Friday, July 30, 2010

Mil Spouse Friday Fill-In

Yes, it's Friday again.  Time for Mil Spouse Friday Fill-In hosted by Wife of a Sailor.

1.  What is your spouse’s best feature?
I fell in love with his eyes.  But he also has this one smile he flashes when he's truly happy.  It brightens up his whole face. 

2.  Mild, Medium or Hot sauce?
Before my 2nd pregnancy, I would have said mild.  Since having my daughter, I'm all about hot.  (That also says a lot about my daughter's spicy personality.)

3.  What is the worst uniform you had to wear for a job?
My ugly Blockbuster video shirt and the hideous pants I had to use my own money to buy to match the shirt.  But it was well worth the free movie rentals.

4.  You have invisible powers… where is the first place you would go?
I'd like to say something profound like I'd sneak into the White House to see what really goes on in there.  Or sit in college physics courses until I truly get it.  But honestly, I would follow my son around.  He never tells me what he does at school or summer camp.  It would be fun to find out.

5.  What’s left on your “to do” list for this summer?
Way too much to list here.  If I ignore the list, do you think it will go away?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Top 10 Reasons Why Mil Spouse Bloggers MUST Practice OPSEC

If you are a military spouse, the term OPSEC is {hopefully} an integral part of your vocabulary. 

If you aren't a mil spouse, OPSEC means Operations Security.  Basically, this means that we have to watch what we say, what we blog about, what we share on Facebook and Twitter, even what we discuss over the phone regarding our husbands' careers.  This includes when they are leaving on deployment, where exactly they are, what they are doing, what their mission is, and when they are expected to return home.

OPSEC is on my mind because of a post by a fellow mil spouse blogger who recently discussed her frustration with OPSEC protocol.  (The post has since been removed and replaced with an apology.)  If you read it, I hope it reminded you of the essential responsibilies we have as military spouses to withhold information that could potentially affect our loved ones who are proudly serving our country.  If you didn't read it, it's probably a good thing because the comments were getting hateful and, in my opinion, out of control.

This concern isn't just for military spouses.  PERSEC (Personal Security) is important for everyone who regularly participates in social networking.  How much personal information do you share on your blog?  Do you really know whose friend requests you're accepting on Facebook, people you're giving full access to the intricacies of your life?  I just want everyone to be safe from harm.  Whether we're protecting our military service members, our families, or ourselves, OPSEC and PERSEC are issues that can't be ignored when we choose to blog and share our lives with anyone who has access to the Internet.

Sorry I stepped up on my rarely used soap box, but this topic is extremely important to me.  So if you'll indulge my rant a bit longer, here are my...

Top 10 Reasons Why Mil Spouses MUST Practice OPSEC

10) To protect the safety of our service members

9)  To protect the safety of our service members

8)  To protect the safety of our service members

7)  To protect the safety of our service members

6)  To protect the safety of our service members

5)  To protect the safety of our service members

4)  To protect the safety of our service members

3)  To protect the safety of our service members

2)  To protect the safety of our service members

1)  Did I forget to mention...OPSEC IS IN PLACE TO PROTECT THE SAFETY OF OUR SERVICE MEMBERS.  Know it, follow it, live by it. 

If you need further information on OPSEC...

(Button provided by Household 6 Diva)

(Button provided by No Model Lady)

CinCHouse Article

What tops your list?  Thoughts?  Reactions?  Comments?  (Please know that I will not publish any comments with profanity.)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Help Me Brainstorm Please!

I'm trying to work on topics, and I need your help to brainstorm ideas...
If you're a military spouse, what kinds of topics do you like to read about?  Are there military-related issues you'd like to learn more about?  Do you have concerns about your own experiences with deployments that you'd like to see addressed?
If you have no affiliation with the military, is there anything about military life that piques your interest?  Do you wonder how deployments affect military families?  Do you wonder what kinds of challenges we face being married to the military?
I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Friday, July 23, 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In


Welcome to another edition of MilSpouse Friday Fill-In hosted by Wife of a Sailor.

1. Besides the horizontal mambo, what do you miss most when your spouse is deployed?
Cuddling up on the couch to watch tv or read after the kids are in bed.

2. What do you miss least?
Definitely snoring

3. You only get three crayons to finish your picture… which three do you choose and why?
Scarlet because red is my favorite color.
Purple Heart because purple is a power color.
Sky Blue because that's the color of my husband's and my kids' eyes.
(I actually Googled Crayola colors to find the official names.  Did you know that Crayola has 120 core colors and they each have official dates of issue?  They even have discontinued and renamed colors.  Sorry went off on a tangent, just thought it was interesting.)
4. If you could have your own fragrance, what would it be called?
5. If the shoes make the man (or woman), what do your shoes say about you right now?
 I'm not wearing shoes.  I go barefoot as much as possible.  So what does that say about me?  Maybe that I value comfort.  Maybe that living in Japan trained me to not wear shoes in the house.  Or maybe it's just simply that I'm still in my pajamas and haven't even thought about shoes yet today.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Blue Star Families Posts

I'm a contributing writer for Blue Star Families, a wonderful organization that helps to support and empower military families. Click on the links below to read my posts!


Deployment Vacation

My latest Blue Star Families post....

I looked around my house. Bags packed. Kids anxious. Boarding passes printed. The scene looked entirely too familiar. But this time, it wasn’t preparation for my husband’s departure. It was preparation for mine. I was going on vacation.

Vacations are never easy to organize when you’re married to the military. Last year I altered our travel plans three times to accommodate my husband’s work schedule, until finally I had to book the plane reservations without him so I could squeeze the trip in before my son started school. But this year was different. Because of my husband’s deployment, I had a wide open calendar. I could hop on a plane whenever I wanted. I had all the time in the world to book the cheapest flights instead of forking over our life savings to fly at the last minute. This was one instance when my husband’s career caused no restrictions.

So I packed up the kids and headed out to visit my parents, as well as my brother and his family who were able to coordinate their schedules with mine. I had a week to reunite, relax, and regroup. We hit the beach, we shared stories, and we filled our digital cameras with memories. But for me, it was more than an annual vacation. It was a vacation from deployment.

Everything in my house reminds me of my husband. Even when I host family and friends who graciously offer some reprieve from the frenzy of life on the home front, I still have to look at my husband’s untouched clothes in the closet and his aftershave in the bathroom (that, yes, I do sniff from time to time). But lodging with my parents was an escape. I was in a different bed, a different house, a different state. There were no reminders of my husband. There were no reminders of deployment. I was able to evade reality for just a little while, to pretend that life was normal.

Of course I thought about my husband, but the thoughts didn’t consume me. And as I lounged by my parents’ pool, reading a book and listening to my father strum his guitar while the kids quietly played, my life as a military spouse was the farthest thing from my mind. During that week, not once did I remove my military id from my wallet. Not once did I flash my power of attorney. Not once did I recite my husband’s social security number. And although I still missed my husband and wished he could have been there with me, I had enough distractions to forget about my typical preoccupation with his absence.

But reality slapped me in the face the second I pulled into my driveway and saw his car. As I unpacked my luggage, I was confronted by those untouched clothes in the closet and the aftershave in the bathroom. My vacation was over, and all of those reminders of the deployment could no longer be escaped. On top of that, I felt overwhelming guilt. How could I have indulged myself with a furlough when my husband wasn’t allowed the same luxury?

It took me a couple of days to recover from my post-vacation readjustment. But the longer I was back at home, the more I realized I deserved a break. I’m proud to be a military spouse, but it was nice to take that hat off for a cleaning. And as much as I enjoyed the vacation, I also realized that I missed my life. I missed my own bed, I missed my own routine, and yes, I missed those reminders of my husband. I spent the vacation seeking a sense of normalcy, but being a military spouse is my normal. It may not be what other people consider normal, but it’s the only normal I know.

I’m now back in my groove at home, resuming my duties as a military spouse. I’m once again brandishing my military id and sniffing aftershave. And I no longer feel guilty for going on a family vacation without the most important member of my family because I know that the next time I book plane tickets, that very important person will be sitting in the seat next to me.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Top 10 Reasons Why My Son Wishes He Was a Grown-Up

It seems that my brain is still on vacation, and for the life of me, I couldn't come up with a top 10 list this week.  So I'm letting my 6-year-old son Big C do today's post.  But don't tell him you read it because when I told him he was going to be on my blog, he exclaimed, "No!!  I don't want to be famous!"

Here are Big C's...

Top 10 Reasons Why I Wish I Was a Grown-Up

10)  I could eat whatever I want.

9)  I could sit in Dad's chair.

8)  I could stay home by myself when no one else is in the house.

7)  I could buy whatever I want.

6)  I'd get to stay up late.

5)  I'd make all the rules.

4)  I would climb tall buildings.  (Sidenote: When I told him that was a silly one because grown-ups don't climb buildings, he replied, "I will.  Don't cross that one out Mom.")

3)  I want to be the boss.

2)  I will join the military and fight for freedom.

1)  I want to teach kindergarten at my school.  And I'll tell everybody on the first day that you only get 2 chances to be bad and that's it.  And if you're bad for the 3rd time, you go to the principal's office.  Then when I am retired, I'm going to have a job that includes hunting.  And when I retire from hunting, I will go back to school to study science because I love science.  And when I retire from that, I'm going to be a chef.  And I'm only going to cook the same thing every day because that's what my customers want. 

If you have kids, why do they wish they were grown-ups?  If you don't, why did you wish you could be a grown-up when you were a kid?


Monday, July 19, 2010

Flying the Not-So-Friendly Skies


Last week I returned from a much-needed vacation. The vacation itself was fabulous. The traveling with kids was not.

The flight to my parents’ house was relatively painless, mainly because my frustration toward my children’s antics was overshadowed by my excitement to reach my destination and hand those little balls of energy over to their grandparents. It was the return flight that unnerved me. Actually, we weren’t even on the plane yet when I faced my biggest challenge.

We had to ride a tram to our terminal, and when the doors opened and I saw the mile-long line at security I tried not to groan. I typically don’t mind waiting in lines if I’m alone. But I had 2 kids and no husband. Lines are not friendly to outnumbered single moms.

The next 30 minutes were torture, but I’m grateful for the kind strangers who helped to contain my 2-year-old daughter each time she attempted to escape. Little C was rolling on the floor and barking like a dog when she suddenly stood and announced, “I have to go potty.”

I panicked. I had a small window of time to get her to a bathroom. I didn’t pack a change of clothes in my carry-on. I had already waited a half an hour, and I knew if I left my place in line and waited all over again, I’d miss my flight. What in the world was I supposed to do?

I begged Little C to hold it. But as I weighed the size of a 2-year-old’s bladder against our proximity to the other side of security, I knew that was way too much to ask. I spotted an airline employee and asked where the nearest restroom was. “You either have to take the tram back or pass through security. Sorry, no restrooms in this area.” Are you kidding me?!

When Little C started crying and doing the pee pee dance in earnest, I knew I was in serious trouble. Thankfully, those kind strangers who acted as a human barricade started encouraging me to push my way through the line. I’m not a pushy person, but this was an emergency.

“Excuse me. Pardon me. Potty emergency.” Those magical words carried me like a wave to the ID checkpoint as sympathetic strangers parted to let the crazy lady with her screaming child by. I shoved my boarding passes at the man who took his sweet time letting me through to the area where we had to remove our shoes and stack our possessions in bins. When I explained my urgency, all I got was: “Sorry ma’am, I don’t have the authority to put you to the front of the line.” I was practically begging for help, and my cheerleaders behind me were yelling at the man to let me cut to the front. As he shook his head and insisted he couldn’t help me, I finally allowed my inner b-i-t-c-h to surface. “Could you at least give me a cup? Because in a minute you’re going to have a puddle of urine at your feet.”

By then Little C couldn’t even walk, so I picked her up, fully expecting to feel the warmth of liquid soaking my shirt. I was removing my shoes when another airport employee grabbed my bins and escorted me directly to the metal detector. I guess unlike his cohort, he did have the authority to move me to the front of the line.

I must have been quite a sight sprinting to the bathroom as I carried Little C while Big C trailed behind with his roller bag. Thankfully, that 2-year-old bladder held on just long enough for me to drop her drawers. And the other women in the restroom were so distracted by my hysteria that they didn’t seem to notice that I had brought a curious 6-year-old boy into the ladies’ room. (But that’s a whole other issue for another post.)

So what would you have done? Would you have taken the tram back and risked missing your flight? Or would you have pushed your way through the line to get past security?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mil Spouse Friday Fill-In


It's Friday again.  Time for another MilSpouse Friday Fill-In hosted by Wife of a Sailor.  Here are this week's questions:

1.What food reminds you of your spouse?
Sushi!  Growing up, I was never an adventurous eater.  When my husband and I went on our first date and he suggested sushi, I agreed only because I didn't want to look like a wimp.  I absolutely hated it.  But when he surprised me on our one month anniversary by re-creating that first date, I realized that sushi wasn't so bad.  And one year for Valentine's Day, he spent the day at an Asian food market learning how to make sushi and surprised me with a homemade sushi dinner.  It was only fitting that we moved to Japan.  Now, over a decade after that first date, my husband and I rarely go on a date without stopping by our favorite sushi joint.

2.Who would you rather sit next to in a cross-country plane ride: an irritating non-stop talker, or a quiet stare-er?
Definitely a quiet stare-er.  You can hide behind a book.  It's way too hard to tune out a talker.

3.What are your best tips on how to save money?
Don't spend it.

4.What is your favorite summer memory?
Spending entire days at our neighborhood pool.  Playing pool games, hitting the playground for volleyball and tetherball, eating popsicles at the snack bar, flirting with the lifeguards, reading the Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High series in a lounge chair, listening to Debbie Gibson and Tiffany.  Good times.

5.Do you believe in ghosts?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Top 10 Things to Remember When Going to the Beach With 5 Adults and 3 Kids

I used to love going to the beach.  Lounging in the sun with a good book.  Exfoliating my feet in the sand.  Listening to the songs of sea gulls mixing with music from the radio.  I used to think I could be a professional beach bum. 

And then I had kids.

I'm currently on vacation, and I'm learning very quickly that vacations just aren't the same as they used to be pre-parenthood.  Thanks to my wonderful family and a visit to the beach, here are my...

Top 10 Things to Remember When Going to the Beach With 5 Adults and 3 Kids

10.  Plan to caravan.  2 carseats and 1 booster seat take up A LOT of space in a car.

9.  Apply sunscreen at home.  You'll never be able to slather it on wiggly kids eager to make sand angels.

8.  Do not bring every toy the kids beg you to bring.  Not only does it take all 5 adults to lug the gear to your desired beach site, but the toys likely won't be touched after their initial dumping out of the tote bags.

7.  Even if they eat a 7-course meal before leaving the house, the kids will claim to be hungry within 15 minutes of setting up the umbrellas.  Pack food.

6.  A bucket with a hole in the bottom will not hold water.

5.  Sand hides in strange places.  That includes tiny tushies.

4.  High waves and sticky sea grass can be escaped by riding atop tall shoulders.

3.  Don't go swimming with the car keys in your pocket.

2.  Don't try to cure travel-induced irregularity BEFORE hitting the beach.

1.  Don't bother bringing reading material.  There's no such thing as a relaxing trip to the beach when you have kids.

What tops your list?


Monday, July 12, 2010

The Upside of Deployment

Deployments get a bum rap. Military spouses, including myself, share endless stories of loneliness, exhaustion, sadness, and that evil Murphy’s Law that shoulders the blame for leaky faucets and flat tires. I’m not saying that deployments aren’t tough on the loved ones left behind. The word tough doesn’t come close to justifying the challenges we face. However, I’d like to take a moment to wax optimistic because I know that buried beneath the surface of those struggles hides a treasure of virtues. And when we take the time to recognize them, it may make some of those not-so-positive aspects a little more bearable.

As Commander in Chief of my household, I take pride in the manner in which I maintain it. Granted, I’m not the world’s most proficient housekeeper, but I have a system. That system works for me. It doesn’t quite work for my husband. When I plan my weekly grocery list, I spread my recipes across the coffee table. When I need reminders to tackle important tasks, I stick Post-It notes in random locations. And my desk? It’s covered with rough drafts, magazines, newspaper clippings, and yes, Post-It notes. To me, this is a system of organization. To my husband, this is clutter. But with Mr. Anti-Clutter gone, I can freely scatter my system wherever I choose.

I’m also a creature of habit, following routines and enforcing schedules with the ferocity of a drill sergeant. So you can imagine my frustration when I’m halfway through cooking my husband’s favorite dinner and he calls to tell me he’s going to be late. Or when he informs me that in two hours he has to report to an unspecified location for an unspecified period of time and I should sell the concert tickets I had surprised him with weeks earlier. But thanks to his deployment, I can follow my own routine. I wake up to my own alarm every morning (i.e., the kids) without listening to his. I serve dinner whenever I want to without conforming to his unpredictable time of arrival. I put the kids to bed at their usual bedtime without keeping them up so they can spend a few minutes with their dad. And I don’t have to cancel a baby-sitter I booked weeks in advance because of his unforeseen travel plans.

Overall, I feel the most significant upside to deployment is the strength and confidence it has given me. Do I enjoy being a single parent? No. But I’ve proven to myself that I’m capable of handling it. Do I like taking responsibility for my husband’s designated chores? Not particularly. But I now realize he’s not the only handyman in the family. Throughout the deployment, I’ve tried to remember what another military spouse once told me: You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have. During deployments, we don’t have another choice. I am a stronger, more independent woman for having endured this portion of military life. And those qualities will follow me wherever life (or the military) takes me.

The word deployment may be synonymous with a thesaurus full of negative terms, but I’d like to think it’s not all bad. Sometimes we just need to adjust our perspective and squint a little to bring those rose-colored glasses into focus. I may even miss those hidden treasures when my husband comes home. And at the end of the day, when I’m trying to ignore those pesky things like loneliness and Murphy’s Law, I remind myself of the best part of all about deployments: homecomings.

I promise I’m not the only one wearing rose-colored glasses! After conducting an informal survey of fellow military spouses, I’ve compiled the following top 10 list of good things about deployment:

10. No snoring

9. Sharing extra bonding time with my kids

8. Following my own routine and schedule

7. Spending time with friends

6. Eating whatever I want, whenever I want

5. Strengthening my marriage through a greater appreciation for my spouse and increased communication skills

4. Taking ownership of the television remote control (which includes free rein to watch chick flicks)

3. Saving money

2. Enjoying time to myself and focusing on work, personal projects, and hobbies

1. Feeling a sense of freedom and independence as well as gaining personal strength and self-confidence

(Other honorable mentions include: having the bed to myself, reading in bed without having to use a dinky book light, falling in love with my spouse all over again through letters, and my personal favorite: “Cleaning house…by which I mean throwing away clothes of his that are no longer fit for polite company.”)


Friday, July 9, 2010

Military Spouse Friday Fill-In


Welcome to another Military Spouse Friday Fill-In hosted by Wife of a Sailor. 
Here are this week's questions...
1.What is your favorite household chore?
Washing dishes.  It's my time at the end of the day to completely zone out and gaze out my kitchen window. 

2.What is your favorite childhood memory?
My favorite memory is a general one: that my job was playing.  Hopscotch and jumprope, swing set in the backyard, bike rides to the pool, fireflies and flashlight tag.  Ahh, to be a kid again.

3.What is your most embarrassing moment?
I hear this question a lot, and I'm never able to answer it.  I don't know if it's because I don't get embarrassed very easily, or if it's because I have a terrible memory.  Hmm, I don't think I have an answer for this one.

4.What uniform of your spouse’s is your favorite?
They're all my favorites.  Could be because I haven't seen my husband in months, but he looks good in ANY uniform.

5.What canceled TV show do you miss the most?
That's a tie between Seinfeld and Friends.  Both classically hilarious sitcoms that have yet to be matched.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wife on the Roller Coaster Meets Goodnight Moon

I'm so excited to be guest blogging over at Good Night Moon today!  If you've never visited Amber before, she's a fellow mil spouse holding down the home front during her husband's deployment.  With 4 kids!!!  She's an amazing woman, and I just love her blog.  So go on over and give her some love! 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Top 10 Reasons There's No Mistaking That My Kids Are Military Brats

Top 10 Reasons There's No Mistaking That My Kids Are Military Brats

10)  Big C frequently tells me what time of the day it is in Japan.

9)  Big C proudly dons a high and tight haircut (although with daddy gone, we've let it grow out a little so I'm not looking at his scalp).

8)  Big C had a camouflage-themed birthday party.

7)  Little C often busts out with a "Yes Sir!" when I give her a direct command.

6)  For months after moving to our current location, Big C kept asking me where we're going next.

5)  Big C can explain why his sister was born in Japan but she isn't Japanese.

4)  Big C has his own military uniform.

3)  Both kids can execute a near-perfect salute.

2)  Little C calls every man she sees in uniform Daddy.

1)  Before Big C celebrated his 5th birthday, he had lived in 5 different houses.  By her 2nd birthday, Little C was in her 3rd house.

What tops your list?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Military Spouse Spotlight

Mrs. Wifey over at Musings of an Army Wife is running a feature at her blog called the Military Spouse Spotlight.  It's a great way to get to know other mil spouse bloggers.  And I'm thrilled that Mrs. Wifey put me in the spotlight yesterday!  So go visit me, and while you're there, read about the other mil spouses who have been featured.  Mrs. Wifey also does a weekly feature of good reads called Mil Blog Tours to direct readers to military related articles and blog posts.  Check it out.

If you're a mil spouse blogger and would like to be featured, send Mrs. Wifey an email at

Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

We live in the land of the free only because of the brave.

Happy 4th of July!

Question for Mil Spouses

I'm conducting a little informal survey for a piece I'm working on for Blue Star Families, and I have a quick question for all you mil spouses/significant others out there...(and I know that some of you already shared your thoughts on my FB page and Twitter so if you have, no need to answer again)

What do you think are some positive things about deployments?


MilSpouse Friday Fill-In


It's Week #2 of Wife of a Sailor's MilSpouse Friday Fill-In!  If you're a mil spouse (or significant other), go check out her new meme and get to know some of the other awesome mil spouses out there!  She posts questions every Thursday.  All you have to do is answer them in a blog post on Friday and link up on her blog.  Hope to see you all on the list!
This week’s questions are:
1. Tell us about your dream job… one that you could do regardless of pay.
If money were no object, I'd definitely be a writer.  I've been writing poems and short stories since I was old enough to hold a pencil.  I'd love to write novels and children's books. 
2. What is your most prized material possession (kids and pets don’t count!)?
My photo boxes.  I have pictures dating back from my elementary school years.  Every now and then I'll sit down and go through those boxes so I can relive times like meeting my husband and having my children. 
3. What has been your favorite duty station and why?
Hands down Japan.  When my husband got orders to PCS to Japan, I freaked out.  I had never been out of the country, and I had no idea how I would manage living so far from family and friends.  But it was the most amazing experience of my life.  It gave me the opportunity to learn about a different culture and travel to places I never would have dreamed of visiting, like Thailand and Korea.  And of course Japan holds a special place in my heart because my daughter was born there.
4. What is your least favorite household chore?
Do I have to choose just one?  Ok, least in the hidden nooks and crannies.  I don't mind general vacuuming and mopping and dusting.  But it's getting all the dirt and dust under the couches, under the beds, in the corners of the kitchen that kills me. 
5. If you could give one piece of advice to a teenager today (not specifically a MilTeen), what would it be?
Don't squander your youth.  I took so many things for granted when I was a teenager.  I wasted time wishing I was older, and now that I am older, I wish I had taken advantage of certain opportunites and enjoyed being young.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cool Whip Queen and Mamapedia


Today is a big day for this wife on the roller coaster! 

I'm thrilled to be a guest blogger over at Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip.  I am officially Roller Coaster Wife the Cool Whip Queen!  If you've never checked out Organic Motherhood's blog, she is absolutely hilarious and insightful in her interpretations of motherhood.  Go check me out and then take a few minutes to read some of her other posts.  I promise you'll love her!

I'm also featured on Mamapedia today.  It's a post I wrote a few weeks ago about going back to work called Trading Sneakers for Skirts.  You may have already read it, but if you feel like reading it again and leaving me a comment over there, go for it. 

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