Monday, June 6, 2011

Military Life....From a Brat's Perspective: Sharon of Happy Hapa

The Military Brat Team and the Homefront Team are combining efforts to share our experiences with the military lifestyle so that others can fully understand the sense of community, sacrifices, benefits, and expectations we all share as members of a truly unique group of people. Each month we will feature a story shared by a Military Brat Team member, and a story shared by a Homefront Team member.

  This Feature is written by Sharon, shop owner of Happy Hapa

Military Life….
From a Brat’s perspective
me as a kid in Japan
     The fairy tale began in the 1960’s when a young Air Force Staff Sergeant was stationed far away from home in Wakkanai, Japan.  There he met a beautiful Japanese woman working as a waitress at the NCO Club. They quickly fell in love, moved back to the United States, married and had their first child…  Me.  Yes, I am a military “brat,” and if brat translates to “spoiled” so be it. I had a glamorous childhood! While I didn’t live in a mansion, have a chauffeur, own a pony, or have a maid clean up after me I did get to do other stuff that kids only read about in books and magazines! Travel, live abroad, learn a new language and learn about a new culture all while living alongside military personnel and their families. Who gets to do that?

     While I was born in Louisiana I spent a majority of my elementary-middle school years growing up in Japan. It was an amazing experience. We had the comfort of living an American lifestyle on base but also enjoyed the freedom to safely travel off. It was exciting and I loved it!

     And I loved school. My classmates came from all over the world – some transferred from different parts of the United States, some from Europe, and some from other Asian countries. But regardless of where you were from, you were always made to feel welcome. The “new kid” was a novelty and was showered with attention.   

my husband (Eric) and I reunited in Vegas (pre-marriage)
    While living in Japan my parents were a bit strict and overprotective. To my classmates that translated to me being a “goodie-goodie.” I had a much earlier curfew than my friends and definitely didn’t have as much freedom as they did. Riding in friend’s cars, attending parties, smoking, drinking - didn’t happen! Instead I was a good girl. I listened to my parents and stayed out of trouble (for the most part). I was sweet and shy; studied hard in school; played the piano; swam on the swim team; acted in local plays and was the student government president. My parents kept me busy! So while I wasn’t part of the “cool” crowd I had a lot of fun and enjoyed my school years!  

   That was until the middle of my freshmen year. My dad came home and announced that we were being transferred. Instead of being thrilled to move to Hawaii I was devastated and cried for weeks! The move was beyond difficult and being the new kid in my new school was not the same experience as being the new kid at my old one. I missed my friends, my school and my home in Japan.

Things got better but it was never the same. Then, with the creation of the Internet, email, websites, MySpace and Facebook I began reconnecting with people I knew from as far back as first grade, even teachers!  We have continued to keep in touch and are still a tight-knit community. It’s been fun to be able to share our experiences, pictures, videos etc. from our days in Japan. We’ve also had several reunions with the first one being in Las Vegas where I ended up “meeting” my husband. Yes! The once goodie-goodie girl hooks up with the bad boy, athlete and marries! Who would’ve thought as we barely exchanged words “back in the day?”  That was over 11 years ago. We have been living “happily ever after” ever since! 

me and my kids
     But truly, the fairytale doesn’t end there. Now, as the wife of an Army Guardsman and the mother of two little girls I hope to teach my own children the same lessons I learned growing up as a “brat” – to love and respect the many cultures that surround us and to embrace and learn from our differences. Granted, my children’s experiences will be different but the lessons will remain the same. Living in Hawaii, the place that I once dreaded moving to ended up being the perfect place to do just that! Hawaii is not only known for their beautiful beaches and warm weather but it is also known as the “melting pot of the Pacific” – a place where different cultures come together as one. My life growing up as a brat in Japan prepared me for that!  I am truly grateful to my family, the military, my teachers, and friends for their role in enriching my life! I now hope to enrich others! 

Thank you so much Sharon for sharing your story! If you would like to submit a story for this series please contact us ("Contact" tab at the top of the blog) for consideration.  

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Military Life...from a Brat's Perspective: Briana of BP Design

The Military Brat Team and the Homefront Team are combining efforts to share our experiences with the military lifestyle so that others can fully understand the sense of community, sacrifices, benefits, and expectations we all share as members of a truly unique group of people. Each month we will feature a story shared by a Military Brat Team member, and a story shared by a Homefront Team member.
This feature is written by
owner of BP Design

Military Life….
From a brat’s perspective
   When asked “Where are you from?”, I usually pause.  Being a part of a military family means there is no one place that I am "from."   Every 2 years, Dad would get new orders. We’d pack up and be gone. Each new base would have a whole new set of friends, all with the same story. It is always hard to explain to people what it was like growing up in a military family.

    Most of my childhood was spent on the West coast. There were 4 short years that we spent on the East coast. For those 4 years, we resided in North Carolina. I remember riding all over base housing on my bicycle, learning the lay of the land. There were some woods behind our house that held trails and “hunting” grounds. We played in the Neuse River. A little pill box with a cat on the front held (still holds) my collection of shark teeth that washed onto the shore.

   It was during those years that I learned to quilt. Dad was in Iraq. Mom and I would go to a fellow military family’s house and meet with other women. Everyone would bring their quilting. I still have the nine patch that I started. It has blue, pink and cream colored squares. This quilt was to be hand-pieced.

   One day we got together for quilting, I remember the women sitting around crying and comforting each other. The call had come. We had lost one of our men. Each woman in that room was hurting for the one who had lost their spouse, brother and son. I haven’t picked up the squares since then. Maybe someday I’ll be able to finish it.

   As a kid, I knew that Dad was working a lot. I didn’t really understand until that day. He was “working” for our freedom. Our right as a country to choose who leads us. Our right to be individuals. He was willing to give the ultimate sacrifice for me, my siblings, Mom and people he had never met.

   Now I am a mother of boys. Whenever we are in town and I see someone in uniform, I point them out to my boys. I tell my boys in a voice for those around to hear, “That man or woman is fighting for your freedom, just like your uncle.”

Thank you Briana for sharing your story!  If you would like to submit a story for this series please contact us ("Contact" tab at the top of the blog) for consideration. 

Robin Norgren, Blog Coordinator

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Military Life...From a Spouse's Perspective: Leah Butler

The Military Brat Team and the Homefront Team are combining efforts to share our experiences with the military lifestyle so that others can fully understand the sense of community, sacrifices, benefits, and expectations we all share as members of a truly unique group of people. Each month we will feature a story shared by a Military Brat Team member, and a story shared by a Homefront Team member.

  This Feature is written by Leah Butler, shop owner of Reyna Red 

Military Life….
From a spouse's perspective
      I met my husband in a chat room, on Valentine’s Day 2006. He was in the midst of deciding what branch of military service he wanted to join.  Talking to him about military service, his concerns about being a decade older than everyone, and how he’d handle a change from academia to being a soldier helped me get to know him.

      We met in person for the first time in San Francisco in April of the same year, and continued talking on the phone and emailing nearly every day. We fell in love through a few letters written back and forth while he was in Air force boot camp in San Antonio.  That first phone call from Basic, choked us both up, I can’t even describe how amazing it was to hear his voice.
      I still remember that feeling even now, because there’s a moment at the beginning of every TDY and deployment where you are just waiting.  Waiting to hear he made it safely, that he’s ok, and that he loves you.  It’s one of those things that connect military spouses – the waiting – keeping those home fires burning for those we love.
Thank you Leah for sharing your story! If you would like to be featured here, please contact us via the CONTACT tab at the top of the blog. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

HF Tutorial: Double Knotting

Pearl Knotting is tedious sometimes--we do it for the elegant look as well as security and strength--and sometimes it extends out 16 inch strands we buy at stores or shows to a wearable length without the necessity of stringing with other materials--and leaving jewelry makers with leftover stash.

This is a really good example of how to do single knots:

Single knotting is great--but when you are starting out with the knotting, sometimes it is difficult to get standard size knots--and further--to get knots that will immediately lay straight like a professional knotted necklace or bracelet.

Now double knotting (or triple, or quadruple knotting) can give you an even knot each time, allowing the stone to have something to lay on, that is almost perfectly square, making a completely uniform knot.

First the supplies:  A strand of beads, clamshell terminators (these are just my favorite for the strength as I use some heavy stones--that need a perfect length to lay without weight on your collar bone--hence the 2 inch extender I add to my necklaces), a lobster claw and jumpring (or a clasp of your choice) and bead cord ( I like Griffin Bead Silk so that I can match the cord color with the stone/bead, plus the sizes are great--I stock up on size ten when I am making a stone necklace.).

Now to start the piece--may I suggest trying this with something for yourself first, so that you can learn as you go and not have to redo something you intend on selling?

 Step By Step:

Take all the bead cord (if using griffin, just take it all off) you need to knot with--1-2 meters is good for a nice 18 inch necklace and start your first knot by wrapping the cord around your index finger and middle finger twice.  

Now wrap the cord over your fingers like you are going to make a single knot:

Pull it through, rolling the double wrap over itself so that the top knot is kn the bottom and the bottom knot is on the top.  After this step you will close the bottom knot (which was the top) first and then close the top knot over it, making a square (shaped) knot. 

No put you clamshell on the end of the cord and slide it to the end so that eventually you can close the clamsehll over your first knot.  Then repeat the knot process on the other side of the clamshell for this look:

Slide a bead or stone on the end of the knot, pushing it down with your fingers or nails to make a tight grip--this is where triple and quadruple knotting may come in.  When you have super chunky stones they may have HUGE holes and need more knots so they don't slide around your knotting.

Now knot again on the other side of the bead, add another bead to the cord, and continue:

Once you get the hang of this technique you won't be using your knotting tool or your tweezers anymore.  Plus you will notice that your knotting is not only perfectly uniform, but easier to do--making it so you can knot a piece while doing almost anything.

Happy Beading....Here's the Final Product:

Thank you Maggie of Maggie's Jewelry for sharing this with us.  If you are interested in being featured on the blog, contact us via the Contact tab at the top of the page.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

HF Support: Moms with Businesses - Success Stories

Here's a segment from Dave Ramsey's show offering success stories of moms who have launched small businesses from home. We hope you are inspired by their stories.

Well of Creations - Blog Leader

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Story Behind the (Shop) Name: OkiRoo

Here's the story behind her (shop) name:

      Being a military spouse lends itself to a life of adventure, if you let it.  For me, our adventure began together in Okinawa, Japan.  I married my Marine during my senior year of college, and moved to the small island in the Pacific to join him immediately upon graduation.  I was just so happy to finally be with my husband and that I was surprised to find myself quickly falling in love with Okinawa, an island rich with friendly people, rich culture, beautiful coral, and yummy food.

     Fast forward 3 ½ years, and we started the next chapter in our adventure with a move to the states.  We decided to fly into Seattle and drive across the states to our next duty station in Florida.  A long drive, yes, but a great opportunity to see the country.  And, why not?  We were young, had no kids, and had the time to do it.  It sounds like a great idea, but once again, we were in for another surprise.  The day after we landed in Seattle, we learned that Baby Roo was on her way.  It was as if the morning sickness kicked in as soon as I saw the results on the stick.  Road trip across America with your husband: good idea.  Road trip across America with your husband while you have full blown morning sickness: bad idea.

But, I’m a tough Marine wife (ha!), and four weeks later we arrived in sunny Florida with white sand beaches.  Hubby’s mission: find a house, find a dog.  We put an offer on a house three days after our arrival.  A month later we moved into our new home.  Within a week, we brought home our new best friend and adorable black lab, Oki (She makes her appearance on my shop banner).
Our Baby Roo arrived the following spring, and from the time I knew I was pregnant, I also knew that I would be taking time off of teaching to spend time raising my daughter.  After she was born, I started making some cute stuff for her, bibs, burp cloths, bows.  I think you can see where this is going.  

With some encouragement from my hubby and a challenge from a Bible study group, I decided to start up OkiRoo, named after our beloved island, dog, and daughter.  Since opening, I’ve expanded from bows and bibs to some cute dresses and adorable t-shirts.  I’m loving the opportunity to create such cute baby things, but more than that, I’m loving our new adventure, life with our Baby Roo.

Thank you Alicia for sharing your story! If you are interested in being featured in this space, please use the Contact tab at the top of the page to reach the blog coordinator.