Articles by Sarah Smiley

Sarah and Lindell Smiley during a recent visit with James "Jim" Dill, pest management specialist at the University of Maine's Cooperative Extension.

Bedbugs as pets? How dinner with an entomologist earthed up some insect truths

By Sarah Smiley on May 18, 2014, at 11:54 a.m.
Entomologist James “Jim” Dill and I serve on a board together at United Technologies Center in Bangor. Jim also is a state representative. That much I knew. However, when Jim casually mentioned during a meeting that he used to keep bedbugs as pets, I was curious. OK, I was stunned. …
Sarah Smiley

Pentagon’s proposed pay cuts will be devastating

By Sarah Smiley on May 11, 2014, at 10:03 a.m.
“Will you encourage your three boys to join the military?” That’s a question I get often because my husband, dad and father-in-law are Navy pilots. But it’s a question I struggle with, especially lately. Choosing the military always means choosing sacrifice. There is no question that a civilian engineer has …
Sarah Smiley

When mom’s away, the siblings will play

By Sarah Smiley on May 04, 2014, at 10:02 a.m.
As the kids get older, there are some things, thankfully, that get easier. One of these is doing errands — alone. This is, in fact, so far the only hope I can offer new parents: Someday, you will go to the grocery store alone, and it will feel like “Ferris …
Sarah Smiley

Depression doesn’t play favorites. But insurers do

By Sarah Smiley on April 27, 2014, at 5:49 a.m.
When I wrote about depression three months ago, I was still, for the most part, in the throes of it. Happily, with time and distance comes more perspective — some good, some not so good. I was overcome by the amount and quality of responses I received to that column. …
Sarah Smiley

Parenting: It doesn’t get easier

By Sarah Smiley on April 20, 2014, at 5:40 a.m.
Last week, I posted the following on Facebook: “Why didn’t anyone tell me that this parenting stuff just keeps getting harder?” The responses were amusing: “We didn’t want to scare you.” “At least you have boys!” “We wanted you to hang onto that little bit of hope.” “It’s on a …
Sarah Smiley

Mass shootings on military bases violate sense of security

By Sarah Smiley on April 13, 2014, at 5:59 a.m.
In more ways than one, the military has sometimes been an institution that change forgot. Some people refer to military life as living in a “bubble.” Some people have worse names for it. But for generations, the experience has remained the same: once inside that front gate — the one …
Sarah Smiley

Oldest son shows what he’s becoming

By Sarah Smiley on April 06, 2014, at 8:56 a.m.
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I took a picture of you standing next to the window in your nursery. The sun illuminated half your face, and you were holding a wooden train in one hand. When you heard my footsteps, you turned around, threw back your head and …

In life and in death, Marines and fathers are always faithful

By Sarah Smiley on March 30, 2014, at 8:24 a.m.
I wrote the following column in 2005 after my friend Marc Tace died of muscular dystrophy. This week marks 20 years since Marc’s dad, a Marine colonel, died of a heart attack while serving overseas. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Marc and his family. On Thursday, I was …
Sarah Smiley

Remembering the time I got my first military ID card

By Sarah Smiley on March 23, 2014, at 11:01 a.m.
For the average kid, preadolescence and the teen years are marked with many rites of passage: facial hair, deodorant, pimples, crushes and braces. There is the experience of wearing pants that fit yesterday but are too short today. There are awkward bus rides and annoying parents. And there is the …
Sarah Smiley

A new, disturbing trend at retail stores

By Sarah Smiley on March 16, 2014, at 9:43 a.m.
A disturbing trend is happening for people like me, people who majored in mass communication, not one-on-one communication. Small talk is difficult enough for me. I stammer, my palms sweat, and I say stupid things. But lately, my interactions with cashiers have become even more torturous. In fact, the problem …

The Navy’s 2014 Spouse Survey misses some things

By Sarah Smiley on March 09, 2014, at 8:39 a.m.
Somewhere at the Pentagon, someone with a lot of medals on his chest is shaking his head, wondering why I was chosen to take the 2014 Navy Spouse Personal and Family Readiness Survey. Except, the letter inviting my participation stated I was “randomly selected,” and I believe it. Any top …
These two photos (combined in one) of Sarah Smiley's grandmother, Doris, taken 60 years apart, were not staged. A nurse sent Smiley's mother the bottom photo, and when she saw it, she realized it looked incredibly like the top photo.

At 94, grandmother Doris still fighting

By Sarah Smiley on March 02, 2014, at 5:47 a.m.
My favorite story Doris told me was about their new phone number in Boston. Big Jack was going to law school at Harvard, and neither of them had ever really lived outside of Alabama. Big Jack spent most of his days at the library reading, and when he came home …
Dustin and Sarah Smiley with comedian and talk show host Stephen Colbert (center) at the White House State Dinner for French President Francois Hollande.

The Smileys go to the State Dinner, Part 2

By Sarah Smiley on Feb. 23, 2014, at 12:11 p.m.
The invitation read, “The President and Mrs. Obama request the pleasure of the company of Ms. Smiley at a dinner.” In the weeks leading up to the White House State Dinner honoring French President Francois Hollande, this was probably my favorite part of the whole thing. After 37 years of …
Ford, 13, Owen, 11, and Lindell, 7, Smiley visit with U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud and the Obama family's dogs, Bo and Sunny, at the White House last week. Dustin and Sarah Smiley were in Washington, D.C., to attend a State Dinner being held for French President Francois Hollande.

The Smileys dine with the Obamas, Part 1

By Sarah Smiley on Feb. 16, 2014, at 5:58 a.m.
When the first invitation came by email, I thought it was a joke. I mean, how often does one get an invitation to the White House? Then the formal invitation, printed on the finest paper I’ve ever held, arrived in the mail. Still, I did a double take. But a …
Sarah Smiley

Thirteen years later, get to know my husband — the one I almost returned

By Sarah Smiley on Feb. 09, 2014, at 1:26 p.m.
People who regularly read this column often say they feel like they know me and my children, Ford, Owen and Lindell. They even feel like they know our dog, Sparky, But I’ve never had anyone say they feel like they know my husband, Dustin. Maybe I don’t write about him …
Lindell, aka The Boy in the Striped Shirt, and Sparky Smiley.

Family dog’s letter to his boy

By Sarah Smiley on Feb. 02, 2014, at 11:29 a.m.
To the Littlest Boy in the Striped Shirts, I knew from the first time you spilled apple juice in your lap at the kitchen table that we were going to be great friends. These other people, the bigger ones, they never spill. They eat all their food, and usually right …
Sarah Smiley

Long-suffering middle child finally gets his own room

By Sarah Smiley on Jan. 26, 2014, at 5:32 a.m.
If you have three children, you know that the youngest one often gets robbed. His scrapbook is half as thick as the others, and by the time he’s old enough to care, the family has already done all the cool vacations and sightseeing trips. Oh, all right, so the middle …
Sarah Smiley

Late husband’s treasured art is a gift through time

By Sarah Smiley on Jan. 19, 2014, at 10:38 a.m.
Two weeks ago, I shared with you three of my favorite, non-trending stories of 2013. One of them included an elderly woman in a retirement home who had a surprise for me in her apartment: a wall full of paintings her husband had made — many of them of his …
Sarah Smiley

Learning from Lincoln and my battle with depression

By Sarah Smiley on Jan. 12, 2014, at 1:29 p.m.
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw. Actor Marlon Brando. Comedian Jim Carrey. Princess Diana. Charles Dickens. Tolstoy. Billy Joel. And President Abraham Lincoln. Especially President Lincoln. These are just some notable people who have battled depression. For most of my life, I counted myself as one of …
Sarah Smiley

The quiet stories of 2013 weren’t ‘trending’ on Twitter, but were fascinating, moving

By Sarah Smiley on Jan. 05, 2014, at 10:41 a.m.
On New Year’s Eve, a round-up of 2013’s “trending” stories and people — including Miley Cyrus, Paula Deen and Phil Robertson — got me thinking … and discouraged. There are so many wonderful, quiet stories in communities across the country that never “trend.” The search terms don’t “auto-fill” on Google. …
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