5 Thoughts Every MilSpouse Has ~ guest post ~

Blogging here at Cammo Style Love has brought some amazing people into my life. So many wonderful military spouses, writers, advocates and just plain ole amazing human beings! Today I am excited to share Hope you enjoy this wonderful post that I personally felt a connection to and was so happy to be able to share.   
“It’s just a month, Mom,” my almost 7 year old son tells me as I’m going through the ridiculous and unexplained emotional meltdown of preparing for (yet another) separation from my husband. I know his words sound callous, but it was, in fact, what I needed to hear. It is just a month. Of all the times my son has been without his father, this is one of the shortest. If he could see that, why couldn’t I? Why couldn’t I be as adaptable and ok with it as my kids were?
Was it because I knew what went on behind the scenes? The last three weeks of “go, no-go” that we endured with a final decision coming down 3 days before the departure date? A plan that had been set in motion over 6 months ago was slowly unraveling because of a lost piece of paper. A school that had been on his wish list for years was within grasp, but was being held up by some inability to communicate effectively between others. The hurry up and wait, the last minute packing, the anticipation were all compounding the fact that he was leaving, again.
Was it because I knew what he was going to miss? My kids are 5 and 6. While they understand how long a month is, how many weeks, how many days. They can see the big bold words, “Daddy Home” on the calendar and count down, but they don’t see what comes between. They don’t see that he’s going to miss a birthday and the first day of school – my daughter’s first day of kindergarten. All the fun things about preparing for school. All the hard things about this transition from one kid at home all the time to none.
Was it because I know what lies ahead? It took us a good two weeks to transition last time he left, and another solid two weeks when he came home. Pretty much we’ve been transitioning and struggling to find our balance since mid-April. He’s coming home to a new job with longer, often times more frustrating hours. He’s coming home to two kids in school, to homework, to extracurricular activities, to new friends, and a new schedule. And we’re fully expecting him to arrive on Saturday and be back at work in full-force on Monday before dawn.
Was it because this one is different? There are few guarantees in the military, but separations are one of them. With this being the 9th separation in our 8 year marriage, you’d think I’d just be over it. But as we change and grow together, these things feel different. And while I’ve gotten more used to doing somethings alone, the last few years have spoiled me. He’s been on a pretty easy schedule for a while and I’ve gotten used to relying on him being home in the evenings and helping out on the weekends. So when he leaves, it’s a bigger adjustment for us all.

But, no matter the difference, the emotions, the transition, it’s a part of our life. It always has been and it always will. And the best part about this one? It’s just a month. 

Rebecca Alwine has been a military spouse for over 8 years, traveling the world and learning about herself. She’s discovered she enjoys running, loves lifting weights, is a voracious reader, and actually enjoys most of the menial tasks of motherhood. She is an avid volunteer, most recently as President of the Fort Huachuca Community Spouses’ Club and has worked as a career counselor for transitioning service members. She has a Masters in Emergency Management from American Military University and a Bachelor of Arts in Geography from the University of Mary Washington. Her writing has been published both in AUSA’s ARMY Magazine, Military Spouse Magazine, on Many Kind Regards, and multiple digital magazines and blogs. You can follow her on Twitter and on her website.
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Guest Post: Budgeting with Dave Ramsey

Hi, all!  I’m off on vacation here, and to help with everything I’ve gotten a couple of my most amazing blogging friends to write me up some guest posts.  I’m super excited about this one.  Budgeting is definitely a part of our life and although we’ve never done Dave Ramsey’s series, its supposed to be really amazing.  I’m so glad Chantal decided to write this up for me.  It was really wonderful to see a visual affirmation of what you try to do yourself.  I’m not alone!  online, budgeting, mama, high-five girl!!

Thanks for stopping by!


Brandon and I have been following the Dave Ramsey style of budgeting for over two years now, and I cannot rave about him enough. This has changed our financial future, for the better. This post isn’t about that, though. This post is about how I spend about $75 a week on groceries.

It started with a Facebook status, announcing my joy in spending under $70 at the grocery store with no coupons. I didn’t think much of it, because I typically spend about that much, but then friends were hopping on saying things like, “Wow! Amazing!” and “I spent $230 this week!” and “Tell me your secrets!”   Well, I thought, I have no secrets.   Our groceries have been a source of issues since the beginning. I used to buy too much and things would go bad. I would buy things we didn’t need and it would sit in the pantry for weeks. Once we started setting a budget, I would frequently go over by the end of the month, running out of money and having to take it from other places. In the new year, though, we figured out a new system. It’s been working so far!   So I guess… here are my secrets!

 1. I budget only $100 a week on groceries. I DO NOT GO OVER. If I don’t have the money, it doesn’t get purchased. It took me awhile to figure out just how much I needed each week for groceries and this will fluctuate depending on location and family size. I base our monthly budget on how many Tuesdays are in the month (that’s my shopping day) so that sometimes I pull out $400, sometimes $500. But I only ever keep $100 in my Groceries envelope each week.

 2. I make a monthly meal plan. This has helped immensely. It started back in September and now it’s easy. At the end of the month I spend 15 minutes perusing my meal list and placing meals on days of the month. I make it so I don’t have to buy a variety of meat each week, like, I have a few chicken meals, a fish meal, and a couple beef meals. I buy chicken in bulk at Sam’s once a month, so that’s already in the freezer, and then I only have to buy a pound or two of ground beef or steak, and then some fish. The sides are typically the same (sweet potatoes, broccoli, asparagus, etc.) so when I go to the store I’m roughly buying the same food. No surprises. I should add, I don’t meal plan breakfasts, lunches or snacks. Our breakfast are always the same – scrambled eggs with veggies, fruit, occasionally sausage or bacon on weekends. Lunches are leftovers or whatever I can scrounge up. Snacks are fruit, nuts, veggies and hummus… I know this, I stick it on the list, and buy the same each week.

 3. I only buy what we’re going to eat. By the end of the week, my pantry and fridge are empty. Literally last week, I had no fruit left and hardly any veggies. I like it that way. We’re eating all the food, it’s not going to waste, and I know I bought the right amount. Even if something is on sale and an awesome deal, I don’t buy it unless we need it. It’s just a waste of money otherwise.    

4. I buy 90% fresh fruit and veggies. Maybe even more than 90%. Since switching to a semi-Paleo diet, I don’t buy things like bread, milk, cheese, crackers, cereal, etc. The vast majority of my money is spent on fruits and veggies. Some say that in this case, their budget gets more expensive… but I spend less now on this diet than I ever did before. And this is with buying stuff to juice too. Buy in season for cheaper options, buy what’s on sale, and again, only buy as much as you need. This stuff goes bad quick.

 5. I plan for the extras. There’s the monthly Sam’s Club run for chicken that costs $20+. There’s the 25lb bag of juicing carrots from Publix for $15. There’s that surprise dinner party. I know things pop up, and I adjust. That’s why I have $100 a week and only spend $75 at the store on Tuesdays. That extra $25 helps me make up for the extras.

6. I don’t impulse buy… much. I try to stick to my list. If it’s an impulse buy, it’s something like pears or whatever. Sometimes ice cream, because Mommy needs chocolate.   And… I guess that’s it!   Of course, your budget requirements will differ from ours depending on where you live or how many are in your family. Just know, you really don’t need as much as you think you do.   Eat healthy and be strong!

 EDIT: My grocery budget is primarily for food, but it can include other things you buy at the grocery store: toilet paper, paper towels, soap, etc. We don’t include pet food, that gets its own budget. Sometimes the non-food items are taken out of our Miscellaneous budget. It really depends on when I’m buying it!

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Military Life Series #3 OCONUS

Welcome to the third post in my Military Life Series!  I hope you can check out the previous two posts from A Boy, A Girl and The Marine Corp, and Aim High Erin.  The goal of this series was to focus on and highlight situations within the already crazy military life, that just make it that much more crazy.  I know, before I got myself really connected with some fabulous military girls I frequently  felt lost and alone.  Was anyone else going through what I went through?  So these posts are a way to connect people, to show them that they aren’t alone and to help them through a situation in life.  I know there are other people in the same life situations as these fabulous ladies!
I’m so happy to have Lynn here for my third guest post.  If you get a chance to go check out her blog I know you’ll love it.  She’s super great.  Here’s a little bit about her:
Lynn is mom to an incredibly charming, mischievous 18 month-old boy and a dog who hates the rain. She blogs at http://wanderlynn.wordpress.combecause she still hasn’t figured out how to not do some kind of work on the computer since leaving her marketing job when the little guy was born.
She and her husband, an officer in the US Air Force, just celebrated their 7th wedding anniversary at a rather fancy restaurant in the east of England. She’s a Midwestern girl who sometimes misses the soul-warming heat of her college days in the South.
My Military Life – Getting that Overseas Assignment
By wanderlynn
A big thanks to Rheanna for asking me to write a guest post about our military life overseas!
The prospect of seeing the world was dazzling when we got married, me just out of grad school and him just out of training. Then this strange thing happened, where our Big Adventurous Military Life started off as anything but. As in, we started off with more than half a decade in Omaha, Nebraska.
We settled in nicely there. I began my marketing career, got involved in a variety of community projects, and made friends. We got used to regular deployments and not seeing each other for about one-third of each year. We were DINKs (dual income, no kids) in an awesome neighborhood, and started to believe we’d never leave.
It wasn’t until we had two dogs and an infant that we learned we’d be moving to England. (Isn’t that how it goes?)
The news was thrilling in the exciting-scary kind of way. We were finally leaving! And going to ENGLAND! But we’d have to sell rent the house, and pack it all up, and fly overseas with a 6 month-old boy.
The concept of moving seems simple. Pack, move, unpack. The reality is vastly different. There are a ton of moving parts in getting everything and everyone from Point A to Point B, particularly if there’s an ocean involved. Toss in a healthy dose of unfamiliarity with processes and destinations and, BAM!, you’ve got yourself one heck of a mess.
Being a novice mover (but a professional project manager), I was stunned to discover that there was no “account manager” or point person for the giant cluster that is moving. Rather, I was not prepared for that person to be me, and to have to balance those duties with full-time care of an early-mobile infant.
Of course, there was a deployment hanging over it all. Perhaps I was pushing off full responsibility to my husband to take advantage of him while I could, up until our 10th day in our new, empty, English house.
Ultimately, the transition was challenging mostly because I had no idea what I was doing. I wanted to blame it on the fact that our household goods took three months to arrive, making it impossible to feel like “home.” But the truth is, I had no idea what to expect and was embarrassingly unfamiliar with the processes and offices involved. It felt like there were a million moving parts that somehow intersected at our house while flailing wildly in every direction.
We received information booklets and checklists from so many places – Airman & Family Readiness, the vet office, Pass & Registration, the housing office, the medical group, the squadron, the VAT relief office (which, thankfully, provides relief for Britain’s 20% sales tax on many large purchases) … sometimes there was conflicting information, sometimes information was flat out wrong. And usually an office was closed or a person wasn’t available.
Next time around, I intend to take the PCS bull by its horns and handle the frenzy with authority. And you bet I’ll make plenty of phone calls to get my program straight before I start running all over base to do it!
There are certain things, though, that you just can’t anticipate.
How hard it is to miss your family and not be able to pick up the phone to call any time of the day (that is, unless they’re cool with calls in the wee hours of the morning).
How hard it is to miss your family and not be able to hop a cheap flight or take a long car ride to see them.
The lost feeling many of my friends here share, from not working after having established ourselves in challenging careers.
The intense feeling of isolation of the stay at home mom of a young child, without your “village,” in a new country, while your husband is away for months.
But we get by. We adapt to this “normal.” Then we hop cheap flights to Europe to squeeze it in while we can. And before we know it, the tour is up and we do it all again… maybe closer to home?
Thanks Lynn and have a fabulous Friday everyone!!!
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