My “Run for a Warrior” Pledge

As some of you may now, my miscarriages in the past year have prompted me to do things I have been wanting to do but have put off because of “potential” pregnancy. One of those things is running.

I have never liked running. Like, ever. But after E was born I found this great group of milspouses/women who all ran together twice a week with babies/toddlers/kids in tow- Stroller Warriors. I ran on and off with them for over a year until we PCS’d. Unfortunately, the SW here at our new duty station is flippin far away so I haven’t joined them.

Stroller Warriors

After our first miscarriage, I had this burst of “I MUST DO ALL THINGS” so J and I decided to sign up for the Warrior Dash. Then I found out I was pregnant so we didn’t. Then I miscarried a few days after I ran the furthest I ever ran before, and I decided I wasn’t going to run again until our second child was born. We PCS’d across the country and then we found out we were pregnant again. I didn’t run, I barely worked out at all, and I still miscarried at 8 weeks.

Awesome.

So then I said “F*** it” and decided it was stupid for me to put off my health and my fitness for much longer. Again, I got the burst of “I MUST DO ALL THINGS.” J and I signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon 10k and I began running again. Slowly but surely, like the tortoise.

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It started off with me struggling to get to 3 miles. Once I got there, I struggled to get to 3 miles under 30 minutes. Then I pushed it to 4 miles, which I hadn’t done since SW. Then I made it to 5. Then 6. As I type this I can officially say I have done my first 6.2 miles- in the MCM 10k.

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The race bug has bit me.  I loved it. Every second of it, even the parts where it was so cold I thought my fingers would fall off. Even the parts where I wanted to throw up. Even the parts where I was cursing J in my mind because he told me, “You don’t need your iPod, we can just talk while we run.”

I was recently approached by a friend with whom I ran with at SW on the west side (said “west siiiiiddeeee.” Duh). She asked me and a bunch of other runners if we would be interested in pledging a race or two to run in order to raise money for an organization called Save a Warrior.

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Save a Warrior is an organization that provides a wellness retreat for veterans who have come back from war with combat-related post-traumatic stress. My friend and her husband attended a retreat after he came back from serving overseas, and they were struck by the organization’s work with Warriors.

I have pledged to run the Marine Corps Marathon Heritage Half (that’s 13 f***ing miles, people) in May of 2014 to support Save a Warrior. I am hoping to run other, smaller races before that too but right now that is my BIG pledge.  If I am pregnant and cannot run, my darling husband will run it in my stead. My goal is to raise my portion of the $10,000 donation we are looking to raise, which is $665.  If you would like to donate to our race pledge, please click the image below. It will take you to a gofundme.com site where you can donate directly to the cause.

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Whether you donate or not, please share this blog post or the Run for a Warrior Facebook page to spread the word about our race pledge and this wonderful organization. With your help, we can send 10 Warriors to Save a Warrior’s week long retreat!

Thanks, ya’ll. You rock my world.

Homefront United: Atheism in the Military

Heyyyyy ya’ll.

My latest article with Homefront United is up. It is about atheism in the military, and whether non-God fearing chaplains should be allowed to serve our troops. Damn heathens (I kid, I kid).

Check it out, yo and let me know what you think either here or there. Thanks!

Atheism in the Military

Remembering the Day

Please take a few minutes today to remember all of those who lost their lives today, and our first responders. Today is a day no American will ever forget and that our children will learn about in history class. Honor those who fell, but also remember how it brought our country back together.

Guest Blog Spot: Career Transition in the Military

Guise, I’m like super popular apparently. Because someone actually emailed ME and asked if they could guest blog on MY blog. What?! That’s insane. And totally flattering *hair flip*

I’m super excited to have my first guest blog spot. Emma Banks is a “civilian,” aka not a military spouse or dependent, but she has a special place in her heart for service members, especially those looking for work after service. If you are interested in guest blogging, check out my contact page or shoot me a quick email.

Now, drum roll please……………………..dun dun na DUN!

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Tips for a Successful Post-Military Job Search

Regardless of how much time you have spent in the military, a transition into the private sector will come with some challenges. Often times, the myths and rumors military personnel have heard about finding non-military employment can cause unnecessary anxiety that only makes the transition more difficult. It might help to take a look at some common myths and learn the truth about what awaits you.

Image courtesy of Google

Myth: The types of jobs available to you as a military veteran are limited and difficult to find.

Truth: Within the military, there are hundreds of different job descriptions, pay grades and skill sets. This is the same in the private sector job market. Programs such as 100,000 Jobs Mission can help you throughout this transition. 100,000 Jobs Mission, composed of dozens of today’s top companies, provides a list of open positions available for veterans as well as information about many of today’s best areas of employment.

Myth: Employers simply don’t care about job seekers.

Truth: Actually, finding the right talent to fill open positions is vitally important to the health and future of any company. Today’s employers understand the importance of attracting top talent, and many of them have taken steps to do so. Job seekers can now use electronic mobile recruiting platforms, like JIBE, to upload resumes and other pertinent documents directly to companies that are hiring. Additionally, many companies now offer perks such as work-from-home options in order to attract quality workers.

Myth: Because you took orders in the military, you shouldn’t try to start your own business.

Truth: If you have the drive and want to start a business, go for it! Military personnel gain a unique set of skills during their time in service, all of which can be extremely useful if you choose to start your own company. If you’re looking for a bit of guidance and support, the U.S. Small Business Administration launched a program that can help you achieve your dream of entrepreneurship.

Myth: A good education and positive work experience will guarantee you a job.

Truth: You certainly shouldn’t minimize the importance of a quality education and relevant work experience either on your resume or in an interview, but those two things alone won’t get you a job. Most employers make their final hiring decisions based on less tangible qualities such as personality and their assessment of how you will fit into the company’s business culture. Don’t get lazy. Be sure to put your best foot forward when job searching even if you have all the right ingredients on your resume.

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Emma is a mid 20-something year old with a passion for life, love, fitness, and helping others. She loves to be active and get involved in as many sport and community activities as possible. Emma is currently studying to become a Career & Life Coach, and loves to network with people from around the world!

Check out Emma’s blog at http://smileasithappens.blogspot.com/

PCS = Piece of Cake…and Stuff

Its been about a month and a half since we left our last duty station. THAT’S IT. I feel like it was forever ago, so mayhaps that’s why I feel like packing, moving, organizing, driving across country, and unpacking was so easy. Its like having a baby- after a while you forget how much the pregnancy and the beginning stages of that new little life SUCKED, so then you have another baby and then you’re like, “Oh yea, THIS SUCKS.” So right now I’m thinking PCSing was easy, but I know the next time we PCS I’m going to be cursing like a sailor on the USS PCS Blows.

Given this was my first “real” PCS- where they come and pack up your stuff, move your stuff, and then put it all in the new place- I learned some things. Maybe to those more “seasoned” spouses you’re like, “What a newb…” but that’s ok because maybe the things I learned will help some of the other spouses out there getting ready to move.  Below are listed some things that I found useful as I look back on our PCS experience. These aren’t your typical “watch your movers and record what they damage/lose” but rather things that you kind of find out just from experience.

  • Get to know your movers-  I don’t mean take them out on a date first, but learn their names and talk to them for a few minutes. They will be more careful with your stuff and more likely to help you out when you need it.
  • FEED THEM- I think this is one of the biggest things for anyone who comes to do a long-term (a whole 8 hours or days/weeks project at your house). People get cranky when they’re hungry so offer to get the guys some lunch and have some drinks and snacks ready. It doesn’t have to be anything big or expensive- Walmart sells 2 liters for a $1 each, and a pack of cookies for $2 from their bakery. Get some pizzas for lunch and you’re all set for both the movers and yourself to eat something during the long day.
  • Organize before they arrive- Get things placed together that you want to go in the same boxes. Talk to the movers and let them know that you piled things specifically to go together. They will be really grateful for any extra help they can get if you’ve already done some of the “packing” for them. And if you’ve talked to them and fed them, chances are they will help you out.
  • Color code for the unpackers- I actually learned this tip from a friend who is getting ready to PCS, and she found it on USMClife.com. Color code your boxes  according to room after the packers have packed but before they load everything onto the truck. Colored tape seems like the best option because its bright and easy to spot. When you and your stuff get to your location, you can let the unpackers know which room is which color. You can even add a little piece of tape to the entryway of each room so they can easily find it. Be sure whoever organizes the house (usually the wife- let’s be honest here) does this because there is nothing more annoying than to find out that your husband told the unpackers to put any “linen” boxes in the downstairs living room and then you have to move everything upstairs after they leave….just sayin’
  • Set apart a room for non-packed items- You usually hear this through the grapevine, but whatever items you are taking with you- whether it be paper work (TAKE YOUR IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS INCLUDING BIRTH CERTIFICATES, PASSPORTS, AND ORDERS WITH YOU!!!!!!!!!) or luggage, set it in a closet or emptied room before the movers get there and let them know the room is not to be packed. Even put a little sign up on the door if you can.
  • Pre-package and soaps or liquids- Now, most moving companies will tell you they won’t take any soaps, liquids, etc. BUT I pre-packaged everything I had that was liquid, whether it be cooking oils or shampoo by taping the top shut, wrapping it in bubble wrap, and then putting them in plastic bags, and the movers actually took them that way, probably because they didn’t have to do as much work to pack it. This might not work for you, but its worth a try if its important enough.
  • Hanging clothes don’t travel well- Anything that is hung up in a closet goes into a wardrobe box where it is literally just hung back up on a metal rod in a standing box. What usually happens is that through the travel, all those clothes fall off the hangers and end up on the bottom of the box. So then you have dirty clothes that you have to not only rehang, but also wash first on top of unpacking everything else in the house. To prevent this from happening, place your hanging items in trash bags like the picture below, and when you unpack you will have clean clothes still on the hangers! I did this and it WORKS. All I had to do was grab the bagged clothes, hang them up, and take the bags off. It literally took me 15 minutes to do our whole closet.

Image courtesy of The Wicker House

  • Wrap it up- The worst part of unpacking “loose items” is just that- they end up everywhere inside the box and it takes forever to reorganize. So anything that is loose- like silverware, cooking utensils, and your junk drawer items- pack into Ziploc bags. It will save you a ton of headache on the otherside.
  • Don’t leave a screw lose- If you have particular wall fasteners (like for curtains), screws, picture hangers, etc that belong with certain items, put them in a baggie and tape them to the item they go with. Otherwise you will never EVER find them.

Of course, make sure you do the typical things like video tape or take pictures of all your items to be sure that if anything gets damaged you have proof that they weren’t like that when they were packed. Watch your movers closely and don’t be shy to ask them to do things a certain way- ITS YOUR STUFF.

I have pinned quite a few blog articles on Pinterest that have some other moving and PCS tips, so click on the Pinterest button on the right to follow me and look under the board  titled “MilSpouse” for more moving tricks.

Do you have any PCS/moving tips? If so, leave a comment below! All of us military spouses stick together so help a sista out and give me some more inside scoop.

If you need some tips about traveling with kids in the car, or just in general, check out my board on Pinterest labeled “Traveling. With Kids.” Most of the tips/games are for toddlers because, well, that’s what I have. Plus, the older ones just watch movies so they’re easy and if you have a baby….well, good luck because you are at the mercy of your offspring. If you need some tips on flying with a toddler, click here. Baby? Click here.

Be sure to check out my meal plans from last week and this coming week (it will be up Wednesday!). If you have any recipes you’d like to share, leave a comment on the page or email me at barefootandboots at gmail dot com.

Peace out homeslice.

WE BOUGHT A ZOO!

Ok no, we didn’t buy a zoo. But I think of that movie every time I tell someone we just bought a house. And sometimes it feels like a zoo here. Things are crazy and chaotic, and out of the ONE MONTH we have been here we have spent exactly ONE WHOLE DAY in the house without leaving once to go to some store or run some errand. Oh, and there are animals. Lots of animals. Deer, turtles, beavers, rabbits, snakes, spiders, squirrels, and CICADAS. Those freaking things are so loud that there is a constant humming all day. But you don’t really notice it after awhile so its ok.

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TURTLE!

In all serious honesty, that’s why I haven’t been here to post at, like, all. I have barely had time to check Facebook. I have missed writing though, so while my husband is busting his tail making a cabinet for me, I am sitting here on my new recliner typing away. Plus, I want to brag about our new house.

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Here’s a little backstory to get you started: We are now living on the East Coast. We live in what some might call “the boonies.” It’s six miles to the closest gas station and/or grocery store, we have a constant buzz of cicadas outside our door, and we have well water, a septic system, and NO INTERNET. That’s right people. Even Verizon was like, “Uh, we can’t get a line out that way so you have to get a mobile hotspot.” Thank God on high for technology because this house may have gone right back up on the market if there was no internet here. Just kidding. No, but seriously.

Anyways, we sit atop 4.4 acres of land, some woods and lots to mow. So we now have a riding lawn mower. And so does everyone else in our neighborhood. In fact, its so country out here that the other day while J and I were refinishing our rocking chairs (kind of country), our neighbor drove by on her John Deere pulling her daughter in a trailer behind it (super country). Yep, boonies. And we love it.

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Of course with a new house comes a learning process for all things inside of it and outside of it. We had to figure out phones and internet because nothing works out here (5+ hours at Verizon and we finally got it worked out). We had to learn how our water system worked and how to get that gross egg smell out of our well-water. We had to learn where the best place to put things was going to be and what our new routine was going to be. But most importantly, we had to decorate.

Ok, so maybe that is what is most important to me. And perhaps you’re sitting there thinking, “Oh wow, decorating a new house must be so much fun! Lucky her!” WRONG. Wrong wrong wrong. If you’re a MilSpouse and you’re thinking that then you’ve been at your current duty station way too long, so pull out your moving boxes sister. Heck, on the drive across country I was thinking about how much fun it would be shopping and picking out new stuff. But its not. Its stressful and frustrating and flipping expensive. Those first days after our stuff was all unpacked I was so worked up about where to put what, what colors to use in each room, and how much it would all cost that it was keeping me up at night. Its all I thought about and I wanted to get it done NOW. 

All in all, the first few weeks sucked. More for J than for me because the grass was about waist high and he had to cut it all. It literally took him a week straight just to get the yard somewhat maintained. He got bitten by so many bugs his whole body looked swollen. It was hot, sticky, humid, and gross out. He did this all while having deck builders at our house for two weeks and with us running around from every store in the state trying to find the items we needed whether it be for the yard or for the inside of the house.

We are finally getting to the point in our house-setting-up process where its starting to slow down. We have completed most of our big outdoor projects (see pics below! Yay!) and we have decided on how we are going to decorate the inside of the house. We are just about done with our first major indoor project- the mudroom- and we have started planning out the ones which are the laundry room and the office.

I have put some pictures below of our before and after of the projects we have done so far. I will be posting pictures as the projects come along. For now, here are some pictures from our road-trip as promised.

Road-Trip Across Country. Sans Baby = Awesome

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Moving day. So sad.

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This is really how E got across country. 

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First stop- Utah! Maybe. I don’t remember.

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Colorado was flipping cold. Good thing I was prepared with the proper footwear. P looks pretty regal though.

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Visiting family in Oklahoma!

That’s the last of the roadtrip pictures because after Oklahoma we just booked it back to my parents house to get back to E. Not that it mattered to her; she didn’t even know we were gone!

HOUSE PROJECTS

Deck Project

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Before. No deck. Boo.

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New deck! YAY!

Front Yard Maintanence

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Notice the overgrown grass, huge leaning trees, and unkempt bushes. Gross!

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Trees gone, grass cut, hedges trimmed!

Soon to come- our new driveway and indoor projects! That is if my child ever takes a decent nap. I will also be talking about tips for moving out, moving in, and getting DIY projects done with kid(s) in tow.

PS- Be sure to check out my weekly meal plans….they’re back! WITH NOTES. You’re welcome.

Good news: no one died on our cross-country trip.

I’m not going to lie- I thought about it. Especially in Utah where there was no Starbucks at ALL because there was like a million miles between exits. But we survived. And so did the surrounding motorists. Winning.

This was not the first time J and I drove across country. Ohhhh no, this was the third. AND WE ARE STILL MARRIED. Amazing, I know. The first time we drove across, we took a northern route from Virginia to Washington and then down to Southern California. The second time, we took the typical I-40 route through the south. This time, however, we went straight across the middle through Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma (to visit family), and then back on to the I-4o through Arkansas, Tennessee, and then Virginia.

It took us about 4.5 days to drive the whole thing. We stopped in Oklahoma for a day and a half, too. You’re probably thinking we are crazy for driving that fast through but we had sent E with my mom so we wanted to get back to her as fast as possible. Which ended up being pointless because I don’t think she even noticed we were gone. Perfect.

I did, however, do what any famous and awesome blogger would do in a situation such as this- I thought of a bunch of awesome tips for a road trip that probably a thousand other people thought of but I’m going to undoubtedly think I’m the only person EVER to think of these things.

I know all you really care about are pictures from our trip. But I haven’t uploaded onto the computer yet because I’m still stuck in between paper and boxes and more paper and more boxes. I’ll put them up soon…ish. If you still care, read the tips below.

  • Have kids younger than 5? Don’t bring them. I know this isn’t an option for everyone but if you can work it out, send your offspring to the relative closest to your destination. Maybe I sound cold-hearted but you will thank me during those long stretches of no-mans-land when your three year old just wants OUTTTTTT for five minutes but there is no exit for 52 miles. We sent E with my mom and I bawled for the first hour after we dropped them off at the airport and I was super anxious the entire trip, but J and I got to actually have some what comfortable trip (ie, sleep) and spend some time together not talking about the baby. It was like a long date night. Perfect.
  • Don’t overpack the car. I know you’re probably like…duh…but its easy to say, “Well, let’s just bring this. And this. And this would be good too.” But if you cover every square inch besides your seats with stuff, you’re more likely to kill each other because you will be uncomfortable as all get out. Leave spaces for your feet, make sure you can recline (another reason to ditch the kids), and try and keep the important things like food and phones in arms reach.
  • Have a dog? Bring soft treats and a yoga mat. If your dog is anything like ours, he/she/they won’t each much during the trip because the are nervous. They are like kids though, so they always seem to be able to munch down a treat or twelve. My suggestion is to bring soft ones, like these, because they don’t put a million tiny crumbs all over your back seat that you find 8 years later. The other thing we found to be awesome for this trip was a yoga mat. We have leather seats and every time Pendleton would sit in the back I would cringe with the thought of her nails digging into seats. Blankets don’t work because they slide. So, being the genius that he is, J discovered I forgot to give the packers my yoga mat and put it on the back seat to hold the blankets. Worked like a charm. We could have bought one of those dog blankets for the car, but you know, we’re cheap.
  • Take pictures OF EACH OTHER. Despite this being our third road trip together, we are still really bad at taking pictures of each other. We probably have thousands of scenery but honestly, who cares about that stuff? A few of the general area are nice but no one is going to remember/care if that tree was in Colorado or Kansas or your backyard. So take pictures of each other at the different stops and in the pretty scenery.
  • Have a to-go bag. When you PCS, you have to remember that you may get to your destination before your boxes do. That means you have to be prepared with clothes and toiletries for the road trip AND up to a week after you arrive. If you’re like me, that means almost your whole wardrobe which means a big heavy bag. However, if you are stopping at hotels at night, you’re not going to want to dig out and bring that big ass bag inside with you every night. So pack a t0-go bag- a bag with a few outfit changes, travel toiletries, and a bathing suit. Why a bathing suit? Indoor pools people. Especially if you are sans kids. They are wonderful after a long day in the car.
  • Everything has a place. This was the end-all-be-all for our trip. When you’re spending day after day in the car, its easy to lose track of where you put the camera, your phone, the extra set of keys, etc. So designate a place for every thing. Even if its going into a purse or bag, make sure it goes in the same place every.single.time. Believe me, it will save you from a lot of “WHERE DID YOU PUT IT?! DID YOU LEAVE IT INSIDE THE MCDONALDS BATHROOM?! Oh no, here it is…” type arguments.

Road trips can be really fun or they can really suck. It just depends on you make of it. Make sure everyone is comfortable, everyone is FED (hungry people are cranky), and don’t get to stuck on a time line (unless your orders depend on it!). Taking your time and being comfortable will make everyone feel better about being in such close quarters together.

Right now, we are at our destination and in our new house. Our goods have already arrived and the house is unpacked. Nothing is in place yet, but its all out of boxes. J has been working fervently on the yard while I’ve been honing it out on the inside. I’ll have pictures for you of our road trip, some tips for packing and unpacking, and pictures of the new house (yay!) soon. We do, however, live in the boondocks so we are JUST getting internet and I barely have time to write right now. But I’m really excited about all the work we are doing (and the shopping!) so stay tuned!

If you are making a PCS drive soon, good luck. The drive ends, I promise. Please feel free to post any tips/tricks you may have for long road trips below!

HUN: A Conflict of Interest

My latest article with HUN.  Please click the HUN button below to view the article in its enterity. Enjoy!

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When “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed, I didn’t think much of it. Then, at our Marine Corps Ball, my husband pointed out a Marine who had brought his boyfriend. I thought it was awesome. I thought how excited this Marine must be to finally be able to bring the person he loved to a wonderful night such as this instead of having to go alone. I also thought how brave he and his partner were for standing up for what they believed in when they undoubtedly knew people would be staring and whispering.

Marriage Equality

To Honor the Fallen: April 15th to April 22nd, 2013

This week the nation experienced tragic terrorist activity in Boston during the Patriot Day Marathon at the hands of two young brothers. We mourn with the country for those that were killed and injured. Our hearts are saddened for everyone who had to witness that terrible act and the chaos that followed immediatley after and during the manhunt in Watertown, MA.

I am happy to state that no military service members were killed this week in OEF. However, I will be listing the names of those lost at the Boston Marathon bombing. If you would like to help and/or donate to the families of those who lost loved ones, please click their names below. If you would like to help or to those that were seriously injured, please click here and scroll down to “General Funds.”

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If you haven’t read these posts before:

Every Monday I will write the names of those service members that have been KIA or pronounced as POWs in the past week in order to honor and remember them.

April is the month of the Military Child. Please say an extra prayer for those children who lost their parents this week and in the past.

If you know of someone who has been KIA or pronounced a POW in the last week that I did not mention below or if you would like a loved one written on a post that was KIA or POW’d in the past, I would be happy to add them. Please comment or email me at barefootandboots at gmail dot com.

Boston, MA

April 15, 2013

Martin Richard, 8

Lu Lingzi, 23

Krystle Campbell, 29

Sean Collier, 26

To those that have lost loved ones and who are dealing with the pain of healing from this horrible tragedy- we are thinking about you and praying for you.

To Honor the Fallen: April 8th to April 15th, 2013

Every Monday I will write the names of those service members that have been KIA or pronounced as POWs in the past week in order to honor and remember them.

April is the month of the Military Child. Please say an extra prayer for those children who lost their parents this week and in the past.

If you know of someone who has been KIA or pronounced a POW in the last week that I did not mention below or if you would like a loved one written on a post that was KIA or POW’d in the past, I would be happy to add them. Please comment or email me at barefootandboots at gmail dot com.

Afghanistan

April 9, 2013

CWO2 Jarret Yoder, 27, US Army National Guard

CWO3 Matthew Rufner, 34, US Army National Guard

The names below are those that were KIA last week but not yet identified by the media at the time of publishing:

April 6, 2013

Specialist Deflin M. Santos Jr., 24, US Army

Specialist Wibel A. Robles-Santa, 25, US Army

Staff Sergent Christopher M. Ward, 24, US Army

To those who have lost loved ones- those of us in the military community are thinking of you, praying for you, and grieving with you.