Tuesday, March 3, 2015

MommyCon is Coming To a Town Near You! *discount code*

I'm so excited to be attending MommyCon this year! Also, exciting to announce that I am an officially MommyCon blogger this year. It was such an exciting opportunity to be a part of that I just couldn't resist.



If you've never been to one of these events let me give you the run down:

MommyCon is a "boutique-style convention" with Natural and Organic parenting topics and products as the primary theme. You can expect to see seminars and demonstrations along those same lines, as well as a ton of products to peruse. As if that wasn't enough there will be giftbags and amazing giveaways!

 
awesome babywearing seminar

The MommyCon Atlanta, the next top of the tour, is going to be chock-full of some really amazing things. Make sure to check out the full, newly-released, schedule of events.  But here's a few little tidbits:

Cotton Babies will be there with a Cloth Diaper 101, The Baby Guy NYC (whom I love, love love) will be there with a little car seat safety discussion for you and there will be a ton of babywearing seminars and discussions (like the picture above). You can expect to see more of the same, amazing things at the other stops along the tour.

Be sure to stay tuned here on the blog as I will be starting to post a ton of related topics from my perspective, and sharing my experiences; as well as sharing with you all about MommyCon as it travels through the US the rest of this year.

If you would like to purchase a MommyCon ticket for one of the Convention I have a code for you guys! Use Cammo15 for $5 off your ticket!

MommyCon 2015

Minneapolis - April 15, 2015
Orlando -May 23, 2015
Washington, DC - August 22, 2015
Columbus, OH - September 19, 2015

Have you ever been to MommyCon? I want to hear about it! Maybe I'll see you at MommyCon DC!


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Monday, March 2, 2015

Military Monday: Rhe's Bookshelf Reviews 'blue stars', by Emily Gray Tedrowe

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blue stars, by Emily Gray Tedrowe

summary:

BLUE STARS brings to life the realities of the modern day home front: how to get through the daily challenges of motherhood and holding down a job while bearing the stress and uncertainty of war, when everything can change in an instant. It tells the story of Ellen, a Midwestern literature professor, who is drawn into the war when her legal ward Michael enlists as a Marine; and of Lacey, a proud Army wife who struggles to pay the bills and keep things going for her son while her husband is deployed. Ellen and Lacey cope with the fear and stress of a loved one at war while trying to get by in a society that often ignores or misunderstands what war means to women today. When Michael and Eddie are injured in Iraq, Ellen and Lacey’s lives become intertwined in Walter Reed Army Hospital, where each woman must live while caring for her wounded soldier. They form an alliance, and an unlikely friendship, while helping each other survive the dislocated world of the army hospital. Whether that means fighting for proper care for their men, sharing a six-pack, or coping with irrevocable loss, Ellen and Lacey pool their strengths to make it through. In the end, both women are changed, not only by the war and its fallout, but by each other.

review:

I feel like there is a part of me that still hasn't decided how I feel about this book. I wanted to love every single page of it, but I had a difficult time really investing myself in this book. Knowing many of these amazing families (families of wounded) myself I was really hoping to see a more accurate description of their lives. I'm not sure if it was the hyper-political feelings that came through in the book or the fact that while I am sure there are family members that are very similiar to the characters in the book, I felt like these were an extreme portrayal with very stereotypical and somewhat negative personality traits. Having never been through the experiences myself, I guess I can't actually say for certain. The meat of the book was really those pages inspired by the controversy at Walter Reed in the mid-2000s. That part of the book was very well portrayed, but I felt it got lost. I just wasn't quite sure how I felt about this book, mostly because I think I had such high hopes for it. While the author herself isn't a military spouse, she is the sister of Marine. I had no inkling that the novel would be discussing injury either, it took awhile to figure out the direction of it. I had never read a novel about military life, that wasn't a romance before, so perhaps maybe I was excited to see a part of my life come out from the pages of this book. 

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars. 

**I received an Advance Reader's copy of this book. I was not compensated in any other way; and as always my thoughts and my opinions are my own. 
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Sunday, February 15, 2015

More Cheap Date Nights in Washington, DC

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Washington DC, and the surround DC Metro Area, can be ridiculously expensive. There is also a ton to do here. There are so many amazing places to eat, museums, history (or otherwise) sites to see. Some days Mr. Air Force and I think that we could see something different every day and never repeat anything for years. It can be overwhelming and a little intense on your wallet. So how can you get away with some time together on the cheap, or for the least amount of money.
1. DC By Foot - This is a really cool concept. This is a "no-fee upfront" tour guide company. Yes, you heard me. It's basically free! Theoretically you could take the tour, say good bye and that would be the end of it. Pay what you think the guide deserves, earned, or tip them. You have so many options and I absolutely love it. There are your typical Arlington Cemetery, National Mall and Capitol tours. This company also does more unique tours including food and photography ones. There's a calendar on the website so you can see what is coming up.


This is a Georgetown self-guided tour that we've personally done ourselves. On that night the hubby and I ventured to Martin's Tavern ( one of my favorite places to eat in DC ) and then kept up the Kennedy theme by checking out the local landmarks associated with the Kennedy family. You can find out more about this in my first "Cheap Date Nights...." post.

 

3. Geocaching is one of our newest discoveries. We haven't been doing it for very long but it is a lot of fun, and Mr. Air Force is really good at it. You can do this basically anywhere, so even if you don't live in DC, you are good to go. We even did it while on vacation. Apple has an app, and I'm sure other carriers as well. The free membership is perfectly suitable for anyone, but you can upgrade to the premium version for a small subscription fee.

one of our first caches

4. Embassy Tours from CulturalTourismDC

There are tons of events held in different embassies all across the city.  If you wanted to see the inside of some of these places, now's your chance!

5. Sittercity for Military

Have you ever heard of sittercitty? If you haven't you're missing out! I've been using them since my oldest was little. It has saved us when we were somewhere without family or friends to help us out. I love the program, I love the background checks that are included in the free membership. The people at Sittercity are amazing as well. They are always looking for ways to improve this program and it is just so cool. Use it!

All that being said, I wanted to also encourage you to rely on your friends, especially when you are in a place without friends or family. I remember my parents doing that and its always been a part of who I am. It creates a better community and encourages relationships that are deeper and more amazing. I whole heartedly encourage you to do that!


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Monday, February 9, 2015

Kinskii - Bringing Military Families Closer Together

This is a sponsored post, in partnership with TapInfluence. I was compensated for my time. However, I only participate in sponsored posts that I believe are valuable to my audience, and to the Military community.

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I am so excited to tell you about an exciting Kickstarter campaign that could potentially be so amazing for Military families. Today is the launch day and I thought it would be the perfect time to tell you a little bit about Kinskii and let you check it out for yourself. It definitely intrigued me as a military spouse, and a mom to Military Brats. Its more than communication, its an interactive way to have some "hanging out" time when your loved one is gone, military or not.

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While this video doesn't show a military family, I was totally picturing it! Tugs at the heart strings!

What is Kinskii? : Kinskii is a way to have family playtime with your little one from any distance. Kinskii will be available in the app store or on your PC/Mac. We are creating every single game with education, safety and engagement in mind. 


How does it work?


I'm really excited to demo the program myself and give my readers some more feedback about it, so please keep an eye out for that. But on first glace this program seems like a fun and unique way to incorporate what we already do with technology in, perhaps, a more meaningful way. Now your kids are simply playing a game to waste time, but they are engaged with their parent that is gone. Typically I'm all about less technology, but if they are going to do it, this would be how I would want them to. Check out the videos, read about Kinskii on their kickstarter page and see what you think.

what unique things do you do to keep engaged with your loved ones while they are traveling?
what do you think of this idea?
If you watched the videos, what did you think?
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kinskii. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Military Compensation and Benefits - #KeepYourPromise

I've written a couple articles for Homefront United Network concerning big changes to military benefits and compensation. Last week the MCRMC (Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission) just release their final report. It is a length report but I feel it is incredibly important for everyone, military and civilian alike, to understand fully what is at stake here. Not all the recommendations are bad; and in fact there are some really good ones. Check out my latest articles....


Military Healthcare, the DoD's Moneypit

Military healthcare; the earned and deserved benefit of our military force is under attack again. It seems as though we were just on this ride, a ride that is quickly becoming terrifying for military families to be on. Early last year we were battling a devastating commissary threat, cancelled pay raises, and other benefits that were on the chopping block. It is not lost on me, and perhaps most of us actually living the life of a military family, that almost all of the people doing the talking and decision-making are not those who experience the military lifestyle. It makes these commissions, panels, and councils seem grossly out of touch and a political version of the Wicked Witch of the West to our Dorothy.




Learn more about the National Guard/Reserve life. I believe a full understanding of all aspects of military life can create some really good conversation about how each of the recommendations in the MCRMC will affect different military families.


Suffering From Support Services Envy: National Guard Life Reality

It may not be a technical medical condition, but the side effects are real, make no mistake. As the spouse of a National Guard service member, it is a condition I have been faced with and felt frequently. There are times when I feel awful about it, selfish and ashamed that these feelings could have their way with me. But, it’s hard for a person to know how they will react until they feel utterly alone.

The HUN’s guest writer, Randi Cairns, recently addressed some of the side effects of “choosing” this life. Recounting almost verbatim many of my own feelings, Cairns story only goes to show that this life is far more common than it seems. Going from Active Guard Reserve to a somewhat “traditional” status is a difficult transition. We live the life of an active duty family, to a certain extent, and then are suddenly ripped from all the comfort (and apparent respect) of what that life brings. Sure, we have transitioned to a wonderful civilian career that is almost interchangeable with the military one, but it’s not the same.



Thanks for stopping by. I'd love to hear your thoughts on some of the recommendations, or even your experience as a Guard or Reserve family.
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Rhe's Bookshelf - Love Without End


 


Summary

Chet and Kimberly have both failed when it comes to love. Will they risk their hearts to love again?
Chet Leonard's life was forever changed when his seventeen year old son died and then, soon after, his wife walked out on their family. Over two years later, all he wants to do is hold onto his horse ranch and raise his remaining sons to be honorable men.

Kimberly Welch, widowed mother of Tara, a rebellious fifteen-year-old, has reached the end of her finances and nearly the end of her rope. She and Tara come to King's Meadow to try to piece their lives back together again. Kimberly has no intention of become involved with the residents of this remote mountain community and certainly not with any man.

When 84-year-old Anna McKenna returns to King's Meadow and to the Leonard ranch, she becomes an agent of change and healing for the two hurting families. With her help, Kimberly and Chet's families at last discover a love without end.

Review

The book was a well-written life story, not necessarily one focused on romantic love between the two main characters. Two people barred by life circumstances, that threaten to drive them apart, when they are so clearly meant to be together. I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I generally don't read books where the main characters are not really in my same age bracket, or life stage. Both Chet and Kimberly have almost grown children. I also do not find myself to be a super fan of country western story lines. Its a fun, warm, country read from Ms. Hatcher, but I wouldn't characterize it as a romance. There is much more in the story, and way more going on in the surrounding story line. It was a good book but not my cup of tea. If you are a fan of Robin Lee Hatcher, or novels with a country flair I suspect you will really love this book. 

Rating

3 out of 5 stars

**this review is in partnership with BookLook Bloggers. I received a book in exchange for my honest opinion and review. I was not compensated in any other way. As always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Monday, January 26, 2015

Military Monday: What Military Movies Mean to Me



I don't want to characterize myself as more patriotic then your average person, or that I'm prouder to be an American then anyone else. I'm sure it has way more to do with my emotional tendencies for sure. My parents raised me with a strong love and undying passion and respect for my country. My addiction to all things history probably is a contributing factor. Coming from a family with deep military ties only adds to that. So one must assume that whether or not I married a military man I would have some pretty intense reactions to military movies.

I remember the last military battle type movie I saw in the theater. I absolutely can picture it as if it happened yesterday. The movie was Black Hawk Down, an incredibly real and vivid portrayal of Mark Bowden's account in the book of a the same name. The book was equally as wonderful. We sat in the theater after movie was over and my, very sweet, nineteen-year-old future husband patiently waited while I dried the tears from my eyes. I haven't watched a single military movie (where battle is being portrayed) in the theater since. Jarhead, The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty have all been viewed from the comfort of my own home where I am free to ugly cry to my heart's content.

These movies mean more to me then just simply an account of real or imagined, or even slightly exaggerated military life. My empathy goes through the roof and I imagine what it would like to be there myself. To imagine what my husband must be thinking, feeling, or what it was like when he experienced similar things. I liken it to walking through Section 60 for the first time, when you are hand in hand with your service member. The somberness of the situation as the reality hits you. It doesn't matter that the scenes may be slightly exaggerated, it is Hollywood after all, it is still enough of a reality.

With all the talk of American Sniper, and its breaking of box office records, of course I have pondered my course of action. With almost certainty we will be watching it from the comfort of our own couch. It can be predicted, with absolutely certainty that I will ugly cry. I plan on reading the book before that, mostly because I love reading the books. They almost always contain more valuable, and more detailed, information then the movies. Hollywood seems to poison book writing only slightly less. There are have been some conflicting thoughts from various milspouses I know. I've heard great things and I've heard sentiments similar to mine.

I don't know when or if the day will come that it will get easier for me, maybe some day when I'm not thinking about the next time my husband will be off to do his job for our country. Maybe it will never change for me. I suspect I'm not alone in that.

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