A Day in the Life...

of a Real Army Wife Blog

A Day In The Life...

...Of A REAL Army Wife!


Discovering My New Identity... As A Soldier's Wife

By Meg Reichert

June 13, 2017

Fort Bragg, NC

Many wives, like me, meet their soldier and then feel like they have to give everything up to have the life with the person they want. This is such a common story, and one that sometimes has a happy ending and sometimes has a very sad ending.


I was in my late twenties when I met my soldier. I had finished my undergrad, worked in the professional world for a few years and had returned to graduate school for my masters of counseling. I had HUGE plans for myself. I was planning on finishing school, taking the national certification exam, and high-tailing it to Washington DC to pursue my dreams of working with children in the city that I loved.


But in walked the handsome, witty, funny man of my dreams (y’all he’s deployed right now so all I have is love in my heart). While we were dating we both kept saying how I could still pursue my dreams of working with children and families, traveling all over the country (or world), raising our children (and raising them without paying for years of their own therapy years later). And while I’m sure this works for a lot of families, I quickly realized this wasn’t going to be a reality for my family.

 

Fast forward to our first year of marriage - at a brand new duty station, no less - and I was on the struggle bus, big time! I love traveling and starting over in new places, so that wasn’t the problem.


What I was having a hard time with was creating an identity for myself that wasn’t related to my husband and his career.


I tried getting my counseling license (a really annoying process in any state), and getting a job. This took almost a full year to make happen. I was so excited and determined that this was what I needed to figure myself out-I was a career woman, after all!

 

Surprise! Shortly after I took this job we found out we were pregnant. I was overjoyed about this baby. I knew I could do it all-be an Army wife, have my career and baby. Needless to say, I got overwhelmed pretty fast. My marriage struggled and I was stressed all the time. So, I left my job.


It wasn’t even a discussion with my husband. He came home from three weeks in the field and I told him I was quitting. He never even blinked (this is one of the many reasons why he’s great). I must have looked as exhausted as I felt because he just said okay.

 

Time passed after I left my job. Our baby grew and I was able to spend the remaining months of my pregnancy planning for the baby and figuring out my life. Now, I’m not saying I have all the answers, but I was able to find the answers for us, for now.


So, here it is: life is fluid and nothing is forever.


I say this because I was placing so much emphasis on my career being my identifying factor. And I was hell bent on “having it all”. But y’all, that isn’t a reality. Just like any multitasker can tell you, when you try to juggle too many things at once you’re going to drop something.


For me, trying to juggle my career, a family, my husbands insane schedule and my own mental health was wearing me down, and fast. I bow to the women that do this so easily - and I wanted to be like y’all. But I had to realize, that I am not that person.


I am not the person that can sustain working from sun up to sun down and not even taking a moment to feel the sun. And do you know what I learned from all of this? It is okay to be someone who wants to take a moment. There is nothing wrong with choosing a different path than the one you set out on. Just like there is nothing wrong with changing your mind... over and over again.


Life is like a river, it is going to keep moving, you don’t have to push it.

 

As military spouses we oftentimes feel like we have to choose one or the other - a career or our spouse. I’m not sure about the rest of you ladies, but I don’t really feel like it was ever an option. I am married to the man I adore. A man who I would literally travel to the ends of the earth with.


I love my career and I love being able to help others, but right now isn't the season for that. And there are so many ways to help others besides being in practice. Just like there are many other defining things, besides my career, that make me who I am.

Missing My Best Friend

By Kristin Bentley

June 16, 2017

Fort Lewis, WA

I have not yet known James for five years. But in that short amount of time my husband has become the love of my life, my soulmate, my safe place, my pick-me-up after a bad day... my best friend.


We met through a mutual friend, who invited me over to a female soldier's house for a "family" dinner and games. I had been going through a divorce at the time, and had no idea just how much my life was about to change. Not only by meeting James, but also because of the friendships I made that night.


Since that warm Georgia evening in November, James and I did not look back at the previous lives we used to live. Instead we only looked ahead, towards the life we were going to have together. The one that we live today. 


I don't know that anyone has ever known me as fully as my husband does. There are pieces of myself that I keep hidden from even my closest girlfriends, the parts I don't like and wish I could change. But James knows them. He wakes up to them every morning, and snuggles with them every evening after we kiss goodnight. And for some reason, he still loves me.


While out with friends we still stare at each other, even after almost three years of marriage, and finish each other's sentences. My 15-year-old son explained once to a family friend, "They are always like this." And I hope it never changes.


Only a month after we began to officially date, James left for Korea for a grueling 17 months. The day he left, I drove him to the small local airport and hugged him tightly, desperately trying not to cry. I had no idea then how my feelings had grown so strongly in such a short amount of time, which was so unlike me. But I knew on that sunny spring afternoon, I was in for the long-haul. I didn't know exactly when I was going to see him again, but I knew that I would be waiting. 


The afternoon he returned, I was at Fort Benning's Maneuver Conference. The National Infantry Association had a booth and I was there representing the Infantry Bugler, the association's magazine, which I was the editor of. I left from the event a little early that day to pick James up at the Atlanta airport.


As I stood there, waiting for him to come up the escalator, my knees felt so weak, I thought for sure they were going to give out on me. I also had colossal-sized butterflies swimming around inside my stomach. Even though we had spoken every day, throughout the day... via texts, phone calls and FaceTime... I was terrified that I wouldn't recognize him. I was so incredibly nervous... it had been almost a year and a half since we'd actually seen each other!


When I finally saw his handsome face, my heart just stopped, and I ran to him. The tears were flowing as I kissed his face, not caring who was staring.


The whole drive home, I couldn't keep my eyes on the road. I kept looking to make sure he was really there. That weekend we drove up to Ohio, meeting each other's families for the first time, and got married.


Today, I keep staring at my phone. It's been a little over two weeks since he left for training in Eastern Washington. He called late last night for just a quick minute to say goodnight. But now I can't focus on anything else I'm doing today. It's almost 2pm, and I still haven't heard from him!


It's like being a young girl again, away at summer camp without my best friend to talk to. I feel as though I'm about to burst if I don't tell him soon that our 16-month-old son put his shoes on this morning, all by himself, and that our 12-week-old daughter laughed out loud for the very first time. It's like that... that's the way I miss him.

Army Wife Strong... More Than Just A Motto

By Kelin Flis

June 20, 2017

Fort Benning, GA

Strength. Eight years ago, if I had to list qualities that I most saw within myself, strength would not have been at the top. I'm not talking physical strength, although, lets be honest, I don't possess that either. I mean emotional and mental strength. There's a quote by Bob Marley that reads, "You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice." That is pretty much the best way I can sum up being an Army wife. 


When they made the slogan "Army Wife Strong", Honey, they weren't kidding!

   

I've now been married to my wonderful husband for seven years and we have two adorable children. My daughter, Keira, is three and my son, Ethan, is about to turn two. My hubby just returned from his 14th deployment, and I have now experienced surviving a deployment on my own with two young children. 


Here's where the strength comes in! Anyone that has, or has had, young children can relate to the madness that is being a parent. The downright crazy, exhausting, stressful yet wonderful times can be a bit much to say the least. To do it with your spouse away in a war zone for several months can be more than too much to handle. 


As most military wives know, everything seems to fall apart once the hubby leaves. Things break, children get sick, etc. I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but toot toot!  I did it!


I've handled deployments before, as I planned our wedding, bought our house, and continued to work full-time while maintaining my sanity. For the most part. 


To keep a household with two toddlers on my own, that was not something I ever thought I could do and I'm so proud to say we survived and dare I say, excelled. 


During his trip this year, I over saw repairs that needed to be done to the house, cared for both kids when they had strep throat, AT THE SAME TIME, scheduled surgery and appointments for our dog and continued to work a full time job outside the home. This may not seem like a big deal to others, but to me, handling these tasks and keeping myself out of a straight jacket is quite a feat. So, Toot toot!

 

Strength is something a lot of people may not realize they possess until tested. Taking care of a family while your husband is away is something Army wives do on the daily. It's something I never thought about until I came into this life. 


Of course help is always accepted when offered. Whether it be from a person or prescription! Anxiety meds play a large role in my survival. 


I used to think it was odd when others would thank me for "my service." MY service? I don't do anything. It's my husband that does the hard work. I now understand and completely appreciate what they mean when they thank me. 


To all the military wives, thank you for what you do. The stress and emotional breakdowns you endure. Thank you for supporting your spouses and giving all you have back at home. We are not just strong, we are Army Wife Strong! 


Overcoming PCS Stress

By Meg Reichert

June 23, 2017

Fort Bragg, NC

“We are PCSing”. These are words we're prepared for, know we're going to hear, but never want to hear.


When my wonderful husband and I got married, he thanked me for embracing this nomadic lifestyle (like really, in his speech at our wedding). At the time I laughed and chuckled with heart-shaped eyes and thought, “Oh Husband, you’re just so sweet”. Y’all. Now that my heart-shaped eyes have returned to their oval brown-hued selves, I realize he’s not sweet. He’s realistic. I mean he’s sweet, because he always holds me and reigns in my PCS crazy, but he’s realistic.


And thus begins my tale of our most recent PCS. This is only our second, but we’ve only been married for 2 1/2 years. When we first PCS’d to Ft. Bragg in 2015, I was so excited. We were coming off of a crazy school/work schedule, a wedding, honeymoon, and a whirlwind family-filled holiday season. We were ready to get settled into our new home and face our new adventure.

 

Fast forward to the present. While I was super excited and eager to move, this one was more emotional -- probably hormone induced -- but still difficult. In this move we left the first house we bought together. We left the nursery that I meticulously labored over for months while waiting for our little boy to occupy it. This was the first house where we faced a crazy training schedule and our first deployment as a married couple. This was the house we started our future in and was our son's first home.


It’s where we left as a family of two and returned as a family of three. And now it was time to pack up all of these memories and try to plant them in our new home.

 

Let me back up and set the scene that I faced while preparing for this PCS -- it’s probably not so different from most of y’alls. I have a barely one-year-old son and my husband is deployed but should be coming home just in time for us to leave. We are (insert “I am”) selling his house that he had at a previous duty station, we are renting out the house we currently live in, I have to find a new house in our new duty station (which is in Washington DC -- hello ridiculous real estate market), and I’m the matron of honor in my best friends wedding a week before we are scheduling our move.


If I polled most of the other military spouses I know, the one word they would use to describe a PCS is STRESS! I don’t know anyone who says it’s super easy and fun (if you are that person, I’m not sure I get you).


Somehow, we survive all the stress of the preparation for our PCS (and our marriage survives it too, on top of reintegration).


So, its MOVING DAY! YAY! The day we’ve been anxiously waiting for. Somehow I’ve held it together until I see our life in boxes. When does that get easier? This is definitely that moment my husband steps up and wraps me in a hug, drowning out my overly dramatic sobs. Oh but wait, lets make this a little bit more emotional: while the movers are loading the truck, my son starts WALKING. Walking y’all! When did my baby turn into a grown man? Is it because we packed up his nursery?


Okay, but for real, downplaying all my dramatics. It was a bit stressful and just about the last straw. In my moment of forgetting that what can go wrong during a PCS will go wrong, I figured we were through the craziest of events. In my overeager little brain I imagined we would get up to DC, and since we are so close to our previous duty station, get our furniture immediately. All you more seasoned military spouses stop laughing at me. I can hear you.


While we didn’t have to wait as long as most (I see you OCONUS PCS), it was a little over a week before our home goods got delivered. Also, we rented our new home sight unseen because I didn't have time to trek back up to DC to find a place when my first attempt fell flat. Thankfully our home didn’t look like the crack den my husband was prepared for.


While waiting for our coveted home goods we spent the week joyfully having pillow fights in the luxury hotel with our perfect toddler and pristine dogs. What?! That’s not your life? Yea, it’s not mine either.


We quickly realized I would murder our dogs if they stayed in the hotel more that the first night-off to an empty house they go! Our toddler (because he walks now, he can’t be considered a baby anymore) tested my patience in a way I didn’t think was imaginable -- off to an empty house he goes, oh wait, we can’t do that.


And my dear sweet husband decided that he was going to use the time before our furniture got delivered to paint bedrooms and do all these things that I did not feel was necessary, but in hindsight I’m totally appreciative of. (Don’t tell him. I refuse to admit that he is right.).


I am stressing because the business that I have doesn’t work if I don’t. So I’m trying to made a smooth transition and be successful. Oh and let me mention that the temperature was about fifteen degrees cooler and rained everyday we waited -- which means those cute shorts and t-shirts I packed our son weren’t going to cut it. Just go ahead and get my room ready at the asylum.


Home good delivery day finally came on day seven of our waiting game. Again, in my head, I assumed they would come first thing in the morning. Wrong. They came at about four in the afternoon because they had someone else’s home to deliver (but let’s be real, I didn’t care about them-I just wanted my bed. Rude, but true.).


It took the movers what felt like forever to get our furniture and precious memories into our new house. I wonder if movers know or understand how precious the cargo is that they carry from home to home.


When they finally left me and my husband, surrounded by boxes, danced our happy dance-not that happy dance. We actually danced. Thus, FINALLY concluding our PCS experiences. We were home.


I feel like PCSing is really the military’s way of testing a family’s resilience. How far can you stretch a family before it breaks? Let’s find out. Well, military, jokes on you. Families who adopt this nomadic lifestyle wreak with resiliency. We don’t need silly antics to make us strong. We already are.


And my family is one of the strongest. So while I’m pretty sure my darling husband would have loved to throttle me during my pouty, angry, and scared mood swings; he didn’t. And while I definitely would have loved to stomp my foot, scream at the top of my lungs and ring his neck; I didn’t.


At the end of the day, my husband was home. We made it safely to our new home and that’s really all we need. PCSing is not for the weak but it is for us. It is for all of us. The military spouse, who can truly do anything and everything, all at the same time.


We are the ones who can appreciate the precious and amazing milestones in their little ones life while watching all the memories be packed away. We are the ones who can truly make home anywhere.

Showing Patriotism, No Matter WHO Is President

By Kristin Bentley

June 28, 2017

Fort Lewis, WA

(Photo Credit: "Twilight Tattoo" at Fort Meyer, near Arlington National Cemetery, taken by Meg Reichert easrlier this month)


The other day I was driving up the Interstate, heading north towards Seattle, and saw something I haven't seen since our PCS to Fort Lewis.


A silver lifted Chevy pickup with big knobby tires passed me by, proudly waving two large flags from its bed. One was an American flag, the other was a yellow flag with a snake and the words, "Don't Tread On Me."


Now, it wouldn't be right for me to say that Washington is not a patriotic state. However, this is certainly not something I see every day, not like I did while my husband was stationed at Fort Benning, Ga.


Your typical American would probably roll her eyes and whisper, "What a redneck," under her breath. But instead, I smiled -- because I'm obviously not your typical American. But then again, neither are you!


Instead, what we see is someone who supports our husbands, who took an oath to protect this country's freedom; even though it means he must miss another band concert, another first word, another Christmas, and another family vacation.


We see someone who supports our families' way of life, even though it is one that we gladly chose because of a great love that we have for our husbands.


 We also see someone who supports our daily sacrifices, the ones we make every time we say goodbye to another girlfriend before we move; the ones we make by living so far away from our families, that we sometimes don't see them for a few years at a time, depending where the Army sends us; the ones we make when we must hold our children tight and wipe away their tears because they are missing their Daddy, again.


We see a man who stands and puts his right hand over his heart EVERY time he hears the National Anthem. We see a man who votes every election, and no matter WHO is elected as our next President of the United States, he is still, and ALWAYS will be, proud to be an American.


Now that Trump is President, and many Americans are still protesting, I wonder when I'll see another pickup truck like this one again.


No Judgement Here

By Kelin Flis

June 30, 2017

Fort Benning, GA

It's happened to all of us, and I'm sure we've done it ourselves. Judging others and being judged can be hurtful and down right aggravating. When someone judges you without being in your position its frustrating, annoying and can down right tick you off!


As women we face it all the time. Our parenting techniques, how we keep our home, what we choose to do with our lives and career, etc.


There is one instance I'd like to address where I face judgment on a fairly regular basis and it seems so ridiculous and unfair. I feel judged and down right shamed at times for wanting to go out.


Those that know me know I am, in every sense of the word, an extrovert. I recharge my batteries and feel the best when I'm out around people, music, and being social.


Sure I need days to relax at home like anyone does, but my favorite thing to do on the weekends is to hit the town with my girl friends and dance the night away!


I love dancing!! To grab a fruity drink, hit the dance floor and jam to my favorite songs all while laughing with my girlfriends at our silliness is absolute heaven to me.


For this, I get judged. Down right shamed. "You're married? Then why are you out?" Especially if you are married with kids! gasp! Heaven forbid a married mother be seen out having fun! I know I can't be the only one facing this issue.


What seems even more interesting is the fact that my husband has no issue with my wanting to go out some nights. He isn't into dancing himself. He isn't crazy about the bar scene and he recharges by having alone time. So its kind of a win/win!


He hangs at home and enjoys his golf game while I dance and listen to music with my friends. This concept seems down right foreign and unimaginable to some.


I was once literally shamed by another women for "Going out Friday night" when I'm a married women. Seriously?? What year is it? I guess I forgot that when you get married and have kids you are no longer a part of society nor are you allowed to enter public places unaccompanied by your spouse.


My husband is deployed A LOT!  I have a many responsibilities to take care of, and 95 percent of the time I'm a nervous wreck hoping he is okay. How can someone want to judge another women for trying to let lose and heal herself on occasion? However, many choose to.

 

Ladies, it is 2017. If you want to go out and have a night on the town with your friends, you slip into those favorite jeans, strap on your finest heels and dance your heart out! Don't let anyone shame you or make you feel bad for being you.


I mentioned earlier, we all make judgments. I'm not innocent. So let's make it a point to be more opened minded and non-judgmental, especially when it comes to our fellow Army wives. We are all facing a lot and to be judged by another for how we cope or let loose, is the last thing we need.

Firework-Free Fourth of July: Life With A Combat Veteran

By Kristin Bentley

July 6, 2017

Fort Lewis, WA

(Photo Credit: Fireworks over the Lincoln Memorial, by J.W. Photography from Annapolis)


This year was the second time (in a row, might I add!) that my husband has been home for the Fourth of July. He was away training in the mountains of Central Washington, but his entire unit came back for the holiday weekend.


One of my favorite things on the Fourth has always been the fireworks show. Over the years, I've seen them while boating with friends in my hometown, at the Taste of Chicago festival, and over Niagara Falls and The White House. The shows have always been spectacular, and the company even better... especially when there's a cold craft beer in hand (America!).


My husband, however, is not a fan of fireworks. At all.


Before we were married, James spent 15 months in Iraq during the Siege on Sadr City. Day and night he listened to mortar rounds flying over his head. The walkway into the FOB's PX had been hit, leaving a large crater in the concrete. Every night he went to sleep at night with headphones in his ears, rocking out to Ozzy and Black Label Society, to drown out the shrieks of bombs just outside his door.


He returned home safely, but not quite the same. The Fourth of July quickly became his least favorite holiday - the snaps and pops of fireworks always bring him back to that long deployment, where he lost too many friend.s.


Luckily, my husband doesn't mind setting off his own "show,." With my six-year-old stepson in tow, James stopped at a roadside tent and purchased as many "fireworks" he could that are allowed in the state of Washington - which ultimately consisted of sparklers, poppers and snaps. 


After the sun went down, we woke our 17-month-old and brought him outside. While our three-month-old daughter slept peacefully in her bouncer, my husband and stepson lit every single piece of sparkly noisy thing in that brown paper bag. I watched both of their faces light up with excitement as they shared that special moment together.  


And just like that, it was the best fireworks show I have ever seen.

The Many "Hats" of an Army Wife

By Kristin Bentley

July 11, 2017

Fort Lewis, WA

Throughout my day, I wear many "hats," as an Army wife, writer, business owner, mom of six, and recently returning college student - in pursuit of my Professional Writing Certificate (eventually I'll get to a master's).


Of all these hats, it is the one of "mom" that is most worn and tattered, covered with spit-up and blood, after over 20 years of raising children.


My youngest is now 13 weeks old... our first girl (my fifth birth)... and I am fairly certain that I have already lost all of my pregnancy weight - which I could confirm if I would break down and finally purchase a bathroom scale.


Amazing, you say? Well I promise, my friend, you would lose yours as quickly if you spent your days chasing a 17-month-old active boy while wearing a newborn in a Tula (I'm certain I'll end up buying a second one just to keep in the house). It is a surefire way to drop your daily caloric intake, as meals have gone from being served on a plate into a blender for a green "on the go" smoothie. 


I believe in Murphy's Law, for it seems to have bitten me on the ass every time my husband leaves. Our brave little toddler has never seen the inside of an emergency room. At least he hadn't until yesterday.


It was a cool breezy Monday, we were at a local beach for a low-tide shoreline walk. I had packed lunch, with snacks to keep a growing toddler and six-year-old content. The boys played with friends, as I sat and chatted with a few of my girls. It was the perfect relaxing afternoon after a morning of unyielding infant cries and a cell phone ringing non-stop (at least one of the calls was from my husband!).   


Life called me back to reality after a few hours of unplugging and we had to leave to run a few errands. Pushing the double stroller back up the slanted parking lot - while wearing Elle, who was fast asleep - provided a 15-minute workout for the day.


When we finally made it back to the car, my arms were smoked! I got Xander out of the stroller and sat him in his seat... and that was where I made my mistake. I stepped back and moved the stroller out of the way, giving my limp arms a quick break, before buckling him. 


Xander stood up at that very moment, and because the car was slanted sideways he quickly lost his balance. In a matter of milliseconds, he was falling... face first. 


Watching him fall is a vision that has been imprinted into my brain, the way a broken projector replays a film clip over and over. The way his nose and forehead hit first, the way his neck bent back and his limp body collapsed onto the hard pavement.


James has been in the Army for almost 12 years now. Leaving college after his second year - and being accepted into medical school as a sophomore - James joined the Infantry to become a Ranger. While I love his story, and find it incredibly patriotic and admirable, we sometimes imagine how different our lives would be had he finished school and become an orthopedic surgeon. Of course our daydream always comes to the same end... if it hadn't been for the Army, we never would've met.


At some point, my husband intents to go back to college to pursue a medical career. In the meantime, he has thankfully retained quite a bit of the pre-med knowledge he had learned, which has been helpful on numerous occasion.


I was so thankful that on my first attempt to call him, he answered. From the middle of the desert.


On the outside, I was calm and collected... but on the inside I was an absolute mess. The sound of his voice almost put me into tears.


I sent him a photo of Xander's face, that had already begun to swell. His nose was bleeding profusely, it looked as though he had a piece of gravel stuck in the skin underneath. I thought he needed a few stitches. He had a golf ball-sized bump in the middle of his little forehead. Luckily, he didn't break or move any of his teeth... but I was worried he had broken his nose.


James did an assessment of his own and had a medic take a look at the photo as well. He assured me that he thought Xander would be fine, that his injuries looked superficial.  


About an hour later, we were in the ER to make sure he didn't have a concussion. That's how long it took to drive home and repack the diaper bag. Luckily our on-post subdivision is right near the hospital. I was unable to get ahold of our neighbors, so all three kiddos were still in tow - until an amazing girlfriend insisted on coming to pick up Leo and Elle a few hours later.


Three hours later, the ER doctor confirmed everything James had said. She checked inside his nose and said that it didn't look broken, but she wanted me to follow up with his PCM in about a week. She said to give him Tylenol and Motrin, and that he was going to bruise which would cause him to look much worse before looking any better.


For a woman who cannot stand the sight of blood - to a point that I cover my eyes when my husband makes me watch horror movies with him - I would say that I kept it together pretty well. On the outside, anyway.


I often hear compliments from family and friends regarding my strength. "I just don't know how you do it," they say. But let me tell you... yesterday, I felt like a failure as a mother. I felt like I had dropped my mom "hat."


Every time I look at my little boy's hurt face, I want to cry. I want to kick myself and say, "Buckle that damn car seat next time before you do anything else!" Even though I have been a mom for over 20 years, I still make mistakes. And I know that I will make many, many more... as hard as that is to admit. 

I Love Food...Who's With Me?

By Kelin Flis

July 13, 2017

Fort Benning, GA

(Photo Caption: Janice Kelly, Army Wife and Bodybuilding Competitor)


Here we go again...


Yes, I'm trying again. To lose weight that is. Not that I have much to lose, but I'd like to start eating healthier in general. 


Here's the problem, I LOVE FOOD! I love to eat! I can't believe the stories my parents tell of me when I was younger and what a picky eater I was. I would hardly eat anything. My how things have changed! 


I'll eat even when I'm not hungry. Unfortunately, the fattening, unhealthy foods are the best :)

   

So yes, I've started (again) this week. No fad diets. Nothing too strict. I want to make sure I'm changing my ways not just getting a temporary fix. I've been trying to drink more water. Can we please talk about how boring water is!? I mean come on. I'd much rather have a Dr. Pepper or Pepsi. But as long as I put a little lemon in it, the water is better. 


I've got to find more time in my day for exercise as well. My hubby and I love going for walks around the neighborhood with the kiddos in the evening. However, it's been blazing hot and humid down south! Our evening walks are on hold for the time being. So I'll get my squats and other exercises in at home. 


I've just got to remain focused and disciplined! I saw a meme online recently that said: "I don't so much need a personal trainer as much as I need someone to follow me around to smack food out of my hand." That's about right. 


No joke, I'm staring at an order of cheese sticks as I write this. This venture will be harder than I thought.

   

Wish me luck! I'm going to really try. Again, I don't want to lose a large amount. Perhaps 10 pounds. I'll do my best! Starting right after I eat these cheese sticks. :)


Healthy Food, Healthy Family

By Meg Reichert

July 18, 2017

Washington D.C.

Until I turned 27, I never seriously considered what foods I was putting in my body. It sounds crazy, I know. But I had some warped sense of reasoning in my head that even though I was eating poorly and drinking more alcohol than I needed to I wouldn’t have any problems with my health and weight.


I know, I laugh at myself now too. I slowly started coming to the realization that I needed to start focusing on what I was putting in my body if I wanted it to last long enough to see my grandchildren.

 

The crazy thing is that in my early twenties I had all sorts of problems with my gut and health. I had to have a colonoscopy and an endoscopy, was told to stop eating dairy and corn. But I still did what I wanted.


I was gaining weight, lethargic, had difficult skin and hair. And being naïve and ignorant to the truth, I blamed these problems on hormones (which are actually linked to what we eat), and environmental factors.

 

It wasn’t really until right before we started our family that I really started focusing more on what I ate. Sure, I had gotten myself into pretty good shape from FINALLY (like the first time in my life) working out and making my fitness a priority, but that final step of changing my diet still hadn’t happened.


I was eating fried chicken on the reg., and devouring french fries like they were going out of style (I still really love french fries) - lets not even get started on ice cream!


Then, something clicked. I’m not sure what it was. It could have been that one of my coaches at the gym I was training at was a nutrition enthusiast and was so helpful in answering the myriad of questions I kept asking her. Or it could have been my love of cooking and this whole new way of exploring foods and new ingredients.

 

Now, let me back up. I grew up eating relatively healthy. Sure, I had pizza on Friday night when my parents had date night, or a Happy Meal here and there. But I grew up eating a well-balanced diet and a lot of green leafy things.


The sweetest breakfast cereal I was allowed to have was Kix (and that was after my mom had to listen to four children complain about Cheerios or the oat bran cereal that we called “crunchies”)!


I assume it was college that made my brain shift from healthy eating to eating junky cravings. At any rate, somewhere along the way of filling my brain with new knowledge, the knowledge of good food choices went out the window.

 

So there I was, on the brink of starting a family of my own, and on the precipice of food exploration. And guess what? I LOVED IT!


I had so much fun trying new recipes and searching for foods that me and my husband would enjoy. So, as a family of two, we completely changed our way of eating. We stopped bringing sugary, over-processed foods into our house (we still indulged when we went out to eat on the weekend). We increased the amount of vegetables we ate and decreased the meat. Then, we got pregnant!


To say that I gave into those pregnancy cravings of cheese (all the cheese!) and all things fried, would be accurate. I would say I was able to balance it, but I certainly didn’t deprive myself.


When our son was born, I tried to go back to eating the way I did before. But it was so hard! I didn’t have the time to labor over recipes and spend afternoons in the kitchen creating colorful, healthy dinners. We were in survival mode. Survive a newborn and eat whatever we can get our hands on.

 

But slowly, I was able to get us back on track. My husband endearingly calls me a control freak (it’s true!). So, having a hard time going back to eating in a way that serves our family health, was something I was determined to do. This wasn’t something to do with losing the baby weight, it was more an obsession with needing to fuel our new, perfect baby with only the best foods and nutrients.


It’s so funny that as mothers, and women, it is oftentimes easier to make changes for those we love instead of for ourselves. But it’s why we were chosen to be mothers, the nurturers.


My mother-in-law gifted us with a fantastic book on making our own baby food. So, I knew that I needed to get my diet in check so that when Noah (our little guy) was ready for food, he wouldn’t have a hard transition either.

This cookbook was such a life saver. As a first time mom, I needed something to fall back on besides my intuition. And this book (The Top 100 Baby Purees) was such a gem! And, even better, it brought me back to the kitchen.


I was getting to explore food again, in a whole new way. It was so much fun trying new foods with him. Seeing what he would like, textures he would enjoy.


Noah grew, and we are so happy that he has a true love for fruits and vegetables today. And my hopes is that it continues. The thought of growing a future foodie is so exciting to me! But mostly, raising a little boy that is healthy and has a true appreciation of healthy food is so encouraging.


In my search for creating a healthier family, I have gone further down the wormhole of healthy eating and found a company that encourages living as healthy as we can, as cleanly (as in not overly-processed) as we can, and with real food.


Through the work and education I have taken from this company, we stay away from gluten (mainly because wheat has been so overly processed and altered), and dairy, and we limit our meat/poultry (dairy, meat and poultry are full of hormones, antibiotics and fillers).


This is what works for my family. It might not be what works for others. But I have found that it is important to find a balance and a middle ground if need be.


Do we live this 100 percent of the time? No. Do we indulge in a sugary dessert sometimes? YUP!


But, I can say, that through going on my wellness/health journey, my healthy has improved ten fold. And my husband's health has improved. And most importantly, we have a VERY healthy little boy. Which, at the end of the day, is all anyone wants.


He Signed on the Dotted Line...Again

By Kristin Bentley

July 20, 2017

Fort Lewis, WA

Just this week, James renewed his contract... for another three years. It was his second time since we've been married, and the second time he had planned on getting out.


Two years ago, he was told that he would never get out...not when he's within just an arm's reach from retirement - in three years he'll have reached fifteen years of service. "We've got you now, Bentley," they said. "You're over the hump."


So what exactly is it that keeps our men in the military? Is it the security, the fear of the unknown? Is it the camaraderie of the "good ol' boy club?"


Surprisingly, the unemployment rate for vets post-9/11 is a whopping 10 percent. Compared to the national average of 7.7 percent, this is quite high! And it definitely is something that many Soldiers consider when they decide to stay in, even with the likelihood of being deployed (sometimes several times). Perhaps this statistic isn't taking into account wounded combat veterans on disability, or veterans attending college with their G.I. Bills.


Like most, ​my husband hates the strain his being in the Army sometimes puts on our family. While still pregnant with our 3-month-old daughter, James was chosen to compete in an International Sniper Competition. When he came home to tell me I could tell he was excited. I was excited for him! I asked when the competition was, and he handed me a flyer.


No kidding, it was scheduled over the week that Elise was due. I should've known!


We had already been talking to my doctor about my being induced a week early, due to complications with my pregnancy. As we secured an induction date, we began to plan for James leaving for two weeks, only days after our daughter was going to be born.


My amazing mother-in-law and James' grandmother flew in from Ohio for a week to help while he was away...which helped significantly, not only with taking care of both my newborn and 14-month-old, but also with the awful blood thinner injections I found myself on (which hurt like a son of a you-know-what!).


But even with family in town helping, I still felt James' absence. While I was crazy proud of him... I missed him, BADLY! After my mother-in-law left, I missed him even more!

 

Since Elise's birth, James has left twice already, and is getting ready to go again in about another month. We all feel this... we feel that pressure when they leave, we pray for their safety when they deploy, and we lean on our girlfriends for strength and support because our families are too far away. 


It's a life that we, as Army wives, have grown accustomed to... just as a mother is accustomed to the stage her own child is in, but looks at her girlfriend with a child in a different stage in amazement, thanking her lucky stars that it's not her. Even when we've already been through the same stage (I am CERTAIN as a mother of two babies, while in my early 40's, my girlfriends look at me like this daily!).


We have learned this life, because we have BECOME this life. We have learned to adapt, bend, and grow... because we HAVE TO. It makes us strong, it makes us independent, and most of all, it keeps us humble.


I'm proud of my husband for extending his time in service... again. And when he decides to finally make that transition out, I will also gladly welcome it... but not without acknowledging that I wouldn't be who I am today without having lived this crazy Army life.



Life's Lemons

By Kelin Flis

July 21, 2017

Fort Benning, GA

They say when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. I feel like I've been serving up pitchers of lemonade all week! From sick kiddos, financial troubles, and now no air conditioning!! 


That's right. I live down south and we currently have no air. The heat is ridiculous! We are talking temps close to 100 with humidity around 1 million percent. Or so it seems!


But like I said earlier, you've got to make the best of it. That's what Army wives do. We have become used to the idea of rolling with the punches. Times like this also tend to open my eyes a little wider. 


When I stop to think about it, my problems are nothing compared to those other's face. While I sit here sweating, fighting with air conditioning companies all day, I also think about people that don't have and maybe have never had air conditioning. This is one of those "first world problems" people talk about. 


Its so easy to become overly-dramatic when facing an issue other's deal with on a regular basis with no complaints. We are so lucky to have the luxuries we have. When finances get tough, I try to think about how blessed we are to have jobs right now. How we have opportunities other people do not have. I try to remember that things could always be worse and the problems we face are small in comparison to what we could be facing.

    

As I mentioned earlier, it can be so easy to get caught up in what we don't have. To focus on what we want compared to what we need. God has blessed me and my family in so many ways and those blessings are what we need to count instead of the issues or problems we have. 


So, while the temperature in the house climbs, the financial issues remain, and we care for our children the best way we can, we move on... dealing with each problem, knowing we are blessed and lucky to have these things in our lives. 


I am so very grateful for the people helping us by letting us stay and cool off at their houses. And I'm grateful to my wonderful boss and co-workers that have understood and encouraged me to stay home today to deal with the companies I need to spend hours on the phone with. 


When times get hard, you truly realize how lucky you are to have resources to help.

   

My hubby and I are packing up, and going to stay at my mother-in-law's until the air gets fixed in our house. The kids are currently at the babysitter's, so we will be stopping at the nearest bar on the way. We are going to just sit, relax, have a drink, and counting the blessings in our lives. 


There is nothing we can do about our problems today, but we can change our outlook and go forth with a positive attitude because we have so much to be thankful for. When life hands us lemons, we make lemonade. And if needed, we spike that lemonade!


Summers With Our Blended Family

By Kristin Bentley

July 26, 2017

Fort Lewis, WA

Summers in a blended family home are often both chaotic and emotional, as visitations begin and end.


Two of our boys live in Arizona and one lives in Alaska. Out of the 52 weeks in a year, we spend nine of them as a complete family.  


And that's only when we're able to coordinate Kaden and Kaleb's visitation with Leo's, which we're not always able to do.


My husband had to leave for training just a few days after Kaden and Kaleb (our now sixteen and thirteen-year-old) flew in from Arizona at the end of May. He came home for the Fourth of July weekend, after they'd already left, and had to leave again afterwards for two more weeks.


One of the many things we Army wives are required to be is flexible. Sometimes we don't know much in advance about our husband's training schedule. And oftentimes, it changes.


We had no idea how the dates would fall until after Kaden and Kaleb's plane tickets were already purchased.


Luckily, we were able to coordinate my stepson Leo's (our six-year-old) visit with James' training schedule. He arrived just a few days before Kaden and Kaleb left so he could have a little time with his older brothers before they flew back out.


When all of our boys are here with us, that is when I am fully alive. It's as though there are pieces of me that only exist when they're here... because they carry them in their pockets every time they come.


During our summer visits, we hug our boys tight and tell them how much we love them. We spend as much time together as possible - laughing and sharing stories at dinnertime, going on hikes with the older boys carrying their baby brother and sister in Tulas, and in the kitchen cooking strawberry pancakes for Saturday morning breakfast.


We listen to music in the car during our drives into the mountains, discussing whether Ozzy's solo career was more successful than when he was with Black Sabbath. And we snuggle up on the sofa for lazy evenings, watching the Discovery Channel. 


I take as many photos as everyone can tolerate, so I can freeze these moments in time... making memories that last long after our boys leave.      ​


James and I are so very blessed for the family that we have... because our time is limited, we never take a single moment for granted. 


Divorce is hard. And it never stops being hard. Not after everything is finalized in court and a couple goes their separate ways; not after you find love again and start a new life.


But something beautiful that can come out is the love and acceptance a blended family can have. Together, James and I have created a place where all of our children feel at home. And no matter how old they grow to be, they will always have it.

Mom-Anxiety is Real 

By Kelin Flis

August 11, 2017

Fort Benning, GA

Pretty much my whole life, I've been a worrier. I worried about little things at school, was afraid of storms, even as a teenager I worried about my safety.


I never went through that feeling invincible phase that most teenagers go through. I was not one to live dangerously. Just too much to worry about.


Up until the last few years, I'd say this anxiety was mild. It didn't seriously affect my life and certainly didn't stop my day-to-day activities. I'd say it hasn't until the last few years, because nothing can make you go completely bat crap crazy with worry like having kids!


I have a 3-year-old and a 2-year-old. They are the light and loves of my life, not counting their daddy of course. And boy, do I worry now! From little things to big things. Will they fall and get hurt? Will they slam a finger in a door? How can I keep them from running into traffic? What if I happen to get into a car accident, who will care for my babies?


I've often wondered if this was normal, to suddenly be very much aware of your own mortality and deal with the fear of any and every possible bad thing that could happen.


Luckily. I've come across articles, and other moms I know have said similar things, so I'm hoping that I'm not, in fact, crazy. You may be feeling this as well!


As far as I know, I don't have an actual anxiety disorder. I just seem to have seriously amped up the worry when it comes to my kids.


I'm hoping that by writing this new moms and soon-to-be new moms will know and understand that these feelings are normal.


You suddenly have these little people that you are responsible for, and you love them more than you ever imagined. The thought of anything ever hurting them or even negatively effecting their life is enough to make you sick. These feelings are normal!


It feels better to talk about these feelings and if need be, seek medical treatment to help relax. I know in the long run, dealing with my anxiety will be much better than wrapping my whole family in bubble wrap to keep them safe.




 If I Believed in Luck...I'd Say She's My Charm

By Kristin Bentley

August 21, 2017

Fort Lewis, WA

I'm fairly certain that luck has never before been a part of my life. In fact, I'm a pretty UNLUCKY person. And for this reason... I've never gambled. Not even once.


But all of that changed the day my daughter was conceived. Because somehow she beat all odds and found her way into our family.


When my husband and I were married, I brought three boys from a previous marriage and he brought one boy. Together, we already had a pack of boys. But after quite a bit of conversation we decided to have another baby... and we had another boy.


Now don't get me wrong! I am definitely a mom who loves having boys! Ours are absolutely amazing! However, every mom hopes for at least one girl. I gave up on it though, and embraced my role as a mother of five boys.


After months on the pill and a failed vasectomy... we found out that we were pregnant again, when Xander was only six months old. We couldn't believe our bad luck, until Elle was born. That day changed everything.  


I went into labor three and a half weeks early, she was already measuring six pounds so our doctor wasn't worried. I explained that my water never breaks on its own, but because Elle was early he didn't want to induce me. After hours of a grueling labor, the worst of my five, Elle was born still in her amniotic sac.


Our doctor said it's incredibly rare, and only happens every one in 80,000 births, to be born in the caul. According to superstition in many countries, it's a sign of good luck.


Today was the first full eclipse, the first in almost 100 years. The same year our daughter was born. Washington state experienced a 93 percent eclipse. Only two hours south, across the Oregon border, is the only place in the entire country where it went dark for a full two minutes. 


We felt the temperature drop for a while, as the day got darker. Our two babies won't remember today, but we will be sure to tell them about it someday. And while I still don't consider myself "lucky," I sure do feel blessed for the life that I live... and for all of those that I share it with.  



Can Your Friendship Stand the Test of Time?

By Kelin Flis

August 22, 2017

Fort Benning, GA

If there's one thing a military spouse knows, it's that change is inevitable and people come and go with that change. In this way of life you meet so many new people. Not only moving around the country and in some cases, the world, but also when your spouse simply changes companies. 


Even if you live in one area for a while your spouse may change jobs and that can bring more new faces. There is always opportunities to make friends, but can those friendships last?

   

Some feel that it's hard to keep a friendship over time and distance. I no longer live in the same state I grew up in so staying connected to my old friends from school can be a challenge. Luckily social media and cell phones keep it quick and easy at times, but interest seems to fade and people seem to change when you aren't around them much anymore. 


Friendships I had for the majority of my life seem to be fading as time goes by. It can be really sad to think about those you thought would be by your side every day forever when now they have no time to visit or get together. 


At the same time, new people come into your life and you feel like you instantly connect as if you grew up together. It's interesting how these relationships work.

   

I've been with my husband for nine years now, married 7seven and it's odd to think about the different groups of friends I've gone through. He would get a new position, I'd meet a few girls and hit it off with them. After several months or a year of hanging out, having girl's nights, and bonding, they would move away or have kids and become busier. 


Whatever it is, the friendship would fade and contact becomes lost. Hubby's next job brings new friends and repeat. It's kind of sad. To think about going through life with certain people and then everyone moves on and you're done. It really makes it feel so rare and special when you find those few true friends that stick around and make the effort to stick together.

   

I have lots of acquaintances thanks to this military life. I've met very interesting and strong women who have helped shape me and teach me. But it's those precious few that I call my good friends that have made such a huge impact in my life. 


Whether I've known them from childhood or we just met as adults, I'm so grateful for the wonderful people that come into my life and stay.


Hurricane Harvey: Hope in the Midst of Disaster

By Kristin Bentley

August 30, 2017

Fort Lewis, WA

All of us have been affected by Harvey...whether directly or indirectly. News floods our televisions and social media with visions of destruction and devastation, making our hearts sink into our stomachs as the death toll rises to 44.


We hear the stories of the heroes who lost their lives trying to save others, in some cases, to save a complete stranger.

https://www.google.com/amp/www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-harvey-victims-20170831-story,amp.html


My two best civilian girlfriends live in different suburbs of Houston, so I heard about the family that drowned and the woman in the tree trying to save her baby before their stories were on the news.


Fortunately, neither girlfriend's home has been damaged by the floods... they live in areas that remained relatively dry. However my mother-in-law's best girlfriend was not as lucky.


Her one-story home was flooded ankle-deep, which means they had to pull up their carpet and throw it away. Most likely, there's damage done to the drywall as well since flood water is toxic. The extent of the damage is still unknown, and in the meantime she and her husband have evacuated to go to higher ground. 


I truly cannot imagine living somewhere where every time you look out your window, all you see is heartache. How depressing and hopeless that must feel.


But I was told that the response from the rest of our country has been overwhelming. Even in the midst of despair, they can feel national love being sent down to Texas. And at a time when our country was previously filled with so much anger and hatred.

 

It's a relief to know that even in the midst of such political angst and turmoil, that we can still come together as a country when disaster strikes. People are donating blood, money and supplies in abundance to help those in need. And Houston can feel it.


Yesterday, I received photos of the National Guard trucking in medical equipment and supplies. My girlfriend noted that the heroes have arrived. Of course these women and men who serve our country selflessly are heroes. But heroes were already in Houston before the National Guard arrived. 


These heroes are those that risked their lives to help save others. They're those who check in on their neighbors to make sure they're okay. They're those traveling down from other areas to rescue their family members.


Our country is full of heroes... not just the ones in uniform. Sometimes we are heroes for just showing up and spreading love to others during their times of need. 


After the greatest moments of despair our national history has ever seen, Americans have always shown up. After Pearl Harbor was bombed and the Twin Towers collapsed...  during these moments when absolute devastation shook us to our very core... America showed up. Today, we are still showing up.


Together, let's continue to support our friends to the south in the Lone Star State.

 

https://www.fema.gov/news-release/2017/08/29/how-help-disaster-survivors-texas


Needing Attention From Someone Who's Away

By Kelin Flis

September 1, 2017

Fort Benning, GA

(Photo Caption: Army Wife Emily Drum and her husband, Conrad) 


When it comes to being a military wife, I'd have to say one of the hardest things to deal with is wanting attention from someone who simply can't give it. 


You could say I've always been a bit needy. I like to spend a lot of time with my significant other. One thing that is definitely not the case in a relationship with a soldier.

   

It's this area where I truly wonder how I do it. Maybe it's because he was in the Army when I met him so I went in already knowing he'd be gone a lot. Perhaps I mentally prepared myself for it. But it's still very hard. Loneliness sets in. 


Oftentimes, I feel resentment. It can be hard to not occasionally become resentful, especially when you are the one home taking care of children and the house and working etc. It can seem unfair that he gets to leave and leave all the stress at home. Then I think and remember that he isn't on vacation. He's doing crazy important and stressful things and he needs my support.

    

One positive that comes from him being gone so much is that wonderful, amazing day when he returns! It's better than Christmas! It almost seems like you stay in the honeymoon phase of marriage longer because you have that time away and incredibly exciting returns. Saying goodbye is hard, but coming home time is amazing!

   

Still, it does seem like an endless battle when your dealing with attention you so desperately seek but can't get. It's hard to miss someone so much and want to be around them all the time but know your time together is so limited throughout the year. 


We just continue to carry on, stay busy, and support our loved one when he's home and away.  And hopefully, Hubby doesn't mind when I'm attached to his hip for a few days when needed.



Fellow Army Wives...We Are NOT Veterans

By Kelin Flis

September 25, 2017

Fort Benning, GA

(Photo Caption: One of our favorite Army Brats, Sydney Brown, daughter of Maria & Frank. Photo by Maria Brown Photography) 


When I began writing for this site, I made the decision that my blogs would be about my experiences and that I would try to remain positive and uplifting while staying as real as possible. I didn't want to get on a soap box about anything or write a complaint filled rant. But this, I just have to address...

       

I'm talking about a form of stolen valor. We've heard of the term used when someone who is a not a veteran, dresses as a Soldier, or lies about his military experience in order to gain benefits and attention. Its disgraceful when someone does this, but its also irritating when a family member or friend tries to do something similar. 


As military wives, we sacrifice a lot. We deal with and handle so many stressful situations. We raise our families alone, we move often, and give up our homes at the drop of a hat. We worry if our spouse will return home safely, and we deal with giving up our own careers to support them. 


There is a lot that goes into being the spouse and child of a soldier. When someone tries to act like they deserve respect and benefits, simply because they know a soldier, it makes me want to scream!

        

No, you don't deserve to use someone's military discount. You don't deserve to be respected and given use of military installments simply because you know someone else who made sacrifices. 


I heard people say that they should be called a veteran, because their family members were in the military years ago. YOU, person, are NOT a veteran. I am not a veteran. 

 

My fellow Army wives, we are not Veterans. WE did not serve in the military. I give major props and respect to all military spouses because of the sacrifices we make. But, we are not Veterans. 

 

And a person that not only never spent a day in the military, never sacrificed their daily life to follow their spouse, never listened to scary briefs, or received red messages that ripped their heart out and made their stomach flip... that person is most certainly NOT a veteran! You don't suddenly deserve respect and thanks simply because you know someone else that is living that way.

       

I love how others support the military. It is so wonderful when people show respect for those that serve. It's terrific to feel patriotic and show your support for any and all Soldiers you may know. 


But please, don't call yourself a Veteran simply because you know one. A LOT goes into being a Veteran. Veterans earned their attention and valor and not everyone goes through what they do.



What our customers are saying

The greatest tragedy is a person too busy making a living, they forgot to make a life. -Anonymous

-Anonymous

Close
Shopping Cart
Your Cart is Empty