The Compressed Week of a Military Family

December 6, 2009

thanksgiving christmas 4 generations 007

I am sitting at my computer in an upstairs room, listening to the last snatches of conversation , football on the TV, and noticing the blue winter twilight beginning to descend on our home. Tonight we are at the end of little over a week of celebration, soaking in each others company and laughter. Don’s father, brother, our son Ryan and our oldest, Justin are all leaving in the morning.

Tonight we are still huddled in the circle of family. Morning light will scatter, Don’s father and brother back to New York, Ryan to Kansas , Justin to Germany, to serve our country on another shore.

We have had Thanksgiving , our big turkey dinner, and grateful hearts. We have had Christmas, complete with stockings and gifts beneath the tree. We have sat in the hospital waiting room as grandson Landen had his tonsils out, and like a travelling troupe, marched into his room to watch him suck on a grape popscicle… so many of us, that there was barely room to turn around. . We had a steak dinner with a cake that looked sort of like a flower, to celebrate our grandaughter Devon’s 8th birthday today. We took a photo of four generations of Edick men. The house has been full of dirty dishes, laundry , noise, lost shoes, lost game pieces, and basic chaos.

I’m missing it already.

Thank You Lord, for the gift of family, of being together while we can. To other Military families who compress a whole bunch of living into a few short days..may you make beautiful memories together! Don’t forget, We Serve Too!

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As the world swings…

December 1, 2009

Tonight I am listening to Christmas songs from a CD, playing in the upstairs bedroom. An attempt to lull my grandbabies to sleep, which, thank goodness, is finally working. I think about the last few days that we have been together. We have just had a weekend event that was both Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was hectic but fun. Now things are hanging in the balance. Life is about to take some of those hard swings of change.

From the next room , a soft melody, “Mary did you know…“? So true. We do not know the next step, or the next breath if we are honest.
As Paula and I tried to come up with a good analogy for Military life, one from my past seemed to fit best. A mobile.

When my husband and I adopted our baby girl from Korea (the baby is now 23) a caseworker told us that life would be like a mobile. If something is added, or removed, the mobile swings wildly. It begins to settle though, and each person finds his or her own space, and then the mobile balances… for a time…until something is added, or taken away. It helped to know it was not a bad thing, just a normal part of life.

Life feels like that now. We will all have to readjust, balance our weight ,and see how it all settles. Our children are going different directions. Do we stay where we are? Do we take on retirement or another whole new adventure? I wonder if you too are living this analogy? Are you facing deployment? Reunion? A new family member? A move?
Just remember, if you are not now, soon you will be. Change for sure, for all of us. Remember too, the wild swinging is normal, don’t worry, hang on tight, it will be Ok!
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Holidays are right around the corner!(Gingerbread House…done!)

November 20, 2009

No kidding, next week is both Thaksgiving and Christmas for the Edick clan! I am thinking that I was nuts to do it this way, but then I think that the days we spend together, will be so worth it!

The turkey…named big bird, is coming out of the freezer on Sunday.
Tonight we are without heat since we need a new furnace and it is coming in the morning, the fire crackles in the family room, and the grandchildren and I have just finished…drum roll please…the gingerbread house!

Here it is… and you know, it is Ok that it was a kit, we had a great time, ate too much candy, but two little people left for home feeling very proud of their efforts!
Can’t blame them huh?
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As you can see the house needed to be protected from their Papa!

Update on our German Christmas…Train is De-railed

November 12, 2009

gingerbread-house-elise

As most things go, I am finding that there are traditions that have to be followed no matter how I plan something new! Remember the post about the gingerbread train? Well, I am already de-railed!

I have thought about all I am doing, gathering gifts, preparing for our Thanksgiving feast and Christmas a few days later…and I caved to a gingerbread house kit I saw at Sam’s. Yes, I do know it is cheating. I justify it however with the knowledge that baking is a mystery to me. I am pretty sure that straight gingerbread walls are a near impossibility. I do plan to make the cookies and most of the meal from scratch (mainly with the cheer leading of my gifted friend and book partner Paula). Remember what I said about expectations? I have to be careful to not get down about the IDEA of baking this Christmas memory, and remember that the kids will love it, and I will retain some glimmer of sanity.

Don’t worry, there is plenty left to do, and I don’t think anyone really EATS these gingerbread things anyhow!

Veterans Day…make sure children never forget!

November 11, 2009

As adults, parents and grandparents, the things of importance lay upon our shoulders to pass to the next generation of Americans. Today is veterans Day. As we mow lawns, shovel snow, tend babies, work at our chosen occupations, there are people fighting for our right to do it. These people span all generations. They sacrifice life, limb,family time and personal goals, to make sure you sleep safely beneath your cozy blanket tonight. They sleep in sand, in heat, in cold. They miss their loved one, eat a lot of beef jerky, and miss nearly every holiday. They tirelessly fight in jungles, in snow, in desolation, for you.

Make sure that today, you tell your children that they live in the greatest country in the world. America provides more for the poor and suffering in this world than any other country. We have a heart for what is right and good and honest. Tell them about our veterans, tell them about heroism, and selflessness. It is their heritage to know.

Teach them that even now, today, there are children who wait for a beloved parent to return home. That children like them, are serving too, by lending their parents to the cause of freedom. If you can, find a veteran today and thank them, for all of us.
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The Gingerbread train… Expectations? Not so much.

October 24, 2009

gingerbread-train-

I am actively in the mode to pull off this German Christamas before our son leaves for his three years in Germany. I think that his children (Devon age 7 and Landen age 5) will learn where Daddy is going ,and make a few memories while he is home. Today I found a recipe for a gingerbread train! I’m sure it will be lots of work on my part. The kids are too young to go in for all the cooking, but I plan to let them help make the dough, help roll it out. I will cut the shapes and get them in the oven. I think I will have to assemble the train, then they can do the decorating! I am hoping that I can accomplish this, and that it won’t be like so many things are…you know…you have a great vision in your mind, then it looks absolutely nothing like you thought it would.

This brings me to the topic of expectations. How many times do expectations ruin the joy of something? Like when you look at a travel brochure and the beach looks endless and the pool huge , then you get there and the beach is 8 feet wide and the pool has skimmers floating on it? Well, if you just say “whatever we see I will enjoy”, you hardly notice the skimmers!

In military life, the lesson is:have few if any, expectations. This is a lesson the rest of the world needs to heed as well. To be truthful, letting expectations slide by the wayside, equals a happier and more adventous life!

Here are some questions to ask yourself . What am I expecting, and how will I feel if things turn out to be different ? Am I living in a constant state of dissapointment? Do I feel that no one around me cares much about how I want things to be? Do you ever hear yourself say things (to yourself or others) like,…when I get a better job….when I lose 10 pounds…when my husband gets back from deployment… when my kids are older…when I  move to a bigger house…. then things will be better!? (yep, I’m raising my hand too!)

If you hear these in your self talk, you are living in the expectations, not in the life you have. Teaching ourselves to have thankful hearts , teaches our kids to have them as well. Things are never perfect this side of Glory, but there is still much to enjoy! Children pick up the attitudes of the adults around them. Husbands and wives feel tension from each other even when it is not spoken. It is tiresome to be around someone who is chronically unhappy. As I tell my kids…happiness is a choice. Circumstances are not always easy, but we either choose to have unrealistic expectations, or to let go , and find the good in what is.

Realistic expectations will go a long way in keeping relationships functioning well. As a good friend of mine once said: ” It would be futile and foolish to expect an elephant to fly. We might be able to teach him to flap his big ears but we will be disappointed when he can’t lift off”.

Sure hope this Christmas thing turns out well… but if not, we will have been together!
Here is the link for the gingerbread train…in case you want to join the fun! http://familyfun.go.com/recipes/gingerbread-train-715184/

Christmas German Style…In November

October 17, 2009

In our second book We Serve Too! 2 A Child’s Reunion Book, there is a scene where the family is cutting a Christmas tree , and it isn’t even cold! This came from a real life experience in our family as my son was deployed to Iraq one October and we scurried to make sure that he did not miss the family Christmas. We found that Christmas in October was different but good!

This year we will have a new experience. Justin is leaving for a three year stint in Germany. He has to go in early December. He will actually be home for Thanksgiving! I am planning ( thanks to Paula for the idea) to do a German Christmas for the family before he goes. I am in the mode of researching the traditions German Christmas celebrations.  My partner Paula is of German heritage and my daughters new boyfriend is German, so I have plenty of expert advice. I’ll keep you up on the things we decide to do.

The purpose of this is not only to make sure that the holidays are enjoyed together, but also to help my grandchildren learn something about where their daddy is going. Helping children to learn about the places a parent may be going, opens up new connections. I know that as we work to make these connections,  bonds become stronger and relationships closer.

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Gute Nacht
goot-eh nakht
Good Night

He's Home!!!!!!

June 25, 2009

Well, we have all been beside ourselves with anticipation and the day finally arrived! Justin came home for his 15 day leave, and his little ones could hardly contain themselves! Papa (my husband ) and I (gramma) took the two grandchildren to the airport for his arrival. On the way we were asked 535 times if we were there yet. I turned to Don asking if he remembered car trips with our small children many years ago, he sort of did , but thought ours had been quieter….no, this sounds pretty familiar to me.

We had planned the big welcome thing with the banner made by Devon Victoria, but as all well laid plans, that did not happen. I had imagined a page out of our second book being true, as we would wait in the terminal with our banner unfurled waiting for him to come through the doorways, but he called and was already in Denver! No time to call and say he had gotten a flight out sooner from Dallas (not that we minded him being home four hours early!)

One part of the book was true for me though, I did cry when I saw him. You don’t really know how much those days of knowing enemies are out there planning the demise of your loved one, strains a persons resources. I, (and I think most military Families) just go on with the day to day…but the relief and joy of actually seeing my son, was more than I could suppress!

So, here we go, 15 days of being together and we will soak in every possible moment. We know he has to go back to the sands of Iraq, but we also see the end in sight…his tour (this time) is almost done. Another chapter of Army life is about to unfold, and like all good Military Families, we have no idea what is coming at us!

Thank you for your prayers for Justin and for our family, we appreciate each and every one!

It's Here! We Serve Too! 2 A Child's Reunion Book!

April 28, 2009

We finally have it in our hands, and it is everything we had hoped it would be!

It is vibrant in color,  is of good quality ,and we are really proud to offer it to the Military Families whose children serve too!

This book is also good for those civilian children as well, who also have hard times missing parents, or coping with difficult feelings.  I will be writing soon about this past weekend, when we were invited to present a program to children at Warren AFB in Wyoming. We met some wonderful kids there. We learned alot of things. One thing was that even older children, age 12, loved the books. This  confirmed what we had hoped… that the whole family can relate to our simple stories, and that it is a catalyst for family conversations.

I can’t wait to post some pictures of our adventures with books, Homecoming Boxes, and all that went into a wonderful weekend! Right now though, we are celebrating our new release, and are thrilled with the reponses we are getting!

Gifts from Daddy…what a Christmas! Parents, think about writing to your children!

December 30, 2008

The gifts sent from a deployed parent to his children, are held in a special place in a child’s heart. I could see that even more than the cool backpacks my grandchildren received from our son , the notes were the thing that moved them, and me!

Justin had sent a wonderful package of gifts to his children, as as we opened them, I read to the kids what their Dad had said on two notecards, one specific to each child. The smiles that came when he had written that he loved them, was truly the best of all gifts.

I recently heard of a book that tells of the journal a soldier kept for his son while in Iraq. The soldier gave the ultimate sacrifice to this country, but the journal is a treasure that his son will always have. His wife said that in the journal, her husband had showed his son, and herself ,who he really was. I think all parents could give a special gift to their children by writing a journal, or letters and notes to kids. We tend to write what is in our heart. Things that feel awkward to say, flow out on paper in a new way. Things we think, are given as a part of our love and our humanity…a legacy to our children.

You may say you are not so good at writing, or that you don’t spell very well. Please put those notions aside. Just write what you feel, what you really think is important. Share things that you have gone through, what it was like to be a kid when you were one. Your children will not be casting a critical eye on your grammar, penmanship or any other failing you think you have. They will hold the gift, the expressions of your heart, as precious .

No gift bought with money can give them the insight and appreciation of who you are, and who they are to you, with more power than a few simple words written specially for them.