Monday, April 30, 2012

To Whom It May Concern

Dear Sore Throat and Stuffy Nose,
Please please please go away!  I am going to the Milblog Conference next week, an event I've been looking forward to for a year.  I cannot be sick for MilBlogCon!  So please pack up your germs and move them to someone else's body. 

Dear Baseball Season,
I know I signed up for you.  I know that I was well aware of your scheduling demands before I chose to sign my son up for his gagillionth season of baseball and my daughter for her first season of t-ball.  But please go easy on me.  I'm still adjusting to the loss of my quiet evenings at home and the addition of the kids' morning crankiness.

Dear Family Hamper,
I know you've been feeling unusually empty lately, but have no fear.  Mr. Roller Coaster is on his way home and will no doubt fill you up within minutes of his return.  Enjoy the emptiness while you can.  You'll be overflowing again in no time.

Dear Gunner,
I don't think our neighbors appreciate your incessant barking at 6 AM EVERY SINGLE MORNING.  What the heck are you barking at?  Are you having a conversation with the dog across the street?  Are you trying to impress the ladies?  Do you just like hearing yourself talk?  I love that you're a good watch dog but dude, you have to stop the 6 AM wake up calls!

Dear Coffee,
Last week I had my first cup of you in over 10 years in an attempt to give up my morning Diet Pepsi.  I have to say I don't get your appeal.  Sure you smell nice, and sure it feels good to pour a hot liquid down my sore throat, but I just don't get why people can't live without you.  I kind of feel like I'm drinking toxic mud that leaves my stomach a little queasy and my heart wildly palpitating.  I find that switching to half caff and disguising you with cream and sugar are helpful, but I'm still not convinced. 

Dear Diet Pepsi,
Oh how I miss your artificially sweet bubbles waking me up every morning.  Although you're still waiting for me after work every day, I'll be giving up those secret meetings soon as well.  The love affair that has held on strong since my college days will soon be a distant memory.  I might allow myself to rekindle the past when I go to the movies or order a value meal at Chick-Fil-A, but otherwise I must say farewell.  Please know that coffee will never satisfy me the way you do. 


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Where Were Mil Spouse Bloggers When I Needed Them 10 Years Ago?!

Photo Credit: Google Images

I logged onto Facebook the other day and saw that I had a message on my Riding the Roller Coaster page. It was from a fellow military spouse who had a blog design question. Being the computer dummy that I am, I wasn't able to answer her question.  But she thanked me anyway, adding:

"I LOVE your blog. It has really helped me as we start our journey into the military life."

In the 2 plus years I've been blogging, I've received lots of similar messages.  I've also sent lots of similar messages as I expressed my own appreciation to other military spouse bloggers for telling it like it is, offering advice, making me laugh, making me cry, and sharing thoughts I never knew other mil spouses thought. 

My heart warms when I get messages like these.  It makes me feel good to know that I've helped someone in some small way, that I've given someone something that I was so desperately seeking when I was just starting out as a mil spouse.

During the first few years of my military spousedom, I felt trapped inside my own head.  I didn't know how I felt about the lifestyle.  I was proud of my husband, but there were so many other emotions going on that I felt guilty for feeling because none of the other military spouses I knew voiced the same thoughts.  Throw in a brand new military brat, followed closely by a deployment, followed closely by a PCS, and I felt like I was on a crazy roller coaster.  And I wanted to get off. 

Flash forward a few years later when I decided to start writing a blog.  I had never read a blog before.  I just loved writing, and since I planned to write a book one day, my mother-in-law suggested I start a blog (still thanking you P!).  So I did.  And because I was still hanging on, riding that winding, jolting roller coaster of military life, I figured what better name for my blog.  Riding the Roller Coaster.

It wasn't until I was several weeks into blogging that I discovered the vast world of mil spouse bloggers.  I couldn't believe there were so many of us out there!  So many women sharing their stories and adventures and advice!

And suddenly, I wasn't trapped inside my own head anymore.

I spent hours and days and weeks discovering blog after blog written by military spouses who were going through everything I was going through.  My husband had just deployed for the second time, and unlike the first deployment, I felt a sense of camaraderie, a kind of united front against loneliness, fear, anger, sadness, and every other emotion I was too afraid to admit I was feeling.  It didn't matter that I had never met these women.  It didn't matter what branch our husbands serve in or what their ranks are.  It didn't matter our age or our educational background or where we live or whether or not we have kids.  My husband was gone, but I wasn't alone.  I wasn't riding that roller coaster by myself anymore. 

I often think back to when I first started out as a mil spouse and how I would have loved the kind of guidance I have since found in the blogosphere.  Where were mil spouse bloggers when I needed them 10 years ago?! 

But that doesn't matter anymore.  All that matters is that I found you.  And I'm so thankful to be a part this amazing community.

How did you discover the mil spouse blogging community?  How does reading mil spouse blogs help you hang on while riding this military roller coaster?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Days are Long, The Years are Short

“The days are long, but the years are short.”  
~ Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project

I can't count how many times in the last month I've said to someone, "Wow, it's been a really long day." Work has been hectic, baseball season kicked off, and my husband's travel schedule has been frequent and unpredictable.  Some days I can't wait to crawl into bed with a good book and finally take a deep breath.

But then there are times that I'm reminded just how quickly time passes: watching my daughter read her first book, comparing the kids' school pictures from this year to last year, seeing my son try to squeeze into a shirt he wore comfortably just 6 months ago.  My kids are no longer babies, and I don't know how that happened.  Despite those really long days, the years seem to pass right before my eyes.   

I know I need to stop squandering time and complaining about long days.  Because this is exactly how quickly it seems my kids' childhoods are flying by...

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Song For Mil Spouses By a Mil Spouse

Last year I shared a song called "Drive These Blues Away," which was written and performed by an incredibly talented Army spouse named Olivia Perez-Breland.  Well, Olivia, who currently lives in Hawaii, has just released a video for a song she wrote for military spouses who, like her, have endured repeated deployments and separations.

"No actors were used in the video," Olivia says.  "Only active duty Army soldiers and their families who were preparing for deployments at the time of filming. Those soldiers are now deployed to Afghanistan, so the video is very much 'art-meets-life.'"

But Olivia isn't just a talented artist.  She's also a military spouse wanting to do something positive for our military community.  That's why she's donating half of her proceeds from the song to the Fisher House Foundation to support military families.

Olivia's story got picked up by KITV Hawaii, so click here to learn more about her!

Ok, enough of my chatter.  Here's the video.  Oh, and you might want to grab a box of tissues.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Traveling with Kids...Oh the Humanity!

I love my children very much.  And they're generally well-behaved, well-mannered, all around pretty good kids.  But as much as I love them, I DO NOT love traveling with them, especially when my husband isn't traveling with us. 

I've done my fair share of traveling with the kids by myself, and it's always left me stressed, exhausted, and swearing I'm never going to do it again.  I keep telling myself it will get easier as the kids get older and gain independence and require less equipment for travel. (Have you ever run through an airport juggling a roller bag, a backpack, a booster seat, and a car seat while pushing a stroller and holding the hand of a preschooler?!....Not fun!).  I grasped onto the hope that my children are finally old enough to travel well as I packed them up and headed out last week for a family reunion.

The trip started off seamlessly.  We left for the airport on time with limited tantrums over clothes (Little C) or the capacity to stuff one more Lego creation into a carry on (Big C).  In fact, the trip really didn't get interesting until after we had to speedwalk to make the connection for our second flight, our hands filled with greasy pizza and Happy Meals.  My optimism for a drama-free trip was still mostly intact when I buckled the kids in to prepare for our final destination.  Until I heard over the intercom...

"Passenger Mr. Roller Big C, if you are onboard, please press your call button."  Let the drama begin. 

I pushed my way against traffic to the front of the plane and approached the flight attendant.  "Are you looking for Mr. Roller OR Big C?  Because those are 2 different people.  Big C IS on this plane.  Mr. Roller is not."  I had clearly confused the man by pointing out that they were paging the combined names of 2 people so he called an expert from inside the airport to speak with me.

"Is Mr. Roller Big C on this aircraft?"

"MR. ROLLER is not.  He is supposed to be (insert tongue biting to keep from going into the details of why my husband would once again not be attending one of my family reunions), but he's not.  However, BIG C is my son, and he IS on this flight."  Long pause, empty gaze, head scratching.  Why was this so confusing?  Were we really holding up the entire flight for this?

Fortunately, the woman left to figure it out on her own, and I was permitted to return to my seat where my children were ready to kill each other.  "Mom, I have to go to the bathroom."  Of course.

"Hurry up," I told Big C.  "We're about to take off."  I settled Little C into her seat and sat down with my book, figuring Big C would be out any second. 

"Ok folks, we're closing the main door of the aircraft.  Please prepare for take off."  What the heck is my son doing in that bathroom?!

I unbuckled my seatbelt and knocked on the door.  "Big C, what are you doing in there?"

"I'm pooping,"

"Well poop faster!"

"Ma'am, you need to take your seat."  Once again, I'm being scolded by a flight attendant.  Once again, I'm holding up the flight.  I swear that woman stood in the aisle impatiently tapping her foot until Big C exited the bathroom and watched us sit down.  Lady, I can't control my child's bowel movements!

And then there's the normal travel annoyances like sharing the teeny tiny airplane bathroom with Little C because I don't trust what she'll do in there by herself.  The fights over who gets to sit by the window.  The long layover in a crowded airport.  The tray table goes up, the tray table goes down, the tray table goes up, the tray table goes down.  My begging them to take a nap and my subsequent frustration when they finally fall asleep...5 minutes before landing.  Strangers' dirty looks because I brought my 8-year-old son into the airport ladies room with me  (sorry, but I'm not leaving my child alone in an airport!).  The shoe throwing tantrums while waiting at baggage claim.  Mom, I can't carry this anymore.  Mom, I'm hungry.  Mom, I'm thirsty.  Mom, I'm bored.  The tray table goes up, the tray table goes down...

No, traveling with kids is never fun.  But at least I got a blog post out of it. 

What are some of your best traveling with kids stories?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Top 10 Books for Military Brats

Military life is difficult to explain even to adults.  Explaining it to children?  Well, sometimes it's impossible to find the right words. 

Fortunately, there are people out there who seemed to have found the right words and then put those right words together in books that children of all ages can understand and relate to.  In honor of the Month of the Military Child, I thought I'd share some of my favorite books for military brats.  (Keep in mind that my children are ages 4 and 8 so the following are books that are appropriate for this age bracket or younger.)

Here are my...

Top 10 Books for Military Brats

10)  I Miss You! A Military Kid's Book About Deployment by Beth Andrews

9)  Deployment Journal for Kids by Rachel Robertson

8)  The Invisible String by Patrice Karst (This one isn't about the military, but it's about being separated from a loved one so it's fitting for deployments.)

7)  Over There by Dorinda Silver Williams

6)  Piper Reed, Navy Brat by Kimberly Willis Holt

5)  The Wishing Tree by Mary Redman

4)  Love, Lizzie: Letters to a Military Mom by Lisa Tucker McElroy

2)  Night Catch by Brenda Ehrmantraut

What are your favorite books for military brats?  What books would you recommend for older military children?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mil Spouse Appreciation Day Blog Hop

May 11, 2012 is a very special day for military spouses.  Why, you ask?  Because this day has been set aside to recognize and celebrate, you guessed it, MILITARY SPOUSES!  Yes, that’s right.  May 11 is Military Spouse Appreciation Day.

Mil spouses (and girlfriends and significant others, men and women alike) are amazing people with incredibly unique stories to share about the ups and downs of being married to the military.  Thanks to blogging, we mil spouses are able to share those unique stories as we offer each other advice, support, laughter, and sometimes just a virtual shoulder to lean on.  Blogging also allows us to share our stories with our non-military friends, who may not know a whole lot about our world but would like to. 

In honor of Military Spouse Appreciation Day, my bloggy soul sister Ann Marie over at Household 6 Diva and I thought it would be fun to celebrate the awesomeness that is the Military Spouse by throwing together a little blog hop, an online mixer for all of those amazing mil spouses hanging out in the blogosphere. 

And what if you’re not a mil spouse but you’d like to express your appreciation?  Well, we’d love to meet you too, so please join in!  The more the merrier! 

What exactly does this all mean?  It means that on Friday, May 11, Ann Marie and I will post a Linky on our blogs.  What are you supposed to do?  Quite simply, you put together a brief post introducing yourself (and we say brief only because we’ll have so many friends to visit and so many intros to read!).  Then head on over to either Riding the Roller Coaster or Household 6 Diva and link up your intro post.  Then sit back, relax, and visit with friends both old and new.

But that’s not all!  Noooooo.  Because we love our mil spouses so much, we’re going to have some very cool giveaways.  After all, what’s a Military Spouse Appreciation Day without presents?!

Ok, let’s take a deep breath because we still have a month before the big day.  Today is just a heads up.  In the meantime, work on your introduction post, keep your eyes peeled for blog hop updates, and feel free to spread the word!

***If you’re interested in sponsoring a giveaway, please contact Roller Coaster at***

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mom, I Want to Be a Military Wife Just Like You

Are you a military spouse raising military brats?  Have you ever wondered how you would react if those military brats came home one day and announced they wanted to either join the military or marry the military?  Well, I have.  Head on over to the Homefront United Network to read my latest post, Mom, I Want to Be a Military Wife Just Like YouMake sure you share your thoughts in the comments section!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

10 Resources for Military Brats

Google Images

As I'm sure you've already heard, April is the Month of the Military Child.  What exactly does this mean?  To me, it's a reminder that I'm not the only one in this family making sacrifices for my husband's military career.  Not only are my children sacrificing as well, but they probably don't even understand why, which makes it that much more difficult. 

I love that there is an entire month dedicated to saluting our children. They deserve some appreciation, don't they?  And I hope that we continue to remember the unique needs of our military children during the other 11 months out of the year. 

That's why I compiled a list of resources just for military children.  I can't claim to have used all of these resources, but the ones I don't have personal experience with come highly recommended by families who do.  Whether they advocate for military brats' education, offer ways to cope through family separations, or provide a safe place for military brats to meet online and support each other, these resources all have the same goal: to help make these children's lives a little bit easier.

10 Resources for Military Brats

{BSF doesn't focus strictly on children like the other resources I'm listing, so I wanted to point you in a specific direction on this one.  To celebrate the Month of the Military Child, Blue Star Families is offering fun ways to honor our children, including a Military Child Essay Contest and a Certificate of Appreciation.  Also be sure to check out their other programs for military brats like Books on Bases and their newly launched MilKidz Club.}

Have you ever used any of these resources?  If so, what did you think?  What resources did I leave out?  Please share!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Month of the Military Child

April is the Month of the Military Child.  How awesome is it that our military brats get a month all to themselves?! 

Military brats are truly a unique breed of children.  They move around the world, they leave friends and make new ones, and they sacrifice precious time with one or both of their parents as they go on deployments and work strange hours.  It's only fitting that we spend an entire month recognizing these amazing children for the sacrifices they make.  They may not be old enough to wear a uniform, but they serve our country too.

There are so many ways to honor military children.  Throughout the month of April I'm going to try my best to let my own military brats know how much I appreciate them, starting this morning with extra hugs and kisses and a big fat thank you for being such incredible kids.  How do you plan to celebrate your military brats this month?

Happy Month of the Military Child to all you military brats out there!

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