navy spouse

6 Tips for Surviving Chief Season as a CPO Select Spouse

Last Wednesday was a very exciting day in the Navy! Chief Petty Officer results were released, and those selected celebrated and breathed a little easier … until they realized they had just entered PHASE II (otherwise known as Chief Season).  If your sailor was on that list, congrats! Becoming a Chief is an honor, but it’s also a process. The next six weeks will get to him and CAN get to you if you let them. Here are my 6 Tips for Surviving Chief Season as a CPO Select Spouse.

6 Tips for Surviving CHIEF SEASON as a CPO Select Spouse

 

Get ready. Your sailor will be busier than EVER before.

On top of his normal duties, he will have training, tasking, fundraising, networking events, and more added to his plate over the next six weeks. I barely saw my husband during his season, and when I did it was for hurried meals and crash naps here and there.

Keep your own schedule.

If you haven’t already, talk to your sailor about everyone’s schedule. I find it helpful to keep the family’s schedule the same (i.e. dinner at 6, swim practice on Monday and Wednesday, playgroups on Thursday, etc) and let him work around that. You may have to save him a plate from dinner. He may need some help with his household responsibilities. This is the perfect time to cut him some slack. He is worker harder than ever right now (see above), and it will all be worth it in the end.

Help him however YOU can.

This statement may cause controversy as there are some who say spouses should butt out and others who say spouses should be involved. My opinion is that I’ve been supporting and helping him for almost 20 years; why would I stop now? Your involvement will look different depending on your availability, command rules, and what your sailor needs. Here in Washington spouses are encouraged to take shifts at the fair, show up at car washes, and more. Back in Connecticut during Josh’s season, I mostly helped with crafty things, shopping when he ran out of time, and making sure he ate even when he didn’t have time to eat. I recently saw a great tip of simply packing healthy, on-the-go type snacks in your sailors car for times when he truly isn’t able to stop for lunch. Help however YOU are able!

You probably will argue.

Think of it like the pre-deployment phase or those stressful weeks after a deployment. Less sleep, added duties, and increased stress are the perfect recipe for arguing with your spouse. Remember that those are usually the reasons behind short tempers (yours and his). If things get heated, ask yourself (and your spouse): is this really an argument about XYZ, or are we just stressed/tired/hungry right now.

Ask for help.

Am I allowed to pin my sailor? What should I wear to the Khaki Ball? When is that car wash I was supposed to help out with?!? There will be questions. There will be stressful moments. It is perfectly okay to ask for help. Your sailor’s sponsor is a good go-to, and if you’re lucky his spouse may be helpful as well. Call on your fellow CPO Select spouses as well as the established CPO Spouses in your command. We’ve all been there, and we’ve all asked those questions before. We want to help you!

Enjoy the ride.

Josh became a Chief in 2006. I remember him being gone a lot, being extra cranky (understatement), and praying for the season to end quickly so I could have my normal husband back … and before I knew it, it was all over. I look back now and see what an exciting time Josh’s season was, and I get all giddy every single year for the newest crop of CPO Selects and their spouses! We both have so many silly stories, made so many lifelong friends, and gained so much knowledge and experience in those short six weeks. Enjoy it!

The achievement of being selected as a Chief Petty Officer is such an honor! Congratulations to your sailor! This is such an exciting time, and I am so excited for all the Chief Selects and their spouses going through it! The next six weeks will be stressful and hard, but they will be six weeks you will never forget!

Was your sailor on the list? Shout it out in the comments! Plus come back tomorrow for  the next post in the Select Spouse Series
“4 Tips for Helping Your CPO Select”

Select Spouse Series: Helpful tips and hints for CPO Select Spouses

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marriage, navy spouse

Getting Ready for a Military Ball: Him vs Me

Guys, I’m a super casual jeans and t-shirt kinda girl, but once or twice a year when I get the opportunity to put on a gorgeous gown and a nice pair of heels, I take it! It’s super fun getting all dressed up with my sailor, and I really, really love all the ceremony and pomp and circumstance of it all.  What I don’t love? The tiny little disparity I call Getting Ready for a Military Ball: Him vs Me.

I spend hours primping; he showers and slaps on a smile. It really isn't fair. Getting Ready for the Ball: Him vs Me

There’s a line drawn between us as soon as the tickets go on sale.

Him: Wanna go?

Me: How much are the tickets? That much!?! Plus a dress and shoes … and we have to take the ferry over and back?!? And pay for parking! Oh, this is going to be expensive. Hmm … I better start looking for some good bargains. Maybe I can recycle one of my older dresses. Wonder if any of them still fit …

Him: Yeah … so we’re going, right?

Of course we’re going. We always go, but it’s an expensive night that requires a lot of planning. Clearly planning is going to be my job. 

In the weeks leading up to the Ball, the thin line becomes a tiny – but growing – gap.

Me: I looked at Ross and JCPenny and Macy’s for a dress today. No luck. What am I going to do? I can’t wear the one I wore last year, and the one from the year before that was never comfortable.  I’ve looked at a million dresses online, but I hate the idea of ordering if I don’t know how the company sizes! And shipping! Good Lord, the shipping prices for these gowns! (I notice he hasn’t looked up from his iPad.) It could cost a thousand dollars. (No answer). Or double that! (Nothing).

Maybe I’ll just go to the Khaki Ball naked … 

Him: What? Naked? (Aaannnd, he’s back!) Umm … maybe not a good plan during. Definitely a good plan after. (He actually wiggles his eyebrows at me. Hands off, ladies. He’s all mine.) By the way, I dropped my uniform off at the dry cleaners and ordered new ribbons. I think I’m good to go. Did you find a dress yet?

I silently plan to smother him in his sleep.

The morning of the ball … AKA The Crevasse.

Me: I have an appoint at noon for hair and at 1:30 for nails, but I’ll do my own make-up. I did a sugar scrub this morning, and I’ve been moisturizing like crazy the past few weeks. My skin should look amazing!

Him: So should I shower now or this afternoon?

Me: Did I buy an extra can of hairspray? Is this deodorant clear? Is this the mascara for daytime or evening? (And what is the freaking difference?!?)

Him: The Yankees are up by seven games in the AL East. Rodriguez is on a hot streak; we are GOING to the Series!

I haven’t even left for my first appointment, and already I’m wondering if I’ll be ready in time … and if he’ll still be alive for the World Series in October.

As we get dressed, I’m faced with the freaking Grand Canyon.

Me: I scrubbed, moisturized, painted and polished. I tortured my hair with heat and adhesive. I’m sucked into so much shapewear, I may never breathe freely again, but all I need to do now is slip on the dress and shoes, grab my purse, and go. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

Him: I guess I should get dressed now, huh? Should I shave? (Yes. Always yes, Sailor.)

Do my ribbons look straight? (Yes.) Should I bring my cover? I never wear it. I’ll bring it just in case. (Oh, the decisions.)

Me: Dress on. Shoes on. Handbag packed. Cell phone fully charged. The kids have a movie to watch, and pizza’s on its way. Aubrey, my phone is on vibrate. Call me if there’s a problem.

Him: (from somewhere behind me) Are you ready yet? Let’s go!

Are you serious?!?

I’ve been preparing for weeks! I went to fifty stores and tried on a hundred dresses and dozens of pairs of heels (that will inevitably hurt my feet before cocktail hour is over anyways). I’ve spent all day tweezing and primping and fuh-reaking out about eyeliner while he took in a baseball game and ate CheezIts, and NOW he wants to know if I’M read to go?!?

I'm going to have to KILL you now.

Slowly I turn … a crazy person, temper flaring and one eye twitching, prepared to let this man feel the wrath of a lady wrapped a little too tightly in lycra.

But then I see him.

The handsome devil. Grinning down at me all pressed and starched, clean-shaven and smelling delicious. He wears that uniform so well. He smiles and stares as me expectantly.

Him: You ready? Let’s do this!

And gap/crevasse/canyon forgotten, I slide my hand into his as we head out the door. It isn’t fair. How we slave to wear the right dress, find the right shoe, and put on the perfect face while they throw on a damn Navy issue uniform and look (forgive me but seriously) panty-dropping hot.

Sigh …

Him: Hey, Jodi? You look beautiful tonight.

(Nope, not fair at all, but I guess I’ll keep him.)

Looking for MORE about Military Balls?

Six Tips for Choosing the RIGHT Military Ball Gown

Deployment, navy spouse

6 Tips for Homecoming Day

The time has come.

You’ve waited for him and longed for him. You’ve written emails and waited endlessly for replies. You’ve sent all your love and two pounds of candy in a gallon ziploc bag twice (if you were lucky), but now the waiting is over. It’s almost here. HE’S almost here, and here are 6 Tips for Homecoming Day.

6 Tips for Homecoming Day2

  1. Find out if your sailor has first-day duty. It’s no fun to show up, dressed to the nines and smiling like a lovesick fool, only to find out your sailor isn’t leaving the boat today. A lot of sailors have duty the first day because SOMEONE has to continue the work, and that could mean you won’t even SEE him until tomorrow. Find out ahead of time and avoid the disappointment.
  2. Dress to impress … and to wait. I’m a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl even for homecomings, but I’ve seen some beautiful spouses, fiance’s, and girlfriends dressed better for homecoming than I did my wedding! If that’s your thing then I say go for it, but remember you WILL be waiting. Possibly for a really, really long time, and DEFINITELY in a large crowd of families. Maybe wear flats, bring heels. Bring a sweater in case it’s cold (or to stay covered up) and supplies to touch up hair and make-up. It may be a long day, but if you’re prepared, you can stay pretty as picture until you see your sailor!
  3. Be prepared. This is NOT the day to skip breakfast. This is not the day to wear brand new (read: not broken in) high heels. This is not the day to forget to charge your phone. Be prepared. Did I say that twice? I meant to say it three times. Be prepared.
  4. Bring your camera (if you are permitted). I have been celebrating homecomings for thirteen years, and I have photos from exactly ONE of them. It breaks my heart that all those years, all those memories, are only just that … memories. As I get older the details will fade, and there will be no way for my kids to remember them. Snap away! (Again, if you are permitted. Follow the rules, people!)
  5. Pay attention to your kids. Homecoming can be such a great time, but it can also be confusing and difficult for the kids. I remember watching Sydney run out to bus after bus at our first homecoming on this boat. She ran to greet each one for over five hours, and it nearly broke me watching her little heart break each time. I know it’s been a long patrol for you, too, but you still need to be the strong one for one more day.
  6. Savor the moments, even the ones that aren’t yours. Homecomings are just beautiful. Sit back and really see them. First timers so filled with longing. Last timers ready to move on to their next chapter. First time seeing a pregnant belly, or first time holding a brand new life. These moments, these memories, are what we will take with us. These are the reasons we do this.

 Do you have a tip to share in the comments? Fill in the blank: I always ____________ for homecoming, and I will NEVER _______________ for homecoming again. I’d love to hear your homecoming stories in the comments!!!

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Deployment, navy spouse

You Might Be a Sub Spouse If …

Yes, we’re all military spouses, but some things are kind of particular to submarine spouses. Give me an “AMEN!” if you feel me …

You Might Be a Sub Spouse if

 

  1. Sometimes hearing “You’ve got mail!” is better than hearing “It’s a girl!” or “You’ve just won …”
  2. Then you get your hopes dashed when it isn’t sailor mail but rather a JC Penney sale flyer and two ads to drugs that will NOT enhance your particular anatomy (and you keep click refreshing no matter how many times this happens …)You've Got Mail
  3. Saying the word “duty” DOESN’T even make you giggle anymore …
  4. When someone speaks of homecoming in public, even in loose terms, your heart beats like a hammer, you begin to sweat profusely, and you might even blurt out “OPSEC!!!!”opsec
  5. You know phone trees aren’t just for the PTA anymore.
  6. You can squeeze two magazines, a box of Cheezits, a clear container of homemade cookies, two pounds of candy, one pound of beef jerky, 26 letters, and 200 4×6 photos into a one gallon maildrop bag and STILL close it without using tape.
  7. You get a little jealous when you see signage, news coverage, and weeks of hoopla every time a carrier returns to port.

    stennis
    We still love you, Stennis! We’re just a little jealous … 😦
  8. You want to scream when another military spouse talks about Skyping with his/her service member.
    skype
  9. You’ve spent $20, $40, $60, or maybe 100 bucks to win a First Kiss.
  10. The very sight of a submarine, THAT submarine, can be simultaneously majestic, humbling, heartbreaking, and joyous … oh, and DAMN SEXY!!!maine

God, I love my sailor!

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navy spouse

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.

Deployment, navy spouse

What Will You Complain About Today?

 

Will you complain that he has duty? Will you complain because he has to work late?

Remember that when you haven’t seen him for a week. It wasn’t that bad …

Will you complain that you’ve only seen him for six hours over the last 96 during refit?

Remember that when you haven’t seen him for a month, and six hours sounds like heaven.

Will you complain that he left his boots in the middle of the floor?

Remember that when he’s been gone six weeks, and you would give anything to see those boots again.

Will you complain that departure has been extended for the third time?

Remember that when return has been extended as well.

Will you complain when it’s been a week since you saw his face?

Remember that when you haven’t had an email in three.

Will you complain when his pillow smells more like you than him?

Remember that on those offcrew days, in the midst of an argument, when you wish he could go out to sea for just. a. few. damn. days.

Will you complain when homecoming times change AGAIN?

Remember that when you wrap your arms around his neck for the first time in months.

Will you complain when he doesn’t show up on the first homecoming bus or the second or the third?

Remember that as you walk away with him, hand in hand, past other wives still waiting.

Will you complain when there is no stand down, when one crew has to support the other even though they’ve already been gone SO LONG?

Remember that when he comes home at night, as other wives begin their lonely night journeys.

Will you complain that this life is so hard? That deployments last too long? That you just can’ do this without him again?

Remember that every single time you see a Gold Star.

What will you complain about today?

What Will You Complain About Today

Deployment, navy spouse

I Got This! (But You Might Disagree)

I had  a revelation yesterday. It was equal parts empowering and freeing, with a hint of hilarity and a moment of self-doubt. All within the span of about 25 minutes.

I Got This

Driving home from Compass, as Alli napped in her car seat and Jack Johnson crooned about banana pancakes on the radio, I was feeling pretty damn good about myself. I’d just finished up another great session, feeling like I’d had one of my best teaches ever, like I’d found my groove as the Food Coordinator, and already excited for next month’s class. Though busy, the week has been all around pretty good at home, too. No fast food, healthy lunches, clean clothes for everybody, homework done, happy kids. Boom! I GOT THIS!!!

I got home, parked the car in the garage (all the while congratulating myself for being so clearly awesome), and walked into the family room. A strange, unpleasant smell and an overly excited chihuahua met me at the door. Two baskets of laundry taunted me from the couch while a crowded floor begged to be picked and vacuumed. As I entered the kitchen, I was further taunted by a sad sink full of dishes crying out to be washed. My house was speaking to me, and it was saying,

“Oh yeah? You got this? I disagree.”

I immediately began to doubt myself. Have I got this? Really? REALLY?! How can I say “I got this!” when this house is such a mess?!? I sat there for a moment taking it all in, trying to sort out my feelings, before I realized,

“Oh yeah, I GOT THIS! I really do!!!”

So my house isn’t showroom ready today. If I’m being honest, it never is. On my best days, I’m lucky to see a clear and vacuumed floor. I mean, a family of five lives here. We kick off our shoes wherever we land after a long day. Alli colors more pictures than my refrigerator can hold and leaves them here there and everywhere for me to enjoy. We have frequent movie nights that REQUIRE loads of cuddly blankets that remain scattered all around. All those things equal a messy family room, but they also equal a happy family.

As for the kitchen, on one hand dirty dishes mean we cooked and we ate. Feeding my family makes me happy, and eating makes us ALL happy. On the other hand, dirty dishes also mean that I’ve fed my girls one less fast food meal, and as we struggle with a deep and unabiding love of McDonald’s, I call that a win! How often are your “on one hand or the other” choices BOTH so positive?

And the smell? The “mess” that the excitable little chihuahua made? Well, Charity has joined right into the fray of teaching this impatient momma the art of letting it go. Messes happen, and that’s precisely why I own a carpet cleaner. Besides how long can you really be angry with this little face?

charity

My house is, admittedly, a hot freaking mess today, but I’m okay with that. Are you okay with that? Maybe not. Maybe your “I got this!” moment comes from a desire to deep clean and a sense of pride in sparkling counters and neatly folded t-shirts and underwear. Maybe my “I got this!” week  sounds terrible to you. That’s okay!!! You scrub your kitchen; I’ll catch up later. We’ll both be happy. You don’t have to like the things that fulfill me, and I could never attain the immaculate home that makes some people tick.

But if I’ve had a great week and your house sparkles, do you know what that means to me? It just means we’ve BOTH got this … in our own ways … separate from one another yet sharing that awesome feeling of accomplishment. WE GOT THIS!!!