The Honor And Importance of Being the Face of the United States of America Military

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The next time you see a special event taking place in or around DC on the TV I want you to stop a moment. I want you to look past the President, Commander, or foreign dignitary and take a few moments to look at the rows of men and women in the background. See them there? The ones standing straight at attention, with meticulously pressed uniforms, clean shaven faces, and dignified looks on their faces? Those, my friends, are the men and women of this country’s Honor Guards.

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Sharing a Coffee-mate Moment with my All-American Hero

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It’s no secret by now that the military has played a HUGE role in my life and the life of my family. From having a plethora of family members who served in the military, to being an active duty spouse for over 7 years, to now living the life of a Veteran wife whose hubby is a full time college student using the GI Bill, the military still touches our lives on a daily basis.

Why yes that IS President George W. Bush standing right behind hubby (no photoshopping–promise!)! it was a common occurrence during his tour in the Coast Guard Honor Guard

I try to be extra thankful and appreciative of our military, their spouses, and their families. After getting a taste of what they go through my heart just goes out to them. Sometimes, however, it’s easy to forget to show your appreciation to those who are closest and mean the most to you–in this case I realized it had been too long since I had thanked Bob for all he sacrificed and did in service to our country, and reminded him that he is my Hero!

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Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal

As a female I’m allowed to vote, allowed to go to college.

Across the ocean a woman my same age dares not even voice her opinion on politics, for fear of retribution–she’s not supposed to have an opinion. She has no education beyond the minimum, because she has no “need” for it.

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How Do They Do It? My insights on military service

Coast Guard
Legalese Disclosure Nonsense: My favorite *ever* restaurant contacted me to see if I’d like to do a compensated post for them honoring our military members– Dream. Come. True.

 How Do They Do It? My insights on military service

“Oh, I admire you so much because I just couldn’t do it”

Words that I heard many, many times through my many moves, deployment, and separations from hubby as a military spouse.

But you want to know a little secret? I never thought I could do it either. That’s the funny thing about serving our country–many of the toughest parts of it you just really don’t  think you can do, but then, somehow, you go ahead and do them anyways.

That’s because when you love something or someone–really love them–it’s worth the sacrifice.

It’s worth the late nights and early mornings. The tearful goodbyes and the constant moves. The danger, the drama, the mundane.

Serving our country whether it’s active duty or in the role of a military family is definitely not for the faint of heart. However, the people in it and their spouses aren’t really any different than you. They don’t serve because somehow any of it is easier on them, and they’re not somehow stronger than you are. They do it because they love each other, and because they  love their country. 

But perhaps, after all, that does make it just a little bit better.

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Dinner with the Smileys

Military Reunion
Legalese Disclosure Nonsense: I was sent an advance copy of Dinner With the Smileys so I could read, laugh, smile, and cry over it and then turn around to tell you to do the same! All nostalgia and tears are my own!

Deployments Suck.

They really just do. 2011 was the hardest year in my life so far and a large part of that had to do with my husband’s deployment to Cuba when Amber was a toddler and Tyler was a baby. Thankfully he came back home safely (above you see us on the night of his return home) and I have experienced every deployment emotion from the sinking crying of saying goodbye, the bleak depression of trudging along through, and the joyful butterflies in the stomach from reuniting after so long apart and being so excited and nervous you wonder if you’ve been married for years because it feels like a first date!

So anytime I get offered the chance to read another military spouses story–especially if it has a unique twist on it–I’m the first to jump in line!

Dinner with the Smileys

Dinner with the Smileys: One Military Family, One Year of Heroes, and Lessons for a Lifetime is the story of Sarah Smiley and her family–her Navy husband and her three boys–and how they turned his year long deployment into an experience to remember. For 52 “Dinner with the Smileys” they had community members–from gold medal athletes to the boy’s preschool teachers–come and fill in her husband’s seat during his deployment.

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Operation Candy Buy Back

{Originally from last year I wanted to re-share this great idea! We’ll be doing it this year!}

In the October edition of Fitness Magazine they shared about an awesome program I wanted to share! It’s called Operation Candy Buy Back and you can ship the excess Halloween goodies to a U.S. Service Member (kids get $1 per pound of treat) This is perfect if your family is like ours and you don’t want your 3 year old consuming massive amounts of junk (or yourself for that matter–I’m definitely guilty of sneaking treats out of the candy bowl/bag) ! Plus it’s a great way to send a pick me up to our troops!

To find a participating dentist in your area go here to visit the website you can also like their page on Facebook Here

Oh Say Can You See

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,

as a baby enters this world, gasping and crying for air, the mommy cries too for the daddy who is thousands of miles away and missing this precious moment

What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming?

a wife exhausted, dejected, and feeling utterly alone reaches out to the empty spot beside her in bed and cries herself to sleep

Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight,

first birthday, first steps, first words…all and email never doing justice to the real thing

O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming?

a preschooler stumbles into the room at 3 a.m. sobbing and crying about why is Daddy gone and I miss him so much

And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

a mother sits on the end of her bed, sifting through a box of  old playthings, wondering when her son traded his onsie for a uniform

Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there.

white stones, stretching as far as eye can see on a quiet hill in Washington

O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave

each a testament of a life lived, lost, and given-a son, a daugher, a mother, a father, a wife, a husband

The Ultimate Sacrifice. 

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Never, never, never forget.

Freedom isn’t Free.

Making A Rental Feel Like Home

When you’ve moved and/or temporarily re-located 8 times in the past 7 years like I have it means one thing–renting is an absolute must.

Once you move out of the newly wed stage though, renting can begin to feel like a bummer-especially if you grew up in home owning families, like hubby and I both did. As I’ve mentioned recently, however, I’ve purposed to let go of all my If Onlys and focus in on how to live the wonderful life I’ve been given and blessed with to its fullest!

While renting means no painting and no renovating there are SO many ways to make a place a home without ever lifting a brush!

My favorite way to make our latest rental feel like home is to use personalized pictures

Now, you’ll never find my apartment within the covers of Home and Garden, but me and hubby both LOVE our decor because every single piece and picture on our wall has a very special meaning behind it.

As soon as we get our pictures up on the wall, whatever rental we happen to be in at that moment instantly becomes our home.

Above is our mantlepiece collection. Along with the pictures of our wonderful kiddos and family we have candles from our wedding and if you read about my Uncle Robert you’ll understand why we chose the amazing and moving art piece.

Down our hall we have all our Coast Guard pride-(does the picture on the bottom look familiar at all??? Hmmm…can you tell that I love it?! I included the Owl City lyrics from one of my favorite songs on it) The artwork is of the boat and lighthouse that Bob worked on when we lived in North Carolina, and the picture on the far right is one of him that was taken by a co-worker in NC.

This wall is my favorite–proudly displayed in our front room it contains three pictures of my beautiful home state–Wyoming. The top two pictures were taken by my super talented younger brother of places we spent a bunch of time in growing up. The picture on the bottom I took last summer when we got to go visit the Tetons and Yellowstone National Park.

Here is our latest addition to our humble abode. If you hadn’t noticed I tend to have a great love for canvas prints. There is just something about them that adds depth and richness to a photo. This is hanging happily in Tyler & Amber’s nursery. I have wanted to add a picture to tie into the quote for awhile now and I  feel like this canvas is the absolutely perfect thing!

Do you love hanging custom art and pictures in your home? How do you make a rental feel like a home?

There You Go Again ~ Beautiful Military Song

This song is so beautiful–it made me cry as it brought back so many of my thoughts and actions through Bob’s deployment last year!!!!

Here is a little from the artist–which makes it even more beautiful!

Aloha!!! I’m an Army wife at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and I just released a video for a song that I wrote for military spouses who (like me) have endured countless deployments and separations.

No actors were used in the video – only active duty Army soldiers & their families who were preparing for deployments at the time of filming. Those soldiers are now deployed to Afghanistan, so the video is very much “art-meets-life.”

In addition, I have pledged to donate half of my proceeds from the song to the Fisher House Foundation to support military families. 

Armed Forces Day ~ Military Deals, Specials, and Tips to Save

A very happy Armed Forces Day!

To help celebrate I thought I’d share some *awesome* deals and specials that I’ve come across lately for military as well as some of our own money saving tips. Because I truly believe that everyone who serves their country are entirely underpaid, and I love it when businesses reach out with thank yous in the form of discounts or freebies!

Hotels: A great traveling tip is to always ask if the hotel provides a military discount. I think that in all our travels across the country we have only been told no once. This normally knocks off anywhere from $10 – $30 per night and that adds up fast!

Many cell phone carriers provide military discounts, we’ve been with both Verizon and Sprint and they both give military discounts.

Always ask if a car dealership gives a military discount-we were given one on my vehicle but not on hubbies–it never hurts to ask though. (be sure that you do it *after* any other prices have been knocked off though–or they’ll probably take that $500 off they were going to anyways under the name of a “military discount”)

Waves Of Honor: Free Admission and Discounts to the Busch Gardens and Sea World Parks

Military Families can also get a FREE Annual Pass to the Nation’s National Parks (reg. $80)  – the pass can be picked up at any National Park or Wildlife Refuge that charges an entrance fee, and an ID must be shown to obtain the pass.

Blue Star Museums : over 1600 museums nationwide that are offering free admission to military members this summer.

Veteran Tickets: Free tickets to major events for Veterans and Active Duty

Free One Year Membership to Boys and Girls Clubs of America

Free Custom Military Support T-Shirts (just pay shipping!)

Deployment Resources:

Free Deployment Photography: Photographers offer free sessions pre/ during/ post deployment.

 Free Welcome Home banners for military

Restaurants that provide military discounts

Do you have any great deals/specials/sites that I’ve missed? If so please comment and I’ll add them in!