Should I Stay or Should I Go?

I’m sure you all can relate when I say that, as a military spouse living far away from family, I have missed a LOT of important events. I’ve missed weddings and funerals, graduations and showers…the list goes on and on. Normally, I can find a way to justify missing something:
“I’m nine months pregnant and can’t travel.”
“I’ll just send a really good wedding gift.”
“I write better than I speak, so I’ll send a sympathy card.”

But that was before this most recent death. My husband was on a training detachment, and I found myself on the other end of one of “those” calls. The ones that everyone dreads. My dad saying, “Well, Grandma called this morning. Aunt Mary passed away last night. The services are Saturday.” Immediately, a thousand different thoughts went through my head, but I pushed them aside to go into Survival Mode. You all know this feeling: your spouse is gone and you have to take care of something important, so you shut off your emotions to solve the problem.

The first thing to do was book a flight. I called Southwest and they got us on a flight out the next day at a ridiculously low military fare. Contacted the dog trainer to pick up our dog. Started laundry and packing. By the time we sat down for dinner, I was exhausted, and frustrated that all of this was happening while Craig was gone. Perhaps the most difficult thing was canceling on a luncheon scheduled for the same day as the services. I was to be honored at a luncheon that had been on the books for six months. It was also the first event that my mom was going to be able to attend, we were going to debut our newest book (stay tuned!) and I could not have been more excited. However, I knew that if I stayed I wouldn’t be at my best. I would be worrying about my Grandma, my dad, and the rest of my family.

My Aunt Mary was one of those ladies that would do anything for anyone. When I was in elementary school, if I needed to go home sick and the school couldn’t reach my mom, they would call Aunt Mary and Aunt Ginger (sisters) to pick me up. I would lie on the couch, watching The Price is Right, eating fruit Mentos. One day when my throat was particularly sore, I was given a bell to ring if I needed anything. :) She could only see the good in people and this was never more evident, or entertaining, than a few years ago when my Aunt Marg and I walked her out as Aunt Ginger went to bring the car around. Aunt Mary proclaimed that “Ginger really is the best driver” as she backed over my Aunt Marg’s beautiful flower bed. She will be missed. And I needed to be there to say goodbye.

Have you lost someone important to you while you were living away from home? Did you stay, or did you go?

The EASIEST Slow Cooker Chicken Ever. Seriously. Ever.

This is the meal that every person who has ever helped us with a PCS has enjoyed. It’s delicious, takes mere minutes to prepare, and tastes like you put a lot of hard work into making. ;)

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

1 bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce (Weber has really good ones that do NOT contain high fructose corn syrup)
1 pound (or more) of skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 package buns
Sliced cheese (optional)
Cole slaw (optional)

Drop the chicken breasts into the bottom of a slow cooker. Pour half a bottle of BBQ sauce of top. Slow cook on low for 4-5 hours. That’s it. It will naturally pull apart as it cooks! When you’re ready to eat, simply place the chicken on a bun, then top with extra sauce, sliced cheese, and/or coleslaw. It’s amazing.

I usually bake up some Alexia organic fries with this. :)

“Can’t We All Just Get Along?”

Those are the words my dad would say to me any time I had a falling out with one of my “friends” in high school. Until one time I came home from school, my senior year, crying because one of my best friends called me fat. My dad listened, and when I was finished I waited for him to say “Can’t we all just get along?” with a snide smile. Instead he replied: “Why don’t you go to school tomorrow and tell her that you can lose weight, but she’ll always be ugly?” Before I could pick my jaw up from the ground, he came back with some of the best advice I’ve ever been given: “Do you think she’s at home crying over this too?” No. No she wasn’t. So I splashed my cold water on my face and got over it.

I thought I was done with mean girls after high school, until I married Craig and was introduced to the world of military spouses. Don’t get me wrong, the true friends I have in this world are unparalleled; they’re there through thick and thin. There’s a reason why I refer to my good friends as my “military family.” But beyond that, there are lots of mean girl military spouses. Not in the military? Here’s an example: a few years ago, I went to a party hosted by one of the families in Craig’s new squadron. He had been in the squadron for a little while, but it was the first event I had been able to attend. When we walked into the room there was a group of maybe eight senior military wives talking together. As if out of a movie, they all looked at me, then immediately turned to each other and began gossiping about me…within an arm’s reach. Ouch.

Until recently, I had (happily) never heard the term “Dependapotamus.” Yikes. While I’ve heard horror stories of spouses cheating during a deployment, the way this term is used to describe wives in general is pretty sad. Yesterday, I was reading through a well-meaning Facebook post promoting the Military Spouse of the Year nominations, and references to Dependas were rampant. Graphics were posted, people were tossing insults and all I don’t think my eyes could have opened any wider. (One said something along the lines of: “I could give you some tips on that, but you’d probably just sugar coat them and eat them!” First of all, that’s incredibly clever. Secondly, it would have been hurtful if the person she replied to had been dealing with body image issues.)

Listen, it’s the start of a new year, and I think we should stop being so hard on each other. Let’s not judge one another on who works too much, too little, doesn’t spend enough time with their kids (in our outsider opinions), etc. I’m guilty of it in the past, but I am making a promise to myself that I won’t be that way ever again. Y’all with me?!

And to those that may be feeling badly, consider this: anyone can be brave behind a computer. If you are a good person and your family is happy, you should sleep well tonight. And remember, those mean girls aren’t at home crying, so you shouldn’t be either. You are loved! :)

Twenty Minute Meals: Chicken Tostadas

I modified this recipe for Chicken Tostadas from the most recent issue of Parents magazine. It took 20 minutes to prepare, was super tasty, and very filling (my husband could only eat two!).

8 6-inch corn tortillas
1 tbs. olive oil
1 can refried beans (or homemade, if you have some stored!)
1 1/2 cups shredded chicken (I had a leftover spicy chicken breast in the fridge that I shredded)
1/2 head shredded iceberg lettuce (or romaine)
1 large tomato, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
Lime wedges (optional)
Shredded cheddar (optional)
Sour cream (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush tortillas lightly with olive oil, then bake for 10 minutes (flip once, halfway through).
2. Warm beans and chicken
3. Build! We spread the beans on the tortillas first, then added everything else. Squeeze a lime on top for a fun zest of flavor.
4. Enjoy. My husband said they tasted like “the biggest, best, crispy nachos.”