Phone Calls and other jazz

Some things I’ve learned about phone calls while Jacob’s at Basic.

Before getting a phone call I would jolt down some things I needed to discuss with him. 15 minutes is a lot to cram a weeks worth of information.  Since you write stuff down you can really prioritize what matters the most.

Usually I talk first and let Jacob compose himself. Just normal things that are happening here and about Peter. After a minute or two he normally gives a rundown on things he wants to talk about. I’m there to listen, give support, laugh, and pray with him. Quick Peter moment (more noted below), and I say anything I need to say (prime example: We didn’t get our first paycheck and I needed go ask some quick down and dirty questions. We played “Which bills will be paid this month” and “Shall there be Christmas?”). We say our goodbyes before it’s time to hand up. In fact, we say our goodbyes a couple minutes before the phone call is supposed to end. It’s sucky harder to end a phone call with a “I gotta go, bye!”

Then the last moments we say one thing that this experience will help us do. We have to look at the fact that Jacob is doing this for a reason. We wouldn’t be able to last financially if he wasn’t doing this. Since we  live modestly (mostly) Jacob’s time away will pay off all the little bills that have been paid on little by little (my medical bills/dentist bills), we will be able to save money while he’s gone, we may be able to buy a ‘new to us’ car when he’s done. That would be great, because our one car will not last forever. There is a sacrifice that’s real and hard. Being able to pinpoint something that we are able to get from this experience good, some weeks are rough.

Remember, the phone call will be over in a blink. This is my time to be strong for Jacob. After the phone call, I usually cry (or feel like crying) for 20 minutes. The amount of time crying after a phone call has decreased each week.

We are halfway done.


Phone calls with kids:

Peter’s handling his Dad’s absence in a way I didn’t prepare for… He’s ignoring it. It’s been a blessing but sad. He doesn’t like talking about his Dad being gone, but I’m able to tell when he’s acting out because he’s sad or missing his Dad. When that point comes we talk about it. I still mention Jacob like I normally do, but I need to respect that this is the way that he’s handling it.

Peter has a Build-a-Bear (Tiny Daddy Bear =TDB) that’s great. When he’s missing his Dad he pushing on TDB’s  foot and hears Jacob say, “Daddy loves you Peter.” When he’s squeezing TDB and pushing the button over and over… It’s a rough day. Jacob recorded several video clips for Peter (and one for me!), and that’s when I pull it out. We watch Daddy reading books or singing songs or talking about “We don’t pick our nose.” Usually Peter will be able to tell me when he’s done with the videos and ready to play again. For Peter naps and bedtimes are the worst.
This also puts us in a unique position when it comes to phone calls. Peter didn’t want to do it. At all. The first time he was pooping and said, “I no talk, I ppppppooooping (with a grunt).” The second phone call he was sleeping and the third his cousins were here playing and he just couldn’t leave them to play.

While it makes Jacob sad, he understands. Peter will draw Daddy pictures or pray for him before bed. He just doesn’t want to talk to him on the phone.

On Christmas Peter did a quick “Merry Christmas Daddy,” before running away to play. On New Year’s day (a Sunday) Jacob got a 30 minute phone call and Peter said, “Happy New Year Daddy.” He then blabbed a couple words I didn’t understand and then said bye. It’s a slow process.

I have to prep Peter. Daddy may be calling tomorrow, today, this afternoon…. Is there anything you want to say? Can you say ::insert message:: OR I feel Daddy would be very happy if you were able to say “I love you” today.

It’s a slow process. Jacob takes what he’s given in the loving way it was meant. It’s not a lot for adults to say, but from our two year old it’s a great gift.

Frankly, I would rather go about it this way then to have a screaming crying inconsolable  toddler on a phone call.

Jacob has the opportunities to earn extra phone calls. Jacob’s so awesome that he’s had two extra oh shit where’s my phone phone calls and one extended phone call (besides Christmas).

Four more phone calls before we’re able to see, to hug, to hold, to laugh with him.

I can’t wait.



New Years

I know all around the world people are making resolutions and doing new things. I feel like I’m hoping that train.


This year, 2012, I’m going to do THREE things:

  1. Be kinder to myself.
  2. Practice positive self talk.
  3. When life overwhelms me, I’ll take a breath and continue on the path God as directed our family


It doesn’t seem like much, but that’s what I’m doing. 🙂

Today was Rough

…For me. Peter was great.

I cried over every little detail. I had to move the carseat from my mom’s car to our car. I realized while putting it in that I ALWAYS have trouble putting it our car and Jacob always finishes it for me. So this morning when the weather is cold, I’m struggling with the carseat while Peter screams in fun terror when the kitties come closer to him. He climbs inside the car (it’s a small two door), and promptly loses his balance and falls out backwards. Thankfully he fell on his bottom and he said it was scared and not hurt.

But I was traumatized. Seriously. So I’m struggling, Peter’s playing when the kittens, and I realize: This is my reality. While I know it’s not forever or even a full year. It’s a long time. I ended up putting the carseat on the side, instead of the middle. The side I can do fine, for some reason it’s the middle that screws me up.

It’s fine, Peter’s fine, and I’m crying.

I decide to go to Subway and treat myself to a healthy lunch. We go in and order without problems, Peter wants to stay and eat but we are going over to a friend’s house. Fine. He rolls with the punches. On the way out I see an old friend (this is my Hometown, after all). She asks how I’m doing and I smile and say, “Fine. Today has been tear free” pointing at Peter. She looks at me weird and I realized that she doesn’t know that Jacob left for Basic. I tell her and then she asks, “Oh. How are things going?” I BURST into tears. I hate crying in public. I stutter out, “I guess I can’t talk about it.” She nods and holding Peter’s hand I walk to the car.

(Also my glasses, which were on the last leg, broke. I’m squinty and have a vague headache from it.)

Earlier today Peter asked, “Where’s Daddy?” I was able to say, “Remember, Daddy got on the airplane and is learning how to fix the airplanes. He’s not going to be home for a long time, but he’s safe.” He nods his head, “Okay.”

And that’s it. It’s that simple for him today.

Sometimes I have to image myself laying in God’s hands (like a bed), I see Jesus as my blanket, the Holy Spirit giving me a breeze (warm or cool). I pretend the Blessed Mother is stroking my hair like my Momma does when I was little and sick. I just have to remember God knows what I’m going to go through. God opened this path for us to Trust in him to follow.

I’m following God today and it was hard. I offer up my suffering in union with the Suffering of Jesus on the Cross.


Jacob and I took Peter to Build-a-Bear (BaB) on November 11th. Not only was it Veteran’s Day, but it was also Jacob’s Birthday (will post later about them).

BaB was offering 20% off the whole purchase for Military families. We have been talking to Peter about Daddy being gone for a long time, and how it will be sad. We are trying to give him the words to use once Jacob’s gone NOW so that way it will be a little easier later. We talked about how he will miss Daddy and it’s okay to have sad days and lonely days.

::back to the bear::

We drove to BaB and Peter fell asleep (it’s an hour drive), he woke up when we got him out of the car. He was confused at first, even though we have talked about it. We ended up going to BaB, then leaving and letting him wake up, then going back. He had a great time when we came back, so I’m glad we gave him a little break to wake up!

It took a while to pick out a base bear. I wanted an adorable puppy! Jacob really like a bear. Peter sided with Daddy, so they won. 😉 We decided to add a sound. Jacob recorded a sound without Peter knowing and the super nice sales woman interacted really well with Peter, giving space when needed and joking around with Peter once he warmed up.

They asked if Peter wanted the sound in the hand or foot and Peter choose foot. Peter and Daddy helped fill up the Bear, we kissed the heart, and put it in the bear.

After that we took the bear over to the wash off section. Peter wasn’t thrilled with this process, but helped towards the end. We picked out the camo uniform, and dressed him in the dressing room.

I laughing said we should name the bear, “Tiny Daddy Bear” and it stuck. (I’m sure that’s something that will make me cry later down the road.) We got the birth certificate and paid for him. Peter loved the house Tiny Daddy Bear came in! We carried it around the mall for a while and then headed to the car.

When we were in the car we decided to have Jacob explain about the bear again. I actually took a video of that! I’m impressed with myself. It’s below, but I should warn you, ~It made me cry.

We also ate at Applebee’s! Peter didn’t want Tiny Daddy Bear to stay in the car, so he came in too!

Right after I put the camera away, Peter turned to Tiny Daddy Bear and asked him if he wanted anything to eat! It was too cute!

Quick family photo on the way out.

Build-a-Bear was a great time! I think we will be getting the Dress Blues before seeing Jacob at Basic Graduation!

I have to admit

Blogging is not a priority right now.

Jacob is leaving next month for basic. Time sees so fleeting right now. I’m really trying to focus my time and energy into my family.


Some updates for us:

Jacob has Drill this weekend.

We rode on Amtrak this past weekend! Peter loved it!

Peter trick or treated for the first time yesterday and really enjoyed it. He hid his face every time he sees something scary. He would duck his head into Jacob’s neck. How I wish I could just be carried and I could hid away from my fears like a two year old.

I’m going slowly on the weight loss, but I’m STILL losing, and that’s the point. I’m at 209.4 pounds today! That’s a loss of 9 pounds this month! I’ll take it! 207 is my 10% goal! Whoop-whoop! I’m going to make my family clap for me (because I need that feedback).

Peter is growing and pushing boundaries. It’s amazing to see how his brain works, but because of this growth… he’s seen a lot of time-out lately. In fact, he’s seen so much time-out that he put one of his Army Man in Time-out for shooting another Army Man (that was funny).

Peter can hop on one foot, multiple times. He’s two and a half! That’s some mad skills for him.

He’s really into cutting with scissors right now. So much so, we have to hid the scissors.

Today Peter was telling me a story while I was busy fixing lunch. I had to stop and give him my full attention when he told me to, “Look at me (pointed to his face) in the eyes.” Something that we say to him when we have something important to say. So funny, sweet, and serious.

Our dog is staying with a family friend until Jacob comes back. We said goodbye to him this past weekend. If he gets along really well with them, he may stay with them forever. We’re a little sad about it.

I’m going down to Topeka next week to stay with our BIL, SIL, and nephew. SIL is 38 weeks pregnant and I’m going to come down and clean and do whatever she wants for two days. This is also my last big break from Peter before Jacob leaves and is only the three time I’ve left him this long!

Peter is going to test out a back up daycare this week. We are just going to visit the first time, leave for an hour the second time, 4 hours the next time, and then full day after that. I’m hoping for a smooth transition.

Tomorrow is the next ICAN meeting. ::sigh:: I love ICAN, but hate it all at once. I love it’s a safe place to talk about Peter’s birth, I hate that it’s a monthly reminder of the c-section and it’s still really painful to me. Tomorrow is also a little nerve-racking because I’m going to verbally tell Peter’s birth story out loud… hopefully… if I don’t pass out first. ::weak smile::

We are buying our Christmas presents now. We want to have everything done before Jacob leaves December 7th. We will be celebrating St. Nicholas’ feast day this year (December 6th), instead of Santa Claus.

We are talking of holiday plans and letting family members know of our plans, so it’s not surprising when Jacob’s gone.

We are also discussing Jacob’s leave date. Who’s going to the airport, where we are going to say goodbye, how we are going to explain to Peter…

I’ve been crying a lot lately. A lot. I feel overly emotional about everything right now.

We got an iPod and I’m in LOVE. Seriously love this product.

Jacob and I are participating in a Bible Study about the new translations of the Mass. I’m really enjoying it! I’m also glad it’s only 5 weeks so Jacob and I could go together and have it finished before he leaves.



That’s some highlights about us for now. I’m hoping to have another photo post soon! We’ve been taking a lot of photos lately!


Leave Date

Jacob’s leaving for basic December 7th. We tentatively asked  for October (that way basic would be done and we could at least Skype on Christmas) or after the New Year, because Christmas is important.

What do we get, December 7th, with maybe a phone call for Christmas. Jacob will be graduating Basic February 3rd. Done with Tech School mid-August.

Very clearly I understand from Jacob’s family that they will be going to Jacob’s graduation too, and will want to be with him the whole time. AND frankly it bothers me. I don’t want to share my husband after not seeing him for almost 9 weeks. I don’t want Peter to have to share his father after missing and crying for him for almost 9 weeks. I also feel like I it would be different if he was coming home straight away, but he’s not. He has another training that lasts for 21 weeks. I think we need to soak up that time as a family. To let Peter have every opportunity to have Jacob’s EVERY attention. But I feel like I can’t tell them to come. And I won’t, their son/grandson/brother is graduating from basic, it’s a big deal for them too. Feeling like I’m going to have to share what little time we have with Jacob is almost too much to think about right now.

We got his leave date almost two weeks ago. I thought I was going to jump on here and excitedly write down how excited we were, but I’m feeling divided. I’m relieved we now have a leave date for Jacob, but sad that it will be over Christmas. I’m happy to be able to pay off bills, but almost nauseous thinking about parenting Peter alone for 10 months. With every happy/excited reaction I think of something I dread.

I’m trying hard to sort out my feelings. Feelings that I thought I would already know what I was going to feel. But here I am, raw and scared.

Yesterday I posted on facebook: is feeling unsettled today. I hate days where I can’t figure out my own feelings, let alone deal with Peter’s big feelings.

Today I woke up and was still feeling off balance, and I sat down to read a quick page in one of my religious books, “Daily Visitor” from 2002 (different things for different days with a mini-homily that matches up with today’s Mass readings).

The Psalm of the day, “Your right hand has saved me, O Lord.”

Mass readings: Acts 16:22-34/John 16:5-11

The Homily was Titled: Absence Means Growth

What it resonated deeply within me today was when you let someone go there’s a ministry called, ‘ministry of absence.’ In the absence of a beloved, we turn to God for help. We develop bonds with other people. We learn new coping skills, seek new ways of growth, do things we otherwise would not have attempted.

What God is giving me with Jacob leaving is a time to Grow, to Deeply depend on Him, and to be able to humble myself to say, “I need help.” I know I won’t be able to do it alone. I know I will have to ask for help and I know I can’t do with without Praying and believing that nothing comes to me without God’s knowledge, instead of being raw and scared I find myself hopeful of the great things God has planned for me for the next year.

Lord, let my ears be open to hear Your Directions. Let my eyes be open to Your Truth. Let my mouth only speak Your Praises. Let my hand only give loving touches. Amen. Alleluia.

Living with and Learning about Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia. Saying this term brings to mind the movies: A Beautiful Mind, Donnie Darko, and The Soloist.

I watched ‘A Beautiful Mind’ before my brother was committed and before he had major signs of Schizophrenia. When I watched the movie I felt uncomfortable and uneasy, but I never knew why. Until it was made clear later with JJ’s (WHAT”S THE WORD???).

‘Donnie Darko’ was a movie I loved. Throughout the whole thing. I just loved it. It’s super weird, but I still enjoyed it. One of my favorite songs came from that movie, Mad World.

I have to admit, watching ‘The Soloist’ was one of the hardest things I’ve done. I sobbed and sobbed through the movie. Thank goodness I watched it at home. Imaging what my brother’s reality is and how it’s different then mine is mind-boggling.

If you have a loved one with Schizophrenia, it will be different then my brother’s. There is a guideline that most schizophrenics follow, but they can obsess over different things.

My brother feels as though we had a trail without him and he’s in jail-time. He thinks that he did something and now he’s being held responsible for it. No one knows exactly what it is, but every so often at night he’ll get in your face about it.

I’m not going to lie. It’s scary. I will say JJ never does it when I’m with Peter or Jacob. He only does it to me when I’m alone.

For the most part he’s focused on food too. Putting something in his food, or taking something out of his food (or the nicotine in cigarettes or alcohol in booze). He thinks that my parents control whether or not he gets the nicotine or alcohol. He can go to a random gas station and buy cigarettes, but doesn’t think there is nicotine in them because my parents told them to withhold it from him. It seems unimaginable to me, but it’s his reality.


The first time he did this to me was New Year’s Eve, ’06. I had Jacob over and we were drinking. JJ also had some to drink. I was in the kitchen alone with him and he turned really angrily towards me and demands that I drink his shot. I said I couldn’t drink shots (they make me sick instantly). I think in his head, this conformed what he believed: I put my dog’s poop in his drink. He was drinking straight vodka, clear vodka. I tried to explain there was no way that I could put poop in his drink for a couple reasons: I would never do that, I didn’t think it was funny even as a bad joke, and if I did (which I didn’t) he would be able to see the poop particles floating in the glass.

It didn’t matter what I said, he believed it. Nothing I could do or say would change it. He still believes that to this day.

He once took a picture of the bathroom mirror that said, “Watch Your back” and said that I wrote it. I saw the picture and I was really deeply sadden. It wasn’t my handwriting, but his.

His medication did a good job from the outside. JJ didn’t like the feelings he felt while he was on it and at one time when off of them. After a couple weeks it was clear that he was off his meds. I read somewhere that it was typical for a Schizophrenic to go off their meds and be hospitalized at least three times.

The second time he was committed was bad. (I was already living in Topeka.) While he was in the hospital he had a chair thrown at him by another committed person. It cut his head in his hair so bad that he needed several stitches. They also said that if he went off this meds again they would get a court order to put him on a med that was a shot that lasted a longer period of time. The only problem was the side effects were way worse then the other medicine he was on. He was one of the rare people who had an extreme reaction to it. Part of his body he couldn’t control and he had bad ticks to go along with it (so bad he couldn’t talk). It was worse for the first couple days, but wore off little by little after that. I think that scared him (and all of the family) that he has been taking his meds everyday now.


My brother has a hard time going out in public, but is very lonely. He verbally attacks the people he feels safest around. Since moving back home and living with him we’ve learned that he has issues, even with his meds, during the evening and night. He can’t tolerate whispering at all, because he’s told my mom that he can’t tell the difference between us talking quietly and the voices in his head. If you have your back to him and he’s already having problems that day, he hears you talking about him, even though you never are.

My brother will make farting noises with his mouth when he’s starting to have issues. It’s an indication to us that we need to give him space and quiet. He has a hard time eating with the family and will either eat really fast and first or eat after the rest of the family is done. Thus making sure he can pick the food he eats. He’s told me numerous time (since we’ve moved down the past month) that he doesn’t want to eat the food I make because you can’t trust what I put in it.

I miss the conversations I had with my brother. I know I will probably never be able to talk freely with him again. It’s like that part of him is gone and will never return. I mourn our relationship and how I feel like I always have to measure every word and sound I make around him. He’s my brother, I see him now everyday, but can’t talk to him.

There are times when I can see in his eyes that he’s here, coherent, and like my old brother again. I relish those times. I stop with whatever I’m doing and I talk to him again. I connect and share things. Sometimes it lasts a couple minutes or sometimes it lasts for almost a whole day. I’m now able to see JJ’s face and tell if it’s a good time or not. He’s eyes have a flat mean look to them if it’s a bad time. When it’s a good time I’m almost able to see my brother again. I smile back and talk.

That is what keeps you going. The moments of clarity when you have your brother back.