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A decade of blogging — 27 years as an army wife


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.


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


I 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!

Toastmasters: Ice-Breaker


I joined Toastmasters this year to help me develop better public speaking skills. I decided to publish my speeches on my blog. You’ll find them under the Toastmasters category.

The first Toastmaster’s speech is the “ice-breaker”. Members are supposed to use this speech to introduce themselves to their Toastmaster’s club. After a few weeks of thinking about how best to do this, I came up with:

I identify as a heterosexual, cis-gender female; a descendant of white European colonial settlers.

Yes — after weeks of thinking, that is all I came up with. Then I started to research why it was so hard for me to talk about myself. I did some personality analysis — that’s right analysis and research — and determined that my personality type is INTJ.

That led me to do a personality typing quiz from The 16Personalities quiz, which takes about 10-15 minutes of your time, is based on the Myers-Briggs framework as well as the Big Five personality types. You may have come across these kinds of categorizations in your workplace but for those of you who have not, I will explain.

The 16Personalities test divides your personality into four main factors; Mind, Energy, Nature, and Tactics each with its own sliding scale.


The first scale is for MIND and measures how we act in our surroundings and indicates the degree of introversion or extroversion. I lean towards introversion. Actually, I lean very heavily on the introversion side of the scale. I prefer solitary activities and although I do attend social events, I find them very draining. I much prefer small groups to large parties.

My youth was spent reading books, playing with my dog or having one friend over for a play date. When I was young, I was extremely pleased when we went to our summer cottage with no electricity, no running water, and very few people around! I prefer non-team sports such as swimming or horse riding. Often, introverts think animals are better than people.


The Energy category reveals how we see the world. The two sides to this scale are Intuitive (N) and Observant (S). Intuitive people rely on their imagination, ideas, and possibilities while the Observants focus on the actual world and things happening around them. I found that I am closest to the Intuitive N side.

Intuitive people, love research (I had to research how to do a speech about myself) and learning and discovering new things. However, I’m not totally over to the N side of the scale. I do have some Observant (S) tendencies. I love my routines and I value highly practical and realistic solutions to any problems that I’m trying to solve but I prefer to find new and innovative solutions to solve those problems.

It’s no surprise that my curiosity and problem-solving desires led me into the sciences. I had thought about being an astronaut (until I experienced riding roller coasters). After that, engineering appealed to me. However, my Observant tendencies prevented me from seeing more than three dimensions in 2nd year university multi-dimensional calculus. I ended up with a M.Sc. in Food Chemistry.


The Nature scale reveals how we deal with emotions and what role they play in our decision-making. People on the Thinking side, prefer logic and rational arguments. They follow their heads rather than their hearts. People on the Feeling side follow their hearts and express emotions easily.

I’m very strongly on the Thinking side. Here’s how Thinking people deal with their emotions.

They don’t.

This tends to give us the reputation of being cold-hearted. We’re not, we just prefer that rationality over-rule personal feelings about something. If you’re looking to sell a Thinking person something, don’t try to get us to feel how good it is. Tell us the specs and we’ll decide whether or not it is worth the money.

Thinking people expect logical and rational thought processes to drive all arguments and tend to become extremely frustrated with those who defend their position because they feel it’s just right. On the other hand, Thinking people will easily change their mind on a subject if you present logical, well-thought out arguments backed-up by references in peer-reviewed scientific journals.


The two ends of the Tactics scale are Judging (J) and Prospecting (P). They describe our approach to work, planning, and decision-making. Judging people value structure, clarity, predictability, organization, and planning. Prospectors are flexible and relaxed. They are nonconformists who prefer keeping their options open and spotting opportunities.

I am very much on the Judging side of the scale. I love order, structure, and the scientific method! Besides the M.Sc., I also have a Certificate in Records and Information Management and I was an organizing and productivity consultant for almost 10 years.

Many of you might be asking how I cope with the erratic uncertainty that is military life. The answer is: I have a plan! Actually, I have many plans. My imagination (N factor) has gone into overdrive and imagined every possibility and created a plan for each one and discussed them in great detail with all of the people inside my head.

My Type – INTJ

Based on this quiz my personality type is INTJ, The Architect. Famous INTJs you may know include Star Trek’s Mr. Spock and Seven of Nine, and Dr. House.

If there are INTJs in your life, here’s a humorous article that might help you understand how to relate to them.

And now you know all about me…

I identify as a heterosexual, cis-gender female; a descendant of white European colonial settlers with an INTJ personality.

Kudos to military kids


Back in 1986, the US Secretary of Defense, Casper Weinberger, declared April as the Month of the Military Child to recognize and appreciate the children of military families who cope with the challenges of frequent moves, family separations, and life transitions.

I haven’t before mentioned this here on my blog because I have tried to keep my children’s life private. However, now they are both adults and I’d like to take some time to tell you how amazing they both are.

Two years ago, I wrote Leaving the Nest, about how our oldest child moved to university in Canada while we were living in England. I wrote again about how moving from university residence into an apartment. The kid is doing very well – maintaining high marks at school, volunteering at an animal shelter, and doing housework including cooking all meals, cleaning, laundry, etc. and a “cat parent” too!

Our youngest, having done secondary school in three different countries in three years, meant that she had to collect a few more credits in order to graduate from high school in Canada. This summer she heads off to college in Kingston while we remain in Winnipeg. She is really looking forward to her program and already has a list prepared of things she has to take with her.

Here are a few qualities that I’ve seen in my military children:

Resourcefulness: Living far away from extended family, military children learn to cope with many things on their own. They are not hesitant to call on a friend for assistance when needed.

Alone-ness: Military kids are used to living in places where they haven’t yet made any friends or watching their friend move away. They are comfortable being alone.

Friend-making: Military kids move very often and are used to making new friends in new places. Because they know their time is short in a specific location, they learn to judge character quickly.

World Issues: Because military kids have been to many different places and met many different people, they tend to have a larger world view and can understand the global impact of issues such as war, immigration, political systems, etc.

Travelling: Navigating through airports, train stations, foreign cities is a challenge but military kids seem to be quite capable of doing this without encountering too much difficulty. They are aware of personal security issues and know how to keep themselves safe. From the time they were about 8 years old, they were able to pack a suitcase for overnight or for several weeks.

Moving: Our kids moved seven times before they were 20 years old. They know how to pack and unpack everything in a house. They can get set up in their own place with ease.

Organizational Skills: Living a military life means planning, lists, and being on time. I’ve actually had both of my children ask how civilians manage without having these skills.

Levelheadedness: Don’t panic — plan! If there is a change of any type, military kids can cope. They are calm and cool in a crisis because they are so used to adapting in varying situations.

If there are any other qualities you’ve noticed that are unique to military children, add them in the comments!

Let’s talk. Let’s listen.


Earlier this month an acquaintance from high school passed away. We grew up a few blocks from each other but was a few years older than me. He was in Vocal Jazz. I was in the Stage Band. Music was a big deal in my high school and the band & vocal groups toured together often and I got to know him a bit a during our travels.

He was a totally cool guy — one of those high school icons. Everybody knew who he was. He was kind, friendly, outgoing, and had a razor-sharp wit that would make the entire group burst out laughing. He could quickly and deftly put a bully in his place (which would also make the entire group burst out laughing). If anyone had asked me to define the word “extrovert” I would have immediately said his name.

We knew each other but we weren’t more than acquaintances. We always said hello to each other in the halls and I was thrilled when he accepted my Facebook friend request 30 years (OMG yes 30 years!) after we graduated.

The thing is, I never told him how much I appreciated his sense of humour, his extrovertedness, or the way he just shut down those mean kids in high school (Man, he had cojones!).

And now it’s too late.

I know the reason behind the Bell Let’s Talk initiative is to remove stigma from, and have open, honest discussions about, mental health. Yes, we do need to do that but we also need to talk to each other. Really talk — and really listen.

The internet was supposed to be promote the interconnectedness of everything. Email, then social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat) were supposed to bring us closer together so we could relate to each other. Instead, people post irrelevant memes and advertisers clog the space peddling their wares.

So, here is my challenge on this Bell Let’s Talk Day — start talking. Say what is important. Respond to other people. Open a discussion. I don’t care if it’s about religion, politics, books, cookie recipes, Superheroes or science fiction. Just have a real conversation.

And remember if someone is talking, LISTEN. Listen to understand, not to reply. Set aside your self, your opinions, your beliefs, and accept someone for who they are and from where they come. Watch this excellent TEDx talk by Celeste Headlee and learn to have better conversations — in person and on social media. And as that old Bell TV commercial used to tell us, reach out and touch someone.