Today starts the last month K. is home full-time before he heads off for training. It’s part 1a because he’ll be home for Thanksgiving. Then starts 1b until he’s home for Christmas, and then Phase 2 starts up after that. Poor K. is just completely bogged down with all the admin stuff that has to happen before he and the other guys leave. The bureaucratic paper piles on his desk keeps him from sleeping well and generally I just want to put him out of his misery. Because he is full-time in the Guard, he works hard before, during, and after a deployment with little break. Vacation time is either not always a possibility, or because he is conscientious, he doesn’t always fully enjoy time off…unless he turns off his cell phone and buries it in the back yard so no one can find him. That aspect of his job–the before and after–are actually more stressful than the during. At least while he is overseas he physically cannot spend time with us. The Army is 24/7, so we expect the unexpected especially during this time. Sadly, there are no comfy chairs involved.
So far I don’t have the anxious feeling I did last time he was leaving for training, although I do have this urge to completely clean and organize the house much like when I was pregnant with R. I don’t remember wanting to nest last deployment, but I had just had a baby so we probably already got it out of our system. The nice thing about this time, should I decide to clean, is that I’m not hauling around a medicine ball on my midsection. Makes dusting out the back of cabinets easier. I don’t know if I’ll act on these cleanliness urges any time soon…even though I did get a lovely package of Clorox Wipes from my Aunt D. for our anniversary… but I suspect I’ll be doing plenty of that stuff after K. leaves and it’s not like I need to practice.
This nudge closer to the deployment is like watching the gears of a clock make a quarter turn. The shift in my brain moves that much closer to “On My Own” and I start to get antsy. Part of me just wants time to speed up so the deployment is done, another part starts making lists in overdrive because I’m a freak that way, and another part of me really just wants us to have fun and not think this way at all. Luckily, I can multi-task. I’ve got babysitter interviews this week so I can find my help now instead of while in crisis mode later. We are getting ready for our weekend away sans kids and pooches (thanks Mom & Dad!) to include our last big shopping spree (tattoos and ipods all around!) before the deployment budget kicks in and spending becomes passé so we can save money and do some big things (mostly upgrades on the house, but a family vacation to WDW too) when K. gets back. I’m looking into a great program that helps pay for activities for military kids while their parent is deployed so I need to gather up all the proper paperwork to make that happen. Lastly, I’m putting together a list of smaller projects around the house that need tending to (like painting back over the pillow sized patch in the front hall that Monkey peeled off thanks to a little scratch that started the whole mess). I don’t know how many of these projects will actually happen, but I’ll never be bored. And honestly, that’s a comfort to me.
We are also figuring out the best way for K. to see people before he heads out. He’s going to make a solo trip to our hometown to visit folks there, and we are figuring out how to manage the holidays so no relative is left unhugged. We lucked out this week and had a surprise visit with K.’s Aunt K. (my late father-in-law’s sister) and Uncle V. We had a nice dinner where the kids showed just how nutty they could be but still managed to squeak in some welcome adult conversation too. K.’s Dad’s family lives farther west than us, so it’s not always easy to visit (right Mike?). We are hoping that when K. gets back that we’ll get around to road tripping with the kids now that they are older but still young enough to not be sullen the whole time. There’s a small window there after all. We hadn’t seen Aunt K. in about 10 years and she had never met either of the rugrats, so it really was the best surprise and I am so glad they caught us between crazy schedules. They could not be nicer people and I’m tickled to have gotten to know them a little better.
So now I’m going to fill our family calendar with all the things we like to do: visiting the Farmer’s & Arts Markets before they end, going to pick apples a couple more times, pumpkin picking, Monkey’s birthday festivities, visiting with good friends, Halloween costume planning, and some movie watching. The cleaning will just have to wait.