Wednesday, February 23, 2011

When He's Gone

I’m no stranger to being home alone.  I guess that’s the up side to spending so much time apart from Jason.  When the husband travels, the wife knows what to do.  Anymore I rarely lay in bed jumping at every noise and missing that warm body beside me.  The stormy waters of afternoon-to-evening - when your sweet child turns into some kind of frothing Gremlin - I can usually navigate safely, arriving at bedtime with both kid and mommy mostly intact.  And I can go from cooking nightly dinners down to quick little healthy meals in a snap.  Yup. I can do the home alone thing.

I guess the big home alone test is when your military hubby is mobilized.  Once a wife makes it through that, she figures she can make it through anything.  Oh sure, it’s not like she loves having him gone, even after she's survived mobilization.  She really doesn’t ever completely enjoy being without him.  But she can reach back into her mind and say, “Man, I made it through THAT.  I can make it through this no sweat.”  And she’s off.

So, what’s to do when the husband is gone?  Well, my preference is to turn it into an adventure - especially now that my Sweetheart is old enough to partake in said adventure.  The first day he’s gone I sit down and make my lists.  I do love lists.  I’ve been known to add “Make List” to a previously existing list.  Hey, don’t knock it til you try it.  Scratching something off a list is incredibly rewarding.  But I digress. 

I sit down that first day and make a list of Need To Do’s and Want To Do’s.  The Want To Do’s are, of course, the most important.  Things on my Want To Do’s usually include projects I’ve been working on for a hundred years (and keep hidden from the husband), buffing and repainting the toenails, and some sort of waxing. 

I also add big things to my NEED To Do’s, just to keep them interesting.  You see, the point of all this is to make the week that the husband is gone into something different.  Something unusual.  Fulfilling.  Rewarding.  Special.  So “Give Sweetheart First Hair Cut by Mommie” is added to the NEED To Do list.  So is “Make Cookies with the Sweetheart.”  Several decorating tasks also make the list.  “Fix the Cat” is added this time around.   See, it doesn’t all have to be something fun and enjoyable, big tasks that need getting done are prime for the list.  You know - those tasks that are often pushed to the back burner where they sit, simmering, for far too long and start to turn into messy, boiling ORDEALS.  Then when the week is done, I can look back on it and - with some coquettish bragging to Jason –say, look what I did when Husband was gone.  Go me.

Another trick of mine is to get special food.  Nothing outrageous.  I mean, sometimes I’ll make some special recipes, especially from Pioneer Woman’s Cowgirl Food recipes.  Have you ever tried out her most favorite salad ever ever-ever-ever recipe?  Oh my goodness.  Salad heaven!  But I didn’t do that this time.  (Although now I’m starting to regret that.)  I’ll make things Jason either doesn’t care for or really shouldn’t eat.  (Although, my husband will eat just about anything, so I don’t have a lot in that “doesn’t care for” category.)  I’ll eat things that wouldn’t fill him up unless he ate several pounds of it.  Sourdough bread with EVOO and balsamic vinegar, maybe some goat cheese.  Random snacks of avocados, Roma tomatoes, and whole wheat tortillas.  Angel hair pasta dishes.  Those little meals most men scoff at.  That’s what I like.  This time I got some boxes of vanilla pudding – NOT the instant kind – to cook and revel in.  I knew the Sweetheart would love it.  And boy, I do too. 

I’ll also go to bed early.  Really early.  Well, after the kiddo’s asleep, of course.   Can’t fall asleep before the 4-year-old.  Or I won’t go to bed early.  I might stay up.  Late.  Really late.  Reading.  Writing stories.  Getting wrapped up in those worlds I weave in my mind, with characters and plots and all kinds of intricate storylines fraught with dramatic climaxes and humorous conundrums.  But then, of course, I pay the price the next day with the up-and-at-‘em kiddo.  So the staying up late isn’t as enticing as it once was.  But the point is that if I want to, I CAN.

When he’s gone, my time is my own.  I eat what I want, when I want, or maybe I don’t eat at all.  I may go to bed early, or maybe I won’t.  I can slack on laundry – as long as the Sweetheart and I have what we need.  I may not make my bed (okay, that’s a lie – I always have to have my bed made.  Even if the room’s a hurricane victim, the bed - snappy).  These are the things I focus on.  And before I know it, the week has gone by.  Husband and Daddy is safely back home.  Meals are made.  Bedtimes are abided by.  And I no longer have to remember not to miss that warm body beside me.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sans Camera

I’m a little sad. For many months I’ve been in a comfortable shared-custody arrangement with my sister-in-law Anne (of Anne Nunn Photographers). And now I’ve had to say goodbye. It’s sad. I should upgrade that to a very sad as I’m getting sadder and sadder about it.

But the little guy just had to go home. I guess it’s another part of our new living situation. The distance between Junction City and Klamath Falls is limiting. And although loved ones can still be kept in contact with, not everything can remain the same.

And so we come back to my current sadness. I hate saying goodbye. I miss the little guy more and more, especially when it comes to plotting out blog posts and wishing I could record cute or momentous family moments. With wedding season beginning for Anne and Paul and then the distance now between us, sadly shared custody can be no more. And I sent the lil guy home.

No, I’m not talking this lil guy:

My nephew Lincoln
(Image used with permission from Anne Nunn Photographers)

 I mean this one:

Canon 20D image from Wikimedia Commons

The Canon 20D is one of the back-up cameras for Anne, and it must be close by during wedding season. So of course he had to go home. But I do miss him so.

I found I’ve begun to think in blog posts with words AND images. I’m unused to having to peruse the internet for the perfect picture to accent my words and stories – while also making sure I’m staying safely within the “non-pirating” boundaries. ;)

I also find myself going through my day and stumbling upon a story in sequences of images unfolding in front of me: the neighborhood birds suddenly finding our pine cone bird feeders, the current Siennalee/Gunther drama, a sweet moment between Daddy and Daughter, a new picture collage on my wall. Sad.

Away on the horizon is a light – a small light, but a light nonetheless. Plans are settling into place that will allow me regain my Momtog joy. Sole custody of my own lil guy (albeit much smaller and with less bells and whistles than the one I’m used to) is in my future. 

So for now, dear readers, I must allow that my posts will likely be a bit different than before. But I hope you can enjoy them just as much, until my own little Canon can come home.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Very First Collagen Implants

If you read my blog, or have talked to me much at all in the past month, you've probably already heard me whining about my most recent struggles with living above sea-level.

Yep.  It's been tough.

Finally, I was driven to do something semi-drastic. 


Not these.

Image from Google Images: Seibel Vision Surgery
Behold.  The Punctal Plug.

That bad boy is perched on the head of a matchstick (in case you can't tell from the thumbnail image I snatched from the 'net).

Not exactly the first thing to come to someone's mind when they hear the word "implant."

And it goes someplace most people would not aspire to or dream of having an implant.

Like here:
Image from Google Images: Seibel Vision Surgery

It's a bit hard to tell from the above image, but what you're seeing there is that itty bitty plug being pressed down inside the eye's punctum.  (The punctum is that minuscule dot on the inside edge of your lower eye lid.)  Go on and check it out in the mirror.  You know you want to.

And see if you can work the word punctum into at least one conversation this week.

So at this point, dear reader, you are wondering what on earth would possess one to allow such a thing to be jammed inside one's eye?

Behold.  My BFF.  The eye drops.

When I finally broke down and went into a local eye doc for help, he inquired how often I was using said eye drops.  "Frequently."  I told him.  "So, what's the frequency," he asked me, distractedly messing with my chart, "once, twice a day?"  "Um, about every 20 minutes," I told him.  His head jerked up with mouth dropped open and - ta da - we began the journey toward tear duct implants.

But dry eye, right?  Why clog up the tear ducts?  Sounds counterintuitive, I know.  The itty bitty collagen plug actually goes down inside the punctum (the eye's drainage port) and forces excess tears to remain in your eye, rather than being tossed out.  It's forcing my body to be sustainable.  Recycle those tears!  How smart.  And a bit sociably trendy, no?

Now getting anything - even something that fits comfortably on the head of a match stick - jammed into any part of your eye is no fun.  But desperation allows you to do all kinds of things you never, EVER thought you could do.   (Childbirth, for instance).

I won't say it was comfortable.  And I won't say it wasn't just a bit psychologically distressing to have someone coming at your eye with a needle a wee bit thinner - but just as long - as a knitting needle.  And I won't go into how I involuntarily scratched my fingernails against the cold, painted metal of the area you're supposed to rest your chin on while the doctor presses a knitting needle into the corner of your eye.  (Random: we watched Shutter Island the evening after the procedure, and it was uncanny the way that lobotomy tool resembled the plunctal plug insertion tool.  Pretty glad I saw the move afterward.)

But, I will say - all in all - I'm glad to have had the procedure done.  I'm now beginning to entertain high hopes of once again wearing contacts without one eye continually blurring, or me fishing for my BFF to give my eye another nip of the good stuff.

All in all, I hope that the results far outweigh the experience.  And I dearly hope that my next implant experience might just be, if not more rewarding, just a bit more fun. 

But probably not this.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Letters to my Father-in-law: One Year

Dear Gary,

So here we are, at the end of the year of firsts.  I began this letter at the anniversary of our last meeting in this life, and in the time it’s taken me to write this, we’re now on the brink of the first anniversary of your passing.  I’d like to think you already know this, but you’ve been so heavy on my heart and mind – especially through the holidays – that I almost feel like I just saw you. 

I also like to think that you get to follow along just a bit through our daily lives, and therefore already know events and changes that have taken place, so I’ll not bore you with the usual “what’s been happening lately” paragraphs these letters seem to require.

As the time grows between your passing and our life now, I find that I’m seeing more and more reasons to miss you.  Especially during the holidays – it was difficult.  It was hard to watch my little girl visit family and friends as I slowly realized that you, her papa, would not be part of these special holidays or future special memories.  It was hard to see people who still have the chance to be something important and extraordinary in her life choose to not be.  Even in those whom I long ceased to be disappointed, I find new disappointment as my daughter grows and becomes more aware of the grandpas in other little girls lives.  This fresh awareness causes me to find renewed value in who you were and what you chose to be.  And I find I’m still painfully disappointed that you died. 

I gave up, long ago, on finding examples of close, active, godly grandfathers in my own line.  But as my daughter grows, and we plan more children, that void has suddenly inspired a new bitterness in my heart.  Suddenly I must deal not only with my own lack of a godly father and close grandfathers, but I must deal with the lack of those for my daughter.  The heartbreak surprises me.

I find I’m surprised by the continued pain your absence brings.  It feels as if I’m grieving my own father, and I suppose in a way I am.  From even before Jason and I began dating to our wedding and beyond, I heard countless stories of a strong, steadfast man loving and guiding his children as they grew.  Then I was privileged to be a part of those stories as a daughter-in-law.  I was happy to be grafted in to such a strong and loving family with a wonderful heritage.  And then you were gone.

At times I feel lost and overwhelmed at the thought of carrying that heritage on without the link of you.  At times I feel guilty for not recognizing the value of you to the extent that I feel it now.  Perhaps that is normal, but I feel it deeply anyway. 

You and I both understood, through different circumstances, the importance of a father and godly father figures in our own and our children’s lives.  I think right now you would know almost exactly what I’m feeling.  I’m certain that at times through your children’s lives you again mourned the loss of your own father, Alvin, in new ways.  I know you would point me away from the overwhelming loss I’m feeling and toward the love and blessing of the God we both called Father.  I’m certain you would remind me of God's offered reassurance of blessing and hope and restoration of things lost.  I know you experienced this first-hand in your own life, and surely you hoped those you left behind would search it out as well.  Through all the emails still in my inbox – yes, I’m an e-hoarder – you signed off with phrases like, “I love you all and thank the LORD for His covering us in the storm!!!” and “Can't believe I am so blessed.” And then my very last message from you, “God is good and we are indeed blessed to rest in His care.

You had cares through your life, but you were faithful to put them into the hands of God – and leave them there – trusting that God’s faithfulness to yourself and your family would be more than enough to see us through.

Though you’re gone, and I deeply miss you – seemingly more and more – I find I can keep those parts of you alive that you worked so hard to infuse in those you loved.  I still don’t know how the empty space you left behind can ever be filled, but I do know the same God you knew and loved, and I work hard to trust, like you did, that beyond what circumstances – or even our own history – might be telling us, that God is a good God of faithfulness who blesses us and covers us in the storm and calls us to rest in His care.

Above all, I want to say thank you, Gary, for all you were and all you chose to be.  I am grateful to be living in the blessing and the heritage of you and your dear family.  And I cannot wait to hug you again.

All my heart,
your daughter-in-law Jessica