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Job Fairs in June

When you pack your suitcase for your upcoming PCS, don’t forget to pack your best business attire. Hiring Our Heroes is hosting job fairs across the nation this summer and are specifically looking for military spouses like you!

These job fairs are different because the employers who are there already know you are a military spouse. They already know you will have three different addresses in four years. They already know you will probably leave them in two to three years.

And that, is ok.

They also know that you are talented, tested and worthy.

So, make sure you also pack your resume and get going! Be sure to click on the link below and register. Space fill up quickly!

June 10

Latham, NY

June 16

Memphis TN

June 22

Augusta, GA

June 23

San Juan, Puerto Rico

July 7

Biloxi, MS

To see the full list of hiring fairs for 2016 and beyond, please visit


The first week of school, so far so good!

By Amy Neilsen


It is the first week of school. I have a new learning format and website to navigate, a new app to load onto my phone, and I have to figure out where to buy headphones that don’t dig into my scalp. I also need a better journal and a real notebook.

Granted the first week of any new school is bound to be filled with a lot of organizing, rah rah welcome to school speeches, and generic, big picture philosophy stuff. But, I absolutely love my school. I am so happy with my choice. It feel like listening to my own words sometimes. I love the guest keynote speaker they choose for our welcome session. Her message rang true to me and proved a point I wanted to make to myself about the program. Our lead instructor is going to take some getting used to, but I think it will be better once I am used to his speech patterns.

The style the material is presented in is mostly engaging and not too repetitious. They also use a good mix of teaching methods to make sure every type of learner is able to grasp the lesson. Each module is clearly labeled on the student website and the times for videos are accurate so I can determine exactly how long I will have to spend on each section excluding the exercises. This makes plugging the chunks of time into my schedule much easier.

So far the only thing I don’t like is the peer to peer interface between students. We’ll see if it gets better over time. I suspect they will have a more interactive forum later in the program. There is an unofficial Facebook group, but, there is no place to have a personal discussion among classmates unless they are friends on Facebook. And right now, I don’t know any of these people well enough to add them as a friend. I am sure there are students who do not have Facebook accounts and there has to be a way to have a discussion with them in the school learning website. I just need to roam the virtual halls a bit more to find it.

I am unhappy though that the modules for lectures open so late on Monday mornings, though. This school is attended by many international students. By opening the modules so late they have taken away almost a full days’ worth of study time for our European classmates, an inconvenience some students were already discussing. I hope the school addresses this issue too, since the late Monday start takes away one of my prime study times too.

But, so far so good. It’s Thursday. I have finished my module, earned 100 percent on the quiz and posted my discussion answers. I am banging out this blog post and then on to making ice cream sandwiches for the Edge of Summer Homeschool Faire for my children. And, I have an empty day on the calendar this weekend!

Military Family Survey Does Matter

Have something important you want to tell the three-star general?

Maybe something along the lines of how benefit cuts are hurting your family?

Don't ring his doorbell, take the annual survey sponsored by Blue Star Families.

This is more than a random survey, this is one of the documents that the general, as well as DOD policy makers and politicians use to decide how funds will be allocated and what programs will be kept or cut.

The survey takes about 30 minutes to complete and includes questions that cover deployment challenges, wellness, education, employment, military child education, financial challenges, health concerns, civic engagement, and public policy issues.

Find the survey link here:

Blue Staff Families suggest users take the survey on a computer rather than a mobile device or cell phone as the program may not fully function.

The survey collects no personal information so your answers will remain anonymous.

As an incentive for participating, five people will receive $100 gift certificates. Last year, only 6,300 people, DOD wide, participated.

Take the survey, the odds are in your favor. Even if you don't win the gift certificate, you will win the general's attention.

Leaving Your Job: 5 Ways to Make a Last(ing) Impression

Whether you’ve landed the job of your dreams, a great promotion, a new degree or another set of PCS orders, what you do as a short-timer in the final week at your current job could impact your long-term career.

Here are five ways to make a last(ing) impression that is beneficial to you and your soon-to-be former employer.

Tie up loose ends

“The final week on a job is a time to tie up the loose ends of your position,” said Mark Renn, Career Management Professional and Chief Executive Officer of The CS Team.

Review your workload to determine what you can feasibly get done in your time left, what you will need help with and what needs to be passed along to a co-worker. Don’t overload yourself and risk the quality of your work and don’t work overtime to the detriment of other personal things (like preparing for packers).

Leave a transition manual

For things you will turn over to someone else, ensure a smooth transition.

“Write out where you are on projects, with systems and procedures, to help the company to move forward with the work you are currently performing,” Renn said. “Review what you have written with someone before you leave, this way you can clarify any questions they may have on the work.”

Practice good social graces

No one likes negativity (even if it’s true).  Leaving a job doesn’t have to be a bad thing, so don’t make it one. If you are happy, people will likely be happy for you, or at least cordial.

“Be polite. Never burn bridges – even if you hate them,” said Robin Ryan, Author of 60 Seconds and You’re Hired. You can’t be smug, tell people what you think of them, tell off the boss, not be nice to the secretary and complain about the boss for two hours in the exit survey – you will only sabotage yourself.”

Carry Your Credentials

You’ve heard time and time again: If you stay ready, you never have to get ready. Don’t call co-workers to request documents you should have gathered before you left. Before you walk out the door, be prepared to conduct or continue your job search at a moment’s notice, no matter where you are or whether you have unpacked the first box.

If you will apply for jobs using USAJOBS or other online means, upload and store your resume, cover letter, performance appraisal, transcripts and awards. Also, save these documents in ‘the cloud’ or on a jump drive, and as extra back-up and keep a hard copy too.

Get recommendations in writing.

“Get written recommendations from your boss and your boss’ boss, if possible,” Ryan said. “Even if you are leaving and have a new job already, sooner or later you will want to try for a new job or promotion and you want to know that they will say something nice about you.”

Ryan also advises that you ask them to write a LinkedIn recommendation or endorsement for your work.

“Leaving a position in good standing is more critical to your career than most people realize, so take the time to be sure they are pleased with where you leave them as you walk out the door,” Renn said.

Quack, Juggle, Quack, Quack – Sing it with me!

By Amy Nielsen

Classes start next week. Ducks in a row? Not so much! Heck, at least they are all in the same pond. Crud, there goes the little one . . .

Somehow the month that I had set aside before school started has flown by in a constant parade of field trips, large expenditures, unexpected sickies and calendar shuffling.

As I look at the calendar going forward and plug in all of my classes, tests, and group sessions, I can see that I am walking a very fine line as I juggle a whole lot of colorful balls. I have a lot of stuff already planned for the summer and really for the remainder of the year.

Yesterday, I planned the school year out for my homeschool co-op for 2016/2017. Talk about advanced planning! But, that is what I have to do to make sure I don’t get myself overcommitted going forward. If this insane month has taught me anything it is that I have to be very careful to protect my school time and my kids' school time. Planning our time together will help mitigate this one, I think.

Also, advanced planning means budgeting time and money. I need to have the ability to throw money at a problem that becomes too big of a project to complete alone. We had a tree limb fall on our fence, which meant replacing a large portion of a 4-foot tall post and wire gate fence. We have been able to band-aid it so the animals are safe in the yard. But, now we have to come up with either the time and/or the money to fix it properly.

If we had a little extra savings I would be able to hire someone to fix it in a day rather than spend hours doing it myself. This means tightening our belt a bit so we have a little savings set aside on top of our regular saving plans.

And then comes the inevitable sickies. It’s the change of seasons, so everyone is getting sick and passing it around. I thought we might be safe since only our peripheral friends have had it, but then on her birthday, my little one got the sickies. We have had to postpone all of her birthday plans until next week, on the only day we had free.

On top of that, she has complained that her leg braces hurt and has refused to wear them. This can mean one thing, a growth spurt. Which means possible treatment is needed. Which means more doctor appointments and more travel.

Finally, we received an email from the in-laws in Florida. When are we finally going to visit them? Calendar shuffling, here we come, again. Quack.

Museums Offer Free Admission to Military

Have you made your vacation or PCS travel plans yet?

Don’t finalize a thing until you check out the extensive list of museums across the nation that are offering free admission to military families this summer.

Every summer since 2010 The National Endowment for the Arts has collaborated with more than 2,000  museums, attractions and nature centers nationwide to allow free entry to military family. The free tickets are usually good between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

New locations are added each year. The full list should be announced in the coming days.

You can visit the organization’s website which has a user friendly map that you can click on and find a complete list of museums in that state.

The program is geared toward active duty families, so retired families generally are not included. Active duty military can receive up to five free family members at each location.

Spouses of deployed military members can receive free entry for themselves and their children with their military ID card.

To read the full Q&A regarding the program, visit

To check out the map of thousands of free places to visit this summer, visit

Happy Travels!

3…2…1… Submit Payment [Finality of the decision and the reality of now moving forward]

By Amy Nielsen

I did it! I paid in full for school.

I completed the student agreement. I have accessed the classroom portal for the first time. Now, I have two weeks to get my life in order for real. Classes start and away we go.

The imminence of this decision is finally hitting me and I am starting to panic. Holy cow, what did I get myself into! I know I can do it, I know I can do it, I know I can do it.  Breathe.

Time to get down to brass tacks and make sure I have planned enough time into my weekly schedule to keep up with the work load. I know we live a busy life and that I am a key motivator in that busy. Because I choose to homeschool our children I won’t have the built in several hours a day where I am child-free to be able to concentrate on my studies. However, this presents the perfect opportunity to lead by example and plan a family study time.

My one non-issue: I am not concerned that the work will be too hard for me to complete. I know I am a smart cookie. I know there will be challenging classes. But, I know that I can do the actual work of the classes. It’s making sure I have the time to get them done that seems to be my main concern.

From what I read, it takes 21 days to make a habit. Which means – ugh, math – I have 14 days to be build whatever study habits I need to squeeze into my weekly schedule by the time classes start. If I do it right, that first week should be only a little bit of a bumpy ride of rescheduling things.

Luckily the school I have chosen makes working this time into my week easy by posting interesting videos and other pre-work we can access through our student online portal. I can practice being a student for the next two weeks and get the family ready for my virtual absence during my study times.

This practice study time will also allow me to know whether I will be able to complete the video portions of the class with the commotion of two kids, two dogs, and daily life distractions, or, if I am going to have to set myself up for early morning work when everyone else is asleep.

Knowing that I work well early in the morning rather than late at night will already help me decide if I need to move some study time around. By being honest with myself, and admitting that I will not work after the kids go to bed, helps set myself up for success.

So, now onward and forward with the first introduction video.

Decorating your Graduation Cap? Check the Rules First

When I graduated from college, more than a decade ago, I took a few slices of silver duct tape and spelled out -30- across the top of my graduation cap.

Journalism students knew it designated the end of a story. I thought I was savvy and cute, designating the end of my own story that day.

And, it made it easier for my family, two stories up in the graduation venue, to spot me amid a sea of black cap and gowns.

Back then, my cap decor garnered a chuckle from the administration. Today, when mortar board decor is trending on Pinterest throughout the spring and my simple cuts of duct tape have been surpassed by bows, glitter, cut outs and tiaras all glued to the top, the administration doesn't always chuckle.

Students may see the decor as a matter of personality, of setting themselves apart.

School administrators may see it as destroying the decorum of the ceremony. It's the same reason beach balls and festive activities are kept at a minimum during many graduation walks.

So, before you check out ideas online for making your graduation cap scream your name across the sea of gowns, make sure your school allows cap decor.

And if the answer is yes, follow these rules:

- Keep it clean. No profanity, nudity or rude comments.

- Don't mount items to your head that will obstruct the view for others.

- Make sure items are secure and not falling off, this includes excessive glitter. In fact, you may just want to forgo the glitter completely. It can't be trusted.

- Avoid battery operated devices or blinking lights. Again, you do not want to ruin the ceremony or view for someone else.

- Do not use anything that makes noise.

- Be prepared to be told you cannot walk in the ceremony if administrators do not like your decor. It's their party, their rules.

The Career Path less Traveled: Before the First Day of Class, Clean Out the Junk in Your Trunk

By Amy Nielsen

Think of your body as the box you have to unpack, to empty out the trash, so you can put more good stuff in.

Unless you get all the way to the toes, there is still junk in the trunk. Since many of us are going back to school on our own schedule, we have the luxury of setting ourselves up for success by taking the time to take out the trash in our brain and body before putting new stuff in.

What on earth is this woman talking about? I am talking about taking the time before you start school, work, or any new endeavor to make sure you are emotionally, psychologically and physically ready to take on the added stress.

When you become a student later in life, this is a really big undertaking. Unpack your junk so you have as clean a slate as possible.

What does that actually mean?

Take the time to check out your health. This can be as simple as making sure you are taking the best multi-vitamin you can and purchase new tea mug with calming tea. Clean out your fridge and cabinets of the junk food. The better you feed your brain the better it will learn the new stuff you want to put in there. If you haven’t had one in a while, get an annual checkup. It would be a huge shame to enter a new set of studies and have to quit because of some stress induced, physical malfunction that could have been avoided with a simple check-up.

Emotionally I’m still in the giddy, new toy stage of this all. I haven’t quite realized just how much more work I have loaded upon myself. I know that in due time, I will want to shut myself in the closet and make the world stop for about fifteen seconds; but right now I feel like I’m on top of the world and can conquer anything!

However, I am finding the psychological de-crapification of this process much harder. My choice to go back to school, again, is laden with baggage for me. This is where the majority of my junk is. I have already had two major careers. This will make number three.

 I already hold a bachelor’s degree in Technical Theater with a specialty in Lighting Design for dance, rock and roll, and musical theater; a field that is very small and very technically specific. I used that degree professionally for 12 years. I loved and still love that job and that profession.

But, that job was very physical and pretty unpredictable in an era when the norm for my cadre of friends was to work in a corporate cubicle. My career, meanwhile, was haphazard. I moved from midlevel job to midlevel job, twice refusing opportunities that, looking back on now, could have led to bigger opportunities, if I had had the guts to jump for it. In the end, I also went corporate, working for a distance learning company as a technical supervisor and learning center manager. The company I worked for went bankrupt in the dot bust of the late 90’s.

Months after the company closed, I had two deaths in my family and a health crisis. I was fortunate enough to be able to support myself through friends, family and governmental assistance. I, in essence, took a year off of life. In that year I decided to go back to school for the first time. I decided to follow my second passion and train professionally as a chef. I found a small school near my house with a good reputation and applied.

My very first day of classes was 9/11.

I finished the program with high marks and was asked to return over the summer to assistant teach the public programs. I also found a job in my new career in a niche that fit my personal history but was far from what the school had intended for graduates. I really thought I would come up with something while I was in school. Or perhaps I was hopeful something would fall in my lap? I just know I had lots of ideas but no real direction.

Fast forward a few years and several life events to include marrying a Navy sailor, the births of two children, including one with special needs, multiple moves, and retirement from the military. And, I am here again on the verge of returning to school. Much later in life.

I know how long it took me to get here and I am afraid of wasting this third chance. I get to choose what I want to be when I grow up, again! How exciting!

If the Navy taught me one thing it is that diversification as a spouse is key. If you can have several small things going you are more likely to be able to have a good ebb and flow of income as you move from place to place. Having a child with special needs opened my eyes to a whole set of people who need the kind of help I can deliver specifically because of my diverse background.

What is hard is looking back and remembering the feelings of doubt I had when I looked carefully at what I really wanted to do with my earlier degrees. I didn’t have a very clear idea of what I wanted to do then. In college, I had friends who wanted to work for specific industries, or directors, or in specific theaters around the world. In culinary school, I had many classmates with specific chefs they wanted to work with, places in the world they wanted to study, or career paths lined up. I wasn’t as sure of where I was going either time. I really have never known what I wanted to do when I grew up.

I feel a bit that way now, but I know that I can use all of the other careers I have had in my life to bolster this new career. My theater career gave me the tools to work in a team environment with highly creative people in a project based style where personal connections lead to collaborations, i.e. jobs.

I have the technical skills for my new career from my culinary training. I have been practicing school with another class I am taking that has a similar workload over a longer time period. Not only is it adding more knowledge base in a related field, it is helping me to work in a study time to our busy schedule a few hours a week rather than all at once. Even my “career” as a Navy spouse has lent its own skills to my choice. Semper Gumby!

So, while I feel like I have it together and ready to go, I still need to work on a more concrete plan for exactly what I am going to do this time next year when I graduate from this program. I need more direction as to why I chose the school I did this time around.

In my program there is time devoted specifically to helping students narrow their focus and set up a viable business for their post-graduation life. The school spends so much time on this topic that I feel like they want their graduates to be set up for success from the get go.

So, my junk is less but I think my left pinky could use a bit more tending to. I know I am physically and emotionally ready, and I am working hard at being psychologically ready too.

Natural Ways to Treat Seasonal Allergies

By Christine Cioppa


There’s a seek and destroy mission going on in millions of Americans’ bodies. The enemy: pollen, grasses and weeds.

The immune system of seasonal allergy sufferers acts as if these allergens are harmful, releasing chemicals that trigger symptoms (itchy eyes, stuffed or runny nose, breathing problems, etc.). The body is actually overreacting to something considered harmless.

Popping pills may help some, but there are natural ways to manage allergies. Surprisingly, even some foods are connected with seasonal allergies and cross-react, making things worse. So, for example, eating raw celery can trigger an itchy throat in people allergic to birch pollen. Eating tomatoes can cause a food allergy reaction in those allergic to grasses. Sunflower seeds can cause an oral allergy in people who eat them and also have ragweed allergies.

Jennifer Johnson, N.D., clinical associate professor in the School of Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr University, can help take the mystery out of your seasonal suffering with great tips so you can plan the best course of action to make it to finals without carrying a box of Kleenex.   

Q.  What are natural ways to fight spring allergies? 

A: As much as possible, limit exposure to the allergen (e.g., better to go outdoors on rainy days— rain helps keep pollen count down). Eat foods to lower overall inflammation: salmon, fatty fish, and walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can naturally lower inflammation.

Drink green tea; new research shows this acts as an antihistamine (histamine release in the body creates the symptoms of allergies). Take the herb stinging nettle (in capsulated, freeze dried, or dried herbal tea form) three weeks before allergy season. This may be difficult to predict in a new town.

Q: Our readers are from across the country, and some are living on bases overseas. How do seasonal allergies vary by region, and how does that change the treatment?

A: When we move to a new location we are exposed to new plants for the first time. That initial exposure may be a time when we do not react. So being in a new place may provide a break from allergies for the year. In years two and/or three, this is when the reaction may pop up. And the allergy season may vary from location to location, depending on how long the growing season is and/or when the spring starts, so be aware of the season changes. Allergies are best treated a bit in advance before the symptoms intensify.

Q: What are your thoughts on over-the-counter oral antihistamines, and which, if any, do you ever recommend?

A: I usually have my patients try natural options first; if less invasive treatment can work, then this is ideal. First: Clean up the diet—lower sugars and alcohol/caffeine (helps the body to be in the best shape to be less reactive). Second: Reduce exposure (rinse hair after being outdoors, wipe off pets, change clothes, try an air filter in the bedroom, etc.). Third: Try the natural options above (also vitamin C with bioflavonoids). If these don’t work, then try the oral over-the-counter antihistamines; they are usually safe. Check with a healthcare provider/pharmacist if taking other medications, though, since some patients experience a sensation of dryness that is just as bothersome as the allergy symptoms. If needed, try Claritin or Zyrtec (max 10 mg per day)

Q: What are your thoughts on over-the-counter or prescription nasal spray antihistamines or corticosteroids, and when, if ever, do you recommend them?

A: I would first recommend a “neti” pot or nasal saline wash or saline spray.  This is a gentle way to help soothe the nasal passages, making them less reactive to the allergen (e.g., pollen). Some patients benefit from gargling with salt water. It’s best to use sea salt or salt without added iodine; the iodine can irritate. The first line for nasal steroid is Flonase. Caution: Patients can have a sensation of extreme dryness and irritation with nasal steroids, though for some patients they are a godsend.

Q: Can airborne allergies during spring and fall increase a person’s susceptibility to food sensitivities and food allergies?

A: Yes, patients who react to seasonal allergies (especially ragweed and other weeds) may cross react to:




sunflower seeds

herbs: Chamomile and Echinacea

If eating these foods trigger a similar reaction, then it’s best to avoid, especially during allergy season.

Q: Aside from the typical symptoms of seasonal allergies (runny nose, coughing, sneezing, stuffed nose, itchy eyes), are there other symptoms, not so obvious?

A: Shortness of breath, low mood, fatigue, sore irritated throat.

Q: How do things like sugar intake, alcohol, a poor diet, a lack of sleep, consuming processed foods, and stress affect the body’s ability to handle seasonal allergies?

A: Alcohol and excess caffeine can dehydrate the body, making the histamine levels more intense, worsening symptoms. More sugar/processed foods, lack of sleep, and stress all drag down the immune system, making is harder to fight off other infections if in an allergic state (e.g., may make people more susceptible to sinusitis).

Additional resources:

When seasonal allergies peak by region:

How foods are linked to seasonal allergies:


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