Well, the new year is a time for looking ahead and setting goals, but I haven't really taken the time yet to look back at 2005. It was a very eventful year for us!
Christmas Day 2004 found us leaving California and turning our faces toward Texas and HOME! :D
January 2005, the kids and I stayed in Texas to get settled in and Kevin left for CHOBC (the Chaplain Officer Basic Course) in South Carolina. The next few months were a blur of getting situated in our new home and neighborhood, learning Army life and lingo, and homeschooling the boys while trying to keep Caitlin occupied as well.
Those months apart from Kevin actually drew us closer. We talked for hours on the phone (gotta love free mobile-to-mobile!) and wrote e-mails and chatted on IM to replace the time we would have spent together. Our 15th anniversary went by with us apart, but he didn't forget to send flowers. ;)
In April Kevin graduated with academic honors from CHOBC and we drove out to SC to see the graduation. We were so proud of him! I attended a spouse's seminar that was extremely valuable and made some new friends. During this time also, I signed up as a Mary Kay consultant.
In May I turned 35! My twin brother calls it "the back side of 30." Sounds lovely, doesn't it? ;) We passed the long, hot summer in Texas and had a few little excursions here and there. We met up with my mom and most of my siblings at the lake and had a great visit.
Sometime in there Kevin was promoted from Lieutenant to Captain. Yes, it's typical for Chaplains to get promoted that quickly due to their higher education being counted toward rank. Even so, we were proud and happy to pin on those double bars.
Kevin went to NTC (the National Training Center) in Barstow, CA with his battalion, in preparation of the deployment to Iraq, and earned some honors there including the Army Commendation Medal. Once again, he done us proud. :) While he was there, a lot of our friends from southern California got together in Barstow to visit with him, which was such a blessing to him.
In August the boys started private school rather than continuing homeschooling. It was quite an adjustment, but has been good for all of us...I have more time with Caitlin, she is speeding along in her Kindergarten homeschool curriculum, and the boys are making new friends and adjusting very well. They both have excellent, caring teachers, and we are so thanful. Plus, my friend Julie carpools with me, so the 30 minute drive to Temple doesn't seem quite so bad.
In November, my siblings all came to our house for an early Thanksgiving and family photo. My dad was in on this one and was so surprised when all the kids showed up, including our half-brother Chris! Karla was tickled to death too, I could tell! We really loved all being together, and our photos turned out really well. My youngest brother Neill, his wife Jess and their two kids came the farthest distance--from Kansas City, MO--and I was so glad they did. The next reunion will need to be near their house!
Our plans for Thanksgiving were to spend a week at the little house in Grand Chenier on Kevin's grandparents' property. Hurricane Rita changed all that. She hit with fury, and the little house was completely wiped away, along with many other houses in Cameron Parish. :( It was a sad blow for the family, but the grandparents' home in Lake Charles only sustained minor roof damage and fences and garden sheds blown down, so we were thankful for that!
So, our plans changed for Thanksgiving, and Kevin surprised us by booking a cabin in the TX Hill Country for several days. What a blessed time we had! We went to a couple of different state parks and hiked together, had a fire in the fireplace and s'mores every night, played board games and sat on the porch swing sipping hot cocoa. There was no TV, no cell phone coverage, nothing but peaceful time together. Rio Frio Lodging even gave us a nice discount, because the owners' daughter is serving in the Air Force and they have a heart for military families. So nice.
From there we went to Lake Charles and had Thanksgiving with Kevin's family. It was a really nice time--we got to see his sister, Shannon, and most of his cousins. The boys had a sleepover with Blake (Shannon's son) and one of the second cousins, and they had a fun time, eating pumpkin pie, watching Free Willie, and playing PlayStation all night long.
Arriving home, it was time to get serious about preparing for the deployment. Kevin packed, I shopped for things he needed, plus we sat down to discuss the budget and other important items. Kevin went to the JAG office to prepare a will. Some of the things we had to take care of were difficult, but so very important. The kind of things that you hope you never NEED to have, but if you do need them, it makes things so much easier if they are taken care of in advance. In the midst of it all we cherished and savored every moment we could grab.
We celebrated Christmas a couple of weeks early, and then he was gone. The kids and I traveled to celebrate Christmas with my dad, then on to the TX Panhandle to be with my mom, and back home again. Kevin called us from Maine, then Kuwait, then Baghdad, and finally the end destination of Taji. And here we are, January 2006!
In one short year we went from quiet Preacher's family to an Army family with a deployed soldier. We moved half-way across the country. We altered our educational choices. Through it all, God has watched over us and kept us safe, and we trust Him to keep us all safe in the coming year.
My hopes for this year:
Take more solitary time to develop spiritually
More "fun" time with the kids
More scrapbooking time, and to develop my skills in this area
Cherish my friendships
Encourage the other wives of the soldiers in Kevin's unit
For Kevin to thrive in his ministry and make a difference over there, and stay safe
Finally get myself organized!
There's lots behind us, and lots to look forward to! I want to drink it all in, the happy and the difficult. I want to hang on tight and ride the waves of life with my eyes wide open. I want to relish every moment and every breath! Knowing God is in control if it all, I want to trust Him, let go of my struggling and striving, put my hands in the air and just shout "Wheee!" What a ride!!