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military spouse

Military

Military Spouse Gratitude List

November 22, 2017

The holiday season can be difficult for military spouses. Maybe you’re spending it away from your extended family in a new town. Maybe your spouse is deployed and you’re struggling with working up the energy to feel festive. Maybe you’re in the middle of a military suck fest and are in a cruddy mood. I get that, but have found that when you look for things to be thankful for, more and more appear.

Once I began thinking of things to be grateful for as a military spouse, the list grew quickly. As hard as this lifestyle can be, it does give us many wonderful moments.

Military Spouse Gratitude List

Deployments

I know that deployment doesn’t seem like something that should immediately be on a military spouse gratitude list, but it should be! Deployments can seem like all bad, but in the midst of the suck, there are moments to be thankful for. Maybe it’s accomplishing something you never thought you could do solo or fixing the leaky faucet like a rockstar or getting to control the remote and have the whole bed to yourself.  Deployments are opportunities for growth and when we approach them with that mentality, we’re far more likely to get the most of out them.

Each other

The military spouse community is one of my favorites part of the military lifestyle. By marrying into the military, you are immediately part of a worldwide network of men and women who are so welcoming and willing to support you. This group of people who “get you” can be the biggest source of strength during the hard times and cheering during the good times.

Flat rate boxes

Anyone who’s ever sent a care package (or shipped anything overseas) knows that flat rate boxes can save you a significant amount of money. My poor husband would definitely not receive as much love from home during deployment if I had to pay by weight!

Time spent with family

Many of us will spend the next day or two with family, whether they be immediate, extended or friends who feel like family. These moments are not always possible when you move frequently or are stationed far away.  The military steals a lot of family time so any time you do have together is precious.

Homecoming

Of course, homecomings are on the military spouse gratitude list! That moment when you’ve survived (and thrived during) a deployment and are reunited with your loved one can feel like the best moment in a long time. We all look forward to that first hug after a long separation and are so thankful when it happens.

A strong internet connection

Is there anything you crave more during a deployment than a good solid Skype date? Phone calls are good, but there’s something about seeing your loved one’s face that really lifts your spirits. This past deployment, my husband had awful internet and we never got to Skype. It made an already difficult situation just a tiny bit harder because I didn’t have the benefit of seeing A. So anytime there’s a good quality internet signal, it’s time to be thankful!

A fulfilling career and understanding bosses 

So many military spouses have a hard time finding quality and fulfilling employment that I am always very thankful for my career, even during frustrating days. When A is gone, it’s one of the things that keeps me sane and I honestly don’t know what I would do without my day job. A second part is definitely understanding coworkers, including your boss. No one is their best self during deployment and having people give you a little extra leeway during the hard days is so appreciated!

An extra mess

More often than not, an extra person in the house means a little extra messiness. So when your spouse is home, odds are there may be more socks on the floor or dishes in the sink or boots to trip over in the dark. While you may silently (or not so silently) rant and rave about having to tidy up more stuff, deep down you know that the extra mess is actually a good thing because it means he or she is home. And how could you not be thankful for that?

As a military spouse, what are you thankful for this year?

Military

Military Spouse Profile: Kara From Foxtrot & Pennies

November 1, 2017

There are so many amazing military spouses out there kicking butt on a daily basis that deserve to be recognized and I’m excited to feature one of them each month with my Military Spouse Profile series. If you’re interested in sharing your story (or know someone who might), please send me an email!

Introduce yourself to my readers! Tell us a little bit about who you are.

My name is Kara and I am a military spouse and a mom of two! My son is two and my daughter is 3 months old. I’m a fairly new military spouse, my husband has only been serving for 3 years but we are excited about our future. I am the creator of Foxtrot & Pennies where I write about ways for military spouses to use their resources to save money, make money, and conquer the challenges of military life while living on a budget. 

What inspired you to start your blog or business?

The plan was to always be a nurse. I went to nursing school (and accrued tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt) and got a job as a nurse. Then my son was born and everything changed. I wanted to be home with him SO badly, plus my husband had just joined up with the military and I didn’t know where that was going to take us. I wanted a way to create a second income for our family while staying home with my son and helping the military spouse community that I fell in love with. I quickly learned how difficult it was to live on one salary and discovered that so many other military families were struggling financially as well.

What’s the main message you hope your blog shares with your readers?

That there is hope! Debt and struggling to make it from paycheck to paycheck is so overwhelming. It almost feels like you are drowning. I want my readers to know that I know how they feel, I’ve been where they are and I want to help them. I want them to know that there are resources available to help military families save money and there are actual legitimate ways for military spouses to create extra income from home (or wherever they happen to be living at the moment).

What is your favorite part of being a military spouse?

My favorite part of being a military spouse is the experiences. 

Tell us a little bit about your journey as a military spouse-the ups and downs, lessons learned, etc.

In the short time I’ve been a spouse I’ve travelled to places I probably would have never gone to, I’ve given birth without my husband (which I never thought I’d be strong enough to do), I’ve flown on an airplane by myself with an infant (and survived) and countless other things I never thought I’d have to do. I’ve felt excited, lonely, and anxious. I know what it’s like to go weeks without talking to my spouse. I know what it’s like to have to live on a new, low-ranking military salary (spoiler alert- it’s hard). I’ve learned a lot about myself, my marriage, and my parenting abilities but I’m still excited about what lies ahead and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

What’s the number one piece of advice you would give a new military spouse?

No matter what you are facing, know that you are stronger than you think. You can get through it. Maybe you are facing your first deployment, or your spouse just left for boot camp. Maybe you are struggling to find a job after your last PCS and don’t know how to live on one salary. There have been at least 4 different situations in the last 3 years that I was faced with where I seriously doubted whether I was strong enough to get through it. But I did, and you can too.


What or who has been the biggest help or source of support to you in your role as a military spouse?

My husband. He’s my best friend. He always reminds me that I’m strong, he let’s me know how proud he is of my accomplishments. When I have moments of “I-hate-military-life” I think about how it’s his dream, how proud I am of everything he’s done, how hard he works for our family and how we need to support each other. 

Do you have a favorite place the military has taken you? What is it and why?

My favorite so far is Texas when he graduated. It was so unreasonably hot and miserable and I probably would have never travelled there if it weren’t for my husband graduating basic training. But this was my favorite because it was the moment he got to meet his son for the first time. I’ll never forget that moment.

Just for fun:

  • Favorite Netflix binge-worthy watch? The Office
  • What’s your favorite hobby? Arts & Crafts
  • Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla! 
  • Tell us a random fact about yourself. I am literally obsessed with cheese sticks but my daughter is dairy intolerant so I can’t eat them while she’s breastfeeding (she’s definitely gonna hear about this later in life!)

Many thanks to Kara for sharing her story this month! I am really happy to have her join me because she’s come such a long way as a military spouse in such a short amount of time. Each of us had a learning curve when we first started and I think Kara has really rocked hers! You can find Kara on her website, Facebook, Facebook group, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Military

Military Spouse Profile: Lily from Sytbiz

October 2, 2017

There are so many amazing military spouses out there kicking butt on a daily basis that deserve to be recognized and I’m excited to feature one of them each month with my Military Spouse Profile series. If you’re interested in sharing your story (or know someone who might), please send me an email!

Introduce yourself to my readers! Tell us a little bit about who you are.

Hello! My name is Lily. I run a WordPress web design business with my twin sister. I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for over 10 years and we have three kids, 2 boys and 1 girl. I originally studied Government and International Politics with the intent of attending law school but life threw me a curve when I married my husband (who was active duty at the time). Plans changed and now here we are.

What inspired you to start your blog or business?

It was during my husband’s second overseas tour. Since getting married I had relocated four times. I had to leave my job and it was difficult to find a new one every time we moved, especially because I never knew how long we would be in one place. So I decided, it was time to make my own opportunities.

What’s the main message you hope your blog shares with your readers?

The message I hope to send is that it is possible to run a business on your own terms. My son has multiple medical issues and it’s only because of my business that I am able to make him a priority. It gives me the flexibility I need to be there for my family.

What is your favorite part of being a military spouse?

My favorite part of being a military spouse is the friends that I’ve made. Being a military spouse is a unique experience that can only be understood by others who have been in the same situation.

Tell us a little bit about your journey as a military spouse-the ups and downs, lessons learned, etc.

My journey has definitely been a rough one. During the first five years of our marriage, we spent more than half of it apart. Moving to different duty stations, far away from my extended family and support system, was a struggle for me. Even the ending to our military journey was a surprise as my husband was medically discharged due to his injuries. At the time we thought we had a few more years of the military life left. But it hasn’t been all bad. The support that the military community provides, even after getting out, has been a huge help.

What’s the number one piece of advice you would give a new military spouse?

Connect with others who are going through the same thing as you. The hardest part of a deployment (besides worrying about your spouse of course) is the loneliness. Don’t try to get through it by yourself.

 

What or who has been the biggest help or source of support to you in your role as a military spouse?

My twin sister. She’s not only my business partner, she’s been my biggest source of support especially in my journey as a caregiver to my husband and my son as well.

Do you have a favorite place the military has taken you? What is it and why?

Colorado Springs. I absolutely loved the scenery and the school system was amazing. We seriously debated staying there permanently except that all of our extended family is in Maryland.

Just for fun:

  • Favorite Netflix binge-worthy watch? Currently, Person of Interest. Previously, Bob’s Burgers before it was removed.
  • What’s your favorite hobby? Reading 
  • Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate.
  • Tell us a random fact about yourself. As a kid I wanted to be an author, a doctor, a lawyer and a paleontologist. Clearly none of those panned out!

Many thanks to Lily for sharing her story! I think it’s so cool that Lily and her twin sister have made their own opportunities and started their own business. So many military spouses have become entrepreneurs and we can all learn a lot from each other.  If you’re in the market for a new website, you have to check out her web designs! You can find Lily on her website, Facebook and Pinterest.

Military

Military Spouses & First Ladies

September 5, 2017

Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have seen my post about First Women by Kate Andersen Brower. I finished up the book late last month and loved it. It offers a really interesting look at modern first ladies, covering everyone from Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama. Readers got to see how each woman handled motherhood, the spotlight and the responsibility of being married to the most powerful man in America.

As I read through each chapter, I couldn’t help but feel a connection to a lot of these ladies, not because I know what it’s like to be the first lady, but rather because I know what it’s like to be a military spouse. The more I read, the more I realized how much military spouses have in common with these well-known, powerful women.

#Militaryspouses have more in common with first ladies thank you would think. Click To Tweet

Both women give up a lot for their spouses’ career. 

As soon as their husband embarks on the campaign trail, the career paths of future first ladies are altered forever. Sometimes they have to give up their own aspirations entirely or face coming to grips with a drastically different version. Oftentimes, they feel that their duties are a bit token and don’t provide the same amount of satisfaction as their career. Military spouses basically face the same challenges. Finding a job (let alone a career) as a military spouse is an uphill battle.

Then when you factor in moving away from home, not seeing their spouse very often and all the other little changes, military spouses and first ladies know all about sacrifice.

Both women recognize their spouse may be in danger because of his job. 

The stories of Jackie Kennedy and Nancy Reagan are real enough to hit close to home for military spouses. Most of the first ladies profiled acknowledged living with a level of fear for their husbands’ safety. They would often kiss their loved one good-bye, not really knowing if they’d see them again. Military spouses do this before every single deployment.

Both women have to go through a significant learning curve when it comes to their husbands’ job. 

First ladies don’t really have any idea of what’s in store for them when they move into the White House and military spouses are oftentimes equally clueless. Both groups have to quickly learn on the job and roll with whatever punches are thrown at them. There isn’t really a manual, but just bits and pieces of advices from those who came before you and your own best judgement.

Both women have to stand up to quite a bit of scrutiny and ideas of what they should be.

A few days ago, there was a quite a bit of media buzz about First Lady Melania Trump’s shoe choice while visiting victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. Would anyone give a flying flip if she was just some other person? Probably not. But that’s the cost of being first lady: people suddenly have all sorts of ideas about what you should do and when/how you should do it.

Like it or not, military spouses experience similar attitudes and stereotypes. But gone are the days where both groups embody 1950s housewife ideals. First ladies and military spouses have opinions, dreams and goals and aren’t afraid to share and pursue them.

Both groups of women are some of the most recognized and talked about groups in the country, but unless you’ve been one, most people can’t even begin to understand what their lives are like. After reading this book, I think military spouses should take heart in knowing that the first ladies probably understand them even better than we realize.

Have you ever come across a group of people that you have a lot in common with, even though they seem very different?

Military

Military Spouse Profile: Rebecca From What Rebecca Thinks

September 1, 2017

There are so many amazing military spouses out there kicking butt on a daily basis that deserve to be recognized and I’m excited to feature one of them each month with my Military Spouse Profile series. If you’re interested in sharing your story (or know someone who might), please send me an email!

Introduce yourself to my readers! Tell us a little bit about who you are.

Hi! I’m Rebecca, a freelance writer, Army wife, and mom of three. My day consists of coffee, reading in various forms, writing, and mother-ing. My wonderful husband and I strive to make life a learning experience for our kids, which currently has led to discussions about US geography, and Navajo code talkers at the dinner table.

When I have some time to myself, I enjoy quilting while listening to a good book, preparing freezer meals so I don’t have to cook each night, and getting back to the world of CrossFit. Did I mention I like coffee?

What inspired you to start blogging?

When I was working in Army transition assistance, it was a very hot topic in the community, and I was encouraged to write about it. Then I moved to military family issues and parenting.

What’s the main message you hope your blog shares with your readers?

I’m not a traditional blogger, as my writing mostly appears elsewhere, but I hope that when I bring military family issues to the eye of the general public, it helps to make the lifestyle a bit more understandable. Overall, my hope is to inspire and help readers.

What is your favorite part of being a military spouse?

The travel. I’m coming off a big move, after being in AZ for almost 5 years, and as hard as it has been to leave that life behind, it’s exciting to look forward. I love exploring a new place, setting up a new house, and spending that interim time with my family.

Tell us a little bit about your journey as a military spouse-the ups and downs, lessons learned, etc.

I married my husband about 4 years into his career. He’d already deployed twice to Iraq and I had no idea what was coming. The first year we spent together in a training environment. Then we went overseas. I “grew up” in Germany alongside some of the strongest spouses the military has ever known. From the day we left Germany, I have tried to be to other spouses what they were to me: a rock, a shoulder to cry on, and a resource.

We’ve had three kids, endured 4 deployments, numerous TDYs, and one very long and trying assignment. We’ve been married 10 ½ years, moved 5 times, gotten a degree each, and adjusted more times than I can count. There’s no question in my mind that this is where we are supposed to be, together.

What’s the number one piece of advice you would give a new military spouse?

Ask questions! Even the stupid ones. The more you know, the better prepared you will be.

What or who has been the biggest help or source of support to you in your role as a military spouse?

Senior spouses. We owe so much to the ones who have blazed the path before us. They did all of what we do now (and more!) with so much less. The family programs we have now? They fought for.

Do you have a favorite place the military has taken you? What is it and why?

Wiesbaden, Germany will always hold a special place in my heart. For the reasons mentioned above mostly. I loved living in Europe, finding myself, rooting my marriage, and starting my family there.

Just for fun:

  • Favorite Netflix binge-worthy watch? Anything related to the Tudors
  • What’s your favorite hobby? Sewing 
  • Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate!
  • Tell us a random fact about yourself. I love audiobooks, especially WEB Griffin books.

Many thanks to Rebecca for sharing her story! I have followed Rebecca for quite some time and am always blown away by what a great resource she is. If you’re a new military spouse (or even a seasoned one), follow her and learn from her experiences. Plus, her little ones are so stinking cute. You can find Rebecca on her blog, Facebook, TwitterPinterest and Instagram.