Back on Land

He deploys, and I make a life back on land.


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I’m Letting It Go

I’ve often said that there was divine reasoning in my family transferring to Washington, and I honestly believe that it was because this momma had a whole lot of hard lessons to learn. Washington is so far out of my comfort zone that lessons were inevitable, and some days it seems like I may not have known anything before I got here. Since moving here I have stopped being an I Would Never Mom (well … I’m working on it). I’ve figure out I can’t fix everything (and I’m not supposed to anyways). I’ve also figured out a few things I’m okay with liking (that in the past seemed so not okay).

Another important lesson I’m in the thick of at the moment is simply being okay with me. I think at 37 I am simply who I am. Yes, I am still learning and growing, but there are some simple truths to me that I need to stop fighting.  All my life I’ve believed I should be doing more, should feel a certain way, should act or be a particular person, but as Carrie Bradshaw once said, “Why are we should-ing all over ourselves?”

So I’m learning to accept who I am and letting get of the shoulds. Here’s a list of things I’m letting go of right now …

I'm Letting It Go

  1. Kale. No thanks. It came in my Bountiful Basket last week, and for a moment I entertained the idea of kale chips. Yes, I (lover of beef jerky, Dr. Pepper, and all forms of fried potatoes) almost jumped on the kale train. Almost, but nope. I just can’t buy into the kale craze, and I let both bunches go. This goes for other health food crazes as well. I don’t juice. I won’t do Atkins. If utter the words “Whole 30,” that’s going to be a quantity of snacks I ate not number of days of going without … and that’s okay. I’m totally down with fruits and veggies, and I’m learning about healthy portions. I’m learning to avoid overly processed foods most of the time, but guess what? Beef jerky is my jam. So I’m letting it go.
  2. A Perfect Home. I don’t have one, and I never will. I have friends with beautiful houses, and I am soooo jealous of them sometimes. And Pinterest? Are you kidding me? The gorgeous mantels, the perfect furniture, the Pottery-Barn-inspired-but-for-a-fraction-of-the-cost kids’ rooms? What the heck?!? I’ve had my own place for 18 years now; why can’t I figure it out? Well, the answer is simple. As much I appreciate beautiful decor, I just  don’t care enough to do the same at home. I like simple, clean lines. I prefer functionality. I crave organization … and I tend towards small piles and growing messes, but I’m okay with it. We live in this house, and as I’ve recently shared, this mess is exactly what my “I got this” looks like. Beautiful decor, I’m letting you go.

    It's a beautiful mess, and it's MINE.

    It’s a beautiful mess, and it’s MINE.

  3. Figuring out my “parenting style.” So much has changed since Aubrey and Sydney were little. Back then, I chose carseats based on pretty fabric, bottles based solely on price, and had never heard of attachment parenting, but from the moment I found out I was pregnant with Alli, I’ve felt bombarded with websites, books, commercials, and “friends” telling me how I should be raising my kids. Are you a crunchy mom? Will you rearface until she’s 4? Will you breastfeed until she’s 6 months? One year? Two? In public? You DON’T provide your baby with 100% organic, free range, grass fed, homemade sealed-in-sterilized-glass-jars baby food and only on a baby led weaning schedule?!? Sigh … here’s my “parenting style.” I make the best choices I can in the moment. I make mistakes. I laugh about it, cry about it, scream my head off, and move on. I don’t have a philosophy; I have a reality. Three kids doing pretty darn good. Not perfect but certainly my pride and joy. I’m letting it go.
  4. The Ideal Marriage. I kind of blame TV for this one. I grew up watching perfect couples with problems always solved within a one-hour window. Husbands always seemed to make crackpot decisions, see the error of their way, and always realize in the end that their wives were right in the first place, and wives, well, they were always right, always understanding and perfect, and … well … fake. That’s NOT what marriage looks like. I’ve had a hard time figuring this out, but Josh isn’t Ray Romano (classic goofball), and I am NOT Claire Huxtible (in my eyes the most perfect TV mom EVER). We are two intelligent, strong-willed people who make mistakes, who suck at compromise (but are trying), and who have decided together that sticking it out is worth every fight, every misunderstanding, and every “communication issue.” Fourteen years in we’re still figuring it out, but … we’re 14 YEARS IN to this marriage. We may not be the Cleavers, but we must be doing something right. I’m letting those “ideal marriages” go.

 

I can assure you that this list is incomplete. There are so many things I’m done with or trying to be done with “should-ing on myself” over. Letting go takes time. Letting go is hard. Letting go sometimes even hurts. But when it hits, when whatever it was, simply isn’t important anymore, I am able to focus on the things that really matter. The happy kids that live in the messy house and the usually happy husband that won’t always let me be right and I couldn’t love him more for it.

Those things I will never let go.


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On the Age Gap

So …. my kids.

I have three of them. Three daughters. Their ages are 16, 13, and 4. Most of the time I find the age gap to be … troublesome. Playdates? For Alli, yes, but then Aubrey and Sydney are left out or left home. A trip to Seattle? Great for Aubrey and Sydney but will Alli be able to keep up with all the walking? Will she be grumpy without an afternoon nap? Even hanging out with family friends can be weird because most of our friends have either littles or bigs, not both like we do, and I have to figure out how make it work for everyone.

Every single activity takes twice the planning, can be very tiring, and always keeps me on my toes.

But …

Sometimes straddling both worlds is amazing.

Today for instance I have snuggled with a little sweetie on the couch AND  had a beautiful conversation with my oldest about being happy with what we have. I witnessed the wonder of growing tomatoes through fresh young eyes and shared a rare teen hug with Sydney. I watched as the youngest shows of newly acquired sandwich making skills and looked ahead at the days when she will be as competent in the kitchen as both Alli and Sydney are growing to be.

I think I too often complain about the age gaps in our kids because it does require so much extra of me, but at least for today I’d like to step back and really see what a blessing it is to have toddler creativity and adolescent deep thoughts, preschooler energy levels and the teenager chill breaks.

So … I have three kids … ages 16, 13, and 4 … and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


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On the Age Gap

So …. my kids.

I have three of them. Three daughters. Their ages are 16, 13, and 4. Most of the time I find the age gap to be … troublesome. Playdates? For Alli, yes, but then Aubrey and Sydney are left out or left home. A trip to Seattle? Great for Aubrey and Sydney but will Alli be able to keep up with all the walking? Will she be grumpy without an afternoon nap? Even hanging out with family friends can be weird because most of our friends have either littles or bigs, not both like we do, and I have to figure out how make it work for everyone.

Every single activity takes twice the planning, can be very tiring, and always keeps me on my toes.

But …

Sometimes straddling both worlds is amazing.

Today for instance I have snuggled with a little sweetie on the couch AND  had a beautiful conversation with my oldest about being happy with what we have. I witnessed the wonder of growing tomatoes through fresh young eyes and shared a rare teen hug with Sydney. I watched as the youngest shows of newly acquired sandwich making skills and looked ahead at the days when she will be as competent in the kitchen as both Alli and Sydney are growing to be.

I think I too often complain about the age gaps in our kids because it does require so much extra of me, but at least for today I’d like to step back and really see what a blessing it is to have toddler creativity and adolescent deep thoughts, preschooler energy levels and the teenager chill breaks.

So … I have three kids … ages 16, 13, and 4 … and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


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Girls on Submarines (Or Rather MY Girl on Submarines)

Last week a friend posted a link to Facebook entitled Enlisted Women to Join Sub Crews Starting in 2016 along with the comment “A recipe for disaster.” Before I gave it a second thought, I quickly commented back … in writing … on Facebook.

I disagree. I think they have already done a great job integrating female officers and have nicely paved the way for enlisted women.

Let me just tell you that this one little comment goes against all my own Facebook rules because I have a strict do-not-argue-on-Facebook-because-Facebook-arguers-look-stupid policy. I was very quickly (but surprisingly nicely) disagreed with, and I quickly bowed out of the conversation. I even hid it from my News Feed the same way I used to hide under my blankets in the dark. Only this time I wasn’t afraid. I was annoyed.

Annoyed at what I feel is sexism. Annoyed at women of the opinion to keep other women down. Annoyed at what I see to be petty excuses for keeping at bay a change that is inevitable.

The topic came up again later in the week, and I was asked for my opinion. So hear it is.

I’m for it. Simple as that. I want women on submarines, more of them every single day. I am beyond proud that my husband serves on a submarine with female officers on board, and to be completely honest, in the few instances that I have had the opportunity to speak to those incredible women, I have been quite star struck. I am a strong woman. I am drawn to strong women, and I am, dare I say, awed by the trails these women are blazing. They will be drawn into history as pioneers. Little girls will look up to them.

I happen to have three such little girls.

On a recent Family Day, when all the families of our boat were invited to visit the submarine, Josh and I took our three daughters past the checkpoint, across the brow, and down the ladder into his world. He was a wonderful tour guide, and over the next few hours we visited the Control Room and tried out of the periscope, listened to the water through giant headphones in Sonar,  and even visited dad’s work space in DPER. We climbed ladders, crouched through water tight doors, and even ate chicken nuggets and drank Bug Juice on the mess decks. While we tried out the couches in the Goatlocker, Sydney, age 13 and averse to all things educational, said, “I want to be on a submarine when I grow up.” Sydney, who normally wants nothing more than to watch her shows on TV or another turn on the computer to play games, wants to be a Submariner. She wants to follow in her father’s footsteps and serve her country.

And to me, to this momma, that trumps all the excuses you could have against it. I want my children, my daughters, to have every opportunity available to them. Succeed or fail, I want them to be able to try, and I felt a little guilty explaining to her that at present there are only a handful of women serving on submarines, that this is not something that is openly available to her.

This momma believes in a woman’s right to serve on a submarine.

Of course I’m not so naive as to believe this change won’t have problems. Big changes often require … well … BIG CHANGES. I don’t think it’s impossible though, and apparently neither does the United States Navy.

And then there are the “buts” …

But why would a woman even want to be stuck in a tin can under the water for three months with 150 men? I often wonder why any MAN would want to be stuck in a tin can under the water for three months with 150 men.

But what if they get pregnant? Because clearly no woman ever was able to control her hormones around men who reek of boat smell. Seriously though I suppose she would be relieved from that duty and replaced or not, the same as when a man has a medical requirement to leave the boat and is replaced or not. Manning on a submarine is never perfect. You’re a man or woman down? Okay, that’s great. Get back to work. (And that’s not just my opinion; that’s just reality.)

But what if a woman was assaulted on a submarine?  That would be awful. It would be terrible, but sadly it wouldn’t be anything that doesn’t happen on any other Navy vessel that women are already serving on. Just as on those other vessels, it would be dealt with by the command. I don’t think that because it might happen on a submarine it would be dismissed any more or less than anywhere else in the military. It is a sad fact that these assaults happen, but they happen because of bad service members, not because of where a female happens to be serving.

But are women even physically capable of doing the same job? This is one of my personal favorite buts to which I answer…  some of them yes … and some of them no. I have known women who built houses, fixed cars, lifted heavy things, and did also sorts of so-called manly jobs. I have also known men that I outworked every day of the week. Women, like men, come in all different shapes and sizes with a variety of different abilities. I absolutely hate the idea of painting all women, or men for that matter, with the same brush. Just as not all men are pigs; not all women are 90-pound weaklings.

I guess my point is this. I know big changes will have to be made, but I don’t believe they are impossible or even improbable. I know problems will arise, but I believe in the Navy’s ability to solve them. I know that not every woman is suited for sub life, but I also know not every man is so suited either.

Most importantly, I know that my Sydney wants to be a Submariner, and I am thankful to live in a day and age when, succeed or fail, she will have the opportunity to try.

P.S. Thank you so very much for reading this, but please be aware:  This is not an open forum for argument. I may or may not answer comments, and I am may or may not delete any comments that are mean or rude. This piece is nothing more than one momma’s opinion, and whether you agree or not won’t change my mind.


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Tips for Surviving the First Day

The first day of a deployment is unarguably the worst.

Waking up before dawn to drive a full car to the base and returning home next to an empty seat.   That hug you wish would never end and that kiss that says so much and not enough all at the same time. Saying goodbye to half your heart and watching him walk away into the darkness. The quiet sound of sniffles from the back of the car from the kids who know what’s happening, and even the chatter of the youngest who doesn’t quite understand just yet. A long, lonely ride home staring into a long lonely day, the first of many.

These are the days that can crush you if you let them. The upside is that we know when it’s coming, and we can make plans to make the day a little brighter.

  1. I don’t like to clean … ever really but especially not when I’m sad and missing my sailor. I also don’t like to cook when I’m sad. I know; I know. My poor kids, right? Actually I just plan ahead. I make sure the laundry is caught up, the kitchen is reasonably done, and the rest of the house is picked up. We either eat DIY (everyone fends for themselves except for Alli), or we order in. There’s nothing quite like being day-one-depressed, but it’s much easier from the comfort of a clean couch scarfing on delivery.
  2. Acknowledge the sadness … it stinks to say good-bye. It’s hard not knowing when you will see your best friend again, when you will hug your dad again. It’s almost a tradition, I think, for me to say, “Well, that stinks!” as we drive away. We acknowledge the sadness, but we don’t let it take over.
  3. Recognize how amazing this crazy lifestyle is! I like to go see the submarine off. Scratch that! I love it, and I take the kids with me as often as possible. So many people have said, “I don’t  know how you stand him leaving so much!” I just think how fortunate I am, how fortunate my children are, to have a husband and father who we can be so proud of and to be able to be part of this crazy submarine life. Who gets to wave good-bye to a submarine? Seriously! Who gets to do that?!?
  4. Make it a special day! We’ve had early morning donuts or breakfast picnics. We’ve done pizza and a movie girls’ nights. We’ve done all kinds of silly things because yes, we miss him, but we also have to keep going and staying sad doesn’t really work for us.
  5. Use your feelings. I write lots and lots of letters and emails to my sailor on the day he leaves. I write lots and lots of blog posts in those sad days. I make goals. I make plans. I use my emotions to push me outside of my cozy little 9-to-5 husband box.
  6. Finally, do something good. There’s nothing quite like brightening someone else’s day to make your own tough day a little easier. Leave a gift for another spouse whose sailor just left. Buy a meal for a homeless person. Give your kid an extra hug. See a need; fill it. It will make you feel better.

No bones about it: the first day is tough. It’s sad. It’s lonely. It’s terrible. Let it be all those things, but remember it is so much more. We are so lucky to live this life and create these one-of-a-kind memories. Someday all these tough moments will be just that … mere moments in a lifetime of amazing.


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I Got Tagged By Aubrey

It’s rolling around Facebook.

Another one of those, “I got tagged so I MUST answer this questions and then share with/force 5 of my friends to play along” kind of status updates. It’s a modern-day chain letter only without the stamps, dollar bills, or ominous threats. I have seen it a few times and ignored them all equally until now …

tag

My sixteen-year-old daughter, my oldest, my first wants photographic evidence of things that make me feel beautiful …

Well, first let me say that I don’t actually feel traditionally beautiful. I’m smart. I’m fun. I’m a good friend. I’m pretty good at fixing things, and I do my best at the whole wife-and-mother thing, but beautiful? No, just not my thing. Oddly, I guess, that’s never bothered me. Some people confuse this for low self-esteem, but it’s not. Really. And it isn’t a bid for compliments or pats on the back. Trying to be beautiful is just not high on my list of priorities.

It probably doesn’t make sense. I know. And if I can’t make it make sense to the world in a blog post (words being kinda my thing), how do you explain it to a teenage girl? Yikes …

But here’s my attempt.

I am not traditionally beautiful, but I do know beauty. So here, my sweet girl, is the proof …

Josh & Me

I have a best friend and soul mate who saves his best and only silliness for me.

My kids

And together we created three of the most amazing creatures.

The ocean

I know my happy place. It ebbs and flows in my soul.

friends

I know true friendship, the kind that prevails great distances and too much time.

mypath

I am learning to follow my path. I can’t always see it clearly, but I feel I am walking in the right direction.

There it is. I have been tagged, and I have answered. What makes me feel beautiful isn’t a good hair day, a cute selfie, or a quirky grin. It is the life I am creating and the beautiful people with whom I share it.


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Wordless Wednesday: Dear Hawaii …

I miss you!

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The Jenny Evolution
I linked up with The Jenny Evolution today. Click over and check her out! But first ….

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