L is for Laugh Like No One’s Listening

LWhen I was still living in Louisville, I looked forward to my bi-weekly yoga classes. The instructor was one of the best I’d ever had leading me through a yoga practice.

She was young and optimistic yet very spiritual and inspiring. She would begin each class telling us a story about her weekend and tie it back around to being balanced or living life with intention. Then she would lead us through a challenging practice that left me feeling drained and energized at the same time.

It was, as yoga should be, the perfect balance.

The universe, though, is tricky and likes to tip the scales a little every now and then just to make sure we’re paying attention. Such a nudge happened not long before I moved when I walked into class and found *gasp* a substitute.

I almost turned around and walked out, but I’m not normally afraid of change, so I decided to give her a try. The practice was fine–a good mix of vinyasa and warrior poses.

We were almost finished when the universe gave another nudge. I was ready to end the practice as usual with corpse pose when, instead of instructing us to lie down, the substitute told us to take a comfortable seat.

 “Let’s laugh,” she said.

The expressions on everyone’s face was a variation of, “Huh? What’d she just say?”

“Laughter is powerful,” she continued as if she hadn’t just lost everyone a second ago, “It calms us, makes us feel lighter, and restores our spirits.”

She instructed us to close our eyes and try a few, “Ha-ha’s”.  It was quiet except for her own chuckles.

“Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks,” she said. “Put a smile on your face, and laugh.”

Soon, I heard a faint giggle from the back corner, a gaffaw from somewhere to my right, and a full-on belly-laugh from the front. Within seconds the room was rumbling with laughter…deep, high, loud, soft, each laugh as different as each variation of crow pose.

What started as stilted turned to genuine, and after a full minute, the room was filled with roaring laughter. I’m sure the muscle heads in the weight room next door were complaining about the “slackers” in group exercise.

After another minute, the laughter died down, and as everyone regained their composure, I realized our sub was right. I did feel lighter and calmer and just as restored as if I’d spent the last two minutes in the ultimate relaxation pose…maybe even more so.
img_0223-2 Today, April 14, is International Moment of Laughter Day, so take a minute to laugh, even if you find nothing humorous about your circumstances, put a smile on your face, and laugh like no one’s listening.

You’ll feel better for it. I promise.

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K is for Kid Conspiracy

KCrossing the Young One’s room lately has been like walking through a mine field of dirty socks, crumpled t-shirts and discarded yoga pants. Her soccer jersey is in a pile by the closet door, and a towel hangs from the edge of a mirror.

The socks freak me out. I find them everywhere…on a dresser, under blankets, on a lamp shade, in toy boxes, tumbling off bookshelves, hanging from a towel hook in the bathroom.

I need to understand why this is happening and how to make it stop.

“What is going on with your socks…with all your clothes for that matter?” I asked, scooping up a stray fuzzy slipper sock from the corner of her nightstand. “Why are you not putting your dirty clothes in your hamper?”

“Well,” she said with all innocence and big eyes. “That’s what he said to do. It’s fun. Watch.”

sock

Sorry, Fuzzy Face.

She bent down, pulled a sock to the tip of her toe and gave a kick. I watched it arch across the room and land with a soft plop on the head of an American Girl doll.

“Who…is…he,” I said calmly, even though I was furiously thinking, “Once I find this kid, I’m going to beat him with a dirty soccer sock.”

“My brother,” she smiled.

“Your…who?” I stammered in my shock at her revelation.

“Myyyy…brrrooootherrrr,” she enunciated slowly, clearly thinking my hearing was fading.

“He did what!”

“Momma! Pay attention!” she snapped and then flung another sock through the air. This one landed on her pillow.

At that moment, that oldest child of mine was pretty lucky to be safely residing in Germany.

However, now that I think about it, his part in the state of total disarray in his sister’s bedroom makes perfect sense. His was never a particularly tidy room when he was growing up. I remember laundry days where his contribution to the dirty clothes was conspicuously slim.

Add to that a recent trip home, the loud thumps and laughter echoing from the second floor and a serious case of hero worship, and I have a true kid conspiracy on my hands.

Now that she was busted, I was able to adequately carry out a threat punishment that fit her crime.  For every night, I find dirty clothes in random locations no where near her hamper, she will be fined one dollar.  She may not get an allowance, but she does get birthday/Christmas/Tooth Fairy money. She saves it like a miser, so the thought of losing it just to watch footwear fly is daunting.

Now, how to deal with the Older One? He’s thousands of miles away bravely serving his country, so the punishment for this betrayal of household cleanliness can’t be too harsh.

I could call his commanding officer and explain the situation. No, that’s probably crossing a line.

I could call his girlfriend! No, she was probably in on the conspiracy too.

Hmmm…

I know!  I have recently become aware of an opportunity to procure several boxes of Girl Scout cookies that went unsold during his sister’s Brownie troop cookie booth sale last month. I’m going to hold the Thin Mints and Samoas hostage!

I’ll have an apology in no time.

J is for Jersey Numbers

JI don’t have just one lucky number. I have five: 48…64…55…57…16.

I can’t see the number 48 without thinking of my son. That was the number he wore on his back for seven football seasons. He first claimed that number at age seven when he started playing tackle football.

It was a magical season. Prior to that year, the team had the dubious honor of being labeled the worst team in the league—the team all the other teams figured as an automatic win. That season, however, saw a change in coaching staff which took the team to an undefeated season and a city championship.

Jersey 48

The cutest #48 ever.

He fell in love with football while wearing the number 48, and fought to keep it throughout his youth football career. To this day, I feel a jolt of excitement when I see 48 on a football player. It is quickly followed by a twinge of irritation because I know in my heart no other player is worthy of wearing that number.

I feel the same with 64—his jersey number in high school. I have my own team hoodie with the number displayed across its back. I wore it to every game. It’s been six years since he wore that number, but I still have the hoodie hanging in my closet. It brings a smile every time I see it.

Jersey 64

“Six and four is 10!”

Sixty-four was also the number that proved to me my youngest was a genius. She was three-years-old at the time, and while prepping her to find her brother on the field, I told her to look for number 64. “Sixty-four,” I explained simply, “is the numbers six and four put together.”

At the game, I quizzed her. “What’s six and four, honey?”

She waved her little pom-poms in the air and gave her biggest cheerleader yell… “TEN!” (See, she’s a genius!)

Next came 57, his jersey number for his first year of college football with the Army Black Knights. It was later changed to 55, then back to 57 and back to 55 again. These are good strong numbers, and I like to think they were fighting for the privilege of riding his shoulder pads.

The number 16 was added to the list a few weeks ago when the Young One played in her first competitive soccer tournament.  We had ordered her uniforms–more like a soccer wardrobe complete with two sets of game uniforms, training gear, warm ups and bag to carry it all–weeks before the tournament, but two days before the first game, we still didn’t have them. The backup plan was to borrow a jersey from another girl who was going to skip the tournament

As the newest girl on the team, the Young One had a strong desire to fit in with her teammates. Without a uniform and her very own number, though, that task (in her eight-year-old mind anyway) was utterly hopeless.

I checked my email every hour on the hour for a notification that the uniforms were ready. Game day arrived…still no uniform.  Ours was a late afternoon game, so we decided to make one last desperate run by the soccer store just in case they forgot to send me an email. We gave our name at the counter and waited…and waited…and waited.

Finally, the saleswoman came out of the storeroom, arms loaded with a plastic wrapped bundle. “Here you go,” she said. “We were just waiting on a pair of shorts to come in, but you can take what we have now.”

Jersey 16

The Big Jersey Number Reveal!

The Young One squealed and looked desperately through the plastic, but the number she was so desperate to see was buried under layers of cotton and Nike logos. I could tell she wanted to tear the package open right there in the store. Being the cool momma I am, I made her wait until we got home.

When we finally made it through the door, she tore off the plastic to reveal her personal magic number…16!

“I’m number 16! I’m number 16!” she chanted as she jumped up and down.

I have to agree with her enthusiasm.  Number 16 is pretty awesome. How could it not be? She’s going to wear it on her back for years, and she’s going to make it just as great as her brother made every number he wore. 

I is for Invisible Illness

II first became invisible when I was 12 years old.

My sixth grade class was reading The Invisible Man, and our teacher had a brilliant idea to turn the tale into a feature film–sort of. She borrowed a video camera from the AV department for the project, and then explained to us how she would film us as we read the different roles.

It was a low-budget production. We didn’t have costumes or an elaborate set. We didn’t even have to memorize our lines. We just had to hold the book in front of our faces and read.

Since acting skill was not a requirement to get an actual speaking part, my teacher decided the best way to assign “actors” to roles was to pull names from a hat. Everyone waited breathless to hear whose name would be pulled for the lead role.

When my name was read, I listened to the disappointed groans echoing through the classroom.  Everyone wanted the part, and no one was thrilled that I had gotten it, except for me.  A few people tried to barter with me and offered to trade their lesser parts for my starring role.

I promptly turned them all down. I knew what I had, and I wasn’t about to trade it for a “co-star” label. I was going to be invisible! How cool was that!

On the day of the filming, I stood behind the camera and read my lines. Invisibility, apparently, is very simple to achieve.

 

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Photo Source: Wyatt Wellman (CC by 2.0)

A decade later, I learned invisibility is neither cool nor simple. It’s lonely, confusing and frightening.

When I was 20, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, one of a set of conditions known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, which is characterized by chronic inflammation of all or part of the digestive tract. This inflammation results in severe diarrhea, pain, fatigue and weight loss. IBD can be debilitating and sometimes lead to life-threatening complications.

It is also often invisible. People suffering from invisible illnesses like IBD, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and arthritis look fine on the outside, but they live with chronic pain and fatigue. Some days I wish I looked as bad as I felt just so a decline of an invitation to happy hour wouldn’t be perceived as disinterest. If I looked sick maybe I wouldn’t feel guilty taking up a seat in the doctor’s office.

At my sickest, people often complimented me on my thin physique. “You’re so skinny,” they would say, or “You look great! What are you doing to lose weight?” I didn’t think telling them, “Eating makes me feel like I’m digesting glass,” was appropriate, so I just smiled politely and kept the secret to myself.

I once had a manager who was skeptical I had a disease at all. I felt like I was begging when I asked if I could call into a meeting because I was too exhausted to drive five hours to be there in person. He grudgingly agreed and then cut me from the agenda all together and took credit for my work. Another time, after emailing to say I would be working from home because I had to take a narcotic pain killer just to get out of bed, he called me and kept me on the phone for hours grilling me on the work he didn’t think I was doing. I actually felt vindicated the day I told him my doctor was recommending major abdominal surgery.

Invisibility is definitely not the glamorous life it was back in the sixth grade. I wonder if I could get any of my classmates to trade with me now?

 

H is for Honoring a Hero

HThe definition of a hero is a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities, and I have recently learned about a hero who is all those things…except the person part.

Earlier this week, Lucca, a bomb sniffing Marine canine was honored as a war hero when she received the PDSA Dickin Medal, an honor bestowed on animals who exhibit gallantry and bravery. The Dickin Medal is the animal equivalent of the British Victoria Cross, which is on par with the United States’ Medal of Honor.

During her 400 patrols searching for explosives and IEDs in Afghanistan and Iraq, Lucca was so successful that not one soldier from the U.S. or the UK was injured, except when Lucca herself lost a leg to an explosive device while on patrol in 2012. Her handlers credit her with saving the lives of hundreds of soldiers over her six years of service.

Heroes don’t have to be human; they just have to be brave.

Lucca is now retired and living happily in California with her first handler and trainer. Watch Lucca’s story here…

#WeekendCoffeeShare – 4/9/16

Coffee ShareIf we were having coffee, I’d tell you how my jaw hit the floor when I looked out the window this morning and saw snow on the ground. Then I’d ask you to check your calendar and verify I was on the correct month.

“Yep,” you’d say, “It’s April.”

“Great,” I’d grumble and walk to the fireplace to flip the switch and take the chill from the room. “I hope all those people who complained about 70 degree temperatures in December are happy.”

I’d head to the Keurig to brew you that strong dark roast stuff you like. I’d make a cup of Butter Toffee with Italian Sweet Cream creamer for me, and listen to you wonder how I can drink my coffee with all that stuff in it. Then I’d remind you that I didn’t realize the new-model Keurigs don’t make the coffee as hot as the older ones until you said something about it on your last trip home. Now I can’t drink a cup of it without nuking it in the microwave for 15 seconds first.

CoffeeIf we were having coffee, I’d tell you that as soon as you left for Germany Tuesday night, I thought of all the things I wish I’d done for you before you left. Everyone I know would have branded me a helicopter mom, but I wish I’d driven through five states to keep your car in my driveway during your deployment. I don’t have enough vacation time built up, and I’m not comfortable driving that far by myself, but I wish I’d done it.

Oh, and I also should have remembered to tell you to get an electrical converter.  You can’t just plug your gadgets in over there. The plug won’t fit. Too late now. Sorry ’bout that.

But you’ll be happy to know I baked your favorite cookies last night–chocolate peanut butter chip. I’ve also ordered packing material from the postal service and stopped by the grocery store to stock up on care package goodies. I got the PB&J supplies you asked for, plus quite a few things you didn’t ask for. I’m your momma, so I know what you like.

The A to Z Challenge is going good too.  Have you read A through H? My favorite was “E”. The most commented on was “B”, and the most read was “D”. (Probably because D was for “Deployment”, and I shared it with a bunch of Army moms.) “H” was freaking hard though! I wracked my brain for half the day trying to come up with a good “H” post, and then copped out with a video share. It was a heroically happy video, but it was horribly hard to find. (See what I did there?)

“I” is going to be challenging too. Got any good “I” ideas? Oops, I did it again. What can I say, you inspire me.

If we were having coffee, we would be at the end of our cups by now. You’d push your cup to the middle of the kitchen island where I’ll find it a few hours later and smile. I’d walk you to the door and remind you to “let me know if you need anything.”

Keeping with the ritual, you’d answer, “I will.”

Then you’d lean down, so I won’t have to reach so far. I’d wrap my arms around your broad shoulders and give a squeeze and a few pats.

With one last squeeze, I’d whisper, “I love you, my sweet boy. Stay safe, and hurry home.”

**This post is inspired by #WeekendCoffeeShare hosted by Part-Time Monster .

G is for Girl Drama

GI’m over the drama already, and my girl is only eight.  Actually, she’s almost nine, and really it’s other parents’ girls causing the drama. Still…I’m over it already.

I knew we would have drama as soon as the Hubs and I agreed to adopt a child of the female variety. Girls and drama go together like a sale at my favorite shoe store and the credit card bill that comes to the house a week later. Enjoying the first means you will inevitably have to deal with the second.

So, I expected drama to surround my girl at some point, but I didn’t expect it in the second grade or for it to be such a complicated and never-ending story.

When I sent the Young One to the her first day in her new school back in August, I sent her with a mission…make one friend…just one. We had moved to Ohio 10 days earlier, and she was still missing her friend posse, and I thought making at least one new friend would be a good first step in moving on.

She called me as soon as she got off the bus that first day, and I could hear the excitement bubbling through the telephone. “I did it!” she told me. “I made a new friend.”

“That’s great, Sweetheart! What’s her name?” I asked.

“I don’t know.” I guess I should have specified…make a new friend AND ask her name.

She came home the next day to tell me her new friend’s name was DramaGirl1 (Strange name, I know, but I like the keep it anonymous here.) and even bigger news…she had made a second new friend by the name of DramaGirl2. (I like to keep it original too.)

That scenario sets up the drama nicely because while DG1 and DG2 both want to be BFFs with my Young One, they have no desire to be BFFs or even just Fs with each other. Plus the monster that hides under both of their beds is green-eyed.

The after-school-call I received the week after winter break was tear-filled. “DG2 says she’s not my friend anymore,” she cried.

“Oh, no!” I replied, “What happened?”

“I told her DG1 was my friend too, and she said if I played with DG1 at recess then I couldn’t be her friend anymore!”

I empathized, and we spent the evening talking through different scenarios to let DG2 know she still wanted to be friends. The next day’s call went like this:

“DG2 and I are friends again, but now DG1 says I can’t be her friend anymore because I told her I was DG2’s friend too.”

*sigh*

BFF

You won’t have drama when your BFF is your momma!

That has been the after-school conversation most days for the last three months, just replacing DG1 with DG2. Fortunately, while she used to tell me the news with tears in her voice, now all I hear is resignation. She has come to the realization that these two girls’ moods change with the wind and that she is not responsible for their meanness or their jealousy. She is just caught in the middle.

I’ve contemplated calling their mothers and talking with them about the situation, but I realize this is too much of a helicopter mom maneuver for my liking. The girls need to work this out themselves or decide to go their separate ways. It’s life. We’ve all been there.

If I did make those calls, I could very likely find out that these girls have learned their jealous and possessive behavior from their mommas, just as my daughter is learning kindness and tolerance from me. I definitely don’t need my own grown-up girl drama at this stage in my life.

The end of the school year and hopefully the drama is only six weeks away. It can’t come soon enough for me. I’m hoping the summer will bring us a little bit of peace, and that the fall will bring us a new set of friends.

F is for Feeding My Furry Friend

FMy furry friend, Furry, was six months old when we found him in a shelter and gave him a forever home.

He was terrified to eat that first night, but when he finally gave in to the hunger, he didn’t stop. He chewed and ate everything…Milk Bones were his favorite, but he was never picky. He’d eat anything…rawhide bones, furniture, blankets, school projects, hot dogs left unattended, a dish of jelly beans, a bowl of green beans right off the Thanksgiving table, a bag of protein bars, a cupcake wrapper, a plate of Christmas cookies.

Furry eventually developed a weight problem.

He is a Manchester Terrier whose ideal weight is 20-25 pounds. When he weighed in at 47 pounds, the vet suggested we try low cal dog food. Coincidentally, that’s when he started stealing food off the table. Dieting is “ruff”.

Then Furry got sick with an autoimmune disease. His weight plummeted and ballooned depending on which medication he was taking. But last year, it started to drop again…and drop…and drop.

Today, he is 15 years old and weighs 17 pounds. I can see his ribs, and I lie awake at night worrying about him.

After one particularly long sleepless night, I scheduled an appointment with the vet. I was terrified of two things: 1) She would have me arrested on the spot based on his appearance alone. 2) She would tell me it was time to schedule euthanasia.

She did neither of those things. She just patted him on the back like she couldn’t feel his spine and told him he was handsome. I swear he stood up taller. He definitely wagged his tail.

She took him off to run some tests and brought him back a few minutes later, still going on about how good-looking he was. “Without doing any invasive testing,” she said, “I think he is fine. His teeth could be better, and he has cataracts, but overall, his biggest problem is he’s old.”

Old. My puppy–who loved long walks and who would run to the door so fast at the ring of the doorbell that he would skid across the hardwood floor–was old.

“At this point, Momma,” the vet said, “it’s all about quality of life. Let him do what he wants to do, and let him eat what he wants to eat. I wouldn’t recommend feeding him “people food”, but you could still cook for him if you want. Just keep it bland.”

Cook for Furry? Hmmm…

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“Mmm. Gimme a pumpkin peanut butter cookie.”

We started with scrambled eggs, which he ate in 10 seconds flat and looked for more. Encouraged, I browned some ground beef. He stood at my feet the entire time, watching through his cloudy eyes, then pranced (yes, pranced) to his bowl when his dinner was ready.

While he chowed down, I entered “dog food recipes” into the Pinterest search field and got lost in its magic for the next hour. I learned I could make my own dog food in a slow cooker, and that dogs can eat bananas, blueberries, pumpkin, rice and oatmeal. Turkey, chicken and beef are good. Pork is bad.

Since then, I’ve made Furry beef stew, chicken casserole, muttloaf (aka meatloaf), peanut butter banana oatmeal cookies and pupsicles.

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A comfy pup is a happy pup.

He’s loved every one of my new recipes…at least for a while. He enjoys each one for a few days, then eventually he sniffs it and refuses to eat again. My heart breaks a little bit, and I try a new recipe.

I know he probably doesn’t have much time left with us, but I’m doing everything I can to make sure he enjoys every last bit of it. These days his favorite activity is napping on the Young One’s beanbag wrapped in a blanket Santa brought him for Christmas. I carry him up and down the stairs, so he can be with us when we watch the latest “Walking Dead” episode, and I make sure he gets the sunny spot on the couch during the day.

I cook for Furry not because the vet said I should, but because he is one of my children and because I love him.

E is for Expectations Instead of Allowance

EThe Young One’s favorite hobby lately is staging mini-protests when an adult in the house reminds her to do her chores.

She rolls her eyes, slumps her shoulders and mumbles, “I have to do everything, and I don’t even get paid.” Sometimes this is accompanied by any combination of a scowl, a foot stomp and/or a long-suffering sigh.

I applaud her entrepreneurial spirit, her sense of what is fair and her core belief in capitalism. “If I work,” her slouch says, “I should get paid, and if I work more, I should get paid more.”

She would be 100% correct in that thinking if she was toiling in Corporate America, but she’s not.  She has the privilege of working at Chez Momma where we deal in expectations instead of allowance. The work schedule and task list is set by me, and I dole out the earnings for meeting those expectations in the form of rewards such as food, clothing and beds.

Everyone who works at Chez Momma has a skill set and appropriately assigned chores. The Hubs handles the taxes, the finances and the lawn. The MIL covers the laundry. I manage cooking, procurement, chauffeuring and general household administration. That leaves the Young One with a job-share for dish detail plus trash and dog-poop-pickup. (We outsource cleaning. No one has the available hours required for this task. We bring in extra manpower so the dust doesn’t get too thick.)

Chores

“I’m overworked and underpaid!”

Hers are not glamorous chores, I admit, but they need to be done (by someone other than me). I’ve tried to mentor her to look beyond these chores to something she really wants to do.

“Your goal,” I’ve counseled, “should be to excel at waste management, so one day you can be promoted to line cook.”

She just glares at me and grumbles about an empty piggy bank and a meager collection of Shopkins.

I’m standing strong, though. The expectations remain the same. Everybody works! Nobody gets an allowance! It’s a business model I believe in.

However, I won’t be surprised if I come home from my day job one night and find her standing in the front yard with a sign reading, “No pay. No poop pick-up.”

D is for Deployment Diversions and Making a Difference #atozchallenge

DMy first-born heads out for his first deployment today.

*sigh*

When he started his basic training at the United States Military Academy at West Point in the summer of 2011, I answered my friends’ concerned questions with, “Of course I worry about what’s going on in the world, but I’m proud he’s chosen to serve his country during a time of war. Plus, between school and military training, we have at least five years before he could possibly be sent somewhere. Surely we’ll bring our troops home by then.”

Now, that five-year mark has arrived. He’s graduated from West Point and completed his military training schools. He’s now a hard-working second lieutenant in the United States Army, which is still sending men and women to the Middle East on a regular basis. Add Islamic fundamentalists and unpredictable Russians to the mix, and the world could quite possibly be an even scarier place than it was back then.

The Older One tries to assuage my concern by telling me, “It’s just a training deployment, Momma. I’m only going to Germany.”

“Yes, my dear,” I respond patiently, “but the problem is, you say ‘Germany’, and I hear, ‘ISIS’.”

Such is the life of an Army Mom. I knew what I was signing up for when I encouraged him to play with GI Joe and fill out the West Point application. (Note: The first happened many years before the second.) As deployments go, I know six months in Europe is not the worst news an Army Mom (or any Military Mom) can hear.

I will be Army Strong. I will bake cookies and send care packages, and I will carry my phone with me every waking and non-waking moment until he comes home.

Which brings me to how I’m going to make a difference with a deployment diversion.

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Just one of many signs telling me to get a move on.

 

As many long-time readers know, I work for a company that is invested in my wellness. We have treadmill desks on every floor and signs on every wall encouraging us to move. We also have the 100 Day Dash—an annual challenge to walk as much as possible for 100 days straight.

The Dash kicked off yesterday with an added feature for the 2016 edition. The great minds behind the Dash have partnered with Charity Miles, a free iPhone and Android app that enables people to earn corporate sponsorships for charity while walking, running or biking. Just download the app, enable GPS and motion detection on your phone, select one of 30 charities and start moving. The sponsors of the app will donate up to $0.25 for each mile to the chosen charity.

It’s a great addition to an already fun program that lets me get fit, raise money for one of my favorite charities (The Crohn’s & Colits Foundation of America), and gives me a diversion for at least the first half of deployment.

My goal is to average at least 10,000 per day. It’s my goal any other day of the year too, but during the Dash, if I’m successful, I’ll be able to earn cool prizes like a shapeless t-shirt and a cute graphic to add to my email signature. Those are awesome for the moments when I just can’t help but brag about my physical prowess, but this year, meeting my goal also means I will have walked at least 500 miles, which equates to $125 for CCFA. That may not seem like a lot, but I’m optimistic enough to believe my $125 might mean my son’s children could one day have the cure I don’t have today.

The added bonus is that for this grand plan to work, I’ll have to carry my phone with me everywhere I go, which coincidentally, is rule number one in the Army Mom’s guide to surviving deployment. You can’t get a call from your soldier if you leave your phone on the kitchen counter when you go out to get the mail. I can’t log steps or earn donations if I do that either. Win. Win.

When the Dash is over in mid-July, I’ll be on the back side of deployment with only two more care packages to send and a homecoming to plan. Those diversions combined with lots of prayers and support from my Army Mom network will get me through deployment.

Please keep all of our soldiers in your thoughts and prayers. Their mommas will thank you for it.