Military Finances: Newlyweds on 2 Separate Continents

 

*******This post is part of the series, The Real Army Wives. For last week’s post click here.*******

Guest Post from Cloe

Real Army Wives: The Mystery Checks

Today’s post is written by a good friend and fellow real Army wife of mine who is the inspiration for the character, Cloe. You can read more about her on this post. When I mentioned this to Alan, he said, “Oh yeah, Rob! That dude had to shave his face twice a day.” Oh, the things you remember…

 

Early Summer 2003

“What? What do you mean there isn’t enough in the account to cover this withdrawal?”

I stand in front of the bank teller counter confused. I’ve been the only one using the account for three months since my husband left for war. I thought I had a handle on this part of military life, even if I was only 20 years old.

The teller says she can pull the account history. Apparently, several checks just cleared and they were signed in my husband’s name.

I haven’t heard from him since he left- no letter, no email, no phone call. I had written to him at least once a week. Although I was in college, I didn’t know many people since I hadn’t lived near Killeen for long. Writing letters helped me feel closer to him.

I wrote him a different kind of letter this time: expressing my concern of the possibility of fraudulent checks or if it was him- I was really upset he spent that much money without thinking of how I would pay the bills! I had paid the rent by the “skin of my teeth”.

But I kept glancing at the account history and copies of the checks. I even called his dad and asked him to take a look at them.

Somehow each check had the date, amount, and signature written differently. Why were the dates sometimes numbers but others written as words? Some in cursive but others in print letters? Why was the signature not consistent? It made no sense to me.

In the letter I wrote, the first words were “We’ve got a real problem”!

I also sent him the bank paperwork to claim someone had committed check fraud, pretty serious stuff. I believed someone had stolen the few checks he took with him.

A few weeks later he called! I was so nervous to take his call, I had dreamed and wished for so long (3 months) to hear from him and talk gushy sweet nothings as newlyweds . But, it wasn’t the sappy call I was hoping for. He called because his command heard about the potential check fraud paperwork I had sent. His Lieutenant Colonel allowed him to call because they were concerned.

That’s when he breaks the news to me that he had never written a check before.

Seriously, at 20 he hadn’t written a check before???? I couldn’t believe he had actually written those checks. He said he really needed those items he bought at the PX in Kuwait.

I felt sort of bad for him, being in the midst of war and all, but I still asked him to rip up any remaining checks.

It was one of the first financial lessons we learned as a married couple.

–And looking back probably a clue into my love of accounting. To this day we still joke about one item he bought, which was new technology for 2003. It never made it home since within a few days of purchase it “fried” in the intense Iraq summer heat! So much for being “necessary.”

 

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It truly was a struggle trying to manage finances from 2 separate continents. You can’t predict the crazy things that will happen!

Thank you so much for allowing me to post your story, Cloe!

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When Your Oxen (I Mean Kids) Are Messing Up Your House

My coffee table is covered in children’s books, a box of Legos, my Bibles, a box of crayons, a sippy cup, and ALL the little Lego men that I swept out from under the couch this morning.

There’s also a few preschool crafts and the remote control to the t.v.

Then there’s the center piece, all buried in there. It’s supposed to be an ornate pedestal bowl of THREE ornamental balls, but of course someone broke one…..when they were using it as a bowling ball, I believe.

Most of my house is as cluttered as that little table. I won’t even bother lying and saying it’s just because we’ve been busy lately.

Busy lately? Ha! It’s been pretty high tempo since about 2011.

We, like most American parents, live a little overwhelmed, stressed, sleepy, tired, and yes, we’re busy lately.

I rushed home from volunteering in the library this morning (BEST job ever– I love it so much I have trouble making myself leave it). As soon as I pulled in the driveway, the LOWE’s people were here with our new dryer.

Only I was being thrifty and purchased a dented dryer, so I have to send it right back because the drum is rubbing the dent in the side, making quite a loud racket. Problem not solved…

I unloaded the dishes and made myself lunch, but I needed some words of comfort.

Words of encouragement go a great distance when life is an uphill climb.

Kindness I read from a blogger a few years ago came back to me as I sat in my favorite chair, staring at that cluttered up coffee table.

She’s a mom of five boys, but she doesn’t blog anymore. Still what she said is with me though, and her words were so wise…

4Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, But much revenue comes by the strength of the ox.     

 Proverbs 14:4

Julie (the blogger) said that this verse reminded her of her life. Her house is full of oxen, and so her stable is never clean, but look at all the glorious benefits of having a house full of children, 5 boys in her case.

Yes, people without……oxen……have tidier spaces. People with more OCD may also be better at it.

People with the tidy mangers even occasionally say hurtful things to us.

In the past four years, several folks have (surely unintentionally) hurt my feelings about my house. They didn’t get it.

 

 

Normal, right? No, it gets worse than this. I do have enough pride to not show you those pictures

 

But what is that to us?

Our life is richer thanks to these oxen. There’s not a parent worth having who would not agree that their children are their greatest blessing.

Sometimes I’m actually embarrassed to tell people about all my children because it feels like bragging, which we try not to do!! This glorious blessing is not something any of us take lightly.

Empty stalls are for retirement. No thanks. I’d rather have my coffee table full of toys and my arms full of hugs. An empty nest will be something to embrace later, and I’m sure by then I will be ready for it.

 

For today, It’s better to have…..

coloring books in my dining room than empty place settings

Clean school shirts to fold on my couch than tidy rooms with no inhabitants

Video games in front of the t.v. than knick-knacks collecting dust

baseball hats on my hall tree than empty hooks serving no purpose

dried toothpaste in the boys’ sink than a guest bathroom that’s rarely used.

 

We can only clean so many areas at once, ya know? You do your best.

These little souls, made in the image of God, are put in our care for a season. It is our most precious duty. There is none like it, the charge to guard and bring up your children, both flesh and blood and adopted.

Your house is the stable, and your kids are the oxen.

And yes, it’s a messy job, but what a privilege!! What a privilege to have a house cluttered with preschool art and marked with chubby handprints. Be still my heart.

Eventually we will all be older and in a newer, cleaner phase of life. We will think we are still so busy because it will be hard to remember all this that we are doing now.

Maybe we’ll even shout to the neighbor kids to keep off the grass. Oh, I hope that’s never me.

But for today, the manger is full, and from the strength of the oxen comes the abundance of the harvest, and I am thankful. I hope you are too.

 

 

 

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Letters to War June 24, 2003: The Teaching Test Troubles

******This post is part of the Real Army Wives series which runs every Monday on storiesofourboys.com. The series follows our journey through the 1st year of the Iraq war, 2003-2004. **********

 

June 24, 2003

Dear Alan,

……Operation Iraq is getting more news time now. The big issue is the mounting amount of coalition troop deaths since the official end of the war. Just this week there were at least 6 British troops killed, and American lives are constantly lost. » Read more

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