Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Simple Merry Christmas!

This is a super sensitive Christmas for me. It's the first one that I have spent separated from the man I love. Last deployment he made it home 3 days before Christmas. Holidays suck in general without your spouse but for some reason Christmas just really gets to me. I am lucky to be able to be spending it with my family. That makes it a little better. My poor man on the other side of the world isn't so lucky. He has to spend it alone and it's hard on the men. They don't show it but we know they get lonely. So remember to send some cheer to them this holiday.

But here is a little cheer from my hubby's platoon straight from the sandbox! Merry Christmas everyone!!!

Santa's new crew. Coming to rooftops near you!


The take off....

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Dealing with a TBI

TBI = Traumatic Brain Injury. They are painful. They are frustrating. They are common with our soldiers.

My husband has one. An accident during his first deployment caused a head injury and some injury to his back as well. I love my husband. I will always support him. Even if he came back with a worse injury. The reality is though, even despite the fact that a TBI isn't something you can see physically and it may seem like it's nothing, a TBI can be devastating. To both the one who has the injury and their family members.

I was watching an episode of Army Wives. It triggered some tears as I watched a soldier dealing with some of the symptoms of a TBI. I have not been the one dealing with the fear of memory lose or the  excruciating headaches, but I have witnessed them in someone I love. And it is heartbreaking. I have spent a lot of tears over feeling helpless as I watch my husband struggle to remember simple things, like the name of a person he has known for years or how to spell a word he uses all the time. I have watched his frustration when he stops in the middle of a sentence because he can't remember what the word is he was going to say. I've seen him sit in defeat, wondering if he will ever be able to do school again because he isn't sure he can take a test where he isn't allowed to have notes. I've seen him nearly fall due to dizzy spells. One moment in time changed my husband's whole life. He went from being a man who could sit in his college classes and not need to take notes to being someone who has to carry a notebook with him everywhere so he can write down every task he needs to complete so he won't forget. He used to carefree and cheerful all the time. Now he has headaches that make him moody and short tempered. His dreams are having a forced change put on them because we don't know how the future will play out. He wanted to be a surgeon. A heart surgeon none the less. But now he has the complications of his TBI to consider.

All of these things are common symptoms of a TBI. There are lots of others though. Every case is different because every brain is different.  I got this list of symptoms off of Military OneSource.


  • "Headaches - Mild to severe headaches are common with TBI patients. Usually, they become less severe with time.
  • Dizziness - Problems with balance may make it difficult for TBI patients to walk or even sit up for an extended period of time.
  • Excessive tiredness and problems sleeping - A TBI patient's sleep pattern may be disrupted by the injury, making it difficult to get a good night of sleep. Also, patients often feel tired from all the effort they are putting into their rehabilitation.
  • Problems concentrating or paying attention - Many patients have to learn to focus on just one thing at a time. For former multitaskers, this can be frustrating.
  • Memory problems - Short-term and long-term memory can be affected by a brain injury. Many patients can't remember the incident or immediately afterwards.
  • Vision problems - Some patients have problems with double vision or blurred vision. This should be evaluated by a clinician.
  • Weakness in the extremities - TBI patients who experience weakness may have trouble with day-to-day tasks, like taking a shower or shaving.
  • Seizures - Many TBI patients run a risk for seizures, but the risk decreases steadily as they recuperate.
  • Personality changes - A brain injury can affect the portions of the brain that influence emotion and behavior. It can lessen emotional control, changing the patient's behavior. TBI patients can sometimes become:
    • Overemotional - Many patients may have trouble controlling their emotions. Tears of joy or anger are common.
    • Angry - Many patients get angry easily. They may have a difficulty controlling their emotions or they may be frustrated with the difficulties they face with everyday tasks.
    • Insensitive - Their injuries may have reduced their ability to filter out private thoughts, so they respond with inappropriate statements. Many patients have trouble identifying facial expressions or other non-verbal signs, making it hard for them to gauge someone else's emotions. "

  • It has been a major adjustment for us both. The worst part is the helplessness. Medications don't fix everything. There is nothing either of us can do to make him heal faster or heal at all. I can't do anything to relieve the pain he is in emotionally or physically. I can only stand by, with arms open, offering comfort and support. And I will admit that sometimes that is even hard.

    I am not perfect. I fail horribly as a supportive spouse sometimes. This change has effected me too. Sometimes I feel like I am completely unimportant because he never seems to remember anything that I tell him. The reality is, I'm the most important person to him but he also has more pressing things he needs to remember and there is only so much he can store currently. I go on the back burner. He means me no harm but sometimes I lose my cool about it. It's also hard to realize the life that we had planned out might not work. It has been long enough that there is a good chance that he won't improve anymore than he has. There is also the frustration of dealing with the military when it comes to injuries like these. I often feel like he isn't getting the help that he needs and that concerns me. I get angry over that and sometimes, as stupid as it is, I take it out on my husband because I feel like he doesn't see a problem at all.

    There are different levels of TBIs. Some are very mild while other cases cause men and women to have to relearn everything in their lives. Military OneSource give a brief description of the different severities.


  • "Mild TBI - The mildest form of TBI includes concussions. Recovery is usually a matter of just a few weeks or, in some cases, a few months. Although the injury is not life threatening, the long-term effects of mild TBI can be troublesome. Each injury is different, so be sure to get an evaluation if you think you may have suffered an injury.
  • Moderate to severe TBI - Moderate and severe brain injuries are often marked by a period of unconsciousness. Patients with severe TBI may remain unconscious for an extended period of time. In many cases, the patients don't remember the incident and may have long-term amnesia. Severe brain injuries can be debilitating, and the road to recovery can be long. Rehabilitation is often necessary.
  • Related injuries - Service members with brain injuries may suffer with other, more life-threatening, injuries. Diagnosing and assessing the brain injury may have to wait until the other injuries are treated. In many cases, TBI symptoms overlap symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, making treatment more complicated."

  • My husband in on the mild side of things, thank goodness. He didn't lose any long term memories. He didn't have to relearn how to tie his shoes or read. These are legit things that happen. This is why military hospitals have TBI units. There are some very severe cases. However, I feel like sometimes because my husband's injury is mild, people assume he is just making it up. I can assure everyone he is not. I've seen him get physically sick due to horrible headaches. I know him, I see the difference.


    Which takes me into the next bit. The shame of having a TBI. My husband has been teased about his "brain problem." I'm sure that some of it are just playful comments made by soldiers who don't mean anything by it. But the truth is, it's a sensitive subject for Brandon. He laughs stuff off but sharp comments can stab deep. The worst is when people act like it's all a joke, that he is just pretending to get out of work. People...just don't. If someone says they have a TBI, back off. Give them the support they need. They are going through hell. Rather than make fun of the things they have forgotten, encourage them to keep trying to remember. I realize it might be amusing to you to watch a grown man trying to learn to tie his shoes, but step back and think about how you would feel in their position. Talk about humbling.  This is no different than any other injury. It is just their brain that has a bruise. You wouldn't make a person run on their broken ankle, don't insist that someone with a TBI should be able to do everything normal. They need your help, not your cutting remarks.

    The best thing you can do for people with TBIs is to get informed and be supportive. Learn everything you can about what they are going through and then be there to help them through their recovery. Don't be an ignorant bystander that laughs at their failures. This is what Military OneSource had to say about what loved ones of people with TBIs can do.

    "As the family member of a patient with a TBI, you may feel shocked, confused, and even angry. These feelings are all normal. Family members should try to learn as much as they can about their loved one's injury so they can help make important decisions on care and treatment. Here are more steps you can take to help with your loved one's recovery:
    • Help your loved one keep to a schedule. Following a daily routine will help your loved one master daily skills and avoid confusing situations.
    • Avoid situations with lots of people. You may have friends and family who want to visit your loved one. Try to avoid situations where several people will be talking at once.
    • Do one thing at a time. Help your loved one stay on track and focused by presenting only one task at a time and allowing him or her the time he or she needs to complete it.
    • Ask for help. Whether you need help making a difficult decision, filling out paperwork or whether you just need someone to talk to, don't be afraid to ask for help. Family members and friends can be a great source of comfort during this difficult time. "
    If you are worried that someone you know is suffering from a TBI, help them get the help they need. And love people, don't shame them

    Keep L i/o ving!

    My sources. Lots more good info.
    http://www.militaryonesource.mil/wounded-warrior/family-impacts?content_id=268957

    http://www.militaryonesource.mil/casualty/supporting-families?content_id=268958

    Sunday, December 8, 2013

    The Dependopotamus (A Military Spouse's Perspective.)

    The Dependopotamus - A Dependapotamus, or Dependapotami (Plural), is the spouse of a military Service Member, whose symbiotic relationship is parasitic. These creatures seek to take advantage of the trusting nature of the more inexperienced Service Member by birthing live children to him, to establish a link that would be more work to be rid of than to simply keep. Often times, by bearing multiple children, the desire to flee from the parasitic clutches of the Harpy-like Dependapotamus is reduced to such a low that the Service Member simply settles for his misfortune, and does not leave. Typical behavior for Dependapotami is to sit at home, as they do not work (hence the dependency), smoke cigarettes bought with the SM (Service Member)'s pay, talk on a cellular phone (purchased by the SM), to other Dependapotami, whilst ignoring the children to whom she/it serves as "Caregiver." Often, the Dependapotamus will sell the idea of not working or pursuing an education (High School being the highest level most achieve, though some are incapable of that, even) by claiming to "stay home with the kids." These creatures of a negative symbiosis, or parasitism, are a blight to the military community, serving as horrible ambassadors to the rest of the United States, and in worst cases, the world. They are dramatic, loud, immature, obnoxious, freeloading, belligerent, unfaithful (where applicable, most are too unattractive to cheat), gossiping, wasteful, hateful, bigamous, and click-y.
    (source: Urban Dictionary. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=dependapotamus )

     We have all heard the term. We all have different reactions to it. While I do see where the term came from (I have run into a few women that might fit the definition of it) I'm kind of sick of hearing that word. It's a insult in every way and somehow a good chunk of the military world has decided that it covers pretty much any spouse.

    The reality is if you haven't been in the house, if you aren't married to the so called "dependopotamus," you have no right to be making any judgment of her. Even if she does seem to do nothing but mooch off her husband. You don't know her. You aren't living her life. You have no idea what illnesses, physical and mental, she might be dealing with. You don't know what lifestyle choices her and her husband have made together. Maybe he wants her staying at home doing what she is doing. Just because you aren't ok with it doesn't mean he isn't. Your opinion doesn't matter here because you aren't the one married to her. So just get a life and go find something better to do with your time.

    And since when has being a "stay at home mom" turned into a bad thing? If the extra money isn't needed and the woman would like to stay home with the children what is so wrong with that? It has been the cycle of things for as long as we can go back in history. Why is it wrong to want our kids to call us "Mommy" and not have them confused and calling the nanny that? Why is it bad to want to spend our days teaching and learning and experiencing the world with the small humans we created? It isn't. So why do military men and women alike feel the need to cut down women who choose "Mother" as their career? I don't think there is a more honorable job out there than to raise our future generation. These woman are courageous and beautiful. They are far from being a "dependopotamus."

    But those both are their own topics that I could go on and on about. What I am really trying to get at is that these stereotypes are infuriating and unfair. And they alienate spouses from the soldiers in a way that could be damaging. There are plenty of good women who marry soldiers. Many, and I would say it leans more towards the higher percentage, of us marry these men because we truly love them and want to share our lives with them. Why is that such a hard concept to believe? Why have a few jaded men created the idea that this is an impossibility? And most of all, why have we allowed that? It's time for us women to stand up and tell it how it is. We are proud to be military spouses! We love and support our husbands no matter what we choose to do, whether we have our own job or we choose to stay home with the babies.

    And a lot of us DO have our own careers! I know many a spouse who has a job. Some work from their homes even so that they still can spend time with their kids. Some go out and find a part time job just to keep busy. Some go find a job despite wanting to just because they want to help with the struggle of finances. These are amazing women who juggle a marriage and a job and possibly being a mother as well. They are not "dependapotami."

    Instead of judging us and calling us names why not get to know us a little better. This goes for the female soldiers as well. There is a strange feud that is going on between the wives and the military woman that could take up a whole other post. It plays into this topic. So why don't we all, soldiers and spouses alike, open up a little bit more. Be willing to be friendly. Get to know each other. Stop tearing each other down. Who knows what kind of wonderful friendships we are missing out on because of silly stereotypes. Maybe you should go find out. Start now.

    Keep L i/o ving!

    Sunday, September 15, 2013

    Laura Hughes - A Military Spouse Worth Knowing!

    So I have this friend. She is an Army wife as well and her husband is deployed currently. She has an amazing talent that I would like to share with you. Here are two links to two songs she wrote and sang about deployment. They are beautiful. You must go listen to them. And while you are there go ahead and listen to her other songs. Subscribe to her. Really, you want to. She is wonderful. =)

    Hard to See Silver - Laura Hughes

    Wishes - Laura Hughes


    Edit:

    She wanted me to add this one as well because it is her happy long distance song! Love it!

    Helium - Laura Hughes

    You Know You Do It Too : The Emotional Strain of Deployments

    We all try to pretend like our marriages are perfect. That we never fight. That we agree on everything. Somehow, society makes us feel like that is how it's supposed to be. It makes us feel guilty when things don't work out quite how we want them to. Military spouses feel the strain too. Sometimes in a more profound way because of the distance during deployments. There is always this feeling of needing everything to be perfect and cheerful in your relationship because you are so far apart. That includes making sure that no one else realizes that things might not be hunky-dory. Because who knows what could happen in the future. This is what we live with every day.

    The truth is that military spouses are human. We don't have any super powers. We are just as vulnerable and weak as any other person. We don't send our husbands and wives out because we want to. We cry real tears and we miss just as strongly. And our marriages are just as vulnerable to stress and anger. We have arguments just like anyone else does, even if we pretend we don't. The hard part that enters here is how do you deal with fights and disagreements over the internet? How do you have the arguments but heal your relationship afterwards when your spouse is so far away. Things don't work the same way as it does when they are home. There is no walking away, cooling off, and then apologizing after a little while. You don't know when you are going to be able to talk to them again.  But lets face it. Despite our best efforts to be "happy, happy, joy, joy" all the time, it doesn't always happen. Deployment is stressful. It's frustrating and it's painful. There are a number of things from finances to children misbehaving that can cause tension. Even against our better nature, we probably are going to end up having at least one (for some of us, more than that) heated disagreement during the separation.

    So the real trick comes down to, not avoiding conflict, but knowing how to deal with it. I think the number one thing to start with is knowing how to properly argue. I know, that seems very strange right? A proper way to fight? But I'm not crazy...well, ok I'm not COMPLETELY crazy. According to Amanda Rowett, a Licensed Counselor Associate, there are several guidelines that should be followed when arguing. If followed they help emotions stay in check and healthy solutions actually form. These guidelines are seek to listen, exercise empathy, approach conflict with a problem solving mindset, steer clear of criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling, do not use threats, stay away from blanket statements, generalizations and judgments, and avoid accusations. You can read her article for more information on all the guidelines by clicking the first link below. It is also mentioned that as a couple you need to be willing to get help if you can't deal with the issues on your own. There is NOTHING wrong with going to a therapist. Sometimes what we need is a safe area to share our thoughts with someone to buffer.

    Another great article that I found on Military OneSource talks about how to communicate as a couple. A section of it talks about how to do so when it comes to difficult topics. There number one suggestion in this situation is to make sure you bring the topic up in a stress free environment. Yes, I know, difficult when they are deployed but you can still find a time when it is less stressful. Until then, do your best to not bring up the subject if you think it might cause a fight. They also say to avoid throwing several negative topics at your spouse at once. If you overwhelm them with all the things that are going wrong and they are doing wrong and blah blah blah, they are immediately going to go on the defense. At that point, your already in trouble. One at a time, my dears, one at a time. That can be hard when it's been days since you've talk to them and there is just SOOO much that you need to discuss but I promise, being patient will pay off.

    Even when we know all the rules of conduct and we do our best to follow them, our emotions get the best of us. We say something we regret later. I'm totally guilty of doing this. What I've learned is that you must be willing to apologize, no matter what. Even if you think you are right. There is no need to hang up angry with each other. That just eats at you. And really, whether we like to talk about the possibility or not, our loved ones are at war. There is a high risk involved. How would you handle knowing the last thing your loved one heard from you was something angry and resentful? I know that would destroy me. Therefore, I try my best to always tell him I love him before we hang up, even if the argument hasn't fully been smoothed over.

    Now, there is another thought that I have had about deployment arguments. It will sound weird to some and some will agree. So here it is. We LOVE talking to our spouses of course. We live to hear the ring of Skype on our computers or a call from a strange number. Most of the time we feel like we never have enough time to talk. However, is there a point where we can talk TOO MUCH when they are deployed? I think there can be. And I think that is often followed by a lot of fighting. When you talk so much you are running out of things to say, those silent moments often start to be filled with negative comments. You start to think more about how you resent where you are and what is happening. You think about all the things you are struggling with that the other spouse isn't. Soon pointless arguments are breaking out whenever you speak. And there is NOTHING healthy about that. I believe that if this is happening in your marriage that it might not hurt to take a break from communicating. I know, I know. That sounds insane. But my husband and I have done this. Sometimes, taking a little extra time to remember why you love talking to them so much is good. Missing them can be healthy for you. It reawakens your heart and makes you long for them. So the next time you talk to them all you can think about is how excited you are to hear their voice. I'm telling you, it works, crazy or not. =)

    Anyways, these are just my thoughts and experiences. Naturally, all your marriages are perfect, right? ;)

    Keep L i/o ving!


    Sources:
    http://bellevuechristiancounseling.com/2013/04/15/christian-marriage-counseling-tips-on-how-to-fight-fair-part-1-of-2/

    http://www.militaryonesource.mil/health-wellness?content_id=268675 - probably my favorite article on communicating as a couple. It's a must read. =)

    Monday, September 9, 2013

    Another One of Those Links

    Sorry I didn't post last week! It was a little crazy. Started a new job and we went on a family trip this weekend. Needless to say the whole blogging thing got set on the back burner. Anyways, I will sit down to actually write something out later. For now, I have another wonderful link to share.Click and enjoy! =)

    Keep L i/o ving!

    http://www.upworthy.com/hahaha-so-true-12-statements-veterans-are-pretty-damn-tired-of-hearing?c=ufb1

    Wednesday, August 28, 2013

    Rainy Thoughts

    It's a rainy day. Most people would call it dreary but I actually love the rain here in Wyoming. It's not really the best time for it to be raining since we are trying to get hay in but such is life. However, I still love the sound of it on the roof, the smell of the air right before and after the rainfall. I love how the world seems to be twice at vibrant and bright after it's been washed clean. As crazy as it may be because I end getting things all wet, I love throwing open my bedroom window and letting that wet, fresh air pour into my room and wrap it's damp fingers around me. Taking a deep breath in and closing my eyes, dreaming of the future. Dreaming of the day when my husband is there again, experiencing and enjoying the things that I love right along side of me.

    Missing your hubby is a normal thing when he is deployed but it goes beyond that for me. It is heart wrenching when I experience something, no matter how small, and he isn't there to experience it with me. My natural reaction when I'm excited, angry, scared, or shocked about something is to turn to my husband and talk about it. To see how he is reacting. I love sharing the world with him, knowing I am never alone. I miss that desperately when he is gone. I turn to emptiness. I speak to silence. I don't like feeling like he is missing out on parts of my life.

    I hate even more knowing that I am missing out on parts of his life as well. Big parts. Parts that might define who he is when he returns. It scares me to wonder what is happening every day, what he doesn't tell me even after he has come home. What things am I not seeing? That includes the pain and damage he is hiding inside.

    No, we are meant to go through life together. Being separated for such long amounts of time is like being ripped in half. I don't fully live until he is home. All I can do is wait and pray. And the day he comes home, that happy reunion, will make it all worth it. I love you, Brandon.

    Keep L i/o ving!

    Sunday, August 25, 2013

    Questions No Military Spouse Wants to Hear

    I HAVE to post this link. It's from another wonderful blogger who is also a fellow military spouse. A friend of mine found it and shared it with me and it had me laughing so hard I cried a little. It's the perfect glimpse into a reality but done with some good humor. We all get those "silly" questions from people that make you wonder if they are really as insensitive as they seem or if they're really just oblivious. Watch this. You'll love it. For those who aren't military spouses, it'll give you a good idea of what NOT to say to a military spouse when you meet them. For fun, why don't you comment with some other "silly" questions you have gotten and your answers. =) And thank Rebecca Yarros for the hilarious blog!

    Keep L i/o ving!

    http://theonlygirlamongboys.blogspot.com/2013/04/what-not-to-ask-military-wife.html

    Sunday, August 18, 2013

    Birthday Blues

    So holidays of any sort are kind of lame when the man of the house is gone. My birthday was yesterday and I wanted nothing more than to celebrate it with my husband. Of course, that wasn't possible. He did manage to try and call on Skype. Wasn't the clearest call we've had but I was still happy to hear his voice and see his face for a few minutes. It had been days since that had happened. Those few moments were the best birthday present I could have received.

    I'm am blessed with such wonderful family and friends too. They went out of their way to make my day special. I got tons of well wishes and heartfelt messages. My mom took me, my little sis, and my long time friend, Brittnee, out for lunch. We watched Singing in the Rain and ate popcorn. Seriously, I couldn't have asked for more. Every day I'm reminded of how God has blessed me. I couldn't have handled a day like this without the love and support and being kept busy.

    How do you deal with holidays and birthdays when your loved one is gone?

    Sunday, August 11, 2013

    Once Upon A Time... (Our Story)

    It was mentioned to me that maybe I should put my story on here to show women that may be going through the same things that they aren't alone. So here it is.

    I met my husband, Brandon, in 2008. I was 17 and we were both in Salt Lake City, Utah going to college. I had this plan to not have a boyfriend and focus on my career, but from the first second that I met Brandon I knew that plan was quickly going down the drain. Our relationship didn't start right off the bat. In fact, he kind of irritated me for the first little bit. I think it was more because I don't like people throwing me off balance and he did every time he smiled at me. My heart would race and I would trip over my words. I couldn't deny for very long that he had me. It also didn't take long for me to realize that my feelings were matched though he didn't want to admit it either We started hanging out after work and school almost every day. Just as friends, of course. He was sure to state that every time which just made it more obvious to me that he was only trying to convince himself. That didn't last either. One night around 1 AM I looked into his eyes and asked if I was his girl or not. He smiled and said yes. From then on my heart belonged to him.

    We dated for about 8 months. It was passionate, crazy, and wonderful. He knocked me head over heals for him and I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this boy. There could be no other. Then he did the unthinkable. He joined the Army. I still remember the shock that smacked me in the face when he told me he had signed the papers. I felt all my blood run from my face as horrifying images of him running through jungles and being shot at ran through my head. Every war movie I had ever seen came to memory and every single person that died had Brandon's face on them. Then I began to realize everything he was going to miss. Birthdays and holidays. We wouldn't be doing the wedding we had been starting to talk about any time soon. The devastation set in and first I felt angry. I lashed out at him. Asking why I didn't matter? Why he wanted to leave me? Then the tears came. I cried myself to sleep. I cried while he packed. I cried halfway through several dinners. Then the numbness settled over me and I stopped doing anything but going through the motions of every day. I went to class and listened to the professors. I went home and made dinner. I went to bed. Same thing every day as the time till his departure ticked ever closer. I moved back with my family after the school year was over and we tried to hang on as a couple. But a week before he left, between not wanting to live a military life and some religious differences, we broke up.  My heart shattered into a million pieces and the next 2 years were spent having very little contact with Brandon and trying to move on with my life. I kept telling myself it was for the better. I never wanted to be a military spouse. I wasn't cut out for that life. I needed someone there for me always. I wasn't strong enough to live apart from someone I loved like that. But then...that became the answer to everything. I couldn't live without him. Even if it meant giving up the plans that I had laid out for my future, if it meant dealing with the military struggles, I was willing to do it if I could just have the love of my life back. There was just no moving past him. I dated other people, even loved some, but it was never the same. I couldn't see me spending forever with them. So one day I picked up the phone and asked him if he felt the same. He did.

    I flew out to visit him. It was the first time I had seen him in over a year. I cried when I came around the corner in the airport and saw him there. He had rushed straight from work to pick me up. It was the first time I had ever seen him in his uniform. My heart skipped a beat. He was so handsome. He was so proud. That moment made me realize that I could never ask him to give that up for me. That I would go through anything just to keep him standing proud. Loving him meant loving his desire to serve. So I did. I walked off that plane single but I headed home far from that status.

     
     
    We started talking about a wedding fairly quickly. I knew I wanted to marry him but I didn't want to rush. Besides it was fall at this time and I've always wanted a wedding in the spring. So we decided that June would be a good time to get married. It would give us time to get to know each other again and time for me to plan my dream wedding. Then the bomb dropped. Brandon got deployment orders. He was leaving in January for a year. I think I stopped breathing for a moment when he told me. I know my mind flat lined because for at least 10 min I couldn't seem to process any coherent thought. Then all I could do was ask for details. Of course, at that point he didn't know a lot and what he did he couldn't tell me over the phone. It was a short conversation. I just wanted to go to bed, wanted time to think. I spent a very sleepless night trying to figure out how to handle this. There were tears. The next day we started talking about what to do. A June wedding was out of the question now. It's a little hard to get married when your groom is in another country fighting a war. That left two choices. Get married now, like ASAP, or wait till Brandon came home in a year. Neither option seemed like a great plan to me. I panicked. How in the world was I supposed to have my dream wedding when I would have only 2 or 3 weeks to plan it. How would we pay for it? And was I really sure that I was ready to give myself over fully to this man? At the same time waiting a year seemed like torture. Brandon didn't want to wait. He was concerned because I didn't have health insurance at the time. He looked at us getting married as a way for him to make sure I was taken care of. In his mind he knew I was the one he wanted to marry so why wait. He also once made a joking comment about how having me married to him would mean that someone else could take care of his finances while he was gone. =) Brandon hates dealing with money. Then there was the fact that as a girlfriend, or even a fiancĂ©, you means nothing to the Army. I wouldn't have as much access to information about what was happening. I wouldn't have the contact info of people who could answer questions. I wouldn't have the support system while he was gone. Besides, I loved him, with all my heart. I didn't want anyone else. There was no reason to let my fear get the best of me or to let some selfish need for some huge wedding to get in the way of our love. So we got married. We planned it in 2 weeks. Only our immediate family was invited because we couldn't afford anything big. When Dec 7th, 2010 dawned we went to my sister's church and married standing in front of the people who meant the most to us. I am blessed to have a sister and brother-in-law who are photographers so we got beautiful photos. My mother-in-law made us a cake and gave us her wedding ring since we couldn't afford to buy one. My oldest sister made me the most gorgeous bouquet. My aunt helped me buy a simple dress and alter it. My parents paid for us to go out for dinner afterwards and got us a room in The Anniversary Inn for our wedding night. Everyone went out of their way to travel to Utah to be at our wedding. Maybe at the time I didn't realize how special it was. There were moments where I cried about not having my dream wedding. But sitting here writing this now makes me realize that that wedding was my dream wedding. It was more special than anything else we could have planned. Our families pulled together to give us everything they could to make our day perfect. I couldn't have felt more loved or been more grateful for it. I truly have wonderful family.




     
     
    Three weeks later, Brandon left my side to go fight for our freedom in Afghanistan. That first year was one of the biggest trials in my life. I struggled a lot and I missed my husband in an almost crippling way. However, I learned more about myself and my strength during that year than I had in any other time in my life. I grew up. I became the woman I am. I started this blog. =) Even though it was painful and difficult I would do that year over if I had the choice because the lessons I learned are priceless. Besides, the homecoming was like falling in love all over again. The return ceremony totally makes the time apart worth it.
     
    Still, we wanted to be able to celebrate with everyone. All our friends and family. We wanted to share our happiness with all who we loved. So we planned a big ring ceremony for after Brandon returned. At first I thought it would be strange. It didn't help that a lot of people that I grew up with didn't understand and made nasty comments about me having another ceremony. That I didn't deserve it or I was being greedy. However, we discovered that this sort of thing was and is very common in the military. There are lists of reasons why it is hard to get time off for big weddings and more so for why you want to be married rather than engaged for a long time. Besides, it's so much easier to save for a big wedding when you have a little bit more money coming in. The support I got from other military spouses was amazing. The people who were most important were excited. So on May 25th, 2012 we had a beautiful ring ceremony in Idaho. Everyone we could think of was invited. I got that "dream" wedding I wanted though I've grown to love my first one the most. We also were sealed for eternity in the Salt Lake City Temple on May 24th, 2012 as we are LDS (Mormons). All our family and friends once again went out of their ways to make us feel loved and to celebrate our union.  I guess that is one other thing that makes us military spouses lucky. We can have multiple weddings with one groom! Talk about every girls dream hahaha ;) We had gorgeous flowers and gorgeous company. My photographer was amazing. My cake was fantastic. My wedding party was perfect and fun. I couldn't have asked for more. It was one of the happiest two days of my life. Once again I found myself falling even deeper in love with Brandon even though I had no idea I could possibly love him more.

    And now here we are. Our present day life. My hubby is on his second tour to Afghanistan and I'm happily waiting for him. We are still crazy in love. Every day I find something else that I love about him. We are just like any other couple. We argue. We laugh. Sometimes we go to bed mad. We make up. We are normal and yet crazy. However, we stand apart too. We are willing to give everything up for this country. We are ok with separating for months at a time because we know that we are strong and nothing will change the love we share. We are proud. We are strong. We are a military family.
     
     
    T H E 
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           D
     
     
     
    Keep L i/o ving!
    




     

    Monday, August 5, 2013

    Silence On The Other Side

    So I've been trying to do a lot of blogs with tons of info in them for people who might be going through the same thing as me. However, today I'm going back to my roots and writing something that is purely emotion. Which means you can hate it if you want buuuut I'm still writing it.

    I am so beyond frustrated right now. I am fully ready to admit that this is just me being whiny cuz I was so spoiled last deployment, even though I didn't realize it. I got to talk to my husband either on Skype or by phone almost every day. Normally it was for a good amount of time too. However, this deployment is not turning out to be like that at all. A big part of it is because they are so busy. He has night shifts quite often. The first week he was out there I got nothing by a few Facebook messages here and there. Now it just kind of depends on the day. Which for me is very frustrating. I guess I like a schedule more than I thought I did. Or at least I do when it comes to a deployment.

    Anyways, I'm done complaining. Now that I've got all that out I think I need to focus more on the positive things from this deployment. Like that fact that I get to talk to him at all. It's not as common these days to not get to talk to your deployed spouse since we have the lovely internet, however, it does still happen. I have a friend who is lucky to hear her husband's voice a couple times a month. I don't know how she does it without going crazy, especially with her two small girls, but she is strong and I hardly ever hear her complaining. She is just happy that he is safe and that they have money coming in to help support their family. She sheds few tears and you hear her commenting on how every day is just one day closer to him coming home so there is something to celebrate every day. I love her strength and I try to be like her as much as I can. I have so much to be grateful for too. I at least hear from my man a couple times a week. The money we are getting from this deployment is helping us get out of debt so we can go back to school. I have worries but one of them is never where the next paycheck is coming from or how I'm going to pay my bills. My husband makes a huge sacrifice to make sure that I have what I need and I appreciate it in every way.

    There is another reason for being positive that I've been trying really hard to focus on lately. The fact that in a way, military spouses are lucky. Deployments are hard, awful at times. There isn't a lot to really love about them. Being separated from your other half can be depressing and torturous. However, I feel like we get a real chance to truly understand the depths of love. Without the bad we can't understand the good. So if we have the really bad then the good is that much more wonderful. You can't fully understand the depths of your love for someone until there has been a time when they aren't there. Missing someone is loving someone. Our bonds with each other are truly tested but look at how much stronger of a relationship we have if we survive a deployment. And don't you truly appreciate the here and now when you aren't sure of the future? I don't think I could have ever realized that I could love someone as much as I love my husband had I not let him walk onto the horrible white bus and leave for a year. I am lucky.

    Saturday, July 27, 2013

    Message From A Momma

    Hello everyone! So I had a great point brought up to me the other day by my mother. We were discussing my blog and what I should write about. She brought up a wonderful point. A lot of us just assume that our parents and our spouses parents know what is going on, but do they really? Stop and consider it. Is this their first time having a child or child-in-law deployed? We get lots of info from our spouse's units when they are getting ready to leave. Sometimes I think we forget that the others around us, including friends and other relatives, don't get that info unless we pass it along to them. I know when my hubby deployed the first time I didn't even stop to think about what other people might be feeling or thinking. I was all wrapped up in my pain and didn't realize that my mother was apparently totally scared and confused about how he was living over there. Some of the things she wanted to know about were so simple. Maybe we as spouses should focus on sitting down and talking about their lives in the sandbox more often. Give details about their living conditions and the areas around them. Show pictures if you have any. Encourage your spouse to send them pictures of his activities and day to day life as well. Besides, I think having something to focus on besides how much we miss them can't do any harm. =)

    One of the things that my mom said was that she was surprised to find out was that it isn't just desert. Afghanistan has several different climate regions. A large portion of where we are sending guys is desert but they also have forests and snow caps. There are gorgeous rivers and valleys. In my mom's mind he was going off to ride camels and run through sand dunes like some weird modern version of Aladdin. I'm sure somewhere in the country they do that but that was way beyond what my soldier was doing. I doubt very many of our men and women in the service are actually doing that. I'm not just talking about Afghanistan either. This goes for any place your spouse could be deployed. If the family and friends aren't familiar with the area it might be nice to share what you know of the place. This may seem like a totally insignificant detail but sometimes it's just encouraging to know. Maybe show them on a map. Look at pictures together on the internet and have your spouse send some photos home if he can.

    This leads right into another thing my mom wanted to know about. There living conditions. For some reason she had it in her head that they were living out of their bags, never getting to showers, and eating nothing but MREs. I never thought to explain the whole thing to her so she never really got the truth until he got home. Things like their sleeping quarters and DEFAC may seem totally unimportant to us but it can really help to reassure others that their soldiers are safe and taken care of. Make sure to pass on details of their every day life if your spouse isn't being able to talk to his family a lot. Imagine how it would be (or is) for you to not know what is going on every day. They might be feeling the same thing. Even telling them that nothing happened and he spent the entire day staring at a wall is better than wondering what he is up to and if he is any danger.

    So my main point is stop. Take a second to look at the people around you and wonder what they are wondering. This might be the time to sit down and start talking. Leave a comment with some of the topics you ended up discussing.

    Keep L i/o ving =)

    P.S.  Always keep OPSEC in mind when discussing the details of your spouses deployment! Remember this is for your soldier's safety as well as everyone he works with. I encourage people to pass on most of the information in person if that is possible.

    Tuesday, July 16, 2013

    Bye-bye, Baby, Bye-bye

    Deployment once again. I've discovered many things through the past several days since my main man left. The first being that the whole saying goodbye thing does NOT get any easier with experience. It helped to have an idea of how things were going to work. I held it together a little longer than last time but the tears were inevitable. It doesn't matter how many times you do it, watching your husband leave and knowing he won't be back for months breaks your heart all over again. Nothing can truly prepare you for the sight of your love climbing onto those buses and waving goodbye. Nothing can stop your heart from squeezing extra tight when you look around and see all the families gathered in little groups, hugging each other for the last time. There is just something bitter sweet about it all. Another thing is that there is a certain comfort in living on post when your husband is gone. Now I'm not staying here, I'm actually moving back with my parents in a few days, and I didn't stay last deployment either. However, hanging out for the past week and a half has given me a little peak into it. I went to the post office the other day to mail off my first care package full of goodies to my man. While there, several other woman came and went. They gathered up arm loads of flat rate boxes or stood in line to mail one off. I wasn't alone. For a second I felt overwhelmed with respect and love for these strangers because I knew what they were going through. I felt a comradery with these women that I couldn't have with anyone else. 

    There is a certain understanding that can only come from someone who is going through or has gone through a deployment. There are lots of people who are sympathetic and caring. They hug you. They wish you the best. They tell you their heart goes out to you. We love them and we appreciate them but they can't replace the people who look us in the eye and just know. They can't replace the tears shared or the times on our knees, praying together. They can't understand the pounding of our hearts when our phone rings and it's our loved one's voice on the other end. They can't feel the feelings of comfort as you fall asleep in the glow of your computer that sits forever signed into Skype. We love them, they love us. We need them but we also need our fellow spouses. Maybe next time I will stay on post. I feel like it is a whole different experience.


    *written a few days later*

    Finally made it to my parents house. Boy what a trip. It's good to be back in my home town not to mention on a farm. There is going to be PLENTY to keep me busy! My hubby is now at his FOB and has started to settle in. That right there makes things easier. I find the first few weeks of a deployment the hardest. One, you are trying to acclimate to them being gone. Two, they are traveling and can't tell you exactly where they are going so you are never quite sure where in the world they are. I don't know if that bothers other people but it is unnerving to me. Which leads into three, you hear from them very scattered and for only short amounts of time. They don't always have access to a phone or the internet. When they do it is normally borrowed so they only get a few min. Not to mention their schedule is all over the place. Once they finally arrive where they are supposed to be they get a set schedule (hopefully) and they normally get a chance to set up their internet. Cue the Skype dates! =)
    So now that he has been gone for almost 3 weeks I feel like things are starting to get a little more relaxed. It will be more so once we get him some internet that actually works hahaha. Honestly, I just feel blessed that we have the ability to use the internet over there now. So many people never had that chance with their spouses. It was letters or nothing. I'm not sure I would be able to stand that. We are truly lucky to have the technology that we have these days. Deployments will never stop sucking but little things like Skype make it just a little more bearable.

    For all my fellow spouses whose loved ones are gone, keep your chins up. My prayers are with you all.

    Keep L i/o ving!

    Tuesday, June 18, 2013

    It's Ok To Feel What You're Feeling

    First before I start anything I wanted to clear something up. I write this blog for ANY spouse, male or female. As I write, I tend to refer to husbands, him, his blah blah blah just because I'm writing from my perspective. But if your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, fiancĂ© (you get the picture) is in the military this also applies to you. Just switch the words around to fit your relationship. =)

    There was a request put out by a friend and reader to discuss the trials you run into as a young couple in the Army and some of the things we can do to try to keep up the connection.  As this is a broad topic, there are many ways that I could take this so I feel that trying to hit it all in one post might be difficult. I'm also going to broaden it a little and say as "couples" in the "military" since I think most of the issues that surface are ones that you can run into during any part of your marriage and in any military group. With the help of my husband, I sat down and made a list of issues that you tend to run into. We came up with a several and so I'm going to address each issue in separate blogs. This way we don't end up with a single blog that goes on forever and ever.
     So lets start with the day to day grind of garrison life. I'm having one of those weeks that explain some of trials of this life perfectly. My husband deploys in less than 2 weeks and yet he has missed lunch every day this week and been at work late every night. Today is no better. Not all problems come from being separated for months at a time, though those are the most talked about. There is a lot of stress and trouble the comes from the life of a soldier that is home. In some ways it can be even more infuriating than deployment life. It is when your spouse is home that you expect to see him. However, that isn't always the mindset of the people he may work under. This was a hard lesson that I had to personally learn (still kinda learning). Marrying someone in the military is not like marrying someone who works a 9 to 5 job. On top of being gone for a year or so at times, they also put in a LOT of hours at work. When they are thousands of miles away it's easy to understand why they aren't home and to be patient. That is not so when they are just a few min away and you are unable to see them and they miss lunch...and dinner...and even breakfast sometimes. There are higher ups that don't care and lower downs that just like to cause trouble. Some weeks it can seem like your husband lives at work and you're just a passing thought on his mind now and then.

    There is nothing worse than feeling like you come in second to your beloved's job. It's something that we expect but it doesn't make it any easier to swallow. The thing to keep in mind is that the job isn't actually more important than you, even though it can really really REALLY feel that way at times. In fact I'm about 99% sure that most of your honeys would much rather be at home with you rather than having a 14 hour work day that consists of listening to people whine and yell at them.

    So example time. This week has been hell on my husband and my nerves. We have a problem soldier that once again was causing major issues. He is one of those people that seems to think that the entire world revolves around them and is just blown away when he is told he can't do something because it conflicts with someone else's schedule. Which means, that most of the time, he just does what he wants anyways. You can imagine the trouble that causes with the platoon. My husband just happens to be the unlucky NCO that has him under him. It's been the cause of him missing meals all week. That would be irritating normally but when your less than 2 weeks out from deploying it kind of adds to the stress. I managed to keep my cool though, whined only a little, and threatened the man with bodily harm only a few times. =P But even I have my limit and my fuse is getting shorter and shorter lately. Problems caused by one soldier are always felt by the entire platoon. This week has had everyone on edge and frustrated. Not to mention the days are flying by and bringing us that much closer to a deployment that no one is looking forward to. Our solution was to organize a BBQ at our house in an attempt to lighten spirits and create a bond with the soldiers. This way the wives could get linked up as well, seeing as most of them are all first timers. This is something that the unit encourages all the time. You need friendship between the men desperately for deployments. It's the only way to feel comfortable with trusting those other people with your life. We have a lot of new soldiers who haven't had a chance to get to know anyone yet. But when the time came for the actual get together, someone decided all the NCOs needed to stay late to work for who knows why. Didn't matter that we had guests coming or that one of them needed to pick his kids up because his wife was out of town. Didn't matter than another man had been in a nasty custody battle and finally had his kids for a weekend. No one's life matters in that moment. It's all Army, all the time. Hooah. Get over it or get out is the attitude. We kept pushing the time back until it was obvious that it was just too late. And so we canceled something that we had spent a lot of time and money getting ready and disappointed a whole group of people. I haven't been that angry and crushed at the same time in a long time. I couldn't decide whether I wanted to cry or scream more. Hitting someone probably would have made me feel a little better but not a lot of people tend to offer themselves up for that kind of therapy. Hahaha. Point being there was a lot of emotion coursing through me and when my husband did manage to get home, he could sense it. It wasn't towards him but my emotional turmoil caused immediate tension between us. Part of me despising him for bringing me into a life where stuff like this happened and part of him feeling the guilt of doing just that along with the frustration of being blamed for something he couldn't control. All in all, just a bunch of angry feelings that didn't belong being directed at each other.

    This can be a very common "disagreement" that happens in a military home. Though neither person is actually responsible for the issue at hand, we tend to lash out at the people we love because we don't have anywhere else to put that frustration and we know they will forgive us. They love us after all. But that isn't the right answer. So how do we properly work through this kind of situation? How do we deal with the crazy-making? How do we still smile when our love walks in 2 hours late for dinner and the food has become cold? The answers might not be what you want to hear. They are far from easy. They work though, if you are willing to work at it.

    Patience. It's not easy to come by and it's the last thing that you want to be told to have but the truth is it plays a major part in dealing with military life. There isn't much you can do as a spouse to change the situations that happen. Its just how things are. You can't make them send your husband home. You can't make them care. You can, however, make the personal choice to take a deep breath when it happens and push forward. Wrangle in your own emotions when your husband does get home. Still meet him at the door with a smile and a kiss. Most likely, after the day he has had, he really needs that. It's ok to feel frustrated and angry, the situation sucks, but be very careful that you are not directing any of those feelings onto your spouse. Make sure he is aware that you don't blame him. He needs your support more than anything when he spends the day being torn down. If you are still fuming when he comes home then the best thing to do is to stay away. Tell him you love him, explain that you are angry and need to cool off, and then go do something that is relaxing for you. Go for a run, take a bubble bath, turn up your music and dance through the house. Do whatever you need to do to lighten your spirit. When you feel better, immediately go back to your spouse and show them affection. Ask them how they are doing. Let them talk if they need to. You had your release from the stress, now it's their turn. Keep in mind though (and my husband agrees with this) that your spouse, no matter how awful of a day they've had, has no right to bring it home and take it out on you. The rules of emotional dumpage goes both ways. If they come stomping through the door yelling about how their dinner better be ready, you need to let them know that you are also angry but trying to react appropriately and you would like them to do the same. Later on, sit down together and discuss what would work best for your family. Make sure there is an open communication about each other needs. Some spouses need time to cool off while others may need you there as soon as they walk through the door to listen to them talk. Only you and your spouse can decide what works best for you. Whatever you decide that is, make sure it is nondestructive towards either person and then make a plan to stick to it no matter what happens.

    Be flexible. That is so much easier said then done but it HAS to be done in this life. Go back to my example for a min. So BBQ gets canceled. Everyone is sad and grumpy. I pout a little. Then we decided we weren't going to let the Army win. We called everyone and rescheduled for a few days later since we had the day off. Instant excitedness again. It wasn't our original plan, it made it a little harder to be ready for, but in the end it worked out. Even the rain that poured all day couldn't stop us. We still had a great time, ate some good food, and made some new friends. You have to be willing to look past the ruined now and plan for a better future. It's never a "this way or no way" kind of deal when you are in the military. Or so my husband would say "Remember, only a Sith deals in absolutes."

    I want to leave you with the understanding that life in garrison can be just as stressful as deployment life, even though you get to see your husband more often. The only difference is you don't have the distance to "cushion" the blows. Learning to properly communicate with each other is the best thing you can do for your relationship. Learning this early on as a young couple will give you a wonderful head start for your entire life, not just the military part. Now go give your spouse some suga! =)

    Keep L i/o ving!

    Tuesday, June 11, 2013

    The Wows and Woes of the Army

    WOW! The past couple of months have really shown me how unstable the military life can be. We always count on a timeline. Even if we are the most spontaneous people, there is a point where you want to be able to plan for your future. Now we all know that the military is not known for it's ability to give a lot of warning on things but it was still a surprise when they decided they were deploying some of our guys in less than a month. Talk about utter panic. There was no time to deal, no time to plan. Women who were planning on moving back home while their husband's were deployed were suddenly in a whirlwind of confusion, trying to pack and make plans as fast as possible. But first....just tears. Everyone was crying. Everyone was holding their breathe waiting to see if their husband would be chosen to deploy. I have never been so stressed. And then the bombs dropped. We were fortunate to not be chosen but several of our good friends were. They're families were devastated. Our fellow soldiers were pulled from their friends and throw into other units with people they had never worked with before. It was madness. They have now been gone for a few weeks. I wish them all the best and my prayers and love go out to their families. May they all come home safely.

    We are now getting ready for Brandon to deploy. Though we had a little bit more warning that the other families, it has still been a shockingly sudden development. We spent months being told we MIGHT deploy (not exactly the most comfortable state to live in), then it went to "you are 100% NOT deploying" after they pulled half our unit out to send out with other people. Just as we were getting comfortable with that idea there was a 180 degrees flip and now they are leaving in only a few weeks. I was planning to move back with family after he was gone but since he is leaving sooner than we first expected I don't think I'll be all packed by then. Looks like I'll be sticking around for awhile afterwards. Oh well, I have a wedding to be in anyways. No matter, now it begins. All the scrambling to prepare and to spend as much time with your spouse as possible. Every moment apart becomes so much more excruciating as the days tick away and the date of deployment sneaks ever closer. We start to appreciate more each kiss, each moment snuggled against each other. I love yous are dropped more often and you drink in the long stares into each other's eyes. These are the moments that build a lasting relationship through the times apart. Deployment is never easy but seasoned families have their routines to go through that make it just a little bit better. Study them. You'll start to see what I mean.
    It begins now. The rushing to get ready. The turbo packing. The flustered arguments and the passionate make ups. This is the time that stress really sets in. You normally hear all about the sweet parts of deployment. The happy reunions and the affectionate send offs. What people seem to forget is that despite our "infinite wisdom" (hahaha yah right) we are still humans who are very very much affected by stress. More so than we like to admit or let show. We react in the same ways that most people do. We fight, we cry, we lose sleep. The only thing different is that we only have so long to make up before our spouse leaves and so we tend to let things go a lot faster than we would in a normal situation. Not sure if that is good or bad yet hahahaha. Point is we are survivors but we are also normal couples with normal emotions. So if you know someone who is a military spouse (or you are one yourself) don't pass up opportunities for hugs and words of encouragement, even if everything seems to be under control. You can't imagine how much something as simple as that can give us just the boost we need to get through the day.
    Despite all the frustration it comes with though, I wouldn't give up this life I have. There is nothing easy or simple about being a military spouse but there is something blessed about it. Every day is a new chance to grow and to strengthen yourself. I have learned more about myself in these past couple years than I had in all the 20 years prior. I have found an inner strength in me that I never knew existed. So even though there are a lot of "cons" to this life, there are still a lot of "pros" as well. =) Now excuse me....I have to go pack some more. =S

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

    It's That Time Again. Deployment. Yuck! What Do I Need To Do To Be Ready?

    So after a long break from blogging I decided it was time to jump back into it. Especially since we are currently beginning to prepare for a second deployment. =( I never thought that I would be going through another deployment much less one this close. We were honestly expecting to get out of the military. However, due to issues with my health we ended up having to reenlist. In fact my hubby is having his reenlistment ceremony next week.
    They leave this summer. Only a few more months to prepare. Even though we have done this before I am kind of overwhelmed and swept up in a flurry of actions, attempting to be somewhat prepared for this, not that you really can ever be truly ready for when your other half leaves you. Luckily, since we do have some experience we got down to the immediate decisions fairly quick.

    First, it must be decided where you are going to live while your lovely soldier is running around with his gun over on the other side of the world. Lots of women like to stay on post or in their housing that is close to post. They all agree that the support is amazing since you are surrounded by many other families that are going through the exact same thing as you. There are also a lot of programs on post that are designed for the families of deployed soldiers. Schools are more lenient and understanding if you decide to go on a long vacation and take the kids out of school. So no matter if you are a mother with several kids or just a wife alone, there is always someone to help keep your spirits up. The down fall is if you haven't made a lot of friends or built some kind of support group and you are far from other family members or friends you may end up feeling completely alone and abandoned.
    There is also the choice to move back with family. I know a lot of wives that like to have the extra support of another family member when taking care of the kids. It's also a great way to save money as you won't have to pay rent (or as much of it.) The downfall here is that families don't always quite understand what you are going through and even if they mean well, they don't always give you what you need. Still it can be a great experience. I personally decided that since I have no children and we are trying to pay off debt that I would rather move back in with my parents. That way I can also spend time with the family I never get to see because they are so far away. That might play a part in your choice as well.

    Second, if you have decided to move, it is logical to figure out when you are moving and how you are going to move. A lot of women move before their husband leaves since it is easier with his help. Keep in mind though that this may mean that you have to spend his last couple of weeks on US soil apart if you move far away from post. There is the option of moving after he leaves, but you must make sure you have the proper help. We are planning to put most of my stuff in storage since my parents still have my childhood room open to me. This makes the move a lot simpler. We are still arguing over whether I will move across the states during his block leave or if I'll move on my own after he leaves. I prefer the second choice....my over protective husband thinks I'll get lost during the 28 hr drive to the West. hahahaha

    You also need to make sure you take care of the important legal stuff. Make an appointment with JAG so that you know everything is being properaly taken care of. You need to have a Power of Attorney done. This is a document that your husband signs that makes it so you can act as him in legal things while he is gone. In other words when you sign your name on something you are signing for him as well. So you have access to his bank accounts. You can buy a house or car without him there. All that good stuff. Watch out guys because this means that if your wife decides to buy a pig farm while you are gone, then you are returning as a pig farmer! =P
    You will also need to make or update your Wills. If you have never done one before, don't worry, JAG will walk you through it. The main thing here is to try to decide before hand who you want to give your stuff too. You'll be asked, that in the case that you both pass away, where will your stuff go. It's best to have that all decided before you go in. Things go much smoother and faster that way.
    Don't forget to create or update your Medical Directive too. If you haven't done one of these before it's basically a document that says, if you are unable to make medical decisions yourself for whatever reason (example being you are in a coma,) then this is what you want done. It is VERY important to sit down and talk about some of these major choices with your spouse before going in. We hadn't even thought about some of the things they asked us and it left us staring at each other like idiots a few times. Talk about what each of you wants should either of you end up in a situation where you have to be on life support. This is an uncomfortable  topic for some people but it is best if it is decided now. Also discuss the idea of being an organ donor. See if either of you feels strongly either way about it.
    Last, but not least, if you have children you need to create a Family Care Plan. This is just a plan that is about what to do with the kids in case something happens that causes both parents to be unable to care for them. That includes both being stuck at work after school gets out to one parents being deployed and the other getting in an accident. It's a major babysitting plan on paper basically. That way your children are always taken care of. Make sure you both agree on who you decide to include in the plan. Don't forget to tell the people you do include in it what your plan is and make sure they are okay with it.
    After you have all of these documents made up it is important for you to make several copies of them and store them in different places so that you never lose them. Put a copy in your family safe. Make up a folder to take with you wherever you go that has copies of them. You will never know when they are needed. Always make sure you never run out of copies. It's a good idea to scan them into your computer if you are able to. This may seem over the top but I promise you that you will be one very sad and frustrated wife if one of these papers turns up missing. Include copies of all your insurance policies too. You will also need to include copies of your spouses Orders. Surprisingly, lots of people are going to want copies of these. The same rules apply to their Orders that apply to all the legal paperwork. Do NOT lose or run out of copies. Otherwise, you have no proof that you have a spouse over seas. Believe me when I say that causes major issues that you don't need in your already stressful life.

    Next, in your wonderful list of To Dos, is to make sure you are enrolled in DEERS and that all your information is up to date. Don't forget to go in and change your address should you make the choice to move  for the deployment. No one will be able to get information about your spouse to you if they don't have your right contact info. It's best to review your info at least once a year to make sure your info is correct even if your not going through a deployment. This is the only way you exist to the Army. Also keep in mind that if you move you must update your Tricare information. You might move out of your current region and need to be enrolled in a different one.

    Make sure you have good connections with your FRG. Go to the meetings they have before the deployment. If you stay on post go to the ones they have during the deployment. If you move make sure you know your key caller and have her contact info as well as the contact info of the FRG leaders. This way you can get a hold of them if you have questions. They will be your main source of info about your spouse and his unit while they are deployed.

    There are a few things that will seem so insignificant during all this preparation that you may forget them. They should, however, have a moment of your attention. Make sure that you have all your bills taken care of. If there are any bills that your spouse pays, get the info about them from him and make sure you know what needs to be done to keep them current. This includes things like gas, water, car, phone, internet, and school fees. Don't wait until the bills are late before trying to get them figured out.
    If you aren't good with vehicles make sure that your husband helps you get you car in top shape. Change the oil, get new tires if needed, take it to the shop for a check up. You will be miserable if the day after your spouse leaves the car starts making funny noises. Maintenance should also be done on your home and it's appliances. Don't forget things like your lawn mower or weed whacker. It never fails, when the man leaves everything starts going wrong so try to get a step ahead of it by doing a double check of everything before he goes.

    Now to the last thing. This is something that most everyone cringes away from. We hate it. We don't even want to think about it much less talk about it. It still stands, though, that it NEEDS to be talked about. It's the dreaded "What happens if you die" conversation. None of us want to consider for a moment that we might lose the person we love most dearly but the hard truth it...he is going to war. You can't hide in a bubble of "Oh, that would never happen to me." I'm not saying that you need to live your life assuming he will die. That is just horrible. But you do need to be reasonable. And being reasonable is accepting the fact that having plans already decided will make things a lot easier if, God forbid, it does happen. Here are a list of questions that you and your spouse should consider. These are questions that the surviving spouse will be asked in the days following the death. This list comes from a wonderful book, Seperated By Duty, United In Love: A Guide to Long-Distance Relationships for Military Couples by Shellie Vandevoorde.

    Red Cross
    Will you agree to donate your loved one's organs?
    If yes, you will need to provide a twenty to thirty minute phone interview with the Red Cross worker.

    Funeral Details
    What clothing will your loved one be buried in?
    If military uniform, which one?
    Will ribbons or medals be displayed on the uniform?
    Will your loved one be buried with his or her wedding ring?
    Do you want your loved one to have the wedding ring on during viewing and taken off before burial?
    What type of casket will you choose, wooden or metal?
    Will your loved one be cremated?
    Do you have information for an obituary?
    Where will the funeral services be conducted?
    Would you like to say something at the funeral or have your thoughts read by someone else?
    Would you like anyone to speak at the funeral? If yes, who?
    Will this be a military funeral?
    Who will conduct the funeral?

    Cemetery
    Will your loved one be buried in a private cemetery of national cemetery?
    What cemetery will you loved on be buried in?
    If that cemetery is unavailable, give a second choice,third choice.[Check to see if your cemetery of choice allows up-right headstones and if veterans are honored on special occasions.]
    For the one left behind, would you prefer a graveside funeral or pavilion service at the time of burial?

    Papers
    Do you have your original marriage license? Where?
    Divorce papers?
    Adoption papers?
    Insurance documents, car, home, life.
    Titles or registrations or both to vehicles, boats, motorcycles, other recreation vehicles?
    Bills, credit cards, bank accounts, savings account.
    Service member's prior awards and certificates?
    Photos of service member and family?

    Housing
    Will you be moving from your current location?
    If you live in military housing, do you know where you will move to?

    I know that just reading through these makes your heart wrench and your stomach feel sick, but can you imagine how much harder it will be to deal with if you have to make all the decisions alone, days after you receive notification? Trust me and just suffer through a few moments of awful conversation now.

    If you do the things that I have listed you may not feel any more ready for your spouse's deployment but you will be on a good path to having a smooth going of it. Now there may be other things that you might need to do to feel prepared, every family is different, but these are the basics. Feel free to share in the comment section below some of the things you do to get ready for a deployment! We'd all sure like to learn new ways to feel less stressed.

    Keep L i/o ving!






    P.S. It never hurts to learn to shoot a gun! =)