That's Navy Life

Friday 5: Milspouse Bloggers You NEED to Be Following

I got sucked into the world of blogging over five years ago, and immediately I was hooked. I love writing blog posts for you. I love tinkering around with my own blog, and I really, really love reading blogs. I especially like reading military spouse blogs because I love learning how others make it through this crazy life. For today’s Friday 5, I’m sharing 5 Milspouse Bloggers You NEED to Be Following.

5 Milspouse Bloggers You NEED to Be Following

She is Fierce

Kim is a Canadian military spouse blogger, but from reading her blog for over a year now, I also want her to be my best milspouse friend. She just has a way with words. Her blog makes me laugh sometimes, cry often, and think always. I also love that her blog is all about the words. No ads, no selling. She writes because clearly that’s what she was put on Earth to do. Check her out at www.sheisfierce.net.

High Heels and Combat Boots

Keating, at High Heels and Combat Boots, is a new-to-me blogger than I’ve slowly grown to love over the past few months. Her openness and honesty is absolutely refreshing. As the years go by, it is easy to become stuck in your ways and a little jaded about military life. Keating is a young military spouse who reminds me what it’s like to be young, for everything to be fresh and new and amazing and terrible all at the same time. Click over to www.highheelsandcombatboots.com and say hello today.

Jo, My Gosh

I started following Jo for one reason. She is hands down the very best halfway box designer ever, and she shares tips and how-to’s on every aspect of the process from how to wrap the inside of a box to the perfect puns for care package themes. But click over to her blog at www.jomygosh.com, and you’ll see why I’m still a fan a year later. Jo is a great blogger. Her writing is solid. Her blog is beautiful, and she manages to keep the perfect balance of how to’s and photo stories and lovely advice every single week.

It Must Be Tuesday

This blog is nothing short of beautiful. This Navy spouse lives in Belgium. She and her beautiful family have traveled all over the place during their time there, and everywhere they go she brings her camera and a very good eye and shares it all with us on her blog. Her writing is clever and on point, but her photos are absolutely perfect. Pleeeease click over to It Must Be Tuesday and check her out.

NextGenMilspouse

This blog is a little different than the others. It isn’t written by one blogger; it’s actually a collaboration of a team of writers, and the focus of the entire blog is near to my heart: helping military spouses make the most of their lives, their potential, and their dreams. It also just feels kinda hip and cool, and everytime I’m over the I feel like I just want to be a part of that cool kids club. Check it out at www.nextgenmilspouse.com.

Clearly I’m a big fan of military spouses, and if they are also great writers and amazing photographers I love them more. But what I really love is the experiences that these ladies share with all of us. It’s always good to learn something new and see a new perspective, and I feel so lucky that these milspouses take the time to share just that.

Do you have any favorite milspouse bloggers? Are you a milspouse blogger? Leave a link in the comments!

Friday 5 is a weekly series of 5 great tips, people, or places I want to share with my readers!

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That's Navy Life

SIX Practical Tips for Choosing a Navy Ball Gown

Here it is, folks. The post you’ve all been waiting for. Fashion advice from Jodi at Back on Land. I’m clearly a guru in this field …

SIX Practical Tips for Choosing a Navy Ball Gown

Or maybe not … But I do have almost two dozen Navy, Submarine, and Khaki Balls under my belt, and I have seen some pretty “special” outfits on display so I do have a few tips to share.

{TIP ONE} Bend, twist, sit, and jump. When trying on potential gowns, bend, twist, sit, and jump. If you bend over and anything falls out the top or peeks out from behind, this is not your dress. If you twist your body side to side and suddenly see parts more often covered by a bra, this is not your dress. If you sit down and the chair makes your bare butt cold, this is not your dress. If you jump around a bit and ANYTHING pops or peeks, this is not your dress.

{TIP TWO} Your “look” should not be defined by your boobs. If you try on a dress, and the first words that pop into your mind are “BOOBIES!” or “TATAS!” or “LOOK AT THOSE!!!”, this is not your dress. Think classy. Think appropriate. Leave a little to the imagination.

{TIP THREE} Don’t forget to shop for your unmentionables (that I am now mentioning). Pantylines, visible bra straps, and doing the strapless-dress-tuck-n-pull all night are all just gross and can ruin even the loveliest gown. Do yourself a favor, and try EVERYTHING on beforehand, not just the dress, and don’t be afraid to splurge a little on the RIGHT support for your look.

{TIP FOUR} You don’t have to break the bank. You CAN. It’s pretty easy, but you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars and you SHOULDN’T. Check the sales. Check stores like Ross or TJ Maxx. Checkout consignment shops! The Ombudsmen in my area even sponsor a dress exchange before the major events where if you donate a dress, you can take a new-to-you dress home for free! If there’s nothing like that in your area, consider hosting on of your own. Most people don’t wear their dresses more than a once or twice so an exchange is a wonderful way for everyone to get a great dress without spending a dime!

{TIP FIVE} Remember WHERE you’re going. Are you attending the Navy Ball or the Prom? If you answered Navy Ball, then keep in mind this will be an evening of tradition and class. Dress and behave accordingly. (If you answered “Prom,” you are clearly on the wrong blog. Press the little X at the top right immediately …) A simple rule of thumb is to “dress to the uniform.” If your sailor is wearing Service Dress Blues, you should dress formally. A sundress in not a formal gown, and nothing from Victoria Secret is a formal gown.

{TIP SIX} Enjoy the Ball! Military balls are a special tradition, something not everyone is fortunate enough to experience. Take it all in. The beautiful gowns, the handsome men in uniform, the ceremonies, the dinner, and the dancing. Take pictures! Take pictures! Take pictures! Choose your gown wisely so you’re not worried about a “wardrobe malfunction” and dance the night away!

I honestly believe that every military spouse should go to a Ball at least once. It’s a part of the milspouse experience! Just do it right. Attend with respect for the occasion. Dress appropriately, and have a great time!

 

 

 

That's Navy Life

Homesick … Milspouse Style

This is a re-post from blog long ago and far away. 

Homesick ... Milspouse Style

Just before Christmas it snowed in Connecticut. It was one of those beautiful, fluffy, toss-the-kids-in-their-snowsuits-and-then-in-a-snowdrift kind of snows. I followed along on Facebook from my comfy chair in Washington as all my friends there posted pictures of sledding and snowmen and rosy cheeked smiles, and my heart twisted.

“I miss the snow! I wish I was there with you!” I posted to my timeline.

“But I thought you hated snow!?!” a new Washington friend replied.

Her comment made me think. She wasn’t wrong. When it snowed here in Washington just a few weeks ago I grouched long and loud. I didn’t want the kids to miss school. I don’t like cleaning the puddles on the floor. I don’t like the slushy mess left behind when it inevitably begins raining on the same day as it snows. I’m really not a fan of snow. I’m kind of like the cranky teacher from the old Frosty the Snowman movie that says, “I like snow. I just want it to stay where it belongs, like in movies and in John Denver songs.”

I replied to my friend that the snow here is different. It really is, too. It’s wet and gloopy and not very fun. Then it rains making it into slush. Then it freezes overnight, and I am stuck in my house. Sounds fun, yes? NO! Connecticut snow is usually fluffy and light and fun for the kids to play. The snowplows there are phenomenal about taking care of the roads. Yay!

But last night, in a completely separate bout of homesickness, I realized something. I didn’t really like the snow in Connecticut either. I don’t like being cold and wet. I don’t like when my ears are so frozen they burn. I don’t like when my fingers are numb. I don’t like snow boots or wearing fourteen sweatshirts and five pairs of socks. I don’t like it at all.

So WHY in the hell does my friends’ Snow Day fun always make me homesick?

The answer came to me quite simply. As a Navy spouse, I can set up house anywhere you stick me. Tiny cramped apartment in Kings Bay? Been there! Two-story townhouse in Groton? Done that! House at the bottom of a hill in Washington? I’m there. I am a master at packing and unpacking. I have owned more curtain rods in more sizes than Wal-Mart. I have moved bookcases and nightstands from room to room to find each piece a spot, and I have bought and sold enough furniture to fill two houses.

But this house is not my home. As a military spouse, my home is the people in my life. Home is the best friend with whom you can watch (and ridicule) “Charlie and Lola”  for hours. Home is the friends who show up for a cookout on a moments notice every night for an entire summer. Home is the friend ready for coffee at midnight after a long shift at a crappy restaurant. Home is the people you can call at any hour, and before you can say, “I need you,” they intuitively say, “How can I help?” That is home to this military spouse. In Connecticut I was home. It isn’t the snow that made me homesick, but the people who posted about it. It isn’t the view of the ocean I miss so much as the people I viewed it with.

So today I am homesick. I miss my “home” in Connecticut. I miss my “home” that moved to Ohio. I miss my “home” that lives in Georgia. I miss my “home” that lives in Arkansas. I am a military spouse. I have homes all over the place, and today I am homesick for each and everyone one of you.

Deployment, That's Navy Life

Danger! Danger! Get Out of the House!!!

I have a little story to tell you about a very seasoned Navy wife whose first patrol after shore duty was a complete and total disaster. This Navy wife, living at a duty station she’d quickly grown to hate, made the subconscious decision to sit in her family room forever with nothing but the internet and trashy reality TV to keep her company. She stopped leaving the house except to buy groceries and pick up the occasional Big Mac.

She had three children. The two oldest went out to school each day and then came home again to sit in the family room with her. The third was quite young, and she simply crawled and then toddled and then walked around and around the family room, confined to the space to which her mother had confined herself.

You might think that this life filled with nothing was not very conducive to finding friends, making memories, or even living, and you would be correct. It wasn’t a life, and she wasn’t happy leading it. In fact she was quite sad. She missed her friends “back home” and wished everyday that she had a reason to get dressed, somewhere to go, and someone to see when she arrived.

Luckily, the very seasoned Navy wife accidentally found an out, Mother Nature provided some much needed sunshine, and her self-imposed confinement came to an end. Summertime, a class called Compass, and her children’s cries to GET OUT saved her, but she vowed never to forget the feelings of sadness and isolation of those first months and her own later bewilderment at how even a seasoned spouse like herself could get sucked into such a painful cycle.

Today she writes this blog called Back on Land, and she hopes that if you are reading this and you identify with her self-confinement, that you will see the error of her ways and get out of your house. She knows it seems easier said than done. She knows the not leaving may seem much easier than heading out into a world you feeling like you’re saving yourself from. She also knows how much happier she is now in the outside world, and she wants to share a few tips for finding your own happy in the outside world.

  1. Take a shower and get dressed … right now. Yoga pants won’t cut it. Real clothes are necessary in the real world.
  2. Get the kids up and ready, too, if you have them.
  3. Get in your car and go.

 

It can be that simple.* Get. out. of. your. house. There are a million places in the world better for you than the prison your house can become. Find a playground for your kids to play at and play with them. Explore a local park and walk a trail or two. Go to a lake or a beach, and walk along the waterline. Look for an outdoor market. Walk the sidewalks of your city and window shop. Pack a picnic basket and a big blanket and find a shady spot to lunch. Bring a book, find a tree, read and repeat.The gist here is GET OUTSIDE and MOVE. Fresh air, sunshine, and a little exercise can be a great jump-start to your dead battery, and sometimes a little jump-start is exactly what you need to get your engine going!

This very seasoned Navy wife I know. I’ve been there, and I hope to see you outside again very soon.

 

mil1source

*This seasoned Navy wife also recognizes that for some people this self-confinement is more than just a case of being sad. Depression is real and certainly requires more than her “get some sunshine and take a walk” approach. There are many resources for military spouses who are affected by despression, but for now I’ll throw out one that is available and accessible to all military spouses: Military OneSource

 

Deployment, That's Navy Life

Danger! Danger! Get Out of the House!!!

I have a little story to tell you about a very seasoned Navy wife whose first patrol after shore duty was a complete and total disaster. This Navy wife, living at a duty station she’d quickly grown to hate, made the subconscious decision to sit in her family room forever with nothing but the internet and trashy reality TV to keep her company. She stopped leaving the house except to buy groceries and pick up the occasional Big Mac.

She had three children. The two oldest went out to school each day and then came home again to sit in the family room with her. The third was quite young, and she simply crawled and then toddled and then walked around and around the family room, confined to the space to which her mother had confined herself.

You might think that this life filled with nothing was not very conducive to finding friends, making memories, or even living, and you would be correct. It wasn’t a life, and she wasn’t happy leading it. In fact she was quite sad. She missed her friends “back home” and wished everyday that she had a reason to get dressed, somewhere to go, and someone to see when she arrived.

Luckily, the very seasoned Navy wife accidentally found an out, Mother Nature provided some much needed sunshine, and her self-imposed confinement came to an end. Summertime, a class called Compass, and her children’s cries to GET OUT saved her, but she vowed never to forget the feelings of sadness and isolation of those first months and her own later bewilderment at how even a seasoned spouse like herself could get sucked into such a painful cycle.

Today she writes this blog called Back on Land, and she hopes that if you are reading this and you identify with her self-confinement, that you will see the error of her ways and get out of your house. She knows it seems easier said than done. She knows the not leaving may seem much easier than heading out into a world you feeling like you’re saving yourself from. She also knows how much happier she is now in the outside world, and she wants to share a few tips for finding your own happy in the outside world.

  1. Take a shower and get dressed … right now. Yoga pants won’t cut it. Real clothes are necessary in the real world.
  2. Get the kids up and ready, too, if you have them.
  3. Get in your car and go.

 

It can be that simple.* Get. out. of. your. house. There are a million places in the world better for you than the prison your house can become. Find a playground for your kids to play at and play with them. Explore a local park and walk a trail or two. Go to a lake or a beach, and walk along the waterline. Look for an outdoor market. Walk the sidewalks of your city and window shop. Pack a picnic basket and a big blanket and find a shady spot to lunch. Bring a book, find a tree, read and repeat.The gist here is GET OUTSIDE and MOVE. Fresh air, sunshine, and a little exercise can be a great jump-start to your dead battery, and sometimes a little jump-start is exactly what you need to get your engine going!

This very seasoned Navy wife I know. I’ve been there, and I hope to see you outside again very soon.

 

mil1source

*This seasoned Navy wife also recognizes that for some people this self-confinement is more than just a case of being sad. Depression is real and certainly requires more than her “get some sunshine and take a walk” approach. There are many resources for military spouses who are affected by despression, but for now I’ll throw out one that is available and accessible to all military spouses: Military OneSource

 

That's Navy Life

On the Age Gap

So …. my kids.

I have three of them. Three daughters. Their ages are 16, 13, and 4. Most of the time I find the age gap to be … troublesome. Playdates? For Alli, yes, but then Aubrey and Sydney are left out or left home. A trip to Seattle? Great for Aubrey and Sydney but will Alli be able to keep up with all the walking? Will she be grumpy without an afternoon nap? Even hanging out with family friends can be weird because most of our friends have either littles or bigs, not both like we do, and I have to figure out how make it work for everyone.

Every single activity takes twice the planning, can be very tiring, and always keeps me on my toes.

But …

Sometimes straddling both worlds is amazing.

Today for instance I have snuggled with a little sweetie on the couch AND  had a beautiful conversation with my oldest about being happy with what we have. I witnessed the wonder of growing tomatoes through fresh young eyes and shared a rare teen hug with Sydney. I watched as the youngest shows of newly acquired sandwich making skills and looked ahead at the days when she will be as competent in the kitchen as both Alli and Sydney are growing to be.

I think I too often complain about the age gaps in our kids because it does require so much extra of me, but at least for today I’d like to step back and really see what a blessing it is to have toddler creativity and adolescent deep thoughts, preschooler energy levels and the teenager chill breaks.

So … I have three kids … ages 16, 13, and 4 … and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

That's Navy Life

Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky

I received a free copy of this book in my Chat Pack in return for reviewing this book on various social media channels. The opinions are 100% my own.

I am a Kindle-girl. I converted several years ago because as much as I love a real book, they can be expensive when you read a lot (which I do), and they take up a ton of space. Yes, they are lovely. Yes, real books even smell better, but for me in my very transient world, Kindle-reading is the answer.

Last week, reading Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky, I almost changed my mind.

Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky

Sweet Salt Air is the story of two friends separated by time and a terrible secret and brought back together by the island they had spent so many summers on during their childhood. The main characters, Charlotte and Nicole, spent many summers together on an island off the coast of Maine called Quinnipeague where they are now reuniting after ten years apart to write a cookbook together based on the recipes and herbs and spices local to the island. I loved how the two women seemed to fit so easily together like pieces of a puzzle, each with strengths that complemented the other’s weaknesses, just the way true best friends are! I really loved the way the love story began, Charlotte looking for a story for the cookbook and the Leo, living in the midst of the garden she so desperately wanted to see, just wanting to be left alone. I thought the characters were very relate-able, and I found myself identifying even the smaller characters with people and memories from my own past. I also thought the pace of the book was excellent! I was never bored, but I was given time to allow big moments to sink in.

I will say this though. My favorite character in the whole book was … Quinnipeague. The author’s description of the town, the beach, the flowers, and the herbs, the sites, sounds, and smells of the entire island, made me wish I could jump on a plane and summer with Charlotte and Nicole. I don’t even eat seafood, and I was craving my own bowl of chowdah! Yes, by far, Quinni was the best part of this book! I found myself touching the pages, wishing I could dive right into them and land on the sand near the ocean. Perfection. I actually caught myself touching the pages lovingly, so enamored by the words on them. I thought I’d be converting back. to books.

A few days later I read another book, another “real” book, and I was so excited to dive into those smooth pages as well. I was disappointed by the experience. It was a very good book, but it wasn’t Sweet Salt Air. I didn’t crave to be in the moment with the characters. It could just have easily been electronic pages on my Kindle. It wasn’t the touch of paper pages that enamored me of Sweet Salt Air; it was the well-crafted story and descriptions that peaked all my senses. It was a wonderful storyline and the perfect ending. It was the ability of the author to really make me believe I could smell the Sweet Salt Air.