Posts Tagged ‘military’

Military Families: Start Strong, Stay Strong

Friday, May 4th, 2018

Thank you to P&G who sponsored this post and shared their Start Strong, Stay Strong program with me so I could help get the word out to my military family. 

It’s no secret that we just survived our first deployment as a family of 6. Five of us stayed here and lived our regular lives and one of us went out to sea on a submarine for half a year. What you probably don’t know is that even though they completed that deployment successfully, we still don’t get my husband is back for good. He’s not even back for a year, or six months. He was, in fact, home for less than 8 weeks.

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The good news is this isn’t a deployment. It’s just regular routine submarine stuff. The bad news is calling it “regular routine submarine stuff” doesn’t make solo-parenting any easier or make the time go by any faster. The kids are still going to be sad, I’m still going to feel a vague sense of dread the whole time and it’s pretty much guaranteed that SOMETHING major in the house will break. Every. Single. Time. (I’m looking at you, main sewer line!)

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One of the benefits of having been stationed in the same place for so long is that I’ve built up a support system around me. Sometimes it’s super strong – like when I need to take Caroline to the emergency room at 9 pm and a friend rushes over to sit with the boys so I don’t have to wake them up and bring them along. Sometimes I feel very, very alone – like when the dog was diagnosed with cancer and I was standing in the vet’s office with a toddler on each hip, trying to figure out how to pay for treatment.

 

Many military families don’t stay in one place long enough to become a part of the community. As a kid we moved every 3 years (my dad was in the Coast Guard), so I’m familiar with that life too. It can be hard to connect when you know any roots you plant will just be pulled up again the next time the military needs you somewhere else. Switching schools, finding a new job, even learning which restaurants are the best or which car wash offers a military discount is all emotional labor that can take a toll on us as families supporting our servicemembers.

 

start strong stay strong boy in dress uniform hat

Recently, P&G (the company behind tons of brands you use and trust) launched the Start Strong, Stay Strong program. They are proud to partner with Operation Homefront and are committed to giving military parents all the support they deserve. The Start Strong, Stay Strong site allows you to explore your neighborhood, find or offer services, sell things via the marketplace and unlock deals and savings. I just found a great cashback offer at my commissary on the kinds of staples like Pantene and Tide I love to stock up on there!  

start strong stay strong boy in dress uniform hat

As military families, we all share many of the same frustrations, experiences, and challenges. Our best source of information is each other – who knows what to expect better than someone who has been there once or twice or ten times before? In the Start Strong, Stay Strong community, we can share our stories and celebrate our accomplishments. We’ve been here in Connecticut for more than 10 years now, I can definitely help you find the best restaurant or car wash. Whether you’re just starting out somewhere new or are staying strong to hold your family together despite the distances, you deserve all the support you can get.

The Start Strong, Stay Strong platform is new and growing, and we need your help to make it a success. Sign up, tell your friends to sign up, and join me in building this community from the beginning so we can be strong together. You can sign up here, it’s really easy. Won’t you join me?

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TODAY IS THE DAY

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

Guess what is happening RIGHT NOW?

My husband is coming home. I’m at the official homecoming down on the pier with the kids. This deployment is OVER and we all survived (as long as I can keep Lincoln and Finnegan from throwing themselves off the pier into the river, which I am honestly a little stressed about).

 

This morning the kids skipped school, we baked E a birthday cake and we’re all wearing special outfits I picked out months ago. I’m even wearing high heels, which I will probably regret but this seemed like an occasion that called for being a little fancy. It’s hard to be practical when you’re this excited.

I’ve had a variation of the following conversation at least 20 times in the last week:

Friend: It’s almost over! Are you so excited?!
Me: Yes, super excited!
Friend: Did those 6 months go by so fast?
Me: …
Me: You don’t have time to hear all my feelings on this topic.

On the one hand, it did go by fast because my plan to keep my family super busy worked extremely well. Our current schedule is a kid activity 6 days a week with 2 on Wednesdays and Sundays. Three kids started school. We did Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year. I fed them approximately one million times, changed half a million diapers, and broken up a quarter-million fights. I dealt with the dog’s dental problems, cancer diagnosis and toe amputation. I potty trained Lincoln. I handled four months of plumbers trying to fix the sewer line. And I had completely forgotten that I ALSO finished the bathroom remodel, which seems like a million years ago now. So maybe six months didn’t exactly fly by.

The time did not fly by every evening when I watched TV alone. It didn’t fly by when I filled everyone’s stockings by myself. It didn’t fly by every time Lincoln threw a screaming tantrum. It did not fly by when I was trying to keep my business going with no real childcare. It didn’t fly by at 2 am when I was up with the baby. It didn’t fly by every time I had to make a decision on my own that I would rather have made with my husband. It did not fly by every time I had to drive somewhere, which is always, because in the last six months I have NEVER been a passenger in a car. Six months is a really long time, but also now six months is over.

The Navy understands that deployment sucks so they’re going to give E some time off and I am VERY excited. I won’t have to take all four kids to every appointment this month! I can go to the doctor alone! HE can take the babies to swim class because I hate swim class! He can also do our taxes, fix the bookshelves, and deal with the next round of contractors. I’m really excited that we’re going to finally watch Stranger Things season 2 so I understand pop culture again. It’s also going to be weird adjusting to having him around. It only takes two weeks to make a habit, I’ve had plenty of time to become set in my ways – feeding the kids and then just eating whatever for dinner myself, staying up too late watching whatever I want, placing random Amazon orders, never having to consult someone else about the weekend plans, pretending I can’t see the dishes in the sink for three consecutive days. It wasn’t quite like being single again, but it was very much about me me me me all the time. And I bet it’s going to be weird for E too. In the past six months I’ve moved around a lot of stuff. I bought new furniture. I rearranged several rooms. There are new lights and child locks on everything. All the stuff that I adjusted to after like 24 hours is going to hit him at once. Plus the weather. Going from 24/7 in a metal tube under the water to the human world full of trees and plants and sky and sun and rain and snow and wind and…other weather stuff has got to be tough on a person. Hopefully his skin doesn’t burn instantly when it first encounters sunlight again.

I have a legit fancy photographer who is taking pictures of our reunion, but if you want some less fancy updates I’ll be on Instagram with the kids. I’m probably posting an Instagram story right at this second. I also gave our names to the Navy media guys last night because all three big kids said they would REALLY love to be on the news, so there’s a chance Caroline will become a local tv star by doing something incredibly precocious in front of a camera. Let’s hope that’s why we’re on the news, and not because Lincoln throws himself in the river.

p.s. Thank you SO MUCH to my internet friends who have kept me company in a dozen different ways during this deployment. I would be 1000% lonelier and more stressed out if I only had real-life, in-person interactions. The internet keeps me sane.

 

Finding New Roads – Meet Tiffany Joyce Photography {Sponsored by #ChevySalutes}

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Friends, meet Tiffany. She’s cool. She’s a photographer. She’s also a Navy wife who just arrived in beautiful Connecticut. Well, actually, she arrived just in time for the Endless Winter Of Snow And Despair, but somehow managed to stick it out until things improved and is now enjoying the absolutely PERFECT weather we New Englanders like to pretend we get 90% of the time. We’re very good at lying to ourselves.

#chevysalutes milspouse

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Working Hard And Hardly Working

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Being a stay at home mom is hard. It’s thankless. It’s monotonous. There’s no such thing as sick days. It involves way, way too much poop.

Right now, being a mom seems like CAKE compared to my husband’s job. Especially since the kids are at a sleep-through-the-night, put-on-their-own-shoes, can-be-entertained-with-television-if-I-need-a-break stage and E’s job has none of that. He never gets to sleep through the night, no one at work seems to be able to tie their own shoes without asking for help and even when he’s home in front of the TV he’s thinking about all the stuff he has to do tomorrow (or in 20 minutes, if work calls him in AGAIN). He probably won’t get to go on vacation with us at all this summer and he probably won’t get any real time off until 2014. He doesn’t get lunch dates and trips to the playground and lazy days at home when he’s so tired he can’t keep his eyes open. So even though he gets paid in actual dollars and people (in theory) value his work and give him awards and tell him “great job”, I wouldn’t trade places with him for a second. Well, maybe for a second, but only because he really deserves a break. Although putting me in charge of a nuclear reactor for even a second would be a terrible, terrible mistake.

There have been plenty of times in the past 5 years where the scales went the other way and I was practically homicidal with rage over how I did ALL THE WORK and ALL THE CHILDCARE and ALL THE CLEANING and he was “busy” spending 8 hours rearranging office furniture with a 2 hour lunch thrown in the middle. He’s wasn’t slacking off, he just wasn’t at a very demanding command. But this job he does now? Makes up for every second of relaxation he ever had. If he worked for a civilian company they’d be paying him bazillions of dollars in overtime (or perhaps they’d be in jail for inhumane work conditions) but since it’s the military they can demand all of his time and give him nothing but a terrible headache and a family that missed him.

You know it’s bad when I consider a letter writing campaign to President Obama asking if maybe he can issue a presidential order giving E just ONE weekend off to visit us on vacation. And then I realized even if I was that crazy, E probably wouldn’t take the weekend off, since he’d be screwing over whoever had to fill in for him and might miss something important. He’s a good guy.

Anyways, here’s some photos of the kids and I doing fun stuff over the weekend. The plan is to keep them so busy they don’t notice Mommy is tired and Daddy is gone. Fire trucks are really good for that. So are surprise fairs at the high school with free bounce houses and balloon animals and rubber duckies. It was pretty awesome. Fun fact! It was in the parking lot for my OB’s office and right outside the building where both kids were born.

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Tiny speck on the left is Caroline, running to check out the helicopter on her own. I figured a Safety Fair was probably a safe place to let her run around.

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She LOVES people in costume.

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I hope this is the very last time he is ever in an ambulance.

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Learning about ice rescue techniques. Evan said “It’s like a pool noodle!” and the guy was like “Well…yeah. Basically. But we probably paid more.”

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Apparently she also loves animatronic cars with voices.

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Non-Deployment

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012


Our lives are upside down right now, or maybe sideways, trying to revolve around E’s crazy work schedule. He’s not at sea – it would be a poor choice to try to take his submarine out into the ocean, since half of it is still a just twinkle in the shipyard’s eye. And for that I’m thankful. But he’s Very Busy And Important at his job in a way he has never been in the past and handling everything about the kids, the house, the cars and our life is starting to wear on me. Especially because although there is an end in sight, things are going to get worse before they get better – and “better” is still going to suck.

I feel the need to insert a disclaimer every time I talk about my life as a Navy spouse to head off the eye rolling. I am 100% aware of my privilege in complaining about my life. There are billions of people across the world who are worse off than me, millions in America who would kill for a stable job and steady income and amazing, free (socialized!) healthcare, thousands of families whose loved ones are deployed to battlefields and war zones and much more dangerous conditions that an office in Connecticut and probably two dozen other spouses stationed right here on E’s boat who are dealing with problems much worse than mine. But just like someone who goes from making $100,000 a year would have a hard time adjusting to making only $25,000 a year, I’ve gone from having a husband around 50-60 hours a week to one I only see 4 or 5 hours a week. Total. And the kids see him even less. We’re adjusting.

ALSO, since I’m already on a super-tangent, I am not in any way comparing my single-parenting of my kids while E is at work to an ACTUAL single parent. It’s not even kind of close to the same thing. A paycheck magically shows up in my bank account every 2 weeks even if all I’ve done all week is take Instagram photos of my food and buying crap at Target and having random bits of my body removed for fun (yah healthcare!) so my life is pretty good.

And just like that I’ve written a whole post about why I shouldn’t even both to write this post. I would suggest to myself “Self, quit while you’re ahead!” but I don’t actually feel ahead. I feel forever behind.

I’m torn between trying to fill our days with as many things as possible and holing up in a blanket fort on the couch to watch Disney Jr all day. I don’t want to take the kids out to the zoo and the aquarium and the park and lunch only to find out E got home early and we missed our only chance to see him. If we stay home to see him there’s a huuuuuge stretch of morning when the kids are awake and bored and I start to lose my temper because I know we’re only going to get an hour with Daddy anyway. The worst was trying to split the two – we got home JUST in time to watch Daddy walk out the door. Both kids were hysterical for an hour.

In some ways, life would be easier if this was a deployment. There would be regular family support group meetings giving us updates. Our bank account would be in better shape thanks to extra pay and E not having to eat unexpectedly on the run or drive back and forth to work. I could use that cute DVD Sesame Workshop sent me to explain to the kids Daddy was gone for a while but would be back. I would feel much less guilty about planning fun family trips and vacations and outings without E. Right now I worry I’m abandoning him, being unsupportive of his job, excluding him from our family (or at least I worry HE feels that way) when, no. I’m not doing it. The NAVY is doing it.

It’s a life I enjoy, mostly. One I signed up for willingly and knowingly after growing up in a military family. But right now? It freaking sucks.

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