Sunday, January 31, 2010

My children...

To the boys:  "You have a younger sister. Life will be forever dramatic from this point out."

To Nyla:  "No. The kitty really doesn't love you. She's not your best friend. I should have named you Elvira."

To Jonas:  "Learning to get along doesn't mean give in."
To Nyla: "Learning to get along doesn't mean whine until your brother gives in."
To Aden: "Avoiding your little sister is not how to get along with her."

To all the kids: "You better learn to love each other now, because one day I won't be here and you'll only have each other."
Aden: "Not if we don't live through puberty."
Me: "Good point."

To Nyla: "I understand vengeance is on your list of things to do. Hence, you will not be in charge of my medication nor picking my nursing home when I finally go senile."

To Aden: " "Taking the easy way out does get the job done. But, doing it the right way, is actually less work. No. No. I'm not washing the floors by hand. I know, it does a better job, but I'm just going to use the mop. What? No. I'm not taking the easy way out."

To Jonas: "If you have aches and pains now, you're in a world of hurt when you're my age. I know. I'm ancient."

How to solve boredom:
From Jeff to Jonas: "You're bored? Walk around the table 100 times. Count how many steps it takes to complete one rotation."
To Jeff from Jonas: "Uhm. Ok."
From Jeff to Jonas: "How many steps did it take you?"
To Jeff from Jonas: "16. 16 steps to get around. I'm tired."
From Jeff to Jonas: "Ok, so 16 steps to walk around the table. And you walked around it 100 times. How many steps did you take in all?"
To Jeff from Jonas: "Really? It's Saturday dad."
To both from Aden: "1,600 steps!"
To Aden from Me: "Hey! You aren't supposed to give the answer."
From Jonas: "1,600 steps."
From Jeff to Jonas: "Ok. So 1600 steps took you 20 minutes. So if you walked around the table for 4 hours, how many steps would it take and how many times did you go around the table?"
To Jeff from Jonas: "I'm not bored anymore."

Aden: "I watched some girl fall on the snow today. It was funny."
Me: "Ouch. Is she ok?"
Aden: "Hello? It's snow. It's soft white stuff..."
Me: "Mind taking the trash out?"
Aden takes the trash out, comes in with tears in his eyes.
Me: "What happened.?"
Aden: "I fell in the snow."
Me: "You mean the white, soft stuff?"
Aden: "Now's not the time for a life lesson! I hurt my elbow!"

Jonas: "You NEVER let us do ANYthing!!"
Me: "Well, that's not true. You really shouldn't exaggerate. I let you put your clothes away. And I let you take the trash out."

Little boy down the street rings the door bell and asks if the boys can come out to play.
"Not right now, their gloves are still drying. They'll be out in an hour or so."
"Glad to hear they are allowed out today."
"Yes. The parole board was in a good mood today."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fairytales, Prince Charming, and a Power Suit!

Perhaps I've watched one too many Disney movies with Miss Nyla. Maybe, I missed out on the girliness that was not me until I had a daughter. Instead of running around in Tinkerbell costumes and tiaras, I wore ripped jeans and flannels. Instead of staying inside playing with Barbies and babies, I was out and about discovering what this earth had to offer us: grasshoppers, tadpoles, frogs, rocks, fossils, leaves, sticks, and oh yes, dirt. Maybe, I've been at home too long that I've lost sight of what the "real world" really is.
But, maybe, just maybe, I've finally figured out what I want in life. Finally, at 33 almost 34 years old, I have had that epiphany that will forever change my life. Perhaps, I've known all along, but have been too unselfish to voice it. Well here I am. I'm voicing it.


There, I've said it. I want it all. I want everything. That's what I want out of life: everything.
For many that could mean a plethora of things and/or ideas. Some may think wanting it all could mean the house, the yard, the 2.5 kids, the career, the status, the car, the clothes, etc., etc. For me, it's not any of that.
As a military spouse and stay at home mom, I've always felt that I was doing right by my husband and my children, but somehow, someway, I wasn't doing right by myself. And I though that perhaps, if I did right by myself, that I wouldn't do right by my family.
While looking at colleges now that my Miss Nyla will be venturing off to Kindergarten next year, I become frustrated because everything I want to be doesn't allow me to the be ever-available mother that I have been for the last 12 years. It doesn't allow me the normal nine-to-five hours. It doesn't allow me to be the parent who picks up the slack for a deploying better half. It doesn't allow me the still avidly check my email for any news from my deployed spouse. It doesn't allow for us to keep our one vehicle.
But what does it allow? It allows for me a career, something that has always been near and dear to my heart since I was a little girl. I didn't want to grow up to be a princess or a queen. No, I wanted to be a career woman. And, up until the lovebug bit me in 1997, I was on that path.
I know what you're thinking: single women have been doing that for years. That working moms do this all the time. That women have been out of the kitchen and in the books since the sixties. But you forget. I said, "I want it all."
I'm tired of settling. Settling in life. Not just in my career and parenting choices. I'm done settling in my lifestyle, in my marriage, in my life. I'm tired of saying, "I can't because...(I don't have a babysitter, my husband's deploying, money is tight this week, Aden's grounded, Nyla doesn't behave well in public, Jonas can't control his excitement, that means I have to get dressed today)." Well you know what, I can. And I will. Yes, I'll go to this event. And YES, I'll volunteer for that. Absolutely, I can do (insert whatever is asked here). I've made excuses for so long over why I cannot do things that it's just natural for me to decline. Getting out of my shell is what I need. I used to be this outgoing social butterfly. I've grown into this recluse.
I want my husband to sweep me off my feet...everyday. I want to not just know that I am loved, desired, and irreplaceable. I want to feel it. No. I need to feel it. I don't want to waste my life going through the motions. I don't want to be too wrapped up in kids, school, pets, cleaning, laundry, and day to day activities that it takes a special occassion like deployment or homecoming for him to make me feel what I need to feel EVERYday. Don't get me wrong. Jeff is a wonderful husband. He cooks, he cleans. Hey, he even does windows and laundry. He's a fantastic father, I couldn't have asked for better. He'll do anything I ask of him. But I want to do the laundry and have him play the part of Prince Charming.  I'm not saying I want flowers and jewelry and spoiled each and every day of my life. I am saying that I want him to hold me when I push him away. I want him to fight to hang on to me when I need it rather than letting me be. I don't want to have to ask for it. I want him to know me so well that he just does it. I want to be the housekeeper and him the big, strong man who comes home, sweeps me off my feet, and plants the passionate kiss that make tweens swoon. I need passion in my life.
I want it all. And Why can't I? Where is it in the rules that says I cannot? Why can't I have my cake and eat it too? Why can't I be the mom, wife, volunteer, bread winner, best friend, counselor, shoulder, domestic goddess, and overall super woman? I can be. And I will be.
My life will be over in a flash of light and what will I have left behind? What will I have experienced? What will I have taught my children? What kind of wife will I have been? What kind of life will I have lead? Life, is way too short to not have it all. When my time comes and death is knocking (or breaking down) my door, I want to smile and be able to say, "It's time." It's time for me to go. I've accomplished everything in life I wanted and I've led the life I wanted.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

OPSEC - what is it and why do you need to follow it...

If you're a military spouse, you've heard this one time or another: Observe OPSEC. What exactly is it?
How far is too far and what is allowed? Can I tell my mom on the telephone where my husband is going next? Why won't the FRG or Ombudsman tell me where my husband is? What can I say to my next door neighbor about my wife's deployment? Can I or when is it safe to give out ship's movement information, such as Homecoming. What can my children tell their classmates and/or teacher when they ask questions about their military lifestyle?
Some people go to extreme, while others don't take it serious enough. Some folks believe that nothing outside of the military community should be said at all. While others believe it's okay to tell close friends and family information. What information is allowed, what information isn't?
OPSEC has been the butt of many spouse to spouse and active to active quarrels in recent years. With all the terroristic threats and security operations occurring in each branch and civilian contractors, worldwide, it puts us military families on edge. Especially when we know our spouses are in tenative danger, but from what, exactly, we aren't sure. While some spouses understand the need to keep their sailors, soldiers, and airmen safe, others don't understand why they aren't allowed to know (or give out) information because afterall, they aren't a terrorist themselves.
And here's the kicker that many folks don't understand, nor follow: Just because one member of military is included in the circle of knowledge, doesn't mean another should be included just because he has the security clearance. Meaning, if my husband has a top secret clearance and wasn't in the brief, the guy with the secret clearance who was included in the brief shouldn't tell my husband what the information was about. If my husband is to be privy to that information, he would have been included in the brief.

So, what is it and how can I abide by it?? Here are 5 easy steps to make sure you are following OPSEC:

OPSEC involves a relatively simple five-step process that anyone can use.
- Identify critical information. The information you have that could assist an adversary in any way.

- Analyze the threat to that information. Does an adversary have the capability to collect or use the information, and if so, how?

- Analyze the vulnerabilities. How is the critical information relayed in the course of your daily duties and how is it protected?

- Assess the risk. How likely is it that the information could be compromised?

- Develop countermeasures. What can you do to protect the information from being disclosed?
Taken from the website. Public information.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Technologically Unprepared

As a parent to three children, I often spend days, if not weeks or months, thinking about my parenting. Some call it over-analyzing. So be it. I am terrified that something will happen to my kids and that I could have stopped it. I do everything I can to keep them safe. Whether that means they don't walk up to the 7-11 on the main road with their friends (who seem to have parental units that are pretty free-willed with their rules) or them not allowed on the internet until I fully understand all the security options and setups.

I recently caved on a few techological fronts. I call it "caved" because I'm still not comfortable with the decisions. We finally gave our kids internet access. They have their on computer (my old pc) so that they aren't on my own baby (if there's one thing I get to myself, it's my computer. It was specifically built to my own needs and I will blow a gasket if anything ever happens to it.). But, before we gave in, I asked my husband to put in place the following options:
  • Only preapproved websites be allowed to be viewed. If anything other than preapproved sites are brought up, a password must be entered.
  • History of each website to include time and date always be visible.
  • I am still the administrator of said computer.
And there are rules to gaining computer time. All chores and homework must be accomplished before computer time is given. Behavior must be more than satisfactory. AND, because most of the time, Aden has homework on the internet, all long-hand homework must be completed first. Computer time, minus homework, is only 30 minutes regardless if it is simply a pc program they are playing or surfing the internet. The other requirements are simple to me, but may not be clear as to why to the kids:
  • Never use your real name.
  • Never tell anyone where you live.
  • Never give out personal information.
The first couple of months seemed to go smoothly. We even extended computer time to a few hours over Christmas break. The only person who seemed to have a problem with the rules was Nyla. But that's because she's four and not quite internet savvy. (We caught her shopping at with a bunch of things in her shopping cart. I have my credit cards on lockdown. haha)
Then yesterday, Aden comes home and asks if he can join a website that is like Facebook but it's for kids. My overprotective mind immediately said, "Absolutely not." It breaks the rules: no real name, no personal information. I know how to protect my information on Facebook, but does he? I refuse to let my child, who is 11 mind you, have a facebook account. One, it breeds drama in school aged children. Two, it brings another issue I'm not ready to have to deal with: Technological Bullying. Three, he's ELEVEN. Even Facebook states one has to be at least 13 years old to have an account.
I know a lot of people who let their kids have facebook and/or myspace accounts. And that's fine...for them. Not for my children. No. Absolutely not.
So I went to the site. It's called Kidswirl. Members have to be between the ages of 2 and 12. Tell me, what two year old knows how to navigate a social website?? Anyway, it seems to be ok. But still, I'm not sure about it. I will definetly have to discuss this with my husband and investigate the site further.

I swore, up and down, sideways, and forwards and back - my child would NEVER have a cell phone until he or she was old enough to have a job and pay for it themselves. He begged and begged for his own cell phone. Logically, we declined. There is no need for it. He doesn't use the house phone. He doesn't call anyone. All of his friends live within a block from our home. Why is there a need for a cell phone?
Some people claim they do it for the protection of their children. While I don't buy that, I do buy that it is a better peace of mind. I am not liberal with my nine and eleven year old's boundaries outside of this house. They are allowed outside without my supervision, however, they do need to check in, often. They aren't allowed past the park - which is a tiny playground four houses down from us - nor past the last house on our block - yet another four houses in the opposite direction. They must ask before entering a friend's house. I must know that parent. There are all types of rules I put in place simply for their safety.
So I caved. This past Christmas, my son, 11, received his first cell phone. My husband and I chose to add him to our family plan versus a prepay for a number of reasons. It was cheaper. However, I am always in control of his phone this way. Even if he were to delete his call history, I can still see it on detailed billing. It doesn't go to school because his school has strict rules against cell phones in school, even if it is off. His boundaries are extended, only if he has his cell on him. And he must still check in, in person.
So far, it's working. However, it is only a status symbol. Him and his cell. I hadn't realized that before.

I often look to my own upbringing to decide when my children are old enough to do this, that, or the other. And often, I fail because when I was growing up, we didn't have computers and cell phones. Hell, I didn't even have cable until I was 15 years old.
I'm sure our parents said it, and here I am saying it again, kids grow up way too fast these days. I was 23 years old when I received my first cell phone. It was something I paid for, not my parents. I was 22 when I got my first computer. Again, I paid for it, not my parents. And I'm still not techologically smart. I still have to look things up and work hard to understand a lot of things.  

Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome 2010

Goodbye 2009. Hello 2010. Wow what a year. A lot has happened. My children turned a year older - four, nine, and eleven. My husband hit 30+. I hit my husband's age plus, well, a few. Jeff and I had our first argument in several years - to the point of not speaking the next day. (I never want to do that again! EVER!)  My oldest son started middle school. A magnet school with very high standards that he worked his little behind off to get into. He's the "good" kid and ever since pre-puberty has struck, it's been a struggle. My nine year old went off his ADHD/ODD meds this year. YAY! And he's doing fantastic in school (and home). (Minus a small hiccup.) I decided to keep little Miss Thing home from Pre-K this year, unable to let go of her. What a mistake that was. This girl is simply ready for school!
My stepdad passed away, leaving my mother as a single woman for the first time since she was 17 years old. My father had a heart attack followed by major bypass surgery (at least I was notified this time). Friends found themselves in situations they don't want to be in again - ever (not my place to discuss - sorry no gossip here!). I found myself on an emotional roller coaster - and anxious...for the future...for the upcoming year.
The last few months of 2009, I probably bored my friends to death with my indecisions and anxiety for the upcoming year. A lot is going to happen and my future was cloudy. I felt ill, in the pit of my stomach, with all that is ahead. Here it is, January 1, and I have to say, I am no longer anxious. I've got a plan. The outlook is beautiful.
This year, Jeff and I will go through our sixth deployment. It will be six to eight months long. This, by far, will be his most dangerous mission yet. I am unbelievably scared for his and his shipmates futures. I am growing to detest this military life: the stress, the anxiety, the absentness on important dates...continuously.  My support system here, away from my family, dwindled to almost none during the last deployment. I was at a loss of who to talk to and only spent less than 10 hours away from my children for the entire duration of the deployment. I truly thought, for a bit, that I would go insane. Loading three children up because you forgot something at the store, each and every time for six months, is, well, a chore. When I wanted to pull my hair out and return to the fetal position, it simply wasn't an option. A chief's wife once told me, "Oh you'll get used to it." I don't think I ever have.  When the kids were little, it was easy to pretend Thanksgiving was really Christmas and celebrate birthdays three months early. Now that they are older, they have a better grasp of time. The boys are completely bummed their dad will be missing their birthdays, yet again. Jeff is upset that he'll be in the middle of some ocean for Nyla's first day of school. Somehow, someway, we'll all get through it. We always have, we always will. The days will be long. The months will drag on. The countdowns will commense. I don't really believe deployments get better. I do, however, fully believe, that my coping skills improve.
Nyla will go to kindergarten this year (next school year). My days will be free of children for the first time in 12 years. What on earth will I do?? I feel this immense pressure to "do" something with my life. It's almost like empty nest syndrome - but with a whole lot less freedom. Do I get a job? Go to school? Sleep? I have no earthly idea. For 12 years I've been Jeff's wife and (insert kid)'s mom here. Which is fine - at school, at home, in the neighborhood, at Jeff's command parties, etc.. I aspire to be more than a wife and a mother - for me. I aspire to have something of my own: a job, a career, a hobby, volunteer work, education...something! I have the funds available to go to school, yet I have no clue as to what I want to be when I grow up. Let me rephrase that: I have no earthly idea what I want to be that coincides with Jeff's military status and will still allow me to be the primary, stable parent.  Do I finish my criminal justice degree or do I go for something else? Do I go for what I want to be and hope I get clinicals/internships that will work with my kids' school hours? Or do I just bite the bullet and put them in afterschool care where I will only see them an hour or so before bedtime? The last time I only saw my kids an hour before bed, I drove myself crazy with guilt. I don't ever want to do that again.
So here's the plan: I'm buying a professional camera and all the goodies that go along with it. Back in high school, a dabbled a bit with a used Pentax my dad gave me for my 16th birthday. (I know. I wanted a car too!) It wasn't a fancy digital camera, like what I'm getting ready to purchase. But, it was detailed photography. And I loved it! It became a passion of mine and dare I say, I was good at it. I didn't appreciate it back then, but I really wish I had stuck with it through the years. So, incoming hobby! Woot!
I'm also missing my family terribly so. At my stepfather's funeral, I saw my cousins for the first time in over a decade and it was such a shock. Ten years flies so fast. They were my children's ages the last time I saw them and now, they have kids of their own!! How does that happen?? I vowed that I wouldn't let ten more years slip by before I knew it. The next time I see my extended family, won't be at their children's graduations.
It bothers me extremely so that my children don't know the feeling of extended family at the holidays or for their birthday parties. I try to make them as great as I can and start new traditions here at home, without all the family. And honestly, they don't know what they're missing...really. It only bothers me. But still, it makes me sad and feel bad for them. Not having the oodles of cousins to play hide and seek with on the fourth of July, it's a crime! I contimplated for a month or two about moving the kids and I back home near my mom in Indiana. But, I cannot bring myself to make Jeff live on the ship. I cannot take his home away. I cannot break up this family, simply because of my emotion. It was a heartwrenching, gut-twisting decision that I stayed up way many a night contimplating. I drove my friends crazy talking it out. (I'm an outward thinker.)
So here's my plan: This summer while Jeff's gone, the kids and I are going to go spend a good month (give or take) with my mom. We're going camping with cousins and their kids. We're going to visit my grandmother for the first time in 11 years. (I know, I'm a horrible granddaughter.) We're going to have a ton of fun and see tons of family.
All in all, 2010 will be a trying year. It will be tough in some areas, but different in a lot of ways. I welcome it with open arms and am delighted to see what it brings.