Here is my break down for the beginning!
Posting Overseas is a wonderful opportunity for Defence Families and I would say ‘jump at the chance’!. The experience and adventure that you and the family will have will outway any logistic and schooling concerns you may have. Of course, 2020 has provided the most challenging of times to be posted overseas, particularly if you are in a country deeply affected by COVID-19. Your opportunities to explore your surroundings may have been limited greatly.
The ADF has many options for postings to the US in a wide variety of locations, each offering a unique experience. We have fortunate to have been 3 times with time spent in Hawaii, Missouri and Kansas. Our current term is coming to a close in 3 weeks.
Below is my break down of Posting to the USA specifically.
GOOGLE – Google will be your friend. Research the posting location, look at the area, schools, weather, activities – this will help you get a visual for the location you will be.
Current Member – make contact with the current member and family. They will be a great resource for you and will be able to provide the ins and outs of the location, job, life at Post and what local requirements are needed (both Military and civilian)
Visit the Overseas Administration Team website which can only be accessed on the Defence Intranet – here you will find plenty of information including the Pre Departure Information Pack (make sure you read the ADF post-2017). This will give you a break down of some of the procedures, allowances etc. You will also find forms that are required for your pre-departure and for your time at Post. The first form you will need to complete upon arrival of your posting order is the AD695 – Overseas Posting Form. Fill out as much as you can and return.
Passports and Visa – this will need to be completed and witnessed etc before submitting with certified copies of birth certificates etc. We completed ours with the XO and Adjt who ensured we had everything in good order before sending to Canberra. You can complete the application forms online and then print for completion. Ensure you apply for an Offical Passport for the adults. When it comes to the Visa applications, the type of Visa you require will need to be confirmed – most of us are on a A1 Visa. There is also a Diplomatic letter that needs to be printed and included with your Visa Application. You will need to send your actual passport and certified copies of your birth certificates to the US Consulate.
Defence Travel will organise your flights etc. Have a look at what you are thinking, the flights that best suit you and let them know. They may or not go with your option and will find the cheapest Business Class flights for you. We have flown to the US with, Virgin, Qantas and Hawaiian Airlines. At the time of writing, flights in and out of Australia are affected by COVID-19. Defence Travel will be a great source to confirm options.
Inventories. You will have two inventories to complete – Storage and Overseas. Have a really good think about what you would like to bring, what you are may be ready to replace (kitchen items, towels etc). The inventories need to be thorough – pain in the bum thorough and take photo of $$ items you are bringing (golf clubs for us)!
Ensure you leave some kitchen items, towels, bedding in storage so that when you return home and your storage is delivered you are ready to spend the first night. We packed a little different this time as there wasn’t anything we needed to replace/buy except for some bedding and towels – we brought new bedding once we arrived.
Bring some personal items to make your house feel like your home. We had some canvas prints done when we arrived (very cheap) and brought a few prints etc with us too. Our kitchen, we went with what we knew we would use/need and to be honest, it makes me wonder why we have so much stuff at home. You can pick up things quite cheap should you need something you haven’t brought.
World Wide Risk Insurance is the insurance cover that we and most people use to insure their goods with. It covers storage, the removal items, whilst in-country and also the luggage you travel with on the way over. Once again, this is why the inventories need to be so thorough.
Housing / Furniture / Utilities
The way housing/furniture rentals is completed has changed each time we have been stationed in the US and as I type is going through another change. Housing options are aplenty and the current member in location will be able to provide their thoughts.
For us, we love living on Post and for us that’s the only option. It’s easy, maintenance is taken care of, the utilities are included in your rent (you are reimbursed for utilities off post), it’s secure and everything you need is generally located with ease. If this is an option you are interested in (speak to the family you are replacing), I would contact the housing manager, advise that you are the incoming Australian LO / Exchange Officer / Student etc, when you are arriving and that you would like the opportunity to live on Post if available. They will have a website which has plenty of information about housing etc. Of course, some Posting locations are not on Post (Embassy for instance).
Utilities are reimbursable from the Embassy each month, however, you are responsible for internet and phone costs.
Post / Base
Each Post has it’s own website. They are a fantastic starting place to gather local information including, schooling, sports, commissary, px, gyms etc.
Schooling will be available on Post for Elementary and possibly Middle School and generally has pretty good standards. It will, however, be completely different than back home.
High School options will be off Post. You can apply for Education Assistance via the Embassy to help combat any discrepancies between subjects/learning etc.
Schooling in the US is a whole other learning experience (for both parents and kids). As our Posting cycle is December / January, you will be arriving either at the end of Semester 1 or beginning of Semester 2 having completed the current school year in Australia. The Christmas break in the US is short and school resumes around 6 January. Depending on what age your children are and when their birthday’s are, they will either move forward to the next Grade or complete the last semester of the grade they have just completed.
The biggest challenge will come if you have high school-aged kids, particular from Grade 10 upwards. Decisions will need to be made on Graduations and also if they plan to attend University back in Australia. Each school will have a Guidance Counsellor that will be the greatest asset at school. They will be able to provide options, explain the credit system and what is required by the State for Graduation and if early graduation is possible.
Have a look at the school districts website and also read their vaccination schedules! The school districts are strict on their vaccination requirements and you may find extra vaccinations are required for your child(ren) to attend school.
School Sport in the US is crazy! There is plenty of sport over here as you can imagine. They have sport available on Post and some of this can be of high ability/competition.
Sport in Middle / High School is huge! Tryouts will be held for all team sports and the commitment may be too high for some – our girls participated in Football (Soccer), Volleyball and Basketball during the various seasons and training was every afternoon (sometimes mornings at 0600) with games sometimes twice a week and tournaments on the weekends. Coaches are serious beasts and will work the kids hard. During the school breaks, training and condition will continue.
Local sporting teams will also have some opportunities for travelling teams etc. It is important to remember for a large portion of kids, high school sporting teams lead to College Scholarships – high school sport is even broadcast on TV, the radio and online – massive.
The schools website will include information for the Athletics Department.
Working Visa With the likely A1 Visa it is my understanding that whilst you can work, you can not apply for the working visa until you are actually in Country. I made the decision not to work but was planning on volunteering. To volunteer though I still need to apply for a work visa and then even though not receiving money, have to submit a tax return. The Embassy will be able to guide you further.
Car shopping is tough! Everybody goes with different options. Some people buy outright, some lease, some buy second hand. Cars are more expensive to buy this time than they were in 2013. Unfortunately for us this time and many others, cars are a bit of a money pit. It is a personal decision but do your research and look closely at the warranty. Have a look on the car dealership websites for the area and get an idea of what kind of car would work for the family and the prices – this will give you an idea of prices you can expect etc. For us, it’s a car we need for two years, one that we had third-row seats, one that we can travel easily with, four-wheel drive due to the weather and one that we can hopefully get a decent price on when we sell it.
Outlay Advance offered by Defence which will help with your setting up / purchasing a car. It is interest-free and paid back fortnightly during the first year. Your allowances are so much, you will not notice it.
Again, people go with different options. We have banked with Armed Forces Bank this time and last. It’s easy, provides us with what we need and you can actually organise for it to be opened before your arrival. Checks are still a big thing in the US with many places (schools for one) that don’t have EFTPOS machines and would prefer Check – backwards! You will need a checking account and the option for a credit card. Armed Forces Bank has a specialised International Banking Program which provides a great service and can open accounts for your before arrival.
Pay it Forward – at the end of your overseas posting pay it forward to the incoming family where possible. I certainly am not saying to give your car away for free but passing on small ticket items such as, slow cookers, coffee machines, bbq, kettle etc makes the transition for the incoming family a little easier and helps us all save a few $$ along the way.
There is plenty more that I can go into regarding an overseas posting to the US and each posting location is different and offers a different experience. Living in the US is a wonderful opportunity for travel with ease.
Accepting an overseas posting can come with a mixture of emotions and at times seem impossible to organise for. With some careful considerations, research and an open mind and heart the overseas posting can provide you and your family with an adventure of a lifetime. Jump at the chance!
2020 has certainly been a year of indifference, possibly one to forget but, hopefully, one to learn from. For Mrs Mully Blog, life has continued with a new normal.
The kids have not attended in-person school since March and the 20/21 School year commenced with some students attending in-person and others logging in and completing via rigorous remote learning. Our three are fully remote (and I love it). Our school district has been really on the ball and whilst some points have proved difficult at times (subjects had to be changed) they really have devised quite a good plan.
Living on Post has enabled us to pretty much carry on as normal. We have access to the Commissary, Exchange, Golf Course etc without any hassle. We must wear a mask when in the buildings but we have had the luxury of being able to walk and exercise on Post with no crowds to contend with. We have been fortunate that we have been able to walk, exercise and play golf (with some restrictions) during the ongoing pandemic – it is something that we have not taken for granted and feel for those around the world who have not been able to, some for months.
Summer Break was long with no travel and minimum interaction with the outside world. Although we had hoped to enjoy some trips away, we were able to enjoy our time together as a family and for that, I am grateful.
The weather in Kansas has long been crazy and in the last week we have had really cold days (4 degrees celsius), beautiful days (26 degrees celsius) and today we awoke to snow! As the day goes on, more snow is falling with a move to ice this evening.
I continue to bake our bread. What started in March has continued and we love it. I bake it every second day and bake two loaves at a time. The smell of fresh bread is amazing. We also now make our own pizza dough and scrolls with the same recipe. My recipe is from Jamie Oliver – it’s simple and tastes amazing (I’ll add at the bottom).
Mrs Mully’s take on Jamie Oliver Bread.
Makes 2 Loaves
500g of flour (white or mix of white and wholemeal)
650mls of tepid water
2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast
Squirt of honey
Mix yeast into tepid water and add a good squirt of honey (will help yeast work).
Combine water to dry flour and mix until soft and not sticky. (I use kitchen aid with dough attachment).
Add extra flour if needed.
Cover with a damp, warm, clean tea towel and place out of draft for 90 mins to let it rise.
Remove from bowl, flour surface and give it a good knead, approx 5 minutes. I split into two.
Please into bread tins and let rise for 30 mins while the oven preheats.
Bake for approx 27 minutes.
Remove from bread tin onto a cooling rack.
This post has been an ongoing edit since my 1st SCADiversary and whilst it hasn’t been difficult to write, it has been a little harder to press the publish button.
This time last year I was fighting the biggest battle of my life after suffering a Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection and Heart Attack. My heart was broken and my family were hurting. With some fantastic medical care, plenty of love, careful healing and prayers, I am here! As I sit and reflect, much has happened and changed. I have turned 43, I have grown as a person, learnt to respect my body and it’s new ‘normal,’ become more aware of my surroundings and what is important and not.
My 1st SCADiversary was a little emotional however, I am pleased to say it didn’t consume my day. I enjoyed a sleep in, a touching message from a dear friend, a hot cup of tea, supervised the kid’s online school, baked bread, made a phone call to my Cardiologists office, a long facetime chat with my mum and a day spent with my family.
I made the decision early in the morning that I wanted to call my Cardiologists to acknowledge their part in my SCADaniversay – it was another healing process. Not wanting to interrupt their morning and I also knew it would make me emotional, I asked the receptionist to pass on a message to both, the one who initially saved my life and the one who kept me going after surgery. I thanked both of them and also the amazing medical team at the hospital. I am very aware of the part these amazing experts played in my surviving. My phone was on silent whilst a went for a walk and took a shower – to my surprise I had a message from Dr Katripati expressing his gratitude for my call (they don’t get many to say thank you).
My health is a priority that I don’t take for granted. I am aware of every twinge or ache that radiates from my chest and heart. I listen to it, I let my body rest when needed and I although I have a strong urge to sometimes try and push it a little harder – I don’t. I have come to understand that at least once a month, my chest aches and I get super tired. I feel my pulse in my right wrist each night as I lay down for bed, why, because there was a couple of months where I could not feel my pulse in this wrist – now it’s my comfort.
My goals for the next 12 months, keep writing, keep learning, keep growing, educate and push for other’s to be their own advocate when it comes to their health, especially those who are younger, healthy and experience heart issues, share my experience with anybody and everybody who will listen. The more that SCAD is talked about, the more awareness the medical world has, the better care and understanding there will be.
My husband and kids have been amazing, they have been patient, supportive and have taken on so much. They all have a fierce Aussie sense of humour and this provides many laughs (often) at my expense. I will never be able to take away the pain and concern that they experienced or the burden of worry they still carry but I will make sure they know that I love them without a doubt everyday.
I want to thank those that are near, dear and far for the amazing and unwavering support you have shown our family this year. The ones that continue to send messages, ask questions and generally just to check-in – we appreciate it so very much.
For defence families across the globe, posting season is upon us. We are either awaiting posting orders for moves in December / January or preparing to move in June / July. Posting season is notoriously stressful for the whole family.
2020 will be different but many processes remain the same and these are my key items and tips for a Domestic Posting (Australian Focused).
One you receive the Posting Order, your mind will be consumed by the next location – schools, work, doctors, housing, hopefully this little post will help you with some trips to make the removal side a little easier.
Application for Relocation (AFR) and Removal Inventory
Complete ASAP. The AFR can be completed online or in paper format and forms the basis for your relocation. It will cover all family members, your planned travel, housing considerations, temporary accommodation considerations, pets, preferred uplift dates and special considerations. The AFT is particularly used to calculate allowances, travel times and family composition and special considerations. Once completed you will be appointed a Case Manager who will oversee your relocation and get the process started.
Be specific! A very time-consuming exercise but after 22 years and 15 moves I can guarantee this is a must! Model numbers, serial numbers, costs, year, take photos, label boxes in sharpie (all over). Why? This is a whole other story but imagine, 2003 new baby, new city and furniture truck stolen fully loaded with your complete household goods.
Organise your items as much as possible. Ensure you have items that need to travel with you (important documents, uniforms if needed, medical records) clearly marked and in a separate location. This will help ensure no items are mistakenly packed. One option is an empty cupboard that you can clearly label.
Ensure your garbage is not in packing range – we have all heard stories or been on the receiving end of unpacking and finding a stinking box full of garbage.
House Cleaning & Preparedness
With standards having changed over the last 10 years, the move out process in Australia is streamlined and much easier to attain without dreading the ‘white-glove’ inspection. Some steps to make it easier:-
In the weeks leading up to removal:-
Week of removal:-
Day of Prepack
Uplift Day – my favourite day in the whole process
These can be super quick and sometimes they can be painful. Noting that you will have had a pre-vacating inspection several weeks earlier, you will be aware of any charges that you main incur. These can include, oven not being cleaned sufficiently, lawn and garden care. The more prepared you have been in the weeks leading up to the removal, the easier this will be.
Lock up and enjoy the next posting.
I’d love to know any tips and tricks that you have to help:)
‘Most mother’s I know ought to qualify for saint hood’ –
Josh Kear, David Frasier and Ed Hill wrote “Most People Are Good” in 2016
I have been blessed with incredible female role models in my life. From my great-mothers, my grandmas, girlfriends and most importantly my mum. These women have helpt pave the way for me to learn, conquer and appreciate strong values.
From each of these women, I have gained knowledge that has enabled me to become the women I am today. My great-mothers gave me joy and their time from when I was little. My grandmas gave and still give me the gift of their time, unconditional love, the simple pleasure of strawberries and sugar and the importance of a grandma hugs. My girlfriends gave me the courage to be myself, to laugh, and to bend their ears about all that was on my mind.
My mum gave me the strength to become my own person, to follow my dreams and importantly my heart. She gave me the power to learn from my mistakes and to grow from each one while guiding and letting me cry on her shoulder when needed.
My mum is the women that has followed our family across the world as we posted from place to place. She has been there when all three of our babies were born, been there for surgeries, deployments, cyclones and my recovery from SCAD and Heart Attack. She has taken care of our family more times than we can count.
My mum is the women who taught me independence, how to cook, how to drive and most importantly…..how to mum.
I have learnt from these incredible women that time, understanding and the ability to be strong and independent is one of the keys to raising children with the same qualities and I am so greatful for each of them.
Whilst we are able to celebrate my mum, grandmothers and our friends we do also think of those that are unable to share Mother’s Day with their own mums and also those Mum’s who are unable to hold their children. Mother’s Day is a day for those incredible mum’s to be loved on.
On 25 April Australia and New Zealand stop to remember and honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice and to thank those past and present serving Defence members. ANZAC Day this year was commemorated differently across both countries due to the restrictions in place to keep us safe from COVID-19.
The poignant Dawn Service which so many of us participate in, the 1100 March was not televised nor were the streets lined with people proud to support our Veterans. With some wonderful thinking from two amazing Soldiers, this year, ANZAC Day was held privately in many driveways across the two countries. For us, a private day was also held, however, our thoughts remained with those that have forged the way and given us the term ‘mateship’.
Australia House at Fort Leavenworth had both the Australian and New Zealand Flags outlining the path and verandah along with wreaths in honour of ANZAC Day. Instead of the local community joining for Dawn Service, links were provided by social media to enable those that wished to watch the Dawn Service being broadcasted from the Australian War Memorial.
The day may have been different from others but from watching the news clips and those shared on social media, the two countries proudly commemorated ANZAC Day in the way we should – proudly, respectfully and together.
For our family, we stood together and watched the Dawn Service from the Australian War Memorial, we paused, we shared tears, tears for those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, tears for those that have left us to early, tears for those who battle every day to find peace and for our blessings. Technology was a blessing and we were fortunate to share facetime calls with family and mates.
As each year passes, the importance of ANZAC Day remains. To those who we are so proud to call our battle buddy’s and your families……THANK YOU🇦🇺
This time last year I was fighting the biggest battle of my life after suffering a Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection and Heart Attack. My heart was broken, my family were hurting but with some fantastic medical care, careful healing and plenty of prayers, I am here.
The day has been a little emotional but I am pleased to say it hasn’t consumed my day. I enjoyed a sleep in, received a very touching message from a dear friend, a hot cup of tea, supervised the kid’s online school, baked bread and butter chicken before I made a phone call to my Cardiologists office (more on that later), a long facetime chat with my mum and a day spent with my family.
I made the decision fairly early in the morning that I wanted to call the Cardiologists and acknowledge their part in today – it was another healing process. The receptionist was very surprised that I had made a call – I explained why I was calling and asked her to please pass on a message to both my Cardiologists, the one who initially saved my life and the one who kept me going after surgery. I thanked both of them and also the amazing medical team at the hospital. I am very aware of the part these amazing professionals played in my surviving. My phone was on silent and I was very happy to receive a voice message from Dr Katripati expressing his gratitude for my call.
As I sit and reflect on the last 12 months so much has happened and changed. I have turned 43, I have grown as a person, learnt to respect my body and it’s new ‘normal,’ become more aware of my surroundings and what is important and not. I have grown to appreciate and adore my family and close friends with a fierce love that sometimes overwhelms me.
My health is a priority that I don’t take for granted. I am aware of every twinge or ache that radiates from chest and heart sometimes. I listen to it, I let my body rest when needed and I although I have a strong urge to sometimes try and push it a little harder – I don’t.
My goals for the next 12 months, keep writing, keep learning, keep growing, educate and push for other’s to be their own advocate when it comes to their health, share my experience with anybody and everybody who will listen, to be a better mumma, a better wife, a better daughter, a better granddaughter and a better friend, to work on my compassion and learn something new.
The last twelve months saw Team Mulligan fight one of it’s biggest battles and whilst we battled and were able to come out the other side with good health and an ending that saw our family together, it is also important to recognise those that have seen their darkest days and said goodbye to loved ones during this time. We have two dear friends who have suffered immense pain with losing their loved one during the last twelve months from heart-related conditions and it is important that they know that there is not a day goes by where our thoughts are not with them, not a day when we are grateful or celebrating a milestone that our hearts ache for them.
I want to thank those that are near, dear and far for the beautiful and unwavering support you have shown our family this year. The ones that continue to send messages, ask questions and generally just to check-in – we appreciate it so very much.
Much love, stay safe, stay healthy and follow the journey,
COVID-19 has changed the world as we knew it and the effects have been devastating. They are especially devasting for those families who have lost loved ones! The effects have also been devastating for businesses, for those who have either lost their job or who are currently unable to work due to the government’s restrictions.
It has bought out the best in many people but also the worst in some!
Our behaviour at times like this must always be reassessed. Are we doing the best not just for ourselves but for all others? Are we social distancing as advised, are we leaving our homes only for the right reasons (work food, medical appointments, exercise, and other essential reasons) or are we being reckless?
Watching and reading the news stories from around the world have left me quite dismayed. The footage of people hoarding toilet paper (baffled everybody) along with other groceries and at times leaving nothing on the shelves for others, the large groups of people at the beach or parks to those that have been spitting or coughing on others has been appalling.
In a world where so many preach their goodness via social media, their awareness of the earth/surroundings, asking people to be the kind why are we behaving with such an individualist view? Why are we not conducting ourselves in ways that will benefit each other, benefit the elderly, benefit those that have underlying health conditions, benefiting those that are working crazy hours in the hospitals, paramedics, the cleaners, those that are keeping patients feed, the grocery workers and all other essential workers?
It’s time that once again the minority of people are making decisions for the majority of us. The directions are clear, the instructions are clear, the pleading is clear – Stay Home!
It’s time to rise, be a member of the community not just somebody who lives there. We are so fortunate that this is not wartime, we have food, we have resources and we have great medical/essential workers to keep us going. We are not rationed on supplies, there are no sirens of incoming bombings, all we have to do is stay home for the greater of the community, your health and that of your family.
Be kind, be considerate and stay healthy.
April is the month of the Military Child and to be celebrated they should.
Originating out of the US back in the 1980’s, April has been set as the Month of the Military Child around US bases and military schools since. In fact, each year it gets bigger and for great reason.
Military kids, as I have written about previously are unique. Their siutaitons are unique and they offer so much to their civilian friends, schools, sporting teams and clubs.
It’s important to remember that Military kids say goodbye to more people by the time they are 18 than most people will in their lifetime. This is a remarkable feat. They move generally every 2-3 years, changing schools, sporting teams, have parent(s) away for extended periods of time and that dreaded saying goodbye to friends once again and they do all of this not by choice but the families committment to serve selflessly.
Noting that in Australia we do not have a specific day we celebrate Military kids, nor do we have military schools and today, we have few housing on post there are still ways we can make the month special just for them.
This year we need to be smart and keep safe due to the current devestating COVID-19. With self-isolation and self distancing in place we can still jump on board and celebrate all Military kids across the world during April. Here are a few ideas to help:-
* Feature military kids in the school newsletter, have the kids share a story about themselves.
* Have the teacher’s speak about the military kids in their classroom via remote means (google classroom, zoom).
It may be necessary to move some activities to a safer time for all, there is of course nothing in the rule book to say it must be April. Once school has returned:-
* Hold a school assembly to recognise the military kids within your school community. Shine the spotlight on them.
* Organise a special morning tea and invite the parents to come and celebrate the kids.
* The defence community centres can hold specific events all in celebrating the kids (they are amazing networks and support the kids and families daily).
* Join the Wear Purple to celebrate on April 10.
I encourage you, to celebrate a Military child this April. Send me a comment below with ideas you have to help celebrate the Military Kid.
Here is my plan:-
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.
They will come out of all of this better humans!
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):-
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 always, thank you for following the journey.
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.
A goal as defind by Lexico is The object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result. https://www.lexico.com/definition/goal. or by Cambridge as an aim or purpose: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/goal
Cambridge defines a resolution as a promise 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.
From our family to yours, may 2020 be full of love, laughter, good health and lots of memories.
May you move into 2020, with a healthy heart and mind.
May you be the best version of yourself.
May you continue to follow the journey.
I look forward to sharing a new blog post with you all soon.
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!
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).
Defence / Military spouses are fierce with a high percentage employed, highly educated, and those that run the house like a well honed machine. Spouses are many different personalities but they all have one thing in common…..the ability to adapt. The Cambridge Dictionary defines adapt as the ability to adjust to different conditions or uses, or to change to meet different situations (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/adapt)
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
Crazy times for all.
Thinking of all the wonderful Doctors, Nurses and medical staff who are working crazy hours and in crazy situations at the moment.
The teachers who are rushing to replace classroom learning with online learning to the teachers who are in full classrooms.
Those who work in hospitality who are facing unknown times and either low or no pay.
The kids who rely on schools for fresh meals, the only ones they get each day, for their laundry requirements and for their one safe place.
The grocery stores who can’t keep up with demand and the small businesses that face unknown outcomes from this time.
The elderly and those that are facing grocery shopping with empty shelves.
The kids who are missing school, the US high school seniors, the sport scholarships, the school sport season that has either been cut short or has been cancelled.
The families that have two working parents and are struggling to find assistance with kids being out of school – some for the rest of the US school year.
Those that are separated from loved ones by travel restrictions.
We need to be kind, aware but not alarmed, we need to be considerate of others, self isolate when necessary and be the best humans we can. ❤️❤️
Today is one of the first days I have spent at home alone since my SCAD and Heart Attack. With an amazing husband, my mum being here for a month plus the kids being on Summer break since May, there has been no need for me to be.
Today is the first day I have exercised at home without the safety pin of having my family here. The exercise since my hospital release has been at Cardiac Rehab along with the spin bike and treadmill in our basement.
Today, I trusted by heart and my body – truly trusted it for the first time in 17 weeks.
Today, my mind is free♥️
Over the time of our postings to the US, we have been fortunate to visit 44 States – we have driven a lot.
Road tripping across the US is an adventure from the time you begin. The majority of the main roadways are well kept, vast but with great signage and rest stops along the way – it’s a great way to see the US.
During 2014 we completed a road trip where we travelled from Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri to South Dakota, across to Seattle, down to LA, across to Texas and then back to Fort Leonard Wood. It was a massive three weeks but we loved every moment.
You tell him I’m comin’….and Hell’s comin’ with me! Wyatt Earp (Tombstone, 1993)
We have always enjoyed watching Tombstone (1993 version) so visiting Tombstone, Arizona was a must. We left our camp spot close to the Grand Canyon and began the 6+ hour drive south towards our destination. It was hot, desert and we were glad when we arrived.
Upon arrival in Tombstone we were unsure what to expect. Tombstone is enriched with history and will take you for a nostalgic walk through a true western town. Tombstone is described as the “Town Too Tough To Die”.
During a scouting expedition 1877 a gentleman named Ed Schieffelin discovered silver during one of his solo adventures. Legend has it that others in Schieffelin’s party had remarked ‘that the only stone you’ll find out there will be your tombstone’, ironically, Schieffeling was later buried in Tombstone.
By 1881 the population of Tombstone exploded to approximately 4000, all chasing the prospectors dream! The town infrastructure also increased, saloons, theatres and store fronts popped up along the main street. With the growing population, problems arose and the arrival of the Earp Bros proved a source of contention between the ‘cowboys’ (Lead by Ike Clanton)
One of the most famous stories from Tombstone is the shoot out at the OK Corral between the Earp Bros, joined by Doc Holliday and the ‘Cowboys’ The shoot out was actually not undertaken at the OK Corral but close by.
Visiting Tombstone is quiet the adventure, the main street was blocked off and as we arrived just prior to noon, we were able to watch the Earp Bros and Doc Holliday walking down the road ready for the reenactment of the shoot out at the OK Corral. It was great to see and the actors played very convincing parts. After a walk through the OK Corral and watching the shoot out take place, we strolled the old town and loved seeing the store owners and staff all dressed in period costume – it was just like being back in the 1800’s.
We completed a town tour on the stage coach, visited the museums, looked through shops, fired .45 calibre (filled with paint balls) and were greeted by the shop owner stating ‘you Aussie’s don’t like me very much’, this left us a little perplexed. He then went on to explain why – his name was Kevin Rudd (Australia’s previous Prime Minister). The shop close by also had a very fitting sign on their store front. We enjoyed being ‘gun slinger’s from the 1800’s for a while.
Big Nose Kate’s Saloon is where the Grand Hotel once stood before fire destroyed the building. Big Nose Kate was a lady of the night and also Doc Holliday’s special lady. Today, Big Nose Kate’s Saloon is home to super cold beer and amazing pizza (must do). You should absolutely visit BNK’s Saloon for a step back in time experience, you can even watch Tombstone on repeat!
There is plenty of history and adventure to be seen and found – a visit to Tombstone is a must!
Across many states in the US after nearly 3 months, Summer Vacation is over – school resumes tomorrow, alarm clocks are set (way to early), school supplies are purchased (expensive), teachers and schedules have been released and the house will become very quiet.
Whist many kids will be suffering from back to school blues, I will be joining them!
I have always been the parent that loves having the kids home from school. I like the disorganised days where they are happy to be home, no set breakfast times and the lazy start to the days. I like being able to plan our days as we go, to enjoy family time without the interruption of school.
Summer vacation for us this year has not been like others, we didn’t treak half way across the country taking in everysight and sound possible. We enjoyed pure family time, small trips to visit friends and really taking a step back from what has been a crazy time.
I know the kids will hit head on the back to school blues, they will be grumby for the first few days and then the routine and expections will replace those blues (ready for a whole new set of blues to set in as assignments etc come in to play). This year they will start at their schools on the very first day and will not be the new kid, they will be their usual confident and welcoming selves, and for this, I am so grateful.
For me, the thought of that quiet house and not filling my days with the kids will be something new for me. Usually, I too am returning to school, embarking on the challenges of a new school year and relishing being around collegues and students, both new and old.
This year, I will battle the back to school blues, but I too will hit them head on.
Mrs Mully will be tackling new challenges, planning new adventures and I am ready.
Meredith and Christina gave us the ‘you’re my person’ line and we all need that person. The duo used this line many times during many different scenarios, from “You are my person, you will always be my person.” — Grey’s Anatomy to “Shut up, I’m your person.” — Meredith Grey, Grey’s Anatomy – so who is your person?
Battle Buddy is a term that is defined as ‘Another service member assigned to mutually help another under the battle buddy system, and by extension any comrade‘ (https://www.yourdictionary.com/battle-buddy). This term has been extended over the years to include friendships between spouses and school students across the world – we all need a battle buddy. Whilst the term Battle Buddy has derived from the actually battle field, the definition behind it is important….to mutually help another.
As I have gotten older I have come to know that people enter into our lives for all different reasons – to get you through something, for a short time, as a lesson, or for a long time. The same is for battle buddies – some are there to get you through something (deployment, illness, grief), some are there for a short time, to help you learn something about yourself or a situation, or to help you learn a different way and some are there for a long time but finding ‘your person’ is tough.
For me as a naturally shy person or a Defender personalty, putting myself out there to meet new people is extremely hard. I like my comfort zone, people that I know, routines that I am familiar with, grocery store aisles that I know where to find our favourite items and most importantly were my people are.
Having a Battle Buddy or Buddies is something that is treasured and something that needs to be nourished. At times, the battle buddy relationship will be one sided and this will swing from side to side as you go through different stages and situations.
For me, I have the Battle Buddy that has been by my side since we were in primary school – the one who we have shared every thought, every up and down with, the one who I conquered high school with, the one who twisted my arm (literally) to go to the pub one Sunday afternoon (forever grateful and so is my husband), the one who stood beside me as I married and who has been there every single time.
The Battle Buddy I have know for 20+ years, the first one who I was introduced to in Canberra, the one who replied ‘not only a receptionist’ when I told her that I was only a receptionist, the one who we joined for pizza on Friday nights, the walks, the voice of reason, the strong and beautiful, the one with the kids that mine see as more of family than friends, the one that no matter how many months or years pass between us all being together, is just like yesterday.
I have the Battle Buddy who I haven’t known as long but the one who I survived another deployment with- the one who I could call at 0200 in the morning when I had a sick boy who needed the ER, the one who watched the kids so I could grab some shopping by myself, the one who I had dinner with more nights than not, the one who I nearly drank all the tea in Townsville with everyday, the one who I cried and laughed with, the one who I would want by me during another deployment.
I have the Battle Buddies that we have been neighbours with, the ones that tequila shots were as fun and horrible at 40 as they were at 18, the ones that could watch the kids whilst you ducked out, the ones that helped with the sport run or the school run, the ones that feed and watched the dogs when on holiday, the ones that you had shared dinners with (4kg of taco mince), the ones that you sit up with until 0400 drinking wine with, the ones that have been the familiar happy face on a new posting, the ones you go camping with, the ones you make retirement plans with, the ones that have been battle buddies for short amounts of time and the ones that will forever be.
Many schools across the world have introduced the Battle Buddy system in their schools. This program is there to ensure each student that is new to the school has a friend, the person who can help them find their way, the person who can introduce them to new friends and to ensure there is one familiar face each morning. For many children, finding their person is also difficult. For Defence Kids and those from families that relocate often, we ask them (without actually asking) to leave and set roots down somewhere new and unfamiliar. The Battle Buddy system is a welcome inclusion to all schools, particularly primary school. The inclusion of buddy chairs is also a great initiative in schools, not just for new students but for all students who may be feeling a little lost or lonely, take a seat and ‘buddies’ with occur to talk and include during play times – we all need that sometimes.
The simple meaning behind a Battle Buddy – to mutually help another. For me and this adventure, I plan on stepping out of that comfort zone and making the most of making Battle Buddies to share the journey with in Kansas. I’ve going the on post book club (I’ don’t know anybody else who will attend) and on Friday, I am signing up for the Fort Leavenworth Spouses Club – wish me luck!!
Today was the beginning of my starting to Carpe Diem. Carpe Diem, Latin for seize the day is just what I did and I encourage you to grab the chance at life and take the leap.
For me, I took the first step to begin trusting my body again, to trust it during exercise outside of cardiac rehab and I went about my life as if I hadn’t had a heart attack and it was wonderful.
I woke this morning with the feeling today was the day, I had laid awake during the night thinking it over and just knew today was the day.
A nice slow morning, reading the papers and enjoying a hot cup of tea (one of the favourite parts of my day), I completed a few quick chores and changed into my workout gear. Sure they fit a little differently now – gone is the muscle which I had worked hard for. Down 10kg since the heart attack I have been consumed with my muscle loss and the lack of fitness I have now (I get puffed walking up two flights of stairs to our room), sure the weight loss is great but my muscles….. I loved.
I quickly pushed this out of my mind and focused on the positives, my heart is beating strong and although I do get puffed walking up the stairs, I can in fact walk up them.
After telling the kids what I was up to, I walked down to the basement and climbed on my spin bike – it has been over 4 months since I have ridden and I admit there were nerves. I know from cardiac rehab what my current ability and fitness are and I knew that 20 minutes was the focus. During that 20 minutes, I checked my heart rate only once and concentrated on the smoothness of each peddle rotation. Soon, 20 minutes was over and 8kms had been ridden. Sure it had been a steady pace with only a few clicks on the dial but I did and it was fantastic.
Whilst this little feat is just that, little, it was reassurance that yes, I can trust my body, I can begin to enjoy the living and trusting my body every day. One of the hardest parts after having a heart attack is the after pains, just like an earthquake there are little shocks that follow. Learning how to read these after pains is confusing and gut wrenching but everyday becomes easier and they become less frequent.
Today was my day to seize and I hope each and everyone of you follows – life is precious and I wish you all the opportunity to Carpe Diem.
Prior to taking a work break and embarking on this new adventure, I worked as a Defence Transition Mentor (DTM) and Inclusion Support Assistant. This post is about my roll as DTM. The roll was amazing and even though we are a defence family, I was able to learn so much from listening to, spending time with and getting to know each defence kid and their families. We spent time chatting, playing games, completing crafts, writing postcards to the deployed troops and just understanding each others perspective.
In Australia and many countries across the world, programs are in place and are funded by government to enable schools who have a high percentage of Defence/Military children to engage a Defence Transition Mentor.
The role of the DTM is to help Defence children integrate into a new school environment, providing support and encouragement to those children not only upon arrival but throughout the year, being a link between Defence and the school and also to provide families and staff with information that may be of assistance.
Being a Defence family is something that we as a ‘family’ are proud to be a part of, however, the term Defence/Military Family means so many things. A Defence/Military family can comprise of:-
* 1 parent serving
* both parents serving
* single parent as serving member
* 1st move / multiple moves
* 1st school / multiple schools
* Long absences due to deployments, courses interstate and field exercise.
To put in perceptive by my own personal experience is:-
* 22years as a spouse (husband has served for 26yrs)
* 14 moves, including three overseas
* 3 Children (born in Newcastle, Townsville, Hawaii)
* Eldest daughter – 9 schools and is currently in year 10
* Youngest daughter – 7 schools and is currently in year 9
* Son – 5 schools and is currently in year 5
Defence/Military families like all families face many challenges, however some of the challenges faced by Defence children are:-
* Generally move every 2 – 3 years and often interstate
* School curriculum changes which also includes different writing styles
* We live in a high tempo environment
* Long periods of separation due to deployments (generally 6- 8 months), field exercises (known as ‘bush’) and courses
* Saying goodbyes’ to more significant people by the time they are 18 than the average person will in their lifetime – this is a very emotional time for our kids.
* Defence families are quite often not in a location that enables them the support of close family nearby
* Different sport availability
* Different language classes offered and never fully being able to complete a language class through school)
* Different rules, experiences and expectations
* day to day, week to week routines can change at times with very short notice ( a lot of our serving members in Darwin are currently on short notice to leave).
For those that are in different locations around the world, what support is available for Defence/Military kids at their schools. What do you like about it, what would you add? Leave me a comment below:)
On Wednesday 17 April, 2019 our lives changed in an instant and everyday since has been a challenge and a blessing. It’s a long story so bare with me until the end – there is a message to the story.
As mentioned in my welcome and introduction post, I was bitten by the CrossFit / Functional Fitness bug. I have loved lifting weights and pushing my body to the max for quiet a few years but had after shoulder surgery returned to an inconsistent (occasional) level of exercise. Upon arriving in the US with no work commitments, I stepped out of my comfort zone by not only walking into a new gym but a ‘box’ knowing nobody.
Walking into any gym is nerve racking, walking into a ‘box’ is terrifying. I was expecting the ladies in attendance to be machines and some of them were but most were everyday mums like me trying to push their bodies and become stronger. I expected the coaches to be loud and in your face, thankfully they could at times be loud, but they were amazing!
After attending for a few days a week, I was hooked and soon started attending 5 mornings a week. Leaving everything I had on that sweaty, smelly ‘box’ floor. I began swimming with some of the ladies and found my love of swimming return too. It felt good to be pushed and to be pushing my body.
On about the 13 April, 2019 I was feeling a little under the weather and had visited the dr a routine blood test. I was tired but not sleeping and after four days of doing nothing besides laying on the couch I decided enough was enough. I wasn’t up to a crossfit / function Fitness session but decided to head to the pool.
When swimming we would complete an individual medley every four minutes in the indoor pool on base (it’s only about 22 metres). I was by myself that morning of 17 April and as I was completing the last lap on set 8, I noticed some discomfort and tightening in my chest and back. Thinking I had overdone it a little, I slowed to a slow paddle to the end of the pool. As I collected my bag the pain began in my left arm and at that stage I knew something was a little wrong.
I was trying not to panic and sent my husband a quick text asking him to meet me out the front of his work as I wasn’t feeling great. By the time I was nearing his building the pain was in my jaw and I knew something was more than a little wrong. Parking in a no parking zone the security guard quickly came to inform me of my wrong doing – that’s when the tears started. I tried to explain that I was waiting for my husband and that I was unwell. He asked if I wanted the paramedics to be called – I just wanted my husband. With my tears streaming down my face and the pale colour I had turned he again asked if he should call the paramedics, at the statement the second time I sobbed that I just wanted my mum – at this he quickly called the paramedics. I am certain he had never had a 42 year old women crying for her mum!
My husband quickly came, fire brigade came, MP’s came swiftly followed by the paramedics. Decisions on which hospital to head to were made and the process started. After a 30 minute drive to the closest hospital with a cardiac ward I knew things were turning serious – the paramedic was radioing the ER every couple of minutes providing a update on numbers and timings that I didn’t understand. Upon arrival at Providence Medical Centre I was wheeled into the ER, it was like a scene from Grey’s Anatomy – nurses, cardiologist everywhere.
Dr Mcsweyn was the on call cardiologist and I remember him introducing himself when I turned to BM and told him that I loved him and to tell the kids I loved them – from there until a few minutes later I don’t know what happened except for what I am told. I said those oh so special words turned grey and had a heart attack right there in ER and in front of my husband.
I was fortunate to have the heart attack in the ER and received cardioversion right there. I came to with the Dr asking for more towels as I was vomiting over everyone and to the Anesthetist explaining they were going to put me to sleep to insert a tube down my throat. After that I was wheeled to surgery where during the heart catheter it was discovered that my coronary artery had tore resulting in a lack of blood flow and causing the heart attack. A stent was inserted in my left LAD artery and I was transferred to ICU.
I woke in ICU on Thursday with tubes down my throat, mittens on my hands (so I couldn’t pull them out), a sore head where my hair tie still was and a feeling of sickness bubbling in my stomach. Not being able to talk I was left with eye signals, wriggling my feet trying to get my husband to understand I was about to be sick – thankfully he understood and as the nurses came, I vomited. This is a sure way to get the tubes removed quickly!
Upon my wakening and after the passing of nausea (a long time) I was able to sit and FaceTime with the kids – this was difficult. They had been in school when the drama had started but knew every detail of what had happened. We had amazing neighbours who took the kids in on the 17 & 18th of April which allowed my husband to be at the hospital.
The next cardiologist I saw was Dr Katrapati, he is amazing and my cardiologist still. It was explained that I had suffered a Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) which had lead to the heart attack. SCAD just like it states is “spontaneous”. SCAD more commonly affects women aged 30-50 who are fit, healthy, who generally have no history of heart disease in their families and no high blood pressure. Nobody really knows why but exertion and stress can be factors. With SCAD, the artery tears and this causes blood to either slow or stop being able to pass through the artery. Having never heard of SCAD was both frightening and unbelievable.
Our kids came to visit on the Friday and it was incredibly emotional but it was the beginning of the healing process we needed. Our families and close friends in Australia had been informed and within three days my mum arrived from Australia. This was what we all needed. The Dr’s had informed us that it was very touch and go and that if I hadn’t been in the ER when the heart attack happened ‘I would have returned to Australia in a box’ – these words are tough to hear. I had been moved to the cardiac ward the day before and was discharged the day mum arrived – perfect timing.
I was discharged with a Life Vest (external defibrillator, a bundle of medication and orders to take it easy. In the first few weeks there was a lot of sleeping and plenty of cups of tea. The house returned to some normality with school and work. Mum was here to take control during the day and to keep me company (also doing the housework) and we will be forever thankful.
We made plans to visit friends in Missouri for the 4th of July weekend and a few days prior I had had a MUGA Heart Scan to check the heart flow and function of my heart – the results weighed heavily on my mind and it would take several days to receive them. By 1700 on the 3rd of July I hadn’t heard from the Cardiologist and I figured he was busy and I would hear from him on the Monday – argh!! He didn’t disappoint and called at 1800 that day with the news that my heart had normalised and was healing great.
After the heart attack my Ejection Fraction was 32%, pumping really low (normal EF is 55-65%) it was now at 62%. He was as surprised as I was and had checked the results three times before calling. I was advised that I could throw the defibrillator out the window and could enjoy the weekend. There were plenty of tears from all of us and the defibrillator was quickly taken off.
The road since then has been a lot easier. Our minds were put at ease and although there have been some emotional days….’I’m 42 and had a heart attack’ quotes we are returning to everyday life. I still get tired and have had two hospital visits since then, the most recent this past week. Every twinge or pain sends the mind into overdrive but the support from my husband and kids as well as the care at Providence has been outstanding. This past week during my hospital stay I was given more test including a stress test to ensure that there was not underlying issues and that my heart was function well – I was given the all clear and am focusing on the positives.
The way I exercise in the future is different to what it was – no lifting over 10lbs (hopefully increases to 30lbs), no crossfit or competing and ensuring I keep the routine in balance. There will be plenty of walking, slow swimming (no butterfly), gently biking and golf.
As for an underlying cause – I have never had high blood pressure or high cholesterol, was strong and fit, no strong family history of heart disease (three of my grandparents are still alive and healthy at 89 & 86) and there is not enough understanding to other causes. I have struggled at times to understand, I was doing everything right for my body/health and for some reason it has felt like it has let me down – this is not the case and this is the message I have taken from the experience……
Life is ever changing, life is for learning and giving and one that can never be taken for granted. I have learnt more about myself in the last 14 weeks than ever before. I believe I am more patient, more compassionate, a better mumma and wife and I have in place goals and a desire to help educate and to be an advocate for women and their hearts.
This growing and healing was not one that I have done on my own – it has impacted the lives of my family and for them that’s when I get emotional. Our kids and my husband should never have had to go through what they have at this stage of our lives, the worry that I wasn’t going to make it, the worry that it will happen again to the feeling that they don’t like leaving me alone….that is what I struggle with.
I know with each passing day, this part will get easier and I take on their strength. The way that they have dealt with the emotion and information overload is incredible, they are strong, independent and I am so thankful I get call them mine. My love for them, my wishes for them is what drives me to continue to get stronger!
For our family and friends, this has been tough too. My mum who flew across the world within three days is the strongest woman I know. For the FaceTime chats to the endless message of love and support, for this I am thankful.
Today, I am feeling great!!
Defence / Military children go through many emotions during each phase of this separation. The lead up phase, initial phase, the long haul and the end phase.
The Lead Up Phase
During this phase the defence child may seem lost and the heightened emotions may begin. The defence family home during this time becomes unsettled as the member prepares for deployment. The lounge room floor or garage becomes a logistics nightmare and a constant reminder of what is happening. There will be webbing, packs, boots, uniforms, helmets, safety equipment, socks, hootchie, sleeping gear, gloves and a mountain of other required gear spread from one end to the other – this to be honest feels like a punch in the stomach every time you look at it. You are reminded of the length of the deployment and the unknown of what can happen during this time. It is a natural emotion to feel concerned and unfortunately, the ‘what if’s’ take over.
During this phase the defence child may have heightened emotions leading to outbursts with anger, frustration or complete sadness as they begin to settle in to everyday activities without the member at home. From a change of who drops them off at school, who packs their lunches, who picks them up at the end of the day, who takes them to what activities during the weekend and the night time routine. This can be very hard for all the family to manage and with older children, expectations can be hard to handle to.
The Long Haul
Some days are much easier than others. A routine at home has settled and the ‘norm’ for the family is running as smooth as it can and a countdown to the end as begun. At times you will find the defence child’s emotions can change quiet quickly – in fact it is sometime similar to dealing with grief. The child may be experience a great day, laughed really hard at something and then remembered that they can’t share it with dad that afternoon at pick up – this may lead from laughter to tears or anger.
During the long haul, it is important to talk to the child about what they are feeling, giving them the opportunity to speak about it or the chance to sit down and record what they are feeling or what has happened during their day. The chance to draw or write a quick letter or jot it down in their journal is so important.
The End Phase
The last four weeks of a deployment are another time for heightened emotion. The countdown has begun and more concerns become apparent. The excitement builds, the frustration of time builds, the concern of changes occurring again at home. As with all things Military, the planned date for the homecoming can change regularly. It is important that the child is prepared for this change and I would encourage you to mindful of this as homecoming becomes close – dates can change several times. Once the parent is home, reintegration begins. For some families this is simple and things return to how it was, for others, reintegration can be more difficult. A change in routine, a change in parenting styles can all lead to further emotional outbursts.
It is important that their emotions, feeling, concerns are all validated – it is no excuse for bad behaviour, but please remember these children are under an enormous amount of emotional pressure that at times will come to a head at school.
These are my own words from my own experience and from working with Defence / Military Kids who have been through the phases mentioned above.
Today is the day to start a new adventure for me. After months with poor health (I’ll fill you in on that later) it was time to reevaluate my life choices and the possibility to share and enjoy the adventure that is life with like minded people. Below I would like to introduce myself, but first, what my wishes are for this blog. I wish to share with you stories of our Military Life, family time, adventures, surviving after a Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection and Heart Attack and a place for us to enjoy Life, adventure, learning, surviving and creating our own place in the world.
My name is Sheree (aka Mrs Mully) and I am 42. I’m married to an amazing man who just happens to be in the Army. For me, it was love at first sight without question. He managed to steal my heart and lead me away from the small country town I grew up in Australia and has taken me on adventure after adventure since 1998.
Along the way we have created three amazing and individual hardy kids. Miss M (16), Miss C (13) and Master B (10). These kids have always kept me on my toes. Miss M arrived 10 weeks premature and my heart still skips a beat or two when I think back to that day she arrived in a complete hurry. Miss C also managed to arrive a little early but thankfully not as early as her sister. Master B arrived whilst we were living in Hawaii and I am sure when he is older, the ‘I was born in Hawaii’ will make him a standout with the girls.
The Military way of life has taken us to many places :- Canberra, Sydney, Wagga Wagga, Townsville, Darwin, Hawaii, Missouri, Brisbane and Kansas. We have lived in some of these places two or three times. Each time has been different and amazing. Military can be difficult for the whole family but for us, our eyes are always open and the possibility to learn something new about ourselves is always a positive.
We are currently living in Kansas, USA and it has been fantastic catching up with previous friends / neighbours and making new friends and memories. This is home for two years and then we will return back to Australia.
What are some of the reason that has lead me to reevaluate my goals….good question!
Prior to returning to the USA, I worked as a qualified Inclusion Support Assistant / Teachers Aide and worked this position along side that of Defence Schools Transition Aide. This job was amazing and taught me so much about myself, children with special needs and those that just needed extra support and attention. I worked in a Catholic primary school and Darwin where the families and staff were supportive and it really was like an extension of family. Upon our positing to the USA, due to our Visa and the long process of applying for a working visa, it was decided that I take a break to focus on the kids, hitting the gym and enjoying my time.
It was during ‘hitting the gym’ I discovered Cross Fit / Functional Fitness. I jumped out of my comfort Zone and joined the class. Previously I had enjoyed spinning on my bike and weights in our garage at home. Once I stepped into the box I was transfixed. The strong, like minded, every body type of women in the class inspired me and I took off. I was soon at every morning class giving it all I had. I followed this up with swimming twice a week and walking also – in hindsight, it was probably a little much.
Anyway, long story short – my Coronary artery spontaneously tore which lead to a massive heart attack – this is the reason for my reevaluation of goals. More on that to come later….the suspense, I know:)
So here I am, just a 42 year old trying to find my niche in the world. I hope you come along for the adventure.
42 year old Heart Attack survivor with something to say
Discussing Paths Towards Happiness
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.
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