Friday, December 31, 2010

With the New Year comes many things

The first and best thing that it will bring (eventually) is the return of my soldier!!!  I am looking forward to that like you cannot believe.  It's still a ways away, but as some of my fellow Army wives point out, at least now I can say that my husband is coming home THIS year!

This past year has been one full of changes, new additions and ..deployment.   We got engaged, then married, moved in together and then I helped him pack up to deploy.  It's a  year that I am happy and sad to say goodbye to, because for each 'not-so-great' has been a fantastic 'awesome' happening.   It was a year full of new beginnings and promise.  We have so much hope and anticipation for our life together.

This new year comes jam packed with the promise of fruition of those hopes and dreams, just as any new marriage does.  We have a lot to do, I just hope by the time he comes home, there is enough of the new year left to do it all in.

We are starting off this new year, thousands of miles away.  He texted me on my blackberry when the new year rang in over there, but I won't be able to return the favor when it rings in over here, as he'll be fast asleep, catching up on some very needed rest.  He works very hard over there and a good night sleep can be hard to come by.  I, will be ringing in the new year with a group of great ladies who have been fantastic this year... another great thing I am grateful for this year, are some of the great friends I have made.

So here's to a New Year filled with laughter, hope, and new Beginnings!!!  I don't have to face this new year alone, I have four great kids to keep me busy and overwhelmed.  I have great friends, both old and new to keep me grounded, keep me in laughter and to keep me in fun!

Bring it, 2011.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all Good Will.

I hope that everyone cherishes this season and the meaning behind the day, instead of the just the day.  It's a time to celebrate hope, health, happiness and more.  It's a reminder this time of the year that friends and family are important and essential to our well being.

Prayers and strength to all my friends, family and those I have not met yet, especially for those that are missing a loved one this season.  It's in times like these that we need to remember how special friends and family is, when a loved one is not near and in potential harm.  It's a tough time, but don't forget there are people and resources out there to help.  Lift that head high and remember that things will get better and I am looking forward to a Christmas Season next year with my Soldier home, safe and sound.

Christmas is more than just a day.  It's a way of thinking, of sharing and caring.  I pray that this seasons good fortunes and good will continue throughout the year for all.

Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's Looking A Lot Like Christmas...

But it doesn't feel like it.  Today it really hit home.  5 days until Christmas.  If I look around, I see Christmas Cheer in the way of baked goodies, Christmas cards from loved ones, and decorations galore.  My holiday spirit, however, seems to be overseas with my husband.

I work in mental health, and sometimes we hear "Fake it, until you Make it."  Meaning, if you act a certain way and exude what you want to feel, if you do it enough, you'll eventually start to feel it and it will come into fruition. So I've donned my snowflake pin and matching earrings, and dug out my red sweaters in an effort to spread and accumulate Christmas cheer.  I hope it works.  I try to keep negative self-talking to a limit.  Instead of; "Gosh, it's terrible my husband isn't going to be here.  No husband Christmas eve, Christmas morning.. No Daddy to put the toys together in the morning, or help me make dinner and clean up from the avalanche of gift wrap. I just found him and I don't get to spend Christmas with him." I try to think, "Imagine how awesome next Christmas is going to be!  We'll all just be that much more grateful for each other and cherish things more."  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

I've had an outreach of support from my fellow Army Wives, Moms and Dads.  Some of the comments and advise I got were to remember that he is missing us too.  Only too true.  Also, I was reminded that his sacrifice is what makes him a Hero, and being away from his family only adds to that.  This is only too true and it's meaning is only too clear.  A former co-worker pointed out that her husband protects her, but my husband protects us all.  I started to feel even more proud of my husband.  Which is hard, I'm already busting with pride.  Another friend commiserated, saying he could not even imagine going through something like that. Neither did I, a couple years ago.  However now it is reality.  The acknowledgement of what we are going through this Christmas, was appreciated greatly.  Lastly, the outpouring of support from my Military Family was wonderful.  It was good to reminded that I am not alone in this and that he does have leave coming up in a while.

Military spouses are sometimes expected to put on a brave face and be all cheery and happy for our soldiers when they call.  It's our job to hold down the fort and keep everything going and perfect while our soldier is away.  I am, however, a terrible liar.  My husband can just tell that it's tough for me and hard.  I feel bad I am not better at hiding how much I miss him and put on a braver face.  Perhaps I'll learn for the next deployment and be better at it.  Because, like it or not, there is likely to be another deployment and another Christmas, New Years, birthdays, Easter and other holidays that he is going to miss.

I had better be a good student this time around.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Resources to keep on file

A lot of people wonder how wives still do everything that needs to be done for the entire family while our loved one is gone.  Not only are we a wife, but for the deployment we are playing a dual role and filling in his shoes for a lot of needs.  My husbands shoes are a size 13, so they are pretty large, I don't come close to filling his shoes, either physically or metaphorically.  To assist with this, there are a TON of resources out there for loved ones to utilize during a deployment.

For families and kids:

One of the best ones everyone should have on file is Military OneSource which is provided by the Department of Defense at no cost to active duty, Guard and Reserve (regardless of activation status) and their families. It is a virtual extension of installation services. Visit Military OneSource today at or you call 1-800-342-9647. Someone is available to assist you 24/7.

Our Military Kids provides tangible support to children of deployed National Guard and Reserve personnel as well as to children of severely injured service members through grants for enrichment activities and tutoring. Such activities help these children cope with the stress of having a parent in a war zone or recovering from injury at home. Our Military Kids grants are made to honor the sacrifices that military families make and to ensure that their children have access to sports, fine arts, or academic tutoring programs.

One out of every 88 military children has a diagnosis on the autism spectrum. It is well established that with early and effective treatments, children with autism can make significant gains and greatly improve their overall quality of life. ACT Today! for Military Families is committed to providing funding and support for military families impacted by autism.

Military Impacted Schools Association (MISA) is a national organization of school superintendents. Their mission is to serve school districts with a high concentration of military children. All students whose parents serve in the military can now work with a live professional tutor online 24/7 to get help with homework, studying, and test prep, the minute they need it.

Welcome to the U.S. Army health promotion and wellness web site. Unlike other health-related web sites, this one is specifically targeted for the Reserve Components. Citizen Soldiers juggle many different balls every day...but they cannot afford to drop the one ball that allows them to live a healthier, less stressful life. Hooah 4 Health is a health promotion partnership that allows individuals to assume the responsibility to explore options and take charge of their health and well being. You can access tons of information for your health, mental well being and lots of all around education.

USA Cares exists to help bear the burdens of service by providing post-9/11 military families with financial and advocacy support in their time of need. Assistance is provided to all branches of service, all components, all ranks while protecting the privacy and dignity of those military families and veterans who request our help.

 presents career, college and the Military as options, allowing users to explore all possibilities and gain insight into each option. More than 900 civilian and military career fields and nearly 7,000 accredited colleges has been made accessible to young adults in one comprehensive site.

MilitaryHOMEFRONT is the Department of Defense website for official Military Community and Family Policy (MC&FP) program information, policy and guidance designed to help troops and their families, leaders, and service providers. Whether you live the military lifestyle or support those who do, you'll find what you need!

As you can see, there are a lot of resources out there for families and children.  Please DO look them all over and take advantage of these program for you and yours.  These programs are there for you, don't overlook the benefits they can provide!

If you feel I've missed a good resource that you'd like me to add to the list, please comment below!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

All I want for Christmas is my Soldier

The Holidays are upon us and getting through them is very difficult, both for our Soldier, our families and ourselves.  During this time, and throughout the year, people tend to try to offer words of comfort.
People say many things to you once they realize you are the wife/sister/mother/brother/dad/grandparent of a deployed Soldier.  While we for the most part, realize that most folks are trying to be comforting, sometimes we just don't take it that way.

Some of the more recent ones I've encountered are:

"Is he somewhere dangerous?"

There is often some tongue biting that comes with the answer to this question.  Is he at home?  Or is he in a war zone?  If he is in a war zone, then yes, it's dangerous.  And honestly, the reminder that he could come home maimed, injured (mentally or physically) or worse, isn't really something that I like to be reminded of.

"Oh, well at least he's not in __________."

I left the space blank because it doesn't really matter where he is.  There is no ClubMed vacation going on for any soldiers, deployed anywhere.

"Is he going to be home for the holidays?"

If I've already told you that he's gone for a year, and it has not yet been a year, don't ask this.  One of the last things we need is to be reminded that our loved one is not going to be here.  Chances are pretty good that if he is going to be home, I'm going to be so psyched, I'm going to tell everyone, everywhere, and wear clothing that shout; MY SOLDIER IS COMING HOME!

"I don't know how you are getting through this.  I never could."

Well, that's what we thought too, until it happened to us.  You do what you have to do, when you have to do it.  Period.  Truthfully, we don't know how we are doing it either.  However, there are still bills to pay, children to clothe and feed and often, a job for the loves ones left behind.  Staying extra busy is seeming to help me, personally.

"Doesn't he know how hard this is on you?"

Yes.  Yes he does.  And it's harder on him.  Guilt Trips directed towards our Soldiers are not appreciated.

"You must miss him so much."

Why yes.  Yes we do.  The majority of us adore and love our soldier.   Again, the reminder that we miss him super much is fantastic.

"So where exactly is he?"

Sorry, we can't really tell you.  There is a great security measure put in place, called OpSec.  Operation Security and the less we know, the better sometimes.  Knowing more can make you worry more, put your soldier in danger and his entire squad.  Remember the theory of Big Brother?  Well, he exists and not just in our country.   If we give you an ambiguous answer, please respect that.

"Can you go visit him?"

Really?  To a war zone?  So now our children might have to face the loss of two parents and not just one?   Going to a war zone totally sounds like my idea of a great time!!  Not to mention, see above question and answer.

"Wow, I wish my spouse/mother/father/grandparent would go away for a while!  I'd love the break."

If you have that much animosity for a 'Loved One', perhaps one needs to re-evaluate your priorities and where that person and you stand in your life.  If you would really wish this upon someone, think about that.  After all, most 'jokes' are based on truth.  Also, we typically are heartbroken with our spouses gone and the thought that someone would wish this on someone else is typically horrifying for us to hear.

"Why would he join like that and choose this over his Wife/Husband/Family?  That seems stupid."

Glad you think that serving our country is stupid.  Most men do it because they feel a keen sense of loyalty to our country and there are benefits that are great for families associated with it.  Additionally, these men who volunteer to sign up?  Are keeping YOUR husbands/wives/brothers/sister out of a Draft.  I've yet to meet one man/woman in the military who puts this before his duties as a father/mother/family member.  My husband doesn't put this before his family and I'd appreciate it if you didn't insinuate that.  This is a job, and as with most jobs, there are duties that need attending to.  It's called Sacrifice for a Greater Cause.

Or, a variation...

"How can he do that to your kids?"

How can he not?  He's fighting for the right for our country to remain free.  He's fighting for a free country  and our way of life for our kids, and your kids.  He's doing something about it, and we are so proud of him.

"Wow, this is your first year of marriage?  Don't you miss sex?"  Oh nooooo, of course not.  I don't miss sex, especially not with a man of uniform...  This usually results in a blank stare, because the answer is painfully obvious.  Of COURSE we miss sex.  Could the average marriage withstand 12-18 months of Sexual Deprivation?  I doubt it.  We miss everything that makes our soldier, our soldier.  The looks, soft touches, simple hugs as he goes by, kisses and... -everything-.  But we are ARMY WIVES and his sacrifice is also ours.

"You knew what you were getting into when you married him."  Or  "You knew he was going to be deployed at some point."

Here's the thing, folks, we didn't marry the military.  We married the man/woman who happens to serve in the military.  This does not mean an imposed pass to be 'okay' with the weight of a deployment, or any other time he spends away from his family, doing his civic duty.  What it meant when we knowingly entered in such a union, is that we were going to have to sacrifice with him, and give him our utmost support.

"It's going to be even harder when he comes home, because you'll be so used to the quiet and doing everything your way."

If I really wanted that, I would not have married someone, never mind a soldier.  We already know and are aware that things are going to change when he comes home, and yes, we are even aware that our soldier might have changed.  The reminder of possibly more tough times are not comforting.

So then, the question remains.  What is nice to say to an Army Wife/husband/mother/father/grandparent/son/daughter, etc?

"Thank him for his service."

How nice!  This brings smiles and a feeling of endearment.  And even nicer..

"Thank You for your sacrifice so he can serve."

Being a military spouse is a tough job.  We are often overlooked and under-appreciated in this whole process. On the rare occasion that someone thanks us for what we are doing... is priceless.

"I'll pray for his safe return."

Please do!  Again, this bring warm soft cuddly feelings, and prayers are always welcome and beneficial.

"Is there anything I can do?"

There is a caveat to this.  The thought is nice, but unless you plan on actually following through with your suggestion of 'anything', be it a warm meal one night, some items for your next care package, watching the kids for a couple hours so you can ground yourself... please don't offer if you don't plan on a follow through.  We don't need the disappointed of such situations during an already trying time.

"I'm here for you."

Be a friend.  A shoulder.  Someone to talk to.  Be yourself and supportive and you'll find that additional words/comments are not necessary.

Did I forget any?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Waiting for the Phone

When you are an Army Wife to a Deployed soldier lots of things about your life change.  For me, one of the most prominent is my relationship to my phone.  Since my husband left some odd months ago, My hand appears to have acquired an interesting growth in the shape of a BlackBerry smart phone.

Receiving word from him has become a life line, especially this being the first year of our marriage.  The red light blinks, I rush to see what it is.  A text, email or BBM.  The tell tail chime of the Black Berry Messenger sounds off and my hand is already scrolling to see what news/message he is sending.  Even my Boss has become incredibly tolerant to my random texting during otherwise inappropriate moments in the work place, because she knows it might be the only time I hear from him that day.  Earlier today, I missed BBMing him by 27 minutes because I put the phone down to get my daughter to bed and didn't hear the chime over the din of the house.  I was upset I missed the chance to BBM him, but alas, moms really don't have as many hands as we're famed to have.

My husband loves his phone.  He used it all the time.  To call me, text me, send me a picture.   It got to the point during our courtship, I had to set limits on when and how long it was productive to be on the phone.  I felt immensely guilty for not wanting to talk during my entire commute to work, because I needed some alone time.  Now, looking back, I'd give anything to hear 'too much' from him.   I knew I'd feel that way in the coming months, but at the time, I could not help it.

This is not particularly how I envisioned the first year of marriage to the love of my life.  Shortly after we wed, I helped him pack up... not for a honeymoon, but for war.  I shop at the store for him, but not for daily things. Things he can use in the Sandbox, snacks that won't perish during the time spent in the care packages I send. I keep him a part of my every day life as much as possible.  We won't start our life 'together' until he returns home.  I only pray he returns much the same as he left.