Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wheels up...

No worries, no cares, no lesson plans, no TDYs, no agenda...
Brian and I are headed to our favorite "get-away" spot for a long weekend - Key West - just the two of us!  You will hear back from me at the end of the weekend or early next week with more stories and pictures.  Can't wait until we are wheels up...

Monday, April 26, 2010


Anyone who’s been through a military deployment knows that it brings with it many changes and emotions. There’s the sadness and apprehension of pre-deployment, the grieving period after the military member has left, the feeling of freedom at being able to accomplish things on your own and the excitement and butterflies of homecoming. While the primary focus of homecoming and reunion is the happiness and pure joy of the occasion, the fact that there is an adjustment period to follow can’t be ignored.
First and foremost, everyone involved must remember that each person has changed. Children have grown and are experiencing new things (Thomas is 3.5 inches taller, 95% potty trained and knows his letters, numbers 1-20 and can have a conversation with you AND Abby is not just a newborn... she has 3 teeth, is crawling EVERY where and is babbling up a storm); the deployed spouse has seen new people, places and things; and the spouse that stayed behind has developed a routine that works for them. Most of the time these changes aren’t drastic changes, they’re simply things like a change in dinner time, or shopping at a different store, or using a different brand of coffee.  Experts tell us that it is important for the returning military member to keep in mind that any changes that were made were done so with the family’s best interests in mind. Some of these changes may be ones they can learn to live with; others may need some compromise.

It’s equally important for the other spouse to remember that the military member has in their mind a picture of what the family was like when they left. In our specific case, Thomas was just beginning to potty train but also was in a "terrible twos" stage.  Abby, on the other hand, was only 3 weeks old and we had barely figured out her feeding schedule when it was time for Brian to leave.  It may be difficult for them to return to a house full of changes. Easing them back into things and not dumping every last change on them at one time can help with this.

Spouses should also keep the lines of communication open while renegotiating their roles. One spouse has had to handle most, if not all, household responsibilities during the deployment. The couple should discuss what roles each person will take on now that the military member is back home.  For us, that is one of the easier things to adjust to... I can't wait to hand back yardwork, handling all bills and money issues, fixing EVERY thing when it breaks, putting together EVERY thing when there is a new toy, Christmas tree responsibility, car/truck stuff and my least favorite... clipping Zigs nails.  What is harder to transition and adjust to is having a 2nd set of hands around but him not knowing the routine yet or Abby not fulling comfortable yet with Daddy.  I know that will smooth out in time, but it is something I'm having to remind myself of quite often.  I'll admit, I have lost my cool and come unglued (a little) but Brian and I just have to continue to work through it and we both know that our "normal" will be back sooner rather than later.

Children can have a wide array of emotions as well. They’re excited, yet anxious, and maybe a little scared. They want to see their parent Daddy, but they may not know what to expect.  At the same time, remind the military member that it may take the children a while to completely warm up to their parent. It’s nothing personal; it’s just their way of getting reacquainted.  For Thomas, the overall transition in both deployments has been relatively smooth.  I certainly credit that to all the pictures of Daddy & Thomas throughout his room, including Daddy into most conversations ("what does Daddy like most about...?") and Skyping each weekend between him & the kids.  What Thomas is adjusting to most though is that Daddy & Mommy handle situations differently & play differently (which is quite normal) but because he has been used to my way (and I'm certainly not saying mine is the best)... when "different" comes around it doesn't always go over well.  I think during those situations, it is really important for Brian & me to keep our communication open about how things are handled and to remember that we are a team.  For me... that is a challenge because it has just been me for the last 8 months (and really a majority of the time with TDYs and the previous deployment).  I have to let go and let Daddy handle things too.  But what I have noticed is Brian did a lot of watching the first week - how I handle "time-out" & discipline, how I handle meal time, how our morning routine in the middle of the week goes, etc.  Brian is really making a huge effort to fit into our routine... but I have to help our two munchkins and me adjust slightly to a new routine that now includes Daddy.  Compromise & Flexibility is definately key.

Everyone should remember to keep a positive attitude during the readjustment phase. Everyone’s been through a lot during the deployment and worked hard to make things function well. We are trying to take the time to enjoy each other’s company now that we are a family of four again, & rediscover one another (and even get to know one another like Daddy & Abby are doing).

Disney on Ice

And yet another weekend where Thomas gets to see some amazing show that has characters and/or animals he loves. Last weekend was the Dinosaur Exhibit and this past weekend it was Disney on Ice in Pensacola with good friends, the Brooks Family. There is nothing more heart warming than watching your little boy (or little girl) squeel with delight & happiness & surprise as they see their favorite characters from Disney movies right in front of them! Thomas & Chris getting ready to head inside for the show... Nikki was being silly and didn't want in on the kodak moment.  Abby got to spend some alone time with Nana all afternoon.

Marsha always has the inside scoop on upcoming events and she was able to land us FRONT ROW seats to this magical event (not to sound too Disney-like, right?). Unbelievable for Thomas for sure. As you can see by the following pictures, Daddy & Thomas were sharing a yummy treat (well... yummy is a bit of a stretch) of shaved ice and flavors in a very pricey Nemo cup as they sat inches from "the Ice."

Lots & Lots of Disney characters... including the Genie from Aladdin
Probably one of the most favorite parts of the show - Nemo (or the dad Marlin) and Dorie along with the big Shark!
I leave it to Brian to tell me that the costumes were not very "G" rated... I think he is referring to the placement of the fish eyes. Gheezzz, it is a family show Brian and the only people who noticed your same observation are all the men in the audience!
The other favorite part of the show was the "Toy Story" episode of the show... can you guess who is inside the present?
Thomas was on the edge of his seat the entire 2-hour show... especially when Buzz Lightyear came out of the present and sheriff Woody skated onto the Ice. I'm sorry there are no other pictures but I ended up taking a 5-minute video clip of that segment and Thomas' reaction... if it wasn't that long I would post it but that would probably get boring! I'll spare you...

Does he like the show?
A Chinese dragon as part of the Mulan episode
Heading out... all munchkins had their respective Disney cups but Nikki and Thomas were dragging big time! So much fun in just one day!

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Last weekend, we took a day trip over to Mobile, AL and visited the Gulf Coast Exploreum where the Dinosaur Exhibit & IMAX theater was. Thomas is a huge fan of dinosaurs so we knew this would be a hit!

See... Thomas wanted to make sure those dinosaurs stayed back because he has quite the Rrrrooooarrrr!
I have to admit - the exhibit was pretty good. Dinosaurs moved, made life-like noises and even had some baby dinos that just hatched.
Abby was just along for the ride... she didnt' really care about the exhibit... only cared about what we were doing.

She was perfectly content just cruising around and enjoying the sunshine!

After visiting the exhibit outside, we headed inside to see the other exhibits... all were kid friendly

Daddy and Thomas making bubbles together
Overall we had a great time and we had 2 little kiddos who were tuckered out at the end of the day! Worth every penny and every mile to drive there...

Fresh Spring Air

Sorry for the awful delay in blogging over the last week & routine is different at night now that Daddy is home and so please be patient as I have to find my "blogging groove" again. There are a ton of stories to tell and pictures to post since Daddy's homecoming last week... I promise to work on that this week. Meanwhile, this should please some of you... pictures of the kids playing outside last weekend and today in the fresh spring air. Enjoy!

Abby is on a roll... I don't mean that like the ball she is crawling after... I mean she is FAST! The girl may look like nothing, but at 8.5 months old, she is crawling everywhere, pulling herself up using anything (furniture, mommy, daddy, crib... you name it) and starting to eat a lot more table food. Oh how she is getting so big so fast!
Not a happy camper...
... who ends up having a mini-meltdown because he has realized that he has met his match with Daddy... "No nonsense, buttonpushing, instigating Daddy"

As usual, all smiles from Abbigail

Helping Abby get her walker back up on the sidewalk... what a sweetie pie!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Whole (again... finally!)

Deployment Complete - Heck Family is whole again! I'm not going to bore you with my commentary... just gonna let you in on how our morning went.

Heck Family - April 2010
But before the guys arrived home, lots of waiting and lots of emotions...

The 3 Amigos waiting and waiting and waiting for the RED HORSE daddies to arrive home...
... seconds after Thomas ran into the arms of Daddy.
I wanted to give the boys their space as they kissed and hugged and just had their moment.
A father-son hug

A very happy mom to have her son home

Finally... baby girl got to go to her Daddy...
Daddy & his two munchkins

Thomas telling Daddy what dinasaurs do...
Thomas didn't leave Brian's side ALL day long

Daddy and Abby

Emotions caught up with Thomas and it hit him that Daddy was really home!

One tuckered out little girl with all the HomeComing excitement!