We are not commencing home schooling. The schools have advised they hope to be up and running online learning next week. We will wait for their guidance and expertise – I will not place undue stress or pressure on them or myself this week.
My kids will enjoy the time catching up on some reading, music, working out, golf simulator and playing F1 and FIFA on the xbox, FaceTiming their friends and doing revision as they normally would during school and the long summer vacation here.
They will learn more patience and form stronger bonds with each other.
They will learn new skills in the kitchen.
They will learn and understand all the craziness that the world is facing.
They will form their own educated thoughts on how we and the world will continue to be affected and how we may move forward.
They will grow in their own compassion and understanding for people and their own situations. They have seen the empty grocery stores, the elderly and vulnerable not being able to buy items due to the selfish nature we have become.
As I have spoken about previously, we are currently enjoying our third posting to the US. This has had consequences and benefits regarding our kids schooling. As an Australia family our school year follows the calendar – school begins at the end of January and finishes mid-December. The school year is broken into 4 Terms with holidays in April, June/July, Sept/Oct and then 6 weeks from Mid-December until the end of January.
Our eldest started kindergarten in Hawaii during our first posting o/s and then on our return, she completed Grade 4, 5 and part of 6. Our middle one, completed Grade 2, 3 and part of 4 whilst our son started kindergarten.
This time around we had to make a compromise with our eldest regarding high school and her ability to graduate back in Australia with the required credits to enable her to chase her dreams following school. This meant instead of going forward she had to repeat the final few months of Grade 9 (she had already completed in Australia prior to our arrival) – this means she will be graduating a year later than her peers. This girls is amazing though – she listened to the advice we had received from one of her highly regarded teachers from Darwin, two work colleagues of mine (Principal & Teacher) and also a teacher friend of ours, the decision was met with a high about of trepidation and at times anger but once the decision was made, she ran with it.
Our other two were simple. The middle one went forward into Grade 8 and the youngest returned to redo the final few months of Grade 4 – this kept them with their peers, and will all line up for our return home.
Schooling in the US is completely different than schooling in Australia for many reasons:-
Elementary, Middle School and High School
Elementary and Middle Schools are located on the large Military bases and the standard of school in most areas is of a higher standard than off post. At some locations there are more than one Elementary school and placement will be allocated related to on post housing location and if living off post you will also be assigned a specific school. High Schools are located off post and will be a mixture of surrounding local feeder schools and those coming from off post. In some locations, Elementary school finishes in Grade 5 and there is a purpose built Grade 6 centre where all Grade 5 students will feed into for the school year.
School generally commences mid-August and finishes the end of May. This of course is location based and some schools do not commence until mid-late September. Other important things to note particularly about on post school is they regularly have early release or late start days to enable staff development. School also tends to start earlier 0740-0800 will a finish time of 1500-1515).
Everything is graded! Classwork, homework, participation and assignments. The class grade and GPA for High School changes daily and the system is generally A+ to F to U. Whilst this is great in enabling the student and parents to see their progress, any missing work etc it is also reliant on the teaching staff imputing the correct information and correcting along the way. Teachers have enough to do daily.
One of the great benefits of schooling in the US is the vast array of available subjects for Middle and High School students to study. Many of these are not available in Australia and provide a different opportunity for learning something new and possible specific to career goals. Many are study for either a semester or a full year.
There is also many options that as Aussies we find a little odd……Math is one. Math is integrated for Elementary and early Middle School however from Grade 8 is taught as a broken down subject. You either do Algebra I, Algebra II or Geometry. This is something I have particular issue with and would have preferred that Math continued to be integrated until Grade 11 and 12 (Junior and Senior year) – continuance of building on Math skills.
Math for us was a particular sticky situation and it took a lot of patience and some shuffling for all of our kids. The transition from not only metric to imperial but for the older girls what they had learnt in Australia under an integrated Math subject didn’t line up with the required Math options here. Thankfully we were able to ‘shuffle’ and have them placed in a Math option that enabled them to begin the whole subject and not play catch up completely.
The science subjects are also integrated for Elementary and early Middle School before a break into more specific science areas – Biology, Honours Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
Other great options are JROTC and Debate which also compete locally, district, State and National also. Both are amazing programs with great opportunities and possibilities.
High School Graduation
Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia all have a have minimum high school graduation requirement while Colorado, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania leave high school graduation requirements up to local districts. Each student is required to complete a certain about of subject semesters with credits to graduate high school. The best place for advice is the School Guidance office as it is quite a confusing process.
Big topic…..lunches in the US school system is something that as Aussie it is completely unfamiliar, frustrating and laughable at times. Lunch times of course vary for each school across all levels and is held in the school cafeteria. Students have the option of taking a home lunch or purchasing from the cafeteria. The food is interesting to say the least, however it is a cheap option and the novelty at first may be exciting for the students. You may find this wears off fairly quickly and lunch boxes will again need to be purchased and packed. Some Middle Schools and High Schools have menu options including salad bars which can make it a lot more palatable.
Eating times are generally very early too with no recess in between school starting and lunch – our kids come home famished every day.
One of the biggest differences our Aussie kids struggle with is the lack of outside time, particularly where we are currently. Due to lunches being eaten inside and either no or very short recess (play no food) time the kids really miss the ability and freedom to run around, kick a footy or even just walk and talk. We have been fortunate that the two schools in the US the kids have been enrolled at outside time was planned daily. For us Aussies outside time is planned in the school day, we eat our lunches outside, we do recess which involves a snack and play time. One of the greatest examples of the importance of outside time was our primary school in Sydney when Miss C was in Grade 4 – their teacher Mr T took the whole class every morning outside where they walked laps around the oval for about 15 minutes, this let the kids stretch their legs and get some jiggles out before class but it also gave them a last minute chance to get all their chatting out – it worked great.
Sport is massive in Middle and High School – think every tv show that you may have ever seen that involved high school sport in the US (One Tree Hill, Friday Night Lights, Greece). The try outs, the training, the home and away games, the playoffs, homecoming, concession stands, band, cheerleaders, JROTC, the mums with the kids face printed on their t-shirt, the banners, the tailgates – it’s all there. Sport options are amazing (not all offered at each school):-
Cheerleading / Competitive Spirit Squads
Flag Football (Girls)
Indoor Track & Field
Skiing & Snowboarding
Slow Pitch Softball (Girls)
Swimming & Diving
Track & Field
Thankfully we are a sport loving family and wish that sport was more incorporated into the Elementary schools too, particularly for grade 5 and 6). Our middle one has been training and playing sport like crazy this past year (Volleyball and Basketball) and both girls have just commenced Football (soccer).
The training schedules have been insane and will continue that way for Football, everyday day 1630-1900 and will include home and away games, fundraising events and team dinners for the next three months. The facilities are amazing with schools having incredible stadiums, courts, full gyms, locker rooms and access to a physiotherapist also.
Vaccination Schedules and Enrolments
Each school district and State has their own enrolment requirements and vaccination schedules to be followed. At times this can be particularly frustrating due to Australia having a great vaccination program. If you are not fully vaccinated by their schedule, enrolment may be declined and if the child has commenced school may be unable to return to school until fully vaccinated per their schedule. I had many heated discussions with our Elementary school nurse concerning Australia’s vaccination schedule and the implications that our son received a vaccination two months earlier than the State of Kansas stipulated. It was all sorted, he received another jab and we got on with it. If you are posting away from Australia, I strongly suggest you research the vaccination schedule and policy for the state where you will be located – they do vary greatly.
There are many differences between schooling in Austalia and the US, the biggest issues for our family has been math and the lack of outdoor time and eating times. With our girls doing sport, they leave the house at 0700 for school and are not returning home until close to 1930. They pack protein shakes and a snack to have before training but they are super hungry when they walk in the door as they have eaten lunch just after 1100. For our boy, he too is super hungry but he is home for a quick snack around 1530 before heading to golf.
I have spoken to many parents and teachers about the lack of outdoor time that we currently experience. Some is due to the extreme cold weather but the kids rug up and could enjoy at least a quick run around, other reasons are due to timings. All kids need to have a break, they all need to run and to be given a chance to reset their brains and bodies to ensure they are given every possibility to retain information and perform at their best.
There is a mountain of research showing the importance of food breaks and also the order in which works best. At our previous school in Darwin we were fortunate to have amazing administrators who saw a need to change and were proactive in finding good research and solutions to ensure the students were given these options. All students were able to enjoy a ‘brain break’ of fruit or veg snack at approx. 0930, recess followed about 1030 where the students were let out to play before toilet break/handwashing and eating time. Lunch followed the same routine, play time, toilet break/handwashing and eating time. The change was remarkable. The students enjoyed the chance to catch up with the friends, play soccer, tag, before happily sitting down to eat. Students then returned to the classroom settled and ready to learn again. I wish this system was in place here too.
Overseas posting offer families a lifetime of memories and experiences that we may not in Australia. If you are in line for an overseas posting, especially with school aged children do your research and jump in. The benefits far outweigh any negatives.
Thank you for reading my little snapshot in to schooling in the US on posting from Australia. As always, thank you for following the journey:)
This week saw me reach a milestone in my journey – 10 months post SCAD and Heart Attack…….
The 10 month mark finds me with more energy, a clearer mind (thanks to the sun coming out) and plans for the rest of the year being made.
I am able to comfortably walk for 45-60 minutes and have enjoyed being able to walk for longer periods of time. Today I ran into one of my cross-fit buddies and the angst of not being able to rejoin is tough. My cardiologist cleared me for a return to cross-fit a little while back at a reduced tempo and with modified sessions – unfortunately, the truth is I can’t be trusted! I know that I would quickly get swept up in the joy and pain of the box and would be trying to once again lift heavy and work harder than the day before. My family have also said ‘no way’ and I cannot argue with that.
Another first has been having my husband away for three nights this past weekend. It seems strange coming from an army wife, but three nights was bloody tough. I have never been able to sleep well when he has been away but due to being healthy and working I was always able to manage. These three nights were really hard. The lack of sleep left me absolutely shattered and antsy by the time he returned. The girls were fantastic (little man was away golfing with dad), and were great at ‘mumma sitting’. Upon the boys arrival home, I was in bed at 1930 and slept for nearly 12 hours straight – it was amazing.
I am more aware of my body and what it is trying to tell me. I feel every twinge and to be honest, sometimes I over think every little heart flutter and I will be working on getting in control of some of the anxiety that sometimes creeps in. Thankfully, it is not an everyday occurance.
A recent check up with the GP for bloods was met with great results. The concoction of medication I am on has thankfully not affected my kidney or liver function. Platelet count is fantastic (always a good sign when you have previously had really low platelet count and no spleen), cholesterol is great (never been an issue) and all other counts look great. I struggle to take head ache medicine so being on this amount of meds everyday I still find difficult but am fully aware that the benefits currently outway not taking them.
March is coming quickly and we look forward to spending spring break by the ocean and seeing some amazing friends. March will also see my Cardiologist follow up appointment. It will be just shy of 12 months and I look forward to chatting with him about the future and new research that has come about.
This week is SCAD Awareness week and I encourage you to talk to your friends and family, point them in the direction of the SCAD Research Australia website https://scadresearch.com.au, read the stories of survivors and to follow the most update research/ findings available, ways to become involved, donate, volunteer.
As a Military Spouse, we get to experience so many levels of emotion and change. For me, the past 22 years have been challenging and amazing. We have said many ‘see you soon’s to our Soldier and to those around us. We have meet and made so many wonderful friends across the globe, shared wonderful times and of course said many goodbyes.
I am proud of they way I have been able to conduct myself and have never been caught up in the battle of spouses and spouses ranks. I have, however been on the other side where my husband’s rank has been significant for other spouses. There have been times when I have been introduced as Mrs Mulligan, the wife of insert rank Mulligan and have had spouses not engage in a conversation either because my husband was an Officer or a lower/higher rank than their spouse – I admire people for being themselves and for the way they conduct themselves as people not because of who they are married too (regardless of military or civilian)
Below you will find some amazing words of wisdom and guidance from spouses I have been fortunate enough to be on this crazy journey with.
Always choice kindness. Surround yourself with positive people, especially during a deployment and avoid drama as much as necessary.
Don’t wear your spouses rank, be approachable because we were all that junior wife at some stage and we were all intimidated by the more “seasoned” wives.
Your spouse is the rank wearer. Never confuse that with your role. I am not in the military therefore I am a spouse…not a LTC.
Always provide an inclusive environment. Everybody wants to be a part of something and to feel welcome. Remember we were all newbies at one stage and in fact everytime we pcs / post to a new location we are that person again.
Share your experience and guidance but do so in a kind and non patronising manner. Whilst we are all going through the same things (deployments, field exercises, long absenses, courses) we all manage differently and by sharing your experience you may just help somebody else.
Get involved in your surroundings, the Unit, the Squadron, the Battalion. This does not mean you have to immerse yourself in everything military, but knowing who to contact in an emergency, where you can gain support and meet people.
Attend family functions, parades.
Try to get involved in something you enjoy whether it’s a job, volunteering, taking classes, getting together for a play group with others mums, etc. the more you reach out and form positive relationships with others the better your experience will be.
Get involved quickly – you meet the most amazing people that way. Focus on the amazing things the military brings – great opportunities, new people and new places – and amazingly resilient children.
Remember that we are all in this together and that we need to support each other not judge each other. Surround yourself with like minded people.
Support each other, support the Unit, the Squadron, the Battalion and Family Support Groups, Defence Community Organisations.
Look for opportunities to help others out, especially if you are feeling down or isolated. It will bless you as much as those you are helping and if you ever have a need you won’t feel so bad about asking for help.
Find a good friend who enjoys a wine (& a whine!) and you’ll be fine!!
Stay true to yourself
If you have something you enjoy doing keep doing it, if hubby is home still do what you enjoy (it is only going to be be a few hours).
If faith is important to you I would encourage you to grow deeper in this area. The knowledge that there is a grand plan and they are never truly alone even though sometimes it feels like it is extremely comforting.
Is what keeps an army marriage healthy, find the time after both having busy days to talk, this way there is no second guessing, you both know how each other are at that time and what is happening in the family.
Always get a rough calendar from your spouse (if possible) of events, field excerises etc so you can plan yours and kids lives whilst he or she isn’t there.
Try not to get stressed about things you have no control over.
Understand that while your spouse wants to spend more time with you and the family his job is such that the mission comes first and it is inevitable that he/she will miss birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays… it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you.
Posting / Duty Stations
Make the most of the places you are posted to.
Every job and duty station in the military is temporary but at the end of the day family is the most important so nurture those relationships even if it means sometimes making sacrifices.
You will almost always be stationed away from family so do not be afraid to create family from those around you.
Don’t compare the places you live to one another. Just go to the next PCS, plug in and hunt the good stuff!!
Gossip and Private Situations
Speak positively about your spouse and your children to others and work through challenges between the two of you or with the help of a professional instead of “airing dirty laundry” to anyone willing to listen.
Spouse gossip doesn’t just hurt the spouses in the rear, it makes things harder for the troops on the front line as well (from a US Commander).
To me, being a Military Spouse is an amazing honour. One that I am proud to be. To my battle buddies across the globe, Thank You! Thank you for the sacrifices that you make each day, thank you for the support you have given me, thank you for the laughs, tears and wine we have shared.
Thank you for your wisdom in the words above, for guiding me and mostly thank you for being you!
This week I admit has been a little tough mentally! The weather is grey and so is my mind. I’m not sad or concerned, I’m just caught in a funk due to the weather.
Yes, I am a warm weather, sun loving girl! The snow is beautiful when it’s falling and and I am sure if we were on a specific snow holiday it would be amazing. Living in it is completely different, the melting snow, the slush is not so beautiful.
My whole family has cabin fever, cabin fever for the golf course, the sun, the vitamin D and for being outdoors – yes there is plenty that we could still do outside but we are warm blooded soles.
The weather affects me mentally, it makes my mind feel as clouded as the sky and only the sun shining warmly will fix it. Whilst I am in this funk, I have however managed to keep my body active thanks to the treadmill and spin bike. I have been sticking to my goals made earlier in the year and have been enjoying (up until this week) walking outside most days with some great ladies.
To help with this fog, I have ejoyed some reading on SCAD in the news, looked at holiday plans and binged watched some tv…….how do you clear your mind fog?
As we welcome a New Year we often set ourselves resolutions that we rarely stick to for more than a few weeks or months. I too have been guilty of setting myself unrealistic or unattainable resolutions.
This year I have set GOALS and not RESOLUTIONS and to understand why we first need to look at the definition of both and from there we will understand why this is the perfect way to ring in the new year.
Cambridge defines a resolution as apromise to yourself to do something: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/resolution.
By setting ourselves goals and not resolutions we are giving ourselves something to work towards, an attainable achievement. A goal can be achieved by working towards smaller goals, smaller achievements along the way – a place were small progress is made and seen. Once we start setting ourselves resolutions, we are promising ourselves to do something, this in itself is often unattainable as we set ourselves one major promise without being able to celebrate each and every small step along the way.
Resolutions around the world are predominantly centred around weight loss, fitness, healthy eating and saving money – all with one set number or achievement in mind. Whether you are wanting to loose 5kg or 50kg, save $1000 or $40000, run 1km or 42km setting smaller goals will help make this achievable and you will be able to celebrate the smaller victories along the way – helping to keep you focused and on the way to complete your journey.
Now to me, no resolutions only goals. The goals I have set this year are also along the same line – fitness, weight loss, healthy eating and saving money. These goals are not extreme, I am not looking at running a marathon, loosing 50kg or saving vast amounts of money. What I have set are the following and the reason for these is also set out.
1. Walk Outside – this might sound crazy but since my SCAD & heart attack in April I have not been for a walk outside by myself other than to do the groceries. I have been walking on the treadmill in our basement. I want to get back to being comfortable to walk a few km outside in the fresh air. (quick update – my mum had been visiting during Christmas from Australia and we were also dog sitting – we walked everyday and I am excited to share that on the 1st of January I went for my first 2km walk with just myself, the dog and fresh air. It was amazing and has meant I accomplised for first goal of 2020, I have also been everyday since).
2. Swim – as my SCAD and heart attack symptoms began in the swimming pool after I had been swimming medley every four minutes with a minute rest in between I have been frightened to return to the pool. My goal this year is to jump back in (new swimmers purchased as the ones I was wearing were cut from me during the emergency). Swimming will again be different than before – no butterfly and not backstroke, simple freestyle and breaststroke.
3. Fitness – continue rebuilding following my SCAD & Heart Attack in April. Cross fit will never again be apart of my plan but walking, swimming, biking and golf are all attainable. With my golf, I aim to being more consistant and to get a handicap.
4. Weight – my heart medication has played a big part in my weight gain after initially loosing 10kg from the heart attack and recovery. Whilst I am still on the medication (8 tablets a day) I hope that will more regularly moving I can shift a little weight. Small increments but my heart health is the most important.
5. Medication – I see my Cardiologist in March and hope that some of my medication can be futher reduced. He is my person and I trust his medical advice.
5. Money – Team Mulligan have some big plans for when we return to Australia this year. We have set ourselves several money goals this year and if we stick to our budget, all with be attainable and we will be travelling in comfort next year.
I look forward to reaching my little goals along the way, celebrating the best of me and enjoying the challenges that the journey presents along the way.
I wish you the very best for your goal setting in 2020. Go ahead, be brave, be consistant and follow the journey.
As a Military / Defence Family we quiet often celebrate Christmas away from our blood families, however, this does not mean we don’t celebrate or celebrate with ‘family’. Australia’s posting cycle is a major factor in Christmas plans – we usually get to spend one Christmas in our home in the posting location we are at as we are usually packing up a house and moving our life to somewhere new. December is the peak posting (PCS) cycle for us, it’s hot, the school year has finished and summer holidays have started.
One of the many joys of being a military family is getting to meet and form close relationships with other families all in the same boat – away from their own families.
This year we are lucky to have my mum visiting from Australia and although we were hoping she would have a white Christmas, it doesn’t seem likely (we had a big dumping of snow prior to her arrival). Whilst this takes our family count to 6, we will have a house full and a table set for 21!
We are excited to be welcoming other Military families into our home for Christmas who are also international and have no family here. The table will be set filling both the dining room and living room with 6 people from Australia, 4 from New Zealand, 3 from America, 4 from Spain and 4 from Brazil. Lunch will be a multicultral experience with roast lamb, roast vegetables, turkey, glazed ham, potato bake, cheesy brocoli, corn, peas, trifle, pavlova, Spanish wine and desserts also from Brazil and Spain.
The chatter filling the house will be vast and a learning experience for us all. The Spanish and Brazilian families working on their English and the rest of us excited to learn about other cultural experiences and Christmas traditions. Our eldest and the children from Spain and the eldest from Brazil know each other well and spend quiet a lot of time together both in and out of school, this will be a great memory for them to share.
Today, we had our Christmas photo taken with Santa while at Bass Pro. This year like some previous are shared with other special people joining in our photo. Today was Matilda, friends of ours from the UK who are also here on Exchange. Matilda is great friends with our daughter and she came along to spend the day. She is in the front row of our photo and we love that she joined in – more memories to share and treasure.
Christmas as a Military / Defence family may seem at times quiet and separated from the usual experience that families have at this time of year – we have shared many Christmas’s in motels, once at West Point Acadamy asking the Night Manager to write a note for the kids explaining they need to find their presents under a motel Christmas tree (they searched under 3 trees) and Christmas’ with family and friends.
From our family to yours, no matter what you believe or where you are – have a very Merry Christmas a happy & safe holiday.
Christmas can also be a lonely period for the Military / Defence Family with members on deployment, recalled from leave and those who we have lost. Consequently, spare a thought, say a prayer, open your home to other families and create new memories.
Life after physical trauma can leave us with many negative thoughts and reactions – how we emotionally conquer these is half the battle!
After trauma, life changes and it generally changes for a lifetime. We have to reevaluate our day to day journey and the one we often took for granted – we have to learn how our new journey will take place.
Life for me prior to my SCAD / Heart Attack was busy, active and one that was simple. Prior to our posting to the US, I worked full-time in a primary school that I absolutely loved, was busy chasing the kids from activity to activity, had a husband in command, social activities were a plenty, two dogs that needed to be walked everyday, a spin bike that needed riding, I enjoyed the occasional drink(s).
We had never contemplated me becoming so close to not being here.
Life now, 8 months post SCAD / Heart Attack is still busy chasing the kids, still active but not quiet as simple as it onces was. I am currently not working due to being in the US and to be honest, I couldn’t work full time at the moment – the tiredness would see me napping under a desk.
Two of the biggest hurdles have been finding a new pace to keep active, keeping my mental health in check and embracing this new way of life.
I’ve discussed before my love for lifting weights and hammering it out in the gym, these days the activities I do are walking, indoor cycling (no hills) and playing golf. The pace is totally different and one that I am coming to terms with. The irony of my SCAD & Heart Attack is that I was doing everything in my power to keep my heart and body healthy – cardio, strength training, good diet and plenty of sleep and it seems that my love for hammering it out in the gym literally tore my artery….crazy!
The biggest mental battle I have is the medication – I am terrible at taking medication. I don’t like taking paracetomol for a headache so taking 8 tablets a day is just something I have to do but not something I will get used to – I do know it’s not forever and appreciate the benefits of why I’m taking it.
I have aways been fairly body conscious and stuggle most days with the way my body looks and the way it’s feeling at the moment. I try to focus on the the healthy points – my heart is strong, my artery has healed and I am alive. My husband is amazing and always tells me that he would rather have me a little rounded than not here…love the man for loving me the way I am.
For SCAD, the chance of reoccurence is about 30% and this sometimes plays on my mind – the what if’s. I don’t dwell on this number and I am certainly not living my life consumed by the number, nor do I think about it daily. I am aware, listen to my body and would rather live my life taking the advice and medical knowledge we currently know to ensure my heart stays strong but without putting undue pressure on it (no crossfit).
My family has also been impacted by the changes and the way we communicate on a daily basis has especially changed. I ensure that if I miss a phone call or receive a text from either my husband or kids, I reply asap. A wait in reply doesn’t necessarly send them into panic mode, but it does make them a little anxious. If I am going for a walk, shower or a nap, I send a quick text to let them know and one after when I am finished – I am certain this will tapper off but not just yet. It gives them a little piece of mind.
We all go through changes whether from a physical trauma, loss, move, change in circumstances, how we move forward is part of the challenge. My journey is still going forward:)
As a mum of three, my children change every day. Children from all walks of life have challenges, morals and lifestyles that are different. My focus today is on Military Kids and I certainly appreciate that their challenges are far from challenges other children around the world.
Military kids are known for their Resilience. The lifestyle that they are born into is one of constant change. For this reason they are usually very adaptable. Adaptable to change, surroundings, people and situations. Their resilience is to be commended, embraced and nurtured.
Military kids are generally kind, thoughtful and very aware of their surroundings and of others. They have said goodbye to more people by the time they are 18 than most people do in a lifetime. This helps make them understanding and open.
Military kids are strong. They are strong at times that matter however, this does not make them immune to emotion. These kids are aware of the difficulties faced by others and their own families. They generally are happy to jump right in to help others and stand up for what they believe is right.
Military kids can be fiercely independent. They come from homes that are regularly in upheaval, with the serving member away or in a high tempo area. They are taught from a very early age the importance of independence, they still need help but are very capable of handling situations that other children may not.
Military kids are proud! Not all show this openenly, often they are unsure what the response will be for others – don’t dampen their spirit. Let them and encourage them to be proud of their Military family.
Military kids have a great sense of humour – let them laugh.
Military kids are supportive to other military kids. They give each other strength and an amazing support system. Sometimes without words they bring comfort to others.
Military kids generally have a more worldly view on life. They are open and aware of different cultures and diversity – this is a great thing.
Military kids are unique, brave and incredible souls.
As a Aussie family in the US we will be celebrating Thanksgiving with a traditional turkey and pumpkin pie for dessert (we will go without candied yams (sweet potato and marshmellos).
As I sit and ponder the process for the day, what time to put the turkey in and how many people will be filling our house – we like to open our home to those that are not travelling to family or those that are not having family visit – another part of Military Life, I cannot stop thinking about all that I am Thankful for.
I am thankful to be here to celebrate with my family and to welcome new friends and old into our home.
I am thankful for my husband who I have always loved and admired and for the man he is today. It’s been a journey for us and has certainly made our marriage even stronger.
I am thankful for our children who keep me busy, who understand when I need a nap and who keep me laughing and smothered in love, even if they are laughing at my grey hair. It’s the hugs and the ‘love you mumma’ that I am thankful for the most.
I am thankful for the love and support that we have received this year from those we love and for those who we had only just met.
I am thankful for the generosity of those we live near.
I am thankful for the phone calls, text messages, facebook messages I have and still am recieving from people checking in to see how my beating heart is. I understand how busy everybody is but am truly thankful that these are ongoing – our lives are filled with amazing people.
I am thankful for those that have offered their prayers for our family and for those that paused to think about us.
I am thankful that I have found the joys and frustration that is the game of golf to keep my mind focused, body moving and some amazing ladies to laugh with.
I am thankful for those that have joined me on my blogging journey and for taking the time to read, share and follow.
No matter where we are, we do not need a Thanksgiving holiday to be thankful. Be kind, give somebody a helping hand, make that phone call, tell somebody you love them, give that hug, cook that meal for somebody, write that note and be the best version of you!
“Don’t take anyone for granted, be thankful for the people in your life, show them love, show them kindess“
Each year we read and learn more about not only the impacts of grief but the way we deal with and support others going through grief.
Grief impacts our lives in ways that we ourselves don’t understand and grief can come from many different areas in our lives, the death of a family member, a traumatic personal experience, illness of a loved one, personal injury and sickness which has lead to a change in ones current life, loss of property or the family pet.
For me, I am a sensitive person, my emotions readily show whether it’s written on my face, my open tears falling and I am that person who will cry with happy and sad occasions. For many, the inability to express emotion whether openly or personally can often be seen as cold or in a sense a product of upbringing or employment. I am a strong believer that grief is a personal experience and the way that a person expresses their own grief is a journey for that person only.
My children for instance are very different people, they show their emotions at very different times and in different ways. I have two that are very emotionally strong but are sensitive over things they are passionate about, they are caring and show great empathy to every person they come across, however, they are both not big criers, even in difficult or sad times. They are able to regulate their emotions to the situation and look at things very rationally. One, is very sensitive and can be quick to show emotion – whether its frustration, disappointment or genuine sadness, little eyes will well very quickly. All three of my children have certain triggers when all eyes will well – The Last Post will send all of them in to flooding silent tears.
A person needs to be able to grieve in their own personal way and without judgement! Whether you are a person who openly cries, a person who can regulate emotions during difficult times, a person who cries in the shower, a person who looks down during services taking it all in – your grieving process is yours.
The greatest gift you can give somebody who is grieving is unconditional support, speak of the reason for their grief, if somebody has passed – speak their names and if needed, just sit! For the person going through grief – this is your journey and there is no right or wrong way.
Our kids are getting older and as they go through many changes both personally and as a family there are many things that I want them to know. The last 7 months have given me many opportunities to reflect and think and these are some of the important things I need them to know (they do also know these).
I love them completely.
We both always knew we wanted to be parents.
They make me laugh, cry and marvel at their amazing selves.
I am super proud of the people that they are and continue to become.
I pray every night before I go to bed. I ask God to watch over them, that they always trust their instincts, follow their dreams, hearts and goals, remain kind, honest and healthy. I pray that I give them all the time, love and affection that they need.
I pray that I am here to watch them grow up, to succeed and find love. I pray that they are happy and safe and that I am here to witness it all.
I want them to know that at times my own insecurities have gotten the better of me but I’ve pushed through them.
That not every body will like them and they will not like everybody – this is ok. Be kind and respectful.
Life can be hard but it doesn’t have to drag you down.
There are only two lessons in life – you either succeed or you learn!
To always look after each other.
Read a book, play sport, exercise and find your passion.
Be kind and thoughtful, look after others, stand up for your beliefs and always have educated opinions.
That just before my heart attack, I had made peace, the room was quiet and my focus was on telling dad that I loved him and the three of them.
I want them to know that I was not scared of dying or coming close too, I was scared of leaving them.
I want them to know that my heart is there’s forever!
My writing style is free and casual. I write about feelings, thoughts and opinions that are important to me or about topics that have affected my family and I.
My writing comes from my knowledge, my own personal knowledge, by talking and listening to others.
My writing comes from experience – the experience of being a wife and mother, an army wife and mother, a mil spouse, a friend, a daughter and a survivor.
My writing is based on what I am thinking and feeling at the time. I take notes, both written and mental during the day, when I’m grocery shopping and when I’m trying to sleep.
My writing is an outlet and a journey for me. A place to share, connect and hopefully help somebody else on their journey.
My writing for me is therapeutic in a sense, the struggles I face, the acceptance that my life has changed a little as opposed to what it was nearly 7 months ago but also the struggles we all face.
I believe that every person has a story, a story to be shared, a story that we can all learn from. My battles are centred around as strange as it sounds – not being able to workout the way that I was, that I am learning to respect and trust my body again, to keep calm when I get a niggle in my chest/back/arm or jaw and to be aware of my emotions and triggers that may send me into a flood of tears – these battles are shared by many, but my battles are nothing compared to others. I am thankful for my health, my family and our friends, I am also thankful for the roof over our heads, the warmth from the heater, the food and clothes that we have and also for the experiences we have had and look forward to.
We all have a story. Be kind, be respectful and carve your own journey!
To be clear, I love the good side of social media. Being a military family we are constantly on the move as are a large majority of our friends – social media lets us keep in contact quickly regardless of time or distance. I’m a fan of Facebook and Intsagram in particular (hubby not so much) however……
Social media has given us the ability to keep in contact, express our thoughts, fears, share our pictures and in many cases attack, abuse and degrade people and their beliefs – but at what cost.
This week has been another week of reflection and I’d love your thoughts.
We are quick to click the emotion buttons to express our thoughts, but this has in many cases left us without an actual emotional connection or a feeling of disconnect to our family and friends. Social media relationships have moved us further from the personal interation that we once had. The quickness of hitting the like, love, sad, angry button holds us less accountable emotionally than acutally writing a quick comment, writing a private message or making that telephone call.
I, for one am guilty of taking the quick option, hit that like button and move on, however, I have been making a concious decision to not react this way. I am taking my time to really read and take notice of what people are writing, what they are feeling and sharing before sending a private message or even better picking up the phone. There are of course, times when the quick option is suitable – a caption or a photo but one needs to remember that nothing outways a personal message – remember the joy of receiving a handwritten letter or postcard – personal or private messages are today’s equivalent of the handwritten letter.
Take the time, ensure in a world of social media we reconnect from the at times disconnect we all share. Reach out!
What fills your refrigerator door? Is it photos, magnets, bills?
And all those pictures hangin’ side by side Forgotten memories from another time And all the places that you’ve been before Couple magnets, recipes, and Polaroids Yeah, but that’s our lives on the ‘frigerator door On the ‘frigerator door Songwriters: Jordan Brooker / Luke Combs
The words in the song ‘Refrigerator Door’ ring true for most people I know. Their fridges are covered in all kinds of things but mine are the…..memories.
As I sit and look at the doors of both our fridges, I am taken on a trip down memory lane. There are photos of the girls, our son as a baby, our German Shepherd Monty and my husband when we were about 24, a photo of my son and husband prior to a deployment, artwork, certificates that the kids have received, defibrillator vest accounts (thankfully paid), a calendar, permission slips and magnets from our US travels over the years with a couple of Australian ones too and emergency contact numbers.
These memories and items are not neatly positioned but are placed on there usually in a mishap, running out the door kind of way. They are sideways, but they all tell a story.
As I was writing this post my mind drifted to those special people and memories that are not on our fridge, the ones that are on my phone and not printed – I quickly went upstairs and printed these memories. We keep so many digital memories these days and rarely are the put to print.
With updated photos and new ones added, the piece of art that is our refrigerator door is taking place. It’s important that we have memories in a prominent place, a place that we can look at each day. ♥️
The life as a Military Spouse is nothing short of an adventure. Plans are made and plans are changed. As I think about my life as a Mil Spouse there are some things I have come to understand.
1. Not everybody will like you and thats ok.
2. Be yourself…..always.
3. Be kind and honest.
4. Be welcoming.
5. Don’t judge or assume you know someone – the Military world is a small one. You will always meet somebody who somebody else has known and you will have a preconceived idea of what or who that person is – make your own decision.
6. You can’t make everyone happy – just as it is every day, not everybody will want to do something or like the planned idea.
7. Officer spouses want to get to know you just as much as the younger and newer spouses too – time has changed, it’s not the way it was.
8. People don’t always want to go along to Unit / Battalion functions / coffee groups etc but they do want to know that support is available.
9. Do support the Unit / Battalion when you feel up to it and can – not all Units / Battalions support the families as much as others – keep it going.
10. Always have a plan A, plan B and even a plan C.
11. Never rely on dates and timings – things change and can change quickly.
12. There is a lot of paperwork involved in a move and the computerised version does not always update or save correctly.
13. Always move with your eyes and mind open – you just might enjoy it.
14. Two years goes very quickly, particularly if you are loving your posting.
15. It’s easier to be the one saying ‘see you later’ than to be the only one staying.
16. Friends become family.
17. Be flexible.
18. Things will always break or stop working as soon as they leave.
19. Deployments are tough but you can do it.
20. Homecomings can be tough, but you can do it too.
21. Surround yourself with good people, experience new things, take on a new hobby.
22. Keep a journal during deployments and other absences.
23. Sometimes, no expectation are the only way – this way, nobody is disappointed.
24. Most importantly, stay true to yourself.
Leave a comment below and let me know what you have learnt as a Mil Spouse. There are many more lessons, tid bits I have learnt about Miltary spouse life but I know that you don’t have all day to read along;)
This week has seen me hit 5.5 months post SCAD and Heart Attack!!
I have written about my MUGA Scan and short hospital stay in August but wanted to share a little more information about what I undersent and have learnt since then.
After receiving the brilliant news on 3rd July that my heart function had normalised and was pumping at 62% we had a small set back at the beginning of August when I experienced chest pain that didn’t seem to budge, of course this was exasperated by anxiety concerning another possible heart issue – thankfully my Cardiologist and the amazing medical team at Providence Medical Centre knew my history and proceeded to set mine and their minds at rest.
I underwent some heart scans prior to returning to my ward for a burger with fries, a can of coke, chocolate chip cookie and ice-cream…..bazaar to be eating in the Cardiac Ward however, it was for a cause. As I had been injected with contrast dye, I needed to eat a fatty meal for the next set of scans to fully work.
The next step was a stress test – this was no ordinary treadmill stress test. For me, it was a Chemical Stress Test with me seated in a comfy recliner. I was injected with medication that speed up my heart rate and dilated the arteries in just the same way your body reacts during exercise. I was instructed to sit still, was covered in monitors and warned that once the chemical makes its way around my body, I would literally have my breath taken away as I would during hard exercise. It was crazy, surprising and I can assure you no kilograms were lost during this type of ‘exercise’. While the scan is being taken, the medical team are monitoring and are able to see any ‘cold spots’ in both the heart and arteries.
The results were all clear, my heart and arteries were functioning exactly as they should, and the diagnosis was residual chest cavity inflammation – GREAT NEWS!
Since this little scare, my mind has taken a complete reset. Not only do I have a healthy and fully functioning heart, my mind is clear and not frightened. The percentage for reoccurrence of SCAD is different on every research undertaken but ranges between 10-30%. Upon my initial diagnoses, this scarred me greatly, however, the numbers are in my favour and I am not going to live in fear of something that may never happen.
Life is for living and we can only control what we can. My exercise routine is slow but I am back exercising every day, whether it be a 30 minute walk on the treadmill, 30 minutes on the spin bike or golf I know that for my mind and heart, this is what I need to do. Would I love to be crossfitting – absolutley….but I won’t.
“We have a house that is our home, but we also have a hometown that is home”.
Home has many meanings for our family. Home is always the house we are living in, wherever we are posted at the time, where there is a pair of combat boots, the never ending sports gear and the shoes that make us look like we live in a shoe shop. Other times home is my hometown. The town that helped raise me, the town that is familiar and not so familiar anymore. The town where my mum, grandparents, aunt and uncle are, the town where my great grandparents are buried. It’s the town that our children love visiting, it’s the town where my husband switches off completly – in his favourite blue chair not to far from the golf course. It’s the town that I am comfortable and not so comfortable in……
This small country town was were you could ride your bike all day, play sport and swim at the local pool safetly all summer. It’s where I went to school from preschool until the end of High School with the same people, it’s where I had my first job, my first heart break, where I broke my first heart. This small town is where I learnt to work hard, where I learnt to drive, crashed my first car, had my first drink, my first hangover, stomped by boots in the dust at the local show and started the journey to where I am today.
Home is where the memories begin, my grandparents living around the corner, strawberries with sugar, where I spent my young years with my great grandparents in the back yard making tea and cakes for my great grandfather with the old pots and pans, where I lost my dummy, climbed walnut tress and went everywhere with my grandfather. Climbed on my grandparents lounge and prouldy informed my grandma that I was allowed too – I was quickly sat down and fell asleep in those chairs.
This small country town is where I formed friendships that I still have today, the town where some friendships are not so more, its the town where I learnt to love, that having good manners is important, the ease of saying hello to everybody and how important respect is. It’s this small country town where I thought I would live forever, it’s also this small country town I ran from within two weeks of meeting my husband. It’s the small country town we said our wedding vows in surrounded by our family and friends, where everybody knew everybody (and their business). Whilst it is now the town that I no longer know everybody, it is still home, my hometown and the town our kids refer to as their hometown.
The world that is ours now is one where we move every two years, we move to towns that are not always familiar, with new people and surroundings. Why do our kids refer to this little country town as their hometown even though they were born in differnt cities (Newcastle, Townsville and Hawaii), it’s because that is where Nana’s house is and Nana’s house is the one constant house we have – we have our own beds there, we have ‘stuff’ in the closets, we know and love the neighbours – home is important.
As we are one of milions of families that live a transient lifestyle we often comtemplate where will be put down roots, make a home in our own hometown….as to where that will be, we have no idea. We have ideas and a wish list (a rural setting by the beach, golf, not a city but somwhere with everything you need, not to hot and not to cold – if you have any ideas, please comment below) but I do know that whilst we are unlikely to relocate to my hometown, that small country town will forever be home.
“Always remember where you came from, where you are going and why you are going”.
One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is the joy of long lasting friendships.
As our lives change and we move on to new and different stages, we personally change as do our friendships. As adults we often look back at times in our lives and reflect on those that we see regularly and those friendships that have changed. An easy way is to look back at wedding photos – are you in contact with everybody that was in attendance. Chances are there are a few that you are no longer in regular contact with or maybe not at all (and this is ok – life changes, life is busy).
We often spend weeks, months and years apart from loved ones and friends. It’s the long periods apart that really set the friends apart from the friends.
The friends are the ones that you might occasionally see on a visit to your hometown, on a new posting to a familiar location, a mutual friends wedding and your Facebook friends – the ones that you touch base with, chat too and reminisce with and are often the ones that taught you about early friendships.
The ‘friends’ that you see, and pick up where you left off – just like you saw each other yesterday. The way you talk over the top of each other, the laughter, the way you slip back into familiar territory. It’s the ones that you camp with, the ones you sit by the river bank with, the ones you make retirement plans with, the ones that you decide to meet half way just so you can have lunch with, the ones that have been there from the time you were little and you cannot remember a time they were not your bestie, the ones that make a positive impact on you, the ones where there is no inhibition. It’s the way the kids, although they haven’t seen each other in just as long and have grown from toddlers and newly teenage kids to preteen and young adults also settle into a friendship that is familiar…….these friendships are raw and are keepers.
All types are friendship are special and are a big part of how we learn what makes a friend and the different kinds of friendships there are, however, the ‘friends’ friendships are raw and are true keepers.
Life is for making memories that last a life time, share the journey!
The partner of a Defence / Military member has many titles – spouse, partner, mil spouse and my favourite Dependant! My husband has been a Solider since before I came along and I have been on this journey with him since 1998…..21 years or half my life and the one thing that I am not, is dependant! Dependant is defined in the dictionary as relying on or needing another. (Yourdictionary.com)
I am like every other Defence / Military dependant – very much independent!
Prior to meeting my husband, I had very little to do with the military. I come from a small country town with a proud military history, but it was relatively small. I listened to the stories told whilst I worked in the pub, heard stories about great-great-uncles and applauded at the Anzac Day march.
Upon meeting, my world was immediately changed. Anzac Day was just around the corner and this would be our first offical outing together. Over the course of 21 years, we have been to many offical functions, dining in’s, dining outs, parades, balls, promotions, retirements, unit celebrations and less formal functions.
Over these many years, many moves, many new faces, many everything news, I have meet many wonderful, strong, talented “dependants” who are also anything but dependant. These partners know the raw truth of being a military family, the pain of separation, the joy of home comings, the upheaving of life every two years, being away from family, being able to fix broken white goods, draws and chairs, the ones mowing the lawn, weeding the gardens, the school and sport drop offs, the parent/teacher interviews, the doctor and hospital visits all while being dependant on themselves (with help from their battle buddies).
To say that one is not dependant is not a statement to say that one does not need the other, it is in simple terms that whilst we are apart for work needs, I can handle taking care of myself, our family and all that entails. As a family unit, we are better together but when duty calls, my husband knows that we are going to be ok.
Defence / Military life is a partnership, a team, one that often leads to no expectation on the serving member, is difficult at times, painful at times, pure elation at times and is built on trust and the need for spouses to be independent……it’s time for the phrase ‘Dependant’ to be replaced.
As a family we have been fortunate to experience life in the US on several occasions due to my husbands service. We have lived in Hawaii, Missouri and now Kansas. During these times we have learnt some interesting tidbits on life in the US – I hope you enjoy and please let me know any you have also:)
Bread is sweet, Milk is sweet! Be prepared for the sugar in milk, the sugar and corn syrup in bread along with the preservatives that will see the bread not mould.
High fructose corn syrup is in pretty much everything! HFCS is a cheaper option as an ingredient than sugar. This takes a lot of reading labels to find products that don’t actually have HFCS – you will find it in granola bars, cereal, bread, yoghurt, soft drinks, salad dressings, jam, some baked goods, protein bars and many more – Make sure you read the labels!
Wear a wetsuit while swimming in the ocean at Seattle all year round! After many months of living in Missouri we had missed the ocean and the ease of visiting when we wished. The kids and I are lovers of the ocean and living in the middle of the country away from it was tough. We took a road trip which saw us driving down Interstate 5 and Highway 1 from Seattle to California.
Seattle is beautiful but the water is cold – what kind of wetsuits should you pack, it all depends on the season you visit. Summer, you will still need one and I would recommend a full length (the kids legs were a little blue) and for winter and the cooler weather, full length, thick and include boots, gloves and a hood.
Plenty of beaches in the US still allow open fires (check state and beach regulations first). Seattle is one place where you can still have an open fire on beach. For us, this was amazing. We were able to enjoy the water….well, watch the kids enjoying the water and have a fire ready for them to warm up.
Highway One…..is terrifying in places!
The coastal road hugs the pacific ocean from Oregon’s border with California to San Diego and has some of the most amazing views you will experience. The road however is very windy and narrow in places and at times, it seems the car will track down the cliff right into the ocean. Driving along here must be completed with full attention and the amount of RV’s can at times make it look like an RV park.
The US has many amazing sites that need to be seen in Summer, however, some of these sites are on our must been seen in Winter list. We have all seen images or visited Niagara Falls in the warmer months however, there is nothing like seeing it from the Canadian side in Winter. Seeing the trees covered in snow, ice and the frozen sections of water are truly something to be seen. Disney World in Florida is another must do in the cooler months, the people and the heat are not a great way to visit the happiest place on earth – people are sweaty, tired and not overly happy during the middle of summer – we learnt from experience.
Driving through the mountains of Wyoming and Montana (Big Sky Country) are breathtaking. The wide open spaces, the slow and windy roads, the snow on the peaks are a must see. The gateway to Yellowstone National Park, Glaziers and history are all to be found along the way. The Buffalo Bill Centre of the West is an affiliate of Smithsonian Institute – the attention to details and displays is a great way to spend some time.
Hop on, Hop off tours are a fantastic way to see the sights and to get your bearings when visiting a new city. We took the opportunity in every city that offered the service. The prices vary but made the site seeing easier. We always jumped on and completed a full trip around first, this let us see the city and allowed us to plan and gauge what were our ‘must sees’ as a family.
We toured New York on a double decker bus in winter on the top level in our snow gear, we toured Nashville in summer on the trolley eating ice-cream at every stop, we toured Washington DC from one side to the other and by doing this we were able to cover more ground and without the trouble of parking or usual public transport.
Hope you enjoyed these little tidbits, please hit that like button, press follow @mrsmullyblog and share! Enjoy the adventure
We are all told, “live your life to the fullest”; I am here to do just that. Life With The Webbers lets you in on all the struggles and joys of life being a Defence Family, the ups and downs of being a Spouse to a Soldier and the joys and hardships of being a Mother that often has to do everything while Dad is away working. So, sit back, relax, and read on.