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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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Three Things to Organize so You Feel Accomplished for the New Year!

I love organizing, I truly do. It always feels good after, cathartic and renewing. Frequently its a good way to relive memories, and sometimes I get a little too sentimental. However, sometimes organizing is really just a fancy way of saying 'cleaning'. It's a chore and that's when the organizing isn't as fun anymore. However, I have three surefire ways to get some organizing done so that you feel accomplished and refreshed coming out of the first month of the year.




The Kitchen

Oh, the kitchen. My kitchen tends to be a catch-all. Its the closest to the laundry room/mud room where we come in from the outside. It has these amazing counters (okay, they aren't amazing but they are there) where I can just put all the stuff from the kid's backpacks. It's also small...because well, I live in a house built in the 50s. Space comes at a premium and it easily can feel crowded. So here are three easy organizing projects for you to tackle.

The Tupperware Cabinet

I think most people have a cabinet like this, or a drawer. This is also where I keep my casserole dishes.
Going through this area once a year (or even once every six months) is such a good idea. My tupperware goes missing all the time, we lose it, we buy new ones. So go through it, line everything up and even if you think you might find the missing lids later (you won't I promise), get rid of anyone missing its mate.


This is my after....
it also happens to be an excellent place to hide the juice boxes from three year olds



**super big tip alert** - take advantage of that door space!
hang insulated cooler bags like my adorable one from Thirty-One Bags.
hang your pot holders and cleaning rags. I used my door space alot. My kids Norwex
rags are hanging in our bathroom for easy access for the kiddos when they are doing chores!

Cups


The whole cup area where all the kid stuff goes. Oiy! Go through this frequently. I find stuff I shouldn't
keep all the time, cups with chewed edges or sippy cups we really don't need any more (cue sentimental crying...sobbing)

The Silverware Drawer


I have two of these, plus a jar on my counter I keep stuff in, one for the larger cooking utensils and one for the everyday stuff. Of course a silverware holder is amazing, and I'm assuming most people have one. I also use this space for my most frequently used larger utensils ~ can opener, apple corer, and my cute sandwich cut outs. Keeping the kiddie forks and spoons here is good too because it is easily accessible by them. They know where it is and they can get at it. Encouraging independence in this area is important, especially since my oldest now puts away the dishes as a regular chore of his.

Hopefully these three tips help you feel like you really put a dent in that new year organizing! You know, fresh start and all. I know for me, throwing stuff out really helps me feel more like I did something for some reason. Getting stuff out of the house and thrown out is just awesome. Start here and see where it goes from there!

Do you have any easy organizing "cleaning" tips for the new year?! Do share!
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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

MilSpouse Spotlight: Author Anna Scott Uses WattPad to Write

This is a sponsored post, however I chose to participate in this program to highlight the accomplishments of a fellow milspouse, which I believe is so important! I participated in the After by Anna Todd blog program as a member of One2One Network. I received compensation but all opinions are my own.


As a blogger, I often come across lots of cool stuff. Of course I want to write about it all, but sometimes something comes across your screen that you jumps out at you. It is the marrying to two things you love, plus more. So here I am, getting to read an awesome book, blog about it, and there is a MilSpouse involved. What?!  I know right? It's an inspiration for several reasons. First, she's a milspouse with all the things that can and do go along with that. Things that other milspouses truly appreciate and admire when one accomplishes pretty awesome things while being that. She's a first time writer, who simply started writing a story on her phone and its absolutely taken off.




Todd first wrote After entirely on her phone, simply as a hobby, using a program called WattPad. After is not being turned into a four-part series, and the film rights have been acquired by Paramount Pictures. It began in what might seem the silliest of ways. Todd an Uberfan of One Direction, used her love of the band to drive her book, including building a character based on Harry Styles. Her simple fanfic story grew to 25,000 pages and has been viewed over a billion times....whoa! People definitely responded so Todd took to instagram sharing pictures and artwork created by fans. It really is a fairy tale kind of story. It might inspire one *cough cough* me to actually write that book they've been talking about writing. I mean, I realize the odds of it rising into a huge success with rights being sold and billions of fans adoring me isn't extremely likely, its still really fun.

https://members.one2onenetwork.com/images/moduleSharePhotoLargePhoto-5489eb4a2ac13b8324f4949f



Now, what is WattPad. This is actually the first that I'd heard of it. Its an incredibly awesome and unique online format, mixing story-telling and social media. All WattPad stories are free. Anyone can be a part of the WattPad experience and people share in the storytelling all together. Users of the platform contribute to the stories, leave comments suggesting plot line and character development, as well as creating original art and music to go along with the stories they are reading.

Stay tuned for an official review here in about a week! I'm neck deep in the book and I'm loving it! In the meantime, you can purchase it in paperback or e-reader format.

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 - The Year of Books #FF

 Welcome to #FF, Feature and Follow, with Parajunkee and Allison Can Read! If you love to read, blog about books, or want to start...come join the fun!

Again people I failed to meet my challenge! Oiy!!! I didn't realize how many novellas I read this year, ones that I didn't really think qualified so I didn't add them on my Goodreads. Boo Hoo people! But some good things happened, with me and books - I read some movie books before I saw the movies (and then realized how much I hate Nicholas Sparks - read the post here) , I read some really amazing books that I really loved, and I started a book club with some local military spouses. So, although I didn't meet my challenge, I read a lot of books and I continued my love affair with books.  More books were read then last year, and we did a lot of kid book reading this year too.

Murder in the CIA by Margaret Truman 

I continued reading the Capitol Crimes series by Margaret Truman. Loving this series, and its particularly amazing because we live here, and I've been to a ton of the places mentioned in the books. That is pretty darn cool. This is a great series and I would recommend it to any mystery book lover.


Split Second by Alex Kava 
This is the second book in a new series that I started reading, at the suggestion of my mother. The subject of the book is a female FBI agent, and most of the books take place in the Virginia area. 


Steel Will by Shilo Harris 

Absolutely amazing book to read! A must read.


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I delved into my YA book reading side. Yes, I read twilight, yes I liked them. Don't judge me! I knew that they had made a movie out of this book and I had always wanted to see it. So I read the book and then watched the movie with one of my girlfriends. They didn't do a bad job. If they had really tried to do it justice the movie would have had to have been a million hours long. It is an extremely long book, but really good. I was going to read the second book, but haven't gotten around to it yet. Its on my list of to-dos for 2015!

Seasons of Tomorrow (Amish Vines and Orchards #4) 

The last in one my favorite Amish Series! I almost don't want it to be over, and I'm not actually sure if it is. There would be some good spinoffs in there. Cindy was my first foray into Amish books, as I'd been hesitant because it didn't really seem all that interesting. However, Cindy sucked me in and I became an addict.

So those were some of my favorite books of 2014! You can check out all the books on my challenge list by friending me on Goodreads. I'd love to check out all the books you are reading.

Did you have a favorite book of 2014? 

 

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Give your child gift of Math this festive season, Kindergarten to Grade 5! *Discount and Review*






Splash Math is an award winning math program for kids of ages 5-10 which can be used both at homes and in schools. Splash Math has benefited over 9 million kids and has been used in over 50,000 classrooms. Available on iPads, Android tablets and web, Splash Math works across multiple platforms and devices.

Splash Math is an adaptive program. It personalizes math practice depending upon the child's level of mastery and covers all math skills for all grades - Kindergarten through 5. Splash Math collects the practice data and shares analytical reports with the parents/teachers.

Splash Math combines the best of both worlds. For a child, Splash Math appears to be like a game which rewards on getting answers correct, keeping them engaged all the time. For a parent, Splash Math covers all necessary math skills for their grade levels and provides crucial insight on the child's performance.







Review: 

So, there is a limited access free version of the apps (both for elementary age level, and preschool ages) so we downloaded it and I had my oldest check it out. School can be rough for him. He's a wiggly, easily distractable boy that definitely struggles. He's also extremely bright and does well when focused. He gave this app two thumbs up. As a parent I also liked it. The problems were right on with what he is learning at school, he was excited with the reward system and it appeared to be very easy for him to follow (instruction wise). I would like to see long-term what it does for him, and how effectively it aids his math skills. But all in all, it seems like a great app. Pricing is affordable, especially if you are looking for just math help. It does one thing and does it well, sort of like Chick-Fil-A you know? There are other learning games out there, that also cost money, but they cost more because they are covering more areas of learning. So if math is where you need help this might be a good alternative for you.





























Special 20% discount - This holiday season, Splash Math is offering a Special 20% discount. Go to Save 20% Off Splash Math to access the discount.

Here's a little video preview of the app



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