Tag Archives: Army Life

Who am I? Who’re you?

DSC_0006-001At this very moment, I am a wife, mother, sister, friend, cousin, aunt, niece, Financial Coach and aspiring personal coach.  My overarching goal in life is to define and live it on my terms in ways that align with my values and to help others do the same.  Whoa.

What are my values?  Above all, I value connection and collaboration.  Like it or not, each of us is part of an interconnected fabric involving all of the people, places and things in this world.  As creatures among those atop the food chain, we have tremendous power. With tremendous power, to paraphrase, comes tremendous responsibility.  We owe it to the other fibers of our fabric to be respectful and careful with our interactions with them.  I don’t mean careful as in cautious, I mean careful as “care full” full of care.  Considerate of the potential impact of our words and actions on those creatures and elements around us.    That means we do good where we can, when we can and in whatever ways we can.

For those of the Christian faith, and I’m just not sure right now but I believe this, take the words of Matthew 22:39 “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  No matter how important society sees you, you’re just another part of the world with an obligation to sustain the resources we currently enjoy for our successors.  If you cannot do good, at least do no harm.   It’s a simple concept and the core of my self.

How does this value fit into my roles:

As a Family Member:  I do my very best to let my family know how much I love them every single day.  I show my children that love doesn’t mean lenient, it means teaching lessons, sharing my core value of treating others the way I want to be treated.  Whether they treat me that way or not, I treat them the way I’d like.  If the interactions continue to be negative, it’s okay – even healthy – to cut ties and establish distance.  It is my sincere hope that my love for my family is reflected in everything I do with and for them, every day.

As a Coach:  If I’m your coach, we’re a team.  We will work together as long as it takes to move from whatever place you are in to whatever place you want to be.    The key point is that you’re the driver.  I’m just helping you draw and read the map.  And I know you’re a great driver so I’ll help you see that too.

Sharing what I have is integral to me.  I’ve been blessed with a fantastic husband and some awesome kids.  We have learned a lot of life and money lessons the hard way.  It hasn’t been easy for the last 20 years but it has been worth every second.  And I now know things that can help you sidestep some of the problems that tripped us up along the way.

I am thankful for the blessings that come when my path crosses others and we can walk together for awhile.    Join me?  Leave a comment telling me “Who are you?” or write it up in your own blog and leave  me a link.

Make today Amazing!



20 Minute Challenge Update

This week, I have been working on organizing paper after realizing (to my sheer horror) that I forgot to pay a bill on the 15th.  Grr…

So I have been putting our financial house in order with Mint.com.  For those of you unfamiliar with this free webservice, it is owned by Intuit, the company that owns Turbo Tax (my filing software for the last… oh forever, but there are other great free options if you need them – just ask) and Quicken.  I am a slightly disgruntled former Quicken user because Quicken went away when Intuit bought Mint.  But, Mint works.  But it’s not Quicken It works just fine.  It even works with my Po-dunk little bank and brings all our accounts under one roof.  Student Loans included.  Setting all that up was my 20 minutes this morning.  By twenty minutes, I mean an hour because I had forgotten all my logins and had to call to get them reset.  Fun.  Times.  (Question:  How do you track fifty different logins and passwords?  I try to keep them mostly the same but it’s just not always possible.  Leave me a tip in the comments?  PLEASE?)

Features of Mint include income and expense tracking, automatic updating of accounts when you log in and, of course, budgeting and goal-setting and tracking features.  I’m sorry to tell you that you’ll get an e-mail when you exceed your budget.  That being said, round up for your loan payments when you enter the budgeted amounts or Mint will round down and every single month you’ll be over budget.  It’s kind of annoying, but the work around is simple.  I just explained it.

Consolidating all our accounts in one place makes it easier to get a snapshot of our current situation.  Good thing.  I set up a goal for an emergency fund, a travel fund and our plan to pay cash for a house.  It even has a Debt Snowball Feature!  Look under Goals and select consolidate loans and/or consolidate credit cards as appropriate.  Thankfully, we don’t use credit cards so we don’t have that to worry about.  Just student loans.  Lots and lots of student loans.

So as it sits right now, I have organized our money so that DH and I can sit down and have a little chat about where we are, where we want to go and what we’re willing to do to get there.  Do you do that?  How often?  Are you on track?  We’re moving the right way, but I’d like to be moving a little faster.  I feel really strange having done this cleanup.  Light in some ways, heavy in others.  Honest here?  Every time I think about my student loans, I feel a little nauseated.  All that money and for what?  Now, to claroify, I don’t regret my education but I sure wish I wouldn’t have had to take on all that debt to finance it – especially the masters which I haven’t exactly leveraged since I got it.  I love learning, but dayum that cost a lot of money.

Is your financial house in order?  Did you ever have an awakening about your money?  How’d it go?  I’ll keep you posted on our progress.

One more question:  What’s a reasonable grocery budget for a family of six?  I am thinking about trying to keep it under my hubby’s BAS.  Am I nuts?

Tuesday Updates

I have no excuse for not blogging yesterday so I am sorry.  I owe you updates on a few things.

20 Minute Decluttering:  I mastered my craft room.  It took a lot more than 20 minutes and it still looks kind of junky because of my set up and it’s location.  My creative space is in an unfinished basement adjacent to the boys’ play areas.  In fact, it is centered between them.  This can be… complicating.

So, without further ado, here are some after pictures of Saturday’s work:

This area is a cutting table, the bags underneath are fabric pieces as are the four totes at the end of my bookcase.  See what I mean about it still looking kind of dumpy despite being mostly orderly?  My sewing machine is in the rolling case underneath the table.

This piece I hope will be next week’s make it Monday.  I have great plans for this $10 coffee table.  In the background is my major work station.  More on that soon.  The bookcase is cluttered, I know, with my professional library, my crafting books and my cricut cartridges.  I will be moving some cartridges to the Jukebox which will help but I need to be honest with myself about the pro gear.  Soon.  It’s just too soon.

This is a better view of the main work area.  It is big enough for two to make cards or scrapbook pages and whatnot.  The Cricut, Sizzix and laminator are readily available as are the Xyron machines.  As an aside, I think the Xyron machine is the greatest invention ever.  It spoils me for other adhesives.

My desk.  Ready and waiting for rubber stamping.  On the baker’s rack in the background are scrapbooks to be filled, WIP projects, 12×12 paper and foam.  On top are Sizzix dies.
This represents the bulk of my miscellaneous storage.  The tall dresser even has the drawers labeled.  The shorter, wider dresser is full of randomness:  bubble wrap, stuff I am still learning how to use, crayons, wrapping paper…  It’s kind of scary, but I know what’s there and where to find it.  Extra Xyron cartridges are in the third drawer.  Ink pads in the rack on the top and the two boxes are ribbon.  I went back down to pick the paper pad up off the floor.  (MY KIDS!)

The remaining storage area.  Four totes on the end are fabric, on the near end is paper, embellishments, knitting magazines and a handful of in-progress scrapbooks.  Do I like how it looks?  Not really, but having it organized allows me to get some of that stuff used up.

So let me ask you a question.  As you can see, we have an unfinished basement.  We could certainly finish it with paneling or sheetrock, but it would be at our expense and, since we live in military housing, the ROI is negative by the  cost to finish it. So what can I do?  What would you do?  Leave me a comment and share your thoughts and we can come back to it on Friday, okay?

Next up, the Make it Monday update.  I did tweet it last night, but if you don’t follow me on twitter, you’ll feel cheated that you didn’t get it.  I did finish a knitting project.  After lamenting that it takes me SO LONG to get one done, I now will admit that I just don’t spend enough time on it.  I will knit a few row and put it down when my ADD kicks in and I want to play video games.  So this project, that would take a serious knitter an afternoon, took me a couple weeks. It is knitted in garter stitch, seamed and gathered.  I enhanced the pattern by knitting a band to cover the cinched part, not wrapping yarn.  I didn’t like the look of it.  Using yarn and needles I had so it fits into my stash busting goals as well.  Also, the model is adorable, right?

I also want to thank the lovely Sarah for delighting me with one of her projects this week.  Her blog is showing tremendous potential because her Pinterest addiction is worse than my own.    Look at what she sent me!

So once again, loyal readers, what should I do about my basement walls?  Would you take on the paneling or drywall costs yourself?  Another option I thought of was to get bedsheets at goodwill and just cover the walls.  It would be random, yes, but with a bit of fabric paint and a stamp or stencil, kind of funky?  HELP!

5 Parenting Fails

I don’t claim to be an expert, but the sheer volume of children in my family has given me a lot of very diverse experiences.  We haven’t gotten it down perfectly, to be sure, but here are some lessons learned along the way.   This post is about 5 things you should not do as a parent.

1.  Overschedule your children.  We all know kids who are in seventeen activities and both they and their frazzled, broke parents are always on the go.  Children do benefit from a wide range of activities to explore and discover their true interests, but they also need time to decompress, relax, process what they’re learning and, heaven forbid, entertain themselves.  We have always limited the kids to two out of school activities – one athletic at the very most.    With multiple kids, this still gets hectic.  Model collaboration and include your kids in the logistical planning.

2.  Live Vicariously through your children.  If you have always wanted to dance or play piano, take lessons.  Don’t put your child in them.  If your child is interested in a sport that you also love, remember to help, not push.  I was the soccer coach whose kid was pulling grass and doing cartwheels.  If I hadn’t coached, the 12 kids on the team would not have been able to play.  I focused on fun and teamwork and everyone had a great year.  I didn’t force the Khan to play and he hasn’t played since.  It’s not his thing and that’s okay.

3.  Don’t model appropriate relationships with authority figures.  Let the teacher teach.  Let the coach coach.  DH was a soccer coach for Squidward when Squid was in third grade.   Hubby had three simple rules:  Work hard, have fun and dress for practice like you dress for games – in other words wear your shin guards.  A boy showed up for practice without them and was benched.  He threatened to leave and was told that, if he did, he’d be off the team.  His mother confronted the coach, my husband, and said the same “We’ll just leave”.  She was told that, if that was her choice, she needn’t return.  What lesson did that teach the boy?  The mother insinuated that the child was in control and did not need to respect the adult.

How many times has your child explained a low grade with “The teacher just hates me”.  Are you sure?  When you meet with teachers, are you prepared for conflict or collaborative discussion?  The last time I heard that phrase, I responded with “Of course she does.  You’re wasting her time every single day.  She works hard to try to teach you and you ignore her and don’t do your assignments.  She’d rather fill your spot in class with someone interested in being there.”

4.  Have low expectations.  I do not pay for lunches online.  My children take a check to school.  It is their responsibility to pay that bill.  I do not make my childrens’ beds.  I expect them to be made every day and bedrooms to be clean.  At this moment, I am looking at a filthy kitchen that my son will be cleaning when he gets home.  You make a mess, you clean it.  You want a drivers’ license, you follow the rules.  Demonstrate that you can manage your time and resources and carry a B average.  Not. Negotiable.  (Causing strain in my home to be certain, but not. negotiable.)

5. Don’t do your homework.  Take the kid’s word for it.  I learned a valuable lesson in this yesterday.  My 8th grader spent the day in the in-school suspension room yesterday after he punched another kid in the face.  Turns out this other boy had been insulting my son’s ethnicity for almost a year.  “You eat cats and dogs.” “You’re a loser.” Every day things were “fine” at school while at the same time my son had become more determined to take Tae Kwon Do lessons and be homeschooled.  My son is being bullied because he is Asian.  I didn’t see it.  Now I must make it stop.

We are stationed at a small base next to a small town with a small school full of small-minded people.  I am open to suggestions.  Where do I begin?

I did e-mail this note to the principal (names changed to protect my son’s identity)

Good Morning,

Thank you again for letting me know about the incident with The Emperor this morning.  As I have been thinking about it, there are some signs that the problem is more serious and possibly widespread.  The Emperor has been asking repeatedly to take Tae Kwon Do classes and to be home schooled.  Those strike me as signs that him being bullied is a much larger problem than we’re aware of.

Are there elements of the curriculum within the district that address inclusion and aim to stop racism, sexism and all other kinds of -isms that are threaded through our society, more so in small-town Sparta than other places I fear, but are absolutely unacceptable?  How does the district teach tolerance?

What is the long-term plan for the boy that The Emperor has said is bullying him?  How many other victims are in the school?   Are all the other nonwhite kids at risk too?

(I apologize but being angry leads to run-on sentences)

How long do I wait for a response?  What would your next steps be?

Military Spouse Quiz

Not in tune with the “tone” of my blog and probably not appealing to my “Niche”, but I love quizzes and memes and I know you’re dying to know this stuff (if you don’t already).
The Milspouse Quiz

1. How did you and your spouse meet?

We worked together at my first job in 1984 at a retail store.  I was there a grand total of about 3 weeks.    We ran into one another again eight years later and it gets a little weird for a bit and then it got awesome, but that’s another blog.

2. How old were you when you two met?

I was 16, he was 20.

3. How long have you been together?

We have been together 18 years, married 17 of them.

4. Where are you and your spouse originally from?

Sparta Wisconsin.

5. How did you feel about him joining the military?

He was a reservist when we started dating.  I’m proud of him, but I had nothing to do with it.  The AGR decision, when we made it, was an easy one.  It’s been a very good thing for our family.

6. Where did your spouse go to Basic Training?

Fort Leonard Wood, MO.  AIT was Ft. Lee, VA

7. Has your spouse ever been deployed?

Yes.  Kuwait and Iraq 2005-2006

8. Ever been to his promotion ceremony?

I pinned him for E-7, E-8 and E-9.  It’s an honor I’m glad he gives me.
9. How long have you been a military wife?

Since my ex was also military, 23 years.

10. Did you marry him before or after he joined?

8 years after.

11. How did your husband propose?

We had been living together and just knew we’d get married.  A friend sent us rings and when they arrived in the mail, he met me in the kitchen after work with them in his hand.  Kind of a non-proposal, but it’s his way and it works.

12. Where did you get married?

We were married in my mother-in-law’s living room.

13. How old were you two when you got married?

I was 26 and he was 30.

14. Did he wear his uniform on his wedding day?

No.  I’d like to renew our vows and get him in the monkey suit someday.  My gosh, he looks good with all his chest candy on.

15. Where are you and your spouse currently stationed?

A place we shall refer to as Fort McFun.  The worst Army base in the world.

16. Do you live on base?


17. How long were you married when you had to go through your first separation?

We were apart for AT every year.   So since before we were technically married.  He deployed just before our 11th anniversary.
18. What is your favorite base so far?

Of  the places we’ve been stationed:  Joint Base Lewis-McChord.  Of those we’ve visited:  Schofield Barracks.

19. Do you think your spouse looks good in his uniform? l

Breathtaking.  Even in PFU 😉

20. Do you think military life is more advanced than civilian life?

I don’t understand this question.  Advanced?  No.  Do I think successful military families are more adaptable, inclusive and flexible?  Yes.

21. Do you like the benefits you receive as a military dependent?

Some.  Some I’d happily do without.  I love a good commissary and the insurance is nice.

22. Do you have a lot of a military wife friends?

Yes.  And I am thankful for every single one of them.  It does get hard sometimes because of politics and rank structures.  I always wonder now if people are nice to me because I’m me or because my husband is their husband’s boss (some of this is my own insecurity).  So most, but not all,  of my milspouse friends’ hubbies are not and have never been in his chain of command.

23. What is the hardest part of the military life?

We are an AGR family.  The hardest part is the huge differences in assignments.  No post to crappy post to huge (but crappy) post to awesome post to crappy post.  The second hardest is the differences in schools for the kids.  The emperor has had the same block of instruction three times because of school changes.

24. Do you own military wife stuff?

I abhor military wife stuff.  Our one thing is a “Home is Where the Army Sends Us” sign.  I kind of love that.
25. Do you support your spouse as a member of the military?

I support my husband as the man that he is.  The military is one part of that, certainly.  The whole package is pretty good.

Okay, meme-lovers, it’s your turn.  I’m looking at you Heather.