09 October 2015

STOP Telling People How to Talk to Me

When you go to a museum there are little placards with information about the one of a kind piece of work you are viewing... without that tidbit you'd have questions. No one would be offended if you wanted to know more about a unique piece of art... so don't get your feelings hurt when people have questions about our unique way of life.

I'm a little frustrated with the self satisfying pieces flying around out there like "Things you should never say to a military spouse, fiance, girlfriend, parents......." These types of articles like to pull out examples of seemingly innocent comments made by well intended people; they then penetrate these simple statements with gross exaggerations of insensitivity and intentional cruelty. 


Here's an idea - be a little more charitable in your thoughts; maybe we as a collective won't be so doggone offended all the time. Perhaps if our community were less caustic, those who are trying to be supportive wouldn't find it so difficult to provide the empathy and sympathy we need. On the reverse of that - you won't be so shocked by who people are, if you stop trying to tell them who they should be when they are around you.

Exhibit A:
Military Spouse (MS): Ugh, Johnny is deployed for 9 months. 

Friend/Family (FF): Bob is gone for business weeks at a time, I know deployment must be hard on you. 

Reaction 1: What a stupid moron. WEEKS? WEEKS AT A TIME? You have no idea what its like what kind of person would compare a business trip to deployment!!!! How insensitive!!!!

Reaction 2: She's right, it doesn't matter if they're gone for a week or a year we miss them. It is hard on the family either way. Nice that someone is trying to understand what we're going through. It isn't exactly the same, but she understands what it is to miss the person she loves and how it must be tough for us.


WHOA!!! You mean it is possible that someone who hasn't walked my exact path might have a generalized frame of reference through which they are expressing empathy and sympathy for my personal situation? Noooooooo! Yes, yes it is possible. Your friend isn't saying that a business trip is the same, she is saying she can IMAGINE what it is like because she knows how much she misses her husband for a short period of time and it must be that much harder for you. She didn't say it was the same. We don't all push the same size baby out of our lady parts, but doggone if we don't understand that it freakin hurts (if you're going to throw the c-section vs natural vs drugs debate into the comments you've already missed the point and you should go back to looking things up on pinterest).


Exhibit B:
MS: Ugh, Johnny just got home from being away for 6 weeks, he comes home they put him on duty for 3 days then he leaves again for 4 months. 

FF: Jease, honey I don't know how you do it. Bob goes hunting for a month and I fall apart I could never be a military spouse. 


Reaction 1: Doesn't know how I do it? What the hell is that supposed to mean? Its not like I'm super woman. I need help too would it be too much to ask for someone to say "wow that's so hard" I mean really like I'm some other life form or something.

Reaction 2: Yep, it isn't for everyone. Took many years, ups and downs to learn how to keep everything running smoothly when we're apart. I still make mistakes, but its nice to know that someone recognizes its not always as simple as it looks. 

That's right, someone saying they don't know how you do it, isn't a question of your human nature, its an admission of their own lack of exposure. Just like I don't know how someone gets through 12 hours of neuro surgery as the surgeon or the patient. I haven't done it. I don't know what they've been through. I don't know how they've built up their resilience for what they do. I can however be supportive.



Before I get into this last one - let me say this - if you're the non-military family entity here you'd better be a good doggone friend before you ask this question. If you are just a drama digging troll - about face forward march - aka this one isn't for casual conversation.


Exhibit C:
MS: Well, I have to be honest. I'm a little more worried about him this time. Something feels different. 

FF: What if he doesn't come back?


Reaction 1: WHO ASKS THAT KIND OF QUESTION? Of course he'll come back. I can't think about if he doesn't cause then it might happen. How disgusting. How dare you!!!

Reaction 2: I don't like to think about it, but we're prepared. I know what his final wishes are, things he'd like the kids to know. He's made sure we'll be ok. I would be a mess, but I know I have people who would help me put the pieces back together. 

Bad things happen. They happen everyday. How many other professions require 18 year olds to write a will? Declare who will be responsible for the disposition of their remains? Assign beneficiaries for hundreds of thousands of dollars in life insurance? Instead of being offended by such a realistic question, perhaps we as a community should face the facts and support those who need help finding answers to life's hardest questions. There is nothing wrong with being prepared for the worst - or horrific (yes traumatic injury occurs) - and being willing to share those plans with the people you trust to be there for you.


Now I'm sure some of you are reading this and seething at me for whitewashing the insensitivity of the civilian population. You'll say I'm playing into the hand of those who find military spouses to be, self catering overly sensitive prima-donas, well in all honesty - that is what I see when we as a community are constantly playing a politically correct conversation game. The last thing we need is people to walk on egg shells around us. Ask your questions, wonder how we do it, tell us you couldn't handle it... I'd prefer you be honest with me instead of picking your words so you don't offend me. When we try to muzzle our friends and family, their opinions are based on perceptions instead of facts. Let them ask, comment and debate - maybe you can waylay their fears, calm their concerns even dispel rumors and myths.

If I can handle my husband being away for 9+ months, not knowing when/if he'll be home, wondering if he'll be the same and worrying about any number of our friends and family members also in service... trust me I can handle your well intended questions. I'd be happy to explain how I do it, why it is important and what we plan on doing when this chapter is behind us. Better to have someone ask me to my face, than talk behind my back.

When its all said and done. Don't tell people how to talk to you. Don't tell people what they should and shouldn't say. Let people be who they are, express their thoughts and be true to self. Its much easier to get to know someone if you aren't telling them who they should be.

XO XO & Stuff,


Jinger

30 September 2015

No Just Means No

This is going to be a tough one to write without sounding like a narcissistic twit, but I think it is important. There have been plenty of articles written in a general self help tone, but I'm not really the self help type. Here's the basics.

My son came home frustrated and angry. He'd been required to work in a group with 2 other students and he didn't want to. He was tired of working on projects with other people where they contributed very little, he performed the majority of the work and the entire group receives equal credit. I get it. I understand. I want him to know that he's right it isn't fair - but I didn't want to pull the typical "life isn't fair, be a team player".

We talked briefly about why he needed to learn how to work with people. I told him that he needs to learn not only the subject matter, but how PEOPLE work and how to spot people that DON'T, WON'T or CAN'T work. Its an important lesson in life so you don't spend decades allow people to walk all over you. I wanted him to learn that there are people you can and should say NO to.

I was that person. The one who wanted to be a "good leader". The one who wanted to be "a good helper"... the one who always said "Yes". It's taken nearly 15 years for me to fully embrace the power of NO. It has been a liberating and enlightening experience.

I'll start simple and go from there.

Direct Sales. We've all been invited. Tupperware, Scentsy, Pure Romance, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef and my current favorites - Rodan & Fields, Younique and It Works. Guess what. We all go don't we. Even if we don't want to. We don't want our friends to feel bad. We don't want their party to be unsuccessful. Well guess what. I HATE TUPPERWARE!!!!! I went to a party. I spent $60 on cups. The cups are gone. It was a waste of time and money. So, the next time I got invited I said..... wait for it... NO. Check this out. The party still happened. My friend still had fun and got her "host rewards", and she and I are still very good friends. Why? Because she respects the fact that I do NOT like tupperware but I love her.


What NO means:
I don't want to.
I don't feel well.
I'm not into it.
I'm not available.
I'm tired.
I've got other plans.
I don't have plans and I don't want to.
I need a nap.


What NO doesn't mean:
I don't care about you.
I don't love you.
I don't like you.
I don't want you to be successful.

No just means, No.

People who respect the needs of others will not be offended by your inability or unwillingness to participate in their event, project or group. They'll understand that people have limits, and we as human beings have certain inalienable rights - and one of those is the pursuit of happiness - which can at times mean making time to do NOTHING.

So do me a favor. If you are overwhelmed. If you are stressed. If you feel like you are doing TOO MUCH. Just say no. If someone asks you to babysit, and it is the ONE NIGHT you and your family will have a night alone and you just really want to hang out with them ----- SAY NO!!! If someone asks you to volunteer to lead a group, and deep in your heart you know you don't have the passion or time for it ------ SAY NO ------ someone else WILL step up if given the chance. If someone invites you to a party that you don't want to go to or a show you don't want to see or a concert you can't afford ------ SAY NO ----- if they are a friend they'll appreciate your honesty.

Now all of that being said, of course there are times when we sacrifice personal time and comfort to support other people in our life. Those instances, new baby, illness, loss or death - are not every single day. If you are constantly saying yes and burning the candle at both ends you'll have nothing left when those hard times come.

Say NO - so you can have the time and energy to say YES to the things that fill your heart and soul.

XOXO & Stuff,

Jinger

07 September 2015

House Full of Happy... almost a heart full


Every year that Big Sexy is home we host a large BBQ for all of our friends in the area and family who can make it down. Its a big deal to me. I work hard to get the house ready, Byron and I hunt down the best deals on pork shoulder. Our friend Geoff is our co-pit master and they both tend the smoker for 12-18 hours.

When Byron is away we don't have the BBQ, and to be honest I miss it. I don't get to see friends with their big smiles. The house isn't filled with laughter, running kids or happy chaos. It feels lonely.

Well, last time he was deployed my sister was nice enough to fill the BBQ gap by having her reception at my house.

http://andrealeighphotography.com/

That scratched the itch... the next year things were back to normal and we rocked it for the 3rd annual Brinkley Backyard BBQ (BBB).

http://andrealeighphotography.com/


Well this year with the big guy away... there will be no BBQ. With us heading south in the spring for our last move with the Navy there will be no 4th annual BBB. I was feeling pretty melancholy about it. So, thought I'd invite some friends over for some fun this weekend.

As fate would have it, 90% of the guests are also rolling through a deployment, and we all needed a relaxed afternoon of no rules, grilled food and fun. We had everything from race car rides (thanks to Corey and his Blue Corvette), ice cream truck visits from Happy Howie's (on call for locals). We had a grill master - Josh - who's wife is also deployed cooking up everyone's entrees, and plenty of sides to share. There were pin-ups, minecraft creepers and general shenanigans all night. (I'll update with more pics later)



Sometimes when your heart is feeling a little empty you can find a smile by having a full house.

Thank you to everyone who made the trip down. I appreciate it more than you know.

XO XO & Stuff,

Jinger


01 September 2015

The Truth Hurts... or it makes you laugh til you cry

Recently Nicole Arbour posted the MOST OFFENSIVE VIDEO EVER!!



and I loved every damn second of it. Why? because according to the general public telling the truth, finding humor in the mundane or looking for a reason to laugh WITH each other is an invitation for vagina sand distrobution.

We are so busy worrying about what other people will think or how we should think that we fail to be true to who we are. I'd prefer to know that you are a piece of crap human being that judges people on their appearance, race, job, car, upbringing, ethnicity, sexuality... or music preference. No need to pretend you are "tolerant" be real.

Now back to the humor. I'm the grand daughter of an Italian immigrant. Off the boat. Ellis Island... Italian Immigrant. Here's a freakin brain bomb for you I make some amazing gnocchi, lasagna and a hell of a good Sugo. I don't find it insulting when people assume I carry some awesome legacy from my ancestors.

STFU and go with it. Own who you are and be prepared to laugh at yourself. If you take yourself too seriously NO ONE ELSE WILL.

XO XO & Stuff,

Jinger

21 August 2015

Day 110: Strong, a double-edged sword

You like to smile in my face, pat me on the head and say "good job". You love to tell me how strong I am. What does that mean exactly? I used to think it was a compliment, but I am beginning to see the flip side of that coin.

Apparently if I am "strong" I am supposed to take it - over, over and over again. I am able to ignore when people slight me. People think I am unaware of their words, deeds and intent. Individuals don't think I notice their efforts to undermine my integrity or spirit. If I am "strong" I am expected to forgive and forget - constantly be the "bigger" person and never get my feelings hurt. If I am "strong" it is okay for people to ignore when I ask for help, because it won't bother someone so "strong".

People like that, the mean girls, think people like me can not truly exist. So they find ways to break those who are different, because if there are GOOD people in this world than they must not be one of them. You must be lacking. You must be flawed.... so they can remain perfect.

Well, to those who pander to their own conceit, may you continue to enjoy your narcissistic ineptitude thinking that your comments go unidentified, your actions subtle and your impact genuine. 

The truth is this. 

I am strong, and my efforts are genuine. My joy is real and lasting while yours is derived from the pain of others. There is more to my existence than the superficial subterfuge that defines your life. So, enjoy your gossip binge. Your cackling and laughter. The next time you see me I'll still be strong; you'll still be shallow and cruel.

The world needs us both without ugliness; beauty cannot be fully appreciated. 



XO XO & Stuff, 



Jinger

post script:
There are many more like US - those who care, those who work selflessly, those who feel deeply - than those who only care for themselves. If you're one who gives keep giving and grow stronger through the adversity the hateful crowd provides. We'll win in the long run. You just have to stay STRONG. 


06 August 2015

So Your Sailor Didn't Make Chief

My Sailor waited anxiously everyone around him saying "this year for sure" or "get ready for The Season" and "its your year"... he sat hitting the refresh button or waiting for the CMC to call his name. He studied. He waited. He hoped...

Only to have to call home and say "not this time babe".

Meanwhile facebook is exploding with congrats messages to everyone you know. Your phone is pinging with "did he make it" messages....and your heart is breaking.

You want to be happy for everyone that made it, but so bitter that the demi-gods in Millington were too blind to see the quality human being your Sailor is. You're pissed off that once again THEY messed it up. You want to call someone and chew their ass, and yet you feel helpless on how to help the person you love most deal with this disappointment.


Not once, twice or three times... Four times over the person I consider the most amazing man walking the face of the earth wasn't good enough for the title "United States Navy Chief Petty Officer" (or at least not in the opinion of those sitting the selection boar).


Well... I feel you. I get it. I cussed the Navy at the top of my lungs for four years running. .

I would congratulate those who made "THE LIST"... and I'd hide notifications from them until 16 SEP.

I would respectfully request that those who are highly involved in The Season, refrain from inviting me to fundraisers and events.

Bit my tongue when  someone's girlfriend asked for help picking out her dress for the Khaki Ball. (the girlfriend was my sister and she had no CLUE it was a CPO related thing so well..  big sis had a date and didn't know what to wear).

After all of that I'd take a step back and try to regain my grasp on the suck it up straw I'd used the year before.

I'd like, congratulate and call friends on the BIG DAY when their loved one finally got to wear those highly coveted anchors. I'd choke back tears and bitterness as they'd say thank you and try to be encouraging.

I don't write this to tell you to suck it up or show you some magical silver lining, but to remind you that you aren't alone. Some Sailors are selected their first time before the board; others are pulled from the brink of retirement because the doors to the Goatlocker finally opened to them.

There are some things that are easier said than done, but I tried to be angry privately. I can't tell you how many passive aggressive "I hate the Navy" statuses I typed and deleted. How many smart mouth "yeah well talk to me when the promotion quota is less than 9% then tell me how easy it is to make it" responses I said in my head (and sometimes out loud).

It was difficult to comprehend that my confident and competent husband who gives so much of himself was overlooked and filled with confusion and disappointment. How do I lift up the person who's always been my rock?  I asked HIM what he needed? Want to talk? Want to yell? Want a beer? Just try to be there for them, and when the time is right voice your support and encouragement (you'll know when that is).

At the end of the day that person you love. That hard working freedom fighter. That warrior who sacrifices their time, energy and body for others; is no less a man or woman based on the rank they wear. They are worthy of your love and adoration. You are exactly what they need right now.

So vent, yell at the old goats, swear you'll never get your hopes up again - and love your amazing, hard working, dedicated Sailor as much as you can.

Something earned through hardship and disappointment is so much sweeter than that which is given over easily.
 



Xo Xo & Stuff,

Jinger

23 June 2015

Hey MilSpouse, Is Social Media Killing Your Social Life?

I'm a part of a bunch of Facebook Groups... I've started quite a few and admin others. I run twitter accounts and marketing pages for non-profits and school groups as well as commands. I'm fully invested in Social Media and what it can do for our connectivity to the outside world.

Recently in a Facebook group for spouses of USN Chief Petty Officers - we were discussing WHAT HAPPENED to in person spouses groups? Social activities and events? What was the big change? Where did we go WRONG?

We (seasoned, salty, old spouses... aka been around more than 10 years) see it all the time. A spouse pops up on a social media group:

"Hi I'm Suzy Que, we just moved to across the planet middle of nowhere base and I don't know anyone. I hate it here and am lonely. I hate the fill in branch of service you knew your husband was in when you married him here, and everyone here is horrible and mean."

Which is quickly followed by a plethora of offers from other spouses in that area for playdates, coffee dates, meet ups... all of which are turned down with random excuses as to why that will never work.

The person making the original post remains isolated and lonely, and those offering to help are often left feeling frustrated and confused.


For many military families it (the internet) is one of our only connections to our family back home. At least that's what we tell ourselves. For others its a great way to make new friends. Or it seems that way.

Can the virtual connections you make online truly become lasting relationships, or has social media become the new "real world"?

I'm going to argue that in order to be a true friend, a REAL friend you must step away from the keyboard, put yourself out there and build a face to face relationship.

The hard part?

Well, I don't know about you, but when I go out to meet new people I usually try to look my best (or at least presentable). I think about my kids behaving or perhaps having to find a sitter. I worry about making a good first impression - that's a lie - I don't really care. Either you like me or you don't, BUT - I am quite literally not normal. My point?

When you "socialize" through social media you don't have to get dressed, you don't have to keep the kids quiet... hell you don't have to brush your teeth (gross if you are reading this and haven't brushed your teeth seriously go fix yourself. I'll wait).

There is a bit of risk in meeting someone for coffee the first time. They will see your facial expressions, read your body language - they may even judge you for something you say or do. There is emotional safety in the anonymity of an online persona.  Some of us might find ourselves hiding behind that shield of digital protection, and in the end we will cost ourselves truly valuable assets. PEOPLE.

When you have the flu, your husband is deployed and your family is no less than 4 hours away. A facebook like isn't going to bring your kids dinner and never judge for a second the fact that the house is a mess.

When your grass is getting to long and you can't figure out WHAT THE HELL Murphy did to the mower THIS FREAKING TIME... a tweet isn't going to show you how to switch the fuel tanks and adjust the choke juuuuuuuust right to get 'er up and running.

You must build personal face to face relationships. When you do that you also build this magical thing that cannot be replaced with any keyboard, tablet, mobile device or mouse... TRUST. You have human beings that will come to your side, and you can trust with your darkest hours. You're not worried about what you look like because this IS NOT the first time they've laid their eyes on you. You don't care if the house is a mess because you've been to their house when its been a mess. Its not a big deal if you disagree on some things because you agree on the most important thing - you are FRIENDS.

So get on facebook and post something like "I'm going to X,Y,Z for coffee next tuesday, who's coming with me?" (if you're worried about PERSEC fine, send a message to 20 friends and roll out).

Want to meet people from the same command? Plan a pot luck or a play date. You don't have to rely on the FRG or command to bring people together. You can however let them know your hosting and ask them to put the word out. 

THEN GET OFF FACEBOOK AND GO HAVE SOME FUN WITH ACTUAL LIVE HUMANS!!! One person might show up or twenty might pop in. Who cares? Take some time to talk, laugh and really invest in each other.

Do it again next week, and the week after and the week after (or well maybe once a month if you're less of a social butterfly) you'll be surprised how many people want to unplug and reconnect.

XO XO & Stuff,

Jinger


20 June 2015

Day 48: Is It Over Yet?

There's always a silver lining. 

There's a light at the end of the tunnel.

Look for the bright side.

Well. I looked and right now that bright side is pretty damn far away.

My oven is dead. I have three kids to feed.

Our water is out. I have three kids and myself to bathe, provide drinking water to, toilets to flush...

I've had the stomach flu for 3 days.

The three care packages I sent 6 weeks ago haven't show up yet.

The fuel sensor on the truck has gone bad, and the only orders they're offering my husband are a min of 3000 miles from our home. Which wouldn't suck that bad if it weren't his twilight tour where he'll be looking for a civilian job at the end of it.

Did I mention the stomach flu?

I can't even drink a glass of wine.

I love deployment.

It can't get much more crappy than this... right? Oh I forgot.  There's always tomorrow.

Now someone say some uber sun-shiny happy shit in the comments to cheer me up. No really don't do that. :-) No really you should. It would make me laugh at the freakin' awesomeness of my day.

28 May 2015

Day 23-25 Devil in the Details

You know what they say... about details and that devil. Well I'm so wrapped in the planning of life that I'm having a hard time trying to live it. There's summer plans, baby showers, physical training and work schedules.

Can I keep up? Well I've learned that when I start spinning it's time to start writing. I make my list, check my priorities then make sure what I NEED is getting attention before what I WANT gets me in TROUBLE.

Tonight? I want to stay up and write something brilliant, but I need to sleep. So, sleep it is. Tomorrow... something astounding I promise (well maybe not astounding but at least more thought provoking that this brilliance).

XO XO & Stuff,

Jinger

26 May 2015

Day 20-22 - New Vantage Point, Memorial Day 2015

When I reflect on the piece I wrote Dear America, Please Don't Thank Me,  (for me) it applies to more than Memorial Day. I don't deserve any adoration. I wanted to serve. I was able to serve and I took the opportunity with joy in my heart. The reality is I've never been called to a combat tour. I've never had to save a friend's life on the battle field, or hold them after they were lost. The closest I got was GTMO and jerks in cells. I've never felt worthy of anyone's attention. I've been blessed to be able to serve. I've been lucky to welcome our friends home.

So each year around Memorial Day I honestly feel guilty. I haven't done enough. I didn't DO enough. So my family and I hunted down a memorial service. Wandered a Veterans Cemetery to pay our respects... but it was always random. I just looked for a stone with no flowers and went over. Read the name aloud and hoped that somewhere their spirit was warmed by the sound of their name again. I'd wonder who they were, if they still have family in the area or at all. In the end I felt like what I was doing was superficial.

This year... One of our buddies, Sully was taking part in 60 to 60 ~ Ruck to Remember. I contacted the organizers and requested to be a part of the volunteer crew - have to admit. I was elated when they said YES. I was welcomed with open arms, tasks to complete and honestly joy. It felt really nice to have someone be that happy to see my ugly face.

The event was so humbling. Here are 80+ people carrying their ruck and climbing closer to Arlington through the heat... the dark... over mountains... The atmosphere was calm. I don't think it's because they were tired (trust me they were), but it was just such a quiet reverence. You'd think a group of this size filled with determined and ambitious people would be rowdy at rest points, but it was the opposite.

Veterans, civilians, men, women, young and old. Novices and Hardened athletes from Operation Enduring Warrior... They all sat quietly. Chatting about why they were here. The miles that were still ahead. Who they would visit when they "got to 60". They helped each other with foot care and dressing wounds, blisters and hot spots. They rested and then geared up for the next stretch.

What I found the most inspiring was the connection. Here they were, many strangers linked together in a selfless act to honor the fallen and serve their families. I can only imagine how a Gold Star Family would feel about having their Service Member's name, story and in some cases personal belongings carried throughout this entire march. Each pause filled with Stories of Valor. The participants only goal was to lift up the fallen. To keep their memory alive with each and every step.

I'm not going to share every detail with you. Some are too private. Some hurt too much... others you just have to experience to understand. If you've had a gap in your heart. If you've been searching for a way to DO SOMETHING to truly demonstrate that you REMEMBER and you FEEL the loss of our young men and women... get involved with this group of patriots. Do something more than put a sticker on a window. Ruck up and step off. ((if you aren't ready or able to Ruck - be a Red Shirt. Trust me it is worth it))

I'll see you there, Memorial Day Weekend 2016.



XO XO & Stuff,

Jinger

22 May 2015

Day 19 - Sitting here hoping

Overnight Success never happens over a single night. Even a lottery winner had to go somewhere and buy a ticket. They had to have a plan and execute it... otherwise they'd just be another person who said "I should have..."

Anyway. Tomorrow is coming very soon. I've been working hard for this year's Memorial Day Weekend event and it's less than 8 hours away. When you put something on the calendar for the future it seems so far away then, what seems like suddenly, the day arrives.

As I type there is an O-Course for kids set up, chairs sitting empty waiting for patriotic souls to take residence. Route signs are drying in the garage ready to line the path for our motivated runners who will treat The Colors with the respect they deserve. Participants are resting, or hydrating... or drinking too much thinking "it won't be that bad"... and me?

I'm sitting here hoping.

I hope that tomorrow I will honor the memories of those who've paid the ultimate price. I hope that tomorrow someone driving down the road to hit the beach will see Americans RUNNING with Old Glory blazing a trail and stop for just a moment to reflect on what this weekend is about. I hope that a child eager for time at the pool will pull on Mommy's hand "What's going on in there? I want to do it!!" and that maybe instead of rushing her child along, she'll say yes.

I hope that a Gold Star Mom hears what we are doing and thinks "My son would have loved that" and it brings a smile to her face knowing we are doing it for him.

I hope a fellow Veteran who is struggling with the disconnect we feel from our fellow Americans can see - literally see - that people are willing to stand up and say WE CARE! YOU ARE NOT ALONE.... WE REMEMBER.

May the actions you take this weekend help it be a Happy Memorial Day for our Gold Star Families and those who loved a Service Member who's gone too soon. I've got to get some sleep got a run date with Old Glory in the morning.

XO XO & Stuff,

Jinger ~ We Remember

20 May 2015

Day 17 - Taco Tuesday yeah... I know it's Wednesday

Deployment is such a freaking maddening thing at times. Errands he'd usually run are now being run by me which means the errands that I usually run are being run by me which means me is usually running behind. In this lies the monster. The sleeping dragon that is culinary complacency. Simple sustenance. Fast.. freakin... food.
It is common sense. Really it isn't rocket science...

Kids' Meals x 3 = $12

       Mama Meal = $7

w/ Tax..................$25

After a week you're looking at $100 - $150, over an average Navy deployment you're starin' down the barrel of $3600 - $5400 literally in the toilet. That isn't even counting the times you "treat" yourself to Starbucks or I don't know get fancy and go to BWW for a night. 

After our parent/teacher group meeting, and running to walmart and finding out Blue Eye's bike hadn't been assembled I heard the siren's call. I could see her beckoning me with her beautiful curves and golden arches. I had every intention of buying the kids a carton of nuggets and letting them split a sweat tea. Then I remembered.

I set a goal.

I made myself a promise.

This time around one of my simple goals is to avoid letting a restaurant do the cooking for me as often as I have in the past. Now let me put this in perspective. Within our family we very rarely go out to eat. Almost every afternoon I'll get a text from Big Sexy "need anything"... I'll roll out  a small list (usually veggies) for dinner and he'll grab them on the way home. The exception is Pizza Night - that would be Fridays at our house. Every Friday we grab a couple of pies, dive in and relax. We know that lunch tomorrow is already done, and we go on with our day.

Weeeeell...

During deployments that schedule is out the window, and I've been known to roll through the drive through on the daily. This time? Pizza Night and our once a month feast. NO cheating. That is five times a month I have no work to do, and today was honestly the first day I had to fight it.

As I pulled out of my parking spot with K-Baby crying she was hungry I remembered I didn't eat lunch. Dug through my bag and handed her my banana... forked over my pistachios to the boys and promised everyone we'd have tacos when we got home.

I am proud of this taco dinner. It wasn't fancy. It wasn't elaborate, but it was homemade and a promise made was kept. In the future I'll be sure to have some small snacks on hand in the event my running around leaves them running on empty.

Each step I make toward a goal is just another proving I am stronger than the stress building around me. That an easy out isn't necessarily going to be the better plan.

Hope everyone is having a great night - here's to Taco Tuesday (or Wednesday).

XO XO & Stuff,

Jinger


19 May 2015

Day 16 - Just Another Day

It's been over two weeks. 16 days since he walked away from us. I've got this right? Yep. Yeah... sure... I've got this.

**ping**

IT'S HIM!

Ahhhh just when I'm feeling low, a little modern day love note picks me up. It wasn't a long chat, but each second made me feel a little closer to the man I love. We talked about work, hit up some personal finance questions... figured out where my next tattoo would go. Nothing to award a Nobel over, but it sure helped me feel better.

I don't have much to write today. There was some working out, some school... some baby shower planning for my neighbor.

Today's lesson is simple. Enjoy the moments you have with people, and when you have the opportunity to invest in the smaller pieces of the puzzle to create a larger one - do it. You don't have to make every day be some sort of gigantic event... hell sometimes getting through the day with your sanity in tact is an accomplishment.

Enjoy the details.

Invest in happiness.

Hunt the good stuff...

XO XO & Stuff,

Jinger

18 May 2015

Day 15 - Running on Empty

I haven't been avoiding writing, but when your computer crashes you tend to be left without a keyboard to pound out all your thoughts on.

This weekend was jammed pack. To the point where I couldn't keep track of what day it was.

Friday morning, I joined together with other members of our community to run in honor of fallen Law Enforcement Officers. There were only 7 of us present for the run, but hey that's 6 more than my usual number. I got to run with a friend of mine who's been working diligently to improve her health - and I have to say I couldn't be more proud of her.

Throughout that day at work I felt motivated and excited to be a part of something bigger than myself again. I've missed that since leaving the Army. Later that day I spent time with my neighbors and a new friend from the kids school. Our middle guy FINALLY finished a reader's wheel - and he did so with a much better attitude than we've dealt with before.

Saturday the kids and I woke early to work at the American Legion. We followed that up by running errands and joining some families from the command for a pot luck. We were with peers. People who said goodbye to their loved one the exact same time we did. It was nice to laugh about Murphy's shenanigans. Vent about communications or lack there of, and seek each others' strength on things we were working through.

Sunday was simple... and yet it concluded with a neighbor saving the day by grabbing smore supplies for us after we struck out at all the local spots.

Over the last two weeks we've been keeping busy. We've been dedicated to having a positive deployment. I've tried to hunt the good stuff...

 tonight? I'm tired. I miss my husband and his warmth. I miss him reminding me to SLOW DOWN. I miss his voice when he says "I'm proud of you." I don't sleep well in general, so without him here it only gets worse. I'll fill the quiet hours with some garbage TV... maybe I'll catch up on some reading...

Either way - I have good people and good things happening all around me. Even when the loneliness creeps in I can find solace in the fact that we will navigate through this absence. I will find strength  enough to keep running on fumes (caffeine), so I can make it to tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow is one day closer to home.

XO XO & Stuff,

Jinger

17 May 2015

Dear America, please don't thank me...

Today I'm going to appeal to the American People. Those who perhaps mean well, but in a good nature gesture obscure the true meaning of this sacred day.



It is bound to happen. Each Memorial Day my Facebook notifications begin to chime like a Vegas casino.

 "Thank you for your service"...

"Happy Memorial Day to all our Soldiers"...

But, I need you to know, and understand, that today isn't about me. On this day I do not seek or hope to be thanked. I do not wish for attention to be called to my service. Memorial Day is about my brothers and sisters who've lain down their lives so others, so we all, may live free. This day (or weekend) is somber for us... as it should be for the rest of America.

We don't throw BBQs and parties on September 11th. We don't have a "blow out sale" on Pearl Harbor Day. Americans sit in solemn reflection of the lives lost, and yet Memorial Day - the day set aside to remember 1,321,612 lives GIVEN is chalked up as the flag waiving opening day of Summer.

1,321,612 LIVES GIVEN*

Let that sink in. Some people throw on a stars 'n stripes bathing suit and hit the beach instead of the War Memorial. They're more concerned about finding a good parking spot than finding a service to attend.... or perhaps we've forgotten how deep this day cuts for some.

As a Service Member I've been given the sacred duty of performing final honors for the fallen. I've executed a 21- Gun Salute, carried a flag draped casket. I've had a mother's tears soak my uniform while I battled my own grief in order to maintain my military bearing.  Those aren't just names in the hallowed ground of Arlington, they are my brothers and sisters. I've choked on sobs as the deafening silence of final roll call fills a room. 

There are millions mourning. We are losing young men and women every single day to suicide because the scars have cut too deep or the grief and guilt are too much to carry. There are mothers, spouses, fathers, siblings and children who cannot gain relief because their loved one is gone. There are still 1, 629* Service Members who are unaccounted for... missing... lost. One Thousand Six Hundred and Twenty-Nine families who have no answers.

Memorial Day is for the Lost and Fallen. Memorial Day is an opportunity to stand up and truly show your support for our Gold Star Families. To reach out to our military community and say - if you are struggling we are here! We cannot allow ourselves to lose another...

I ask you to celebrate with purpose. Respect that our Freedoms came at a high and painful cost. Raise your glass to the fallen. Support an event in your area specifically planned in honor of those lost. Take a little bit of that beer money you were going to throw away and support a Gold Star Family. Hunt down a Team RWB chapter and join their 21 Guns WOD with Warriors and physically show the military and Gold Star community that you care, that you haven't forgotten.  On Monday, attend your local Memorial Day Service. Contact the VFW or American Legion in your area and ask how you can honor the fallen - where you can pay your respects.

Veterans and Military Families, appreciate the gratitude and support of the American people, we are humbled by your patriotism, it is an honor and a privilege to serve. We respectfully ask on Memorial Day, in lieu of saying "Thank You for your service!"

Tell the world...

WE REMEMBER.

12 May 2015

Day 9 - Having a Positive Deployment

After a decade of playing the military family game, you know at some point the raw pain of deployment departure will dissipate and things will get back to normal.

It happens slower for some families than others, but eventually you just get used to setting the table with one less plate. You don't remind the kids to remember Daddy and his buddies in their nighttime prayers, it's automatic. There's no need to answer the "where's big sexy" question because everyone knows he's deployed.

THIS IS NOT A BAD THING! When you finally get a grip 2 days, 2 weeks or 2 months in,  it means you've found your feet and now you can climb over the obstacles ahead. In no way does successfully managing your life demonstrate a lack of concern or longing for your service member. On the contrary - communicated the right way - your strength will provide a peace and confidence that will allow your war fighter to focus on Mission First (instead of a leaking faucet 7,000 miles away that they cannot personally fix).

Here's how I find my feet...

1. Preperation:

Even if you are a "salty" spouse go to the pre-deployment brief. Make sure that your expectations are correct. For example, we've gone through our share of deployments already, but the nature of those missions and AOs allowed for almost daily internet connectivity and easy access via MWR or personal resources. This time around is very different. Even though we've gone through the separation before we are learning all new communication techniques based on limited availability. 

Have the following on speed dial (and yes I recommend interviewing them prior to your spouse leaving) Mechanic, Plumber, General Handy-man (or woman) and a PAID babysitter/petsitter. The first three are obvious the last one I recommend because it can be very hard to KEEP asking your friends for help. I however feel no guilt calling up someone we pay to watch the kids (especially so I can treat my friends who keep helping me to a drink).

Finally, prep your family and friends. Let them know if you are horrible at asking for help. ASK THEM to CHECK ON YOU. Then - be honest when they call. Even if all you need is to chat with another human. They'll be happy to help and you - I PROMISE - will feel better knowing they are ready, willing and able to help.

2. Pout Time

You do not need to walk away from the runway, hanger, drill hall or pier with your big girl panties (BGPs) in the full upright and locked position. YOU ARE ALLOWED TO FEEL BAD when the LOVE OF YOUR LIFE leaves for God only knows how long!

That's right. I pout. I usually afford myself a good 72 hour carb-laden, ice cream devouring (kids), alcohol imbibing grump fest. I watch TV, I ignore the house work. I pout.

*This is where #1 Preparation will come into play if you know your pout window is ending, but you'll need help to get out of the funk - schedule a lunch date with a good friend.

3. Pep Talk

After I've pouted. After I've looked around the messy house it's time to grow the hell up and get back on track. Grab your BGPs pull 'em on and buck up. I get the hell over it. I can't cancel deployment so I might as well make the best of the time I have with or without half my soul by my side.

I no kidding look in the mirror and give myself a pep talk "I can do this. It is only ____ ______. He'll be home before I know it, better not let everything fall to pieces."

If that doesn't work - phone a friend. The one who's always got a "look on the bright side...." at the ready. Yep ring ring - grump ass calling - tell me how I can make this crap sandwich into creme brulee.

4. Perception

This one can be hard. It is  easy to fall into a pit of poor me, and the deeper the pit the harder it is to climb out. When the car breaks down (on the way home from dropping him off), the water pump goes out, someone drains your bank account, the dog barfs on your work pants and two out of three kids have the flu...  it can be difficult to step back, deal with the issue and not blame everything on ___insert branch of service here____.

View each situation as it actually is. The car broke down? Not a problem I have a mechanic. Water pump is out? Call the handy-man first and see if it's a big problem or if he can fix it. Dog barf? I have a washer. Kids have the flu? Ask a friend who's already out to pick up some comfort items and thank them for dropping them off.

I try my best to deal with the reality in front of me instead of the tragedy my mind likes to create. I've found over the years that things aren't as bad as they seem at first. If you've prepared yourself both emotionally and logistically things will be much more manageable.

5. Perseverance

Through all of the hardship, frustration and trials of deployment I've had the opportunity to get to know myself again. I've learned my strengths, my weaknesses and my behavior patterns. Knowing who I am and pushing myself to be stronger has taught me there are no limits to what I can do. With a little creativity and alot of support I can make it through this time a better person than when I started.

Set goals. Achieve new things. Hold yourself accountable and be proud of your successes. When your service member gets home you'll both have great stories to share about deployment.



Time for me to feed the hellions - hope this helps...

XO XO & Stuff,

Jinger

11 May 2015

Day 8 - The Pink Slip

This one should have been a pre-deployment post, but hey better late than never... plus now I have some feedback from Big Sexy.

I, like most military spouses, search the internet looking for best practices and great ideas for connecting with my husband over time and distance. One common idea among wives is to sneak a note or a card into their loved one's gear before they ship out. The idea is that the service member will find it when they are unpacking for the long haul - and have a little note of encouragement to last them until mail starts arriving (which can take weeks or months).

Well, Big Sexy, being the sweetheart he is... had a full load (or 3) of laundry he needed folded. I am the supportive wife so I got to work while he packed up his gear. What he didn't know is that I'd armed myself with a pad of hot pink post-its.

So, every article of clothing, pocket on a bag and nook and cranny I could find got some special attention.

It doesn't have to be anything elaborate, just something fun for him to find through the days and weeks ahead. A little touch of home to put a smirk on his face and know I'm thinking of him. There are a few things to remember when you do this.

1. Keep it simple. This isn't the 30 page love letter professing your fidelity and passion. Its just a "hey, you're pretty" to keep things positive.

2. These little notes do have a chance of popping out when least expected - and when you didn't intend them to.

Case in point...

Earlier he was out with his two buddies and when he pulled out his wallet to pay for dinner one of these little beauties slipped right out of his pocket and onto the floor. He didn't notice, but a server walking past retrieved it, took a look at it and handed it over to one of the other gents in their group. He, wondering what the young lady had just handed him also took a look at the note, laughed and handed it to the rightful owner.

Well... this was of course the ONE note that I was a little more, shall we say colorful with? I'm willing to bet Big Sexy's face matched the color of the post-it.

XO XO & Stuff,

Jinger

10 May 2015

Day 7 - Timing is Everything

There are times in a military family when things line up just right. Three day weekends turn into four day weekends because of special liberty. A big concert out of town falls on a national holiday so you can have a the time to go see it. Homecoming is scheduled at the perfect time of year for surprising the kids at school!

Yes, there are times when it is awesome. Then there's today. Mother's Day. Some people wouldn't think this is that big of a deal (those people are idiots). I mean he can still send flowers over the internet right? The kids can still give you a card right? Well sure, and you can take your happy ass to the grocery store and buy your own birthday cake, but it isn't quite the same is it? So there... yeah, mother's day when you are playing both sides loses a little luster.

If mother's day wasn't rung in by a sad trombone, it's also our anniversary. Not our 3rd or 7th our 10th. That's kind of a big one. People take cruises and go out to dinner it's a big deal. It really sucks to be apart today. I'm kind of unhappy about the whole thing...

BUT (you knew that was coming)

Yesterday, my sweet neighbor Lisa dropped in, chatted for a minute then asked me what I was doing tomorrow afternoon. I assumed she needed me to let the dogs out. Nope, she invited the kids and I over to their house for a spontaneous Mother's Day Lunch. I asked what I should bring, she wouldn't let me do any work because it was Mother's Day. I went to sleep with something to look forward to.

This morning, as the sun crept into my bedroom window our six year old sprung out of bed HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY MAMA!!!! She sprinted out of the room and returned with a carefully wrapped gift - which included a coupon for a free hug. The gift was a booklet she'd written at school. It included a note, a picture of me she'd drawn and other interesting things about myself I didn't know.

Lukey presented me with an adorable craft he made in school by tracing his hands. I cherish these little things.  They are more important to me than any bouquet or spa day or fancy brunch. I want to see how my children think they should celebrate their mom. THAT is what hits me hard.

Then our oldest popped his big ole noggin in "You ready for some craps mama?" I wasn't sure how to respond, but just out of obscene curiosity I said yes. The kitchen came to life with the sounds of pots and pans banging on the stove top. The sent of coffee lifted in the air. I figured as long as coffee was on the menu the rest would be workable.

I was then presented with breakfast in bed.
Toast
Berries
Scrambled Eggs and...
Craps no wait sorry a single solitary Crap


To my relief, craps were actually crepes and my beautiful boy said "I jacked it up mom so its really just a sugary pancake"... I don't care what he called it - breakfast was delicious.

While we were enjoying our morning together I got another wonderful surprise - no not flowers or candy - I GOT TO SEE A PICTURE OF MY HUSBAND! After years of deployments which included pretty much unlimited internet connectivity we are navigating new waters. So for the first time in a week I got to see his handsome face - and the best part? He was smiling.

Breakfast in bed, Lunch at the neighbors and seeing my handsome husband (digitally) on our anniversary? I'd call that a good day.

So, to the teachers who take the time and make the effort to do mother's day crafts? Thank you. You never know what is going on in a child's home. Perhaps Mom is a single parent,  maybe Dad has passed away or is too far from home to help a child make something for mom. What you do matters.

To the neighbor who thinks "should we invite them over" THANK YOU! It may not always be convenient or  your norm to invite the neighbor over for what is traditionally a family holiday, but man oh man do you make a HUGE difference in how a day can feel. It is a simple - yet selfless act that can really turn what would be an emotionally draining day into one filled with smiles and company.

For the service men and women who think maybe a picture isn't enough? There is nothing we want more than to know you are doing well and finding some joy along the way. Your smile and the sound of your voice are much more valuable than any material object.

So thank you to Mrs S and Mrs W who made crafts with their classrooms, and thank you to Lisa & John (and your entire family) for welcoming my kids and I for a mother's day celebration. To Big Sexy for sharing his day with me through pictures. I enjoyed every single pixel!

We can let the emotion of hardship build and build until we are crushed beneath it - or - we can recognize when we are hurting, respond to those emotions and look for ways to improve our moods. I am very very blessed to be surrounded by people that are cheering us on through this deployment - while I am alone much of the time, they help me keep the loneliness in check.

Happy Anniversary Big Sexy ~ Thank you for making me the happiest girl in the world, and for bringing our three little ones into this world with me.

XO XO & Stuff,

Jinger

09 May 2015

Day 6 - 5 Thing That Don't Totally Suck About Deployment

Deployments aren't fun. In the grand scheme of life they are a frustrating fraction of our reality, but when you are treading these waters it can feel like an eternity. What do you do when there are difficult times, and certain aspects that you cannot change? You look for the silver lining, bright side, the eddy when the waters get too rough.

I was wearing shoes and drinking a glass of wine when I thought these up so I can't remember anything past number 5... So here goes...


 1. TV

No not Game of Thrones, House of Cards or Vikings.  I mean no kidding he hates it I love it hours of ridiculously absurd Vampire Diaries, Witches of East End, Say Yes to the Dress MARATHONS. With no one saying 'you watchin' this?" while waiving a remote at me.

2. Laundry

There are no instances of "hey babe, forgot these PTs were in the car..." followed by semi damp rancid death shorts cascading into my arms. I don't miss that. No... not at all. 

3. 0-Dark Thirty

Unless you are on a mission to go kill some asshole terrorist no-one should have to get up in the dark. Well maybe bad ass first responders cause people do dumb shit at night. Really though, it is nice to wake up with the sunrise not 90 minutes before it (yes hyper critical jacktards I know 0-dark thirty is actually 30 not 90 but just shut up, seriously shut up).

4. Dinner

I make what ever I feel like. Big Sexy isn't a fan of Taco Tuesday - well Cinco de Mayo baby you get a taco, you get a taco Tacos for EVERYBODY! Sometimes I just skip dinner. Kids hungry? Warm up left over pizza. You'll live. Tonight? I had Tostitos and cheese dip for dinner... while watching Reign. I'm not sorry.

5. Shaving

When I feel like it... or not.

Wait... That doesn't really change with deployment, sorry Big Sexy.  I'll shave more when you get home, for like the first 6 weeks... we both know I'm lying.  I love that he loves me anyway.


The flip side?

What I really want to do is prance my happy hairy legs around the kitchen while I whip him up some lasagna from scratch after he comes home sweaty from a long day of hard work. Then listen to him snore, while I fold laundry with American Dad annoying me in the background.

Yes there are some silver linings but none of them compare to the light at the end of the tunnel. Every day is one day closer to home.

XO XO & Stuff,

Jinger

08 May 2015

Day 5 - Girls Night In


It's Military Spouse Appreciation Day, our first 5 days are almost done and I have somewhere to be tonight.

Through a great group on Facebook for Navy spouses I learned about a company called The Traveling Vineyard, and met our local wine guide, Agana. Let's talk business first - TTV sends a wine guide to your home with 5 bottles of really great wine. They help you with pairings and take you through a tasting of each wine. You get to eat, drink and laugh with friends - then you order the wine you like. It is the only in home party I will host.

Anyway, a friend of mine is hosting the party tonight. In the last six months it's become a monthly (almost) event for our circle of friends. The theme this evening - Pajamas!!! Seriously? Oh and since she understands what a pain it is to find a sitter in the middle of deployment KIDS WELCOME!Are you kidding me - yes and yes. So I threw on my new Mother's Day PJs (Thanks Big Sexy) packed up the kids and headed over.

We talked, we drank... we laughed at each other and ourselves. It was 100% what the doctor ordered.


Deployments don't have to be whittled away drowning yourself in a pillow of tears. Get up. Go out. See friends. Instead of sitting at home watching Netflix I crushed another 3 hours of deployment by hanging out with good people.

You've got this - every day is one day closer to home.

XO XO & Stuff,

Jinger

07 May 2015

Day 4 - Misery Loves Company


I truly believe that misery loves company, but not in the sense most people do.

I was feeling a little down today. Tomorrow is military spouse appreciation day, Sunday is mother's day... it's also our 10th wedding anniversary. I'll wake up alone. I'll probably get something brilliantly concocted (and inedible) for breakfast, but I won't be with my husband to celebrate our successful decade of marriage, or our management of three littles for 9 years.

I believe that those who are feeling low seek empathy from the world around them. They are searching for someone who's walked their path and did so successfully. Be it injury, separation or even tragic loss, we want to find someone else who has survived the pit we've found ourselves in. Someone who looks you in the eyes and says "I've been there, you can do this."

So I went in search of people who understand. People who won't say "I'm so sorry" or "I don't know how you do it"... I headed to my local American Legion Post - and I'm glad I did.

Once a month the American Legion Riders host bike night. They not only have the traditional awards for best bike, but they include trophies for kids tricycle and bicycle. My kids look forward to it each spring.



We walked in, said our hellos and not a single person asked "where's the big guy"... why? Because they know he's deployed. They know how much it sucks to be constantly reminded that you are rollin' solo. They also know exactly what to say...

"When will he be home?"

"___insert date here____"

"Damn, that sucks!"

Hell yes it sucks, and darn it's nice to hear. I don't want anyone else to be missing their spouse I just want someone (company) who knows exactly how it feels to want to be rockin' my inner Eeyore (misery) for a day or two (yes I totally had to google Eeyore for the spelling).


Our friends and neighbors are amazing. I am blessed to also have the support of my brothers and sisters at AL Post 288 (NC). They play with the kids. Remind them that patriotism is a QUALITY to be proud of. They fuss at them for being lippy with their mama... then they give them candy when I'm not looking. They allow me 3 minutes to go to the bathroom - EVEN when my kid needs a band-aid.  

Let me get to the point - I'm not throwing myself a pity party. I'm not going to wallow in despair, but in order to learn and grow from struggle you actually have to struggle. To learn how to manage your emotions, you need to feel something. Resilience isn't established in the absence of hardship, it is built on the foundation of growing stronger THROUGH hardship.

I am blessed to have friends who help me hunt the good stuff every day. They remind me that I have a new job. My children are strong and thriving. I'm never at a loss for someone whom I can call on for help or encouragement... and a reminder that "you can do this, he'll be home soon."

Surround yourself with people who've already made the rounds, and are willing to share their road map.

When you're miserable, find GOOD company - you'll be surprised how much better you'll feel.

XOXO & Stuff,

Jinger

06 May 2015

Day 3 - Creative Comms

I love Big Sexy. He is literally the man of my dreams. He isn't perfect - there should be a picture of him next to the words "Strong Silent Type". There is one thing we struggle to connect on during deployment, I've tried different ways to explain it, I've begged (nagged), pleaded (nagged), nagged (bitched)...

WRITE US (ME) A LETTER!!!!

After years of trying I remembered something:


In an effort to inspire our middle guy's struggle with reading and writing, I had snagged a journal from Walmart (it's a marvel avengers journal - seriously - awesome). We told him he could write whatever he wants - and encouraged him to draw his own comic books.

Before we knew it he'd created 5 pages of text and graphics.. an idea was born. 




Remember the old game where one person would tell part of the story - and the next would pick up where they left off? We're taking a page from their playbook; each kid and Daddy will be creating a story together.

I grabbed a few more journals from Walmart, they've got a big variety and some of them will take the work out of it for you. Each kid has their own, my husband will wait for the journal to arrive, add his drawings and story then ship it back (I recommend a pre-addressed flat rate envelope). So far this is what we've got ~


Through my deployment and my husband's, honestly it can be hard to come up with something new to say. Mission First doesn't always lend to the excitement they create in Hollywood. We'll start letters and find them shallow... so they never get sent. You never know which way a story can turn, so give it a try. ((by the way - Mr. "I hate reading" is now knocking out books like a champ #winning ))

Next - let's play 20 questions - Navy Family Style (Surface):

1. How many bathrooms are on the ship?
2. Where does the poop go?
3. Do you have to do homework?
4. Do you get sea sick?
5. Is there a doctor on your ship?
6. Do you have to get shots?
7. What does your bed look like?
8. Do you have to share your room?
9. Where do you put your stuff?
10. If you share your room who snores the loudest?
11. Who is the youngest person on the ship?
12. Who is the oldest person on the ship?
13. Where do you play games?
14. Does anything funny happen on the ship?
15. How tall is the tallest person on the ship?
16. If its your birthday who will make you a cake?
17. What happens if you get hurt?
18. How fast does the ship go?
19. Does Santa visit the ship?
20. What makes you feel better when you are sad?

Check back for additional branches & new questions.
Comment with your ideas and I'll add them to the list!

This list is mostly geared toward children w/ a parent who is deployed, but can be easily adapted to inspire letter writing or journal entries for adult. As always please feel free to contribute ideas and I'll add them to the list. 

1. Write a thank you card to the person who farted and made your mom/dad laugh.
2. Describe how you imagine homecoming will be. In the morning? At night? Surprise or waiting on the pier (airport, hanger, parade field...)
3. What kind of gear would you invent for your mom/dad to wear? How does it work?
4. Tell a story about a dog who lives on the ship (goes on convoys, flies the plane, mans the gun...)
5. What is a role model? How do you grow up to be one?
6. Create a poem using the letters U. S. A. or RED WHITE & BLUE
7. What are some goals you have? How will you reach them?
8. If you were on the ship and playing hide and seek where would you hide?
9. Pretend there are no phones, computers or letters - invent a new way to communicate with mom/dad?
10. Tell us about the first place you want to go after mom/dad gets home.
11. If you could control the clouds what kind of shapes would you make?
12. Write a list of different ways you can make yourself feel better when you're sad.
13. Who is your favorite character in a book?
14. Make a list of 20 great things you've learned to do this year.
15. If you could train any animal to help mom or dad win the fight what animal would you choose? What would it be able to do?
16. Tell us how you countdown 'til homecoming.
17. How do you think we should celebrate mom/dad coming home?
18. Write a happy birthday card to your mom/dad's ship/unit. How old are they this year?
19. Create the perfect menu for the ship/unit. Don't forget to tell them how to make the food!
20. All of your toys have joined the __insert branch here__ who's the boss? Where are they going on deployment?
21. Design a new tool your mom/dad can use at work.
22. You're all grown up, what are you going to do on vacation?
23. You're a teacher, and there is a kid in class who feels sad - what would you do to make them feel better?
24. Aliens are coming! Are they nice? or mean? You tell me...
25. Tell us how you think they celebrate Christmas where your mom/dad is going.
26. How many houses have you lived in? Write about your favorite thing at each home.
27. What is your hometown?
28. Where is your favorite place to visit? Why?
29. Make up a story where the envelope who carries your letters is a Ninja!
30. When mom/dad misses a special day how do you make yourself feel better?
31. What is your favorite thing to send to mom/dad?
32. Your mom/dad has to wear a uniform, draw a picture of what they look like. How would you change the uniform draw a new one that you designed just for them!
33. Write a thank you card to someone who's helped you feel better when you're missing your mom/dad.
34. What would you tell a kid who is going through deployment for the first time? How would you help them?
35. What makes you special? How do you know?
36. How do you know someone is your friend?
37. Make a list of 10 ways to make new friends.
38. What are some good things to put in a carepackage?
39. What are your favorite jokes?
40. Write about your biggest secret then hide the page!!
41. Draw a picture of your favorite animal - now write a story about how its a spec ops super hero.
42. What is your favorite thing to do? Why?
43. Make a list of all the different places where you know someone who lives there.
44. Write down your favorite 10 people - who would you visit first?
45. How do you know your mom/dad is in a bad mood? How can you help?
46. How long does it take for your mom/dad to get your letters? Why does it take that long?
48. Were your grandparents in the military too? Did they go any place interesting?
49. Make up a story about a hero, use your mom/dad's unit as the hero.
50. Tell other people why being a military kid is hard - and why you are so GOOD at making it through tough times.


That's all I've got for now y'all - Even if you don't use any of the above material I hope it inspires you to think outside the care package box and get creative. We can't all be Noah & Allie.

XOXO & Stuff,

Jinger

05 May 2015

Day 2 - Open Season


There's this guy. He's kind of an asshole. Most of us know him as Murphy. Well, I'll tell you he has a tracking device on every service member, and as soon as they are outside of a reasonable commuting distance Murphy declares open season on those keeping the home fires burning.

He's basically this guy only invisible...


Well here we are on day 2 and B must have just crossed over whatever magical line activates his Mother-Truckin-Murphy beacon.

1. Lawn Mower wouldn't start (we're on 2.5 acres... I can't just let it go).
2. Low Tire Pressure light.. fill tire.. find nail.
3. Oldest Kids shoes are too small
4. Can't find my debit card (so can't solve above listed problems)
5. Playstation needs some sort of update? I don't know I don't speak video game. 

These aren't big problems. I 100% realize that, however they are the kind of issues I would just shoot B a text "how do I", "do you know how"... "WHAT THE FXCK!!!!", but when you know they can't fix the issue and you don't want to burden them, these little things can become overwhelming quickly. In the past I would have flown off the handle and cussed out Murphy and in the present I do the same damn thing, but but but but but... I have learned to ask for help.

Shot my neighbor a text and asked him to check the mower when he got home from work. He flipped the gas level from the right to left tank and bam back in business.

Talked to the guys at walmart about the tire they said I'd be good for another few days and it can be fixed with a plug.

Navy Federal has IMMEDIATE replacement cards at your local branch - so I can now buy shoes for my shoeless child who is growing faster than my grass.

While I was out at Walmart my OTHER neighbor knocked out a portion of my grass for me - he would have done all of it but my dogs are well... doing their job and not letting anyone in the yard while Big Sexy is away. ((Good puppies, but don't eat the neighbors)).

The Army's Master Resilience Training program taught me to Hunt the Good Stuff. I will RESPOND to each issue that pops up and do my best not to react (yes there is a difference). I will appreciate the assistance of friends and neighbors. I will accept their help with a grateful heart, knowing they aren't doing it for reciprocation they are just being good friends and neighbors.

So take that Murphy. I'm not alone and anything you throw at me that my friends and I can't handle? I'll just call my Farm Bureau agent and hire a pro. Let the hunter become the hunted. I've got Murphy in my sights and this time he's goin' down!



XO XO & Stuff,

Jinger

Homecoming Chain


We've all heard of homecoming countdowns. The basic concept is this you count the number of days deployment is projected for, fill up a jar with candy or pennies and then remove one item each day, as the jar gets empty you have a visual reminder that its almost over...

one problem... 

those damn dates are written with disappearing ink, not stone.

When Big Sexy deployed to Iraq in 2009, I had three kids at home - sorry not kids - kids go to school, are potty trained and can communicate with words - I had two toddlers and a baby at home (3, 2 and 7 months). So the idea of emptying a jar was just too abstract for them... I was worried about the disappointment if the date changed and the jar was empty, so I canned the whole concept.

Then we stopped over my friend Crystal's house and everywhere I looked there was color and fun. She and her boys were marking their successful journey through deployment. They were making a Homecoming Chain.

Never one to have an original thought I jumped on that bandwagon and grabbed some construction paper on my way home.



We started our homecoming chain a little late, but it was a great experience. Each day the kids and I would sit down and talk about our day. I'd write little notes so I could tell the big guy about our time when he was away, and the kids would draw and scribble all over the other side. Soon our home was filled with color and reminders that even though it wasn't easy - we were working hard to make it through.


Well we've started for this go 'round and I'm looking forward to seeing it grow - the longer it gets the closer he is to coming home.


Have fun with your chain. Use flowers or hearts,  color coordinate with their branch of service or favorite football team. Be creative and have fun. We keep ours simple, but my kids are young and sometimes simple = maintaining my sanity.

We have choices in life, even when there are aspects which are out of our control. You can be crushed by your emotions or you can respond with action. Every day isn't a cake walk, but you can grow stronger through hardship.

XO XO & Stuff,

Jinger