Real Army Wives: When Reality Smacks You in the Face

Real Army Wives: When Reality Smacks You in the Face****Disclaimer: Links on this site are affiliate links. April collects a small advertising fee when you purchase through links on this website.*****

We left Oklahoma full of excitement over finally being together as a married couple. We were ON OUR WAY! Things were looking up for us. Alan and I were finally picking out our first house. Okay, so we were only 21 and 23. Maybe we’d settle for an apartment or a nice townhouse, but either way, it was going to be OURS, TOGETHER!

Eeeeee!!!! Happy, happy! Joy, joy!

But there was this one problem holding back our complete happiness. Dark, foreboding figures loomed in the corners of my mind. They looked like naysayers to me.

“I hear 4th Infantry Division is deploying to Turkey. Going in from the North,” Alan’s buddies at Officer Basic Course, back in Oklahoma, said.

Thankfully, everything was all “probably”, “maybe”, and “talk of the possibility.” There were no actual set-in-stone facts yet. (You see, at that point, America had not set foot in Iraq as part of the War on Terrorism yet. We were still only fighting in Afghanistan.)

“Ah, no one knows anything for sure, ” I comforted myself. “I’m not believing any of these rumors until I hear them from Alan’s soon to be unit in Texas.”

I always held out hope. This was my turn to finally begin my happily ever after, and all these gloom and doom storm clouds hovering all around me were ignored to the best of my ability.

Gray skies were everywhere, but the sun could come out at any moment. Not a drop of rain had fallen yet. Not a single lightning bolt had actually flashed. They just threatened.

With that mindset, we packed up Alan’s white Blazer and my bright royal blue Grand Am, arguing about the best way to make it all fit, and headed south.

I don’t remember where we were. It was somewhere in the middle of nowhere, Texas. But neither Alan nor I have ever forgotten that day. I’ve never forgotten that punch-in-the-gut from out of nowhere feeling.

Since we were driving two separate cars, Alan didn’t even know what happened, but when he saw me pull over, he pulled over too.

Real Army Wives: When Reality Smacks You in the Face

Just like on 9/11, I heard it from my radio. It was somewhere around January 15, 2003. I was all singing at the top of my lungs, until the news came on.

That’s when the news man announced that it was officially released, just that day, that 4th ID did indeed have orders to deploy their division to the northern border of Iraq in preparation for invasion.

Just like that, I was Chicken Little, and my thunder clouds had all just dropped their rain at once. The lightning was everywhere. The thunder was louder than the news on my radio. The rain was so thick I couldn’t see in front of me.

My heart was broken. I was bawling my eyes out. How could this happen? Why did this have to be? Our happily ever after just kept slipping further and further away.

I’d finally gotten to spend a week with my husband, and even that week we’d traveled to all our family’s houses and then come back for him to go out to the field, so really we’d been married 5 MONTHS and still had not spent one regular week together in a home of our own.

There was nothing to say, and not a thing in the world anyone could do to help us.

So in that moment, I did the only sensible thing.

I pulled my car over, laid my head on my steering wheel, and I cried. Alan came over to my car, and I had to explain to him what I’d heard on the radio.

Alan probably wasn’t surprised. He was more connected to the military community, so he understood better that this was coming. Of course, he was not feeling the same way I was. Alan is an Army officer. This was his dream. He was only too willing to go over there and fight some war.

If I said one prayer of lamentation, I said a 1,000. Many petitions were made for Alan’s safety, for direction with my life, for guidance with my next step.

But that first day, I just cried. Bravery was for later. Alan hugged me and apologized and held me while I blubbered.

Reality had reached out and smacked me in the face, so it was time I looked her in the eye. I buckled under the weight of it all, with hours left to drive.

Alan and I dried up my face, hugged, and we drove on.

For last week’s chapter, click here. To start at the beginning of this series, go here.


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Educational Games for 2-8 Year Olds





“You no eat the baby. Me eat the baby.” What I will and will not miss about babies.

Before the “mommy brain” kicks in and I forget, I must share this quote that I am still smiling about:
This morning I put JD in his high chair and began prepping his breakfast.  (He is much easier to feed now than he used to be.  It turns out that he will eat ANYTHING if you mix it with applesauce.)
Daniel LOVES to feed the baby, so Daniel went right to work, sliding his chair over to the high chair.  Then he proceeded to stand in the chair and lean his little self across the high chair tray to tell his daddy, on the opposite side of the tray:
 “You no eat the baby.
   Me eat the baby.”
…which of course, when translated from Daniel-glish to English means, “Don’t feed the baby.  I want to feed the baby.”
He did a good job of feeding the baby, for about three spoonfuls, and then he proclaimed, “Done!” and I finished the job.
Yesterday was the famous annual cub scout Pine Wood Derby race.  We all went as a family.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t ready to go in time, so Alan and boys 1-3 went ahead, and the baby and I went 20 minutes later.

The bad thing about this is that by the time I got there the parking lot was full.


Now that wasn’t really that big of deal, except that it was about 15 degrees outside, there was still snow all over the place, and the wind was blowing me in the face and trying to throw JD’s blanket off of him.


There I was, pushing the stroller with one hand, holding the blanket over the stroller so it wouldn’t blow away and expose JD to the elements, with the other hand and of course carrying my 20 pound diaper bag on one shoulder, only it wouldn’t stay on my shoulder.


I looked like a limping hunchback, pushing a stroller.


Plus it was about 11am, and I hadn’t had breakfast yet.


As you can imagine, I was in a pretty bad mood by the time I got into the gym.
But I told myself, “It’ll be okay because they’re serving Chick fil a.”


I was right in time to see Jeff entering the gym carrying the yummy chicken goodness.  Yes!  I chatted to a few friends and then got in line.  It didn’t seem like that long of a line, and yet when I got to the table…..the woman in front of me……got the last. chicken. sandwich.


I don’t care how good a person you are or how much you try to say, “Hey, I have it good compared to a lot of people, I should just be thankful,” this sort of morning will put you in a seriously bad mood. Despair. I was in despair.


After that I just kind of gave up on happiness.  A few things happened:

–People occasionally brought Dan over to me when he couldn’t find me, and he was pouting.  (Don’t worry.  It was a small gym.  He was fine.)


–I spotted Dan with a bag of chips, was just sure he’d swiped them, so I went to the snack stand and paid for the chips…..only to find out later that Alan actually had bought those for him.  I could’ve saved myself that embarrassment.


–A big kid knocked Caleb over, which hit him right in his fever blister, which caused about 5 good minutes of Caleb tears.


–I decided to settle for the pizza, once I got over the Chick-fil-a disappointment.  I waited in line again, put in my order, opened my wallet, and WHAAAT…. discovered that my wallet had been completely emptied (accidentally) by Dan when I had him fetch my wallet out of the bottom of the stroller.


Only my stroller was on the other side of the gym.


Yes, I panicked.  I mean, of course I panicked. Some of us are cool, and some of us just aren’t. I ran back to the stroller, leaving my snack table friends standing there waiting, and there was my cash.


So that provided yet another moment of snack table humiliation.


–After the wallet incident, Alan and Joshua left for Joshua’s basketball game. I stood in the middle of the gym, struggling to eat my pizza without getting any on JD (who I was wearing in an Ergo carrier), while Dan was not eating the pizza he’d asked for– but instead was playing at my feet, and Caleb was standing there crying from his fall.
I was standing there thinking, “I must look like a sight,” and there had reached that level of embarrassment at which it is not even possible to be embarrassed any further. At this point, it was just “whatever…” when a grandfatherly gentleman passed by and pointed out to me that Dan was running over his pizza over and over again with the stroller wheel.


I was so annoyed, but I just handed Caleb the pizza and told him to go throw it away, which he did.


–Then Dan kept pushing that stroller, and nearly running into people, and a part of me really just wanted to cry, but of course I decided against it.


–Then a woman I’d never met came up, introduced herself, and thanked me for all the work I’ve done as room mom for Caleb’s class, so that was nice.


You know, good things do happen.  God bless all the people who take the time to say thank you and spread words of encouragement.  You can imagine how much WE ALL need it.


–Right before I left, I was having a good conversation with a group of friends, and the boys were all playing nicely, so I was feeling much better.
Then it was time to go, and I got all the boys’ jackets on them, and happily headed home…..until I actually walked out the gym door, the arctic wind hit us in the face again, and I remembered the long walk to the remote parking space that I’d found.
Caleb said, “You know, Mom, Dad parked a whole lot closer.”



Dan kept whimpering when the wind would blow his hat off.
You’re picturing the misery?


—Oh, and the back van door sticks in the cold, so then there was that.


Once I got home and all of this was over, I didn’t leave the house again.  I remember nothing about yesterday after that point. I don’t think I will ever leave my house again, come to think of it.


No, no, I will not ever miss days like THIS.


I will miss my children being children.  I will miss cuddling babies, and reading to sweet little ones.  I will miss kissing their soft cheeks and crossing the street holding tiny little hands.  I WILL miss those things.
I will not miss that feeling of hopelessness, when you’re out in public, and it just feels like there are more babies than you have hands, and your arms just ache.
And other people don’t miss it like they think they do.
  They just don’t remember.


Right before I had Daniel, things had started to get really good.  Joshua was 5, and Caleb was 3, and I remember being at the playground and being able to sit on a bench feeling fairly carefree.  Meanwhile, my friend Olivia would be following her 1-year-old all over the playground, and I remember thinking, “Oh, wow, I’m so thankful to be past that.”


Ha!  Oh, how things do come back around.


 Caleb’s car is the green one.
Sometimes you just gotta smile through the pain.  ; )
It’s important to at least try, I really believe it is.


God made them so adorable on purpose.
 Apparently, Joshua thought it important to label his car.  : )
 They are creative boys.
 Caleb’s creation
He called it, “the stinky car.”
because to Caleb, all things are better stinky
Meanwhile, John David has been working on his rolling skills.  Sometimes he requires help, and sometimes he doesn’t.  He’s definitely not a highly motivated mover.
  We love you just the way you are JD.  My prayer for JD is that he will be a wonderful, godly man, and also I pray that he will have a more subdued, calm personality.


He LOVED the pizza crust, but I had to take it away because he kept gagging on it.  Oh well, we’ll try again soon, JD.

This post was written a few months after JD’s birth. JD is now 3. For a more current post, see my year end Christmas card letter here.

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This is reality.

This week I got my hair cut a lot shorter.  Why?  Because I have a lot of days like this:
*Just to clarify, there is no typical day.  This is just sort of how it went this week.  It goes much better when the littles and I are able to stay home all day!*
5 or 5:30am
Hear the baby talking and my alarm going off.
Hit snooze until baby gets louder.
Have several dreams about alarm clocks going off…
Feed baby.
While feeding baby, hear the alarm start going off–but can’t stop feeding baby to go turn it off….
….Pray the boys don’t wake up yet, but really I know Dan’s already waking up in his room.
The day has barely begun, and already I’m wishing the babies were five years older!
(Spare me the “I will miss this” talks, I’m too sleepy to believe you anyway).
Put baby back to bed….hope he’ll go back to sleep so that I can have coffee in peace.
Coffee Time!!!!
feeling proud to be up early, tired but trying to be optimistic, savor the two seconds of silence…
6/6:15 am
Take first sip of coffee, only to hear Daniel upstairs calling me to come get him.
Alan saves the day and goes and gets him for me.
So glad I married Alan.
Moment of happiness….until I hear the baby telling me that no, he didn’t actually care to go back to sleep.
Bacon cooked for Joshua.  Boys appear.  Joshua complains about almost everything on his plate.
Convince boys to go upstairs and get dressed.  Put them in two separate rooms so that they will actually get dressed, instead of laughing wildly while they whack each other with pants.
(artwork by Joshua)
This is just what boys do.
Every day.
Dress Daniel.  Rush the kids.  Put J.D. in car seat.
He hates being put in his car seat, so he cries.
Return home.  Breathe a sigh of relief.
Try to feed the baby some food:
Call it quits and breastfeed.
Put baby back to bed.
Give Dan something to do, and then make the mistake of thinking I can shower and get dressed.
Find this:
Yes, that’s Dan, and that huge mess that you see?  That would be an entire, brand new, box of baby cereal, which he poured all over my kitchen.
Spend every minute I can squeeze in cleaning that up for the rest of my day.
Go from this to whatever errand I had to run that day.
Where do stay home moms go with their kids?
-pediatrician’s office
At least those are the things we did this week, all on different days, though.
Come home, feed them, and put them to bed.
Wish that Daniel would go to sleep.
Periodically check on Dan, who is playing in his room, not napping, just to make sure he hasn’t pooped in his pants.
Oh no!!!  It’s time to get the boys already, and I have absolutely no accomplishments to show for my day…other than the errands and the fed and dressed children.
Wake up babies.
Daniel has been sleeping for all of 5-10 minutes.
Feed J.D.
Show up 5 minutes late to pick up the big boys.
If the weather is good, and no one is contagious, we might even get to play at the park beside our house. This is my social hour as well as their’s!
Arrive home.  Put baby to bed.
Collapse on sofa.
Dig through book bags for any information as to what my children were doing all day.
This is what I found in yesterday’s book bag: terrible school picture of boy #1.  This was the re-do.  I’ve decided to keep this to remember this year by….I’d show it to you, but it was so bad I’m afraid it would go viral.
Guide children through homework, being constantly interrupted by phone calls, toddler problems, you name it.
“What are we having for dinner?”
Drat.  Dinner.
Do I make a meal plan and have food on hand to make?  Yes.
Where in this day that I just described was there time to make it????
Throw together embarrassingly simple supper that also could have passed for a snack or a lunch.
Look at children lovingly and wonder when in the world this is going to slow down!
Feed the baby again.
Throw appropriate uniform on whatever children has an evening activity.  Grab book and go over whatever it is I was supposed to teach them (Sparks verses/ cub scout stuff).
Regret not having this done already.
Call Alan and remind him of activity, just to make sure he’s tracking.
Microwave some oatmeal and call it my supper.
Alan rushes in, changes clothes, and grabs kid to take to activity.
(Sometimes he stays and I go.  That is a welcome break for me!)
Start bed time proceedings for whoever is home.
(Bath time.  artwork by Caleb.  That’s Caleb in the tub.  That thing to the left of the house is the mailbox.)
 Alan and child arrive home, and we put them all to bed.  (Sometimes I’m the one with an activity, thankfully).
Do we have to bathe all the kids?
Which ones did we bathe last night?  Let me see their fingernails.
Sorry, Aunt Ellen.  We’ll all be cleaner in a few more years.
Now before you judge us. I promise we don’t have an activity every single night.  Also, I do stay with the boys while they eat their dinner.  On the weekends, we all have dinner together as a family.
Tonight is one of those treasured nights that not a single one of us has to be anywhere!
Look!  Sometimes they do really cool stuff:
Joshua’s quarantine strep throat fort.
So right now the baby is crying and Daniel is upstairs in his room, not taking a nap.
Dear Saturday, please come soon!!!!!!
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