Thursday, June 9, 2016

Exhausted, but life is good!

In the past two weeks, our household has experienced a LOT:
May 26: Jason's parents came into town, I worked. 
May 27: Leah and Katherine went with their school choir to Canobie Lake after their final performance for the year.
May 28: The whole family went on a fun historical excursion in Boston.
May 29: We went to church, and had a fun cookout in our cul-de-sac with our wonderful neighbors.
May 30: Jason's parents flew home, and Jon arrived. I worked.  
May 31: Leah did a presentation at school on inequality. I worked.
June 1: Leah and Katherine were in their first school play.  I worked.
June 2: Family pictures and Heather's Graduation, and All-Night-Grad-Party. 
June 3: Justin and Heather went to a graduation party for a friend on base.  I worked.

By Stephanie of
Sunflower Portrait Studios
June 4: Jason had drill, Jon flew back to VA, I got to have a lovely brunch to say farewell to a beautiful friend, I shopped with Leah to get things for her upcoming 8th grade trip...
June 5: Jason had drill. The rest of us went to church. Frances had a meeting for her upcoming ministry trip to Guatemala. 
June 6: Leah left to go to Gettysburg, Washington, DC, and other tours with her 8th grade class.  Everyone else went to school and work. 
June 7: We finally got a new dryer.  Everyone went to school and work.  Leah is still out of state.
June 8: Everyone is in school, or work...Leah is out of town still. 
June 9 (TODAY!): School, work, Leah gets home (between 10:45 and 11:00 pm)!! Katherine went on a field trip. 
(can life return to some resemblance of normal now, please?!?)
Also, in there, I spent 2 weeks washing clothes here, and either hanging them to dry in my basement, taking them to the neighbor's house, or Frances taking them to the base's laundromat.  Additionally, there was physical therapy, two trips to a car dealership, additional trips to church, and to the grocery store. 
To top it off, I fell today, in the MIDDLE OF THE ROAD.  My stupid weak ankle gave out (twisted) and I landed on my left knee and left hand. Yes, it hurts, but it is more embarrassing than anything else. 
I'm tired.  My ankle is swollen.  I have awakened with headaches most of the last two weeks.  My authorization for PT has run out.  3 clients cancelled on me today.  My beautiful lovely amazing neighbor moved to Ohio.  Did I mention that I'm tired???  Life needs to slow down.  And now we prepare for school to finally end (June 20th for the middle schoolers, and June 17 at the High school...Heather has been out for 3 weeks now), and gearing up for VBS, Camp, ministry trips...and no vacation for mom and dad. 
Some days, adulting SUCKS.
**One final note. Something is weird with Blogger. None of the spacing is working right, and I am tired of fighting it. You're just going to have to forgive the mess. I'm tired.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

So, we're a Military Family. So what?

Example 1 of a military family...with 1 child missing.
Photo by Jimmy Sadler
I follow a lot of online magazines and bloggers that write about life as a military family, and I live the lifestyle, so sometimes I forget that a lot of people don't understand how different life is for people whose life revolves around the military.

To gain a little perspective, it is important to realize that less than 1% of Americans serve in the military.  In 2013, that meant that there were 3.1 million military personnel.  Attached to those personnel are 2,988,895 family members (spouses and children), as well as about 12,000 other adult dependents (usually parents or siblings for whom the service member provides).  (source)

Suffice to say that the 1% of Americans that we are still are made up of a LOT of individual lives influenced.

So what, you ask?  What is so different about a military family's life?  I'm so glad you asked.

I know this seems like a given.  Of course, we're diverse...military members come from every state in the Union and ALSO include people who are not citizens yet, but are working toward that goal.  We don't eat the same things (well, most of the time...), we don't all talk the same way, or think the same way, or vote the same way, or drive the same way.  Our backgrounds and experiences are all different.

WE MOVE A LOT (or not):
One thing military people can USUALLY count on is regular moves.  How often and where is dependent on the military member's job, and where they are needed next.  Our family has lived in 5 different states, in 8 different houses, in 16 years.  That doesn't mean that every military family will have that number of moves.  I know families who have spent 20 years in one location, and I know families who have moved MANY more times than we have.

Some live ON a military installation, some life OFF of military installations.  On-base/on-post living feels safe, and secure, and is often more affordable for a family than housing off-base/post may be. Some military families prefer to be in the community, away from the people they work with.

Our family has been in "base housing" in 3 different locations, but only one of those has actually be within the gates of the local military installation.  We have rented, we have bought, and we have been in housing provided by the military.  Where we are currently, it is MUCH less expensive to be in on-base housing.

I joke that we live in a "gated community" IS gated, and there ARE armed guards.  But when there are scary people targeting "gated communities" such as ours, the reason is because it is affiliated with the military, and the particular targets are military members or their families...which is when things get really strict in our neighborhood.

Our children appreciate living among other military families, attending schools where the unique challenges of military children are understood, and having many friends who are living the same experience.

As someone who is immersed in military life, it is difficult for me to look at my life and clearly see what makes it so different from others who are not attached to the military in some way.

I see our healthcare and insurance as pretty similar to other healthcare and insurance plans.
I see that we cannot afford *not* to have two incomes...oh, we can survive on one...but it is HARD...for many it is often close to or below the poverty line.  Many military families are on WIC and food stamps...not because they are poor managers of their money, or because they have large families, but because they have to be in order to survive, to feed their families.

Think about the young military family, just starting out...which is already hard...and then they are moved FAR away from the comforts of home, and the ready support of immediate family.  Then the military member is deployed, or off on one training after another, and what is the other spouse supposed to do?  How are they supposed to care for their young children and work when they know NO ONE, and are new to the area, and can't find a job that will allow them to be the on-call parent 24-hours-per-day?

So, what are your questions about the lifestyle of the military family?  Maybe I can answer some of them....

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Cognitive Dissonance
When none of what I'm reading makes any sense any more....this would be how I respond...

If I believe everything I read on my Facebook page...
~Donald Trump is going to destroy our country.
~Hillary Clinton is going to destroy our country.
~Bernie Sanders is going to destroy our country.
~Maybe President Obama wasn't so bad after all.
~President GW wasn't so bad, was he?
~I miss President Ronald Reagan.
~Hillary really screwed up by attributing anything to FLOTUS Nancy Reagan.

~Male Gamers are sexist pigs who abuse women who dare try to enter "their" world.

~Catholic students are anti-Semitic.

~Only people who battle cancer are heroic.
~Only people who battle child abuse are heroic.
~Only military members and veterans are heroic.

~People who harm animals deserve to die.
~People who perform abortions are providing a service.
~People who perform abortions deserve to die.
~People who perform abortions need to be shown how to get out of that industry.

~Legalizing marijuana use is only logical.
~Legalizing marijuana use is the first step of a slippery slope.

~Time-change is stupid.
~Time-change is logical.

~Foooooood.... them all.  They're all good.
~Movies...don't watch any of them.  They're all bad.


~Kittens are cute.
~Sea creatures are fascinating.
~Elephants are cute.
~Dogs are cute. And also stupid.
~All animals deserve to be pampered.

I think I'm tired of the negativity, the trumped-up drama, the highly inflaming headlines, and especially politics.

I am also tired of city-raised people who don't understand how farms work, and how life is for farm animals.

I am immensely tired of people who think that all animals should be treated like pets, but are okay with babies being killed, and don't see anything dissonant about this thought process.

I think it is time for me to take a Facebook break, before I start running people off....because I can't handle much more cognitive dissonance.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Bucket List

What exactly is a Bucket List?  From the Urban Dictionary (, the idea is a list of things one desires to accomplish/do before they "kick the bucket", hence, bucket list.  

I have never been enamored of the whole idea...probably because it was popularized in movie form, in the 2007 movie of the same name, and movies tend to turn me OFF to ideas more often than not.  

I do, however, think that a list of goals for my life is a good thing.  
I don't want money.  
I really don't want fame.  
I am a low-maintenance person, for the most part, so many things just are not terribly attractive to me.  

I do have a few things I think would be interesting, which MIGHT fall into the realm of a "normal" bucket list.  
I LOVE to travel, to see new places, and experience historical sites.  
I LOVE to read...biographies, mostly, but also academic literature.  Yeah, I know I'm weird.  

Other than that, I really can't think of much else that would fall within the normal frame of a bucket list.  In thinking this through, though, I came up with some other things I'd like to do.  

In my travels, I want to work in missions.  
I want to minister to refugees.  
I want to experience The Church in all of the corners of the earth, in different languages and cultures.
I want to see families living and loving and growing and worshiping in cultures other than my own.  
I want to write about what God is doing in people all over the world.  
I want to walk alongside the missionaries and ministers and their families in the hard places.  
I want to help others experience freedom...emotional, mental, and especially spiritual freedom.  

Above all of those things, I have only one other desire.  

I want my children to see and know me for who I truly am, a daughter loved by the King of Kings, and to not consider me a hypocrite.  If I can accomplish that, none of the rest of the list matters to me, in the long run.  

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Precious Lord....

...hold my hand.

This morning we heard and sang along with this amazing song at church.  I was struck, yet again, with the depth of the hymns and spirituals that have gone out of style in our modern worship.

Because this week we celebrate the birthday of an amazing man, I want to post a clip of Mahalia Jackson singing this song at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s funeral, in 1968.

Since the above is only a short clip of this amazing song, I am also including a version with the whole song, and lyrics:

Monday, January 11, 2016

Finding my Footing

Every move feels like a climb.
A long, slow, exhausting climb.
Dragging my whole family, and all of our worldly goods behind us.

The move itself usually goes pretty smoothly...after all, we've done this a few times, and know what to expect (the unexpected!!), so we're prepared, for the most part, when things happen.

The sequence of events is something like this:
We get orders, usually about six months before the expected move, and start preparations.

I start dumping things...things that have accumulated because of where we are (the snow shovels from Montana would NOT be needed in Virginia Beach!), things that have accumulated because of how long we have been in one place (the stuff expands to fill the space available...NO we do NOT need 11 bicycles!!), and all the papers.  So. Many. Papers.

We plan the date for the movers to come evaluate the household goods.

We plan the date for the movers to come pack the household goods.

We pack beloved things that we fear may be broken (or stolen!) to carry in our personal vehicles.

We plan the clothes we'll need for the transition period, until our household goods are delivered.

With the last move, there was the extra step of preparing the house to sell, and selling it.

We get the vehicles ready for the long drive.

We gather medical records and school records and veterinary records.

The movers come and pack the household goods.

We pack all of the rest of it into our personal vehicles, and stuff the children and the dog in there, too.

Somewhere in the midst of this, Jason is checking out of his command, there are farewell parties, and dinners, and last-minute get-togethers.

And suddenly, it is all over, and we are driving out of the town/city we have grown to love, and are off to a new adventure in a new place.

For a little while, the new is good...there is excitement about new schools, and new jobs, and figuring out a new house, and a new community, and finding a new church.

Then the reality of the newness really sinks in, and every one of us starts to miss the friends left behind, and the feeling of familiarity that helped us feel comfortable in the area, and suddenly the new is hard.

And the hard doesn't go away, and there is no way to make it easier.  Making new friends, and finding one's way around a new community, and learning cultural expectations in a new place are always a process, and they just have to be lived through.  There is no skipping over them.  So, everyone just keeps going, and keeps doing, and tries to make the best of the hard, dark middle, recognizing that there WILL be light...hopefully sooner, rather than later.

And then one day, after months of climbing, and slipping, and sometimes falling, suddenly we find ourselves getting to an easier part of the climb.  We can see light.  We have friends again.  We have found our way around town (without the GPS!).  We know how to get to the grocery store, and the mall, and the doctor, and the dentist...and we realize that the climb has gotten easier, and we can actually see something besides the trail in front of us.

And this is when we find our footing again.  For myself, for a lot of this past year, I have felt like the whole climb has been up a muddy, slippery slope, and I just couldn't get a grip, or find any toe-holds.  This part of the climb has been spent staving off depression, and loneliness, and anxiety.  Feeling unsure of my footing, or of my future, left me fearful and served to emphasize other difficulties we were experiencing at the same time.

Now, I can feel the fog lifting, and I can see the horizon.  I look down, and I find solid places to put my feet, and I know that the climb has been worth it, and we are coming out the other side...stronger, steadier, and hopefully growing through this long, hard climb.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Story of a Military Family (Chapter 5)

2010 was a challenging year.  Jason changed commands.  We moved, and bought a house, and I started grad school, and Jason left for a year in the desert.

On January 1, 2010, I posted that I was researching graduate school programs.  It was scary, and I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to do it.  I was working as a medical transcriptionist, and attempting to keep up with all of the kids' school activities, as well as the dog and cat and the house.

On August 1, 2010, we moved out of military housing into a house that we were working toward buying.  I also took the GRE that day.  We also found out in August that Jason was going to be going to Bahrain for a year.

In September, I learned that I was accepted into the Masters in Counseling program at Regent University, and classes started on September 18th.  The kids all started at their (mostly) new schools on September 2nd.

On October 5th, we had a fun photo shoot at the beach, with our favorite photographer and college friend.

On October 15, Jason and I went out for dinner, to celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary.  After dinner, we finished up some last-minute shopping, and came home to attempt to fit everything into his seabags.  The next morning, I drove him over and dropped him off to catch a bus to Fort Jackson, in South Carolina, where he was to go through desert training.  Several weeks later, I was able to drive down and spend the weekend with him before he finished up and flew out to Bahrain.

On October 25, I went to the lawyer's office, and signed Jason's name to all 50+ pages of the paperwork to buy our house.  It was official.  We were homeowners!!

The year that Jason was stationed in Bahrain was challenging and interesting.  I was stretched in ways I didn't expect.  The things that normally kept the two of us running were more than I could handle on my own.  We had six children in three different schools, I was in my first semester of a challenging graduate program, and still doing medical transcription.  We decided that I needed some help to keep up with transportation for the kids, and fixing meals, I found a college student who was a HUGE help!!

Thanksgiving was different...we invited another grad student to spend the day with us, and Skyped with Jason when he got up the next morning (Thanksgiving evening for us).

We also had a birthday party for Heather, with 4 or 5 friends, and they walked down to the inlet down the road.  While there, Heather slipped, and broke her wrist, which ended the party early, and ended the evening with a trip to the local ER.  At least her cast was as colorful as she was!!

Christmas was also challenging.  The kids and I travelled to South Carolina, to spend time with our family.  We were able to Skype with Jason, which was nice, but served to emphasize (to me, at least) that he wasn't there, and what all he was missing.

After Christmas, the next exciting event was my Spring Break, which meant a vacation for me!!  I had already gotten my Passport, and I was able to go visit Jason in Bahrain for a week!!  It was great to see him, and to experience the very different culture of that island kingdom.

I flew back and headed right back to school and work, and we all finished out the school year with a HUGE sigh of relief.  I was able to get four of the kids into an Operation Purple camp, put on for children of deployed military, so two weekends in a row saw me driving to western Virginia to take the kids to camp and pick them back up again.

Jason was able to make a visit to see us TWICE during that was a surprise visit in March, when he came for a training class.  The second was for two weeks in July, when he was able to be home for R&R, and we were able to take part in the wedding of some very dear friends.

The next school year started in September, and the time began to drag.  It wouldn't be too much longer until Jason was home....but first, another trip to Bahrain for me, this time a chance to celebrate our anniversary.  On the return trip, I brought back one suitcase that was filled entirely with books....Jason had been busy doing grad school work while there, and shipping books is expensive, so I brought them back as one of my checked bags.

FINALLY, November 5th, 2011, he was home!!