Sunday, January 22, 2012

One Year Later......

Wow, did I just type one year later?! I cannot believe today is January 22, 2012. Today I sit in Maryland and I have a blog and am busier than I ever have been in my life! (It's a great kind of busy.) I cannot believe one year ago today our lives turned upside down with one step and then a phone call.

One year ago, I was doing just like I am now. I am sitting here catching up on computer work, except my work seems to mean a lot more. Last year I was answering emails and doing taxes. Now I am a blogger typing about the wars that we wounded warrior wives go through.

One year ago at this time (as I am typing this) Chaz would have been in the operating room in Kandahar. I was on another phone call trying to get more details. Deryn was on her way to dance and Ryann was watching cartoons on our couch. Now I am up typing away and the three of them are comfortably snoozing away. His guys were heading back to their base thinking they lost their friend and leader. Now they are home with their families thinking about where they were a year ago today.

One year ago, I almost lost the love of my life and the father of our beautiful girls. But he knew he had his three girls to get home to. He knew how much we needed him so he refused to give in. He laughed in the enemy's face and got back home to us.

One year ago, was a terribly, horrible day that now we will celebrate every year. We will celebrate the one step that changed our lives forever. Who would have ever thought one step could change so many things? One step, that's all it was. One step and Chaz set off an IED that would hurt way more than just his body. That one step made him fight for his life. That one step made us fight for our family. That one step made our marriage stronger than any steel in existence. I will be thankful for the one step my husband took that took us to our rawest parts and helped us see each other for who we are. Thanks to that step I am closer to my husband than ever before. Thanks to that step, he and I have been able to teach our girls the true meaning of resiliency.

One year ago today I began finding out who people really are. You see when a traumatic injury occurs it rips off the facades that people wear all the time. People don't have time to be fake, they can't keep up with the lies that they have been living. They are so stricken by grief that they let their guard down and they are completely exposed. God showed me who I can truly count on. Beginning one year ago today, God began to show me who needed to be in our lives. One by one, the ones we didn't need fell away. You see they weren't really my friends anyway. They couldn't get anything from me, because I was dealing with healing a family so they just dropped us. And then God began replacing (actually over replacing) those people with some of the most amazing people I have ever known.

One year ago today I had to examine our short term goals and throw some of them out the window. I wanted to be in law school right now, but God evidently thinks I should wait a little bit longer. We planned to build a house within the next 5 years, I guess God wanted to speed that up a little. Our long term goals are still the same. I am saving a lot more to make sure I account for the things Chaz may need down the road. I am embarrassed to admit that I haven't written out a monthly budget since January 15, 2011. Now I run our household finances like this. Do we need it? If the answer is no, then we don't get it. The girls have joined our saving campaign because they want complete control of their new rooms in the new house. Believe it or not our un-budgeting has worked out just fine. (Don't rat us out to Dave Ramsey or Suze Orman, they might be upset.) I'll get back to budgeting like a good girl one day soon!

Today we will thank God for January 22 and that one step. Beginning this year we will celebrate this day as if it was a holiday. We will rejoice for everything that has come from it. We will be thankful for the great and the horrible. Yes we are thankful for the horrible. It was the horrible that made the great even greater!

Today is Chaz's First Alive Day! I am so thankful to share this day with you! It will be another great day the Lord has made. It is another day we have together as a family. I made the executive decision that we will have an Alive week this week. Life is so beautiful and should be celebrated daily. But when you can look back and see how much we have overcome then you can understand why I plan to celebrate for a whole week!! I am overflowing with joy and am beyond blessed.

This year has been great because of you! If you are reading this then I hope you realize you also have been an important of this journey. You have supported us with your prayers and words and we are so thankful for you. No matter when you joined us on this journey, you have been a part of our healing and we thank you for it. We would not be where we are without all of the amazing support we have received. Thank you for helping us on our road to the new normal. I am so blessed to share this celebration of life with you and your family. This afternoon we'll be having some cake to celebrate our day and we will be giving thanks for you all then! God Bless each and every one of you and your families. We can never thank you enough for all of your support!!! Happy 1st Alive Day everyone!!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Playing Catch Up...

We returned to Maryland on Monday and we have spent this past week trying to play catch up on everything. It has been an exhausting week for all of us! Monday we said good-bye to our home in TN again. We just got here to MD and got settled back in to the apartment.

Tuesday Chaz and I jumped back in. He went to all of his appointments and I had 2-2 hour meetings that day. The girls went to Austin's Playroom, which is this amazing hourly care facility that is available to children of our wounded warriors of all branches here at Bethesda. I went to my first meeting while Chaz rolled around campus checking back in. Chaz and I met up for lunch and made some new friends. He found out Tuesday the family ski trip to Vail was a done deal, which was very exciting. After lunch Chaz grabbed the girls and went back to the apartment and I went to my other meeting. I got back, made dinner and we all crashed!

Wednesday we went to see Help Our Military Heroes award another van to another family. We love welcoming more families to our HOMH family. Then I took the girls to gymnastics while Chaz went to his computer class. We picked him up after his class and came back to the apartment. I was so beyond happy I put dinner in the crockpot that day. I did not have the energy to cook that evening, that's for sure.

Thursday Chaz spent his whole day at the hospital and the girls and I stayed home and got caught up on home school. Once Chaz got back from the hospital I went to go find some ski gear and hopefully not break the budget. I am pleased to report I found everything we need on clearance. It was really weird to see snow stuff on one aisle and bathing suits on the next. But I think I did really well for us. Chaz was even impressed! Last night we played catch up with some more of our friends. We had them over to enjoy some of my chicken parmesan and fettuccine alfredo. I love sharing great food with great people!

Today Chaz has already left for the hospital for another day of appointments. The girls and I are going to try to get next week's home school work done so we don't have to take it to Colorado with us. I am also going to hopefully get caught up of some other things myself today!

I have to admit I haven't been in the best mood this week. I think I left my heart in TN. This week I haven't left the apartment unless I had to. I really did have had a ton of things to do here, so it has kind of worked out. (Insider secret, I am also reading a really good book and I want to finish it asap.) Chaz said he wouldn't leave if he didn't have to. We are both so ready to move on with our lives, but we know we're not done here. Please don't worry, we're just in a little funk and it will pass as fast as it came. I am not one of those people who lives in denial. Instead I acknowledge the fact that not having control over our own lives really sucks. Seeing our friends here and catching up with them has made the funk go away little by little, but I think it one of those things that just needs to work it's way out. My friends keep telling me I have every right to be frustrated and pissed off. But looking back over the past year makes everything so much easier! Look at how far we have come! It is amazing!! I think it's just so hard when you can see the finish line, but you know you cannot run to it. No, in this situation you have to keep your eyes on the finish line, but walk very patiently to it. I'm sure you can understand my frustration. 

I am so beyond thankful we are going skiing next week. I really do not want to be at the hospital when we hit that 1 year mark. I am so thankful that Chaz's therapist recommended us for this trip. We need to be somewhere else celebrating our 1 year together. Chaz's 1 year is this Sunday, yes this Sunday, WOW. We are going to another friend's house to celebrate very low key style with pizza and cake. Chaz and I realized we'll only be at the hospital on Monday of next week and that is great!! Chaz and I just didn't want to be at the hospital for the 25th and 26th because that when all of our real adventures started. God listened and said here go have fun and giggle it up in Colorado. A ski trip to Colorado was on our family bucket list and this is the perfect time to cross it off that list.

God never ceases to amaze me. He knows I just want to rip the band aid off and be done with all of this. He knows I don't want to be here right now. He knows I want to take my little family back to TN and move on. He knows we don't want to be at that hospital next week. Look what he gave us. He gave us these amazing people who are blessing us with a few days of fun together and away from the hospital. Once again showing all great things come in God's time and He knows what he is doing. One thing is for sure I am so glad I love flying because I have been on enough planes to last a lifetime. There's no telling how many more flights are on our path for this year. There's no telling what else this year will bring. I still can't believe what 2011 brought. One thing is for sure I am so thankful God knows exactly when to drop those great blessings into our lives.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Another Adventure Goes Back on Pause...

Well our month in Tennessee ends tomorrow. Today I will be running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get everything done! I always wait until the last minute. The pressure helps me to think more clearly. I work way better under pressure that is for sure! I made all my phone calls, ran all of my errands and took care of my little tax business.  Now all that's left is to pack it and everyone all up and board a plane.

How do I feel?! Sad and excited, that's how! I haven't been away like this since college and to me this adventure is kind a like college, except we don't have near as many kegs as we did back then?! Hmm...something to work on?! Just kidding, Chaz and I are way past those adventures and the last thing we need is something else to help others get into trouble.

Obviously I am sad because we are leaving our home again. We get to go from almost 2,000 square feet back down to almost 1,000 square feet. That is an interesting adjustment to deal with. It's not too bad when it's just for a short term though. However for our unforeseeable future, our almost 2,000 square foot home will serve as our vacation home. Sounds nice huh?! I have all sorts of optimistic tricks for myself! Sometimes they work! My favorite is how I remind myself how much less I have to clean in MD. That one usually puts a big smile on my face. Then there's the fact that we have a grocery store with a Starbucks in it just behind our building. I love Starbucks, yum!!

We are all sad to leave our friends and community. Clarksville is a very nice city to live. We like it so much, we plan to stay. We plan to build a home here that will be suitable for Chaz. Speaking of the house, that's what makes me the saddest. I want to push an easy button and build that house for him today, but I can't. I told my friends the other night I am just so frustrated about it that I don't want to talk about it anymore. I am a people pleaser when it comes to my little family. I want the three of them to never have a bad day, but isn't that how every wife and mom feels. I know you cannot please everyone, it is impossible, but I know how to make my little family happy so I just focus on them.

Chaz has been through so much. I just want to make everything so easy for him. I have watched him go through enough pain. I can't take the pain away but I can help make the future for him easier. The van we have is awesome. He didn't want a van, but I convinced him it was a kick ass easy button for him and he thanked me for making him listen. He loves how the van is set up for him, but then I can drive it too. He has his freedom back thanks to that van, so he can go wherever he wants whenever he wants to go. We are eternally thankfully to Help Our Military Heroes for that. Now I want him to have a home that is set up on the same premise. Our doorways aren't wide enough. We have stairs. But the kitchen is his worst enemy. I just want to magically make it all work for him. I know it's not going to happen but a girl can dream, right?! I am frustrated because we can't make any moves on the house from Maryland, so once again, the house is on pause.

I keep telling myself we haven't rushed one thing on this journey, so we are not rushing this house. We did figure out what areas are viable options for us. So that was one big step forward. Now we have to find land within those spots. We met a builder that we really like. We are really looking forward to working with him. All I know is the house will all work out just like everything else has. But I will tell you building this house will be the true test to our marriage. Chaz is way OCD when it comes to things like this. I have to almost bite my tongue off about things. I remember buying the first two houses with him and how much fun that was (NOT), but we've never built. But the current deal on the table is I get all the say in the kitchen and he gets the rest of the house. So if I stay in my corner and he stays in his, we will still be married at the end. ;)

I am sad because we are watching our girls say good-bye again. I know it is so hard on them. We have asked so much from them and they just keep delivering. They have just been amazing. They never cease to make us proud. Of course we've had meltdowns, but wow they have been troopers. To me the children of wounded warriors are the ones who deserve all the praise. We put them through so much and they just roll with it. They are all little heroes to me!

I am sad because I just want to stay here and move on with our lives. I want to get back into Girl Scouts and dance and all the things I did before. I miss my friends too. I miss bunco nights and random lunches and shopping trips and all of those things. But I know before I know it, I'll have them all back.

So how to I fix all of this and take away all the sadness. I remind myself that this new day is another day in temporary, so let's make the most out of it! I look back at everything we have been blessed with! I think back to all of our adventures so far. I remind myself while the TN adventure goes back on pause, we'll hit play again before we know it! I keep reminding the girls that we are not done in DC, there are a ton of museums that we haven't been to yet. I remind them about their gymnastic and horse back riding lessons. I remind them that right now we have to finish healing Daddy. But there's still so much fun to be had in DC. I already have a few things lined up for them! I constantly look for things to get them excited about. Having things to do makes the time pass quickly. It's worked so far, so I'll continue on with that plan.

Chaz is excited to get back because he wants his running legs and he wants to get back on a bike! We are hoping his legs will be strong enough very soon so he can get running. The bike is not a problem we just have to make time in between appointments for him to get on it! To be honest, Chaz has had the easiest time adjusting to all the back and forth, but I guess that's from being a soldier for 13 years. He is our team leader for relocation.

For me I am excited to get back up there because of who God has put on my path. He has put the right people on our road to help make big changes. Not even 24 hours after we land, I have a meeting with one of these people. I am beyond excited! I am excited to know more smiles are coming to more families. I am excited that people who seem so far out of reach to others are sitting down at a table with me to make plans to make it better. I am excited to see the non-profits are getting into the hospital to help. I am excited about what they are doing for the families. I love being in the inside loop and being a small part of some huge things! I am beyond excited to show that when you come to the table with a plan (or in my case plans) that includes hope and optimism you can work together to make great things happen, even in a giant bureaucracy.

I continue to remind myself that God knows what He is doing and that it will all work out. I remind myself to keep stepping forward in faith and that our little family will be victorious. That is how I make the sadness go away! So tomorrow we hit pause on our TN adventures and go hit play on our DC/MD/VA adventures. And so the adventures of Team Allen continue......

Saturday, January 14, 2012


This week has been filled with friends, friends and more friends. It has been such a blast. The girls have been having sleepover after sleepover. They are each at one now and each have a friend coming over tonight! Chaz and I have been able to catch with many of our friends. I got to have a few lunches and coffees with different friends and then came my favorite night of all....bunco night!! I have definitely had my fill of eating away from home though. Those who know me know I do not like processed foods. It's actually a big source of humor between me and my friends. I am a home cooking girl! I get many jokes about me and my crock pot! ;)

We know how blessed we are to have so many wonderful people in our lives. But we love how we are constantly reminded again and again of that fact! We could not have made all this work without them. One of the best parts about coming home is seeing them all again and being reminded about how blessed we are. Of course the blog from last month is always brought up when our friends stop by for a check in. It's so funny to see our friends and how fired up they get about things. It shows me how much they love our family. The best part is the laughs we have had over it. But they all bring up the blog to make sure we are ok and that we realize those opinions are the opinions of a minority not majority. Our friends care about us so much, they want to make sure we are still on our path and that we haven't let anyone deter us. I think they'd band together for a witch hunt if someone actually messed with us. It is so awesome to know so many people have got our backs!

This journey has also been a lesson in defining what friends are. I am sad to say we have lost some friends along the way and perhaps we'll lose more (I really hope not). I always say God knows who needs to be there so you have to just let him lead them in and out of your circle. I watched people who I thought would be here by my side the whole time totally disappoint me and disappear. Chaz and I have come to realize some people just cannot handle that Chaz has been hurt. It is too much reality for them. Reality sucks, that is for sure. I know a lot of people don't see things they way Chaz and I do. We are so thankful he is alive, we're not wasting any more time on mourning for what we've lost. It is hard for some people to understand the only thing that has changed is that Chaz lost his legs. We are the exact same people. Chaz's injuries are hard enough to deal with we made our peace with the loss of his legs a long time ago and decided to move on. I truly understand some people just can't do that, but I think people get stuck in their tunnels and forget that things can always be worse. We are all humans and we all process things differently. We still love each and every one of our friends, but life has just put them on a different path now. Chaz and I know January 22 didn't just effect our little family. The ripples of what has happened to us can be seen all around us and I think some effects of this we'll never see. We can only hope there are more positive than negative ones.

One of my favorite comments was from my friend who said, "I cried for you. I know you are not a crier, which of course made me cry more." Then there's the story of my two friends who got in an argument over me and how I was handling it all at the beginning. Let's call them Sue and Ann, because those are the first names that popped into my head. Sue and Ann's kids attend the same school that our girls went to. Around February I get a call from Sue, she tells me she has to apologize because she thinks she spoke out of her bounds. I said ok, explain?! She tells me that she and Ann had seen me that morning. I told her I remembered that. She said after I left the school, Ann said "There's just no way she is dealing with this as well as she thinks she is and what does she have to smile about?!" Sue said, "I am not sure what the look was on my face, but I seriously wanted to hit her." Then Sue said, "I told here, "I guess that goes to show how well you actually know Jessica and what it's like to be an Army Infantry wife." Sue went on to say, "Our guys usually don't come back from that, that's why she's so happy." Sue then said she had to leave because she went to her car and cried. She said she was just so mad. Of course it didn't help at all Sue's husband was deployed at the time and that he does the same job as Chaz. She said she waited until she calmed down a little to call and tell me.

I think my favorite stories come when my friends call, text or email that they saw someone else in a Team Allen shirt. You can hear in their voices how excited and proud they are to see those shirts out places. It's always interesting to hear where they saw a shirt. I really like the stories where they go up and make a connection with the person about how they know us. These stories always fill my heart with joy. Chaz thinks it's just unbelievable. Every time he hears a story he says, "No way" or "Nuh-uh." The man is just too cute I tell you!

I am sad to say this is our last weekend in Tennessee for a while. We have some ideas of when we want to come back, but of course we have to go through the powers that be. I know I said before, but I'll say it again. This trip home was exactly what the doctor ordered. We are so blessed! It is so great to spend time with so many people who love and support our family. I am so thankful to have so many great people in our lives that just want us to get to that finish line and get back here. We have laughed about how if we just don't get on the plane how many different people could hide us from the Army. Then come the kidnapping threats. Yes we've had friends say they were going to kidnap us, just so we could stay here. I have to keep reminding my friends to look at how fast this year has gone by. We'll be done with all of this before we know it, we just have to keep pushing through. With our great support system in place we cannot fail that is for sure!

Friend-a-palooza has been so much fun! Chaz and I both were super tired two nights in a row from all the excitement, but it was a great kind of tired. You know it's the tired you get from having too much fun, they kind of tired you want. I can't wait to get back for another dose of friend-a-palooza.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lessons from waiting....

Yesterday was a very interesting day. I think God really wanted me to chill out, because I spent my entire day waiting everywhere I went. It turned out to be a great day, even if all I did was sit and wait everywhere I went!

I was trying to get to my doctor in Nashville and ended up spending an hour trying to drive 10 miles on I-24. So I took advantage of that time and called a friend to catch up with her. I have a rule "no phone use in the car." But I think when you can put your car in park on the Interstate then its alright to be talking on your phone. It was so nice to catch up with her and have an uninterrupted phone call. Yes I know that every friend that I have who has children is now thinking oh gees that would be nice even if you were stuck in your car. Wait I have a friend who drove to a parking lot once so she could talk to me uninterrupted! The things we Moms have to do?!

I made it to my doctor's appointment almost a full hour late. After talking to my friend I called the doctor's office to tell them I was stuck in traffic. They said it was not a problem and to just get there, so I did. But they were of course backed up because it turns out traffic was very bad yesterday, I was by far not the only person late yesterday. So this time I pulled out my new book and starting reading it. Once again it was awesome to just be alone and do something for me and not be interrupted.

I have been seen by the same doctor since 1997. You can say we have a little bit of relationship there. They were all so excited to see me and catch up for a bit. I have to say I am spoiled by them all. They are just wonderful there. I have no plans on ever finding a new doctor. That office makes it too easy. 

I got my prescriptions and decided I would pop on by my Mom and Step Dad's house for a second and say hi and see there new bathroom. Then I was off to Target to get my scripts filled. They told me when to return so I did a little multitasking and got the few groceries we needed. Once again it was nice to be alone and be able to think. I went back to get my scripts to find out the system was down and it would be about 2 hours before it was back up. So I took my scripts and headed back to home. Then I got stuck on Lebanon Rd due to a 4 car accident. See here in TN if there's a little bit of rain, sleet or snow people somehow forget how to drive. We had events like this happening all over Middle TN yesterday.

I finally made it home to find out all home school lessons were done for the day and everyone was happy to see me. Chaz and I had a chit-chat about my prescriptions. We decided I would run to Ft Campbell to have them filled so if necessary I could transfer them to Bethesda. I then drove out to post.

I got my number and realized I'd be there for a hot minute so out came the book I had started at the doctor's office. I was interrupted by a phone from one of my oldest and dearest friends. You know that friend that now since you are grown ups you don't get to talk that often, but when you do it seems like you just talked yesterday. That's who I talked to for 45 minutes yesterday while waiting on my scripts to be filled. Luckily not long after catching up with her my number was called and I got to go home.

First thing yesterday morning I put on a pot of beans so dinner was ready when I got home. I only had to make the cornbread. Yes we are simple country folks like that! Our neighbor happened to be over so we ended up having dinner together and got to catch up with her crew. After I cleaned up the kitchen I realized how tired I was, it hit me like a mack truck. I may have spent my whole day waiting, but it was exhausting.

So what did I learn from yesterday. First people in Middle Tennessee cannot drive in the rain, sleet or snow. God Bless them. (Wait I guess I didn't learn that, I just remembered it, oh well moving on.) Second if you have something to do while you are waiting, time passes much more quickly. Third, I miss being a girl and having long random phone calls with my friends. Fourth, I can leave my family for an extended period of time and things will still get done as long as I am clear on what needs to be done. Fifth, my life is slowly getting back to normal and yesterday reassured me that everything will be ok. I may have to wait a lot longer to get it there, but it will get there.

Most importantly, I was reminded that I have a great little family. I really missed my family and they missed me. I think I really learned how close we have become from all of this. Chaz and I realized it was the longest I had been away from them since we've all been together. All three of them couldn't wait for me to get back. I couldn't wait to get back to them. But on the flip side I think absence made our hearts grow fonder.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Looking at the Puzzle....

Yesterday the girls and I got to venture to the Dentist for our regular cleanings. We all three got great reports. No cavities, woot-woot!!! Our dentist is in Nashville so it allows me to get in my nice little drive. I love driving to Nashville. I have so many great memories there. I love all of Middle Tennessee. I am very proud to say I grew up in McMinnville, but Nashville calls me in to it so much. When I am there, I feel like I am back home.

I worked in Nashville for 7 years at H&R Block. So each day I had a great 45 minute to 1 1/2 hour commute each way. It all depended on my assignment that day. Block liked to send me all over the place. Some of my clearest thoughts have come from these long drives. It was on one of these drives I decided to start my own company. So many other great ideas came on one of those drives. I have been long over due for one of my long thought provoking drives.

Our youngest loves her puzzles. The first time she puts a new one together she likes witnesses. She got two new puzzles for Christmas. These were 150 piece puzzles. That's the next level for her and she was excited to put them together. Monday evening I happily sat beside her and watched her do her work and offered a little bit of help here and there. At one point I got up and went to the kitchen to get us both something to drink. When I came back I looked at her puzzle. She had built the frame that goes around the puzzle and then several little clusters with the intent of connecting them all at the end. I realized that is the same technique I would have used. Then I sat back and watched her finish it. Then we called Chaz over and he said we should glue it together since it was the first one of that level. Ryann disagreed and said no I want to do it again and again. So we let her pull it apart. When she started to take it apart it fell to the floor and broke more quickly. We picked it up and put it back in the box. She said, "That's the easy way to break a puzzle huh Mom." I agreed.

Yesterday I am driving and here come the deep thoughts. I realized January 21, 2011, I felt like a completed puzzle. Then on January 22, 2011, a phone call was what knocked the puzzle of me to the floor and I broke into pieces. I quickly picked up the pieces and tried to put them back together, but some didn't fit. Like Ryann's puzzle building skills, I had little clusters of the pieces of me scattered around the table and I hadn't attached them yet. With each phone call and every day that passed the pieces came closer together, but they where still in those unattached clusters sitting out there. Then I realized I focused on building the frame around the puzzle and then building the clusters and then let the clusters sit within the frame. Within those clusters you could still see me and the important components that comprise me. It was coming home to Tennessee and being in our home and talking to my friends and family that helped put those clusters back into place.

I began thinking why didn't those clusters just go back in and complete that puzzle? Well first some of my pieces were altered from that phone call and the events that followed. They weren't able to fit it like they did before. I had to wait until the edges were smoothed back out so I could make them fit again. The fall to the floor definitely messed with those edges a little bit.

The other problem was I was not focusing on me and my pieces. I was making sure Chaz and the girls were where they needed to be. If you look close enough you'll see my puzzle has their puzzles in it. They are some of my little clusters. I am not me without them. They were each their own little cluster that I had sitting in my puzzle frame I just needed to snap it all in and make the picture complete.  When my puzzle fell to the floor I realized I quickly rebuilt the frame that all the clusters connect to. Then I went to each of my clusters and focused on that cluster. I had the puzzle together I just didn't realize it. My puzzle frame was fine and the clusters were just sitting there waiting to be completed.

This trip home is beyond what the doctor ordered. We needed to come and focus on the four of us. We needed to talk about us, not the hospital or Army or other families, just our family. We needed a State of the Allen Family speech. I am pleased to report the State of the Allen Family is pretty kick ass. We have gotten so much done in 2011. We are claiming 2012 as our year. It's our year to move on and make the "new normal" our forever.

Chaz and I love helping others, but sometimes we forget about us. We are more than good and that's why we were helping others, but we still needed to connect all of those pieces of the puzzle. Then we needed to glue that puzzle in and put it in a display frame and proudly display that. 2012 will not be the end of the world, it is another year of great things. There's no telling what God has in store for us, but I know it will be great. Chaz and I choose to declare 2012 as another great year the Lord has given us and now we will use 2012 as our glue to hold our puzzle together permanently.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

First Post of 2012

What have we been up to?! Chaz and the girls are playing, playing, playing, him on his computer and the girls with all their friends. Me, well I am having a blast doing the things that I haven't had a chance to do in 2011.

I had a very long to do list to come home to in TN. I am proud to announce it is almost done! I didn't do anything when we first arrived because I just wanted to enjoy the holidays and my family in our home. I was just so thankful to be home in our home. But this week I am completing that list as fast as possible so I can truly enjoy the rest of our stay in home. Thanks to my friend Demetria's help, the girls' rooms are organized. I now don't have to keep shutting the doors so I don't have to look at the messes in there, every mom knows what I am talking about here. I told Demetria yesterday, that she has no idea how much she really helped. Thanks to her, I was able to get some other very important things done. We are so blessed to have her in our lives. I thank God everyday for her and for those tea parties when we were 4 years old!

I do thrive on organization. Yes I have a Type A personality. But I have not pulled out the label maker, oh man, if I had one.....hmmm...maybe I should go get one?! Sorry got a little side tracked. In three days, I have filled all three trash cans each week and it looks like I am continuing that trend this week. We pulled out 5 bags of donations from the girls' rooms. I shredded 3 bags of documents. I lost count on the bags of actual trash. I have one closet and one bathroom cabinet left and I am done. I am not touching the garage or Chaz's closet. Both of those will take forever. Like many other military personnel, Chaz has a closet that is just for his gear. I don't know what's what and I don't want him to deal with it. I want Chaz to just relax, relax, and relax here in TN. He is so busy in MD, he deserves a nice long break. To be flat out, I just don't feel like dealing with the garage. I can park our car in it and still walk around so we're good to go there. I did pitch a ton of things out when we first got home. His closet and the garage can wait until next time.

I have to say, it feels so incredibly great to have more of the little pieces of me back in my life. I gave so much of me away in 2011. I can't count how many times I looked at things and just said, "You'll just have to wait." So this week I am dealing with almost a year's worth of things that could just wait. All of this cleaning was way easier than I thought it would be. It's amazing what you can get rid of when you haven't used it and know you won't use it because you won't be home for a while. I can tell you 2011 taught me how to navigate through things very efficiently.

One thing is for sure, I am always humbled at how God works in your life if you just let your faith lead. Slowly I am getting all of the pieces of me back. Some of my pieces have been altered, that is for sure. Chaz and I think they were changed for the better. My skin is a little thicker and things don't hurt me as bad as they did before. I know now that words are sometimes just words. When people are hurting they say some really stupid stuff. When you hurt, you want others to hurt too so you feel better about you. I understand that, but I refuse to hurt others just because I am hurting. So I let God take those people back out of my life in his own time. To err is human, to forgive is Divine. To me forgiveness is so easy, it's the forgetting that is truly hard. As the days pass the forgetting comes a little easier. But fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. I have really learned that lesson this year. You can hurt me once, but I will not give you the opportunity to do it again that is for sure.

I am also able to think more clearly and more efficiently because I know what truly matters now. Small stuff is just small stuff and I don't let it bother me anymore. It's amazing how coming so close to losing someone you love so much can truly alter your view of everything else. I am not thankful Chaz had to go through what he has gone through, but I am so thankful for all the lessons we have learned from it. The lessons I have learned are so important and are incredibly important lessons to share with our girls.

Ok enough procrastinating, I have a closet and a cabinet to clean out!!