I definitely feel like we are on the down hill slide to the end of this deployment. We only have the rest of November, part of February and the months in between. See, you can put a positive spin on ANYTHING:). I decided to share with you some of the ways Ben and I have tried to make this deployment a bit easier on the boys. Let me say that overall they are doing amazing. They are so loving, positive, outgoing and fun that at first glance you might not see how it does affect them. But then there is the increasing amount of nightmares, fear of the dark and occasionally a MAJOR melt down if I go somewhere. There is also the more obvious one like just plain crying for Daddy. The biggest issue right now is the fear of the dark. With Nati especially it has reached insanity levels at times. He won't go in his closet with me sitting literally 3 feet away from him during the day time hours, because it is dark. He won't go to the bathroom at all unless he can see him from the doorway. In the midst of the tears and terror I will hear snatches of "I miss Daddy", so I think this is a root cause. But overall they are doing well. They get to Skype with Daddy about once a week, which is something unheard of from our last deployments. We also get the occasional phone call. Ben has been GREAT at sending small gifts in the mail to all of us as well as letters and cards. Here is what we came up with at home.
First is the Countdown Chain.
My friend Alicia actually sent me this idea AND the supplies. Talk about a good friend. You write down fun ideas like "go to a new park", "make your favorite cookies", or "eat Ethiopian food" on a small piece of paper and then link all the papers together. I only did one per week that Ben was gone, but I think some people do one per day. Then every Friday morning during school we cut a chain off and get a surprise for us to do. We also count the chain and cheer at how short it is getting. Some of the biggest hits have been "slumber party in front of the TV" and "go to indoor trampoline place".
Second Kisses from Daddy
Third Leppard Snuggle Buddies.
Ok so this idea was all me:). I got the boys these stuffed leopards before Ben left. I just thought it was a cool idea as our last name is Leppard. Inside is a voice recording of Ben talking to each boy. I am going to take the T-shirts off this week and mail them to Ben so he can write a Christmas message. Again I was a bit challenged spatially when ordering them online and got the giant size instead of the small more kid size version.
Nati calls his Leppy.
Yared has started calling his "Daddy".
What about Mom you might be asking? Well I found this necklace on Etsy before Ben left. It is a painting done on top of a Hymn called "This is My Father's World". When Ben first deployed six months after we were married, I was so worried for his safety and stressed that something might happen while we were apart. Then one day I was at church and they sang this hymn. I have always loved it but the words just struck a cord with me. I remember clearly realizing that God is in control. This is His world and Ben is his and He will take care of Ben. This is not a guarantee that my husband will not die but rather that God knows what is best. I felt I could trust God to know what was best for us all. Here are the words from the last verse that mean so much to me.
This is my Father's world
O let me ne'er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father's world:
why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens sing!
God reigns: let the earth be glad!
These last three pictures are just something fun we did in school this week. We made these cute Turkey cookies. There are much more elaborate versions but we just threw ours together, took a picture and gobbled them up.