New Website, New Vision, and New Ideas…

I have decided to start a new online brand for a new book I’m working on.  I will need a LOT of help, and if anyone wants to help me start this out, please let me know!  Here’s a little bit of background:

My goal is to write three books.  The first is a novel (science fiction-fantasy).  This novel I have been working on some time, and I have decided to table it for this new project.  A friend of mine and I were discussing writing a modern military spouse guidebook.  With some inspiration from Erin Whiteman, and encouragement from my family, I’m starting a new website, book, and blog– called Military Life Hacks.  I’m currently working on an outline for the book, and trying to come up with ideas for the blog.

What can you do to help me?

Send me your stories, your ideas, your hacks.  The “sub-headline” for this project is: “Making This Difficult Life Easier.”  In 17 years a military spouse, I have learned quite a bit along the way.  I want to make this “book” humorous, useful, and fun.  I also need photographs- specifically military families, patriotic, etc.  All photos will be credited.  Due to limited amount fundage– aka none.  I will not be able to pay anyone for their work.  Though you will be given full credit, and if you provide posts, links to your blog, your photography business, and give credit where credit is due. This is just until I can save enough money to get my own camera and do my own photography.

Even if you are not military, you can still help.  I welcome any hacks you may have– including recipes that don’t break the bank, tips for surviving in your community (if you live in a military community), and even words of support for military families.

Thank-you all for your help,


A Deplorable Lack of Confidence

I have trained for, and ran 9 marathons. I have literally (and figuratively) been there, done that, and have around 8 t-shirts. I only have 8 t-shirts, because my first marathon t-shirt was ruined a few years ago. But for some reason, confidence eludes me during this training cycle.

There are several reasons for this. First of all, last year was (in a word) lackluster. In 2013, I ran a Goofy challenge, some months later I did an incredible feat of running the SE hilliest marathons (Atlanta Publix) with a 20 minute PR. Later in 2013 and early 2014, I could not repeat that feat. My husband was deployed over the summer. My daughter came down with strep and mono within months of each other. I was sick for a few weeks here and there at really critical times during my training. I ended up running 26.2 with Donna far slower than I have run in awhile.

I came out of the last marathon with deplorable lack of confidence. I gained several pounds over the winter and spring. The majority of my runs are on the treadmill until school restarts again. My training has been really interrupted throughout the summer. First for a disability conference and an extended TDY, then for commander’s course and a few trips to and from Orlando. Now, I’m level 14 of a 24-level course, and I’m running 14 miles tomorrow on the treadmill. Even though I know that I can run the distance with little to no issues, I still am scared about transferring from 100% of my runs on the treadmill to outdoor running later on in my training cycle. I just don’t feel confident about this next marathon. Perhaps, it’s because I’m running amongst 40,000 other runners in one of the biggest marathons in the world.

I Do Nothing…

I have been reminded on several occasions the last 2 months that I don’t “do” anything. From my darling husband complaining endlessly that I am on the internet doing nothing, but surfing, I won’t share the secret that I have been actually working on a novel, and am a little over 140 pages into said novel. My mother-in-law made it abundantly clear to me on several occasions that I didn’t do anything to help my husband get where he is in life, and that I will eventually one day ruin his career, because of any number of reasons (from my boneheaded stubbornness, to my opinionated rants, or it could even be my fighting endlessly for the needs of my son). Now, my daughter has joined the act, stating that all I do is run, and play on the computer. It’s heartbreaking to me that everyone seems to have this low opinion of what I do during my time.

I have to remind myself nearly every day that I am doing something of value. First, most of my time online has been spent writing. Whether it be on this blog, AMFAS, or writing short articles for other publications to build a portfolio. You see, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (in other words a small college in Duluth, MN), I was told I was good a writer. I love to write, and that’s what I spend the vast majority of my time doing, but because I don’t make any money doing what I love doing, there is no measure of success. The most I have ever been paid for writing is $200, and it is a pittance compared to the number of hours I spend researching and writing for the publications I have written. Over 20 pieces of my written word have been circulating throughout the Internet at any given time. But because the only thing I have to prove that I am doing something worthwhile is my name in the byline of a publication, and that’s it, I am doing nothing of value, or “playing” on the internet.

That’s not to mention the fact I have two school-aged children, one that has significant needs that merit my time and attention. I have a ten-year-old with a significant case of autism, and an 8-year-old, who is now being tested for giftedness. It appears I have an endless array of appointments that occupy the times I am not writing aka playing on the internet, or doing my other passion (training for marathons). According to many, this is not a value-added activity. There is no paycheck, and I cannot quantitatively account for the time I spend taking my children various places to meet their various and differing needs. It would appear that since I am just a stay at home mom to two older children that are in school 90% of their waking moments, that I should somehow be more productive.

I have running, which takes a significant amount of time. I spend an ordinate amount of time planning my runs, and planning subsequent strategies in case my runs don’t go as originally planned. During the summer months, due to heat, thunderstorms, and a child at home, most of my runs are mind-numbing experiences on the treadmill. And of course to my various detractors there is absolutely no value added in running. It doesn’t matter that it is my happiness, my sanity, and my release. I don’t make any money, I don’t substantively contribute to the betterment of anyone other than myself, therefore it is an activity that is meaningless and folly.

The remainder of my day is spent improving our living quarters. Whether it be by cleaning up after Hurricane Ryan and Hurricane Sophie, which leave a destructive path every where they go, or doing mindless projects throughout the house in a vain attempt at keeping it in some fashion clean and able to entertain the masses at a moments notice. So the 2 hours of my time between running, appointments, standing on my head entertaining a bored 8-year-old, and managing a increasingly busy schedule of a special needs 10-year-old is spent trying to portray my household in a sane manner.

Sadly, throughout the years I think back to what I have missed out on, while doing all the things that others see little to no value in doing. I don’t have much of a social life outside of running and seeing parents at my son’s school. Any social life I do have either involves military spouse sanctioned socializing, walking into my son’s school praying I don’t smell from my workout (or lack of a shower before a workout), or any appointments I may have at the base clinic, speech therapy, or violin lessons. I feel like no one values me as a person. Rather I am valued as someone that should get stuff done. If I don’t get something done, I suffer for it. I get berated by an irritated husband for cleaning every square inch of the house, yet forgetting the fridge for a few weeks (the few weeks I have been at home only a spare couple of hours). I get berated by an irritated mother-in-law for not scrubbing the rust stains out of the bathroom before I have company, because in the grand scheme of things rust stains were the lowest thing on my growing list of priorities. I get berated by an irritated mother for not putting her grandchildren first and foremost. Then I feel like no matter what I do it is not good enough to satisfy the masses. I feel like mothers cannot have it all.

I get no credit for what I have sacrificed. I sacrificed my career, even though most people would argue that I hated serving in the military. There were aspects that I hated (namely a few supervisors and a chief master sergeant who shall forever remain nameless), but I miss it. I miss my friends (especially Vern, may she rest in peace, who always had a smile, and would always make me laugh, especially when it came to her recommendations for callsigns– everyone’s an asshole). I even miss shop talking and being in the know. I get tired of being “just the wife.” I sacrificed my education. I could have gone back to school and gotten my master’s degree with my GI bill, but I blew it. I didn’t use it, because I didn’t have the time to use it when all my focus was on trying to get the most out of my son. I sacrificed his development for the betterment of my husband’s career. I feel like many times I failed him, because I didn’t push hard enough, or I didn’t fight long enough for what was right. I sacrificed control. I have no control over my future. I gave up a lot of what is me, for the ego of one person. I feel devalued most of the time. I feel like I need to worship at the alter of my husband, but no one worships me, or feeds my ego. All I am told is that for the last 17 years I have done nothing, and will continue to do nothing of value.

If You Don’t Want My Opinion…

Recently, I came under fire because I had advised a young airman’s spouse about unaccompanied tours to Kuwait.  This young lady was desperate to join her husband on a 365 rotation in Kuwait at the same base Shane was stationed at.  It was some time ago, while there was unrest in Syria, and the men stationed at the Kuwaiti base were working 6-7 days a week for 14 hour shifts.  She was the spouse of a one-striper, she was pregnant, and she would not get command sponsorship.  She wanted to leave in two weeks.  I said, go to the State Department, but don’t ever count on it.  The odds are not in your favor.

I’m of the opinion that military spouses should not join their husbands on a deployment.  Even though I did for a short time in Guam, I don’t think it’s a good idea, no matter how adventurous you are.  You see having been on the other side of the coin, there is thing called the mission.  I want the mission to be accomplished, and my husband to come home.  Spouses going places without command sponsorship in zones that have risks.  Sure there are risks everywhere, you risk yourself when you go in your car and head to Hobby Lobby.

The risks in Kuwait are much different.  First of all, there are Islamic Laws.  When you go to a base without command sponsorship, you must be aware of these laws, and follow them.  You may be an American, but you are not in Kansas anymore.  There are also Personal Security risks.  There is a risk of being kidnapped.  As the family of an American serviceperson, you are at an increased risk for kidnapping and murder.  The terrorists don’t care if you are an American.  Finally, there is considerable financial risk.  If ISIS spreads into Kuwait, you will be on your own for getting out of the country.  Also, you will be responsible for rent, and the cost of living in Kuwait is considerably higher, so is the cost of medical. You are not a Kuwaiti, and without command sponsorship you will not have the luxury of giving birth at the US facility.

The military provides the unique opportunity for world travel, and I’m all for going, but not to a zone considered a “war zone,” and not with two weeks notice, and not while you are pregnant.  If spouses don’t like that that’s my opinion, don’t ask.  As the spouse of a combat pilot, any distractions put my husband at risk.  A spouse and children in a war zone is a distraction.

10 Life Lessons From Disney…


I love Disney.  Disney World is my happy place, it is the one location I go, that I know in my heart of hearts I will always come back to.  I was thinking about it today, after my son had requested for the hundredth time we listen to selections of songs from “Frozen,” and “Lion King: The Musical,” how much of my personal mantra is tied into Disney movies, musicals, and even at the Disney Parks themselves.  When I mention my love for Disney to many of my friends, the reactions range from, OMG I LOVE Disney too, or OMG why do you blow so much money there. 

A little bit of history: my first trip was when I was 4, I have been there probably over 40 times since.  My son, the one with autism, has potty trained there.  He literally had his very first poop in the toilet at Disney, so you can probably imagine the depth of my appreciation for that place.  It is also my son’s happy place.  He told the ride operator at Thunder Canyon that he was going to one day work at Disney World.  I spent the turn of the century there.  I went there for my 15th wedding anniversary. I almost talked my husband into honeymooning there, and if I had my way, I would have been married there…  Anyway, here’s the list:

10.  “I know that the sun will shine, and the clouds will clear”– It is very easy to lose hope when you are raising a child on the autistic spectrum.  Ryan has this innate ability to know when I need to hear this song, and he will often request it when I’m feeling my lowest.  It’s “Endless Night” from Lion King: The Musical.

9.  “Try the grey stuff, it’s delicious, don’t believe me, ask the dishes”– The best thing I have ever done is try new things.  One time Shane took me to France.  I must say, I don’t like seafood, specifically fish.  We went to a restaurant in Cassis, France, and I ordered the 25 Euro catch of the day.  They brought out a freshly caught fish, and I thought to myself, “oh shit, this is going to taste nasty.”  It was by far the best dish I ever tasted.

8.  “And I won’t look back, I can go the distance, And I will stay on track, no I won’t accept defeat.”– Whenever I run a marathon, I listen to my playlist, and this song always conveniently comes on at mile 25, and I run just a little bit faster knowing that I’m almost done.

7.  “Someday my prince will come.”– Before I met my husband, I longed to go to prom.  That was my goal, a rumor had spread that I was gay.  There is nothing wrong with being gay, but I am most assuredly NOT gay.  Anyway, I wanted someone to sweep me off my feet, in 1993, he did, then again in 1997, and again just about every time he comes back from a TDY or deployment for any length of time.

6.  “Have faith in your dreams and someday your rainbow will come shining through.”– When I look back the last 38 years, I think to myself how amazing my life has been.  I see how many of the dreams I have had in the past coming true- from the first marathon I ran to seeing my name in print for the very first time.

5.  “Hakuna Matata, it’s our problem free philosophy.”– I try very hard not to worry, or be anxious.  It kind of goes against the Aspie in me, I usually worry about everything.  I mostly worry about how I appear, or how people perceive me.  I have come to the realization to most people I am odd.  In recent years, I have also realized not to worry so much about things.  If things don’t go as planned, no worries.

4.  “Such wonderful things surround you, what more is you looking for?”– As a military spouse, we have moved over 12 times in 17 years.  So many times, I hear spouses complain about where they are stationed.  I have heard them complain about Germany (REALLY?!? You are complaining about Germany?!) and I have heard people complain about Minot (yeah, there’s lots there), and I have even heard complaints about Florida.  With each move, I go into it thinking that it’s the best God Damned place on the face of the Earth.  Each location I have lived has been my home, so if someone asks me, “where are you from,” I answer– “I’m from Minneapolis-Minot-Germany-Minot again-Poquoson-Beavercreek-Niceville.”  Don’t look for external places to make you happy, it is possible to make a home where you live.

3. “When the road looks rough ahead, and you’re miles from your nice warm bed, just remember what your old friend said, you got a friend in me.”– I am not the fair weather friend type.  You are nice to me, I will be there for you.  I don’t leave.  I am like your old trusty lap dog.

2.  “It’s time to see what I can do, To test the limits and break through, No right, no wrong, no rules for me I’m free!”– I don’t believe in I can’t.  I test my limits every single day.  When I was in High School and college my cross country coaches would tell me that I can’t run marathons.  Guess what? I took the word can’t as a personal challenge.  My high school English teacher told me I would never be writer– I’m a published author.  I was told not to apply to a private school, because I would never get in– I graduated cum laude.  Anyone tells me that I can’t do something, I take it is a personal challenge to make them eat their words.

1.  “The difference between winning and losing is most often not quitting.”– This is from Disney himself.  Quitting is losing.  I don’t quit.  I have never quit  I change direction, but I don’t give up.  I don’t believe in it.  Life is too short to quit.