last thing I wanted to do was to make anything harder for her. Pain and grief are sneaky. You think you're doing alright and it sneaks right up on you. I knew better and still I apologize. Some days I think I'm the example of everything not to do as a widow. Do not act a fool. Do not try to hide your pain. Do not be a crazy person... the list goes on and on. 

I had to come home. I want to be next to her, even though I'm not sure at this point I could provide any comfort. But I want to. I know that she'll be okay. I know that I have my moments of weakness but I also know that overall I've been okay, even when I just knew I wouldn't be. I want to provide her some sort of guidance into this wretched world of young widowhood, but there's really nothing I can provide except someone who understands. Someone who will never say "I know how you feel" or "I know what you're going through," but who can say, "I understand the suck" and "You will be alright, even through the pain." Someone who can hold her hand and maybe share the pain. Someone who can cry along side her.

Please pray for my beautiful friend in her coming days. It's not going to get easier. One widow told me early on something along the lines of "It doesn't get easier, you get used to it." That is so true. Every day it's hard. It is so damn hard. Every day it hurts. But it becomes your norm and you learn how to deal with it. I hate that I can't take her pain and I know I am not the only one. I hate that she's "like me." A young widow. I hate that she has to embark on this journey. I am comforted in knowing that she is such a strong and graceful person that I know with my whole heart she'll be alright. I am comforted in knowing the widow community is a wonderful place that will embrace her and lift her up. I am comforted in knowing that Rob is in great company up there. I am comforted in knowing that she feels his presence. 

You'll be alright, beautiful girl. You may fall apart at inopportune times years later (or that might just be me) but I know that you will be alright. Know I am always, always here for you, even if I'm a few hours away, or having a little meltdown - your stuck with this crazy gal. You are loved. Rob is loved. He will never be forgotten and you will not only survive but you will thrive.

As Raechel embarks on this journey, she will have so many things to deal with. Coping with her loss, navigating her grief, and finding her new norm are of utmost importance. One thing she shouldn't have to worry about is funds or keeping Rob's legacy alive. A Memorial Fund has been created to assist in both of these - to help with costs Raechel will now face in her time of loss and to donate in Rob's name to charities that were most important to him. Even during her own time of tragedy, Raechel is still thinking of others.
Please consider donating to the Rob Richards Memorial Foundation

Wars of the Worsts

Holy Hell. Quick disclaimer: I am about to go off on quite a rant. Unfortunately, if you came for something uplifting, tonight is not the night. I've got a lot to say and I'm going to say it. Apologies in advance for any swear words.

I'd been wanting to touch again on mommy wars. I'd planned a post to talk about why moms must always feel the need to attack one another over parenting choices instead of bonding together as moms. My good Lord, that post was exponentially blown out of the water tonight.

The grief community is supposed to be one of unity, understanding, compassion, and comfort. Tonight, I saw the most disgusting opposite of that in a private facebook for grieving families. Not only is it a spot to honor loved ones who have fallen, but a place to seek understanding, to vent, and to let out emotion. Grieving people are emotional. No matter how far out in the process you are, it's emotional, so I will try to keep that in mind as I ease into this.

A widow posted a question on the site that could have been construed as offensive to grieving parents. I am not saying her question was right or wrong, although I really don't think she had ill intention behind it. It could have been worded better, yes, but I think she wanted some validation to something that was bothering her. She wanted to vent, to seek some understanding, and to be comforted about something that was bothering her. I do not know this widow personally, so all of this is just assumption, but after reading her question and following comments, that is the conclusion I came to.
At first, many grieving parents were upset, and I can see their side as why they could have been offended and an argument unfolded.  The question is irrelevant and not something I'm going to get into here, as the post quickly spiraled away from the topic at hand and it is the ensuing shit storm to where this blog is heading.
It escalated from simple, "What you asked was wrong," to, "You can't possibly hurt as much as we do."

Wait. What??
Yes. Someone, or a few someones, started telling this widow that she could never know the pain of burying a child and that her pain was therefore inferior to theirs as parents.
What. The. Fuck.

I am not writing this to argue whose pain is greater. I know the widow world. I walk those shoes daily. It fucking hurts. It is the worst pain I have ever imagined. I know that not only do you lose a spouse, a partner, a love; but you lose your whole world. This was the person you pledged forever to. The person you had plans with. You were supposed to... (fill in the blank). And ya know what? I can not freaking imagine the pain of the parents burying their children. They lost the person they gave life to! The person they were supposed to see grow old, supposed to... (fill in the blank). No parent should ever have to bury a child, that's just not the natural order of things. Both. Ways. Suck. But to turn it into a competition? You have got to be kidding me. As one widow friend of mine elegantly pointed out in the comments, Your perception is your reality. Let that sink in for a moment. Losing Jonny was the single worst experience of my life. In my world, my bubble, my brain, there has been no greater pain than that. I believe it may be safe to assume, that losing Jonny was also the single worst experience of his mother's life. In her world, bubble, brain, there has been no worse pain. Losing my husband was my worst pain, losing a son was hers. Pain, is pain, is pain. It is never a fair assumption to say someone else's pain is not as bad as yours. Never. Hell, in other people's lives, getting a divorce is their greatest pain. I have never been through that. Therefore, it would be completely unfair of me to say Losing my husband in death was much more painful than you losing your husband to infidelity. How in the world can I know that when I have never lived in that person's brain?

I remember a time once when my mom-in-law said to me simply, "You had him for two years. I had him for 26." I hugged her and we cried and held on to each other, sharing in our pain. If one were to analyze the statement, one may wonder, was she assuming her pain is greater than mine, as she lost someone she's had for so many years? One may also assume, is she insinuating my pain is the worst, as I hardly got any time with him in comparison? There need not be an analysis. It is a statement of fact. She had him for 26 years. So long, yet so damn short. She knew him his whole life. He was her child. She raised him and was present for all of his milestones. She was not supposed to outlive him. I had him for 2 years. He was the love of my life, my husband. A wonderful 2 years full of a lifetime of love, but so short. So many things we missed out on together. So many experiences we would never share. It. All. Sucks. PAIN is PAIN is PAIN. The fact of the matter is we lost someone incredibly close to both of us, and in that, we can comfort each other, support each other, and sympathize with each other. No, we will never completely understand the others' pain, but we will know we are not alone in our grief and sadness and in missing him.

The thread was then heightened another notch when a grieving parent commented along the lines of "You can remarry. We can't have another child and replace him." Stop right there. Just. Fucking. Stop.

Let's just talk about this for a second. Just a second because it is really a topic that deserves it's own post (or several). Are you implying that by remarrying I am replacing my husband? I know several widows who are remarried, in serious relationships, moving forward with their lives. In no way, shape, or form does that mean their spouse has been replaced. Absolutely not. It's impossible. I mean, come on. There are a variety of people and a variety of ways to handle things. Some people continue to talk about their late spouses regularly even in new relationships, some choose to remember them quietly or on their own, and others choose to gently close that chapter. In none of those circumstances has that person been replaced.
Just because someone moves forward with their life, keeps living, does not, by any means, mean they have forgotten their past. Do you honestly believe that even those who may not speak of their late spouse often, or share much information about him, really do not think of him? No. You can't tell me that. All circumstances are varied but you can not make me believe that anyone just moves on and forgets and gets a replacement.
And on that note, if I can replace him so easily by remarrying, why can't you replace him just as well by having another child? Too old? Can't conceive? Adopt. Adopt another child. There ya have it, a replacement child. Oh, that doesn't work for you? It doesn't replace the son you lost? WELL HEEIIIDY HO! Maybe now you see where I'm coming from! Maybe now you realize YOU CAN'T JUST FUCKING REPLACE SOMEONE! And seriously, who says that? Who even has the mind to put together that sentence that you can just go ahead and remarry and that will fix everything?
And just for shits and giggles, even if it were desirable or at all possible - do you honestly think it's really that easy to just go and remarry?! Because yes, there is a gaggle of men just waiting to propose to our crazy, sobbing asses. Because no, dating widows isn't one of the toughest things many men may encounter (just ask my past boyfriends - it ain't a walk in the park). Because, of course, we just happened to have a fucking backup list of in case I need a replacement, let me go get a new one! This isn't freaking car shopping!!!! Maybe you total your car and you go buy a shiny new replacement and you don't even think of your old car. You had an eye on the car you wanted so you'll just go pick it up, easy peezy. That's because it is an object. You don't just replace a person!
You don't replace a spouse, you don't replace a child, you don't replace a sibling, a parent. If someone dies, it's not all fixed because there is another one. My husband was one of 10. I know for a fact his siblings miss him every day, and their pain is great and real. They don't feel less grief because they have other siblings. They haven't just replaced his absence by becoming closer to another sibling.  You don't replace people you love!  Hell, if you really think about it, you don't even replace people you don't love. They are people. They come in and out of your lives and you remember them and the ones you love you keep them in your heart. You live your life as best as you can, you move forward, and you hold sacred their memory in your heart forever. You never, ever replace.

So with this ranting out of the way and the stupidity of the comments analyzed, I must say, I pray for those folks. I really do, and not in the southern, "Bless your heart," sarcastic way. I pray for them because, like all of us in that group, they have lost someone so dear to them. They are hurting. They are in pain. And pain is pain is pain. Grief is a nasty bitch. It comes and goes as it pleases and it causes us to say and do things we might not have done with a clear un-grieving mind. Those moms said something I found to be incredibly stupid and hurtful, but they are hurting, too. They are women who love their sons and ache daily. They are probably not stupid or mean. Just because you say or do something perceived as stupid or mean does not mean you are stupid or mean. We aren't always our words or actions. We lash out, we get offended, we get defensive. Shit happens. I do think in groups like that, though, it is important to remember we are in this together. We walk very different paths in the same world. We each have a different grief story, but it is still grief. Like the moms who are attacking each other over parenting, the grieving communities need to band together and hold one another up. Humans need to band together and hold one another up. We need to support, comfort, and attempt to understand others. We need to stop comparing and competing and engaging in these "Wars of the Worsts," and learn to love, empathize, and forgive. Because really, it is humanity that makes us human and it certainly seems there is a dire lack of human in this world. Synonyms of humanity include compassion, brotherly love, fraternity, fellow feeling, kindness, understanding, and sympathy. Let's put the humanity back in human. Let's together learn to hold one another up. There's enough war in this world, in that group we are all victims of war in some form. Let's over power the war in our lives with love for one another.

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."
- Mother Theresa

* I use sons and he a lot, please don't think I discredit you if you've lost a daughter or a she. I use the word that applies to my story (and is simply easier than writing he/she each time) and encourage you to read in the way that suits your story.
** A huge shout out to the 3 widow friends of mine that I do know personally who helped spark this piece by their own comments on the thread. A lot of what you had to say was exactly what I was thinking. It's really crazy how we really can all be on the same page sometimes. W <3 p="">

From the Mouths of Babes

Driving in the truck the other day:

Ariana: I miss my daddy. When is him coming back down to us?

Me: (thinking, crap, how do I answer this without upsetting her?) Well baby, he can't come back down.

Ariana: But he is in Heaven.

Me: Yes, that's right.

Ariana: Well, if you keep the people you love who went to Heaven in your heart, they will always come back to you.

And that my friends, is how I was schooled by my far-wiser than me 4 year old.

Thank God for children. Thank God for my beautiful little girl who can really put me in my place and remind me of what is important.

I fear that one day she'll keep waiting for him to come back down and realize that while he is in our hearts every single day, he can't physically come back down to us, and that will crush her. I just pray she always feels him with her, always has her own special relationship with him.

Father's Day was pretty difficult for her.  We sent balloons to Heaven like we always do, and afterward she cried and said how much she missed her daddy. My only strategy was to remind her that her daddy loves her and is watching from Heaven and we will see him again some day and in the meantime to remember she has so many people here on Earth with her who love her, too.

Parenting is so hard and so rewarding. It is a constant lesson and a constant test. I never want to hurt her, but I also want to be real with her. I want her to understand things, even if those things are hard and unfair. I think, as I've said before, that she has a far better understanding than most adults I know.

Day is Done, Gone the Sun

I remember when we used to sing Taps at the end of camping trips and other Girl Scout functions.  I never really understood why my dad, a Vietnam veteran, seemed to cringe when we'd sing the tune, or why he'd mute the TV when it played on shows the news.  I remember loving Memorial Day, being awesome as a day off school and a kick start to summer, and while I knew the reason behind it, I wasn't quite sure as to why some people seemed so solemn.  Now, it's a race between dad and I to the remote for the mute button at the first note of Taps, and I'm a huge advocate for "reason for the season" type information on Memorial Day.  Ignorance is bliss.  When something hits close to home, you really understand things.  You grasp what you've been missing for years.  And you wish it weren't quite so personal.

I've gotta say, I am so, so proud of my facebook friends this weekend and yesterday. So many of you were sharing the true meaning of Memorial Day and enlightening those who may not have a personal relation to the "holiday."  I saw post upon post about how Memorial Day and Veteran's Day are different, about how it's not just the beginning of summer or just a day for BBQing (although it is an ideal day to BBQ and I believe our guys in Heaven would appreciate a good BBQ!), and about the true meaning of Memorial Day and how "Happy Memorial Day" might not be exactly appropriate, (the post about would you say 'Happy Funeral Day' to someone really resonated with me, that was a good one).  I don't know if knowing us personally drove some people to share their thoughts on the importance of the day or if they're just educated folks, but I just want to thank everyone for remembering and honoring.  You guys were amazing and I was really pleased with my newsfeed yesterday.   The only way to cure ignorance (and I do not mean that in a derogatory way but only a definition - lack of education - way) is to educate.  I commend you, friends of mine on facebook, for educating, for honoring, and for remembering.

My Memorial Day was pretty low-key this year.  I spent the early parts of the day working on the chicken coop here at LPF.  We recently acquired 6 chickens and 2 ducks and I am beyond ready to move them out of my garage and into their own home.  So we worked all day, I burned my skin, and we got a majority of the coop built (huge thanks to my amazing family for helping me in all my crazy farm endeavors, I love you and you are the best!)  In the evening, I had a small "viewing party" with Ariana, my parents, and some of my closest friends to watch the Memorial Day special on HLN that Jonny, Ariana and I were featured in.  It was nice having some of my closest homies with me to watch.  A group of people who have been there, some "before" and some "after," and known me at various points in my journey.  I can't thank them, and all of you, enough for your support during this crazy roller coaster of life.  I am so grateful to have such an amazing support network and to be assured that Jonny's memory will live on.  I am a lucky girl to be surrounded by such amazing people. I am also so grateful with the job HLN did on my story, as well as the two following stories.  I was super moved by the story that followed mine, a fellow Gold Star wife who is also an active duty soldier, as well as the last story of the show, that of the journey of a West Point jacket making it back to it's owner's widow.  I want to thank the folks over at HLN (Andres you rock and it was a pleasure working with all of you!!) for following along and reading, supporting us Gold Star families, and doing an amazing Memorial Day special.   I am also really impressed with the written portion of my story, I think they did our story justice, highlighted some very important parts of our life together, and I believe Jonny would be proud.  If you missed it and want to check it out, here's my portion, and the rest can be found on the HLN site, as well.

Also, how do you guys like the new set up? I want to thank the lovely Nicole at Broken Road Creative  for providing me with the most beautiful blog designs since I started this thang.  Nicole, you are the bees knees and I love you!  If you are interested in getting your blog revamped at Broken Road, please feel free to use the code ALITTLEPINK until June 27, 2014, to get 25% off your pre-made or custom blog design with Nicole.

I hope you all enjoyed your long weekend, had a great time with friends and family, ate delicious foods, and had a drink or two for those who are watching from Heaven and guarding the pearly gates!

Semper Fi,
Mrs P

Rodeo Clown

One thing I've always prided myself on is having the ability to laugh at myself.  It's very rare that I take myself seriously.  I'd rather be goofing off and making fun out of life, because I really want to enjoy my time here.

When I was a kid, I really disliked going to Sunday school.  I was raised Catholic and thus we attended a Catholic church and Sunday school.  It always seemed as if the kids there all knew each other and I was an outsider.  I never really felt I fit in there.   I was kind of a shy kid - believe it or not. I told my dad that I really didn't like going, that it wasn't fun and I didn't have friends there.  I will never forget the lesson he taught me, as I've lived by it ever since (and it might help explain why I am usually ridiculous).  He told me you can make fun out of anything, you just have to find a way how.  He never said don't take your studies seriously, or don't learn, he just said find a way to enjoy even the things you don't really like to do.  Because let's face it, as adults, hell as children even, we all have to do tons of things we don't like to do (I type this as I wait on laundry to finish so I can switch the wet load over before bed and not have a stinky load of clothes... which happens... a lot).

So I went forth with his advice.  I became a bit of a goofball.  I still take things seriously, I've always done well in school and I always try to do a good job at work, whatever work that may be at the time, but I find ways to enjoy it.  I chat and make friends, I tell really, really corny jokes. I dress in silly outfits.  Just things to make me, and sometimes even the people around me, smile and enjoy even the yucky tasks.

I really hate running. Like super hate it. But I've always been pretty intrigued by fun runs. (Yea, I know, makes no sense to me either). Maybe the obstacles and the getting dirty are the silly part of running that make me actually want to do the task I hate - run.  So when I saw the ROC (Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge) Race was coming to Baltimore - I had to try it. I mean, who hasn't watched Wipe Out! and totally wanted to try those crazy stunts. So today a group of friends and I set out to conquer the blow up appartuses (apparati?) that were erected throughout Baltimore.  Ok, so it definitely didn't help me enjoy running... in fact to be honest, I didn't even run much (nothing like something physically demanding to show you how wickedly out of shape you really are), but I had so much fun!  Some people were there in silly outfits.  Some were there looking relatively cute with makeup and stuff (hey no judgement here, I just don't get the point myself but I'm not pro!) not I! I got totally into the ridiculous theme.  In fact, I looked like this:

The Hillbilly Hustlaz (another stroke of creative genius stolen from my dad), Thanks Guys!

Go ahead, laugh. I was. All the way to the finish line (even it took me a bajillion hours!) It was such a hilarious and fun filled day. I'm so thankful to have friends who get goofy with me, especially when I really need a pick me up.

People have asked me how I could still laugh in the times shortly after Jonny's death, or how I can laugh and say some of the inappropriate widow humor things I say (we're dark, dark people) and the truth is that I would much rather be laughing than crying. Life is hard. There is no doubt about that.  And often, life isn't funny at all. But if we take a moment to find something even remotely amusing even in the hardest of times, if we can find our sense of humor even when everything looks bleak, than maybe we might have a little hope to keep smiling and laughing all the way to the finish line.


Do you ever feel that you have so many thoughts happening in your brain that if you add just one more the whole thing might just explode? Or so many things to write about you try and your fingers get cramped up before you're even a millimeter through what you need to get out?  That's about where I'm at these days.  The funny thing is, it looks to you as if I haven't been writing, but I have been, just not posting.  I just can't make sense of so much that's going on upstairs.

A week ago was my five year wedding anniversary. FIVE years. Can you believe it? And he's been heaven bound over four... What is five years anyway? Wood?

I'm starting graduate school in the fall. I know I've mentioned it but I can't believe it at all. I'm excited and terrified at the same time. I may or may not have the nerves poops on my first day.

We lost my uncle to his battle with cancer last month.  Cancer sucks. Death sucks. Many people try to comfort those experiencing a loss by reminding us they're in a better place. Which I don't doubt. But the selfish human parts of us just want them here with us. It's hard to believe nearly a month later that he's really gone.  Someone who was so full of life and laughter and love and fun isn't on this earth anymore. It's harder to believe it was near a year after his diagnosis that God took him home. But then again, it's still hard to believe that someone as full of life as Jonny was is gone sometimes even four years later. People always say there's some kind of reason behind these things but until I know the reason I don't want to be reminded there is one because at this current time, it sucks.

I filmed a Memorial Day special with HLN that will be airing, of course, on Memorial Day. Sharing Jonny's story has been so important to me over these years, and I'm pretty excited for the piece.  I'll be sharing more about that as it gets closer, but I wanted to thank the folks at HLN for reading and working with us and for most importantly honoring Jonny.

Sometimes I'm so selfish.  I get wrapped up in my own crap that I forgot about others'.  I don't like realizing this about myself. Every person is going through some sort of trouble and relationships are such two way streets. I hate thinking of myself as self absorbed but heck here I am writing about myself. I wish I knew the way to be a better person. Sometimes I look at all the ways I've changed over the years and I'm proud of what I've endured, then I see some changes that just make me want to hang my head in shame. I need to work on that.

We bought chickens.  To add to our little mini farm that's not really a farm. Can't argue with having farm fresh eggs. It's really neat to watch Ariana watch these little chicks grow. I'm excited for her to see another place where food comes from. I think it's important to teach our kids about hard work and rewards, life in general, and the processes that take place to support life.

My kiddo knows more about death than most adults. Well maybe not knows, but it's not as taboo for her, she talks about it openly. I wonder if this will be a good thing or a bad thing down the road. I'm sad that she has experienced loss in such a way that it's stuck with her at such a young age, but I'm glad that she seems to be grasping these hard topics and not afraid to discuss them. It is, in fact, an inevitable part of life. Maybe she will be a grief counselor or a motivational speaker one day. Maybe she will be an artist or an architect, too though. Sometimes she'll songs about her uncle and her daddy who died. The other day she handed me a pretend phone. I thought she was going to chat with me but instead she said, "Hi it's daddy from Heaven." After a heart stopping second I replied, "Oh hello it's good to hear from you, how are you?" "I'm good, it's very nice up here."  Thanks for the reassurance kiddo. Then she said Oh it's time to talk to Uncle Chris, and it went on like that for a little bit.

Sometimes I feel lost, like I don't know which direction is up and which way I want to head anymore. Sometimes I feel like I'm steady treading water but I can't quite reach the shore to have a rest. I should quit smoking so I don't get so winded while treading...

I want to be a better person. I really, really do. I've been in a funky mood lately. I still feel the happiness and stuff but I've just been in a really weird place.  Maybe it's just all that seems to be going on at once.

I need to put Ariana's bike together.  I am really hoping to be able to enjoy bike rides throughout the summer. Did you know kids bikes come in a frickin box that you have to assemble?! Adult bikes you push to the register, kids' bikes, you hunt for a wrench...

This was an incredibly disjointed entry... to post or not the post... that is the question.
Here goes nothin'.

Always with the Roller Coaster Analogies

I think man created roller coasters as a simulation of real life.  Of emotion and events of a person's lifecours.  I know, I know, it is so cliche to say Oh life is such a roller coaster, but I mean it is so accurate - the ups and downs, the turns, the loops.  Roller coasters were made to be fun, are the ups and downs what make lief fun as well? If you think of the other cliche quote, Without the rain you wouldn't appreciate the sunshine, this makes a little sense, we appreciate the happy days more because we have to experience the sad ones, too. The ups and the downs.  If it was all ups, it would be predictable and we wouldn't appreciate them nearly as much. Maybe?
So I could start off by saying things have been a rollercoaster around these parts, but that's to be expected because hey - it's life! A close family member of mine is experiencing some extreme hardships.  Due to their privacy, I'm not going to really get into what's going on, but I would like if you would send some prayers and happy thoughts to my family, we could really use some uplifting during these tough times. 
While my thoughts have been mostly preoccupied by my family situation, I was pleased to have a couple of the "ups" of life's roller coaster this week as well.  I found out a few days ago that I was selected to be kept on as a permanent employee at my job.  I was hired as a temp, but a few spots opened up and I was one of those chosen to be kept.  I was pretty stoked to hear that, because I was just preparing for the transition of going back to not working. Phew.  Then yesterday, I got some exciting news that I have been waiting for  and can't keep to myself any longer - I applied for graduate school and got accepted!  Starting in the fall, I will be on the journey towards a Master's Degree in Professional Writing. I waso so excited to receive that letter yesterday and then reality came crashing into me when I thought - CRAP how in the world am I going to swing this.  Thanks to my awesome mom, I'm pretty sure I will make it work. I'm a lucky gal with a great support team. I want to show my daughter that it is okay  to strive to be better in life and that anything is possible.  Hopefully when she is older she will think of me as a hard worker who followed her dreams and I will inspire her to do the same.
I didn't think much could take me down from the high of opening that letter yesterday, but life through me through a loop, yet again.  After dinner at my mom's, my mom brought over the wishbone they had drying out to A and I.  She told  A she needed to make a wish and then we'd break the wishbone and whomever ended up with the larger piece would get their wish granted.  I made my wish in my head, and then encouraged A to do the same.  She, being a 4 year old, spoke her wish outloud.  "I wish... I wish.... I wish for my daddy to come back to us," she proudly announced.  Insert instant heartbreak.  I guess it wasn't fair of us to insuate that her wishes actually could come true.  I really thought she'd wish for a swing set or new toy or vacation.  That's what I get for thinking.  I choked back tears as we both pulled the wishbone together.  And you know what happened? No one won.  The wishbone snapped, the top piece flew off and she and I were left holding equal sized pieces.  Balance. The laws of the Universe.  It wouldn't have been fair to tell her flat out no, but of course there was no way she could win, so in the end what needed to happen happened.  How it happened, I will never know.  Coincidence? Fate? Universe balancing? Who knows.
It certainly put me in a funk for a bit.  She's been talking about him more.  After we broke the wishbone, she told me, I really miss my daddy.  My little girl misses the dad she never got to meet and it breaks my heart.  She tells me often how she wants a daddy.  Sometimes she'll say things out of the blue like I don't have a daddy. I remind her that she does, he's just in Heaven, but he is always, ALWAYS with her.  It's hard to make a 4 year old comprehend this when she just wants her daddy. Sigh. I wish I could take the ache of his loss away from her.  No, actually I don't. Our pain makes us who we are, and missing him reminds us that he was here and that we are so loved.  I do wish, though, that she could have had the life we were planning on, that she could have grown up with her daddy.  Since that is yet another wish that can't be granted, my practical wish is that I can do my best for her.  That she will always know that she is loved.  Maybe, that I can find an earthly dad for her since her dad has to be in Heaven.  Those are my practical, possible wishes.
After that, she and I enjoyed the rest of our evening.  It went really well actually, another "up" so to speak.  I can't stop thinking about her dad and her though. I can't stop thinking of the realities of life's fragility.  And above all else, I can't stop trying.

Work and What To Expect

Hello people of blog land! How goes it after all this passed time? Life in the land of Mrs P has been quite thrilling as of late. The biggest news I have to share is that for the first time ever in my life, I have a full time job. I work 40 hours a week, 8 to 430, Monday through Friday. I often wondered if I would ever see the day! I'm still very new at the working mom experience, and so far, if I had to sum it up in one word it would be hectic. In the mornings, I rush to get myself ready and suitable for work and A ready enough to travel from my house to my parent's. I am super lucky having my parents so close and so willing to help me out while I try out this whole working full time thing. My job is pretty interesting and I am pretty excited to see how it will go. Not really going to get into all of the specifics so let's just leave it at it's a pretty neat experience. Once we're out the ready(ish) and out the door, I drop A off with her favorite people and I head to work for the day. So far, I've met some really neat people which always makes new situations easier. I am, and always will be, the weird kid, and I am finally at a point in my life where I'm totally okay with it, in fact I embrace it. I think I make people laugh for the most part. I probably annoy them a little, too. I'm trying not to, sometimes I have a pretty big personality - ha. After work, I pick A up and head home to have some dinner. Some mornings I feel extra ambitious and make crock pot meals that are ready when we arrive home and other evenings I just cook when I get home. I have cooked every night that I've worked except one, though, and I feel super accomplished when I realize that I am somehow doing "it all." After dinner it's some playing/chilling out time, then bed time. Rinse and repeat for 5 consecutive days. Add in dance class for A on Friday nights. That's the jist of my life these days.

The transition from stay at home most the time mom to working full time hasn't been the easiest. Getting up super early (AKA before my kiddo) is definitely not my favorite thing to do. I often feel rushed and overwhelmed. But along with that comes this awesome feeling of pride and accomplishment. Somehow I am finding a balance and handling this. I do tend to get a little grouchy in the evenings, and that is definitely on my agenda to work on. I think as I adjust to the changes in sleep and the tiredness from working and using my brain again (not that I didn't use my brain with my kiddo, but you know, different brain usage).

Before working full time, I kind of envied working parents. Not that I am not crazy in love with my little princess, but sometimes hanging out with a four year old nearly 24/7 can be a little exhausting. She is an amazing little kid, she entertains me, I learn from her, we have a great time. But sometimes it's nice to feel like a grownup. To have a little bit of something that's for me. It's also good to feel... productive. Not that raising a tiny human being is productive... I can't really articulate but anyway, I just thought it was a little cool and maybe, I hate to admit... easier. Now, I know that isn't the case. It's tough! It's a huge balancing act. BUT stay at home parenting isn't easy either! I always kind of feel SAHMs and working moms are kind of at war. Who's job is harder. Which way is the "right" way. Newsflash: They're BOTH freaking hard. Some in similar ways, and some in their own way. Heck - PARENTING is hard! What I think, is as long as you're doing what's best for you and what's best for your family keep on keepin on. Want to give something a shot? Want to try working? Try it. Want to try SAHMing? Try it. Ok, it's not that easy for everyone to just try something new. Like I said, I'm lucky. I have an awesome support system, my parents are A's best friends and she loves spending every day with them and they love having every day with her. Sooo... here I am, testing out being a working mom... wish me luck.

In other mom news, I have something very exciting to share. I was approached by the folks over at, yes like the book and movie, What to Expect When You're Expecting, to guest post on their blog. The blog went live today and I'm pretty stoked for this opportunity. So if you have a second and want to hear more of my mumbo jumbo, head on over and check out my piece, and feel free (AKA please do) leave a comment for me over there!

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