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, 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 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 TM or TM and watch The Dollhouse. All the Dolls have call-signs in the Military Alphabet; NOVEMBER sex plots + Joss Whedon = LEARNING! Or download this 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
Image from

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 -

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 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 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?


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Transcript of a Job Search

Document Based Question- am I a MilSpouse or a professional?
Because I'm pretty sure I'm a g*ddamn  professional here.

Let me be clear- I did not "follow" my dude to this place. I walked in as a partner on my own two feet. He moved back to Post and I networked my way into an interview and then pulled together a consulting gig and a fellowship to pay the rent. It worked well for a year. And now this cobbled together system, mostly due to some tight-wad Congressional shenanigans, is coming to an end.

Job Search Take Two Commences!

Hello! Married to the Military? Unable to easily access your established professional or business networks because you are a) living in a place where everyone leaves (and is happy about that fact), b) are nowhere near your alma mater or a thriving industry sector you are qualified to work in, c) unable to relocate to/back to a major hub or another urban center that would allow you to earn a real salary? YES, YOU! WELCOME to my job search.

Yes, now I really feel like a MILSPOUSE. Damn it, I hate job hunting. Doing this twice in the space of 12 months is very unpleasant.

In times like this it's good to have a friend like Echo. 

Echo: How are you?

Me: Chillin'. I've decided work is for the birds. 

Echo: In other words, you want to co-host a seminar on single-income households at the Army Kool-Aid Distribution Center? I have HAD it with our fellow Army spouses who subject themselves to predatory fake MLM businesses so they can drive gas guzzlers  and have extra guest bedrooms. 
F**k that consumerist propoganda bullshit. Cut some coupons and sit-out the consumerist Agenda!

Me: ...laughs my *** off.

I guess sitting here on my couch isn't really a vocational option, after all. But who am I kidding- if we were relying on DH's salary we'd be evicted, starve, and then hounded to death by creditors. ~Bravo

Ohh! Look- a bird! a plane! a MilSpouse Jobs Pinterest page!

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Echo and Bravo, two of us knocked it out of the park in October- and Kilo is ready to go in December. And what did we learn from this socially-accepted, expensive and overwhelming rite of passage?

Lesson #1, weddings are difficult to plan, they operate in reality and not fantasy-land, and standing in front of people you love holding hands with the specific person you love is an amazing rush.

Lesson #2, our spouses are truly partners (and yet operate better with a mandatory item packing list for clothes and sundries).

Lesson #3, life is better when you do it your way- and we did it our way.

Kinda like these people: