Posts Tagged ‘military life’

Five Tips to a Successful Military Spouse Career Search {And the iPad Winner!!}

Friday, May 9th, 2014

Happy Military Spouse Appreciation Day!

Thank you to everyone who shared their stories and comments as part of my iPad giveaway. It made me feel great as a milspouse to know so many people are aware of and thinking about us both today and all year. Most days being married to someone in the military isn’t that different from being married to anyone else. But when you’re suddenly in the world of TDYs, PCSs, duty days, deployments and the nightmare that is realizing your ID expired and you can’t even get on base to renew it (I never, ever learn my lesson) it can be lonely and overwhelming. So thank you, truly.

Military Spouse Appreciation Day -  @AT&T

One of the other challenges in being a #milspouse is giving up or changing your OWN career because your life is dictated so much by the active duty service member’s career. To be honest, I let the Navy pull me away from the career I planned twice – once when I realized I wouldn’t be moving to San Diego after all and the jobs I had be applying to on the West Coast would be hard to do from Virginia, and once when we were transferred here to Connecticut and the job I had been planning to make my career wasn’t open anywhere within a 100 mile radius.

If you’re a milspouse looking for a job, here are five tips to help with your search:

1. Keep your resume up to date. It’s easy to forget you might need to re-start your job hunt at any time, but the process is a lot less daunting if you have a resume ready to go. Remember to include your milspouse volunteer jobs – everything from serving as obmudsman for the command to elected positions in the Family Readiness Group counts as experience.

2. Explore careers with portability. Every state needs nurses and teachers. There are real estate offices all over the world. People always need help with taxes or childcare or personal assistants. Although there are different requirements for licenses or certification is various states, Joining Forces is working to get the process streamlined to make it easier on both spouses and veterans to transfer their current qualifications to their new home. Yay for Joining Forces!

3. Work from home. One of the most impressive military spouses I know is a top Mary Kay saleswoman. She has a million friends and connections thanks to the many places she’s lived and makes the built-in support systems that come with being a milspouse work for her. You might not want to sell make-up but the number of work-from-home jobs is amazing – everything from handbags and jewelry to food and cooking products.

4. Think outside the box. If you’re a milspouse you are resourceful, creative, well organized, and flexible. Because you have to be! Those are all talents employers need in many different fields. Just because you started on one path, don’t be afraid to jump to a new one you think sounds interesting.  Apply for things that will challenge you! You can do it!

5. Check out the AT&T Military Spouse Careers site. You can search for jobs near military bases or look for jobs that let you telecommute from home. They also have great resources for veterans and connect to the Military Spouse Talent Exchange.

In the long run, being a military spouse means that I got to be a stay at home mom – a job I always wanted, luckily – and make up my own career. I’m a blogger, a freelancer, and now a photographer. I can take those things with me the next time we’re transferred and hopefully one day turn them into a full time job. In the mean time, I’m going to take my own advice and update my resume.

If you have any tips to add, leave them in the comments or tweet using the hashtag #milspouse and tag @attjobs.

FINALLY…the winner of the AT&T gift bag with the iPad mini is… 

Elizabeth P. from YesNoFilms! Congrats Liz! 

 

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Five Ways to Celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day {and an iPad Mini Giveaway!}

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014
five ways to celebrate military spouse appreciation day

I took this at the boat homecoming I attended last fall – Homecomings are magical days for milspouses.

While our 10th wedding anniversary isn’t until August, E and I broke the decade mark on our relationship last year. He’s been in the Navy the entire time I’ve known him. That’s 10 years of planning everything from vacations to oil changes to babies around someone else’s not-s0-flexible schedule.

I planned our wedding from the East Coast while he was deployed in the Pacific. We moved one week after the wedding to a city I had never seen. If you check the mortgage documents for our current house, you’ll only find my signature – a change in his boat’s schedule meant he was at sea we when bought it and I did the whole thing with a power of attorney. Right at this very moment, E is supposed to be gone (he is not). He was also supposed to be gone for Christmas (he was not). And we planned this next baby’s birth to fall in the “safe” summer window, where he was supposed to be done with sea trials (nope) and home (it is looking more and more likely he will be gone).

But I’m not thinking too much about that right now, because it could change again in the next breath. If there was one word to describe what it takes to be a military spouse – without giving yourself an ulcer – that word would be FLEXIBLE.

May 9th, 2014 has been officially designated as Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Since I’ve been a milspouse for 10 years now – and part of a military family my entire life – it’s nice to know we get a specific day to be appreciated. At any given time only 1% of Americans are serving in the military so you might not have a lot of military spouses in your life or social circle. (That seems crazy to me, since it’s always been such a HUGE part of my world, but I am the exception not the norm.) If you do know a milspouse, here are 5 ways to celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Although you could start with a hug and a “thank you for your sacrifice”. That always makes me cry.

1. Watch the kids. Or the dog. Or volunteer to water the plants. Whatever thing she (or he) is responsible for, take it off their hands for a few hours. There’s a lot of life-juggling involved in being a milspouse and having just ONE less ball in the air can make a huge difference. Plus during deployments or separations there’s one grown up managing 2+ lives, so a couple of hours to get a haircut or visit the dentist can be a total sanity-saver. (While we were engaged, I got a call from E’s San Diego apartment complex saying his rent check hadn’t gone through and they were going to pack up his stuff and evict him. He was unreachable under the ocean. While I was trying to straighten it all out it would have been AWESOME to have someone come and feed my cat so I could focus. For real, one of the most stressful weeks of my life.)

2. Provide a meal. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be healthy. When E is gone we eat more fast food or hummus-for-dinner meals than I like to admit. But just like doing some free babysitting, feeding someone is the ultimate in kindness and one less thing they have to worry about.

3. Take care of some yard work. In the winter you can shovel their walk, in the summer you can mow the lawn. I assure you that it’s not a matter of “poor milspouse doesn’t even know how to start the lawn mower” but a case of “do I dare leave the kids in the house alone for 45 minutes while I do the yard work or will I find them swinging from the ceiling fan again?”

4. Learn about organizations that provide support. There’s a great website called Military OneSource that provides everything from legal and tax advice to confidential crisis counseling. For members of the Navy or Marine Corps, the Relief Society can provide emergency loans or financial support (would you believe I didn’t even know they existed until a few weeks ago?). The Army has a version too. Check out Joining Forces and the USO to learn about volunteer opportunities and ways you can help. If you know a military family that is struggling, having a website or phone number to access real, tangible help can be the lifeline they need.

5. Listen to them. Some days I just really, really need to complain about all the ways military life makes me crazy. I am very lucky to have plenty of people in my life to go to when I need to vent without having to start with a ton of qualifiers. There are a million ways my life could be worse, a billion ways we are very blessed, a zillion things that could go wrong and we could experience real tragedy. But dammit, some days I just want to whine about how I’m supposed to be going out of town NEXT WEEKEND and E’s job STILL can’t tell him whether or not he can have the days off to watch the kids. Or the whole maybe-giving-birth-while-he’s-on-a-submarine thing. Which I am still not thinking about. Nope, not thinking.

You know what else makes me feel appreciated? Presents. Who doesn’t like presents? To celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day, AT&T has very generously given me two gift bags – one to keep and one to give away to a reader. It has a hat, a t-shirt and -oh yeah!- an iPad mini! To enter, just use the Rafflecopter widget below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

AT&T reached out because they wanted to do something nice for me and my readers as a #milspouse blogger. You can learn more about what AT&T does to support our troops and their families here. No monetary compensation was provided for my participation. I have the iPad mini for the giveaway in my possession RIGHT NOW and will send it to the randomly drawn winner.  

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Slightly Christmasy

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

We have a family tradition of getting our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. It was something my family did, it was something E’s family did, and it’s something we’ve done throughout our marriage. This year Thanksgiving was late, and also fell in the middle of shift work for E, so he didn’t get the day off. Or the day after. I was a little bummed, but we planned to just get the tree in a few days when E could get a few hours off of work.

That never happened. He literally hasn’t had any time off – besides a few hours to sleep most (not even all) nights – since mid-November. If it was at any other job besides the military, his hours would probably be illegal. I know I’ve complained about how much he works before (probably a lot) but I’ve reached a point where I’m not sure how I’M going to get through it.

Right now the only thing I’m getting by on is making sure the kids are still enjoying Christmas. They are so excited about every single part of the holidays that it’s pretty easy for me to let myself get wrapped up in it too, although the fact that we’re missing 1/4th of our family is always in the back of my mind. My mom sent the kids an advent calendar and GOD FORBID I don’t remember to get it down so they can open the day’s door first thing in the morning. And amazingly, they’re keeping track of whose turn it is and remember better than I do. It’s teaching them sharing! And fairness! And that if you touch something covered in glitter it will stick on your body basically forever! Those are all very important lessons.

My biggest accomplishment so far is that I took both kids to the tree farm on a weekend (SO CROWDED) and we chopped down a tree. I CUT IT DOWN MY OWN SELF. WITH A SAW. I did a hack job and a nice guy with his own family came over and steadied it while I was sawing so it didn’t fall over and crush me, but besides that I did it alone. Luckily the farm picks up the cut trees and carts them down to the station where they shake them and wrap them up for you, but then I hauled it to the car, into the car (God bless minivans) and home into the house. I totally failed at getting it into the stand but E got it set up the next morning and now we have a fully decorated tree. We had to rearrange because my little desk/office corner went in the former Christmas tree spot, but now we can sit on our new little couch, enjoy the fire and look at the tree at the same time. Tomorrow the kids get to start opening their Christmas books (I was going to do one for each day of December but books are really expensive, yo) and we can sit on that new couch by the tree and I can read to them about the Christmas story while I sob quietly because magic and family and loneliness and children and Jesus and FEELINGS. It’s raising my level of holiday spirit from Grinch to Slightly Christmasy, which is a definite improvement.

I haven’t had much time for my own photos lately, which makes me kind of sad. Partly because once something is part of your job it loses a LITTLE bit of the fun and partly because it’s hard to juggle the kids in public and take photos. It’s pretty easy to lose one kid while you’re taking pictures of the other one, and I’m generally only seconds away from losing a kid even WITHOUT a camera in my face. It’s amazing I’ve kept them alive this long, honestly. But this might be the first Christmas they remember when they look back as adults and I want to make sure I have at least some pictures to show them, so here are a few.

christmas 2013

Evan’s first choice, but I told him it was too short.

christmas 2013-2

Caroline’s first choice, also on the small side.

christmas 2013-3

Final selection

christmas 2013-4

After we killed it.

  christmas 2013-5

christmas 2013-6

christmas 2013-7

Watching them wrap it with the cool wrapping machine

christmas 2013-8

The farm had all our favorite food trucks, including the delicious kettle corn people from the farmer’s market.

christmas 2013-9

Decorating

christmas 2013-10

The princess places the angel

christmas 2013-11

Yes, I know it’s out of focus

christmas 2013-12

Fun with bokeh cut-outs

christmas 2013-13

 

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Wandering Thoughts

Monday, January 28th, 2013

It’s that time of year again, when we’re waiting to find out if E’s going to be promoted switching jobs it’s sort of complicated and everything is up in the air. We’ve done this for several years now, including the time we got surprise orders to San Diego while I was pregnant, so it might feel like you’ve read this post before. (I assure you this is new, I’ve just whining about the same things AGAIN.) So far, things have always worked out and we’ve managed to stay put in Connecticut, much to my delight and E’s…less than delight. He likes the place, just not being passed over.

I’ll admit that in past years I was sort of relieved E wasn’t promoted. That’s a shitty thing to be happy about, but the logistics of moving are so overwhelming in our current house-owning state. We bought when the market was still high (not at the peak, thank God, or we’d be so far underwater on this house we’d never get out) so selling it without shelling out a huge chunk of cash is going to be hard. It’s even harder to realize that all the work we’ve put into it won’t bring us any return on investment and we’ll have to start over at zero dollars.  Not being a home owner has its advantages…but I love my home.

Beyond the financial aspect of moving, there’s the emotional aspect of leaving somewhere I’ve lived longer than anywhere else in my life. Actually, I’ve living in this HOUSE longer than I’ve lived anywhere else in my life – before this, my record was all 4 years of high school in my parent’s house in Virginia. I moved every single year of college, then twice three times in the first year of marriage. The funny thing is, I used to like moving. I grew up in a military household and thought I could keep doing it indefinitely. But the truth is, being settled is comforting. A support system is important to me, especially as a mom. I have mom friends. My kids have kid friends. I have a mechanic, a pharmacy, a preschool, a library card, a favorite playground, and a zillion other things I don’t want to leave.

But. Even after I’ve said all that out loud (and to myself many, many times) I am not going to freak out if we have to leave. We are still in the easily-movable years with the kids where they adjust and make friends quickly. The Navy comes with a built in support system for families so I wouldn’t be starting for the bottom of a sad, dark pit – more like half way up a ladder that reaches the top. Starting over without the enormous costs of a house could give us the freedom to build our savings faster and splurge on things like family vacations more often. If E got promoted we might actually see him on a regular basis, instead of just waving at him as he runs out the door for another 36 hour shift.

To be totally honest, a lot of our moving options sound kind of…exciting. San Diego. Hawaii. Japan. Guam. Yes, it would be insanely far from our families, but they’re all limited-time-offers (and I am SURE my friends and relatives would find a way to visit me in Hawaii). We have friends in a lot of those places already. Even if we get transferred to somewhere on the East Coast a change might be good for us – what better excuse to purge all our unnecessary stuff, get organized and start fresh? I’m almost ready for that kind of challenge. Almost.

There is just so much uncertainty in our lives for the moment, thinking about it and NOT thinking about it both take a huge amount of effort. I don’t have the energy for much worrying on top of the thinking too, but please excuse me if more of this leaks out of my head between now and the end of April.

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Santa Might Be Late. Or Really Early.

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

E has to work on Christmas this year. I realize in the scheme of Ways The Military Can Screw Up Your Holidays having to work on Christmas Day is pretty minor, but it’s the first time this has happened since having kids. (Funny enough, neither of us can remember if it happened BEFORE kids – Maybe once? I know it happened the very first year we were dating but we weren’t spending the holidays together then.)

I’m really glad he’s not deployed. I’m glad it’s only a 24 hour watch. I’m glad we have some family visiting so our day can still be special. But I’m a little stumped on what to do about Santa.

The way our day(s) would go if E didn’t have work is: Christmas Eve service at our church, open one present before bed, wake up at 7 am, open our stockings, open our gifts, make pancakes, eat way too much chocolate, have some sort of Christmasy dinner, get really bored and whiny, fight over new toys, put on fresh jammies (since we’re probably still wearing the ones we woke up in), go to bed.

This year we have three options.

1. Santa comes early. One of us sneaks all the gifts out and fill the stockings while the other loads the kids into the car for church and we open everything before bed on Christmas Eve. The major problem with this plan is getting the kids to GO to bed. They are sooooo tired in the evenings now that they don’t nap and I’d expect at least a couple meltdowns during the gift-opening, followed by major over-tired hyper energy boosts that keep them up until 11 pm. But in the morning they’ll have all the new presents to play with and we can still have pancakes.

2. Santa comes late. The kids can’t read a calendar, they don’t know what day it is. So we go to Christmas Eve service, put them to bed, and when they wake up it’s just a fun Play With Grandma and Grandpa day. I put out the gifts after they go to bed and we have normal Christmas on the 26th. I’ll let the kids open their stockings while we wait for E to get home and then he jumps right in to presents. We can all spend the whole day together, complete with pancakes and Christmas dinner. But on the 25th of December we won’t celebrate anything and I’m not entirely sure that won’t bum me out.

3. Early morning Christmas. E doesn’t actually have to be at work until 9 am (AT work, which means he has to leave here around 8 am) so we could potentially get all the major Christmas activities done before he goes in. We can wake the kids up at 6 am for stockings and presents (if they aren’t already up from excitement). Then the kids can play with their bazillion new toys all day, we can have something casual for lunch, and they can go to bed at the regular time. ALSO maybe possibly after they go to bed I can sneak off to see Les Mis alone, so I can sob my eyes out without judgment. We can do a Christmas ham and all the side dishes on the 26th if I work up enough energy, but I wouldn’t mind terribly if we skipped it for some pizza. The down side is the rush to get everything over with before E goes in to work – do we want to make it a race to open everything as fast as possible?

I realize this is an insanely first world problem – “Oh noes! My kids are getting SO MUCH stuff for Christmas we need HOURS to open it all! We might not get pancakes together! So tragic!” – but I’m trying to figure out how keep Magical Christmas magical for the ginger bebehs.

What would you do for your family? Option 1, option 2 or options 3?

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