What do you love? What’d we forget? What’s next?

Well, fans… We’ve been on the trail for more than two years meeting readers and leading the way as far as spreading the message of “Love Mil Life.” There are two things we often ask at each event: “what do you love?” and “what’d we forget?” It’s such a joy to engage our audience over the shared experiences that comprise our military lives. It’s a joy to reminisce and a comfort to look forward, together, to the myriad of changes inevitably on their way. It has been an adventure with new friends, new experiences, and newly hatched ideas. That’s what we love. Thanks to all for being part of the journey.

What do you love?
If you have met us in person, we may have asked you to sign our grateful journals answering that very question. You know us; we want to practice gratitude no matter where we are on our journey. We encourage you to start a gratitude journal celebrating your military life (or respond to the journal prompts in our 1001 books), but we have a surprise for you too. We have started a military COMMUNITY gratitude journal. Take a look! Share your story and be inspired by the stories others have shared. The best thing is that you can share the link, put it on your own blog, and come back to it over and over to be reminded of Things To Love About Military Life. A great way to gain new perspective wherever and whenever you need it!

Chesty, the USMC Bulldog mascot, and friends/family of co-author Holly Scherer

A NEW EXPERIENCE for the SCHERER Family: meeting Chesty the USMC mascot

What’d we forget? Ooooooh, a CONTEST!
On the other side of the coin, people often share things they think we forgot. (I won’t share them here. That’s your job for now!) So, do you think we may have missed other things you LOVE about Military Life? Share them with us for a chance to win two copies of 1001 Things to Love About Military Life signed by all four authors.

HOW TO ENTER – Comment on this facebook post with something you LOVE about military life. Go for something you personally love that may not be on other people’s radars.

If you comment with one thing we didn’t include, you gain two entries for a chance to win.

If you comment with something that we know is in the book already, don’t worry. You will gain one entry for a chance to win.

We are giving away two books to one winner, because we know you’ll want one and we want to give you one to pay it forward and give away too. We will contact the winner and retrieve their mailing address by March 3, 2014.

What’s next?
The ride is not over. We continue to be asked to keynote and sign books across the nation. In the next few months, you’ll find authors in California and Texas with Operation Homefront. We are on the First Lady of the Marine Corps’ Recommended Reading List  for a second year too. Yeah!

Operation  Homefront Celebration
San Diego, CA February 28, 2014
Kathie Hightower keynote

Saturday Mar. 1, 2014
1100-1300
MCX Miramar, CA
Kathie Hightower book signing

Operation  Homefront Celebration
El Paso, TX February 28, 2014
Tara Crooks keynote

There will be more to follow, so make sure you’re following us on facebook.

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Top Gifts for Military Spouses Created by Military Spouses

Great gift ideas for the military spouse in your life, whether that is your spouse, your son or daughter, your friend. Or even if it’s you who buys and wraps the gift that goes under the tree (for you).

This holiday season, give that special military spouse a gift that holds lasting meaning AND helps support other military spouses, those running a small business as they move with the military.

Here are top gifts for military spouses, all created by other military spouses. (One note: As you’ll see, some of these apply only to military wives or only to military husbands, but many apply to both. Oh, yes, and some apply to military members too.)

Start (or add to) your wife’s military journey story with a Nomades charm, spacer or starter bracelet or necklace. NomadesNomades was launched by four military spouses in 2009 to help others share their stories. Each charm is handcrafted in the United States. Tara Crooks of Army Wife Network likes to say, “wear a conversation starter” when you are new and trying to make new friends at each new assignment. These bracelets are definite conversation starters. “Here’s a palm tree from 29 Palms; here’s the Pentagon from the tour there; here’s a beer mug from our Germany tour.” www.nomadescollection.com










Connect to your servicemember in a unique way by turning a uniform into a purse or teddy bear or blanket or diaper bag or whatever strikes your fancy. charity_mediumAdd name tapes or dog tags to personalize further. Military Apparel Company is run by a military spouse, Eve, who interestingly enough became a military spouse through this business (read her story online). www.militaryapparelcompany.com












“The Military Father,” by Armin A. Brott — A father, Marine Corps veteran, writer and radio personality, Brott’s mission is to convince men that fathering is as important as mothering. TheMilitaryFatherThis book addresses the challenges — like deployment — that military life adds to fathering. Brott is the author of several parenting books and is the host of “Positive Parenting” on AFN radio and other stations. www.mrdad.com







“She deserves a medal!” If you’ve thought that as your spouse took care of the PCS move on her own or took care of the kids and house and work and so much more while you were deployed, give your spouse a medal. attagirlPatterned on military ribbons, Atta Girl bracelets (# 407 in our book) can be added to over time. www.attagirlgifts.com






A handbag or a messenger bag, or other accessory, for men and women, from R.Riveter. Elegant, simple and rustic handbags, dopp kits, wallets, belts and other items made from recycled military materials like tents, blankets and uniforms. RRiveter All products are made in the United States by military spouses. The company was started in 2011 by two military wives to give other military spouses flexible and mobile employment. They currently have 15 military spouse independent contractors across the country, riveters, who help construct the bags — those who help construct the bags, and Rosies, the company’s independent sales reps. www.RRiveter.com





“Military Spouse Journey: Discover the Possibilities & Live Your Dreams” by Kathie Hightower and Holly Scherer. MSJ_200Full of life exploration exercises, tools, resources, and inspiring stories of military spouses of all services, this book helps you figure out and go after your own unique dreams as a military spouse, as you move with the military and support your spouses’ service. www.militaryspousejourney.com















“1001 Things to Love About Military Life” by Tara Crooks, Star Henderson, Kathie Hightower & Holly Scherer. The vignettes, list items and inspirational quotes were collected by four military spouses (two of whom are veterans) to remind us all of the many positives of this military lifestyle. 100 photos taken by military members or military spouses add to the book. There are journal entry spaces throughout for you to capture your own military memories and create a legacy book. Cover1001 THINGS LOVE ABOUT MILITARY LIFE_HCIf you are a military member giving this to your spouse be sure to personalize it by filling in some of those journal entries! www.lovemilitarylife.com

















And want to add to the memories? Get your spouse a Camosock (#508 in our book), a Christmas stocking made out of the camo material of your particular service, not made by a military spouse but in this case by a military dad. www.camosock.com

CamosocksFill it with a few of the items listed above and watch the delight when they find it next to the tree on Christmas morning.

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Impossible becomes Possible

I entered the military at a time when we ran PT in boots (and for women, in extremely poorly designed-no support boots), when our C-rations (yes, C-rats, before MREs) included cigarettes and every training break was a “Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em” break. Meals at the Mess Hall (we did not call them Dining Facilities back then) were filled with fat and sugar.  If you’d told me back then that the military would institute zero-smoking policies, I would have thought “Impossible!” If you’d told me Dining Facilities would focus on healthier foods and more options, I would have thought “Hurry up!”

If you’d told me back then that we’d have a female officer higher than a one-star general and that a female would become the Army Surgeon General, I would have thought “Impossible!” (If you’d added that a nurse instead of a doctor would become the Army Surgeon General, I would have rolled my eyes, “Yeah Right!”)

When Holly and I started presenting workshops for military spouses in the early 90’s, we included yoga postures. Only we didn’t feel we could even use the word yoga back then in a military environment. It would have been seen as too weird, as hippy or pagan or something. (And this was for military spouse mind you, not military members.) We used the words “stress management stretches.” If you’d told me back then that someday the Army would have programs for military members that included deep breathing and yoga, I would have thought “Impossible!”

Real Warriors in Yoga Warrior Pose, during Comprehensive Fitness Training. (Photo by Angelika Lantz, 21st TSC, Public Affairs)

Real Warriors in Yoga Warrior Pose, during Comprehensive Fitness Training. (Photo by Angelika Lantz, 21st TSC, Public Affairs)

Times change. The impossible becomes possible.

Number 167 in our book is “Holistic fitness as modeled by the Air Force and Army with the Comprehensive Soldier/Airman Fitness programs.” Just check out http://csf2.army.mil for programs from yoga to deep breath work to biofeedback, and join in on the new ArmyFit program yourself.

At the recent AUSA Conference in DC, I listened to Dr. James Gordon, of the Center for Mind Body Medicine, talk about programs created for the Army specifically for PTSD, programs focused on deep breath work for one thing.

At the same conference, I listened to Army Surgeon General (yes the first woman, LTG Patricia Horoho, an Army nurse) talk about how we need to “Stop Doing and Start Being.” I turned to Holly and whispered, “Did you ever think we’d hear that from an Army Surgeon General?” Holly shook her head in amazement.

(By the way, Horoho also fits in with # 976 in our book: Legacy families. Between her family and her husband’s family, they count 250 years of military service.)

Horoho shared some shocking statistics.

“Only one in four Americans age 17 to 24 is even eligible to serve in the military, only 25% of Americans, due to obesity, lack of physical fitness, as well as resulting illnesses. Nine out to 10 Americans will die from a preventable disease.”

Her team’s Army Medicine 2020 moves away from pills and processes, illnesses and injuries, to work towards a system for health, based on the crucial triad of sleep, nutrition and movement.

“Sleep is the most important thing, the game changer,” Horoho continued. “Sleep is when learning happens, consolidation happens. Without sleep your brain craves rich foods and cuts activity. One week of less than six hours of sleep a night shows the same cognitive impairment as being legally intoxicated.”

“The average American is either sitting or lying down 21 hours a day,” she continued, “We need to infuse activity throughout every aspect of our day.”

“The average American eats 150 pounds of refined sugar every year,” she added, “partially because it’s hard to find food without added fructose.”

Can we turn the tide on healthy habits, at least for our military members and their families? Part of me wants to shout “Impossible!” since I seem to have a solid track record of triggering change by doing so. For now, this one military family member is taking steps to work on her own sleep, nutrition and movement habits. What about you?

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Things I’m Thankful For

Tara, me, and Holly are some Some grateful girls living in a great filled world! We know Kathie is too, wherever she is.

Tara, me, and Holly are some grateful girls living in a great-filled world! We know Kathie is too, wherever she is.

If it’s good enough for Good Housekeeping, it’s good enough for me.

Heck if it’s good enough for favorite authors of mine like Gretchen Rubin, Michael J. Fox, and more close to home, 1001 co-authors Kathie Hightower and Holly Scherer, it’s definitely good enough for me.

What is “it”? “Practicing gratitude.” This month I sat down to start a grateful journal. Or in my case, it’s more like a grateful … sheet of yellow legal paper.

But, I stuffed a lot of things on that piece of paper, and none of it was in legal-ease. No rationalizing, debating, caveats. No nothing. Kind of like brainstorming, I simply sat down and wrote all that I’m thankful for.

Now, many a night I say, “Thank you Lord for mommies and daddies, sons and daughters, sunny days, and a home-cooked meal that was not cooked at home.” But that is never an exhaustive list.

Last Thanksgiving my facebook statuses started “I’m thankful for …” for thirty days. It was a great exercise, because I usually really dislike November, but the net result was just 30 Things. Surely, I could top that list with more and more things, relationships, and experiences for which to be grateful.

The last kicker to get me motivated was the song or maybe it was Tara’s facebook status about not having tomorrow what you’re not thankful for today. Oooooohhh, ugh. That’d be a shocker. I, for one, take so much for granted.

Yes, even me, whom I’m sure you’ve heard say, “Be as grateful as you are ungrateful!” I say that, but I do not live it. So here goes … the beginnings of my list, on my yellow, legal pad.

Things I’m Thankful For:
Relationships: God, David, Indi, Mom, in-laws, Dad & Elsa, brothers, best friends, great co-workers, elders like John & Elynor, Aunt Peanut, good neighbors ….

Nature: flowers, trees, birds, weather, recreation, provision, sunsets, sunrises, constellations, oceans, lakes, rivers, babbling brooks, bunnies, deer, fox, seashores, waterfalls, islands, home ….

Experiences: military, parenting, student, grad-student, gov’t employee, church steward, deployment, school adventures, religious, growth, new town member, frequent mover, Army Wife Talk Radio/Field Exercises, piano lessons, racquetball, TKD, snowshoeing, skiing, drama ….

Qualities: love, loyalty, responsibility, maturity, common sense, good mind, sound judgment, helpful, courteous, selfless, dedicated joyous, timely, faithful, kind, spiritual, giving, reflective, self-aware, naivety ….

By no means, do I mean to make myself sound like a boy scout: helpful, kind, courteous. I came up with some of those qualities because I’m thankful for them in me, but I’m also thankful people have seen them in me even when I don’t see them in myself.

That list is just a start. I’m hopeful I can make it to 1001 Things to Love about My Life over time. No deadlines, no pressure. I’ll just call them as I see them and recall them as I need them.

That’s really where you make your money for taking the time to list these things. When you’re down and out. When you’re needing an attitude adjustment. When you’re feeling a whole lot of ungrateful, turn to your list. If you don’t have one, make one.

I should mention, when I made mine and turned the paper over just to see how long I could make my Ungrateful List, I came up with just 3 things. Your mind literally (well that, and figuratively) can’t be in two places at once.

Sometimes you have to just get out of the negative. Trust me, it’ll be there when you go back, if you decide you have to go back … to debate, react, dig-in … the negative will be there. However, now you can go back and pick up where you left everything grounded “in the know” that you have more things to be grateful for than you have to be ungrateful for. That’s a powerful tool, or it has been in my world, this month especially.

Let me know how it turns out for you.

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“Rooting” Her On – Bloom Where You’re Planted

My husband and I are standing outside in our backyard both staring at this Crepe Myrtle tree. I’m on the left. He’s on the right. We both look confused, perplexed. “She’s in shock,” he says. As I stood there with that little tree struggling to find her place to root in this backyard, I could not help but to identify. I saw the stress manifesting itself in her yellow leaves as they fell to the ground. I could tell her blooms weren’t as full and bright as they had been when she was still safely potted in her comfort zone a mere week ago.

crepe-myrtle-pruning_105194147.s300x300At the nursery they kept her watered every day. They made sure she had the perfect amount of heat and sunshine. Exactly what she needed for maximum bloom. She knew what to expect. She was used to her surroundings. Her roots were firmly planted in her small black pot. All she had to do was stand up tall, look beautiful and wait for the day someone would come and take her to her forever home. Eventually, for her that day came. We purchased her for our new backyard in our new neighborhood in Texas.

We have recently made our PCS (Permanent Change of Station) to a civilian community outside of Denton, TX. My husband is assigned to FEMA in an active-duty “attachment” sort of situation. While I am very excited to be here in Texas and anyone who knows me can attest to the fact I spent many years waiting on #262. PCS orders to somewhere other than Ft Sill, Oklahoma there was still that moment #309. of sheer apprehension, fear, excitement, and eagerness when your Service member casually announces your next PCS.

Moving to a civilian community was something new for us. For fifteen years of our military career we have been stationed at an installation and lived on/near that installation. I knew in that moment that he told me where we were moving that things would be drastically different. Like that little Crepe Myrtle, I am determined to flourish but am painfully realizing it won’t be without difficulty and adaptive measures that I will be successful.

The truth is, my leaves turned yellow too – heck, some still are yellow. There are days under extreme heat – like when we had to register for school and go through the Tricare PCM fiasco meets next Texas shot requirements – that my blooms wilt.  I am having a hard time being taken out of my familiar black pot and thrust into a new situation. I’m almost envious of ole’ Crepe as she was still a young’un and probably possesses a whole lot more flexibility in her ways. So as Kevin stood there telling me she was in shock all I could think to say back to him was “wouldn’t you be?”

Sure, she’s hanging on to her root ball, as we do our families. She’s figuring things out and finding her place in the sun. I’ll do the same, there is an incredible #929. learned adaptability – resilience that moving and the military force upon us. Each time we move we #483.  learn how to better handle things and learn what works. Some of what she’s going into her new surroundings with is familiar. She’ll adjust just like I will adjust and #328. reuse my furniture and change my décor in my new place. Still, that potting soil we just packed around her, and this beautiful home in Lantana we have chosen for our family, is new. Is different. Is unfamiliar.

“Just give her some time. Pick off some of the yellow leaves and dead blooms as those are a waste of her energy. Let her focus on what she needs to do to survive,” I said. “Well, she’s going to have to figure it out. This is her new home. It’s do, or die,” he replied. Spoken like a true soldier. If he only knew how true those words rang for me. It’s #925. never a dull moment, this military life.

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Service after the uniform: one path to healing?

As we collected “things to love about military life” for our book titled 1001 Things to Love About Military Life, one thing we heard frequently was the item that became #2, “pride of service, becoming part of a team that values making a difference by serving others.”

Number 811 in our book is “the many military members who volunteer their time after duty hours, yes, even in war zones.”

It’s not surprising that military members want to continue to make a difference and serve others after war and after their military service. The desire to volunteer and make a difference is deeply ingrained. In a 2009 study, 92% of returning veterans expressed a desire to continue serving in some way.

A number of veterans have stepped up to create programs to help other veterans continue to serve, new ways for them to serve without the uniform. The programs tap into the teambuilding training and experience (#905 in our book) and teamwork (#924) that military members gain from military service. As it turns out, by choosing to serve again, many service members also help themselves in ways you wouldn’t necessarily expect.

Public service, focusing on others, being part of a team and part of something bigger than yourself may well help veterans overcome serious issues like posttraumatic stress and other injuries of war.

An article by Joe Klein in Time magazine’s July 1, 2013 issue, titled “Can Service Save Us?,” spells out how volunteer service is making a difference in the volunteers as well as in those who are being helped.g9510.20_service.cover

Klein reports how Eric Greitens, a Rhodes Scholar and former Navy SEAL, founded The Mission Continues (TMC) after hearing so many wounded warriors tell him that if they couldn’t return to their units, they wanted to return home and serve in some other way. His idea was to offer six-month service fellowships to veterans who provided a mission plan and a host agency willing to sponsor them in their community. Greitens and some friends funded the first few fellowships with their combat and disability pay. Their slogan? “It’s not a charity; it’s a challenge.”

By the end of 2013 more than 800 veterans, most of them wounded, some severely, will have passed through the Mission Continues fellowship program.

“An initial study of 52 TMC fellows, conducted by Dr. Monica Matthieu and three Washington University colleagues, showed dramatic improvement in well-being after a six-month fellowship: 86% of the fellows reported a positive life-changing experience, 71% went on to further their education, and 86% said the program helped them transfer their military skills to civilian employment. This is especially impressive, given that 52% of those studied has suffered traumatic injuries and 64% had been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress.”

Another program, Team Rubicon, has a roster of about 7,000 veterans ready to do disaster relief missions around the world. That program was cofounded by TMC fellow, Jake Wood. Team Rubicon and TMC fellows served together for post-tornado disaster relief in Oklahoma.

As Wood says, “If you are out doing disaster relief, you’re less likely to be thinking about yourself and more likely to be thinking about the people you are helping.”

Sounds like #897 in our book: “Service, selfless service, serving together for a common cause or serving together for the greater good.” And funny thing…you don’t do it to help yourself, but just maybe you end up helping yourself as well.

(Note: if you or someone you know is dealing with posttraumatic stress or other injuries, read the entire Time article for ideas and inspiration.)

 

 

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Memory Lane

Tees into Treasures by Mominizer

“Tees into Treasures” a memory quilt by Mominizer

In much of my reading and living, I have found “shared experiences” to be among the key components of a healthy relationship. I have gone so far as to dispense related advice to new couples, new friends, and seasoned couples who have broken down. Not just me, but magazines, self-help gurus, and relationship books say much the same.

Couples: Make sure you have set a date night.
Friends: Make sure you connect to catch up, beyond just skimming each others facebook accounts.
Parents: Make memories with your kids.

Not coincidentally, #1000 of the 1001 Things in our book parallels this same truth.

Something to LOVE is …  the depth of relationship with your spouse and family, cultivated through years of challenge and constant separations and reunions.

Constant reunions and separations are among the many “shared experiences” a military family has. There are also moves, difficult or rewarding jobs, first-times, opportunities around base or because of the military; the list goes on for me as I’m sure it does for you too.

There are ups and there are downs. I count all ours as “stories” now, touchstones to remind us how far we’ve come. I can always look back at our storied, shared experiences and remember that I learned what to do next time, or even what NOT to do next time.

This is funny, because I am always telling people “this is where the military will take you. Look ahead to X, Y, Z.” I forget to tell them to look back. Whether it’s a few months, a few years, or a lifetime that accumulated so suddenly, you should always take a look back.

It’s a forced exercise, and I forget to heed my own advice. Star, “Remember that we’ve been through X, Y, and Z. And, today, this past month, this past 2 years will be but a ‘good’ memory if you push through and remember to look back and count it as such.”

David and I recently got to go through a Memory Lane exercise, just out of pure luck. We decided to “go kickstands up for a cause” and join the Engineer Regiment Motorcycle Ride to celebrate the Regimental birthday. The “cause” was raising money for a scholarship fund awarded to families of fallen Sappers. I did not know when I said yes that we’d be riding more than 25 miles around the installation concentrating on areas where Engineers train, where MY ENGINEER trained over 20 years ago.

Some of you know that story about how I wrote David everyday at Basic Training, even though we were just friends. We fell in love, and he returned the favor by writing faithfully when I went to Basic Training.

Anyways, there I was this past weekend, during the Regimental Ride, light headed for all the emotions I was feeling about 20 years ago, the moment, and the 2 years we have lived here to “complete the circle” (as I have told many friends we were here to do). Boy, did we complete the circle. I got to see the big trucks he trained on, ride a raft over the river, and watch a door breaching, all the while David telling me how it was for him when he came through his various engineer schools. One training area David told me, “I was out here when I got the Red Cross message that my dad had cancer.” His dad’s ok now, and so are we after going through that and so, so much more.

Letter to David while he was at Basic Training (and we were just getting to really know each other).

Letter to David while he was at Basic Training (and we were just getting to really know each other).

Letter to me while I was at Basic Training, which I went to, in part, to build on mine and David's shared experiences.

Letter to me while I was at Basic Training, which I went to, in part, to build on mine and David’s shared experiences.

That Memory Lane made me remember that we have accomplished so much as well as foreshadow all we have yet to accomplish.

I hope everyone gets to experience something similar. There are plenty of opportunities: GI Jane Days, Tiger Cruises, and military balls to name a few. I know many who LOVE all these things, these traditions, about military life. But, I know so many more who have not and can’t be bothered or have yet to understand the benefit of getting involved. Our co-author, Tara Crooks, calls it “checking into this life.” The sooner the better I say.

To keep the good vibes of mining the memories going, I went through some of our letters that I discovered as we get ready to move (pictured above). And, I asked David to write down some of his answers to the questions we use as journal prompts in our book, which really is a Memory Book.

Pg 54 – Which ones ["Work Ups" or exercises] have you been to?
WENT TO NTC AND JRTC AND SUPPORTED BRIGHTSTAR IN EGYPT.
I remember him telling me how horrible the traffic was in Egypt. He got to see a pyramid though. How many people can say that?

Pg 73 -What are some of your uniform memories and how have uniforms changed since you joined?
I MISS BRANCH INSIGNIA ON COLLARS.  AND SPEAKING OF COLLARS, HOW ABOUT THOSE OLD ELVIS COLLARS WE HAD ON THE DCUs?
I remember branch insignia, and I miss being able to tell people’s branches from a distance without asking. If I saw an Engineer, Military Intelligence, or Finance branch insignia, I knew I would have some branch related shared experiences to talk to them about.

You could do this same exercise too (journal in your book or in the comments).
It’s a wonderful way to document and relive those memories now and in the years to come.

Usually I sign my emails “looking forward” and that’s important, but today I encourage everyone to look back and share how far they have come. It’s a journey, no matter which way you look at it. Godspeed.

P.S. David also answered the journal prompt question from Pg 62, “What is your favorite care package item?” but some things are better left private i.e. NOT shared.  Right?

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Making a Difference

Events such as birth of a baby, weddings, funerals, deployment or reunion ceremonies, all trigger different powerful emotions in people. There are also times in life when you meet someone and are changed forever by hearing their life stories and how they have impacted others by their actions. Continue reading

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Helping Military Children Cope with PCS

Change is the one thing you can count on as a military family. One of the many challenges that you will be faced with on your journey is a Permanent Change of Station (PCS). Moving is a necessary and inevitable part of military life. It is also a very large emotional and physical challenge not only for you but for your entire family.

moving-day1A PCS is a “moving” experience in more ways than one. No matter how often families change residence, moving brings with it a variety of emotions and situations. It is often times very easy to get caught up in the moving checklist of boxes, cleaning, packing and moving and overlook the emotions that are tied to the transition to a new location. When it comes to your children it is very important that you take the time to allow them to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences related to the impending move and once you have arrived at your new location.

While children may understand that your family is moving their reactions may vary depending on their personality and developmental age. Some children are inquisitive and will want to know “why” every step of the way, some are outgoing and will naturally find friends immediately while others will become nervous, worried, or depressed. Roller coaster emotions are not uncommon. Your child may be thrilled and excited one day, then blue and depressed the next.

Generally speaking, the younger the child the easier the move. It is important for you to know that most children’s sense of identity is formed by their peer groups and social belonging. The biggest worry that school age children endure is whether they will make new friends and fit in easily at their new school. Cater to satisfy this worry by painting the move in a positive light. If you see your move as an exciting adventure your children will most likely follow your lead.

Moving Tips for Military Children

It is critical that your children have the enough time to say good-bye to the family members and friends they’re leaving behind. Encourage them to exchange contact information.

Allow your children to help with separating and packing.

Explain the process of how the move will work and where the military is sending you, how long it will take to get there, and how/when you will find a new home. Keep in mind that small children may have difficulty differentiating a PCS from a parent’s deployment. Most questions and fears can be eased when you sit down and have a “moving” conversation with your child. Let children be present on moving day as the boxes are packed and movers take away your belongings.

Make sure children have an opportunity to pick out favorite things to take along on your trip to your new duty station.

Give children a special job on moving “out” and moving “in” day so they feel a valuable part of the process.

Allow children to decide how their new room should be decorated and/or arranged.

Investigate and explore your new neighborhood together. Look for fun and exciting things. Allow them to use a map to explore or write down a list of their favorite things/places and go seek them out.

Make a concerted effort to locate after-school activities where your children can make new friends with similar interests.

Teach your children you’re new address and phone number as soon as you arrive at your new location.

Military Children’s Booklist – Moving

Moving Journal for Kids, by Janet Corniel Tools that encourage communication between parents and a child help make for a successful transition from the founder of MovingGal.com.

We’re Moving!, by Heather Maisner and Kristina Stephenson When Amy and her family move into a new house, it takes some effort to make it feel like home. Great book for infants and toddlers.

The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day, by Stan Berenstain and Jan Berenstain The Bear family tells their story of when they moved to their tree house in Bear County.

I’m Not Moving, Mama, by Nancy White Carlstrom and Thor Wickstrom When moving day comes, Little Mouse refuses to leave his room.

Who Will Be My Friends?, by Syd Hoff Freddy moves to a new neighborhood and spends the entire book looking for new friends – until he finally finds them.

Alexander, Who’s Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move, by Judith Viorst, Ray Cruz, and Robin Preiss Glasser Angry Alexander refuses to move away if it means having to leave his favorite friends and special places

Let’s Move Together, by Carol M. Schubeck This book was written to help children and parents communicate about their feelings surrounding moving and ways to adjust to the big transition.

A New House:  Activity book for 4 - 10 year olds, by Jill Wenzel The games and activities in this book are designed to help children adjust to living in a new house.

The Moving Book: A Kids’ Survival Guide, by Gabriel Davis This practical handbook is divided into three sections:  before the move, during the move, and after the relocation.  It contains useful tools for children to stay in touch with their friends, such as an address book and change-of-address postcards.

Footsteps around the World: Relocation Tips for Teens, 2nd edition, by Beverly D. Roman, Dalene R Bickel (Editor) This workbook style text is written for teenagers facing a relocation.  It offers organizational checklists, recommends journaling, and gives communication advice.  Some of the information, specifically websites, is dated (published in 2001).

Additional Online Resources

MYOM (Military Youth on the Move) was developed by military kids, for military kids with real stories and good advice on how to make a move a good thing.

www.movingal.com Their entire site is a great resource for moving tips.

www.JustMoved.org Their “Mooving Family” is a huge hit with children.

www.militarychild.org An excellent resource for military children resources.

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Why MSOY?

We All Are Military Spouses

Military Spouse Magazine’s 2013 Military Spouse of the Year ®, empowering the community by enabling military spouses to recognize leaders within their ranks

In 1001 Things to Love about Military Life we talk about how we love military spouses who step up and volunteer (#364). It’s so ingrained in who we are as military spouses that we even pause a moment in the book to have the reader reflect on some of their favorite volunteer experiences. We know they have them. Writing letters to service members, mentoring new military spouses, and teaching financial readiness are among my favorite things to do. If you ask most spouses, they typically say they do it because they saw a need, because they are paying it forward, or—seriously—because it’s their therapy. No one I have ever asked said they do it for the awards, the money, or to become popular.

Because of this volunteer spirit many programs are around to day.

317. The many programs that came about
only because a spouse or group of spouses stepped up
to advocate for needed change.

Childcare, Survivor Benefits and Outreach, and Army Family Team Building are but a few examples.  Some of these changes were hard fought. Many battles were never won or we’re still fighting. So, there is always a need and there is always more to pay forward. With so many wonderful things happening (or trying to), it was only a matter of time before someone wanted to recognize and assist these wonderful advocates within our military spouse community. Thus, Military Spouse of the Year® (MSOY) was born, founded by the Military Spouse magazine actually. Since 2008….

MSOY nominees have introduced initiatives and solutions to address a multitude of topics affecting the military community. These men and women have emerged as leaders within the military spouse community advocating for a variety of issues ranging from spouse employment and education to family health and those impacted by illness and disabilities. Learn more about these amazing men and women.

To some, it might on surface look like a popularity contest, but the reality is in order to be nominated and garner enough votes, an individual has to have been involved in their community, stepping out to make a difference. Are there many other spouses who are just as worthy to be a MSOY? ABSOLUTELY!  As my husband put it, his vote is the only one that counts where I am concerned. I am his Military Spouse of the Year, year after year.

The “winners” are simply representatives of so many, MANY, many others. It might be that they have the extra time, compelling hard-knocks experience, or it may be our community’s great hour for that particular need they fill. However the stars align and votes stack up, being selected the MSOY will provide the winner with a platform to represent the rest of us on our behalf.

Do you know Military Spouse Magazine’s 2013 Military Spouse of the Year ® finalists?

I’m voting for finalist Tara Crooks for a reason important to me. She’s been the driving force for years behind a vehicle for great programs (many driven by previous “spouses of the year” or MSOY 2013 contenders) to gain exposure and support. I’m voting for a proven network and resourceful talk radio broadcast that can communicate resources like nobody’s business.

You may vote for Pamela Larson for her desire to raise awareness of PTSD issues or Susan Reynolds whose desire is to improve the pediatric healthcare for our military children. Or Alicia Hinds Ward . Or Amber. Or….

Who represents you and your interests is your choice. Get to know them and their programs, and consider voting TODAY.

Of course, we (Kathie, Holly and me) might be considered biased in our own votes for our coauthor Tara Crooks, but we have watched her for years and know a lot about the selfless giving of her time, energy and creativity to help ease the lives of other military families. You can get to know a lot about  Tara by reading her “I don’t Always Have Fun…” and other Love Military Life blogs. But here is a look at her platform.

“Never forget to LAUGH!” ~2013 MSOY Finalist and our co-author Tara Crooks

“I’m a mom. When there is a tight time in our budget I don’t drive an hour and a half to the city and visit Whole Foods where I stock up on all new ingredients and organic spices to make some elaborate dish I just saw on Food Network. I open up the pantry and I take a look around at what healthy, creative, fun, and inexpensive way I can feed my family with what we already have. This military life we live in has a plethora of resources (food in our pantry), many untapped. In the tough economic times our Nation is facing it is time that military families open up the pantry, take a look around at what we have and utilize it. We need to educate our families to tap into the resources already created before we go out and reinvent the wheel. We have many supporters in our civilian population reaching to help us but because of lack of marketing and communication flow those resources go underutilized while millions of dollars are poured into creation of the next “new thing”.

Many of those resources we all shared (and learned more about ourselves) in the process of writing 1001 Things to Love About Military Life, where junior spouses (Tara and me) looked to senior spouses (Kathie and Holly) who were being heralded then as two of the first Who’s Who in Military Spouses 2007 (named by Military Spouse magazine). Had they not been “put on a platform,” we may have never met and we junior spouses may still be making our way through red tape and young spouse jitters impeding our own work of empowering other military families at Army Wife Network (#393).

You might well know some other finalist who is giving back to their community in big ways too. The key is to vote for an individual who is a great representative of the many spouses stepping up to make a difference. Good luck to all our MSOY finalists, current and future, and to that MSOY absolutely crucial to your humble abode: YOU!

Posted in On The Inside: Service Member, On The Inside: Spouse, Rewards For “Living The Life” | Leave a comment