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!
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.