January 30, 2011

Glimpse of Spring

Ahh, the weather was in the mid 60's this weekend; Yum! 
It was wonderful, and just what we all needed. 

The boys are getting over a little chest cold they picked up somewhere. They haven't been sick in over a year, so I'm always a bit taken a'back when sniffles hit our home. It seems so ... strange to me. I mean, I hear people complaining talking often about being sick, or their kids being sick, all.of.the.time, but because we rarely deal with it, I guess I just sort of forget that sickness is a real thing. Anyway, we headed out to enjoy a day in the sun, a picnic lunch, and a walk around the lake. 

*Disclaimer; Arizona or S. California are looking more and more appealing to us as we figure out where we'll go after the military. Sun, Sun, and more Sun please! 

Tatum ... making sure to make herself thoroughly muddy

we enjoyed a leisurely walk around the lake

i <3 flip-flop weather!

he was SO stuck in the muck! lol

big brother to the rescue!

he had to keep emerging from the lake to empty his boots of water

Sweet Morgan ... it was her first "swim"

nice expression ... he was playing with a hallowed out baby turtle shell

he proclaimed himself King of the Stump, and challenged us to over take him.
the other 4 (dogs included) quickly pounced!

Pretty Girl sporting her Packers gear! Go Pack Go!

soaking up as many rays as I can ... it's supposed to be rainy all next week.

casting his makeshift pole.
they found a lot of bobbers and string out there. lots of hooks, too, which they were very proud to remove from the lake so the fish and turtles wouldn't get hurt. <3

working on his stick pole

"lets see how far out we can go"
didn't make it too far before they had to come back and warm their toes.
the water was cold!

drawing in the surf

the sun, the beach, the family ... bliss

my pooches!

my loves ... minus larson, who is still over there ---->
working on his stick pole

strike a pose! totally loving shadow photography lately, lol

walking on the beach ... one of my favorite past times. 

We had a great day. Rejuvenation for the coming week. As I said, it's supposed to be rainy all week. Aside from that, though, we should also hear something about the appeal this coming week. Anxiously awaiting that, and obviously hoping it swings in our favor. Once that's done, there will really only be about 2 weeks left of military service before we're done. It'll be a busy coupla weeks.

Also thrown in there will be Owens surgery. It was supposed to be last wednesday, but I rescheduled because of the bout of sickness. It's now scheduled for this wednesday, but I think I'll push it out one more week. Make sure his body has finished fighting off infection, and is totally back to normal before he's put under anesthesia. 

Oooh, and lest we forget the SUPERBOWL!!! My PACK is IN! That will surely take up some of my time and energy... and voice! lol

Yes, a day of reconnection spent in the sun was just what we needed!

January 28, 2011

Funky Music Friday ... Look How Far We've Come

This song is by another local artist. Southern Rock is not my usual "go to" music, but seeing him perform live was great. He's got a very comforting aura about him, and he's super nice, too. Ooh, and the signed t-shirt I got from him is one of my favs, ;-)   The particular concert series we saw him at, Rhythm on the River, is hands down the one thing I'm going to miss most when we move.

While we're trudging through the muck, it's easy to lose sight of the journey. Stress and heartache weigh so heavily on the soul that it takes a great amount of strength to see past it ... to see the light that shines as well. Our therapist recommended putting our problems/issues on hold for a short while, so we could instead focus on our foundation. On our reasons for finding each other, falling in love, starting a family. Focus on regaining that connection. In doing that; I can "look back and see how far we've come", and that alone gives me the strength needed to keep fighting. We're worth it.

Look How Far We've Come ~Corey Crowder
We've seen better days unfolding
We've watched by the riverside
Went working on a heartfelt melody
Can't say that we never tried

And we rush, to find a simple way
And I find it only leads us to better days.
As I'm chasing dreams down to the dock sitting on a bay
Look back and say "look how far we've come"

Come close i've got a place to show ya
This place man is beautiful
Stop in at the local diner
We seem to be on a roll

And we rush, to find a simple way
And I find it only leads us to better days.
As I'm chasing dreams down to the dock sitting on a bay
Look back and say "look how far we've come"

Sit down I've got a word to give ya
Perpare this could take a while.
We're gonna be takin' over
This trip will be worth your while

And we rush, to find a simple way
And I find it only leads us to better days.
As I'm chasing dreams down to the dock sitting on a bay
Look back and say "look how far we've come"

Look back and say "look how far we've come"

Look back and say "look how far we've come"
Oooooh, how far we've come
Far we've come

January 21, 2011

Funky Music Friday ... Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Israel Kamakawiwo╩╗ole, or Brotha IZ as he was affectionately known, originally performed this song using the beautiful sound of the ukelele. When Jason Castro sang this song on American Idol it was a hit, and when he chose to perform it again for his top 10 or 8 or 6 (or whatever it was) performance, he preluded the song with a shout out to IZ, and he said something like...

"this version of the song is really magical.
it captures what the song is all about ...
hope and dreams,
and dreams coming true.
dreams do come true
I hope this inspires you to dream big".

I chose this song for a few reasons.
Most surface reason would be the start of a new American Idol season. Although, that's a bit of a cop out. Not really the reason I chose this song (I don't even watch the show, lol. I watched for maybe 2 seasons. The last being the season this song was played), it just sort of happens to line up perfectly, so I had to mention it.

No, the real reasons are ...
1. there's a great amount of turmoil going on in my family right now. Abandonment, again. No clue where he is, again. No word to the kids, again. This song is reminding me not to lose hope, not to stop dreaming, and not to stop striving for those dreams to come true. and ...
2. I love this version of the song so completely that it has been my cell phone ringtone for a year or two now. Once in a while I get the urge to find something new, a change, but nothing stacks up to this beautiful song. I wont let go of it. And I wont let go of the hope and dream that soon one of these calls will be from my husband...

Somewhere Over the Rainbow ~Jason Castro
somewhere over the rainbow
way up high
and the dreams that you dream of
once in a lullaby

somewhere over the rainbow
bluebirds fly
and the dreams that you dream of
dreams really do come true

some day I'll wish upon a star
and wake up where the clouds are far behind me
where troubles melt like lemon drops
high above the chimney tops
that's where you'll find me

somewhere over the rainbow
bluebirds fly
and the dream that you dare to
why oh why can't I?

one day I'll wish upon a star
wake up where the clouds are far behind me
where troubles melt like lemon drops
high above the chimney tops
that's where you'll find me

oh somewhere over the rainbow
bluebirds fly
and the dream that you dare to
why oh why can't I?

ooooooooh ...

January 19, 2011

word on the street is ur Retirement Findings r back ...

Yes they are!
I know you have all been dying to hear the news.
And the only thing I gave you is that they frustrated me, a lot.
Left you wondering.
I'm so mean! lol
So, without further adieu ...
Our retirement findings = 80% TDRL

Now, compensation/money wise, we couldn't have done better. Retirement pay peaks at 75% of your base pay. A higher military disability rating wouldn't get us any more money. I find that to be a crock for those earning a rating of 90 and 100 %, but whatev.

Where it gets sticky for us, and the parts that have me frustrated (there are a few)  it seems as though they are once again proving that they can do whatever the fuck they want, regardless of any sort of rules, regulations, guidelines, laws.

Both his TBI and his PTSD ratings were smaller then we anticipated based on what our lawyer calculated they would be when we had the thing reviewed before sending it up. Quite frankly, legally speaking, they are both lower then they should be.

His PTSD was rated at 50%, which is the % used for mild PTSD. 70% is what it is for moderate, and his records show him labeled as moderate. TBI they rated him at a tier 2 (40%), when his records indicate him to be a tier 3 (70%). It's frustrating as hell that they act above the law. Gaw! (really quick for you math whiz's out there, you may have just caught on to me saying he was rated a 50% for PTSD and a 40% for TBI, add those together and you already have 90% ... so where is this 80% coming from? It's a complicated little system they use to determine your overall disability rating. They start with the highest, and calculate the next highest % to that, take that number, and calculate the next, and so on and so on).

And the other frustration is that TDRL head scratcher I left you with up there!
His rating came back as temporary as opposed to permanent. Basically they are saying that his PTSD w/Depressive Disorder hasn't yet stabilized to a point where they can permanently rate him for it. So, in a year (Feb of 2012 to be exact), he'll be reevaluated to see if there is evidence that his condition has stabilized. If deemed stable, they'll either keep the rating the same, or lower it based on where his stabilization falls, and make it permanent. If they don't yet feel his condition is stable, they can extend the temporary status again, and again ... up to a total of 5 years! (generically speaking, if they feel enough progress has been made when they reevaluate, they can even pull you off of the temporary retirement status, and stick you back on active duty. But, that wont happen to Nick because of all of the other conditions he has that renders him unfit for duty. So, atleast we don't have to worry about THAT! Love the silver lining, lol.)

So why then does this bother me so much? You mean, aside from the fact that it means we are not yet DONE with the fucking military?! I'll tell you why. Because the reason they gave for his condition not yet being stable is complete and total BULLSHIT!

Going to go breathe for a moment, be right back...

Ok, better. My fingers where starting to move so fast, my mind whirling, the cuss words flying ... I am once again centered, lol.

He has been dealing with PTSD (with added depressive disorder coming a little bit later) for 7 1/2 almost 8 years now. Even based on their regulation, they can extend temporary status for up to 5 years before it HAS to be rated as stable and permanent. He's already exceeded that time line! But because of his thyroid cancer they are making the claim that they cannot accurately determine the severity of his PTSD/Depression because his thyroid levels are not yet under control. Never mind the fact that all the way up until the time at which he had the second half of his thyroid removed; his thyroid levels were spot on. The cancer itself didn't affect his thyroid function at all. Having the first surgery (only 1/2 of the thyroid removed) didn't affect his hormone levels AT ALL. After the second surgery, having the remaining bit of thyroid removed, his hormone levels took an immediate dive, and they have not yet been able to get them under control. Yet his PTSD/Depressive Disorder symptoms have remained the same as they have for years. I mean he has highs and lows, but no more / no less then he's had through-out. It's as stable as it's going to get.

It's just frustrating. The thought of dealing with the military for another year (or 5) is really messing with my psyche. Nick wont have any dealings with the military whatsoever in that year. No work. No checking in. No nothing until that reevaluation happens. But still, his medical health will still be all wrapped up in and controlled by the military. If he fucks up, or misses dr appts (which totally limits our travel ability, btw!), or they "feel" he is not adequately living a life conducive to getting better ... they can strip it all away! It's a hanging over the head, weight on the chest, always looking over your soldier kind of pressure that I am SO fucking OVER!

Nick has an appt with his lawyer on Friday (who is both out of state AND new. The lawyer he had been working with this whole time was suddenly relocated to Hawaii ... TODAY! Word came down mid week of last, and he left today. That is SO our luck! We felt comfortable and taken care of with him. This new one, who knows. Guess we'll see on monday) to go over all of this. With lab results of his thyroid function prior to, during, and after both surgeries, as well a statement from his therapist explaining that his ptsd/depression wasn't notably affected by hypothyroidism. We also have copies of the military regulation articles that clearly state the rating charts, and what Nick *should have been rated at. It's possible that the lawyer may be able to work directly with the people at the board for an informal appeal to just have the stuff changed (his old lawyer had direct contact with that Colonel. Not sure what connections the new lawyer will have). If not, we'll most likely be filing a formal appeal and sending our lawyer down to represent our case. We could go and present it all ourselves, but I think I'd rather send representation. Someone who knows the law and can fight it. Plus military bureaucracy at it's finest ... it's much easier to intimidate a soldier who really can't speak too candidly to a Colonel, then it is to intimidate a lawyer whose job it is to know the law ... and who can't be punished through the military for disrespecting the judgement of an officer.

So, this whole process will stretch out for a bit longer, again. Most likely an added 3-4 weeks total. Again, the % changes (if they give them to us) wont up our disability retirement pay, but the numbers will play into our va disability claim when we file it, so it's very important that they accurately reflect our case. Our va disability compensation is just as, if not more important then our retirement compensation. The ratings should be easily changed, so we have to fight it. And if there is a chance we can get this temporary rating bullshit taken care of ... well that's all I need to hear to have hope!

January 18, 2011

Charred Mess

I am broken
burnt to a crisp
it was your doing
pure negligence

I am a charred mess
splintered and split
my bones feel cold
so exposed

I am stripped of comfort
everything rummaged through
left standing alone
fuck you

I am barren and raw
though not completely gone
my foundation remains
holding my strength all along

I am standing; I breathe
from the ashes I rise
becoming stronger and wiser
my heart beats; I'm alive

this is not my house. 
found this beautiful wreck while driving through nearby neighborhoods in the middle of the night.
it matches my mood.

January 17, 2011

Relocate the Pain

It's Martin Luther Kind Jr Day, and I am internalizing.
Surprise, right?  Haa

I'm sitting here eating Earth Fare pita chips. No, my friends, they are not raw. Quite frankly, they are hurting my stomach. But I think that's the point. To relocate the pain. I'd rather deal with a stomach ache, a self-induced stomach ache, then face the pain of the truth. A truth so cold that I just can't bare putting words to it. As much as things are changing, they are also heartbreakingly staying the same.

So here I sit. Eating. Crying. Puking. It's all smoke and mirrors. Working to dilute myself; distract myself. It's not working. It's just making me sick; literally.

Instead, I'll refocus,
there is much more work to do in order to live in a world in which Dr King spoke of. That msg can be applied on a more simple platform as well ... single family by single family. Much work.

January 14, 2011

Funky Music Friday ... The Answer

Agghhhh ...
it's been a rough day!

Retirement findings came back today.
Some scientist is trying to tell me I am no longer a Sagittarius.

WTF ... on both accounts!!!

I can't muster an explanation about this song choice right now,
but it's in the lyrics.
Look beneath the literal religious surface,
and it's all right there...
my life.

The Answer ~Bad Religion
Long ago in a dusty village
Full of hunger, pain and strife,
A man came forth with a vision of truth,
And the way to a better life,
He was convinced he had the answer,
And he compelled people to follow along,
But the hunger never vanished,
And the man was banished,
And the village dried up and died,

At a time when wise men peered,
Through brass tubes toward the sky,
The heavens changed in predictable ways,
And one man was able to find,
That he had thought he found the answer,
And he was quick to write his revelation,
But as they were scrutinized
In his colleagues eyes,
He soon became a mockery,

Dont tell me about the answer,
cause then another one will come along soon,
I dont believe you have the answer,
Ive got ideas too,
But if youve got enough naivete,
And youve got conviction,
Then the answer is perfect for you

An urban sprawl sits choking on its discharge,
Overwhelmed by industry,
Searching for a modern day,
Savior from another place,
Inclined toward charity,
Everyones begging for an answer,
Without regard for validity,
The searching never ends,
It goes on and on and on for eternity

Dont tell me about the answer,
cause then another one will come along soon,
I dont believe you have the answer,
Ive got ideas too,
But if youve got enough naivete,
And youve got conviction,
Then the answer is perfect for you

January 13, 2011

Cast Free

our wonderful new friend, Mr Bernard, freeing Owens arm for the FINAL time!

after NINE long months of being casted
my boy is finally free
or rather 
his arm is free
free like the wind 
the sweet sweet wind 
that his right arm can actually feel now
it's a really cute arm
his bicep grew
carrying around all that extra weight
he's buff
surgery to remove the metal rod will be scheduled
in the next week or so
long enough to let the pit in my stomach grow
and grow
surgery sucks 
and then 
group hug
all together now

January 10, 2011

Snow Day 2011: Take One, and Two, and Three and Four ...

10 second self timers are the best, aren't they?
Wonder how much peace a wireless remote control would bring to my life? lol!
Though I do believe that would take all of the fun out of it ... 
I mean, what's the point if Mom isn't running back and forth like a crazy woman.
And this was actually a pretty quick session for us! Haa!
(had to rescue my camera from the freezing rain drops)
No telling how long it would have taken to get a shot of everyone looking (dog included), with no one falling over, or throwing snowballs, or pinning bunny ears on dad, or ... ) lol
But again, where's the fun in that? 

Winter Wonderland 2011

Word came down last night that tomorrow (today) all schools were canceled, businesses were closed, and Nick didn't have work. SNOW DAY!

Living in the South, they're not prepared in the least for snow, so they have to be overly cautious if they even think that wintry weather could be moving our way. Usually the snow misses us, and it's just a free day for kids and workers. This time, though ... we got hit! About 3 inches or so. Weeee!!!

The soft fluffy-ness didn't last very long before the freezing rain started hammering us; turning everything into ice. Not too mention the lightening and thunder storm that started up early in the process. I can't remember ever seeing lightening or hearing thunder while it snowed; and I'm from Wisconsin!!! But, with plastic bags wrapped around our socks, and cling wrap inside of our mittens, we braved the conditions. Oh... we sure did!

and we've just been told that Dad also has off tomorrow because of the weather!
(it is REALLY icy out there)

spying a glance over at the other teams camp

he shoots ... he scores

the best part about playing in the snow is the built in snack!!!

these rain boots kept the moisture out, but my toes were ice cubes

see owen's snowball heading straight for dad's arse?
now see his face ... he's quite proud, lol!

oh no ... everyone TAKE COVER

holy ninja attack ... they came out of nowhere!

nailed right in the lip by a flying ice sheet (aka ... owen's "frisbee")

it's difficult standing up after making a snow (*ice*) angel

aww, my sweet tater pie loves the snow

i don't know where owen gets it from, lol

ching (he doesn't like snow hats!)

quite strange how this photo doesn't look too "snowy" ...
the forest we were in was covered (except this particular tree, apparently)!

i love snow on trees

ahhh, icicles ... another delicious snack