Welcome to the Wandering Drays!

Not all who wander are lost...

Welcome to my blog dedicated to my family and our crazy foreign service life. Never content with staying in one place, we are excited to share our journey. We've survived two unaccompanied tour (Baghdad 2010-2011 and Baghdad again in 2015-2016), multiple TDYs, and enjoyed a two-year family assignment in Cairo, Egypt. The fab hubby is currently learning Turkish for our next assignment...Istanbul, Turkey! We leave for Turkey sometime in summer 2017. I write about what I know. Which is mainly kids, tween drama, gross pets, dealing with lots of government info, our moving adventures, being a nurse, yoga, running, living on too-little sleep, and an addiction to coffee lattes. I hope you'll enjoy this glimpse into our lives.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Feeling Normal

Jason is home on leave for 19 days. Not that I'm counting, but we're already 7 days in.  And they have gone by so very quickly.  Over the 365 days he is assigned to Iraq, we will have a total of approximately 10 weeks together - not quite 70 days.  Only 20% of the year.  And that's actually one week more than the typical hardship assignment - we got the extra week because of FMLA with the birth of Kellen in October.  Again, not that I'm counting.

While he's home, I am still working.  For those who don't know, my employment status in my hospital is 'per diem' (translates roughly to 'as needed' - which usually equates to a phone call from the ER to my house every day with a pleading 'can you come in today?').  It's a great situation for me with Jason gone.  I get to make my own schedule - so long as they need the help, I can schedule myself in to one of two different ERs.  I call myself a Mercenary Nurse.  Nurse for Hire.  I'm very lucky to have such flexibility.  In fact, I can work as much or as little as I want.  We have the option of me not working while he's home.  But I work anyway.  Here's why...

1.   If I don't work, I don't get paid.  As a per diem RN, I get no benefits other than the flexible schedule (which as far as I'm concerned, that's the cream of the crop of benefits).  I like to spend money.  My latte is $4.65.  I get five of them of a week.  You do the math.  I also like to eat out, buy the kids unnecessary toys, get myself new clothes, go out with some girlfriends.  Guilt-free cash is always nice thing, and when I work, that's what it is.

2.   I like my job.  Sure, I post on facebook that I have crappy shifts.  It's the ER.  Some days are good, some days are bad, but (nearly) all are rewarding.  I make a difference in someone's life every time I work.  And I have so many friends I work with - really, my job is my adult time.  It's especially important when my husband is in Iraq - it helps with the loneliness and it forces me to make a schedule. I was never very good at being strictly stay-at-home-mom.  I wanted to be!  But I am terrible at  making a schedule when it always seems to me that nothing truly has to be scheduled.  And when I'm strictly stay-at-home-mom, I don't get anything done.  Just a shift or two at the ER each week forces me to stay organized.  80% stay-at-home mom.  20% working mom.  It's a nice balance, at least for me.

And most importantly....3.  It simply feels normal.  We don't get a lot of that anymore.  When Jason's home, he gets to take part in all the minutia of the day-to-day.  Everything from dropping the kids off at school, to changing Kellen's diapers, to meeting me at the door when I get home from a 12-hour shift at midnight.  I've worked afternoons for so much of our marriage, that having him in the kitchen making me an after-work snack when I walk through the door is one of the greatest moments of my day.  I love seeing him at the end of the day, asking him how his day was and telling him what mine was.  Sure, we do this over the phone when he's in Iraq - but it's hard for it to feel anything like normal when it's 10:00pm for him, telling me about the end of his day, while it's 2:00pm here, me telling him about the middle of my day.  Not to mention, he's in Iraq.  And I'm in Ohio.  Even our weather doesn't sync.  Sometimes when I drive home from the ER at midnight I like to call him, hoping to catch him at the beginning of his day (8:00am there) so I can tell him about the end of mine.

Normal.  Who doesn't want to feel it?  In fact, as I write this, he's off at gymnastics with Owen and Abby.  I know Abby is bouncing down the trampoline run right now yipping out "Daddy!  Daddy!  Look at me!" and Owen is trying desperately to do a backflip to impress his Dad and look cool at the same time.  I am at home sitting on the couch with Kellen like it's just another day in frozen Ohio and my hubby is just out with the kids.  Later this week, it's a pediatrician appointment with Kellen, a cub scout sleepover, and an evening hanging with the guys for Jason.  Normal normal normal.  I love it.

After-movie normalcy.
Jason and I had a date today - dropped the baby off at daycare and the kids were picked up from school by my fabulous in-laws.  A date day is something that Jason and I have been doing for years.  Drop the kids at daycare or get someone to watch them and spend the day out.  It's actually how we explored SoCal the year we were in Los Angeles (thanks to our amazing au pair, Jenny!  We miss her so much!).  Anyway, we had lunch at a favorite Mexican restaurant and talked about our hopes for Cairo and our next big move.  Then we went and saw a campy movie at the theater - The Green Hornet.  And then we enjoyed sitting at Starbucks talking about it afterward.  All day I basked in the normalcy.

I try to keep one little horrible thought from popping in my head though...only 12 days left.  Push it out of my head and enjoy life as it is.  Right now, at this very moment.  Normal.


  1. Living in the moment strikes me as the most healthy thing that you can do. I'm so sorry that I wasn't able to come back this weekend with Adam. I was thinking of you all.

  2. I used to call it "playing house." He'd be there for a bit and things would seem normal, and then it would end. So hard. You're awesome Heather.