“It’s OK, Charlie…”

 

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I recently commiserated with a friend on Facebook about the trials of shopping with unhappy children and the looks strangers give us. As we swapped stories of our shopping ventures with our unhappy kids it got me thinking about this one time..

My younger son was about 4 and he was not in a good mood while we were shopping at the Commissary.  As I paused to look at crackers I must have had the look of “Is this worth it or should I just call it?” on my face because a sweet old retiree gently put his hand on my shoulder and said:

“One time I was shopping and this father was there with his son who was acting just like your little boy. The dad walked up and down the isles saying, “It’s Okay, Charlie, we are almost done.” By the time he was done and got to the check out the cashier made a comment about Charlie having a rough day to which the dad said, “Oh, he’s not Charlie, I am.”

He gave me a soft smile squeezed my shoulder and reminded me all kids are like this and just keep going. I’ll never forget his compassion and willingness to take time to remind me I’m not alone.

Military spouse, we live a pretty tough life. Some days we’ve worked a long day and just need a few things before going home. Some days we are sick with no spouse home and just need to get some relief. Some days kids are just kids giving us a hard time. We’ve all been Charlie and we all need to have a compassionate retiree to tell us a story and change our day. I hope this story is that for you.

“It’s OK, Charlie. All kids are like this from time to time. Just keep going. And remember, you are never alone.”
~From one compassionate spouse to the one who needs the reminder

PS…The sunset picture is because they always bring people a level of peace and happiness. 

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Yes, I’ve Been Away

It’s been a long time, I know. Maybe entirely too long but, you know, life…..

Over the last several months I’ve been going through quite a bit of change in my life both on the outside and the inside. It has caused me to look at writing and blogging differently. It has left me confused with what direction to go in, do I keep up where I’m at or do I take a different route? I still don’t know but I feel like I should at least share with you what I’ve been up to and what you can expect in the future.

In January I took on a new volunteer job (in addition to the others) and it was a lot more work than I had expected. Also, my running club chapter doubled in size and that also created more work. As it turns out training for a marathon is quite time consuming, too. Time was just very limited and somewhere in all that I had to make room for my family. My children give me quite a hard time when I’m on the computer too much and with my days filled with meetings, computer work and running my nights had to be given to them. So, with time an issue I gave up some stuff and this little blog was one.

Truth is, I’ve missed writing and sharing my life. I know it has helped people, maybe not a lot but some and that is better than none. But, writing (blogging specifically) doesn’t come without it’s critics. Being a sensitive person, I find them hard to manage emotionally. The longer I was away the harder it has become to put myself  back out there and be vulnerable to said critics.

About a month ago I had decided to archive this blog at the end of the year. Now that I have had time away I’ve had time to reflect on that decision. It has given me another perspective: life without writing and I don’t know if I want to give that part of my life up.

So, will I archive this blog and move on? I honestly don’t know yet. I think I have some internal demons to battle to find the answer.

There you have it.

Oh and the marathon?

I completed it in 5:33:33.10497155_10204671103406054_2846241127892904240_oIt was an incredible experience and I’m so happy I did it and stuck with my goal even my darkest moments of self doubt.

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The Struggle With The Future

It’s been a long road in this military life and retirement is just around the next bend. You can see it and feel it and taste it and all it’s stability. It looks so enticing that you are empowered to keep moving forward and start envisioning your plan for the future. Then it happens….. The other person (the one in the military) says they are staying or even worse, told they have to stay and it all comes crumbling down.

So long Stability I’ll see you at the next race! Sigh…

Yea, that’s about how I feel right now. During the summer of 2013 I started preparing mentally for the end. It’s a hard thing to grasp when the military ways have been the only way of life you have known for the last 18 years. Leaving and retiring can be a scary thing because when it comes right down to it in all our instability there is major stability. The kind you don’t really think about often because the unstable stuff is always in your face like moving.

So, on those many lonely days while my husband was gone I got over my fear of not having our stable military life. In fact, I had completely embraced it. I was ready!!! I was ready to stop moving our kids, to find a job for myself and own a home and be really stable (i.e. not moving anymore). I was so sure of my feelings I started thinking of how I would tell my husband how I felt and then it happened, promotion.

It was so exciting and I knew it was the absolutely the right path for us. But, I’m struggling to accept that we could be at this for another 15 years. FIFTEEN!!! When I broke down the math and realized that our children wouldn’t just be older but on their own after college I got sad. Really sad…. I think I embraced the leaving too much. I just feel so done with it all. So instead of embracing leaving, I now have to embrace staying.

My husband is right in that the longer he stays in the better his retirement will be which will only help us in the long run. But, it’s hard to accept that right now. Hawaii is wonderful. I have a running club I love and great friends and I feel like I’m living a dream come true. Then I see all that I am missing being here and being so far away from all “the action” that I feel trapped. I want the stability and the ability to find my footing professionally.

It’s a delicate balance right now. The what’s right for me and what’s right for the whole family. I wish I had a tip or answer to overcome this personal struggle because I’m pretty sure there are readers in the same boat. It’s tough and maybe there isn’t a good answer but to keep doing it and get over the wall because someday the finish line will be in our sights again.

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It Might Be Paradise But It’s Still Life

I wrote a piece for SpouseBuzz last year about reasons why Hawaii isn’t always paradise and many, many readers either didn’t read the article or didn’t understand the point of it. Whatever the reason the comments were less than nice and showed me that people will say just about anything even if they don’t know the person (I also learned to never read the comments except on my own blog).  Since then I think about that piece often and wonder if I still have the same feelings and the honest truth is, I do.

Hawaii is so beautiful. I mean like every sunset and beach could be a magazine photo beautiful. In fact, the photos in magazines don’t even come close to how beautiful this place is. When I go on a hike or trail run and get to the summit and look out over the island I stand in amazement that I get to live here. I live in paradise! The weather is so awesome (even on the rainy days and when the vog blankets the sky) that I haven’t stepped into a gym since a month or so after I got here. Who wants to be with sweaty people when you can listen to the birds or smell the flowers and the ocean? Not me!

But, I live here and I’m not on a three year vacation. That’s right I live the same life I did in Norfolk and Japan and New Orleans. Each morning I get up, get kids ready for school, do housework, send emails, grocery shop, run kids to practices, doctor appointments, and so on. You get it because you live a life, too, it just might not be in paradise.

Well, when you live life and are not on vacation the daily stressors are still there and just because you live in a much desired vacation spot doesn’t mean life becomes perfect like the pictures. We still have really bad days when we miss our deployed spouse so much you can actually feel your heart hurt. The finical burdens of student loans don’t disappear because we get to see rainbows on a regular basis. Kids still struggle with transition even though they can go to the beach because guess what? They want the friends from the previous duty station to be with them (and so do their parents’).

So, while we get to live in a really cool place don’t forget that it’s our life, a military life and sometimes we struggle. And sometimes we just need to complain about it. Living in Hawaii doesn’t magically make it all go away; life still happens. The good, the bad and the ugly.

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A Time For Change

Dear Reader,

Over the course of the last two years I have filled this blog with many tips, ideas and resources to help you live a happy and successful military life. The initial intent of Tips From The Homefront was to help you, the reader, find ways to make your life a little easier. I dabbled in other things to keep you on your toes and they were fun for me to write, too. However, in writing those other posts I was discovering a new side of the writer in me and I liked it… A LOT! Sadly, I got a little criticism for doing so. Readers wanted to me keep writing about tips for our life so I went back to writing on the old topics.

Here’s the problem with that…. I’m losing ideas. I have also noticed lots and lots of other blogs write about the same things. So staying fresh and originally is getting increasingly difficult, too. No writer wants to feel like their ideas are taken and rewritten by someone else. I was beginning to feel trapped and I wanted to change.

When I read a recent Epilog to a blog I love it really left me confused and sort of down. I shared the authors struggle but didn’t want the same out come they had. Which was to leave the blogosphere. No, I don’t want to do that. I love writing and wanted to keep doing it. But, something has to change and it is the platform for this blog.

This leaves me to what direction will this blog be going in then?

Well, I currently am in a time where I see life very differently than I did when I started writing. I want to be able to share my thoughts with readers.  After all, isn’t sharing thoughts and feelings helpful, too?

I also want to start supporting causes and movements through this blog.  Sometimes, that means writing about that and not at all my life. Bringing issues to light and hoping to make change for the better. Isn’t that helpful, too? I think so.

So, here it is.. Tips From The Homefront isn’t going anywhere. Neither are the 80 posts filled with helpful tools or the Resource Page. But, the content is taking a different coarse. One where you learn more about who I am as a person, my personal struggles and triumphs. I’m going to share the issues with the military that are near and dear to me and effect me and my family and our community.

I hope you stick around for the journey and enjoy the content to come.

Love, Kate

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7 Ideas To Keep Kids Busy During Bad Weather

 The Polar Vortex 3 (or something like that) and huge snow storm has everyone on the east coast bundled up and hunkered down these days. I’m sure your kids are all stir crazy and you are running out of activities to do with them.  The beauty and novelty has warn off and it’s time for change!

Since we have the pleasure of PSCing most military families have lived through some type of weather related incident where they are stuck with their kids in doors.  We are talking everything from heat waves to hurricanes to blizzards to the polar vortex of 2014 (Where did that name come from?).  So, this begs the question, What can we do with our children when they have cabin fever?

Well, I’ve been through plenty in my 10 plus years of military life and I’ve got a few tips up my sleeve.

1. Go to the movies.  This one is great for super cold and super hot days. Check and see if you installation has a theater.  They are cheap and very relaxed so you can bring blankets and such. Plus, who doesn’t love standing for the anthem before they watch a feature film? If not, lots of time theaters will run $1 specials for old movies. This is most common in the summer, so tuck that one away for the next heat wave.

2.  Bring outdoor games inside.  Now, I don’t mean play a game that will break something. I’ve made hopscotch with tape, set up obstacle courses and played hide and seek to name a few. Another good one for older children is a scavenger hunt.

3.  Bounce houses for little kids. If you have a high energy kid find a place that house an indoor play room or bounce house. In the hot New Orleans summers I used to take the boys for ice cream or a milkshake at McDonalds just so they could play.

4.  Teen Centers for older children.  Most all installations have a teen center. Send them there! It gets their moody selves out of the house and a chance to see their friends.

5.  Go outside for 30 mins. I know it can be hard on the parent. There were many days I can remember just wanting to be inside but kids need the fresh air. Take them to the pool for 30 mins before the lifeguard blows the whistle for swim break. In the cold make them shovel the walk ways. Something to get them out! But, always be mindful of temperature warnings. Super hot or super cold sometimes means using another tip.

6.  Give them some extra chores. My kids grumble but after a few days of boredom they will do anything to pass the time.

7.  If you have a generator hook up the TV for an hour. When the power is out kids these days get bored fast if they can’t go outside or play a game or watch a favorite TV show. So the TV becomes a novelty and their quiet will help you recharge your battery and get the break you need.

Every time I find myself in this position with restless kids I have to find my patience. It’s hard because most times I find myself tapped out both mentally and emotionally. I want an hour of quiet and time to run and see my friends. But, bad weather can leaves us all struggling. These are just a few suggestions to get you back on track and through the cold or hot or stormy winter and summer months.

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Benefits To Bucket Listing Your Duty Station

The orders come in and they aren’t exactly what you had hoped for.  Every emotion runs through you from disappointment to frustration to hope.  Then reality sets in and you begin to think how are you going to get through the next few years happy?  The answer could be in creating a bucket list.

Why can a buck list be beneficial? Well, I asked my friends and they gave me few that I will share. It was quite insightful because having a bucket list is not something I have ever done.  Here is what they had to say:

1.  Ensures that you experience local culture.  I can tell you first hand that this is so true! Even without a bucket list I’ve done and seen some really unique things.

2.  You will leave without regretting not seeing enough.  This is also so true! I wonder if I had created a bucket list while in Japan and I had seen more I could have walked away with a different perspective.

3.   Helps you find an activity you might enjoy.  Like trail running for me here in Hawaii. That was something I never envisioned doing ever. But, I took the opportunity and now I’m hooked! Every time I get to a summit and lookout over the beautiful Hawaiian landscape I can’t help but be grateful I gave it a try.

4.  Gets you out of the house and away from the installation.  I often hear spouses don’t like driving (ME!) or the thought of getting lost scares them or what ever the reason is and so they stay close to home.  Having that bucket list forces you out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid! GO FOR IT!

Since my family has not ever done a bucket list before I’m going to for this duty station.  I always have wishes but sometimes they don’t happen.  Like the fact that we never did hike Mount Fuji in Japan or go to Jazzfest in New Orleans.  Maybe the bucket list would have help make those things possible. I’ll never know but it can’t hurt to create one for this duty station and watch the list get checked off.

What is on your bucket list for your current duty station?

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