100 Top Military Wife Blogs

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

What I Didn't Know About What Happens When Your Spouse Returns Home

Written 12/20/2020

When Josh got home, we were so excited.  I spent weeks keeping the secret of his homecoming bottled inside because it was so uncertain, and then I had just a few days to prepare for his arrival when we realized it was really happening.  Expectations were high.  And I did not think at all what might happen after we picked him up at the airport. 

This happy moment was all I knew to expect.

That night, Josh handed me a pamphlet called "Returning Home: Making Your Reunion a Good One."  As I read it, I wondered why I did not have access to the pamphlet in the weeks leading up to his return.  It would have been so helpful!  

Josh felt out of the loop in many aspects of our life.  He did not know where he fit anymore.  In many ways I had literally edged him out of our room.  All his little piles were off the dresser.  His side of the bed now had twinkly lights the kids gave me.  Our room had become my online yoga studio space.  He did not have enough hangers for his clothes as I might have acquired a few new things.  

I had a million things to talk to Josh about but felt that if I approached him too quickly, he would be completely overwhelmed.  This turned out to be very true.  And I had no way to understand what he had gone through.  All I could think that he should be wanting to spend every waking minute with us.  

Josh was jet lagged and overwhelmed by the noise and the work of having to unpack from six months of being gone.  I was all of sudden exhausted.  My body was finally moving out of "survival" mode and the pressure of six months of handling things on my own crashed in on me. I found it disconcerting that I could not remember if Josh had been around for certain events or purchases for the house that we had made.  Did they happen before or during the deployment and why could I not remember?  

We had made new family routines that would probably shift now that Josh was home.  I did not necessarily tell him about all these little changes because they just evolved as I figured things out.  And I noticed that reunion would not be a single event at the airport as I had seen pictured in my friends Instagram accounts (and which I posted in mine.)  Our reunion would happen over time.  Josh and I would need to rely on each other again.  The kids would need to spend time with him one on one.  We would need to learn to communicate our needs again and share household tasks.  We would need to have fun together.  And this could not all happen in one day.  

I wish I would have been able to set aside the day we picked Josh up from the airport to do nothing else but be together as a family.  As it turned out, Bear had a Christmas dance performance to attend.  So we left Josh at home to unpack.  This was probably alright in retrospect.  He had some quiet to unpack and sort his things.  I wish that we could have just focused on our family that next day as well.  Instead, Josh spent hours at work doing paperwork so he could take R and R, I taught four yoga sessions, and the kids did school at home.  Josh came home frustrated, hungry, and exhausted from the red tape and jet lag.  I still had not had a quality conversation with Josh and that was not the moment.  My expectations were too high.

Then we get to the finances.  We did not see any of Josh's deployment pay until after deployment.  I spent six months doing what I do well; making my life easier by paying for convenience.  Josh does not function in this way, this is why it is good we have each other to balance things out.  Real conversations needed to be had about how to go forward with our money management now that Josh was home.  No more weekly Door Dash, no more monthly road trip adventures, no more yard care service.  Now we could work together.  Now we could discuss what adventures to save for as a family.  Adjustments needed to be made because I was no longer in survival mode and "treat myself because I deserve it" mode.

But really, we are going to be just fine.  This is not the hardest time our marriage has ever had.  This is just another moment that we will come through.  And we really do love each other, see?

Are you in preparing for a deployment or in the midst of one?  Get my Top 10 List for Surviving Deployment here! 10 Tips to Surviving Deployment

The Path to Re-Deployment

Events from November and December 2020

Josh's replacement arrived in Manda Bay mid November so that meant that he would be able to return home BEFORE Christmas.  This seemed too good to be true, especially since mentally, I had been gearing up for a March return. Everything had been so rocky for his arrival there, I just expected the same on the way back to the US.  For weeks, I still refused to believe he might be coming home while he worked on getting the paperwork from Germany and his flights booked.  I did not want to think or say anything because then I would feel devastated.  I lied to everyone who asked if I had a date of his return as January was approaching.  I lied to the kids, family members, neighbors.  I started to worry that I would be caught in my web of lies!

For this same reason, we did not tell the kids until we knew that Josh was on the way.  Even this was problematic because days before his first flight, the internet in Manda Bay went out.  I was not sure what was going on with Josh's travel.  He sent an email to the kids the day he left Manda Bay and arrived in Djibouti.  The kids all screamed and jumped off the couch as I read Josh's email to them. 

By this point, I only had a few days to prepare for Josh's return and the excitement was infectious.  The kids and I each made posters (cheap), I ordered clever shirts for each of us (moderately priced x4), and I had a banner made (not cheap).  Oh well, your husband only comes home from Deployment during COVID once right?   I swore the kids to secrecy amongst our family members.  We still felt we had to keep the news hush hush.

Bub's shirt did not come in time.  Pictures of his shirt later.

The only thing left to do was wait.  For two days it was radio silence because Josh was somewhere between no internet in Djibouti and Baltimore.   And then it arrived, meet Josh at the OKC airport day!

Waiting for Josh to deplane.
The kids rushed him as soon as they could

Our Daddy's girl was so happy!

The masks can come off for a reunion outside

The banner was waiting at home to welcome Josh

And a treasured doggie was waiting at home too.

As well as Bub's shirt!

We are back to being a family of five.  My language of "I" can change back to "We." It was like a Christmas miracle, Josh arriving nine days before Christmas.  What a blessing.

Are you in preparing for a deployment or in the midst of one?  Get my Top 10 List for Surviving Deployment here! 10 Tips to Surviving Deployment

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

I Spy!

Josh was given a picture of his head on a stick at the Vance awards ceremony February 2020.  I kept it so that we could take Josh with us on all our adventures while he was deployed.  Look at all the places Josh went! See if you can find him in each picture.  I spy!


Robbers Cave State Park, OK

Tenkiller Lake State Park, OK


Turner family trip to Denver.  The Utah family met us half way!

Denver Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  This was our temple when Josh was completing his masters.  We were just babies then!!

The Keeper of the Plains in Wichita Kansas

Arkansas river in Wichita Kansas
Hemslojd Store in Lindsborg, KS.  Swedish settlement town in Kansas

Having too much fun at a park in Hebron, Nebraska

Taking a leisurely swing on the largest covered porch swing in Hebron, Nebraska

Taking a ride on the boat from the Lewis and Clark expedition in Nebraska City, Nebraska

Fall walk in Nebraska

Silly daddy!

Josh went a little crazy and was taken to Glore Psychiatric Hospital in St. Joseph, MO.  This is a containment crate for patients.

Route 66 notable place- Allen's Conoco Filling Station in Oklahoma

Famous burger shop on Route 66 in Oklahoma.  Josh's burger was excellent.
Totem Pole Park on Route 66 in Oklahoma.  I see you!

Blue Whale of Catoosa on Route 66 in Oklahoma

Bristow Historical Train Station on Route 66 in Oklahoma

Josh joined us for a reunion with the Parkinson family, friends (family really) from Misawa, Japan.  They are now living in Alamogordo, Holloman AFB

Daddy enjoyed sledding at White Sands National Park

Back on Route 66!  This time through Texas at historic Phillips 66 Station in McLean

The kids want to know why it is so important to stop at old gas stations, but Josh enjoys it!  Route 66 in Shamrock, TX

Are you in preparing for a deployment or in the midst of one?  Get my Top 10 List for Surviving Deployment here! https://www.yogatraveler.net/top-10-tips-to-survive-deployment

Monday, February 8, 2021

Deployment through COVID- The Waiting Phase

Written 8/2020

So far, I don't think Josh's deployment has been a typical one.  It is hard for us to tell exactly because we have never done a deployment before.  But it is pretty clear that things would have worked a little more smoothly for Josh had he not been trying to move around in a pandemic. He arrived in Germany at Ramstein base on July 12th and finally left the base on August 31st.  He spent seven weeks running and walking outside, hanging out in his hotel room, walking the mall, and getting food to eat in his room alone.  It may sound nice to have so much free time, but it got old quickly.  Finally, Josh was able to get all medical clearances needed and the authorization from a General to leave with 16 others.  They took a shuttle to Spangdahlem Air Base and flew in a rotator to Djibouti, Africa where they check everyone coming to the east side of Africa for COVID.  Josh was tested for COVID, cleared, and allowed to leave quarantine.  By the time 2020 is over, he will have done half the year in quarantine or isolation!  Now he is waiting for an open seat on a plane to Kenya. 

Some unexpected blessings came for us during this strange phase of Josh's deployment:

1. While he was awake, we had unlimited access to Josh through FaceTime.  I called him when I first woke up, he read scriptures to us while we ate our breakfast, we told him goodnight as the kids were getting home from school and he was able to share in their day.  He was "with" us as we made the difficult transition back to school in COVID times.  He participated in our Come Follow Me program every Sunday via Zoom.  We will miss this interaction moving forward as I am sure it will be different now.  

2. I have been very aware that there are prayers being offered on my behalf.  There are not many things that people can do for me, I just have to go through the motions of the day.  Some days it was a push and a huge energy drain for me to meet the needs of the household and the kids.  But there were other days when I would finish my work, look at the clock, and think, "did I miss something?  How can I be done already?"  I know that I am not alone in this.  

3. I knew that the kids and I would probably gel but I did not anticipate the extent that I could rely on them.  My kids are a bit older- Bear 14, Bub 12, Pants 9, so I can talk and plan with them.  Instead of discussing all my issues with Josh and telling the kids, I bring my issues to the kids.  I am still the boss, but they are old enough to help me see possible solutions.  I can give them a checklist and assume that the things will be finished.  So many tasks that I used to handle alone, I am now giving over to them.  They are rising to the occasion and I think it boosts their confidence a bit too.

Stop at Sigonella Naval Air Base on the way to Djibouti

View of Italy from the Boeing 747 Rotator

Arriving in Djibouti

Living units where Josh waits- CLU (stands for something)

Josh was on the third floor of one of these units

Josh finally got to leave Djibouti on September 6th and arrived at Camp Simba in Kenya.  He rode in the back of the plane above- somewhere between the Humvee and the rest of the cargo.  It is unlikely that he will get to leave base while he is there but he can gaze at Kenya from the fence. Now it is time to get to work!

Kids herding goats outside the fence

Frequent visitors of Camp Simba.  Watch out, they will steal food right out of your hand!

Are you in preparing for a deployment or in the midst of one?  Get my Top 10 List for Surviving Deployment here! https://www.yogatraveler.net/top-10-tips-to-survive-deployment

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Who Needs a Deployment Project Anyway?

 Written 11/14/2020

When Josh was preparing to go on his deployment, he told me that many spouses will choose a project to complete during deployment to help them stay busy and pass the time.  I thought, "that is crazy!"  I knew that I would be plenty busy juggling the household, my three kids, my yoga teaching and practice, and my religious service.  That sounded like plenty to do.  

But then Josh left.  I quickly recognized that I would not be able to use the many mundane tasks of my life to pass the time and feel fulfilled.  I know that what I do day in and day out matters, but it did not feel that I would have anything concrete to show for my time while Josh was gone.  And Josh would come home with a wealth of new experiences.  A ll of a sudden, a deployment project did not seem like such a bad idea.

Cecilia Holle, owner of GYM in Enid, OK, told me of Namastream, an online platform where I could launch an online yoga studio.  All of a sudden, things just clicked.  I have always wanted to own my own studio but being part of the Air Force means that we are not stable in one location for more than three years.  An online studio would move with me and it would give me the means to connect with beloved yogis that I have left behind.  I joined Namastream and became Yoga Traveler.

Namastream taught me all that it takes to make a stab at the internet world.  There was so much more than just simply recording videos and putting them online.  I started a yoga blog yogatravelerabby@blogspot.com, I opened a MailChimp account for newsletters and mailings, I got way more visible on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/yoga.traveler.abby and Instagram @yogatravelerabby, and I watched HOURS and DAYS and WEEKS of training videos from Namastream.  It was a huge learning curve for me and let's face it, I still have a long way to go.

But it all made so much sense to me!  Finally I had a place to offer programs that I was passionate about.  I had to place to share my voice and my movement.  I had all the control in the world over my online site when sometimes I had little control over other aspects of my life.  I had a very creative outlet that brings me a TON of joy.  

Sure, many nights I go to bed way to late.  And I was right when I told Josh that I would not lack for things to do.  But I do feel fulfilled and when Josh returns, we will both have things to share from our time apart.  So who needs a deployment project anyway, "I do, I do!"  


Are you in preparing for a deployment or in the midst of one?  Get my Top 10 List for Surviving Deployment here! https://www.yogatraveler.net/top-10-tips-to-survive-deployment

Monday, January 25, 2021

Scriptures of Comfort for Deployment

Written 11/6/2020

I post scriptures on my front and back doors so that we can read them as we go out the door.  I usually rotate the scriptures bi-weekly and I use scriptures from all our sacred texts, the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants.  A few of the scriptures spoke to my heart during this deployment and they stayed on my bedroom door so that I could read them often. 

I love the idea that the Lord is with me, holding my hand, and helping when I need.  Even though my partner is not here, I can always have a partner in the Lord.

I love this scripture!  It reminds me to be cheerful as I go throughout my tasks of the day.  It reminds me to stop and look for the presence of the Lord in my life and that one day, all of His plans will be revealed to me.  I like the idea that if I do my part, the Lord will reveal the plan for me.

I know this not a scripture, but I do love Shakespeare, and I was feeling sentimental the day I created this graphic. 

Are you in preparing for a deployment or in the midst of one?  Get my Top 10 List for Surviving Deployment