Articles by Sarah Smiley

Sarah Smiley

Ebola response eroding military-civilian trust

By Sarah Smiley on Nov. 02, 2014, at 1:08 p.m.
We, the military community, will look back on the Ebola crisis as the time when the military-civilian divide split like a gorge. At issue are quarantines. President Barack Obama, speaking to C-Span recently about the differences between post-Ebola exposure quarantines for military and civilian workers, said this: “When we have …
From the time I released my costume control to Ford until about three years ago, he and Owen only dressed as Star Wars characters for Halloween.

Halloween: It’s for the (older) kids

By Sarah Smiley on Oct. 24, 2014, at 9:24 a.m.
I ruined my oldest son’s experiences with Halloween. I regret that. But maybe by sharing my story, I can help you not to ruin your child’s experience. Parenting is scary stuff, and our society is full of fear. I drank that Kool-aid once. I believed my son might be kidnapped …
Sarah Smiley

The military: Sacrificing personal freedoms for you

By Sarah Smiley on Oct. 19, 2014, at 9:24 a.m.
All this month: — A school district in Washington state decided to remove swings sets from its playgrounds after the tragic death of a child. Never mind the thousands — no, millions — of children nationwide who get good old-fashioned, diabetes-fighting exercise on swing sets. — A school district in …
Sarah Smiley

Tearing up carpet, finding surprises

By Sarah Smiley on Oct. 11, 2014, at 2:15 p.m.
As a military family, we had not lived in one house for more than 2 years. This is an under-appreciated expense of military life. Our choices are: (1) rent for 20 years and never have the chance to build equity, (2) buy and sell houses on a regular basis, also …
Sarah Smiley

The hardest part about living with all boys

By Sarah Smiley on Oct. 05, 2014, at 10 a.m.
When I married my husband, Dustin, there were certain things I knew about him. I knew he leaves his keys wherever he feels like it and can’t find them later. I knew that, left to his own devices, Dustin will put his spoons in one kitchen drawer and his forks …
Sarah Smiley

At home or away, the grass isn’t greener

By Sarah Smiley on Sept. 28, 2014, at 6:21 a.m.
Four weeks ago (before I left Dustin home alone with the kids for a whole week): Me: I’m making a list of things I’d like you to do around the house while I’m gone. Dustin: Okay. That’s fine. Just make sure you give me the list, and I’ll get it …
Sarah Smiley

Dustin hosts dinner with the Smileys solo

By Sarah Smiley on Sept. 21, 2014, at 11:08 a.m.
In 2012, my three sons and I hosted 52 weekly dinners to fill Dustin’s empty seat at the dinner table while he was on a yearlong deployment. In 2013, our story came out as the book “Dinner with the Smileys” ( Last week, it was released in paperback. While …
Sarah Smiley

A voice from the past

By Sarah Smiley on Sept. 14, 2014, at 9:05 a.m.
Lindell and I were driving to and from errands, me lost in my thoughts about the day, and Lindell playing with my phone in the backseat. The car streamed music over Bluetooth, but because Lindell had the phone and it was on shuffle, I had no control over which tracks …
Sarah Smiley

Chirping fire alarm tests patience

By Sarah Smiley on Sept. 07, 2014, at 11:09 a.m.
I knew this day eventually would come, but I always thought it would be while Dustin was on deployment. Every morning while Dustin was away, I’d wake up and stare at the faint, blinking light on the fire alarm fixed to the highest point of the vaulted ceiling above our …
Sarah Smiley's son enjoys a sunset.

Summer’s brevity is also its beauty

By Sarah Smiley on Aug. 31, 2014, at 9:03 a.m.
Maine summers are beautiful, but so fleeting. Soon enough, the snow will fall and dark will come before dinner. Little wooden teepees will cover neighbors’ shrubs, and stakes on the side of the road will mark how far the plows should go. And before Christmas even, we will begin dreaming …
Sarah Smiley's son learns to ride a bike.

When a parent lets go of the bike

By Sarah Smiley on Aug. 24, 2014, at 11:46 a.m.
The second-biggest secret parents keep from their children is this: Training wheels in no way truly prepare you for riding a bike alone. They just don’t. This is what makes learning to ride a bike so unforgettable. The entire process is unnatural. There is no way to ease into it, …
Sarah Smiley

How my husband helped me through depression

By Sarah Smiley on Aug. 17, 2014, at 12:23 p.m.
Robin Williams’s tragic death fortunately brings depression back into focus. I say “fortunately” because the more we talk about it, the more people we help. In January and again in April, I shared with you my own struggles with depression. This past winter I experienced one of my worst episodes. …
Sarah Smiley

‘8th and I’: An unforgettable Marine experience

By Sarah Smiley on Aug. 10, 2014, at 10:02 a.m.
Sometimes, events that affect us the most have a difficult time finding their way to the page. It’s been a week since Dustin and I were invited to the Commandant of the Marine Corps General Amos’ house to welcome First Sea Lord, Sir George Zambellas, from the UK and to …
Sarah Smiley

Military Child Education Coalition brings hope to military kids

By Sarah Smiley on Aug. 03, 2014, at 8:43 a.m.
Imagine you are a child sitting in a classroom. The teacher casually mentions “Susan Constant” and “Christopher Newport” in her lecture. You look around the room, and no one else seems confused. They are following right along, nodding their heads. You don’t remember Susan Constant or Christopher Newport, but you …
Sarah Smiley

The fairness of the universe (and coin tosses)

By Sarah Smiley on July 27, 2014, at 10:30 a.m.
If you have multiple children, you know the worst situation a parent can have: there are several options, but only one that is good, and everyone wants it. It doesn’t even matter if that option really isn’t good by adult standards. As soon as one child says he desperately wants …
Sarah Smiley

My 14-year-old son’s lessons on being an adult

By Sarah Smiley on July 20, 2014, at 10:07 a.m.
Now that my oldest son, Ford, is almost 14 years old, he spends a lot of time thinking about what it means to be an adult. I don’t remember thinking the same way when I was 14, but I’m sure my husband, Dustin, did. This is likely a lesson in …
Sarah Smiley

Car shopping with the Smileys

By Sarah Smiley on July 13, 2014, at 6:48 a.m.
We were in the market for a new car, and it had been awhile. In fact, now that our youngest child is 7, this would be the first new car in 14 years that we’d buy without the thought of car seats. Cars have changed a lot. If you haven’t …
Sarah Smiley

Sarah Smiley answers readers’ burning questions

By Sarah Smiley on July 06, 2014, at 9:01 a.m.
I often get messages, and sometimes actual letters, from readers asking a variety of questions. Unfortunately, I can’t always respond to them, as the family tends to want dinner, but I do read everything (that isn’t in the comments section), and today I’d like to provide some answers. Is Smiley …
Sarah Smiley

A letter to my future daughters-in-law

By Sarah Smiley on June 29, 2014, at 6:09 a.m.
Dear future daughters-in-law, I have you in mind quite a bit. I am keenly aware that my three boys will live with me for a mere 18 years and with you for a lifetime. My successes and missteps impact your future. I know this because I live with a man …
Sarah Smiley

Phone use at restaurant is wake-up call to turn off our devices

By Sarah Smiley on June 20, 2014, at 8:23 a.m.
Last weekend, our family was on a getaway in Bar Harbor. If you were visiting at the same time, I’m sure you heard us. It doesn’t matter that you were at a different hotel; we are loud everywhere. Even critters beached by low tide on the bar skittered away from …
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