Category Archives: Military Life

A “Ho-Hum” Kind of Day

Today is kind of a “ho-hum” day.  Those are the best days to write blog posts, right?!  I need to write.  Somehow that just makes me feel better.  We, in my family, are really struggling financially.  I know that the Lord will come through for us.  He always does.  I just don’t know how.  And, I have to admit, I am afraid.  I can say all I want, that I don’t care what people think of us, but let’s be honest, everyone does to some extent.  

We are really broke right now.  In fact, we are so broke that we are applying for food stamps and had to appeal to the powers that be at CitiMortgage in hopes that we can catch a break on our mortgage.  No, I’m not talking about a refinance.  I mean, I hope we don’t lose our house before things start to look a little better.  The very idea makes me want to sob.  The trite answer to that would be, well, God must just have something better.  But, then there are those that would look at the situation and say that Derick and I are simply not doing enough.  We are not working hard enough to earn the money that is needed to stay in our house.  In fact, in all appearances we are actually goofing off when we should be working.  After all, I don’t have a steady job at all and of all things for Derick to do, he is playing baseball while he is in college, instead of supporting his family.  

I would really like to solicit the great wisdom of one or more of the older and wiser women at church.  But, I am afraid of getting in trouble, of being told that we are in the wrong.  I’m afraid of being scolded, instead of someone coming along side me and working with me where I am and encouraging me to keep going.  It is my greatest desire to be a supportive wife.  My greatest desire, above everything else on this earth!  I know that I don’t always do a very good job, sounding more like a dripping faucet rather that the head cheerleader.  So, when my full-time, college-student husband comes to me and says he wants to try out for the college baseball team, what should my response be?  When he comes to me a week later and announces that he actually made the team, what should my response be, as a supportive wife?  My response was that I am not the head of the house and it is not my decision to make.  If he wants to play, and our family can be better served in the long run with him on the baseball team, then who am I to tell him he can’t play?  But, is that enough?  I responded by not only supporting him in his decision to play, but also by being excited with him at this amazing triumph in his life!

Now I’m going to tell you the inside story.  The truth is, God provided a way for Derick to go to school and not work.  And it is by his grace that Derick has stayed in good enough shape for the last 17 years that he can play college baseball at 36 years old.  And I believe, even though sometimes I don’t want to, that it is actually in God’s plan for me to be a cosmetologist at home for a limited number of hours a week, just so that I can make women feel beautiful that would not normally be able to go to the salon to pamper themselves for one of 2 reasons, a) the cost or b) lack of child care.  

In July of 2009, when I was 8 months pregnant with Brody, we received word that Derick would be deploying to Central America for at least 6 months.  And he would be leaving in 5 weeks.  Three weeks before he left, he received notice that Caterpillar had eliminated his contract position.  (Thank God for the deployment!)  Immediately upon his return he got new job that seemed to have lots of potential.  Only one problem, it wasn’t what he wanted, or felt called by God to do.  He has known for several years that he is meant to be a high school math teacher.  Well, at some point during his employment with this company, it was decided that the company would go in a different direction and his services were no longer needed.  And suddenly he was calling on the aide of the Illinois Department of Employment Security.  He tried to get jobs at many different companies but to no avail.  

In the end he enrolled at ICC to pursue his dream.  The baseball part is kind of a bonus because he also wants to be a baseball coach and his chances are greatly increased if he plays college ball.  With unemployment and with his monthly weekend job as a Navy Reservist, we discovered very quickly that he cannot work many hours without endangering his unemployment benefits.  He can work some but if he works too much then the amount he gets for unemployment every month goes down considerably.  In order to make it worth it for him to not get unemployment, he would have to work 40 hours a week or more, making at least $12/hour.  Unfortunately, when he tried to get a job like that he was met with rejection after rejection.  So, instead, he has been filling out every scrap of paper he can get his hands on to get money from the federal government and from the Navy and from the VA for us to live on while he is in school.  We have been cutting back severely, but even after all that, we still seem to fall short every month.

I am doing hair 3 days a week now, but I really don’t make very much money.  It would be nice (and I think I would be lucky) if I were to make enough money to keep gas in our cars every month.  I could work full time in a salon and make a lot more money, but I think the overhead of renting space and the cost of daycare would suck away all of my income and we would be worse off than we are now.  Not only would I be working to pay the daycare, but then I wouldn’t be home to take care of my family.  A salon in the basement would be nice!  But, that brings me back to our primary dilemma.  It is expensive and we can’t even afford our house right now.  So, if we lose the house, then I lose the salon (if I even had the means to install a salon in the first place).  

But, what about Peoria Christian, you say.  How can you pay for that and not for your house?  Well, that’s simple, we got a discount of 40% in financial aide.  (Yes, some private schools offer financial aide).  And Christian has a very generous benefactor.  Plus, every time we have tried to withdraw Christian from PCS, God has miraculously provided just what we need for him to stay.  Besides the fact that I don’t want to send my kids to separate schools, and I really don’t want to send them to District 150.  Sad, but true.  I’d rather home-school and that’s saying a lot!  So, we pay Aida’s portion and Christian’s benefactor pays his portion.  

Anyway, now you know the whole story, all 3 of you that read my blog!  I don’t really know what the point of writing this blog is, but sometimes writing it out makes me feel better.  Things in our life need to change, I know.  But I don’t know how.  And, I’m really afraid that they will change in such a way to make people point fingers and say that we are not being good stewards of the gifts that God has given us.  I really think we are, but what do I know.  Maybe I’m so close to the situation that I can’t see the woods for the trees.  

God, please rescue my family!  It feels like we are drowning!       

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South America – Day 185

Yes! I figured out the day for my blog title. No, I still don’t have a computer. It still turns on but has a black screen. I counted the days from my last numbered post to get the title of this one. I’m lying awake on my parent’s couch at 545am. My sister Kendra came home from Japan last night so I came out here to see her and sometimes its just a hassle to load up and go home at night, without Derick. My little boys had a rough night last night and this is the usual time I get up at home, so I thought I’d blog a little. Allyn has been sick for the last couple of days and I don’t think Brody has been feeling very well either. They both slept on the living room floor, close to me last night. Christian is staying pretty healthy and Aida had one day that she didn’t feel well but got over it quickly. I stayed home from church on Sunday because I just didn’t want a repeat of last fall. From the time Derick left until New Years, my kids were almost continuously sick. NOT FUN!! I am not interested in doing that again! Right now I am praying for complete healing before next Thursday. I want us all to be 100% when we pick up Derick from the airport!

Next Thursday!! I think its ok to tell people now. He’s coming home on Thursday, March 4. He is a reservist, so he should be home for a couple of years before he has to leave again. The plan is for him to start school in the fall and go straight through until he finishes his Master’s Degree in Divinity. Hopefully it won’t take more than 4 or 5 years. And hopefully, getting deployed again won’t put him behind. I’ve heard there are some schools he can go to and finish his Bachelor’s at the same time as he is getting his Master’s but I’m not sure how that would work with the grants and stuff he can get from the Navy. We’ll see how it all works out. If God has called him to this, then God has a plan! We just have to wait and see what it is.

My mind has been racing for the last few days. All I can think about is Derick’s return. I can’t believe its been six months already! In some ways it feels like it was a very short time and in other ways it feels like six months or more. Sometimes I think about things that have happened and I have to remind myself that Derick wasn’t here when that happened. Like, when the group from Church came and painted our garage. And, when my sister moved in and we cleaned out the basement to make room for her. When Derick left, the garage and the basement looked terrible. (Well, right now the basement looks terrible again but its easily cleaned up.) But when he comes home they will both be new and beautiful to him! Our bedroom is another example and the kids rooms. I think all the bedrooms were disastrous, but not anymore! Even if I left all the decor the same and just cleaned the house, it would be a welcome surprise to him because of all those things that have been done throughout the whole six months. I just can’t wait till he is here and I can’t seem to think about much else!

One more thing, he will be flying into the Peoria Airport. I don’t have a time yet but anyone is welcome to come and see him arrive. Its pretty exciting to see our military come home!

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South America – day ?

Its 6am. I want to go back to sleep but my coffee is already made and I don’t want to waste it. I got up at 5 with Brody. (We’re having some trouble with his sleep schedule.). After that I made coffee to motivate myself to stay awake. I started reading my Bible study book but just couldn’t seem to concentrate. Derick is coming home in 12 days! TWELVE DAYS!!! I think the total number of days he was gone will be somewhere around 190, and we’re down to 12. Wow! I can’t believe we’re counting down to the end. He is back in the United States and he’s preparing to travel home.

I have two major projects going to get ready for Derick to return to us. I am redecorating my bedroom and I am clearing out and organizing the basement. My bedroom is looking more and more beautiful everyday! I think I’ve said before that I want it to be a place of refuge when he returns. Its the entire upstairs of my house. The kids aren’t allowed up there without permission. So far, I have a new comforter set complete with pillow shams and bed skirt. Yesterday my friend Anna came over and we made a slip cover for my chair and ottoman. I have shears to hang. The lamps that were in my living room are getting moved into my bedroom. I need to get some curtain rods and I need to get blinds. I would also love to paint my bathroom. This seems like a tall order. If I get all of this done, I don’t think Derick will even notice the basement or any other part of the house!

Wow! Twelve days! What an adventure this has been! In some ways life seems to stop and in others it just has too keep going. Every night when I pray with the kids, I always tell Allyn what to pray for “Dear God, Thank you for today. Keep Daddy safe. Heal Grandma. I love you. Amen” Its pretty cute. This week though, he has changed the keep Daddy safe part to “Daddy home”. It melted my heart when I heard it! He thought of that on his own! Even my 2-year-old knows we are preparing for Derick’s return!

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is actually in Song of Solomon. Song of Songs 2:11-13 says, “See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.” How appropriate for Derick’s return! The winter is gone literally and figuratively. (Well, figuratively probably before literally… In Illinois, anyway.)

A friend of mine suggested something from Uppercase Living to put on my bedroom wall. But, maybe I’ll just paint that verse on the wall instead. It would be a lot easier if I had an overhead projector. I wish I had another week to work on it. Or that I had thought of it a month ago. How beautiful and appropriate that would be, painted on my wall with little flowers painted to frame it! I guess I just have to see how much time I have.

I think my parents are coming over today to help me work on the basement. Pray that we get a lot done, please! I think the basement could be done in a day or two if we really work hard at it. So, here’s to hoping! Everyone will have to come see my beautiful house after Derick comes home. And you can visit with Derick while you’re here, too!

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South America – Day ??

In case no one noticed, I don’t have the day posted in the title like I usually do. There is a really good reason for that. My computer died this week. Its been ill for quite a while, but this week it finally passed. When Derick returns he may be able to lay hands on it and breathe life into it once again. He has a magic touch like that. But I’m not counting on it. I am currently writing this blog from my phone. (I love technology!!) Anyway, my calendar on which I kept track of how long Derick has been gone is on that computer. I have no idea what the number of days is off the top of my head. I have a countdown till he returns now but I’m not really supposed to post that on the internet yet. I think once he is state side I’ll be able to but not until then.

Last night I went to Target with my 3 youngest kids. Christian went to a movie with his dad. So, since I was relieved of one I thought I would venture out in public in hopes that we would make total fools of ourselves. Well, we survived and I must say, they did famously! I wanted to pick out new bedding and curtains for my bedroom. Of all the rooms in my house, I’d like for our room to be the most welcome sight for Derick. He has had absolutely no privacy for the last 6 months. So, I wanted to make our room a place of refuge for him. A place that he can go to relax and recuporate. It helps that our room is the entire upstairs of our house. I’ve already told my kids they are not allowed in there without permission. Allyn is the only one who seems to have trouble with that. All the movies are in there and he can’t seem to stay away from them. Anyway, I’d like to have the basement organized too but the bedroom is my top priority.

The other project that I have been working on is making handbags. I mentioned it on facebook once, trying a new hobby, I mean. I have a friend that is moving to Brazil on Thursday. She has come to my house about once every other week on average since Derick left. She is also pregnant and I thought a handbag/diaper bag made by yours truly would make a great baby gift. The bag turned out beautifully! I would love to make lots more but I don’t have my own sewing machine. I have to use my mom’s. If anyone has a working sewing machine that they would like to get rid of, let me know. I’m willing to pay you for it. I’m not looking for a hand out, just a good deal. I don’t really have the money to invest in a good new machine right now. That gets a little pricey!

Well, Brody is sleeping right now so I suppose I should probably take advantage of being down one kid and get something done. Since my computer is out of commission I don’t know when my next post will be. At the very least I’ll post when Derick get home. (Then I’ll have his computer to use!)

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South America – Day 171

I can’t believe its been 11 days since I posted anything.  It really hasn’t crossed my mind for the last few days.  I have been consumed by projects that need to be done before Derick comes home.  Early Monday morning, my sister, Kendra, left for Japan for 2 weeks.  I have been staying at my parent’s house since Sunday night.  I came here to watch the Super Bowl.  I thought it may be easier to come here and then spend the night rather than have to drag them home late and try to get them in bed in a timely fashion.  That did not sound like fun!  Well, I planned to go home today, but now its really snowing so I doubt if I’ll make it tonight either.

I think I’m just gonna give a quick update of the past week’s events, besides staying at my parent’s house.  I’m teaching Bible study at church.  Last week went really well.  I feel totally unqualified but in a way, I guess that’s a good thing.  I keeps me from getting overly confident in my teaching abilities.  If anyone learns from the study, its all God and none of  me.  Today, I opted not to go, however.  Peoria Christian called off school and Christian stayed home.  I thought for a while that I was being a wimp and just bailed out of teaching today.  Then I actually ventured into Peoria for a doctor’s appointment and lunch at McDonald’s.  Now, I am so glad I didn’t try to drive from Brimfield to Tremont this morning!  I actually saw a semi run a red light through the intersection that I was about to drive through.  Thankfully everyone was paying attention and didn’t move until the truck passed.

Yesterday, my friend Susan came over and we did major cleaning on the first floor of my house.  I am almost embarrassed to write about it.  I let my house get so messy (dirty) sometimes.  Then I feel too overwhelmed (paralyzed) to do anything about it.  So, I have had to swallow my pride and let people come over and help me clean while Derick has been gone.  I left my kids with my mom and went home to clean my house.  Now the whole first floor looks amazing.  Plus, last week my parents came over and helped me clean my boy’s room.  Then my dad moved the cradle and the changing table out of my room, fixed the crib and officially moved Brody into what appears to be the dorm room for boys in our house.  Aida, being the only daughter, still has her own room.

Kendra worked most of last week trying to get her stuff packed up so she could move out of my house before she left for Japan.  It didn’t work, but since most everything that belonged to her is now gone, maybe I can solicit some help to get her bed out of my basement.  That way I can get some organizing done down there in the next 3 weeks.

The main project that I want to get done is my bedroom.  I don’t need to paint it.  I wouldn’t want to anyway because my room is the entire upstairs of my house and it would be a MAJOR project.  I would like to get new curtains, bedding and a slip cover for my chair and ottoman.  If I have time, I wouldn’t mind painting the (tiny) master bathroom.  I just want to make it a private place of refuge for Derick when he returns.  He has had no privacy since he left and I think that is what he would appreciate most.

I think that is all the updates for now.  Oh, the other thing I did was visit Tricoci University to check out their teacher training program for cosmetologists.  It looked like a great school with a great program but very expensive.  The tuition is $9,000 for 4 months of school.  Plus the first 7-10 weeks are done in Chicago and there is no student housing.  So, I’d have to stay in a hotel 3 or more nights a week.  Also, very expensive!!  The idea was that maybe I could do the teacher training and be a cosmetology teacher.  That way I would still be employed in my chosen profession, but really I would rather teach it than do it all day.  Plus, it would be steady hours and a guaranteed income instead of variable just doing hair.  But if I did that, I would rather go to Oehrlein School of Cosmetology and then teach at Oehrlein School of Cosmetology, my alma mater.  The waiting list for teacher training there, however, is 20 names long.  When a school only trains a couple at a time, and it takes 4-8 months to get through, that is potentially a 3-5 year wait.  *sigh*  I guess either God’s gonna preform a miracle and get me in now, or that’s just not in his plan.  So, for now, we wait on God’s plan and God’s timing.  I just had this hair-brained idea that I could earn an income when Derick is in school this fall by teaching.  But, maybe not.  I’ll turn in my resume anyway, becauseh I can’t get in if I don’t apply.  But, I guess it is something that I’ll put on the back burner for now.  That’s ok.  Its more important for Derick to get through school right now than for me.

So, that’s life in the Uhler household for now.  I would love to have visitors to keep me busy for the next 3 weeks but if you come, expect to be put to work.  (Actually, that’s not true.  I’d rather sit around, talking and drinking coffee than work!)  But, come visit me anyway.  But don’t forget to kiss your husbands before you do!

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South America – Day 160

This week I have been thinking a lot about going back to work.  On Monday I drove to Springfield to renew my cosmetology license.  This is not something that I have shared with very many people until now, but my license expired on October first.  Since I wasn’t working, and I had a lot going on in my life at that point, I wasn’t very worried about it.  When Derick returns, however, I may not have a choice but to re-enter the workforce.  So, Monday, when I started thinking seriously about working again, I decided I’d better go get it renewed so that I can work and so that I can shop at the suppliers again. 

I love my job.  I love doing hair, makeup and (natural) nails.  I love styling hair.  I would love to find some sort of class that teaches all kinds of styling.  Not just for everyday, but for theater and special events as well.  I know there are tricks of the trade that just can’t be learned over night.  But I don’t think there is anything like that around here.  One of my teachers in beauty school, Judy, seemed to have all kinds of tricks up her sleeve.  There were clients that would come into the school, who used to have Judy do their hair.  She has been a teacher now for years and years, and still her clients come to the school.  Even though she doesn’t actually do hair, for some reason these people feel better getting their hair done at the school, just knowing that she is there.  In the world of vanity, that seems like a great reputation to have.  It says a lot about not only her styling abilities, but also her ability to make the client feel good about themselves. 

Maybe I could just go back to school to be a cosmetology teacher.  I think I would really rather teach than actually do hair myself.  The only problem with that is if I did, I’d want to go to Oehrlein School of Cosmetology (my alma mater) for teacher training and I’d want to work at Oehrlein when I’m done.  That depends on what job opportunities are available at the end of my training and if they’d hire me.  I guess its just something I’ll have to pray about and then wait and see what happens.  I don’t even know what Derick would think of the idea.  It just popped into my head as I was writing about my teacher.

Yesterday, I did my friend, Tami’s hair and I did my sister, Kendra’s hair.  I confided in Tami that I love my chosen profession.  I love it!  I’m just not sure I’m ready to go back and do it full time though.  I’m not sure, with four kids, that I have the dedication and energy to put into building a brand new clientele.  I have always thought about going to college to become a teacher.  I thought I would major in speech and drama or maybe in theater.  Perhaps just an english major would be the easiest.  But I didn’t want to teach English classes, just the speech and drama and theater classes.  That sounds great, but it also sounds like a lot of work for a career that essentially is in the very distant future at this point.  I think cosmetology teacher training would take about 4 months since I have been a working stylist for the past 6 years. 

I think I also just need to talk to Derick and find out his opinion.  Last night when we were talking, we were both so tired we were about to fall asleep in the middle of the conversation.  I was joking that I must be getting old.  It was only 9:00pm and I was almost asleep.  Well, its getting late and I have things to do today. 

Have a good day everyone!  Ladies, don’t forget to kiss your husbands today!

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South America – Day 159

Derick gave me a definite homecoming date last night.  (I use the term “definite” loosely.)  I’m so excited that there is an end in sight!  The kids and I miss him so much!  He should be home the first part of March, but I don’t know if I should post on the internet what the exact date is, so maybe I’ll just keep that to myself for a while longer until I hear from Derick that he is back in the States. 

I witnessed my first homecoming of troops last night at the Peoria airport. 

“Fourteen local Marines are back home with their families. The men arrived in Peoria Wednesday night after serving six months overseas. The Marines are the final group from Engineer Company “C” to return from Iraq, where they specialized in motor transport and heavy equipment.” (WMBD ch. 31 news) 

It was so exciting!  The room was charged!  It was contageous!  As soon as I walked in the room I could feel the excitement over loved ones coming home!  I was there to support my friend, Kim and her kids.  Her husband Jared was in this group of fourteen.  She was so excited!  I can only imagine what she must have been feeling!  She asked me to take some pictures.  As soon as the troops were in sight the room errupted with cheering and shouts of  joy!  Everything happened so fast, I think I only got two pictures, and not very good ones at that.  I tried.  I think I just wasn’t used to her camera.  I should have used my blackberry and then just emailed her the pictures.  I probably would have been able to snap a few more that way.  Oh, well!  She was pretty understanding!  Meg Johnson from WMBD News Channel 31 interviewed her and her 2 kids last night while we waited for the troops to arrive.  Kim told the reporter that she had already told her kids they had better run to their dad or she was gonna run them over to get to him!  (Maybe I should warn my kids ahead of time, too!)  I tried to find the footage of her interview on their website, but all I could find was a tiny little write-up and one picture of someone I don’t know.

Last night made me so excited for Kim and her children, and also for Jared.  How exciting this must be for him!  To be seperated from your family and friends and church and everything familiar for 6 months to a year has to be so incredibly hard.  His were not the only tears I saw last night!  It all made me so anxious for Derick’s return!  Derick told me, last night, that everyone is getting anxious to get home.  I think they are getting tired of being in close quarters with non-family members.  I know I would be! 

The flight into Peoria was a late flight and it arrived later than scheduled so my original plan was to wake up with the kids at 7am this morning.  When I got in the car to go home, the clock on the dash said 11:08.  Well, after I got home, I decided to go ahead and set my alarm for 5am like normal.  I usually hit the snooze until about 5:20.  This morning, however, my bladder decided to wake me up at 4:45.  That is the worst feeling… to wake up before the alarm, but with not enough time to go back to sleep until the alarm sounds.

I think my mind is just racing.  I can’t seem to get it to calm down.  I can’t even describe what I am feeling.  I didn’t realize there would be such a huge welcome for the troops at the airport.  I didn’t realize there would be reporters waiting.  There will be only one other sailor returning with Derick.  They are not in Iraq or Afganistan.  Will the reporters be waiting for them to return?  Kim says they’ll be all over us because I have 4 cute little kids that have been waiting for his return for 6 months.  I think its got my mind going a mile a minute.  It sounds so exciting to have news cameras and reporters covering my husband’s homecoming!  But at the same time, I don’t want to get my hopes up.  I wish I knew the time his flight will arrive.  I wish I knew what to expect. 

For now I can at least say, “Let the Countdown Begin!”  It was months, and now we are down to weeks.  Soon it will be days.  The last few hours and minutes are the hardest to wait.  If you have ever been seperated from your loved one for any reason, you know that to be true!

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