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

Monday, March 28, 2011


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 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'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?