Monday, April 28, 2014

Flexing The Military Spouse Muscles

Boy was I channeling all you fellow military spouses and significant others on Friday night as I packed up a huge carload of stuff to take to storage by myself, including trying to figure out how to get a kid's bike in the car which seemed nearly impossible.

Already tired from a long day and ten days of the husband out of town, I put the kiddo bed. Then I started surveying the zone of boxes I had gathered from emptying out a closet here in the house, along with a few big storage bags of goodies my husband brought back from Afghanistan. I think I've mentioned here how he went overboard a little bit on scarves and such. Instead of thinking of what he spent I try translate that into how much it means he was missing us and thinking of us.

Because I had moved so many times before I met my husband, I have learned to be a great packer and organizer. I can fit an amazing amount of stuff in a car, using up every inch possible. I took a mountain of boxes and fit them into a very small sporty 4-door, which would get me the best gas mileage to drive to base to our storage.

Speaking of which, can I just tell you about what happened when we were on base a couple of weeks ago planning to go to our storage units. It was Sunday afternoon and when I went to the area where all the storage containers were they were all gone. The MWR decided to just move them all without ever saying anything to anyone. I called the base security office and they had no idea they had been moved and were none too happy that this had all happened without them being told. We're talking about an entire portable storage area being moved without alerting the renters of all the units or base security. I was not happy and of course the MWR is not open on Sundays. So I left an annoyed message. (By the way they never called me back.) I can only imagine how much angrier I would've been had I been moving and come to base expecting to put all my stuff in a moving van and leave the next morning for a PCS or other move.

When you are talking about a space the size of a military base, those units could've been moved a million places that I would never be able to find. I took fifteen minutes and did a quick drive around base and found several pods of storage units none of which were ours. After talking to my husband who was not near base at the time, I gave up. We imagined that the units were somewhere in the dark, hidden, mystery regions of base that one would never see just driving down the road.

So I decided to just go get gas and make the long trip home without ever getting to our units. As I pulled up to get gas, I looked straight ahead of me across the gas station into the old used car/motor home parking area and there were rows and rows of storage units. After I filled up with gas I eagerly drove the short distance, jumped out of my car and started row by row through a good quarter acre of units stacked in no particular order, even though every container is alphabetically labeled & numbered.

They were all stacked in alphabetical and numerical order in the old space, so it wouldn't have been too tough to just put them down as they were picked up and have them be in some semblance of order. But I must remind myself, this is the military, order and logic, while generally very useful, are not always initially put into play. Finally in the middle of the great parking lot of storage units I found our units and gained access to them. Soon I was on the freeway and headed home trying to beat traffic. Thank you providence for leading me to those units.

Anyway, I made the big trip again on Saturday. I was going to be alone all day, and I realized what better day to get all that done with no distractions (aka husband and kid). So I packed up the car Friday night and then got up early and made the drive and then of course had to reorganize the units completely to get everything to fit properly and in an orderly fashion. My husband was the last to take anything out or add anything and there is such a huge waste of space going on that I can hardly handle it. The two closet size units were really only half full.

I took the wheel off the old bike to get it to fit into the trunk. Hooray. That was a major win for me at about midnight Friday night. Once the car was full and I had put back everything I had pulled out to get the boxes out, I still had several loads of laundry to fold. So I put on HGTV online episodes and tried to relax and get the house cleaned up a bit before my long, long day. 

When I rearranged the two closet-size storage units and added the carload of stuff I had brought with me, they were still only each half full...okay maybe they are each two-thirds full now. But there is still a lot of space and I am looking forward to getting another carload of stuff out of here soon. Hello open space! So I aim to get our money's worth going forward and fill those babies up. I also got rid of a lot of stuff during the week while my husband was out of town and angel girl was at school. That is definitely the best time to throw things away, while they aren't watching.

After I finished up at the storage unit, I forced myself to take a break and wander the NEX. Unfortunately I found a really cute pair of sandals in my "hard-to-find" size and I couldn't say no. I should write a post on things we won't tell my husband which include the fact that I've picked up FIVE pairs of sandals in the 10 days he's been away. But total price was under $100 so that is pretty awesome - plus my size will be sold out and there won't be much available the rest of the summer, so it's awesome to know I have a great selection for the entire summer.

I had lunch at the Food Court while reading the base events magazine then despite the blustery, "might rain" weather I popped over to the carwash. I was horrified when I climbed into the back seat to see what a mess our kiddo has made back there. The things I found under the car seat. Ugh. So I vacuumed for a good 20 minutes, every inch of the car with low suction (boo). Then I decided what the heck I'll wash the car too. That felt good and when I was done I sent a flirty "I just vacuumed and washed your car" text to my husband who's coming home to day. 

Looking at my weekend, It's amazing what I can get done when I'm alone. I remember my single days when I used to be so hyper effective, my house was always spotless and I got tons done in the evenings and on weekends and was only half as tired as I am now. But I was only half as full of love back then when I didn't have this delicious little family. Now I am overflowing with all the love I get, so, hey it's worth it -- messier house, kid-destroyed car interiors, overflowing amounts of stuff and all.

As I was doing all of this muscle moving, I was thinking of all of you, who have moved so many time, sometimes by yourself, and who do so many challenging things that it would be nice to have a man around for. In this life our "be independent" muscles are never going to get weak, are they?! I'm glad I can still carry heavy loads on my own.

Just having to do it once in a while reminds me to be grateful for my husband and all he does and to be grateful that I'm "military grade" strong enough to handle all the sometimes tough stuff military life brings my way. Saluting all you "military grade" ladies for all you do, so often with no fanfare or notice. You are amazing. Thanks for being in it with me!

image via mca

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Proud To Be A Navy Girl

I'm starting to realize we have a real Navy girl on our hands here. It's been building for a while and certainly during Daddy's deployment it was happening but it's so cute to see our little one's continually growing devotion to the Navy.

First before deployment we were given a couple of teddy bears in camo. We named one Army and the other Navy since Daddy's served in both. Then came John Paul Jones, as we named him, the Navy eagle stuffed animal per request at Christmas. After Christmas it was a new pink camo backpack for school and green camo pajama pants.

Then of course Daddy brought her home some good gear from deployment including a Kalishnakitty tee shirt.  -- Which she is forbidden from ever wearing outside the house and particularly to school -- can you even imagine ---yikes! Trust me I've played that scenario out in my head numerous times, the call from the principal, her teacher, who is a real NUTJOB, would be catatonic!

Tangent Alert: I'm totally counting down the days until the end of the year so I can stop biting my tongue about this teacher in front of our kiddo - of course I'm still never going to say anything much to her about it, but at least this woman won't be a part of our daily lives.

It has taken massive amounts of discipline on my part to mask my intense dislike of her. (And I'm a super easy-going, "give everyone the benefit of the doubt" kind of gal!) It's been a long year since our first encounter when I realized we'd drawn the short straw for this year. But only recently has our kiddo begun to complain about her unfair practices and how psycho she seems. It's like menopause gone off the rails with that woman. Six weeks & counting!

It's kind of humorous actually that my one unhappy loon of a grade school teacher was in the same grade our kiddo is this year. Same menopausal age, same soulless, smile-less gray face, same "everything bothers me" attitude. I've reflected back on that a lot this year to remind myself that "this too shall pass" and that we all get a crummy teacher now and again.

Anyway, back to our Navy girl, last week we were on base and as a thank you for a big errand we ran for Daddy, he told her she could get one thing. Well since they took out the kid's department at the NEX (WHY?!) there really wasn't much of anything for her to get. But she gladly begged to get a Navy sweatshirt. Navy blue with pink camo letters. It's nearly impossible to get this girl to wear a jacket or sweater but guess what she's been wearing non-stop since the weekend. I'm going to have to peel it off of her for a washing eventually.

I love that she thinks the Navy is so cool. I love that she thinks it's so awesome that she has a "Navy Dad." I'm a little envious of the simplicity of her world and how she is able to live outside the bounds of all the ridiculous and often infuriating politics: from Washington, D.C. right down to Daddy's unit, and just appreciate the idea of the honor of military service.

I want to do all I can to help her build a foundation on that. She comes from a multi-generation military family, who take the honor seriously, and I want to instill that in her. I doubt she'll ever choose to serve in the military, but you never know, she may end up a loyal military wife someday so teaching her everything I can about that can't hurt.

Since my mother-in-law, who was a milspouse for 30-plus years, passed away before I met her son, I'm especially glad for all I've learned from all of you other military spouses. You've been a blessing and a godsend and have gotten me through a lot of separations, helped me figure out services, acronyms and so, so much more. Thank you for your examples! You and our little girl are an awesome reminder that I'm a Navy Girl too and to stand tall with pride that we have the honor of being a military family.