It’s Ok to Be Jealous

A week or so ago, Mr. Arete mentioned to my husband that he would be open to teaching me a few things. As I am sure you can imagine, I was extremely excited and spent the next several days nagging, ask my husband when, when, when, WHEN, might this happen. 

Last night Mr. Arete sent me a text and we discussed the kinds of things we might do and other general chit chat.  I knew there was no way on earth he would let me pay him for his time, so being the clever girl that I am, I offered to buy the equipment he ordered. I was told no.  I attempted to tap into my new, tough, bad ass self and insist that he let me to which I was told, “It doesn’t work like that.” 

Of course, it doesn’t. I didn’t think it would, but I had to try. I gave up rather quickly because as much as I want to give back, he doesn’t want it.  He is not the kind of guy to blow smoke, so if he says it, he means it.

Appreciating those around me is important.  Giving and contributing feels good.  I like to be a part of that, but I am learning it is more important to do what the person actually wants instead of what I want.  It is a surprisingly difficult lesson.

Ok, here is the part where you might get jealous: Me and him doing a bit of training to include knife fighting.  I have been a little obsessed about wanting to learn this skill, but it has never worked out.  I am beyond thrilled that he is willing to teach me some moves.  

I think some time after Easter is the plan, so stay tuned. 

Not Very Good Odds

Today I had a meeting with my son’s teachers.  While I was there we got into a discussion on E.  They asked if anything had been going on at home because they had noticed E had kind of lost her pep for a while, but that they had noticed this past week she had been more like her old self.  Light, happy, extremely inquisitive and calm.

I shared with them what had happened and they were shocked, both that it had happened and that neither E nor I, had told them.  They were shocked, but here’s the deal, they shouldn’t have been.

There were 3 of us in the room at this point and immediately after I shared our story one of the teachers gets tears in her eyes and tells me some guy punched her 90 year old father for money.  90.  In broad daylight. 

When she is done telling her story, I look at the other teacher who has tears in her eyes and she tells me a story of a man who  approached her with some bullshit (her word) story about wanting money.  It was dusk and he came around her car, she told him to stop, he did, he asked for money and then took a few more steps forward.  What he didn’t know was that her son was on the other side of the car.  He is a big strapping guy (A Marine now) and he said, “Can I help you?”  The guy said no and left.  He did not say, oh, yes, I am looking for gas money, can you all help me out.  He left.

She said she froze.  She had no idea what to do and if her son hadn’t been there, she would have been toast.

So, 3 out of 3. That is 100%. 100% of the people in that room were victims of a crime, 2 of them violent crimes. It is worth noting that none of us were in a bad neighborhood, at midnight, soliciting drugs or sex.  We were all average people going about their daily business who were attacked or nearly attacked in the same town on different days.

I wondered if teacher number 2 had the same bad guy as me because the stories were so similar, but her guy was young with dark hair, so no. 3 victims. 3 different bad guys.  

I think most people think, it won’t happen to me.  They think, heck, it hasn’t even happened to anyone I know.  Except that it does and it has.

I am close to these two women.  We have been through a lot with my 3 kiddos and we have shared our lives, but none of us told the others what had happened to us. You don’t know when you might find yourself in a sticky situation and you have no idea how many people in your immediate circle of friends already have.

You can take the gamble, you can roll the dice, you can lie to yourself, but know this, it’s a mighty dangerous game your playing.  You might want to think about how to stack the deck in your favor.

Heartbroken

I was doing my usual blog visits this morning when I was blindsided for the second time in 2 days…Old NFO reports Newbius died on Tuesday.  I am actually shaking while I write this and I am so very sad.

We were not close. I barely new him, but he was unbelievably kind to me.  He took me shooting and he let me shoot and shoot and shoot. When we were done, I tried like crazy to pay, but he had a gigantic smile on his face and say “NO WAY.  “I haven’t had that much fun in a while.”  He gave me tips on how to be more internet savvy as he felt my personal safety could be at risk.  He was funny and sweet and passionate.  I will miss him.

He spoke so lovingly of his family, please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. 

Get Out The Candles…Oh, Wait

I was at one of my most favorite places today and followed a link here.  It’s the classic bad guy doesn’t follow the law and has evil intentions, good guys say not today and save the day kind of story. Now, I find this kind of story to be a happy one.  I get all glowy inside when I see the world working as it should. Innocent lives were not allowed to be terrorized by a mad man.  Matt Lauer with his smug little smile and condescending tone didn’t get to sit down and re-traumatize victims with accusing questions. Joe Biden couldn’t claim the gunman looked like his son. I thought to myself, every single person on earth will be happy, happy, happy knowing all is well at the South Side Freewill Baptist Church.

Well, not everyone. Not my good friend Joan and her posse. How sad for them.

There is no one to light a candle for.  There is no lynch mob to be called.  There is no way to twist and turn this into some kind of self promoting lie. There is no blood to dance in.

Bad guy is in jail.  Good guys are alive. Joan would probably pissed off(if she was aware of the story which she probably isn’t).  Sounds like a good day.

Train Them Up In The Way They Should Go

I am going to assume that most people reading this are patently aware of why I write this blog and therefore are aware that my daughter, who I call E, has had a heck of time.  She is doing great!  I wish you all could have seen her turn from a confident strong child into a scared, frail, fragile, insecure person into a bold, aware, strong amazing example of courage.  She went through a situation I wished she never had, but being witness to her transformation has been an honor. To watch that kind of spirit and fight is inspiring. We got to be a part of that kind of change with our daughter, A, when she came home from China.  It is painful, but we are all better for it.

People have asked what  we did, how we help her and I have sat down a few times to write, but as I thought about our journey, I came up blank on what to say.  I knew what we did, but there is nothing that I am going to tell you that is earth shattering.  There will be no ah-ha moment.  There is no secret that we discovered, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t lessons.

Probably the most important thing for our family is that we had a solid foundation with our daughter. Well before the attack she knew to the fiber of her being that we loved her.  That we love all of our children.  She doesn’t think parents are suppose to love their children, she just knows her parents love her, completely.  That was important because she knew she could come to me and say the truth.  She could look me in the eyes and say, “You didn’t take care of me”. “How do I know you will in the future?” I had never lied to her, so when I looked her in the eyes and said “I made a mistake”. “I didn’t handle that day well, but you are safe and so am I”. She knew that was true.  When I held her hand and said “I am sorry for what I let that man do and I will never let it happen again”, she knew without a doubt I meant it..  She was scared and it took time, but I don’t think she questioned the validity of my words.  She is 8 and she is a thinker.  I mean she is a thinker, so to underestimate this child’s understanding of what happened would be a mistake.  Her questioning, her mind, her ability to dissect an issue is both aggravating and challenging. It challenges me to know what I think and what I believe and it challenges me to be what she needs me to be.  The success to teaching a child about self defense starts long before they can make a fist or hold a gun.

The second most important thing we did was to reaffirm her safety again and again and again and again. We constantly told her in no uncertain terms she was safe.  While I can not guarantee her safety 100% of the time, I need to prepare her mind. I don’t want her to ever, not even for a second think there is ever any situation she can not conquer. Her ability to believe in herself is paramount.

I have always cared about the safety of my children.  I have always thought about how to keep them safe, but my understanding of what I really needed to do to prepare them was lacking.  For example,  I taught my kids to look both ways for cars when crossing the street. I told them why, but not really.  I said something like, “look those cars come pretty fast and it’s dangerous, so we have to be sure it’s clear first”.  Yep, that’s good, but it’s not enough.  It’s not the full story. Now, I ask questions and the first few times I provide the answers.  Now our conversations go more like this, “Do you know why YOU have to look?” and which ever child I am speaking to will say, “Because it’s my responsibility to take care of myself.” We let them know we are here and they can always count on us, but ultimately each person needs to accept responsibility to keep themselves safe.

I allow them much more freedom to do things now.  My son is 20, but when he was 7, I was still making his bed, picking out his clothes and cutting his meat. It never occurred to me that he could do things for himself.  I long since realized the error of my ways, way before that day in March and the little ones have had to do more for themselves and the family, but it was always in preparing them for life skills such as laundry, dishes, being a family, but not really safety.  E was recently diagnosed with asthma. She has to take antibiotic 2 times a day and an inhaler 2 times a day.  The rule in our house has always been, never, ever touch medicine.  One day she asked me if she could pour her own medicine.  I said no at first, then quickly changed my mind. I said yes, but you always have to let dad or I know BEFORE you take it.  It has been 3 weeks.  The medicine sits on the counter not under lock and key.  No one in our house touches it and every single morning without fail, E asks one of us if she can take her meds and then she doses out the exact right amount.  Last night she asked me if she could take her meds and  I said sure.  She came to me a few minutes later and said, “mom, this doesn’t look right.”  The medicine is normally a creamy light pink, but this time it was a watery bright red.  If this had happened before I would have said way to go for checking, but this time I went further.  I told her great job for being aware and great job for trusting her instincts.  I told something inside you told you something wasn’t right and you went for help.  I told her to always listen to that voice. Always trust it. 

We do teach her it’s ok to hurt a bad guy and we teach her how to run, how to kick, how to beware of what is going on around her,and  how to shoot. At the dinner table we set up different scenario like if a kid at school is calling you names, is he a bad guy?  Would it be ok to hit him?  Would it be ok to shoot him?  If someone steals your favorite toy, is she a bad person?  Would it be ok to stab her?  If mommy and E are walking out of a grocery store and guy who scares us is walking in our direction what should we do first? We do all that, but those kinds of things are about 2% of our lives.  Most of our time is in building a stable home where we  love on her and the other kids and on each other.  Most of our energy is focused on using daily moments to teach and think. 

I believe the more we loved on her the more secure she felt.  We didn’t tell her to toughen up.  We hugged her, we let her cry(which she only did once and it was more like a few tears.  She is more like her mother than she should be), we let her sleep with us, and we let her be scared and I think that allowed her to purge her feelings.  I also believe that her watching me doing things to protect myself was vital.  I didn’t just tell her I was sorry and I wouldn’t let another bad guy hurt us. I did things to assure that my words had meaning. She saw my eyes get watery when she was hurting and she my eyes get confident as I gained skills.  She saw me tired and ragged right after the attack and she saw my joy and lightness return with each day and each step I took towards self reliance.

That’s it.  That’s what we have been doing for the past few months to help our daughter heal and it’s working.

We Were Soldiers

As most of you know I am not a person that watches TV or movies at all and when I do it is along the lines of Golden Girl’s and What About Bob. I don’t like to be sad and I don’t like to cry.  Never have.  I dislike it so much, I don’t do it.  After my brother died, I let myself be a little more emotional, but mostly I am a I don’t like this, so lets not think about it and move on kind of person. This past year, I have not cried much, but I have been trying to let myself feel pain.  To think about things that are not pleasant or are down right tough and to feel them.

War makes me sad. I hate it.  I hate what we ask these men and women to do and I have never wanted to know the full extent of the sacrifices.  I know very little about war for a woman who’s husband served 20 years in the Marines.  When he was in Somalia with HMLA 369, he sent me a picture of himself standing in front of a building that had recently been shelled.  He was in his green PT shorts, shirtless and bone skinny.  He had a rifle flung over his back and those images so terrified me, I never watched a single piece of news on the the events taking place over there.

This is about as much as I knew…

On November 28, 1992, HMLA-369 began planning for Operation Restore Hope, the international United Nations humanitarian relief effort in Somalia. On December 3, 1992, the Gunfighters were assigned as the force in readiness and by January 1, 1993, the entire squadron was deployed to Baledogle, Somalia, as the sole light attack helicopter squadron in theater operating under Marine Aircraft Group 16[2] HMLA -369 flew a variety of missions including Close In Fire Support, Command and Control, MEDEVAC, Escort, Visual and Photo Reconnaissance, Logistical Supply, VIP, and Non Governmental Organization (NGO) support. HMLA-369 logged 1,098 flight hours during January. The Gunfighters returned to Camp Pendleton in April 1993.

November 1993 saw the Gunfighters depart for Okinawa in support of the UDP deployment Program. Additionally, the Gunfighters provided detachments for the 11th and 31st Marine Expeditionary Units (Special Operations Capable) (MEU(SOC)). The Gunfighter 11th MEU(SOC) Detachment supported Operation Continue Hope and Operation Distant Runner, aiding in the evacuation of Americans from war torn Rwanda.

My husband was there in 1992 and 1994.

I had no idea how dangerous and out of control that country was.  I really didn’t understand the nature of it until the movie Blackhawk Down came out. I assumed my husband would want to see it.  He did not. When I asked him why, he said  “It’s to close to home.” We still have not seen it.

I have been trying to understand more about combat mindset, self defense, strength, courage and sacrifice.  I have always known the qualities of my husband’s character. I know why he was such a good Marine, such a good man, but I have never had the courage to face what he faced.  I dealt with life as a Marine wife, by doing.  I volunteered for every organization on the base and I worked at helping families.  I kept busy doing and I rarely stopped.  Stopping meant thinking and I did not want to think. 

Yesterday we watched “We Were Soldiers”.  I understand it is not the most graphic movie that was ever made, but for me it was tough to watch.  My husband has seen a good deal of combat.  He was not a tip of the spear kind of Marine.  He was not a sniper, he was not special forces, he was not infantry and so I think that made it easier for me to believe that he was off  on some USO Tour and not really fighting. Of course, there were times throughout his career where pretending was not possible.  There were times when I had to face the realities of a life in service to your country.  We lost friends, I attended services for the fallen, I cooked meals for their families, I watched their children, I stayed up nights wondering if I would get a knock on the door, I comforted those who did, but mostly, I just kept my head down and did everything I could not to feel, not to know.

My husband saw combat both as a young Lance Corporal and later as a company commander leading a truck company of 400 Marines across the line of departure into Iraq, so for him watching these movies is also tough.   The first time he watched We Were Soldiers, it was before he deployed to Iraq.  He found it motivating.  He has not seen it since, but he said yesterday he watched it from a different perspective.  He saw it more from the leadership position, from the loss of my men side and that just kind of always sucks.

I was struck by the part of the movie where the men are getting ready to leave to join the war.  There are long dramatic silences just before they head out.  I don’t know if that was in the book, if that is what happened for these families or if it was added for dramatic effect, but for us, that is exactly what it was like.  We barely spoke, for days, weeks before my husband left for Somalia. Mostly because the work ups were so time consuming, I just never saw him. Before he left for Iraq he was involved in war plans and could not speak of what he was doing.  His mind was heavy with the burden of leading his Marines forward and leaving his family behind.  I didn’t have any idea what to say, so I didn’t try. Mostly we just touched, but almost never spoke. Those days leading up to a deployment there is a distance that is hard to explain.  We didn’t fight or argue, but there was a separation, a heaviness, a numbness. Having his skin on mine was the only thing I could feel and it said more than any words could. 

I had no real idea of what happened in Vietnam. I knew the school book accounts and the public perception, but I didn’t really know. My family didn’t like to talk about the war. My cousin Billy’s helicopter went down over there and he died. I never knew him, but the pain and torture of his death, on my family, left such an ache in me, it was like he is a part of me.  The only thing I know of his life is his death and even that is mostly just the agony. It’s been 45 years since my cousin’s death and it is still the central part his parents days. Ironically, my family has spent so much of their life trying to avoid the pain of Billy’s death that it is actually the only thing they feel. That is not a judgement. It’s an observation.

Today I wanted to know more about his life and about his death, so I did some research.  How strange that I miss him so much.  How strange that I have an overwhelming desire to know him.  I don’t know what I would say, but more than anything, I want to wrap my arms around him.  I want to feel the person and not his ghost. I want to feel the flesh of man who’s memory I have carried with me and who I have loved all of my life. How strange it is that not feeling hurts so much.

Not Much

I don’t know about all of you, but as summer approaches my life is becoming more and more crazy.  Good crazy, but it is a challenge to keep up with all the fun things on my plate. 

My weekend didn’t have any shooting plans or any plans at all involving guns.  We planned the normal thing:, work in the yard, do laundry, take the kids shopping for shorts, BBQ, that kind of thing.

Saturday evening we headed to friends’ house for a birthday party.  We had such a lovely evening with our friends and their family.  Our kids all get along so well and the food and wine are always delic.  The night was winding  down and all the guest had left except for us.  We were getting ready to say good bye when the husband asked me a question.  I can’t remember exactly what he asked, but that led to a discussion on parking lot safety and my friend, the wife, told us a story about a man who had approached her.  Nothing happened and if fact he apologized for scaring her and said he should have known better, still she told him, no, you can’t talk to me.  She is smart like that.  My friends know about my mugging and asked a few questions and for the first time, ever, I told the story from start to finish of exactly what happened.  I have never written all the details and I have never spoke of them.  Pieces, bits here and there, but never details.  That night I did.  I got teary eyed as did they, but I did not break down.  Later that night, I wondered why it took me so long.  I had tried before, but I just could not say the words. The husband knows a lot about guns and such and we had a nice talk about things and he gave me a couple of gifts.  It doesn’t matter what they were, but they are connected to self defense and I was in awe.  The items themselves are wonderful and are useful, but his heart in giving them to me, was deeply touching. 

E is getting stronger too.  She has not had a nightmare in a while.  She is back to sleeping in her own bed sometimes without the nightlight.  She does not ask endless questions about the bad guy or how to stop him.  The more tools we give her the stronger she becomes and I am seeing that strength show up in all areas of her life.  She is actually more willing to take risks in others area like school.  She has always been a good student, well after we got her caught up from not having any education at all, but she is type A and she gets as stressed about a spelling test and she does a bad guy.  However, the past 2 weeks she has been so much more relaxed both about studying for the test and taking it.  Our daughter-in-law offered to help E study for her words last week, but E said, “no, my mom gives me tips and helps me know what to do, I would like to wait for her.”  The distance that had been between us has all but disappeared.  That’s the biggest thing that I lost.  That is the biggest thing he tried to take from me, but there was no way in hell, I was going to let that happen. 

A quick note about the Give-A-Way. It is a week away and I have updated the prize list.  Mr. & Mrs. Groundhog have generously offered to donate a 100 rounds of ammo to each winner.  I was contacted by 2 others for prizes, but they have yet to confirm exactly the prize and details, so I don’t want to list anything that can not be guaranteed. I do want to stress though, that an opportunity to get yourself trained is extremely valuable and is the main point of the Give-A-Way. I applaud all of you who have entered!!