Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Family Update: Air Force - Homestead - and the Priesthood

We have created our new "Normal" here in Alton, Utah.  We've all finally acclimated to the higher elevation and can breath much better. Our skin and noses are still very much missing the humidity. But that will come in time as well and we will move on to acclimating to the Cold temperatures that are quickly approaching. Life is good here.

Months ago Leif went through the process of applying to become a Medical Officer in the USAF. Everything was complete except the interview with the Chief Nurse. Hawaii was going through a change in command and he wasn't able to meet with someone before he had to leave the island for his new work contract in California. He had warned his recruiter in advance that he would be probably be relocating to CA and was assured that there wouldn't be a shake up in his application process. Well, that wasn't true. When he arrived in California his Hawaii recruiter passed him a name and phone number and dropped him like a rock. That person was on Leave and the time came and went for the process to be completed with no further communication or answers to Leif's calls. Therefore, the journey of the Air Force life will not be in our future within this year. And most likely, not ever. 

It has been years since I have felt the drive and peace about settling down and establishing some roots. We feel that now. I don't know what the future holds. But at least I know that I won't have to pack us all up within the year and move again.  The kids are thriving in their new school. And I Love working with our animals and land on our little family homestead.

Leif is working hard in California and has extended his contract through February.  From there, I'm not sure what his career path will be. We miss him often. But are settled in here and find a lot of joy with Erik and Stacey and their daughter Victoria. I'm able to handle the every day challenges three weeks out of my cycle and one week is a nightmare filled with a lot of loneliness and anxiety.  But we know the pattern and are able to work through it with the love and support of Heaven and family around us. 

I still revel in the miracle of renewed health and strength. This weekend I was able to toss logs for splitting for a couple of hours as well as bales of hay to feed the animals. Along with mothering duties and caring for the animals. Strength like that still humbles me and fills me with gratitude and amazement. 

Jakob turned 12 years old in August and Leif was able to come home and ordain him to the Aaronic Priesthood. This was a very special event in Jakob's life and he takes it very seriously. He is a precious son of God with a tender heart, willing to do what is right. I feel blessed to be his mother. 

Within this month I was able to find the Miniature Shetland Pony of my dreams. He has been a great soothing distraction for me. As well as a blessing for JJ, who loves to ride and care for him. 

We are very blessed and I feel our Father in Heaven's hand in my life daily. Without Him, I would be lost and wandering in a hard, hard, journey. Praise Be, to Him!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Hold to the Light - Live for It - Fight for It

Today I'm pondering the power and difference between Light and Dark. Sometimes we receive negative (dark) information, opinions, and "facts" about some one or something that we individually have already felt Light, Peace, Edification, Completion, etc, about. When we receive this new information that does not resemble these feelings of enlightenment we Must Remember the feelings, answers, and peace, The Light, that we have already felt prior to the new-found "information". And Cast Not Away Our Confidence in the Light and Knowledge we were already given. We must hold on to Light and pray through the storms of doubt and confusion that will surly come through time. Light is Always fought against by Dark. Hold On to that which brings Light, Peace, Edification, and Completion. And in time, Light will prevail and grow. Darkness will fade away. #FightForLight

Surrounded by Beauty and Joy - Yet Incomplete

There is a common struggle that we face as spouses separated by Deployment or Employment Abroad. There's not really a name for it, other than maybe "Incomplete Joy."  I am faced with the fact that I am surrounded by nature's majestic beauty and the excitement that comes from living on a homestead in the mountains of Southern Utah. But even with all of the glory that surrounds me, at times I'm unable to completely feel the joy that it emanates. I am incomplete. And there is only one explanation for the way I feel. My husband isn't here to share it with me. The joy, the beauty, the new life...

This can go both ways really. It can cause a lot of friction if not kept in check. One spouse may be experiencing an African safari while the other is wrestling the crazy kids on the home front. Or, like us, one may be preparing to bring home the new bottle calves for the boys to raise or living on the beach in Hawaii while the other is working double overtime to pay off the bills and create a savings. It's very easy to build up resentment towards each other in these situations. In my world, I try hard to fight against that resentment when it comes, and the result sometimes tends to be loneliness. Not despair. Just a sense of sadness that Leif's not here with us to relish in the joys we're experiencing.

We're looking at another four months of separation with a mini vacation to Missouri in between. We've tackled one month so far. Today it feels A Lot longer then one month. Wow! I shouldn't have done that math. ;) The daily grind makes it feel so much longer.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Making the Adjustment - Moving From Hawaii to Utah

We left Hawaii and landed on the mainland last week. I am so grateful we've moved to a beautiful place. Because I miss the Ocean, Terribly! The spiritual and healing energy that the ocean emanates soothes me to the core. I can feel its absence. I am trying very hard to fill my soul with the beauty and goodness that surrounds us here. I hope it will take affect soon. The fact that we've moved from 13 feet elevation to over 7,000 feet elevation has thrown myself (and the boys') bodies for a loop as well. Caleb put it perfectly when out of the blue while playing on a playground here he said "the gravity is different here."  He's right. The elevation creates a big difference and adjustment for our sensitive bodies. I'm trying to shake the fatigue and rekindled aches in my joints.

But with this all being true, there is stunning beauty around us and so much goodness! It's hard to explain in words the beauty. It's SO QUIET! There's lush green mixed with red rock cathedral shaped mountains that encircle the acres of farm land that we live on. The town of Alton has a population of just over 100 people. True Story! Tomorrow we have to go grocery shopping. We will have to drive over the Cedar Mountain to get to a Wal-Mart. It will take us almost 2 hours to get there. Praise Be for Amazon Prime which ships in two days. Otherwise, we save a lot of money because of the lack of access to shopping and restaurants.

I'm working on creating a healthy routine here. One of my biggest fears is the haunting possibility of depression due to the solitude and cold weather/lack of sun light that's just around the corner, next month. My sister in law (Stacey) and I have been walking in the morning with a neighbor. It is Absolutely Beautiful! This will probably be a life line. I'm pondering buying a treadmill to put up in front of the bay window during the winter. Yes, right in the middle of the living room. :) I'm thinking about getting two so that Stacey and I will both be able to exercise easily even during the harsh cold.

Every time we move I have to make a Very Conscious effort to remember the "tricks" I've figured out to staying well. First and foremost, I HAVE to take my medication and nutritional supplements every single day! Second, I must use music to motivate me to move forward during the day if I get stuck too long. Third, I must be able to at least see the nature around me, and see and feel the sunshine. Finally, I MUST feed myself Spiritually.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Must Have Chocolate!


It's sad that the busiest, most important week of the month has to fall right during this time frame of "my month"  Marge came with a vengeance last night precisely at 5PM. Marge is my evil twin. She battles anxiety, irritability, fatigue, and brain fog. All to a maximum!  The switch is always noticeable and still after all of this time, Shocking!

The fact that I'm on my own, packing up the troops, and Caleb is practically unmedicated make it all almost too much. But the blessing that gets me through is that I know that it will pass and the next phase, though filled with migraines and Iron supplements, is better than "Marge." It all passes. It all changes. And just knowing that it's not going to be permanent makes it bearable.

I picked up the kids from school today and we went to the grocery store. We were all really hungry. We walked out (almost forgetting the milk) with bags filled with frozen pizzas, mint chocolate chip ice cream, frozen burritos, a symphony candy bar and a Reese's Peanut butter Cup to top it all off.  Yes, like I said, Marge was in charge. :)

Well, the troops are asleep now. So I'm going to call it a night. Thank you Xanex and chocolate for saving all of us tonight!

Monday, August 08, 2016

Seriously!? The Lunch Lady TOOK Your Lunch Away!?


Eating struggles are nothing new for us. JJ has Sensory issues and Caleb struggles with the desire to eat and the ability to stop and take the time to eat, as well as the ability to open everything in a timely manner if needs be. We have only had ONE school who was able to truly work with us and accommodate Caleb's needs for supervision and assistance during lunch and that was our beloved Carthage Elementary in Missouri.  How I miss them!

Caleb will only be attending this school in Hawaii for a handful of days. Otherwise, the story I am about to share would be carried out a lot more then it is going to be at this time. However, the situation is definitely disturbing and they WILL get some education from me, if I can help it.

Caleb's been attending school now for over a week. And every day he has come home with his entire lunch that I sent him completely untouched, or only very little eaten. When I've asked him why, his most common answer was that he didn't have enough time to eat. Another answer was that he just wasn't hungry or didn't like what I sent. Either way, he was spending the day in school having eaten very little. So I resorted to my "Go-To" meal.

When I need to pump nutrition (vitamins, protein, carbs, and calories) into Caleb quickly I will give him a chocolate nutritional shake.  Knowing that it doesn't carry the entire day's nutrition in that one can, but at least I can guarantee that he will get that much.  So I gave Caleb this shake for lunch this morning. Knowing that he would drink it. I even suggested that he ask the lunch lady for help opening it instead of wasting time trying to open it himself. That was the big mistake.

According to Jakob, who was "the office worker" in the office today (whatever the heck that means.) He overheard the office ladies talking about his brother Caleb. He said that when the lunch lady saw what I had sent for Caleb she took it away from him right away, telling him that it wasn't a "Healthy Choice." She then took him to the school lunch line and was told to get a lunch. Mind you, I purposely sent all of my boys with home lunches while in Hawaii because I had food I needed to use up, and I didn't want to deal with balances when it came time to leave the island. So there was no money in the account when Caleb got this lunch.

After the lunch was over, Jakob (who was the delivery boy for the office) was then asked to deliver a "Negative Funds" notice to Caleb to give to me. On it is hand written the words, "Please Pay" with no other explanation of why in the world I have this balance to pay. I wouldn't have a clue if Jakob hadn't overheard. And Caleb isn't able to recall the details of the entire situation.

I was able to get a few details out of Caleb though. He said that the lunch lady took his lunch and told him it wasn't "food."  He kept saying, "Mom! You need to send me FOOD next time!" Yeah, thanks for the help and reinforcement school. Now Caleb questions whether or not I know how to feed him properly. Fabulous!!

When I asked where the shake was he said he threw it away. I asked if he had drank it. He said that he only ate the salad, the green beans, and the carrots from the school lunch. Just like I knew, no protein or calories for energy. Anyway, he said when he got to class his teacher had a "strange" talk with him about not bringing this kind of lunch. But somewhere between then and getting out of class she let him drink the shake.  When I asked if she sent me a note to tell me not to send the shake again, he said "YES!!" and he handed me the Negative Balance slip. Nice!

So, needless to say I was beyond Mad!! I was Furious. For so Many Reasons!! I think the main reason was that I had tried to help Caleb, but also tried to make their life easier by sending the shake. And they made me feel like a terrible mother. I could have called earlier and told them that I wanted them to watch my child extra during lunch and make sure he ate. But I chose to try this instead of making them think I was pinning blame on them. Which I'm not. Him eating isn't a new problem and I was sending a solution. But they are ignorant of how to handle such a Special Needs situation, i guess. Which is sad in and of itself.

So, what am I going to do?
Well, tonight I'm exhausted after a VERY long day. What I want to do is send the shake again having written on it, "Don't you DARE take this away from Caleb. Call me if you have a problem with that!!"  What I am Really going to do is, send the drink and write on it "This is Caleb's lunch. Please do not take it away or send him through the school lunch line. Please call me if you have any questions. Mahalo! Lena"  I will also write a note to Caleb's teacher explaining the situation in detail and ask her to call me if needs be. I will also reassure her that Caleb gets plenty of food in the morning and in the evenings, including vitamins to do our best to help him stay healthy.

Life as a mother with more then one child on the Autism Spectrum and ADD is incredibly wearisome! We battle the ENTIRE day for one reason or another. Sometimes it is very tempting to just gather in the troops from the public, hunker down, and survive on our own. But in the end, that is selfish and unhealthy for the kids and for us. But it's tempting. The desire to RETREAT!!!

I will not retreat! I will carry on. Tomorrow is another day. In fact, I'm going to the beach. So all is well in the world, right!?

JJ's First Day of School in Hawaii

JJ FINALLY started school today in Hawaii!! He will be able to attend for one week before we fly to Utah. 
I checked the mail on the way home from dropping them off. It looks like JJ will have a special surprise (a letter from Papa) when he gets home from his first day. :) 

Surprise!


So this isn't a picture of me but it will have to work.  This is Leif writing this post.

So last night I decided I would surprise Lena and write on her Blog first this morning.  I hope she wasn't to disappointed when I called last night that I didn't mention I was going to write.

So all night I was dreaming and thinking of a bunch of wonderful ideas on what I should share...then I woke up.  So I guess I better go back to bed to see if I can get them back!

Just kidding.

I'm not near as articulate as Lena nor is it as easy for me to share the feelings.  Thoughts maybe...in fact, if you know me you probably wonder when I will I stop babbling.  But this is especially hard in writing for me.

Looking back, I think I know were that may stem from as I psycho-analyze myself.  If you want to know just ask.

Anyway, back to Lena.  She is an awesome woman! She is strong is so many ways! I believe some of her fears and anxieties come from me being so "laid back" or able to "roll with anything."  She often says if I passed away she would need to be committed to a mental institution, but I would just move on if she passed away.  First off this is false.  Yes it would be hard on Lena but as I said before she is strong and she may never "move on" she would continue caring for the kids and progressing.  She knows that I want I would want her to do; Live a wonderful life and learn and give as much as she could. Now it scares me to death (no pun intended) the thought of her passing away.  Not just the responsibility of caring for the children but it would be such a trial of my faith.  Though I'm not good with words or expressing my love, I do love her very, very,very much! Along with Christ, she is my foundation.

Now, onward to new and better subjects! Well, I guess separation isn't a better subject, but getting to be closer together is definitely a better one. With the separating, I hope everyone knows that Lena has the raw end of the deal.

Leif's Life: Work. Work Hard. Work Much. Learn Much at work. Befriend managers, so they let me work much...Then on days off:  Don't spend money. Exercise. Lose weight for possible Air Force. Do laundry and dishes for 1 person. Assist Lena with anything I can do long distance.

Lena's Life. (Much abbreviated)    Be a mother of 3 highly energetic and needy children. Do all the healthcare and medications for those children. Enroll them in school, take them, help them with their homework.  Keep on on a house of 4 people while also preparing for a move. Have NO days off. Prepare meals for said children with the hopes that 2 out of 3 will actually like and take the time to eat it. Try to stay healthy and loose weight to keep up with husband who seems to be doing it no problem. Try to provide for the kids and herself while being broke and counting pennies for those necessities that are needed. This list could go on and on.

So this brings us to the near future.  Lena will be flying to AZ/UT soon to stay with family! But I will get to visit for a couple of days though.  I feel very blessed that Lena and the kids will get to stay with my brother and family.  The picture above just feels my heart with Joy.  It is my brother taking Caleb on the riding lawn mower.  My brother is so patient and a great father and example.  My kids will learn so much from being around their uncle and aunt.  I wish I could just go live with them too!

Also, in the near future we are not going to be so broke.  Hopefully with all this working hard that I'm try to do it will pay off.  Now, don't go thinking we will be "rolling in the dough," because we won't.  It will take at least a month just to pay off Lena getting here, shipping the van, and just catching up on bills that are past due. We are hoping by the end of Sept we will actually start paying of some old bills and maybe start saving a little again.

So I've started to babble....I guess it is time for me to sign off. Time to clean up a little and do my chores.  Thanks for supporting Lena's blog everyone!

Sunday, August 07, 2016

The Emotional Cycle of Seperation

Leif and the boys coloring over Skype 2012

Today during Sunday School I was taken back to the days leading up to Leif's first time moving away from our family. I remembered the raw emotion of the situation and the complete heartache I felt about him leaving. It was close to my worst nightmare coming true. He was leaving. And my mind and heart could hardly carry on.  I remember sobbing every day and night before he left.

Today we watched a video about a wife who was faced with a similar situation when her husband was called up to deploy to the Middle East with the National Guard.  She tells about the raw heartache and shock that she experienced and the utter fear of not being able to carry the load alone. She then shared her story of the One moment when she was eventually able to put her trust in the Lord's plan and how beautiful the journey became in the end.

Unlike this woman, there isn't One moment that I can remember when I suddenly felt all better and all trusting during that year that Leif was gone to school. However, I know without a doubt that I was carried, and the mercy of God was upon me as I carried on the best that I could. Day by day, week by week, month by month, I grew into the woman that my Father in Heaven knew I was. A wife and Mother who can, in fact, do hard things!

During our lesson, which has been a special lesson series focused on the needs of military families and others (like us) who often face times of separation. We discussed a list of symptoms that couples often face as they prepare for the time of separation. The list presented was Spot On.

Detachment and Withdrawal  -Last week before departure - Spouses may feel anger and create emotional distance - Spouses have mixed feelings and try to protect themselves from hurt - Family members may experience grief - Feelings of detachment or withdrawal may accompany the whole period of separation

Our first time apart was torture for me because Leif unintentionally detached himself from us in varying degrees throughout the year. And me, being severely co-dependent, fought the feelings of rejection
constantly.  And again, gradually I was able to overcome these feelings and realize that there was no rejection taking place. We both grew tremendously that year. But I will never deny that it was the hardest year on our marriage so far in our journey.

Leif and I kept a private blog together that year titled "Love Letters Along the Way."  In the beginning I'm sad to say, it is filled with sob stories, rants, and pity parties from me. However, gradually it became a place where we were able to share our love through posting songs to each other. It was also a place we were able to share our testimonies, our hopes, and words of encouragement for one another.

At the close of our lesson I was filled with the reminder that there truly is Hope in all things! Through the strength we gain from our Savior and our support network of friends and family, we can do all that is required of us.

“I testify that as you do your very best in the most difficult of human challenges, heaven will smile upon you. Truly you are not alone. Let the redemptive, loving power of Jesus Christ brighten your life now and fill you with the hope of eternal promise. Take courage. Have faith and hope. Consider the present with fortitude and look to the future with confidence” (“Faith, Fortitude, Fulfillment: A Message to Single Parents,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 39). 

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Up and Running: Come and Visit - The More the Merrier

I'm hoping Leif might join in the fun of my renewed blogging adventure. So I'm having fun with photos. My posts (that don't already have pics) will have my picture on them. And (hopefully) Leif will be willing to post with his picture on his. It's just a fun way to tell whose writing at a glance. Plus it gives me a chance to see him more often!:)

I've been working on updating the blog throughout this morning. I'm looking forward to the journey. It feels kinda like Coming Home. I hope all of my Facebook friends will come on over for a visit sometimes. However, the reason I'm writing again is because I'm finally back to the point in my mind where I'm writing for the right reasons again. I'm writing for myself, my family, and with the hopes of strengthening those who visit, NOT for validation. This is very important.
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