Wednesday, July 23, 2014

DC/NoVA Adventures: Madame Tssauds, DC

Last week we have the fun opportunity to visit Madame Tssauds' Wax Museum, right here in our own backyard.  Having been to the one in Las Vegas I had some expectation of what to expect but I was curious about how the kids would react.  I decided to go in with no expectations, however if I was completely honest with you I was a little worried that the figures might freak out the littlest little. 

It ended up being a super fun experience, some hands on portions for the kids, buttons to push, things to touch and dress up.  You get to make a wax impression of your hand that you pick up at the end of your tour (it cost extra but is affordable to do as a special treat). Surprisingly none of the kids were leery of the figures.  I was actually more creeped out by them.  I mean, its creepy right?  Their eyes follow you around when you move.  You get so close to them.  So weird.  I know...I'm crazy right? 

One of my favorite portions of Madame Tussauds' was the Hall of Presidents.  To stand amongst such great history is pretty neat.  Living here I often find myself picturing that walking on these streets are the footsteps of such importantly political figures.  Brian thought it was absolutely the coolest to see all these Presidents up close and personal.  Of course the pop stars section is pretty hilarious.  People were mimicking and posing in hilarious ways with some of the stars like Rhianna and Justin Bieber.  I mean, how could you not?

Visiting the wax museum is super easy.  You can purchase tickets online (which are cheaper btw) and it is located maybe a block or so from the metro station.  You are looking at paying just under $20 for adults and under $15 for children 4-12.  I absolutely love that their "free" price is for such a large age range.  Many places are under 2 only, so I found that really wonderful and would help me in deciding whether or not to pay the admission price.  Another wonderful thing is that they offer mid-week savings; so Tuesday - Thursday you can get reduced ticket prices.  When you attend make sure to download the interactive Iphone App for free, which will make your visit a little more fun.  If you are involved in the Scouts program (Boy or Girl) they also have some great programs for merit badges, so check that out.

**this review was made possible by my involvement with Bloggers program.  I was compensated with free tickets to attend in exchange for my honest opinion and review on  I was not compensated in any other way or in exchange for a positive review.  As always, my thoughts and opinions are my own....take 'em or leave 'em.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

The Blogmopolitan Questinarre and Link-up

Hi all!  I came across this link-up (orignally from Two Thirds Hazel) on one of my favorite blogs, Eights on the Move.  If you've never checked out Ashley's blog you should.  She's a fellow mil-spouse and fabulous writer. Her blog is on my "regularly read" list.  Have fun and head on over to Two Thirds Hazel to fill out your own quiz!

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The Military-Related Post I Write Every Year.....

Every year I feel like I write a post like this, whether here or on other outlets that I write for (like this one on Homefront United Network).  Seriously, it boggles the mind that this is even still a discussion but it seems as if several times a year I come across someone saying, or writing, something about this topic that makes my blood boil.  Yet again I run across someone talking about how the National Guard isn't the Military or "its just not the same," or my absolutely favorite "there ARE some National Guard and Reserve spouses who qualify (as milspouses)."  What?!  I can't even people, I mean seriously.  In this day in age, after this many years of war why say things like this? 

The last one most recently was a blogger.  There was so much within me that just wanted to word vomit all over this person.  Her struggle, while specifically her family's transition from full-time to a traditional Guardsman, was real it just kept coming across terribly.  These are real people that are being talked about and the words can hurt.  It's not even this specific case because I know it was part personal, and part a full lack of understanding.  But its this line of thinking that concerns me.  It's what I constantly feel I am fighting in any advocacy I do.  If this is how people begin to view, or keep on viewing us, we will continue to be in serious trouble.  One of the most disturbing things about this is one phrase spoken to me, that continues to stand out to me this day.  "Well, when your husband deploys you'll get lots of support."  For one, that makes me laugh because if they don't know I'm here when I'm actually here, how will they know I'm there when he's gone?"  So many organizations are unaware or don't know what to do with singular Guard families, or ones that are remotely located, who are seeking help.  This also bothers me because in the Active Duty world (that I had been a part of up until recently) you can receive support and help any day of the week, whether your husband deploys frequently, ever, or regardless of the type of job you have. For the most part I can access many things because I'm close to a base, but there are still lots of things that are unavailable to me.  And its not like I can get a "my husband's civilian career is just like his military career" waiver.

It's not even about the things.  I don't need a baby shower, or a free Christmas tree, or school supplies for my kids.  It's the respect and the understanding.  If you can so flippantly suggest that not all National Guard/Reserve Spouses are military spouses then that is concerning.  I can admit that I struggle with the transition myself.  I don't see my husband in his uniform as often as I once did, and I don't have "unit or squadron" friends.  But its still a part of my identity.  No one, even a full-time military spouse should let that be the only part of your identity, but no matter how big or little a role it plays it is still a part of who you are.

So, if you are reading this and struggling with this very thing, don't.  YOU ARE a military spouse, no matter if he puts on that uniform every day, on a weekend here and there.  Whether he's a pilot, in medical, admin or finance.  No matter what that is still a part of your identity and you should be proud.  This is something your spouse volunteered for, and you as well.  No matter the involvement your spouse is still important and is valued by many people.  You are valued, and so is your family.  Thank you for your service, no matter what that looks like.

One Fight, One Force
Go Guard!

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Friday, July 18, 2014

PS: I'm not a Career Martyr

Don't get me wrong, military spouses with careers rock!  They really do, and I firmly believe that all the work and progress that is being made, and all that has been accomplished is so important.  For all the spouses that are nurses, lawyers, teachers, that have worked so hard to get where they are at - they should be able to go anywhere and not have to waste time and money getting re-certified.  All of it is good.  But life is like a pendulum right?  I'm sure it's part of my insecurities but so many people assume that I'm not working because either I can't find a job or I'm an oppressed housewife.  That I couldn't possibly think that it is better for me to stay home and raise my children.  Trust me, I'm not being locked up in the house.  There are times I think about working, or the fact I'm not using my degree, or what will I do later.  But for the most part I personally don't understand paying for someone else to watch my children.  I know that lots of people have to, and I realize lots of people want to.  Working is empowering, a wonderful use of skills and knowledge.  Many of the military spouses that I know that work are effecting real change in people's lives by their work. People that choose to work are no less valid then me, and I'm in way passing judgement on your choices. I just want mine to be just as valid.  I don't want to have to add "not that it isn't to you" or "not that your children aren't important to you as well" after every just know that I think those things and that I know them to be true.

But sometimes I wonder if there is less and less value being placed on those of us who don't.  I feel like those of us that are home are constantly being portrayed as the suffering housewife, who care too much about their husband's job, like we carrying around the 1950's Military Spouse Handbook and wear pearls while we clean (But I totally do because I think it's wonderful)  It is important for us to raise our children, and that (to us) outweighs anything else.  I work on my blog and just started freelancing.  I've had so many opportunities to attend press events, but I've also had to miss things because I could get a babysitter or couldn't afford one. I am blessed that staying home is just as important to my husband as it is to me.  We may not live a glamorous lifestyle, we can't do a ton of traveling and lots of other little things that don't need to be discussed on a blog.  We don't own a home and right now we have one car.

My husband's career hasn't made me a martyr, and quite enjoy just being a wife and mother.  I really feel like this is what I'm called to do.  Sometimes its not easy and I think about what it might be like to go out into the work force, or work more from home and put the kids in day care at least part time.  It would be crazy of me to not think like that.  It's around me everywhere....and who couldn't help but think maybe I'M the one that is doing it wrong.  Maybe I am suppressing myself and making it all about my husband's life and career?  But then I think, "no, being a wife and mother, keeping the homefront together, supporting him and his life isn't any less valid."  My personal beliefs and convictions are this, but I understand that not everyone shares that view.  And that's okay, as long as what we are doing is okay too.  I don't want other wives and moms out there to think that they should be working if they don't really want to.  To think that some day they will wake up bitter and angry for being forced into a homemaker role they didn't want.  If you are like me you won't.  Life will open doors and windows for you as it has me.  By volunteering and meeting people I have been provided with opportunities beyond my wildest dreams, to do things I couldn't do if I were in any other position in life then I am now.

So if you read this and you see all the career stuff and it makes you second guess where you think you should be, with where the pendulum is swinging right now...stop...breathe...and think.  When there is so much focus on a particular topic, people tend to feel like they should be right there with it.  That isn't always the case and that's okay!  And as a side note, the article that I originally heard this is was in no way I'm sure trying to say that women are being oppressed and don't realize it.  I just wanted to use the term as a way to highlight the fact not everyone is.  And you can't pass up using a cool term like that to grab people's attention right?

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

DC/NoVA Adventures - The River Farm

This summer I've been looking for some fun stuff to do with the kids.  I'm all for going to the pool and forcing the kids to develop those beautiful imaginations of theirs....however, what I really love is checking out this beautiful TriState area of ours.  While I imagine we will be here for awhile, I feel like we should live like this could be our last year.  So I set off in search of fun things to do and see for little, or no, cost.  I discovered The River Farm, in beautiful Alexandria, VA overlooking the Potomac River.

The River Farm is 25 acres of beautiful landscaped area which was once part of George Washington's estate.  It is also the home of the National Horticulture Society.  One of the coolest things you can see is a set of White House gates that were first installed in 1819 as part of the repair to the building after the war of 1812.  Some of the flowers and shrubbery that surround the house is 100 years old!  Can you believe it?  As a side note this place is also available for weddings and heaven help me I would get married all over again at this place.  Goregousness doesn't even accurately describe all the hidden and out in the open gems on this property.

 The White House Gates

 My new Dream House

Entrance to The Children's Garden

The Meadow

I definitely recommend adding this to the list of places to see.  It can be low-key, the kids can get some energy out and you can see all the beauty nature has to offer.  The kids ran and explored and it was absolutely lovely!

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Dear Spouse Who Pretends Not To Know....

I couldn't really think of a good title for this, mostly because I think I was too irritated to narrow it down to one quippy line.  I stumbled upon the post on Facebook of coure, via a very irate friend.  She's amazing and has amazing things to say and that's how I first saw it.  Instead of linking you directly (to make myself feel better) you can find it on my blog's facebook page, along with my initial reaction.

At this point I've had several hours to process what's happening.  At first I was outraged and barely read it before I was seething.  Then I felt bad for her.  Maybe she doesn't get it, maybe she doesn't understand.  People say, "well she is the wife of a reservist, she just doesn't know!" No way! We may get the short end of the stick when it comes to programs or support but no, we know.  Finally after some much needed twitter therapy with my fellow Millies I settled in the "I fully believe she knew what she was doing, she's not an idiot and she and her hubby are not newbies" camp.  Her husband is a Captain - or a Major, apparently the author is unclear on her husband's rank - and yes they aren't active duty, but she's been through deployments and she no stranger to the military life.  So her bogus "update"....yeah, I'm not buying it.  I basically almost never discuss Mr. Air Force's schedule, for more reasons then just OPSEC.  He prefers that I don't, and I think it's the best idea for us, and to avoid any of the comparison/my life is harder then your life issues.  People who know me, know what my life is like.  Let's just say we've experienced it all - geo-bachelorhood while I finished school because my college credits wouldn't transfer, deployment, extended duty, shift work, frequent but relatively short term travel.  I wouldn't even want to think about adding up cumulative time and all that he's missed.  The amount of time he's been gone this year alone makes me want to cry.  There's been times that I (and I know its horrid) have wished for a regular deployment.  But only because it has a beginning and an end.  I've done it all, while raising three kids, being Active, Activated and traditional Guard.  So, I get it.

That being said, its not a deployment, its not even training or field work, or working on the planes and having lots of air time.  It's nothing that she can't avoid.  And while I'm sorry you are going to be separated from him, and your children will not have him around, but it was your choice.  The way you presented it in your article wasn't that way.  You took advantage of military spouses, the civilians who read BABBLE and preyed upon emotions and the poor usage of words to get people to feel sorry for you.  And while I'm not going to judge your reasons, whether it be becuase you already have support there, you don't want to rent your house, or you just don't like Kansas, it's still your choice.  Very few of us have that kind of control.  If people want to be supportive you let it come from them, but shameless and not-so-subtling trying to garner it is shameful.  And if the article was supposed to be about how to prepare children for that you should have talked about it more, and less about yourself and the fact that your husband is awesome for getting the opportunity.  Frankly it cheapens the honor, an honor that I full understand.  I even liked the paragraph where you talked about not holding each other back and him letting you go off to travel abroad or write your book.  I know lots of other military spouses who have that midset, some who have been geo-baching it for years because of their careers.  It was nice, but it was lost in all the other stuff.

I'm sure it works for you, and that I can appreciate.  But here's where my anger comes from.  It wasn't the word you used, it was the whole package and way you conveyed your message.  And I can tell you whoever you were trying to get through to it wasn't fellow military spouses, at least the ones I know, the ones that comment on my facebook and twitter pages and here on the blog.  They tried to offer bits of understanding, but in the end they couldn't.  It came across haughty and elitist.  I just can't believe you didn't know what you were doing.  I do understand that kids realm of understand can be almost like tunnel-vision.  When Daddy's gone it must be a deployment.  Believe me, that I get.  That happens in my household and my kids frequently confuse all the times and reasons daddy is gone.  But I would never claim that word if it wasn't true, just as I would never claim that my time is harder than anyone elses.  But you did both, literally and figuratively and I don't believe that you didn't understand that fully.  But I'm not a totally horrible person, so if by some chance you did then you should never write for Babble because clearly they don't check things or just plain like drama.  I want to support you like I do other MilSpouses that I know that have done this very thing. Because it's not necessarily the choice you are making that I disagree with.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

40 Day Deployment Dare - Halfway Mark

Hi all, I realize the blog has been really quiet.  Sorry about that, lots going on here.  Today I am recovery from wrenching my back last night.  Whoa people it was serious.  As I was laying on the floor in the playroom I said, "well, okay I have two choices.  I can lay here forever or I can seriously bite the bullet (or the inside of my mouth as it were)."  I got up, with tears, found some ice and meds and made it to bed.  The movie Austenland (I'll talk about that later) kept me pre-occupied until my back sort of calmed down. Today it isn't too bad.  I've been alternating ice and heat so hopefully it will continue to get better.  Did I also mention I had strep throat?!  Yeeeepppp, thanks murphy!

If you've been reading my posts about this (you can find them here, and here) you know that part of the reason I wanted to talk about this on the blog is become communication during separation is probably the number one topic that military spouses (especially newer ones) want to talk about.  And its not just the spouses - the girlfriend, boyfriends and fiance's definitely want to talk about it as well.  It is a very difficult side effect of the military life; and it doesn't matter whether or not you've been together a month, a year or fifteen years (as is our case).  What I've found to be universally true (with few exception) is that the sadness of the separation and the stress of the person who has left and the one at home, is the true cause of the negative communication.  Many times I don't deal with my actual sadness about him being gone becuase I feel like I have to buck up and deal.  I choose to be in a relationship with someone who is in the Air Force.  That doesn't mean that I can't be sad.  And for reals peeps, dealing with three kids alone isn't a walk in the park!  This is especially true when you don't have family close.  It costs us an arm and a leg to be near our families.

All of that being said, doing this with an open mind and heart helped me deal with all of those feelings.  Doing this at the front end of a separation is the key I believe.  And trying out this little dare with or without your partner or for whatever length you are parted is great.  It doesn't matter whether they are gone a weekend, two weeks or for a lengthy deployment.

Halfway through the dare (or 27 days as it were) you will see a huge effect on your relationship during the separation.  There have been some hard questions, both asked of yourself and your partner.  Some serious looking at yourself and identifying key issues for both of you.  So not only does this challenge you to have loving conversations and take note of your negativity, but it also grows and strengthens your relationship no matter what stage it is at.

Day 27: During Deployment "Love Encourages" was a fantastic day.  Here's one of my favorite paragraphs of the day:

What is it that you want married life to be? Do you want to feel secure, free to be yourself even if/when you fail? Your spouse wants that, too. The bottom line is that it is a choice to live by encouragement rather than by expectations. Towards your spouse you are to be encouraging—pouring in to them words and actions which allow them the freedom to be themselves, feeling loved. Towards yourself you are to take responsibility for your own words and actions in order to improve yourself, rather than demanding more from others.

Isn't that amazing? Your marriage is only what you make of it, and if you are saying to yourself, "this isn't what I thought it was going to be," start by looking at yourself first and then proceed from there.  That initially acknowledgement will go along way with your spouse and for your own personally healing.  There is one particular issue within our marriage, that has been an issue from very early on.  What it is isn't important, but it is something that I firmly belived would drive a real and permanent wedge between us.  It was bad.  It occassionaly has reared its ugly head and for various reasons it hasn't been handled ever the way that I had hoped it would be.  First of all, I didn't handle it.  I wanted to put it all on him.  He's Mr. Air Force for crying out loud, my husband, shield and protector.  In my eyes he wasn't doing any of those things.  But my anger was just as much a contributer to the situation between he and I.  Accepting responsibility for my role is crucial.  And while it has had an effect, I can choose to let it be the master of my marriage or I can let God be the master. I'm human, and I realize that I have many shortcomings.  Despite all my best intentions I know that this issue will still be there and will cause problems. But I have to rise above and choose a different path, not only for me, but for us.

Have you ever done the love dare?  Have you tried the deployment version?  I want to hear about it.  And if you have questions or want to talk I'm here for that too!
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