I’m Not Just a Spouse, and You’re Not Either

  
I stood in line at the Pass and ID office, patiently awaiting my turn. Unbeknownst to me, my military dependent ID had conveniently expired a few weeks after my husband deployed, and was confiscated at the front gate en route to the children’s Christmas party. Oops.

Fast forward several months later, and now that homecoming is a few weeks away, I finally got my act together to get my ID replaced. In heels and a business suit, I left work early for my appointment. When I finally made it to the front of the line, I told the the gentleman behind the desk my ID had expired and I needed to replace it. With a smile and no ill-will, he asked, “Are you a contractor ma’am? Or just a spouse?”

The words reverberated through my ears like nails on a chalkboard.

I might not be a contractor, but I’m not “just” a spouse.

Click here to continue reading on SpouseBuzz.com

Military Love Letters: 1776 vs. 2016

  
It’s been 240 years since the Revolutionary War ended, and our spouses still need our support on the home front.

If you close your eyes, I bet you can picture the scene in Yorktown in 1776. The sweeping grass and rolling hills of Virginia. The men in their uniforms: the tall boots, fitted pants, the tails of a cropped jacket whose hand-adorned golden buttons mimic soldiers in a straight line. The wigs, the pirate-like hats, the bayonets in hand. Now, add the low rumble of a snare drum, the distant sound of a cannon. Just slightly different than the battlefields of today, right? No wigs, smaller hats, more practical uniforms, not to mention the vastly evolved warfare.
And, yet, some things don’t change: valor, commitment, and the importance of good communication with your spouse.

In honor of the 4th of July, SpouseBuzz presents an actual excerpt from a letter from George Washington to his wife Martha (apparent typos included on purpose) … followed by what it would sound like in an updated version for today’s military couple.

Click here to continue reading this post on SpouseBuzz.com

There’s no place like home: a perfect frame of mind

Christmas in July. It’s about to happen. But first, a story:

Growing up in a large family (I’m the second of six children), every day was loud. That scene in Home Alone where the cousins are all together and no one can find who actually owns the house? That’s the perfect representation of Thanksgiving at my parents’. It’s the best kind of chaos. After college, I couldn’t wait to trade life in KC for a life in DC. I had big dreams of my own high rise condo overlooking the city, oversized sunglasses, high heels, and a fabulous life. Instead, I could barely afford to rent someone’s futon (which I did for five months), and kept all of my shoes in the trunk of my car, along with a plastic dresser I’d visit every morning before walking the few blocks back to that first floor apartment to change clothes (in the pantry no less, while my roommate was in the shower). My sunglasses, while large, were knock-offs I bought from a peddler in Georgetown. I was a hot mess, but I was sort-of living the dream. I never thought when I left home that would be it; I never imagined I wouldn’t somehow end up in Kansas. Rather, I thought I’d do the DC thing for a bit, someday get married and live next door to my older sister where our kids would run between our houses interchangeably. I someday (eight years ago) did get married, and both my sister and I did have kiddos, but instead of next door, we’re over 1000 miles apart. And instead of Kansas, we went to San Diego. And then Guam. And then the East Coast. Dorothy was right on two fronts: we are definitely not in Kansas anymore, and there’s no place like home.

Nobody really knows what they’re getting into when they get married, and I certainly didn’t have any idea what to expect as a military spouse. As a couple, you expect some separation. Although they never get easy, you learn how to handle deployments. But one thing I never quite prepared for was how much I’d miss home. My siblings are all back in Kansas. That sister I planned to live next to? She’s a five minute drive from my parents. With my husband gone again, our house feels too quiet, all the time.

What does this have to do with Christmas in July? Everything. Fitz approached me about a promotional opportunity, and I was instantly interested. When I started writing the Deployment Diary two years ago, I was almost immediately approached to sponsor products, partner with businesses, and help sell things. But here’s the thing: I don’t want to peddle insurance for a company I don’t use. I’m not going to promote a bank I’ve never set foot in. In good faith I don’t feel like I should try to sell you on something I have no interest in buying myself. My primary focus as a writer has always been authenticity. I believe there is great value in vulnerability, and ultimately I want readers to connect with our family’s stories, whether it’s finding hope and encouragement in the difficult times, or discovering something as simple as camaraderie. That said, I have yet to sponsor a product. Until now. Because… I actually think this one is amazing. And, not only did they give me one to test-run, they gave me TEN MORE to GIVE AWAY.

Ten.

To give away to military families.

I feel like Oprah.

So. Here’s the background on why you want one, and then the info of how to enter.

“Fitz was built to help connect loved ones and families and enable sharing, watching, and re-living memories in a modern and easy way. Fitz Frame is closing the distance between family members and loved ones with simplified, real-time photo sharing. With a WiFi enabled photo frame controlled entirely from a mobile device, you can send photos and videos to a Fitz photo frame from anywhere in the world, instantly.”

Fitz’s digital photo frames are different because of the connectedness they encourage. Anyone with an invitation to your frame (which you send out sooo easily from the free FitzFrame app) can upload pictures directly. When my husband pulls into port in a few days and has WiFi? He can upload a video message for the kids. I was making dinner the other night when a picture of my sister-in-law dancing with my dad at her wedding popped up. Those cousins I long to have running in our front door? Well, they’re scrolling across a screen in my kitchen instead, and my kids are ecstatic. You can have multiple users, from anywhere in the world, all uploading to your frame with the click of a button. It is MAGICAL, and truly the perfect gift for a military family to stay connected with one another, parents, siblings, and grandparents as well.

How to enter? Comment on this post with why your military family wants a Fitz frame by midnight eastern time on July 3. You’ll receive an extra entry if you share this post on Facebook, and another entry if you share on Twitter. Be sure to hashtag #FitzFrame Giveaway wherever you post it, and let me know in your comment that you did, so you’ll get all the credits you deserve! Winners will be selected in a drawing on 4th of July. And if you don’t win? Here’s another another reason to buy a Fitz frame: Fitz offers a 20% discount to all military families on their website: https://fitzframe.com/pages/military, with the code “MilitaryFam” at checkout.

There might not be any place but home, but a special thanks to Fitz for closing the distance!

 

 

 

 

 

Join the Journey: Humans on the Homefront

Two things that inspire me most: our military families and Humans of New York. Thus Humans on the Homefront was born. Join me on the journey as we tell the stories of the brave men and women who serve our nation, and the incredible people who love them.

Follow the journey here: http://www.humansonthehomefront.com

 

4 Lessons Military Spouses Taught Me

jolene.JPG

We live in a society that teaches us not to have regrets. We are told to go all-in, all the time; pour your heart and soul into everything you’re doing.

For the most part, I subscribe to this mentality, but given the chance, there are a few things I’d gladly jump in a time machine to correct. Like the day I got my flip flop caught in a revolving door at my brand new job after changing out of my heels: could have done without that.

More aching on my heartstrings is the first time I received an email from a fellow military spouse, inviting me to have coffee.

A month before my husband and I were married, he took orders to San Diego. Determined to keep my job in Washington D.C., I commuted the first six months after our wedding. We were newly married, but I was living out of a suitcase. Somewhere in there a woman emailed me, introducing herself and inviting me to get together. We were going to be in Guam at the same time, and she had previously lived there. I thanked her, but ultimately blew it off. I didn’t consider myself a “typical” military spouse – whatever I thought that was. I had a good job, no kids, my own identity and a big ‘ole chip on my shoulder. I didn’t have time for coffee.

Click here to continue reading on SpouseBuzz.com

 

The Democratic Candidates and Their Foreign Policy Strategies

We’ve covered taxes.

We brought you the GOP candidates’ strategies for our troops.

Next up, the game plans of the 2 remaining democratic candidates’ (Secretary Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders) for everything from involvement in the Middle East to working with our allies around the globe. While Senator Sanders is the former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, as former Secretary of State, Clinton has the upper hand in foreign policy experience.

What would either of these democratic candidates’ presidency mean for our military families?

Click here to continue reading on NextGenMilSpouse.com

Washington Post Op-Ed

As published in the April 22, 2016 paper

Noticing the growing pile of rejected dresses, the saleswoman asked me what I was shopping for. I responded, “I know what I want, I just can’t seem to find it. Something conservative but cute, shorter than work length, longer than club length. I’m not opposed to a romper, but don’t really want a skirt. Help.” She laughed and asked me if I was shopping for a specific event. The words formulated in my brain but I couldn’t get them out. I didn’t want to tell her.

I couldn’t wait for the weekend reunion of my colleagues from the Bush-Cheney administration at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, but I didn’t want to say that. “A company picnic,” I said, “Nothing too riveting, but I’ll see co-workers I haven’t seen in a while.” As I looked in the mirror (having found the perfect shirt dress), I thought: Why did I say that? This event was exciting; I was going to see a former president, vice president, first lady and countless friends. When did I become so embarrassed to be a Republican?

Click here to continue reading this post on washingtonpost.com

An Open Letter to My Military Children

An Open Letter to My Military Children http://wp.me/p1d7d0-9tN

My dearest little ones,

Long before your father and I met, we were raised to believe we could do anything. We were taught to work hard, give of ourselves, and the difference between right and wrong. We were given separate dreams for similar things: to find a lifetime of love and laughter, purpose and promise. So much of those things we found in each other, and in turn, in you. But even before I knew him, your father found his purpose. He joined the United States military. He was compelled to serve his country as generations before him had, and it’s a choice he continues to make every day. That incredible decision, while always noble, isn’t always easy. But it is a choice.

As you grow older, my dear children, you will learn that all our choices bear consequences. While it may seem that your father and I (and the Department of Defense) make the decisions for our family in a vacuum, it’s important that you know we are thinking of you every step of the way. While the military will demand much from our family, it is our responsibility to uphold the promises we have made to you.

We can’t give you permanence, but we promise you stability. 

We will move. You will have to navigate a new town, with new friends, in your new school, while we unpack boxes in another new house. You’ll have a different room, different zip code, different teachers and different routines. While every move will bring unique challenges, some things will not change. We will hold you to the same standards no matter where we live. You will still be expected to be kind, gracious, and respectful, even if your new classmates aren’t. We know it’s hard. Moving is hard on us, too. Places will come and go and so many things will change, but our family will be your constant. Through uncertainties, you will find resilience.

Click here to continue reading this post on SpouseBuzz.com

 

7 Times Military Luck Was Not on Our Side

Sometimes the luck of the Irish strikes on our side, and sometimes that greedy leprechaun takes his pot of gold and runs as fast as he can the other way from you. Military life is the ultimate gamble. Maybe you’ll get those orders to Italy you’re hoping for, or maybe you’ll get Oklahoma instead. Maybe your husband makes it home from deployment in time for the birth of your first child, or maybe he deploys the month you’re due. Whether you’re smiling at the end of the rainbow or crying into a bowl of Lucky Charms, join SpouseBuzz in celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day with our seven lucky spouses, and these, our seven unlucky ones:

Click here to continue reading this story on SpouseBuzz.com

7 Times Military Luck Was on Our Side

Every March we celebrate the Irish heritage we may or may not have. Whether you take in a parade, live in a city where the rivers are dyed green or boycott corned beef and cabbage all together, one thing we can agree on is that it’s always nice when the luck of the Irish is on your side.

Our two-part feature (this is the first installment!) on military luck highlights spouses who won big, and then those who may have bet big, but walked away empty-handed. Between PCSing, Space-A travel, weddings, and more, military luck is one giant game of roulette. Read on for the stories from seven lucky spouses who hit the jackpot.

Click here to continue reading this post on SpouseBuzz.com

%d bloggers like this: