Back on Land

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


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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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Celebrating My Mil-kids: Meet Alli

April is the Month of the Military Child, and so I’m celebrating MINE! I hope you’ll take a moment to celebrate the Mil-Kids in your life!

It only seems fitting to round out the Month of the Military Child with the sweet little milkid who rounded out our family.

Alli was a surprise baby … in a big way. When Sydney was born, we took steps to make sure she’d be our last. Our choice was that two blessings were plenty. Thankfully God had bigger plans for us, and nine years after Sydney came along, Alli made her appearance!

Alli

Alli is very much the baby of the family. She’s smart and quite the talker. She’s silly and makes us laugh all day. She’s also a bit spoiled (and possibly makes us want to tear our hair out at times as well).

Alli style

Alli has moved the least of all our kids, of course, but she’s also made the longest move the earliest, clocking in 3500 miles from Connecticut to Washington at the ripe old age of 6 months. She spent her first Halloween on the road at the Mall of America. She spent her first Christmas in a brand new home and celebrated her first birthday while her daddy was on patrol.

And speaking of birthdays, today is Alli’s 4th birthday! So Happy Birthday, my sweet girl!

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Mil-kid Crafts: I Spy a Submarine Portal!

Last week, my crafty friend, Meaghan, helped me get my paint and glue on in a big way with our mil-kids. Three crafts and four kids (ages 3 to 6) in less than 2 hours. Yes, she IS amazing! I posted our first craft, Packable Hugs, last week, and now I’m sharing another cute project, Submarine Portals!

The idea and instructions for our Submarine Portals came from this pin at www.dltk-kids.com. (Definitely click the link for supply lists and instructions; I’m just posting to show off the Mil-kid cuteness!)

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To say ours didn’t quite come out as perfect as the inspiration is … well …  let’s just say we kept reminding ourselves that they are kids, and perfection isn’t nearly as important as is the fun they were having. I do  have to admit that the end products came out pretty sweet!

Submarine Portals

 

What’s your favorite Mil-Kid Craft? Send me pics! Send me links! I’d love to share them here and on my Pinterest board!

Back on Land Pinterest

 


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The WORST First Day of School

The-WORST-First-Day-of-School

Leaving a school you’ve grown to love and starting somewhere new is tough for military kids. For the most part my family has had incredible luck with the schools the kids have attended, but even though we love them now, our introduction to the schools here in Washington was less than stellar.

The girls were so excited that morning! We all were! The first day at a new school can be daunting, but it’s also exciting! New classes, new clubs, new friends! Yay! We set off first to the elementary school. I had called Central Office a few days before to ensure I had all the appropriate paperwork and to find out which schools my girls would attend. A voice on the phone gave me the names of two schools and even directions to get there. How nice!

When we arrived at the first school, they were very pleasant. One secretary took our paperwork while another gave us a run down of the school, the teachers, and all their after school activities. I guess I should have known something was wrong when both secretaries ended up in a small office away from us, talking into a phone, shaking their heads at one another while furtively glancing at us as we waited.

She was as pleasant as she could be. Central Office has a made mistake. According to our address, we were slated for a different elementary school. We’d have to leave and go there. I was a little frustrated, but I know mistakes happen. The secretary gathered all our paperwork up and even gave me directions to the new school. She reassured us that it was a lovely school and that they would take care of us.

So we drove to the second school. They were warm and welcoming. They processed our paperwork quickly and even gave us a quick tour of the school. The secretary there smiled, told Sydney that she would surely love her new teacher and classroom, and encouraged her to sign up for their brand new Lego Club! Then she turned to Aubrey.

“What school will you go to?”

I answered for her, School #3. (Notice that I’m numbering them now?)

“Really?” she said. “That’s odd. Usually kids from your neighborhood go to School #4. Do you mind if I double check for you?”

I hadn’t mentioned what happened at the first elementary school, but now I did. She made the call and confirmed that we had once again been given incorrect information. We should go to School #4.

I may have made an acidic comment about Central Office not having a clue. She smiled and nodded in that non-committal-you’re-totally-right kind of way. Once again we were given directions, and we headed off for School #4.

This is where it all went down hill.

At School #4, we handed over our paperwork. There was a now-familiar gathering in a back office and more whispering and furtive glances. This time, however, instead of explaining that there had been yet another mistake, the Registrations Secretary said, “You don’t belong here.”

You. don’t. belong. here.

Soak that in for a minute. Imagine my twelve-year-old daughter’s face falling. Imagine what was going through her mind when an adult said, “You don’t belong here.” Imagine me swallowing all the curse words my daddy taught me, taking a deep breath, and shaking.

“Excuse me? We don’t … belong here?”

I assume she went on to say that according to our address we were once again slated to attend a different school, #3 in fact. I assume she was pleasant about it, and I assume that while I may have made another comment about the “effectiveness” of the Central Office that I held it together for the most part. I assume all these things because all I could see in front of me was my shy little girl, crestfallen after having been told, “You don’t belong here.”

Oh and rage. I also saw rage.

I called my husband from the parking lot. I had to ask him to meet us somewhere, anywhere. I knew I could manage the rest of the day, the rest of the registration process. I did not know that I could do it all without punching someone, namely the School #4 Registrations Secretary, squarely in the face.

My wonderful husband left work and met us for lunch and allowed me to cut loose on him with all the frustrations of the day. He nearly lost it when I repeated the words, “You don’t belong here,” but he also calmed me down enough that we could head to School #3 together.

At School #3, we were treated like royalty! “A straight A student? Awesome! And tall! Do you play basketball? Do you WANT to play basketball? We’re SO excited to have you here!” The guidance counselor was amazing! He had Aubrey giggling and smiling. He had my husband eating out of his hands. It was great!

Almost …

When School #3’s Registrations Secretary entered the room, I immediately knew there was trouble. To her credit she lead off with, “We WANT Aubrey here. We’ll keep her. But …”

At this point I did lose it. What is wrong with Central Office? Why can’t they get it together? I’ve now been to four schools to enroll two great kids, and why can’t anyone figure out where we’re supposed to be? If every military kid has to endure this kind of nonsense when arriving in Washington, I can’t imagine why any sailor would ever willingly accept orders here!

I was so angry I honestly don’t remember the entire exchange. I do remember three things. First, school #3 insisted throughout that they WANTED my daughter. Second, they even provided a map showing where she would need to catch the bus to attend their school, and finally, the school we actually BELONGED in was School #4, the school that basically turned up their noses at us and pushed us out the door.

My anger settled into a white hot fury. I told them that we would go to School #4 and speak to them. I suggested that they call ahead for me, a fair warning, if you will.

When we arrived at School #4, as though if by magic, the very air was different. The desk secretary was overly pleasant. The Registrations Secretary was surprisingly absent. The Guidance Counselor was apologetic and offered up the very best programs they had to offer. To this day I’m shocked that we weren’t ever spoken to by the Principal. I think we deserved it. I think we deserved an apology from the now-missing Registrations Secretary. I think we deserved so much more than “You don’t belong here.”

It may surprise you to learn to we chose to stay there. Academically it was a higher achieving school. They offered more clubs and activities. It was, in fact, the best fit for us, and believe it or not, over the years we’ve come to love School #4. Sydney goes there now, and during a recent meeting with her Guidance Counselor, I was reminded of what a great school she’s in!

I won’t lie though. As much as we love it, I still see that woman’s face every time I pull into the parking lot. I still hear her voice each time I have to walk into the front office, and I will never forget that brush off, those words, and my girl’s sad little face.

Changing schools every few years is tough no matter how you spin it because all any military kid wants is to belong. I admire my kids so much for their strength and bravery. I love my girl for holding her head high and walking into school with pride. I love her even more for volunteering very soon thereafter to be an escort for other new kids coming into the school. She says she did it because some other kid had done the same for her.

I think she did it because that other adult didn’t.

 


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Celebrating My Mil-kids: Meet Sydney

April is the Month of the Military Child, and so I’m celebrating MINE! I hope you’ll take a moment to celebrate the Mil-Kids in your life!

My Sydney, my middle, my green kangaroo turned thirteen this year …

Wow …

Sydney

She was the baby of our little family for nine years (until we were surprised blessed a third mil-kid), and watching her grow from our sweet Syddie-pie into the beautiful young woman she’s becoming still feels like watching my baby walk away from me for the first time. Amazing and sweet and just a little heartbreaking.

Sydney has only attended three schools, though the last school change was a result of growing up rather than a military move. She has lived in six homes but only remembers the last three very well. She’s called three states home, but her first, Georgia, is probably more just a series of stories she’s heard enough to feel like memories. It makes me sad that she doesn’t have those roots.

Sydney is a serious reader and a collector of tiny things. She gets this beautiful quizzical expression on her face when she’s working out a puzzle. She has more imagination than a room full of preschoolers, and she’s a snuggler if there ever was one. I find her wrapped up in blankets playing, reading, or just watching TV all the time.

Sydney is the most friendly of all my kids, by which I mean she inherited my dad’s ability to talk to people and make friends wherever she goes. Once we were walking through Central Park and came upon a sweet little playground with a slide built right into the side of a hill. The other kids were sliding on pieces of cardboard, but of course, we didn’t have any. Before I knew what was happening, I see Syd zooming down the slide on her own piece, and afterward, when I asked where she got it, she grinned and said, “My new friend let me borrow it!”

Sydney shows us every day that marches to her own beat, and as frustrating and nail-biting as that can sometimes be, it’s also thrilling watching her grow and waiting to see what my little girl will become!

Sydney Collage


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Mil-kid Crafts: Packable Hugs

I stink at crafts, but my littlest mil-kid just loves a good project so on a recent rainy afternoon, I got together with my craftiest friend, Meaghan, and we helped our mil-kids create these incredibly sweet Packable Hugs! (Click here for our inspiration!)

Packable Hugs

A Packable Hug is the perfect gift to tuck in a mail drop or a halfway box for a deployed Daddy or Mommy, and it’s easy enough for even your littlest artists! All you need is construction paper and a few photos plus a stapler, glue, scissors, and crayons or markers.

Meaghan had our mil-kids choose their favorite colors, cut two long strips for each hug, and attached and accordion-folded each set. Then while she was tracing and cutting out each kid’s hand prints, the kids got busy writing messages to their Dads and attaching sweet Daddy and me photos inside the folds.

(I shied away from the crafty bits and just helped with the writing. 😉 )

Packable Hugs

Finally we stapled on the hand prints, and voila! A Packable Hug!

Packable Hugs

As you can see from the smiles, our mil-kids loved this simple craft, and I know they’ll bring smiles to a few special daddies as well!

Our afternoon was completely FILLED with awesome craftiness so check back next week for our Submarine Portal craft!

 

 


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Book Review: Why My Dad?

It’s April 15th, Purple Up for Military Kids Day, and while I’m celebrating my mil-kids today, I’ve also got one eye on a calendar that tells me that the next deployment isn’t too far off. Having a deployed parent can be very confusing for our mil-kids so as parents we have do everything we can to help. In our family we talk about when Daddy will deploy and for how long. We write letters to him before he goes and spend plenty of time creating thoughtful halfway boxes. We save our special artwork and notes while he’s gone to share when he comes home. Sometimes we just have to listen and be understanding when being a mil-kid and missing that deployed parent is just too tough. In other words we do whatever it takes to ease the pain of missing Daddy!

Why-My-Dad?

Click for link

So when the opportunity arose to review “Why My Daddy? A Story About Military Deployment,” I was happy to oblige! This sweet children’s book about a boy named Michael whose Dad, a soldier, has to deploy suddenly and with little warning, gently discusses the fears and sadness mil-kids deal with, the pain of deploying parent, and how kind words, understanding, and friends play a role in making it through a deployment!

This is a very sweet little book, and if you have a mil-kid and parent deploying soon, this is definitely a great addition to your library!

 

 

NOTE: I was not paid for this review. I received a free e-copy of this book, but the opinions are 100% mine.