Friday, July 31, 2009

God, give me the greatness of heart to see the difference between duty and his love for me. Give me the understanding to know that when duty calls he must go. Give me a task to do each day to fill the time when he's away. When he's in a foreign land, keep him safe in your loving hands. When duty is in the field please protect him and be his shield. And Lord, when this deployment is so long please stay with me and make me strong. Amen.

So we're two weeks in...Chris has made it safely to his final destination in Iraq and seemed pleasantly suprised with his new surroundings. We've actually been able to make contact quite a bit between phone calls, instant messages, emails and even video chatting last night for the first time! Sophia finally got to see her Dada and did she light up! It was so nice to see him and I could see in his eyes how happy he was to see Sophia. Who wouldn't be!? She's such a ham! She showed Dad where her hair was, where her chin was, where her tongue was and it was so nice to see her actually understanding that Dada was interacting with her and responding to that through a computer! It really made my night and it was so good for Sophia's spirits. All day today she passed the computer saying 'Dada? Dada?'. How precious! Hopefully communication will stay this good because it will make the deployment so much more bearable.

Can I just say that Sophia's new playground is...THE BEACH! I used to take her there to walk when she was a tiny baby on Chris' first deployment. Sometimes we'd sit together for hours watching the waves. I stopped going as much when she was learning to walk but now that she's practically running, we've totally embraced being at the ocean! Althought it's not as relaxing as it used to be pre-baby...setting up my chair, slathering on some suncreen and enjoying a good is SO much more rewarding. Sophia absolutely loves the waves and couldn't have had more fun with her Auntie's with her! By the end of a week at the beach Sophia was running INTO the waves and covering herself head to toe in sand! I think it's great. We may not always live 5 minutes from the beach so we've got to enjoy it while it lasts and make the best of it!

I can't get over how much Sophia is communicating these days! More than ever I can see how badly she wants to communicate what she needs, instead of whining. The number of words and phrases that she can understand is really unbelievable! I love listening to her talk to herself in the mornings before I come in and get her. I love talking to her about every day things and hearing her adorable responses most of the time having to do with Dada. It floors me how quickly she has grown and excites me about our future together especially down the road with Dada being home!

Thursday, July 30, 2009 they ever get easier?

Well here I am. Sophia's gone down for the night and with a glass of wine in hand I'm thinking of what an amazing two weeks it has been with my sisters. I can't even begin to describe how much fun we had. Between shopping and cooking and going to the beach, these last two weeks have flown by and I can't believe it's over. As I was driving home from the airport this morning it really hit me how many people I've said goodbye to over the last couple of weeks. Thanks to my amazing mom, I came to realize that a sad goodbye is really a blessing and a testiment to the relationships you have built. That really put things in perspective for me and put a smile on my face. I put a lot of love into the relationships I have in my life and I wouldn't trade the emotion that brings for the world. I hope that Sophia will grow to realize that in this life that we lead it isn't about how much time we spend with our loved's about what we do with that time that really matters.
I want to dedicate some time to my sisters. Words can't express how grateful I am that you guys were there for me during a really sad time. You were always there to make me smile, take Sophia when you knew that Chris was on the phone and lend a helping hand on the every day household chores that needed to get done. What truly amazes me is how mature you both are for your age. You both can do anything you put your mind to and I am so honored to have you as my 'not so little' sisters! :) I love you both very very much.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

It hasn't been long since Chris left but my sisters, Sophia and I have been busy! Like I said earlier, it has been a great distraction having my sisters here but I also know the importance of keeping Sophia in her every day routine. I have noticed that her behavior has been a little different and I think that's from a combination of things. She has always been a stubborn little thing but in the past couple of days there have been a more tantrums and episodes where she kind of just pouts when she doesn't get her way. As my mom said, this is the age for all that but I also think that she's probably feeding off of my energy and notices that I'm a little different. I woke up this morning ready to start anew. I've given myself a couple of days to be sad and mopey and now it's time to make a conscious effort be strongER and not let the fact that I miss Chris affect the way that I act towards Sophia's tantrums. This is where acting as a single parent gets draining but as Chris and I talked before he left, we find it extremely important to show stability in the way we react to Sophia. For example, only raising the voice when something is extremely important or beneficial to her health/well being. That way we hope to instill in her patience and understanding not to sweat the small stuff! The girls have been amazing as well...I truly believe that they are so mature for their age. They are strong when they know that they have to take something away from Sophia and really don't take her screaming personally. I know that she already misses Chris...heck she misses him as soon as he leaves for work in the morning. We have a few random toy phones around the house and she's been calling dada ever since he left. One of her favorite things to do is find pictures of dada around the house and blow kisses to him. We said goodnight to dada last night with a recording that I made before he left and prayed for him as we said our goodnight prayers.

On a much lighter and happier note, Annie, Sophia and I went on a walk yesterday morning and saw a lady setting up for a yard sale. From accross the street I saw a Tiny Tikes toy kitchen complete with stainless steel appliances, a water dispenser on the fridge, a microwave, oven and even a bread box. The lady told me she was selling it for 25 bucks! Needless to say, I bought it and Sophia has been having a BLAST! As she starts to move more into her 'make believe stage' I think this toy kitchen will be perfect. I love that as she gets older, cooking and hanging out in the kitchen will be something that she does with me and this toy kitchen is the perfect way to start! I also can't wait until Chris and Sophia can play with it together as he seems to lose all sense of being a 'big tough marine' when he's playing with Sophia. I love it! :)
I've got another week and a half of hanging out with my sisters and not too long after they leave Amanda and Chris will be flying out to stay with me for a week! Before I know it, a month will have gone by and i'll be that much closer to having my best friend back.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Let the countdown begin!

The dreaded goodbye is OVER and the countdown has begun! I'm full of emotions but my sisters flew in on the 16th and were here waiting for me when Sophia and I came home. The whole 'goodbye' process is extremely long and emotionally draining. After about four hours of putzing around getting everyone's gear loaded and plans finalized, the buses arrived and it was time to say goodbye. I have to really didn't hit me until I heard his 1st Sgt. say it was time to load up on the buses. I watched him walk away in a sea of Marines, said a prayer, took a deep breath and hugged Sophia. I made it to the car without crying but cried the whole way home. I have a hard time putting into words everything that goes through my head. The hardest thing i've ever done in my life is say goodbye to Chris but I have the utmost confidence in his ability as a Marine and that makes the deployment process a little less scary. There's not much else left to say. We just get through it, day by day, setting a new routine but always remembering to include a little conversation about what a hero Daddy is. A flower delivery sure did brighten my day today (Saturday the 18th). Not only is Chris an American hero but he's also an amazing husband who managed to order flowers admist the packing and crazyness of leaving your home for eight months. Gotta love him! :) I know I do!
So my sister's visit clearly got off to an emotional start but I cannot tell you how blessed I am to have my best friends, my sisters, here to make me laugh through the tears. They have been absolutely amazing with Sophia and Sophia just adores them. I wouldn't trade this time with them for the world. I am truly truly blessed. I want to also say thank you for everyone's prayers and kind words the days before and after Chris left. I couldn't do it without you and I know that it means a lot to Chris too that everyone is looking out for Sophia and I. I love you all!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

We now know when exactly Chris will be leaving for Iraq...July 17th. I feel like i've been saying for the past couple of months that it'd be nice to have an actual date for his departure, something to count down to, but now that i've got one, I just wish I could stop counting. I know, I know, that's not possible so Chris and I have been very actively trying to make family memories for Sophia. On Thursday night, Chris' whole team and their families barbequed down by the beach. Sophia had SO much fun playing on the playground and sticking her toes in the water. Anything by the beach is always going to be fun but it was nice to be surrounded by people about to embark on the same thing. Chris is also deploying with one Iraqi interpretor or terp as he is known to the Marines. When the terp was first assigned to Chris' unit, to get to know everyone, he invited everyone to an Iraqi restaraunt here in San Diego. He treated us all to this amazing dinner with tons and tons of food. Amar has a daughter around the same age as Sophia and he says that Sophia reminds him a lot of her. It's cute...whenever Amar sees Sophia his face lights up and he begs her to let him hold her! He was so excited to see Sophia again at the barbeque and eventually she let him hold her hand while she went down the slide. Attached is a picture that the Colonel's wife took at the end of the night of all the guys that are deploying and their families!
This upcoming week we don't have too much planned. Chris has a lot of packing to do and of course lots of cuddle time with Miss Sophia. We went to Chuck-E-Cheese yesterday thinking that Sophia would have so much fun running around and getting into everything. What we realized was that she is a little too young for the good ol' Chuck-E-Cheese! We rode the horse for what seemed like hours and ate some pizza! By the time Chris comes back, Sophia will be at the age where things like that will be more fun. Right now she quite enjoys playing with Mom and Dad at home which is fine by me!
This week will go by way too fast but the quicker it comes the quicker we can get it over with! I hope that this finds everybody well and you all are enjoying your summer, wherever that might be!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sophia's almost one and a half!

My goodness! Has life been different with a toddler running around the house! My friend Molly told me that if you followed around a toddler all day and counted your steps...that you'd have moved more than a football player in training! I BELIEVE IT! Ask my Pops (Papa), Sophia could walk around the neighborhood ALL day long. She has so much energy which is not necassarily a bad thing because it keeps me busy...and healthy! :) She's such a good little eater too. I remember months ago when I gave her a bell pepper to munch on and Chris looked at me like I had three heads. My mom always told me to let her try lots of new things at an early age and it's really paid off. She loves to nibble on my salad and she'll eat any type of veggie or fruit over a cookie. I know right? I'm serious! She could eat blueberries by the carton! I think it's tough though because sometimes the easiest and least expensive thing to feed our little toddlers is not always the healthiest but by putting in a little more effort cutting up the fruits and veggies, you'll develop good eating habits! Although the days are long and exhausting, I think that this age is the best! Listening to her communicate more and more is the funniest thing. She can say a handful of words like belly button, and shoes and of course puppies. Chris has taught Sophia lots of different things like where her nose is (and the likes) and how to pet the puppies! I'm so anxious for her to say her first full sentence because I can see her frustration when she can't quite communicate what she needs (it turns into a whine.) I feel so blessed to have such an amazing mom as well who has been there for me whenever I needed advice! Even though we're 3000 miles away, we talk at least once a day and I ask her everything about parenting. Without her, i'd be lost. She's going to be a great help for me emotionally as well when Chris deploys. I do expect Sophia to regress a little during this deployment maybe change her sleeping habits or throw more tantrums but I hope that towards the end of the 8 months, we'll be conquering potty training and getting ready to adjust to moving to our next destination!

Life in the Marine Corps

It's frustrating really the few weeks before a deployment. Trying to prepare for the unknown is what gets to me. Chris is scheduled to deploy within the next 10 days. I have no idea what date. I have a vague idea of where he is going. I have absolutely no idea when he's coming back. Already having been through one deployment I've learned that to survive this life you've got to roll with the punches and focus on the fact that one day, he will be home. It's not me I worry about...heck, I got through the birth of my first child with Chris in Iraq, I can get through a simple 8 months right? What's hard is the fact that Sophia grows and changes every single day and Daddy won't be here to see that. Can you imagine not knowing if she's even going to remember you when you come back? He can't explain to her at this point why he's leaving and have her fully understand. It's tough but it's something that can't be changed. So, I wait...I wait for Chris to leave, I wait to get his first phone call, I wait to hear when he's coming home and I wait until finally he comes back. Thanks to everyone who has already been so supportive. I know that with my amazing family and friends, everything will run smoothly and before you know it, I'll be blogging that Chris is home!

To blog or not to blog?

I've been going back and forth for awhile on whether or not I should start a blog. I didn't know if people would actually be interested in reading it or if like me, people would sort of forget about checking it. Given that our family is headed into another deployment, I think that this blog is a great way for me to document a lot of the changes that Sophia and I go through while Chris is away. It will also be a great way for Chris to look back and feel like he's a part of our life here even though he's so far away.

I hope that everyone can share with me the joys of living with Sophia. Parenting isn't always easy but it is definately worth every minute!