PS: Book Review!!! A great book for military children!

“The Little Marine and the Flag” by Carissa J. Marine

My girls received this book as a gift and they (mainly my oldest – who can understand more) was so excited to have a book where she felt she could relate to. It’s a great, cute, and educational book every military child should have – especially children in U.S. Marine Corps families.

Here is an excerpt from the Website The Little Marine:

Every morning the Little Marine wakes up to the sound of a trumpet playing.  Jumping out of bed, he looks out his window over the trees to where his daddy works.  As he watches, he sees a huge American flag being raised up a very tall flagpole.  He loves seeing that big flag.  He often tells his daddy that he wants to go see it and stand under it some day.   

Author Carissa Marine invites you along on the Little Marine’s quest to learn more about the American flag.  Entertaining for young readers, The Little Marine and the Flag is a must read that also reminds even adult readers of treasured American values. 

 

Again, I can’t say how great this book is –  so far it is still the book of choice for bedtime story in my house!

You can go to The Little Marine site to purchase it or check out your local bookstore, like Books-a-Million.

Happy Super Bowl Sunday!! 🙂

Calendar Countdown

calendar

Halloween is over! Woo-hoo! Now don’t get me wrong, my daughters and I love Halloween. We very much enjoy costume shopping, decorating, and (of course) trick-or-treating. It was a very crazy last few weeks of October (thus why no recent blog post). But, I’m back and super excited that the month of October is finished!

You see, when my husband first deployed my oldest daughter would ask how long her daddy would be away – when we would tell her about 6-7 months you could see her heart crushing because to her 6-7 months felt like an eternity (which I could understand because I too felt the same). So we came up with our own calendar for when “Daddy Comes Home” to help our daughter better understand how long daddy will be away.

Here is Our Countdown:

Mother’s day (May)

Kindergarten Graduation (June)

Independence Day (July)

Family Vacation in Spain (August)

Back to School (September)

Mommy Birthday and Halloween (October)

Nana’s Birthday, Uncle’s Birthday, and Thanksgiving (November)

Her Birthday (December) 

And then daddy will be home for Christmas!

 

Yesterday was Nana’s birthday, so now we are awaiting my brother-in-law’s birthday this weekend and then just Thanksgiving and our daughters oldest birthday (which is the first week of December). So basically, my husband is coming home soon!!! (yay) You can only imagine how excited my daughter is. All she keeps saying is – “Thanksgiving is in 2 weeks – 2 weeks – only 2 weeks” and I know that really translates to: ‘daddy is almost home’.

And of course, with the excitement of homecoming around the corner also comes a whole load of other emotions too – for both my daughter and I which I will be talking about in my upcoming blog posts.

Coming back to my routine blogging from neglecting it for some days now, I feel that it still fits everything going on in my life currently because it’s as though a new chapter is being written about my life on the homefront. Even though the actual deployment may be coming to an end, I know (very well) that experience is yet to be over when my husband is home and that even more chapters will be written.

Until next post…

Forever Young

As my birthday approaches all I have been thinking about is what another year means for me. Am I any wiser? Am I more experienced? Am I more wrinkled or saggy? Do I appear older? Should I feel old? Am I more mature or should I be more mature? Is time flying past me?

As a child all the way to teenage years I looked forward to my birthday as nothing more than presents, cake, and more privileges. It was a day I had the ‘license’ to do whatever I wanted! Birthday parties and outings were planned – every year out-doing the last. I especially remember my Sweet 16. I had an extravagant (Spanish-family type) party that resembled a wedding. I wore a big poofy white dress and had my cotillion in red flamenco-style dresses and the boys in black suits. My husband, then boyfriend, was also there is in his rank-less military uniform straight from boot-camp. I remember thinking that day I had became a real woman – 16 was the age of true maturity and independence – yea right! As the years past on, 18 was the last birthday I celebrated with the same enthusiasm I had as a child. After that, it was just another reason to go out and get together. 

Then 25 came and went.

That was the year that ‘age’ had a new definition. I wondered if now is when I could no longer be considered young or at least mid-20’s? Was it time to be called a late twenties woman and to accept that I was aging and had to start taking life seriously (or more so than before)? Yet, at the same time, I fell into the trap of anti-aging and began to ponder ways and ideas to manipulate my body’s normal transitions.

Women for years have been manipulating their bodies and appearances to come across as beautiful and young within their culture. Women succumb to many cultural traditions, from Chinese foot-binding, Burmese neck rings, African Lip Rings, Victorian corsets, to today’s anti-aging creams, plastic and cosmetic surgery, extreme dieting, and constant beautification of hair, nails, and make-up. All aiming to be the youngest, most beautiful, and sought-out woman in their community. 

You see, I come from a family of straight-forward ANTI-aging women. As a child I knew very well to never ask a woman their age. I watched my Mamita (my maternal grandmother) buy expensive creams until she found the perfect one, immediately dye her hair at the site of anything gray, constantly use lotions, and would hear her pass down secrets to my mother. The women in my family are always in constant worry about finding a wrinkle or gray strand of hair. Some more than others have facials on schedule, have nightly cream regimens, get their nails done weekly, never miss a hair dye appointment, get cellulite reducer massages, and even have had plastic and cosmetic surgery.

Basically, the older my sister and I get, the younger the older women in our family get.

My Mamita today is in the late stages of Alzheimers (bless her heart) but even with the disease her mind never ceases from asking for her lipstick – how is her hair – wanting her nails painted – and quickly snapping if you mention aloud she is ‘old’. I laugh with a heart full of love in her presence and I wonder if this is the future that awaits me – wrinkly, gray, saggy, soft, and in denial.

My Mamita at 81 years old

My Mamita, today at 81 years old!

I myself am in no way resistant to this anti-aging mentality the women of my family are infected with. I do wear make-up daily (cover-up, blush, and lip gloss at minimum), I do own a ‘pick me up’ bra, I dye my hair when I get bored of the color (which, actually, within the past year I have only done once), and I don’t normally mention my age. But – I don’t get my nails done, I have never had a facial, my lotion of choice is plain ‘ole Jergens, I only get a massage if my body hurts, and I have never done any extreme forms of beautification (such as purchasing expensive mascara).

My fears of aging are more in the lines of health and time passing me by too quickly and not completing my bucket list. We all know the saying, “they grow up so fast”, when looking at children. But I remember as a child, the days felt long, a month felt like forever, and a year felt like an eternity and now, within the past two years – days fly by, a month is quickly gone, and last year felt like yesterday. The older I get – the more I appreciate a second, a minute, an hour, a day – because if you’re not paying attention – it will pass you by.

I welcome my birthday as I did any other. Looking back into the past year I can’t believe where life has taken me. Last year, celebrating my birthday in Virginia, it never even crossed my mind that I would be back home with family and my husband would be deployed. I never knew I would spend a birthday without my husband. I never knew I had the courage and strength to raise my two girls alone – all while keeping my deployed husband active in their hearts, minds, and lives. I never knew that I would finally start sharing my writing and be out of the professional workforce. I never knew what it meant to truly lose a loved one. I never knew what it meant to see others around you begin to get sick. I never knew what it meant to be alone. I never really knew how much I took for granted. I never knew I would be feeling this way on my birthday.

Our birthdays are not about aging and appearance, it is about our life, our wisdom, our experience and that is why to the people who love us we will always be beautiful – even at 81! I look forward to growing old – because it will mean another year God has blessed me, another year I have my children, another year filled with experiences, and another year with my love.

I will embrace every wrinkle and every gray hair with open arms because they are symbols (or scars) of my life. Just this past year I have learned so much more about myself, my marriage, and my family – I can’t wait to see what I will know in the years to come.

I may never really aim to be forever young, even though I am partially anti-aging. All I know is that I will always aspire to be healthy and young at heart – and will greet life and its experiences as they come.

Tomorrow I will welcome an extra candle on my cake. It will represent my new wisdom, my new knowledge, and my new life (and possibly a wrinkle or two). And of course, you all know what my wish will be.

(Miss you beh, even more so on my Birthday)

To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent –

that is to triumph over old age.


— Thomas Bailey Aldrich

The (im)Perfect Military Wife

When one thinks of a military wife, the immediate poster type super mom and trophy wife comes to mind – which is the Perfect Military Wife. She is sweet, calm, always kind and sincere, knows everything about the military from ranks to benefits and history. She carries herself proper and her children are always well-behaved and neatly groomed. Her home is spotless and beautifully decorated. She cooks everything from breakfast to dessert, and welcomes everyone over for dinner. She is as fit as her husband and is always educating others on healthy eating habits. She is the most understanding woman you know and never complains about life in the military. She is involved one way or another in every event on base and volunteers her time constantly to anything related to the military.

Other military wives look up to her in admiration and constantly seek ways to resemble her in any form. You can read about her in popular military magazines and newspapers and see her receive awards and certificates of appreciation. She never has an excuse to help others and is the first person on line to help her community. Each and every task, errand, chore, and event is done with a big bright smile. Her husband, family, and the military is her air – life to her is about keeping it altogether, happy, and (well, like her) perfect.

Every military wife knows what it takes to be the super-military wife/mom. Our capes hang in our closets and the third invisible arm is always ready for any situation. We often hear about how strong, patient, tolerant, understanding, and loving the military wife is – and even though this all true in just about all military wives – we fail to hear about the (im)perfect wife that at times lives dormant within all of us and for some, more often than not.

The (im)perfect military wife has some of the same characteristics as the perfect one. She is kind, sweet, sincere, and loving. However, she may not always be in her Sunday best when shopping in the commissary. She can be found in the aisle of diapers and chicken with no make-up, an un-ironed shirt, comfortable mothering flats or sneakers, in a ‘bad hair-day’ cap, and possibly in (gasp) sweatpants or track-suit, all with a frazzled face.

When asked her husband’s rank, her cluttered mind may result in her quickly forgetting and pausing to think about it. Same goes for the chain of command, the ranks and their corresponding insignia. She has yet to learn every single acronym that exists in the military but still smiles and nods when confronted with one in conversation. She lacks the knowledge and detail of all military history but can throw a great BBQ for fourth of July.

When it’s time to pack up and move again to the next duty location – she is almost never organized but instead jittery and stressed. She usually waits until the last few days to pack or until the morning the movers come to put the ‘untouchables and valuables’ to the side. And even though she has done it a hundred times – Google is where she gets all her information (every single time) about Tricare, DEERs, entitlements, ID processes, and such.

The (im)perfect military wife strives to be healthy and fit, but when emotionally drained she loves to indulge on cupcakes and cookies and prefers the couch and a chick-flick as opposed to a treadmill and water bottle. A meal for the family sometimes comes from a frozen box that mysteriously converts into a warm meal when placed in the square magical electronic thingy. She fancies the thought of hosting a dinner or just coffee and sometimes even plans the whole event – but when it comes down to inviting, her shyness to meet and talk to new people shoves those ideas to the side. And when invited to similar events, in addition to the shyness, the anxiety of speaking about possible military topics she is not fully informed on take over and she declines the invite.

When deployment comes along, no matter how long, she temporarily gets upset at Uncle Sam and cries while cursing the military for taking her love away. She momentarily resents her husband for leaving her behind and then cries for the mishmash of feelings she is having. She yearns for husband daily and misses him constantly. She easily becomes vulnerable to sleep-less nights, toddler-like break downs, going over her budget, and forgetting the car needs an oil change.

She allows her children to misbehave every now and then when daddy is away. She sometimes spoils them in an effort to take away the sadness of deployment in their eyes. The children scream, cry, pout, and have tantrums every so often – but mostly when in crowded places. At times they beg for candy on the grocery line and even for a balloon on a stick all while she frantically searches for her ID card in order to shop. They spill ketchup on their shirts and are incapable of keeping their hair neatly done throughout the entire day.

The home of the (im)perfect military wife is just like her – (im)perfect. Piles of laundry await folding on the coach and there is usually something in the dishwasher, be it clean or dirty. Now and again the garbage overflows – all depending if the husband is deployed or not. People with allergies to dust must always give a 48 hour notice prior to visiting. And the dogs roam free like the kings and queens of the castle (need I say more).

Every year she aims to be more involved and active in the community and base events. She aspires to volunteer and ‘make a difference’ but her mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion limit her as she realizes she may just not be as ‘strong’ and put together as those military wives who do. You definitely don’t read about her in magazines and newspapers and you may not even notice her if she was right next to you.

The (im)perfect military wife and perfect military wife may be different in their public appearance, mannerisms, and child-rearing ways but the core of what makes a military wife is unchangeable.

No matter the situation a military wife never loses her love, support, understanding, and patience for her husband and the military. The military wife at the end of the day is able to balance and multi-task the day’s priorities. She has the power of cure-all kisses for her children and enjoys any moment spent with them (good or bad) because being in a military family you quickly learn how to appreciate time spent together. Although it may be expressed differently, a military wife always misses her husband when he is away.

A military wife truly cares for others, especially other military wives. They try to be involved at any level – even if it means donating items or monetary gifts anonymously. A military wife knows what sacrifice is and takes it with a grain of salt. She smiles when it comes to moving (again) only because she is aware that her reaction will reflect in her children’s reaction. A military wife never likes pity and finds it difficult to accept assistance. Most importantly, she prides herself in her family, her husband, and her country.

So next time you are on base or in the commissary and you notice the (im)perfect wife in her untied sneakers, track suit, hair in clip, with screaming and crying children searching for her car keys – before you say “oh my, look…” remember that she too is a military wife. She too is strong. She too is brave. She too is caring. She too is missing her husband. She too some days is me and she too some day may be you.

Do You Really Want to Know?

A friend of mine recently found herself in a bit of a rut due to circumstances relating to her career path. Although she now feels comfortable with her decisions – she is experiencing a sense of emptiness. As though internally her hope is dwindling from being unaware of what may happen next and what the future holds – saying to herself: “I wish I knew what life had in store for me”.

I shared a little story with her about my daughter.

My daughter gets school lunch almost every day (almost – because I obviously omit the days I know she won’t eat what’s available). When I first got the weekly menu I began to read off her meals for each day of the week and she stopped me. She said to me that she doesn’t want to know until that morning on the way to school (my daughter is always very ‘clear’ in what she wants). When I asked her why – she basically said to me because it would make it ‘boring’ and she wouldn’t be ‘as excited’.

I explained to my friend that – well, to a 6 year old, the world is limited to life seen in bliss and with no responsibilities and to her excitement is vivid in little things like her lunch menu. To us, obviously our lunch menu is more of a minute issue compared to what life truly encompasses – but even so, as much as we think ‘if only we knew what life has in store for us” is beneficial, it would take away the journey, the rollercoaster, the highs, the lows, the laughter, the tears, the excitement! All this which makes us grow, learn about ourselves – and (most significant) make us who we are.

To a military wife knowing ‘what’s in store’ sounds very appealing to the listening ear. The thought of knowing every ‘next’ duty station, every ‘next’ new job, every ‘next’ new school for my daughters, every ‘next’ home, every ‘next’ deployment, and well – every ‘next’ everything – all gleams at me like sun rays on a fall-like day. What an attractive idea – to know! Or is it really?

As much as I like to plan ahead – I don’t feel ‘knowing’ would be as charming as the tempting thought. Even though my perpetual desire to be organized is alive and well within me – I also find myself unable to make decisions as small as chocolate or vanilla so thus – not knowing, more often than not, works for me.

My husband’s return home from deployment is getting nearer and nearer. I am oblivious to the precise date and I want it to stay that way until it’s so close I can touch it. For me, knowing my husband’s exact return date would, of course fill me with joy and load me with exuberance – but alongside – hand in hand would be eagerness, can’t breathe type anxiety, irrepressible tears, and an overall overwhelming feeling. I would prefer to just continue upon my journey of deployment passing each second, minute, hour, day, week, and month as it approaches.

Not knowing has so far made and persistently molds me into who I am. I never imagined publicly posted my writings in the form of a blog – let alone its birth being from being my experiencing deployment on the home front. So here I am – exposing a fragment of my existence not knowing what may or may not await me in the end, but it’s a chance I am willing to take because (not only does my faith carry me far) but no matter what I do, things will happen as it has already been written (I have never been a fan of – “things happen for a reason”).

That luring idea of ‘knowing what’s next’ echoes in our society like the plague. But the grass is not always greener on the other side. Culture pounds us with fortune tellers, horoscopes, palm readers, and other forms of divination – all in the effort to know about the future. However, even when we turn to those uncanny sources – most individuals take it upon themselves to convert the experience into a future’s buffet, picking and hearing only the pleasant and the cheerful – eliminating the frightening and the worrisome.

It’s not uncommon to ‘want to know’. It’s an old-age desire that can be tracked back millions of years ago and I am in no way immune to it. We lustfully want to know the outcomes of our future – if it will end up as we planned. Some at times may find themselves satisfied with their present that they may disregard the thoughts of the future or for moments decelerate the thinking – but then there are moments when one may obsessively search for answers about the future. But even if you accomplish your desire to know and obtain your future – then what? Do you want to just assemble yourself onto a life on a conveyor belt? Life where the pleasure of climbing, falling, and getting back up is of no meaning because the end result is already known? Don’t get me wrong – I do like seeing at least the light at the end of the tunnel – but I’m okay with waiting until I get there to see what awaits me.

Therefore I say to my friend and others who find themselves in a similar situation – don’t worry about what’s coming up or what’s in store for your future – not only would it be futile but because (more importantly), like my daughter says, – it would be boring and not as exciting 

You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of.  You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.  ~Albert Camus

“Stillness” post Re-posted :)

I was recenly contacted by Jocelyn Green, military wife and author of “Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives”. She asked if she could re-post my blog entry “Stillness” on her site – of course, I said yes.

So not only do I recommend you make a visit to her site to see my entry – but her site is LOADED with great articles and personal stories written by military wives and authors about spirtual encouragement.

Enjoy 🙂

PS: Finally added the Military Links page!

Military Links

I have been working on putting together a links page on my blog to websites relating to the military that I myself have found useful, resourceful, and informative.

I have managed to put some together along with a little blurb (my blurb) about each one.

Feel free to stop by the page regularly – I will be updating and adding links as often as I can.

I am also working on putting together a links page specific to military children – if you have any suggestions please feel free to contact me .