I just realized the last time I wrote in this little neglected space of mine was May. :/ Sad. We’ve had a lot going on, and when that happens and I get caught up in not writing it, it builds up and builds up until I think, “Well now there’s just so much to say…”
But I’ll try to at least catch everyone up a bit. I know you’ve simply been unable to function without these updates 😉 haha
The house we planned on moving into two months ago fell through. We were waiting on disability ratings for Sam from the military, and they just didn’t get done in time. It was so, so incredibly disappointing to have the builder tell us he had to sell it, but he offered to take the money we’d put down and roll it into another home for us. Everything was fine financially, it was just that darn paperwork. That ended up coming through in June and so we are building a home now!! We just turned in all our design plans and they’re getting permits so hopefully (oh so much hope for this) we will be in our new home by November. It’s close to where we are now, and I can’t wait to show all of you as it gets built.
So Sam got his ratings. This means that the military takes a look at all his medical records and decides how much to give him for a medical retirement. It can be anywhere from 0-100% and goes by 10% increments. We’d prepared ourselves for 80%. He’s been on Social Security disability for a year now as he waits to get out, and this process has taken nearly two years. It’s crazy how long it drug out. Anyway, 80% would have been SUPER tight to live on but we could have made it work. I probably would have had to gone back to work or something though for a steady paycheck with that. 90% was a bit more, but 100% is the one where retirement significantly increases. We knew it was almost impossible to get that, especially without an appeal, so we planned around the 80.
Everything was taking forever and it was so much stress on us. Then one day he got a call as I drove us down to the SS office, and it was his PEBLO (the person who navigates us through this process). He said his ratings looked good, and then said, “You were awarded 100%. 80% of that is combat related.”
He sat there and I burst into tears. It’s been a good, long while since I’ve really cried. Mostly because I don’t have time lol. But I just felt all that worry and stress melt away. While it’s certainly not wonderful he’s considered 100% disabled and most of that is PTSD, he didn’t have a choice in being medically retired or the extent of his injuries – seen and unseen.
This has been a hard, lonely road to walk for us both in many ways. Being the wife of a disabled veteran who often shows no physical signs of that feels like I constantly have to justify a lot of stuff, and I know he feels the same. It’s difficult to have almost no one understand this. It’s a HUGE adjustment to have him home all the time, because for the past year he’s had to go into work very rarely. Our home kind of became my place to do as I wanted with schedules and cleaning and all of that, now he’s here and we are learning how to both pull our weight but let the other have room to live as well.
On the other hand, being pretty isolated means we have to learn how to do this and let it pull us closer. We still go to therapy together and separately. We’ve taken a parenting therapy class for the past 8 weeks as well. This could easily destroy us at times. I remember telling people over the past 13 years of our marriage, “Oh my gosh, if my husband stayed at home I would go insane. There’s no way.”
I wonder how many times I’ve written the phrase “famous last words” on here… 😉
Many, many people have asked him and me, “But what’s Sam going to do when he’s out?”
Some days are so hard. He struggles so much right now with being caught between leaving the Army and the uncertain life that waits. Taking care of your mental health when you’ve tried to cover it up with work/keeping busy for ten years means we have a lot of ground to make up now. And sometimes it’s exhausting – for us both. He tries though. He tries so hard to be present and accept a new role as more parent than soldier – but I know it must be rough to get there when you’re caught in both worlds still. Sometimes I get so impatient and tired and overwhelmed and just want us to be ok. To be normal and done with the roller coaster of one big deal after another. But here we are again. And today, I flipped my Bible open for the first time in a while (I’m really good at telling myself “I’ve got this”) and read this passage: ‘Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.’ I’m not a huge believer in flipping open your Bible and reading something random and thinking, “This is for me!” But this passage really spoke to me today. If you pray, pray for us. For Sam especially. We are trying so hard to work through this next hurdle and give our girls wonderful memories and sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees. ❤️
Honestly? He’s going to do what he does now. He’s going to grocery shop, plan meals, fix dinners, make our yard gorgeous, help me wrangle the kids, divide up naps and diapers and laundry, go to therapy, visit his doctors, read Bella books, help with homeschooling, watch the girls while I work and travel some, take trips with us, and get to be more present than ever in our lives. I know this might sound abnormal to some for a 34-year-old man. I understand that. Even in 2016 with all the stay at home/work at home dads, this still seems to really bug people. But this is our new normal, and we’re learning how to change what we thought life would be like (again) to accept what life is going to be like. And you know – nothing is forever. 🙂
I’ve known Sam for 20 years. Never in my wildest dreams did I think our young marriage would face what it has. But here we are; 5 kids, 4 pregnancies, 2 tiny funerals, 2 girls who lived, a war, deployments, homes and apartments, college, jobs and 11 moves, El Paso ?? – and learning how to navigate the world of him being a veteran now. He’s my rock and my other half. My best friend. We’ve had some rough times and some wonderful times – I’m always glad God gave me him to go through this with. ❤️
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The real, visible perks of all of this are seeing Char light up when he comes in the room, watching Bella reconnect with him again after so long of us just feeling like we were barely above water in our life. Right now as I write this, Charlotte is asleep and Bella has a play session with Sam for 30 minutes that we each do with her once a week. To me – that alone is incredible.
Gosh this is nearly a thousand words already. So let me sum a bit more up and I’ll try to get back on here soon to update on the girls and my thoughts on life when you bring home a baby after so much loss.
Back to the school routine. I’m so close to being done and then I’ll get to start my Master’s (still planning on being a grief and trauma therapist). So once the girls are in bed and the kitchen is cleaned, I pour myself coffee, get into pajamas, say a little prayer, and write/read/study for a few hours next to Sam. It’s a lot. Sometimes I wonder if I went temporarily crazy when I decided to start up again after the break I took for nearly a year. But it’s also so rewarding and I can feel the pull on me to do this. Tonight is a study of the book of John. My other course isn’t nearly as interesting. Because it’s math. ??
I went back to school this week after nearly a year break. It’s killer but I’m doing it. Also it makes me a bit ashamed this is so long and yet that 300 word essay on the book of John is still in drafts with around 15 words on the page. lol
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Char and Bella are doing wonderful. Char is 8 1/2 months and when I say I can’t believe how fast it’s gone – I can’t. I really can’t. I would love to do it all over again with her. She’s such a wonderful baby.
Our #sonlightcurriculum unboxing day! This year, I decided to do a full, already put together curriculum with Bella. @SonlightCurriculum came highly recommended by several friends. I started school again last week after a break, Sam is transitioning to being home full time, and now we have Char (and we’re hopefully moving in Nov) – so I think having something done and ready is what we all needed. It’s literature heavy and Christian based while educating on different cultures and religions – something really important to me. We’ll start after Labor Day! ? . . . . #homeschool #homeschooling #sonlight #unboxing
Bella and I are starting to homeschool again after Labor Day. Because we have so much going on this coming year, I picked a highly recommended boxed curriculum – Sonlight – and even flipping through it makes my teacher heart happy.
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We got a new kitty! His name is Atlas and he is a disaster and I love him. He gets into everything and thinks he owns the world. He’s become best friends with our oldest kitty Jynx and it’s really special to see them play together.
I don’t talk about the boys a lot. I know this and at times it eats at me. I think about it often (I think about them every moment but I think about the reason I don’t bring them up a lot online or even in person) and came up with that’s the feelings are still very jumbled with Charlotte here. I’ve noticed a definite shift in responses and patience with my grief because she came home. I prepared my heart for that, but it still hurts. I think I mostly keep it to myself now because I’m tired of being hurt, but I’m also very protective of how dismissive others can be of it because of Char. And I haven’t learned how to navigate that well yet.
But I miss them with every part of me.
We’re at 1239 words so I’ll stop here. Someone needs to remind me to blog again so I get back on here before September rolls around and I’m planning a first birthday (what?!!).
These two. We booked their doctor appointments at the same time yesterday and both were fascinated to see the other get a check up. I usually dread going (we like our pediatrician and office – just the fear from the past) but this time I was so happy being able to walk out the door with two perfectly fine kids. We didn’t even get that with Bella for her first 18 months. I’m so thankful for that this time around. Charlotte’s pregnancy and first year have brought such healing to all of our anxious, wounded, tired hearts.