Military Spouse Life

You’ve Got Mail! (and a friend)

How many of you read the title to this post and heard the old AOL “You’ve Got Mail” voice in your head? Be honest!

Last week I came home to a package, and not the usual Amazon package (don’t get excited…I literally order EVERYTHING from Amazon because it’s easier…including toilet paper…so usually it’s not that exciting.)

Bill asked if I saw the package on the bed.

I told him I hadn’t.

“You mean you walked into the bedroom and missed the whole cooler sitting in there???”

I must have been tired, but this is what was waiting for me….(excuse my desk mess!)

Operation Homefront has a program called Hearts of Valor for us Military Spouses ONLY!!!!! If you’re a caregiver/spouse, or know someone who is, sign them up for this support group PLEASE!

 

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While you might wonder why a group would send me toothpaste, it’s not the point. The point is, there were people out there who donated some items which then came in this cute (thirty one) cooler and mailed it to me. It also included some Arbonne¬†products which I’ve never tried.

Someone was thinking of me when sometimes I live in a world where I feel alone as a Military Spouse! (Also, we needed toothpaste!)

What is your favorite Military Spouse Support Group? Comment below and I just might add them to the resource page!

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Life · Military Spouse Life

Run, Talia, Run

Trying to raise well-rounded children is tough! When they are so little (Liam is 1.5 and Talia is 3) it’s hard to know what they will enjoy and excel at….so we try different things.

Talia didn’t exactly take to the ice at hockey like we thought she would (the kid is obsessed with watching hockey, but when you put her on skates, she stands there and cries on ice until someone helps her….)

While we are still working on the ice skating (when we pull her off the ice, she wants to go back and do it again…..so we keep going with it)….we also saw the chance to do a Healthy Kids Running Series started by one of my yoga students in town. It’s meant for younger kids to get them interested in running.

Talia

Loves

Running.

It ended up being a perfect fit for her……and I’m worried she’s going to be disappointed next weekend when we don’t have her race.

She only ran 50 yards, but she loved every second of it. Yesterday she got her medal for participating! She was pretty proud!

 

Then I tried to get a family photo…..the results were hysterical! I’m sure all parents out there can sympathize with me….

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Who is in control here?

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Talia’s face is priceless here!

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Somehow he kept Liam from eating dirt…I was laughing too hard to help.

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The face of a man who wants help but his wife just keeps laughing!

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Again with Talia’s face!

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Everyone is OFP as they say in the USMC!

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Now it’s Bill’s face making me laugh!

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Right before he gives up!!!

In the end, we didn’t really get a group picture, but these are great!!!! Bill also got out of having to do the parent run because it suddenly started to rain HARD!!!! He was relieved. He hasn’t really run since the Marine Corps!

How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun?

Life · Military Spouse Life

PTSD and the Blackout Effect

I swear the next time the VA decides to mess with his medications, I’m sending him home with them for a week……they can live my nightmare and see what they are doing to all the military families out there.

As much as I love my husband, his PTSD/TBI (Post Traumatic Stress / Traumatic Brain Injury) causes lots of issues. It regularly makes me think we won’t make it (though deep down, I know we will).

The VA decided to switch his medications, yet again. The result? It’s the same every time. He gets angry, spiteful, depressed, and basically, in short, turns into a jerk. It gets to the point where I’m in tears and heartbroken.

He says things I don’t think he really means…and half the time, he says hurtful things and then doesn’t remember later. I’ll call him out on the things he’s said, and he is genuinely surprised and doesn’t remember.

It’s painful.

I feel like I live on the edge with this. He could snap at any time and have a “PTSD episode” where his anger just takes over. He basically turns into a monster…. then after a few days, things calm down, and he returns to himself. It’s the time when he’s angry and mean that puts me on edge. I worry about what will happen. I’ve even worried about him hurting me.

I don’t tell you this to bash him.

It’s actually not his fault. It’s the fault of the combat-related PTSD/TBI. It’s the VA not helping us.

I know there are lots of military spouses out there going through the same thing. I see it daily in all the support groups in which I belong.

It’s like living with two different people, and the VA isn’t aggressive about taking care of our veterans. Sometimes they don’t take care of them at all.

All those things you see and hear about the VA are true….sometimes it’s worse. It’s worse when you actually live with it every day.

Sometimes it takes months to get an appointment. Literally months……then you get there and it was cancelled and no one told us. They tell you to call the appointment line and start again.

Last week they then called me to tell me they would call to make an appointment….yes, that actually happened. JUST MAKE THE APPOINTMENT.

Then he has to drive 90 minutes each way for a consult. It’s hard on his back. It’s aggravating to his knees. No one should have to drive 90 minutes for a doctor consult.

I watch him suffer. Then I suffer.

The circle continues.

It’s lonely.

It’s painful.

I cry…. a lot.

I spend a lot of time on the phone with my mom, upset and asking why he is doing this. I fear I have to take my kids and leave. I fear he will never get the help he needs. I fear our lives are over as we know it.

Then he comes around like nothing happened. He doesn’t remember half of what happened. He’s seemingly okay for awhile….then the cycle starts again.

This past week it was a phone call to me at work freaking out about the dogs, threatening to get rid of all my dogs. He was so angry and threatening…I grabbed my computer at work, told my (very understanding boss) I had to go, and flew home.

It’s a long 30 minute drive.

My dogs were okay.

He’s fine with them now. He was upset one got into something she shouldn’t have….

He actually has the biggest heart of anyone I know. When it comes to animals and rescue, he would take every abandoned or hurting animal and save them. When he has these “episodes” he’s just a different person.

The medication switch makes everything so horrible. The best part? The VA MAILS his medications …yes, through the MAIL. So we have to wait for them to fill it, mail it, and for it to be delivered. Meanwhile, they have him decreasing the one he was on and he’s off balance. We’ve done this at least two dozen times already. Medication only masks the problem. It’s not a solution…..changing it constantly makes it WORSE!

Is there really no way to have a regular pharmacy fill a prescription and bill the effing VA so we aren’t all suffering?

By the end of the weekend, things had returned to normal, but when will it happen again? When will I feel alone? scared? hurt? When will I feel like I can’t take it anymore? It’s a lonely place to be!

Today some new medicine came. I also got a letter they sent us the wrong disability pay, so they will be taking it back. Do you know how frustrating it is to have pay constantly messed up? Then our normal pay is reduced to fix their mistake, and I can’t plan for bills…..

If someone were to say they are thinking about joining our military, I would tell them to thing twice. It’s a noble and amazing, selfless thing to do, but it’s not appreciated by the government who continues to leave the veterans and their families out to dry.

I will be updating the Resources page over the next few days for those finding themselves in the same situation….hopefully we can find things that actually work!

Life

The Therapy Backfire Conundrum

We went to therapy.

Couples therapy.

It was supposed to help.

We were supposed to engage in couples therapy for an indefinite amount of time.

It was supposed to make it all better.

WE HATED IT.

Crazy, right? Therapy is supposed to help!

Let’s back up a bit, shall we?

My husband gets out of the Marine Corps and we are still living in Charleston, SC (USA). We decide to move to Illinois (his home state) a few years later. His PTSD has worsened, my depression isn’t always great, and we want to be near family.

We wait 10 months for the VA to get my husband into any type of therapy.

Read that again…..

We wait 10 months for the VA to get my husband into any type of therapy.

I would call and call and call….eventually we find out the therapy is better if we go to the Vet Clinic. The VA is a complete waste of time. They did nothing to help us keep him in therapy when we moved between states. The suggestion to go to the Vet Center is a God-send.

We do as we are told.

First we get Bill into therapy, but then couples therapy is offered to us.

We went.

It was a shouting match.

We went again.

This is stupid.

We literally went into the appointment fine, and came out ready to punch each other in the face.

So what did we resolve to do?

We WILL go back next week, because we have the appointment, and it must be helping on some level, but we talked about resolving to work on our marriage ourselves. Waiting for a 1 hour therapy session once a week, which actually made us more mad than we went in, isn’t what we are looking for.

I will say this: Our therapist is wonderful.

I just don’t know if this is the right approach for us.

There are a bunch of things we both have said we would work on ourselves. So hopefully we can do more at home, than a 60 minute shouting match (which, think about this…he’s a Marine, and I’m Italian-American…….it gets SO LOUD). Our poor therapist.

Working through relationship problems are hard, especially when you’re working with mental health road-blocks, like having PTSD, TBI, or depression. It means we need to work on those things AND the relationship.

We haven’t given up.

We resolved to stop saying things like “well then move out” or asking “do you just want a divorce?”

We feel like taking those things out of the vocabulary may help the healing.

Be well,

Tina

 

Life · Writing & Publishing

Settling In!

While adding a new member to the family always requires an adjustment period, I’m happy to report things are going well with our new family member.

Talia thinks Liam is hers!



We love how much she loves him. She’s not the only one….


This is Addison. Her mom is one of my BFF’s.


Addison’s brother, Ellison….


Their talented mom, Selena. Selena is a newborn photographer and we were so excited to do pictures of Liam.



So far, this is the only one we have back. She’s so busy with sessions, it will be a few weeks before we see them all. This picture is one of my favorite EVER!

Here Selena was editing AND holding Liam while I used her oven.


So why am I using her oven? Well, she had a session requiring a smash cake. Even though we closed the bakery and are moving next May, I still make her smash cakes. The problem? Our oven caught fire last week.

Thankfully no one was hurt, and it didn’t happen while we were evacuated, but there’s nothing like waking up to the smell of something burning INSIDE your house. 

When I woke Bill, he insisted someone was burning toast. Um, there’s no reason we should be smelling someone’s burnt toast in our house. Sure enough, he went into the kitchen and the INSIDE of the oven was bright red. The oven locked itself shut as if it was on a clean cycle, and the only thing Bill could do was unplug the unit.

It took the fine people at GE almost a week to call us back. Our model wasn’t recalled, but they wanted to come look at it anyway. By the time they tried to finally come out, the landlord had replaced the unit. Pretty sure I won’t be buying any GE appliances anytime soon!

As if all this wasn’t enough, Bill and I started the next semester of school and Liam went to his first hockey game.


He basically slept through it all, even when daddy (Bill) was recognized as the Hero of the Game for his service in the USMC.




So proud of him!!!

I feel as though I can really get back to writing and querying over the next few weeks. I’m still tired, but not like I was when I was pregnant with Liam. November is National Novel Writing Month and it’s time for me to put out another novel! I’ll be sure to put together a bit about the idea and share with you over the next few days. Hopefully I can get out 50,000 words again this November, even with a toddler, newborn, school, and everything else!

Life · Writing & Publishing

Celebrating with Edgar Allan Poe

Today we celebrated!

Yesterday, after hours pounding away at my keyboard, I finished….

I finished my novel.

I landed at 84,344 words. I was thinking it would be closer to 90k, but the story has been told and now we start editing. I have to go through it once, then send it to my mother. I know there are a few places I need to add some things, so I think this is close to the final number of words, which is ideal for a first novel.

After a quick trip this morning to the birth center to check on Liam (all is well!), Bill, Talia, and I headed out to Sullivan’s Island to have lunch. The famed Poe’s Tavern serves up the most AMAZING burgers, and given the theme of the tavern, it seemed an appropriate place to celebrate!

Bill insisted on riding his motorcycle out to lunch, with Talia and I following behind in my truck. When we arrived, we had a short wait for a table (the place is always packed!). We were seated and then approached by the manager (of course my first thought was “crap, what did I say???”). A patron, and Army Veteran must have seen the patches on Bill’s riding vest. He has one for his purple heart, another one for his time in Afghanistan, and one for his three tours in Iraq. The man had given the manager a $50.00 bill to pay for our lunch!!! I seriously almost started crying. It was an amazingly sweet gesture and Bill and I will be sure to pay it forward!!

If you’re ever in Charleston, SC, you need to visit this place. They recently opened two more locations, but we are excited to have ours be the original. Poe was stationed at Fort Moultrie, which is on Sullivan’s Island. It’s been long debated, but I really think when Poe refers to “The Kingdom By The Sea,” he is referring to Charleston!

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The picture is crooked because the sun was in my eyes! I had to take it blindly! Notice the Raven in the logo?

These two always love a trip to Poe’s!

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The Goldbug! (Goldbug Island is right up the road!)

 

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My handsome husband posing with Poe.

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The menu. Sorry the picture isn’t great. It’s a tavern, so the lighting isn’t the best. If you can read it, you can see all the burgers are named after his poems. I had the Hop Frog burger while Bill had the Amontillado. I gave him cr@p in front of the server (Jordan, who was awesome) about the way he pronounced it. Turns out he said it right, I said it wrong, and apparently a “Redneck can read” as he proudly announced to everyone in our section! Love him!

Talia loves dipping. She JUST eats the fries. She might eat a burger, but we didn’t bother offering her any…they are so good! This is my Hop Frog burger!

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Bills burger.

Talia checking out the art on the wall (all Poe themed.) The second picture is Talia looking like Ms. Hollywood…apparently I caught Bill off guard.

We had a great time celebrating, are really appreciative of the great meal and the vet who paid for it, and now it’s time to start editing!

Life

Talia’s First Kiss!!

At just four weeks old, I wasn’t really ready for Talia to have her first kiss, but alas, she did.

The Stingrays won their 18th straight game last night, which happened to also fall on the ULTIMATE Pi Day (3.14.15…which is exciting since we own Mudd PIE Girl Bakery and PIE is my thing!!!!) and Military Appreciation Night with the Stingrays.

Talia and Bill both had to represent the United States Marine Corps! Here we are getting ready for the game.

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After dinner with Brian and Michelle (Michelle runs the rescue group where we got our sweet Buddy and Tremor dogs from), we headed over to the game together.

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Bill insisted on holding the cowbell all night. Ugh!

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After the game there was a post-game jersey auction. Then Bill spotted one of our favorite players out with fans. Patrick Gaul (we have his bobble-head doll for Talia when she gets older) was more than happy to hold Talia and pose for a picture. How sweet is this photo???

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THEN it happened. My absolute favorite player, Scott Ford was walking around. I asked Bill if he thought Scott would take a picture with Talia. Not only did he take a picture with her…..

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HE GAVE HER A KISS!!!

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It was Talia’s first kiss from a man not daddy. Since Bill doesn’t read my blog, I can safely tell you…I’m a bit jealous!!!

Today it was back to the ice and the Stingray’s won the 19th straight game, making history AGAIN! It was also “Undie Sunday” where the Stingrays collected undergarments for charity. Look who helped during cleanup, right in front of us. Yes, Talia’s first kiss.

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After the game was free-skate time with the Stingrays. Ford saw us, recognized us, and waved. Swoooooooon.

Here is Patrick Gaul with some of the kids. How freaking sweet is this? All the guys are really great with the kids. I can’t wait for Talia to be old enough to skate. Sadly, it won’t be with the Stingrays, since we are moving in August. Hopefully the Hershey Bears do the same type of skate after the game!

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Here the Junior Stingrays were able to come out for the National Anthem before the game.

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At home I’m working on some articles for publication. I write best at night. They say creative people usually are night owls. If I could sleep all day and be up all night, I would be one happy chick! Talia, however, has now slept through the night two nights in a row!!! I’m not really sure why everyone makes such a big deal about having children. Everyone made it sound like I wasn’t going to sleep for 18 years, but I’m fine!!

Tomorrow I have a TON of baking to do for some special orders this week!!! I’m so sad to have to abandon my clients here in SC because of the move, but look forward to meeting new people in PA. August can’t get here soon enough! The five year plan is to have an actual storefront bakery in Harrisburg, instead of baking out of the house for private clients!!!

With school, baking, writing, and Talia, I’m sure to have a busy week this week. I hope you have a good one!

Ciao for now!