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After One Year in Ottawa

2020-05-25

diploma and mortarboard hat for graduation
Last year at this time, we made our big move from Winnipeg to Ottawa. I can hardly believe that a whole year has passed. 2019 was stressful enough with my husband deployed, but 2020 has been a wild ride.

I am thankful that we moved to Ottawa in 2019 because this year (2020), my husband is moving from his overseas position to Ottawa. We will be able to stay in the same (rented) house for another few years. And, another bit of exciting news, a year after registering with Health Care Connect, I was assigned a family doctor – in my neighbourhood! I’m quite excited that I have somewhere to transfer my medical records.

It seems like yesterday when I wrote about our oldest child leaving the nest, but it was four years ago. This year she graduated with a B. Math. Honours (with distinction) and a minor in Computer Science. Can you tell we are proud parents? Of course we are sad that her convocation is cancelled because of the pandemic. We can’t even have a private party. We’ll have to find another way to celebrate, maybe later in the year when my husband comes home, and our younger daughter is able to visit.

I hope everyone out there in Internet land is practicing social distancing and reaching out virtually to their friends and neighbours.

Research Study: Resilience in Military Families

2020-04-22
Research Study Strand One Resiliance in Military Families

Click on the image to download Strand One information (pdf).

It is no secret to me how resilient military families are. We go through a lot. Moving to a new city every few years and living far away from our family and friends. We have to build new networks, attend new schools, and find new jobs. What is it that makes our families so resilient? Well, there is research being done now!

I would like to introduce Danae Laut, a Ph.D. student in the Counselling Psychology Department at the University of Calgary. She is currently recruiting participants for her doctoral research project looking at the impact of PTSD on military families, as well as resilience in children in military families.

Her goal is to study the ways military families are resilient and what strengths can be drawn upon to support other families. There are two “strands” to her project.

The first strand is a survey. The father with PTSD or symptoms of PTSD fills out a brief questionnaire about their symptoms. Then their children (ages 11-18) fill out a longer questionnaire about their relationship with their parents, their own mental health, and their personal strengths. The idea is to better understand the impact paternal PTSD has on kids and what protective factors might buffer kids against paternal stress.

Research Study Strand Two Resiliance in Military Families

Click on the image to download Strand Two information (pdf).

The second strand is a 30-90-minute interview with teens (ages 15-18) of a military parent with PTSD (or symptoms), who feel they are coping pretty well. For this portion, they want to get a better understanding of the experiences of these youth as well as how they cope with and manage with a parent who has an occupational stress injury (OSI).

People can participate in one strand or the other, or both strands if they want to. The long-term goal is to gain insights into what sorts of prevention and intervention programming we can provide for military personnel and other first responders and their families.

If your family falls into either or both of these categories, please participate. The results of the study can help society build stronger families and more resilient children.

Contact Danae Laut directly in order to participate.

Canadian Army Mom

2020-03-16

My husband was back home from abroad for almost two weeks. During that time, our younger daughter had her graduation parade from Basic Training in the Army Reserves. The whole family did a quick trip from Ottawa to watch and cheer her on.

soldiers in uniform on parade

A few days later, my husband travelled back to his post overseas. Fortunately, he was back at his post before the COVID-19 situation got any worse. Many CAF members have had their holiday leave cancelled. It is a sad and stressful time for military families who have members serving abroad.

If you are a civilian reading this, please know that some military families are new to your city/town. They may not know where to turn to for help. They may not have any family or friends they can rely on if they get sick. They likely don’t even have a family doctor. Please reach out and offer support where you can. Do a grocery run for them. Let them know what resources are available. Phone, text, reach out on social media. Social distancing does not mean ignoring our neighbours.

Stay safe everyone!

2019 The Last Half

2019-12-31

I realize it has been six months since I’ve written here. It’s been a long six months. My husband is on a restricted posting. He left in early July and returned for the Christmas holidays – five months away. It hasn’t been easy but it hasn’t been too bad either. Here is what’s been happening.

In August, we had a family wedding to attend in Hamilton, Ontario. It was a fast trip but the driving was pretty easy. On the plus side, the kids are old enough to drive now so it wasn’t all up to me. It was nice to see family members again. Some of them we hadn’t seen in 10 years or more.

In September, our older daughter moved in with me. With only one credit to finish her degree, it made (financial) sense that she moves in until she graduates and finds full-time employment. Also, having her here keeps me company. It was a few weeks before her cat and our dog started getting along but now they tolerate one another’s existence.

Our younger daughter decided to join the army reserves and spent most weekends training so didn’t visit as much in the fall as she did in the summer. However, she did come to Ottawa every weekend that she was not training.

On a sad note, one of my uncles passed away but, now that I am so close to where I grew up, I was able to attend the memorial service. I saw cousins I hadn’t seen in over 30 years. We’ve connected on social media and I’ve had the opportunity to meet up with them for coffee. It made me realize how hard it has been to be away for so long.

Most of the past five months, I’ve been working for my clients. Keeping busy and keeping the mind occupied is a great way to not feel quite so lonely.

Fortunately, December rolled around quickly and my husband came home for a few weeks. Of course, after travelling for over 24 hours to get here, then having some dental surgery the day after arrival, he ended up with a bad cold. Then, I caught it. We weren’t that sick, just too fatigued to do anything but watch movies. At least we were together and that’s what matters.

He has returned to his post for now but his next vacation home is only weeks away instead of months. However, the next two trips home will be paid almost entirely out-of-pocket. The flights are about $5000 CDN return so we’re trying to save money like crazy. And in case you’re wondering… yes, he’s worth it!

Moving from Winnipeg to Ottawa

2019-07-19
various sized rocks on beach

The past two months have been quite a blur with moving from Winnipeg to Ottawa. If I haven’t been cleaning, organizing, or doing administrative work, I’ve been working for my clients. That hasn’t left me much time to keep up with Army Wife Blog. However, things have quieted down and I have a few free hours so here is a quick summary of our move from May 17 – June 3

Pre-pack Day

Never again will I have a pre-pack before a long-weekend. We ended up unpacking boxes to find stuff over the three days. It didn’t help that my husband was away training the week prior to the pre-pack and did not arrive home until after the pre-packing was done.

Military Move Tip: Arrange your schedule so that there is never the possibility of a pre-pack on a day before a weekend or holiday. If Monday is a holiday, schedule the truck to load on Thursday so the pack will be on Wednesday and if required, a pre-pack on Tuesday.

Pack Day

The packing went very quickly. They even custom-built a wooden crate to pack the glass top of our IKEA table. Interestingly though, when they disassembled it, some of the plastic parts fell to bits, almost dissolved. I assured the packers that I wouldn’t file a claim and reminded myself to order parts from IKEA in Ottawa as soon as possible so that they would be ready when we arrived.

Load Day

The driver and loading team were super. The only challenge was getting the massive refrigerator out the door. My husband and I ended up taking the door handles and doors off the fridge and freezer. That task is not covered by the moving company. We could have hired a special repair person to do that had we known in advance but we didn’t know. Fortunately, I keep all the instruction manuals to our appliances so we did it ourselves.

On the funny side… I woke up in full-panic mode in the middle of the night because I had dreamed that when we went back for the march out, we found more rooms in the house that were full of furniture that the movers forgot to take and even more rooms full of furniture that wasn’t ours but we were responsible for removing it from the house.

March Out Day and Driving Day 1

9000 years of history in Thunder Bay

9000 years of history in Thunder Bay

Our march out was smooth and easy. Quick tour around the house, read the meters and we were eastward bound.

As we were rolling along the highway out of Winnipeg, I got onto the IKEA website to order parts for the dining table. I couldn’t even find the table listed on their website but their items have such unique names I thought I was spelling it wrong. I did a quick internet search instead and found this: IKEA Canada Recalls GLIVARP Table. So we were going to have to take all the table parts (thank goodness it was already in parts) to IKEA for a replacement.

Driving was thankfully rather uneventful. Manitoba is very flat. We stopped every 2-3 hours to stretch our legs and let the dog run around. We stopped in Kenora, Dryden, and a few rest areas just off the highway. We arrived in Thunder Bay about 21:00.

Driving Day 2

Again, another uneventful day. Lake Superior and the surrounding area is beautiful. There is absolutely no cell phone service. It was kind of desolate too. There were hours at a time where we wouldn’t see another car. It was not in “full tourist season” though. We left Thunder Bay around 7:30. We stopped in Nipigon (home of Canada’s smallest Canadian Tire), Marathon, (Pebble Beach), and Wawa (big goose).

We arrived in Sault Ste. Marie at about 21:00. We were quite tired. It was Memorial Day weekend in the U.S.A. so the hotel was busy. This meant the dog barked at all loud noises outside our hotel room. The loud noises consisted of drunk young women cackling at the top of their lungs. The dog scared them enough so they didn’t make any further noise.

Driving Day 3

Another beautiful day driving but pouring rain. We left Sault Ste. Marie around 7:00. We stopped briefly near Algoma Mills and we got soaked when we stopped in Sudbury for lunch. The weather started clearing after that and we arrived in Gravenhurst at about 15:00. It was so nice to stop early for a change. Muskoka is a beautiful area of Ontario. But mosquitoes! Oh my. I had forgotten how vicious they are in the woods.

Driving Day 4 – The Last Day

happy dog in car

After 4 days, still happy to “go car”

We had a more relaxed morning and didn’t leave the hotel until around 8:30. We drove across parts of Ontario that I hadn’t visited in over 30 years. We stopped in Haliburton and Renfrew. Finally, we arrived in Kanata at about 15:00. We checked into the hotel and went to see our house.

The Cleaning Begins

The house we rented had been empty for some time. It was dirty. The furnace filter was black. There was mildew around all the windows. There were layers of dust on the baseboards and cobwebs in the corners of the ceilings. The kitchen and bathrooms needed a good wipe-down. Fortunately, I hired a carpet cleaning company to clean the carpets before we arrived. Our realtor was able to grant them access to the house (Thanks Jan Ayers!). We cleaned for three 10-hour days. Then our furniture arrived.

Unloading Day

The unloading went very smoothly. The team was fast, efficient and put our large pieces of furniture right where we wanted them. Anything that was disassembled at origin, was reassembled – except the dining table. We used a folded plastic picnic-type table as a temporary dining table.

Unpacking Day

mildew around window frame

Mildew around window frames

This was a nightmare. The unpacking team didn’t arrive until noon, just when my husband went out to get lunch. The unpacking crew does a “shelf unpack.” This means that they only put stuff on firm surfaces like kitchen counters (for dishes) or beds (for clothing). They do not put anything in cupboards, on shelves or on the floor. There were FOUR of them on the team. They kept unpacking boxes and filling counter space before I had a chance to put stuff away in the cupboards. Then, they griped at me for not clearing space for them to continue their work. Finally, I gave up trying to deal with them and let my husband handle it. Fortunately, our older child arrived (from downtown Ottawa) to help.

The After-Unpack

As it was Friday afternoon, the crew just left all the packing paper and boxes in our garage for the moving company to collect on Monday. That was very lucky for us because the crew did not unpack everything! Over the weekend, we found stuff missing and we were able to go through the boxes and sort through all the packing paper to find our stuff.

However, in doing this on Sunday evening, I managed to get a paper cut on my eyeball (scratched cornea) and ended up in the emergency room until 02:00 Monday morning. I did not yet have my Ontario health care card but, being so fortunate to live in a country with universal health care, the triage nurse only had to scan a copy of my Manitoba health card and I was able to see a doctor. I got ointment for my eye and was back to normal in about 4 days.

Summary

We got unpacked and somewhat settled. The house is livable but I’m nowhere near finished organizing. But getting the administrative work done was the next step.

Why Imposed Restriction is sometimes necessary

2019-07-04

General’s apartment rental tab picked up by taxpayers for the last seven years

This article in the National Post by David Pugliese caught my attention – and made me rather angry. I’ve written about Imposed Restriction (IR)before as well as the 2012 budget cuts to IR.

I do not know LGen Wynnyk. I do not know his family. However, after reading his official biography, I can understand what his family has endured.

So, to journalist David Pugliese, let me describe the family perspective for you and perhaps you’ll understand why IR is not a “perk.”

Military families are expected to pick up and move whenever the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) says so. We give up our homes, our jobs, our friends, and family. This is not easy for us. We are not employed by the military and yet, we are expected to serve. Many people say, “Oh it’s your choice you married a military member.” Well, I ask you, would you give up someone you love, the parent of your children, just because they get a new job in a new city? Really think about that. If you’re thinking yes, maybe your marriage/partnership isn’t as strong as you think.

Let me tell you Mr. Pugliese some of the other reasons a military member might choose IR. As I am sure you are aware, it is a challenge for many Canadians to find a family doctor. Imagine never having one. Imagine being on a waitlist so long that you move to another city before you get referred to a doctor. Now, imagine that you have a spouse or a child that has special medical needs. Now, imagine dealing with all of that far away from a support network of family and friends – and possibly in another language. Imposed Restriction allows the member to move so the family can remain in one place and have consistent medical care.

For a military member to move, spouses (and children) quit their jobs. Many do not meet the criteria to collect employment insurance. They either did not work the required number of weeks because they did not live at that location long enough, or they had to work part-time because the military member’s job was so demanding. And what about daycare you ask? Finding quality, affordable daycare in a new city is like winning the lottery. Waitlists are long – so long in fact, that you might be posted out before your children get placed.

This assumes that spouses have a job to resign from. Many spouses are unemployed. If you are posted to a part of the country where you don’t speak the language it is almost impossible to get a job. Military Family Resource Centres (MFRCs) offer second language training, but learning a language well enough to be employed takes time (so much time that you may be posted out before you become employed). The MFRCs also have a spousal employment service, but if the Cheesi-Mart is the only place in town that’s hiring, listing your PhD in bioengineering on your résumé is not going to help you get a job bagging groceries.

Is it so wrong that LGen Wynnyk recognized the sacrifices his family made over the years and he chose IR so his family could have someplace to call home and his wife could pursue a career?

I guess in your eyes Mr. Pugliese, not only should military families endure hardships (little access to healthcare, daycare, employment, and living as a single parent) but we should also pay for it out of our own pockets when the government expects the CAF member to perform their duties. Have I got that right? Or do you just believe that military spouses/families should just be quiet and keep the home fires burning because we happen to love someone in uniform?

Mr. Pugliese I suggest that if you continue to write about the military, you investigate what military family life is like before you start ranting to the taxpayers about subsidies that you don’t fully understand.

A whirlwind of activity

2019-05-01

The past 10 days have been a whirlwind of activity

Last week I…

  • Travelled from Winnipeg to Ottawa on a house-hunting trip (HHT)
  • Looked at 3 different houses to rent and put in offers. The rental market in Ottawa is so intense that landlords choose who they want as tenants – and there can be bidding wars on some houses.
  • Wrote two articles for a special “Army Wife” project (details will be shared soon)
  • Wrote three articles for clients and did other client work.
  • Enjoyed some time with our older child who is finishing up at Carleton University in Ottawa.
  • Was successful in renting an excellent home thanks to my amazing realtor!

Our new home has 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, a fenced backyard, and a garage. The location is quite a distance from downtown (60-minute bus ride for my husband to get to work) but the bus stop is at the end of the street and the shops are only a five-minute walk from the house.

When I returned to Winnipeg I…

  • Did the laundry.
  • Sold our garden shed. (kijiji.ca is amazing).
  • Prepared and submitted the HHT expenses with the relocation contractor.
  • Arranged for utilities to be disconnected and accounts closed in Winnipeg.
  • Opened accounts and arranged for utilities to be connected in Ottawa.
  • Took dog to vet for annual updates on vaccinations.
  • Booked doggy daycare for pack and load dates.
  • Booked appointment to switch out winter tires for summer tires on car.
  • Took vacuum cleaner across town to repair shop (inconvenient time for it to stop working!).
  • Did month-end financials for my business.
  • Wrote this blog post.

On top of his regular job, my husband booked the dates for the moving company because that has to be done through the military (Movements section) as well as submitted the Notice to Vacate to the Canadian Forces Housing Agency.

We have 21 days before the moving truck comes and 14 of those days, my husband will be training in Ottawa.

Wish me luck!

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay