Celebrating Christmas as a Military / Defence Family🎄

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.

Taken at Christmas 2018 in South Dakota.
The Christmas stockings are our childrens and they travel with us every Christmas we are on the road.

Defence / Military Kids

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.

Being Thankful this Thanksgiving:)

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

The joy of writing and why I do (try)!

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?

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. ♥️

What I have learnt as a Military Spouse😃

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;)

The Defence / Military Spouse

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.