Deployment Gremlins

This post is going to be a secular one.  I realize some of my readers quite frankly don’t care about my spiritual life, and just want regular updates that I have forsaken the past 7 (+?) months.

So, instead, this post is just to give kind of a “how things are going” update in our household.

Every military family knows that when the service member leaves for deployment or Temporary Change of Stations (TDY), “whatever can go wrong, does go wrong.”  I overheard someone, years ago, refer to the “deployment gremlins.”  I thought it was a cute saying, that definitely summed up some of the struggles people go through while their other half is deployed.

I didn’t fully understand the term until this deployment!  And, let me tell you – there are gremlins!!!  They just lie in wait, ready for a small drop to drink after midnight…

So, here’s the list that I could create, of some of (not a complete list, by far) the gremlin strikes this deployment:

Soldier Boy left in July, not even a full 7 days after moving into our house and receiving our goods.  He had time to set up his office downstairs (really, he had time to arrange the boxes neatly, and put a lot of gear on the pre-made shelving in his “office”.  Oh, and he put up the beds!  That was also a big accomplishment.  The rest was left up to yours truly – honestly, it wasn’t that bad…

The weekend he left, we tried a new church.  The priest stopped the homily, and asked me to take Man Cub out of Mass.  Was Man Cub being an angel?  No!  Was he being quiet?  Not entirely.  In attempting to follow up with the priest, I was informed that because I was sitting at the front of the church, I could not see I was being a disruption to everybody else in the church.  Never mind the equally rambunctious 2 (maybe 3) year old sitting in front of us, technically being louder, having to leave.  Never mind that it was only me in our 3rd row pew, because my better half was sitting in TX ready to leave for Afghanistan, and apparently nobody else wanted to sit in the front pews.  That said, I was kicked out of Mass in the mid-80s, as a two year old; I like to think that Man Cub is most definitely my son – and that most mortifying experience definitely proved it – and Man Cub was kicked out before he was two!

The first weekend of August, Man Cub caught his first nasty VA viral bug.  The poor kid ended up dehydrated, because he wouldn’t drink anything, and he ended up in the hospital.  For the entire weekend.  Thankfully, we had fantastic friends willing, and able, to care for the dogs during the course of the time I was in the hospital with Man Cub.

September rolled around, and while there were 2 things I remember occurring, only one really was memorable – Man Cub ended up on iron supplements because his iron levels were low.  Now, I place some of that blame squarely on the shoulders of his pediatrician in August, when she didn’t clue me in to his lead levels declining, so his high calcium diet (which impedes the body’s ability to soak up iron) was no longer needed, post-hospital stay.  That said, by the time I found out about the iron levels in September, she was no longer his pediatrician anyway – for other reasons (to include a lack of bedside manner, and an insistence that Man Cub was “too skinny”).

End of September and into October, we had to have a refrigerator replaced.  Something was faulty, the thing kept leaking, and there was always a puddle to be stepped into on our kitchen floor.  Thankfully, our landlords were awesome about it!

I was informed in October that the iron supplements were not increasing Man Cub’s iron count, so to “make sure he doesn’t have it with calcium” (duh – figured that one out in my research of “low iron” the month previously), and “have him drink OJ with the supplement”.  Leave it to my child to decide at that particular month he was no longer a fan of, and would no longer drink, orange juice.  However, subsequent research from Dr. Google showed that watermelon is a high source of Vitamin C, and since Vitamin C is what helps the body to retain iron (confirmed this with the pediatrician’s nurse), so Man Cub was plied with watermelon and iron supplements (the iron was continued until December).

The end of the October, I stepped into a flood in the basement.  I alerted our landlords, who initially felt it was the dehumidifier, and after they had someone come out to help me clean the carpet/soak up the water, we all thought it was good to go, although I expressed some skepticism that it was the  dehumidifier – it was a lot of water.  Within two weeks, the water was back.  Thankfully, a friend’s husband (helping me on another matter of trying to locate the outside shut-off-valves for the outside pipes) was able to locate the source of the leak.  The water to the house had to be shut off for several days, before the technician could come out and repair the leak – thankfully, that inconvenience was minor, as it coincided to a quick weekend trip to PA for Man Cub and myself.

Given the refrigerator water issues, and the recurring leak, I agreed wholeheartedly when my landlord mused, “VA water just might not agree with you.”  It continued to build my case that I needed to head “home” to Hawaii.

I also had my first ever run-in with fleas, and while I got that all taken care of and situated, I also hired and then subsequently fired a “new” vet in the area.  Leading me to make a dental appointment for my dogs in December, with their old vet, 2.5 hours away.

So, water issues, and a little bit of dog issues, comprised November.

In December, I figured the gremlins would give me a month off, since Soldier Boy was coming home for Christmas.  Ha!  How mistaken I was…

The second week of December, Man Cub contracted the flu – while he didn’t throw up, he showed all other symptoms of the flu.  This was around the time that the CDC started to warn people that “the flu shot might not be as effective this year…”

As he was starting to feel better, that is when I came down with the flu.  I know what I had was the flu, even though I didn’t bother wasting any time trying to get tested – so, I am one of the thousands in this country that knows what I had was the flu, but can’t register as a statistic because I didn’t get tested.  But, I can attest to the CDC’s warnings – both Man Cub and I received our flu shot in the fall, and it did no good in the winter!

That said, the tail end of Man Cub’s flu began to show symptoms of a sinus infection – so, in the throws of the flu for me, I did drag him in to his doctor and his pediatrician was gracious enough to start him on medication – because “Dad” was coming home at the end of the week (the weekend before Christmas).  And, yes, I wore a mask in the doctor’s waiting room and office – and, I would like to know if they make any masks that are conducive to wearing glasses, so that the glasses don’t fog up?

Soldier Boy missed his initial flight home, so our reunion was pushed back a day – it gave me an extra day to recover, which was nice!

Soldier Boy got home on a Friday evening, and we enjoyed a lovely dinner out.  On Saturday, we were out running errands and I insisted I had to make Confession that evening, prior to Christmas Eve (4 days away from the Saturday).  It was my last chance at Confession before Christmas services.  We were on a stretch of road, for the sole purpose of driving to the Catholic church I have attended since our July debacle, when we were hit by a hit-and-run driver.  Thankfully, all the passengers (at least in our vehicle) were safe, but I wound up without my car until exactly one month, to the day, later.

Soldier Boy has, several times, (hopefully jokingly?) asked if we could send our portion of the repair bill to the Vatican.

January, Soldier Boy left again to begin the countdown to his return.  I battled with more car issues, after I picked up my car.  So, I consider December’s gremlins to be the flu and the car being hit; I consider January’s gremlins to be fighting to make sure my car is in pristine order, post-hit.

Honestly, as a whole, January was easy going.  Perhaps the slowest month.  However, it was also the coldest, and I don’t think I left my house too frequently.

February started off right!  Although frigid outside, it was a slow month…  or, so I thought.

It is now the end of February, and I have determined that this month’s gremlin is dental work.  I chipped my front tooth – well, the filling came off – while biting into a raw noodle.  Yes.  A raw noodle.  Needless to say, that necessitated a trip to the dentist, where I am now looking at extra dental work being needed in the beginning of March.

I have no doubt March will bring more “fun” because Man Cub will have his 30 month check-up, while will mean more blood work, which will probably mean more supplements.  No – I don’t sound bitter, do I?!

So, if people have been wondering why I have been off the grid since we moved, it is because I am staying super busy!

I am helping facilitate a church women’s group, and in December, agreed to help lead a group dedicated to providing support for family members whose specific military occupational specialty (MOS) designation is the same as Soldier Boy’s.

For the sake of sleep during this deployment, I became a mother who allows her toddler to co-sleep with her, and am now considered an “extended nursing mother”.  Man Cub’s regressions from the move were in the areas of sleep and nursing.  While he is back down to 2 (maybe a third time of nursing in the middle of the night) times a day nursing, which is where he was in Hawaii before we moved, he still has difficulty sleeping through the night.  Before I began letting him sleep in my bed, I was having to traipse into his room 3-5 times a night, to soothe him, to help him fall asleep, to then creep out of his bedroom again.  For the love of all minor things such as energy, it behooved me to just let him come sleep in my bed…  He is now, typically only waking up to snuggle into my side – just checking to ensure I am there with him.  Man Cub’s waking only once only really began, when Soldier Boy was home over Christmas.

Man Cub is outrageous, in a good way!  I think I can count the number of tantrums he has had, as a two year old, on two hands – and, they are typically over “want Daddy back,” or, “see Daddy.”  His ability to adapt to ever-changing scenarios absolutely blows my mind – I am in awe of my two and a half year old.  His vocabulary is growing every day – his newest words are “pup-take” (cupcake) and “pop-torn” (popcorn).  He has a fascination with letters, and his newest favorite television show (yes, my child gets to watch television) is “Super Why!”

I hired a local Girl Scout troop, trying to earn money for a trip to Puerto Rico, to watch Man Cub for me a couple days a week – they come, usually while I am at home, and play with him while I do things around the house.  It started out as a way to exercise, then morphed into a time to pray uninterrupted, and is now a time for me to vacuum, do dishes, or have a nap or shower without little hands wanting to “help”.  Those girls have been absolutely invaluable to making this deployment a success.  My friends that have invited us to dinner, or watched Man Cub for doctor’s appointments, or just been willing to be a shoulder to lean on have also been a Godsend.

I am still ready to pack up and head home to Hawaii.  I would not shed a tear if that were the next assignment.  I am chomping at that bit!  That said, we are here another year, at least.  Thankfully, this next year, I suspect the deployment gremlins will be non-existent, just because Soldier Boy will be home.

However, I still have a some more months to go, and am curiously awaiting (although not with baited breath) the next big set of “Deployment Gremlin” strikes!

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