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!)

Read More

100 Posts Later – Still a New Mom?

Posted on Jun 7, 2013 in My Kid Stole My Cool

100 Posts Later – Still a New Mom? 0

Oh hey there!  Guess what?  This is my 100th post!  And 100 seems like a milestone.  Like a cause for celebration.  I see some cheap wine and a box of stale graham crackers in my future. 100 posts.  I started this blog when I was pregnant and kind of freaking out.  Then I continued the blog as a new mom who was really freaking out.  Now my baby is, like, old, and I’m still freaking out. Which got me wondering: How long can I play the “New Mom” card? Then I decided: Forever.  Or at least until Elisabeth goes to college and moves out of the house.  Which is basically forever. So yeah, Elisabeth is a year-and-a-half now, hardly “new”.  But do I know what I’m doing anymore now then I did a year-and-a-half ago?  Um, no.  I’m definitely still as clueless as I was when Elisabeth was born.  Because here’s the thing: Babies change.  Fast. In my last post I lamented how my sweet little girl is now a scary toddler.  That’s new.  Someday she’ll turn into a scary middle-schooler.  That will be new.  (And cause for considering boarding school?)  Not to mention all those developmental phases between two and twelve or twelve and eighteen that will all be new.  Heck, if today’s college graduates are any indication, Elisabeth could move out, graduate college and move right back in with us!  That will be new!  (And scarier than anything that came before.) Even if I have a second child, everything will be new again.  I’m just going to wager that a second baby will be completely different than the first, just to make all the stuff I think I know (about sleep, routines, feedings, etc.) completely irrelevant.  And so child-raising – even the second time around – will feel new.  (Especially when dealing with a deviant older child!) Point is, I don’t think the “newness” of being a parent ever goes away.  Which is sort of terrifying, right?  I think I’ll go grab that wine now… Oh, thanks for sticking with me on this blogging journey!  Hope you’ll...

Read More

So Now I Have a Toddler

Posted on Jun 2, 2013 in My Kid Stole My Cool

So Now I Have a Toddler 5

I’m going to throw this out there – 18 months, not my favorite age.  Don’t judge me. I’ve been in denial, but I finally have to admit that my baby is not a baby anymore.  Not even close.  She is a toddler. I think I first realized Elisabeth was really and truly a toddler, as opposed to just kinda/sorta a toddler, when I cut her banana in half and she had a complete meltdown.  A banana.  In two pieces.  Meltdown.  TODDLER. Now there is the crying for apparently no reason at all.  I take that back; it’s not crying.  It’s more like high-pitched yelling interspersed with drawn out moans of, “Mama!  Mammmmaaaaa!  Mammmmaaaa!” as if I am the source of all woe in her life. And there is the sudden inclusion of, “Mine!” and “No!” in her vocabulary.  Are these words just instinctual to toddlers? And there is the refusal to let me help her eat.  Which leads to food all over the floor, all over the walls, all over her, and naturally, all over me.  This goes hand-in-hand with a sudden rejection of most food I prepare for her.  If ever I serve her a meal that doesn’t please her, she will either a) meltdown or b) pick up the offending food, slowly and deliberately move her hand over the high chair, shoot me a look of defiance, drop the food on the floor, and laugh evilly.  Nice, Elisabeth.  Nice. And there is the inhuman strength.  That death grip on anything she holds dear (mommy’s wallet, mommy’s phone, mommy’s expensive sunglasses…) that I try to take away.  How she goes completely rigid when I try to put in the car seat or stroller.  No matter how hard I try, I just can’t get her to bend!  How did she get so freakishly strong?  She’s only 25 pounds! Oh, and there is the pounding on the laptop keys when mommy is trying to blog. And of course there is the getting into everything.  Everything except the baskets full of toys that clutter our living room and are there solely...

Read More

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...

Read More

How to Embarrass Yourself: The Fitness Instructor Edition

Posted on May 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

How to Embarrass Yourself: The Fitness Instructor Edition 4

Several months ago I got my group fitness certification.  The sole reason I got this group fitness certification was so that I could instruct a stroller fitness class on base.  Stroller Strides this is not, but it’s better than nothing. I started teaching back in March.  And all of a sudden I had this new identity.  I was no longer just a Stay-At-Home Mom or Navy Wife or Blogger Extraordinaire or whatever else you fine readers think of me.  I was now a Fitness Instructor. Every Monday and Friday morning my fellow moms and I gather at a park, let our children run around unsupervised while we lunge and squat and crunch and whatnot, and I channel my inner Jillian Michaels and shout at them all to, “PUSH THROUGH THE PAIN!” Not really.  I’m not that intense. Here’s the thing.  I don’t look like a legit fitness instructor.*  Well, unless your fitness instructors eat ice cream every night.  Then maybe I look like a fitness instructor.  But you know who I’m talking about – the fitness instructors with -5% body fat that walk around wearing booty shorts showing off their insanely muscular thighs while drinking protein shakes and talking about how many reps they just did.  I don’t look like that kind of fitness instructor.  I don’t even own booty shorts. So if I can’t look the part, I should act the part, right?  Try to be a paragon of healthy, fit living so I’m not a total charlatan?  Sure. Right. But that’s just not me.  The other night I was shopping at the mini-mart on base.  And who did I run into but a woman who had just started coming to my class.  This was only my third time meeting her.  The first was at stroller class, the second was at Booze Fest 2013 Book Club, and then this time, at the mini-mart.  And what was I buying? In case the picture is hard to make out, that’s three bottles of wine, a bag of chips, and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.  And that, my friends, is...

Read More

How Not to Host a Holiday Brunch

Posted on Apr 21, 2013 in Pinterest Stole My Cool

How Not to Host a Holiday Brunch 4

Easter was three weeks ago, but since I’m still finding plastic eggs around my house, I figure it’s still appropriate to tell you all about the Easter brunch I hosted for Damon’s coworkers and their families. But first, here’s some free advice for you all: Don’t decide to host a major holiday function because you have some cute decor you purchased last year at a major discount from Williams-Sonoma and you’ve been waiting a whole year to display it.  Because it will rain and you won’t even be able to use the cute decor.  And then you’re stuck hosting 40-50 people in your small-ish, undecorated house.  And that requires cooking and cleaning and everything else you’re not naturally good at and you won’t even have decorations to distract from the fact that your food sucks and your house is dirty.  So just don’t do it. Seriously.  What was I thinking? I actually love hosting, I really do.  But Easter is a big holiday.  40-50 people is a lot of people.  75-100 Easter eggs to stuff and hide for the egg hunt you also offered to host is a lot of eggs.  It’s all just a lot of pressure. To take some of that pressure off, I made the brunch a pot-luck.  That way guests could bring their own time-honored, traditional dishes that you have to have for Easter to be Easter.  I would cook the ham, a side, and a dessert. There.  Food was set.  Next I rented tables and chairs that we would set up outside, since we certainly couldn’t fit everyone inside. Then I realized that the decorations that had been the impetus for this celebration wouldn’t be enough and I would have to do some online shopping.  Obviously I would need pastel tablecloths, matching tableware sets and candy cups.  Was I originally planning on making individual candy cups?  No.  But once I saw them on the party store’s website, I knew they would be imperative to the success of my party. I was feeling pretty good about everything.  As the big day approached, the weather forecast...

Read More
Page 9 of 25« First...7891011...20...Last »