military etiquette, military traditions, milspouse

My Best Military Ball Yet!!

that crazymilspouse

 

And believe me, I’ve been to more than my fair share of battalion and brigade balls.

I am so happy with how this year’s ball went!  From my dress, to the hotel and childcare, everything went off without a hitch and I would do it all again!

Military balls are the crown jewel of military events.  They are a celebration of a job well done, the anniversary of the forming of the branch of service or the dedication of the unit.  In reality, they are the Super Bowl of social functions, especially for spouses.  The attire is formal, no children are allowed and it is all anyone is talking about for a solid month before and after the event.  There are so many parts to plan, it can make your head spin.

For new spouses planning for a military ball can be daunting.  For my first ball, I was not only concerned with doing everything affordably but I also wanted to make sure everything was done appropriately.  Military etiquette can be a tricky thing to navigate.  Every battalion and brigade commander brings a different vibe and behavior can skew depending on who is running the show that year.

Over the next few days I will be posting about all the different elements of a military ball.  There will be posts on attire, hotel and transportation, and childcare options as well as common military ball traditions and etiquette!!  I look forward to sharing one the best (and most daunting) aspects of military life with you!!

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field training, independence, milspouse

How I Learned to Crush Training Exercises

I have such a love hate relationship with field training.  I hate how much time the army takes away from my husband.  It’s time that could be spent with me, it’s time that could be spent with our children.  Hell, it’s time that he could be fixing things around the house and giving me a break so that I can take a shower.  When my husband is in the field, I not only countdown to my kid’s bedtimes… I count down to my own.  Or at least I did, many moons ago, before I learned how to crush this crazy milspouse life.

I had to make a conscious decision to create my own life.  It felt so odd at first, counterintuitive to the vows I had just said.  While newlyweds all over the world are dealing with how to merge their individual lives military spouses are treading a much more difficult path.  Military spouses must learn how to create a beautiful married life as well as developing a new independent lifestyle.

To some that may sound super easy.  Duh! Just keep doing what you loved to do before you were married… But it really isn’t that simple.  The military isn’t a 9-5 job.  My husband wakes up every morning between 4 and 5am.  And that is because we live on post, when we have lived off post it’s even earlier.  At best he works 14 hours but often he works much longer.  Every once in a while he is home much earlier.  So basically his schedule is completely unreliable which means I have to have dinner ready on either a moments notice and also have it be easily reheated.  Since my husband is gone so often it is really important to me that he gets to spend time with the kids before bedtime.  A lot of times, its only an hour, but that hour may be all the time they get all week.

When you’re living your life revolving around another person it is difficult to carve out your own identity.  Mix that with parenthood and Poof! no more you!  When my husband’s first field exercise cropped up on the training calendar, I was completely lost!  I had to fill 4 straight days.  In a new city, with no job, no friends, no hobbies.  I felt like I was in solitary confinement.  I was miserable.  I would spend hours on the phone with my best friend from back home.  I truly began to feel like an appendage of my husband, not my own person.

One of the best decisions I ever made was reaching out to spouses of soldiers in my husband’s unit.  I literally went onto the group FRG Facebook page and posted:

“Hi!  I’m (relatively) new to the area and I have no friends!  Is anyone interested in grabbing a bite to eat next week? I’m normal, I swear!”

And guess what?  There were 2 other spouses in basically the same boat. We went out to dinner and it was great.  Were they both the lifelong soul sisters I dreamed of? No.  But I ended up becoming very good friends with one of them and keep in touch with both of them to this day.  More importantly, I now had friends who were in the same boat as I was and were on the same schedule.  When my husband was gone, so were theirs.  I know how people in the area to come over and watch a movie with, to go shopping with. They also understood when I went into friendship hibernation.  When the guys are home its pretty common for us to fall off the radar.

Those friendships came with so much more than convenience.  They allowed me to explore my new home through “girl” eyes.  We ate at restaurants I could never drag my husband to.  We saw shows he would have hated.  We took cooking classes, went to Zumba, and countless other things.  I learned a lot about myself.

And I took all those things I learned with me to my next duty station.  And the next.  And the next.  And at every duty station I did the same thing.  I posted on that dang Facebook page.  I had those awkward friend dates at Panera.  Sometimes I had several before I found my crew.  I never felt like it was a waste of time when I had those lunch dates with people I knew I wouldn’t be besties with.  I knew that there would always be a friendly face at the next FRG meeting or Battalion potluck.

I no longer looked at the field training exercises as terrifying black holes.  I had friends to call who were also dealing with empty houses.  And when they weren’t available, I knew of cafes I could have dinner at and fitness classes I could go to.  I wasn’t selfconscious about being seen alone, because I knew I wasn’t TRULY alone.

I am by no means saying that the only good friends you will ever have are milspouses, but they have a special place in my heart.  You could substitute the FRG with any group and I can almost guarantee your results will be the same.  Some of you may be more comfortable with a MOMS group, church or your gym.  The point is, you are never alone!  There is always at least one person who could use a meal, a friend, or both.  So get out and connect.  It will change your day and it may even change your perspective on this crazy mil-life!

Tell me about your tricks to making yourself comfortable in a new place or how you fill those long training nights!

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Welcome!!

I’m a seasoned military spouse looking to show independent women that they can flourish while navigating the military community.

You’re a new military spouse, recently graduated and married to your high school/ college sweetheart.  You’re in a new town without your friends or family.  You’ve left your job that you loved (or at least liked) and now you’re struggling to find a job, any job, that will help you provide for your family that also works with your husband’s schedule. Your best friend (let’s face it, your only friend) is your husband and he is working ridiculous hours.  At best, he’s working 12 hour days, at worst you haven’t seen him since June.  You are in desperate need of some semblance of normalcy or even a friend.  But how do you find one of those?  Do you have to figure out what you even like in a friend?  What about what you like in you?

I get it.  Oh man, do I get it.  This was my life story 10 years ago.  And thanks to the military life cycle, sometimes it still is my life.

I have been navigating the military community as a spouse for the last 10 years.  I’ve been through 7 homes during that time period.  My husband has deployed 4 times and I count myself lucky that it hasn’t been more.  I have several degrees and am a stay at home mom.  That decision wasn’t easy… and sometimes it’s been downright costly.  Every few years (or 18 months) I find myself in a new house, in a new city with no friends.  I have to figure out how to participate within social groups within my husband’s unit, how to do things I like, how to be a decent mother, and how to do it all while it feels like the power isn’t entirely in my own hands.  Thanks Uncle Sam!

Every week you will find posts related to how I’ve managed to survive military life.  This will NOT be a spouse’s handbook.  These are my thoughts and opinions on everything I encounter.  From dressing for a military ball to joining the FRG to befriending non-milspouses.  But most of all, about being a person completely formed and well-rounded, independent from the military while carrying the knowledge that I have a Dependent ID.

Currently my family lives on post at a Fort Campbell.  I am 32 years old and I have two children, ages 3 and 9 months.  I am momming so fricken’ hard right now.  Between my threenager and trying to detach the baby from my hip, my days are FULL.  While many of my hobbies have fallen to the wayside, what I have not lost and plan on never losing is ZUMBA!!  Man, I love to shake my tail feather.  I even got licensed to instruct recently!!  The idea of leading my own Zumba dance party is terrifying and I’m sure I’m going to fall flat on my face, but I can’t wait to get going!!  I’ll admit that the decision to become licensed greatly focused on my desperate need to have something that was just mine.  Becoming a milspouse took away so much of my sense of self.  Mumming robbed me of what was left.  Volunteering, Zumba, and even this blog, are all my ways of reconstructing the badass that I used to be!