August 31, 2012

Typhoon Bolaven. . . The End.

I have to say I'm sorry that it's taken me a week to write about the rest of the typhoon. One of the reasons is that we lost power in the middle of the night and were without it for 15 hours. While being without electricity for 15 hours is annoying, irritating, and infuriating, especially considering that my neighbors down the hill still had theirs, it could hardly be considered a hardship in comparison to what could have happened. Also, my son starts school after the Labor Day weekend and we've been very busy preparing for that.

So here are my thoughts on the beast that was Bolaven. First of all, it was not nearly as bad (for us) as they made it out to be. Its intensity diminished a bit right before it hit us, which isn't really saying much once the winds get over 100 mph. It was downgraded to a Cat. 3, but then back up to a 4 as the eye was approaching and within a few hundred miles of the island. My family lives up on top of a hill so you'd think that would make the winds worse for us. But our building is protected by a retaining wall on two sides, and another building on a third, which really muted the worst of it for us. It was actually louder upstairs where the winds and rain had easier access to smash up against the windows, than it was downstairs which is a bit more protected. I can only imagine what it was like for folks who live right on the beach. Aside from our power outage we had no real significant damage in my neighborhood. A few saplings didn't make it, and there were some small downed branches, but everyone's windows, and cars survived. Several people did experience leaking and flooding, but we got lucky and did not.

I did learn a few things from this though. My typhoon preparedness skills are not totally lacking. We had more than enough food and water and batteries. We'd have been fine for a few days!! My husband's grill, which I had to tie down to our patio and sandbag, didn't move an inch, nor did our garbage can which received similar treatment since I refused to bring either item inside my house. Next time though I will make absolutely certain that we have multiple computers, ipads, iphones, etc powered up and use only one of them at a time, and use them sparingly. I'm also considering purchasing a second Leap Frog Leap Pad for my daughter so that BOTH kids have one for such occasions. My kids were bonkers with boredom! We did everything we could think of! We played board games, cards, did arts and crafts, played tic-tac-toe and other various games of that sort. We played hide and seek, did gymnastics in the living room, put on a play, read books, took naps, played with the dog, and so much more. But by 2 PM they'd had enough and so had I! That's not to say we can't live without technology, it's just that when we do live without technology we're usually able to leave the house. Anywho, the stress and pressure of having to instantaneously come up with new activities to keep a 2 and 5 year old entertained prompted me to crack open a bottle of wine around about noon, and I ran out around 4. Lesson learned. Next time, buy more wine. Not to get drunkity drunk drunk, per say, but a glass an hour to take the edge off would be ideal. And all those who know me well, know that I have a perpetual stick up my ass thus, wine (during a 15 hour power outage whilst stuck in the house with 2 children and having no chance of leaving, hiding, or escape, and having my husband gone) is an asset.

Another thing that my first typhoon experience taught me is that our houses rock. They're made out of concrete and can withstand just about anything. The sounds of the wind gusts and the rain running into our house at 100+ mph were quite loud, we could barely hear the rest of the storm. . . until our power went out. . . and with our tv on you'd have to look outside to really believe there was a typhoon occurring outside. Builders and contractors on the eastern seaboard should really take some advice from the Japanese on how to build hurricane proof houses. Sure you can get hurricane proof windows and doors, but when your house is made of matchsticks wood as opposed to concrete, yeah, it's probably gonna get destroyed. It would be much safer for residents and cheaper for insurance purposes if coastal houses from the Texas Gulf Coast, around through the Florida Keys, and all the way up to oh, say, Virginia, were made the way ours are. Just my opinion.

So with all of that said I wasn't able to get the photos or videos I wanted to be able to show you because the worst of Bolaven came raging through in the middle of the night which is why we lost power at 3 AM. While we were relatively protected from the wrath during both the front and backside of the storm, here are some pictures of what the rest of the island experienced. (the following photographs are not mine, therefore I do not claim credit)

August 25, 2012

The Impending Wrath of Typhoon Bolaven Diary 7:00 PM

Saturday August 25 7:00 PM

As the sun sets, and the darkness sets in there is an erie calm settling in. Stepping outside the air is thick and heavy. If I didn't already know, I'd swear that something big was coming. There are moments when things are absolutely still, not a leaf out of place, and then in next second the wind gusts so that it looks as though the trees above my retaining wall are going to blow sideways. It's like when I was growing up in Wisconsin, right before a tornado would hit, everything would be absolutely silent and still. 

My poor dog is a testament to the gusts of wind, his long white fur whooshes around his face and legs as he tries to sniff the air. I think he too senses the storm. He usually prowls around in the yard making sure that his territory hasn't been violated by other dogs in the neighborhood, most particularly the dog next-door. Instead he does his thing, and comes immediately inside.

There isn't any rain yet, but there are brief patches of blue sky, only to be instantly covered by the low, gray, rolling clouds. It's as though Bolaven is saying, "Rest easy, I'm not quite ready." even though we've already been warned.  For now, we'll sit and be safe, the worst is yet to come.

The Impending Wrath of Typhoon Bolaven

One caveat of living on a small sub-tropical island especially in this part of the world is the frequent occurrence of typhoons, aka tropical cyclones, aka hurricanes. Call it what you will, I've never lived through a hurricane. Despite the fact that my husband and I lived on the southern seaboard for 7 years, I've still never seen a hurricane. If an impending hurricane is projected to be bad enough, cities in the path of destruction evacuate. Well, here on Okinawa there is no where to go. So you ride out the storm in your concrete cinder block house and hope for the best!

So far this year there have been several near misses, all for which I am thankful. I knew that luck and nature wouldn't hold. But I never expected this. I suppose I should have! Thus, here we are on the verge of being slammed into by what is being called the worst typhoon Okinawa has seen in 13 years.

I've heard horror stories from friends about water coming through minuscule cracks in the walls, projectiles flying through our "typhoon proof" windows, windows bowing inward, lamp posts and trees demolishing cars, being without power for hours - days. . . and this one is supposed to be worse. The worst. This big bitch is packing sustained winds upwards of 130mph!! - I think I've just soiled myself.

Here is the projected timeline that Bolaven is on.

-- Sustained 35-mph winds and greater, 8 a.m. Saturday.
-- Sustained 40-mph winds and greater, 7 p.m. Saturday.
-- Sustained 58-mph winds and greater, 3 a.m. Sunday.
-- Maximum 138-mph sustained winds and 167-mph gusts, 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday.
-- Winds diminishing below 58 mph, 11 p.m. Sunday.
-- Winds diminishing below 40 mph, 7 a.m. Monday.
-- Winds diminishing below 35 mph, 6 p.m. Monday.

I can't even conceive of what 130mph+ winds are like. Can you? So, we have lots of water, our fridge and freezer are on the coldest setting, a bathtub is filled with water, there's lots of nonperishable food items in the pantry, batteries, flashlights, and we're all set!! 

To stay occupied and sane during what I'm told is the inevitability that we'll be without power at some point, I'm going to do my best to take lots of pictures and videos of this storm. I've got a limited view from where I live, but we've got lots of fun, fun trees in our backyard! Surely one of them will uproot and make for some good footage!!

So here is the start of my "Typhoon Bolaven Diary".

Saturday August 25 3:00 pm.

We woke up this morning to some sunshine and blue sky. Throughout the morning and early afternoon the clouds have been rolling in and moving at a pretty quick clip. Occasionally we can see some patches of blue sky, and there have been some small sprinkle showers. So far the winds on the ground aren't too bad. Breezy, maybe a good day to fly a kite if we didn't know what was coming. Though the sky is getting darker and the winds are starting to pick up.

I've got everything tied down and sandbagged so I hope we're good with that. There are some things I just couldn't bring inside the house. However a few of my neighbors STILL haven't dealt with their garbage cans and recycle stuff. If it comes down to it I just may go put their shit on their doorstep, ring the bell and walk away. If I find their trash all over my yard, I'll walk it all over to their doorway anyway. . . 

According to the radar and websites I check, the outer bands of the storm are just approaching Okinawa now. The winds will pick up over night and we'll see what we see. At the moment it seems it's the calm before the storm.

Stay tuned! And stay safe Okinawa!!

July 9, 2012

Secrets Secrets. . .

OPSEC. Military speak for "Operational Security". This is a well know phrase across all branches of the military. Since the day I met my husband he has drilled it into my head over, and over, and over, about OPSEC. I am not to speak, post, email, or text any information that will identify him, his unit, when or where they are going, their capabilities, or anything about their mission in general. It's the old World War II adage, "Lose Lips Sink Ships!" Call me paranoid if you like, but that saying still rings true today, and one misplaced piece of information, no matter how innocently shared, can have consequences.

In today's information age, the world is certainly a smaller place. Most of us use Facebook, or have blogs, or use Twitter, or any other social networking site we use to stay in touch with each other. Nearly anything you could want to know about or have is available to you through a few key strokes. If you know how to get it. In today's military OPSEC is just as important as it was then, it's just more of a challenge.

If you're a wife like me, you're proud of your husband's accomplishments. You want him to be recognized, maybe even applauded for all of his hard work. It's human nature to want to be praised for your actions, and want the same for your loved ones. It can also be very easy to forget about watching what you say when your husband leaves for a deployment, or when he comes home. I'm not perfect and have been guilty of this a few times. You want to share those moments of frustration or joy with those closest to you. But sometimes a military spouse must stay silent.

As military spouses we are oftentimes privy to information that the rest of the world is not. Some units in our military are more secretive than others, therefore OPSEC will be stressed even more for those soldiers and spouses. Those of you affiliated with the "more secretive" units know who you are, but that doesn't mean the rest of the world needs to know too. No matter which unit your spouse is a part of, and whether we like it or not, military spouses have a great responsibility not to disclose any of the information we have.

I've seen cases where the mainstream media publishes a story or article about what specific units in our military "do". This still does not give us license to name names, locations, or anything else. The published media piece was most likely approved by the unit's command, but any information you give regarding the article or the unit is not. Keeping certain things secret is what keeps our soldiers safe, and gives our military its edge.

Some spouses may think I am being hyper-paranoid about OPSEC, but it's a touchy subject for me. If it deals with the safety and security of my husband and the men he works with, my lips are sealed. When in doubt about whether or not to share, I choose not. That way if something happens, I don't even have to question if it was because of me.

June 26, 2012

Penis Cookies - What Happens When Mommy Isn't Paying Attention

I have to put a disclaimer in here before I begin to tell this story. In my defense, it was really hot outside, the kids were done, and I was exhausted from lack of sleep. Sooo. . . 

Most of the time I really like living here. We've been here almost a year but there are still times when I definitely feel like a fish out of water. I don't speak the language, and I can't read most of the advertisements, or packaging on anything when we're out in town. This makes life challenging sometimes, and quite entertaining as well!

My friend and I decided to take her sister who is visiting the island, down to Kokusai Dori, or International Street. It's a lovely shopping street in Naha that has open front stores that sell everything. And I do mean everything. I was super excited because I've been wanting to go back there since my husband and I took my parents last Christmas. It's really a new experience every time you go. There is always something different to see. I absolutely love it there.

As you wander down Kokusai Dori, occasionally you will see covered allies or arcades. These covered allies have side allies sprouting off in all directions, and eventually you find yourself within a labyrinth of stores selling clothing, food, candy, booze, hand blown glass, crafts, jewelry, and there is even a drug store or two. You can get lost in there in an instant.

After we had finished a delicious teppanyaki lunch, with our children in their strollers, we ventured out into the streets and arcades to take a look. I had promised my son during lunch that if he ate well he could pick out one treat or toy while we were window shopping. We looked in several stores that had little "junk" toys out front, but my son was looking for something in particular. Legos. Well unfortunately, Legos are not one of the items frequently sold in these places. Most of the shops have candy, toys, cards, Awamari (a very potent Okinawan rice wine), sake, etc. There are no "children's" stores. Everything is kind of jammed into one space, and they go from "child-friendly" to "adult-friendly" in the space of about 20 feet. 

As we entered our final shop that had several junk toys out front, I warned my son that this was his last chance to choose something. My attention was split between what my son was looking at, and my daughter who was sitting in the stroller just outside the shop with my friend. My son approached me with a cute little box that was decorated in colorful flowers. 

"I want these cookies Mom!" He says holding out the colorful box. He'd grabbed it from a low shelf a few feet in front of me. I can see the shelf is at the perfect height to catch his eye and full of other different colored boxes.

I hear fussing, and the beginning of a melt-down coming from the direction of my daughter and my friend who also has her own baby in a stroller. I turn around to check and see if everything is ok. It's hot out, and we've been walking around for nearly an hour. It's getting to be time to go. I turn back around to see my son marching toward the cash register.

"Are you sure that's what you want?" I ask while rushing after him.

"Yep!" He says

"They're cookies?" I say. "Let me see." I briefly glance at box that he is still holding and see that it is overwhelmingly covered in Japanese writing, and a what appears to be little sugar cookies coated in a layer of chocolate. I turn back to my friend and tell her that we're going to go pay for the cookies. As we walk to the register I notice a small group of young Japanese adults staring at me and my son. This is not unusual behavior. We get stared at everywhere we go. We're obviously Americans, and my son is blonde. We stick out like a sore thumb. 

My son hands the lady behind the check out counter his box of cookies and the Yen. He is so proud that he's paid for it himself. We walk out of the store with his cookies in a little bag.

Later as we're walking to our cars, my friend's sister looks at my son who is now riding in the stroller again, and has obviously broken into his box of cookies.

"Do you realize those are penis cookies?" She asks me.

I look closely at the box. Sure enough. On my too brief and clearly insufficient check of  the product, what I'd mistaken for an innocent baby holding a chocolate covered cookie, is actually a naked cartoon baby, with his tiny little baby wiener and balls hangin' out there, holding a chocolate covered penis. And to make matters worse, there is a martini on the table next to him. . . 

Are. You. Fricking. Serious.

I just bought my child penis cookies! Yes, chocolate covered penises! No way. In my haste to start for home, I've just made a big mistake. However, I refuse to panic, and instead just straight see the humor in this!! My son clearly had no idea what they were and was utterly unfazed by the fact that there is a naked baby on the front of the box. All he saw were chocolate covered cookies. (God bless the innocence of children.) And I was mentally berating myself. He didn't eat very many. I don't think they were very good. . . 

Once we were on our way home with both children asleep in the back, and the box of edible porn next to me on the front seat, I began to laugh uncontrollably. I can't believe I didn't realize what was on the front of the box! I am a total dipshit! What kind of mother am I?!?! Oh. And I also understood the group of staring Japanese people. . . 

Clearly several lessons were learned here. 
1. The Japanese like to put pornographic food in colorful boxes with cartoons on them. 
2. Japanese people like to stock these products on shelves directly at a child's eye level, and right next to the cute little stuffed Shisa Dogs, and Whale Sharks.
3. I must pay close attention at all times to what my son is looking at while in any Japanese store. This is NOT like America where sugary penises would have been out of a child's sight completely, only available for purchase via internet, catalogue, sex toy party, or porn store.
4. I must very thoroughly inspect any product my son wishes to buy to ensure that we never, ever buy chocolate covered phalluses again.

June 16, 2012

In Perspective

It's nearly impossible for me to sit down at my computer and write when I have a lot to say especially when most of what I want to say I can't talk about for security reasons, and to protect the privacy of the people involved.

A lot has happened in the past few weeks, not all of it was good. And as ashamed and embarrassed as I am to say it, it's really forced me to hit the pause button. It's unfortunate that a series of difficult events is what it takes for some of us to stop and just be grateful for what we have. I don't mean to be a major downer, and I of all people should know better, but sometimes we get so caught up in the mundane that we forget, or get too busy to really take a look, evaluate our lives and our circumstances. I've spent a lot of time in the last several weeks playing the "would've, could've, should've" game, thanking God, and just plain appreciating my life, and my family, and all that we have. The things I have to "complain" about at the moment, pale in comparison. . .

Once again we have a hurricane headed toward Okinawa. At the moment, this one is forecast to be nearly a direct hit at a Category 3 or 4 according to I ventured out this afternoon to replenish our nonperishable food supply in the event that our power goes out, and pick up a few extra supplies. The line for the checkout at the commissary was ridiculous. Insane. I've never seen it that bad anywhere we've lived. When it was finally our turn, my total came to around $280.00. Two hundred, eighty dollars is way, way over our usual weekly grocery bill, but we'd also bought our storm supplies in addition to our usual groceries, so I paid it without batting an eyelash.

While the cashier was processing my payment and printing up my receipt, a sense of humility came over me. (This has been happening to me a lot lately) I realized how lucky I am to be able to just go to the store, buy everything we need, and pay for it all without even having to worry about it. Things were not always this way for me and my husband. Especially when we were first married. There are a lot of military families, and American families in general, that don't have that luxury. And I realized again how blissfully normal my life really is. Or as normal as it can be for the family of an active duty soldier, And of course then I thought about those whose lives will never be this blissfully normal again. . .

I've been making a serious effort not to needlessly complain about stupid, unimportant crap. I may joke occasionally, or at times have a legitimate ailment. Sure this typhoon is going to be a huge pain, especially if we lose power, but really in the grand scheme of things, it's a minor annoyance. I DO have food in my house. I DO have a house that will keep us safe from the storm. My children ARE healthy. My amazing husband IS alive and uninjured. In my opinion there really isn't much else that matters.

Those who know me personally, know that I am loud-mouthed, opinionated, and likely certifiably crazy, so I probably won't be able to stop playing the "would've, could've, should've" game for a while. It's just the way my mind works through the tough stuff. But this, all of this, has forced even me to shut up for a bit, reboot, and put life into perspective again.

May 15, 2012

Snakes, and Snails, and Spiders! Oh My!

We've been living on the island for a little less than a year now. In that time I've become personally acquainted with some of the more interesting wildlife that lives among us on this small stretch of land between the East China Sea, and the Philippine Sea.

Before I go any further I have to explain that I grew up in the Mid-West. Or more specifically, Wisconsin. If you're even remotely familiar with that part of the country, then you know that once November/December hits, every living thing that normally grows, crawls, eats, or sleeps outside either dies or hibernates until spring. This means that things like bugs, spiders, snakes, and other creepy crawlies generally don't grow to be very big because most of them are all born, and then die in the time span of about 6 months.

I distinctly remember the year I was 18, it was the morning we were leaving for a family vacation to Washington DC, I pulled back the shower curtain, and a harmless black house spider about the size of a nickel fell into the bottom of our tub. I screamed bloody murder of course, which in turn cause my father to catapult himself up the stairs to rescue me from whatever it was that was dismembering my body. Imagine his astonishment to discover it was a teeeeeeeny tiiiiiiiny little spider that had caused such a terrible scream to rip from my lungs. That and my awful phobia of spiders courtesy of a movie that shall remain nameless.

If only I'd known. . .

Fast forward a few years to the time spent living in the southern portion of the United States. Savannah Georgia, where I was convinced that God had rendered every disgusting, slimy, stinging, or dangerous, creature to live in one small area of swampy land. I got used to giant flying roaches (affectionately referred to as "Palmetto Bugs" by the Southern Gentry), even larger spiders, snakes of all kinds, lizards (which my dog would eat whole and later vomit up on my beige carpet), alligators, and armadillos that apparently carry rabies under their shells, and will royally screw the alignment on your car if you happen to run one over. So you'd think I'd be used to coming into contact with the creatures of the world. Yeah. Not so much.

Then we moved to Okinawa. We have the flying roaches here. I can deal with those. But then there is a whole host of other things that really (to be blunt) just scare the shit out of me. Lets start with the Habu. This is a snake that scares the locals so badly that it caused a grown man to retreat faster than lightening out of a hole in my friend's yard simply because she uttered the word. Their venom is so deadly that the anti venom apparently only works once. You do not want to mess with these guys. And I learned recently that the hill top upon which I live is called Habu Hill. Just. Frickin. Great. Here is a picture of our friendly neighborhood Habu.

Just looking at this thing incites immediate panic. BLAAAAAH! I know I'm going have nightmares about this one. Not to mention the fact that my neighbor found one on his front steps a few months ago. I will never be used to this.

Lets move along to the GAS's. Oh yes. Thats Giant African Snail. These things can be as big as your hand or larger. Being hermaphrodites, they multiply faster than you can say "Holy crap, these things are disgusting!" and before you know it your patio is practically covered with them every time it rains. It's a good thing I tried Escargot shortly after we moved here, because I will NEVER eat them again. These huge boogers in shells are all over the place. They carry a bacteria that can cause encephalitis if ingested raw. And it would be my luck that my kids would pick one up and then lick their hands. . . So I've instructed them never, under any circumstances to touch one. Ever. Period. Then while running the other day I accidentally ran one over with my stroller. The crunch, and the sight of a huge, bloody, grayish-brownish, boogerish thing that I then proceeded to step in, made me almost barf on the spot and I spent the next mile and a half of the run dry-heaving, and praying I didn't puke. GAS's, while not scary are certainly grossity gross gross.


And finally we'll talk about what I found in my kitchen this morning that caused me to panic, and run to the neighbor's house (for the second time) to help me rid my house of this terrible beast. Yeah. You guessed it. A spider. But we're not talking just any spider. See, I don't mind the little baby house spiders. But again, we're not talking about those. We're talking about a big hairy spider with a leg radius as big as my hand. is it on me? I swear it's on me, It was just hanging out above the door to my garbage closet. I didn't even notice it until I was packing my son's lunch for school. I think it's still on me. I had to do the "self talk" I can handle this. I can do this. I can handle this. I can do this. etc. For those of you who talk to yourselves, this is not unusual behavior. You understand. But as it turns out, giant spiders just chillin on my wall is more than I can take. That right there is my breaking point. So I went outside in search of a savior. My merciful neighbor was outside as well, and assisted in killing the monster. Ok, actually I stood far, far away while my neighbor killed the monster with my broom. And all was right with the world again. The following is not a picture of MY spider. But it is a picture of the same kind of spider. 


So that is my story for today. And I shall never speak of these creatures again. Until I see one. God help me. 

March 28, 2012

What is Service?

Tonight I received a comment on a post I wrote on February 11th. called Different Sides. In that post I wrote the following: 

"I am proud of what my family does for our nation. I love my husband, and I love my country. I'm proud that we choose to serve something greater than ourselves.

I would like to thank the person who wrote the comment because it inspired me to write a post that I've been considering for a while. Let me begin by saying that I do not feel the need to explain myself to anyone, but this issue has been such a hot topic in more forums than mine, that I would like to address it now.

For convenience sake, here is the comment that was posted:

"I've really been enjoying reading your blog and have found it interesting, however I do have a comment about something you said: "I'm proud that we choose to serve something greater than ourselves." You don't serve. You are not active duty, you are a civilian, you didn't choose to serve. I find it highly offensive that you have implied that you serve just because you are married to someone who does."

I never implied that I serve my country in a military capacity simply because my husband does. I do not feel the need to "ride his coattails" so to speak, to feel that sense of accomplishment. Nor would I ever try to rob my husband of what he has so rightfully earned and take it for myself. I did not mean what I said as a blanket statement to describe all military families. I meant it only in reference to my family. With that said, my husband's military service affects every single aspect of my life. It affects my marriage, my career, where my home is, my social life, my emotional well being, and my children and the entirety of their lives as well. It also affects how and why I volunteer my free time. Just because the military spouse does not have a contract with the United States government does not mean that we are immune to service or sacrifice. It is my husband's military service and career, but it is our life.

When my husband and I fell in love and chose to get married, I promised to love, honor, and support him. Part of that promise means that I support him in his chosen career. Our marriage is a partnership based on mutual love and respect. His job is in the military but he also takes into consideration how his career choices affect his family. His lumps and bumps are mine too. Everything that affects him, affects me. I may be behind him, left at home while he is away, but I live this life with him. While he trains, deploys, and works hard to defend our nation, I work hard at home to support his unit and the families of his men, in addition to maintaing our home, our vehicles, raising our children, and running a business of my own.

This kind of support is not always official, but it comes in many forms, and varies from unit to unit. Many of the things I have done include volunteering as FRG leader, fundraising for the unit, putting together care packages for single soldiers, cleaning empty barracks rooms prior to the return of the deployed men, hosting holiday dinners, making monthly phone calls to 150 soldier's spouses and families with updates and information, taking care of a soldier's over due cell phone bill, or expired license plates, and bringing hot meals to staff duty. Other times it means being there to babysit someone's children, give rides to the doctor, or commissary, help spouses who are new to the area become acclimated for a smoother transition, mow other's yards, be a friend, an advocate, or just a shoulder to cry on. I've been a military spouse for nearly a decade, so many times I simply share what I've learned along the way. A lot of this is even more important when our soldiers are away. My family has received of this kind of help and support as well. Both my husband and I were very grateful.

Not every military wife does this. It is not required of us. But I do. I do not get paid for my time, I offer it freely. Sometimes it's fun, sometimes it's work, and many times it's both. It is in this way that I "serve" something greater than myself, and it is because of my husband's military service that I choose to volunteer my time to this cause, and to these people. To insinuate that I sacrifice nothing, and serve nothing because I am not military personnel is insulting.

I do not directly serve our nation in the way that my husband and his men do. I will never have that honor. My choice is to love and support my own soldier, and do my best to support his men and their families. It is not a job as rough, tough, and gritty as the one my husband does. I will never pretend that what I do is harder than what my husband does. I will never pretend that it is imperative to a successful military or a strong nation. But the fact is that military spouses and families are part of military life. Helping and taking care of them is full of it's own unique challenges. Many military wives shoulder responsibilities and burdens that non-military wives often don't, or never do. The sacrifice and service of military spouses who work hard and volunteer their time in support of soldiers, their units, and their families should not be overlooked. I'm proud of my husband's service, and I'm proud of my contribution in support of my husband's service. Nothing and no one will ever change that.

March 27, 2012

A Little Bit of Home Here

Cruising the internet the other day:

Hmmm, summer clothes for the kids, check. Summer clothes for me. . . um, not so much.

Looking for some delicious summer recipes that don't take a BILLION years to make. . . 

(The weather is warming up here. Can you tell?)

Sandals, a new bikini maybe? Nah, not yet. Still 15 lbs. to lose.

A mini break to someplace? Any place? Nope. That would require lots of work for me, and no fun without my husband.

How about. . . and there it was. A crappy quality picture -probably taken with an old iPhone- of me sitting with a friend at Sonic, sipping a Diet Cherry Limeade.

I'm not sure what clinched it, if it was the friend in the picture, or the Cherry Limeade, probably both, but it's official. I miss home. I've been feeling it coming on for about a week now, but this really did it. I usually miss home a lot more when my husband is gone, and there are specific times of year when I really, really miss home. This year though, things are just a bit different.

I'm not just feeling nostalgic for the place where I grew up. I'm feeling it for places in time no matter where in the world I happened to be. Nights on the town in Savannah with our friends Jen & Lamont, backyard BBQ's with neighbors at Fort Benning, and yes, even Fayetteville with my friend Heather, sitting at the Sonic. I know that a few years from now, after our time on Okinawa is over, I'll feel some nostalgia for this place too.

But this time it was the Cherry Limeade, the friend, the feelings of peace and consistency that I know I felt when that picture was taken. For a moment I completely forgot where I was. I was determined to call up a friend, meet at Sonic with our kids, and order a Cherry Limeade! There has been a Sonic, and Cherry Limeade available in every place I've lived for the last decade.

But then. . . the horror! Oh the horror! Reality dawned an instant later. I'm in Japan. There is no Sonic here. Hence, no Cherry Limeade. Since I can't see my old friends, it's clearly time to dig up a copy cat recipe for that one. It's amazing how something so simple as a frivolous drink can make me miss things back in the states so much.

Now I had a plan. I would make my favorite summer drink here to Japan. Off to the 100 Yen store to find some cheap reusable travel cups with straws, and the commissary to buy my ingredients. I know I'm not getting off this island to visit home anytime soon, so I'm going to make the best of what nostalgia brings. I've decided I'm going not going to miss home. I'm going to have it here.

I can't build a Sonic, and I can't fly my friends out here. So I'll put a kiddie pool in our yard, grab a beach umbrella, add some friends and their kids, and best of all, my homemade cherry limeade. . . only this year since I don't have to drive home, maybe I'll have a little something extra in it too!

Oh, and I'm going to buy that bikini after all.

March 19, 2012

Do Unto Others

Hi! My name is Stephanie and I am a Facebook addict! Hahahaha!

I keep in touch with most of my friends that way now, since we live on opposite sides of the planet from each other, and it's not always convenient to schedule a phone call or Skype date. What is daytime for me is the middle of the night for them.

Several days ago while I was adding some pictures, updating statuses, and perusing the latest exploits of friends, new and old, I came across a particular page. I will not share the name of the page in this blog because I don't feel that their message is a positive one, nor do they need or deserve anymore traffic directed toward them. Anyway, I came across a page directed toward military wives. It possibly began as a humor page, attempting to give us spouses some comic relief in the sometimes overly serious world of military life. The title of the page seemed promising. Maybe the creator's intentions were good. I don't know.

I dug into the page looking for a laugh, because lets face it. These days, under these particular circumstances, I am wound tighter than a spring. I am very sensitive to much of what I see, hear, or do, and sometimes a misdirected comment, a photograph, or a story on the news is like a dagger jammed right into my heart. Even when I try to keep my emotions in check, some days are very overwhelming and it just can't be helped.

As I wandered around this particular Facebook page looking at the posts and comments, I found some things that were remarkably true, and a bit humorous. I added a comment or two about my own blunders as a military wife. But as the days went by and I looked again and again, I found nothing remotely funny about what was happening in front of my eyes. What I saw didn't make me angry, only sad. It seems that this page was created for military wives who want nothing to do with the military and abhor everything about being a military wife. I consider myself a pretty open minded person, so if the patrons of this page feel that way, and it works for them, then more power to them. They have every right to live as they choose.

But here is where the problem lies. In my mind, and in my heart, I know that what they are doing is wrong. The things being posted and said are very inconsiderate and rude. They make a specific point of degrading and belittling other military wives who do not fall in line with their method of thinking, or living. The entire thing exists only to be hateful toward a specific group of people. Some of the things mentioned on this page deal with women who "wear their husband's rank" or feel they deserve special treatment because of their husband's rank, demand discounts, and otherwise use and abuse their privileges as a military spouse. Perhaps a valid grievance to air, but then it got worse. Also mentioned, or more specifically targeted are over weight women, and unemployed women, with many comments being made with the assumption that they are all lazy, and mooching off of their husbands. *sigh

I too have my own opinion of spouses who DO use their husband's rank, cheat on their husbands while they're away, and otherwise "mooch", so to speak. But I am of the mind that a PFC's wife and children should be treated with the same consideration and respect as a Colonel's wife and children. Regardless of rank, appearance, or employment status, each family deserves at least that much. There is no difference between us. We are all in the same boat. In my own experience I find that it is easier to surround myself with people I respect, and who respect me, people who I enjoy, and who bring out the best in me. It doesn't hurt me any to let the rest go about their lives their way.

But no matter how much I disagree with something someone does, I do not spend gross quantities of my time lumping all spouses with certain characteristics, physical or otherwise, into one large group, and proceed to make fun of them. The actions of a spouse, appearance of oneself, and the rearing of children is between a soldier and their spouse. It is not my place to judge. I don't feel the need to point out what I believe to be the shortcomings of others simply because it is not how I choose to live my life. I do not need to belittle anyone, and in my opinion, those that do belittle others do it because there is something lacking within themselves.

It doesn't matter which kind of community you live in. Rich, or poor, New York City, or Ely Iowa, there is always going to be ignorance, arrogance, people you'd rather not spend time with, and people who don't subscribe to the same set of values as you do. That doesn't mean that they are less human than you. It doesn't mean they don't have feelings. It doesn't mean they aren't fighting some sort of daily battle. It just truly disheartens me that there is this kind of negativity going on in a community that should be of all things, supportive of each other. Sometimes all we have is each other.

I am a proud military wife. I am proud of all the things my husband has accomplished. For he has done so by his own strength and ambition, and the loving support of his family. What affects him affects me and our children. It is not within my makeup to pretend that this portion of my life does not exist. I proudly wear his unit insignia as a pendant around my neck. I live in base housing. I am a stay at home mom with a small business of my own. I wear my workout clothes to the commissary! Judge me if you must, but know that I don't care. I know in my heart what kind of wife I am to my husband, what kind of mother I am to my children, and what kind of person I am to this world. I also know what kind of person I don't  want to be. I strive to be better for my husband, for my children, and for myself.

I've been making a conscious effort to eliminate negativity from my life. In that spirit, I chose to disentangle myself from anyone or anything having to do with this page. There is nothing good that can come from consciously demeaning others. This has made me ever more mindful of how I publicly treat other people. Even if I'm having a bad day, even if the checkout line at the commissary is slow because a slightly overweight woman in sweatpants is taking too long to count out her coupons. No one has the right to make her feel like she's less. There is only one who will judge us. I will be held accountable for my actions in this world, both the good I've done, and the many mistakes I've made.

Luke 6:13. "And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.".

February 27, 2012

Prayer Brigade

*Disclaimer - I am a Christian, more specifically Catholic. I have my beliefs, and I am a strong believer. That does not mean that I subscribe to all the ideals of the church, or that I push my beliefs onto others. This is simply my point of view. Religion can be touchy subject as we all have our own ideas about God, and faith, or lack there of. I am not writing this to change minds, preach, or impose on anyone. I am writing this to explain how I get through the day and what gives me strength.

I've always had a complicated relationship with God. There were times when I was younger that He was not an important or active part of my life. There was a time when I did not believe at all. As I grow older my faith in God has played an active role. It's amazing how when you feel you have nothing left you can always turn to your faith.

I find myself praying every day about one thing or another. Usually I pray for strength, peace, or the courage to be better. I pray that by His grace my husband comes back to me. I pray for my brother who died 5 years ago, and who's death is a large reason why I have the faith I have.

Religion and faith has always been present in my life, even when my own faith was floundering. Both of my grandmothers were very devout believers. They both prayed to God, and to the Holy Virgin a lot. Both always, always had their prayers answered. Both of my parents grew up in very active catholic families. My father's oldest sister was a nun, he was an alter boy. My mother's father was a member of the Knights of Columbus and buried with his saber. The religion of my family has been passed on to me, but I was also given the freedom to form my own opinions, and my own beliefs.

When I learned of my husband's coming deployment I called my mother and asked her to pray. I called my mother in law and asked her to pray. I know that both mothers have passed my request on. I know that in my church back home, and my husband's church, the congregations often pray for his safe return. Every member of my family and my husband's family are praying for him, for me, and for our children. I truly believe in the power of prayer, and I affectionately refer to it as "The Prayer Brigade" when my husband is away. This gives me some comfort. I can feel the support and love of our family and friends stretching across the Pacific.

One of my girlfriends, and fellow Army wife here on Okinawa once said "You have to give it to God." At the time, I thought I can't just do that. But lately I've been absorbing the meaning of those words. I don't have any choice but to give it to God. The wives of the men in my husband's unit lean on each other. We are always there for one another. But many nights when my children are safely tucked in and I'm alone in our bed my mind doesn't just shut off. My thoughts inevitably turn to my husband. My fear and worry comes to the surface and I cry from the depths of my soul. I let out everything I've been keeping locked inside. Through it all I have no choice but to pray. I don't have the strength to go this alone, and in those moments of sorrow there is nothing else. My husband is not here to hold me and tell me it's going to be ok. I don't have him to lean on. I have no choice but to lean on God and hope that He will see us through. I have no choice but to believe that God is on our side and will return my husband safely to his family. I know that I am not alone. The Prayer Brigade is on it.

February 24, 2012

Something Beautiful - United Grace

I have to admit that lately it's been an ugly, ugly world. At least to my thinking. I've been keeping up with current events in my husband's current corner of the world. Though I'm not happy about what I read, I would rather be aware than left in the dark. I can't do anything about it. The control is out of my hands. All I have left to do is pray. I don't have the energy to be angry at our enemies. My energy has to be focused elsewhere right now. But no matter where I am focused it is only a distraction. It doesn't cure the heavy, achy, worried heart I carry around with me.

There are beacons of light in the midst of this whole mess. The ladies with whom I've become acquainted are some of the strongest, smartest, well rounded women in the world. One lady in particular is part of an amazing company called United Grace which supports our military personnel and their families. This company has taken something that is difficult, nearly impossible at times, and from it they created something beautiful.

United Grace makes amazing jewelry, hand crafted in the United States (thank you very much!) designed specifically to support our military community. They have 3 different collections. The Signature Pendant, the Blue Star Grace collection, and the Gold Star Grace collection. As soon as I saw the Blue Star Collection, my first thought was "I must get my hands on one of these pieces." The blue stars appeal to me for obvious reasons. 
Photograph from

This is not the cheaply made, fake metal "Support Our Troops" jewelry that you find at the kiosks in the BX/PX. This is the real deal. Real stones, and real metals. The only way I can describe it is beautiful. United Grace has done a wonderful job of creating and crafting their products.

I have a tendency to take anything concerning the military personally. It is my lifestyle, my husband's career, and my family's livelihood. I am impressed and truly touched that someone thought enough of us to create a company tailored specifically for us. It reminds me that even though we remain a faceless, nameless entity to the majority of Americans, we are not forgotten.

February 11, 2012

Different Sides

I've been wanting to write this post for a few days but every time I sit down to write, the words have escaped me. The situation upset me so greatly that I had to remove myself from it, and it has taken every ounce of strength to stay removed.

It began with a friend of my husband who posted a photograph on Facebook. A very heated debate ensued regarding the picture, and at one point, another person who joined the conversation told me, "I'm sorry that you have to go through this." in reference to my husband fighting what he called"an illegal war". Those comments stopped me for a second, and then it made my blood rage. I was shocked, angry, and hurt.

I know why my husband is goes to war. I know why he fights. I make it my business to know. But I am not sorry. I am proud of what my family does for our nation. I love my husband, and I love my country. I'm proud that we choose to serve something greater than ourselves. I realize that not everyone has the courage or the strength to do it. I would not trade one single day of it, nor would I choose any other life. It's true that deployments are incredibly difficult. But I certainly don't feel sorry for myself, and I don't need anyone else to feel sorry for me either. For someone to say something like that to me is insulting beyond all reason.

In a conversation I had with my husband not too long ago, he said that Americans don't care about this war. I didn't want to believe it, but in this case his statement rings true. I have been part of this life for long enough that it's easy for me to forget not everyone is affected by this war. Especially when my entire existence hinges on it. And especially when I live in a military community. There are people out there who walk down the street and don't spend one second thinking about this war, or the men and women who fight it. They don't think of the families that make that sacrifice. There are people who can go days, or weeks without giving it a care. For many it's become nothing more than a political poker chip. It's so easy to read and educate yourself on what is happening over there or just make yourself aware. I guess it's just easier for some to sit in a nice warm office, and pass judgement without knowledge.

This encounter made me angry and sad. Not only for myself, but for the utter ignorance of this person and the fact that there are more out there just like him. But even when ignorance like his spews over me and tries to taint the life I've built with my husband, my soldier, the life I love, I will never be sorry.

February 8, 2012

Health & Fitness: Including Guest Writer, Kristin Wells

For the past several weeks, I've been undergoing a personal quest to lose the 30 pounds I neglected to lose after the birth of my children. As I continue to exercise, and eat better, I've come to realize how vital health and fitness is to survival as a military spouse. I am also documenting my personal struggle journey at

I know there are a lot of military spouses out there who want to get fit, want to lose a few pounds, and maybe just don't know where to start. This is where a young lady named Kristin comes in! I met Kristin just a few days ago. She is a recent college graduate who majored in creative writing. She expressed an interest in writing something for my readers. I found her article compelling and interesting, especially since I have a tendency to occasionally struggle with making healthy eating choices. So without further adieu!

A Glimpse At Eating Healthier

By Kristin Wells

There are many health benefits to eating more nutritious, lower calorie foods. Unfortunately, most people crave these high calorie comfort foods, despite their efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Thankfully, there are many small changes you can make to substitute your favorite foods for healthier versions of the same thing.

1. French Fries
We all salivate at the mere mention of French fries. Greasy, salty, and piping hot, French fries are a comfort food for many- and also wreak havoc on a healthy diet. If you can't live without the flavor of salty fried potatoes, make them at home. Thinly slice potatoes, spritz with cooking oil and sprinkle with salt and herbs, then pan-fry until crisp. Even better are baked sweet potato fries, which are as delicious as they are nutritious.

2. Baked Potatoes and Chips 'n Dip
Got to have sour cream on your baked potato? Substitute plain nonfat yogurt for 1/2 of the sour cream you would normally use. This is also a great tip for making homemade chip dip. Also, switch to baked chips or tortilla chips as an alternative to greasy potato chips.

3. Microwave Popcorn
A great substitute for buttery microwave popcorn is organic stovetop popcorn. Organic popcorn is free of chemicals, low in fat, and low in calories. Sprinkled with a low-calorie popcorn flavoring, this makes for a great healthy alternative to microwave popcorn.

4. Candy
Do you have a sweet tooth? Dried fruit is the answer! While still on the sweet side, dried fruit is full of vitamins and minerals and is a much healthier alternative to packaged and processed candy.

5. Cake
Try replacing cake with whole wheat banana nut bread. You'll save several hundred calories if you indulge in a slice of warm banana bread instead of a thick slice of cake.

6. Sugary Cereal
Steel cut oatmeal is an easy replacement for sugary, nutrient-deficient breakfast cereal. Jazz it up by adding dried or fresh fruit, nuts, and spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg.

January 29, 2012

View From the Other Side

Tonight on our rainy drive home from dinner at a friend's house I was lost in thoughts of how much my husband would have enjoyed the company of the evening. I was lost in how sad I was that he wasn't there because those are the times when I miss him the most. The happy times are hardest because I can't share it with him.

A few nights ago I served a casserole for dinner. I served the baby first, put her in her highchair and set her to it while I put servings on my plate and my son's. When I turned around my daughter was in the process of sorting out all the ingredients of the casserole into separate piles, and then she set to work eating each pile in turn. I know that things like this would have gotten a good laugh from my husband and it makes me sad that he missed it.

Then it occurred to me how much more difficult it is to leave than to be the one left behind. I've been so wrapped up in how my children and I are going to survive this, I haven't even gotten to how my husband feels.

There are two people inside my husband's body. There is Home Husband, the man I know and love, the jokester, and the devoted husband and father. Then there is Deployment Husband. Deployment Husband is distant. Deployment Husband calls sporadically, and when he does call he speaks in Deployment Voice. The voice that responds in one word answers and who's tone reveals nothing. I understand that part of it is the job. But the other part is for self preservation.

I cannot fully understand how stressful things must be for him while he is gone, doing what he does. But I respect it. What I haven't fully respected is how difficult it must be for him to leave. I haven't respected how hard it must be on him to leave me and our children standing there crying when he knows he can't comfort. I haven't respected how bad he must feel watching us disappear into the night when he's uncertain when he will return. I can't imagine how terrible it is to know that our children will grow up without him while he is away. How hard it must be to know that he will miss our son's first day of Kindergarten, the first time he reads a book on his own, and our baby will be talking by the time he returns.

I know that Deployment Husband shuts all of that off in order to do the job he must and get home to us again. I've known that for a long time. The rest of it hasn't really sunk in until now, and it makes me love and miss him even more.

As always in my prayers, I will ask God to protect my husband from harm. But tonight for the first time I will also ask that He grant my beloved peace of heart and mind that all is well back home. That we are doing our job so he can do his.

When he returns, we may be a little older. We may be a little wiser. But we will not be resentful that he missed important parts of our lives. We will be understanding of how it must have felt to miss them. We will welcome him with unconditional love, and our family will be whole once again.

January 28, 2012

On the Bad Days

I've been on hiatus for a while because there have been no words. Until now. This event happened several days ago.

"N, grab the milk from the fridge and then set your place for me please?" I ask my son. 

It's just us now, me and the kids. My husband got on the plane a few days ago. The plane that I hate. The plane that takes the father of my children, the love of my life, and my best friend into uncertainty and danger. The plane that takes half of my life as I know it away.

My son hands me the milk carton and I fill his glass.

"What land is Daddy in again?" He asks. As I stir our dinner on the stove I absently but patiently respond to his question even though we've been over this at least a hundred times. There is a pause, and he looks up at me as his eyes fill with tears.

"Mommy, are the bad guys going to kill my Daddy?"

My hand stops stirring, our food immediately becomes an after thought. My brain searches quickly for the right answer, for any answer as I squat down so I am eye level with my little boy. I struggle for composure. I don't want to lie, but I can't tell a 5 year old that it is a distinct possibility. 

"God is watching over Daddy and will protect him because He knows how much we miss Daddy. Ok?" I hug N hard. His innocent and trusting eyes clear as he nods his head.

The answer seems to be good enough. For now. I breathe a sigh of relief as my comforted child goes on his way to set the table for the dinner I am no longer hungry for. As soon as he is out of sight I let the tears fall and curse the reason my son is asking such a grown up question.

I've underestimated my child. He understands much more of this than I've given him credit for. His fear is the same as mine, and I saw at that moment how brave my little boy really is.

It's days like this, that I really hate the military. I hate that my child has to suffer that fear and uncertainty. It breaks my heart that no matter how much I try to shield my son from this, I just can't. For a moment I resent the fact that my child doesn't have the carefree childhood he deserves.

This is uncharted territory for us. I just hope to bring my son through this as best as I can. I will cry my tears into my pillow so he can cry his on me.

January 10, 2012

Living With the Glass "Half Full"

I will be the first to admit that I have it better than a lot of people. I don't need for anything, and neither do my children. I am well loved by my husband, my children, and my parents. My children are deeply loved as well. We can always pay for our groceries, we have guaranteed healthcare, and a guaranteed house to live in. We are indeed lucky. We know that. We are also aware of what we as a family "pay" in order to have our house, our healthcare, our food.

My family is deeply appreciative of what we have. Most of those who live the military lifestyle will agree that it is nearly impossible to take these things for granted because it can so quickly be gone. The things that military families deal with like living thousands of miles from friends and family, long separations, soldiers missing important days and holidays, spouses living the married lifestyle "alone", children growing up without their other parent present, picking up and moving 3 times in as many years, it can be stressful, lonely, and sad. But one thing I've found is that a lot of military families are some of the most optimistic people I've ever met. Maybe we have to be in order to stay sane. We have to be positive because it's too hard on us to see anything but the bright side of things. When our soldier is gone, we carry on with our families, we wake up and greet the day, we celebrate our holidays with out them. When we have to move, we do so with excitement instead of fear and negativity because it's just plain easier that way.

Recently someone not affiliated with the military in any way, told one of my family members that we needed to, "start living with the glass half full."

Um, excuse me? Really? You are giving advice on how to live positively? Seriously? Advice like this from someone who has been chronically cruel? Advice like this from someone who has been habitually miserable in her own life? Then it dawned on me. I now see this comment for what it was. A pathetic attempt to make just one more dig. Because I wake up each day with the circumstances that I've been handed (which are not always easy) and I choose to be happy. Some days it's a struggle but I do it anyway because it makes this lifestyle much easier to live.

I'm not suggesting that I am in a constant state of euphoria, or even need to be. That would be insane, or manic, or whatever you'd like to call it. Nor am I saying that on days when I choose happy, it doesn't turn upside down anyway. We're all allowed our rotten days. We are especially allowed those days when our soldier is gone, or we hear of an injury or a death, or we've been informed that we must pack up and move yet again, or we are PCSing to a less than desirable location, or we have to say goodbye to good friends for the umpteenth time, or our children are acting out and there is no relief in sight, or we simply can't spend the holidays with family this year because our soldier doesn't get leave. . . . there are plenty of reasons to be angry or sad.

But no, I don't need advice on how to live with the proverbial "glass half full", and don't worry about me. I will be ok because choosing "happy" is to see that with each problem, there is an opportunity. It is to seek the good in even the most dire of situations. Sometimes I have to dig deep, but it's always there even if it's just a shred. Choosing happy is the conscious decision to not allow the negative to rule your day.

It's not healthy to expect to be nothing but happy, and I of all people spend some time crying my tears. But guess what? When I'm done I find that they've filled my glass half full again.

January 1, 2012

Here Again.

"My birthday. Again. Our Anniversary. Again. Both kids' birthdays. Again. . . I start counting off in my head how many events and holidays he won't be here for, and immediately think of what we can do to compensate for his absence.

"I don't know how to do this. We have two kids this time, and they're old enough to understand Daddy is gone, but not why." I search my husband's eyes for answers. 

"I'm scared." I admit quietly, and will myself by all the grace of God not to cry.

The last time my husband deployed to a combat zone we only had our son who was 6 hours old. Our baby didn't know any better and I didn't really have to worry too much about how to keep Daddy present in his life. Pictures did the trick. Things were simple then.

Things are not simple now. After years of training, (the Army equivalent of a normal lifestyle because he is home more often than not) and 3 PCS's, we have come full circle. I knew his turn would come up eventually. I've been ignoring the inevitable as a means of survival but I knew it was coming. I just didn't know it would feel like this. We've done this before. Said goodbyes, dealt with separations, dealt with fear, and loneliness. We've done it a lot. We've done it more times than most in this life do, but it's different now. The consequences of what could happen are larger now. They're worse. Much worse, and I'm not even close to prepared to deal with that.

I'm just going to go ahead and say what some wives would be afraid to say. This could be the last time we're together. It could be the last time he holds his children, or me. It could be the last time I see his smile or hear his laugh. It could be the last dinner we have as a family. . . So I hold his hand a little tighter, hug him a little harder, kiss him a little longer, sleep a little closer. We are spending what little time we have left together and making the most of every second. These seconds could be all we have. It's been so long since we've done this, that I'm not sure how to process all that I feel. I'm not certain I am well enough equipped to coach our children through this. I feel like I'm about to jump into the deep end of the pool with a 1000 pound weight on my back.

The day he packs his bags and walks out our door for the last time, I can't promise I won't cry. I can't promise I will let go right away when he hugs me goodbye. I can't promise that I'll keep it together as he says goodbye to our children. I can't promise not to worry or be afraid. I will be lonely every night. I will probably cry myself to sleep for a while. But I can promise to be there for our children. I can make sure that we talk about Daddy every night, and help them know he misses them too. It's going to be hard. Very hard. But we will find a way to make it.

While we wait, I keep having to remind myself of what and who I am. I can do this. I have to do this. I love my husband enough to do this. I love my children enough to do this. I will pull through no matter what. I will find the strength to do it all, and be it all while he is gone. This is my service to our country so that my soldier can do his mission and come home alive.

A WWII Colonel's wife was once asked how she could let her husband go when he deployed. She responded, "I know that what happens to other men in battle could never happen to him. And I believe it with all my woman's heart to be true." So she let her husband go. Like so many other women before and since, I too will let my husband go. I will hug him and kiss him. I will watch him turn from us and walk away. And I will pray every single day that that kiss isn't the last one. Until he walks through our front door again.