Tag Archives: military wife

MilSpouse Weekly Roundup!

Howdy and welcome to the 43rd MilSpouse Weekly Roundup! My name is Sarah and I’ll be your host for today.

MilSpouse Weekly Roundup

For those of you new to Mowenackie, my blog gets it’s, uh, unique name from my three beloved animal companions. (They are insulted by the term “pets” – it’s just not PC anymore.)

Mow+en+ackie

Mowgli + Owen + Jackie = Mowenackie

My husband, T,  is Army National Guard. He returned from a year-long deployment (his second) to Afghanistan last December. We’ve pretty much got our feet under us again, but reintegration is always a bit of a challenge, no matter how smoothly it goes.

I blog about the military, my pets animal companions and anything else that comes to mind – which is usually hiking, healthy food or my husband. What can I say, I like H’s. (Not really.) You can learn more about me on my Howdy page.

But enough about me. Let’s hear something about you. So link up, yo!

Next week’s host will be the fabulous Mrs. Mike over at The Science of Missing You. Her young family is facing down yet another deployment very, very shortly, so after you link up, please go show her some MilSpouse Lovin’.

Advertisements

The Mythology of the Weekend Warrior

In some circles, the National Guard has acquired the unfair stigma of producing “Weekend Warriors”. The common belief is that the Guard’s military commitment is limited to one weekend a month and two weeks out of the year.

Tee hee. It is to laugh.

In other words, Um, no.

That may or may not have been the case fifteen years ago. I wouldn’t know since I met my husband during wartime and virtually on the eve of his first deployment; a time when he was very active in the military. The fact of the matter is that these days, the commitment involves much, much more than that. And, quite frankly, that causes some problems.

Please allow me to elaborate.*

*Note that the following are from my own experiences and observations. I’m sure situations can differ widely, but you’ll at least get the drift of where I’ve gisted. (Ew).

1. Drill weekend is a sleepover.
The armory where my husband drills is a two and a half hour drive from where we live. This makes showing up for 0700 formation on Saturday morning rather difficult. T generally opts to go up Friday night in lieu of getting up at 0330 to make the long, sleepy, dark drive. It is also almost impossible for T to come home in the evenings once dismissed, so he needs to stay overnight.

2. A drill weekend is not just Saturday and Sunday.
My husband is an occifer, as I fondly refer to him, so drill weekend often starts, not with formation on Saturday at 0700, but with a leaders’ meeting at 1800 on Friday evening. T– like many members of the National Guard – holds a civilian job. He works in the world of finance, so most weekdays he sits behind a computer until 5:00 p.m.

Let’s review: T gets out of work at 5:00 p.m. It’s a two and a half hour drive to the armory. Leaders’ meeting starts at 1800.

If you do the math, you will find that it is logistically impossible for T to be at the armory in time for his meeting unless he gets out of work an hour and a half early.

Further, not all drill weekends are MUTA 4s (Saturday and Sunday). Some are MUTA 5s (starting Friday night, pushing the leaders meeting to Friday afternoon), some are MUTA 6s (starting Friday at 0700) and there is even the odd MUTA 8 thrown into the schedule (starting Thursday at 0700).

3. The armory is not equipped with barracks or housing.
T’s unit does not provide lodging for soldiers who travel great distances to drill (and there are some who come from further away than T). When they aren’t sleeping in the field, this leaves those soldiers two options: sleep on the concrete floor in the armory or get a hotel room.

EconoLodge logo

My husband, at the advanced age of thirty-nine, chooses to rest his creaky old bones in such luxurious accommodations such as the EconoLodge or the Super8. The cost of a hotel room in this area is approximately $70 per night, so T is essentially paying $140 to go to drill – about half of the salary he makes for being there. Factor in the price of the gas needed to get to and fro and the amount is even less.

4. Using civilian vacation time.
Civilian employers are required by law to give soldiers the time off needed to attend drills, Annual Training (AT), military schools or deployment. However, the manner in which they handle these leaves of absence is left largely up to the individual company or corporation. For example, while my husband has never been given any grief about being gone so often, his employer fully expects that T will use his vacation time towards these leaves until it is gone.

What this means for T (and for me) is that in a typical year, he uses his two weeks of vacation time during AT. (In a non-typical year it’s burned up in other ways.) The advantage is that during this time, T is “double-dipping”, as he calls it. In other words, he gets vacation pay and he gets paid by the military. The downside (which far outweighs the advantage, in my all-important opinion) is that AT is not summer camp. We’re not out sunning ourselves on the beach or rowing blissfully on a lake. It’s my husband’s second job. He works hard and he’s away from home.

Once his vacation time is gone, it’s gone, and we don’t get to spend any time off of work together.

And that just stinks.

5. Taking time to train.
I mentioned that the idea of “one weekend a month and two weeks a year” may have been a schedule conceived during peacetime. These days, National Guard units deploy regularly. Since 2006 my husband’s unit has served a 15-month stint in Iraq and a 12-month in Afghanistan. Those 27-months right there should be enough to debunk the myth of the weekend warrior. Should anyone need more convincing, let me make them aware that in the six months before my husband deployed in December of 2009, he was gone for nine of the 27 weeks. Nine. That’s about two additional months of missed work and missed wife.

6. Attending military schools.
Most soldiers in the Guard take their commitment very seriously. They strive for excellence and, in fact, some of them work twice as hard in order to prove their competence when stacked against active duty personnel. They fight hard to dispel the weekend warrior stereotype and to be taken seriously. They want to do well.

Doing well and advancing in the military often requires that the soldier attend different schools. These schools can last anywhere from a week to eight weeks or longer, tacking on even more time to the “one weekend a month” commitment.

So, what do you think? Have I dispelled the myth yet?

Maybe, but I’m just getting warmed up! Watch for numbers 7 -12 over the next few days.

How about you? Are you or is anyone you know in the Guard? What has your or their experience been?

Happy Memorial Day?

patriotic nail colors

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

While it’s important to remember why we celebrate this holiday, it’s equally important that we do celebrate it.

I’ve found it so easy to feel sad or guilty with all the reminders out there to “remember the fallen”. Yes, we must not forget that freedom has not been free. Yes, we should never forget those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, nor their families.

But the sacrifice must not have been made in vain. Those of us who remain behind should respectfully say a silent thank you. And then we should find joy in a long weekend, in being with family and friends, in firing up the grill and cracking a cold one and even shopping the sales.

I think they’d want it that way.

How about you? What are you doing to celebrate this weekend?

What We Do in Bed

This is a view of my husband’s nightstand:

Amazon Kindle

When we first snuggle into bed, we both read.

What did you think I was going to say, gutterheads?

I read good old-fashioned paperback books. T reads from his Kindle, usually. We each have a small light on our nightstand.

It generally takes about five minutes before I’m dropping off to sleep. I shut my light and pull the covers over my head. This is in part to block out T’s light and in part to keep the vampires from biting my neck.

Residual childhood issues. The ear must be covered.

T used to read on for a few more minutes, then shut his light. Lately, and despite multiple polite requests from me, he has taken to reading for a half-hour to an hour longer, or more. Invariably, after about twenty minutes, the still-blazing light wakes me up.

I am not pleasant when I get woken up.

Actually, I’m almost never pleaseant. But especially not when I get woken up.

The other night I was so angry that I couldn’t fall back to sleep for what seemed like ages and when I finally did, I tossed and turned and slept as if I had not just a pea, but an entire vegetable crop under my mattress. A rotting, bumpy, lumpy, smelly, slimy vegetable crop.

Because I’m such a rational person, I decided that I would approach this conflict in a mature manner.

No, I did not take his Kindle outside and run it over with my car. That would in no way be satisfying.

If I were going to do something like that, I would first smash the shit out of it with a ball peen hammer, then tie it to my rear bumper with fishing line so that it could bounce and drag along behind me on my way to work. And I would make darn sure I was driving in front of my husband.

But, no. Instead I left him a little note inside of his Kindle.

Kindle Love Note 

If you want to read this book,

At the clock you must look.

A full five minutes is the max

Before you have to put me back.

Any longer, you must leave

And take the light where you will read.

Your wife is tired, so please be nice,

And in five minutes SHUT THE LIGHTS!!!

I briefly contemplated making the last two lines:

If more than five you read in bed,

You effing wife will kill you dead.

But, I didn’t.

I’m nice that way.

Does your spouse read in bed? Do you read, too? Or does it drive you crazy?

Speaking of spouses driving you crazy, time is running out to vote in the latest “Tell Me” poll. So far all 11 of my readers have voted (thank you, peeps!), but if you know anyone else who might like to vote, please pass the word!

An Exciting Announcement

We interrupt your (ir)regularly scheduled programming to bring you this exciting announcement:

I’m guest blogging over at The Annoyed Army Wife today!

The Annoyed Army Wife

I was so thrilled – not to mention flattered – that Michelle asked me to write a post for her. I admire the stark honesty and down-to-Earth realism of her blog, not to mention the way she engages her readers.

Her husband, OccDoc, recently returned from a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan, so while the two of them are making up for lost time, Michelle asked me to write about my own reintegration experiences and offer up some advice for the newly reunited.

I did it the way I do everything: with a bit of sarcasm. Here’s a preview of :

A Cynic’s Guide to Reintegration

Buh-Bye Abs

Remember all that work you did over the past six, three or even just one month to look and feel fantastic when you greeted your soldier? We all do it. It’s as good an excuse as any other – better even – to lose some weight and get in shape.

Well, say buh-bye to your new body, because it only takes about two weeks of celebrating, eating out and vacationing before your pants start to get tight again. Not to mention the other people (I’m looking at you, Mom) who want to feed your returning hero as a way of welcoming him back.

Because clearly everyone needs three desserts at one sitting.

I love Italians.

Now get on over to The Annoyed Army Wife and check out the rest. Go on!

March 6th

March 6, 2006: I stood in a cold, dark parking lot and watched my boyfriend of four months walk away from me and towards war in a place called Iraq.  I wouldn’t see him again for almost six months.

Ft Dix Bowling Alley

March 2006 - Before the good-bye at Ft Dix

March 6, 2007: My boyfriend of one year and four months was back at Fort Dix for demobilization. I had seen him for only two weeks during the past year. Three days later we would reunite.

HolidayFest 2007

March 2007 - HolidayFest in full swing!

March 6, 2009: The two of us stood before God and Mount Washington and pledged our love and devotion to each other.

Wedding Picture #1

March 6, 2009 - Our wedding day

 When the pastor pronounced us man and wife, my new husband took me in his arms and gave me the most gentle and yet passionate kiss I have ever received. The two of us radiated a joy that was almost tangible. We couldn’t stop smiling.

Wedding Picture #2

Husband and Wife - and best friends

March 6, 2010: I woke up to a quiet emptiness. I lay in bed for a few minutes, while my heart throbbed a few painful beats. I missed my husband. I was afraid for him. I wanted him back.

But I was determined to make it a good day, for both our sakes. I mustered my courage and rolled out of bed. In celebration of our first wedding anniversary, I took a hike with our dog.

During that hike, my husband called me from Afghanistan. He was one day away from arriving at his outpost where he would spend the next eight and a half months. Our conversation was almost as sweet and loving as that first kiss we shared as husband and wife.

Later that day, my friend K stopped by and brought me flowers. Her husband was only a few days behind mine and would be gone just as long. She’s a MilSpouse, too. She knows. We chatted for a while and played a little RockBand.

When she left, I went upstairs and started a blog. I called it Mowenackie.

It was my anniversary gift to my husband – another way to help us stay connected in the coming months. “Virtual paper” I call it. Paper is the traditional one-year anniversary gift. Since nothing about us is traditional, I thought this fit. He was thinking along the same lines, apparently. He got me the Rosetta Stone for the Italian language, Levels 1-3. Virtual paper.

I just love him.

The story I told in my first post is still the most accurate illustration of our relationship that I can think of. I am so grateful to have this man in my life, who loves me without reservation, accepts me and keeps me grounded. It doesn’t sound like much on (virtual) paper, but it is everything to know I have that one constant in my life of inconsistencies. He is the one I turn to for solace, for soothing, for laughter, for logic.

He was worth waiting for…again and again and again. And he still is.

March 6, 2011: I’m sitting in a hotel room, typing a blog post and waiting. I’m waiting for the military to release my husband back to me, like I’ve done so many times before. But on this March 6th, I woke up next to my husband and at the end of the day I’ll be with him again.

Me & T at the EconoLodge!

March 2011

In the meantime, I’d like to thank you, my darlings – friends, family and fellow MilSpouses – for accompanying me on this journey. This is our anniversary, too. A year ago I found a community that I never dreamed existed, yet today couldn’t imagine being without. Thank you for your support, your help and your advice. Thank you for sharing your experiences with me.

Thank you for reading.

Happy Anniversary!

Because Nothing Says Romance like EconoLodge

This is our anniversary weekend. So, naturally T is drilling with the military.

The armory where T’s unit drills is almost a three-hour drive from where we live, so coming home in the evenings is not an option. In fact, he often has to report so early on Saturday that he leaves Friday night after work and he doesn’t usually get home until late Sunday.

I have this thing where I want to be with him on our anniversary. I couldn’t last year, because he was in Afghanistan. And before that…oh wait, we weren’t married before that. This is only our second anniversary.

So it is that I find myself at an EconoLodge somewhere in Maine on a rainy day in early March. If you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing a March in Maine, allow me to elaborate:

The air is soaked with the dampness of melting snow and penetrates every layer with which you attempt to block it out. It is about 35 degrees, but feels much, much colder. The sky hangs low in a dingy layer of white, smothering any happy thought you ever had about spring and red-breasted robins and flowers, while mud from two months of salted roads runs in chocolate rivulets along high banks parfait-ed with alternating layers of sand and snow.

Here’s the view from our window:

muddy parking lot

It’s delicious.

The EconoLodge is, well, economical, but even so, after expenses T won’t end up earning much this weekend. That’s part of the reason we’re here. The other part is that we plan on celebrating next weekend. I just wanted to be with him now.

EconoLodge logo

You know, it’s actually not that bad. The room is tiny: there’s a bed, a dresser, a teeny table and not much else. There’s not even a closet. But it’s got a medium-sized refrigerator and a microwave. There’s only one sink, but the shower has a tub with lots of places to put your toiletries without having to bend into the water stream to pick them up (I hate that) and the water pressure is decent.

 More importantly, it’s clean and they allow pets!

Owen in our tiny hotel room

The pillows suck, but I went to Walmart today while T did his thing and picked up a couple of better quality. I also had trouble working out because there just isn’t room, but if that’s the worst thing that happens today, I’m doing pretty well.

Besides, if I stayed home, all I’d do is work around the house. This way, I have a little extra time to spend reading, writing and being lazy.

For a wonder T was released mid-afternoon, but his college aspirations make it necessary for him to study for his GMAT, which is coming up this week. So I’m blogging and he’s studying. If you read my last post, you would think smoke should be coming out of my ears, but he looks so darn cute that I really can’t be mad at the jerk.

T studying

So yeah. I could think of a few ways I’d rather spend my anniversary weekend, but there are compensations:

Compensation #1

Tonight, we’re going to get some delicious Mexican food and a little horchata (that’s a rice milk drink, pervs).

Compensation #2

He’s not in Afghanistan. He’s right here. With me. Where I can talk to him, hug him and bite his nose if I so choose.

Me & T at the EconoLodge!

That’s all the compensation I need.

Besides, I think two sub-par anniversaries in a row get me to Tahiti on our 5th instead of our 10th, don’t you?