Being an Only Child ... for moments in time

I'm not an only child.  I am the oldest of three.

Neither are my boys.  There are four boys from 19 years old to 2 years old.  They are my heart walking around outside of my body.

And I'm laughing (with her of course) at a very dear friend who just found out they are pregnant with Baby 2 and are worried that older brother is going to be jealous.  Ah life is about to change (all for the better) for them!

You know that opportunity though when you get time with just Mom or Dad?  It is priceless.

So walk with me down memory lane.  I was a junior in college and came 'home' for the summer.  My folks had PCSed to Kirtland AFB, NM that year so it was a new area for me.  One weekend, just the three of us, Mom, Dad and I, took a mini-vacation together.   We visited White Sands.  It was the highlight of the weekend, probably the highlight of my summer actually.  We walked, talked, dumped sand out of our shoes time and time again. This 20 year old (a few years ago) rolled down the sand hills and got sand in her teeth, ears, eyes and loved every minute of it.

Going Banana Bread

Recipe ready, ingredients and aprons
Tuesdays with the Grands: Going Banana Bread

Tuesday morning started with a whirlwind of life... Stand back because the babes are about to enter! The choice was made to change the day from a day of pure babysitting into a time to cherish, capture with pictures, perhaps decorate the furniture create a memory.

Distance Learning for Military Spouses and Veterans

Are you looking at a master’s degree or graduate certification in any of these three areas: family and community services, family financial planning or youth development?  Checkout this announcement from the Department of Defense.

DOD, USDA Partner in ‘Win-win’ Distance Learning Program

These areas (Family & Community Support, Family Financial Planning and Youth Development) definitely need attention in the military community.  I would love to see more support for our military family as a whole.  Barbara Thompson, director of DOD’s office for family policy, children and youth, agrees “Those are three areas that we find critical to support the military family community,” she said. “So the goal is not only will our service members, spouses and veterans have opportunities to receive their education, but they can also contribute back to the military community in those fields.”

Carrot, Egg or Coffee Bean?

My aunt sent me this small story and said it reminded her of something my grandma would say.  She, my gram, was a woman of wise words and wisdom so I couldn't agree more with my aunt after reading it.

We have a lot of struggles in military-life.  PCSs and Deployments are the two big ones but we all know there is so much more.  So when you hit that brick wall ask yourself, "Am I a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?"  If you aren't sure how to answer that then read on...

Another PCS? Or Your First? Some great Moving Tools to Assist You!

It is PCS Time Again
Are you excited about this next move? Or is it the wrong move, at the wrong time? Ready to jump into research, house hunting, finding the best schools, how to get those utilities hooked up, a new local bank maybe, etc. Or maybe you have put it off and now the time crunch is upon you and you need to get started in a hurry?

We faced all of those situations during a career that spanned 18 PCS type moves and some college students being hauled across the continent as well. The internet has opened some great new avenues to help and MilitaryAvenue’s Moving Tools is one way to put resources on one page for you.

Are you Ready for This?
The Tools include some very practical things; like where to get packing materials, change of address cards, city profiles and calculators for determining how much house you can afford in the next town. If this is a new experience for you, then you should read some helpful articles and moving advice from those who have gone before you in this galaxy (sometimes it feels like another world while gaining all this PCS experience).

Military Kids Website Also Helps Parents, Educators

Technology has come a long ways since I was a military-brat PCSing around the world in the 80s and 90s. I didn't have to deal with year long deployments but I remember Dad being gone for six months at a time for training and schooling.

Fast forward a 'few years' and I watched my husband head off to Iraq with the Ohio Army National Guard.  I had a few print pamphlets and a couple of Internet articles I could share with teachers that weren't accustomed to having military-children in their classroom but there wasn't much more support then that.

Tax Support for our Military

Tax Season will soon be here. Be sure to check out these resources for you, the military family:

Oh My! The Numbers Are Dropping

That Downward Slope

Good morning winter!

I see you have arrived in splendor and beauty.

Money Saving Idea: Getting Comfortable in the Kitchen

Throughout the next month the focus is going to be on saving money.  No pressure on my part as that leads to nothing but guilt, and therefore failure.  However, when I do find myself doing 'the right thing' I want to focus on it and think about how I can make it that much better.  (My motto, "Little Drops of Awesome")

There will be a lot of trust.  Trust that this focus is important, necessary, part of managing the household.  It helps with some of the stress on my marriage.  It helps me feel like a better manager of God's provisions.  Money doesn't bring happiness but I'd sure like to try peace in knowing I'm doing the right thing does.

Finances and the Heart

We all have demons in our lives.  I mean in the real sense, not the scary fictional movie kind.  Some of Satan's army nips at our friendships, mauls at our self-worth, whisper about our inabilities.  Some challenge things that we know, claw at our most trusted relationships, sneer at our self-esteem.  When it comes to tearing a man down we don't do it all on our own!

This all was running through my mind this morning as we sat in church.  The sermon was on money, trust, priorities. 

Let me tell you about this demon in my life.

A Moment Out of the Norm: Dog Show

A moment out of the norm.

“Grinda” is a rescued pup. She is a hoot! She is a Welsh Corgi Pembroke. She has short legs and long ears. She also has our hearts and pride of ownership streaming all around her.

Yesterday was her moment to shine. Well, we all take that idea differently... the car for example shining moment would be a wax job. The house’s shine would be a spring cleaning. The shining moment for our dog Grinda: an entry in a dog show. No kidding!

Valentines Care Package Ideas

It is that time of year. Time to pull out the USPS Flat Rate Shipping box, decorate it with hearts, smooches and words of endearment and fill it with love.

What will you put in your Valentines Care Package?  It is nice to have some economical ideas.  Items he can use but show that you love him.  Things that are small and easy to store that remind him of you.  Love that is shared in a note, a kiss, a smell.  If this sounds up your alley here are some great ideas for your very own Valentines Package:

Military Discounts Around Town

Hubs and I had a wonderful weekend in Annapolis a few weeks ago with college friends.  We laughed, chatted, caught up, got to know spouses, ate, ate and ate.  We did a lot of eating.  We even got to dress up like adults for a wedding Friday evening.  Life was good!

You know you are in a military
town when there is a USAA
Financial Center
We also toured the town, just hubs and I.  I had never been on the Naval Academy and knew it was steeped in military pride.  Since we were within walking distance from our hotel we strolled the campus.  It was still Christmas Break so it was pretty quiet, but there was definitely life.  I soaked up every moment.  Even this proud Air Force Brat, Army wife felt a lot of pride walking those grounds.

After our Academy stroll we found ourselves on the bay, the smell of the water, the December wind on our faces.  I was enamoured.  Finally, we walked around all of the little shops in town for some good ol' fashion window-shopping.  SO many of these touristy-town Mom and Pop shops had signs: Military Discount... just show your ID... 10%, 20%, sometimes more.  I wish I had snapped some photos.  But I didn't.  Shame on me.

Here is my call to action for you.  If you are walking the streets of your town, the town you are visiting, the city you are simply passing through, and you see a sign in the window inviting you in with a Military Discount.  Snap a picture.  It takes just a few seconds to pull our your smart phone and **Click** it's done.

Where is Your Gym?

Motivation and goals are keys to a healthy lifestyle; we read so much about physical fitness around this time of the year. New Year’s resolutions come and sometimes they are gone before the end of January. Some are even made and then forgotten before they are started. For many they include, “I will go the gym this many times (X) a week”.

Grinda joined me on my workout today!
But physical fitness can be much easier than heading off to the gym and two of the biggest challenges are the time and location issue. Do you have time to get ready, drive to the gym, find the right equipment? Or maybe it is accessible but the time is just not right for you? The more difficult it becomes, the more your motivation is challenged.

Life is an adventure not a race

How often do you take the road less travelled?

Driving home from a weekend with college friends. A trip across state lines, many state lines. Time with just hubs as my boys were at home with Grandpa and Grandma. Ahead of us was Breezewood, PA and hubs was already grumbling about that "gosh awful" interchange.  (I just might have edited that grumbling to make it more family friendly.)

Is Working from Home Your Cup of Tea in 2013?

Considering a work from home job? Could It Help You Find Military Financial Success?  Want to be a military family entrepreneur?  Or is a military transition staring at you and you are considering the work from home idea?

It sounds good but is it good for your “Military Wallet”? Reduced commute time, savings on gas, flexible hours and more family time are some of the benefits listed by Ryan Guina, creator of Cash Money Life and The Military Wallet blogs. I met Ryan at the USAA Blogger Conference in November and shared lunch and a wait in the San Antonio airport with him too. Discussion turned to times of Air Force service, family, mutual support of our veterans through information in our blogs and how we made it work. His focus on military finances led me to follow up with a phone interview so I can tell others about his great articles/posts.  It was an easy conversation with my questions leading the way through his efforts to support the military community. 

How did you get started?

Ryan Guina
Ryan and I both work from home but he had a different perspective and I wanted to hear it.  A lot of hard work to make it happen was his response! After leaving the Air Force he worked a full time job as a consultant for the Air Force Material Command at Wright Patterson AFB and started building his blogging reputation with thorough and researched articles. He wanted to be a central source of information for military finances and that led to readers who asked questions that created more writing opportunities. The incredible workload and sacrifices of doing both jobs for 3 years led to a family decision to move onto becoming a full time blogger and a work at home professional.  

What do you see as the biggest problem for day to day military finances?

Low income is the issue for many. He certainly understood the need for a transportable job for spouses as well as augmented income for a military family starting out. He began his efforts while using Tuition Assistance on active duty for education and said the early years are tough due to the low pay issues and many of the military benefits are not fully understood and under utilized.

In order to help other military families in similar situations with their military money matters that  included pay, benefits and legislation affecting those issues, he began to dig by researching and posting about them.  Supporting the military community was the motivation to put in all of the extra hours to get off the ground with Military Wallet and Cash Money Life. His military expertise and audience was certainly recognized by military giant USAA with the invitation to the Military Influencer Conference.  
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