30 August 2011

To Hug or Not to Hug...

If you know me, you know I love being a military wife.  Okay, I don't love ALL of it (wet PT clothes in the bottom of the hamper and vibrating Blackberry's at 3am are the devil), but for the most part, being a military wife makes me happy.  I love the feeling of adventure when we move every few years. I love experiencing the "firsts" with my family at each new duty station.  And I love that my kids are growing up with friends all over the world (for real...they have friends in Italy!).  But I think what I love the most is the special bond I have with other military wives.  Corny? Yes.  True?  Yes.  Here is my most recent example...

 I have a good friend, Jen, who lives in Tennessee.  From the years 2003 - 2005 we were pretty much glued to each other.  Our husbands were deployed ALL the time, our kids drove us crazy ALL the time and so we hung out ALL the time.  And by hang out, I mean I would spend 5-6 hours a day at this woman's house.  I believe my love of polish pottery started at Jen's house.  My affinity for tortilla soup started at Jen's house (Jen is a really good cook, btw).  I learned all about raising boys at Jen's house (turns out they like to be left alone while bathing starting at about age 6...sorry Jake!)  Jen's daughter Rileigh would entertain my daughter Natalie.  I helped Jen deliver a litter of puppies in her laundry room, for goodness sake! Do you see where I'm going with this?  Jen and I were tight.

About 2 months ago Jen messaged me on Facebook and asked me if I'd do her a favor.  Well, duh!  Of course I would!  Jen's friend Beth's was being stationed with me!  Jen wanted to pass my name on in case Beth had questions about the area/schools/housing, etc.  I was more than happy to oblige.  Beth and I chatted a few times on Facebook, giving my two cents when asked.  During the summer I watched (is that what you call seeing someone's status every day in your newsfeed?) as Beth packed up, moved here and subsequently had to spend WAY too much money on school supplies.  (Did you know high-schoolers need $150 calculators?  Ugh!)

Fast forward to last Thursday.  I arrived at the annual spouses club sign-up for our post.  For those non-military types, this is just an opportunity to drop in, eat some yummy food, fill out a membership form for the upcoming  year, pray your kid doesn't spill his plate of food and chat with some ladies that you may not have seen since last spring. I glanced around to find an empty place to sit and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a familiar face. Inside my head it sounded something like this, "Oh, there's Beth.  I'll go sit by her.  Wait, is that BETH?  It looks like Beth, I mean it looks like all of the pictures I've seen of her on Facebook, but I've actually never met the woman before.  It must be Beth!  Do I hug her?  What if she's not a hugger?  But Jen's a hugger, so Beth must be too, right?"  (And yes, all of that flashed through my brain in about .5 seconds...scary).

It turns out Beth was already sitting with my friend Suzanne and as soon as I got close enough she blurted out, "Hi Amy..."  And that was that.  We talked for the next 15 minutes and it was kind of like we had always been friends.  It was that easy.  THAT is what I love most about being a military wife. I cherish more than anything our connections to each other because of each other.  Yes, Facebook and social media are a big part of what keep us connected, but there is something else too.  There is something about the commonality we share that is unique to just us.  Not everyone can do what we do.  Not everyone is cut out for this lifestyle and that's okay.  But for those of us who do it, our relationships with each other are what make the military and our way of life so special and so rewarding.

Now, if I could only find a way to get rid of that Blackberry...


05 July 2011

Footloose and fancy free! Just like our country.

The stars have aligned yet again this summer and we were able to dump our kids off let our kids spend some time with their grandparents.  12 whole days with no kids...just me and my soldier.  We plan on doing our best to cram everything we can into these 12 days.  And I'm fairly confident the grandparents will be doing the exact same thing.

Since last night was the 4th, we decided to just walk down to the golf course to see if we could see the fireworks.  Fresh from our kid-free dinner at my favorite Mexican restaurant, I didn't really care where we watched from, I was just happy to not have to be schlepping a gazillion blankets, chairs and snacks down there with me. 

So there we were, walking hand in hand, dog on leash at our side (just like it was 1999...hey, it rhymes!) and talking about our kids.  I mentioned to my soldier how much our daughter missed him on our trip.  I went on to describe how she kept asking to call him while we were on vacation, how she got tearful when she realized she would miss his birthday this year, and so on.  And then my soldier said, "Just imagine what she'll be like during the next deployment." 


"Uh-huh.  Oh, right.  Yep, that will suck," I replied. 

And that was it.  We moved on to the next topic.  But 24 hours later I haven't moved on.  After eight trips across the big pond you'd think I would move on a bit faster, but I haven't yet. I know he'll go again. It's not if, it's when.  But something about the matter-of-factness way he said it got to me. 

We continued our walk, arrived at the golf course and the fireworks started.  Standing there with him for those 20 minutes reminded me that my soldier's matter-of-fact attitude about his deployments is the reason our country is so special.  He and thousands of others just like him are willing to do what is asked of them over and over again (insert shout-out to my BFAM, Sean here). They do what is asked of them so that this country can remain free. 

I hope the next time a deployment arises I will remember to have the same attitude.  Until then I will spend the next 12 days enjoying my freedom. As a matter of fact, I hope you all do too.

10 June 2011

A few reminders...

Due to yesterday's Nerf dart incident (Nerf dart drive-by, side of head, from boy wearing nothing but underwear, 7am, pre-coffee) I feel the need to post some gentle reminders for my son as we officially start our summer vacation together.  It's for his own good, really.  And as an added bonus, they'll be written down as evidence to show his therapist when he's 25 and living in my basement.  Even better, I can show his girlfriend/fiancee/wife at some point as proof that it's not MY fault. I tried to reign him in at an early age.  I really did.

#1 - There will be no Nerf play before 9am or before mommy has had at least 2 cups of coffee, whichever comes first.  And God forbid a Nerf dart land IN the coffee. Consider yourself warned.

#2 - Mommy's shirt/shorts are not to be used as a tissue.  You are old enough to use a tissue (or a piece of toilet paper, for all I care), so please do so.  Wiping your nose on mommy and then exclaiming, "Yuck...that one was nasty!" will not be tolerated. 

#3 - We will be going to the pool this summer.  DAILY.  You are now old enough to carry your own towel and your own snack bag.  Mommy is not a pack mule. 

#4 - While at the pool, please keep your hands to yourself.  Just because mommy is wearing a top that ties in the back or shows more skin that a tshirt, does not mean you are free to fondle mommy.  Your dad has that covered.  Trust me.

#5 - Please keep your hands out of your pants.  Mommy doesn't care if they are "just resting there,"  it's not polite. 

#6 - Please keep your hands out of MY pants.  Coming up behind me while I wash dishes and sliding your hands up my shorts or up the front of my shirt was cute when you were two.  Now, it's just plain creepy.  Besides, your dad has that one covered too.

#7 - Mommy will be making 3 meals a day.  Not 10.  Mommy is not a short-order cook. 

#8 - Mommy loves to play UNO.  Mommy doesn't even mind if you beat her 7 games in a row.  Mommy does mind, however, if you refer to her as, "Mommy, the UNO loser," and point at her while in line at the commissary.  That's not nice.

#9 - Mommy always welcomes a "squeeze hug" or a "nose kiss."  Those will always be allowed.  Even before she's had her coffee.

25 April 2011

Month of the Military Child

Some of you may or may not know that April is Month of the Military Child.  Consequently, it is also Sports Eye Safety Month, Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month and STD Awareness Month, but I think I'll let someone else blog about those happy topics.  I'm here to blog about what I know and love... military children.

I like to think I am somewhat of a subject matter expert on these particular little members of society.  I have spent countless hours volunteering in their schools.  I have babysat multitudes of them on a regular basis.  I have cared for them during the happiest of moments and have held their hands during the darkest times of their lives.  Oh, and I just so happened to have given birth to two of the cutest military kids you'll ever meet.  This post is for them.

The best way to exemplify how special these kids are is to give you a recent list of statements/questions overheard at our house in the last few months.

"Are we moving today, too?"
"Is Daddy coming home tonight?"
"Is Uncle Sean in Iraq or Afghanistan?"
"When we move, will our new house be one-story, or two?"
"Where will we be living when I turn 10?"
"Why does my friend's dad have a cane?"
"Why do you drink coffee every morning?"

Ok, that last one isn't specific to military children, but you get the idea.  I field a lot of questions from my kids on a daily basis.  A LOT (I'm looking at you, Aunt Carrot).  Lately, I've had to pause before answering some of them.  The absurdity of the questions coming out of their tiny mouths overtakes my emotions.  It is simply not normal for a five-year-old boy to wonder if his daddy will be home every night.  How sad is it that a nine-year-old girl must accept the fact that she will move every two or three years?  Or that her uncle will be gone for a year and that countries named Iraq and Afghanistan are a frequent part of her vocabulary?

But I can't let myself go there.  The kids don't go there, so why should I?  The kids don't know any different.  They've grown up knowing their dad will be home sometimes and sometimes he won't.  They know their friends will move just like they will move.  And they know there will be new friends awaiting them at their new school and in their new neighborhood.  The kids also know that their uncle is gone, but that it's ok. Their cousins will be fine, just like they are fine.

Military children are lots of things.  They are resilient.  They are flexible.  They make friends easily.  They're responsible.  They recognize the importance of selfless service.  They have what it takes to succeed in any situation.  In short, they are my heroes.  So, this month I've made a point to ask THEM some questions.  It looks like they just might have all of the answers.

29 March 2011

Too Legit to Quit

Vince Lombardi once said, "Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit."  I confess that I have a BAD habit of starting something and then quitting before I finish. (Here is where my husband most assuredly will smirk, raise his left eyebrow and try not to laugh).  But seriously, I have not followed through with quite a few things in recent years and it is disappointing not to mention embarrassing.  To make matters worse,  they were things that I thought I would be good at and really wanted to do.  
I have tried my hand at two different home-based businesses which failed.  Quitter.  In 2007, I enrolled in a course to be a certified medical transcriptionist and never finished. Quitter again. I had a litany of excuses at the time, but in reality I think I was just plain lazy.  That, and I tend to over-extend myself in the volunteer arena (note to self:  FRG leader two times is two times too many).  Maybe I would have been good at that them if I had put in a little more time and a whole lot more effort, but I didn't.  I feel like I have not set a good example for my children and it really bothers me. I hate thinking of myself as a quitter.  Thankfully, all of that has changed in recent months.
Before I continue,  the 11 followers of this blog need a few details. (Btw, if you're not a follower...please feel free to click that little follow button on the right side of the page).  

1.  Last October, a friend asked me to be her workout buddy.   She said she needed motivation and having a "buddy" would help.

2.  She also mentioned she was doing something called CrossFit in her friend's garage.  I thought I heard of it before, but I wasn't sure (another note to self:  always research a new workout regime before you try it).

3.  If you don't know what CrossFit is, click here and then continue reading.  Sounds insane, right?

4.  Three weeks after I started, my "buddy" had a sciatic nerve flare-up and has been in physical therapy ever since.  (Don't worry. I still love ya, Lisa.)

That left me and my new favorite trainer/coach/friend,  four days a week, in her garage, training.  Well, she wasn't training, I was.  And when she couldn't be there, her very patient husband/soldier/trainer would train me.  Can you say INTIMIDATING?  Here I was a caffeine addicted, stay-at-home mom of two, trying my hand at a strength and conditioning program geared toward the military and elite athletes.  I was either a glutton for punishment or certifiably crazy. 

But over time, something happened.  Little by little, I got stronger.  I didn't feel like puking after every single workout (but I was close several times).  My favorite jeans I bought after I lost my baby weight in 2003 fit again (and they were still relatively stylish, which was a bonus).   I no longer did girl pushups on my knees, I could do REAL pushups!  I was starting to like this.

Fast forward to one day two weeks ago.  I walked in the garage, looked at the wipe board to see what the workout was  and saw the acronym I had been dreading since I learned of its existence.  HPSU.  Handstand Push-up.  I wanted to run. I can't do this. I can't do a handstand.  At this point, I think I was having a panic attack.  She's crazy!  I'm crazy! I.CAN'T. DO. THIS!  I wanted to do it, but was scared.  It would be easier not to try.  I could substitute a different exercise for this one.  I was still too new at this.  I might fall.  I might get hurt.

And then I thought of all of the things I had quit and not finished.   I was tired of being a quitter.  I didn't want to give up anymore.   I looked at my trainer/coach/friend as she pointed at the wall and said, "Do it. You can do it."   Fighting the urge to cry, I took a deep breath and threw myself into a handstand.  I held it for 10 seconds came down and did it again.  And again. I still haven't stopped smiling.

Before you give me too much credit, I didn't do the push-up part, just the handstand.  I am also still a caffeine addict.   I still don't have a home based business (unless this blog thing somehow starts generating some cash, which would be lovely).  I am not a medical transcriptionist.   But I am no longer a quitter.  In fact, next time you see me, ask me to do a handstand and I'll prove it.

18 March 2011

I may be early, but I hope I am not too late.

Nearly 13 years ago, one day after a mini-blizzard, was a glorious, sun-shine filled day that still resonates in my mind as if it were yesterday.  There was nothing to forget and everything to remember. - family, friends, good food, excellent music and at least one beautiful lady, dressed in white.  It was a day to stand up in front of the world and God and profess something that I had known for quite some time, that I had found the individual that is my perfect, and better half.
There she was, a lady that filled the room with a smile, was friends with everyone in the room, held her own with my closest friends, adored by my family (boy were they happy I found someone that they could like better than myself), and appreciated me for who I was/am - each of these individual qualities being difficult on their own, but truly amazing as a package.
But, it was not only these attributes that convinced me that I could love no other, it was also the little things.  In honor of a few of those, I have compiled a list of 13 – a list to represent 13 happy years of marriage that are just the beginning.  It is a combination of the reasons why I love you, Amy,  and illustrations of times I knew that it was true love.
13.  The way that you will still love me even though I will lose cools points extracted from my Man card for professing my love on a Blog (hopefully I had a credit up to this point for being in a profession that wears  a uniform and jumps from airplanes; and forgive me for hacking your account)
                (13.a The way you will tell my sisters to pound sand as they pick apart my grammar on this post.)
12.  The fact that the Marching Illini CD was in your car’s CD player in college.  Love at first sounds.
11. The way that you wrote me a letter every single day of basic training, helping me through some of the sleep deprived days.
10. The way that my friends always wanted to know if you were coming too because you had become just as much a part of the group as the rest of us.
9. You still laugh at me and my friends, probably encouraging some really poor humor.
8. The way you can immerse yourself in my family events without question.  There is no question that you are a just a big of part of my extended family, as well as your own, and I can’t imagine it any other way.
7. How nothing will faze you to the point of inaction.  You may be anxious about something (moving kids in the middle of a school year, multiple deployments, constant uncertainty about where the Army needs us next, etc),  but it won’t affect your ability to act cool, calm, and collected in front of others – especially those that are leaning on you.  You can roll with the punches.
6. The way you volunteer to help others, whether at church, school, neighbors or a random act of kindness.  The world needs more of that from everyone.
5. Your understanding of my conviction to the job at hand, and your willingness to sacrifice family time and other life’s perks to support that.
4. Your same conviction to this country and the principles for which are dear to us.
3. Your ability to sustain a household that I do not always get to spend adequate time at.
2. Your dedication to our beautiful, healthy, intelligent children.  They smile every time they look at you and want you there with them in both good times and bad. They deserve the best parents and you are certainly upholding more than your part of the deal.
1. You inspire me, and you mean the world to me.
If the roles were reversed, I do not think I could accomplish what you do.  I certainly could not do it as well.  You amaze me.  You inspire me.  I fell in love with you over 13 years ago, and have only grown to love you more.
So, it may not be the 21st of March yet.  It may be too early to remind you of how much I love you on our official anniversary.  But, I hope I am not too late to tell you the same.


09 March 2011

What IS my job, anyway?

I can always count on my children to give me fresh fodder for blog posts.  Today was no exception.  Driving my youngest to preschool today I had the radio on.  One of my favorite songs, "Children of God" by Third Day came on, so I turned it up a little.  That's right.  We rock out to Christian music as we travel to and from school.  It's either that or endure the one millionth viewing  of The Incredibles on DVD, so I'll take the Christian music hands down. This morning, our conversation went something like this:

Son:  "Mom, am I a children of God?" 
Me:  "Yes, you are a child of God."
Son:  " And God takes care of us, right?"
Me:  "Yep."
Son:  "And he loves us no matter what?"
Me:  "Yes, son.  He loves you no matter what."

Insert LONG pause. Here is where I start to brace myself for the confession that is surely to follow.  Since he accidently bloodied a boy's nose yesterday, I am in no mood for anymore drama.  I cringe, taking a glance in the rearview mirror.   

Son:  "Then what's your job, mom?"

I'll admit, that is funny.   And about 10 different responses were on the tip of my tongue, starting with taxi driver.  I don't think my car is going to have any resale value because I'm pretty sure my rear end has made a permanent indentation in the driver's seat.   Rounding out the list was laundress, cook, FRG leader, PTA volunteer, grocery shopper, dog walker, booger wiper, etc.  My mother-in-law had a good one too.  She suggested I tell him, "To keep you out of trouble!" 

I responded with a simple, "To be a good mommy," but for the rest of the day I have been thinking of what my job REALLY is. 

Yes, my job is to be a good mommy.  And a good wife, I suppose (love ya, babe).  I also try hard to be a good daughter, a good sister, a good friend, a dependable volunteer, etc. But I have racked my brain all day with what my "job" is or what it should be and I have been coming up empty. 

And then it hit me.  I don't care what my "job" is.   Who says I have to have a title for what I do every day?  Obviously, my son thought my job was to take care of him and love him no matter what. To me, that's pretty darn special.    

So I will continue to take care of him and love him no matter what.  And his sister, too.  And their dad.  I don't need a job title to do any of that.   Maybe just some coffee, a little bit of patience every now and then and the knowledge I  am a child of God, too.  He will take care of me and love me no matter what.    And that my friends, is good enough for me.

02 March 2011

My Cheatin' Heart

I would like to start this post by first publicy apologizing to Facebook.  Facebook, I have been cheating on you.  You were good to me for the past two years.  You welcomed me with open arms while I earned hundreds of  medals on Bejeweled Blitz.  You were there when I planted my first crop on Farmville. You stood by me when I amassed a fortune in mega casinos in Mafia Wars and then sold them off so I could try my hand at Cafe World.  Sadly, there is a new time-waster in town and his name is "the blogosphere". 

From now on when I should be folding clothes, making dinner, or being any sort of productive, you will find me keeping up with my not one, but TWO blogs.  That's right.  When I cheat, I cheat BIG.  Sorry Facebook.  Blogging is where it's at.  At least that's what I hope, anyway. 

I know the suspense must be killing you, so I'll get right to it.  You can find the new blog here.  This blog is simple.  We (me and my two sis-in-laws) will read and review a new book each week and you get to tell us what you think.  Don't worry.  We won't bore you with books about Army life, raising toddlers, or the 4 P's of the Marketing Mix.   I promise we'll do our best to mix it up and keep it interesing.  We have been known to compete over who can sell the most books at a garage sale (scary AND true) but we do have varying tastes in literature, so there will be something for everyone.  I may even feel the need to review some of the pre-teen books I have been forced asked to read by my daughter.  That should at least be entertaining, right? 

By all means, let us know what you think.  We're tough, we can take it.  Unless of course you're cheating on us with another book blog.  That would drive me right back into the arms of Facebook and I'm not sure he's ready to take me back.

25 February 2011

A new inductee

Yesterday I attended a ceremony of sorts.  It wasn't a promotion ceremony (those are fun because it means someone is getting a pay raise!) or a retirement ceremony (those are fun because it means someone is getting out of the Army, which also means a pay raise!).  It was an induction ceremony (and no, no one came home with prescription narcotics and a screaming infant).  I'll get to the ceremony in a moment. 

My family and my 2 college friends that read this blog know that my son has one teacher I really like, and one I could do without.  For the purpose of this blog, we'll call the one I like Ms. T.  Ms. T is the MOST WONDERFUL preschool teacher of all time.  Why?  Because she loves my son like he is her own, that's why. I drop my son off each morning knowing that if he can't be with me or his grandparents, she is the next best thing.  Needless to say, she is very special to us.

So,  when I heard that her 19 year-old son left for a year in Afghanistan last week  I wanted to cry.  This wonderful woman who gives so much to my son day after day, now has a son in what I consider to be the worst place on the face of the earth.  I hate Afghanistan.  (I hate Iraq too, but right now I hate Afghanistan more.  Some of my favorite peeps are currently in Afghanistan, so I hate it more).  However, now is not the time to cry (I cry when I read to my daughter's class or when I see that one coffee commercial when Peter comes home to surprise his parents on Christmas morning).  Now is the time we rally and welcome Ms. T. into our fold.

Another mom, Ms. Awesome, suggested we put together a deployment basket for Ms. T.  So four of us moms (who all happen to be Army wives, by the way) assembled  a basket of goodies to get her through the next year.  

The basket contained:
Blue star sticker for her car or window
Army travel mug
Trashy beach read
Chocolate (duh)
Bottle of wine (double duh)
Stress-relief/relaxation tea
Handmade cards from our kids
Notes from us
380 marbles and 2 Ball jars (so she can transfer one a day until he is home)

Ms. Awesome wrapped it up in cellophane and tied it with a big yellow ribbon and bow.  It was beautiful!  (I SO wish I would have taken a picture).

Yesterday after school we, along with our children, presented it to her.  She cried.  We cried.  We freaked out our kids.  It was awesome.  She was speechless, and thanks to our tears, so were we.  I think we each hugged her 2 or 3 times before one of us (totally not me) composed ourselves enough to spit out how much we love her and will support her in any way we can. 

Welcome to the sisterhood, Ms. T! May the year go fast, may you get many emails and phone calls from your soldier, may you not watch too much TV news coverage, and may you accept our thanks for raising such a fine young man.  We love you!

19 February 2011

The Fab Five

Earlier this week, a friend posted an article on Facebook about the 5 friends Oprah says every woman must have.  You can read that article here.  I thought it sounded interesting, so I read on.  Truthfully, I read it to see if I had any of the friends that Oprah says I should have.  I do, but as I do with any advice/self-help/opinion pieces I read, I try to decipher how this pertains to me as a military spouse.  You know what's coming next, right?  Without further ado, I present The Five Friends Every Military Spouse Should Have, according to Amy. 

The Senior Advisor - No offense to all of you "senior" spouses out there, but you know who you are.  I have been fortunate enough to have a handful of these in my almost 13 years as a military spouse and am even more fortunate that hardly any of them are on Facebook or blogger.  I wouldn't want to have to admit  that I consider them a "senior" anything.  The senior advisors are your friends, but they are also your mentors.  They usually have older kids, a higher-ranking husband, and really cool furniture they've gotten from their overseas duty stations.  These ladies are never short on good advice, a calm demeanor and some sort of yummy baked good they just so happen to have made that morning (and seriously, HOW do they DO that?).  Their door is always open and they always have time for a toddler-crazed stay-at-home mom with a quick question.  If you don't have one of these in your military spouse arsenal...get one. 

The Decorator -  The decorator is one of those women that makes living in a different house every two years look easy.  Her furniture ALWAYS fits and LOOKS GOOD where ever she puts it.  She can pick up an ottoman at IKEA, a rug in Texas at a flea market, some curtains at Target and make them work in every house she lives in until they retire.  And, painting?  She makes it look like a breeze.  The decorator will paint every room in every house they live in even if it means she has to paint it back before they move.  The decorator most likely also has a husband that gives her semi-free reign to decorate as she pleases, thus making her even more valuable.   Husbands frequently go along with decorating changes if some poor sap down the street has had to endure it too and they can share fabric shopping war stories.  The decorator is always willing to come help you move a couch or give you her opinion on a new coffee table.  I love a good decorator friend.

The Fertile Myrtle -  Everyone needs at least one Fertile Myrtle in their friend bank. The Fertile Myrtle has numerous children, numerous pets and an unlimited supply of patience.  NOTHING fazes the Fertile Myrtle.  Your toddler spilled milk on her rug?  No biggie.  It matches the spill one of her children placed there earlier this morning.  You need someone to watch your two kids at the last minute because your babysitter canceled?  Puh-lease!  What is two more kids when you already have four or five of your own?  The Fertile Myrtle is happy to oblige.  Her theory is the more the merrier and she honestly believes that to be true.  The Fertile Myrtle is who you thought you wanted to be, but 2 kids and a deployment later you realized there was no way that was going to happen without winning the lottery and hiring a full-time nanny.  You might not aspire to be a Fertile Myrtle, but you need one as a friend.  Trust me.

The Anti-Spouse - The Anti-Spouse is a different breed.  She is the one that says things like, "I don't know what my husband does, because we don't talk about his job when he gets home."  She may not even know what the inside of his office looks like, because she's never been there.  To her the Army (or Navy, or Air Force, or Marines) is just HIS job, not THEIR way of life.  He does his thing, she and the kids do theirs.  It may seem strange to you, but it works for them. You can hold endless conversations about fashion, child-rearing, dieting, relationships, just about anything and the military will never enter the conversation.   The Anti-Spouse always provides a good reality check if you find yourself using more acronyms than actual words in a sentence.  Warning:  Do not confuse The Anti-Spouse with The Angry Spouse.  The Angry Spouse is a sad, bitter woman full of endless complaints about the military.   The Angry Spouse is usually not happy with her marriage, her children or even the produce at the commissary, and she will find a way to work her discontent into every conversation.  Stay away from The Angry Spouse.  Or better yet, find another Angry Spouse and introduce them to each other.

The Battle Buddy - The Battle Buddy is by far the best friend for a military spouse to have.  She is your go-to gal for all things, all the time.  Need a pair of earrings to match your formal dress?  She'll bring over her entire jewelry box.  Think you might want to train for a 1/2 marathon?  She'll lace up her running shoes and train with you.  Need a good cry because you haven't talked to or gotten an email from your deployed husband in a week?  She is at your door with a kleenex 3-pack and a movie to occupy the kids so the both of you can cry in peace.  The Battle Buddy is worth her weight in gold.  If you are extremely lucky, you may find a Battle Buddy at each duty station.  If not, don't worry.  There is an unwritten rule that once a Battle Buddy, always a Battle Buddy, even from thousands of miles away. 

So there you have it.  My unofficial guide to The 5 Friends Every Military Spouse Should Have.  Thoughts?  Comments?  I'd love to hear them!  Unless of course you think of ME as your senior advisor.  You can keep that thought to yourself.  :)

02 February 2011

A (bittersweet) taste of freedom.

Today was truly a test.  And by test, I really mean a nail-biting, gas-producing, check the phone every 5 minutes whopper of a test.  Today was the first day I was going to leave my son at preschool past the normal pick-up time.  He was going to be there a whole 5+ hours!  Mind you, this was the PERFECT situation.  He was staying in the same room.  I packed his favorite lunch (dinosaur shaped pb&j is always a hit).  My favorite teacher was going to be watching him.  There were only 5 other kids staying.  I say again...PERFECT. 

So what was the test, you ask?  It wasn't a test for him.  It was for ME.  What was I going to do for ALL.THAT.TIME?  I have been a stay-at-home mom for almost 9 years.  9 years.  Yes, we have done a weekend away from them here or there.  I go out with the girls on occasion.  I no longer have them attached at the hip. (Insert shout out to my sister-in-law, Sarah, here).  But this was different.  This time, I wasn't going to a movie with friends.  I wasn't on a trip to watch my beloved Illini football team in the Rose Bowl.  I wasn't spending an afternoon shopping for clothes.  I was going to be home...alone.

I just so happened to have a brunch to attend, which took care of 2 hours.  But, now what?  I have dreamed of this day for YEARS!   Those dreams have ranged from several hours in a row of sipping coffee and reading books at Barnes and Noble to meeting old friends for a long lunch (and, of course, wine).  So, I started slow.  I called an old friend and had a nice middle-of-the week chat.  I kept the ball rolling and sent my sister-in-law a few (dozen) texts.  Then I really got into it and stopped and got my husband the razor blade refills I kept forgetting to pick up (and why do those have to be SO expensive, I ask?).  Just when I was hitting my stride, I unexpectedly ran into a good friend in the drug store parking lot.  

We chatted for a few minutes, and when she realized I was alone she asked, "What are you doing? Where are your kids?"  Trying not to do my best Sammy Hagar kick and run around the parking lot in circles, I explained that I was alone.  Both kids were at school. "This is what my life will be like in August when everyone is in school full time!"  She smiled, but it was a half-smile.  She shrugged her shoulders and said, "What I wouldn't give to have all of mine little and home with me again.  Now, it's just me and the dog." 

I think you could actually hear the air deflate out of my lungs.  She went on to say how her youngest had left to go back to college today and her husband was on yet another government sponsored vacation, so it was literally just "her and the dog."  How depressing is that?  I started to rethink things then and there.

My life for the last 9 years has been all about them.  Feed them.  Diaper them.  Dress them.  Heal them.  Teach them.  Tickle them.  Play with them.  Read with them.  And the truth is, I have loved every minute of it (ok, not every SINGLE minute, but you get my drift).  These kids are the reason I am who I am.  They make me laugh, they make me feel needed, they are my shopping buddies, they keep me company during deployments and they teach me to be more patient (they teach their dad that too, by the way).

Don't get me wrong, I still plan on enjoying my alone time with friends or volunteering at school without a toddler pulling paper out of the teacher mailboxes.  I still can't fathom a time when my children won't be in my house.  It seems like ages from now, but I know it's not.  And I know it will be here before I know it.  So from now on if you run in to me in the drug store parking lot, my Sammy Hagar kick may not be as high.  I may only do one lap around the parking lot instead of two. I have to be careful, you know.  I wouldn't want to injure myself and not be able to take care of the dog.