Category: The Family

Flat Stanley Changed My Mind

Do you know those little moments, little details in your life that inspire an epiphany of some sort?  I’m sure we’ve all had one, whether it’s just a last straw or some tiny action that gives you that “Aha” feeling.  One of those most significant moments happened to me right before I deployed last summer.

My then 6-year-old daughter, Jordyn, mailed me a little guy named Flat Stanley.  He was a colorful, laminated paper cutout based on the popular children’s book FLAT STANLEY by Jeff Brown.  I was supposed to take Flat Stanley around with me, snapping pictures of his travels, and send him back with a brief story describing his adventures.

We, meaning I and a lot of my shipmates, had so much fun with Stanley.  We made little paper outfits for him to wear and took him with us everywhere.  It was so much fun, my coworkers asked if he could go on deployment with us.  I passed the question on to my daughter, who immediately got upset, her small voice wavering over the phone.  I asked her what was wrong.

“I don’t want Flat Stanley to join the Navy and then I’ll never see him again,” she responded.  That was the moment I went from standing on the cusp of ‘Stay’ or ‘Go’ regarding my military career.  Thank you, Stanley, for coming into my life!

Though I’ve had plenty of smaller moments, this was my most epic.  What little things in your lives have led to sudden insight or inspiration?  What Aha moments have you had?


Jason’s Jesus Lemon

I don’t know where the tradition started, and I’m not sure I want to know. All I know is on Easter the kids hunt the eggs and have a shot at finding the “Jesus Lemon.” All of you devout Christians, please read on before feeling offended.

As Jason writes, “sometimes it’s sour; sometimes it’s sweet, as in life.” Yes, lemons are supposed to be sour. Of course they are, but then why are there so many sweet, sweet lemony things? Lemonade, Lemonheads, Lemon Meringue… So the tradition is that whoever finds the lemon can take it or leave it. If they take it, they take the consequence and/or the reward which comes with it. This year, the little lemon-picker had to serve Easter dinner, but then she also got to go on a movie date with Dad.

I bring this story up because I have spent yet another holiday without my husband and children. These occasions are racking up to unpleasantly high numbers of time missing from my life with my family. The happy times are hard enough to be away from, but it feels even worse to be away during the trying times, like I’m not doing my part to support them. To top things off, I was feeling low enough for missing the special occasion when I found out I have a very high possibility of being forced out of my job a year early. My rank isn’t being advanced quickly enough, so Big Navy will force separation in February.

Alright, so it sounds bleak that I’m going through all of this just to lose a job. On the other hand, I get to move back home again, and sooner than I thought. I’ll get a fat separation package plus disability pay. I can get paid to go to school again, if I wish, while living at home with my family, and I’ll have preference points for a federal job to finish out my last six years to retirement at the ripe old age of forty-four. Even if I do get promoted in the next few months and have an extra year away, I have technology on my side. I have video cameras, cell phones, Facebook, Skype and e-mail. My children know me and stay in contact with me as frequently as possible. They haven’t forgotten who their mother is. And Jason keeps me at the front of their thoughts.

I’m not saying to make lemonade when you’re handed lemons. My point is that the lemonade is there whether you intend to make some or not. Like two sides of the same coin, you just get both together. When I start to feel dismal, I just have to remind myself sometimes that it’s my choice to flip it.