Birthdays,  Travel

Life Is Beautiful

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It is of the small joys and little pleasures that the greatest of our days are built.
Mary Anne Radmacher

January and February have been very full months for our family. Full of ordinary days and ordinary moments. They have been fun and relaxing, but busy as well. Ordinary, busy, relaxing, and beautiful…

My husband has had a lot of leave (days off) since he got back from Afghanistan. The Army does this on purpose, to give the families a lot of time together for them to connect, reintegrate, and try to “make up for” the year apart. They also give the soldiers light days (no PT and home shortly after lunch) on the days that they are scheduled to work. This extra time is a big blessing, although at times a frustration. Don’t forget, we spent a year by ourselves doing our own thing – sometimes the extra time is almost too overwhelming as we wonder what to do with ourselves! Russ just this week went back to work for full days.

While my thoughts forward toward “reintegration” were ominous and full of anxiety, especially after how difficult RnR was, honestly, it hasn’t been all that bad! Perfect? nah…flawless? nope. We’ve fought, we’ve had frustrations, we’ve shed tears. But the word that comes most to mind is just…natural.

The first afternoon my husband was home, we got to talking and both said similar things: “It just feels so normal! It doesn’t seem like it’s that big of a deal that you are home. It’s just nice.” Homecoming was not tear-filled or highly emotional for either of us. It just felt right. Relaxed.

I may write a separate post explaining further some of the struggles that we have experienced, because I think that they could help others. But for now, the struggles have been minimal. For the most part, the year we spent apart seems like a bad dream that we have almost forgotten…far in the distant past. It’s like he was never gone. Life isn’t all roses and butterflies…but it is…beautiful.

As far as January and February happenings, here’s a little bit of what our little family has been up to!

Over block leave, we took a short weekend trip to my parents’ house in Illinois, for the express purpose of cashing in on some free and highly trustworthy babysitting! We booked a night at the hotel we stayed in four years ago on our wedding night, got a free upgrade to a “junior river suite” with a private balcony, whirpool bathtub, and gas fireplace (thanks to the “I just got back from Afghanistan” thing). It’s located on a beautiful river, but only 5 minutes from Grandma’s so makes for the PERFECT getaway spot! The plan was to head over on Sunday evening around 6PM, have dinner at 8PM, a night to ourselves, and then get back to my mom’s house pretty early in the morning. I had never been separated from Ezra for more than 6 hours, and we are still nursing, so I was a bit nervous about leaving him any longer than that.

Well, turns out my little stinker had other plans. He woke up at 3AM Sunday morning and REFUSED to go back to sleep. After two hours of Russ and I taking turns rocking and begging him to go to sleep, we gave up. I took Ezra downstairs to watch Baby Einstein while Russ got a little bit of sleep. We were both so exhausted and frustrated that we were falling asleep in church and just itching to get away to have time to ourselves as quickly as possible! As soon as Ezra fell asleep for his nap (around 2PM) we were OUTTA THERE!!!

We had a relaxing time doing pretty much nothing but watching Lost on our computer and cuddling on the couch. It was heavenly. We had a beautiful dinner, got to bed early, slept in until 9 (when I received an email from my mom saying that everything was fine and Ezra just went down for a nap.) Well, in that case…let’s stay a bit longer! We ended up hanging out for a few more hours and didn’t get back to the house until NOON! Which, if you were keeping track, was 22 HOURS away from the baby! And he was STILL ALIVE!!!!! Like I said…it was heavenly! Happy early anniversary to US!

The weather this winter has been unseasonably warm. One day it’s hoodie weather like this:

Then we got a teensy bit of snow:

Having warm weather is awesome, because both of my boys are extremely active and enjoy getting outside and having fun. At the end of January, it was so warm that we got to spend a day at the park, and then the next day we went to the zoo with friends. Makes for some amazing memories…and photos!

Funtopia collag

February brought on the first two out of the three “wifey holidays” that show up within three weeks (Valentine’s Day, my birthday, and our anniversary). Russ and I have decided that Valentine’s Day falls under the category of “mandatory romance” and therefore something we don’t enjoy very much. I mean, what good is it to do something for your spouse just because some date on the calendar says you should? Sure, it’s kinda like your anniversary, but at least YOU picked that date, not some card company! So, we don’t do much for each other. I bought myself some sparkling grape juice and snickers and made Russell his favorite dessert. BUT, all that “Valentine’s Day is stupid” talk aside, we enjoyed doing some fun things for Ezra! He is the TRUE celebration of our love! I found him a rocking chair for less than $20 at a consignment store, bought him a balloon, which deflated. Note to self: don’t leave helium balloons in the cold car for several hours, they won’t last! I also got him some second-hand new cars, some candy, and a heart-shaped bowl for his Valentine’s Day breakfast of bananas and Kix!!! He loved all of his presents, even the deflated balloon!

Now about my birthday: Russ came home from running errands with a new Keurig for me (BIG surprise!) the day after Valentine’s Day. That weekend my mother-in-law and her husband came to town – first time to see her soldier-boy in over a year!!! It was a short visit, but nice. We also cashed in on some more free-and-trustworthy babysitting to go on ANOTHER date to celebrate my birthday (or Valentine’s Day…or both…whatever)! We got dressed up, went to see the Vow. It was first time seeing a movie together since before Ezra was born! Then had a fancy-shmancy dinner. It was so nice to have some more time to ourselves. Then yesterday (the 24th), I made myself a wheat-free birthday cake which I decorated myself…and it turned out so delicious. Happy birthday to ME!!

After several months of searching and praying, we have begun attending a new church, and just became members there this past Sunday. The reasons behind the change we will not be going into here on my blog, but we are excited about getting involved in a new ministry and seeing how God can both change us and use us in the coming months. It’s so refreshing to get up on Sundays actually EXCITED to go to church as a family again. This Sunday we went in style…MATCHY-MATCHY!!

Our little family, our life–it really is beautiful. I think the best part of having my husband home is all the extra hugs, cuddles, and kisses that our whole family enjoys. How is Ezra dealing with all of this change? Well, I’ll let you be the judge of that…but I think you would never even know that his daddy was gone for over a year of his life!

He sure looks happy to me…

Like I said…life is beautiful…

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