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Preview: ACU's, Stiletto Shoes, and Pretty Pink Tutus

ACU's, Stiletto Shoes, and Pretty Pink Tutus





Updated: 2018-04-18T07:13:22.909-04:00

 



Eleazar and The Bad Day Anthems

2013-09-02T22:57:55.588-04:00

Ok...I'm just going to go ahead and Dave Barry it...that sounds like a great name for a rock band ;)Seriously though. I keep wanting to dive into blogging about everything that we have been through in the past 18 months. Yeah, can you believe its been 18 months??? I want to start back at the beginning at Walter Reed but it kind of hurts to do that because of what we are going through now. We're exhausted, tired of struggling to get what he needs, and some other things I can't even post about yet. But the bottom line is we have had to fight tooth and nail for many of the things that G.I. Joe needs. Things that should have been guaranteed. We were warned from day 1 that I would have to be his advocate and fight for things. For the service member to do it its more complicated since they are still serving under a chain of command. From day 1 though G.I. Joe and I also had a game plan....We would NEVER stop at what we need. If we saw something that affected other wounded warriors we would seek to advocate for them and speak for the voiceless. That can be exhausting and frustrating. It can wear you down quickly but we have to press on. For our family and for everyone else, we can't give up. To just stop and accept that we can't affect change in certain areas makes so much of our own struggles on the road to recovery just seem pointless.My heart aches to make things easier for G.I. Joe. And for every other wounded warrior coming after us. We want them to be spared some of the unnecessary things. When I need a pick me up my heart whispers the name Eleazar. Weird, huh? Haha. So in college I went to school for Biblical studies. I cannot believe in all that study that I managed to look past this warrior. But God knew when I really needed to be struck by him. This summer one of our pastors shared the story of King David's sidekick, Eleazar. The entire Israelite Army had retreated at the sight of their mighty enemy. Except Eleazar. Here's what happened: but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The LORD brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.2 Samuel 23:10 Everyone has bad days or moments of doubt in their own strength. But for me I really believe God gives us what we need when we need it. Somehow when I think I can't do one more late night, or one more forced smile to convince G.I. Joe that I'm slaying whatever giant is in his way I realize that maybe I can keep going. My hand is froze to the sword. And for me, that sword is my voice. Its hours of phone interviews to educate any willing ears as to what wounded warrior families need. Its emails to the Pentagon. Its repeating "Don't worry, I'll take care of this" when I truly don't know what on earth I'm going to do yet to fix the latest break. Even if no one else stands with me in battle, I know the One who does. And here are a few of my favorite "Bad Day Anthems" that I play on repeat to psych myself up when I need an internal pep rally :) Turn them up on a day when you need a little extra boost to slay your giants. Ps...when G.I. Joe has a rough day I usually drop everything and rap "Hall of Fame" to him. This  makes him realize he has bigger issues than whatever was previously bothering him ;) allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/XleOkGsYgO8" width="420"> allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/mk48xRzuNvA" width="560"> allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/quxzO3oxOfI" width="560"> allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/e9SeJIgWRPk" width="560"> allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/HoRkntoHkIE" width="560"> [...]



I am a Caregiver.

2013-08-22T21:10:06.519-04:00

I was not prepared for this role.                Not emotionally. Not in practice.                I often don’t even know what questions I should ask. But that will never stop me.  I don’t flinch when conversations start with things like                “When I was blown up….” I may not have formal medical training,                But I can probably change IV bags, wound bandages,                 And administer shots.  I pass on updates to loved ones                 Before I can even process what information I’m given. I lost many friends.                 Some were “jealous” of the attention my Warrior gets.                 Some thought “wounded husband” was a contagious disease.                In the wounded…I found family, not just friendship. I hold our children close at night in bed                And answer questions about war and terrorism                That no child should ever have to ask. I grip the kitchen counter, white knuckled, as he makes his own sandwich.                Sometimes I have to do something for him,                But I know when it benefits him more to do something himself. I looked on in wonder as he took his first steps as a new man. I looked on in fear after that as his gaunt body looked ready to crumble. When the muscle and weight came back, and he needed new dress blues                I cried tears of joy. I cry. A. Lot.                Even months and years later.                But only when he is asleep. I am territorial of my Warrior. I am a walking medical library and pharmacy. I try not to finish his sentences.                 Heneeds to recall the lost word himself. During the fight for proper care, with each set back,                I give myself one night.                To cry, to eat ice cream. To disconnect. Then I get back up.                 And I fight. For him. For all of them. I hold people accountable.                Especially when he is unable to. I often feel a fire within                Causing me to boldly speak for the Voiceless.Fear of public speaking dissolves as I approach General Officers and request better support of the wounded. I see the blessings in every Friday night pizzaand the chance to bicker over toppings. I also am painfully aware of the things we’ve lost.     &nb[...]



My response to "THE" article.

2013-03-12T19:35:39.576-04:00

If you are reading this blog post then its very likely you are familiar with military social networking and therefore know of the horrendous article written by David Wood over at the Huffington Post. Here is a link to the article and please note the title was changed. The article was written at the end of January but has faced a recent firestorm causing it to go mega viral. I left a comment last night but just didn't feel like I was "done." So here is the email I just sent him.Mr. Wood, Your article only just came to my attention last night. Judging from the hundreds of angry comments you received in the past 24 hours I’m guessing it slipped under other people’s radar until then as well. I would love to know where you are pulling your numbers from. My husband is an E5 and is currently active duty with the Army. He has been National Guard and a Reservist in the past though. So we have seen many sides of this lifestyle. Never though have we lived in the lavishness that you speak of. Because of years of inability to create a defense budget our family suffered financially. It was because of my parents that we didn’t end up in debtors prison. We are in a much better place now than we were before but our family of 4 still lives on less than -------(edited for privacy here and on FB)----- a year. My husband is in Special Operations and was wounded in action on February 20th, 2012. Which was also his 26th birthday. Our daughter was 3.5 years old and our son was 11 days old when I got the phone call informing me that he was wounded in an enemy attack. We rushed to his side at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and committed to staying there by his side until he was to be released. Normally the military compensates a family member as an "NMA" which is non- medical attendent. My children and I were denied this compensation for unjust reasons. We drained our savings account to pay for food, diapers and formula in the DC area where the cost of living was higher than our home of record. All along the way we had to fight for almost everything. They say if you are combat wounded the military will “fix it.” The truth is they will fix what they are willing to diagnose. He fights for recovery, I fight for his right to care. Where are our “lavish benefits?” Why do I have to threaten congressional investigations just to get my Purple Heart recipient treatment for the head injury he sustained in the attack?  People are so angry at you right now and saying some nasty things in their comments. I will admit your words made my blood boil. But I don’t hate you for saying them. And I’m not going to quibble over how wrong you are on your numbers or how much you distorted and misused the real facts about Defense budgeting. Let’s even pretend for a moment your numbers are correct. What you did as you exercised your freedom of speech and enjoyed freedom of press is you reduced these inalienable rights and the men who defend them to worthless piles of cash. I will tell you the same thing hundreds of family members and service members are saying… we are not spoiled.  We do not live “lavishly.” Not by financial means though. Here is what I enjoy in “lavish” amounts as military wife…Time away from my husband which makes my tears flow and my heart grow.Difficult “Is daddy going to die over there” conversations with a 3 year old.Absolute disgust for the sound of the door bell ringing when he is away.The knowledge that some things are bigger than us and worth fighting for.A lump in my throat at the sound of the National Anthem. Memories of grown men, some with their original limbs and some with new shiney ones, learning to walk again because they were protecting me and my babies.Heartbreaking moments of holding a woman close as she cries on my shoulder because her son has just died from wounds sustained in combat. Ability to use MY voice and MY words in letters to Congress or the Pentagon to advocate for veterans and war[...]



Storm clouds and Rainbows

2013-01-31T15:17:35.281-05:00

I feel awful for not being able to post this sooner but the lovely and talented JG asked me if she could write an article about our experience with Judd Apatow. The article was published on Breitbart Tuesday and for a little while was the "big" story in their entertainment section!!! She did such an awesome job putting everything together, especially considering I just wanted to ramble endlessly about it. We are so thankful to her and Breitbart for sharing our story. G.I. Joe and I are both hoping maybe others in Hollywood will see it and be inspired to reach out to wounded warriors. So if you have time give the article some comment and share love :) Clicking on the site and seeing that huge smile on my face totally made my week better.


Our week has been slightly stormy here. On Tuesday morning I started trying to make appointments for G.I.Joe. Important ones. But then we were hit hard with the revelation that back in December an error was made and he wasn't going to be able to see his doctors until it was straightened out. It caused a lot of panic and anxiety in G.I. Joe. Major trigger for his TBI symptoms. Thankfully we were able to spend yesterday in some offices getting a temporary fix in place so he will see his TBI specialist tomorrow and his other appointments start again next week. He feels a little better at least knowing he can get care but I would lie if I said this wasn't discouraging. We're both tired of fighting for everything. There will always be little glitches here and there but someone who is combat wounded has already done the "fighting" to obtain his right to care. His symptoms made it difficult yesterday for him to clearly, and without aggravation, express the issues so that's when caregivers like me step in and have to be the face of serenity. I'm happy to do it but its draining when you have to be the strong one, don't let your emotions show and keep it all together. So I'm tired today, but very much at peace that this will all be worked out soon.

And maybe one day it won't be the norm for caregivers to have to fight so hard for everything. I refuse to lose hope in that or to give up working for it.

Tag is also sick again. We had him at the doctor after all this yesterday and it looks like his airways are very prone to swelling when he has a virus. They think he'll need steroids whenever he has colds just while he is a little kid and then will grow out of it as they expand. Right now he just gets a few doses during a cold and its enough of a punch to get the swelling down and help him (haha and me) breathe easier.

So that's been our week. Typical wounded warrior life. :) But its a blessed one. We're getting really close to the launch of The General's Kids!!! Hopefully soon I'll have to official logo to share with you guys!!!


~Mrs. G.I. Joe



Ode to Innocence

2013-01-29T01:05:13.269-05:00

I've been spending every moment I can spare lately working on stuff to get The General's Kids ready. Oh, did I mention that's the name of my new non-profit to benefit wounded warrior kids? :) Yeah, I'm over the moon about it! Its grown so much in scope since I first had the idea while watching Lucy, and other kids, struggle to adjust to hospital life at Walter Reed. I can't wait to post more about it but in the mean time you can check out the skeleton website here. Our official logos will be coming soon and the whole organization will have its "grand opening" of sorts on February 19th, 2013!!!Wait, Mrs. G.I. Joe...that makes no sense. Don't you mean February 20th? Isn't that THE day? Weird, right?! Actually, its perfect. The reason why I picked it is because of innocence.The General's Kids is for the little warriors.And my little warriors went to sleep on February 19th truly clueless about the evils of the world. That day was the last day that Lucy thought we only miss Daddy when he's gone. The next morning was a harsh reality lesson that should have come later in life: when Daddy is gone we miss him...and he's in very real danger.February 19th was still a bubble. Even for me.So every year on February 19th, instead of focusing on how unfair it is that innocence is often lost to tragedy, we will celebrate the lives that we are able to help through The General's Kids. And the day after that we'll continue celebrating the blessing that each breath is.For now I'm going to leave you with some pictures that I took over the past year. I'm way over due on some picture posts :PEmpty bed on discharge day...best sight ever!!!Walter ReedLucy's first day of "Walter Reed preschool" Haha she liked it for about one hot minute.G.I. Joe's always wanted to go to Ranger school and have that tab. So I believe his First SGT (maybe, don't quote me) took off his patch and gave it to him while he was standing by G.I. Joe's bed in the field hospital. But we're shaky on those details. Its special though, without a doubt.Fisher House life.Another favorite past time...cheering on her Nationals!!!Her welcome home present :)"Disney Baby" is happy to return to his starting place :PWhere dreams come true and the good guys always win.[...]



The Last Email from Afghanistan

2013-01-22T20:41:12.575-05:00

G.I. Joe's first Alive Day is quickly approaching. Less than one month from now it will officially have been one whole year of Wounded Warrior life.Today was also the one voting day for round 1 of Military Spouse of the Year.Its funny because before I never would have thought I'd be involved in something like this. Today on voting day I'm looking a lot like I did on the day that catapulted my life in this direction. That day I got the phone call I was so disheveled. I was notified in the morning so I had no strength or motivation to do much at all after that.In light of these things I wanted to share something with you all that I've been holding near and dear to my heart for 11 months and 3 days. Its the email I received from him just hours before he was wounded. Our communication was scarce like always but I had emailed him an early birthday card (his birthday is the same day he was wounded) and he happened to get a brief chance to look at it. Hey babydoll, thank you for the beautiful birthday card!  I have much to do but the Lord will be here to guide me and help me. You have no idea what your simple words of wisdom do for me here. Sometimes I get caught up in the hustle of the workday and lose track of some of the important aspects of my life. You keep me grounded in my faith. I love you and miss you so much. Please be careful out in the snow and make sure Lucy has a great time. I love you.I clung to every word and reread this email countless times over the next week until I was able to be with him again. Its amazing how much life changed when that rocket was shot yet...when I read this email and really think about what we're doing now...it wasn't that life took a different direction. It did change from what we thought was meant for us. But really...it launched us in the right direction. It was necessary to guide us to where we are now. I think that's also why even though I've cried many tears, even lately, I don't feel angry or jaded by the world. Its more the opposite honestly. If you haven't yet you can still vote for a military spouse that you are inspired by to become Military Spouse of the Year 2013!!! Voting is open until 11:59 pm EST tonight!Judd Apatow we love you! And this other little bit is really cool. I have to brag some but mostly on someone else. I reached out to Judd Apatow because we are HUGE fans of everything he makes. His movies are all our favorites and we love to watch them when we are happy or when we need a pick me up because life has gotten so serious. I told Judd (not knowing if he would even see my message) that G.I. Joe's Alive Day was coming up and would he just consider sending an autographed picture. He responded right away! I was floored to find out he was responding while getting ready for the Golden Globes!!! And before the awards were over I heard from someone who works for his production company saying "Judd would love to send something to celebrate your husband's Alive Day." Just days later a BIG box arrived. I couldn't make him wait a month. He read the name on the return address and just went into shock. Haha he kept calling me a liar thinking I was tricking him. So Judd had sent him lots of goodies from some of our favs. He grinned from ear to ear forever after that.How cool to have your favorite film maker ever send you a personal present like that?! Judd has such an amazing heart. He went above and beyond. G.I. Joe is going to send him a thank you letter and one of his patches this week. Not a lot of celebs would do something like that when they don't get big publicity for it. So yeah. We heart Judd :) [...]



NYE: Rushing out of another hospital

2013-01-14T10:03:05.587-05:00

So our New Year's was quite eventful. Tag gave us a huge scare so irony of all ironies we spent the last few days of 2012 in yet another hospital.It started with an occasional fever that would rise, and then fall. He seemed to be in a lot of pain while eating but we thought it was gas. Or teething. We tried different things to help these issues and nothing worked. So the Friday before New Year's Eve his fever went up over 102. We have to watch out for seizures so I started worrying. It came down though so we thought the worst was over. Then Saturday it shot up to 105 and came with bloody dirty diapers.Okay now we were freaking out. We went to one ER and it was there that his fever spiked to the 105 mark and they realized we needed to transfer to a bigger hospital and be admitted. We watched them hook our little guy up to tubes and after a while he quit fighting people because he was so weak. He had a steady flow of IV fluids and anitbiotics. At the first hospital he had blood work, IV's and x-rays. His blood work showed an extremely high white blood cell count. Honestly we were thinking the worst. After x-rays and an ultrasound at the second hospital showed no tumors or swelling they ruled out our worst fears. Its assumed that he had an infection in his colon. We aren't sure what it was or how he got it.For the next few days Tag and I weren't allowed to leave his hospital room. He stayed on IV's for a good bit of the time. Lots of cultures were run. Once his fever came down and stayed down on its own, and once he was able to eat on his own again we were able to leave. But I will never forget spending hour after hour holding Tag while he was connected to that IV. Its a whole different experience when you are staying in a hospital for your kid and not an adult in your life. My heart just broke for him. We're so blessed whatever he had he was able to recover from. We made it home a few hours before midnight on New Year's Eve!Lots of great things are happening in the G.I. Joe house! Tag is doing much better now and next month we'll be having a party to celebrate his first birthday and G.I. Joe's 1 year Alive Day. I'm so excited to have our friends and family over to celebrate my boys. And all the details will be coming soon on this but....The SCC approved the organization of my company, The General's Kids!!!!!!I still have to get approved for my 501.3 non profit tax exempt status but in a month or so we'll be up and running and able to bless lots of military kids living at hospitals around the country with parents who are wounded, ill or injured. I'm going to post about that this week and share all the details and goals we have. Things haven't gone "smoothly" for us on this journey but we're content to go through it because it means we can help someone else.I know my last few posts have been really lengthy and wordy :P Thanks for reading! More pics and less words in the future, I promise ;) Things just always seem so crazy in our house. But I wouldn't trade it.~Mrs. G.I. JoeWaiting to be transferred. Completely miserable.Couple days of IV fluids and meds makes a HUGE difference!Let's go home! I wanna see my Lulu!!![...]



Why I decided to "run" for Military Spouse of the Year 2013

2013-01-10T21:29:04.360-05:00

I have been honored by 2 wonderful friends who nominated me for Military Spouse of the Year. In the midst of all the excitement that comes with announcing such an honor I completely expected there to be a few who had some critical thoughts to share. And I'm fine with that because I haven't always loved the idea of doing this. I'm posting this now so everyone will hopefully see my heart and understand this "competition" a little better.My first experience with the Military Spouse community was as a 19 year old sending her husband off to war for a year. The FRG leader was married to the First SGT (I believe) and her response that day when I approached her with tears in my eyes asking for support was to laugh at me.Fast forward a couple years and the Military Spouse of the Year competition was born. I was annoyed by the sound of it. Seriously? I can't get the slightest bit of support from older more experienced spouses and you want me to vote for one to become Prom Queen? No thanks. Then that first year's finalist came out. Oh my gosh. They gave me so much hope. They were incredible women who devoted their livelihoods to serving others, in ADDITION to supporting their own service member. I saw that there were beacons of light and love living quietly among us. Never could I hope to be one of them...but just to know that they exsisted and didn't want me to fail as a Milie was all I needed.Four more years later my dear friend asked if she could nominate me. Uh, for reals? No thanks. I'm thinking, "Geeze, these women change the world...I change...diapers. Don't get me wrong...I totally rock at that...but not award worthy for sure."Skip with me to this past fall. That same friend said to me "Okay, here's the thing. I'm nominating you whether you like it or not. And you need to accept. Don't do it for you, do it for your wounded warriors."Ah she knows me so well. I hate "vote for me" things. I've been in so many blog competitions that no one ever knows about because I'm so uncomfortable with the chance that someone will think that I think I'm better than everyone. But that's not what this contest is about. Its not about being better. Please understand my heart when I say that being Military Spouse of the Year does NOT mean "Job well done!" to me. Its an honor, sure. But its not a pat on the back. Its not a trophy.Its an occasion to rise to.Its a challenge to live up to.Its simply a vote of confidence.It means you have faith in me to keep going and to keep helping the wounded warrior community.It means working even harder to live up to the award then I did to be nominated for it. And I love that it means I would have more chances to spread the word about my non profit. And it means more chances to meet the people who have the power to create better policies that will prevent our warriors and their families from falling into crisis.If you ask why you should vote for me and what makes me better I will tell you this...there isn't anything. I'm just asking that you step out and take a leap of faith with me. Trust me when I say I won't let you, or the wounded warrior community, or those teenage warbrides who need hope, down.That's what this competition is about. At least, to me it is.Check out my profile here and watch this uber awkward video ;) And help me see a dream come true by making this the Year of the Wounded Warrior Spouse! The first round of voting is only one click, one day! January 22nd!!! allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/nA0ZA4rVQ8Q" width="640">[...]



I chose to live above hate

2012-12-26T00:37:42.893-05:00

@font-face { font-family: "Times New Roman"; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }table.MsoNormalTable { font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; } It blows my mind that we are already at the 10 month mark. Almost a year. Almost a year ago men came over a ridge with the intent of killing as many as possible. I believe its simply God’s divine will that my soul mate managed to come back to us. I still don’t know everything that went on that day. Or if the man who shot that rocket in G.I.Joe’s direction is alive or dead. All I know is they wanted him out of this world and our lives have changed so much since that day. Lots of amazing things have been happening lately in our family. For one, G.I. Joe’s canes have been collecting dust! His full recovery is still projected for sometime next summer, so we have a ways to go, but progress is happening. Christmas Eve will also be our 7th wedding anniversary! He left for Iraq when we had been married a week and that’s also made me really think about some things. When we were 19 year old newlyweds I had no clue what trials lay before us. I only knew that even hard times with him were better than an “easy” life with someone else. I still feel that way. After 2 wars, 2 kids, and life-altering injury…I’m blessed. Don’t get me wrong, I do have bad days. Things can get very discouraging and I shed a lot of tears. I cry when I think it seems like it will be so long before we can own our own home. If I could get a job right now, we could swing it. But its not possible. I can’t manage his care, be there to help Lucy through this, and get a job. There just aren’t enough hours. G.I. Joe wants more than anything to give us a home of our own, but it has to wait. Sometimes I cry when simple tasks are just more struggle than they should be. He gets sick easily and doesn’t have the same energy that he did before the attack so it makes for long days with little productivity. Hearing Lucy cry, completely out of nowhere, because she is scared he will leave the house and get hurt again or worse…that takes the wind from sails. These things hurt my heart. I would be lying if I said I never wanted a time-out from our circumstances for an hour or if I said I was never jealous of the tiny problems other people often mistake for day-ruining events. But I refuse to let that hurt turn to hate. That’s what the terrorists want. If they couldn’t take G.I. Joe from this world I know the next best thing would be to know they ruined our lives and put us through hell. I won’t give people that satisfaction. They attacked him, and other soldiers, because we stand against oppression and hate. I won’t let them win. Not in this house, and not in my heart. What they don’t realize is that for every heartbreak along the way there has been a blessing. One vile act of hatred gave opportunity for countless acts of love. I’m more grateful for the small things in life than ever before. I don’t take as much for granted and we live a more fulfilling life now. Hanging on to the hate and anger would just drain our joy. That’s not something I’m willing to waste my time on. Next year we’re starting up our non-profit to benefit children living in military hospitals everywhere. I’ve been given the opportunity to advocate for better wounded warrior care and the United States Navy has expressed interest in implementing my ideas already. We’ve been able to help other people because we went through this tragedy. And next year…my G.I. Joe will return to duty to keep fighting terrorism around the globe. Our life is not something to mourn or be angry about. None of these amazing things would happen, or mean as much, had we not been able to walk throug[...]



4 is gonna be a great year!

2012-11-17T21:17:39.455-05:00

[...]



To the families of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods...

2012-10-31T15:29:58.660-04:00

The other day Lucy and I were bouncing on the trampoline at our rural residence. The leaves from the trees peppered the trampoline and crunched beneath us. Lucy's brownish-reddish-blondish bob flopped as her feet met the mat. And out of nowhere I was struck by something....there was a clear and distinct absence of the explosive sound that mortars make. Leaves rustled. Springs BOING'ed. Giggles escaped. But there were no rockets screeching and booming. Its an odd thing to notice, right? I guess to many its weird but if you all haven't noticed that sound--or absence of sound--already then you will likely have a similar revelation in the future. Its when you have seen the tragic high costs of freedom that you can begin to vividly notice the lack of violence around you.On February 20th of this year my husband's small combat out post was attacked in Afghanistan. They came under fire from rockets and other "small arms." My G.I. Joe was hit but was able to get help. Every time new information on the attacks in Benghazi comes out my heart breaks more. Your loved ones, your heroes, should have received help. In the midst of already tragic circumstances you all have to deal with lies, disrespect and cover up.I know most media outlets, and too many Americans if you ask me, are turning a blind eye to "Benghazi-gate" as it unfolds. But I want to go on record here and now to say this freedom-loving-American family is outraged for you all. The cover-up is unacceptable. The rude, loud mouthed comments from the Vice President are completely inexcusable. And even mentioning that stupid movie at your loved ones' transfer ceremony should be viewed as reprehensible.As our Lucy grows we know she will be asking more and more questions about how G.I. Joe was wounded and why. When she questions these issues we will always make a point to tell her stories of valor that took place in Libya this September. When she is older and learns her Daddy was hit by mortars in an attack in one part of the world, we will also tell her of Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods who refused to stand down and lost their lives saving others who were hurt. And we'll tell her of people like Ambassador Chris Stevens and Sean Smith, who went into a dangerous area routinely because they believe in things like freedom and democracy.In the midst of the whirlwind this must be for you all, please know that there are people all over the world praying for you all and seeking the truth. We pray that our nation's lawmakers will not settle until everything is revealed. We pray for you all that you will have the strength and comfort you need to deal with what lies before you. And we pray that everyday you'll be reminded that you have the bravest guardians smiling down on you.Basically, we stand with you.We'll stand beside, or behind you. Whatever you need.But we will NOT stand down.Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.John 15:13 PS~Those of you who have blogs should grab this pic, post it there and/or Facebook, and write the families your own "We won't stand down" message to show them that 6 weeks later we haven't gotten tragedy that is still continuously unfolding. [...]



To a Warrior's Daughter...

2012-09-23T18:43:46.481-04:00

Today you are turning 4 years old. One day a long time from now when you are "big" you'll probably find this note tucked into your travel journal from this week. You'll need to read it later because right now you are still so young, it might be hard for you to grasp everything I'm saying.We have to constantly remind ourselves that you are still "little." This year has probably been the most life altering year you will experience for quite a long time. At barely 3 years old you had to adjust to Daddy being gone even more than normal, then deploying, and going from being the center of our universe to having to share the spotlight with your baby brother. Just when we thought things may settled down long enough for you to adjust and get life under control, the unthinkable happened. As you put it "Daddy got wounded because the war hit him." You went from missing your SuperMan to helping take care of your Daddy who was weaker and slower than you. And every step of the way we have been in awe of you and your sweet spirit. I think I was more nervous about him leaving the hospital than you were. The first time you saw him walk, you weren't scared. You were confident in him. You didn't panic. You didn't see his wounds, you saw the warrior. I told you once to be careful with his face and leg and never had to remind you again.Though an 80 year old could have passed him 12 times you would patiently walk beside him, never a step in front. You held the free hand that wasn't gripping the cane and you encouraged him with every step. Where did you learn to do this?! I was a mess anytime Daddy walked. I was so scared and nervous his body couldn't handle it. But you showed him care and confidence. That balance is still hard for me, 7 months later.This wasn't the first situation where we (and others) have been in awe of you. On this day 4 years ago a nurse ran down the hall and told other nurses to come to my door. She wanted everyone to see how relaxed I was while laboring to bring you into this world. No drugs at all. Just peace. Then you slipped out on your own. No one could believe how fast and effortlessly you entered the world.I have no doubt that through the years you will continue to amaze us. Already at 4 you have handled with grace what most adults are incapable of handling. You do it with smiles, laughter, and brutal innocent honesty. Daddy and I are incredibly proud of you. And we want you to remember something very VERY important....This is ALL because God is working through you.He has AMAZING plans for your life.I wasn't prepared for any of this. We really can't be prepared for the things that happened this year.But when that happens God gives us the grace we need to get through it.You, my sweet and goofy child, are a breath-taking picture to people of God's grace.You remind us everyday of all He is capable of.And for that we can only say thank you.I'm pretty sure you have taught US more than we have taught you so far.Happy Birthday, Love Bug. You were the best answer to every prayer we ever prayed.[...]



It's almost that time again...

2012-09-17T14:44:22.727-04:00

Its birthday season around here at the G.I. Joe house!

I really feel like it wasn't that long ago when a few days after her 3rd birthday, we were able to have G.I. Joe come home to surprise Lucy.

This year she's had a few things to make it extra special.

When things settle down I'll have like a bajillion pictures to post but I wanted to share this one.

On Saturday we had my family over for her "family birthday party." She'll still have a party with her friends next month and something coming up on her birthday but this was her "first party of the season." Haha

My Mom snapped this picture while we were singing to Lucy and it just blows me away every time I look at it.

It so completely shows what we were terribly close to losing and how great God is.

If you are able to have moments like this, there just isn't much to legitimately complain about.

G.I. Joe is alive and here with us. We don't know what's going to happen 6-12 months from now or if he will ever make a full recovery but he's here. He wasn't supposed to be in this picture...he could either be deployed or far worse because of that rocket, but by the grace of God my G.I. Joe is able to watch our baby girl turn 4!







Because of this piece of metal...

2012-09-10T20:42:21.961-04:00

Walter Reed is a very short drive from Baltimore so a number of times we got in the car and just went to the harbor on a whim. One very very hot sunny day in June were heading back to our truck when we came upon the Baltimore World Trade Center. In front of it was the most moving display I'd ever seen.On a huge slab of white marble perched mangled pieces of metal.Metal from the Twin Towers.They were twisted,rusted,burned.Lucy knew something as different about this. She even got a little emotional and whiny."Mommy, what is that metal? Why is it here? Mommy, don't take pictures! Mommy, I want to go!"It only took a second for both G.I. Joe and myself in unison to say"This piece of metal is why..."We explained to her that what happened around the pieces of this metal is why Daddy goes away.Its why he wants to help people.Its why he wants to keep US safe from now on.Its why he has metal inside his body and can't run with her.Its why he'll do everything in his power to return to duty. There are really no words to convey the emotion of being arms reach away from something that hundreds of innocent lives perished under. And harder still to describe the pulling inside me. This week I read an article about a soldier who was killed in the same area G.I. Joe was wounded in. And of course...this hero died from the same type of wounds. September 11th was always emotional for me...being a military spouse always has added  another level to it. But now, G.I Joe is here and alive. While so many, no too many, aren't.There is thankfulness in our hearts...and sadness for the families of the fallen.There is confusion as to why God chose to spare him, and for G.I. Joe I know there will always be a fair amount of guilt.After living with these roller coaster of emotions...And having to listen to my husband talk about how he is still willing to make sacrifices for our freedom, I have come to one conclusion...Some were meant to live for freedom, and some were meant to die for it. No matter which, we should NEVER take it for granted.[...]



Walter Reed Side Effects

2012-08-31T12:09:24.082-04:00

So these are some of the effects of living at or leaving Walter Reed....hopefully it gives a little insight into what life can be like there. I know sometimes there are people who have nothing but bad things to say about it. But its all what you make it. One thing is for sure it WILL change you, even after just 1 day there.You speak a new language. Its a combination of military and medical jargon and acronyms that very few understand, so you constantly have to back up and explain yourself. When driving you stop your car for any pedestrian to cross the street, even if they aren't quite to the corner yet. Seeing people without prosthetic limbs is just weird. Seeing someone in the real world who is missing a limb, for any reason, makes you feel more at home. Thus prompting you to be the chatty stranger who wants to suddenly know their whole life story.You hate that every day you're forced to look at your own worst fears played out in the lives around you.You leave grateful for the fact that you know now that even when those worst fears become reality, life goes on and people still thrive. Fewer things scare or worry you. When you get on facebook "for a quick minute" you end up spending hours connecting with the wounded warriors at WR and check on their daily progress. Its a little heartbreaking to see WR pictures posted by friends because it makes you miss "home." Its totally normal conversation if it starts out with "When my husband was blown up..." or "Yeah, when I was blown up the same thing happened." Parking around cars that don't have anything "combat wounded" related on them makes you wonder if you are allowed to park in this section of the Target lot.You gained 5 pounds from the chocolate chip muffins and Girl Scout Cookies available 24/7.When you kid trips she grabs her leg and says "Oh my! I can't walk on this thing anymore! Its useless!" ~This is especially fun in public :) People really don't know what to think about that.Your child who hasn't entered school yet can explain to you what prosthetics are made of and what their function is. It seems weird to hear a dog bark or see them jump. You think that's a super cool new age trick or something because service dogs don't usually do things like that.You want to run screaming away from that place when a friend dies or when some new tragedy hits, but once you are out you just want to run back.Meeting Chief's of Staff, your husband's group's commander, or the President doesn't make you nervous. Its just another chance for someone to thank your warrior for his sacrifices and for you to speak out for the Warrior Community. A Chief of Staff wife begs for your phone number because she is just so moved by your description of what happens at WR that she wants to come visit the Wounded Warrior families there herself.  Anytime someone uses the word "Warrior" your kid shouts "HEY! MY DADDY IS THE WARRIOR!" no matter what the context is. Cadre adore your kids and everyone from Sergeants to Commanders miss them when they aren't around the office. You count limbs, and left side vs. right side amputations, when identifying someone across a room. Watching grown men learn to walk again never loses its powerful impact. Leaving to move home doesn't truly mean leaving, because a piece of your heart WILL stay behind. From our room at the Fisher HouseAt the Beach! First time away from the hospital! ~April 30th[...]



Rough Men Stand Ready.

2012-08-19T14:07:57.884-04:00

Six months ago, February 19th, I went to sleep. I had received an email around 11:30 PM from G.I. Joe thanking me for the birthday card I made him and saying he would call me when he could. That was basically it. Just a couple quick lines and an "I love you." I went to sleep keenly aware that he would be spending February 20th, his birthday, in harms way. I knew what was possible but I still didn't expect to get that awful phone call the next morning. But I laid my head down also knowing my babies were sleeping soundly, blissfully unaware of the gruesome reality of war. They are unaware, and lets face it even the wife is fairly removed from it, because of this:"We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm." - Winston ChurchillAs I look into my heart for the words to say on G.I. Joe's 6 month alive day I have 2 main emotions. One is contentment. And I'll get to that in another post this week. But I'm also deeply saddened by attitudes that are being promoted in the military spouse community. I guess its true misery loves company so it seems anytime a blog post or freelance article is posted where someone gets so brutally focused on the negative aspects of our life it practically goes viral. There is so much good to said for being honest and airing our struggles so that others know they don't have to be alone. However...I think on one issue we have taken it too far. Our nation's military and their family should be respected and supported from the outside. We do make sacrifices that others will never understand. But where has this sense of entitlement come from that has people crying out for civilians to become more in touch with war and the things we go through? What gives us the right to criticize those who simply don't have our experience and dare ask us a question that's slightly "wrong?" The search for understanding, respect and support is not something military families are cursed to struggle through. This is a human condition. Its a communication issue. Yes, sometimes people do put their foot in their mouth. But that's because they don't have the benefit of experience when it comes to our issues. You know something though...as a military wife I'm capable of doing that exact same thing to a firefighter's wife. Or a policeman. Or someone who took care of a parent during a long battle with cancer. Anyone has the potential to misunderstand something from the outside. And as military families we are not above that. If the next thought is "well, yeah that's why I just wish they understood war" then please stop and think for a minute. Before we run to media with these campaigns or just start a whole new blog dedicated to inflicting the effects of war on the American public please remember WHY they do it. I'm sorry if someone will get offended by this but my husband fought and shed his blood so that the American public will remain untouched by war. That's like half the point, isn't it? They put on the uniform and go overseas to do things so that you don't have to bare the burden of it. Its unfortunate that this falls on only 1% of our population today. Because of that, and because of the highest sacrifice that too many families have had to pay, we need to respect each other. We need to support one another, both civilians and military families. At the end of the day the men and women who march into battle wearing the stars and stripes on their shoulder should be proud if we here remain so out of touch. That's part of the sacrifice. And maybe if we are feeling so isolated we should work harder to lift each other up, as opposed to [...]



Half a year ago...

2012-08-10T12:38:55.903-04:00

At about 3 something in the morning six months ago {yesterday} I quietly slipped Lucy's Daddy doll out of her bed. I know that sounds like a horrible mommy move but something big was happening. I needed a piece of him and I was confident my daughter would sleep through the night and wake up to a happy surprise.I had packed my bag, done my make up and fixed my hair. My mom stayed with Lucy and dad drove me to the hospital. All the while I squatted in the back seat breathing and listening to Tyler Ward on my phone. I lost focus for a few minutes so I could send an email to G.I. Joe. "TAG IS COMING!!!!" was all the subject said. Less than 3 hours of true labor later everyone was caught off guard that we were already announcing his arrival. I sent G.I. Joe another email saying "YOUR SON IS HERE!!!!!!!!!!"I day dreamed in the hospital about how incredible it would be if G.I. Joe were sent home and he surprised me. Wouldn't that be so romantic and make such a great memory?! Plus I was desperate to end the looks of pity on the faces of all the hospital employees. Nurses who weren't even assigned to us would come in just to meet "the one who's husband is in Afghanistan." That got old so fast. I didn't want to seen as a side show, but that's what that hospital stay turned into.I was definitely shocked to end up introducing G.I. Joe to Tag in another hospital room 2 weeks later...but I got to sit back and watch my boys enjoy their instant bond. And even beyond that I got to watch Tag capture the hearts of every employee that came by. We were no longer pitied. People now came by to see "the youngest warrior baby!" He was like a ray of sunshine to all of our family and to anyone who saw us. They came out of rooms and offices just to look at how peaceful he was. I'm so proud of all the joy he has brought to other people in his short life already. Never did I imagine God had planned to use him to bring so much comfort and healing to others. G.I. Joe and I watched as Warrior Transition Unit cadre became refreshed and relaxed after holding him. We saw him bring brief smiles to families who had just lost their loved ones. I'll never forget crying with two of my friends at different times and both would end up laughing and say they couldn't help but smile back at him, even in the midst of tragedy.Tag, you've had a big life so far. God has amazing plans for you and we are so proud and thankful that He chose us take care of such a blessing.The week we moved into the Fisher House, which was the first home he has really ever known!I'm done with pictures, Mommy. Pick me up!Celebrating at the Navy Lodge with Daddy after being discharged.Our little dude is always happy.Watching the Nationals game from behind home plate![...]



The Droid's Perspective

2012-08-06T11:55:35.891-04:00

I have never been happier to have a smart phone than I was at Walter Reed. The cell reception there is pretty much junk (you'd think it wouldn't be with so many sick and hurt who need to keep families updated lol) but I was always snapping pictures with my camera phone then on a day we'd leave base to go grocery shopping I'd upload to Facebook and send out picture messages. I feel like my phone tells the story of that part of our Wounded Warrior journey. I got the news of the attack through my phone, I updated family and friends with it, I cried all over it, and I texted SO much that most of the keys stick now. But it was my constant companion and my link to support.So here's our life at Walter Reed as the Droid saw it....Lucy talking to Daddy for the first time after he was wounded. She was tickling him in the phone because she said laughing would make him feel better.Day 1, happy to just be in the same room again, even if it is a hospital room.The President and Lucy (out of frame in the corner next to me) share a laugh. We thought she would be shy but they just started laughing together like it was no big deal!Downtown DC for baseball games, the Armed Forces Gala and THE Army Birthday Ball.My Amazing Birthday Ball gown that Macy's left the security tag on! (It was an ink bomb so I couldn't remove it and just wore it as an accessory) At least it was a good funny ice breaker. Well...until a 3 star General stepped on it and I nearly had a heart attack thinking I had doused him with permenant ink :PI can honestly say I actually miss the food at the Warrior Cafe. They have the most incredible chocolate chip muffins that account for like 15 extra pounds on me now. Goofy Lucy enjoying the giant indoor pool for an Easter Sunday swim!It made her feel better to use one of his extra canes :)Someone got to go to preschool and make friends with other Warrior kids!Daddy, your rehab is exhausting me!We got the chance to go to an incredible event called The Twilight Tattoo! If you are ever in DC in the summer its a must!!Monkey see, Monkey do! Though I'm not sure who is the monkey here...I think they both are.WR fire department! Its actually weird not hearing sirens all the time now.Hanging out with Red Cross Volunteer Miss Shirley! More about her later. She deserves her very own post.The Nationals are SO SO SO generous and at nearly every home game they give tickets to their presidential box to wounded warriors and their families at Walter Reed. One thing that helped Lucy a lot was going to his appointments and seeing how they take care of her Daddy.That sucks. If it were just regular toilet water I'd be filling up my water bottle! Haha they think we are all nuts here.Went to the JAG office one day and got a peak at the court room on base :) Its up in "the tower" so I felt really cool...in an uber dorky way.Warrior loves his daughter so much he ignores the pain and crawls into the McDonald's play place on base to have a little fun with her in something she loves.We were so thrilled to finally push this button on the GPS!!![...]



Part 2...

2012-08-06T11:55:18.280-04:00

*Disclaimer* I did call and personally get permission from the main people involved in this post. I didn't want anything to be misconstrued as gossip or stuff like that. This is simply stating the truth, as it happened, in hopes that it can be helpful to others. In the hundreds of phone calls I got from the military there were conversations that I didn't tell you about in my last post. But you might have guessed I left something out when a nurse told my barely-out-of-surgery husband that HE needed to submit a written statement on a certain issue. After that we didn't get a tearful heartwarming reunion. We were plunged into a state of "What on earth is going on here???"Back to the beginning....When I was notified with that very first phone call the woman asked if I wanted to call his parents or if I wanted her to. No offense, but you are terrifying to talk to. I'll do it and break it more gently. She kind of laughed and said something to the effect that a lot of families go that route. With every medical update I was asked that same question. Each time I said I would get off the phone and notify basically all my in laws of the news. The military who are in charge of these things can sound very cold at times so I truly didn't want anyone else to have to deal with that. I have documented proof of all family members getting medical updates from me that week, all time stamped right after I got off the phone with doctors, nurses, and our casualty assistance officer.I assumed that since I'm the next of kin the military was just communicating with me. We were under the impression that the kids and I were the only ones who were offered an all expenses paid trip to meet him and stay with him at Walter Reed. So I asked G.I. Joe on the phone when he was in Germany who he wanted to come to Walter Reed. We were told he would only be there for 2 weeks and he still hadn't met his son yet, and Lucy was having a tough time. He himself told me he just wanted me and the kids there. He had surgery after surgery after surgery already and was so worn out. He just wanted to rest and reconnect.I knew this would not be popular. But it was his own wishes and as his wife its my job to be unpopular now and then and make sure his needs are met. I told everyone that as soon as he was back at our home we would have them over to spend as much time as they wanted with him.Here is where things went really far south. Neither G.I. Joe nor myself were told that the military was going to also put 2 other family members on orders to come to Walter Reed. They did this without telling us anything, much less asking. So unfortunately family had gotten a very upbeat phone call from the travel department saying they would pay for food, travel, hotels...and that this will be a great time for them to come see their soldier.As you can imagine things just blew up on us. One miscommunication after another. I don't blame any family for having hurt feelings over this. They had been told by the military that it would be wonderful for them to come. If it were me I would assume this meant that's what the soldier had asked for. But then they have his wife saying no, don't come until we get settled at home. It did seem like I was keeping them away. The reality was though, I was just taking care of him. G.I. Joe even called them the day he arrived and said not to come.Everyone's feelings were hurt. The miscommunication continued. When I asked a military employee, the one who called to say I could finally see him, if it was normal for them to invite people to the bedside without consulting the sol[...]



The slow descent...Part 1

2012-08-06T11:55:02.661-04:00

This is my first attempt at "filling in the gaps."Everything that happened after my first post about the explosion is mostly a blur. But with a few deeply engraved memories thrown in as well.Tag was less than 2 weeks old so I was running on very little sleep anyways. I feel like I walked around the house like a zombie 24/7 after that first phone call. By Tuesday the phone was ringing off the hook. Medical updates came in on a regular basis. The brigade commander called me numerous times to check on me. I remember being so scared to answer the phone since one tactless employee (our casualty notification person) called and for a few moments caused me to believe G.I. Joe died of wounds or something like that. One evening I got a call from a perky lady who called me by my first name. This was the first time I felt like I could talk on the phone and not have a heart attack! She ended up being our FRG leader and went out of her way to make me feel relaxed. After hearing so many gravely serious voices saying "Is this Mrs G.I. Joe?" I just don't even like to be called by my last name, or ma'am. Either one makes my brain think something bad is coming.The really great thing about that week was how many people from his company reached out. Every night I was talking and texting with the Commander's wife and she has become such a great source of encouragement for me. Other wives from the unit reached out on facebook and even guys from G.I. Joe's detachment who were busy over there took the time to track me down and show their support. Before they all deployed I wasn't able to meet anyone but just days after he was wounded it became very evident to me that my husband was valued and respected there. That made me so proud.It took a while for everything to even start sinking in. A few people calling me with updates, including G.I. Joe himself, tried to act like this wasn't a big deal. Even one higher up official was going out of his way to down play it all to me. So I tried to focus on Lucy and also day dreaming about this incredible reunion we'd have. They told me at first that "he is coming home to recover." I pictured going to our city airport, seeing him limping on crutches but still standing tall and proud in his uniform over the crowd. Then they told me a couple days later that he would be going to Walter Reed first for a couple weeks, then home. I had no clue what to expect there but I didn't care. All that mattered was that we would finally be together after that horrific attack on his life.I was told that he would be flying in to Walter Reed that Friday. By Thursday the stress and whole range of emotions was getting to the kids. That night Tag went on a hunger strike and Lucy cried herself to sleep in my arms. I kept telling them both tomorrow would be better. We just had to make it through that night, and the morning would bring lots of joy.Well...Friday morning I was really disappointed to get a wake up call from G.I. Joe. If he was calling, then he wasn't on a plane. He was finally stable enough to fly but his medivac flight was cancelled due to weather in Germany. So it would be Saturday. I was beyond disappointed when the Saturday flight was delayed. And the military people calling me kept telling me he had to get checked out by a doctor at Walter Reed first THEN they would call me and say the kids and I had permission to come to his bedside. Um, no. We left Saturday afternoon so that as soon as they called we would already be in town.My hair was perfect. My clothes were actually pretty cute too considering I was o[...]



Hello, Normal. Its nice to meet the new you!

2012-08-06T11:54:34.265-04:00

Its with a lot of emotion, and exhaustion, that I am finally able to say we are home.We've spent the past week catching up with our dvr, checking out some of our favorite stores and restaurants around town and enjoying Lucy's "Yay, we're home!" present...which is perhaps the biggest trampoline they make for personal use.Everyone has tons of questions for us at this point. If you have any that I haven't covered yet then please ask away! So here are things that seem to be sparking curiosity...1. Are you all glad to be home? Why yes, yes we are :) Home has never felt so good. And Lucy has just gone nutty with excitement. All we have heard is stuff like "Mommy, I'm so glad we're all home together! Mommy I missed this! Mommy, Daddy gets to stay with us ALL NIGHT LONG!!!!" Haha its so cute. Her curly mop top bounces around the house with glee from dawn till dusk.2. Were you glad to leave Walter Reed? Now, that's a horse of a different color. The answer for me personally is No. There are silly things I miss, like city life. But ultimately I miss the support and having everything we could possibly need right at our finger tips. That place is far from perfect but the whole Warrior Transition Brigade (and unit) is wonderful. Not having that support has been a shock to come out of.3. How is the transition going? Its going. Haha that one is hard to explain but its going about as well as you can imagine, with a few bumps in the road. Ultimately though I think G.I.Joe is handling it very well and I am super proud of him.4. What is going on now? Okay so here is the deal. He is still wounded. A lot of people have acted like "Oh prayers were answered! You guys are good to go now." Yeah, coming home was something we were striving for but that is not the goal. Full recovery is the goal and G.I.Joe still has over a year until he is there. So what are we doing home? They just transferred him out of the WTU (warrior transition unit) at Walter Reed, to a CBWTU (community based warrior transition unit, which is a term that will be used a lot on here). Basically that means he is still on medical orders for rehabilitation until he is better but he is doing it locally at a hospital instead of at a military hospital.I want to be clear on this one thing...he is still able to get the care he needs. However, I was shocked and extremely disappointed when we found out the overall attitude of the program he is in now. I have a list of contacts made while in DC and I plan to send all of them a detailed letter on how things are being misrepresented and the disservices being done. One day I will share more on that. Without getting into it I can say that we would have not asked to go this route had we known the goals of this program. It should always be recovery for the wounded. Nothing else should take precedence.Because of that we have a little less peace about the future but we're plowing through. Monday morning G.I. Joe's appointments start for physical therapy. At Walter Reed he had it 5 times a week, in addition to doing the exercises with me too. We're hoping they will be able to fit him in here for at least 3-5 days a week. He also will see a neurologist soon because his TBI "screening" at Walter Reed wasn't thorough at all and its very possible he has an undiagnosed brain injury. I manage his appointments and exercise schedules, drive him to all his appointments and keep track of pretty much all communication between us, his doctors and his case manager. I have such a huge respect now for care[...]



We're still here...

2012-08-06T11:54:00.128-04:00

Hello Walter Reed! Haha so apparently "a few weeks" here translates to 4 whole months!Our schedules have been crazy busy and we have so much to catch up on with you guys. I have loads of stories and pictures to share. I just can't begin to describe what a life changing experience it has been living here.We should be moving back home next month where G.I. Joe will go through another year of rehabilitation.Tag is nearly 5 months old now, teething up a storm, sitting up, saying "Mmmmomma!" when he wants me and just brightening the lives of everyone here at Walter Reed.Lucy is amazing. She charms everyone she meets and gets the soldiers who work for the Warrior Transition Unit to race her around the office and play peek-a-boo. She has been very vocal about her feelings and we have had her evaluated by a couple of child psychologists. Every time they say they are amazed by how mature she is and how well she expresses her feelings. We're super proud!I'm happy to be going home but the people who are hospitalized here and their families have really captured my heart. This summer I'll be putting in the paper work to set up a non-profit organization to benefit the children and teens living here at Walter Reed, and eventually expand to other large military medical centers.There are many frustrating moments and lots of ups and downs but over all we are choosing to be thankful for all the blessings this has brought us. We have a new found appreciation for life and want to seize every opportunity to live life to its fullest.Now I know I've left out a ton. But once we move back home I'll have internet that works (lol one of my biggest gripes here but totally not that important) and I'll be able to post more.Thank you all so much for your continued support and prayers! They mean the world to us, especially as we get ready to take a big step in going home to a very new normal for us. Smiling before his Purple Heart ceremony.4 Months ago today.Endless possibilities for the future. I love you, soldier.[...]



"After the hurricane comes a rainbow"

2012-03-12T08:27:57.285-04:00



 I have so much to write about in regards to these past couple weeks. 

I'm still just trying to process everything because so much has happened. 

I will be back on soon to share more pictures, updates and stories about what its like staying here at Walter Reed. 

But I just wanted everyone to know G.I. Joe is back in America and working towards recovering. 

He's loved getting to spend lots of time with family, 
and the President even visited him and other wounded warriors in the hospital!! 







But meeting this little guy topped that for sure! 





(image)



Disney Baby's Arrival!

2012-02-23T22:14:14.733-05:00

Thomas Alexander, whom we lovingly call Tag, graced our lives on February 9th.That makes him 2 weeks old today!Geeze what a crazy 2 weeks. So here is his birth story...I had been waking up every hour to painful regular contractions every night for at least a whole month before he was born. I saw my OB a few days before Christmas and it didn't look like I would still be pregnant by New Year's. But 2012 came and I was still pregnant but still having very close contractions. It seemed unlikely at that point that I would make it to 36 weeks. Then I did! I was so happy and extremely uncomfortable. All my muscles ached constantly from the contractions. At that 36 week mark I was clear to do pretty much any activity I wanted. I was doing Zumba and extra walking everyday. It felt so good to be able to exercise after so long! I wanted my body to be good and ready for what was ahead. On the 8th I had my 38 week appointment and I just knew that Disney Baby would be on his way out soon. That night I did my normal cardio latin dance work out, bounced on an exercise ball and then got like 45 minutes of sleep. In the middle of the night I fixed my hair, repacked my bag, did my make up and told my mom she needed to stay with Lucy so dad could take me to the hospital.Luckily we got there in time for me to get a small dose of antibiotics for my GBS. There was a big concern that I would labor too fast to get any. That would have been the case since my body tends towards breaking my water early on but this time it had to be broken by the nurse in labor and delivery when I was like 9 cm. God is awesome like that. So my labor was "longer" than expected...it lasted a whole 2 and a half hours :) The old school doctor who was on call refused to let me push from the position I wanted and made me do that flat on my back. Even though it was a quick 4 pushes to get him out I was screaming in agony. And my poor dad had to watch me go through it. I really can't imagine seeing my kid in that kind of pain. But he was awesome and never left my side during my natural birthing process. Tag came out with a head of thick dark brown hair. He was super alert and looking around and was very chatty! I couldn't get over how much babbling he did right off the bat! When I was on the phone calling the Red Cross to contact G.I. Joe my dad was holding Tag and said he kept looking for me when he heard my voice. We have had some issues with getting him interested in eating but he has had a couple weight checks and he is gaining thankfully. I never would have dreamed that less than 2 weeks later G.I. Joe would be heading home and I'd be facing raising a 3 year old, taking care of a newborn, and wounded husband. But our life is an occasion and with God's grace I will rise to it. I'm super tired and the stress is taking its toll on both the kids but we're closer than ever to being reunited with G.I. Joe. He had another surgery this morning and should be cleared to travel back to the states very soon. We can't wait to be a whole family again!Ironically this was a song I listened to a bit while in labor. I love it. It calms my heart when I stop and listen. width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/uSf0wVsp6rg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>[...]



The "Accident"

2012-02-22T20:27:21.337-05:00

Funny how someone shoots a rocket at soldiers and its called an "accident."Anyways. So many people have been asking me questions and everything has been just spinning around me since yesterday morning. I figured the best place to explain stuff would be here instead of in the world's longest facebook status update ;) Oh and I'm super tired/scattered right now so this post may be all over the place.Today my phone has been ringing off the hook! I never knew before what all happens when a soldier is injured enough that they have to come back to the states to recover. I've lost track of how many people I talked to today. And each time it hits me a little harder. They are all calling to "discuss your husband's accident and what to expect in the coming months." My heart skips a beat everytime the phone rings and they ask for the wife of _________. I did get more information today. Apparently very soon after that last email I got from G.I. Joe he was outside and a mortar was shot into their area. He was close to where it exploded and was, from what I can tell, the only one hurt. His jaw was broke, and he has some other wounds from shrapnel and stuff. He is still expected to make a full recovery and eventually go back to his normal job. But he likely won't be going back to where he was injured and will get to stay and recover/rehabilitate at home. Then new orders will come later on.I am so incredibly grateful that his injuries aren't worse. This has still been super scary though. I only get tidbits of info at a time. And honestly I had really made myself numb to the fact that something could happen to him. He came away from Iraq with scars but to have strangers calling every hour to discuss your "wounded warrior" just adds a level of emotion I never imagined. And today I found out that after a surgery yesterday he was awarded a Purple Heart. I don't mention it to be annoying/braggy (and you can bet it won't come up again) I say that because it scares the hell out of me. He is hurt. Something far worse could have easily happened. That's a lot to accept at all but being tired and having all the new-mommy hormones doesn't help. Ever since we got married and he shipped out right away for his first deployment we made each other promises. Its really silly but he always promised me "none of those medals." No Purple Hearts, I promise. Naturally I always knew that wasn't a promise that was his to keep. He is a rock star at his job but things can still happen. But that's one of those crazy little coping mechanisms that makes me feel better to hear. Now this bubble I was living in was shattered a bit. Everything just sort of seems surreal still. I never dreamed this deployment (wow first time I have said that out right on here but you all probably gathered that much) would come to a close like this for us but the Army and his unit have been taking excellent care of us! I can't say enough how great everyone has been.It seems crazy that we went through so much to get him transitioned and to get this MOS and be on this deployment then go through this. I wish I had all the answers as to why God brought us down this path. One day we will know the answer to that. Until then G.I. Joe and I will accept that for whatever reason God decided this should be part of our story. His plan is perfect and I do look forward to seeing what the coming months bring. I think I have posted this video here before but I wa[...]