The Job I Fell in Love with this Year

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Yesterday was my volunteer day. That’s the one day per week where I basically go into work like most American adults. Ha! I put on my grown-up clothes–things like trousers instead of yoga pants–and I work for someone besides my family. I mean, I’m a mom, so of course I do work everyday, but on volunteer day I do a different kind of work.

I love it. I re-shelf books at the boys’ school library, and I help Mrs. Dubose with her current project. And once all that is done, I do my favorite part of all. I catalog, label, dot, stamp, and tape new books to go on our library shelves, all while being available to check out books for kids.

These are a few of my favorites for early readers, all on a 1st grade reading level.

This is the best job I’ve had in ages, and I do it all for free. Volunteering or trying out different jobs has been the only way for me to figure out what I enjoy doing and what I don’t.

Don’t wait around for someone to ask you to do a volunteer job. Figure out what you’d like to try and go ask to do that thing.

Otherwise, I’ve always found that if you don’t busy yourself with what you enjoy doing, other people will find work that you may NOT enjoy doing for you to do!

That’s happened to me a few times too. Nursery duty, anyone?? Aughhhhh!!! Every time I’ve ever been given church nursery duty, I lived in dread that week of Sunday because I didn’t want to do it. We all do a better job and help more people when we do what we’re good at, not what we just couldn’t say no to.

You may think it’s ironic that I love working in the library since I wrote this post: How We Got Banned From the Library, but my inability to return things I borrow on time actually doesn’t at all affect how much I love books and cataloging new ones and bringing order to shelves ransacked by tiny hands. How I love it!

I wish I could love restoring order to my house as much as I love tidying up the library. What is that? Why is it that it’s more fun to do things away from home? I got nothing. I can’t explain that phenomenon.

Job I fell in Love with this year

My VBS class made this this summer, and that’s when I realized I could totally be okay with teaching Sunday school. This was fun too! The older I get the more things I find that I enjoy.

So you know what I fell in love with this year? The library. Again. It’s a love I’ve had since childhood, though it worked so much better when I had my ever-responsible mother to make me return the books on time.

This time I’m loving being on the other side of the desk. I even have my own account at the school library now. You know why? You’ll laugh–I hope. See, I checked out a book on Caleb’s account, without his knowledge, and then I lost that book. I know. I still can’t find it!!

Well, my boys, believe it or not, never lose books and rarely acquire fines, so when Caleb went to check out a book and discovered that he couldn’t because he had a way overdue book, he was pretty upset with me…..So Mrs. Dubose did us a solid, and switched that book to my account.

Working in the library has also helped me find more ideas of good books to share with my boys.

That was a month ago. I still can’t find that book. It won’t be the first time I’ve bought a book that I’ve lost. Life will go on. The library is still a great privilege. It’s still saving us money to check out most of our books rather than buying most of our books.

Remember when I was a young adult, and I tried job after job, and felt like such a flake because I couldn’t find one that fit? Well, I’m 36 now, and I’m happy to report that I’ve found several.

Mom. Blogger. Writer. Librarian. Sunday School teacher.

I officially love all of these jobs. How blessed am I!? Sometimes you just have to give things time and trial and error, right?

How about you? Have you ever found your passion through volunteering? What jobs do you love?

 

 

House Hunting Time is Here!

Alan and the boys, National Mall, Washington D.C., summer vacation 2017

Alan and our two boys on the National Mall, Washington D.C., when we first moved there in 2009

We have been officially notified that we’ll be moving back to the D.C. area this summer.

I SHOULD be like WAHOO!!  Let’s do this!! After all, I love D.C., and this is an excellent job opportunity for Alan. Plus, I’m moving close to so many friends. I love D.C. It’s like an entire metropolitan area of people who are ALL just as uptight as I am. These are my people!!!

But in the words of Forrest Gump, “I’m pretty tired. I think I’ll go home now.”

Oh, wait. Where is home??? Ya’ll, I’m just tired of the moving, the packing, the researching, the move-out cleaning, the de-cluttering, the stress, making the kids say good-bye to their friends….That’s the hardest part.

We are quite happy to return to an area that we loved, underneath all our anxiety. In fact, I have so much anxiety over this move, I’ve been unintentionally clenching my jaw as I scroll through hundreds of housing ads. It hurts to eat now.

Y’all!! The decisions are overwhelming, and we’ve lived there before. It feels like we just left D.C., but it’s actually been almost 4 years!

It’s mind-boggling, all these houses and schools and neighborhoods. I have to pick a house that comes with an acceptable elementary as well as middle school nearby now. I’m simply going to HAVE to do a re-con trip to go look at things for myself. We are in the process of planning that out too.

Caleb, age 2, by the fountain in front of the U.S. Capitol building

But wait. Why should I allow this move to make me so crazy?

I need to s-l-o-w down. Take a few deep breaths. Trust Alan. Trust God. Everything will work out just fine. And no, I may not get everything exactly how I want it, but it will all come together.

I taught a Sunday school lesson, to my class of 4th and 5th grade girls, this morning about Paul and Silas. They were arrested in Philippi for casting a demon out of a slave girl. They were beaten and thrown into prison. What did Paul and Silas do? Worry until their jaws hurt? No. They sang. They knew God had their back, and they weren’t worrying themselves silly. (Acts 16)

I guess if Paul and Silas could sing in prison with their feet in the stocks, I can sing through this move. After all, this move is a blessing anyway, a blessing that’s carrying us back to a place that we love.

God’s got this, so we got this too. Breathe. Calm down.

Me with the 2 oldest boys, at the National Archives, 2009

Want to see a few houses I’m looking at?

Just for fun, really because I won’t get up there until March to look around…but these houses are so beautiful.

See if you can guess which two are on a military base. The base is my back-up in case I can’t find a rental.

But y’all, I just don’t know if I can move back and NOT live in my old neighborhood, and none of those are advertising yet. We loved that place and those people so much, but it has to be right for all 6 of us. I’m hoping it will work out!

***All photos were obtained from zillow.com, with the exception of the on-post houses, which were obtained from here.***

 

Amazing, huh? These will all be gone by the time I’m ready to sign papers though. If any of you know of a rental coming open in my old neighborhood or surrounding area, be sure to let me know!

I’m beginning to calm down and get excited now! It’s time to do less worrying and more singing. Let’s have a little Faith Hill and Shelby Lynne and “Keep Walkin’ On!”

 

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The Only One Without Mid-Tour Leave

Alan, at the Balad Airfield, with other soldiers, waiting to board a C-5 to Qatar.

****This post is part of a series titled The Real Army Wives of Fort Hood. Each Monday I post a new chapter. These are all true stories of my own experiences on the home-front as well as stories from my friends.****

Please excuse the horrendous photo quality of these pictures. They were taken in 02-04, and are not available to me digitally, so all I have is fuzzy photos of photos. My apologies!

Sometimes in life things simply don’t go your way, and there’s nothing to do but make the best of a tough situation. Sending my husband to war the very first year of our marriage felt like a series of tough breaks, let me tell ya!

Somewhere around the 6-month-mark of the deployment, word came down that SOME of the soldiers would be receiving a little thing called “mid-tour leave.”

Mid-Tour Leave is this amazing treat where a service member gets to leave their year-or-longer deployment to come home for TWO whole weeks.

When I first heard of this, I was full of hope and excitement. I had never imagined that Alan might get to come see me before the year was up. But wait. Some? How do they choose which ones get a break and which ones don’t?

Alan, proudly displaying a rat that he’d killed. Their building suffered quite the infestation of rodents.

My friends and I tried not to get our hopes up, but of course we all hoped and prayed that our husbands would indeed receive one of these mid-tour leaves. Sign us up for that right away!

Immediately, we started seeing soldiers come home on pass. We were excited to see them, and it filled us with even more anticipation of “What about me? Am I next?”

And right away, Alan began his campaign to keep me from getting my hopes up.

Alan had no intention of taking any pass. If there were a limited number of mid-tour leaves available, then Alan maintained that he would not touch one. No way was he taking a pass which may cost a younger soldier, with less rank, or a father who wanted to see their children, theirs.

“April, think about it. Some of these have children they haven’t seen in 6 months. And how would you feel if you saw my boss at home while I wasn’t getting to come home? We don’t want to make anyone feel like that.”

He was right. Eventually, I had to watch all of his bosses come home on leave while Alan stayed in the combat zone. No, it wasn’t a fantastic feeling.

That’s Alan. Always taking the high road. Yes, that’s one reason I married him, but how irritating was this now.

At first I fought it.

It was hard for me to convert to this unselfish way of thinking. Alan hardly had any rank, it seemed. He was a lieutenant. That’s as low as you can go in the officer ranks, but compared to the average, young enlisted men it was a different story.

Everyone had a hard job over there. It’s war. War is ugly, but the lower you are on the totem pole, the greater the likelihood of getting the worst job (in my opinion) of all…..burning out the outhouse waste. There’s actually a registry now of all soldiers exposed to that toxin.

I didn’t want to think about who wouldn’t get a pass if he did. I just wanted HIM to get one! He deserved it. They ALL deserved it. Oh! The insanity of it all!

But in the end, I was proud of Alan for declining to take a mid-tour leave. I accepted what he was doing as the right thing to do.

I stood by and watched as one by one, all of my friends’ husbands came home for their two-week pass. Jealousy threatened, I know it did.

Sure, I was jealous. Who wouldn’t be? But at the same time, I was happy for my friends. I was especially happy for the ones who were still having a harder time emotionally and for the fathers and children reunited.

Isn’t it funny how sometimes you have to work at being a good person? Ha! I sometimes had to work at it, but not too hard. It made me happy to see my friends happy, and yes, it made me sad too. I wasn’t sad that they got to see their husbands. I was only sad that I didn’t get to see mine. Why couldn’t we ALL get this privilege? I’m sure there was a good reason, though I don’t know what it was.

Ever the optimist, sometimes I’d allow myself to dream that one day he’d just show up at my door, on a surprise mid-tour leave. Surely he was just taking me for a ride. Really he was coming home just like everyone else.

But it never happened. 

Alan did eventually receive a pass, though it wasn’t nearly as awesome as going home for 2 weeks. Instead, they sent service members who did not receive a mid-tour leave like Alan on a 3 day pass to Qatar.

He got to relax for a few days without the stress of war, and that’s the most important thing, though 3 days doesn’t sound like much. It was definitely better than nothing.

I laughed because the kitty that I was fostering belonged to an Air Force officer who was deployed to Qatar. In this case, the Air Force’s deployment location was the Army’s vacation spot. ha!!

 

While Alan was in Qatar, he went shopping in a local mall there. He sent me photos from the Starbucks and such to show me how Westernized Qatar is.

That crazy man purchased a full burqa for me and Middle Eastern clothes for himself as well. He thought it would be so hilarious if we wore those to the mall in Killeen whenever he got home from the war and just watch people’s reactions. I told him no way. He was out of touch (literally) to think people in Texas in 2004 would find it funny for us to dress like that and go hang out at the mall.

Alan may be extra responsible and kind, but now you also know that he has a good sense of humor and enjoys shocking people. I, on the other hand, would rather never shock anyone.

As you can see from the women’s clothing around Alan and the other soldiers, Qatar is still a very strict Muslim society.

We weren’t the only ones to not receive mid-tour leave. We were just the only ones of my close friends, so it seemed like EVERYONE got one but us.

You can also see (in the photos above) that there were actually plenty of young soldiers who did not receive a mid-tour leave. I think there may have been some sort of lottery that Alan asked them to leave his name out of or something.

I’m thankful they gave at least some of the soldiers a mid-tour leave. Some is better than none, but it was a giant disappointment for all the ones denied that leave. I don’t know. Maybe Alan wasn’t all that disappointed, but I can guarantee you that many were.

Years later, when Alan went back to Iraq in 2008-2009, we DID receive a mid-tour leave, by then everyone did, and it was so sweet. We took the boys to Disney World, and it was such a blessing that helped Joshua (then age 3) to remember who his father was.

the Persian Gulf

 

Be sure to come back next week for the day Alan’s parents woke me up with BIG news from the war, involving Alan! Here’s a hint: It was December 13, 2003, and I have AMAZING photos of this event.

 

 

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