It’s the Navy Life

The Real Lives of Navy Wives: Calendar Squares

Posted on Jun 29, 2013 in It's the Navy Life

Hey Folks,

I’m writing to you from California today.  Did I mention I would be in California?  I can’t remember.  But in California I am, and I am pretty darn stoked about it.

Elisabeth and I arrived about a week ago after a nine-hour flight from Tokyo.  I’m still recovering.  The stress and exhaustion of such a trip is so monumental it requires lots of time and alcohol to feel normal again.   Still working on it.  But the monumental-ness of the trip also inspired a mini blog series I am going to kick off soon: What Not to Do with a Toddler.  That will be next time.

Because today I’m going to kick off a different mini blog series!  The Real Lives of Navy Wives.  (I hear Bravo calling now….)

I’m in California is because it’s deployment season again.  Bummer, right?  I schlepped Elisabeth out to CA to wait out the first part of deployment with the grandparents.  Last year I touched on the highs and lows of deployment, but I thought this year I could really get into the nitty-gritty of what it’s like to be a military wife (or husband) with a deployed spouse.  There are numerous articles and blogs that offer thoughtful and sentimental details into the life of a military family, and I highly encourage you to read them.  Because this ain’t one of them.

No-no.  Things are about to get real.  This post – this post is going to rage.  This post …is about calendar squares.

What is a calendar square?  A calendar square is a 6-inch by 6-inch square that spouses decorate for their husbands or wives while they are on deployment.  Each squadron has a large calendar with (I would assume) 30 or 31 slots into which these carefully decorated calendar squares are inserted.  The idea is that the deployed serviceman will gaze upon his designated calendar squares and be filled with joy and happiness at the sight of a 6×6 cardboard square decorated just for him.

We wives typically decorate the squares with family photos and little notes to give our husbands a small reminder of home.  We also make squares for the guys who aren’t married, so they know they are loved and thought of, too.  However, the squares for the single men typically involved scantily clad women.  Okay.  I’m supposed to find those where? My stack of Playboys hidden under the mattress?  Right.  And then those scantily clad women are going to be put up next to pictures of my cute, chubby baby?  It just seems… wrong.

Well, new rules have disallowed the more distasteful of calendar squares.  If only they would disallow calendar squares as a whole.  I can’t really explain what exactly it is that make calendar squares so loathsome, but loathsome they are.  Perhaps it is the tedium of measuring and cutting months worth of squares.  Perhaps it’s the panic that sets in when you realize that calendar are squares are due in a day and you have no pictures!  Perhaps it’s the pressure each spouse feels to make her squares not the worst.  Perhaps it’s that calendar squares require MANDATORY CRAFTING.

Last year a friend of mine was describing how she uses a cricket to assist her in such crafting endeavors.

I was confused.  How did a small, chirping insect assist with cutting and pasting?

Silly me!  It wasn’t a cricket she was describing, but a cricutA machine devoted to the art of crafting!  I was floored.  Such things exist?  I’m pretty sure a woman, probably with children, probably trying to prepare her family for a deployment, probably having no time for crafting, invented this machine after slaving away over calendar squares.  That’s just a guess.  And no, I didn’t go buy this nor will I.  I just wanted to bring this invention to your attention.

Last year when this concept was introduced to me, I had just arrived to Japan, was living in a hotel room, and had none of the necessary supplies to make these Calendar Squares.  So on the recommendation of a friend, I went through Stickygram, an online service which very conveniently makes your Instagram pictures into magnetic 6×6 squares.  Genius!  Totally overpriced – but genius!  Worth every penny.

This year I forgot to order my squares in time, so I was forced to go the old-fashioned route.  I stocked up on cardstock, colored paper, scissors, and glue.  Then I forgot about it all until the last minute.

I imagine that Damon (and whatever unlucky single guys get stuck with my squares) feels completely unloved when their last-minute, slapped-together squares are revealed.  And I’m sorry about that.  I really am.  So I’m here to say: Calendar Squares are NOT a measure of my love or affection.  They are a measure of my extreme aversion to arts & crafts.  Calendar Squares are the Navy’s Pinterest: Someone out there makes really pretty, thoughtful squares that set the bar way too high and everyone else tries to emulate them but inevitably fails and feels inadequate and sinks into a deep depression.

Even crafty spouses with things like cricuts hate calendar squares.  Seriously – what spouse of a soon-to-be-deployed husband or wife has time for this?  We Calendar Square crafting spouses are a special group, bonded together by our shared hatred of this mind-numbing, time-wasting tedium.  But we soldier on, crafting in the name of love.

So now you know – this is the real life of a Navy wife.  Intriguing stuff, I know.

I’m curious – any other military spouses have some not-so-beloved traditions you’d like to share?

(Oh, and if any of you do enjoy making these things – can you please make mine?  I’ll pay you!)

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My May

Posted on May 22, 2013 in Adulthood Stole My Cool, It's the Navy Life

My May 3

You guys.  I miss you.  So much.  Do you miss me?  (Say yes!  Validate me! Validate me!) Can we talk about the last three weeks?  Holy bejeezus.  I don’t even know what happened. Oh, wait.  Yes I do.  Night Stalker returned.  And hasn’t left.  And turned into Day Stalker as well.  The. Child. Won’t. Sleep.  Between teething and a nagging cough, the kid is a mess.  And she’s turned me into a mess.  Couple that with an abnormally busy social calendar, and no blogging for me.  We all know I can only blog regularly when I maintain my shut-in status. But things are looking up.  Elisabeth’s cough is clearing up and she’s starting to return to napping.  The cough that she gave me is starting to clear up, too, so maybe one night this year I’ll get an uninterrupted night of sleep.  (Seriously, we are ALWAYS sick now!  Always!) Last night I went to bed at 9:00.  Yes, that happened.  I’m planning on doing that again tonight, so let me just give you a quick recap of my goings-on this past month. -I bought a juicer.  So that was exciting. -My friend Claudia moved.  It’s quite sad.  Soon there is going to be a mass exodus of VFA-115 spouses.  It’s part of the Navy life.  But a really crappy part.  Luckily, before the actual good-bye is always a good-bye party. -I helped plan and attended a Cinco de Mayo luncheon with a group of Japanese Officer Spouses.  Have you ever seen Japanese women try to hit a pinata?  Hi-lar-i-ous. -I went to another party.  This happened. -Damon completed an Olympic-distance triathlon.  What a stud. -I believe somewhere in there was Mother’s Day.  I’m not sure though. -I joined the board of our Atsugi Officer’s Spouse Association.  Nothing really blog-worthy here, except that I have spent a good deal of time reviewing high school scholarship applications, among other things.  And I thank the good Lord I am no longer in high school!  Can I get an “Amen” to that!? -I shattered my iPhone and had to venture off to the...

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I Think I’m Learning Japanese

Posted on Mar 1, 2013 in It's the Navy Life

I think I’m learning Japanese, I really think so.* Just kidding.  I thought I was learning Japanese, but this weekend provided me a harsh reality check. It only took me eight months of living in Japan to crack open my Rosetta Stone.  And it will probably take me double that time to actually comprehend anything I’m supposed to be learning.  I’m not going to try and explain here Rosetta Stone’s method.  Because I can’t.  I have absolutely no clue what or how it it is trying to teach me.  All I know is when I turn on my laptop, strange-sounding words emanate from my speakers, slides of very Anglo-looking people appear (this is the Japanese version, right?  Oh, wait!  They’re holding chopsticks!  Yup, we’re good to go!), and I’m supposed to click or type or chant or something.  It’s all very confusing. Nevertheless, after completing several lessons (and repeating them) over the past couple months, I felt confident that I had learned something.  I’ve known the basic phrases for a while: Hello (konnichiwa), goodbye (sayonara), thank you (arigato gozaimasu), excuse me (sumimasen), and I’m sorry (gomen nasai)**.  I’ve gotten by with these phrases just fine, but I was ready to move on.  As it turns out, my parents were visiting and we were spending a few days in Tokyo.  My dad doesn’t believe in public transportation, so as we were hailing a cab I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to exercise my new language skills. “Konnichiwa!” I exclaimed as I climbed into a cab.  And then I froze.  What do I say next?  WHAT DO I SAY!?  All of a sudden I realized that while knowing how to say things like, “The girl eats/is eating rice,” makes me sound really smart to anyone who knows less Japanese than I do, it holds zero practicality.  Zero.  What I really need to know how to say is, “We’d like to go to the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace, please.”  Why doesn’t Rosetta Stone teach me that? Humbled and ashamed, I fumbled through my guidebook and pointed to our...

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It’s the Sorority Life

Posted on Nov 10, 2012 in It's the Navy Life

Disclaimer: I was a sorority girl.  Or maybe, I am a sorority girl?  (I think it’s like the Marines: Once a Marine, Always a Marine.  Once a Kappa Delta, Always a Kappa Delta.)  So as you read this blog, please keep in mind that I think sororities are a good thing.  Really, I do!  Here goes: Living on base is like being in a sorority.  But with more babies and less boozing. Okay, maybe about the same amount of boozing.  But absolutely more babies. For those of you who aren’t military spouses, let me offer you some very, very basic background: My husband is in a squadron, one of many on the base.  Each squadron has a corresponding spouse club.  My husband’s squadron is called “The Eagles.”  The ladies in my spouse club are the “Lady Eagles.”  It’s complicated, I know, but stay with me. When all these squadrons deploy, the base is left with a lot of women (and to be fair, a few men) all organized into these pre-existing clubs.  And sorority-esque antics ensue!  Are you on pins and needles waiting to read about all the juicy drama???  All those women living in close quarters and seeing each other day in and day out?  Hardly any men to keep down the crazy?  Oh, you can see the Bravo show now, can’t you?! Sorry to disappoint.  Being in a sorority was freaking fun, so getting to relive some of that at a more… mature age… can be kind of awesome. I can’t say that all spouse clubs create this kind of environment, as I’ve never been a part of another spouse club.  But I’m willing to hypothesize that the certain set of conditions we experience at NAF Atsugi contribute to the sisterly environment: Living on base… In a foreign country… With deployed husbands.  Put those together and what do you get? T-shirts. Bad Girl Games. Dance parties.  You’re a little jealous now, aren’t you?  And you don’t even know what Bad Girl Games are.  I’ll get there in a minute. But first, the t-shirts. The hallmark of any...

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