Military

Permanent Change of Station Woes

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

Permanent Change of Station (PCS) Woes-3

It is the best of times.

It is the worst of times.

It is approaching PCS season.

This month has been…. exciting, if I am being optimistic. My husband is currently attending training to be a pilot in flight school. While all training schools are a little bit different, they all have one thing in common, no matter your designator or military branch, LOTS of moving. But even if you or your significant other are not currently in a training school, you may be approaching a move yourself, as it is that time of the year for new orders to be cut, and it may be time for your family to move on.

This move was expected and unexpected at the same time. We knew we would be moving once my husband finished this portion of his training, however, there were two possible locations we could be sent to, either 40 miles away, or 700 miles away. We received our 700 mile relocation with 15 days notice of his check-in date. So, in a scramble,we have attempted to arrange a do-it-yourself (DIY) move, or personally-procured move (PPM).

Here are the steps I followed with organizing my PPM:PPM Timeline-5

Please be sure to refer to your Personal Property Transportation Office for additional help with your PCS move. You can also find additional tips and resources at http://www.move.mil.

Here are some of the pros and cons of the PPM:PPM Pros and Cons-3

We were able to complete our PPM, check in to our new duty station, and settle in with few bumps and bruises along the way. Unfortunately our desk did not survive the move, but that’s a minor mishap in the grand scheme of things. The military certainly likes to test our resilience and ability to keep calm under stress. I hope your move goes as smooth and as painless as any move can. Be sure to take some time to relax, breathe, and repeat after me, “This too, shall pass”. Happy PCS-ing, PCS-ers!

Military · Travel

Moving like a PRO

The move was a success! And by success, I do not mean it was smooth, enjoyable, nor would I recommend it. Fortunately we received our orders to move to Florida a week in advance which was enough time to wrap up a few loose ends, finish packing, and book a moving truck; however, it was NOT with enough notice to avoid the price of my plane ticket returning to Texas to double in price. I guess you can’t have it all. Some lessons learned from this move:

  1. You cannot trust Google Maps to accurately predict your ETA to your destination. Driving a 26ft moving truck does not allow you to go highway speeds and your time WILL increase significantly. And by significantly I mean it will rise from 12 hours to 22 hours once you include gas stops, gas stations being out of power and/or gas, traffic, accidents, and a 2 hour power nap.
  2. If you are traveling with pets you will NOT get to enjoy that 2 hour power nap. Especially if your pets are like mine and will be crawling all over you as you try to get some shut eye at a sketchy truck stop. Below: Landon giving me the stank eye for trying to move my foot. Further below: Hailey and Chit Chat looking super cute. 
  3. You WILL second guess whether you need any of your material items or if you should burn everything except your underwear to make the next move simpler.
  4. Despite your best intentions to eat healthy, it’s not going to happen. Let it go and embrace the multiple pizza orders, Chinese food, and complimentary 5-10 lbs.
  5. The exhaustion will subside and with time you will forget how much of a pain in the ass it is. Just in time to do it all over again in approximately 9 months time.

I am currently regretting my decision to stay in Texas to finish the school year while most of my worldly possessions, my three kittens and husband continue life in Florida. Fingers crossed the time flies. I have a few things on my Texas Bucket List to make things a tad more enjoyable! These things include a rodeo, camping, visiting a sea turtle rescue and of course the Selena Festival. Stay tuned for recaps on all of that as they occur between now and June!

Military

Inconsistency is Key

  1. Be flexible.
  2. Keep your expectations in check.
  3. Don’t drink all the wine.
  4. Breathe more.
  5. Woosah.

I am trying to keep each of these tips in mind, but the struggle is proving to be very real. I have thrived on controlling as much of my life as possible since I was probably 16. This has a lot to do with the lack of stability I had growing up. I grew up very poor. Not as poor as some, but probably poorer than most. The kind of poor where you didn’t know if you would have electricity when you got home from school. The kind of poor where part of the food at your house came from a food pantry, and part was bought with food stamps. The kind of poor where your family didn’t have a vehicle for transportation, despite living in a rural area lacking in an abundance of public transportation.

This upbringing was the perfect condition to build resilience though. Which would definitely come in handy at the age of 16 when my last standing parent decided to move to the other side of the country in a rented minivan. What didn’t fit in the mini van didn’t go, which included me. Ever since then, I’ve planned and scheduled my life down to the minute as much as I possibly can. Anything I can control, I do. When I was working my way through college, I had my entire course schedule planned out as soon as possible. I took as many credits as possible (even getting special permission from the dean to take additional credits exceeding the normal limit). I excerted the same control over my career once I completed college. I currently spend a great deal of time planning out my day to day life, as even my short term life is very much in limbo.

I’m currently anticipating a move to Florida from Texas in 8 days. However, nothing is official in the military until you have hard orders, which we have not received yet. Soooooo there is a chance that our move date could be post poned. I’m told it isn’t likely, but there is a chance. This lack of reliability is driving me insane.

  1. I have a plane ticket I’m waiting to book.
  2. I have a moving truck I’m waiting to reserve.
  3. I have a vacation I postponed because of this.
  4. I have a career I’m trying to build.
  5. I have a life I’m trying to live. Inconsistency is key

I think that rant will hold me over for a few days. I am not currently the smiling smiley face. Fingers crossed we get those hard orders soon, preferably before airfare prices increase-really that’s my biggest concern.

Military

Moving on up

27 years in Delaware.

4.5 months in Florida.

11 months in Texas.

The time has come to bid Texas adieu and move on. As it turns out, moving on, actually means moving back… to Florida.moving pt 3

Moving is, quite frankly, the pits. As much as I love new experiences, there are just some significant downsides that stress me out.

  1. Security deposits– there’s a window in between leaving one place and entering another where we’re paying double the bills and then waiting to get money back.
  2. Purging unnecessary items– I love downsizing, but trying to coordinate with potential buyers is not my idea of a good time.
  3. Packing– trying to strategically box items so they’re organized and also not going to be destroyed in the move.
  4. Unpacking– is there even a point to unpacking anymore?
  5. Job hunting– this should be number 1, and then magnified x a billion. Job hunting is horrendous. And doing it over and over and over again makes me want to assume the fetal position and stress eat and explode all at the same time.

Fortunately I have become quite the experienced packer, mover, and shaker. Shall I share some of my awesome tips with you?

  1. Small moving boxes fit perfectly in the ikea or better homes and gardens cube bookshelves. This helps save space in the moving truck, a safe place for items that are more fragile, and gives extra stability to these bookshelves so they aren’t completely wobbly and worthless when you unload!IT245bTvSjCMoDhaptM5TQ
  2. Trash bags suction in your hanging closet clothes so they don’t fall off the hangers in the closet boxes and you can fit more in each box! Shoes can be packed in the bottom of the closet boxes to save even more space!- I haven’t packed these items yet, but I will get a photo for reference and add it once I do.
  3. Color coordinate your labels with a room. Example: All blue stickers are for kitchen.  All green stickers are for office. All yellow stickers are for living room. Then when you get to your destination you can sticker the appropriate room, and everyone will know all these blue stickered boxes go in the kitchen, all these green stickered boxes go in this room, all these yellow stickered boxes go in the living room, and etc….. Makes for easier unpacking.
  4. Books are super heavy and can be moved in suitcases with wheels so you don’t break your back and again, save on space!
  5. These sterilite 30 gallon totes are the perfect size for moving. They aren’t too big to not fit through doorways, yet they’re big enough to fit more than one or two items at a time. They stack very nicely and the bottoms don’t slope so far in that it’s obnoxiously smaller than the top. Win. Win. Win.RP7oO0EfQIC+9q+I8oaGtw

As I continue to prep for our move in a couple weeks, take my last bit of advice as well: there’s always time to take a break for a very big and very strong margarita to get you through. Cheers!

Don’t forget to subscribe to http://www.listfiveblog.com on the right if you’re using a desktop computer or below if you’re on a mobile device. Thanks!!

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?

Don’t forget to subscribe to http://www.listfiveblog.com on the right if you’re using a desktop computer or below if you’re on a mobile device. Thanks!!

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?

Don’t forget to subscribe to http://www.listfiveblog.com on the right if you’re using a desktop computer or below if you’re on a mobile device. Thanks!!

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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

Don’t forget to subscribe to http://www.listfiveblog.com on the right if you’re using a desktop computer or below if you’re on a mobile device. Thanks!!

 

Health · Random Ramblings · Travel

Melting Off the Weight in the Texas Heat.

Texas is hot. Balls fricking hot. I attempted to write this while sitting outside. Not only did I start to melt, but my laptop was slowing down and stroking out. We both had to come inside to recover.

Melting Off the Weightin the Texas Heat

Besides adjusting to the Texas weather (global warming is real), this week has been flipping amazing! And since I haven’t done a list in awhile (how out of character of me), let’s review in list form:

  1. My home is fully unpacked and decorated! It feels so, sooooo good to have a place for everything and everything in it’s place. I never fully unpacked or decorated in Florida since we were only going to be there for a short period of time, so I’m so stinking excited to make my home in Texas feel like my home.
  2. I’m back to writing! It was a long 24 days of not writing on the blog, and it’s one of those things where you’re like…. I don’t feel like it, but then once you do it, you feel so much better. Like working out, or getting a shower. That’s my relationship with writing.
  3. I made the best schedule and I stuck to it all week! For months now I’ve been saying to myself that I’ll be so much more productive if I make myself a schedule. I’ll do so much better with my weightloss if I make a schedule like I did over the summer. And yet, I wouldn’t buckle down and make a schedule. Well Monday I finally forced myself to not only plan out my meals for the week, but also create a daily schedule for my week and it has made all the difference! Not only have I been super productive, but I’ve been eating so healthy, and I’m right on track to hitting my 3% weightloss goal for this month! I’ve talked about my schedules and meal plans on my blog post Eat food. Lose weight. A Recipe for Weight loss. 6D9039B6-C183-4AAA-98B7-F83F33147614This was the meals from one day. minus the Halo Top I had for dessert. Red Velvet Halo Top is now in my top 2 Halo Tops. #1 is Mocha Chip. Halo Top is going to take over the world. I’m also obsessed with those nut bars. There’s some sort of glaze on them, and they’re crunchy and so yummy. They’re made by Nature Valley. Get you some. 
  4. Future travel plans have been confirmed! In my last post I mentioned hoping to be able to go to Seattle to visit my brother-in-law. Well I found dirt cheap airline tickets to Seattle and we jumped on the opportunity. We’re flying on the airline Spirit, which is a budget airline where you only pay for what you use. This means you only get one personal item that flies for free with you. Any other carry on items, checked bags, snacks, choosing your seat is all an additional charge. At first I was hesitant, but I compared what the cost would be flying the next cheapest (Delta) and even after paying for a checked bag, and choosing our seats, it was still $400(!!!) cheaper to fly Spirit. So we will be taking over Seattle at the beginning of June! I can’t wait to plan some great excursions!
  5. Speaking of traveling, being in a new place means I get to explore a whole new city! I haven’t gotten out too much yet. But I did check out my local farmer’s market where I got some new soap, and locally grown green beans. Shop local!! I look forward to going back this Saturday, when there’s supposed to be more vendors. I’ve also been to the beach and had lunch at a unique little place right on the water on the island. It was called Mikal May’s and had really delicious seafood nachos.

     

    I’m pretty excited about how great this week has been! It’s hard to top feeling at home in your home, eating healthy, losing weight, exploring a new city, and buying new soap. Am I right?

In other news, the job hunt continues. I had an interview last week, but haven’t heard anything since. I’ve applied to about a bazillion other places. Fingers crossed something comes along soon!

Any recommendations on Seattle or Washington State excursions?

Don’t forget to subscribe to http://www.listfiveblog.com on the right if you’re using a desktop computer or below if you’re on a mobile device. Thanks!!