This Page

has been moved to new address

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

Sorry for inconvenience...

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service
Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): August 2010

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

My Photo
Location: United States

After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Driving from SHAPE to Chievres Air Base, Belgium

It takes about 30 minutes on two main separate drags to get out to Chievres from SHAPE.  I thought I would film my drive down Route d'Ath on into the Chievres area.  Luckily, the roads are not indicative of the really bad roads you find around here.  Plus, these major roads also have bike paths and are fairly wide.  You'll also find many restaurants catering to Americans (so please don't think this is typical Belgian eating), bakeries, groceries, a delicatessen (with homemade microwavable meals available too), butcher shops, banks and other shopping opportunities in the towns you encounter along the way.

Take a look!


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

For Pet Owners Only

It is with an absolutely heavy heart I write this today.  I can't even post a photo.....I've been putting this off for two weeks but feel I need to get the information out there to other pet owners, in case you are as oblivious and unaware as I was....Why?  Because my German Shephard has always been healthy and never had any issues.  After five hours....he was dead....just like best friend....and here I am in a foreign country and not speaking the language.  Here's how to be better prepared than I was, and if I can just save one pet, it'll give me a modicum of "feel good" on this depressing day.

My dog's problems started the day we moved into our new home.  He had been getting the food from the kennel rather than his regular food....our first mistake.  Do NOT change your dog's food, especially older dogs, as it messes with their digestive system!  The combination of the stress of moving and changing his diet so quickly contributed greatly to my beloved animal succumbing to bloat.  It killed him quickly and before I could figure out what was even happening to him.  Of course, things like this always happen at night, where you feel all alone in the first place.

Living here in the SHAPE community, you are out in the country with not a lot of 24 hour veterinarian care.  Please stop by the Army vets on Daumerie Kaserne (across from Chievres) to get a listing of local vets who also speak English.  There are a few. 

Second, know what to do after hours.

Third, and hopefully, you won't get to this point, but if your pet dies, know that there is an absolutely wonderful pet crematorium out towards Charleroi, about 30 minutes away.  It is called Cremanima Respect SA in Sombreffe.  All the local vets should be familiar with them.  Cremanima can make arrangements to pick up your pet as well, and they do cremations from the size of a hamster to a horse and charge according to weight.  We drove our dog there, dropped him off, where they kept him refrigerated until the day of his scheduled cremation.  Large dogs and horses need to be done later in the day because of their size, and we did have to wait a few days to fit him into the schedule.

After arrival, we were led to the area with the ovens, where they set up a nice spot with candles, country white washed furniture and your dog on a gurney.....with rose petals scattered around, bunches of roses and your pet wrapped lovingly in a nice paper blanket.  I was touched at how they took the time to make our dog look like he was only sleeping.  We had time to say good-bye and pet him...which was gut wrenching to say the least.  I had no idea an animal could have such an effect on us, but I realized he was truly a member of our family.

After some time, the staff, who speak English, ask if you want to stay while they move him into the oven.  We chose to stay.  They wheel the gurney over to the open door.  The oven is already on, and carefully, they move the body inside.  They immediately shut the door and then fire up the controls.  You hear a whoosh and a bit of smoke escapes the door and the process begins.

They then led us to a small waiting room with couches and loving memorials all over the walls with photos, collars, poems and plaques from pets who have passed on.  You are welcome to bring your mementos.  We chose to bring our dog's toy and put it beside him as we said our good-byes.  They also have memorial books you can write in and did see a few entries from other Americans....some of the memorials had photos pasted inside or pressed rose petals....all were lovingly handwritten, sometimes by more than one family member.

Again, since our dog was larger, it took one and a half hours for his cycle to be completed.  They asked if we wanted to take part in the shoveling...we chose not to, although I can see where it may be therapeutic.  We then waited while they transferred some of his ashes to a small urn, which we will take with us until we move to our forever retirement home.  The rest of his ashes, they placed in a cookie tin, which we plan to scatter in a memorable place here in Europe.

I just can't bring myself to write his I will end poor baby...I never would've thought that I would lose him so soon...he was only eight years old.  I unfortunately beat myself up about the possibility that I might have been able to save him, had I gotten him emergency medical care right when his symptoms first started.  If you have a big dog, please be familiar with this second largest killer of dogs.

I'll be taking a few days off...but will be back soon.

Labels: ,

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Backroads of Belgium

Today I decided to go "the back way" from SHAPE to Chievres.  Today I also realized that Chievres is also an Army Airfield and NOT an Air Force Base (Army Aviators would cringe at me calling it an Air Force Base...oops sorry about that!).  Anyway, the Belgians decided to resurface the maindrag between the two locations, so I hung a left midway through, and here is the result.  You could get lost out there!  What did we do before GPSs?

Check it out below:


Friday, August 13, 2010

Visit and Stay in Prague in Diplomatic Style

Haven't done it myself, but I have talked to folks who tried it....liked it...and will do it again soon. If you are traveling to Prague any time soon, please visit the site below for a hotel alternative.

Embassy Apartments

Do you have any tips to share from Prague?


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Other Great Blogs That Cover the SHAPE & Chievres, Belgium Area

Before my own arrival here in Belgium, I of course scoured the internet for other blogs and moving advice for Belgium.  I didn't find too much, but the blogs I found were a great help!  Be sure to check them out!

Here are some sites that helped me out (do searches for SHAPE and moving to get to the relevant military and moving posts on these blogs...but with that being said, I enjoyed the rest of the posts as well).

"What Goes on in her Head?" with Edith Mills.  The local (and traveling) antics of Edith and her family....funny, funny and informative!  She lives in a carriage house of a local chateau and has traveled extensively all over Europe (and the US).

Jessica Wants to Be has written an informative blog entry on moving to the Mons area.  She is not military and formerly lived in Italy.  Her later entries cover her mostly passionate love of running.

The Shand Family is by an expat family living in Belgium.  Nice glimpse into city life and a family with young children.

If you know of any interesting blogs covering Belgium, please post them below!


Monday, August 9, 2010

A Video Tour of SHAPE, Belgium

I went to the monthly fleamarket on SHAPE this past weekend....good deals actually.  Lots of people are moving this summer, so I got all the 220 volt appliances and then some that we needed.  On my way out, I thought I'd take a drive around on an early Sunday morning and give a little tour of the post.

Have a look!


Friday, August 6, 2010

After Reading About Tiny Little Houses with Ingenious Storage.....

I enjoy looking at picture books of houses...magazines too....but only the realistic ones.  I'm not going to mention names of magazines here, but you know the fancy ones I'm speaking of that show photos of homes that can't possibly be homes that us normal folks live in!  Anyway, back to tiny homes.  Here's what I recommend to take a look at to get ideas of your own that will help you with your own storage techniques....

The book is called, The Very Small Home: Japanese Ideas for Living Well in Limited Space by Azby Brown.  I think I must've thumbed through it about 10 times....seeing something new in each crisp and clear photograph.  What neat ideas and look how creative people can be!

I then stumbled across this website.  Stop by Decorating a Tiny House to get your own ideas!  Do you have any ideas to share!


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ask VMW: I Want to Go Overseas with My Boyfriend!

I do seem to get this next question a lot....ahhhhh, young love!

"I am currently state side and will be moving to Germany with my boyfriend in August.  As far as the visa goes, my question had more to do with staying in the country for longer than 90 days if I'm planning on marrying someone who is based there?  I understand that the benefits do not exist in any such way when it comes to military, but I'm just trying to make sure things between him and I are more than the right thing before we plan some shot gun wedding."

And here is my response:

I know a few girls who came over with their BF...the ones with a good education, job credentials and good resume, got a job while they were stateside (by far the easiest method but not necessarily easy to achieve as the process is VERY competive whether you go the contractor route or the government path).  You should ideally be able to support yourself over here without your BF's help.

If you follow him on your tourist visa, you will have NO support.  I know of one girlfriend who was in a car accident...minor but expensive...she ended up having to go back to the US after her accident and their relationship did not survive.

Depending on what your boyfriend's rank is, he may or may not be allowed to live off post.  A new rule requires that all Staff Sergeants - (E6s and below) MUST live in single soldier housing on post.  That would mean without you.  If your BF had a higher rank and could live off post, you'd still be stuck.  You would be on your tourist visa and limited to 90 days in country.  You would not be able to go on post unless he signed you in every time (and out) or your BF could take you and a copy of your flight itinerary to get you a temporary pass issued, which would cover you and allow you to go on post with or without him escorting you.  Your pass will expire the day after your flight itinerary shows you are to return back to the US.

Even though you can travel freely on and off post with a pass, you will not be able to shop at any of the onpost establishments without a military or military dependent ID no grocery shopping or otherwise (unless you shop offpost with Euros).

You will also be unable to get a job off post on the German economy with a tourist visa, unless you happen to work "under the table" somewhere and not too many businesses would be willing to go out on a limb for you like that.  In the end, you could end up being a burden rather than a welcome sight!  Trust me on this one!

My suggestion, and take it for what it's worth to you, is to set up regular visits.  If your boyfriend is on an unaccompanied tour (without dependents or family), then it will only be two years...visit him twice a year, and do regular internet chats, webcams, letters and whatever you need to do...this will also be a good test for you to see if your love can last....most of us veteran wives have found out that being apart actually makes your relationship stronger!  Also, if your BF comes overseas...what will you do when he gets deployed for six months to a year or whatever, depending on his job.  I'd say two years apart with some visits mixed in is a great opportunity and test for your relationship...if you can soldier thru that, your relationship can last thru ANY deployment and in today's military, there will be many...not just one or two.  AND your relationship has a better chance of survival!

Again, just my opinion...but I know what I'm talking about...I have counseled dozen of young wives and a few girlfriends...just something to think about it.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Goods Brought Back from Deployment

I just realized I have a collection going. I call it my "brought back from deployment" cache from the many deployments I've endured (yes, endured). What's so funny about that? It's just that, about two dozen of my friends, have almost the exact same things I have. Let me add, that we are also very careful not to bring back any antiquities, weapons or other forbidden stuff (just don't do it; it's not honest and should make you feel bad really).  How much you wanna bet you have some of these same things yourself if your spouse is going where our spouses are going?

Here is my list of treasures:

  • a "real gold" necklace in the shape of a palm tree from Kuwait that broke apart the first time I wore it
  • a sterling silver hand-hammered necklace with a stone I don't recognize and that hangs just low enough to get hidden under my shirt and fall into my cleavage (not on purpose really)
  • a Burkha (am I supposed to wear it or use it as a costume for Halloween?)
  • a prayer rug from Afghanistan (makes a warm spot for my feet getting out of bed)
  • a wooden African elephant with a possible termite living in his butt after repeated piles of wood dust showing up in his rear area (he is no longer with us)
  • a soapstone tiger that looks more like a kitty
  • a handmade chess set (really well done I might add)
  • a real honest-to-goodness handmade Persian rug (one that is actually "real")
  • a wooden collapsible basket with concentric circles (very cool and they make great gift baskets)
  • a wooden heavily engraved door from Timbuktu (they are known there for these things you know)
  • a handmade silver bracelet I truly believe is the only one like it, it is so unusual
  • many colorful silk and pashmina scarves (I LOVE these!)
  • a handmade silver ring with a Chinese stone and a scripture of protection from the Koran written in minute detail on the face of the stone (yes, I needed my neighbor who spoke the language and a magnifying glass to verify this was indeed true!)
I love all my treasures!  Thank-you hubby!  Do you have any favorites that were brought back from a deployment?

Labels: ,