Friday, February 25, 2011

We've added some color to our lives...

 In the form of uniforms (for Venturing - a Boy Scouts troupe for girls and boys ages 14-21)...




 ...in the form of a cute little Ewok-esque puppy who doesn't mind playing dress-up....





...and LOVES to chase the cat.

(His name is Chewbacca!)







...And HAIR color!!  (Isn't she beautiful?!?)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

We have to think about next year ALREADY?

Next SCHOOL year, that is. 

This year, we have children in THREE schools.
Three in elementary school.
Two in middle school.
One in high school.

Next year...well, we'll see.

In the city where we live, there is an Academy system within the public schools, which allows children who are interested and gifted to focus on particular fields early in their schooling careers.  Our oldest daughter has been in the Global Studies and World Languages Academy for three years now, and will be graduating from there next year.

Our second child has applied to 3 different academies, so has the potential of being able to choose from 4 different high schools for next year.

Our third child will be finishing her time in middle school next year, and will be applying to some academies the following year.

Our fourth child...well...he is entering 6th grade this year, and is an outstanding student.  For the middle schoolers, there are two different magnet schools that he has applied to, so we are waiting to hear on that one.

The two youngest will also be staying put next year.  Thankfully.  Because I don't know that I could manage thinking about ANOTHER school.

As it stands, if you're still with me...We have the potential of having children in 5 different schools next year, as well as my husband and I both being in separate graduate school programs.

Total household size:  8.
Total schools represented (potentially): 7. 

I need a personal assistant...and I think we should be a poster-family for continuing education.  Oh, and I MISS homeschooling...things were a LOT less complicated.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Some days are a REAL struggle.

There.  I said it.

It seems like there are people who expect the military spouse to be either one of two extremes when their military half is deployed.  Either we are supposed to be a complete train-wreck, complete with mental breakdown, drugs, and hospitalization, or we are supposed to be all sunshine and roses, always hopeful, always smiling.

Guess what.  We are human.

Well, at least *I* am.  I can't vouch for all of the rest of the military spouses.

We are, after all, a very diverse group.  We hail from all 50 states, and quite a number of foreign countries.  We speak many different languages.  We are not all Democrats or Republicans, not necessarily Christian, agnostic, atheist, Wiccan, Budhist, or Hindi. Some work outside their homes.  Some work from home.  Some call home their work.  Frankly, we are as diverse as is the rest of the country, but there are fewer of us, and we seem to live in a fishbowl.

Since the military spouse community is SO very diverse, it is troubling...nay, frustrating...to be so stereotyped by Americans in general.  We get told so many things, and have so many things said about us that most of us could write articles....or even books...outlining all of the stereotypes.

For starters...Navy wives/Air Force wives/Army wives ALL sleep around on their husbands when they are deployed.  So there are some that probably do.  The majority of us don't have the time...we're too busy taking care of his house, his kids, his cars, his pets.  Again, *I* don't.

Oh, dear.  I got off track.  Sorry...this is part of one of my soap-box subjects.

The particular stereotype I started out to address is particularly hard for ME to deal with.  Sure, this lifestyle is hard, and very few people understand that (I think the latest statistic I saw said something like 1% of Americans live life as attachments to the military.  That's a really small number.).  For that, we get told, "Oh, you knew what you were getting into."  Um.  NO.  EMPHATICALLY NO.  I knew nothing about this.  Frankly, my husband got into the military prior to 9/11.  Things were a LOT different then.  Deployments were shorter (for the most part), and did not happen with the regularity they are happening now. 

We can't always hide our bad days.  For that, I hear "don't wear your heart on your sleeve," and "smile, it can't be *that* bad!"  REALLY?!?  How do you know?  Have you tried being Mom and Dad to 6 children who really don't understand why Dad can't come home for their birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, July 4th, or summer vacation?  Have you tried dealing with yet another round with Murphy and his danged laws, while your spouse is out of town?  Do NOT tell me "oh, I know *exactly* how you feel...my spouse is out of town for business for two weeks/a month."  Please do not expect my sympathy.  For that matter, don't expect my phone calls, either.  I've got too much going on. 

We DO have good days.  They just aren't every day.  Oh, how I wish.  Well, maybe not...that might be kind of boring.  And frankly, I need variety in my life.  One of the things I look forward to (yes, I said that) when my husband is gone is a time of growth...which is often fueled by those very difficult things that happen because he is gone.  Those are the things that I can look back on and know that they have been worthwhile because they have made me a better person.

Meanwhile, life is hard.  This deployment is getting to me.  Things are coming out of me that I don't like.  I want my husband home.  I want another person to help carry the load.  I want a lot of things that can't happen right now.

The good news is that things are better now than they were around the holidays.  My head is on straighter, my load is a little lighter...or maybe my back is stronger...or God has taken part of the load for me.  Whichever it is, things are more bearable.  And for that, I am grateful.

And, I just found another blog...where the writer talks about much of the same as what I have been experiencing...Go enjoy TheArmyWife(DUDE)!  He's good!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Deployment Gremlins: Part 1

"Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong."

I am sure that all of us are familiar with Mr. Murphy and his predictive laws.  We would probably even add a qualifying line to the end to say, "at the worst possible time."  As military family members, we are only too familiar with the affects of the law, and we seem to have a  common name for the "enforcers" of that law, known across the branches as "deployment gremlins."



Every military spouse has their stories to tell about their experiences with the gremlins.  These gremlins are those things that tend to go wrong as soon as their spouse steps on the plane or ship, headed away for any period of time.  I am going to start with one of my stories, and I'd love to hear your similar stories.

My husband's first duty station and deployment was on board a mine-sweeper, which is a tiny ship, and the community of spouses is even smaller.  Prior to that deployment, Jason volunteered me to be the Ombudsman**for the ship, which meant that I had to go through a training, and then be available for the other family members throughout the four-month deployment.  At this point in time, I was about 8 months pregnant, due one week before the ship deployed, with my fifth child.  The CO's wife and I successfully finished the training, and had a meeting for all the wives, which was exactly one week before the scheduled deployment date.  

I ended up going into labor that evening, during the meeting, and had my beautiful little girl sometime around midnight.

Fast-forward one week.

The ship actually left on schedule, and I was one week postpartum, with five children.  I had to be on the dock with the other spouses, which ended up being a miserable three hours with my newborn, a 2-year-old, a 4-year-old, a 6-year-old, and an 8-year-old, and with nowhere to sit.

When I finally got to go home (one WEEK postpartum - still not supposed to be driving, but what is a military wife 19 hours away from family supposed to do?!?), I was not feeling good, and was bleeding profusely. I called my midwife (I had a home birth with her in attendance), and after threatening me with a ride to the hospital, she extracted a promise from me to go to bed.  Then she called one of my neighbors that she knew, and sent her over to make sure I was actually IN bed and stayed there. 

What happened over the next few weeks was an amazing picture of God's people pulling together to help me in my time of need.  I cannot tell you who organized it all, or even the names of all of the people who participated in helping us.  I DO remember 6 weeks of meals, my house being cleaned, my older 4 children being taken on outings to the Aquarium, and on play dates with other friends from church.  I was ministered to in a way that I will NEVER forget. 

So, what started out as a VERY difficult situation turned into an opportunity and a blessing.  Those gremlins are nasty little guys, but God used them in amazing ways in our lives that summer. 

And now I would LOVE to hear some of your Deployment Gremlin stories!!

***********************************
**om·buds·man (from Dictionary.com)
1.a government official who hears and investigates complaints by private citizens against other officials or government agencies.
2.a person who investigates and attempts to resolve complaints and problems, as between employees and an employer or between students and a university.
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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Life got busy again....

...and I forgot about you, my loyal friends.  Well, no.  I didn't forget.  My life is crazy right now.  Work.  Home.  Kids.  School.  Church.  Practicum.  Self-care.  My blog is not the most important part of my life right now.  I have a lot to say.  There is a lot that is begging to be written.  There are things happening in our lives.  There are upcoming adventures.  I am learning about myself and how things from my past are affecting me.  I am developing in areas I didn't expect, and dealing with things I didn't expect to come up.  And all of this stuff is hard and time consuming and exhausting.  I will be back, soon, I promise.  Those things are still clamoring to come out...