Meet Military Mom Kim Zook

by Abby on September 5, 2011

Whenever I start feeling sorry for myself – say, when my husband’s away on a weeklong business trip during which I will have to manage dropping off and picking up 2 kids at 2 different schools, soccer, bedtime, packing lunches, work, etc. ALL BY MYSELF – I think of people like Kim Zook. Not only is Kim a talented writer (she blogs daily at Zook Book Nook), she’s also a mom and military wife who appears to handle her life with aplomb (SAT word alert!) even while her husband is deployed.

I have some questions for Kim – LOTS of questions. Here’s Part 1 of my Q&A with Kim.

Kim Zook and her girlsHi, Kim! Thanks for being here. Tell us a little about yourself and your family.

Thank you, Abby, for welcoming here on your blog! I’ve only been blogging for a few years, but your first blog “Diary of a New Mom,” was one of the first ones to inspire me as both a blogger and a writer.

Blogging and writing have been a tremendous aid to me during the past several years that have been marked by change and growth. I left behind my machete and rubber boots in the tropical rainforest after completing graduate school and found myself in embarking on a new path: a woman married to a man in the U.S. Navy, who happened to be stationed in Yokosuka, Japan. The challenge of going from no electricity in a lush, wet jungle to a highly-electric highrise in a fast-paced, congested city prepared me for all of the challenges I would face in the years to come.

In the last 7 years my husband and I have moved 5 times, from Japan to Virginia to British Columbia to D.C. and now San Diego! Fortunately my husband has orders from the U.S. Navy for 4 years in San Diego, so we have 3 more years here. As a military spouse who frequently moves it is difficult to find a job, especially a teaching position which is what I “used” to do. It’s been a blessing in disguise, however, as I’ve been able to stay at home with our children and focus entirely on my writing career. We currently have 2 daughters, ages 4 and 2, and we’re expecting our third daughter to be born 1 month after my husband returns from deployment!

Where is your husband deployed? Is this his first deployment? If not, about how often and for how long is he away?

My husband’s ship is based out of San Diego and has been deployed for 4 months. He has deployed several times, but this is the first time we’ve gone through a deployment with children and it is very different for both my husband and me. The first half of his deployment involved visiting various ports and meeting with people from those countries. Our daughters and I have been learning a lot about the world during this deployment.

How do you keep in touch while your husband is away?

I often think of my grandparents these days and how their only method of communication when my grandfather served in the wars was writing letters. We’re so fortunate today. My husband and I communicate almost daily via email, but occasionally we cannot get through to one another if the communication system doesn’t work. During his deployment I’ve usually been able to hear back from him within 24 hours when I’ve asked him questions such as, Which name do you like best for our third daughter? How do I get rid of a hive of bees inside our roof? Do I need to pay this property tax bill that came in the mail? and Can you think of any other way to get our daughters to sleep in past 4am?

We also get to talk about once a week on the phone, but my daughters get shy when their daddy is on the phone and often won’t want to talk with him. I remember as a child feeling shy around my dad when he came home after being gone for a week for work. Now I see it from my husband’s perspective; he misses their voices. We try to make up for it through care packages, letters, drawings, and my husband creates videos of himself reading books and mails the DVD recordings to us. It helps them to see their daddy on our TV talking to them and reading books.

How do the girls deal with their dad being away?

Hug-a-Hero "Daddy Dolls"

During this deployment I have spoken with many spouses with children. Like my children, some of the others are sad and confused by their father’s absence. Unfortunately, some children are impacted on a more serious level and develop depression and begin acting out of character. For this deployment we got our daughters a Hug a Hero doll that is a miniature version of their daddy in his uniform. They sleep with it every night, and I often check in on them to see one of them hugging their “Daddy Doll” to their chest in their sleep.

Before he deployed my husband created a chain link with a message written on each one for every day of the deployment. Every day my daughters and I pick out a link, I read the message to them, and then we add it to the growing chain.

Despite all of the measures my husband has taken to help our daughters, they still miss their daddy so much that they don’t sleep well, they are extremely emotional and slip into moments of sadness and uncertainty. When our 2yo gets a booboo, she insists that only Daddy can make it better. When our 4yo can’t sleep, she climbs into my bed and cuddles up with my husband’s pillow. I can only imagine that as they get older the deployments will only get harder on them.

Join us next time for Part 2 of my interview with Kim Zook, when she discusses how she copes with these challenges and her advice for other (temporarily) single moms. Happy Labor Day, everyone!

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Lou Mello September 5, 2011 at 8:09 am

Really cool Q & A with Kim, it is amazing how she handles it all with two little girls and the third due fairly soon. I had picked up quite a bit of their history from following her blog the last few months, but, this really laid out how difficult it is for those left waiting.

Once again, I am just blown away at all the amazing Moms out there and how you all help one another through your blog community with hints and encouragement. Whenever I feel a little overwhelmed with stuff, I think about all you guys and just tell myself to “Shut Up”, I’ve got it soooo easy by comparison.


Abby September 5, 2011 at 2:18 pm

I don’t think you need to tell yourself to “shut up,” Lou — how about channeling Kim and telling yourself “I can do this.” That’s what I’m trying to do this week, anyway! So glad you’ve become a follower of her blog, too. 🙂


Kim September 5, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Thank you Lou for your encouragement! I am honored that Abby asked to interview me, but it is humbling as I think so many other moms have it a lot rougher than me. But as my mom says, “It’s all relative.” So I take each day at a time, and am grateful that I have a wonderful homecoming to look forward to!


Lou Mello September 5, 2011 at 6:26 pm

You’re right, after I silently tell myself to “shush”, I will follow with a “I can do this”.


Kim September 5, 2011 at 9:10 am

Thank you Abby for having me here today! It is an honor since your blogs have really inspired me in my journey as a writer and blogger. I’ve been amazed by the support I’ve received from bloggers during my husband’s deployment. It’s been a blessing to be able to communicate with others at odd hours when I am the only one awake in the house and have no one to talk to 🙂 As difficult as it’s been (this past week was the hardest with all three of us sick with the stomach virus), I still think of all of the moms whose husbands are stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq and try to imagine what they must be going through emotionally every day. I just pray for the safe return of all of our loved ones.


Abby September 5, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Ugh, the stomach bug’s the worst!! You’re an inspiration to the rest of us, Kim, hope you feel better soon!


Grumpy Grateful Mom September 5, 2011 at 10:09 am

I really appreciated your post this morning. It has me all teary-eyed. I think you are amazing. What an interesting, but challenging life you have.

And I LOVE the doll and the links idea. 🙂


Kim September 5, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Janae, I love the Hug a Hero Doll. I laughed when I bought ours, because they have some that are a lot bigger, as big as a toddler and I thought I could get one of those for me 🙂 My husband came up with the links idea all by himself. It took him many nights to write the 180+ messages on the pieces of paper for our girls. Some are really funny and some are so sweet!


Angie Mizzell September 5, 2011 at 10:57 am

I loved this… especially hearing about the types of emails you send your husband. That sounds a lot like me. And my husband is home most days by 6pm and travels every other month for usually less than a week. 🙂

It’s been great getting to know you these past few months, and this guest post really speaks to the strong, smart and lovely woman that you are. Thanks, Abby for featuring Kim. Looking forward to part two.


Kim September 5, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Thank you Angie! I’ve been forwarding blog posts to my husband in addition to the emails, because the blog posts I think are probably more fun to read than my emails 🙂 I’m just grateful we can send photos back and forth. A few of the spouses had babies for the first time during this deployment while their husbands have been at sea, and I can imagine how important those photos of their newborns are to the new dads who are missing out on the first few months of the babies lives.


Nadine Feldman September 5, 2011 at 11:34 am

Wow, great interview! And we get more? So cool! Kim, you’re amazing.


Kim September 5, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Thank you Nadine for stopping by! Abby had so many great questions and I tend to babble one, so it is sweet of her to have me on her blog two times!


Stacy S. Jensen September 5, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Ouch. Made my heart ached to read this. Thanks for sharing how you do it all. Best of luck when the new baby arrives. I appreciate the fact that you both serve this nation. It’s a tough time to be in the military.


Kim September 5, 2011 at 4:26 pm

It means a lot to my husband when people say they support and appreciate his service. It is humbling for him, too, but I know he feels grateful to have a job that means he can protect his daughters’ freedom and the freedom of so many people in the world.


Stasha September 6, 2011 at 12:42 am

Kim’s happy outlook on life is my daily fix and an inspiration. And through her I get to meet you.


Kiddothings September 6, 2011 at 3:06 am

Great guest feature Abby.

Kim, you’re an amazing mom. From reading this, I know now how truly difficult it is on you and your kids when your husband is away for so long. I love the way your family is trying to keep the girls connected with their Daddy through the chain link messages, Daddy doll and the videos and correspondences that he sends back. You are truly a strong and inspirational woman Kim!


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