navy spouse

FIVE Things I’d Do Differently

My sailor is creeping up on the 20-year mark in his career, and man, what a ride it’s been so far! We’ve lived on two coasts, turned six plain houses into homes, weathered fourteen deployments, and enjoyed more adventures than I can count. We’ve made friends and lost them to time and distance and misunderstanding. We’ve grabbed some opportunities and lost some as well. We’ve done this. I know there is more in store for us, but I can’t help but look back on a few things I missed out on and wish I’d done things differently.

FIVE Things I'd do Differently in our Navy life.

{ONE} I’d take advantage of everything the Navy offers to spouses. I’d sign up for Compass on the same day I got my first military ID. I’d take every budgeting, stress reducing, and parenting class offered at Fleet and Family. I’d make MWR and ITT my first stop anytime I was going on vacation or just looking for something fun to do.

{TWO} I’d jump on the FRG train and NEVER let anyone shake me off. I know what you’re probably thinking. “FRG? Mine was so clique-y! Mine was unwelcoming! Mine never did ANYTHING!” I have a bad FRG story, too. I’ll never forget, as I stepped down from two years as the President, being told that as thank you I could kiss the new girl’s ass. It was the last straw in six months of being belittled and ridiculed, and it worked. I never went back to that FRG. If I had it to do over again I would have stuck around. Just because. An FRG is only as good as the members that show up, and when I opted out, I let the mean girls win.

{THREE} I’d go to the Navy Ball and Sub Ball every single year, and I’d make my friends go with me. It’s not just an excuse to get dressed up. It’s tradition and ceremony. It’s an evening of remembrances of those who’ve gone before. It’s an opportunity to stand in awe of what your spouse does on a daily basis and be proud of him, his command, and the Navy.

{FOUR} I’d be MORE involved. I’d join the FRG, teach Compass, volunteer as Ombudsman, make centerpieces for boat parties, bake cookies for the duty section, invite single sailors over for Thanksgiving, and attend every Change of Command at every available turn. I’ve missed so many moments, so many opportunities for moments, in my time as a Navy spouse. This life is so fleeting … so amazing … so special. I’d never let those moments slip by me again.

{FIVE} I’d take more pictures … of everything. There are so many people and places that live only in my memory now, so many homecomings, so many ladies nights, so many boat parties and picnics. Every FRG Easter Egg Hunt, every baby shower, every pinning, and every farewell, I’d be that annoying girl with a camera permanently slung around her neck, and I would capture every moment so that now I’d have proof of the good times instead of just shaky recollections.

I don’t have a lot of regrets in life. I don’t regret not going to college. I don’t regret marrying and starting a family young. I don’t regret the crap jobs I took to help support my family. In fact, the quote is true, my biggest regrets are chances I didn’t take.

What do you regret? Is there something you’ve been missing out on? Because today is brand new, and the world is still at our feet.


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!