Monday, July 30, 2012

Stream of Consciousness

aka "Blah Blah Blah"

Sorry I have been MIA, folks.  It has been a really crazy few weeks and I just haven't gotten a chance to sit down and write about it.  The biggest problem is that we had a leak in our den that happened to occur exactly over my netbook.  Seriously, my computer was like a sad cartoon character with a dark rain cloud riiiiiight on top of it.  The keyboard shorted out and my link to the outside world shorted out with it.  We have a computer in our office upstairs, but unless I wanted my kids dancing on the dining room table (um, for those of you who know Connor, you know I mean that literally), I don't get up there much during the day.

I miss you, netbook! :(

-  Summer is in full swing with lots of swimming lessons and beach trips and mosquito bites.  We have been using our passes to the zoo and splash pad and pool like crazy.  It is this time of year where I am so thankful that we live in a big area with lots of outdoor activities for the kids.

- We have gotten verbal orders (which we all know means the Navy is 85%* sure it is going to send us to a certain location).  These orders happen to be to a state I have never been to, in an area of the country I have never wanted to visit, and to an ARMY post (um, I have a wardrobe of "Beat Army" shirts that will get my ass kicked).  Once you take us Navy families away from the ocean we panic.  And though I am trying to stay positive, and even do get surges of excitement, I am pretty darn apprehensive about the move.  More about this in a future blog post or twenty.

* made up statistic. 

- Thank you for your feedback regarding the "12 'Great' Jobs for Military Spouses" post I made a few weeks ago. I actually have a follow up in the works. A few military spouses that I really respect helped me construct a top 10 list of really truly great careers for military spouses. Sadly, I had it totally written and then a bad combination of my one year old's curious fingers and Bloggers "auto save" caused the perfect storm of destruction. My excuse is "Auto Save ate my homework". It'll be re-written and published as soon as possible.

- Can I get a big holy crap about it being August on Wednesday? As a former school employee I know that teachers around the country are cringing as they turn the page on their calendar. I know talking about "time flying" is akin to talking about the weather, but I am still stunned by the fast clip of 2012.

- 2012 has been a really sad year.  Less than 2 weeks ago a beloved colleague of mine died of a brain aneurysm.  He was 37, father of two (7 and 3 years old), and married to a wonderful woman.  It isn't fair.  He was funny.  He was kind.  He was a beloved teacher.  You should have seen the student presence at his funeral.  It was heartbreaking and beautiful.  He had the best smile.  He was a prankster.   He made me feel comfortable the moment I met him.  He made you feel like you belonged - in his classroom, as a student, as a staff member.  He was a coach. Both to the Varsity basketball team at the school, but more importantly to his 7 year old son's rec league. He was just great. I know that on the first day of school there that there will be a sadness in the air, like a wet blanket hanging over the building.  But I also know that if he had it his way that he would want us to all have big goofy grins on our faces when we thought of him. 

I went to his funeral in Maryland and it was incredibly bittersweet to see all of my awesome colleagues in such a terrible circumstance.  Hug your loved ones because you just never know.  My co worker was the third young man I know (under 40) to die suddenly in the past few months. If I have ever felt like there was a blinking light in front of me blaring "live life to the fullest" it is now.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Lame Limits

A few days ago a Jacksonville, North Carolina newspaper published an article about "great" jobs for military spouses.  The writer, Mabel Newsome, starts the article painting a favorable picture of military spouses.  We are more educated than the general public, we want (and in many cases need) to work, and we have a lot of powerful women on our side.  Jill Biden and Michelle Obama have been working diligently to pass common sense legislation that would make careers more portable for military spouses.  Because nursing, teaching, law, and many dozens of other careers require licenses given by the state, a PCS from Virginia to California can cause a successful and talented person's career to come to a screeching halt.  Pair that with the red tape of getting re-certified/licensed and by the time that spouse is eligible to work again, they are staring down a new set of orders.  To a new state.  With a new spool of red tape and requirements and/or tests.  Thank you, Dr. Biden and Mrs. Obama, for your efforts.This is important stuff that benefits the military family as a whole.

Back to the article.  The first few paragraphs looked promising.  Ms. Newsome was right on target.  Military spouses are valuable assets to a company.  We are educated and motivated.  We do want to work.  She sites MSEP (Military Spouse Education Partnership) and the new partnership they are developing with Fortune 500 companies to create employment opportunities for military spouses.  Careers that are portable but lucrative and that utilize the talents that so often go to waste in this lifestyle. 

Then came the list.  Ms. Newsome, with the "help" of MSEP, came up with the most insulting and archaic list of "good" careers for military spouses.  I swear I looked at my calendar to make sure I hadn't time warped back to 1962.  And I double checked that the article was indeed from Tuesday.  You can see the total list HERE. Some highlights? "Temp work", "errand runner", and my personal favorite "gift basket creator".


No, I mean it, SERIOUSLY?  My jaw was on the floor.  All of that drippy "military spouses are the best" and "look at these Fortune 500 companies that want their talent" culminated in a list of things that require no education and where the pay is extremely low.  Like, "let's keep these silly military spouses in the poverty zone" low.  This is what the Jacksonville News thinks as our potential?  "Great" jobs that we should look forward to doing with our "above average" educations?  Sad.

In my nine years as a military spouse I have met successful lawyers, doctors, nurses, teachers, counselors, pharmacists, CPAs, and business owners.  My mind has been blown by how creative and awesome military spouses can be at making their careers work.  I have worked professional jobs where I used my Master's degree and made great money and had awesome benefits.  It can be done.  It is done every day.  We need to make examples of these women.  This list is not the "best".  It is disgusting and unacceptable and I am angry.

The worst part of this article?  Young spouses might read this and think that this is their limit.  That it is impossible for a military spouse to actually do something that provides excellent pay and benefits.  Young women might throw their hands in the air and decide not to go to college or graduate school because, if "selling handcrafted goods online" is the best they can do, why bother with school?

Before I get inundated with emails from substitute teachers and women with etsy businesses, I want to say that there is nothing wrong with the jobs on this list.  I know many people who love selling Avon or who enjoy substitute teaching.  My problem is that this list implies that we are not worthy of a professional identity.  That the jobs that so many spouses are trained to do are out of our reach, even with the help of our FLOTUS, Fortune 500 partnerships, and MSEP.  Why is it "substitute teaching" on the list and not simply "teaching"?  Why is it "temp" on the list and not "business professional" or "consultant"?

Because there is a deep perception in the professional world that military spouses can't.  And this perception is only fueled by lists and articles like this; framed as a compliment but then ending by slapping us across the face and telling us we aren't worthy.

We want careers.  We want to have a salary and benefits that helps to build our own retirement and not be completely dependent (ha, the military's favorite word!) on our husbands.  We are not second place to our spouses because they are the ones serving, we have the right to be on the same level professionally.  We shouldn't be told to turn our evenings watching the "Food Network" into a job - we should be told to take our college educations and turn them into a career.  Young spouses should feel encouraged, not discouraged, by articles such as these.

Ms. Newsome and the Jacksonville Daily News should be ashamed of themselves.  We are so much better than this.
Wednesday, July 4, 2012

We're Baaaaack!

Hermit crab free!  A miracle considering the "beach crap" store across the street was giving them away.  Seriously, can someone please explain why all beach towns love to saddle parents with new pets while on vacation?

Thankful my kids can't read yet!

Sorry for the odd timing of this post.  We got home last Saturday, but with unpacking and Kate's birthday I just couldn't get anything published before today.  So... Pretend it is Sunday!

As most family vacations go, it was a week of ups and downs.  I am very happy that we went, and watching the cousins play was a blast, but the vacation gods made sure that we worked for it.

The morning after we got into town Kate had a high fever.  Her ears were bright red so I decided to take her into Urgent Care ("Beach" Urgent Care...  I petition that the words "beach" and "urgent care" never be on a marquis together, mmmkay?) to make sure she didn't have an ear infection.  We went in and her ears were clear.  She was running a low grade fever but nothing else was popping up.  Viral illness was the diagnosis and we were sent back to our condo to ride it out.

My sweet Kate wears every last bit of her feelings out in the open.  She can be the nicest, sweetest, most compassionate and understanding toddler you have ever met.  She can also be a raging beast when she doesn't feel well.  Kate with a fever?  Watch out world.  She bites.  And whines.  And wants to murder her brother for just looking at her and blinking.  To put it mildly, she is really hard to be around.  Especially when we are out of our element and living in a small space with lots of other people.

By Tuesday I couldn't take it anymore.  She was miserable, I was miserable, her fever was high and her mouth was bothering her.  Back to Beach Urgent Care we went and after about 30 minutes we were diagnosed with strep.  Antibiotics are better than the strongest cocktail for a mom.  A few doses later Kate was perking up and starting to enjoy the reason we were there: to play on the beach!

We spent the rest of the week playing in the sand, hanging at the pool, splashing in the baby pool, cruising around the lazy river, and vegging out on the balcony.

On Saturday we packed the car back up and headed home.   

Have a WONDERFUL 4th of July!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

3 Years

To my dear sweet Kate,

Happy 3rd Birthday! 

Three years ago today we were at the hospital and shocked that you were joining us so soon.  You weren't due until August, and daddy and I both thought we had another month to prepare for your arrival.  It was a little scary for us, but you were born healthy and perfect.  A tiny little prize fighter who needed zero intervention or NICU time.  Our miracle on so many levels.

Kate at 2 weeks old

When you came home you were 4 pounds 13 ounces.  I am happy you were my first baby because had I known how small you really were, I would have been even more afraid than I already was.  Despite the shocking start, you were an amazing baby.  You learned to nurse quickly which is amazing for a preemie and you started growing like a weed. 

Kate and her peeps at 7 months old

Kate at 1 year

Kate at 2 years old

The past 3 years have been a whirlwind. Being a mother has been the most amazing, rewarding, fun, and challenging thing I have ever done.  You are so sweet, smart, and compassionate.  At preschool, they call you their "delicate flower" because your disposition is so dainty.  You care about others deeply, when you see someone get hurt you are always the first to offer a kind word and a kiss.  Often you run to get your stethoscope and reappear as "Dr. Kate" - ready to make sure that health is restored.

Your brother idolizes you.  You are two peas in a pod.  Sometimes one of you tries to kick the other out of the pod, but you aren't much more than a few feet away from each other all day long.  He has learned so much from you (too much sometimes) and I love watching the two of you grow up as a pair.  I know you don't know it yet, but you are so incredibly lucky to have one another.

Cruising Night Rider style in Myrtle Beach (6/2012)

As with so much in life, the days sometimes crawl by but the years definitely fly.  I am so happy that you are growing into such a lovely little girl, but I am sad that you aren't a baby anymore.  You aren't really a toddler either.  You will always be our precious baby, our miracle who showed us who was in control from the first day.  Complicated and sweet.  Strong and happy.  Your daddy and I love you more than you will ever know (well, until you are a mother yourself). 

Happy Birthday, sweet girl! 

Love and xoxo, Mommy

Hi, I'm Jill!

Hi, I'm Jill!
Extrovert. Mom of two. Wife of a cute Naval Aviator. Lover of wine. When I'm not chasing my two kids around town you will find me writing, taking too many photos, and researching the ten future areas the Navy could potentially (but probably won't) PCS us. We are fish out of water, landlocked at 7,000 feet. For now.

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