Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Thank you

Originally when I started this blog, it was to update close family and friends on Rob's condition after I found out about his injuries. Then I thought it would be a wonderful tool for Rob to one day read and follow his progress from the initial injury and on to the road to recovery. Unfortunately, when I knew that was not going to happen, I continued to update the blog so that one day, our girls would be able to read about what a fighter their daddy was and all the thousands of people who prayed for him and, then later, for us as we began our new life without him. For the past 2 1/2 years, I have found comfort, strength, encouragement and even friends through my rollercoaster journey of life. When days were rough, I would come back to this blog and read comments and find comfort in their words. I cannot adequately thank you for your past and continued support. As I read past posts that I had written, I have a hard time even remembering those days. I know, without a doubt, there were times I was not just surviving day to day, but literally minute to minute. There is not a doubt in my mind that it was all the love, support, thoughts and prayers from family, friends, and perfect strangers that held me together. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU. As we fast forward 2 1/2 years, the girls and I have had our fair share of ups and downs, laughter and tears. At times, this mountain we call life, seemed almost impossible to climb. But, through the continued love and support and our faith in God, we slowly made our way up. Through this journey, my faith in God has become even stronger. A bible verse that would always come to me is Philippians 4:13-"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." What I've come to realize through this whole process is the path I thought I was meant to go down was not the path God had planned for me. Although I miss Rob dearly and crave him being with us, I know that God needed him more than we did here on Earth and that He has a whole new and different life in store for the girls and me. Over the past few months, I have seen God's hands working in our lives, turning sadness into happiness, emptiness into fullness. God has placed a wonderful man in our lives. He has brought back the love and happiness I never thought I'd have again. He loves the girls as if they were his own and they adore him. I am blessed to have found amazing love twice in my life. One of them is our guardian angel who is looking over us, guiding and protecting us and the other is a man who walking beside us, holding our hands, in this new and different journey of life. So, with a new chapter of our lives beginning, I am going to end this blog and focus on our new life. Rob is forever in our hearts and mind and I know, without a doubt, smiling down upon us. I will always see Rob in our girls and we will laugh, and at times, cry, at all the memories we share of him. The girls will know just how loved he was by family, friends, and strangers from reading this blog and all the comments left for him. Again, thank you for your endless love and support. We love you.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mission complete

The death of Usama Bin Laden was definitely an emotional day for me. I finally felt like I had some closure. This horrible man who was the mastermind of the murders of so many innocent people on 9/11 and the military men and women who lost their lives fighting this war on terrorism has finally had his day of judgement. Before he left for Afghanistan, Rob looked at me and said “We will hunt Bin Laden, we will find him and we WILL bring him to justice”. Through bravery, determination, and endless perserverance, our US soldiers did hunt him, did find him, and DID bring him to justice. I’m sure most parents had a hard time explaining UBL’s death to their children. This was not the case in our house. We had a magnet on our fridge at one time that had a photo of UBL stating “Wanted dead or Alive” with a monetary award listed on it. Eva used to ask who this man was. I told her it was a very bad man. She asked “The bad man who killed daddy?” Well, in all actuality, yes. So, every time she would walk by the fridge she would say “This is the bad man who killed daddy. He’s not nice.” So, I decided to take down that magnet. But the morning after the news broke of UBL’s death, this is the conversation I had with Julia: “Julia, do you remember that magnet we had on the fridge of the bad man?” “Yes.” “Well, the soldiers finally found him and now he is no longer on this Earth or able to hurt anyone ever again.” “I’m sure daddy and God helped with that.” Again, she never ceases to amaze me with her insight and wisdom. ☺ Although UBL is gone, I’m still very nervous about the aftermath effects of this. This is far from over. I continue to pray that every service man and woman fighting this war makes it home to their families safe and sound. I am so proud of each and every one of them. So, Rob, you can stop rolling in your grave now. Justice has been served. Your mission is complete. I love you.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Poor Eva... :(

We’ve had quite the eventful past few days! Last week, poor Eva broke her leg. ☹ We were at the park and I went down the slide with her and halfway down, she started saying “Ow!”. She never cried she just kept saying that her leg hurt. I didn’t think it was broken because it was not bruised or swollen. I watched her over night and by the morning when she still couldn’t put any weight on it, I took her to the doctor. Sure enough she had broken her tibia (shin bone)! I felt so bad. She is one tough cookie, that’s for sure. She got a pretty pink cast on and is quite proud of it. However, she can’t figure out why everyone wants to sign it. ☺ It’s amazing to me how she can figure out how to get around in it. It sure hasn’t slowed her down at all! Thankfully she will only be in her cast 3-4 weeks. Unfortunately, the girls are in the middle of swim lessons. Eva is sad that she can’t continue but I promised her once her cast comes off, we’ll get her signed up again. Julia is doing great. She’s staying busy with school and cannot wait until this summer when we can get out on our boat again. The Yllescas girls are definitely water babies and we could spend the whole summer on the lake!! A reporter from the Lincoln Journal Star did a follow up interview with me last week and it was in the paper today. It was a pretty good article although I have yet to see one that is completely accurate. It says he also lost an arm, which isn’t true, but besides that, it wasn’t bad. Here is the link:
I know I haven’t been writing much on here lately but there really isn’t a whole lot to report. The girls and I are staying busy but it’s usually nothing exciting enough to report. ☺ I still continue to feel so blessed with the continued love and support the girls and I are receiving. Thank you all so much for keeping us in your prayers. There’s not a day go by that we don’t think of and miss Rob but we know he’s always with us and smiling down upon us. Life must go on for us and that is exactly what he would want.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Long time no post!

It's been quite a while since the last time I've written on here. The girls and I have been really busy. The 2nd week in December, Julia and I left for the Snowball Express once again. This year it was in Texas again but we got to leave out of Kansas City. They had a chartered plane for us that only Snowball Families were on. It was so much fun. The pilots and flight attendants all volunteered their time to do these flights. It was pretty much a party on a plane-complete with a silly string fight! While there, we went to the Mesquite Rodeo again and saw Gary Sinese and the Lt Dan Band perform, Southfork Ranch where the TV show Dallas was filmed, a performance of the Nutcracker Ballet, Six Flags amusement park and entertainment from a magician and so much more! We had so much fun. The patriot guard riders were there escorting us on their motorcycles everywhere we went. Dallas once again shut down the interstate for us so we wouldn't have to wait in traffic and the police officers who helped with this were also volunteering their time. This is such an amazing organization. There were so many families there and everyone was smiling. If you get the chance, please go to their website and check it out: Next year it is in Dallas for the last time and Julia and I can't wait to go again! For Christmas, we spent time at my parents house with my family and then we spent a few days at Rob's mom's house. Then Julia and I left for Maryland for a few days to visit some good friends of ours. I thought it would be nice to have some one on one time with Julia while Eva stayed back with Rob's mom. We were in Maryland over the New Year's and came back to Nebraska on the 3rd. The Nebraska winter hasn't been as bad as it was last year, but everytime it snows and I have to pull out the snowblower and shovel, I can't help but think "Man, I sure wish Rob was the one doing this!" :) The winter is definitely not for me. The girls and I are really looking forward to the summer when we can get the boat out again! However, Eva got to experience her first time with "sliding" as she calls it. After finally getting her to get on the sled and go down the hill, she was not impressed with the snow that landed on her face and that was pretty much the end of "sliding" for her. :) But, Julia still had a lot of fun taking several rounds on the hill. The girls also built a snowman in our backyard and had fun decorating him. I started attending a bible study on Wednesday nights at the church we attend while the girls do Awana. It's always an ordeal to get them there (they like to make me feel guilty by crying or saying they don't want to go) but when I pick them up, they loved it and had lots of fun! :) It's funny how kids do that to you! Julia is still doing gymnastics and Eva finally get the chance to try it out on Tuesday when she turns 3. We'll see if she will listen to the teacher and follow the directions. You never quite know where the wind where blow her! It's so hard to believe that my baby will turn 3 on Tuesday! The time has gone by so fast. I'm thinking the 3's are going to be tougher than the 2's--that child keeps me running!!! She is really in love with the movie Toy Story 3 and we have literally watched it hundreds of times. If we're not watching that, we're watching Beezus and Ramona. I love to hear her ask for that movie. When she says it, it sounds like "Jesus and Pneumonia". :) I have no doubt that Rob has had several chuckles up in heaven watching that little Eva. The other day she said to me: "Did I have a mommy and daddy when I was a baby?" I said yes you did. She says "But now my daddy is in the sky." Then she looks up and blows a kiss and says "I love you daddy....but I love Jesus more." Oh, the things they say. So awesome! :) Julia is doing really well in school and loves to write. They had to do a whale report in school and she whipped that out in no time and did an amazing job on it. Thank goodness the assignment was in writing because if it was in math, we'd both be in trouble! I swear 3rd grade math is a lot harder than when I took it! :) When I get the pictures downloaded from my camera, I will try to remember to post them on here from when they went "sliding" and built a snowman. Here are a few pictures from Christmas. Hopefully it won't take me as long to post next time! :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Two Years Have Past

It's hard to believe 2 years have past since Rob was taken Home. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think of him. I see him everyday in our girls. Eva is a spitting image of him--looks and mannerisms! Julia has a certain stand and chunky cheeks that are all Rob. When Rob was in the hospital, that time for me was such a haze. Even though it's been 2 years, at times it feels like a lifetime ago. The girls and I have continued to chug forward-some days harder than others. But through all of this, we continue to see God's blessings through the love and support of our family, friends, and strangers. God has placed people in our lives since then who have forever changed us. Instead of focusing on Rob's passing, we focus on his life and what he gave us. Rob touched so many people. He was an open Christian, a wonderful husband, amazing father, a loyal friend,passionate soldier, and caring leader---just to name a few. I know I am a better person for knowing him. Tonight the girls and I ordered pizza, put on our pj's, and watched Christmas Vacation. We used to watch that movie with Rob. Nothing better than some good food and a few laughs to celebrate Rob's memory. I want to end with a "letter" I received when I was presented the Gold Star Flag. I think it sums things up pretty well:

Letter from Heaven

My Dearest Family,
There are some things I’d like to say, but first of all, I want to let you know that I have arrived OK. I’m writing this from heaven where I dwell with God above, where there are no more tears or sadness, there is just eternal love.
Please do not be unhappy just because I am out of sight. Remember that I’m with you every morning, noon, and night. The day I had to leave you, when my life on earth was through, God picked me up and hugged me and He said, “I welcome you. It’s good to have you back again; you were missed while you were gone. As for your dearest family, they’ll be here later on. I need you here so badly, as part of My big plan. There is so much we have to do to help our mortal man.”
Then God gave me a list of things he wished for me to do. Foremost on that list of mine was to watch and care for you. I will always be beside you every day and week and year. And when you’re sad, I’m standing there to wipe away your tears. When you lie in bed at night, the days chores put to flight, God and I are closest to you in the middle of the night.
When you think of my life on earth and all those years, because you are only human they are bound to bring you tears. Do not be afraid to cry, it does relieve the pain. Remember there would be no flowers unless there was some rain.
I wish that I could tell you of all that God has planned. But if I were to tell you, you wouldn’t understand. One thing is for certain, though my life in earth is over, I am closer to you now that I ever was before.
There are rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb, but together we can do it taking one day at a time. When you are walking down the street and I am on your mind, I’m walking in your footsteps, only half a step behind. When you feel that gentle breeze as the wind up on your face, that’s me giving you a great big hug, or just a soft embrace.
When it’s time for you to go, from that body to be free, remember you’re not going, you are coming here to me. I will always love you, from this land way up above. I’ll be in touch again soon.
Your loved one.

PS God sends His love.
–author unknown

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and were able to give thanks for the many blessings in your lives. I am thankful for the time I had with Rob. Although it was cut extremely short, I am so blessed to have had him in my life. He taught me so much about life and I am truly a better, stronger person because of him. I am thankful for our 2 beautiful girls. They have a way of making me smile! :) They are a constant reminder of Rob and I know he's looking down and smiling (and I'm sure chuckling some days...especially when they're giving me a run for my money!). I'm thankful for my family for their unending love and support. They have gone above and beyond for us--literally at times dropping everything to help us out. We are so blessed to have such a loving family. I don't know what I'd do without them! I'm thankful for my amazing friends. They continue to reach out to us. Not just on the "hard days" but even on the "everyday" days. There are times when it just feels like groundhog's day and it means so much to get a phone call or email just to see how we're doing. I'm thankful for the perfect strangers who continue to pray for us and show their support and concern. They are a constant reminder that Rob is not and will not ever be forgotten. And most importantly, I am thankful for God. Even through tragedy and pain, He continues to show his presence and love in our lives.

Friday, October 29, 2010

2 years already....

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 2 years since I received that horrible, life-changing news. 2 years ago, my husband fought for 34 days for his life. And, boy, did he put up a fight. 2 years ago was the beginning of an emotional rollercoaster ride that still continues today. Although the 2nd year has been harder for me than the first, I continue to hold on to faith and know God has a bigger plan for us. He had a bigger plan for Rob. There is not a day go by that we don’t miss him and think of him. His presence constantly surrounds us. My dad was with Julia when she looked up in the sky and written in the clouds was “I love you”. That was daddy sending his little girl a special note. Yesterday I flew back to Lincoln from Washington DC where I attended a Survivors’ Outreach Summit. This is an Army program that is still fairly new to help survivors stay connected to the military and help us with issues we may have. Throughout this week, I learned so much more about the SOS program and met some amazing people who have left imprints on my heart. There is a special bond between survivors and it was amazing and therapeutic to share stories. There is still a lot that can be done to improve how the military deals with the survivors, and we were here this week to work together and try to get certain things changed, but I have no doubt that Army does appreciate our sacrifice and do care about us. Thank you to everyone for your continued thoughts and prayers for us even 2 years later. They lift us up and help us continue to move forward, one step at a time.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

We will never forget...

Nine years ago today, I was holding our 12 day old baby girl and my mom was at my house (it was my parents' 30 year anniversary). Rob had officially became active duty the day before. The phone rang. It was Rob. "Are you watching tv?" "No," I said. He told me to turn it on. Every tv station was showing the horrible events that were unfolding. "I think we're under attack, Dena". Like so many that day, my world changed. I just wouldn't know how drastic until 7 years later. 19 months after the 9/11 attack, he left for his first tour in Iraq. A year later, he returned, only to go back to Iraq 9 months later. A few days before Rob left for Afghanistan, he looked at me and said "You know, people can argue over whether or not we should've went to war against Iraq but no one can argue our war with Afghanistan. Bin Laden is the reason for 9/11. We will hunt him down and we will find him." Nobody wants war. War is not pretty. But terrorists who want to take over OUR country do not care if they kill innocent people. In order to defend our country and to defend our citizens, we must find those who so cruely violated us and are trying to take away our freedom. "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the blood stream. Its must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."-Ronald Reagan. So, today I am remembering those who lost their lives on that terrible day September 11, 2001 and the service men and women who continue to fight so that we will never again have another terrorist attack on our land. God bless America and God bless our troops. Freedom isn't free.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Happy 9th birthday to my sweet Julia!! We celebrated by having a Luau-themed birthday party at our house complete with grass skirts, lei’s, Hawaiian music, and our inflatable swimming pool/slide. It was a fun time and I think everyone truly enjoyed themselves. Then yesterday, we made a spur of the moment trip to Osceola. Every year on our birthday, we put a “Birthday Girl” figurine on Rob’s grave. Julia wanted to do this yesterday since we couldn’t make it out today. On the way to the cemetery, she said “I really wish Daddy could’ve made it to my birthday party but I guess a lot of kids can’t say their dads are everywhere they are no matter where they’re at….so, I guess it’s ok.” What a wise young lady. My heart breaks for her because I know she misses her dad so much, but yet she continues to be so strong. Rob would be so proud. I know I am. The start of the school year has also approached. Julia started the 3rd grade. I can’t believe that! So far, she’s really enjoying it and on the 2 spelling tests she’s had, she’s received a 105%! I’ve decided that 3rd grade math is definitely harder these days than when I took it. It’s pretty sad when I’m having trouble trying to help her with her homework! But, thanks to my sister in law, I think we’re getting the hang of it! :) Eva’s also blooming in her independence. She loves makeup. I caught her the other day in her sister’s room playing with Julia’s makeup. She had mascara on her forehead, lipstick all over her mouth, and finger nail polish on her feet. She thought she looked so beautiful! I couldn’t help but smile because with all that, she never got anything on the carpet! She was “so careful”. The other night, my parents arrived late to my house for the weekend. The girls were already asleep. In the morning when Eva woke up, I told her grandpa and grandma were in the toyroom sleeping. She walked down there, threw open the door and said “Haha! I woke you up and that’s just what I wanted to do!” Where does this girl come from? Oh, I wish Rob was here to see her. She is so much like him that it would be fun to see how the 2 of them would interact. On another note, I finally got my house sold in Texas! There is a program called Homeowner’s Assistance Program. It was opened up to Surviving Spouses and Wounded Warriors. The US Government will buy your house if you are unable to sell it. It’s a great program and I’m so grateful for it, but at times, it was frustrating because for 18 months, I was unable to rent my house out because at any time, the government could purchase it. But, it’s finally over with. Another chapter in my life closed. It makes me sad because it was a beautiful house Rob and I had built and we really loved it, but it made no sense to keep it. I knew I would never live there again so it’s better to go to another family who will enjoy it as much as we did.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I’m not sure where the summer went, but I know for the Yllescas girls it has FLOWN by! Although Julia said she’s “bored” and ready for school to start, we actually did quite a bit this summer! We finally got our boat back out in the water. As much work as a boat is to have, it’s all worth it when we get out in the water. We sure missed the fun we’ve had on the boat. I wasn’t sure how Eva would be on the boat since the last time she was on it, she was only 4 months old. But, she is so calm and relaxed on it! I couldn’t believe it! She sits there and watches as we tube and will get out and play in the sand with all her water toys. This summer, Julia really has gotten brave and is tubing by herself. Before, she was unsure and wanted us to go slow but this past weekend when we went out, she was by herself and kept telling us to go faster! J I haven’t been able to get my wakeboard out this year yet because I’m trying to refamiliarize myself with the boat, but hopefully next year, I’ll get up and “running” again. Exciting news is that Julia finally lost her first tooth a few weeks ago! She is almost 9 so it was quite exciting! I guess this is what happens when you don’t get a tooth until you’re almost 15 months old! Then today, she lost another one! If she’s not careful, she’ll have to eat baby food! Lol We’ve also been busy building a deck in my backyard. It’s almost finished and we absolutely LOVE it! We spend a lot of time outside and this is a great addition for us. One of our biggest perks this summer was we were able to go to Disneyland a couple of weeks ago. This was courtesy of a group called Brat Pack 11. They made all the arrangements and paid for our trip. I was able to have my mom come along and help me with the girls. All of us had an absolutely AMAZING time!!! So, thank you again Brat Pack 11!! Now we’re just trying to scurry around and finish 4-H projects. The fair starts this upcoming weekend and hopefully all the projects will be ready to go. Julia is showing her dog in the fair. This has definitely been a learning experience for both her and D’ogie! Regardless of the outcome, at least D’ogie will have learned some commands and Julia will have learned that it takes a lot of persistant work to train a dog!! J I hope you all have had a great summer. Hopefully it won’t be 3 months before I update again!!! J

Friday, May 7, 2010

Once again, I apologize for my lack of writing! I swear things never seem to slow down, they only pick up speed! I hope you all had a wonderful Easter. We went to my parents and had a great time with family. The girls loved the Easter egg hunt grandpa and grandma do every year. I just got back from Ohio. I actually took 2 trips there. The first was to help one of my very good friends, Karen and Craig Bender, with the birth of their baby boy, Jacob Robert. I was honored to be a part of the first few hours of his life. He is absolutely beautiful. Congratulations Karen, Craig, big sister Logan, and big brother Zach!! The second trip, I went with my mom and met up with Karen and some other dear friends to attend the Women of Faith Seminar. I've been to one in the past and it is AWESOME. It really leaves you with a rejuvenated heart and spirit. While we were gone, my dad watched the girls for me and he just about got Eva potty trained!! I couldn't believe it. I'm rather impressed by that. But, I knew she was ready since she'd always try to get her diaper off and she'd go on the big girl potty every once in awhile, but I don't think I was the one who was quite ready! I can't believe she's growing up so fast. She no longer has her crib either. She now has a daybed. Where the heck did the time go? Julia's anxious for school to be out. She only has a couple more weeks. Speaking of growing up too fast, I can't believe she's going to be in the 3rd grade next year. WOW. She had her dance recital a few weekends ago. She did so well. I realized that she no longer dances to the "little girl" songs. She now dances to big girl music with big girl moves. Again, another sign she's growing up! The weekend before I left for Ohio, the girls and I went to Ft Riley for a Ceremony of Remembrance. This was absolutely wonderful. The girls were recognized with a medal and beautiful keepsake box. They were so big when their names were called out and they walked to the front of the room. Even Eva did this quite well (minus one squeaky shoe!). Afterwards, the Lt Dan Band was there. Julia got a chance to ger her picture taken with him. The whole ceremony was beautiful. The girls absolutely deserve to have something like this and I know it made them feel special. I truly appreciate all the effort Ft Riley did to put on such a great ceremony. Happy Mother's Day to all the mother's out there. I'm truly blessed to have such an amazing mom. I really don't know what I'd do without her. I love you, mom!!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

It's been awhile....

Sorry it's been awhile since I last wrote! The girls and I have been staying busy and it's hard to believe it's almost April! I started a small house project a few weeks ago that turned into a bigger one. The wood color that was on my stair banisters and fireplace mantel, I did not like. I've never liked it. But, I thought it would be a lot of work to sand them down and restain them. But, I can honestly say it was the easiest home project I have ever done!!! And they look great. But of course, I couldn't stop there! My kitchen cabinets were a very light color-almost like they weren't stained at all. So, they got sanded down and restained too. That was a lot more time consuming!! I couldn't have done it without the help of some awesome people! :) But they look amazing and I think I'm burned out on projects for awhile. However, my kitchen sink could be replaced to go better with my new cabinet color..... lol

Julia had a field trip to the zoo last week. It was the perfect day to go. The day before and the day after were cold, windy, and even a little snowy. Eva really enjoyed it this year. She got a kick out of the monkeys.

Eva finally figured out how to climb out of her crib. I was hoping this day would never come, but of course, it did! She has her dad's stubborn personality. I knew trying to get her to stay in her bed was going to be, um, fun. The first night was terrible. She was up from 11-1:15 in the morning. But I was just as determined!! The next night, she only woke up a few times and put her self back to sleep and last night she slept all night without waking!! :) Naps are a lot more difficult. Hopefully that will come in time too.

We're all getting excited to get the boat out this summer. We have not been on it since before Rob deployed. Last summer I just couldn't do it. Boating was such an important thing to us as a family. I have so many memories of us with the boat. Those were some of the best times. But I also know that I need to get out and use it. Make some more memories. Rob would want that. It's a beautiful boat and it's a shame that it's not being used. Julia LOVES the boat and is excited to go back out. The last time Eva was on it was when she was 4 months old. I'm hoping she still likes it! :) I'm sure she won't know what to think at first but after a bit, will be quite at home on it!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Happy 2nd Birthday Eva Grace!!!

Happy birthday Eva Grace!  I cannot believe my little girl is 2.  Time surely does fly.  I remember like yesterday the moment I saw her for the very first time.  Rob brought her over to me and it was so surreal to finally have her here.  She is so much fun.  She’s talking up a storm and it cracks me up with the things she says.  She’s definitely growing into her own personality.  It’s also hard to believe that another year has started.  2009 seemed to go by so fast.  I had a good time at a friend’s annual New Year’s Eve party.  This year it was a 70’s theme and the costumes were hilarious!  January 24th we added a new member to our family.  My brother, Aaron, and his wife, Shelly, welcomed a baby boy Cole Robert.  He is an absolute doll and his big sister, Megan, is very proud! :)  Of course my girls couldn't wait to see him and Eva wanted to hold him all the time.  She's such a good helper! :)  The end of December a reporter from The Washington Post flew up and wrote an article about me and this blog.  I didn’t expect for the story to be so huge.  Before I knew it, the story was in different newspapers all over the country!  It was even in the Stars and Stripes newspaper which is a military paper.  A classmate from highschool is in Iraq and saw it on the front page.  He mailed home at least 20 copies for me to hand out to family and friends.  J  I also have been contacted by the BBC in London and have done 3 live TV interviews with them over the phone and other news stations around the country.  I’m not quite sure how this blog became so huge.  However, I do know that it makes me extremely proud to have as many followers as I do.  Although there are some “anti-war/soldier/Americans” still in America, this proves to me how many Americans (and even those in different countries) truly love America and support our troops.  I have no doubt that Rob lost his life for a good cause (and he also believed in the cause) but also knowing how many Americans truly support our troops, helps make this more bearable.  And the support I have received from this blog over the past 16 months since Rob’s injury and subsequent death, has kept me moving forward.  The support has been phenomenal.  God has blessed me over and over.  I truly pray that my blog has reached someone in a similar situation and has helped them.  In the beginning, my intentions for the blog were to show Rob how much he improved and to share this story with our girls someday.  But now, seeing how many people are interested in my story, I hope to bring comfort and hope to others.  

Monday, December 28, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from the Yllescas girls! I hope you were able to enjoy the holidays with your loved ones. We received a LOT of snow! I got snowed-in in Iowa but it was with great company and we had fun playing games and making forts in the snow. :) I finally made it to my parents yesterday where the girls opened their Santa gifts and next weekend we will have our family Christmas with them since it had to be post-poned.   Christmas was less of a blur and a little easier than last year, but we still miss Rob terribly and wish he was here with us.  I can't believe how fast the month of December has gone by. The 2nd week of December, Julia and I were invited on the Snowball Express. This is an organization for children who have lost a parent in the war since 9/11. It is an all-expensive paid trip and this year it was in Dallas. The whole experience was so amazing. When we got off the airplane in Dallas, people were clapping for us and waving flags.  The whole weekend consisted of so many different activities including the Southfork Ranch, Mesquite Rodeo, Dallas Convention Center, and the Dallas Cowboy Stadium.  There were about 1500 of us.  Julia and I had a blast and I know it helped her see that there are other children in the same situation as her.  The most amazing thing to me during the trip was how the Patriot Guard Riders escorted us everywhere.  On 2 different days, the main interstate was closed down just for us as we had a motorcycle police escort followed by the Patriot Guard Riders to our destinations.  It was quite a site:  24 buses carrying 56 people, 20 or more motorcycle police, and at least 60 Patriot Guard Riders going down the interstate.  I'm sure people were wondering who the heck we were! :)  Please have a safe New Years and I will write again next year...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It's been a year

A year has passed.  Yet it seems like yesterday that my world came crashing down and I had to make the hardest decision of my life.  It’s still so hard to believe he is gone.  It’s been a year and yet still so surreal.  So much has happened in a year.   A year ago, I never would have pictured my life where it is today.  With the help of my wonderful family and friends, and the hugs and kisses from my beautiful girls, I have managed to put one foot in front of the other and try to make the best out of a horrible situation.  Over the past year, there were days that I wanted to lay in bed, put the covers over my head, and never wake up.  But how would that help the situation any?  How would that make me a better mom?  And Rob would NOT want that.  This is my reality.  This is my life now.  Nothing I do will change that.  So, for my sake and the sake of my daughters, I need to make life as normal and happy as possible for us. Our life will never be the “old normal” so we’re making a “new normal”.  I’m learning that God does continue to bless, even through tragedy.  Yesterday we came back to Osceola and Julia didn’t go to school today.  This morning I went to the gravesite.  What a difference one year makes.  It’s full of grass.  Then, I decided to try to make a sad day into a happy one.  I surprised Julia with a new puppy.  He is a havanese, black and white, and absolutely ADORABLE!  He loves people (and kids) and is such a snuggle bug!  He took to us right away and Julia is so excited.  His name is D’ogie (pronounced D.O.G.—hahaha).  It has made the day so much easier for us.  Yesterday I put together a slideshow of pictures from Rob’s final homecoming to Nebraska, his wake, funeral, Memorial Service at Ft Hood, and Memorial Day.  I’m going to try to figure out how I can post it on here and when I do, I’ll post it.  It’s a great tribute and shows the pride Americans have for soldiers.  Again, thank you so much for the support you have shown the girls and I throughout this past year.  It has meant so much to us!!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Merry Christmas from Heaven

Last week I went on a much needed "mini vacation" to Texas without the girls.  I made a quick trip to Killeen to check on my house (which was in pretty good shape except for some cobwebs and nasty toilets!) then it was off to Dallas for the rest of the weekend.  I was able to do some golfing and shopping.  I got back last night to a very cranky little girl ( I think she had too much fun with her grandpas and grandmas!) and another girl who wanted to start decorating for Christmas NOW.  I have always loved Christmas and tend to have a weakness for Christmas decorations.  So, as you can imagine, I was a little overwhelmed with my 6 TUBS of Christmas decorations and 3 Christmas trees!!!!  Of course no decorating can be done while Eva's awake because that would just be pointless!  So, I told Julia that today I would decorate as much as I could while she was at school and Eva was at daycare and have the Christmas tree ready for her to decorate when Eva goes to bed.  This year is definitely going to be interesting with Eva.  I have no idea what she's going to do with all these decorations.  I'm just hoping not too many get broken!!  Anyways, as I was going through our decorations, I came across things that I knew were in the boxes but really didn't want to see them: our christmas stockings with Rob's name on his, ornaments from our first Christmas together, and a Christmas picture frame with a picture of Rob, Julia and me in it.  I had completely forgotten about that.  It's sad to know that the last time these decorations were put up, Rob was with us (I obviously didn't put any decorations out last year).  I do have to chuckle about the last Christmas we had together, I had finally convinced Rob to put up Christmas lights on the house (which mind you I had bought 3 years before and were still in the box).  So, he's up on the ladder when all of a sudden the ladder gives way and he crashed onto concrete!  It scared me to death.  But, besides a sore knee and bruised pride, he was fine.  I just assumed that was the last of our Christmas light decorations so I started tearing the clips off the roof.  Rob came out and said "What are you doing?!  Heck no.  I about killed myself putting those stupid things on and I'm going to finish the job."  So, up the ladder he went again.  Determined that man was!!!  And the lights looked great. :)  As I continue to go through ornaments, I also come across one that I received from a friend after Rob died.  I couldn't have found it at a better time.  As hard as Christmas is going to be for us, I know that Rob will be right here.  With the ornament, came a poem.  It reads:
"Merry Christmas from Heaven"
I still hear the songs
I still see the lights
I still feel your love
on cold wintery nights

I still share your hopes
and all of your cares
I'll even remind you
to please say your prayers

I just want to tell you
you still make me proud
You stand head and shoulders
above all the crowd

Keep trying each moment
to stay in His grace
I came here before you
to help set your place

You don't have to be 
perfect all of the time
He forgives you the slip
If you continue the climb

To my family and friends
please be thankful today
I'm still close beside you
In a a new special place

I love you all dearly
now don't shed a tear
Cause I'm spending my
Christmas with Jesus this year
--John Wm. Mooney, Jr

Here's another story for you to prove that Rob is with us:  Last week I put Eva down for a nap.  She has a stuffed baby doll she sleeps with.  When she woke up from her nap, I went in to get her and that doll was sitting on the edge of her cribrail against the wall.  I asked her if she did that and she just giggled.  I asked her to do it again, and she couldn't.  She tried several times.  I have no doubt that daddy was showing us that he is with us at all times....

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

One year since it all began...

October 28th.  I wish this date was never on my calendar….I think I’ve decided that one year later is worse than when it actually happened.  The reason I say this is because when I got the call, everything else was run on complete adrenaline.  I thought moment to moment, hour to hour.  I was praying for the best and hopelessly optimistic.  I had no other choice.  I KNEW Rob was going to be ok.  He had to be.  A year later, dreadfully anticipating this day and the next 34, I know the outcome and there is nothing I can do to change it.  It’s a helpless feeling, making you feel sick.  Two days ago, I was thinking “This was the last time Rob called home and I heard his voice.”  For the life of me, I can’t remember what we talked about that day.  I’m sure it was the “same old same old” but I just wish I could remember exactly the conversation.  I wish I could have told him NOT to go out on the mission 2 days later.  If we only knew…..Then all day yesterday, I kept counting down the hours until “doom day”.  Today I’m going for a massage.  I planned it for 11 am.  It’s an hour massage.  When I get done, it will be noon.  The exact time I got the phone call.  I figured, being relaxed will hopefully get me through that time.  It’s crazy that even though that day was so hectic, I can still remember it so vividly.  It’s so surreal.  Even one year later, it’s hard to believe.   As much as I didn’t want this to happen, God has a bigger plan.  There was a purpose he gave Rob to me for the short amount of time he did.  Although I may never know the complete reason, I have figured out a few things.  Before I met Rob, there is no way I could have handled a situation like this the way I have.  He taught me how to live independently and gave me the confidence in living life without him through his 3 deployments.  He taught me to “suck it up and drive on”.  He showed me that through hard work and determination, anything was possible.  He made an impression on everyone he crossed paths with.  He would fill a room up with his presence.  And to this day, I still feel his presence.  I have no doubt  he is up in heaven, guiding me.  The path I thought I would be taking with Rob took a major detour and now I’m taking the journey of life without him.  However, through all the ups and downs, he’s been there.  I’ve been blessed over and over even after this tragedy.  The support and love the girls and I have received has been more than amazing.  I still don’t know why such a great person had to leave so early, but I’m blessed to have been a part of his life.  Julia still talks about daddy and all the great memories she has.  Just the other day she said to me “I wonder what daddy is going to be for Halloween.  I bet it will be the best costume ever.  I should see if he could get Eva and I a thousand pieces of candy because I know he could do it.”  And Eva has started recognizing Rob in photos as “dada”.  Every night I tell her that daddy will watch her as she sleeps.  And every night she looks at his photo above her bed and says “baby”.  It is a photo of Rob holding her as a baby.  And I say to her “Yes, daddy is holding his baby Eva.”  Rob, I love you with all my heart.  I wish things could have been different, but they’re not.  So, please continue to guide me.  You live on through our girls and I am so blessed to have them.  They bring a smile to my face in the hardest of times and I know it’s you sending your love to me through them.  Thank you for that.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Happy Birthday Rob

October is a hard month.  Today was Rob's birthday.  He would have been 32.  A year ago I was talking to him on the phone wishing him a happy birthday.  I didn't know it would be the last time.  I can't help but think what we would have done today for his birthday.  Rob wasn't much on getting gifts, so I would probably have gotten him a card while Julia and Eva made him one, then the girls and I would have baked him his favorite cake (German chocolate) and then we probably would have gone out to eat (I'm guessing Outback since that was one of his favorites).  Days like this are so hard-harder than you expect them to be.  I'm sure all the "firsts" are, I'm just praying they get better each year.  Yesterday I told Julia that today was Rob's birthday.  She got excited and said "Yay!!" And then she caught herself.  I think for a moment, she forgot daddy was gone.  Even after almost a year, it is still easy to forget that he is gone.  I have no doubt that Rob is with us.  I can literally feel his presence.  I just wish I could touch him.  The only thing I can do is continue to move forward.  Rob will always be a part of our lives and he would want us to be happy.  But, in moving forward, I'm also letting go a bit.  Last week, I sold Rob's truck.  That was horribly bittersweet.  That was his "baby".  His pride and joy (besides his children of course!).  He LOVED that truck.  But, it just wasn't practical for me to drive.  My uncle helped me and we posted it on Craigslist.  We found someone on there who, through talking with my uncle, found out about our story.  He refused for me to take a hit on my loan after everything I had been through, and actually paid a couple hundred dollars OVER what I owed on the loan.  He said he had the utmost respect for our servicemen and women and that was the least he could do.  He wired the money to the bank and had a transporter come and get it.  Wow.  There are such good people out there.  But, when I saw the truck get loaded up, my heart was so sad.  Taking the things out of the truck that I knew Rob had put in there, was tough.  His presence was all around that truck.  But I also know Rob did not expect me to keep it.  In fact, I was so nervous driving it.  He was such a perfectionist with it, that I could literally hear him telling me not to do this or that with the truck!  I finally said out loud "Rob, if you don't like how I'm driving your truck, then you shouldn't have died and left me to take care of it. So back off!"  Then I'd hear him reply "I know babe.  You're doing a great job.  I'm just teasing you."   I'm sure people passing by thought I was a crazy lady.  :)  Even though it was still hard to see the truck go, I'm glad I waited until now to do it.  It gave me more time to get used to the fact that Rob wasn't coming back and that the truck truly wasn't practical.  When I told Julia we had sold the truck and they were coming to get it that day, she said "I want to kiss it."  She went over to the truck, kissed it and said "Don't touch that spot."  Then I said to her "Daddy really liked that truck, didn't he?"  And this is what my 8 year old replied with: "Yes, he did.  But it was hard for you to drive it and now you can get a car that YOU want and is easier for you."  Bless her heart.  She never ceases to amaze me.  So, although our daily lives are healing slowly but surely, there are these bumps in the road that cause you to rip the bandage off.  The next couple of months, there will be lots of bandages getting ripped off.  Happy Birthday, Rob.  I know you are having the best birthday celebration!  WE LOVE YOU.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Happy 8th Birthday Julia!

Yesterday was Julia's birthday.  It's so hard to believe my little girl is now 8.  I remember 8 years ago being in labor and having to go for an emergency c-section after 25 hours (with NO pain medication--yeah, don't know what I was thinking!).  I was completely out of it but mom later told me that Rob was so upset and scared seeing me in so much pain.  As they wheeled me to the c-section room, he told my mom that he never wanted to do this again.  Mom reassured him that once he held our little girl in our arms, it would all be worth it.  She was right.  One of our friends told me after Rob died that the day after Julia was born, they came to see us.  Rob was in the hallway and told them that he already loved being a dad.  And what a great dad he was!  This weekend we had a birthday party for Julia.  Our family came over and everyone had lots of fun.  Thank goodness for our trampoline because the kids were on there the whole time--Julia even opened her gifts on it!  lol  Then yesterday after school, we drove out to Osceola.  We stopped at the cemetary so Julia could release a balloon.  It's so surreal every time I go there.  I absolutely can't believe that Rob's spot is covered in grass and is no longer a large mound.  It makes me realize just how much time has passed.  He died 9 months ago today.  Crazy.  As Julia released her balloon, we watched it float high in the sky.  When we looked away for a second and looked back, we could no longer see it.  I asked Julia "Do you think Daddy grabbed it?"  "Yep" she said.  I, too, felt that he had.  On the way out of the cemetary, Julia said to me in the most innocent and excited voice "Wouldn't that have been cool if the balloon had carried us up there too?  Then when daddy got it, he would have said 'What a surprise!  I wasn't expecting you guys here!'  And then I would let go of the balloon and run to him yelling 'DADDY!!!!!' "   This hit me like a load of bricks.  I pictured how excited she would be if Rob were to miraculously come back to us.  It made me so sad.  But, then, it also reinstated the fact she knows she will see her daddy again someday.  I know Rob is looking down so proud of his little girl.  She is so smart and sweet.  

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

School has started

I know it's been a long time since I last wrote.  The Yllescas girls have been really busy the last few weeks of summer!  I had a blast at my Mary Kay Seminar in Dallas.  It was great to be surrounded by positive, upbeat women-especially during our anniversary.  When I got back to Nebraska, Julia was busy getting ready for the fair.  Thanks to her grandmas' sewing, gardening, and craftiness, she was able to enter a dress, pinata, tomatoes, and a few other things.  Since she is in the younger age group, they did not get judged on their projects.  Instead, they all received participation ribbons.  Next year Julia will be moved up to the older kids category in which they will get judged.  I had to laugh because when she found that out, she said "Ohhhhh...I'm so nervous!"  Julia's first day of second grade was already last week!  She was so excited to go.  When I picked her up, I asked her how it was.  "Well, it wasn't my best first day ever."  I guess she had a headache all day and then wiped out on the playground and scraped her leg all up.  Poor thing.  But the next day was much better and she informed me that she thinks 2nd grade will be much more fun than 1st grade! :)  Julia has also started dance classes up again.  Eva has started talking a lot now.  I've even noticed her singing the ABC song!  Of course she doesn't sing the alphabets but she has the tune down. :)  I'm still working on getting my house sold in Texas.  That is such a big stress for me especially since I am here in Nebraska and can't keep my eye on it.  But, I have great friends in TX who are helping me out tremendously with this.  I'm also looking into trading in Rob's truck and my vehicle for an SUV.  I need something that will pull the boat but is more practical for me to drive.  It's going to be really hard to get rid of Rob's truck because that was his "baby" but I know he would understand.  It's just too hard for me to drive around a F250 King Ranch diesel truck!!!  So, as usual, we continue to be busy.  As life continues to move forward, my thoughts and memories of Rob stay constant.  I think of him often throughout the day and don't even realize it until I think back on the day.  He will always be in our hearts.  There's not a day goes by that I don't miss him terribly.  I find myself getting really sad/frustrated/angry when the small things happen.  For instance, my vehicle wouldn't start and I couldn't figure out why.  I know nothing about cars.  But Rob would have figured it out in a heartbeat.  When something in the house breaks, Rob would have known what to do.  Yes, I'm blessed to have my brothers and dad near, but it's not the same.  It's a very helpless and overwhelming feeling.  I'm getting better with asking for help because I know I just can't do everything on my own.  But, I'm getting better at doing things I used to hate to do like making phone calls to companies, going through mail, house maintenance, etc.  I'm used to doing things on my own since Rob had deployed so much.  But, I also LOVED giving back those duties when he returned.  So, I'm learning to let the little things go and prioritize in order to keep my sanity! :)  Things are getting better but every once in awhile that frustration will creep back in.  That's when I take a deep breath, say a prayer, and, if needed, ask for help.  I know I've said this alot, but I truly don't know what I would do without the support and help of my awesome family and friends!!!!!

The pictures are of me in front of the Mary Kay Corporate Office and sitting at Mary Kay Ash's actual desk (wearing her glasses) and of Julia's first day of 2nd grade.