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A decade of blogging — 27 years as an army wife

January 13, 2019

10 year anniversaryIn January 2009, I started this blog to document some of my journey as a military spouse. I don’t post as often as some military spouses who have blogs. I earn absolutely no income from this blog. The purpose of my blog was to share the intricacies of military life with family, friends, fellow military spouses, the public, and to bust some myths.

Many things have changed in the past 10 years. Even more has changed in the military over the past 27 years.

From the Past

Military Family Services

Back in 1991-1992, there were no Military Family Resource Centres (MFRC). Families were “looked after” by the unit. If there was a deployment, the Rear Party (military members not deployed) and the spouses looked after the families. It was challenging. Many of these people did not have the skill set to help, coach, and/or counsel families and civilian resources did not understand the military lifestyle. And, when spouses were involved, there was always the perception of favouritism and cliquishness. Sometimes that perception was justified!

The development of Military Family Services (MFS) and the MFRCs was a welcome change. Employees with specialized training (counsellors, etc.) and experience with the military lifestyle were available to help military families. MFS and the MFRCs are now a wealth of resources from child care and children’s education support, to spousal retraining and employment assistance. There is no bias because of the member’s rank or social group. Everyone gets the same treatment.

Housing

When we moved from CFB Valcartier to CFB Gagetown in 1995, the Canadian Forces Housing Agency (CFHA) was just coming into existence. CFHA provided a consistent housing experience across Canada. There was planning for long-term maintenance and development of all units.

There are still issues with military housing — called residential housing units (RHUs). Most units were built in the 1950s and building standards (electrical, plumbing, insulation, structure) have changed significantly since then. Some old, structurally unsound houses are being demolished. Others are getting significant upgrades. Our house in Toronto at CFB Downsview (2005-2006) is gone. Many RHUs still only have one bathroom and a cold, poorly insulated basement that is subject to flooding/leaking. There are advantages and disadvantages to living in an RHU and to bust a frequently encountered myth, we do pay rent.

Communications

The internet and smart phones did not exist 27 years ago — at least they did not exist in the way they do today. Communication from your deployed spouse was via postal mail (2-week delivery) and one 5-minute phone call per week.

I used to think that it was amazing that technology had come so far because in my grandparents’ day, my grandmother only got letters delivered by postal mail about once per month from my grandfather fighting in WWII in Europe.

Social media, SMS, and ubiquitous internet for an extremely low cost, allow military families to communicate from wherever they are in the world. This has been extremely helpful for military children to stay in touch with their friends. Back in the day, frequent address and phone number changes meant that in two or three years, you would completely lose touch with people. Now we can just connect on a social media site regardless of where we live.

To the Present

Lots of great things have happened over the past year.

To the Future

We will likely be moving in spring/summer 2019. I have no idea where.

We really need to start thinking about retirement which will happen sometime after 2021. There is no fixed retirement date yet but at some point, we’ll have to choose a retirement location. We have no idea where that will be.

For certain, I will continue blogging.

Thank you to all of my readers, my family, and my friends who have supported me over the past 10 years. Cheers!

32 Years of Service

December 3, 2018

1 CAD Commander, MGen Christian Drouin with the assistance of 1 CAD CWO, CWO Jacques Boucher, present the Canadian Forces Decoration 2nd Clasp to Col Kevin Brown on Nov 27th, 2018 at 1 CAD, Winnipeg, MB. Photo By: Cpl Darryl Hepner, 17 Wing Imaging, Winnipeg

 

Last week my handsome husband received his Canadian Forces’ Decoration clasp for 32 years of service. I’m very proud of him for his hard work and commitment.

We have a few more years to go before retirement. We’re expecting to be posted to a new location in 2019.

Adventure awaits! Hoo-rah!

Relatable Quote

November 20, 2018


British actor John Boyega said:

There’s a difference between living somewhere and being part of somewhere.

I thought this was something many military families could relate to. Sometimes we don’t live in a city long enough to become part of the community. Sometimes the community is very different from what we are used to and we have a hard time integrating. Maybe we have been away from our home towns for so long that when we go back, we don’t feel like we’re a part of that community either.

What techniques do you use to become “part of somewhere” instead of just “living somewhere”? Have you ever felt that because you will be moving again very soon that it is not worth becoming part of somewhere?

Leaving the nest part 2

September 8, 2018

heartbroke bitmogiI wrote this post while on a flight from Ottawa to Winnipeg, choking back tears. Our youngest child has left home for post-secondary education in Ontario. Our oldest one has started the fourth and final year of university, also in Ontario. They have each taken a piece of my heart with them.

Although I am sad for myself, I cannot help but be happy for them as they begin this new and exciting journey through higher education.

The youngest is living away from home without parents around for the first time.

The oldest has one more year in school then a big decision — finding employment or continue working towards a Masters and PhD.

Becoming an adult is scary, sad, exciting, stressful, and anxiety provoking but I know they are strong and they can do it.

The question is, can I get through this?

Summer Summary 2018

August 24, 2018

Other than our outing to Folklorama, I haven’t written too much about my life so far this summer. It has been pretty busy. Here is a quick summary.

June 2018

Our youngest graduated from high school, got accepted into Business Administration at St. Lawrence College in Kingston.

20180713_blood_driveJuly 2018

My virtual assistant business started booming as I picked up two new clients.

I attended the local blood donation drive.

August 2018

Our dryer broke. The control panel is fried. The technician isn’t sure how it happened unless it was triggered by a power surge. Also, the washing machine needs repairs as it is leaking internally but not enough for us to notice water dripping out the bottom. However, when the technician moved the washer to access the dryer — there was the water. I figure by the time the repairs are complete, I could have purchased an entirely new set.

Lesson learned: do not buy expensive appliances. They don’t last any longer than cheap ones. Of course, it might be due to the fact that the movers dragged them down three flights of stairs, transferred them from one moving truck to another and hauled them from Texas to Manitoba. It doesn’t matter. It is way too late to claim damages on the move.

20180807_cone_of_shameOur dog Rebel, broke off a dew claw while running in the long grass. They had to sedate him to remove the broken claw and he was in a bandage for 3 days. He wasn’t happy but was well-behaved as he hates the cone of shame.

I’m going to visit both kids in Ontario before they start the school year. It isn’t really going to be a vacation as we’ve got to deal with banking, insurance, and other administrative details but at least I get to see the kids.

Folklorama in Winnipeg

August 14, 2018

20180812_folklorama_africa_01.JPGWe attended Folklorama this year. It is a huge multi-cultural festival that runs for the first two weeks of August here in Winnipeg. Over 40 pavilions staffed by over 20,000 volunteers participate to showcase authentic foods and displays about other cultures. There is also live entertainment.

We purchased a VIP Bus Tour that shuttles visitors to three different pavilions. At each pavilion visitors get a sample of the cuisine and attend a show (live entertainment). For our tour, we visited the Africa Pavilion, the First Nations Pavilion and the Celtic Ireland Pavilion.

At the Africa Pavilion we saw works of art and fashions created by African artists (some of which were for sale). The appetizer was fried plantain and a fruit punch drink. The drink was delicious. I’m pretty sure I tasted guava and mango in it but I’m not sure what else. The entertainment was singing and dancing. It was very energetic! I loved hearing the different African languages.

20180812_folklorama_1stNations_02.JPGThe First Nations Pavilion was different. It was quiet and serene. We enjoyed an Indian Taco for our meal — although I question whether fry bread is traditional First Nations food. The show had singing and dancing and celebrated the Seven Traditional Teachings which make up the core values of First Nations cultures. It breaks my heart that much First Nations’ culture and so many of the traditions were decimated and almost erased by colonial settlerism. I keep thinking that if colonial settlers had adopted the First Nations’ teachings, the world might just be a better place.

 

20180812_folklorama_CeltIreland_01.JPGOur final destination was the Celtic Ireland Pavilion. We were served an apple cobbler type dessert. I was looking forward to seeing the show of Irish Dancers, picturing in my mind the type of traditional Irish dancing my sister did about 30 years ago, perhaps accompanied by some fiddles and maybe an Irish tin whistle. What we saw was quite different. It was almost like a rock concert! The dancers were still doing Irish dancing but with a powerful modern twist in sparkly glam skirts. We also saw World Irish Dance Champion and star of Riverdance, John Lonergan. Holy cow he was amazing to watch!

If you have the opportunity to come to Winnipeg, make sure it is during Folklorama. Buy tickets. Go to as many pavilions as you can. Learn how amazing other cultures are. Appreciate the power of diversity.

Christmas in July

July 12, 2018

sprig of hollyI know it is still six months before the winter holidays and New Year’s. But I wanted to tell you this news.

During the months of July, August, September, Operation Santa Claus is in full swing packaging up gift boxes to ship to soldiers, sailors, and air crew who are deployed during the winter holiday season.

This year, Bloomex has partnered with the Canadian Armed Forces to help promote their Operation Santa Claus initiative by providing customizable gift cards to accompany the gift boxes.

Canadians can go online, create a card (for free!) and have it sent overseas to deployed troops.

Help spread a little holiday cheer to the men and women who have to be away from their families during such a special time. It is a huge morale boost for Armed Forces members to know that the work they do at home and abroad is appreciated by all Canadians.

The deadline for creating a card is 3 August so be sure to make one (or many) today!