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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Free time, military wives, and great moms!

Is there really such a thing as free time? Being a mother and military wife, that is such a funny question. I have learned that with time management, almost anything is possible. Though, I don't consider my time "free". It can always be used for something good whether it be offering a supportive hand to a friend going through a troubling PCS or planning fundraising for a spouse support group. Do you sense a theme here? I love to give back to the military community. I think it's vitally important for family morale. After all, over my years as a spouse, I've benefited so much from the kindness and support of other spouses and families, that I feel the torch has been passed to me in a way.

Here's a funny, sort of, story for you. A couple of years ago, upon recognizing that the geographic area we were living in had no "welcome committee" or Spouse Club, I decided to commence the establishment of them myself. It was nothing much. I mailed out some brochures, housing information to folks PCSing in and when they arrived I sent them a small little gift. One wife sent me a lovely thank you note expressing her appreciation. She couldn't believe that I did this by myself. Now, it really was nothing--seriously. It was just a tiny box of Whitman's chocolates and a votive candle with a "welcome to the area" note. Still, to her it meant so much. And, to me, her appreciation meant the world.

Recently, I read about another's military wife's efforts in working with families and volunteer organizations. Her list of accomplishments and volunteer work astounded me. She didn't seem to bat an eye and felt it was truly what she was meant to do--what she needed to do. I can relate and found myself in her shoes (sort of).

At any rate, women like this wife and so many others do these things out of the kindess of their hearts and as a way to give back. They don't expect recognition. They get fulfillment in a different way. Still, recognition is nice, especially when you least expect it. With this in mind, I direct you to something I read about on the MilSpouse blog today, shared by Editor Babette Maxwell. Just in time for Mother's Day 2008, you can nominate your favorite mom to be "America's Favorite Mom". Please think about the moms in your life, especially those in the military community and consider who deserves to be nominated. I've got a few wonderful women in mind myself.

Nominate Your Favorite Mom

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Do I miss the military?

I get asked this a lot. My response is both yes and no. There are certain things I truly miss about my time in the service. However, as many of you can understand, there is a lot of imbecility that I don't miss. Of course, it's like that with any job or lifestyle. I can't say that I have ever loved one thing 100% without any misgivings. Even upon reentering the civilian world when I first got out, I disliked things. The ironic part was that one thing I truly detested was the public's inability to move at the pace I wanted them to. I forgot that I didn't control the world. I was no longer in charge of anyone. I couldn't give marks every quarter, and I did not maintain the ability to withhold their vacation time if they didn't perform to my standards.

Alright, that makes the military me sound a little harsh. I don't think I was that bad. Others might tell you differently. Still, being a woman in the service comes with it's own baggage. There are myths. There are rumors. There is discrimination. There is a lot of nonsense, as I said above. And, that, THAT I don't miss.

I will say that I loved my job. I moved up the ranks fairly quickly. I landed a job with some great schooling. I had some good friends. I have many great memories. Though, it all seems like that was another lifetime. Now, I am more educated. I've had a few more birthdays. I've gained a husband. I've got a few monkeys who call me mom, and I have a resume that reads quite well.

Would I trade this for another stint in the service? Not hardly. I wouldn't mind going back and keeping all of this, but it's not possible. I'm a different person now and my responsibilities are different. I'm holding down the homefront. I'm serving in a whole new way. Sure, I don't get the pay and I don't make rank, but I have great pride in watching and supporting my husband serve this country.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Quick trip brings on befuddlement and weak knees

I could probably still manage to dismantle and reassemble an M16. Still, sometimes doing the simplest of tasks has the ability to wear me out and befuddle me. I know many of you mom’s feel me on this one. All at once, in one morning, while trying to race out the door, I was unable to locate my (1) cell phone, (2) the dog’s leash, and (3) an extra stash of diapers.

It’s funny how the most mundane tasks are capable of tripping up an otherwise put-together mom. However, I will add that all of this craziness came on a morning of a homecoming. My husband had been away and the kids and I were going to pick him up at the base. Situation normal, right? Not exactly. This time the trip was relatively short, we didn’t get a chance to get into our own rhythm. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, but most military wives can attest to the fact that deployments do have a sort of pattern at home wherein she/he and the kids develop a routine almost as if by second nature. The military member leaves, and things at home kick into “deployment mode”. We keep ourselves as busy as possible and try not to dwell on the absence of our beloved hero.

Now, it’s not out of sight out of mind. Instead, it’s more of a we miss you, but we are ok kind of flow. With this attitude, we just live. We go about things as if they were the same. So, what’s the problem? Well, when you get the call that he is coming home, your excitement builds. You suddenly lose the “attitude” because you are now ready to kick into reunion mode. Yippee! He’s coming home. It’s great, but can be overwhelming on so many levels.

This time, since the deployment was shorter than normal, I felt like screaming, But, you just left. I haven’t even gotten to go into alpha spouse mode yet. I’m not ready to share the remote again. The kids finally stopped crying and asking when you were coming home.

So, I tell the kids, Daddy is coming home. My oldest says, Mommy, he just left. We didn’t have enough mommy time. Um, ok. You have me all the time, I’m thinking. Typically, a military kid would be elated to hear that daddy is coming home. I suppose, though, that when you have erratic deployments like we do, the kids never really get into a groove. Things are always in flux. It’s got to be hard on them.

Anyway, the morning that we are trying to get out the door, I’m so overjoyed and bewildered at the same time that I think my brain shut off. I even almost locked us out of the house in my foggy state. Fast forward to seeing my beloved at the base: My knees grew weak upon seeing him, the sun seemed to shine brighter and my fog lifted. I suddenly felt whole again. The kids were thrilled and it would appear they were ok with losing out on extra mommy time. Daddy was home.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Must haves in your Mom Arsenal

A day out with the (little) kids means packing heat, I mean treats. That’s for you AND the little ones. Here are a few suggestions that I find work well.

~Biter Biscuits

~Stickers (To answer your question, it can be any kind--even price stickers. Because, if your children are behaving wildly, you can alway stick a price on their forehead and shove them up on a shelf for someone else to bring home--at cost of course.)

~M&MS (You know you need a sugar high just to muster the energy sometimes.)

~Baby wipes (They have more purposes than one can imagine.)

~Spare change (Actually make that dollars-inflation, you know.)

~A kazoo (I don’t carry one, but I should. Think of all the annoying fun you could have.)

~Checkbook or credit card (To pay for the items, that you didn't want, but that your child broke.)

~Pen and paper (To write down the things that come of the mouths of those babes while you are parked at a stop light.)

~Your license/military ID (never leave home without it.) Check, double check and make sure you have it.

So, why the insistence on making sure you have your ID with you? Well, because if you have little ones like mine, they enjoy rifling through your purse/diaper bag/wallet and stealing items out of it. One of the troops at my house enjoys taking mine and pretending its her debit card.

What else must you have? Oh, gosh, how could I forget---a sense of humor! Be prepared for anything but expect the unexpected. You never know when the troops will start to get rowdy and start running through clothes racks in a department store. Sure, the game of hide and seek is fun for them, but think about how ridiculous you will look crouching down and searching for them shouting. Janey! Johnny! Come to mommy! Seriously, get over here now! I'm not kidding. I'm leaving without you. C'mon. Kids! Kids! Wait until I tell your father about this.

Think about how far candy or a cookie go go for bribery right now. Certainly, you would be contributing from tooth decay, BUT you'd be avoiding looks from passersby and a call from child services who decides you can't keep track of your own kids.

The moral of this post? Stock your purse with goodies for you (to keep sane) and goodies for the kids (for bribing good behavior). It's good for troop morale!

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Best Laid Plans

In the field, you often find yourself making plans, (A) (B) (C) and so on. This would be in an attempt to circumvent obstacles that may stand in your way or someone trying to give away your position, yada yada.

Well, in real life, we can make all the plans we want and they can still be still foiled. I had this upcoming weekend planned to meet up with some fellow military wives. Everything was going far too smoothly. There were some minor hiccups, but the husband, and I worked around it and made other arrangements for vehicles and to stop some people from coming to our house who wanted to visit. Things seemed to be working out. Yay!

Fast forward to this morning. He calls me and informs me that another party is requiring him to pick up something and that it must be done this weekend. Now being a military wife, I know that being flexible is important, but sometimes it would be nice if others could bend a little too given that I already had plans.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Battling the Daily Laundry List

The battle on the homefront this morning started with a confrontation from Little Miss General. She demanded a cookie. The defense projected that perhaps a bowl of cereal would be much tastier. Truth be told, I wouldn't have minded kicking the day off with a cookie either, but what kind of example would that set, right?

After deliberating on this for a half a moment, The General scowled and proceeded to shout that she NEEDED a cookie. It's 6:30 a.m. I replied. Negotiating with a stern preschooler is not the best route-I know. To spare you the details of the long drawn out debacle, I will say that in the end I won-sort of. Most of the food ended up on the table and she ate clad only in teeny underpants.

I'm not sure if it was just that every one got up on the wrong side of the bed, or if it was the excitement of Valentine's Day, but no one was interested in eating their delicious breakfasts. I even sang a catchy little tune about potassium trying to rally the troops to eat their bananas. They giggled and thought I was pretty funny (for about a second).

Wolfing down my own breakfast while trying to bounce the baby on my hip, I glared at the pile of laundry on the couch. It beckoned me to come in there and fold it. Part of me could have probably mustered up the energy, but here it is roughly 4 hours later and still there it sits and here I blog.

Among the other things that must be accomplished today are vacuum, dig up some old paperwork for tax purposes and dream up something superb for a romantic dinner.

(1) Vacuuming - To be honest, this is a chore I actually enjoy. There's something refreshing about a freshly cleaned floor not to mention the quick little workout that comes with it.

(2) Paperwork - I try to be organized; really, I do. I have the best intention of compiling everything monthly throughout that year so that come tax time I won't have to hunt things down. Needless to say, I wasn't organized again this year.

(3) Romantic dinner - Who am I kidding? The husband will probably want to order out. The kids will want chicken nuggets and something equally less desirable to accompany it. In my head I envision I free babysitter popping out of the woodwork to whisk the kids away so the man and I can eat filet mignon by candlelight. *sigh*

Suddenly, I'm snapped back to reality. It sounds like the Little General is trying to bully her big sister again. Off to intervene...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Yes, Virginia, Mama did wear combat boots.

Alright, so my daughter's name isn't Virginia, but I have worn combat boots. In fact, I've done so proudly. Long gone are those days now. I've traded my cammies and boots for kitchen and diaper duty. Really, not much has changed. I'm still supervising, cleaning up other people's messes and getting paid less than I'm worth.

Honestly, this blog is mostly in jest. Here you will find the comic ramblings of my everyday life as a military spouse and mother. I will gladly share moments that others can connect with, but may be hesitant to share with the world. It will be the portal to the inner-workings of my chaotic mind that is on overdrive most days.

Feel free to contact me with your stories. We can commiserate about the woes and excitements of being a mom and military spouse.