Friday, April 30, 2010

MilSpouse Blog Hop!



Welcome to the MilSpouse Blog Hop!

It's easy to join in on the fun:

* Post a brief bio on your blog introducing yourself.  (My bio follows the Linky.)

* If you want to help spread the word, link back to me in your post.  I have a button on my sidebar, but a simple link is fine. 

* Add your blog name and URL to the Linky below.  It's best to put a link to your post, not your home page.

* Follow any or all of the blogs on the list.

* For those you choose to follow, leave a comment letting them know you found them on the MilSpouse Blog Hop.  Include your blog link in the comment to make it easier for them to return the visit.

* According to blogging etiquette, you should follow everyone who follows you. But this doesn't always happen. So please try not to harbor any ill feelings if you follow someone and they don't follow you back.

* The Linky list will be up until next Thursday night so if you don't get around to everyone today, no worries.  Keep hopping throughout the next week!  (I'm new to Linky Tools, but I've heard that you can only add to the list today.  So get your link up today even if you don't have time to visit others.)

Happy hopping everyone!





For those who don't know me, I'm Wife on the Roller Coaster.  I'm a 30-something military spouse and mom, and I recently started dabbling in the world of freelance writing.  I have 2 children: Big C is my responsible 6-year-old son and Little C is my rambunctious 2-year-old daughter.  We are currently keeping the home fires burning while my husband is deployed, doing the best we can with all the challenges the deployment throws at us. 

I'm a techno-phobe who doesn't own an iPhone or a laptop, but I recently crossed over to the dark side and joined Twitter (@WifeontheRC).  Feel free to friend me on Facebook (I'm Roller Coaster) or become a FB fan of Riding the Roller Coaster.  If you're on Twitter or have a Facebook fan page, please leave me a comment letting me know!

Can't wait to meet new mil spouses!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Adapting Behavior During Deployment

My latest Blue Star Families post...

Adapting Behavior During Deployment


Everyone in our house has a unique role, and with each role comes expected behaviors. My husband is the Man of the House, acting as our resident fix-it man, lawn doctor, and master of Wii. I am the Domestic Engineer. I take command of child care and keep the household running. Our son is the Man-In-Training, who diligently completes homework, enacts intricate battles with his action figures, and attempts to ignore his sister’s taunting need to be in his face at all times. And our daughter is Miss Diva, princess of independence, naughtiness, and SpongeBob underwear.

Although every now and then roles will temporarily switch, we generally wear the hats we’ve grown accustomed to. But with the Man of the House taken out of the equation, the rest of us are forced to take on new roles and behaviors to adapt to the minus one.

In his father’s absence, my son has taken on the role of the New Man of the House. Within days of his predecessor’s departure, my little boy stepped into his new position with a dedication and fervor I didn’t know a 6-year-old possessed.

Suddenly, this boy who once vowed never to forsake splashing in the bath tub, started taking showers by himself. The only help I am permitted to offer is adjusting the water temperature. After his manly shower, which I’m quite sure involves more knocking over of bottles than actual bathing, New Man waits for his aftershave, which I am required to apply in the exact manner his father did.

New Man of the House has also found a fresh voice. A very bossy voice. As acting Man, he feels it is his duty to order his sister around and advise me on the best disciplinary actions when she neglects to follow those orders. Although I’m not thrilled about this developing attitude, I do appreciate when he reminds me to water our garden, grabs the mop out of my hands and swabs the entire house himself, and on our more stressful days, encourages me to take deep breaths.

This New Man, who proudly totes a wallet while commissary shopping and passionately adjusts his cup during baseball games, seems to be adapting well to his inherited role. However, my 2-year-old daughter’s adjustment to the deployment has not been as smooth. New Man is growing up. Miss Diva is regressing.

Since birth, Miss Diva has exhibited the bravado and audacity of a supermodel astrophysicist. But since her father left, her Diva status has reached unprecedented heights, leaving her with no other title than Preeminent Prima Donna. Tantrums that once involved tolerable tears and outbursts have evolved into foot stomping, door locking, and brother biting.

Preeminent Prima Donna’s behavior is capricious, vacillating between aggressive and clingy. With little provocation, she tackles her brother, pulls his hair, and throws toys at him. If she isn’t receiving the motherly attention she feels a prima donna deserves, she slaps me, yanks my glasses off my face, or spits at me. But almost instantly she transforms into a snuggle bunny, hugging my leg while I cook, crawling into my lap as I check my email, or lovingly kissing my cheek.

As difficult as these mood swings are, her nighttime restlessness gives me the most concern. During the first several days of the deployment, I frequently opened my eyes in the middle of the night to see her perched beside my bed, begging to sleep with me. Although she has never consistently slept through the night, she has never before asked to sleep with me. Sometimes she claims that ghosts are coming (ok, no more Scooby Doo for her!), but some nights she just shrieks inconsolably. At first I pulled her into my bed and cuddled her back to sleep. But fearing an unhealthy habit in the making, I started coaxing her back to her own bed with promises of the Enya playlist on my iPod that now resides on her dresser for late night soothing.

During our pre-deployment preparation, I tried to brace myself for my children’s inevitable behavior adjustments. It’s impossible to predict how children will manifest their emotions, but I expected my son to have the most trouble adapting. However, it’s my daughter’s behavior that baffles me. And unlike New Man, Prima Donna is unable to comprehend the X’s marked on the calendar or my explanations when she randomly declares, “I miss my daddy.”

I know that adapting behavior is a part of every deployment. At this point, all I can do is accept it, offer extra doses of love and affection, and hope the positive behaviors stick around and the negative behaviors fizzle out.

What about the Domestic Engineer’s new roles and adapting behaviors? Stay tuned for Part II next week to find out.



Wednesday, April 28, 2010

MilSpouse Blog Hop This Friday!

For all you mil spouses out there who would like to participate in the blog hop I'm hosting this Friday, I wanted to give you a heads up as to what to expect.  (And please know that when I say mil spouse, I also mean mil girlfriends and mil spouses of retired service members as well!)

Plan to post a brief bio on Friday.  Keep it short and sweet because hopefully we'll have lots of blogs to visit.  After you post your bio, come on over here to add your link to the list.  Then visit the other names on the list!  If you choose to follow someone, leave a comment on their blog mentioning you're following by way of the MilSpouse Blog Hop.  And leave your blog link in the comment so that person can visit you back.

Blogging etiquette dictates that you follow everyone who follows you.  But this doesn't always happen.  So please try not to harbor any ill feelings if you follow someone and they don't follow you back.  This is supposed to be fun!

I don't have a fancy button, and I'm not going to insist that you link back to my blog.  But I'd love it if you did link back so we can spread the word and gather as many mil spouses as possible!

Can't wait to see you all on Friday!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Top 10 Signs That I'm Getting Older



I'm beginning to realize I'm not as young as I think I am.  Here are my...

Top 10 Signs That I’m Getting Older


1) I curse my teenage self for habitually cracking my knuckles. I swear that’s the reason my hands look like they belong to an octogenarian.

2) Wii games baffle me. Why can’t video games be as simple as the original Nintendo’s Tetris and The Legend of Zelda?

3) I ooh and aah over Volvo station wagons instead of shiny red sports cars with manual transmissions.

4) I can’t watch my wedding video because I no longer own a VCR.

5) I catch myself saying things like, “Because I said so” and “Close that door…we’re not paying to air condition the entire neighborhood.”

6) I have no idea what my natural hair color is. And I’m too scared to find out.

7) On the rare occasion I go to a bar, I go during Happy Hour. I’m back home and lounging in my jammies long before the bouncers start collecting cover charges.

8) My magazine subscriptions switched from Glamour and Cosmo to Parents and Real Simple.

9) I haven't the slightest clue who Heidi Montag is or why her boobs make national news.

10) Instead of wishing I was a grown-up, I wonder when I became one.

What tops your list?


Monday, April 26, 2010

Wife on the Roller Coaster Meets Mamapedia

Over the weekend, a great website called Mamapedia published one of my posts.  (It's actually a blog post from a while back that I tweaked a bit.)  I planned to just give you the link to visit, but the formatting on the website is off.  Because I didn't want you to think that I'm incapable of grouping sentences into properly organized paragraphs, I'm reposting it here (the way it was supposed to look).  If you feel so inclined, go ahead and visit the Mamapedia post and leave a comment!


Guilt of an Imperfect Mother

I am the perfect mother. I never raise my voice. I serve only nutritious meals and snacks. I read a stack of educational books every day, and I strictly prohibit all television viewing. I possess a limitless supply of patience, and I'm never tired. And I certainly don't indulge in time to myself because the children need my constant nurturing.

If you believe that, stick around for my Oscar acceptance speech.

Although I may sometimes wish to be that kind of mom, I'm well aware that I'm not. Quite frankly, anyone who says she is that kind of mom is either lying or has a nanny, nutritionist, chef, personal trainer, housekeeper, masseuse, and therapist on call 24 hours a day. Because I'm not that superior mom, I can't help but feel guilty for those nagging transgressions that keep me from attaining parental perfection, leaving me with the unenviable title: Imperfect Mother.

What Imperfect Mother’s guilt can I pile on myself? Let me count the ways.

I feel guilty for watching my 2-year-old daughter savor a spinach and feta filled hamburger, twice baked potato casserole, and mozzarella and tomato salad, while my 6-year-old son chokes down sauce-less meatballs and half a banana. How did I allow my son to develop such abysmal eating habits?

I feel guilty for focusing more attention on my daughter than on my son. I’d like to say she requires the majority of my attention because she’s younger and more dependent, but it’s partly because she’s just so naughty.

I feel guilty for the times I rely on the television as a baby-sitter. Hey, it’s the only sitter I can find that doesn’t charge by the hour!

I feel guilty for expecting stellar behavior at the grocery store. If I had to sit in a cart for an hour looking at food I wasn’t allowed to eat, I’d be cranky too.

I feel guilty for listening with only half an ear. I tend to forget that hidden amidst the weeded field of “he-hit-me, she-took-my-toy” rants blooms a garden of insight into my children’s psyches. I know that one day they won’t want to talk to me at all, so I should take advantage of their loose lips while I can.

I feel guilty for wishing time away. When my daughter attempts to flush an entire roll of toilet paper, I wish she were older so she could use the potty unsupervised. When my son spills milk all over the kitchen, I wish he were older so he could pour the milk himself (or at least clean up his own mess). I know I’ll regret trying to fast forward these moments I will miss when they are older.

I feel guilty for putting the kids to bed early because I am tired.

Sometimes I even feel guilty for feeling guilty because deep down I know that I’m the best imperfect mom I can be. And my children love me anyway.

Now that I got that off my chest, let me go cook up an organic snack while I read the kids an entire chapter book, lay down the newspaper for finger painting, make the rain stop so we can play outside, and squeeze in an effortless five-mile run all with a smile on my endlessly patient face of parenting perfection.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Week in Review (Operation: "No" Elimination)

Last week I challenged myself to eliminate the word no from my vocabulary when interacting with my children.  I failed miserably.  However, I'm not so sure I wanted to succeed.

After I posted my challenge, I received several insightful comments that I really took to heart.  Brianna Renee reminded me that by not saying no to children, they don't learn boundaries or how to say no themselves.  And a Fellow MilWife and Parenting Ad Absurdum reminded me how skilled children are at pushing their limits until the only possible response a parent is left with is NO.  And they're right.  Redirection is a great concept, but there are certain situations where No is necessary.

After reading the comments, I altered my challenge.  Instead of completely eliminating the word no, I attempted to use it less frequently.  And I definitely succeeded at that.  I did use the redirection strategies I read about in Parents magazine, and they worked surprisingly well.  Saying things like, "Big C, you can play outside after you do your homework" (instead of saying, "No, you can't play outside.) and "Freeze!" when Little C tried to ride her Dora tricycle into the street (instead of screaming "No!"), allowed me to say no without saying no.

I even tried using synonyms for no.  (The experts didn't think of that one did they?)  Don't, stop, quit it, uh uh, and in your dreams were very effective deterrents.  In fact, my kids found the "in your dreams" response so funny that by the time they stopped giggling, they had forgotten what it was they had asked for.

So thank you ladies for the comments!  Maybe we should write to Parents magazine and tell them that their experts should spend a week with our children before offering such crazy advice.



Friday, April 23, 2010

Interview With a Military Brat

April is the Month of the Military Child, and I wanted to find a way to show my children that the sacrifices they make on a daily basis during their father’s current deployment don’t pass unnoticed. I’m well aware of how my husband’s deployment is affecting me, but it’s easy to forget that my children bear the brunt of their father’s absence as well.


What could I do beyond what I was already doing? Since my husband’s departure, I’ve been the ambassador of hugs, I’ve been more tantrum-tolerant, and I’ve made mountains of Play Doh pizzas and Lego configurations. But I had yet to carve out time to talk.

Simple? Yes. Trivial. Absolutely not. With a pad of paper and pen in hand, I interviewed my 6-year-old son to catch a glimpse of military life from the eyes of a military brat.

MOM: How do you feel about Dad being gone a lot?

BRAT: Kind of good and kind of bad.

MOM: How is it good?

BRAT: Because sometimes I get to have sleepovers with you. And I get to talk to Dad on the phone.

MOM: How is it bad?

BRAT: The bad thing is that I miss him.

MOM: How are things different when Dad is gone?

BRAT: We don’t get to talk to each other a lot. We don’t get to play games together. He can’t read books to me. We can’t play Wii or ride on the John Deere. We can’t go camping or golfing. We can’t have Boys’ Days. But when he’s gone, I’m the man of the house.

MOM: What do you do as the man of the house?

BRAT: I take showers by myself and get aftershave. I can have a messy room. I take care of my sister more.

MOM: What’s your favorite thing about having a dad in the military?

BRAT: He wears a lot of cool uniforms. He shoots bad guys. [Author’s note: I’ve never known my husband to shoot bad guys, but evidently my son thinks he does.] I am proud of him.

MOM: Do you think Dad’s job in the military is important?

BRAT: Yes, because he has to do good things.

MOM: Like what?

BRAT: Go around the world. Capture pirates. [Author’s note: I’ve also never known my husband to capture pirates. Brat sure does have an active imagination!]

MOM: When you grow up, do you want to be in the military?

BRAT: No.

MOM: Why not?

BRAT: Because I want to be a policeman so I can chase people and put them in jail.

MOM: Do you wish Dad wasn’t in the military?

BRAT: Yes, so he would always stay home.

MOM: Is it hard moving and making new friends?

BRAT: I don’t like that my old friends forget about me.

MOM: Do you ever wish we could stay in one house forever?

BRAT: No. I want to move around the world and see how it is.

MOM: What advice would you give to kids whose dads are also in the military and are gone a lot?

BRAT: Draw your dad pictures and write letters. Go outside and run around. Call your grandparents if you have grandparents.

MOM: What are you going to say to Dad the next time you talk to him?

BRAT: I’m good at baseball. And I wish you would come home this second. That’s how much I miss him. Don’t ask me any more questions Mom. It makes me sad.

On that note, we ended the interview with a bear hug and a bowl of watermelon.

The entire conversation lasted a mere 15 minutes, but the impact those 15 minutes left on both of us is priceless. It reminded me of the importance of keeping the lines of communication with my children open. Like many of the children we celebrate this month, my son has unresolved feelings about this life he was involuntarily born into. The interview hopefully taught him that he can talk freely about those feelings without fear of judgment. At six years old, his concepts of time and distance are undeveloped and his understanding of our lifestyle and his father’s absences is limited, but he clearly understands that not all families go through the challenges that we do.

Regardless of whether your family is coping with a deployment, an upcoming PCS move, or simply military life in general, make time for discussions with your children. Use some of the above questions as conversation starters or brainstorm other age-appropriate prompts. Let your child dictate the pace and direction of your questions and encourage him to ask you questions. If your child doesn’t initially respond or isn’t able to verbalize his feelings, break the ice by shifting the focus to yourself. His unwillingness to confide in you may change once he hears his own thoughts mirrored in your words. And don’t give up. Even if the conversation drifts from military-focused to something completely different, you might just learn something about your child in the process.

A few minutes after Big C’s abrupt ending of the interview, I was pleasantly surprised when he requested an interview with me. When he asked me if I missed my own dad, I knew I had accomplished my goal. My answer that yes, I do miss my father, proved to him that what he’s feeling is normal and it’s perfectly acceptable to admit it.

I hope this is the first of many meaningful discussions to come. Maybe next time he’ll give me the scoop on those bad guys and pirates.

(In case you were wondering, I attempted to interview my other brat, but the only answer I could squeeze out of my 2-year-old daughter was: “Daddy on a big trip. More watermelon please.”)

This post in my latest contribution to Blue Star Families.  Go check them out.  They're awesome!


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Military Spouse Blog Hop?

Friday is approaching, and as most bloggers know, it's the most social day in the blogosphere.  Blog hops are a fantastic way to meet other bloggers and gain more readership for your own blog.  However, I feel that something is lost when you are 1 of 600+ bloggers on the list.  Who has the time to sift through all those names to find the ones that most interest you?

Don't get me wrong, I've participated in several Friday Follows and have grown to love many of the bloggers I've contacted.  But some I don't read, and I'm sure many don't read mine.  And that's fine. I think we all want to devote our precious time to bloggers we share a common interest with. 

Obviously, one of my interests is military life.  So I got to thinking, what if I did my own blog hop just with military spouses?  No searching for military related titles in the more general blog hops.  Just mil spouses (and girlfriends too!).

What do you think?  If you are a mil spouse/girlfriend, would you be interested in doing a blog hop?  Leave me a comment if you are.  If I get enough responses, I'll do the hop next Friday.  And who knows, if you gals like it, maybe we can do a tag you're it kind of thing and rotate who hosts it the next time around.




Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Baseball Blues

My son, Big C, recently started playing baseball. After 2 seasons of t-ball, he’s now in the major leagues. This is a whole new ball game. And I’m not all that impressed.

The coaches’ sons are clearly the most skilled players, and there’s no mistaking the blatant favoritism. The other night at practice, while the rest of the boys formed groups and patiently waited for their turns to catch and throw with the volunteer dads, the coaches’ sons played catch with each other under the watchful eye of the slightly scary assistant coach (henceforth referred to as Scary Ass Coach).

I watched as Scary Ass Coach scolded his son for not executing a perfect throw. Then, after the boy threw another imperfect ball, I watched as Scary Ass Coach ordered him to run a lap around the field as punishment. THE BOY IS 6 YEARS OLD!

Then there’s the issue of practice time. Practices are twice a week from 6:30-8 PM. My children’s bedtime is 7:00. When I asked the head coach’s wife why practice for such young children is held so late, she explained that her husband coaches 2 high school teams, and he chose the latest time slot to accommodate his job. Well, it seems to me that he forgets our boys are not teenagers and don’t require the intensity of a high school team. The other night, when coach arrived 30 minutes late and team pictures cut into practice time, he decided to continue pitching past 8:00 to compensate for lost time. IT WAS PITCH BLACK AND 55 DEGREES! (I applaud the mother who announced that her son had homework to do and hauled him off the field before he was dismissed.)

I was a competitive swimmer for 12 years. I competed at the national level and swam in college at a Division I school before my shoulders blew out and I was forced to retire. So I know very well how the world of athletics works. But my son is in kindergarten. He’s not training for the World Series. He’s supposed to be having fun.

At 6 years old, Big C is one of the youngest and smallest players on his team. He’s also one of the worst. (I love my son dearly, but pro ball is not in his future.) But if he even realizes that the other boys are more skilled than he is, he doesn’t seem to care because he claims he loves the sport. His enthusiasm is the only reason I haven’t yanked him out and allowed him one more season in t-ball to improve his skills.

I don’t care for Scary Ass Coach, and I feel the head coach has overextended himself to the detriment of my son’s team. Last week, I spoke privately with both coaches, explaining that my husband is deployed and I’d like some input on how I can help Big C at home. Honestly, my primary goal was to garner a little sympathy so that maybe the coaches would pay some more attention to my father-less son, especially considering that Scary Ass Coach is retired military and should be empathetic. But it hasn’t seemed to work because Big C is still getting very little of their attention if any at all. Shouldn’t the kids who need the most help be the kids who get the most attention? Can you imagine if teachers focused their attention solely on their gifted students and ignored the struggling ones?

Big C has expressed no desire to quit, and unless baseball practices start inducing anxiety attacks, I have no intention of allowing him to quit. I believe a large part of being involved in sports is learning to follow through on commitments. I also have no intention of babying him or trying to shelter him from possible embarrassment or ridicule. That’s an unavoidable part of life.

My main concern is what happens when he starts seeing what I’m seeing? What do I tell him when he notices that other boys get more attention than he does? What do I tell him when he notices he isn’t the greatest player, or even worse, the other boys make fun of him for it? I don’t want my own distaste for the coaches and their teaching methods to rub off on him, but I also don’t want these men to permanently discolor his rose-colored glasses, turning him off to sports at the ripe age of 6.

As a former athlete, I know the effects a coach’s attitude can have on a child. As a mother, I want my son to thrive and gain confidence regardless of his abilities. At this age, I think sports should be about the kids having fun and learning the skills they need to succeed as they get older. I don’t think this is the time to make them run laps as punishment and practice until they can’t see the ball in the darkness and their teeth are chattering from the cold.

What are your thoughts?  Do you have any similar coach stories either as a parent or an athlete yourself?  Do you have any words of wisdom for me?



Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Top 10 Movies NOT to Watch While Your Husband is Deployed

I love movies.  As I wrote in a post several months ago, I have an eclectic taste in film. I love cheesy romantic comedies, thought-provoking independent films, fast-paced suspense thrillers, mindless stupid funny movies, and cerebral dramas that end with the audience sighing WOW.

And I try to keep an open mind when it comes to military movies.  Some I watch because my husband enjoys them (and it's his turn to pick the movie).  Some I've seen so many times I can practically recite the scripts verbatum, like A Few Good Men ("You can't handle the truth!") and Top Gun (hello, beach volleyball scene!).  

But there are some movies I feel it best to avoid while my husband is deployed, whether they are gory military dramas or simply the most depressing movies ever made.  Here are my...


TOP 10 MOVIES NOT TO WATCH WHILE YOUR HUSBAND IS DEPLOYED:

1)  Saving Private Ryan

2) The Time Traveler's Wife

3) Das Boot

4) P.S. I Love You

5) Black Hawk Down

6) Titanic

7) Pearl Harbor

8) Legends of the Fall

9) The Hurt Locker

10) Dear John, Nights in Rodanthe, The Notebook (pretty much any Nicholas Sparks tear-jerker)


What movie tops your list?

(As a side note, if you know of any movies that can put a smile on even the grumpiest of faces, let me know.  I could use some smiles right about now.)


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Operation: "No" Elimination

Week 15: NO MORE NO. SAY YES TO YES!

I was reading an article in the April issue of Parents magazine called Saying ‘No’ to No, in which the author challenged herself to remove the word “no” from her interactions with her children. According to the experts she quoted, the overuse of the word can lead to a lessened impact. Basically, the more you say it, the less the kids hear it.


Because I often feel that I should have the word NO tattooed onto my forehead, I decided to follow in the author’s footsteps. So this week, I’m challenging myself to stop saying no to my children.


The experts recommended several tips to avoid that nasty word. For instance, instead of saying, “No, you can’t play a computer game,” turn it into the more positive statement, “Yes, you can play a computer game after you clean up your room.” Instead of screaming No as your child dashes into the street, use a more specific command like Freeze. And give an alternative so that you’re declining their request by offering a yes to something else. Instead of saying, “No, you can’t stay at your friend’s house another hour,” say, “We have to go now, but your friend can come over to our house next weekend.”


So all I have to do is switch some words around and my kids will never hear (and ignore) the word no again? Sounds easy enough.


After making a commissary run this morning with both kids, I can already tell you that this challenge will NOT be easy. (Those experts clearly have never gone grocery shopping with a 2- and a 6-year-old.) I think I dropped a dozen no’s in the cereal aisle alone. I have my work cut out for me this week.

(Because I had not yet written this post at the time of the cereal aisle no-bombs, I consider my failure this morning to be null and void.  My challenge officially begins right no. I mean now.)



Saturday, April 17, 2010

Look Who's On Facebook and Twitter

I have finally joined the modern age!  Come visit my Facebook fan page, friend me (I'm Roller Coaster), and follow me on Twitter (I'm @WifeontheRC).  I'm still trying to figure the whole Twitter thing out, and quite frankly, I've only tweeted a few times, but hopefully soon I'll be a regular.

Anyone else on Facebook and Twitter?  Leave a comment with your links so I can check you out.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Awards!

It's Awards Time!


I'd like to thank a handful of my blogging friends for passing some awards my way!  (Sorry for the delay on some of them...I promise I didn't forget about you.)


Thank you to Amberlynn over at Fugitive Firefly, JG at Me and My SoldierMan, Requires Heavy Lifting, Ashley at Raising Brats, and A Deployment Diary {in Hawaii}  for the Sunshine Award!



Thanks to Fancypants at On Living Overseas and My Life in General, once again JG at Me and My SoldierMan, and Ashley at Raising Brats for the Beautiful Blog Award.


Thank you to Amanda at Trying My Best to be a Proverbs 31 Woman, Cheryl at Boots in the Doorway, and A Deployment Diary {in Hawaii} for the Beautiful Blogger Award.


A big thanks to Ashley (again!) at Raising Brats and A Deployment Diary {in Hawaii} (again!) for the Happy 101 Award.



And finally, thank you to Aging Mommy for the Circle of Friends Award.



Here's the thing about these awards. I'm supposed to list random things about myself and then pass the awards on to other bloggers I deem worthy. But there are SO many blogs I love and SO many bloggers I want to thank for regularly commenting on my blog and/or emailing me personally.  Therefore, instead of focusing on boring old me, I want to focus on YOU.

If you are reading this post, I want you take any and all of the awards.  Go ahead, don't be shy!  Then leave a comment with the link to your blog so everyone can check you out.

Thanks everyone for making blogging so much fun!



Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Top 10 Questions NOT to Ask a Military Spouse

As a military spouse, I'm often faced with good-intending yet frustrating questions from civilians.  Not frustrating because of the innocuous questions themselves, but frustrating because I just can't answer them. I either don't know the answer or I'm sworn to OPSEC secrecy or it's impossible for civilians (myself included sometimes) to truly understand the sacrifices our service members make for our country.  So feel free to ask me one of the following questions, but don't expect an answer.






THE TOP 10 QUESTIONS NOT TO ASK A MILITARY SPOUSE

10) How long will you live here?

9) Where are you going next?/When will you get orders?

8) Where exactly is your husband?

7) When is your husband coming home?

6) How often can he call/email/Skype?

5) Don't you wish he had a normal job?

4) Doesn't it bother you that he misses out on so much of your children's lives?

3) Why doesn't he just get out of the military?

2) When is he going to retire?

1) Did you watch the news the other night about all those people who were killed?  Your husband isn't there is he?

To all my mil spouse friends out there, what tops your list?



Monday, April 12, 2010

The Conspicuous Absence of Presence

The roller coaster has begun. The deployment, still in its infancy, is gradually sinking in. Sometimes I feel like my husband is simply on routine travel, and he’ll walk through that door any day with a bag full of dirty laundry and homecoming presents for the kids. But deep down I know it’s different this time. I feel it in both the conspicuous presence and absence of what makes our family of four complete.

Present is the bar of soap in the shower that no longer dwindles each day. Should I toss it before it leaves a permanent scar on my shower ledge or save it because it’s one of the last things he touched?

Present is the itchy case of poison ivy snaking down my back that my husband generously shared with me before he left. I can’t complain too much though because that poison ivy is a direct result of the hours of yard work I didn’t have to do.

Present is the stack of unread magazines sitting on his nightstand. They continue to arrive in the mail, not knowing that the subscriber isn’t here to read them (and his wife isn’t particularly interested in improving her golf swing).

Present is the tube of toothpaste squeezed from the middle. Yes, we have our own designated toothpaste. I squeeze from the end. He squeezes from the middle. (Do you know how much marital discord can be avoided simply by buying an extra tube of toothpaste?) He must have forgotten to pack his because whenever I open my medicine cabinet, the first thing I see is his toothpaste squeezed from the middle.

Present are the coupons for his razors and shaving cream that will expire long before he returns.

Present is his car in the driveway. Each time I return home after running errands, I see that car and immediately think, “What a surprise, hubby’s home!” I need a second for my brain to catch up and realize that no, he didn’t surprise me by coming home from work early. He’s nowhere near being able to come home.

The presence of these things is manageable. The soap and the toothpaste can be moved out of sight. The magazines and coupons can be trashed. The poison ivy will heal, and the car can be moved to give the impression of usage. But it’s the conspicuous absences I struggle with the most.

Absent are the dirty socks hiding under the coffee table. Instead of reminding my husband where the hamper is, I’m reminding myself that I’d much rather deal with the minor annoyance of discovering dirty laundry in strange places than not seeing his laundry in the hamper at all.

Absent are the snores disturbing my sleep. I told myself to look forward to not having a freight train in bed with me, but the silence is far more deafening than the snoring ever was.

Absent are the frantic morning searches for car keys, coffee mugs, boots, wallet, whatever necessary item my husband needs as he walks out the door for work. I almost miss that my name is no longer coupled with, “Honey, where’s my…?”

Absent is a second hand in the popcorn bowl as I watch our favorite television shows without him on the couch beside me. Television isn’t as entertaining without my husband critiquing the reality of “24” scenarios and mocking my emotional involvement with the “American Idol” contestants.

Absent are the wrinkled uniforms, crumpled in the corner of the bedroom after a hard day of work, waiting for their turn in the ironing queue.

Absent is the anticipation of our back door sliding open in the evening as I finish cooking dinner and the subsequent squeals as the kids rush to greet their daddy.

I know it won’t be long before these presences and absences are commonplace and won’t be so startling. But for now, I’m trying my best to smile at the presence of those conspicuous things that remind me of my husband and fill the gaps in the absence of those conspicuous things I don’t want to forget.

Other than that, I’m trying my best not to think about the most conspicuous absence of all: his presence.


This post is my latest column at Blue Star Families.



Operation: Technological Implementation

Week 14: IMPLEMENT ADVICE I WAS GIVEN AT THE BLOGGING CONFERENCE

Not only was the Milblog conference fun, but I learned a lot about blogging and social media in general.  The most important thing I learned is that I have a lot to learn!

Apparently, I am the only person on this earth who doesn't Tweet.  I have no Facebook fan page, and I'm told I should change my URL.  So my challenge this week is to implement all of the sage advice I was given at the conference.  Because I am probably the most technologically challenged person in the blogosphere, this endeavor should be interesting.  Hopefully by the end of the week I'll be begging you to join my fan page on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

Any advice?  I need it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Week in Review (Operation: Conference Socialization)

I just returned home after the Milblog Conference in Washington, D.C.  I'd like to post a profound description of the amazing roundtable discussions, the decorated and insightful panelists, the live appearance from Afghanistan, the impressive guest list, the introductions to other bloggers, and the tears I fought as Mrs. P's Milbloggie award acceptance speech (read by another in her absence) received a much-deserved standing ovation.  But the late nights and the abundance of free drink tickets have left my brain clouded and my thoughts less coherent than usual. 

The weekend was fantastic, and I'm already looking forward to attending the conference next year! 

(If by chance you're one of the conference attendees I spoke with, I apologize for my veil of anonymous ambiguity and I thank you for the prayers for my husband's deployment to Hoboken, New Jersey.  And without further ado, I'd like to share my new favorite phrase: whiskey tango foxtrot.)


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Top 10... Thursday?

(I usually post a Top 10 Tuesday list, but somehow Tuesday passed me by, so my Top 10 will now be a Thursday edition.)

Top 10 Super Powers I Wish I Possessed


1) THE ABILITY TO FREEZE TIME (Who doesn’t want a little time to herself while the rest of the world is on pause?)

2) INVISIBILITY (To be that fly on the wall eavesdropping on other people’s lives.  Wait a minute, isn’t that what blogging is?)

3) THOUGHT MANIPULATION (So my children will actually listen when I tell them to clean their rooms.)

4) TELEPATHY (Perfect for communication during my husband’s deployment!)

5) THE ABILITY TO FLY (No need for scrounging frequent flyer miles.)

6) SELECTIVE DEAFNESS (If you’re a mom, you know what I mean.)

7) TELEKINESIS (For those times when I don’t feel like getting off the couch to pour a glass of wine.)

8) TIME TRAVEL (To fix my mistakes…or maybe just laugh at them.)

9) PHOTOGRAPHIC MEMORY (Because mine stinks.)

10) THE ABILITY TO HEAL (Don’t we all want to fix the problems of the world, even if one of those problems is simply the boo boo on your child’s skinned knee?)

What tops your list?



Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Holidays Without the Family

Holidays like Easter are great, aren’t they? Celebrating. Unwrapping presents. Watching the pure joy in your children’s eyes as they find another jellybean-filled Easter egg. Enjoying the fact that you can live vicariously through that joy as if you too believed an oversized bunny packaged that special basket just for you.


But on Sunday, as I watched cars loaded with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins crowd the street by my neighbors’ homes, I couldn’t help but wonder with a touch of jealousy what holidays like Easter would be like if we weren’t a military family.


My family has always been dotted all over the map, but my husband grew up with the good fortune of living within a 5-mile radius of almost his entire family. I can only imagine how fun holidays were with everyone meeting at the same place at the same time with the ease of a 10-minute car ride. As much as I love (most of the time) being married to the military, I wish my children could experience the geographic closeness of family that their friends down the street have.


I know that living far away from family isn’t exclusive to military life, and I know that even if our home wasn’t dependent upon the whims of the military, our families are too spread out for us to ever have what our neighbors have. And I can’t complain too much because my husband and I are blessed with plenty of visits from our parents. But it would be nice if visits with other family members didn’t have to include extensive and expensive travel, rental cars, and hotel rooms. It would be nice if I could make travel plans well in advance without having to change them a million times (or ask someone to change theirs) to accommodate my husband’s changing work schedule. It would be nice if I didn’t have to figure out how to trudge from 1 airport terminal to another while lugging 2 kids, a carseat, a booster seat, and carry-on luggage by myself because my husband couldn’t travel with me (and believe me, without the kindness of strangers, it’s a near impossible feat). It would be nice if I could meet my niece before she celebrates her first birthday.


Do you wish your family lived closer together?  How do you help yourself and your children connect with far away family members in between visits?



Monday, April 5, 2010

I'm a Blue Star Families Columnist!

I'm thrilled to share with you that I've somehow convinced Blue Star Families to let me join their team as a columnist.  (To learn more about Blue Star Families, you can read my interview with the Membership Director or visit their website directly.)  I'll be writing a weekly column about the ups and downs of being married to a deployed service member under the name Wife on the Roller Coaster.  Very exciting!

Here is my first post for Blue Star Families called Let the Roller Coaster Begin.  Hope you can head over there and check me out!


Let the Roller Coaster Begin


I’m ready. Or at least I think I’m ready. Well, I’m as ready as I’m ever going to be, and quite frankly, ready or not, here it comes. I’m about to hop on the jolting, unpredictable roller coaster called deployment.



As I strap in for the ride, I can’t help but wonder how I’ll handle it. I’ve been on this roller coaster before, and I can’t say I came out on the other end with flying colors, but if I were to be graded on a Pass/Fail basis, I definitely passed. I think.


I recall my husband’s first deployment and how wholly unprepared I was. I had no plan whatsoever to get myself through it. At the time, our son was 6-months old and I was finishing up graduate school. Needless to say, I had my hands full, and somehow I hoped that merely staying busy would magically flip the pages of the calendar. I was wrong. Between the hurricane that hit 10 days after my husband left, multiple trips to the ER for baby ear infections and RSV, a canine ear surgery, and the completion of my student teaching and thesis, I was busy alright. But it wasn’t enough. I had nothing else to buffer those bumps on the roller coaster.


Life is different now. That 6-month-old baby is a 6-year-old self-proclaimed man, and we have a rambunctious 2-year-old daughter added to the mix. I am a full-time domestic engineer (yes, that’s a fancy way of saying stay-at-home mom), and I’m blanketed in the security of commiserating friends. I’m older and wiser. I’ve had time to adjust to my official duties as a military spouse, and I’ve learned to expect the unexpected and respond with aplomb.


The change in our family dynamics will bring a variance in the challenges I will face this time around. I didn’t have to explain to a baby why his daddy was absent, but living with a kindergartener is like being trapped without a helmet inside a rapid-fire batting cage of questions. Without the escape of graduate school, I could ostensibly pass days without having a face-to-face conversation with another adult. I’m pretty sure I’m safe in the hurricane department, but you never know. Unlike last time though, I have a plan. I’m ready for these challenges. I think.


As a consummate planner, I thrive on making lists. Grocery lists, to-do lists, lists of equipment my son needs for baseball. You name it, I list it. Therefore, it’s no surprise that part of my pre-deployment preparation includes lists. A list of items to buy for my husband to pack, a list of affairs to put in order, a list of tasks for my husband to complete around the house before he leaves. Most importantly, for my own emotional preparation, I need a list of strategies to get through this deployment with not just a passing grade, but an A+. I need a tangible list I can post on my refrigerator, not just an arbitrary list floating around in my head and crashing into the other random thoughts held hostage in there. On those challenging days when the kids think I enjoy the sound of ear-piercing tantrums or when I don’t get that phone call from my husband, I can use my list as a reminder to keep my head in the game.


So here it is, my list of ways I plan to ride the deployment roller coaster without getting thrown off. (And yes, it’s written as if I’m speaking to someone other than myself because sometimes it takes a voice of objectivity to snap me back into reality.)



• Embrace the unexpected!

• Stay busy. Boredom breeds rumination.

• Allow yourself brief moments of sulking, but don’t wallow. Get it out of your system and move on.

• Write your husband letters. It may be the only way you can “talk” to him so take advantage of it.

• Make time to pamper yourself. If that means simply a hot bath with a glass of wine and a good book after the kids are in bed, so be it.

• Make time to pamper your children. Just because they’re young, it doesn’t mean they don’t understand that Daddy is gone and Mommy is sad. Encourage them to share their feelings, and dole out extra hugs.

• Do things you wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to do: watch cheesy chick flicks, read that pile of magazines on your desk, spend time with friends and family, train for a half marathon.

• Use your support system and don’t be too proud to ask for help.

• Get out of the house! Spring is here so go for a walk, take the kids to the park, and on rainy days, indulge in some retail therapy.

• Talk. Don’t let your fill-in-the-blank emotion of the day bubble inside you until you burst. You have a dozen people on speed dial ready to listen.

• Take time as it comes. You might wish time away to speed your husband’s return, but don’t forget you have two growing children whose daily milestones you would regret missing. (And don’t forget the video camera so your husband doesn’t miss them either!)


The tasks on my list may seem obvious, but I know from experience that a simple plan is better than no plan at all. If I get frazzled facing the commissary without a list, I can’t imagine what a list-less deployment would do to me! So now that my list is made, I’m ready. I think.


Let the roller coaster begin.



Sunday, April 4, 2010

Operation: Conference Socialization

Week 13: ATTEND THE MILBLOGGING CONFERENCE!

I'm beyond excited to have the opportunity to attend the Milblogging Conference in Washington, D.C. this upcoming weekend.  I've never attended a blogging conference before, so I have no idea what to expect.  The planner in me is a little nervous about facing the unexpected, but the military wife in me can't wait for the fun to begin. 

Speaking of the Milblogging Conference, I learned this morning that I reached the top 5 in the nominations stage for the military spouse MILbloggie award, pushing me forward to the voting stage.  If you have a minute and think I'm worthy of your love, you can vote for me at http://milblogging.com/votestandings.php?mode=branch.  Just log in, click on the spouse category, and vote!  I'm excited to be in the company of such wonderful bloggers, and I hope I get the chance to meet some of you this weekend!

Happy Easter everyone!


Week In Review (Operation: Slow-Cooking Dinner Preparation)

My challenge last week was to cook dinner in my slow cooker every day.  Not only did I complete my challenge, but I had some yummy leftovers all week!

All 7 of my dinners came from Stephanie O'Dea's cookbook Make It Fast, Cook It Slow.  I mentioned her last week, but I'll say it again: if you're a fan of slow cookers, go check out her cookbook and her blog A Year of Slow Cooking

Want to know what amazing meals you can throw together in your slow cooker?  I made:

  • Barbecued Shrimp
  • Creamy Beef Over Noodles
  • Buffalo Chicken Lasagna
  • Maple-Dijon Chicken
  • Sweet and Spicy Salmon
  • Creamy Corn and Spinach Enchilada Casserole
  • Rotisserie-Style Chicken


I don't think I'll ever buy a Wal-Mart rotisserie chicken again.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Are You a Military Significant Other Looking for Women Like You?

There's been so much buzz recently in the mil spouse blogging community about the support we offer each other.  We are a unique group of women, going through similar challenges, and I truly believe that we can help each other. 

If you are a service member, a military spouse/significant other, or a military parent, check out milblogging.com.  You can list your own blog and find just about any military-related blog you can think of.  While you're there, don't forget to nominate your favorite listed military blogs for the MilBloggies award!  (And yes, I might just be one of those listed blogs you can nominate.)


An Interview with Blue Star Families

The other day I asked my fellow military spouse bloggers some questions about deployment and where to go for help.  Based on some of your comments as well as my own need for support during my husband's upcoming deployment, I wanted to find an organization that offered help to everyone affected by a deployment or military life in general. 

I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with the new Membership Director of Blue Star Families, Tiffany Isaacson.  Whether you are a military spouse, a girlfriend, a parent, a friend, or even a civilian who simply wants to support our troops, I hope you take a minute to join our conversation and take a look at what Blue Star Families has to offer.



Tiffany, tell me about Blue Star Families.

Blue Star Families is a non-profit organization that was created by military families for military families. It is a wonderful organization that supports all branches of the military service. Blue Star Families seeks to unite, support, educate and empower parents, children, spouses, significant others, and friends, absolutely anyone who shares in the life of a military service member.



Can you give me some examples of ways that Blue Star Families works to accomplish its mission of supporting military families?

Two examples that highlight the mission of Blue Star Families are Operation Appreciation and our Books on Bases program.

Blue Star’s Operation Appreciation program is a way for the entire community to come together to thank the families of our service members. Many times the general population forgets families who are left behind, and it is Blue Star’s mission to make sure that does not happen. It is a simple process. An Operation Appreciation event can be held anywhere, all you need is stationary and pens to get started. The community is then asked to write letters of support and gratitude to either parents of service members, children of service members, spouses of service members or Veterans (another group that is often forgotten). These letters of appreciation go a long way in providing strength to those who support the men and women who serve our country.

Our Books on Bases program is all about children and thanking the military child! Blue Star Families distributed 6,000 books in the Southeastern United States in 2009 and is working with 70 Blue Star Family chapters to develop more distribution dates throughout 2010. This is a tremendous way for military children to be recognized and thanked.


What are the benefits of becoming a Blue Star Family member?

Membership in Blue Star Families is free! We encourage everyone to become a member, whether they are a military spouse, child, parent, service member, significant other, or friend. Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to sign up. As a member you will be invited to attend events in your area, such as a Books on Bases event or an Operation Appreciation event. You will also have access to our newsletter that is full of helpful information to help empower you and your family. As a member you can also get involved in your local chapter to help out many different types of programs that support military families. Blue Star also makes available resources to help you in your daily life. We are always adding to our Resource Page on our website.

Being a member of Blue Star Families means becoming a voice for military family issues as well. On May 1, 2010, the new Military Lifestyle Study will be out. This survey is full of questions that pertain to the life of the military family. At the request of the Speaker of the House, our 2009 survey was presented to a military family roundtable, which was attended by members of the bi-partisan congressional Women’s Caucus as well as the White House Council on Women and Girls. If you would like to find out more about the survey or how you can participate in the 2010 survey, the information is included on our website.


Many of my readers are military spouses. How can they find out more about Blue Star Families?

Blue Star Families is on the web at http://www.bluestarfam.org/, or you can find us on Facebook under Blue Star Families. If you are interested in becoming a member, you can sign up on the website or contact me directly at tisaacson@bluestarfam.org.

Thank you for your interest in Blue Star Families and for sharing this information with your fellow bloggers! I hope that all of them will feel free to contact me with any questions they may have!




Related Posts with Thumbnails