What branch is your husband in? How long has he been in? My husband is active duty Army, and left for basic training on September 3, 2008...two days before my birthday!
How long have you been married? What is your favorite wedding-day memory? We have been married for nearly three years. My favorite wedding day memory is just before I walked down the aisle, peeking through the glass panes at the back of the church, sneaking a look at my future husband. And, having "tunnel vision" as I walked down the aisle - all I could see was him. Our wedding day was really a blur; but, I remember all the emotion - especially the love!
Do you have children? How do you help them cope with military-life? We have a two-year-old daughter, Eden, and we are expecting our son, Patton, in late May/early June. We also have a family dog, Simon, who is a beagle-mix and referred to as "Pawvite First Class" in our house. Thus far, we haven't had to deal with some of the major issues that military kids can face. Our daughter is very adaptable to different situations and sees our moving as family adventures.
When Daddy is away (to schools or deployment) we try to prepare her as much as possible with lots of family talks. We video-recorded my husband reading her favorite books, keep lots of pictures of Daddy around, talk about why Daddy is away, and send him lots of packages, photos, and artwork. We are so very blessed to have technology these days - email, instant messenger, Skype, etc.
One of my favorite things that our family has done is when we made a Family Mission Statement. My husband and I compiled our goals and expectations that we have for our family, and "mapped out" how we plan to get there. Our hope is that, by having these things in writing and discussing them often with our children, the volatility that military life can cause will be diminished and will help our family thrive.
How many deployments have you been through? How many PCSs? This is our first deployment; my husband left at the end of February. We have PCSed twice - from Michigan to Georgia, and from Georgia to Texas.
When someone asks... “What can I do for you?” What is your response? What would you really like to say? When someone asks what they can do for me, I usually respond with something like "Keep us in your thoughts and prayers." I'm not very good at asking for help unless I'm very close with the person; but, some of my best experiences thus far have been of being able to call friends day or night, and when a very dear friend watched our little girl did my dishes while I was dealing with an emergency. Being able to come home to a sleeping child and a neat kitchen was such a relief.
Where has your favorite post been? Why? Having only been at two posts thus far in my husband's career, I don't have a plethora of knowledge and experience from which to speak. However, we are currently at Fort Bliss (El Paso, TX) and WE LOVE IT. We are both originally from Michigan, so the "wild west" lifestyle was quite foreign to us. Also, being so close to the U.S.- Mexico border (and Juarez, Mexico's drug war situation) made me very nervous. After being here for just a week, we'd fallen completely in love. First and foremost, my husband and I are both enamored with the mountain views; it is just beautiful and breath-taking morning, noon and night. We are also enjoying being in such a diverse area; brushing up on my high school and college Spanish language skills has been a must!
Where do you find the support you need when you need it? When I need support, I usually turn to one of three people - my mom, my best college girlfriend, and my best military wife girlfriend. Depending on the situation and how I'm feeling, I know exactly who to call. I'm also (finally!) getting involved in the FRG and I'm learning to network that way. When I need to vent (anonymously) I like to connect with other spouses on the Military Spouse website (www.milspouse.com).
What do you miss most about “civilian life”? What I miss most about "civ life" is being able to live where I want, and see my family and friends whenever I want - none of those decisions would be based on the military and their needs, if my husband weren't serving. The trade-off is that 1) we now have the opportunity to live in some amazing places and meet some really great people, 2) our visits with family and friends are that much more special and cherished, and 3) moving to a new town where you don't know anyone else is really a family bonding experience!
What do you love most about “military life”? I love having the opportunity to see the world - mostly the States at this point, but I'd love it if we were stationed overseas. I also really love being able to expose our children to this whole different culture that is military life; it is our hope that it will give them a greater appreciation of the sacrifice that their Dad, and all the many men and women before and after him, have given. What I have really come to appreciate about military life is that we have quickly made "forever friends" that we love like family and will stay in touch with regardless of distance.
What in "military life" could you really do without? The "unknowns" and constant changes. Nothing in the military is certain until is has already happened! I am definitely a "planner," and not being able to plan can really drive me crazy. Perhaps it's meant to be a good learning experience for me...!
What are you passionate about? I'm passionate about a lot - education, community involvement and leadership, writing, family traditions and memories for our kids, politics, pro-life issues...the list could go on, but I think that's a fair overview.
What is your favorite color and why? My favorite color is cerulean blue - I like how I look and feel when I wear it. I also like green, for two reasons - it's the color of the uniform that my hubby looks best in (his Class As), and it's the color of my hubby's and my daughter's eyes. She looks so much like him that when I miss him, I just have to look at her.
Do you have a favorite quote? What is it?
"At the end of our lives, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made or how many great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat. I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless and you took me in.’
Hungry not only for bread-but hungry for love.
Naked not only for clothing-but naked of human dignity and respect.
Homeless not only for want of a room of bricks-but homeless because of rejection.
This is Christ in distressing disguise." - Mother Teresa
This is my favorite quote because it reminds me of something that I'm often told, and something that, I think, we should all remember: Things are not important, people are. You may not remember a present that someone gave you, but you will remember how you were treated. At the end of the day, all we really have are relationships and the love we give to each other.
When you move to a new base what is one of the first things you do? To be honest, I find the nearest grocery store and start unpacking! My husband loves to go out and explore the post and the city, whereas I'm very concerned with getting settled at home. We've learned how to compromise in this area - unpack in the morning, fun in the afternoon (or vice versa); I appreciate that he encourages me to enjoy and get to know our new town.
Has anyone in the community (business, church, neighbor off base, etc etc) ever gone out of their way to help you, as the spouse of a military-member? Who? What did they do? No one has really gone out of their way within in the community. Several times I have had someone thank me, and my husband and our family, for the sacrifice that we make collectively. That really means a lot to me - when people recognize that military life can hard on everyone.
Do you use on base facilities? Commissary? PX? MWR? Child Care? Services of that nature. Why would you recommend one of these services in specific? I do use post facilities. I love using the Commissary and PX because the prices are equivalent to civilian stores, and we don't pay tax. Once we moved to Georgia and didn't know anyone, we really used the MWR to take part in fun family activities and meet others. My husband and I also did a chaplain-sponsored, military-based marriage retreat to Chateau Elan while in Georgia. All expenses were paid (other than transportation to and from the facility), including lodging at the chateau, all meals, child care, and retreat materials. It was meant for people in all stages of marriage - newlyweds or those celebrating 20 years, high point in the marriage or struggling, preparing for deployment or dealing with homecoming issues. It was fun and relaxing; and, we both learned a lot.
Thank you for wonderful insights and small yet meaningful glimpse of your military way of life, Jane! Want to keep up with Jane? Read her personal blog at http://www.blissfulstedmans.wordpress.com/. You can also find her at the the Examiner.com as the El Paso Military Families examiner: http://www.examiner.com/x-38126-El-Paso-Military-Families-Examiner.
- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com
PS: "Attached is a favorite photo of my two favorite people. Taken when my hubby graduated from Basic Training. Little Eden was just over one year old and very excited to see Daddy again."