Boy + Girl + Army + e-Harmony = Captain and Mrs. Butters! This is what we're up to. Observations, opinions, events, images, and more.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Summer Run-Down

It appears that I blog in cycles. I didn't realize it had been this long since my last post, though! Here's a quick recap since the end of June:
  • I am now working 30 hours a week and volunteering at the USO center here on post. I enjoy it and feel a lot more connected to the community.
  • I went blonde and am now back as a redhead...that's ultimately what I want to see when I look in the mirror.
  • Spike and I got to go on vacation! We had less than a week's notice to plan it, but we weren't about to allow an opportunity to escape get away from us, so we went to Winter Park, Colorado. LOVED it. 
  • We painted an accent wall in our living room and in my office, so our space is a little less generic. Take that, government housing!
  • For the past two months temperatures have regularly been around 110 degrees. I had NO IDEA that Kansas was this miserably hot! Finally, we're down in the 80s.
On a more somber note, it's been an emotional summer.  As you may know, Spike became a rear-detachment commander for a unit two weeks before it deployed to Afghanistan. The deployment has taken a terrible toll: five soldiers killed and over 50 wounded to date. My good friend's husband was one of the wounded...on two separate occasions. It's one thing to know that this happens in the abstract, and another to attend memorial services and interact with family members. Spike has been the notifying officer for most of the injuries and delivers eulogies I help him write at the memorial services. He has also made several trips to Texas military hospitals to visit wounded warriors from the unit. Because Spike is the rear-d commander and has these responsibilities, I think I know more about the situation downrange than many families who receive generic updates through FRG channels. Sometimes I wish I were much more ignorant, as there is a possibility that after this command Spike might be assigned to a unit that is deploying next spring.

Those are the facts; I really don't know what to say about how I feel about this other than that these incidents make me angry, terrified, devastated, and other gut-churning things I can't accurately identify. And that is with my husband home, however crappy his job might be. To say that I admire the families whose loved ones are downrange is a vast understatement.

Let's end on a good note, though. Tomorrow is our one-year anniversary! It has definitely been the best one of my life.

Friday, June 24, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In: 24 June, 2011

It's been awhile since I've done a Fill-In. So back to the fun! If it tickles your fancy, join in and read other responses at Wife of a Sailor!  





1. Are you a different person than you were five years ago? submitted by Sisterly Thoughts
Let's see...five years ago I was getting ready to start my senior year of college. So yes, I think I'm very different than I was then. My core values haven't changed, but I do believe I've done a lot of growing up.

2. If you could go on Amazing Race, who would you take with you as your partner and why? submitted by Thoughts from a Poekitten
I've only watched a few episodes of the show, but I think Spike would be the natural choice. We work well together, and more to the point, he's got all those Army survival/endurance skills. He can fly a plane, is a certified rescue diver, and is a decent mechanic. Plus, he'll eat just about anything.

3. Does Facebook or Twitter actually bring more stress or good in to your life? submitted by Just an Arizona Girl
I don't "Do the Twitter," but I am on Facebook. For me, it's pure entertainment. I don't post often, but I lurk and observe quite a bit. I'd say it's a good thing.

4. June is National Soul Food Month- what’s your soul food? submitted by NH Girl Displaced
Pinto beans and all types of Mexican food!

5.  If you could live in any other era than the current, which one would it be & why? submitted by Sugar in My Grits 
Tough question. History is my academic passion, but as I think most historians would agree, you couldn't pay me any amount of money to actually live in my era of interest (the Middle Ages, specifically; Anglo-Saxon pre-Conquest England). I would observe daily life from INSIDE the time machine. If I had to pick an era, I guess I'd go with Regency England, but only (warning, I'm about to be classist) if I could be a member of the gentry or aristocracy.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lucky

I wrote my "Angry!" post last week mostly for myself, just to vent. I was touched by the number of sympathetic responses I got: a couple of comments here, a very nice email from a friend, and several phone calls from people I didn't even realize read this blog! Thanks, guys.

In one of those funny twists of fate, the day I wrote the post Spike actually made it home at 6:30 and we got to spend a few hours together before going to bed. He didn't know I'd written about my frustrations, but (for those of you who watch How I Met Your Mother) in one of those Marshall-Lily telepathy moments, started talking about his rear-d command and how he wasn't happy with the effect it was having on our little family. Without being prompted by me, he echoed many of my own frustrations--which was exactly what I needed to hear. He actually made me get a little weepy-eyed by picking up his favorite picture of us and saying something along the lines of, "Every time I see this picture I'm reminded of the fact that I tricked the best woman in the world into marrying me. I hate that I'm not able to give her all of the love and attention she deserves right now. Eventually something will have to give, and it's not going to be my family."

I'm pretty sure I don't deserve him.

Anyway, we talked about what the future might hold for us after this command is over. It's pretty much a big, giant unknown. Spike doesn't necessarily WANT to get out of the military, but since his commitment ends next February, we're going to a job fair tonight just so he can start getting an idea of what some other alternatives might be. It never hurts to be informed.

And lastly, randomly, here's a photobooth strip Spike and I did the last time we stuck our heads into the mall.

As you can see, he thinks it's hysterical to lick me.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Angry!

I just need to get it out there: I'm angry. A lot. Just when I think Spike's schedule has gotten as bad as it can be, it gets worse. We're only 4 months into his rear-detachment command, and I already feel like I've had as much as I can take.

My husband is home (aka not deployed), but he's hardly ever really home.When he finally gets to come home from the office (usually after a 14 or 15 hour day), he's understandably too drained and tired to do much of anything other than sleep. He's also at work a fair amount on weekends. And when he and I do try to make plans, it seems as though he gets called in or has to stay late, without fail. I don't even look forward to the rare date night anymore because we can pretty much count on his phone buzzing in the middle of dinner. Then I get dropped off at home, pissed and disappointed, while he has to deal with the latest crisis.

I'm angry because this is not what I envisioned our first year of marriage being. (Welcome to the Army, right?)

I'm angry because our marriage and I always come second to Spike's job. Things that are important to me and even to Spike aren't important to the Army, so we just have to deal.

I'm angry because the only time I'm able to have a meaningful conversation with Spike is on the weekends (if we're lucky).

I'm angry because soldiers who get DUIs, are arrested, or do other ill-advised things get priority on his time and attention, no matter what time of the day or night it is. I know that's part of the job, but I think my cheerful forbearance ran out after the first 20 incidents or so.

I'm angry because if Spike stays in the Army he's going to deploy, and his time here with me really hasn't been what either of us would like it to be. On a daily basis, there's typically little to no time for "us." And somewhat more frivolously, we can't get away! I don't think going on vacation for a long weekend with my husband who has over 60 days of leave built up should be too much to ask, but apparently it is. I'm not gunning for the big trip to Ireland we want to plan, just 4 days at the beach. Or heck, even one night in Kansas City! (Although deep down, I really do want to take awesome-young-married-couple trips, the kind that might not be feasible once kids come along. Time is ticking.)

I'm also angry because Spike is working himself into the ground, literally giving everything he can to carry out his responsibilities, and is getting very little thanks or appreciation for it (that I can see, anyway). His attitude, patience, and perseverance are much better than mine would be if I were in his shoes. I think he deserves heartfelt recognition for the hundreds of things he does well every day, but instead he just gets grief for the few things that weren't completed to others' satisfaction.

The worst part is, I don't know what to do with my anger. I'm not angry at Spike, he knows that, and I'm not about to take my frustrations out at him. I'm angry at circumstances, and I'm really having a problem cheerfully making the best of them. It's very important to both Spike and me that we grow together, not just co-exist in the same house. It scares me that there's much more of the latter going on, and that this will probably be the case at least until next spring.

I know that I might sound ungrateful, whiny, and selfish in this post. But I think we've all been there. At least with the military, I keep telling myself, everything is temporary. On the positive side, I'm still very proud of Spike for getting this command position, even if it makes me want to punch multiple people in the throat most days. And I've met a few spouses in the unit with whom I click pretty well, which is fabulous.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dinner with a picture

Yesterday, I had a nice dinner with my friend Jenna and her husband. Jenna and I were dressed up, and her husband was looking pretty shiny himself. Our meal consisted of goat cheese bruschetta, filet mignon, champagne, and blackberry-lemonade ice cream. We were celebrating Jenna's second anniversary with her husband...who attended the meal in framed-picture form. He had his own chair and everything, and we addressed comments to him throughout the meal. He's deployed right now, so it was the best we could do.

I was very honored to be his conversational fill-in! Our waitress got into the spirit of the thing as well, and put a lit candle in the ice cream to mark the occasion.

Sometimes it's heart-wrenchingly obvious that life as a military spouse isn't "normal." But it can still be good with the help of friends. Here's to Jenna's husband's safe return so that they can, as he wrote on the card he sent with her flower delivery, "try to do one of these together next year."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Should I book it?

I haven't posted much recently because life has felt rather "blah." But I get the sense that I might be about to break free of the daily-grind quagmire in a big way. It has taken longer than I'd expected (don't most things?), but it's looking like I'll finally be cutting back from full-time work this month. I don't know how quickly the drawdown will happen, or even if this will be the final outcome, but I think my eventual goal is to be "contracted" in to do project work for my company instead of having a set-in-stone daily schedule. We'll see.

So, what am I going to be doing in my free time? Several ideas have been percolating, but the one I want to share with you poor sods (apparently my inner British gent is coming out, but I'm too lazy to delete that phrase and think of something new) is a book idea! I'm honestly thinking about writing a book, and I'm fairly committed to the idea.

A few weeks ago my neighbor Jenna and I were talking about how a lot of books for military spouses are great at giving you information and how-tos. So great, in fact, that you get the sense that if you learn enough and are prepared enough, military life will be straightforward. You'll know what to do, when to do it, and where to go in every situation. You'll never be surprised! Meanwhile, as your confidence builds with each chapter, the Military Gods are rolling in the floor and peeing their pants with laughter. (And that's not even mentioning the books that talk about etiquette, how to write the proper thank-yous, and when to wear white gloves.)

Now, Jenna and I are not trying to downplay the info-centric books and manuals. Not in the least. But we also said to ourselves, "Hey, don't you think other spouses in our situation would appreciate a more story-based book about the realities of the first year being a MilSpouse?" We're envisioning a short, witty, irreverent book in which each chapter contains one or more humorous stories on a certain topic; for example, the Commissary, On-Post Housing, Deployments, and Making Friends. We'd be aiming for the tone of Chelsea Handler's My Horizontal Life, without all the sleeping around. Perhaps Jenna and I are delusional narcissists, but we think that, between the two of us and our other acquaintances, we can come up with some compelling tales. Which I may test drive here on the blog.

The only book in this genre I've heard of is Mollie Gross' Confessions of a Military Wife. (I've never read it, and might continue to avoid it so I don't accidentally steal stuff from her.) Mollie is a Marine wife, so I figure there's at least a nominal niche for an Army book.

So, my questions are: is this a good idea? Would you read such a book, assuming publishers didn't laugh uproariously upon receiving the manuscript? (And is there a whole list of MilSpouse humor books of which I'm currently unaware? If so, please tell me!)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Images

Me looking like an Easter egg.
Sunday walk along the river--wouldn't mind if this became a weekly ritual.
Dying eggs with friends
These egg-dying kits have gotten a lot more intense than they were in my childhood.
The fruits of our labors.
...We tried to dye the tip of Ellie's tail. You can see a faint blue color there now.
Me!
Spike!   

Ellie!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

7 Things About Me

Do you ever compose blog posts in your head? I do. I'll be getting dressed, in the grocery store, walking the dog, etc., and I'll have a great idea for a blog post, which I then proceed to map out in my head. Problem is, I never actually get around to typing it up.

So now I'm playing catch up.

An embarrassingly long while ago, I was honored to get a blog award from Julie over at When Your Feet Don't Touch the Ground: the Versatile Blogger Award! (I think "versatile" sounds much better than "bewilderingly random." I like it!)



I have to share 7 things about myself....

  1. My favorite herb to smell is basil. Cilantro might be my favorite one to taste, but that's a tough decision.
  2. Even if I allowed my hair to be its natural color, my eyebrows would still be several shades darker.
  3. I have bad vision and am, in fact, legally blind without corrective lenses. When I take my contacts out, in order to focus on the words in a book I have to hold it so close to my face that my nose gets in the way.
  4. History is one of my favorite things in the world, but I don't believe you could pay me any amount of money to actually live in the past. I'd say no to a time machine.
  5. I played piano for about 14 years, from age 3 to 17. It just didn't strike a chord with me (pun intended) so I quit. Now, wouldn't you know, I really want to learn to play the violin. Specifically, I want to be able to fiddle.
  6. I regularly use outdated words and phrases like "methinks" and "perchance" in conversation. Along those lines, my all-time-favorite swear (I don't use it much and prefer to save it for special occasions) is "son of a one-legged, cross-eyed, syphilitic whore." I can't take credit, alas...it originated with my brilliant fellow medievalist Amber.
  7. As of last week, I have violet/magenta streaks in my hair. My amazingly talented across-the-street neighbor put them in.



I will pass this award on to:
Lisa at Must Be Doin' Somethin' Right
Poekitten at Many Waters
The Unlikely Wife at The Unlikely Wife Adventures

And now, to whet your appetite for an upcoming post (I promise this will make it from my head to the Internet), a little teaser: The next big trend is poopting.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Beware the Crazy Lady

Me: Did you talk to that lady today?

Spike: Which lady?

Me: The crazy lady.

Spike: Which crazy lady?

Apparently, there are a lot of them running around here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tuesday is Rant Day.

I haven't been blogging a lot lately...though I have been lurking. Sorry. I guess this makes me a blogosphere creeper. But you know what? I'm not really feeling ashamed of that.

Part of the reason I haven't written much lately is because work has been busybusybusy. My firm is in the process of wrapping a big project up, and I'm one of the point people on it. Of course, there are tons of loose ends to tie up that I didn't even realize existed. So, by the end of the day, I haven't felt like writing any more. I'm reminded of the FRIENDS episode in which Rachel is dating a gynecologist and she wonders why he hasn't showed much of an interest in being...ummm...intimate. The following conversation occurs:


Dr. Franzblau: I try not to let my work affect my personal life, but it's hard, when you... do what I do. It's like uh...Well, for instance, what do you do?
Rachel: I'm a waitress.
Dr. Franzblau: Okay, all right, well aren't there times when you come home at the end of the day, and you're just like, "If I see one more cup of coffee..."


Heh heh heh...makes me chuckle every time. But that's how I feel about writing sometimes! I want to blog...but when it comes right down to it, I think, "It I see one more blank word processing screen..."

ALSO, I've been reluctant to blog because all of the topics I've thought of have been whiny ones. But you know...this is my blog, and I'll whine if I want to! (And hopefully, said whining isn't childish enough to drive people away.) In any case, I suspect I'm not alone.

Mostly, I've been frustrated recently by Spike's schedule, or lack thereof. Let me preface the following rant by saying that I know I'm lucky to have him here with me at all. I thank God every day that I get to have face-to-face conversations with him (even if they're not as frequent as I would like) and that his Company command ended up being for a rear detachment unit and not a deployed one.

That said--as some of you warned me it would be--this rear detachment command is already getting on my last nerve, because it's sucking up so much of his time. Spike comes home late nearly every evening, and nights and weekends aren't sacred anymore either. When we go to bed at night, I half-expect to be woken up by the buzzing of Spike's cellphone. It's a sound I am growing to loathe, because it means (at best) a series of calls to other people in the chain of command and at worst, a several-hour-long trip to the office. In the middle of the night, or during the weekend.

I guess I'm just angry because I'm not getting very much quality time to spend with my husband--time when he isn't preoccupied, stressed, tired, or getting ready to go somewhere. I miss having regular "us" time, and being able to semi-reliably plan ahead. This frustration is compounded by the fact that if Spike stays in the Army, odds are he will deploy at some point not too long after his rear-d command ends. Knowing that, is it too much to ask of the Army gods that we get to have more than 2 meaningful  hours a day together now, while Spike is actually here? (Plus, on a pettier note, if my husband is going to be working the hours of an investment banker...wouldn't it be nice if his salary matched? Now that, I KNOW, really is too much to ask-ha!)

Of course, my feelings are all exacerbated by the fact that my social circle here isn't huge, and by the fact that I haven't yet begun to look for a volunteer or part-time position that involves actual face-to-face interaction with real people, not my computer screen. However, hope is on the horizon. Once my big work project gets wrapped up, I am hoping to start my transition to part-time so that I can start to plant some roots. I know I'll feel somewhat better when I start to get out of the house more.

Okay. Rant over. And I do want to point out that I'm being very diligent about telling Spike that I'm frustrated with the Army, not with him. He's doing an outstanding job of juggling an ever-growing number of balls, and of handling some pretty messed-up situations that, shall we say, wouldn't be out of place on Springer or Maury. When I stop by the unit's office to see Spike (sometimes to drop off food so that he gets to eat!), I always leave so proud to be his wife.

Lastly, during my I-don't-feel-like-writing period, I got a blog award! I am going to post about that soon, but not today, because I don't want to taint the awesomeness with my griping.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Foolproof!

Spike and I have come up with a new planning-for-the-future system. Actually, I lied. The credit for this one must go to the Captain and only the Captain.

You see, he had an epiphany the other day. He told me, "Back when I was in officer training I scoffed at the Airborne guys...said I never wanted to jump out of a plane. And then I got sent to the 82nd Airborne, all praises be its name. Then, we came to Fort Riley and I visited the Cavalry museum one day while you were working. I was unimpressed, and I came home and told you I didn't want to be in a Cav unit. Right?" (Here I dutifully nodded my head.) "So, of course, now I'm a rear detachment commander for a Cav unit. So guess what, wife?"

"What, husband?" I asked eagerly.

"I don't give two craps about Hawaii!"

Pure brilliance. Clearly, if we both vehemently deny that we don't want to go to Hawaii, the Army will send us there. For the record, I also don't want to go to Korea, Italy, or Germany. Just for starters.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lord of St. Patrick's Day

First of all, I want to say thanks for the feedback on my last post. I didn't end up submitting the post as an article (mostly because I dithered until after the deadline had passed), but I'll hold it in reserve. It was good to write out some of my thoughts regarding working as a MilSpouse (because let's face it, in most cases your career path IS affected...) and to hear what others think.

I know it's been the better part of a week since St. Patrick's Day, but I wanted to share how I commemorated this "holiday." Are you ready? I went to dinner at a local sports bar with my neighbor Emily...and then we went to the movie theater to see Lord of the Dance in 3D!!


Yes, that's right. I celebrated by watching Michael Flatley and his feet of flames on the big screen. It was awesome. The costumes had been updated since I saw the show live last year (not with Flatley himself, alas...), and the dancing was (as expected) amazing. This 3D cinema presentation was at select theaters for one week only, so thumbs up to our little town for running it !

It seems to me that you either REALLY like Irish dancing, or you don't like it at all. I was so jazzed to have an enthusiastic neighbor! So was Spike, as it got him off the hook accompanying me. (I'd promised to get him good and tipsy before making him watch a dance show for an hour and a half, to my credit.)

Here's me striking my Michael Flatley pose outside the theater, with my 3D glasses on. Stylin'.

Yeah, okay, I look like an unbalanced hipster.   




Here's Flatley doing the same thing.

He's slightly better at it than I am.

And here are my own feet of flames, thanks to the on-post bowling alley:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Working as a MilSpouse

I originally wrote the following as a first-draft article I'm thinking of submitting freelance. But since this is a topic I've been planning on blogging about anyway, I figure I'll just paste said draft here and kill two birds with one stone. (Disclaimer: the somewhat cheesy tips are there because the article query asked for some.)

I’ll be honest: at the (relatively) tender age of 25, I’m new to the military spouse lifestyle, but I’ve already learned several crucial lessons. Foremost among them has been “Revise your career expectations!” And no, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Let me explain.

I won’t hide the fact that, as far as military spouse jobs go, I’ve been fortunate. I’m a copywriter for a public relations firm that’s based in my North Carolina hometown, and my boss has generously allowed me to continue working from wherever the Army says home is going to be. In many ways it’s a dream come true: I can continue to work full-time doing something I enjoy. I don’t have to look for a new job every time Spike and I move to a new duty station. And (if I so choose) I don’t even have to change out of my pajamas during the day.

Because of this arrangement, when I married my husband Spike (who is an Army officer) last September, I promised myself that although the Army was his career, it would never be my life. 

After all, I reasoned, I’m my own person. I have a copywriting job at a PR firm. I enjoy it and I’m good at it. The absolute last thing I want is to “lose” my identity and my livelihood to the military.

 It was a nice thought…but then reality hit. I relocated to Fort Sill, Oklahoma after becoming a “Mrs.,” and by Month Two of our marriage Spike and I were already moving on to Fort Riley, Kansas. And sometime in the midst of turning on-base military housing into a home, getting used to the distant sounds of gunfire, and adjusting my daily rhythm to include morning PT and Spike’s anything-but-predictable schedule, I realized that, to a large extent, my husband’s job was my life, whether I liked it or not.

That established, it probably won’t surprise longtime military spouses to hear that my mental job plan didn’t play out so well in reality.

Essentially, the telecommuting honeymoon is over. While I still enjoy copywriting, I’ve found that being at home all day, every day, is just too much…even for a classic introvert like myself. I’ve felt increasingly isolated, listless, and disengaged, despite forming quick friendships with my neighbors. Finally, it occurred to me that I can’t live my entire life inside my home. I need to put down some roots. Make some connections. Get involved with my new community. And that’s where the revised career expectations come in.

Here’s my big revelation: I married a man in the military. And yes, his career has moved my life in a direction it (literally!) never would have taken otherwise. But my marriage is priceless, and Spike is worth it. So adjusting my own career expectations isn’t anything to be ashamed of. It doesn’t make me a sellout or a quitter. It makes me someone who rolls with life’s punches and who has the courage to what’s best for myself and for my family. And that realization is empowering!

Even though I still do, and always will, value my talents, gifts, and contributions to my company, together Spike and I decided it would be best for me to gradually cut back to working from home part-time so that I could spend a portion of my days volunteering or working on post (I’m still figuring out the specifics), and keep my evenings free to spend with him.

I admit that in some ways my story is atypical, and I know that my opinions and priorities won’t (and shouldn’t!) line up with everyone else’s. That said, here are some pieces of advice from an Army wife who’s learning to adapt on a daily basis.

Clarify your needs and wants. First things first: where does a job or career fall on your list of priorities? Do you need to work full-time in order to feel productive and fulfilled? Do your family’s finances require that you do so? In which fields would you be happy working? What does your ideal work/family/recreation balance look like? How important is it to find a job that might possibly move with you? Until you know the answers to questions like these, you run the risk of unintentionally drifting into unhappiness.

Be open with your spouse. Make sure your spouse knows your thoughts, plans, and preferences regarding your career. In any family, but especially in a military family, it’s crucial that everyone be on the same page and willing to support one another. In my case, I tried to bury the unhappiness that being alone all the time was causing me, mainly because I didn’t want to burden my already-stressed husband and because I didn’t want to be a “wimp.” When I finally spilled my guts, I was incredibly relieved by Spike’s assurances that he had my back up to and including quitting my job entirely if that’s what would make me happy.

Don’t live in the past. It’s completely possible (and understandable) to mourn the dreams you gave up and the connections you had to sever due to the nature of military life. But don’t allow regrets to hold you back. Say your goodbyes to plans that no longer line up with reality, and make every effort to move forward with the hand you’ve been dealt. It might be difficult, but try to look at change as an opportunity to start afresh. And always keep in mind this important fact: you may have been forced to change your career plans because of military life, but that does not mean that you’re a failure or that your life is less meaningful. It just means that you’re not omnipotent.

Take advantage of what the military offers. As long as you’re here, you might as well take advantage of the support the military provides to spouses and families! Research what your branch and specific installation offer. Chances are, you can get help revising your resume, take advantage of free or reduced classes, or even volunteer in a position that will enable you to develop valuable, marketable skills. And if you’re comfortable doing so, look for a civilian opening within the military community!

Remember that you’re not the “second fiddle” in your marriage. Never forget that you are an integral part of your family! It’s true; your spouse’s career might dictate many important aspects of your life. But that doesn’t mean that your desires, career, peace of mind, or fulfillment must come second to the military. Again, communication with your spouse is crucial in making sure that your ambitions aren’t swept under the rug. Yes, pursuing your career is often more difficult as a military spouse. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Ask other spouses how they’ve made it work. Hello—you’re not alone! Hearing the stories of other spouses is inspirational and can also give you ideas. (Plus, it helps to realize that you’re not alone in your fears and frustrations!) I’ve met spouses in the blogosphere and in person who have successfully balanced high-powered jobs, families, and the military. I’ve met some who let go of their dreams, only to discover and pursue new ones. I’ve met still others who realized that they were happiest being a volunteer, a homemaker, a mom, or all three. And I’ve even met a few who were inspired to join the military themselves and serve alongside their spouses. There are as many “right” ways to work as a military spouse as there are…well, military spouses!

Friday, March 11, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In: 11 March, 2011

It's going to be a busy weekend. I'm going to my first spouses' coffee with the new unit tonight, and Spike's parents are going to be in town too. Plus, I need to get a new phone since I knocked mine into the toilet on Wednesday night. Not my finest moment--but at least it was flushed at the time! I've since gotten the phone to turn back on, but the touchscreen doesn't work anymore and it has been opening apps (even Googling random things like "Pvd") on its own. I think it's possessed. Maybe Moaning Myrtle's American cousin lives in our upstairs toilet!

And now on to the main event. If it tickles your fancy, join in and read other responses at Wife of a Sailor! 
 1. During military separations (whether short or long) how do you keep yourself positive and motivated? submitted by Married/Single Parent
Try to be as busy as possible, and spend time with friends. Read a lot. Watch all seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Write epically long emails to Spike. And catch up on my shopping, because I've noticed that I really don't hit the stores much at all when he's around.

2. What is your favorite concert you have ever been to? submitted by Young but Not (Completely) Dumb
Hands-down the most fun concert I've ever attended was The Saw Doctors in NYC. They're an Irish band and have a small but extremely devoted following in the US. Second place goes to Elton John and Billy Joel.

3. What do you miss most about your “hometown”?  submitted by A Florida Girl and Her Soldier
Other than a few people, not much. Can I say its location from a vacationer's standpoint? When you're in the middle of North Carolina, you can drive to the mountains or to the beach in a relatively short time period. You can drive to Disney World or DC in a day. In Kansas...not so much.

4. If you could run in any race, which charity would you choose to support? submitted by Wookie & Co.
This is a toughie, since I wimped out of running years ago and (though it's embarrassing) don't know very much about charities. Since I've never made a lot of money, I've always tended to go the local volunteer route and have never looked into charities. (I always tend to think of charities as being large. Maybe I should revise my definition.) Anyway, back in NC I used to work with a program that provided tutuoring and a meal to underprivileged kids. I'd run for something like that.

5. You find out Willy Wonka is your father, what 3 course meal do you INSIST he create in that stick of gum?  submitted by A{muse}ing Mommy on a Pink Park Bench
First of all, Willy Wonka kind of creeps me out...so it would be hard to concentrate on meal options. But I think I'd go with:
-Appetizer: Chilis' chips and salsa
-Main course: Combination #4 (I think) from Julio's Mexican Restaurant in Lawton, Oklahoma. (Best Mexican meal I've ever had.) It consists of a tostada, a chicken enchilada with sour cream sauce, and a beef taco.
-Dessert: Nothing immediately comes to mind. I don't really have a big sweet tooth. But I think I'll go with a chocolate mousse torte with raspberry sauce.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The High-and-Tight

Warning: this post is both stupid and petty, and I realize that.

That established, does anyone else really, really dislike the military haircut? (The crewcut...the high-and-tight...whatever you want to call it...)

Because I do. I may be a military wife, but I'm not a fan of the military haircut. I realize this is entirely a matter of personal preference, so no offense if you happen to love the shaved and/or closely clipped look on your man, or on men in general. It just so happens that I, personally, prefer a more even distribution of hair.

This rant was prompted by the fact that Spike got a haircut at lunch today. He knows that I love his pretty blond hair (and that I'm not a fan of high-and-tights in general), so recently he's been keeping at least an inch of hair on the top of his head. (Nothing, though, can convince him to grow the sides long enough to touch his ears, because that would compromise his professional look.) Anyway, today the barber got rid of all that! The top is short enough for the hair not to lie down, and the sides...well...they're as good as shaved, with no gradual increase in length. Just a patch of hair on the top, and a clear line where "hair" meets "no hair."

Clearly this barber has a different conception of what "just a trim" means than I do.

My reaction was less than positive (though I did make it clear I wasn't mad at Spike himself, per se)...and now I feel horrible, because no matter what I do to my own hair he tells me I'm beautiful. But I still don't like the high-and-tight.

I think maybe I'm fixating on this to keep from being annoyed by larger frustrations and worries.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

No Words

Today was a day when ignorance would have been bliss in terms of reading the news.

First, I saw that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church, so those bigots will still be allowed to picket the funerals of fallen soldiers. Forgive me, but I'm having trouble getting the emotional distance to feel good about the First Amendment being protected here.

Thumbs up from me to Justice Samuel Alito, who was the only dissenting justice. He said that said that the church's
"outrageous conduct caused petitioner great injury, and the court now compounds that injury by depriving petitioner of a judgment that acknowledges the wrong he suffered. In order to have a society in which public issues can be openly and vigorously debated, it is not necessary to allow the brutalization of innocent victims like petitioner."
And then I read about the military bus shooting at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany. Two dead and two wounded. It makes me feel physically sick.

This was not a good day for the military community. I want to write something intelligent and penetrating here, but all that's coming to mind at the moment is, Damn it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tearjerker Alert

I wouldn't consider myself to be an extremely mushy person. I base this opinion on the fact that I once read that the average woman cries something like 5 times a month...and I'm usually nowhere close to that statistic. (Please don't call me on this poor logic. Because if you forced me to watch Titanic 5 times a month, you can bet I'd cry at the end of every showing, thereby breaking my "record." There's some embarrassing truth for you.)

Anyway, all of that nonsensical rambling to introduce something else that could make me cry regularly: a new show called Coming Home. It's premieres this week on Lifetime, and features the surprise reunions between families and service members after deployments. After seeing an Internet ad for the show, I watched the preview. And had to fight a pretty intense battle with the urge to start bawling.

I tell you what...it's a good thing Spike and I don't have cable. Because if we did, I'd probably be a puddle of sniffles on the couch every week.

Contemplating Korea

I mentioned in my last post that Spike and I were thinking about trying for a duty station in Korea. We're both open to and excited about the idea of living abroad (one of the wonderful potential perks of the military lifestyle!), and we'd ideally like to do so during the early years of our marriage. Well, the Captain emailed his branch manager to make said request, and received the following information:

(Obviously) we can't be assigned to Korea in the near future, since Spike is currently a Rear Detachment Commander for a unit that won't redeploy until around this time next year. That said, the branch manager didn't shut us down completely, either. In fact, his response was rather hopeful, at least by Army standards. He told Spike to contact him again in February or March of 2012 for a November or December 2012 Korea assignment. (By that point, we'll have been at our current post for 2 years.)

So--nothing's set in sand yet, much less in stone. But I figure it can't hurt to do some research just to make sure this is really something Spike and I want to pursue. I've downloaded the "Seoul Survivor" guide that's published by the spouses' club over there. It was a relief to know right off the bat that Ellie Dog could probably come with us, and that there is a Tex Mex restaurant in Seoul. (You see how shallow my priorities are?)

All lightheartedness aside, though, I want to do my homework. Does anyone have any experiences with Korea? Would you recommend pursuing this possibility or not?

Friday, February 25, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In: 25 February, 2011

First of all, where did the month of February go? Secondly, it's been a while since I've done a fill-in. Time to get back on the wagon, because they're fun.


If it tickles your fancy, join in and read other responses at Wife of a Sailor!




1. Aside from no deployments, what is one thing you would want to make the MilSpouse life “perfect”?  submitted by Oh How Delightful
Aside from a more predictable day-to-day schedule, nothing is really coming to mind. I really like most aspects of the life Spike and I are creating for ourselves!

2. Just how many peppers did Peter Piper pick? submitted by Married into Army
As many as he could before his eyes started watering too much for him to see what he was doing.

3. If you could have any career in the world with nothing holding you back, what would you do? submitted by It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To
I think I've answered this one before...I'd be a romance novelist! This post has a facetious (emphasis on the facetious!) sample of my steam scene-writing.

4. Do you have a service oriented tattoo and if so what is it. If you don’t what would you get? submitted by The Squid’s Accomplice
No tattoos of any kind as of yet. I kind of addressed this question in this earlier post. I'll warn you, though, the tattoo I talk about isn't a "happy" one. But is is the only service-oriented one I'd consider.

5. Imagine a block of time has opened up in your busy day for you to take a class in anything you like. What subject would you choose?  submitted by To The Nth
Well, I was a Medieval Studies minor in college and couldn't get enough of it, so I'd take anything relating to the Middle Ages in Europe. Actually, I'd love to brush up on my Old English. I used to have a passable reading knowledge of it, but that's a thing of the past. Also, I'd like to take introductory Korean...just to let the Universe know that Spike and I are open to the idea of going there! (He's going to tell his branch manager that he and I will volunteer for an accompanied tour after his time as Rear-D commander is finished. I know nothing is certain, or even likely, but I'm still crossing my fingers!)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Zombie Janet

Spike came home for lunch today, and after we'd caught each other up on our respective workdays thus far (yes, we're that kind of couple), he randomly started telling me about a dream he had last night.

Apparently, in this dream (or nightmare; you decide), he was being chased by Janet Jackson. Who was a zombie. As is the norm in these sorts of dreams, Spike couldn't run quickly, but he did have a .45 caliber handgun. So, he checked to make sure the gun was loaded, checked to make sure the barrel was clear (can you tell he's an Army guy?), and then started firing. He could see the rounds hitting Zombie Janet--even going through her neck--but they had no effect in slowing her down. And then, I guess, Spike woke up. Which is a good thing, because who wants to dream about an undead singer masticating his or her still-living flesh?

Spike and I wondered: Why Janet Jackson? Why was she a zombie? Why didn't the bullets even slow her down? And how did the .45 get there in the first place?

The best answer we could come up with was that Spike was high on a cocktail of nighttime cough syrup, Sudafed, and zinc lozenges.

(Okay, this post really had no point, but I thought the story was amusing.)

Haute Camo

I started life out as a Democrat, and have since come to realize that, if forced to categorize myself politically, I am really more of a Libertarian than anything else. (Much good that does me, or anyone, come election time.) Anyway, until Spike came into my life, I didn't watch much Fox news or spend time on their website. Main reason being, even when I agree with what's being said (which actually is a lot of the time), the way in which various commentators' opinions are delivered annoys me. *coughcoughBillO'ReillyandGlennBeckcoughcough* (No offense if you're a fan--they're just not my style. I prefer the calm, boring, non-aggressive types.)

This morning, though, during Spike's traditional breakfast-time Fox news trawl on the iPad, I saw something interesting: a charity called The Boot Campaign.  Essentially, its a grassroots charity that sells combat boots, and the proceeds benefit veterans who are returning from war. Pretty cool. What drew me in was the picture of Dolly Parton sporting said boots.

I looked a little closer, and saw that Dolly's camo pants are sequined. And I thought: I've seen that material before! On my first date with Spike, in fact, in an antique store in Boone, NC.


Okay, so the pattern is a little different, but still--same concept. I have to say, Dolly definitely wears it better...but this dress (which was full-length) would have made a big splash at prom. Especially if paired with bona fide combat boots! I think that camo will always be around in the fashion world...but do you think sequined camo will ever truly be a big hit? I tend to think it's only something you can 100 percent pull off if you're rich, famous, and have a personal stylist.

Also, do you think that combat boots on top of pants is something we civilians can get away with? I do like the look, but I somehow feel that wearing it would be presumptuous on a military base...like I was trying too hard or something. Thoughts?

(Oh, and I kind of want Dolly's sweater.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near Me:

Wives Gone Wild 2011

At least, that's what Spike's right-hand NCO (non-commissioned officer) says regarding the unit's upcoming deployment. I know I haven't had many exciting stories lately (such is to be expected when you work at home and rarely set foot in the outside world), but I suspect that's all about to change. Spike may look back on this rear-detachment command as the most hair-raising year in his military service. I hate that Army wives have the reputation they do, but in many cases it's justified.

Also, my arms and shoulders are seriously sore because of the Wii fit game in which you have to flap your arms like a bird's wings. That's good, I guess?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Weekend Beard

I'll start by saying that Spike's sister Erin is awesome. She's awesome for many reasons, but the one I'm going to highlight here is that she's an amazing crochet-er. Look at the goodies she made for Spike and me! And pardon the relative crappiness of photos made with my phone.

Spike got a Weekend Beard. Since he can't grow a real one due to Army regulations, he now has a crocheted version to tie around his head when he's not at work. Oh, and his beard really is red. Sadly, I've only seen it in stubble form and never in its full glory. But I still call him Barbarossa from time to time.

Behold, the Weekend Beard!




 Since I don't have a real beard (thank God) and don't really need a fake one either, Erin made me some hand warmers that match the hat she gave me for Christmas. These things are perfect for someone like me! (I.e., someone who has the circulation of an 85 year-old, and whose hands are always cold.) I have been wearing them in the mornings while I work, since they allow me to type freely. Also, I like how they kinda make me feel like a Dickensian urchin.

Holy Hand Warmers, Batman!


I think Erin should open up an Etsy shop. How many of you milspouses have husbands in need of Weekend Beards?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Nothing says "Love" like Twinkies.

It's interesting to me that the yesterday the entire Internet exploded thoughts about Valentine's Day: Why I do celebrate it, why I don't celebrate it, why it is a big deal, why it isn't a big deal, it's a celebration of love, it's just a Hallmark holiday, etc., etc., etc.

I'm not saying that any school of thought is right or wrong--to each their own. If you and your significant other took a veritable bath in roses, chocolates, and candlelight, good for you. If the two of you spent a night like any other, kudos. And if you resolutely ignored the hubbub or even attended a Singles Awareness Day party...well, that's fine too. However, I DO think that all of the opinions and conversations this holiday sparks point to one thing: Whether we want to admit it or not, loving and being loved are desires and needs that affect us all.

Anyhoo, Spike and I each did what we felt like to celebrate. Which ended up being very nice for me, since I got breakfast in bed and a lavender scent diffuser for my office.

Unfortunately, the Army messed up my Valentine's plans for Spike. I sent him a Pantygram (Google it) and had, well, plans for his homecoming. (Use your imagination, dear reader.) So of course, he was an hour and half late coming home, and was so stressed out about a task that had been sprung on him that he could barely focus both eyes on the same spot. Not exactly a recipe for romance. (Ah, the joys of Rear-D commence! I have to admit, though, you guys warned me.)

Well, I guess you learn to roll with the punches. We just had a different sort of bonding time (discussing how best to handle this challenge) than I'd imagined. And not all was lost, because earlier I'd slaved made these Valentine's Day desserts: 


Guess what? THEY ARE TWINKIES! Yes! I cut Twinkies diagonally to make heart shapes, drizzled some jam-based sauce on top, and put a cherry on each one. Presto! Twinkies make everything better, and are a great way to declare your undying love for someone. We ended the night gobbling these (the dog even snuck a bite), drinking beer, and watching True Blood. Not too bad.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Good News

Last week, at his Colonel's suggestion, Spike interviewed for a rear detachment command position. On Monday he found out that he got the job! I'm going to brag on him a little bit: apparently the Lieutenant Colonel who's going to be his new boss said that none of the other interviewees measured up. Of course, this was no surprise to me. So after only 3 and a half months in his current unit, we're throwin' up the deuces.

To clarify, we're still at Fort Riley, but it'll be a lot more responsibility for Spike...and a new coffee group/FRG for me. The majority of the Soldiers in this unit are leaving soon for the sandbox (for readers who don't speak military, as the rear-d commander, Spike will be in charge of all operations back here), and there's already been talk of starting a book club for spouses while the unit is gone. SIGN ME UP.

Actually, I went with Spike to an FRG pre-deployment meeting on Tuesday evening so that he could be introduced to the families as "the guy you call at any hour of the day or night (joy) if you have problems or questions." Before the meeting started I was reading my beloved Kindle, and a woman came up, started exclaiming over it, and asked me a bunch of questions about how I liked it. We chatted for a few minutes about the joys of having instant access to books. Come to find out, she was the Lieutenant Colonel's wife.

I think I'm gonna like it here. (I also anticipate a ramp-up in the amount of "can you believe this stuff" stories I share here on the blog.)

So, to end, I'll share one piece of information I learned at the FRG meeting. According to the JAG guy who guest-spoke, if you're a Soldier, think carefully about who you grant power of attorney to while you're gone. In fact, you probably don't want to give power of attorney to your wife (this was said in the presence of many wives, btw), because you might come home to find your bank account cleaned out, your car sold, etc. I told Spike he'd better write that little golden nugget of wisdom down so he'd remember it. Sad thing is, I know that piece of advice is strongly rooted in reality.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Thinking About Ink

No, I'm not planning on getting a tattoo anytime soon, but I have been thinking about tattoos in general...so I thought I'd write about it.

This particular cycle of pondering started when I read this article, which was posted on the Army's Facebook wall. It's about individuals who have gotten tattoos to honor fallen loved ones who have served. Now, that's not something any of us with loved ones in the military want to think about. (In fact, writing about it is giving me a mild case of the chills). But the fact is, not everyone who goes to war comes home. It's something we all have to be aware of. (I think "accept" might be too strong of a word...that possibility is something I know I'll never be entirely at peace with.)

So, almost against my will, I started thinking: if my worst nightmare came true, would I consider getting a tattoo to commemorate and remember my husband? And I think the answer is "yes," or at least "possibly." As some of the interviewees in the article mentioned, it would be an indelible remembrance of someone who was loved indescribably, and a way to keep him close. I really do think it would be comforting to look down and physically see some aspect of my husband with me, all the time, wherever I went. As I read the article, I even knew what such a tattoo would look like for me: a very small emblem of his rank on the inside of my left wrist, with his initials incorporated somehow into the design.

I hope no one thinks I am too callous or crass for thinking and writing about this. Yes, it's a serious subject, but no, I (personally) don't think that musings such as these tempt fate. I read an article that caused my thoughts to go down a certain path--that's all. And my imagination has never been something I've had complete control over. (Sometimes that's great, and sometimes, like now, it's kind of eerie.) I also told Spike what I thought, and he agreed that a visual reminder of someone you lost too soon might be therapeutic, in a way.

Anyway, after those rather sobering paragraphs, here are my thoughts on tattoos in general: I've lightly toyed with the idea before, but never in a serious way. I've never seen anything that I liked well enough to get inked onto my body. (After all, tattoos are there for life! Unlike hair, which you can do pretty much anything to and be guaranteed a do-over eventually.) I definitely think it's a good thing that I've never acted on any of my "this would be kind of cool" whims...because then, I'd be walking around with the White Tree of Gondor from Lord of the Rings on my lower back. Great books, but I'm glad I'm not forever stuck with a reminder of them as my late high school/early college self considered.

Also, as an artist I'm intrigued by tattoos. Some tattoos, that is. I'm sorry if I offend you, but sometimes ink is just plain tacky. For example, the first tattoo I ever remember seeing was my uncle's. He has a panther's head on the top of his forearm. It's badly drawn, and the ink seems to have bled and faded. At first glance it looks more like he's got a glob of dirt on his arm rather than a recognizable image.

However, there's almost always a flip side, and that's definitely the case with tattoos. Some truly are works of art that happen to be on people's bodies. I'm definitely not in the "All tattoos are dirty and trashy and I'm too good for them!" camp. The fact that I don't have one (and may never) doesn't mean that I look down on tattoos or the people who have them.

In fact, two of the most arresting tattoos I've ever seen have been on people I know. One woman has the outline of a bird in flight on the nape of her neck, extending into the hairline. You can't see it when she wears her hair down, only when it's up, and the first word that comes to mind when I try to describe it is "ethereal." The other tattoo that I haven't been able to forget is a fully and richly colored image of a pomegranate (you know who you are if you're reading this!) on the underside of the forearm. It's gorgeous, but more importantly, it's loaded with love and personal meaning.

So, to end: Tattoos are very personal things, and certainly a matter of preference. What are your thoughts on tattoos? Do you have any? If not, what (if anything) would prompt you to get one?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Introducing Ellie

A couple weeks ago, Spike and I adopted a dog. (Thank you petfinder.com!) Ellie is a 7 month old border collie mix who (so far, anyway) has displayed almost none of the famed border collie energy.
In fact, she's content to lie around most of the day, and doesn't seem to care whether I take her on a daily walk or not. (Although she does enjoy sniffing every lump under the snow when we do go out.)
Ellie's temperament makes her the perfect inside dog! She has become my office buddy, coming to tell me hello in between naps while I work.
(Hey, at least someone is enjoying the new couch! Sometimes I contemplate taking my laptop over there, but I have so far rejected the idea on the grounds that I'd be asleep within five minutes. Much like Ellie here.)
When she is awake, Ellie likes to chew. So far, though, she's masticated only her own toys beyond recognition, and responds very well to "No!" Her biggest challenge by far has been learning where--and where not--to "go potty." I think we're 90 percent out of the woods now, thank goodness.
After her initial "breaking in" period, Ellie is well on her way to becoming a member of the family. How do I know this? Well, Spike has given her a nickname: Jelly Belly Ellie the Smelly. Thankfully, that last part isn't true. Actually, the first part isn't either.  But it is kinda funny.

Ellie and I will hopefully be attending a basic obedience course in March, and she goes to the vet tomorrow to get spayed. Poor baby! At least she doesn't know that she needs to be dreading it.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Lie Back and Think of England

Wow. This is a little different from my usual blogging fare, but I couldn't not write about it when I saw it.

I will start by saying that I shamelessly read most Prince William/Kate Middleton articles I come across. Assuming Spike and I still don't have cable at the time of their wedding, I'll probably beg our neighbor to DVR the big event for me. But I still feel justified in saying that if you would buy this product, you are taking royal wedding mania too far.


Yes, these are "Heritage Condoms" manufactured by Crown Jewels Condoms of Distinction. They "Combin[e] the strength of a Prince with the yielding sensitivity of a Princess-to-be," and they "promise a royal union of pleasure."

Yet, if you look at the bottom of the page, you'll see that "Crown Jewels Royal Wedding Souvenir Condoms are a novelty condom not suitable for contraception or protection against STDs."

Well, if they're not suitable for contraception purposes, why buy them? What a silly question! Because they're "Presented in a timeless souvenir heirloom collector's box," duh! That's right--you can will them to your kids. Truly an heirloom for the ages. Who cares if Mom and Dad squandered your inheritance as long as they left you a timeless box of condoms?

I really can't imagine anyone actually buying these condoms, unless it was for a practical joke. Maybe I'm missing something here, though. After all, according to the website, "England boasts some of the finest lovemaking in the world, with a tradition of coitus going back generations." Well yes...coitus is, in fact, how you produce new generations. As far as England boasting some of the finest lovemaking in the world...I guess that's why I want to write a dirty romance novel set in Regency London. Maybe I will anachronistically give one of my couples Crown Jewels' "heritage love sheaths." That would surely turn the book into an instant best-seller! I'm imagining the scene going something like this:

# # #
"No!" John gasped, tearing his mouth away from Jane's. "I can't...we can't...not yet."

"Wh..what's wrong?" she managed to ask, fumbling to find the correct words. All she wanted were John's lip's on hers again, his hands tangled in her hair, the hot, hard length of his body pressed against her. Exhaling deeply, John held up a peremtory hand.


"Nothing," he replied, his deep voice husky with desire. "Nothing at all."

"Then why did you stop?" Jane whispered, a flush creeping up her neck as she began to return to her senses. She looked around and felt a pang of shame constrict her chest. Here she was, alone in her aunt's library with one of London's most notorious rakes--a rake who was, at the moment, only partially clothed. She swallowed convulsively and tugged her crumpled bodice up, wishing suddenly that it wasn't so fashionably low-cut.

The movement jerked John out of his lustful trance. "Wait," he murmured, his hand reaching out to trap hers as it clutched her lacy neckline. "Don't go. I want you. I must have you!" Tonight, and every night hereafter, he thought to himself as he bent down and began rummaging in the pocket of his discarded breeches. His hand closed around the object he sought, and Jane's breath caught at the look that smoldered in his dark brown eyes as he looked up at her. "I can't risk ruining you...not until we're married...so I need this." He straightened and held out his hand, revealing a small square purple packet. "A Crown Jewels Heritage Love Sheath!"

"Oh, John!" Jane's last vestiges of defense were swept away. As he lowered his mouth to hers once more, she surrendered to the wild new passion that coursed through her, secure in the knowledge that she was safe from unwanted consequences.


What neither of them knew was that this particular prophylactic was not suitable for contraception.
# # # 
I think that'll hold up under the most stringent of literary reviews, don't you? Now who wants to order some Will-and-Kate condoms? Personally, I think I'll save my money.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

So THAT'S Why...

Okay, let me start by saying that I know that suicide is not a topic to callously joke about. My family has experienced it firsthand, so really, I know.

That said, I couldn't help but laugh yesterday when Spike texted me the following picture of the "notes" he took at an all-day training session. I'm guessing it wasn't that scintillating.



Maybe the Army should rethink the NETUSR program, whatever that is... (See? This is another example of me being a bad Army wife. I don't know what this acronym stands for, nor do I particularly care. Yep, I'm a rebel.)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Are Wii Fit?

I've noticed that my last few sporadic posts have been in the Debbie Downer category. If I were a stranger reading my blog, I'd probably worry about me. Please don't! Overall, everything's great. I'm really enjoying this new area, my neighbor (whom I'll call Kay) and I have become fast friends, and we've decided that our husbands also have no choice but to become cronies after his fast-approaching return from the sandbox.

Just about every evening for the past few weeks, some combination of Spike, Kay, and myself have played the Wii that my in-laws got us for Christmas. So. Much. Fun. (Though I suspect the dog thinks we're insane). Btw, if anyone has a Wii game recommendation, pass it along.

Anyway, I've been breaking in the Wii Fit for the past few nights. Although it's pretty much "my" toy, I convinced Spike to give Fit a try the other night. Hilarity ensued. First of all, the Wii weighs you, asks your height, and has you do a few balance exercises. Then it gives you your BMI and your "Wii" age. I blithely breezed through this; I apparently have a "normal" BMI, though my initial Wii age was 3 years older than my actual one. (I took the test again and got 5 years younger; go figure.)

Spike, on the other hand, didn't fare so well. He's not overweight by any means (he considers it part of his job description to stay in shape because "I'm an Army officer and I'm not supposed to look sloppy or be weak, etc. etc.), but he does have a good bit of muscle mass. So, as I snickered uncontrollably in the background, the Wii told him that based on his height/weight ratio he was overweight. Then it added a spare tire to his avatar. If the Wii could hear and understand insults, its electronic ears would now be blistered. It then added twisted the knife by telling Spike that his Wii age was 12 years older than the actual one. I found this to be much funnier than Spike did. Supportive spouse award goes to me, obviously!

Next, I picked a yoga exercise for my miffed husband. I chose the half-moon pose, since it doesn't involve balancing on one foot or contorting oneself into an awkward position. Basically, you just put your hands together over your head and lean to one side, then the other. (If, unlike me, you're actually proficient at yoga, please ignore my horrifically simplified description.) Anyway, here are Spike's reactions:

"Ouch."

"Wow, this hurts."

"I feel like my ribs are being ripped apart."

"I give up."

So...he's going to stick to his early-morning tough guy workouts, and I'm going to improve my posture and balance with the help of my Wii trainer. As Spike would no doubt point out if he were reading this post, "You don't need to be flexible to jump out of an airplane or to march 12 miles."

...on another note, I saw on my Facebook newsfeed (courtesy of Fort Bragg's page, this time), that Oprah's topic tomorrow will be military families. I've only watched one or two full Oprah shows in my life, and don't have cable now, but I might have to watch some video clips on her website after the fact. I'm curious to see what she focuses on and how she presents military life.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Worth Watching

Okay, this time I've been absent because Spike and I adopted a furry little buddy of the canine variety, and I've been preoccupied with her. (I've also spent literally hours outside trying to get her to, well, go...but that's another story. And I'll probably post about her later.)

As I suspect is the case for most military spouses, I'm a fan of Spike's branch of service on Facebook. And today, the Army posted the video below. The description (a mother reads a letter to her daughter, assuming that the daughter grows up to marry a soldier) sounded kind of cheesy, and I almost didn't watch it. I'm very glad I did. Sarah Hertig perfectly articulates a lot of the things I've felt and struggled with in the relatively short time I've known Spike. Just as reading other blogs does, watching this video made me feel a little stronger because it showed me that I'm not crazy to feel what I do.

I especially liked what Mrs. Hertig had to say from the 11-minute mark on. She really captures what it's like to be so proud of your spouse that you think you'll burst, yet feel that you'd give anything to keep him out of harm's way forever. It was also refreshing to hear her acknowledge that sometimes a loved one's willingness (even eagerness) to deploy and fight for America can make you wonder whether he loves his job and country more than you (even though you know instinctively that such a question is ludicrous). As she says, sometimes you just won't understand, and sometimes the Army won't take into account that your spouse has a family, and you'll be mightily tempted to walk away from it all--but the pride you feel will give you the strength to keep going. After all, you love your husband (or wife) as much as you do because of his honor and commitment, and because he does what he does to give you a secure world. That doesn't mean it's easy. But he's worth it.

I suppose I've been preoccupied with these types of topics recently because Spike's one year of dwell time after his last deployment is pretty much over. I'm very fortunate, I know, because he doesn't have orders to deploy in the foreseeable future. Which means he's here with me for the foreseeable future. But due to the nature of his current position (without going into detail), it's also possible that he could be pulled to plug a hole for a unit that's going downrange. In some ways, I think that's worse--it would be better to have a concrete date for the next deployment. Because now, even though it's not very likely, I worry: will he be here two months from now? Three? He doesn't know for sure, and neither do I. I guess that's the military.

Ooops, rambling...here's the video!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Ditz in the Kitchen; Heroes on the Screen

You know how there are some flavor combination that just don't mesh? Well, yesterday I found one of them. Newsflash: ginger and peanut butter taste kinda weird together.

After I finished work I decided to make some cookies since the Butters household was running low on dessert-y items. I chose a ginger cookie recipe since I am, apparently, still trying to hold on to the holiday vibe. Yay. Great. Ginger cookies! Anyway, I'd barely gotten started when Spike made his "Honey, I'm home!" entrance. He started telling me some stories about what had happened at work that day, and (apparently) I got engrossed. So engrossed that Spike stopped his story, looked at me with a perplexed expression, and asked me, "I thought you were making ginger cookies."

"I am."

"Then why did  you just put peanut butter in the mixing bowl?"

Because I'd been paying so much attention to his story that I'd unwittingly shifted my gaze to the peanut butter cookie recipe next to the ginger cookie one. Oy vey. It was too late to take corrective measures, so I went stoically forward with my mixing and baking. I will say, the cookies smell weirder than they taste. But still. Not one of those classic "I discovered it completely by accident!" recipes.

On another note, I'm sure we all have things we'd never have encountered if not for a spouse, significant other, wacky friend, etc. Here's one of those things for me:

Shockingly, I had never heard of this one before Spike introduced it to me.

We watched it the other night. Yes, the characters are actually named Harley Davidson and Marlboro Man. And in all honesty, I have seen worse.

You're right!

You know what? You're all right! Nothing terrible is going to happen if I only connect with the "official" unit spouses' community on an occasional, more formal basis. Spike's career will march on regardless, and my happiness will be much greater if I don't have to suppress my weirdness. (And yes, I consider my weirdness to be a good thing.) Lastly, even if I don't become bosom buddies with these folks, it doesn't mean we're enemies either. I can still be in the need-to-know loop, and ask for support if I need it.

Since the spouses' coffee was my first experience with the community here at Fort Riley, I panicked because I didn't seem to fit. The nearly instantaneous reassurance and encouragement via comments was just what I needed. (Sadly, my self-esteem and self-confidence have yet to reach Xena Warrior Princess status.) The bottom line is, I am a nerd with a gigantic map of medieval England hanging prominently in her office. I can't do the social butterfly thing. My not-so-secret goal is to write and publish a dirty romance novel. My latest music obsession is Appalachian bluegrass and folk. And that's the person I'm going to be as I meet new people and become involved in new things here in Kansas!

So--onward and upward! I've found an intriguing friend in my neighbor, who is also a (fairly) newlywed and is uninitiated into many things military. I think that's a great place to start. And I probably will give the next coffee a shot...after all, they're promising that margaritas will be prominently featured. Who am I to say no to "that frozen concoction that helps me hang on"?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Awkward Coffee

(First of all, I have to say that I was really, honestly touched by the fact that people noticed my absence in the blogosphere. Thanks, virtual friends!)

One of the comments on yesterday's post asked what I thought about the spouses' coffee (which, if you're not familiar with military-speak, is a regular, semi-structured meeting that spouses have. In this case, it meets monthly). Well, dear readers, I think I may have gotten off on the wrong foot.

For starters, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I knew that I wanted to attend the event in order to start connecting with "the community." I'm honestly pretty happy with my miniscule social circle right now (i.e., my husband and our very cool neighbor), but what if a high-up pointed a finger at Spike and said, "Congratulations! Unit X needs to plug a staff officer hole for their upcoming deployment, and you're it! Enjoy your year-long vacation in the fabulous desert!"? Probably (hopefully) unlikely, but it could happen. And then I'd need some help from other spouses. So. The introvert decided to attend the coffee.

I asked Spike if he had any idea what I should wear. He told me that the spouses' coffees he'd heard about at his old unit were pretty casual, so I shot for the classy, nice end of casual. I wore dark skinny jeans, a flattering-but-not-maternity-looking tunic top, and black boots. I accessorized. I curled my hair. I was feeling pretty good. That is, until I saw that everyone else was dressed on a Sunday-morning-church-goin' scale. Strike one for me.

Strike two was simply the fact that I'm not an extrovert. At all. I hate being the "new kid," and I hate meeting new people, especially in semi-large quantities. I don't even like it when strangers talk to me on planes. Thanks to my former job as a college admissions counselor, I can schmooze for a limited period of time, but it's very draining. (I must say, though, the rum punch helped.) For 3.5 hours I talked to a few people, but I mostly stayed quiet, and tried to unobtrusively hide my pants with my napkin when an innocent comment was made about the questionable nature of skinny jeans. (Gulp.) Honestly, I was pretty lost for most of the night. I don't think I understood fully 1/4 of what was said, thanks to my kindergarten-level knowledge of the military community, and the fact that I also don't know anyone here yet.

Strike three (although I hasten to inform you that I'm not yet "out") is that I'm not sure I really fit into the military spouse mold. As the military spouse of Spike specifically, I'm fine. We're fine as a couple. Great, even. But I'm not sure I'm the type of person the military community expects me to be. I definitely did not get an accurate picture of the spouses' community back at Fort Sill, probably because Spike was in a class for a 6-month period, and not in a "real" working unit. At the coffee, I was shocked by how all-consuming the military is to families who have been "in" for while. For instance, the other attendees introduced themselves by telling me their names and their spouses' jobs. I still have no idea what many of them do (whether that's a job or homemaking or raising kids or volunteering, etc.) after a whole evening of conversation. And conversely, they were more interested in Spike's function than in what I do. Only one person was truly curious when I mentioned that I work from home. Now, I'm not knocking the spouses. It makes sense; assimilate or die, unless you LIKE being a hermit. (Which I do.) I just felt like a square peg in a round hole since I haven't felt compelled to learn about the unit in detail and since I have an outside job instead of one here on post or in town. For me, the military is my husband's job, and I'm proud to support him and to get involved with the other spouses. But I don't see it as MY life. At least not yet. I'm sensing that might change with a deployment.

Okay, well, now I think I just sound like a whiny kid who got shunned from the popular kids' table. I'll stop. The fact is, I already knew that semi-structured group gatherings weren't my thing (I quit my sorority halfway through college, for example), and that hasn't changed. I'm going to try to stick it out a bit longer, though, in hopes of making some individual connections and learning the military way of life.

One thing's for sure: If I do continue with the coffee group long-term, I'm going to have to step my hostessing skills waaaaay up! A bag of chips and a soda is not going to cut it with this crowd.

*Addendum: Please know that this assessment of the coffee isn't meant to be offensive in any way to the "typical" military spouse. I fully admit that I'm a bit of a nonconformist loner!