Mission: Resilient Army Brats

 

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Did you know April is The Month of the Military Child?

The official flower of the military child is the dandelion. Why? The plant puts down roots almost anywhere, and it’s almost impossible to destroy. It’s an unpretentious plant, yet good looking. It’s a survivor in a broad range of climates. Military children bloom everywhere the winds carry them. They are hardy and upright. Their roots are strong, cultivated deeply in the culture of the military, planted swiftly and surely. They’re ready to fly in the breezes that take them to new adventures, new lands, and new friends.

All 3 of my kids were born in different countries (USA, France & England).  They have lived in more places than one can imagine and have traveled to more countries than most peoples’ luggage (even if the luggage was rerouted).  They have met friends, lost friends, have had to say good-bye to more people than anyone should ever have to-yet my kids are tough, resistant and flexible.  They have been friendship ambassadors,they have been the new kid in school, they have been the target of bullies, athletes and inventors.   My kids have their flaws like all kids do, but my kids are who they are thanks  to the military and living overseas their entire lives.    Even after Mike retires, they willl ALWAYS be a MILITARY CHILD!   ❤

Mission: Mouth of Disney

 

“It’s a Small World After all….”

This past week has proved just that!    I  could have done without my husband almost dying to reconnect with old friends and make new ones, but it just want to show me that no matter how many years have past and how many countries we have lived in, that in the end friends will meet up once again.

When we arrived at LARMC in Landstul, Germany we were met my Dita & Jason R. (DRC Congo 2013).  After getting Mike settled into ICU and me in the Fisher House I was able to relax a bit and friends came up to see us and check on Mike-Stephanie D (Stuttgart,Germany 2015) and Elva & Daniel R.  (Stuttgart, Germany 2014).  Once Mike was out of ICU and put onto a normal ward, I went to the mall to chill and do some retail therapy.  There I saw a handful of people I knew form Stuttgart days where I children had sports and classes with.  Once Mike was  out of the hospital we went to the mall for dinner.  We saw Shaun & Rebecca W (Heidelberg, Germany 2010) at random with their two kids.  It was like there were no years missing in between us…other than her kids are huge and no longer babies.   Then the last night in Germany,Mike C. (2005 RAF Molesworth England) came to spend the evening with us.

These friends that we have run into on accident or on purpose have proven the world is small and the military family even smaller.  With each of these people, it was if we had never left and we just had not seen each  other for a few days and we have picked up where we left off.

Being in the military, we are away from family and normality, but friends like these make it”family” and no one knows family/friends better than our military community!

Mission: Just a Wife

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In December 2000 I got my BS and by Sept 2001, I said “I Do!” and became a military wife.  I quickly went from “Wife” status to “Mom”.  On top of changing our family dynamics, we picked up and moved.  From there we added dependents and had multiple duty stations spanning the US to Europe to the Middle East and then Africa.

Every two years I was packing up the house at one location, unpacking at another location and being a full time mom on top of that.  Just when I thought I could micromanage everything and have time to work part time (I know, what the hell was I thinking), we would be packing up and moving again!    Military life is “Groundhog year”….over and over again, just at a new duty station…and if it is not you, it is someone you because close to as soon as you arrived and they are off again.    Many of us know this far too well and can write a book just on moves and friendships.

Since the kids were in school all day(starting in 2010), I have been subbing and volunteering here and there….to help make a difference and fill my pockets with some travel money.   I hate when people as you “so, what do you do?” and I say I am MOM!    In the past someone said “that is ALL you do?!”   Like really, what do you expect, I am a military wife supporting out troops as well  as a full time Mom for 3 kids.   I told them, “please, let me break it down for you.  I am a chauffeur, cook, cleaning, gardener, taxi driver, nanny, coordinator, CEO, hairdresser (when they gut gum stuck or tried to do their own cut), doctor, pharmacist, sculptor & artist(when helping with school projects), cheerleader, coach, travel agent, welder, plumber, toy repair, salesman, global nomad and so much more!”   The person did not know what to say and in stupidity again said “yes, you you are just a mom!”    It took all I had, but I held my head up high, smiled and yes “yes, I love my job!”

Now here I sit, it is 2017, we have been overseas 15+ years and I have 3 children ages 14, 12 & 10.  I now have a quiet house, the cleaning and cooking are done, kids are in school all day and their afternoons consist of clubs, study-hall, sports and friends.  I find things to keep me busy, but it is not satisfying personally and professionally.    We are currently buying a house and the kids and I are moving to the US.   To make ends meet (as we now will have to fork out mortgage, utilities and other bills), I have been job hunting online.  My ideal job would be work from home so that I could give the company 110% while working around my kids’ schedules.   Not only can I find on of these jobs, but the jobs that I am interested in they have not been interested in me.  Saying this, one company said “you work for very short time and have large gaps in your work history”.   I have tried to explain that I am a military wife, we travel around, we have not lived in the US, we move every two years and I work when I can (some countries will not let Americans work)-but they just do not understand.

I have reinvented my resume, but even I see the large gaps with sporadic work experiences. I know that I have keep busy, but on paper, it looks as if I cannot keep a job for one reason or another.  Why cannot people accept “MOM” as a work title?  You never see “Mom” on a resume.   Most of the times, just being a full time Mom over qualifies you for the position listed.

My resume should read:

Mom & Global Nomad

2001-Present

Household 6, silent rank, has done everything you need and want in an employer and more.

Mission:All in a Name

The Webster dictionary says that a name is a noun that we use to identify a person, place or thing.  For us,names are important and we give alot of thought when naming our children as I am sure the majority of us all do.

For our first born, it was easy.  Mike has to cross the Mason-Dixon to get married so we named our 1st born & boy, “Mason”.  His middle name given was “Bernard” after my grandfather and one of Mike’s great-grandfathers.  The second pregnancy, 2nd boy came along and I had a list of boys names that I just loved.   To start widdling down the list Mike started doing research on names…..My top two were Carter and Connor.     After very little searching Mike found that Carter meant “one with a crooked nose”.  Mike did not want his child’s name to have this meaning, so we name him Connor, meaning ” In Irish the meaning of the name Connor is:Strong willed or wise ‘Hound-lover.’ Also from the Irish ‘Coachuhhar’, meaning high desire. Famous bearers: In Irish mythology Connor was an early king of Ulster.; 20th century Irish diplomat Connor Cruise O’Brien. “

He was given “William” as a middle name as every McCullough since as far back as we can trace has a “William” in the family tree.   Connor was our scary, fast delivery and bless his heart, he came out with a “Clinton”!  Mike was worried about a crooked nose, but he had a crooked noodle!!!!

Naming Avery was easy.  I am from NOLA, so I wanted a household, Southern name.   With my love of hot-sauce and being from Louisiana, we named her “Avery” after the p[lace where Tabasco Sauce is made: Avery Island.  For her middle name my father use to always tell me “are you  sure your middle name is not “Grace”!” and so “Grace stuck”!

Mission: Puppy Passport

Taking Nola on the streets with me is a challenge.  Not only am I having to watch for crazy divers, but I also have to watch for locals throwing stones at her and street dogs attacking.  It has been the first time since moving here in August 2016, that I braved the streets and took her on a local hike through the villages this morning.

The street dogs were out with vengeance, but nothing a little bit of screaming and a rock in hand did not fix.  We came across a local child that threw a stone at Nola and the parents just watched and laughed and then we have the local street dog…hiding behind a fence, barking profusely to cal his posies to back him up and then follow us as if we were the Piped Piper.

This morning’s walk got me to thinking…..here is an International dog that carries a passport who still thinks she is a puppy and walks the streets of Ethiopia without a care in the world.   Nola was born in Frankfurt, Germany, lived in Heidelberg, Germany in her puppy years, moved to DRC Congo then back to Germany (Stuttgart) and now living in Ethiopia.  She literally holds an International Pet Passport and seen more of the world than most people.

You can learn something from Nola-she is friendly, plays and adapts to her surrounds; she finds brighter side of life and loves unconditionally.   She is your sunshine when your down, you shoulder to cry on and your workout buddy who is there to push (more like PULL) you through a workout on the hottest of days.   She is a go to when you need a hug, a friend when you need someone to just listen and a big part of our family.   Nola is amazing and a key to who we are as a family!   We ❤ NOLA!

Mission: Broken Tiaras

 

As a parent we would like to think our children are perfect in every way….with school, with friendships, with looks, with smarts, with talents……but in reality, most of us know that is not true.  That our kids have flaws and quirks, but they are perfect for us and our family.  We love our kids, stand behind our kids, help our kids and just be there to love them and give them support.

But we all know that ONE person who’es child is PERFECT in every way and does no wrong.   That is what Avery is dealing with right now in 5th grade and I have not seen anything like this.

Avery has been friends with this girl since the first day of school.  Our families got here the same time period and our families hit it off as we have kids the same age and the parents seemed fun and amazing people to be around.    We would hang out on most weekends together and the girls did many sleepovers.  But since the the school year has progressed Avery has made other friends.  She has never outed this girl, but has tried to include her with the new group of girls so that they could all be friends together.  This child was not having anything to do with that.  If she could not have Avery for her own, then no one could be friends with Avery.

She has gone to girls in their class making up rumors that Avery said “this or that” about them and has physically pulled girls away from Avery as she was talking with them, putting her arm around them and saying “how are you doing?  Lets get away from Avery and go hang!”   Seeing my daughter hurting, I went to the Mom thinking we were close friends and about to go on vacation with them.   Of course the Mom said this was all of Avery’s doing and her daughter does no wrong.  I talked with Avery and several of her friends when they have slept  over and we had a “Mean Girl” talk.  They asked questions and talked about how they would handle the situation.

We went on our spring break with this family and instead of the girls coming together to talk, the girl made the situation worse.   Then when the girls went back to school it because uncontrollable for Avery to handle and the behavior of the other girl became toxic.  Again I went to the mother and she flipped out and went psycho.  Not only did she accuse Avery of doing everything her daughter was doing to Avery, but we had proof of her daughter’s physical abuse (scratches and bite marks) and again she said that Avery did that to herself to get her daughter in trouble.

The mother now goes to school daily with her daughter to make sure nothing happens to her princess, though she encourages her daughter to be nasty.  Avery and the other girls see this and question the behaviors and words of the mother.   The mother herself rolls her eyes at the girls, will go to the lunch room and tell her daughter loudly “don’t sit with them, they are dirty and nasty girls” and has even gone into class last Thursday and asked the whole class “does anyone have a problem with my princess?! I think not, she is a great person and everyone loves her.  So we will all be nice, right?!”

It was her daughter’s birthday over the weekend.  The mother has encouraged her daughter to wear a different tiara every day this week saying “it’s my daughter’s birthday, we should all celebrate the princess!”    You wonder why this girl acts like an only child and spoiled brat and that it is ok to treat others poorly, yet the mom encourages and participates in this behavior herself.  You are way over 40, it is time to grow up.  Raise a girl who is proud of herself and her accomplishments, who is a friend to all, who is willing to put others in front of her, who will make a difference in this world.  By supporting this “Princess” behavior you are creating a monster!

It is NOT ok to bully!   You are not alone, there are mean girls everywhere, but you have a friend in us.  If your child is going through a rough patch, Avery would love to be a pen pal and talk with them and share experiences, laughs and friendship! Feel free to contact us!    There is always one bully who likes to target the kids with the biggest hearts!  ❤   We WILL stand together…friends do not do this to friends!

 

 

Mission: Smoke & Mirrors

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In my 39+ years of life and my 15+ years as an Officer’s wife I still have not learned.   When I meet people, I try and see the best in them and try to make friends quickly.  I put trust in friendship and I give more credit to people than I should.

You know what I am talking about?   It does not matter if you are 16, 25, 45 or 60…we all know of that one or two people we made friends with after a short time and you think you are close.  Then the rumors, back stabbing and nasty come out and you are back dealing with BS high school drama!   Yes, you know the one, hell, you might even be that one!

Through out high school, university and military officer life I have come in contact with a person like this more times than I would like, but I had my cry and got over it quickly.   But here in Ethiopia, the women here have taken it to a whole new level of TOXIC!

From very early on here  I have welcomed new families to post, thrown many dinner parties to have people feel welcomed and get into a social circle so that they would not feel left out and have helped them when they needed it….only for them to turn around a punch a knife in the back.  I am not talking just random people at school or the embassy, I am talking about 2 women in particular who I considered close friends,  went on vacation together, was with each other most weekends.  These are the women who have made up horrible rumors that have gotten back to our embassy, have really hurt me and our family name, who continue to talk and slander to other Diplomatic women who I consider friends and they are not stopping.

These two women have done some pretty hard damage to my family and myself.  They have broken me to the point where I felt that I could not get back up. But I am here to tell you, I am not broken, I am a fighter and in due time, YOUR course will come and karma will bite you in the ass!    I will not lower myself to your level and come forth with your names, but you know who you are.  You might think you have broken me, but I am stronger than ever.  Watch out, I am here to make a difference and be here for others that have been bullied by you and others.  I will always wear my ❤ on my sleeve, my feelings and thoughts will be transparent, I am here to help and support those that think they cannot do it alone.   I am strong and I will fight like a girl.  NOTHING CAN BREAK ME!      I’m here for you too…..