Ridgefield military wife’s blog a ‘secret’ no more

By Erin Middlewood, Columbian special projects reporter

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Lori Volkman's blog

Lori Volkman started a blog to cope with her husband’s military deployment last September.

“It started out just as a diary,” the Ridgefield resident said. She gave little thought to the fact that people might actually read it. In less than a year, the blog has garnered almost 25,000 hits.

WordPress featured Volkman’s blog in October, and it was a finalist in the category for spouse blogs at the 2011 Military Blog Awards in Washington, D.C., last week.

She titled her blog “Witty Little Secret” and didn’t even tell her husband, Randy, about it at first. The award nomination forced her “out of the closet,” as she put it.

“Some portions are rather raw in terms of the emotions we’ve been experiencing,” said Volkman, 40. “But it’s important for the public to see what sacrifices military families go through.”

Volkman, who works for the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office, is more likely to introduce herself as an attorney than as a blogger. But in the hours after her 5-year-old son Cooper and 8-year-old daughter Olivia go to bed, she taps away at a keyboard as a sort of therapy.

She pours out tales of rushing to the emergency room, disciplining a cursing preschooler, cleaning up dog puke and all that goes along with working full time and parenting on her own while her husband, a commander in the Navy Reserves, serves in the Middle East.

Volkman’s father was an aviator in the Navy, so she grew up in the military milieu. She met her husband at church when she was in college in California and he was there for training. The couple has lived in Ridgefield for 13 years.

About a year ago, her husband got word that he was likely to be deployed, and the countdown to his departure and what Volkman called her own Operation Emotional Supernova began.

She and her children adjusted to a new routine, but the empty spot at their family table can’t be ignored.

In a poignant post last month, “Filling in the doughnut hole,” Volkman describes her son’s longing for male affirmation in his father’s absence. She informed her son that she would attend a “Doughnuts for Dad” event at his preschool. “You’re not a dad,” protested her son, known as The Preschooler in the blog, She countered, “But I’m kinda like a mom and a dad this year.”

She set up a laptop at the event so Cooper could talk with his dad via Skype. The boy held pieces of doughnut to the computer screen as he pretended to share the treat with his father. Another child’s father approached Volkman. She described the exchange in her blog: “He just stopped and swallowed and said, ‘Thank you. Just thank you.’”

Such gestures mean a lot to Volkman.

“The smallest kindness makes a difference to a military family,” she said.

Volkman and her children are looking forward to Randy’s visit home this summer but he won’t be home for good until autumn. Volkman earlier this week was buoyed by news — announced by the pilot as she traveled home from the blog awards event — that Osama bin Laden had been killed.

“It doesn’t bring any relief in terms of thinking our service members are going to come home any sooner, but it does help us in knowing the lives that have been lost were not in vain,” Volkman said.

She doesn’t know if Randy was involved in the operation that snared bin Laden, but she was certainly relieved to read an email from her husband that read, “Sorry no Skype … been a bit busy … I love you.”