Help for your PCS Finances!

PCS Post at MilAve_Col_K Driveway
It is summer PCS season and one third of our military is relocating to a new fun spot in the sun! With a PCS many obligations and military requirements come at a new unit plus a completely new area for some to explore. But first, we have to get there … quite the challenge for many, routine for others, occasionally heart wrenching for military brats, saying good bye to friends, planning to travel, find a new home … screech on chalkboard for our budget sometimes.

Need help to work through the finances of a PCS?

During an interview with a well known and respected leader in the financial world, Ms. Gerri Walsh (President of the FINRA Education Foundation and an attorney) said in January that the military community’s biggest mistake was overspending and “an endless cycle of debt”. I spoke with Gerri again, earlier this week after the FINRA Foundation released their PCS Financial Tips for you!  I asked her if a PCS added a financial strain and while she had no specific data she did say that non-reimbursed costs will add to the financial burden of a military family unless they had a plan. Personal experience says, "expect them"!

A Chaplain's Walk through Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) - DoD Blogger Roundtable

Summer is here! Our Nation somberly celebrated Memorial Day with parades, cemetery services, speeches about sacrifice and news articles and opinion pieces about service. We also had picnics, barbecues, time off from work and family gatherings. During one of our family times the topic of discussion centered around Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) and how it was treated from WWI and WWII through Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and now Afghanistan. With a number of veterans in the family ranging in age from WWII, Korea and Vietnam, plus the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan; it was a lively discussion.

I was reminded of Colonel Chris Robinson of the Deputy Director for Psychological Health, Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury and his description of Americans as “very stoic” and “self reliant” during a DoD Blogger Roundtable last week and how that impacted our response to the many traumas that our service members are exposed to during combat and the military lifestyle. He said that “self reports” during post deployment surveys, etc. are much higher than folks actually seeking help. Describing the stigma of seeking assistance as a problem for the military community and that the Real Warrior Campaign was there to help end the stigma. Convincing our troops that reaching out is a strength and that early care is best said Robinson are two goals of the program. If you have PTSD, it will affect you, it can not be ignored and to highlight its ability to affect all the Roundtable introduced U.S Navy Cmdr. (Chaplain) Steven Dundas.

Have you Heard about Blue Star Museums?

Blue Star Museums Kicks Off on Memorial Day!

What does that mean to you, a member of the military community? If you are an active duty, National Guard or Reserve member or family member, you have access to more than 1,600 museums this summer for free! Right, we agree, what a great program. This is the third year for this program and it started with 900 museums and is growing each year as the Arts open their doors wide open to the military community.

FREE entertainment for your family on a crazy summer schedule! Maybe you just PCS'd into a new area and need something for the family to do.  Hot outside, humidity is causing a major sweat and you need some place cool!  Remember, art museums have to be environmentally controlled to protect the art! Find your new location right on their map for the closest museum.

Fathers Day Messages and Care Package Ideas

Three Cheers for Dad!! Whether the Dad you adore is biological or adopted, active duty or a civilian, Stars and Stripes wants to help you pay tribute to him by posting a free message for Father’s Day (June 17). Visit to enter yours.

If your recipient is overseas and your message is received by May 29, it will be published in the Stars and Stripes newspaper of your choice (European, Pacific or Middle East edition). All messages will also be available online as soon as they are approved.

Recognizing another Vietnam Hero – Specialist Leslie Sabo earns Posthumous Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor was posthumously awarded by the President of the United States to U.S. Army Specialist Leslie Sabo killed while saving the lives of his friends and fellow soldiers on May 10th, 1970. The Blogger Roundtable spoke with members of his company and platoon to discuss the events which led to Sabo receiving the Medal of Honor – 42 Years after he was killed.  They talked about his heroics on that day after they were ambushed in eastern Cambodia. Accepting the award was Sabo's widow, Rose Mary Sabo-Brown. The Sabos had been married during his short leave from Advanced Infantry Training (AIT) and honeymooned during 30 days of leave before he left for Vietnam.

During comments at the ceremony President Obama said, veterans of the Vietnam era were not treated properly by Americans. Can I get an "Amen" from the crowd! A quick comparison for you: Can you imagine Jane Fonda simulating shooting an Iraqi anti aircraft gun at American planes during Iraqi Freedom and being cheered by most in Hollywood for it and never prosecuted for aiding and abetting the enemy? That is exactly what she did to Vietnam veterans and America followed the lead of many like her.

Summer 2012 Bucket List

Summer Vacation is soon upon us.  A time of year I LOVE!  The lack of routine is so refreshing but amazingly enough becomes a little old after only a few weeks (and depending on the moment, sometimes only after a few days).

So this summer my boys and I have created a 'Bucket List'.  Things we all want to do in the course of our lazy-days of summer.  Somethings are things I want to do as a family.  Some things are dreams.  Others are already being planned.  This is our list of plans, ideas and joys for the summer:

  1. Ride our Bike to Tasty Freeze
  2. Have a backyard game of kickball
  3. Catch fireflies
  4. Have Small Group over for a cook out
  5. Change Rooms (My 7 & 9 year old are ready to be separated so we have to figure out the whole room switch thing.  Four kids and four bedrooms can be a bit tricky)
  6. Dance at 10pm with sparklers
  7. Have a 10 minute Dance Party
  8. Blow Bubbles
  9. Camp in a tent
  10. Make homemade ice cream
  11. Read a new book
  12. Ride our bike to the library
  13. Go fishing
  14. Play in the new playground at the Kindergarten building
  15. Make s'mores

A Reflection of my Own Stress

I was running a morning errand when I saw the car screaming in reverse down the driveway. I tapped my brakes not knowing if she saw me. She slammed on hers to avoid hitting me.  I saw the 2nd grader in the back seat, her daughter.  I could see the mom YELLING at her daughter.  Hands were in motion, up in the air.  Mom was flabbergasted over something.  It was 8:05am and I knew that kids were considered tardy if they arrived after 8:10am and we live about 5 minutes from the school.  It was easy to draw conclusions but I don't know what was happening exactly in the car that followed me through the development and up the street a bit.

Maybe this was just one incident.  One bad morning.  The alarm clocks didn't go off.  They just got out of the bed on the wrong side.  I don't know.  But I was quickly reminded of something I have been very conscious of.  Yelling.  Yelling at my children when we are running late.  Yelling when I have asked them for the umpteenth time to stop fighting.  Yelling when they just aren't doing what they are supposed to be doing, or vice-versa.  I am very conscious of losing my cool as Mom.  It can be so easy for me to do.

What is the Department of Defense Doing to Help Military Spouses Find Jobs?

"A Senior Engineer" with General Dynamics at Pearl Harbor, HI and "Part Time Bartender" for Hilton Worldwide Chicago Downtown – what do they have to do with spouse employment?

Military spouse at job fair - See below for photo credit
The Military Spouse Employment Program (MSEP) kicked off almost a year ago and has more than 440,000 jobs available for a military spouse to search through for their specific needs. The DoD Blogger Roundtable spoke with Robert L. Gordon III, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Military Community and Family Policy) as he highlighted the many successes of MSEP and how it has improved the lives of the military community.

With a 26% unemployment rate last year and an approximate 25% wage gap for the military spouses, the military and national leadership had to respond to this critical need.  While the 440,000 jobs listed are not military spouse exclusive, MSEP aims to insure that:  they are portable for frequently relocated military personnel and require a “level playing field” for the military community applicants. Each business agrees through a Memorandum of Agreement to share spouse hiring information, to provide support from their Human Resources department and build a mentorship program for military spouses.

Father's Day Care Package Ideas

Sending a letter to Dad

Kids say the darndest things! It is the truth. I got some wonderfully done papers for Mother's Day from my first grader. My favorite line on one was, "What my mom likes best about being a mother is _____." His response was "Being the boss". Who knew being bossy was so much fun, right?! :) I would amend his answer to include giving hugs, kisses, sharing smiles and tickles, 'Rise and Shine'  and 'Goodnight Moon' and every hour in between ... but I'm sure he just ran out of space ;)

Now it is time to move from Mother's Day and on to Father's Day, especially if the Dad in your life is deployed.  I found some wonderful Father's Day letter ideas on Pinterest that I wanted to share with you.  (Click on any image to get to a larger version.)

'Muffins for Mom' and the Super-Teacher

This morning I had the distinct pleasure of joining my 1st grader in his class room for 'Muffins for Mom'. A Mother's Day celebration with his classmates. What an honor!  We walked down the hall hand in hand before the school day started.

We enjoyed muffins and juice (my juice of choice was coffee), artwork and tic tac toe, smiles and hugs.  A mother could not ask for a better way to start the day!


Are You Getting the Most Out of your Garden?

Or How to Get More Veggies with Less Work

Amateur farmers – that we are! Gardening can be a great way to improve your health with exercise, relaxation and quality food on the table. But are you getting the most from your effort?
Straw Mulch

Small, part time farmers need to get the most buck for their dollar effort if they want to enjoy their garden produce and make those calluses worth it. So hours of weeding are not a favorite pastime for anyone – just think of all those stretches though! Taking the time to prepare the area by tilling with a machine or by shovel is a great head start! Get rid of the weeds and grass before planting to make it easier later in the heat of summer. If you do have a rotor tiller make sure the rows are wide enough to use the tiller as a cultivator later too!

Military Spouse Appreciation Day Blog Hop

I come from a long line of great military-spouses!  Both of my grandfathers served in the US Army during World War II.  My father was an Air Force pilot for 30 years.  Now my husband is with the Ohio Army National Guard.

Military-wives, in particular, have always been part of my world.  They were the aunts in my life when my mom's and dad's sisters lived so far away.  They were the teachers in the DoD schools I attended.  They were the laughter I would hear coming from my own mom's soul when she was with her best of friends.

Finding Your Rhythm as a Mom: Mom Connection

I remember sitting in a room full of friends and acquaintances.We were going around the room giving prayer praises & requests.  My request was fairly simple.  "My husband just found out he is deploying to Iraq.  Pray for him.  Pray for us."

That group of women was a room full of moms.  They were an important part of my community: my rhythm.  I was a mom of two boys, aged two and four.  I knew these ladies through MOPS, Mothers of Preschoolers.  They were there for me as I geered up for hub's deployment, for the year he was gone and then rejoiced with me when he returned.  They were a piece of my connection with sanity.

FROST Warning - Caring for your Vegetable Garden

A vegetable garden is both fun and exercise for those who grow a small one or have the time and space for a larger one. The rewards can be great with fresh vegetables and canning or freezing them for the family dinner table as well. We actually do all three and spent a lot more time preparing it this year after a couple of years of less activity.

Acorn Squash
In the fall we fertilized, placed some peat moss on the surface and then used the rotor tiller to mix it into our sandy soil. Early in April we rotor tilled it again after adding a bit more fertilizer to eliminate weeds and started putting in hardy plants and seeds like lettuce and spinach (we tend to be away in March someplace warm and sunny so we do not start plants in the house). We did one section at a time and had a drawing with our plan and this year we did a couple of new things.

Speaking to the Civilian Community about our Airmen plus...

As a prelude to Memorial Day the local Rotary Club invited a representative from each service to speak at their weekly meetings through the end of the month. The Air Force led off yesterday and I did point out that we are generally the first in during wartime as well. That created some very friendly service rivalry comments and laughs but it was a great opportunity to talk to the civilian community about the men and women serving our country.

I'm a Winner! Thanks to UbiRock

Isn't it fun when you are notified that "You are a winner!"?  I have to admit it doesn't happen often.  The first time I ever won something it was a windbreaker from a pet store - eons ago.  The next thing I remember winning was a baby carrier (backpack style) from Babies R Us soon after my now 9 year old was born.  We still have that backpack and it has been used for my other sons as well as my nieces and nephews.  It is like the gift that keeps on giving!

Military Appreciation Month Giveaway

In honor of Military Appreciation Month we have 5 Gift Cards to WalMart to give to Military-Families from!

Tell us how you are part of the military family  Are you a 'brat', wife, husband, Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Coastie, Airman, grandparent, veteran, mom, dad, or more then one! 

We want YOU to know that WE Appreciate you!

Stretch Out in New Found Comfort

Stretching out in style.

I had to have it: online bargain that not only pinched pennies, but my toes too… sigh!  So, not the best of purchases, yet...

Such a good deal, and oh so cute… Who could pass up a pair of shoes that would go with so many outfits? Oh be still my dancing feet.

An Open Letter to Teenage Drivers

Dear Teenager Driver whose path I crossed yesterday,

In some ways I am sorry for yelling yesterday.  I know I yelled loud.  Adrenaline kicked in and Mother Bear came out.  I now know you were scared.

You see there are three very special boys to me - VERY special.  They frequently play on the sidewalk that you careened over.  There are at least nine other neighborhood children who are all very dear friends.  Children that we cannot replace.  Children who play in our quiet street in our quiet development.  A black-hole could have easily been created in our hearts that day had only one of our precious jewels from heaven been standing on the sidewalk between my neighbor's house and the stop sign.

Military Spouse Appreciation Day, May 11, 2012

Each year the Friday before Mother's Day is Military Spouse Appreciation Day; May 11, 2012. "The first Military Spouse Day was first celebrated in 1984 when then-President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the observance to honor the contributions of military spouses. The military now sets aside the Friday before Mother's Day each year to pay tribute to the spouses who play a vital role in the nation's defense." (

This is a day to love, appreciate and tell the US military-spouses in our lives and around the world a special 'Thank You' for all you have done.

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