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Military Families Everywhere, We Are One

In June, members of the Iraqi military were taken prisoner by ISIS. And they haven't been heard from since. ISIS claims to have massacred 1,700 Iraqi security force members.

Their families, military families, were confused, angry and terrified. They wanted answers. They demanded answers from the government they bravely served as the wives, children, parents and siblings of the nation's protectors.

A group of 100 of them stormed the parliament in Baghdad in early September. And they refused to leave until they were given answers.

We might have done the same.

They are a world away. We don't speak the same language, wear the same type of clothes, eat the same food or practice the same religion. But we are all military families. Their lives, like ours, are dedicated to serving their nation. Their lives, like ours, revolve around the needs of others. Like us they sacrifice as loved ones are killed and injured in the line of duty.

As we flip through the channels and catch glimpses of wars and atrocities unfolding in other nation's around the world we each take a moment to remember that they are more like us than we may be willing to admit. That we are all military families and we all understand the difficulties, frustration and pride that comes with that duty.

Their fight is not ours. But we understand in many ways the uphill battle they face through their military lifestyle. Keep them in your thoughts and wish them well. We are all military spouses. We are all one.

Welcome Home! Now, Get to Work!

I spent last evening staring at the bookshelf downstairs. 

It’s very heavy and dark and wooden, and, well, it’s putting a real damper on my new light, airy and clean living room.

Or the new light, airy, and clean living room I’m envisioning in my mind’s eye, anyway.

Still, I want to move that bookshelf.

More precisely, I want to move it upstairs. Into the office. Which I am currently turning into a classroom/office/learning area.

Well, I’m actually converting that in my mind, too, but you get the picture.

Now, I am strong, but sadly not strong enough to heft this bookshelf upstairs by myself.

And it’s really ticking me off.

So, I’ve added it to the list.

Along with “Organize the garage” and “Pressure wash the porch” and “Build bunkbeds for the girls.”

It’s the military spouses’ version of the Honey-Do list.

It’s the “Welcome Home From Deployment; Now Let’s Get Cracking!” list.

My husband is likely going to be less than thrilled to come home and find two adorable little girls clinging to his boots while I hug him, kiss him, and point at the family chalkboard with a list that, though it’s bedazzled with stars and hearts and “We missed you!”, is also a mile long, involving quite a bit of manual labor.

While I don’t conform to gender roles necessarily – if I can lift it, I will; if I can fix it, I will try – my husband is a good 9 inches taller than me, quite a bit stronger, and significantly bigger. He can easily hold the other end of the bookshelf as I maneuver it upstairs.

It’s been quite awhile since anyone helped me lift so much as a laundry basket up those stairs, though. And I’m clearly itching to start some home improvements that don’t get done unless he is home.

So as this deployment nears its end, the list grows. And grows and grows.

I’ve started to romanticize cleaning out the brush in the back of our yard together.  I’m starting to fantasize about how much fun it will be to convert part of the garage into a laundry-folding station. I’m starting to envision a good family afternoon spent re-organizing the girls’ room into a princess play space.

Clearly, he’s been gone too long.

In fact, he’s been gone so long that I may need a new chalkboard; the list has outgrown its home.

I e-mailed him, jokingly, that every day he’s gone, I find another thing to add to the list.

Though I likely need to stop. Because at this rate, he may never come home.

And I still can’t move this bookshelf by myself.

 

Volunteers Work, Because They Love

For the last year, I have volunteered for two different military organizations. Years ago, before I had my family, I did not volunteer because I didn’t think I had the time. Long days in the office and commuting were exhausting and I wanted to relax on my days off.

It is amazing how my definition of the word ‘busy’ has changed since having children. I never have days off and I realize how much time I had to myself back then, even while working full-time. As a stay-at-home-mom, my days are hardly boring. I barely get a chance to go to the bathroom by myself let alone sit and relax. I am pretty sure I have yet to finish a cup of coffee in the morning without having to warm it up in the microwave.

As we get older and the boys keep changing and growing, our life keeps getting busier. Now we have preschool to drop off and pick up from and extracurricular activities. My days are filling up and we are busier than ever. But I am still volunteering. I make the time to give back. And I do it because I want to.

I have been asked if I volunteer because “I have to” or because of my husband’s current job or because his rank requires me to. False. False. False. Initially, these types of questions rubbed me the wrong way. I was defensive. But the more I thought about it and the sources the questions came from, I realized they were not meant to be hurtful. Instead, they were asked out of curiosity. Or misconception. Or stereotype. Or simply, inexperience.

There are a few quotes I have come across that sum up perfectly why I have a strong passion to give back to my community and military families: “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time. They just have the heart.” (Elizabeth Andrew)

I have always had a passion to help others. That is why I earned a degree in psychology. My husband may have been the one who dedicated his life to serving his country, but I chose him. I feel that by giving back to our military community, I am helping our country in a small way. I am not directly saving people or defending our country with my bare hands, but I am helping important programs that serve military families run their daily operations.

It does take a village. And I make the time to be part of that village. Whether it be sending out an email to check in on a spouse who lost a grandparent, making a meal for a new mom and dad or answering the phone in an office, I make the time to help - no matter how much or how little it may seem; every little bit helps. And the organizations are so thankful for you and your service. When I leave for the day, I always feel more motivated to come back. I feel welcomed, respected and appreciated.

 Winston Churchill said, “We make a living not by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” I have struggled to find my professional imprint in this world. Once I became a mom, I felt fulfilled and I felt I had purpose. As my children continue to grow and develop their own little identities, I realize I still want more out of life. I still want to help others. Volunteering gives me flexibility to serve my first priority, being a mom. And, it allows me to contribute to a community that has given me the opportunity to stay home with them. I can use what I have learned through my own experience to help others. I am constantly learning new things through my volunteer experience. I am gaining knowledge, experience and building friendships.

The point in my sharing this it to reach out to those spouses who may be struggling to find their nitch in this military lifestyle. Find an organization you believe in and find a way to help. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

School Fundraisers Have Begun. Should you Sell to Your Co-workers?

It's back to school time and everybody's kids are selling something. From school, to sports, to service organizations, the fundraisers are plentiful. But should you be selling things at work if you want to move up in the company? If you do sell, when is enough, enough? And when can your pedaling of fundraiser goods be potentially damaging to your professional image? 

If you aren't sure about the answer to any of these questions, don't start selling products or soliciting donations at work until you consider these steps.

First, check the employee handbook and other written policies to find out if selling is allowed. Federal employees, for example, may not sell or solicit donations at work except in connection with the Combined Federal Campaign. However, some private sector and non-profit employers may allow it.

Then, if your workplace does allow it, look beyond the written rules.

"In some offices, it's fine. In others, it might be frowned upon," said Alison Green, the author of the Ask a Manager blog (www.askamanager), in an email interview. "You need to know your office [culture]."

No matter what the rules are, some people have their own opinions about what workplace selling says about you. Some will think it's great that you support your children or a great cause, but others won't be so accepting.

"Be aware that many people find these sales to be distracting and even annoying if you apply any pressure to buy ... in a context where they can’t help but wonder if they’re expected or obligated to participate," said Green. "If you must ask, ask only once. And don't ever assume that people will buy or say things like, 'What can I put you down for?'"

No matter what your relationship is to co-workers, selling may have hidden consequences. Your colleagues may be resentful and think you are wasting time and not doing your fair share of work. People below you may feel pressure to buy. And those above you may think it is unprofessional, which could indirectly impact your performance review and future opportunities. 

Also, follow these general rules:

Keep your selling low-key. Don't go from desk to desk. Leave sign-up sheets in the break room or place the merchandise on your desk for people to "discover". Word will travel fast once others see the goodies.

Finally, double-check the policy about email use. In some places it is acceptable to send one group email to announce your fundraiser. In others, it may be considered spam. Standard business email communication rules say that if you aren't already in a relationship with someone then you shouldn't be sending them email to solicit sales or donations at work.

Anonymous Bullies

It’s pretty well-known that my life is up for public consumption on my blog. If I have a thought, even an unpopular one, as they may be, my name is attached to it. There’s no doubt. But that’s not always the case.

A few weeks ago, one of my friends here in upstate N.Y. ran into trouble with some cyberbullies. Normally, it’s the kind of situation you’d shake your head at, confront your attackers, and move about your day, wiser about whom you give your time. After all, what were we taught by our parents: stand up to your bullies, right?

But what happens when they’re anonymous? How do you stand up to that?

Thanks to the miracle of social networking, sometimes there’s no way to confront the person tearing you down. There’s a social media page, which even carries the name of our army post, where anyone could send their “confessions,” and have them anonymously posted. Everything from heading out to Walmart in your PJ’s, to scandalous things that would make my Kindle blush can be posted on the page. All you have to do is message them and you’re off to the races. 

Seems harmless, right? Venting your own little secrets? Sure, until people start “anonymously” attacking other people. Slander, accusations, insults, insinuations - they’re all right there, plainly spelled out to who the person is through detail and asterisk-encoded names. Your best friend could verbally attack you and you’d never know it was them, because it’s posted anonymously.

What part of this military “community” do we want to validate?

I’m under no false, naïve belief that by being in the military lifestyle, I share an automatic camaraderie with every other military spouse. In a perfect world, of course we would. But we are all unique individuals who just happened to marry military men. We’re not all going to get along. But, when we allow social media to “anonymously” bully other spouses, or soldiers, going as far as to use this duty station as their name, we’re perpetuating the cycle of bullying. This isn’t “meet me out back behind the playground.” No, those grade-school bullies have grown up, promoted themselves to the internet, and now the consequences are far more reaching than a black eye, or wounded pride. Heck, bullies don’t even have to leave the house now to tear someone to the ground.

By allowing these sites to exist, by “liking” them and reading them, we’re giving the thumbs up to the coward behind the screen who in one key stroke can ruin someone’s business, self-esteem, or even marriage. And it doesn’t even have to be true, just typed. As military spouses, what are we doing? Why are we “liking” this? Why aren’t we the ones standing up for one another and saying, “Enough.”

Believe me, I’m not blameless. No, I don’t “like” these pages, or frequent them, but I certainly did nothing to shut it down when it hurt my friend repeatedly. Why? Because I live a sorta-public life, and one screen-shot can do a lot to my career. So I minded my own business. Out of what? Fear. I wasn’t even being bullied and that page scared me. But then it came for me, and though I shrugged off most of what it said, the bully got their target. They had a good chunk of my head for a few hours. But that was it. Because of my blog and my book, a lot of people know random personal details about our life. That’s a choice we made in our marriage, but the others? They didn’t. But it took me getting personally hit by someone I don’t know, and have likely never spoken to, to make me speak up against it, and that is on me.

We here in upstate N.Y. aren’t the only ones with such ugliness. They’re everywhere, attached to the names of military installations around the country. Apparently these pages are the new way to scratch “call Jenny for a good time,” into the paint for all to see. So what’s the difference? Social media is empowering these bullies and giving them something they didn’t have before – a platform larger than a four stall public restroom.

So this is my platform – my words. And this is our platform as spouses – to say “enough,” unlike the page and walk away. Because as Edmund Burke taught us, the good men who do nothing are all it takes for this behavior to continue. I choose to try to be the good one. I choose to say enough.

Because I attach my name to what I write, and they should too.

Websites We Love: Back To School Humor

Welcome back! We know it’s the first day of school and you may have the jitters, you may be nervous or you may have the utmost confidence. In any case, your day just became a lot busier.

Now begins the months of finishing dinner, your homework, your kids’ homework and all their afterschool activities in the same three-hour span – every single night. Now begins the late nights when your homework didn’t quite get finished.

Now is when you are going to wonder just how crazy you were when you thought you could pull off going back to school and working full-time. And eventually, you will realize, you got this.

But, as you re-adjust your daily routine over the next week, we thought you could use a few chuckles. We all know you’re going to take a break, or quite a few, as you find your groove balancing work, home and school. These sites offer a little back to school humor that are just long enough to give you a break but short enough to get you back to work quickly.

Enjoy!

 

 Back to School photos that don’t quite make the grade: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/20/19-back-to-school-fails-photos_n_932175.html

 

Are you the class clown? Here’s some witty jokes that will make you and your teach chuckle: http://www.teachhub.com/top-20-teacher-jokes

 

And lastly, the first day of school, 1970 vs today. Caution, you may laugh until you cry: http://widelawns.blogspot.com/2014/08/back-to-school-70s-vs-today-lot-has.html

 

Where is the best place to buy my book?

I’ve been Googling school supplies lately, the internets have deemed all of their “suggestions” for me be scholarly in nature. One of the recent suggestions was an app called “Titto”, which is supposed to be an alternative to purchasing or renting books through, say, Amazon or Chegg. Earlier in the year, we briefly spent some time together discussing renting our college textbooks so we don’t have to hand over our firstborn in payment.

In the interest of keeping my sad wallet from getting any sadder, I picked a book and figured out which site or app was most monetarily efficient. (I know, right? I’m a hoot at parties, too!)

I began with a middle of the road priced book for my upcoming semester: Ethical Journalist: Making Responsible Decisions in the Pursuit of News. (Seriously, guys. I promise, I am not the world’s most boring person.) This book is required for participation in Communications 409, which is a course they tell me is a necessity for a Communications major to take … go figure. It is recommended for purchase from the school’s bookstore, which is not likely the bank account-friendliest option. We’ll toss that option in, though, just to be fair. We’re also going to stick with the paperback or digital editions, because ain’t nobody got time for a 200-pound book.

Anyway, here’s how the numbers break down:

School Bookstore:

$74.00 (New)              $55.00 (Used)             $43.30 (12 month digital rental)

Chegg:

$74.99 (New)              $50.99 (Used)             $20.49 (4 month physical rental)

Amazon:

$67.87 (New)              $11.65 (Used)             $N/A (physical rental) 

$42.99 (digital rental)

Titto:

$19.99 (Flat rate per month)

These prices are fairly comparable, to be honest. I’ve seen everything from no difference at all to, no joke, price gaps you could drive an eighteen-wheeler through.

The point, however, stays the same: a little time and research can save you a lot of money.

If the book is something you’ll never crack open again after the course is finished, rent it. And, if the book is something you’ll likely use in the future (hello, majoring in our goal employment area!) then don’t be afraid to buy it and keep it for your shelf. Whichever you choose, make sure the option is the best for you and your wallet!

Tis the Season

This was a busy PCS year across most of the services. Thousands of families moved. Thousands of spouses left jobs they loved behind.

Now, the search begins. But finding a job in a new town can be daunting, and, take a very long time. Our family has heard from friends around the country, both veteran and civilian, who are still out of work after six months of plastering their resume around town.

And for many, the future looks bleak.

Hopefully, the impending holiday seasons can help turn things around for many of us.

Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas bring with them merriment, mischief and extra jobs – as haunted house staffers, pumpkin pickers, Black Friday cashiers and exhausted, holiday season extra help. Every business from costume shops to UPS to malls typically hires more hands to lighten the load.

Retailers are the biggest employers but this may be a time to look for an unusual job that will lift your spirits as much as it fills your wallet. Every mall in America needs to hire staff to tend to the jolly old elf. Haunted hayrides, houses, cornfields and the like all need a crew to scream their way through the night. Nonprofits may be hiring hourly help to handle the extra casework. Moms and dads will definitely be hiring childcare workers to tuck the kids in on New Year’s Eve.

And sometimes, seasonal jobs turn into fulltime work for good employees.

So, if you are still looking for a job after a PCS, don’t despair. Holiday hiring is coming. Begin Googling local companies and search their online, careers pages to find out who is hiring and when. Tussling with the holiday shopping crowd may not be your dream job, but eventually the job you need may turn into a job you love.

 

Sweat Like a Mother

“Find something you love to do, and you'll never work a day in your life.”

This is a quote that military spouse and entrepreneur, Alexa Smith, the founder of Stroller Strong Moms, LLC, in Columbus, GA and Savannah, GA, has taken to heart. This mother of three is a proud Army wife to her husband, Tony, and a current resident of Savannah, GA. 

As a certified group fitness instructor through the American Council on Exercise, she has utilized her talents and love of fitness and personal training to catapult a career formed out of passion, with the intent to lead others to a more healthy and active lifestyle. In the words of Alexa, “It’s a butt kicking program will help you get strong, lean, energized, and look awesome!” 

Growing up, Alexa was a swimmer and soccer player, playing Division I soccer at the University of Connecticut. After college, Alexa played professionally for two years in the first-ever pro league, the Women’s United Soccer Association.

After getting married, Alexa stayed active in the world of soccer through coaching for Columbus State University Women’s Soccer and a number of youth teams in Georgia and Colorado.

Like many busy moms, starting a family and having a career became a balancing act. Her growing family made it more difficult to coach, but, Alexa was determined to explore the prospect of harnessing her expertise to help others, while awarding herself the opportunity to include her children in this new adventure.  The Stroller Strong Moms program is geared toward new moms, mainly stay-at-home moms, with a goal of losing baby weight, meeting new people, entertaining their children (it is not uncommon for sing-alongs to occur) and to basically adopt a more active lifestyle. The unavoidable sense of camaraderie is evident; the common thread of pushing each other, pushing themselves, and the sense of community from being in similar situations with children and fitness goals, are the ties that bind these ladies together.  

Whether you are exploring the possibility of starting your own business, trying to find a direction in this military wife life, or you just want to know more about Stroller Strong Moms, you will be happy to know, we have picked Alexa’s brain regarding her journey into the world of entrepreneurship.

1. How did you get started with Stroller Strong Moms?

Once I had my first child, I wanted to find a workout I could do with my baby. I loved running with my jogging stroller and weight training so I wanted to do something that combined the two. We lived in Hawaii and I came upon Stroller Strides, a nationally recognized stroller fitness franchise. I started attending and I liked it so much, I became an instructor a few weeks later. I felt like it was what I was meant to do. A few months later, our family moved to Columbus, GA. As soon as we got to Columbus, I looked up Stroller Strides, but there wasn’t one in the Columbus area. At that point, I decided to start my own business. I decided to name it Stroller Strong Moms because I wanted the name to reflect the fact that moms are strong and moms can work hard to reach health and fitness goals. I built a website and created a Facebook page and had a grand opening on September 12, 2011. Less than a year later, I moved to Savannah. I trained and hired four instructors to continue Stroller Strong Moms in Columbus as a started a new class in Savannah in September of 2012. This fall, I will come up on the three year anniversary of SSM Columbus and the two year anniversary of SSM Savannah!

2. Is this your first business? 

Yes.

3. How did you finance your business and what was the process like?

I did not finance my business. There were little to no start-up costs because I use public parks for class.

4. How many employees do you have? Full-or Part time? How many Members do you have?

I have nine independent contractors who work for me as instructors (five in Columbus and four in Savannah).  I have about 150 members.

5. Describe your customer - current and potential.

My customer is the hard working, goal oriented, and fitness-minded mom who values health and fitness. She understands the importance of setting a good example for her children of the importance of exercise and a healthy lifestyle. She loves a challenge and strives to reach new fitness goals.

6. What are the most crucial things you have done to grow your business?

The most crucial thing I have done to grow my business was to add locations and classes. In Columbus, I added a new location on the other side of town and in Savannah, I added two new locations in neighboring towns. This helped to bring more members into Stroller Strong Moms.

7. What plans do you have for expansion?

I am working on expanding Stroller Strong Moms into other states as instructors and members of Stroller Strong Moms move away from Columbus and Savannah. It breaks my heart when moms move to new places where stroller fitness classes are not offered. Stroller Strong Moms becomes such a part of moms and their daily routine that when it is gone, something is missing. There is so much more to it than a workout; there are lasting friendships that form not just with the moms but with the children. I would love to provide them an opportunity to establish a new community of like-minded moms who are ready to work-out and hangout.

8. What was your biggest challenge you have had with your business?

The biggest challenge I have had with my business is the business side of things. I do not consider myself a business woman, I am just a fitness-minded mom who enjoys   watching moms reach a level of fitness they never thought they could reach.

9. What has been your most effective marketing tactic or technique?

My most effective marketing tactic was to advertise on the local websites that provide resources for moms. 

10. What three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out?

A piece of advice I would offer to entrepreneurs would be to make sure you start a business doing something that you are passionate about, but at the same time something that challenges you. My second piece of advice would be to be patient. It took me about a year in both locations to reach my goal of having a very successful business. My third piece of advice would be to have a sense of humor about it, because you will make silly mistakes and there will be lots of hiccups, but as long as you are having fun, everything is going to be alright.

In addition to all the obvious health and wellness benefits, it is extremely important to highlight the enormous community involvement and outreach, in which Alexa and the entire organization participate. From fundraiser races to local charity collection donations, the goals of the group far surpass simply the health aspect.

The unique talents surrounding us, in this military community, are endless.  While it seems we are limited to our current locations, situations and set of circumstances, we all have the power to turn our dreams, passions and ambitions in to a career and source of income. The road to success will, more often than not, seem like a bumpy ride. One of the most helpful things to do is find a mentor. Find a spouse who was once in your position . . . just a person with a dream. Pick their brain. Ask questions. Keep learning. And then, go for it.

And, once you do, let us know, so we can tell your story.

To learn more about Alexa Smith and Stroller Strong Moms, visit:

www.strollerstrongmoms.com and “Like” the Facebook page!

https://www.facebook.com/strollerstrongmoms

Toughest PCS Ever?

We're MovingEach year, some 300,000 service members and their families PCS from one duty station to another. We’ve all done it, some more than others. And after a few times of prepping all your stuff to be packed, dutifully watching the movers box it up and load the truck, and then watching that truck drive away with your precious belongings, you think you’ve got it down. You think you’ve seen it all.

Until you have the move from the hell. Or, the move that’s worse than the move from hell you had a few years ago.

Last year, while my husband was deployed to Afghanistan, I navigated a complicated move from Stuttgart, Germany, to Toronto, Canada. By the time he got home, the car and the household goods were gone, travel plans were finalized, out-processing was mostly completed and travel reservations had been made.

Who in the U.S. military moves from Germany to Canada, right? There is no standing contract with any moving companies like there is in the states, so one had to be put out to bid. There is no local U.S. base for support, so my husband had to personally go to customs in Toronto to clear our shipments before they could be delivered.

We had so many questions about schools and housing and all the things that come with a move, but we figured it out like we all eventually do.

Then, a year later, we did a U-turn - right back to Stuttgart. This was when things got really tricky. I mean, who in the U.S. military moves from Canada to Germany?

As excited as we were to return to Europe, we knew it would be logistically difficult. So as soon as we heard the news, we contacted the U.S. Air Force base in Massachusetts that would set up our move.

Of course nothing happens without orders, and when those finally arrived we were on a tight timeline.

 

Once again, contracts had to be put out to bid. We had to figure out where would be the best place to drop off our car for shipment and who would issue our plane tickets and who would do our overseas medical screening and HOW IN THE HELL WERE WE GOING TO GET THIS ALL DONE IN LESS THAN TWO MONTHS?

We are not newbies at this. I’ve been married to the military for almost 24 years, and this was our eleventh PCS (and seventh outside of the continental U.S.).

But I’m pretty sure the past four months have taken at least four years off the life of my liver, due to all the alcohol consumed late at night while stewing over dates and shipments and deadlines.

 

We had to drive to Ft. Drum, N.Y., four hours away, to get our overseas medical screening done. Then we drove nine hours to drop off our car in Baltimore.

We were notified of our pack-out date two days ahead of time. It took the movers three full days to pack what it took movers in Germany one day to pack. The moving company said they did not have a large enough shipping container to hold all of our stuff. It’s only 8,000 pounds, but somehow the shipping contract did not indicate that we actually had furniture.

The truck full of our stuff left our house in Toronto at about 4 p.m. on June 26, with no clear timeline as to how or when it would be put into a shipping crate, no specified delivery date and no contact information other than the guys who had packed us out.

We got our plane tickets a week before we were supposed to fly, via email from Ft. Drum. We made hotel reservations for our leave time in Florida two days before our vacation started.

Two and a half weeks later we flew out from Tampa to Atlanta, where we were supposed to catch our overnight flight to Stuttgart. We missed that flight thanks to bad weather and an unexpected refueling stop and had to stay overnight in Atlanta.

 

While I like to find the humor in everything, I have to admit that at this point it was pretty hard to laugh. Then again, what else could we do?

Finally, on June 18, almost exactly 54 weeks after we had left, we landed back in Germany. It was like we had gone on vacation but come back to the Twilight Zone. We no longer had a home, or any of our stuff, or our car and many of our friends had just moved.

We moved into base housing two weeks later, finished in-processing, enrolled the kids in school and other activities and my husband went to work. Things were finally getting back to normal.

Except that our car was still in Baltimore and our stuff was still in Toronto, sitting in the moving company’s warehouse.

Thank god for German beer!

The car was caught up in the IAL shipping debacle that many of you may have also experienced, although we lucked out in that it finally arrived only 24 days late. The unaccompanied baggage also arrived, a few days later than planned.

The household goods left Toronto 32 days after we did, and only after I spent hours on the phone tracking down their location and getting someone in a higher pay grade, as they say, to ensure they were being booked on a ship to Germany. Hopefully, they will arrive in the next few weeks. Or at least by Christmas.

In the end, though, does it really matter? It’s just stuff. My husband isn’t deployed, our family is together, and we are enjoying yet another tour of duty in Germany.

And I suspect this won’t be our last move from hell. 

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