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My Kid Stole My Cool | But It's Worth It All. Even The Minivan.

Emergency Contacts

Posted on Sep 22, 2021 in It's the Navy Life

Emergency Contacts 9

Every military spouse knows the scenario: You move to a new place, unpack the boxes (well, some of them), begin the onerous task that is school registration, and come to the Emergency Contact form. Your heart fills with dread. No one. You know not one person that could be an emergency contact, let alone multiple emergency contacts. You rack your brain. Doesn’t that one family we were stationed with overseas eight years ago live here? Would it be weird to ask them to be our emergency contact? It would be weird. Can I list them and not tell them? You have to tell them. There’s that woman on the neighborhood Facebook page who commented that she’s new. Maybe we could be each other’s contacts? Oh, the desperation. It’s pathetic. Maybe I should just homeschool? Hard no. There is no denying it: You are going to be forced into an awkward and uncomfortable social situation in order to recruit the emergency contacts. It is the way of the military spouse world.

When we first moved to our current city years ago, I did in fact ask a woman with whom I had communicated via a spouse network Facebook page – but not yet met in person – to be my emergency contact. Awkward. Last year when we moved to England, I asked a couple of women I had been introduced to before we moved to be my contacts. All was well until I realized I didn’t know their last names and had to send a follow-up text sheepishly asking for this somewhat critical information. SO AWKWARD. These were women whose homes I’d been in, women I’d dined with! Good God, it was embarrassing.

Truly, this is all very silly and irrational. I’m sure there are moms (and dads) who waltz into a new school, look around, and confidently ask the first parent they see to be the all-important emergency contact. And then they become best friends and their kids become best friends and they live happily ever after in suburban bliss.

Whether you’re that unflappable, self-assured parent or… me… moving is hard. This is not news. Everyone who has moved knows this to be true. It’s not just the Emergency Contact forms. It’s making new friends – real friends, friends you would actually call in an emergency – along with finding a new job, maybe, and new schools, new doctors, new childcare. All while dealing with distance from your family and perhaps, if you’re a military family, without your spouse. This is not a complaint. It’s just reality. So, upon receiving my husband’s latest orders requiring a short-term move to a new city, the choice for our family was obvious: He goes, the kids and I stay.

Stay isn’t exactly correct. We were living in England, so all five of us were moving somewhere at the end of our 11 months overseas. 11 months! We had moved to England for 11 months. Dealt with all the moving hassles, conquered all the new things (during a pandemic!) for 11 months. And I would do it again in a heartbeat! After all, how many opportunities do you get to move your family to a new country, even if for less than a year? But when it came time to move back to the U.S., to a new city, for another 11 months – there was no way. I couldn’t conquer all those new things before possibly moving again less than a year later. More importantly, I didn’t want my kids to have to conquer all those new things again.

You hear a lot of talk about how kids are resilient. It’s true! They are! But they shouldn’t have to be. I didn’t want them to prove their resilience and adaptability once again. Not after a year-and-a-half that involved their dad’s deployment, a pandemic, school closures, and an overseas move. It’s just too much. I wanted them to go back to their house, their school, their friends. Back to their emergency contacts.

So here we are. The kids and I are settled back into our home and Damon is thankfully only a short flight or not-too-long drive away. It’s not ideal, and it’s certainly not the choice every family would make. That’s okay! In a couple of years we’ll pack up and start another adventure together. But for now, this is the best for all of us. Oh – and if you’re reading this and ever find yourself needing an emergency contact, holler. I’m happy to give you my number.

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Lockdown: British Edition

Posted on Mar 4, 2021 in Adulthood Stole My Cool, It's the Navy Life, My Kid Stole My Cool, Travel Traumas

Lockdown: British Edition 7

I’ve written and re-written this post many times, vacillating between total dejectedness and flickering hope. We recently passed the six-month mark of living in Oxford. Half of that time we’ve been in lockdown. While the government recently released a plan for gradually (very gradually) easing lockdown restrictions, the reality is that the magical year abroad I had envisioned for my family is largely going to be spent within the confines of our home. I’m sad. And I’m weary. And no matter how hard I try to cultivate gratitude for our healthy family and stable jobs, I just can’t shake the small, persistent ache in my gut for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, lost to the pandemic. Lockdown – regardless of where you live – is demoralizing. Last summer when my husband and I were debating if we should proceed with the move in the midst of a pandemic, I told him, “If there’s another lockdown I don’t want to be stuck in our small British house, with three kids, in the middle of winter.” After the first lockdown, I didn’t know if I could handle another in those conditions. And here we are. Another lockdown (our third). Three kids. Small British house. Dark, dreary winter.  Accurate representation of life in lockdown. I’m constantly fatigued, despite rarely leaving the house. I’m lonely, living in a new place where I’ve barely had an opportunity to form anything more than superficial relationships. I’ve not so much as seen the other school parents’ faces, let alone talk to them. It’s so absurd it’s almost funny. And though I’m lonely, I’m never alone, constantly supervising virtual learning for two older children while trying to keep a toddler entertained inside a cramped house. I can’t believe I actually miss the days of lockdown with a baby! And of course, it’s winter, the cold and dark exasperating an already dispiriting situation. I know I’m not alone in feeling disheartened. We’ve all been there at some point in this past year. The Toddler Terror And really, who am I to complain when so many people have it so much...

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2020 in Books

Posted on Jan 2, 2021 in Adulthood Stole My Cool, Uncategorized

2020 in Books 8

So. Let’s talk about 2020. 2020 included: a baby-turned-toddler, my husband’s deployment, a pandemic (during the deployment), and an overseas move (during a pandemic.) I actually managed to “read” quite a lot this year, thanks to embracing audiobooks as I never had before. Audiobooks got me through the endless hours of dishes involved in a lockdown with three children. (I don’t understand how it’s possible to spend 17 hours of a day doing dishes, and yet…) However, many (most?) of these books aren’t exactly, uh, great literature. Consider this list the Real Housewives of Reading. If you need a mental escape, there are plenty of cheesy rom-coms and throwaway thrillers that are a nice distraction, but ultimately unmemorable.  Don’t write these all off, though – there are a few gems! Here’s to hoping 2021 brings better fortune than 2020, and better books. Favorite Fiction: Oona Out of Order, Leave the World Behind, Such a Fun Age Favorite Nonfiction: Just Mercy and – I’m 100% serious here – Open Book by Jessica Simpson 1) My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan (audiobook): I heard about this book soon after I learned we might be moving to Oxford for a year, so naturally I had to read it. This isn’t a genre I typically go for, but this was actually a very sweet, endearing story with more depth than I expected. And the descriptions of the City of Dreaming Spires got me so excited for my own upcoming adventure. (The adventures of a mom in her mid-thirties moving to Oxford is quite different than a Rhodes Scholar in her 20s, but still, I enjoyed this.) 2) A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum: Thought-provoking, troubling, sad. I wanted more closure. 3) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling: I love reading this series with my daughter. I haven’t read these early books since they were released, and it’s great fun rediscovering them. 4) Washington Black by Esi Edugyan: Excellent. A grand, sweeping book both historical and incredibly imaginative. 5) The Other Windsor Girl by Georgie Blalock (audiobook): What...

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It’s Okay to Ask for Help

Posted on May 14, 2020 in Uncategorized

Every military spouse will tell you that something goes wrong when their spouse deploys. It’s an inevitability. It could be a major appliance breaking – say, an air conditioning unit during a heat wave in your third trimester of pregnancy. It could be a natural disaster – hello, hurricane season! You could have a baby while your husband is on the other side of the world (not a problem, exactly, but not ideal.) Or maybe a snake will take up residence in your living room. Who knows? The fact is we military spouses anticipate these kinds of issues so when they happen, we are somewhat prepared to handle them. Why yes, yes I do. I’m pretty confident that no military spouse anticipated a global pandemic. And while I can’t speak for everyone, I most definitely was not prepared for this. Let me back up. Nine months ago, I had my third baby, Kate. My husband, a Naval aviator, was at sea. He was able to return home the day before the birth and stay for a few days before returning to his squadron. My mom stayed a couple of weeks before returning to her home. And then I found myself alone with three kids – a 7-year-old, 5-year-old, and a newborn. I knew it was temporary – my husband would be returning in several weeks – but still, I cried the day my mom left. I wasn’t overwhelmed yet, but I knew I would be. My first outing alone with all three was a weekend swim meet. It was a lovely Virginia summer day – about 95 degrees with 100% humidity. I schlepped a swim bag, diaper bag, cooler, stroller + car seat, beach chairs, and a TENT into the pool to set up camp for the morning. I gracelessly popped open the tent, placed the sleeping baby inside, and applied sunscreen to the older kids. I was trying to shove breakfast down their throats while figuring out their events when a woman I had never met, Monica, offered to help. This woman, this saint, happened to be a...

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2019 Year in Books

Posted on Jan 1, 2020 in Uncategorized

2019 Year in Books 0

I read 52 books this year, including the chapter books I read with my daughter. Not too shabby for having an infant, if I do say so myself. Loved them or hated them, they’re all here. As with last year, these are (generally) very brief, incomplete thoughts. But if you need some recommendations for good reads in 2020 (or want to avoid some bad ones), I hope this list will help. I’m always up for discussing books, so please let me know your thoughts! 1-7) The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis I read this series with my daughter throughout the year. Here’s how I rank them: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: Easily my favorite. It was wonderful re-reading and discovering the magic of this story with my daughter. I read this when I was five or six (Elisabeth was seven when we read this) and I still remember hoping that if I found the right wardrobe, perhaps a hidden door somewhere, I would discover my own Narnia. Voyage of the Dawn TreaderThe Magician’s NephewThe Silver Chair: I might have ranked this lower but for Puddleglum, my favorite character in the entire series. He is delightful. Prince CaspianThe Last BattleThe Horse and His Boy: Hated this. I thought the dialogue was far too complex for a child; I had to constantly stop and explain the plot to my daughter. I know many people will disagree with me, but I would have been completely fine had this not been included in the series. 8) Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier This was a re-read for me, but I had forgotten pretty much everything about this book, including that the opening line is one of the most famous in literature. Whoops! I also forgot how much crazy is in this book. I mean, whoa there’s a lot of crazy. But there’s a reason this book has never gone out of print –it’s a dark, tense psychological thriller that kept me engrossed, even though nearly every character is just awful (because they’re all psycho). 9) Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies...

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Baby Kate

Posted on Aug 11, 2019 in It's the Navy Life, My Kid Stole My Cool, Pregnancy Stole My Cool, The Kids Are Actually Cute

Baby Kate 0

Hello, Friends! So, I had another kid. I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted here so if you’ve lost track, that’s number three. Baby Kate made her appearance earlier this month, and I figured I better pop in and document her birth story. After all, I did with my first two and I don’t want her to be that third kid who always complains that her parents don’t love her as much or whatever. (I’m an oldest child – can you tell?)  In case she ever does feel that way, I’d like to state for the record that I’ve already forgotten most details of both Elisabeth and James’ births, as well as their major milestones; I’m equally neglectful toward all my children.* Anyway! After an interminable pregnancy that felt SO MUCH HARDER than the first two on account of I’m old now, I was induced at 39 weeks + 1 day to put me out of my misery. I kid, I kid. Here’s the backstory: Damon is currently in the middle of work-ups. Basically that means that he’s not deployed, but he’s gone all the time training for deployment. If you were a reader five years ago, you may remember that Damon missed James’ birth by a couple of days due to deployment. I was very against a non-medical induction at the time, and so Damon Skyped into the delivery room from Japan. Not ideal, but this is how it goes in the Navy sometimes. This time we knew Damon would be gone on my due date again, and after talking to my OB we planned on a scheduled induction so he could arrange to be home for the birth. The practice was very understanding and accommodating – serving a military community, they deal with these situations all the time. I’ll be honest – this was a stressful process. I won’t go into all the boring details but trying to plan Damon getting off the aircraft carrier and then across the country to perfectly time with my induction was a challenge. Not a good challenge. Several factors outside...

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