Friday, July 25, 2014

A Great Experience at NMFA Operation Purple Camp

Earlier this summer we had the chance to attend the National Military Family Association Operation Purple Camp. What an amazing experience. I would recommend if you're eligible to get your applications in now for upcoming Operation Purple Family Retreats and Operation Purple Healing Adventures. There is also Operation Purple Camp just for military kids.

The setting was Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park. What an amazing place to spend every day for a week. The landscapes were just unbelievably breathtaking. The Teton Science Camp, where the camp took place, was lovely. The program was super well organized and the staff at all levels was top notch professional, friendly and kind. The lodging facilities were great too. Comfortable beds, nice rooms with ensuite bathrooms.

Even more amazing is that the food at the camp was fantastic. You don't generally expect that any place that is feeding masses of people, particularly at a mountain camp. Everyone was full and happy after every meal and every meal pleased the crowds.

We saw all kinds of amazing animals including bison, moose, caribou, deer, antelope, bald eagles, beavers, sandhill cranes and so many more. We hiked, canoed, river rafted, watercolor painted in nature and did a service project in the national park too.

The best part of the camp was that we were grouped with two other families who had kids the same age as ours. This worked out so fantastically. The kids had an amazing fun time from the moment they met up in the morning until they were shipped off to bed every night. In fact they had so much fun that it was pretty tough to get them up at the 6:30 a.m. wake up call every morning. They needed more sleep.

Our three families were so compatible and we ended up making friendships that are so precious to us now. Because we don't live near any military families, thanks to Operation Purple Family Retreat we have close military family friends now. I really appreciate that! Amazing. Did not expect that to happen but what a gift.

It's was wonderful to have had time to talk and share and learn from each other's experiences. We also had the opportunity to participate in workshops put on by FOCUS (Families Overcoming Under Stress), which focused on resiliency, self and family care in the military family environment. It was great to get couples and families together to talk about such important issues that are a challenge to the military community at large.

Can I just take a moment to say if you are a military family who is struggling, there is so much help out there. Don't suffer in silence. You can contact me if you want and I will help you get connected with the right people. But please don't suffer in silence when things could be so much better.

It was tough to say goodbye and boy do we miss our friends! But I think we'll remember for a lifetime the great experiences we had at Operation Purple Family Retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Thanks National Military Family Association and everyone who has contributed to the success of this program.

If you're able, may I suggest a donation, big or small, to this great organization that is doing so much to strengthen the military families of the United States. These families have sacrificed a lot for our nation.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mother's Day Weekend Navy Style

I had to share with you my Mother's Day gifts from our little one. Navy all the way. So cute. I love how very excited she was to get her dad into the Navy Pride section of the NEX last weekend to do a little shopping for me. What a darling girl. I love that she felt so happy to give me these things and felt they would make me happy too.

It must be her age, but she really wanted to make a BIG deal about Mother's Day this year. She continually reminded her dad that it was coming up, made some beautiful things at school, it was so sweet. The keychain I was told was mean to clip onto the lanyard for a necklace. I love that. I'm hoping to go back to work soon and will likely have a badge or keypass card that I can clip on to that beauty and wear it with pride. Perfect.

Did any of you get something similar for Mother's Day? Do you get military related birthday or Christmas presents? This post from a couple of weeks ago shares a little more about our little one's Navy pride.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Flexing The Military Spouse Muscles

Boy was I channeling all you fellow military spouses and significant others on Friday night as I packed up a huge carload of stuff to take to storage by myself, including trying to figure out how to get a kid's bike in the car which seemed nearly impossible.

Already tired from a long day and ten days of the husband out of town, I put the kiddo bed. Then I started surveying the zone of boxes I had gathered from emptying out a closet here in the house, along with a few big storage bags of goodies my husband brought back from Afghanistan. I think I've mentioned here how he went overboard a little bit on scarves and such. Instead of thinking of what he spent I try translate that into how much it means he was missing us and thinking of us.

Because I had moved so many times before I met my husband, I have learned to be a great packer and organizer. I can fit an amazing amount of stuff in a car, using up every inch possible. I took a mountain of boxes and fit them into a very small sporty 4-door, which would get me the best gas mileage to drive to base to our storage.

Speaking of which, can I just tell you about what happened when we were on base a couple of weeks ago planning to go to our storage units. It was Sunday afternoon and when I went to the area where all the storage containers were they were all gone. The MWR decided to just move them all without ever saying anything to anyone. I called the base security office and they had no idea they had been moved and were none too happy that this had all happened without them being told. We're talking about an entire portable storage area being moved without alerting the renters of all the units or base security. I was not happy and of course the MWR is not open on Sundays. So I left an annoyed message. (By the way they never called me back.) I can only imagine how much angrier I would've been had I been moving and come to base expecting to put all my stuff in a moving van and leave the next morning for a PCS or other move.

When you are talking about a space the size of a military base, those units could've been moved a million places that I would never be able to find. I took fifteen minutes and did a quick drive around base and found several pods of storage units none of which were ours. After talking to my husband who was not near base at the time, I gave up. We imagined that the units were somewhere in the dark, hidden, mystery regions of base that one would never see just driving down the road.

So I decided to just go get gas and make the long trip home without ever getting to our units. As I pulled up to get gas, I looked straight ahead of me across the gas station into the old used car/motor home parking area and there were rows and rows of storage units. After I filled up with gas I eagerly drove the short distance, jumped out of my car and started row by row through a good quarter acre of units stacked in no particular order, even though every container is alphabetically labeled & numbered.

They were all stacked in alphabetical and numerical order in the old space, so it wouldn't have been too tough to just put them down as they were picked up and have them be in some semblance of order. But I must remind myself, this is the military, order and logic, while generally very useful, are not always initially put into play. Finally in the middle of the great parking lot of storage units I found our units and gained access to them. Soon I was on the freeway and headed home trying to beat traffic. Thank you providence for leading me to those units.

Anyway, I made the big trip again on Saturday. I was going to be alone all day, and I realized what better day to get all that done with no distractions (aka husband and kid). So I packed up the car Friday night and then got up early and made the drive and then of course had to reorganize the units completely to get everything to fit properly and in an orderly fashion. My husband was the last to take anything out or add anything and there is such a huge waste of space going on that I can hardly handle it. The two closet size units were really only half full.

I took the wheel off the old bike to get it to fit into the trunk. Hooray. That was a major win for me at about midnight Friday night. Once the car was full and I had put back everything I had pulled out to get the boxes out, I still had several loads of laundry to fold. So I put on HGTV online episodes and tried to relax and get the house cleaned up a bit before my long, long day. 

When I rearranged the two closet-size storage units and added the carload of stuff I had brought with me, they were still only each half full...okay maybe they are each two-thirds full now. But there is still a lot of space and I am looking forward to getting another carload of stuff out of here soon. Hello open space! So I aim to get our money's worth going forward and fill those babies up. I also got rid of a lot of stuff during the week while my husband was out of town and angel girl was at school. That is definitely the best time to throw things away, while they aren't watching.

After I finished up at the storage unit, I forced myself to take a break and wander the NEX. Unfortunately I found a really cute pair of sandals in my "hard-to-find" size and I couldn't say no. I should write a post on things we won't tell my husband which include the fact that I've picked up FIVE pairs of sandals in the 10 days he's been away. But total price was under $100 so that is pretty awesome - plus my size will be sold out and there won't be much available the rest of the summer, so it's awesome to know I have a great selection for the entire summer.

I had lunch at the Food Court while reading the base events magazine then despite the blustery, "might rain" weather I popped over to the carwash. I was horrified when I climbed into the back seat to see what a mess our kiddo has made back there. The things I found under the car seat. Ugh. So I vacuumed for a good 20 minutes, every inch of the car with low suction (boo). Then I decided what the heck I'll wash the car too. That felt good and when I was done I sent a flirty "I just vacuumed and washed your car" text to my husband who's coming home to day. 

Looking at my weekend, It's amazing what I can get done when I'm alone. I remember my single days when I used to be so hyper effective, my house was always spotless and I got tons done in the evenings and on weekends and was only half as tired as I am now. But I was only half as full of love back then when I didn't have this delicious little family. Now I am overflowing with all the love I get, so, hey it's worth it -- messier house, kid-destroyed car interiors, overflowing amounts of stuff and all.

As I was doing all of this muscle moving, I was thinking of all of you, who have moved so many time, sometimes by yourself, and who do so many challenging things that it would be nice to have a man around for. In this life our "be independent" muscles are never going to get weak, are they?! I'm glad I can still carry heavy loads on my own.

Just having to do it once in a while reminds me to be grateful for my husband and all he does and to be grateful that I'm "military grade" strong enough to handle all the sometimes tough stuff military life brings my way. Saluting all you "military grade" ladies for all you do, so often with no fanfare or notice. You are amazing. Thanks for being in it with me!

image via mca