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Deployment

That Time I Killed My Husband’s Car Plus Other Deployment Screw-Ups

August 18, 2017

My husband had been gone for six months and to say I was excited about his homecoming would be an understatement. The house was clean, his favorite beer was in the fridge, the “welcome home” banner was hung. His homecoming went perfectly.

The next morning, he went out to run some errands, but ran into a bit of an issue. For some reason, his car was dead and needed a new battery.

Ok, that reason was likely because I hadn’t driven it in six months.

Fine, that reason was definitely because I hadn’t driven it in six months.

Whoops. You see, my husband drives a stick shift and I do not. So when he’s deployed, it doesn’t get driven terribly often (cough at all cough) and clearly starting it a few times a month was not enough. Lesson learned.

You see, the kicker about deployment is that life goes on and juggling it all solo sometimes means you drop a ball or two, no matter how many deployments you’ve been through. And that’s ok. None of us are perfect when our loved one is home so why should we expect to be when they are gone?

None of us are perfect when our loved one is home so why should we expect to be when they are gone? Click To Tweet

So when you do screw up (which you will eventually), what should you do? Yes, learn from it and look for ways to keep it from happening again (if that’s even possible). But the most important thing is to not beat yourself up about it! At the risk of sounding a little cliche, it happens to all of us and tomorrow is another day. You are doing the best you can.

And just to prove that you and I aren’t alone in the land of deployment screw-ups, some of my favorite fellow military spouses shared their biggest ones:

I’ve done the dead battery so many times I had to get the self charging jumper cables. Usually my screw ups are all car related! I only end up on the sides of highways during deployment. Here’s one for you: I booked a ticket to Spain before hubby found out he would not be getting leave during that port call. Luckily Delta was kind enough to give me a refund. Sigh. -Kayla from KaylaRoof.com

I also locked myself out of our car, and he had the other key on deployment! I have had lots of sick kids and emergency room visits. But perhaps the biggest mistake was when I tried to send cake in jars in a care package. They must not have sealed correctly and arrived moldy. Yuck! -Lizann from Seasoned Spouse

Does TDY count? This last time I locked my keys in the car when I brought my newborn daughter to her doctor’s appointment. Don’t worry she was not in the car, but I did have to wait outside with a colicky newborn for roadside assistance. -Kara from Foxtrot & Pennies

How does hitting one of his trucks with the other while parking in our apartment lot sound? LOL Then I also backed out of an office alley parking lot driving his truck and hooked the back bumper on the wire that holds the light pole. It was pretty scary. I had to have people help me get it unattached. – Melissa from Insure the Heroes

My husband has to head on a last minute deployment a couple years ago and he didn’t have a chance to deal with his motorcycle. So I just covered it in the garage and we both forgot about it, except it was never winterized and come spring, cost a small fortune to repair from the damage of the gas and oil left on it all season. – Kim from She Is Fierce

The water pump started leaking on our Land Rover. Somehow, my husband figured out what was wrong with it when I sent him a video and told me to have it towed to the mechanic we use. Easy, right? Except that I somehow got the name or address of the shop wrong, had it towed to the wrong place and didn’t realize it until they called and tried to charge me over $1000 dollars to put my car back together when it needed a $300 water pump replacement. There was a lot of back and forth, but in the end my husband ordered the part himself, had it overnighted to me to bring to the mechanic so that we only paid for the labor. Our regular mechanic very nicely checked everything over for me for free (and replaced a hose that the guy had attached incorrectly). – Kristen from White Gloves Optional

During my husband’s 1st deployment my Mom continuously kept screwing up my husband’s e-mail address and she (she was using a common mis-spelling of his 1st name). She ended up writing this O-6 (not my husband) so much by accident that she eventually even sent him a care package and a card for Veteran’s Day. – Christine from Her Money Moves

The TDY story I have is – I traded both our cars in for one since we were moving to Germany. In the changing of stuff over to the new car I managed to forget not one but both garage door openers, I had my keys BUT! The screen door for the front door was locked and can be only unlocked from the inside and the back door had the dead bolt on and can only be unlocked… from the inside. At this point it was after the dealership closed so I couldn’t go back. So I had to break into my own house by climbing into the kitchen window over the sink, all the while hoping the MPs wouldn’t drive by (they did routine drives behind our house) and while my 2 year old and 2 month old waited in the car. – Fran from Freeborboleta

1) My daughter broke the shower handle, I panicked, and we couldn’t turn off the water!!
2) My mother thought she was helping him by washing his motorcycle gear while he was gone. It was his rain gear and was not supposed to be dried in a dryer…yep – ruined! – Kelsey from Anchored Together By Land, Air or Sea

Does trying to start the lawn-mower count? Tried for ages on the front lawn, with the kids watching and waiting. After quite some time, a passerby eventually offered to start the mower for me (no offer to mow though). Got the job done and decided I wouldn’t be doing that again, so future until the boys were big enough, paid someone to come mow. Turns out I didn’t have all the steps in the sequence. – Leanne

So join us in owning up to our biggest deployment screw-ups and share yours in the comments below!

Care Packages

Sharp Dressed Man Care Package

August 16, 2017

I’m going to give you all a heads up: I’ve really stepped up my care package game this deployment. So much so that this statement is probably going to make frequent appearances on the blog over the next few months: this is my favorite care package yet.

I know what you’re thinking: Rachel, they can’t all be your favorite care package.

Oh yes, they can be! Especially this one. When my husband asked me to send him some clothes, I started brainstorming cute box ideas. The ZZ Top lyrics popped into my head and I knew it was the way to go! Even though I was just sending some polo shirts and gym shorts, I was really excited about putting together this sharp dressed man care package.

And what better says “sharp dressed man” than a tuxedo? Once I settled on the look, the black and white color scheme was a no brainer.  Finding the black and white heart paper really sealed the deal.

This box was definitely one of the simpler ones I’ve sent, but I think it had some great impact. It was very easy to put together and could really fit almost any circumstance. I opted to go with paper that had some shimmer to it for the flaps and bottom and am so glad I did! It really made the silhouette and details in the tuxedo stand out.

I wasn’t sure how my husband would feel about the box, but I should have known that he’d love it. In fact, when I mentioned how proud I was of the box, he told me I should be proud of it because it was “badass”. That’s very high praise from him!


Things I sent in this box: gym shorts, polo shorts, socks, Gatorade, Mio water flavoring, Muscle Milk, peanut butter, beef jerky, Nutella, peanut butter crackers, trail mix and nuts.

Deployment

Cooking During Deployment

August 9, 2017
Cooking During Deployment

If there was just one thing that you can’t really understand about deployment until you ACTUALLY go through it, it’s probably how much your daily life is thrown off schedule.  Think about how much significant members of your family (spouses, parents, significant others, event children) do to keep the house running and life moving forward. Removing them doesn’t remove the need for their contributions, it just shifts them to someone else and changes the way they have to get done.  Cooking during deployment is the perfect example of that.

I’m very lucky in that my husband shoulders a significant portion of the kitchen duties. But even if he didn’t, I get used to cooking for two people and then suddenly, I’m down one whole mouth to feed.  That changes the way I shop, cook and eat.  It would be the perfect excuse to shift into college eating habits (pizza, carbs, take out), but I try not to let that happen. Instead, I really try to focus on ways to make cooking during deployment easier, more fun and less wasteful.

Tips for cooking during deployment

Make a meal plan.

One of the best ways to reduce overbuying is to plan out your meals before going to the grocery store. I do this even when my husband is home and it really keeps things on track! Each week, I sit down and plan out what I’ll eat for the next 5 days (weekends are a little more fluid) and make my grocery list accordingly.

This helps me determine what ingredients and how much of them I need to purchase. For example, if I know I’ll eat chicken two nights, I can buy a pack of two chicken breasts, rather than buying two and only needing one.

Re-package and freeze.

But don’t worry if you overbuy a little bit! You can re-package and freeze many of your groceries, especially meat. Just make sure to freeze things thoroughly and keep an eye on how long things sit in your freezer, as eventually things do go bad. This chart gives you guidelines for how long to keep different food items.

Consider buying frozen single serve fruits and veggies.

Not into portioning, repackaging and freezing fresh produce? No big deal. Most produce can be purchased with all that done for you! The frozen fruit and veggie section of the grocery store is a unsung hero for cooking during deployment. You can purchase single serving frozen produce and in just a few minutes, you’re on your way to dinner.

The best part is that freezing fruits and veggies often preserves their nutritional value, making this tip both healthy and easy!

Split bulk shopping hauls with friends.

Who doesn’t love bulk shopping? You’re talking to a recent Costco convert, but buying in bulk when you’re cooking for fewer people doesn’t always work. That’s where friends come in!  Share produce, meat or even shelf stable foods with friends (especially if they have significant others who are deployed too) is a great way to take advantage of lower prices without worrying about stuff going bad before it’s eaten.

Cut recipes in half. 

If you’re not such a fan of leftovers (cough me cough), consider taking favorite recipes and cutting them in half.  You may still have some extra, but it won’t be quite as overwhelming and you won’t have to eat the same thing at every meal for a week straight.

I wouldn’t suggest trying to cut a meal for a family of four or more down into a single serving. That’s too much math and it can really mess up the taste of the finished product. Look for recipes designed for two or three people and cut those down; a great one is my hummus chicken recipe.

Repurpose leftovers. 

But even if you make too much, you don’t necessarily have to eat exactly the same meal multiple nights in a row. Look for ways to reinvent your leftovers a bit so dinner is new each night.

For example, I like roasting a chicken for dinner, but can’t eat an entire chicken at once! So I eat enough for dinner and save the rest for later in the week, knowing I can turn it into burritos, quesadillas or chicken salad.

Make it fun. 

Cooking dinner is a very social event in my house. My husband and I chat while we prep meals and we enjoy eating dinner together.  So when it’s just me, things can feel a bit lonely.  But there are a few ways to make things a bit more fun!

Turing on some fun music, trying new recipes or even inviting over a friend or two for dinner help make cooking seem less like a chore and more like my husband is home again.

How do you handle cooking during deployment? What are your best tips for making it easier and more fun?

Care Packages

“Blue Without You” Care Package

August 7, 2017
Blue Without You Care Package

We’ve officially hit our first deployment milestone: my husband has received his first care package! I usually start putting his first box together right after he leaves, so it’s a bit of a waiting game until he gets it.  But the box has arrived so now I finally get to share it with you!

I took a bit of a different approach with this care package and sent it from these two little faces instead. The dogs sure are blue without him around and he misses them quite a bit as well. It was the perfect easy theme for a first care package.

My favorite part was probably the note they wrote A on the bottom of the box.  I may have helped them spell some of the harder words, but the sentiment was all them.  I think this is a great way to have little ones (who are human!) help with care packages.  A note or drawing on the bottom of the box is an added surprise once it’s empty.

I’ve shared before that wrapping each item in the care package adds a little bit more fun to it. But for a theme like this, wrapping each item helps your box look a little more cohesive. I wanted to send my husband items he likes and needs, but they weren’t all blue! A little wrapping paper solved that problem and pulled the entire box together.

You may have caught my Instagram Story showing some of the stuff I put into A’s care package, but just in case you missed it, here is everything that fit in this box. Getting everything in there is a bit of a puzzle, but a lot really can fit in a large flat rate box.

You can see that this box had a wide variety of stuff inside. Some of my favorites were the $10 sheets from Walmart, the cooling towel I found stuffed in his sock drawer, the giant bag of pistachios (his favorite snack) I found on sale and the Prego Ready Meal. My husband’s schedule is super funky and doesn’t always coincide with meal time so options like these will help fill in the gaps.

And just like that, the first care package of this deployment is a wrap!

Military

Military Spouse Profile: Emileigh from Lead With the Left

August 1, 2017

There are so many amazing military spouses out there kicking butt on a daily basis that deserve to be recognized and I’m excited to feature one of them each month with my Military Spouse Profile series. If you’re interested in sharing your story (or know someone who might), please send me an email!

Introduce yourself to my readers! Tell us a little bit about who you are.

Hey, I’m Emileigh Rogers. I’m a twenty-something currently living in Missouri, and I love traveling and vintage fashion. My husband is an Air Force chaplain candidate with one year left in his Masters degree. I recently got accepted as an Air Force Public Affairs officer and am waiting for official training dates!

What inspired you to start blogging?

I actually started blogging about vintage fashion about four years ago to coordinate with an Etsy shop. I grew to love blogging itself, and as my husband and I start/continue our military careers we wanted a way to expound on that part of our lives, to connect with others in the military community, and keep our families in the loop. So now we co-author a blog for warriors and families called Lead With the Left.

What’s the main message you hope your blog shares with your readers?

I hope that people feel empowered for military life after reading our blog. I want to be honest about the struggles, but I always want to communicate a sense of hope and strength to handle whatever comes. Whether this comes from sharing my personal experiences, tips from more experienced warriors and family members, or lessons from history, I want people to walk away feeling a bit more understood, stronger, and ready to face the future.

What is your favorite part of being a military spouse?

I love the built-in connections you can have with complete strangers. I can talk to a new military spouse or a retired one with decades of experience and still feel a connection with both. It’s even better when that connection develops into a deep relationship.

Tell us a little bit about your journey as a military spouse-the ups and downs, lessons learned, etc.

My grandmother, who had married an Army veteran, always talked up military men and assured me, “There’s nothing so fine as a man in uniform.” Growing up, I was great with the idea of marrying a military guy, and later I began considering joining the military myself. When I met newly-enlisted Jacob, I changed my mind about the “Chair Force” and decided it was okay after all (ha!).   We ended up getting married three years later, and I connected with the military community at the seminary he is attending for his Masters degree. I felt out of place at first, but over time I’ve developed some of the deepest and strongest friendships I’ve ever had.

Before we married, I also brought the idea of joining the Air Force up to Jacob to see if he was supportive. He was very excited about the idea, and when the time was right I began my recruitment process. Happily, after a long process, I was finally accepted!

What’s the number one piece of advice you would give a new military spouse?

Don’t worry about what a military spouse is “supposed” to be. Just be who you are and allow yourself time to grow into the life. It doesn’t happen overnight; it’s a process. If you don’t seem to look/act/think like the other military spouses or bloggers or whoever you encounter and feel out of place… don’t worry about it. You’ll discover over time how you want to live military life and find places you thrive.

What or who has been the biggest help or source of support to you in your role as a military spouse?

I have especially appreciated the help of the chaplain spouses I’ve met. Many of them feel just as called as their loved ones to care for the military community, and it shows in their thoughtfulness. The newer spouses are fun to discover military life with, and the older ones have given me invaluable advice and insight along my way.

Do you have a favorite place the military has taken you? What is it and why?

So far we haven’t had to move for the military as Jacob and I won’t go active duty until his degree is completed or I finish training, whichever comes first. I’m dearly wishing to live overseas, but we’ll just have to wait and see!

Just for fun:

  • Favorite Netflix binge-worthy watch? Call the Midwife
  • What’s your favorite hobby? Sewing vintage clothing.
  • Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate, definitely.
  • Tell us a random fact about yourself. As a high schooler I lived in Egypt and Sudan with my family.

Many thanks to Emileigh for sharing her story! I love her unique style so much and think it’s awesome that she’s joining the military as well. I look forward to following her as she and Jacob become a dual-military couple.  You can find Emileigh on her blog, Facebook, TwitterPinterest and Instagram.