Military

The One Item you Cannot Live Without: Your Military ID

This post was originally published on Military Spouse Advocacy Network and I am honored to work with them. Military ID-2

You meet the love of your life. You fall in love and promise to stay together forever. Now it’s time for logistics. Your Military ID.

There is not much you can do without your Military ID. You will need it to gain access to the military base without your significant other. You will need it to shop at the Exchange or Commissary. You will need it to enroll/use Tricare, which are your medical benefits. You will need it to gain access to any and all entitlements or discounts you may be eligible for as a family member to a service member. For all of these reasons, and more, you need to make obtaining your Military ID a priority.

How do you do it? Follow the steps detailed below:

  • The first thing that needs to happen is you will be enrolled in DEERS using form DD Form 1172-2. This can be done one of 4 ways.
    • Your sponsor can use their CAC card to submit your information via the RAPIDS self-service portal. (This is a website accessible via the Department of Defense (DOD) website)
    • Your sponsor can sign into the RAPIDS self-service portal using their login information.
    • Your sponsor can fill out a paper form and have it notarized.
    • You can use your power of attorney to complete the form in your sponsor’s place.
  • You will need to provide documentation of your relationship to your sponsor to prove eligibility. This is your marriage certificate and your birth certificate.
  • You will need to provide two forms of identification. Refer to the list of acceptable forms of identification.

Pin the graphic below for an easy reference guide:How To Obtain your military ID

This information was pulled directly from http://www.cac.mil/docs/required_docs.pdf .

Military ID’s aren’t all business and no fun though!

You can use your Military ID to access great resources such as the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR). Depending on your location, this could include access to a movie theater, bowling alley, video games, party rentals, kayaks, sailboats, or even couples getaways. Our last duty station offered a couples retreat to do a local high ropes course! You can also utilize your Child Development Center (CDC) for child care (check with your center for availability), and shop at the commissary and Exchange for tax free shopping. There are a lot of benefits to obtaining your military ID, so try not to procrastinate!

If you have special circumstances or additional questions, be sure to click on the link referenced above and refer to additional information there. Also, do not be afraid to reach out to your ID office on base or your service member’s command.

Military

Basics for the New Military Spouse

This post was originally published on Military Spouse Advocacy Network and I am honored to work with them.Basics for the New Military Spouse-3

It was May 2016 and the day finally came when my whole world was about to change. My husband was leaving for Newport, Rhode Island for what would turn into fifteen weeks, to embark on his dream of becoming a Naval Aviator for the United States Navy. Officer Candidate School (OCS). We prepared for this for weeks. We made sure he had the right t-shirts, the right socks, he could run 1.5 miles in a certain amount of time, and even made sure he could do X amount of pushups and curls as well. We were prepared with stamps and paper so he could write. He had a watch for when he could have one again, and we prepared snacks and food for his drive. But I wasn’t prepared for the goodbye.

We woke up early, loaded his truck, and double checked we didn’t miss anything on the list. I was fine. I thought to myself, “this isn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.” And then he turned and looked at me. And I wasn’t fine. I was excited for him, and I was excited for me, but I couldn’t help but cry because this would be the last time I got to see and touch his face in person. We hugged each other tighter than we ever have before, and I followed him outside to the truck. We hugged and kissed a dozen more times before I watched him back down the driveway onto the street, he made a right onto the next street, and another right on the street after that. As he drove away and the corn fields were between us, the tears stopped and I began counting down to when we would be reunited. I wasn’t ready for the goodbye, and I wasn’t ready for how quiet the house would be when I stepped back inside. It was eerily quiet.

The military is a challenging life to maneuver and you are  thrust into it in a way that is no better explained other than sink or swim.

“Hi welcome to military life, now I’m going to steal your partner away for you to figure it out on your own.” “Here, let’s talk in acronyms so you feel like you’re trying to translate a language you’ve never heard before!”
There are so many things I learned those first few months while my husband was away, and there is so much more I have to learn. There’s a lot of pride you can gain from learning something new or overcoming a challenge on your own, but if there was a cheat sheet I could have had last May,this is what I wish it would have said:

basics list

  1. Power of Attorney– If your partner will be going away for any amount of time, you need to have a power of attorney to manage important matters while they are away. It may seem intimidating, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Documents can be printed offline and you can sign them with any notary. If you are unsure, or still feeling hesitant, the legal office on base can assist at no charge.
  2. DEERS– Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. Your first acronym, and there will be many more to come. To get you enrolled in DEERS your partner is going to need your birth certificate, social security card, marriage certificate, and photo ID. These have to be originals or certified copies. For your marriage license, make sure you have the certificate from your county clerk’s office. We didn’t think about this, and when my husband presented the license the officiant filled out, it was not accepted. I then had to obtain the correct form and overnight the marriage certificate to Rhode Island. Why all the hassle? Your spouse will also need the certificate to enroll you in TriCare, in order for you to obtain medical benefits.
  3. Military ID– Get a military ID ASAP! If your partner has all of your documents, and is deployed, you will have to wait for him to send them back to you. It might be a good idea to have duplicate certified copies of all important documents, so both you and your spouse have a set. Once you have these items, go get your military ID. This will give you access to the base, Exchange, commissary, and will allow you to receive military discounts at other businesses.
  4. Social Media– Not everyone uses social media, but if you do there are some really great support groups and pages out there. Another spouse may be aware of a local page or you can do a search for your area and ‘military spouse’. Many times the groups are private, so you may need a member to add you. While my husband was at Officer Candidate School I was lucky to find a page for friends and family of his OCS class. The girlfriends and wives of the class then formed a spinoff group and we messaged each other every single day. Being able to share your experiences with others going through the same things cannot be substituted. No matter how supportive your local friends and family are, it simply is not the same. I still talk to these wonderful women to this day.
  5. Be Empowered– Your partner is embarking on this amazing opportunity to further their career and accomplish goals they’ve set to enrich their life and yours. This does not mean you are simply along for the ride. You can further your education, work on your health, your career, or even your passion.  While my husband was away I made multiple lifestyle changes towards a healthier lifestyle and lost 40 lbs! There will be times when you will be alone, and lonely. These are the times when you have to rely on yourself, and your strength to get you through. Reach out to a friend, in person or virtually (again those Facebook groups are great!). You have the power to make or break yourself.

When do you reach the point when you’ve learned all you need to know as a military spouse? I’m going to guess never. Have I mentioned the acronyms? There is a never ending supply of acronyms. The military is not static, and it is always changing and evolving. Right when you think you have it figured out- nope! How exciting does that sound? Or is it exhausting? Let’s be positive and say exciting!

Military

Dream Military Weddings

This post was originally published on Military Spouse Advocacy Network and I am honored to work with them.

It started with a proposal to spend the rest of your lives together: to make the world know how much you love each other through a pair of rings, a set of vows, and probably changing your relationship status on social media. Many people grow up wondering what their wedding will look like when the time comes. It may include robust flower arrangements, an extensive guest list, and elaborate centerpieces. When I was planning my wedding in the civilian world, Pinterest became my best friend and my enemy. Pinterest is wonderful for making you feel crafty and creative. It will also encourage you to make those individualized mason jar invitations that explode glitter, fireworks, and cupcakes when opened. And can be made in three easy steps! Oh, if only it really was that simple, and if there was about ten more hours in the day this would be incredible! Unfortunately, that is not reality, and furthermore the military lifestyle complicates our ambitions for marriage before we even get started.

The Multiple Journeys to Wedded Bliss

Since my husband commissioned into the Navy, I have made friends with numerous couples who started as friends, became fiancés, and ultimately spouses. Every single journey to their marriages looked different, but the end result was always the same. Wedded Bliss.

wedded bliss

Couple #1 got engaged directly after the commissioning ceremony. They were engaged for a few short weeks before having a small beach ceremony with family and friends, and then the husband had to depart for his first training school.

Couple #2 had their ceremony at the courthouse and followed up with a larger reception with friends and family a year later when their schedules allowed.

Couple #3 spent the last 10 months planning their dream ceremony and reception to be held this summer.

Each one of these scenarios was unique. Not every story was lived how they pictured it would be when they were younger, but none of them have any regrets. When your ultimate goal is to spend the rest of your life with your partner, you make the best of the hand you are dealt, and I would not call that settling. Each of these couples still has the same result.

As with anything in the military, flexibility is key, so be prepared to start with your wedding if you are new to the life. You will hear many times over the course of your lifetime that the military comes first, but even if you find yourself compromising on your wedding there will still be great rewards in the end. Regardless if you elect to do a courthouse ceremony, a small ceremony, or a large wedding, the ending will be the same: you will be lawfully wedded to your service member, the love of your life.dream military weddings-2

Are you a military spouse? What did your nuptials look like? Do you have any advice?

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Military

Flight School Survival for the Military Spouse

Lies about flight school:

  1. Flight school for Student Naval Aviators (SNAs) goes quick.
  2. SNAs will be entirely consumed by flight school, with little time for anything else.
  3. Every SNA wants to fly jets in advanced.
  4. SNAs will move quicker through the training pipeline in Corpus Christi vs. Milton.
  5. There is no crying in flight school.
  6. Mustaches look sexy.

Before my husband went away for Officer Candidate School (OCS) and ever since, I spend so much time trying to make timelines and predict when and where we will be going next. This may or may not be my first mistake. I’ve been warned numerous times, through various means, that you cannot make plans when you’re living life as a military family- but I try anyways. Apparently I’m a glutton for punishment. I cannot help it though. I’ve been a planner, a scheduler, a goal setter my entire life, and you know what they say about old dogs…

Thus far this has been my experience with the timeline of my husband being in flight school. (His branch is Navy btw)flight school timeline.png

OCS check in: May 2016; Graduation: September 2016. This was back when OCS was 12 weeks minimum. It took my husband 15 weeks thanks to an unfortunate timing of pink eye. You can read a bit about what OCS was like for me here. It’s my understanding that OCS is shorter now.

OHARP: September 2016- November 2016. Officer Hometown Area Recruiting Assistance Program (OHARP). Following OCS my husband returned home for about 3 months and would work at the closest officer recruiting office before he had to report to Pensacola, FL for flight school.

Flight School Check In: December 2016. He checked into the command for flight school, but it would be another couple months before actively beginning training. In the downtime he would have to muster for Physical Training (PT) 3x a week for about an hour and then he would return home for the day. Alternate days required a quick morning muster with the rest of the day to do as he pleased. Quite the tough life these aviators go through in the beginning (note the sarcasm).

IFS: Introductory Flight Screening. SNAs spend this time flying 14 hours in a small aircraft at surrounding airports with civilian flight instructors. They also must pass the FAA Private Pilot test. SNA’s that already hold a private pilot license (like my husband) do not need to do this portion of training. However, other students who reported about the same time as him completed their training in about 2 months. This will vary depending on weather, scheduling, and dumb luck.

API: March 2017. Aviation Preflight Indoctrination. API is 6 weeks long, 4 weeks of academics and 2 weeks of survival training. The academics portion includes aerodynamics, aircraft engines and systems, meteorology, air navigation, and flight rules and regulations. API is a very busy time for the SNA and will require ample time studying. My husband joined a study group with 4 other SNAs and said it made a big difference for him in a positive way.

4 weeks into API is Flight Suit Friday. This is for the SNAs who have passed all of their exams thus far and have earned the right to wear those super comfy flight suits. This includes a party at the Officer’s Club where families and friends are invited. Definitely take the time to celebrate this accomplishment and watch Top Gun that runs on a constant loop while you play pool and have a few drinks.

Then comes the survival training, or Disney week, as it is fondly called. The SNAs will be taught a crash course on- well….. survival.

Primary Check in: April 2017. 3 days after finishing API, we had to report to Corpus Christi, TX for Primary training. 3 days!!! Talk about stressful. If the SNA is going to NAS Whiting Field, they had to report the afternoon of completing API.

Primary Training: June 2017-January 2018. I say this with great hesitation. I fear I will be jinxing it. If the stars align correctly, then my husband will complete primary later this month (January). It has been longer than original sources said due to a hurricane, and an unheard of snowstorm, and Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years. The list goes on and on. My conclusion is: everyone is a liar and nothing ever goes according to plan.

When the SNA is actively training in primary-yes they are busy with studying and prepping for flights/simulators. The training includes more ground school, contact, basic instruments, precision aerobatics, formation, radio instrument navigation, night familiarization, and visual navigation. However, there is downtime to be had when the weather is crap or the schedule is backed up and training drags on and on and on. This allows for the SNA to spend unneccessary amounts of money on things because they’re bored and dreaming of greener pastures. Just my SNA? Didn’t think so.

Since Thanksgiving and Christmas occurred during this time in training, my husband was able to take leave for 5 days at Thanksgiving, Wednesday-Sunday, and then 6 days post Christmas, Thursday-Tuesday.

At the close of primary training (if it ever ends), the SNA submits their dream sheet for what they would like to fly for advanced training, and many cases- the rest of their career.  Their dream sheet of their top 3 choices is submitted on the Tuesday after they complete all of their training events and then the selection results are shared on Thursdays.

Advanced Training: TBD. The options include jets at either NAS Kingsville or NAS Meridian, E2/C2s at NAS Corpus Christi following on to NAS Meridian after a few months, P3s/P8s at NAS Corpus Christi, or Rotary at NAS Whiting Field. Word on the street is, it will be at least April of this year (2018) before he would check in for Advanced training. We shall see!

So why is the list at the beginning of this post a bunch of lies? Allow me to explain.

  1. Flight school for Student Naval Aviators (SNAs) goes quick.
    • We’re already over a year in, and it will be incredibly unlikely for him to be completed and winged in 11 months. But…. cue the motto: We shall see! 
  2. SNAs will be entirely consumed by flight school, with little time for anything else.
    • This is part truth, part lie. When they are actively training- Yes, they should be consumed with studying, if they want to keep their scores up and not kicked out of the program. However, there is a lot of downtime in between phases and when the weather sucks. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing! It’s nice to be able to spend time with your SNA. Bonus points if you can go a whole evening without talking about an airplane or the Navy.
  3. Every SNA wants to fly jets in advanced.
    • My husband, and many other SNAs want to fly jets. They’re the fastest and I think Top Gun has a lot to do with it. But there are a lot of SNAs who want to fly other aircraft for their career. Allegedly P8s have the best schedule flexibility for a homelife. And rotary opens up a lot of options for where you could end up after getting winged. Regardless of what they may want, the needs of the Navy will ultimately prevail.
  4. SNAs will move quicker through the training pipeline in Corpus Christi vs. Milton.
    • lies. straight up lies. SNAs in Milton that classed up for primary after my husband have already selected.
  5. There is no crying in flight school.
    • I may not have cried, but I have become increasingly anxious the longer it takes and the uncertainty of when and where we will go next.
  6. Mustaches look sexy.
    • They don’t. Why are mustaches a thing in flight school?!?fullsizeoutput_11c2

I’ll come back and update this post as we continue to move through the pipeline. Assuming we ever make it through. Flight School Survival.png

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Military

Preparing for a Military Move

This was originally published on the Military Spouse Advocacy Network and I am honored to work with them. Preparing for a Military Move-3

Moving is one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. Add to that the seemingly complicated amount of paperwork, communicating with the right departments, moving companies and your spouse, and moving as a military family can feel downright overwhelming.

Fortunately, the military is aware that a knowledgeable and informed family makes your life and their lives much easier! If you are a Navy family, Navy Household Goods is holding a series of webinars to answer any and all of your moving questions. You can read all about what will be covered and how to access the the webinars on their flier.HHG Webinar schedule - Jan - Mar 2018-2HHG Webinar schedule - Jan - Mar 2018

Not a Navy family? No worries! Move.mil also has very informative tutorials on their website, which can be found by clicking here!

My advice is to not wait until you’re facing a move to be educated on the topic. You will go into the experience much more at ease if you take the time to learn all you can now. I’ve been through two permanent change of station (PCS) moves, and I still intend on attending the webinars. There may be something new or improved that I don’t know, the military does love switching things up on us! Am I right?

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Health · Military · Random Ramblings · Travel

Long Time No Blog

Guess who’s back… back again…. List Five Blog’s back… tell a friend…. If you didn’t rap that in your head, we can’t be friends.

Well it’s been 8 months since my last post, or 33 weeks and 6 days or 237 days to be exact! Oh how I have missed thee! It really doesn’t feel like it has been that long. So much has happened since my last post in May, job changes and A LOT of traveling. I will write more detailed posts about all of the exciting events, and try to leave out all the boring stuff, over the next few weeks.

Why haven’t I written? Have I been so busy? I’m tempted to say yes, but the fact that I’ve had time to binge watch ALL seasons of the Jersey Shore speaks a louder- NO. I guess it just got away from me. I had numerous instances where I would have thoughts about writing again, but it just never came to fruition.

I knew it was time to get to writing again though when 3 different people in the last week asked me what was going on with my blog, or lack thereof. My sincerest apologies if you enjoyed my ramblings in 2017 and felt completely lost without them (highly doubtful).

So here is a quick highlights reel of the last 8 months:

  1. May 2017- When we left off, my mother in law was visiting us in Texas from Maryland. Later in the month, the bestie came for a visit. We went to San Antonio, Texas for a long weekend.
  2. June 2017- The husband and I went for a trip to visit his brother and boyfriend in Seattle, Washington- I fell in love with the Pacific Northwest.
  3. July 2017- I rejoined the workforce as a Subject Matter Expert in Mathematics. We also explored a bit more of Texas with rivertubing in New Braunfels. MayJuneJuly
  4. August 2017- Since I have a history of working too much, I took on a second job at a local elementary school as a special education paraeducator. I also took a vacation to the Outer Banks, NC with my bestie’s family. The husband stayed in Texas to continue his flight training. Oh and we faced a bit of crazy weather. Hurricane Harvey- you might’ve heard of it.
  5. September 2017- Lots of working and dreaming of future trips.
  6. October 2017- I flew back to Delaware for my grandfather’s funeral. My sister and nieces came to visit us in Texas from Delaware!AugSeptOct
  7. November 2017- Because I can’t stop traveling, I took a roadtrip of New England with my bestie, followed by staying in Maryland to help my mother in law recover from a surgery. It was my birthday and Thanksgiving!
  8. December 2017- Traveling is wonderful, but it’s nice to be back into a routine and working again. At least until we took a little camping trip to Big Bend National Park in west Texas after Christmas. Spending New Years on the Rio Grande is a fantastic way to bring in the New Year!
  9. January 2018- I deactivated my facebook *gasp*! What will I do with all my free time?! Stay tuned my friends. Stay tuned.  NovDecJan

More about my plans for 2018 and everything that happened in 2017 in future posts. I hope all of my readers have been well and I look forward to catching up with you all soon!

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Military

How to Send the Perfect Candio (Candidate Officer) Box

Disclaimer: This post was written in 2017 when OCS was structured differently than it is presently.

Officer Candidate School (OCS) is a tough 12 weeks (or more if you’re unlucky). It’s tough on the candidates who are going through the training and it’s tough on the families back  home.

There are three phases to OCS for the candidates. First is the indoctrination phase, second is the Officer Candidate phase, and third is the Candidate Officer phase. Once the service member becomes a Candidate Officer they will be granted a little more freedom. This includes enjoying some treats from home known as Candio boxes.

When my husband was going through OCS, I spent so much time stressing about what to send, how to send it, and most importantly, making his box perfect. It was a big topic of discussion in the family and friends Facebook page, as everyone wanted to show their loved ones how much they were missed, how proud they were, and hopefully grant a small break after all their hard work of training. Hopefully the following information will help ease some of your worry and explain how to send the perfect candio box to your service member.

Pin the images for quick reference guides in the future! These guides will also be helpful for deployments and future trainings. Perfect Candio Box-3.png

Candio boxes are opened on Candio Christmas, the Wednesday of week 9. They have to be opened in front of a Drill Instructor or Class Officer, so be mindful of that! **”No tobacco, alcohol, weapons, medications, gambling paraphernalia, or live animals”** You can send any size box, however the large flat rate shipping box from USPS is most popular because they are easy to decorate, a good size to send any and all items you may want to include, and are budget friendly for shipping.

How to send your box:Candio box tips and hacks.png

What to include:Perfect Candio Box-4.png My Candio Box

I spent so much time (and $$$) putting together these candio boxes for my husband. I went with a rustic Americana theme and personalized with photographs from our 6 years together, his civilian pilot training, and of course our adorable cats.

IMG_6523

I filled the box with yummy homemade cookies (packed in decorated pringles cans), jerky, chocolate, chocolate covered blueberries, nuts, popcorn, a head scratcher, magazines, a book, emergen-c, starburst, a talking pen (it says No a bunch of different ways), gum, and a special gift (a customized bobblehead of my husband in a flight suit).

Additional Examples:

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All of these amazing candio boxes were sealed and mailed out, ready to go, and arrived with plenty of time for candio Christmas. IMG_6539

Helpful links:

http://www.ocs.navy.mil/ocs.html

https://www.facebook.com/OTCNewport/

https://perrinplacecom.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/candioboxguide.pdf

I hope this was helpful for you as you prepare your special care package for your service member. OCS is a complicated time for families, but if you’re preparing that candio box, you are in the homestretch now! Just a couple more weeks and you will be traveling to Newport, RI to reunite and congratulate your soon to be commissioned Ensign! Congratulations! You all made it through! 

Be sure to read how we’re doing after OCS!! We’re now trying to survive flight school!

Flight School Survival for the Military Spouse

Or just click on the military tab at the top!

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Health · Military · Random Ramblings · Travel

Moving. Job hunting. & Weightloss. Oh MY!

It’s been a couple weeks since I have written on the dear ole blog. 24 days to be exact. So what has happened the last 3 weeks and three days?

Moving

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Well first of all, we moved to Texas. We knew there was a chance of moving to Texas. We requested it, as a matter of fact. So we were hoping the Navy would give Yanis orders for Corpus Christi to continue his training, but there was a chance he would be sent to Milton, FL instead. Well, on March 30, we got official, hard-copy orders for Corpus Christi, TX, and we had 15 days to pack up and get there.

Pensacola, FL was a ball of a time. The Naval Air Station there is top notch. The museum and lighthouse are divine, and the downtown area has great shops, bars, and restaurants. We loved going to the ice hockey games, the off roading trails at the Eglin AFB and Blackwater State Park. Let’s not forget the gorgeous, white, sandy beaches, and our quick getaway to New Orleans! Most of all I’m going to miss the friends we made, but I am optimistic we will see them all again in the future! We were only in PCola a short 4.5 months, but we were able to make so much of our time there!

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The upside of moving so much, it forces you to truly prioritize what you need materialistically. Before moving from Delaware, I held 6 yard sales purging stuff. We also had two charity pick ups of tons of stuff we donated. After moving to Pensacola, I identified at least 10 more boxes worth of stuff to get rid of and a couple pieces of furniture. I would easily say we have less stuff than your typical American family and yet that 26 ft moving truck is still full for our drive to Texas. Since arriving and unloading, we’ve picked out even more stuff to get rid of. I’m optimistic we’ll be down to two suitcases and a knapsack by the end of flight school.

Job Hunting

My time in Pensacola was well spent with lots of writing and getting to know myself better- the good and the bad. Now that we are in Texas, I have decided to pursue working for a non profit and in the community again. I miss the sense of purpose I felt when working with The Delaware Readiness Teams. I need that again. So I dusted off the résumé, updated it with my new address and other pertinent details and have been applying pretty aggressively for a new job. You know what’s really annoying about job hunting? It’s so redundant. What is the point of having a résumé, if every job posting is going to require you to fill out their job application, asking for the exact information that can be found on your résumé, and then ask you to attach.. you guessed it.. your résumé. I think job hunting is just as exhausting as working, if not more. Just hire me already. I promise, I’m fabulous.

Weightloss

Moving can not only wreak havoc on my ability to write consistently, but also eat well consistently. The last week of the move we ate pizza three times. I had to pack up all the kitchen stuff at that point, and I also couldn’t find the energy to cook anything, even if I had the supplies to do it. Despite these dietary setbacks, I think a combination of the big losses I had the first couple weeks of my diet bet and the stress burned extra calories and fat. I was able to hit my 4% weightless goal by the hair on my chinny chin chin. So Trump will not be getting a donation from me this month.

Unfortunately the losses haven’t continued on their own organically, and I have gained back 4 of the 8 lbs lost. So my brother and I are revitalizing our diet bet this month. We started as of Friday, April 21 with a couple adjustments. My goal is to lose 3% (6.4lbs) and his goal is to lose 4 lbs. Of course, I’ll keep you updated on the progress along the way. Now I want pizza…

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Oh My!

What a helluva 3 weeks. I have a new city to explore now! We’ve been in Corpus Christi for just over a week now and my first impressions are pretty good! There is literally every single store and restaurant I’ve ever heard of in my whole life here. It’s a bigger population than I’ve ever lived in. There are definitely some sketchy parts, but that is to be expected with any large city. I look forward to exploring and experiencing everything I can before we’re told to pack up and move again!

In the meantime, there’s a lot coming up. The mother-in-law is coming for a visit at the beginning of May, the best friend is coming for a visit at the end of May, culminating in a long weekend in San Antonio. Then we’re going to visit the brother-in-law in Seattle at the beginning of June. It’s going to be a busy, busy couple of months! I’ll do my best to keep the blog updated.

Any recommendations on things to do or see in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, or Seattle?

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Military

A Trip to the Commissary

This was first published on Military Spouse Advocacy Network and I am honored to work with them!

take a trip to the commissary.png

When I first got my military ID, one of the first things I wanted to do was go to the commissary. I had heard numerous times you could find excellent deals on all different types of grocery items, and I wanted to experience first hand the savings. Unfortunately, while my husband was at Officer Candidate School (OCS), the closest commissary to our home was over one hour away. It just didn’t make sense logistically to take a trip all the way there to save a dollar or two on cereal, bread, and eggs-or so I thought.

When we moved to Pensacola, Florida for flight school, I joined multiple military spouse groups on Facebook and saw posts from other spouses asking if it was worth it to shop at the commissary instead of the closest grocery store or Walmart. The common answer seemed to be that, while some items were cheaper at the commissary, there were other items that were not. For two months I decided to take their word for it and not do the research myself. I typically shopped at Walmart and used the Savings Catcher feature on their app. This feature allows you to scan your receipt, and it will search surrounding stores for their advertised sales. If anything you purchased at Walmart was advertised for a cheaper price elsewhere, they will credit you the difference into the app which you can then exchange for an e-giftcard. I would typically get back $2-$6 worth of savings a week by using this feature consistently. It depends on what foods you buy and where you live to determine the  type of savings you will get if you choose to try Savings Catcher.

I decided to give the commissary a shot one warm February day in Florida, and I am so glad I did. I decided to do my regular grocery shopping at the commissary, so I could then compare what it costs there vs Walmart, since all my receipts are saved in the Savings Catcher app. Once I got home I compared prices, and this is what I found: every single thing I bought was cheaper at the commissary than it was at Walmart, as well as the advertised prices for cheaper prices at other surrounding grocery stores. While some items were a few cents cheaper, there were also a number of items that were $1-$1.50 less. This was such a pleasant surprise! Prices will vary depending on what you purchase and the brands, however, after this experience I am now a commissary convert and will be solely shopping at the commissary from now on.

Here are a few tips I would suggest for any other first time commissary shoppers:

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Military

Military Spouses & Politics: Do we have a Voice, too?

This was first published on Military Spouse Advocacy Network and I am honored to work with them!military-spouses-and-politics

If your social media feeds look anything like mine, then your last year has been bombarded with political posts, memes, calls for action, protests, outrage, and posts of support for our public service representatives. For many new and seasoned military spouses there is a gray area as to how vocal or nonvocal we can be when it comes to voicing our opinions on politics. Can our service members get involved in politics? Can we as spouses get involved in politics?

First let’s define what getting involved in politics even means, because it is not limited to Facebook posts or protests. Think of political involvement as a spectrum. At the beginning you have getting informed. You can do this by reading reliable information from the media, following reliable news sources on social media, and following bill proposals by your representatives. The next level may include contacting your local representatives through phone calls, emails, and/or letters, or attending meetings held for their constituents. Then there is volunteering for your political party or working on a campaign. And at the other end of the spectrum is running for office yourself.

So, the question still remains, can a service member and their spouse participate in any of this? And the answer is yes and no. Imagine that! A complicated answer in our military lives.

There are rules for the service member on their ability to be active politically. The policy on this rule is the Department of Defense Directive (DoDD) 1344.10, and was most recently updated in 2008. The DoDD does not take away the service member’s right to register to vote, vote, sign petitions, or contribute money to a campaign. Service members may even have a small bumper sticker on their car supporting a specific candidate if they choose. What they cannot do is use their authority to influence someone to vote one way or another. Anytime they discuss their political views it must be made clear they are their own personal opinions, and not an endorsement of their service branch. Also, they may not attend any partisan event in uniform.

Well that is the service member, but what about spouses? Spouses can say and do what they please in regards to political involvement. This means you can talk about politics. You can post on your social media about politics. You can volunteer for a political party. You can volunteer for a campaign. You can even run for office yourself. One would even be able to argue more military spouses should be involved, since so many policies directly impact our families in more ways than civilian families.

Some organizations that advocate for military spouses and military rights are Homefront Rising, and the Military Spouse JD Network. There is a network of people and organizations out there to help you along if you have interest in a future in politics.a milspouses place is in the house and the senate.png

Still unsure about what you or your service member can or cannot do politically?

Check out the article below! I found it very helpful in my own research:

http://www.military.com/spouse/career-advancement/how-to-get-involved-in-politics-as-a-military-spouse.html

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