Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

May this year bring all you need, laughter you can't handle, and joy that fills your heart. And peace, always peace, to your family from ours.

HAPPY 2014!

Monday, December 30, 2013

May this New Year bring Peace & Justice

"I've been told and I believe/Ain't no justice, ain't no peace"
The opening lyric of Esperanza Spalding's new song of protest: "We Are America", seeks to draw the attention of the people back to an issue pushed aside by 13 years of continuous war, Obama's second electoral victory in 2012, and most recently, Sequestration and the tantrums of the teabag Congress.

"In the long and ignoble history of the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba...begins the article by Andy Worthington outlining recent celebrity acts by John Grisham, PJ Harvey, and now Ms. Spalding, to shed light on continuing injustices.

Due process and the Geneva Conventions became roadkill under the Bush Administration. The shutdown of Guantanamo Bay prison was a point of honor in President Obama's first successful campaign in 2008. It remains a campaign platform yet to be realized, even as President Obama has come under increasing scrutiny and censure for an extension of the extraordinary rendition policy- targeted assassination drone strikes.

"We are America/And our America/We don't stand for this/ We take a stand for this!"
#esperanzaspaulding we progressive Army wives are standing with you. Guantanamo Bay and the policy of both in-house and overseas extraordinary rendition endangers the lives of our spouses on every OCONUS mission. It fuels the recruitment of anti-American militant movements and it taints the efficacy of US aid and development assistance, and the good we do/can do in this world.

We wish for a world of peace and justice in 2014. We wish for a world where the Geneva Conventions are strong, binding, and bring our active duty soldiers and POWs home safely. We wish for a world where torture and the dehumanizing "enemy combatant" label are revealed as shields for dangerous men and cast aside as evil actions. We wish for a world at peace.

 - See more at: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2013/11/19/award-winning-soul-singer-esperanza-spalding-calls-for-closure-of-guantanamo-in-new-song-we-are-america/#sthash.v8LZASbI.dpuf

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Bleeding heart hemorrhages at exposure to Womack's "Green" Practices

What is wrong with this picture?

We've had an eventful December in the Bravo Familia with not one, but two hospital stays. Our first foray in modern medical practices was at a classy research hospital with restaurant-quality in-room meal delivery options, recycling bins in every corridor, and 24-hour access to fresh fruit and sushi at their on-premise bistro. 

The second hospital visit was an emergency trip 15-minutes up the road to Womack Army Medical Center commencing at 0000/12AM on Christmas Day. 

When it comes to hospitals, clearly the quality of care completely trumps the quality of food + the availability of healthy lifestyle options combined. We had GREAT care at Womack Army Medical Center. The ER staff were quick, professional, caring, and had the most positive attitudes despite missing what I imagine is an important holiday for most workers there. And then we had EVEN BETTER care from the surgical team and mostly amazing care from the nursing staff during our multi-day stay. 
Socialized medicine FOR THE WIN. 

Close-up of the Blue Ribbon Bistro sign

And now for the F- grade in dining facilities. These are actual photos taken in the Womack Hospital Blue Ribbon Bistro. The grammar in the sign above hurts my brain. Near as can be reckoned this sign is actually advocating for a reduction in the use of what is commonly referred to as Styrofoam containers by cafeteria customers. Not that it says that actually but...

The problem is that the ONLY option for food containers in the Womack Blue Ribbon Bistro is styrofoam. Hot food- styrofoam. Salad bar- styrofoam. The coffee cups are foam-wrapped. The utensils are plastic and come from dispensers...which is positive, because then at least the plastic utensils aren't also wrapped in plastic. Ehem, not a huge win.

Womack does not have any mechanism for styrofoam recycling. Styrofoam recycling, just FYI, does actually exist and is a thing. In fact, Moore County, NC, has a manufacturing plant that will take and recycle clean, bulk quantities of styrofoam. There are two recycling containers just before you hit the exit but they are only for aluminum cans and plastic bottles.

And speaking of huge-NOT-wins...check out the OTHER sign above. 

Yes, treehuggers and coffee-addicts alike are right to be completely alienated by this one. In fact, this sign is legitimately a two-fer: Womack allegedly wants you to reduce your use of styrofoam WITHOUT ANY OTHER OPTIONS, including BYO containers; and yet they are firmly committed to ensuring that you pay them for all the caffeine you will have access to at their Bistro. 

HELP! Won't someone give Womack some planet-saving medical attention?! My bleeding heart is hemorrhaging here.

#SustainableFortBragg #Womack #ArmyMedicine #Obama #GreentheMilitary

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Love, Actually...

Congratulations to Kilo & Dude! May the light of your love warm even the coldest days (in the Northeast...the Northwest...or coming Apocalypse) wherever and whatever the future brings you!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Taking Out Christmas (with an Army)

Dear Santa-fanz,
My sincerest apologies in advance. I am not only a Scrooge but I'm also a Jew and as such, Christmas in all its bright lights and annoying Salvation Army bell-ringing leaves me cold. The cookies are great, don't get me wrong, and yeah, there is probably not a prettier sight in the world than a snow-covered Swiss village decked to the halls. But I've never really thought about ending the institution. 

Thankfully, Mother Jones has been there and DONE THAT.

Consider this excerpt from Tim Murphy's article my little grenade present under the tree. And a Merry Christmas to all!

And I quote...
Special ops: Why not? Let us count the ways: "I cannot think of too many worse environments to infiltrate and then exfiltrate from than the North Pole," says Andrew Exum, a former special adviser for Middle East policy at the Department of Defense who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I have no idea how many elves would remain loyal to Santa Claus, but given the open terrain, you would probably want to surround Santa's workshop with at least a company of Army Rangers before sending in a team from one of our special missions units to capture or kill Santa himself. That's 150 to 200 men right there that would have to make their way to one of the most remote locations on Earth, carry out a very difficult mission in low visibility and freezing temperatures, and then march back out. As much as I love and admire our special operations forces, that's a huge ask."
Read the whole battle plan here.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Fort Bragg Chapel Welcomes Homosexuality

"Lt. Col. Heather Mack and her wife, Ashley Broadway, who initially was barred from membership in the Fort Bragg Officers' Spouses Club before the group relented earlier this year, and Staff Sgt. Tracy Johnson, the first same-sex war widow in the US Military, also attended. Johnson's wife, Staff Sgt. Donna Johnson, was killed in Afghanistan in 2012."
"Fort Bragg Chapel Holds First Same-Sex Ceremony" , Drew Brooks, Fayetteville Observer 12/21/13

There's a thing that just happened that makes us proud. THE VERY FIRST same-sex commitment ceremony at the Fort Bragg Chapel. That's right. You heard it right here, folks. According to the Fayetteville Observer, monogamous homosexuality has arrived at the Center of the Universe.

Picture by Elizabeth Franz, Fayetteville Observer 12/21/13
Very handsomely, I might add.

But all is not sunshine and rainbows.
Hidden in the article about this moving and real life (seriously, the proposal story is quoted as...

That's when Toven asked Taylor to check his stocking. Inside was a card and a small box. 

I open it and I look at Daniel and he's on one knee," Taylor recalled. Taylor said he was sleep-deprived and hadn't eaten all day. Suddenly, he was overcome with emotion. 

"I said, 'I think I'm going to vomit," Taylor said. "It was not one of my finest moments in life."
It doesn't get more real, right?!) triumph of men in the military who love both men AND the military, we read about the Officer's Spouse Club grudgingly admitting only THIS YEAR aka 2013 the wife of a Lt Colonel. 

Is it only me? I feel so regressive when I mention someone by the rank of their partner. I'm sure Ms. Broadway is a kick-butt person in her own right, but the honest truth here is that we spouses are subject to some specific standards and in-group/out-group dynamics based on mostly THAT. Our worth is measured in how many bars and chevrons grace our lovers' chest. 

This being so, it is unconscionable that the legal partner or common-law partner of a person who has attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel should be denied entry into a society of her peers. I am livid that this was ever in question. I commend the people in the Fort Bragg Officers' Spouses Club that must have opposed the exclusion because, really, it would much less chic to be known as the Fort Bragg Officers' (With A Penis) Spouses Club. And even then, it wouldn't stop the handsome newlywed pictured above from knock-knock-knocking at the door. 

Happily, the weather and the Officers' Spouses Club seems warm and welcoming for now in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Next, we hope for a sea-change in the state legislature to enable full marriage equality. We'll keep you posted on where the wind is blowing on that one, pals!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Snark the Halls: Baking Edition

I don't know if this is a milspouse issue or just a function of the huge cloud of clark griswold that establishes itself over my head for like 6 weeks each winter, but every year, the gift list gets longer.  So long, in fact, that the overwhelming nature of it f ed up my judgement such that it seemed like a good idea to bake some cookies.  You know, to give people.  More after the jump...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

12 Days of Responsible Shopping: Do it in the kitchen

In which we try to buy US-made baking supplies

you're going to need all this crap
Hark, hear the bells
No, that's the timer
Your stuff is burnt
Better start over

Too bad I'm not as good at baking as I am at making up awesome songs about my lack of baking skills.  Anyhow, we're guessing you've been voluntold to bring cookies, cupcakes, and other treats to some type of event this season.  (We have so much to say about that but not in this post.)

So, you married an army guy and now you're supposed to bake stuff, and bring it to events, unburnt and festive looking.  If you're short on time or otherwise need to phone this one in and make something simple, decking your (peanut butter) balls with some festive presentation involving seasonal wrapping will save you some dirty looks- and might even be fun!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Naughty Spouses make Ugly (vegan) Cookies!

Good morning, readers!  Meet my new best friend...we don't know her name.  She can't be Roxy, Pam, Roland, or even Jackie because none of them are vegan- they definitely would have said so, right?  Let's call her...Simone.

it takes all kinds
Anyhow, I stumbled onto fake-Simone's post on SpouseBuzz and immediately felt refreshed.  I can totally relate to Simone's initial sense of disappointment with the "new support system," which apparently consisted of a bunch of meat-eating, tv-lovin' parents of small children.  I totally know those people- can I say those people here?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Partner PT: Stop 'n Go Traffic Zen

We're not going to talk about those traffic jams around Post.  Nope.  Let's talk about hot European chicks doing yoga in the driver's seat instead.  In fact, why don't we go ahead and try some?

This is good for us!  Click the vid and do whatever Esther tells you!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

All right, we got a menorah. Where is everybody?

We have a LOT to say about this but it's dinner time.  Talk amongst yourselves for now!


Awkward is Better than Lonely: Five Ways to Find MilSpouse Friends

Find someone to hang out with.  Photo credit:  C
When I fell in love with an army guy, I was very much looking forward to the social aspect of military lifestyle.  Friends were a huge part of my pre-Echo life- I spent a lot of time in groups and rarely ate meals, worked out, and I always had a crowd to celebrate special occasions (or free time) with.  Somehow I had the impression that milspouses also ran in packs so I figured I'd be greeted by a group of insta-friends as soon as I set foot on post.  I have no idea where...

Long story short, I had a difficult time finding common ground with the MilSpouses I met...

How to Reduce the Defense Budget

Monday, December 9, 2013

You Are Not the Intended Audience

Hey, MilSpouse, I like you. I feel like we can really talk. Connect. 

And I know soImarriedanarmyguy are the new kids on the MilSpouse blogger block but...I really wonder who the Military thinks they're talking to when they think they're talking to me?

This question is thematic on the topic of getting dressed like an adult at MilBalls and Commissaries and all that. As well as trying to analyze whether other-than-child-and-maternal-health-related on-Post support programs really exist for MilSpouses. 

Because I am as close to an adult, professional-type person with experience and fancy framed certificates as one can get without being a doctor. 

Because when I read "Today's Military Wife Handbook: 6th Edition" I finish skimming in <3 hours and I'm bored the whole way through. 

Because when I sit through a 5 hour-long Power Point from the perky Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) volunteer or the Family Readiness Group staff on how to be a leader, the main points are 1) wear clothes and don't drool on yourself in public, 2) be friendly, 3) know your place and PR value to the Army.  

Because when I read most  #armybratsrock #makeuptipsdujour #patriotwifegames :throws up quietly: MilSpouse blogs, I realize more and more that I am not the intended audience.

And I'm betting neither are you. Why are educated, talented MilSpouses not more widely represented in This Man's Army?

Who out there can really speak to us?

And WTF?! Five HOURS of Power Point? MWR you ought to be ASHAMED. You could've done a self-paced webinar with a Happy Hour meet-up afterward for real dialogue and not wasted my work-hours.

Where can we spouses go for some real leadership training? Are there seminars on Leadership at the War College that we can audit? Seems like more my kinda crowd.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Keep Your Bikini Bod All Year Long With This 10-Minute Boot Camp!

we love this video!  it's tough but it's only ten minutes and we heard that you are a badass ninja who can do pretty much anything for ten minutes.  Honorary AW Jeanette Jenkins (says us) will ruin your life and you'll be so glad she did.  Get to it- right now!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Life without MilSpouse friends

Our friend Judy at the Direction Diva blog pointed out that Battle Buddies rank among the basic needs for military spouses.  We agree, but we'd take it a step further and point out that you really cannot do the military marriage without some friends who get it.  Your partner is probably pretty much all about his or her buddies- we don't understand it either but we're sure you can find more info about that on a mainstream blog if you're that hot on the subject.  We're talking about us, now!

Take a deep breath (or sip) and walk with us into a world with no fellow MilSpouses to play with. Does this routine sound familiar to you?

5.00 AM  Wake up and kiss your partner goodbye (or whatever disgusting ritual you have in your house; what happens in your bedroom stays in your bedroom) and then he/she/ze leaves and you work out by yourself.  Your friends can't go to the gym on Post and they are asleep for another two hours anyhow.

Continued after the jump >>

Balloon Animal Sex & Commercials Army Wives can Safely Get Behind

Have you ever seen balloon animal sex? Me? Nope. Not until I read this HuffPost article by Ron Dicker. Pertinent yet impertinent question- is that his real name?

Somehow, between the Condom Fairy commercial and the Durex Cop Love Glance commercial- which reminds me SO MUCH of the Onion's Stop and Kiss New York City Police spoof vid that I got a good chuckle- it seems too perfectly aligned to be anything but a legal surname.

Well, #RonDicker #HuffPostWeirdNews, we here at #soimarriedanarmyguy love this so bad!

Friday, December 6, 2013

What would you ask a General?


My dude tells me that I may get to meet some General Muckety-Muck* who wants to talk with spouses because he is interested in "how the enlisted (wives/husbands/ze) in his Battalion are doing..."

And I'm like..."How am I doing?"

I mean, what questions do I, a MilSpouse of >2 months, have for a General? Each one I think of sounds progressively more lame.

Hey Generalisimo, why you wanna close the Commissaries?
(Short answer: DoD is in charge of that, not Generalisimo)

Hey Generalisimo, are there non-Military Industrial Complex jobs for spouses with MA degrees?
(Short answer: a) all Medical fields, b) all GSA positions- see Sequestration, c) no, not for anti-Halliburton activists)

Hey Generalisimo, hubby and I are fine for now but the draw-down ex-soldiers are getting dicked over on their Veterans Affairs medical benefits. Aren't you concerned?
(Points for topically political & relevant but I have no stats or even a specific example from his own Battalion)

Help me, Rhonda!* Got questions?



*names have been changed to protect the powerful

12 Days of Responsible Shopping: Black Tie Optional Edition

Appropriate for the ball, good for your budget, and amazing for your conscience.
it fits and it's free- thanks, sis!  photo credit: c

Tis the season for party dresses!  Our friends at SpouseBuzz have some great ideas for frugal formalwear, and as usual, we're ready to chime in.  Bargain shopping can be fun, but thrifting, borrowing, and trading are greener and almost always cheaper.  Buying a new dress for every ball is a heinous disservice for both your wallet and the environment.  (Textile waste is a huge problem.)  Below are three resources to get your sparkle on while looking out for your budget- and the polar bears!

Your Network:

  • Chances are, the closets of most of your friends are haunted by the ghosts of formals past.  Not the same size?  We've heard of that.  Your friends have friends that are your size.  To lay your mitts on those dresses, your options are as involved as organizing a dress swap or as slack-tastic as posting something on FB and asking friends to repost.  Here's some sample text:  Listen up, party animals!  I'm looking for a rockin formal dress to wear to the Military Ball.  If you or anyone you know has a size 14 evening gown to lend or sell, let me know!  I'll totally bake you a cake if you can bail me out of another trip to Unethical Department Store.  See?   
  • If you're not into organizing a dress swap (they are a lot of work), sniff around post (or base or camp) and find out if one of the FRGs is hosting one.  They probably are, whether you've seen fliers or not.  Check it out, bring a friend, and score a bitchin' free dress!  You can spend the money you've saved on refreshing beverages or your phone bill.  (You know which comes first, young lady.)  Just don't spill any on the free dress- it's going to be free for someone else in a few months, right?

Your Neighborhood:

Yelp is one of the best ways to find thrift stores in your zip code.  We recommend reading the comments and reviews of each store to get a good idea of the selection and price range they offer.  Keep in mind that hard-core thrifters have high standards and may not necessarily provide specific info about the formalwear available, so don't dismiss a poorly rated store too quickly.  Since formalwear is such a commonly donated item, many thrift shops with otherwise weak selections of high-end clothing racks crammed with worn-once (or not at all) gowns.

AmVets and other national organizations probably have a charity thrift store near you.  Raid their racks, score something rad and brag away as you bask in the compliments.

Google is your friend when it comes to scoping out the shops near your new home.  Yelp is awesome but may not be widely used in your area, but, fortunately, you are an intrepid world traveler.  Here's an opportunity for you to contribute to your community by finding those small and yet awesome businesses and putting them on the map with your review.  Try lots of search terms like "vintage boutique", "consignment shop", "recycled fashion", "dinosaur cocktail shaker" (I mean...), etc.  Don't give up.  Never give up- until you find a slammin' look for under $12.

Your Computer:

Etsy is a great, consistent source of party dresses- both vintage and new!

Rent the Runway is one of our favorite things ever.  For less than the cost of some random dress from Major Department Store, you can rent a big-shot label dress for your next big-shot event.  Best part- since you send it back, no need to fuss with donating or maintaining the damn thing after the ball.  Perfect for frequent movers, right?

Style Forum offers a killer thread of vintage menswear for all you ManSpouses out there- or ladies who want to tux it up!  (That's one way to avoid Ball Clone Syndrome)

Thrift Store Runway has an online fashion contest.  Check out their articles for inspiration from real shoppers and holds monthly contests with cash prizes!  The next time you score epic formal wear from a thrift store or vintage boutique, submit your photos of ball night fabulousness  show them how MilSpouses do it?  We dare you!

So, there you have it!  Most of the above methods have been tested by the editorial ninjas at SIMAAG and we are confident that they'll work for you.  (Remember, tailors are your friend.  Thrift prices + tailoring= a custom fit that makes the most of your everything.)  You are way too smart to waste time and money schlepping around department stores- especially this time of year.  Do yourself a favor by going vintage and tell us how it turns out!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

REPOST: Oh Fort Bragg Ladies: “The Loft” Is Coming To Fayetteville and You’re Invited To The Party!

Our buddies over at #ArmyWives101 are partying like rock stars tonight...or more specifically, have invited y'all in the Fort Bragg, North Carolina-area to come out to the grande opening of The Loft at CrossCreek Mall.

You all remember Fort Bragg, right? Haven't we all been there...however, the days of FayetteNam are past and now lovely Army Wives are free to indulge in more up-market consumerist activities. Anywho, if that's your bag (hahahahaha :pun:), come on out tonight Thursday, December 5, 2013 from 6-9PM aka 1800-2100.

"I must say that Fayetteville is stepping up their game. We have several new eateries being built that I am excited about and a number of great stores just recently opened at Cross Creek Mall off of Skibo Road.
For those of you who seek conservative yet stylish women’s attire you will be delighted to know that “The Loft” is opening and you are invited to the grand opening party tomorrow evening. One of the members of the Army Wife 101 team will be there and we would love to meet you.
Additionally Fayetteville’s Premier Lifestyle magazine CITYVIEW will be there. Nothing like a night with a few refreshments and music plus other goodies. See ya there!"

Punished for being the Anti-Bridezilla

who needs this shit?
I learned to say, "NO" thanks to my wedding. Sadly, I didn't learn how to say it effectively until after the caterer bullied me on price, provided unprofessional and substandard service, and then turned around and sued my dad.

There are so many things about the wedding that make me smile fill me with joy. The price of the food and the (piss-poor) quality of the service is something most of the guests didn't notice and I would like my family and close friends to forget. But I don't know how to get over this anger. This blame. This sense that I was not strong enough or smart enough to keep these slimy, unprofessional bloodsuckers on track with our vision for a simple pasta & salad buffet where guests were fed on time, our favorite beer was provided, my brother didn't have to set the tables or plate the cake, and no-one yelled at his mother or our guests to get back to their tables.

Right now I'm pretty angry at myself.

I problem-solve very well. And when the red flags went up, as someone who does events professionally, they were so out of whack from any other vendor I'd worked with previously that there must have been something I wasn't doing right. Was it my fault for not focusing on the caterer more than twice a month, for not tracking them down, for not writing that email sooner, for not insisting on a copy of the signed contract, for using words that I thought were clear but clearly weren't clear because clearly something was still missing, etc, etc...? When I spent three whole months confused about how much were were cutting the check for, and made a spreadsheet to track their budget line items, and then played phone tag for two months, and remained confused and in a state of sticker-shock...that was the time to quit. To stop playing with the mean children. To find a beer caterer and order pizza and live in debt-free post-wedding bliss.

We had a contract. And I wasn't interesting in being (labeled) a bridezilla. So I didn't pitch a fit. I didn't lay down the law of "this is MY wedding and we're doing this timeline MY way". I used reason, a lot of it. I used logic...completely wasted logic, FYI. This company had decided our wedding was their next Monopoly win and they weren't interested in playing in my budgetary playpen.

It didn't occur to me to STOP. Pushback. Shout NO from rafters or pay/appoint an intermediary who would have been more of an asshole direct with them to do so in my stead. Why didn't it occur to me?! While I was patting myself on the back about being level-headed despite the stress and the angst and the creeping sense of powerlessness, they must have been laughing at how easy it was to wring out that extra $X,XXX.xx.

update: Why didn't I check the Better Business Bureau before I contracted with them? The complaints already on there say it all! If any fellow Soon-to-be-Marrieds out there planning on getting married in the Fort Drum area that BBB link is for you! I can't recommend my caterer enough. Really, can't.

12 Days of Responsible Shopping: DI Why not? Edition

 In which I bought like eight holiday gifts for $9.  I did.
how hard can this possibly be?  (photo credit: C)

We heard somewhere that MilSpouses tend to have tight budgets for holiday shopping, and for many of you badasses out there, where those dollars go is just as important as how many of them are spent.  If only there were a way to spend v small amounts of dollars on boatloads of swag while supporting dope causes.  Enter, the thrift shop.  Wait, Echo, I can't just give someone a used sweater as a present.  They would hit me.  In the face.  Relax.  I'm not saying give used.  (not in this post, anyway) I'm saying give handmade.  You've heard of buying stuff at thrift shops to make over and either use in your own home or re-sell it on Etsy for a profit, right?  People do it all the time.  See?

But what about those of us who are more paint-by-number than, um, talented artists?  Do thrift stores have jack shit to offer us?  Enter the craft kit.  It's the needle-and-thread equivalent of cake mix, and it totally still counts as DIY.  Ask Kilo.

Well, today we got all old school at Chez Badass and stocked up on some rockin' packaged projects.  YMMV, but in my case, the craft bin at the thrift store had like a dozen cross stitch packets from the Ford administration.  Seriously, did you know about this?  Look!

 If you can sew on a button and follow a pattern, you too can totally make bitchin' tiny ornaments, wall hangings, throw pillows, whatever and delight your entire family for a few bucks (and a whole rack of hours but what else are you doing?).

Here's a few tips to get you started:

  • Don't ball up your thread like I did.  It doesn't help.  You might think that sorting out the threads is for tossers with nothing better to do, but first of all, you're the one who bought a cross stitch kit, and second of all, it will ultimately save you time.  Untangling gnarly knots that your ADHD ass did not anticipate is time consuming, and you'll feel like a tosser.  Trust me.
  • Go ahead and buy like fifty cross stitch kits, or however many they have, because chances are, you'll be able to con your sister (or brother or neighbor or a stranger from OkCupid, whatever) into sewing with you because this shit is fun.  Yes, it is.  If you have like fifty (or even two), you can share.  This project will be some no-joke time consumption and you are prob expected to socialize this time of year.  Don't be selfish.  Tis not the season for hermiting with your craft projects.
  • Finish your project!  You can do it.  When the fuck-its set in, I borrow a tactic from long-distance running:  shift your focus from the twelve miles that remain to the next step you have to take.  Tell yourself (in a firm but loving tone) that you don't need to do twelve miles, you only need to take one more step.  Repeat.  Rinse, and repeat.  
For more about how to choose, start, and finish your (holiday) DIY projects, visit our friends:

And, finally, we'd like to recommend checking out your local AmVets NSF thrift store for both donating and shopping.  We are very happy with the chapters in our areas, and hope that you find as much awesome swag as we did.  Here is a link to find the AmVets chapter closest to you!  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Is it trite to say Happy Hump Day?

Seasonal?  Reasonable.  photo credit: c
I can say this, right?  Winter holidays are the only ones I decorate for.  I don't even feel bad about it.  Not really, anyway.  You guys, seriously, if you knew me you'd know that it's a waste of time to check for scarecrows in my front yard or dried up corns (whatever those are called) nailed to my door or season flags or stickers on my mailbox.  The residents of Chez Echo are otherwise occupied.  (with gossiping and candy crush- shh, GI Echo).  Anyhow, the military decided that it would be a good thing for us to live in a part of the country where people have wreaths on their doors 12 months out of the year and my partner decided that we should live in a neighborhood where it's pretty much mandatory.  Like, people will bring you casseroles if you don't have dried up corn nailed to your door because only a very sick person would neglect to nail dried up corn to their door.  Where do they even get that crap?  The corn, I mean.  I won't get into the local mindset because we have already talked about my culture shock issues.

you need at least two squash pics.  photo credit: c
Anyhow.  this made me laugh.  Um, don't read it if you're at work and not supposed to be dicking around on blogs all day.

Morning PT: Ten Minute Yoga # 1

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The $200 Lunchbox

GI Echo knows how to make a sandwich.  He also knows how to put a lemon square into a little bag, and how to fill a thermos with soup.  He knows where we keep the apples and he almost always knows where the lunchbag is.  He's busy, but he could probably find five minutes to make his own lunch.  And sometimes, he does.  That's the part everybody knows.  Here's the part that's kind of a secret.  Several times a week, I do something shocking.

I make my husband's lunch.  Here's why:

  • Health.  If there's nothing prepped for him, GI Echo will do one of several things.  (You may recognize some of this behavior from your own household.)  He'll go out and buy something gnarly and fried at the PX food court, which is long on "convenience" and short on nutrition.  Or, he'll skip lunch altogether, which is not ideal for active people.
  • Time management.  Leaving his workplace to purchase fast food can be an unwelcome time suck on his day, whereas a packed lunch can travel with him and be enjoyed without leaving the desk!  Or motor pool, or range.  Are they allowed to eat on range?  I don't know, ask Bravo.
  • Money.  The going rate for a take-out lunch in our area is between $6-$15, though your mileage may vary.  If one partner spends $10 a day on lunch, that's a $200 drag on your budget every month- and more if you both go out for lunch!
I hear you, I hear you.  You've just pointed out that the above list contains three points in support of brown-bagging it in general, but no real argument for why I make his lunch.  Hang onto your ironic hat and keep reading.

  • Harmony.  When he skips lunch, he comes home in a total cloud of full-on, level 10, varsity blackbelt irritability haze.  He has a major case of hangry, and in this case, prevention is way better, and more practical, than the cure.  Don't act like your husband doesn't do the same damn thing.  He does, and I'll bet you do, too.
  • Money.  There are so many better things to spend $200 on.  Here  are just a few examples that you could both enjoy!  
  • Polar bears.  All that packaging from fast food is bad for the environment.  So is driving to and from the restaurant, not to mention drive-throughs.  Please tell me this is not the first time you've heard that.
  • Love.  There's just nothing like interrupting a tough day to enjoy a lovingly packed lunch.  In our military household, staying connected takes creativity and effort, since we are apart so much of the time.  The nature of his job makes funny emails, short check-in calls, and even naughty sexts impractical (and naughty!) but sending him with a lunch is a great, realistic way to stay close.
So, in five minutes a day, you too can nurture your budget, the planet, and your partner in one simple effort.  That's a lot of nurturing and so, so worth it.

Even if you don't include a hastily-drawn sketch of your partner looking like a polar bear with a sappy note inside.  I'm not saying I do, but I heard that folks do that.  It's a thing.  Shut up.  We'll be back with some tips sometime later this week- we are milspouses, after all.  We're not just going to sanctimoniously boss you around without providing instructions!

This bag may contain an embarrassingly sentimental note.

Monday, December 2, 2013

12 Days of Responsible Shopping: Heroic Happy Hour

Supporting Veteran Businesses:  Now in convenient liquid form!

Inspired by Three Reasons to Buy Veteran, an encouraging article posted by our friends at MilitarySpouse.  Great idea!  We read the article, we felt encouraged, and then we tried to find vet-owned businesses and vet-made products.  The initial search results were discouraging- we'll spare you the link, this time.  Let's just say there are a lot of junk websites with various permutations of Veteran, Business, etc.

All that clicking made us thirsty...and then we got an idea.  Actually, we're a little mortified that this didn't occur to us first!  Like many of our adventures, we'll start with a libation.

Heroes Vodka:  Like camo, it goes with everything!  Skip the confusion with the Russian vodka boycott and support your fellow Americans instead.

Veteran Beer Company:  Not a fan of the hard stuff?  We get that.  VBC is only sold in a few states right now but you can buy the gear online- just don't wear it on post.  Bonus:  You can help out the company by encouraging your local stores to carry it.  You need another project, anyway.  Yes, you do.

So Many Choices!  CraftBeer.com has this awesome article that lists enough vet-friendly beer companies to stock many, many parties.

Do your part to fight back against evil corporations and decrease the carbon footprint associated with imported beer.  The holiday season can be stressful, so start off the slog by toasting to a good cause.  Don't overdo it, though- hangovers suck!

Operation Bunny Rescue

Have you met Joshua?  He's a badass Marine Corpsman who rescued  four tiny baby bunnies and nursed them back to health.  It's all over the news.  Since we are classy married ladies, we're going to let the ladies of Reddit say it best, and just let you know that we are similarly impressed.

In the spirit of holiday giving, please share your stories about Nurturing in Uniform hotness in the comment section below.  We know you have some!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Top 10 Things Every Army-Bride-to-Be Ought to Know...and Why

Why? Because we freakin' <3 lists. And because we wish we'd known all of this all anywhere from 1-60 months ago. Being raised by hippie feminists, educated by women's colleges and women's studies classes, informed by Jezebel.com, cultured by big cities and traveling the globe creates well-rounded individuals. One might even say round pegs for the square hole of the US Armed Forces. And yeah, we had a couple o'gaps in our zeitgeist that we hope we can help you with.

and goes there...and then over there...

In no particular order:
  1. A is for Alpha, N is for November, P is for Papa, V is for Victor...one needs to know the Military Alpha-Bravo, I mean, Alphabet. Why? Because no-one will be able to spell your (new) *mutually hyphenated* last name in the Army without using it and you will look like a tool if you can't do the same. Here's a hot tip. Get on Netflix.com TM or Hulu.com TM and watch The Dollhouse. All the Dolls have call-signs in the Military Alphabet; NOVEMBER sex plots + Joss Whedon = LEARNING! Or download this Militaryspot.com article on the formula and history of the Military Alphabet to your Smart House touch-screen wall and have it follow you around reciting itself. Whichever works for you. 
  2. Crest 3D Whitestrips TM really work. And no, I'm not a corporate whore. Drink water- in fact, start the day with a giant travel cup of Jasmine Green tea (steeped 10-12 minutes). Exfoliate often but be gentle with your skin. Find a moisturizer you love and use it EVERY night on your face and neck. Or as often as you can manage. Moisturizing your face at night is important to the future of the planet... or at the very least, the ability to have male clerks in most stores within 10 miles of Post goggle and look visibly shocked when they find out you're 10 years older than 23. With no make-up on. Wear confidence instead of make-up, do push-ups when you're feeling down, and when you need an ego-boost go out on the town with no bra in a t-shirt and watch the strangers drool with lust and envy.
    Now whose scared of walking down an aisle in front of people who already love you? Damn right, nobody. You're welcome. 
  3. Consider getting married before your wedding. We did a poll and 97% of all military couples we spoke to were legally married before they had a wedding. Now for full disclosure that's a sample size of 3 plus a >3% margin of error. So yeah, we all did it. Not a one of us planned to have two wedding "dates"...and where Bravo thinks of her wedding date as her anniversary, Kilo thinks of the marriage date as the anniversary. One of us is in the closet about it. Why? Because families are strange. Oh, why did we get married before we got married? Simple.
    Continued after the jump »

Thankful For...

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for...

  • Tricare Healthcare. A single-payer system without which my hubby and I would be closer to certain bankruptcy and painful, unmedicated death.
  • Army Wifeys. My bestest friends in this journey of exercise, activism, coconut oil butter, wedding madness, and military life. I :heart: yous mucho mucho much.
  • Gas insert fireplaces and ready-made cookie dough. You're luxuries I neither fundementally need nor like to think ideologically about where you're sourced, but in winter I love you just the same.
  • Strong arms, a steady heart-beat, and a full head of hair (even if it is cut wayyy too short). I love you, man-friend, and you're totally worth (most of) it.

And you? What are you thankful for in this so-called Army Life?


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Restless Ass Syndrome: Road Trip Edition

Those holiday road trips can really cut into your gym time, but our friend at Blogilates has just the thing for your pent-up jollies!  Crank up some tunes and squeeze your cheeks to the beat...right now!

Wednesday Workout!

It's time for some PT!  This our favorite 20-minute lower body workout that shares the name of a sacred text.  And yes, we do need to be that specific!  The Butt Bible is the most hilarious exercise regime you'll do today.  With informative commentary such as, "time to meet the hamstring- the assistant to the butt!", host Paulina is like a Viking Jillian Michaels.  You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll squat.  Tell you what, get started now and come right back to tell us what you thought.  You've got 22 minutes- go!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fashion Police at the Commissary?

So I married an Army guy...and now I'm not allowed to wear this (sassy little outfit below) while I grocery shop on post!
Image from Lingeriediva.com
Image from Lingeriediva.com

Apparently the big shots at Schofield Barracks in Oahu are sick and tired of inappropriately dressed soldiers and civilians running around in "mismatched attire, using Army type combat uniforms with civilian clothes", as Lt. Teddy Agullana told Hawaii News Now.

The dress code prohibits clothing sheer enough to reveal undergarments,  sagging pants, swimwear worn places other than the pool.  No word anywhere about white sneakers with jeans.

In August of this year, SpouseBuzz covered a dress code debate following this policy memo appearing on buildings throughout the Ft. Irwin post in California.  Predictably, some spouses feel that the dress code is the latest in a series of infringements on their personal freedoms, and others are grateful that the standards are being enforced or upheld.

I'm confused by the degree of outrage over the dress code and the way it is being enforced.  I mean, there are so many other rules for off-duty soldiers and spouses on post, and most people seem to take them in stride.  Where's all the rancor over the ban on PDA in uniform, or talking on a cell phone while walking?  Also, the standards in the dress code are similar to many public places; you're really not supposed to wear pajamas in public. Anywhere.

Initially I was firmly in the pro-dress code camp.  Since the entire post is our partners' workplace, it follows that "come as you are" doesn't apply.  When determining my level of outrage deciding how to feel about pretty much any aspect of my partner's job, I transfer the issue to another scenario.

What if he worked at a corporate law firm?  Well, I probably wouldn't wear my "Wax Bush 2004" tee shirt to meet him for lunch there, either.  So the rules didn't bother me- at first.  In fact I didn't think they went far enough- how about those extra-large tee shirts with cartoon characters on them...worn by adults?

Then I read a comment about how "appropriate" can be subjective and how tank tops and ripped jeans are wardrobe staples for many of us- especially on those Commissary days.  And I thought that if GI Echo were Echo, Esq., I might wear a slogan tee shirt to meet him for lunch (maybe not that one, though), and I would definitely wear my nose ring.  That thing is a bitch to take out, after all.  My point is, standards do change and if they banned all facial piercings, I'd definitely have a problem with that.

Meanwhile, I do have a problem with anyone dressing inappropriately in public, and I agree that the military should have its own (higher) standards for apparel on Post- at least in terms of the coverage, tightness, and... um, thickness of clothing.  It is not hard to find instances of informal or unwritten rules for spouses' appearance, anyway.

What do you all think?

I don't see a whole lot of midriffs out there but a lot of us stop by the commissary or PX on the way back from the gym, dressed in our yoga pants.  Some of us wear our jammies to pick up prescriptions at the Clinic when we're sick.  And some of us feel that if we want to Legalize It, well then we should be able to wear such slogans on our tee shirts.

Are the dress codes fair?  Do you follow them? Check out the link below for the full scoop.

HONOLULU: Fashion police cracks down at Hawaii Army base - Weird News - MiamiHerald.com

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Unemployment Line

I'm assuming you work, MilSpousers. I'm assuming you also have hit the unemployment section of the daily paper more than once since getting your fancy MilDependent ID. So what's the first thing you do when the paychecks stop flowing?

In December I will cross that burning bridge and if you've got tips on handling unemployment in an organized and graceful manner, please tell me!

How do you deflect the soul-crushing hit to your self-esteem?

Best techniques on keeping a wild-caught salmon and arborrio rice pantry with zero cash (oh, and did you hear about the Department of Defense fact-finding mission on closing all Commisaries)?

Budgeting tricks for ensuring BAH, rent and/or mortgage/s, car payments, utilities, and student loans all line up?

Hit me up. As a MilNewbie, I could use advice.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Scandals, Handled: ScareForce Academy

Speaking of jobs, have you considered becoming a heterosexual confidence expert?  Apparently, such a background can get you a sweet gig at the Air Force Academy, who employs Mike Rosebush to oversee the Character and Leadership coaching program, for which participation is mandatory for all cadets.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Prepared for Shabbat, Roger THAT.

As with most of my professional women friends who have taken care of ourselves since university, I like to keep my house a certain way. Usually fairly clean and pretty neat. And yet, there are some spaces in this house that have been assigned to the "please pay someone to decontaminate this before the funeral in the event of my untimely death" list. I hate cleaning them. No excuse or justification. The microwave is one of those spaces.

So early this morning I took the radical step of blowing up 1.5 Tablespoons of Earth Balance TM in the microwave. Which supplied the motivational "OMFG, if I don't clean this with everything I've got..."- the location of the microwave means this statement includes a dining room chair and an extendo-arm and the fluid, melting-down-the-wall trickle of the Earth Balance TM indicated the Formula 409 Spray Cleaner TM- "...everything that henceforth enters into this space for the nuking will come out on fire/smoking/blackened/VERY unpleasant. THIS WILL NOT BE! :scrub scrub scrub scrub:

I have no idea what Earth Balance TM would look like if left undisturbed on the wall, ceiling, and rotating glass tray bottom of the microwave for the next 6 months but I determined that now was not the time for scientific inquiry.

For all you Army Jews out there, DH and I tested this Bread Machine Challah recipe from Allrecipes.com with success.*
*The key tip is to melt the margarine, or let's just call it Earth Balance TM, before you put it in the bread machine. Tip provided by a Helpful Reviewer. Thanks, Helpful Reviewer!
Et voila! The finished challah tastefully wrapped for Shabbat travel plans and accessorized with the newest additions to our household- the Military Camouflage Dreidels. Go ahead and swoon

Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 3 Hours
Ready In: 3 Hours 5 Minutes
Servings: 12
"Challah, a yeasted egg bread, is made especially easy with the bread machine."
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
3 tablespoons margarine
3 cups bread flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1.Add ingredients to the pan of the bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer.
2.Select Basic Bread and Light Crust settings. Start.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2013 Allrecipes.comPrinted from Allrecipes.com 11/22/2013

We'll be experimenting with using oil (un-nuked) and honey in the next round.
For now though, me and my freshly cleaned microwave are gonna take a short pre-Shabbat break. 
Signing off~

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Working on Thanksgiving

Family separation is one of the most difficult aspects of military life, and during the holidays this is especially true.  After spending several decades being part of a military family, I speak from personal experience. 

Being together is important at Thanksgiving, it's important at Passover, it's important on St. Patrick's Day and it's important on birthdays.  Spending holidays in the same room is never a given for soldiers and their families, so you celebrate together as hard as you can, whenever you can.  Can you imagine what it would have been like to have had my dad home for Thanksgiving - JOY!- only to spend the meal staring at empty chairs because my mom and older brother were out doing their time working for $9 an hour?  I can because I've been there-  and it sucks.  I realize that when soldiers marry police officers, firefighters, medical professionals and other essential jobs that keep us safe and don't have holidays built in, families have an additional burden of separation.  It's understandable.  But empty chairs and uneaten meals are hardly justified by a day of sales at the strip mall...aka Black Friday.*  

war on thanksgiving
"there are many like it, but this one is mine."  photo credit:  adam peck via ThinkProgress
This week I've gotten myself into a tremendous lather over the War on Thanksgiving- along with pretty much everyone else.  What is UP with Big Retail trying to cancel Thanksgiving for their workers?! 
As many military spouses work in retail, along with the highly visible Big Box efforts to recruit veterans and milspouses, I would argue that this may have a disproportionate impact on military families.  On a practical level, during deployment, many families function as de-facto single parent households, and military families are less likely to have relatives close by- which means that if mom is deployed and dad has to work at KMart, the kids don't simply celebrate with grandparents- the holiday just doesn't happen.  On the sentimental level (it is a holiday, after all) our time together is so limited. For many families, Thanksgiving is the only holiday they will spend together this year.  I could also argue that Thanksgiving's status as a uniquely American holiday contributes to its significance in military households.  In light of those factors, Big Retail's actions seem especially wrong.  Consider the financial stressors that many military families are facing- and the career limitations available for spouses, it is highly likely that thousands, if not millions, of military households will be directly affected by these greedy self-serving shenanigans.

Of course, there are counter arguments to be made about how cash-strapped military families depend on Black Friday sales for makin' spirits bright (lalala!), and that employees need the "extra" money they can earn with one more shift to work.  To the former, I'd question whether one could really "depend" on getting a flat-screen tv for $25 or whatever, and I'd also point out that retail has a knack for cutting hours elsewhere to avoid paying employees overtime.  Please tell me you've heard that before!

What do you guys think?  Are we accustomed to separation or off-calendar celebrations and thus take this in stride?  Or are we super-double irate and ready to boycott?

* Black Friday is so-called because retailers run in the financial red (at a deficit) for the whole year and then get back in the financial black (making their yearly profit margin) thanks to the bump in purchases that marks the beginning of the open Christmas season shopping.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Wrong Kind of Military Wife

I look for progressive military spouse blogs all the time.  Hello out there!  Where are you folks?  Today I came across Walking on my Hands, and the writer, Pamela, is definitely my new best friend.  A realistic portrait of a military spouse, plus yoga- what's not to like?

Married to the Military is her post about mainstream culture's depiction of military wives, and her sense of rage-turned-guilt over being "the wrong kind of military wife."  That resonated with me, as did her report of her husband's reaction to another ridiculous "inspirational" essay she had shown him.

"I don't really see the problem...she is helping him do his job better." he said.

Pamela goes on into the spiritual realm from there, which I'll leave for another conversation.

Let's talk about this reaction to supposedly inspirational stories about military spouses who drink the kool-aid, and then get all sanctimonious about their sacrifice and patriotism and so on.  I can definitely relate to Pamela's experience of anger that melts into inadequacy, and I was wondering how common that is.  I'm also curious about the one-sidedness and homogeneity of the image of the military wife.  It seems pervasive- as if there are no such thing as partners who are ambivalent about the military lifestyle or their spouse's career choice.  Reading stories and poems about the Soldier's Wife or Military Families that in no way apply to me or many people I know is demoralizing. I wish they would qualify the term "Military Spouse" somehow- maybe "Conservative Ideal Military Spouse" or "Spouses with Convenient Attitudes".

There are just too many of us to sum up into a poem designed to be printed in a flowery font and hung up on a bathroom wall or reposted on Facebook.  Maybe it is just that simple?


Friday, November 15, 2013

A Homemaking Website that Doesn't Suck

A month after my wedding and a week after being suddenly laid off from my (paid) job, I am still trying to remember what the hell I did with my free time before I started planning a wedding while working 65 hours per week.  I have to say, I don't know.  Do you?
Actually, a quick look around my house rings a bell.  There are backpacks from our epic hiking trips and well-used workout gear from feeling the burn on a daily basis.  There are the pets we fostered...and kept, and the cooking gadgets I used every night for project dinner.  There are books.  And then...there's torn wallpaper, way too many paint chips, stacks of bricks (yes), a bunch of noun-verb combos like tape measure, stud finder, and room divider.

Oh yeah.  We were fixing up our old ass house like the time lapse montage in movies.  I'm supposed to have a kerchief over my hair and he's supposed to be hauling something.  We're both supposed to be laughing.

Before the wedding, we were fixing up our old ass house and we kind of stopped doing that in favor of planning our wedding.  That shit takes a long time, let me tell you.  Even if you're not uptight.  Both the DI-Why and the wedding.

Anyhow, for the first time since we moved in a long time ago I noticed that we have no curtains, but we do have nosy neighbors.  Kind of like I do not sew but I do have a pinterest page.  So on day two of funemployment I hit google and hit it hard, looking for some trick to get out of sewing or purchasing curtains.  And I found this!  Please don't ask why, but I decided to show my husband.  I was excited.  About curtains.

"Oh for Christ's sake.  Offbeat HOME?! We have this now?" he asked.  He shook his head and explained, I thought we were done with all that Offbeat Bride shit, ugh, I can't believe there's more.

You probably had to be there, but it was hilarious and it was the first time I realized that he was aware of Offbeat Bride.  I guess that's not surprising- OBB got me through a gnarly year of wedding industrial complex crap that seemed orchestrated to turn me and my friends into greedy teenage fake gender conforming princesses.  Offbeat Bride was a refreshing, even comforting corner of the internet that suggests that it is in fact possible to have a wedding without losing your savings, your sanity, your tattoos, your feminist outlook, or your piercings.  I did need some guidance for the wedding planning process and there really wasn't a whole lot of useful stuff in 31 Things You Don't Know About Bridal Manicure Trends-type publications.  That crap has a way of messing with your mind with the suggestion that being engaged means you have to stop being Daria and turn into Quinn.

Considering that my husband's career has us living in a much more conservative community than I would have believed existed- before moving here- that access to "alternative" culture was especially important.  If I still lived in Blue State Metropolitan Area, I probably wouldn't need that- my tattooed and pierced and vegan and genderqueer friends would have provided the validation I needed after dealing with wedding industrial vendors- but I don't, so I did.

Anyhow, after our wedding and during our home-making, I still need guidance because, among other things, I have no fucking clue how to make curtains.  (No, buying them is not an option.  Leave me alone.)  So I found OffBeat Home and I love it there.  I'll get back to you about the curtains.

Where awesome lives | Offbeat Home

What do you think, folks?  How's your home-making going, and what's been helping?