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Bye To Schweinfurt

download (17)In March of 2006, my oldest son Daniel and I flew to Germany to join my husband at his first duty station. Daniel was just 18 months old and we had been waiting to join him for the past 4.5 months. It would have been longer but we decided to buy our own tickets and head over once the Command Sponsorship was done. They sent us our No fee passports about 6 weeks later.

I remember when we flew in. I didn’t know what to expect. I had never been to Europe before, I hadn’t even been out of the US unless you could mission trips to Mexico. We were tired and so ready to be back with Ben.

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Ben met me at the airport and we took the train to Schweinfurt, our first duty station. I remember sitting there watching all the business people on their cell phones thinking, this is a lot like America. In some ways Germany is like America, in other ways it is completely different as I would soon learn.

We got back to our apartment which was a third floor stairwell apartment. We lived on Askren Manor which was the main housing area there. People also lived off post in government leased housing or in private housing. There was also a small section of housing on another part of the post.

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The next day Ben had to work all day. I was suffering from jet lag and rather confused. I wanted to go exploring but I was a little scared to. I didn’t even know I could have walked to the Commissary. I felt silly about that.

Time passed. We got our household goods. We got our driver’s licences and Ben got orders for his first deployment. I also found out I was pregnant with Drew. I got pregnant the day we got there. This was right around the time that I started making some friends. Our FRG had a dinner a few weeks or maybe it was months before the deployment. I went and got to meet some of the other wives which was a very good thing. During the deployment we met for coffee on Mondays and did a lot of fun things together.

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The deployment was long, 15 months. During that time I never left Schweinfurt other than going on a retreat to Garmich. I had Drew during the deployment and my family was able to come visit. My mom came for two months which was amazing. I got to experience two different hospitals. The first is where I gave birth to Drew and the second was where we spent almost a week when he came down with RSV at two months old.

Ben eventually came home and we spent a month in California with our families. I will always remember that trip and how nice that time was. We headed back to Germany the first week of January and I really didn’t want to go. I was kinda in a slump. I was annoyed that there was already talks of them deploying again. I didn’t like my apartment and I felt like if he did deploy then I would just go home.

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But then one morning I woke up to the news that some of the brigade was moving to Grafenwoehr, two hours away. I told Ben I really want to go. We were able to. In May of 2008 we moved to a small village about 30 minutes from post called Erbendorf.

Anyway, Schweinfurt is now closed. The closing ceremony was last week. When I was there I remember hearing it would eventually happen but not for years and years. And now that time has come. It makes sense for the Army to close some of the posts in Germany. We don’t need them like we did in the past. So I get it. But it is weird to think that it will be closed and will be given back to the Germans. It is weird to think that little city will not have an US Army presence anymore. It is strange to think that if we ever go back and visit, it will be very different.

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Although we moved to Graf and I was so happy about that, I will always have a place in my heart for Schweinfurt. It is where I learned to be an Army wife. It is where I figured out the Commissary, had our first experience with Military schools, found PWOC, made friends, figured out how to get through a deployment. It is where I learned about German culture, Euro and how my US life is just one way to live in this great big world of ours. It opened my eyes to things I never would have thought about before. It is also where I learned to be a Mom. Daniel was only 18 months old when we got there. In the two years that we were there he changed a lot. I think back to those years and Schweinfurt is a huge part of it.

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Have you ever been to Schweinfurt? When were you there? Have yu ever visited Germany?

On Coffee Cups, Puppy Dogs and Wars

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I am sure most of you have seen the video going around about President Obama saluting a Marine with a coffee cup in his hand. You might have seen the response to that of a photo of President Bush saluting with a dog in his hand. You have probably read a lot of the comments going around about how he shouldn’t have done that, how rude it was and how we can really tell what one President thinks based on what they do with something in their hand.

I could go on and on about what I think about all that.

However, I just think it boils down to if you like President or not. You know how when you don’t like someone, everything they do annoys you? That happens with political figures too. They can’t do anything right, ever. Even if they do something a previous President did, doesn’t matter, it is worse when they did it.

The thing is, we are all human and we all make mistakes. When you are in the public eye, every mistake can be blown up and turned into a story. Remember when Dan Quayle misspelled potato?

Sigh…The fact is our country is STILL AT WAR!

Yes we are. People are still deploying. Military families are still having to say goodbye to their loved ones. It’s not over yet and probably won’t be for a while.

I would never want to be in a political office. Never. I would never want to have that over me. To have to be in charge of something that important. I can’t even imagine. I can’t even imagine what would it be like to have to make decisions about war, terrorists and what the best thing to do is. To have that on your mind 24/7? I can’t even imagine.

As a Military spouse, I am not sure what the future holds for us. Will my husband have to deploy again? I just don’t know. It is always in the back of my mind as is the case with other Military families. It is always something we think about. When we watch the news, we are reminded. There is no getting away from it.

So we can sit and debate saluting with coffee cups vs dogs but at the end of the day, that really doesn’t matter. What matters is that we do live in a country where people are willing to stand up for what is right. That we do have a Military that will go where they need to go and do what they need to do. That there are families out there that live this each and everyday.

It is also important to remember that Military spouses make up a range of different types of beliefs. From political to religious to if we even want to have children or not. We are not all the same but what we do have in common is the love for our spouse and our country and the freedom we all hold so dear.

 

 

 

To The Military Spouse With Toddlers

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2007 was a year for me. I had a newborn, two-year old and a deployed husband. We were in Germany and man, that was hard! All parenting is hard of course. It isn’t like life is easy now. We still have issues, bad days, tired days and I still need time to recharge as a Mom. However, back then, things were a lot harder. Based on my time as a mom, which is now at the 10 year mark, the toddler years are difficult, especially when you have more than one child about that stage.

The toddler years are rough for anyone, add in the Military and a deployment and you are in a very stressful situation.

We are past all that in our house. Yes, we have a 3.5 year old but we also have two older boys at almost eight and ten. They are very different from they were in 2007/2008. Very different.

So these days, I see friends with very small children and I can relate. I have been there. I know what it is like.

I know what it is like to…

* Wake up in the morning and wonder how you are going to make it through the day with these kids. To have to find things to do and ways to occupy your time.

* Not have someone coming home later that night to help. To be the only parent in the house. To be the one that does everything when it comes to the kids.

* Be the sole diaper changer. Meaning you change each diaper over and over and over again.

* Potty train a child by yourself.

* Wonder what the heck you are going to make for dinner because your toddler only likes chicken nuggets and you hate to cook.

* Be envious of friends who have never had to solo-parent more than a day or two.

* Take drives just to get out of the house and let your babies fall asleep so you can have some quiet.

* Have to figure out how you will get all of your groceries, a baby and a two-year old up to the third floor in one trip. You realize you can’t possibly do that so you have to decide who is going to go first.

* Not be the parent you want to be because you can’t seem to figure out how to do it all by yourself.

* Make decisions about if your child all by yourself because you simply can’t take with your husband for more than five minutes at a time.

* Not have any family nearby to help you out when you could really use it.

* Be so tired and exhausted that you can’t possibly imagine going another six months alone, but then you do.

* Fly across the world with just you and the kids.

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So to the Military spouses with toddlers, it’s going to be okay. You are living some of your hardest years as a parent and you are having to do a lot of that on your own. Sometimes it really really sucks and there isn’t much you can do to change it.

You have to depend on your friends, have vent sessions, meet for coffee, take the kids to the park and relax a bit. Know that you are doing the best you can with the life you have. Know that kids do grow and things get a little better. Know that as your children get older, life will get a little easier. Know that you won’t always feel like you do right now. Kids grow. They start school. They learn how to use the potty. They learn how to dress themselves. They learn how to make breakfast. They do, I promise. And when you get to that stage, you will look back and remember the days when it didn’t seem like all that was possible.

 

 

Give Forward and Erase Love With Hate

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I was saddened to hear the story of a 14-year-old boy with Autism who was bullied by a group of kids in Bay Village, OH. The boy was going to do the ice bucket challenge but instead of pouring a bucket of ice over his head they filled it with urine, feces and spit. Not only did they do this but they also videotaped it and put it on Instagram. What a horrible thing to do to someone. Bullying can be such an awful thing. As a parent of special needs children, I worry sometimes that they will be bullied and it makes me so sad when I hear it being done to other kids.

The organization, GiveForward heard the story as well and decided to do something to help. They started a fundraiser for the boy. The goal was to raise money for the family as well as creating a page full of support that they can read and be encouraged by. I know it is helpful to know that others, even strangers are on their side and feel for them. That most people are not okay with what happened to their son.

giveforward-hiresGiveForward provides free online fundraising pages allowing friends and family to raise money directly for a loved one when they need it the most. You Can set up a page in minutes, share it with friends and instantly create a community of support. It is a great way to be able to help other people. They want to be able to prove that there is more love in this world than hate.

In today’s world, 98% of the time we stand by idly and watch life go by. When we see a tragedy or injustice on the news, we say “what a shame” and then we flip the channel and proceed to do NOTHING about it, as we expect someone else will step up and help. There’s an actual psychological term for this. It’s called bystander apathy.

We also know that when people don’t stand around being bystanders, magic can happen. We saw it when a bomb exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon and this nation made a collective decision that we were going to do something about it.

One of the many fundraisers started at that time was for a newlywed couple, Pat and Jess, who lost their legs in the bombing. Friends, family, and so many that were outraged by what happened that day were able to raise almost $900K for them, making sure that they would never have to worry about any of their medical expenses as they deal with their new life with prosthetic legs.

As you can see,  GiveForward has done to help people be able to give back.

You too can help by donating to the fundraiser, leaving a message and just choosing love over hate, no matter what you encounter in your daily life. Love goes a lot further than hate ever will.

 

* Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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