independence, milspouse, PCS, Uncategorized

You Can Help New Milspouses Research Their Next Duty Station!

What is the first thing you do when you/your spouse gets orders?  RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH!!  I’m always looking at how far the BAH goes, what neighborhoods are the nicest, where the best schools are, what has the easiest commute, etc.  Wouldn’t it be great if there was one place to visit that would give you all that information or at least a place to start looking?

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That is exactly what I’m trying to build.  But I’ve obviously not lived in every location.  I wouldn’t even know what to say about Navy, Air Force, or Marine bases!  That is where you all come in!  I’ve created a super quick Google Form to start compiling all the info I would love to share with families.  Legit, it only takes 2 minutes to complete and can make a huge difference!  I don’t collect any personal information and will be doing all the leg work of finding addresses, phone numbers, etc of the recommended businesses.

Please take the time to fill it out! Click Here For Duty Station Survey

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community, independence, milspouse

Why Choose the YMCA?!

I don’t know a single person who hasn’t heard of the YMCA.  Unfortunately, I also only know a handful of people who actually use it.  Which is a shame.  Whether you are military or a civilian, the YMCA is a fantastic resource for your mental, physical, and (if you so choose) spiritual well-being.

The History of The YMCA

The YMCA began in London, England during the industrialization of the city.  Young men were moving to the city in droves looking for work.  Often times the city was a dangerous place and many young men needed emotional and physical shelter from their surroundings.  The YMCA was created as a place for these young workers to receive a hot meal, a place to sleep and bible study among peers with similar values.  The outreach eventually included non Evangelicals with the mission being to provide hope and help to all men in need.  The idea caught on like wildfire and within just a few years there were hundreds of Y locations in many countries.

The YMCA has held a close relationship with the military since the very beginning.  From sending bibles and New Testaments to the soldiers on the front (I don’t know a single military member who doesn’t have one of those camouflage pocket bibles) to operating military canteens (the forerunner to the post exchange aka PX), the YMCA has played an integral part in military wartime and peacetime efforts.  Nowadays, you can even find an Armed Forces YMCA on most military installations.  These provide story hours, preschool program for some enlisted personnel, mommy and me play hours for young families and so much more.  All for free!

The YMCA Has Become an Integral Part of My Life

I began my journey with the YMCA a few years ago when I started taking my then 9 month old son to swim lessons.  These were basically just water acclimation classes where we played with our babies in the water.  I wasn’t a member at the time, it just happened to be the only place in the area that offered what I was looking for.  As he got older he moved on to other swim lessons that ranged from pool safety and etiquette to the perfection of various strokes.  They have been fantastic lessons with caring and patient instructors and I highly recommend looking into it if you are looking for a place to start swim instruction for your little ones.

When my second son made his appearance I knew that I wanted him to also do swim classes.  At this point I was at the Y several times a week!  One of the swim instructors pulled me aside and asked me why I wasn’t a member one day.  I honestly hadn’t thought about it.  The on post gym was free (though I had to pay for childcare) so I never really thought about it.  Once I crunched the numbers, I realized I would be SAVING money by using the Y.  Swim lessons became significantly discounted and there was free childcare.  This also made swim lessons easier because I could put one in care while I was with the other at the pool.  My husband and I both also benefitted from the wide variety of group fitness classes that were offered.  From Spin to Zumba, we found ourselves at the Y almost everyday!

The Y Provides Not Only a Gym, But A Community

There were so many benefits beyond their clean facility, wide selection of group fitness classes, and thorough well planned swim lessons.  There were fun runs, field days breakfast with Santa, Easter Egg Hunts… the list goes on and on.  At some point, the Y stopped being a gym and started being a community.  The staff members and volunteers were so welcoming that at some point they stopped being “the front desk girl” or “the member accounts rep” and started becoming our babysitters or members of our friend circle.  As a military family, we are prewired to jump in and “bloom where we are planted”.  For many people it remained just a gym and a great one at that.  But for those who want more, the Y provides…. and then some.

There are so many additional benefits, as well.  For those of retirement age, the YMCA is a Silver Sneakers partner.  Which means proof of medicare (or other large insurance) gets you a free membership.  I love seeing my older gals shaking it at Zumba!  Some have even become like surrogate grandmothers to my boys.  The Y also offers lectures on a variety of subjects, from religious education and weight loss to financial stability and investment.  I really can’t express enough how the Y can touch every part of your life if you let it.  It also allows you to visit their other locations which is huge for us military families.  When we are in New York or New Mexico visiting family we can go to the local Y without missing a beat!

So… have you been to your Y lately?  If not, go soon.  Your first visit is free!

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FRG, independence, milspouse

Do You Buy in to New Year’s Resolutions?

I never have.  But I think 2018 is going to be different.  I never do a New Year’s Resolution and you know what?  I also end up having a lot of regrets.  This year all those fleeting thoughts I have about things that I want to do are becoming New Year’s Resolutions.

I can see where this is going to be dangerous.  I’ve decided to stack the deck by mixing difficult resolutions with easy ones.  This way I can have a sense of accomplishment and don’t get discouraged as easily.  Clearly, I am not great at keeping myself accountable for all my ideas and notions.  If i were I wouldn’t end up with all those regrets. So I am also putting myself on blast by telling all of you what my resolutions are.

  1. I will go to the gym 5 days a week.  This one isn’t that hard, I already do it… now I’m just not allowing myself to ever dip below 5 days.
  2. I will post on this blog at least 2x a week.  I’ve started blogs before and I always peter out… Not this time, my friend!
  3. I will plan biweekly FRG playdates/spouses coffees.  I’m the FRG leader for my husband’s company and I was really crushing it during last year’s deployment… Ever since they got home, not so much.  Gunna get back on that.
  4. I will add at least one more Zumba class to my weekly teaching schedule.  This one shouldn’t be that hard since I’ve got an audition on Wednesday.
  5. I will declutter my home and continue on my journey to becoming a wannabe minimalist.  This one is my mother load.  This is the one that I am going to find difficult to stick to.  This is also the one that I want the most.

Please check back with me to see where I am on my journey.  And see how my husband’s crazy schedule gets in my way.

Are you making resolutions?  Have you made any that you think are unattainable?  What about easy ones?

independence, milspouse

Is the New Year Bringing Big Changes for You?!

holiday party-2

“Cause, man…. Do we got some stuff coming down the pike….

I think that everyone has some sort of reaction to the end/beginning of a new year.  Personally, I think that it affects milspouses the most.

With how hectic and chaotic military life can get, a new calendar year can bring A LOT of change.  Even when changes are expected the change of year makes it all seem so REAL, ya know?  I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed this year.  Very recently my husband came home with flowers and sushi…. aka bomb dropping gifts.  I was under the impression that he would be changing out of command in the spring and that he would then begin an 18 month MBA program.  Not only was my husband getting to continue his education, as a family we would have solid, non deployable, family time.  But then…. the sushi… and now we are waiting until the end of January to find out if he got picked for a high-profile aide position.  Did I mention the job comes with a 9 month stint in Afghanistan?  So there’s that…

For us, this position has so many implications on our future.  We haven’t decided on the military as a 20 year commitment yet.  The MBA would kick that decision down the road a little.  Which works for us, we like this lifestyle but are still on the fence.  But this job is amazing and opens so many doors for my husband’s career that we would pretty much be making the commitment to 20+years.  It would be silly to take this job and not continue to compete at a higher level in order to maximize his time in the Army.  I’m honestly happy with either course of action.

The not knowing though!!!  Holy Cow!  We have had so much not knowing over the years, that the certainty that I had before was so refreshing.  Having it yanked away hasn’t been easy to deal with.

What crazy things is the military throwing at you in 2018?

field training, independence, milspouse

How I Learned to Crush Training Exercises

I have such a love hate relationship with field training.  I hate how much time the army takes away from my husband.  It’s time that could be spent with me, it’s time that could be spent with our children.  Hell, it’s time that he could be fixing things around the house and giving me a break so that I can take a shower.  When my husband is in the field, I not only countdown to my kid’s bedtimes… I count down to my own.  Or at least I did, many moons ago, before I learned how to crush this crazy milspouse life.

I had to make a conscious decision to create my own life.  It felt so odd at first, counterintuitive to the vows I had just said.  While newlyweds all over the world are dealing with how to merge their individual lives military spouses are treading a much more difficult path.  Military spouses must learn how to create a beautiful married life as well as developing a new independent lifestyle.

To some that may sound super easy.  Duh! Just keep doing what you loved to do before you were married… But it really isn’t that simple.  The military isn’t a 9-5 job.  My husband wakes up every morning between 4 and 5am.  And that is because we live on post, when we have lived off post it’s even earlier.  At best he works 14 hours but often he works much longer.  Every once in a while he is home much earlier.  So basically his schedule is completely unreliable which means I have to have dinner ready on either a moments notice and also have it be easily reheated.  Since my husband is gone so often it is really important to me that he gets to spend time with the kids before bedtime.  A lot of times, its only an hour, but that hour may be all the time they get all week.

When you’re living your life revolving around another person it is difficult to carve out your own identity.  Mix that with parenthood and Poof! no more you!  When my husband’s first field exercise cropped up on the training calendar, I was completely lost!  I had to fill 4 straight days.  In a new city, with no job, no friends, no hobbies.  I felt like I was in solitary confinement.  I was miserable.  I would spend hours on the phone with my best friend from back home.  I truly began to feel like an appendage of my husband, not my own person.

One of the best decisions I ever made was reaching out to spouses of soldiers in my husband’s unit.  I literally went onto the group FRG Facebook page and posted:

“Hi!  I’m (relatively) new to the area and I have no friends!  Is anyone interested in grabbing a bite to eat next week? I’m normal, I swear!”

And guess what?  There were 2 other spouses in basically the same boat. We went out to dinner and it was great.  Were they both the lifelong soul sisters I dreamed of? No.  But I ended up becoming very good friends with one of them and keep in touch with both of them to this day.  More importantly, I now had friends who were in the same boat as I was and were on the same schedule.  When my husband was gone, so were theirs.  I know how people in the area to come over and watch a movie with, to go shopping with. They also understood when I went into friendship hibernation.  When the guys are home its pretty common for us to fall off the radar.

Those friendships came with so much more than convenience.  They allowed me to explore my new home through “girl” eyes.  We ate at restaurants I could never drag my husband to.  We saw shows he would have hated.  We took cooking classes, went to Zumba, and countless other things.  I learned a lot about myself.

And I took all those things I learned with me to my next duty station.  And the next.  And the next.  And at every duty station I did the same thing.  I posted on that dang Facebook page.  I had those awkward friend dates at Panera.  Sometimes I had several before I found my crew.  I never felt like it was a waste of time when I had those lunch dates with people I knew I wouldn’t be besties with.  I knew that there would always be a friendly face at the next FRG meeting or Battalion potluck.

I no longer looked at the field training exercises as terrifying black holes.  I had friends to call who were also dealing with empty houses.  And when they weren’t available, I knew of cafes I could have dinner at and fitness classes I could go to.  I wasn’t selfconscious about being seen alone, because I knew I wasn’t TRULY alone.

I am by no means saying that the only good friends you will ever have are milspouses, but they have a special place in my heart.  You could substitute the FRG with any group and I can almost guarantee your results will be the same.  Some of you may be more comfortable with a MOMS group, church or your gym.  The point is, you are never alone!  There is always at least one person who could use a meal, a friend, or both.  So get out and connect.  It will change your day and it may even change your perspective on this crazy mil-life!

Tell me about your tricks to making yourself comfortable in a new place or how you fill those long training nights!