Category Archives: Holidays

3 Year-Round At-Home Date Ideas for Military Couples!

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, but that doesn’t mean the romantic, heartfelt, jubilant love gets taken down a notch the rest of the year. In fact, many military spouses I’ve talked to say they do little things all year round to keep the magic alive in their relationships—even with kids running around.

But what if you’re not a two-income family with no kids and extra travel money to spend on that vacation to Bora Bora? What if you’re a caregiver to a brave injured service member? Dates don’t have to be expensive, and they certainly don’t need to leave the country (wouldn’t it be nice if that were a thing?). In fact, some of the best dates are the ones that take little money and planning.

In the spirit of Lovers Day, here are three awesome at-home date ideas for you to try soon:

Date Night At Home

Find your inner kid, again!
It’s time to bust out your no-holds-barred inner child; grab all the sheets in the house, maybe an air mattress, and lots of pillow, and build a living room fort! Pull the chairs out from the dining room, and maybe dig through those just-put-away Christmas decorations to find a string of lights. Bonus points for setting up your tent around the television so you can snuggle and binge watch some Netflix. Super bonus points if you make s’mores and sleep in the tent. Get some great ideas here:

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Work up a sweat…if you know what I mean
Try a couple’s fitness routine together! Build trust and muscle at the same time. Let your honey take the lead and use their military skills to show you some heart-racing exercises and stretches. Or just enjoy the eye candy while you burn off those S’Mores! Bonus points if you do a workout in the living room fort! (What? Crunches in the fort while watching a movie don’t sound fun?!) Want fitness ideas to do together?

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Get a little competitive
Maybe it’s only been a year since you got married? Maybe it’s been 25 years? However long you’ve been together, there’s nothing funnier than testing out your relationship knowledge with the Newlywed Game! See if you both remember your first kiss! Once you’ve taken a stroll down memory lane, why not play some other games suited for two? Get some ideas here:

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/262968065720030023/
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/262968065719995434/

Romance, dates, and little acts of love aren’t just for February 14th. Check out our Military Romance Pinterest board for more inspiration and ideas and try out some free, at-home dates with your spouse or significant other.

What are your go-to at-home date ideas? Share it with us in the comments!

shannonPosted by Shannon Prentice, Content Development Manager

4 Tips to Get Back on Track After New Year’s Resolution Failures

Studies show that by January 20th, most New Year’s Resolutions are busted. So, if we’re science-ing and being technical, my 2016 is ruined and my life is over because I ate rice crispy treats for dinner last night, instead of a salad. If we’re being honest, I also haven’t exercised every day, like I said I would in my New Year’s resolution Facebook post.

Let’s be real: who’s got time to eat all the salads and run all the marathons? Not me.

How can we get this resolutions train back on track without feeling like a complete rice-crispy-filled failure?

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I’ve got four tips:

Redefine your definition of success. And be okay with it. Expectations are the fastest way to kill your momentum when it comes to keeping those New Year’s resolutions. No matter what your focus is, you’re bound to find someone doing it better on social media. But that doesn’t have to kill your vibe. Instead, redefine success.

Basketball Hall of Fame inductee and 27-year UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden, coined his own definition of success as, “Peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction and knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you’re capable.”

Success = doing the best you can.

Pick new resolutions. I know, it seems like quitting. But it’s not. Did you do your best to keep your resolutions? If not, go back to tip #1. If you did give it your best, and couldn’t succeed, consider getting real with yourself; take a good look at the resolutions you made January 1st. Think about other goals you’re bound to achieve when you give it your best—maybe even something you can achieve multiple times, and maybe even by tomorrow. Pick attainable goals, keep your expectations in check, and you’ll be on the path to keeping your resolution longer.

Celebrate every single win. Once you redefine success, or maybe lighten your resolution load, you’ll find yourself meeting and exceeding your goals (#winning). Resist the urge to devalue yourself and your achievement for any reason—instead, stand in that awesomeness, own it, and celebrate that win. For extra self-satisfaction, write your successes on a Post-It and stick those bad boys some where you’ll see it all the time!

Appreciate each failure, and try again. Unless your resolution is to eat a rice crispy treat every day (and yay for leap years—366 rice crispy treats!), failure is bound to happen. Some may not face it, but many of us will. And the only way we keep from feeling like a lump of a human being with no ability to succeed, is to try again. Being able to appreciate a failure, no matter how unsettling, is hard. But getting up, dusting yourself off, and trying again is both necessary and powerful.

Consider this quote (one of my personal favorites) from President Teddy Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming… who at the best, knows…the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

Success isn’t always winning, it’s found in the wanting, the trying, and the kick-butt ability to keep going, even when you fail.

So what if it’s only January 20th and your resolutions are shot? You get to start over and try again. You faced the arena, tried your best, and came up short…and that’s okay. The key is refusing to define yourself based on a stupid resolution or failure. You are not your failures.

You can get this train back on track! And if all else fails, the rice crispy treat thing is a great option.

How are you doing with your resolutions? Are you starting over? Tell us in the comments!

shannonPosted by Shannon Prentice, Content Development Manager

A New Year Literally Means New Everything

As the month of December comes to a close, I think back to the resolutions I have made over the years. I reminisce about the time and place, and the hopes and expectations of a fresh start. Whether my goals included fitness, travel, professional growth, or even a simple attitude adjustment – I was ready and determined to succeed.

This year, however, change is inevitable and my determination is failing. Today, December 31st, marks the end of my husband’s active duty military career. My assumption was that this time would be fulfilling and exciting. What does that say about me? In reality, there is a finality that feels something like an 800 pound gorilla sitting on my chest. And a sadness that I still can’t explain.

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In our situation, a job in the civilian world is prompting a mid-year move from Georgia to North Carolina. Much like many of our military moves, decisions were made late in the game, causing a flurry of activity in a fairly short amount of time. Understanding that retirement was getting closer, we bought a house and slowly began digging our roots a little deeper. As we prepare to uproot this time, familiarity mixes with the unknown, sparking new feelings and emotions. Ones we will learn to deal within the New Year.

Military families out there know the drill. New home, new schools, new friends, new sports teams, new church, and new activities all come to be in new surroundings. Being a military family is an identity of sorts, and leaving that behind is new, too.  Don’t get me wrong; I don’t feel like we are being banished from Military Family Island, but the lifestyle we knew is soon going to be a thing of the past.

It feels like we are going to plow into 2016 like a high-speed train about to jump its track. I am nervous because this fresh start seems very daunting. So, ready or not, this New Year’s resolution to ‘tackle and embrace NEW’ is almost here. I’d be lying if I said I was ready, but I would also be lying if I said I was not.

Good or bad, here’s to new.

Are you preparing for something new in the new year? How will you tackle it?

kimPosted by Kim Edger, Website Architect

Dear Self: We’ve got Some Resolving to do…

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I resolve to put myself out there . . . But not too far out there.

I resolve to protect my heart and my time.

I resolve to volunteer more often . . . But not for everything. I resolve never again to agree to be a room mom, plan the holiday party, and do the unit newsletter at the same time.

I resolve to be more understanding of my spouse when he says “mission first” . . . But only when he’s looking. I am still going to cry in the bathroom when he’s not.

I resolve to sometimes let him see me cry.

I resolve to be a better friend. I resolve to drink less wine and eat less chocolate with my friends. I resolve to sometimes bring a veggie tray to the potluck.

I resolve to stop lying in my resolutions–everyone knows I’m not going to trade wine for veggies.

I resolve to put myself first sometimes.

I resolve to make this year the year that I chase my dreams. I resolve to not be afraid of failing.

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I resolve to check my husband’s uniforms for ballpoint pens BEFORE I put it in the wash.

I resolve to stop doing my husband’s washing. Scratch that. I’ll do his washing, as long as he does the cooking.

I resolve to read less “bad news” and seek out uplifting stories.

I resolve to be a force for good and give the world more good stories to write.

I resolve to stop wearing my husband’s PT gear as pajamas.

I resolve to speak up when I see something that isn’t right.

I resolve not to let fear rule my words and actions. Even when it’s hard.

I resolve to let a healthy level of fear encourage me to clean my carpets more often because housing inspections and move-out fees.

I resolve to have the best year ever for 2016.

Signed,
Me.

What do you resolve to do in the new year?

HeatherPosted by Heather Aliano, Social Media Manager

Military Spouses: Here Are the Only Two New Year’s Resolutions You Need

Hey MilSpouses, It’s that time of year again! Time to evaluate our lives and think of all the coulda, shoulda, wouldas as we come up with our New Year’s Resolutions. Should we lose weight? Work out more? Stop cursing? (Nahhhh) Stop yelling at our kids? Let’s not get crazy.

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I want to save you some time this December. You have enough to do. We all want to be our best selves, but who has time for all that self-reflection? If you want to spend the next year tracking your calories and putting dollars in a jar every time you drop the f-bomb, stop reading. I am proud of you and what I know you’ll surely accomplish. But for the rest of us, I’ve thought this through and believe I’ve come up with the only 2 resolutions you need for 2016:

  1. Don’t feed the trolls. I resolve not to get involved in drama in 2016. Won’t you join me? Command cliques? Psht. Moms at the playground who don’t think your kid should be wearing snow boots in July? Who cares?! Meanies on Facebook calling you a Dependapotamous? Don’t even bat an eyelash. Don’t think about any of it. None of it matters. These people want to see us suffer, but we don’t have to! We won’t feed their sadistic pleasures. We’ll go about our business paying attention to what matters. Let’s not give the trolls one ounce of our energy in 2016, because you’re going to need that energy for your second resolution.
  2. Dance! Do it! Literally and figuratively. You don’t look like J-Lo when you drop it like it’s hot? Neither do I! Do it anyway. In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown says, “Until we teach our children that they need to be more concerned with how they look and with what other people think, they dance. They even dance naked. Not always gracefully or with the beat, but always with joy and pleasure.” Let’s stop worrying what everybody thinks. Let’s stop THINKING so hard every second of the day and let our body make the decisions for us. Take the orders you didn’t think you wanted. Wear that sexy dress to the command party because you look GOOD—and you’ll look even better wearing it proudly as you dance your tush off. When we dance we feel vulnerable—and isn’t that what life is about? It’s hard to allow ourselves to push through that vulnerability, but you know what’s on the other side? Pure joy.

I’d ask you to take a pledge with me right now so we can hold each other accountable, but I bet we don’t even need to do that. We’ll see the joy on each other’s faces. Happy New Year!

Are these two resolutions you can get behind? If so, get to dancing and share this post on Facebook!

besaPosted by Besa Pinchotti, Communications Director

Christmas in the Military: They Answered the Call

A few years back, my husband, Dave, was on a deployment rotation where he was deployed for 4 months and then home for 4 months. This cycle continued for 2 years. During this time, he missed a lot of special days, including some holidays. I wrote this poem to reflect the Christmas holiday for families with a deployed family member. I have never shared it, but this year I decided to share it in support of all of our military that are serving and are away from their families this Christmas.

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Christmas in the Military

Another year has gone by and we cannot wait,
Christmas time is coming; time to celebrate.

Mommy told me Christmas will be different this year,
As I looked at her face, I saw one lonely tear.

She says Daddy cannot come home, he will not be here,
All I can do is look at her with sadness and fear.

My Daddy is a hero, for everyone to see,
He’s fighting the war for our proud military.

I am sad at first, but I think for a while,
And finally I am able to show a bright smile.

If Daddy can’t be here, it is perfectly clear:
We take Christmas to Daddy and fill him with cheer.

Mommy smiles a big smile to show she understands,
She says let’s get busy and start making our plans.

First things first, we start writing our list,
Double checking it twice, to make sure nothing is missed.

Off to the store to buy our supplies,
So many great things brings wonder to my eyes.

Back at the house, let the projects begin,
Can we finish in time? That would be a blessed win!

We mark the calendar, December 10th is the date,
If we cannot finish, Daddy’s gifts will be late.

First, we make a collage with pictures of us,
Will he love seeing my first day of school on the bus?

Next, we pack a shoe box with all of his needs,
Soap, deodorant, shaving supplies, and books that he reads.

Moving on to a special gift for Daddy from me,
Drawing is ‘our thing,’ I give him a lot to see.

Our next gift is all of Daddy’s favorite treats and more,
Cookies, candy canes, brownies, and movies galore.

The last gift is the most special you see,
A video is made by mommy and me.

We tell him how much we miss him, can’t wait until he is back,
And hopefully all of his gifts will fit in that great big, green pack.

Finally, I wrap all the gifts and place a bow on each one,
To the post office we go, our job is almost done.

At the counter, we prepare to ship our box,
I’m very nervous, shaking in my socks.

The postman, replies, “I will do all that I can,”
I answer, “Thank you sir, my Daddy’s a very special man!”

“Twas the Night Before Christmas,” Daddy would always recite,
But this year we read it and it took all of our might.

Christmas morning we wake up and go downstairs,
Santa has been here, but still nothing compares.

What happens next, is the best gift of the day,
The computer screen comes on and I hear my Daddy say,

“Merry Christmas, son, thank you for the gift,”
“You and mommy are my world,” and I feel my little heart lift.

We talk on the computer for a long while,
And all we can do is smile and smile.

Daddy says he has to go, but tells us each day he loves us more and more,
Only two more months and he will be through with this tour.

As the computer goes off, Mommy and I look at each other,
You can feel the love between a son and his mother.

We open our gifts and Mommy says she is so proud of me,
Giving Daddy a special Christmas has been an amazing journey.

Later that night, she kisses me and tucks me into bed,
As I drift off to sleep with happy thoughts in my head.

Remember, children everywhere, and listen with care,
Because I have something very important to share.

If your Mommy or Daddy cannot be home on a special day,
Take the special day to them and do it your own way.

Even when they are gone, they love you through and through,
You are their pride, you are their hero, too!

Merry Christmas, happy holidays to all,
Our military is where they need to be; they answered the call!

Posted by Sonserae Martinez, Marine Spouse

Christmas in Senegal: Paper Trees and Mandarin Oranges

As a young child celebrating Christmas, I associated the holidays with cold weather and the hope for snow. We would be among the first to buy our freshly cut Christmas tree and decorate it with lights and ornaments. My mom made fancy Christmas dresses for our special candlelight Christmas Eve service. Christmas Day, we would bundle up and trek over to my grandparents for food and presents. For years, these memories were as familiar and comfortable as my favorite winter coat.

When I turned 13, my holiday experience changed in a big way. My parents and I moved to West Africa to do mission work. Little was familiar and I would soon be learning to appreciate holiday memories in a new way.

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I remember our first holiday season in Africa, like it was yesterday. It was a balmy 104 degrees, and instead of a Christmas tree, we had a paper tree plastered on the wall. In place of a fancy dress, I wore shorts and a tank top.  It was Christmas-time, but everything in me resisted the change.

I cried a lot that first Christmas. Maybe it was the sad paper tree, or maybe it was because I wasn’t around my siblings, grandparents, and extended family. Maybe it was because I just wanted peanut M&Ms that didn’t arrive half-eaten by rats. I simply missed the comforts of home.

But even though it didn’t feel like what I thought the holidays should feel like, I came to embrace my new “holiday” normal. With my brother, sister, and our entire extended family on the other side of the world, my parents and I created new and different holiday traditions. Families that didn’t fly state-side for the holidays, came together and merged into one, big “family” unit comprised of friends and stragglers. We didn’t have snow, but we had the beach. And I was actually starting to enjoy this!

My favorite past-time during the holidays became sunbathing on our empty school campus in Dakar, Senegal, while reading through Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, and eating mandarin oranges by the dozens. To this day, mandarin oranges are the #1 thing I think of during Christmas-time.

Military families often have to adjust their holiday traditions because of PCS moves or deployments, and I know it can be hard. Even though the latter part of my childhood was spent overseas away from family, I am so grateful for the experience and hope to give my own children the same opportunity. Who knew paper trees and mandarin oranges could create such a special holiday memory?

What’s your favorite holiday memory? Have you had to adjust any traditions because of a military move?

hannahPosted by Hannah Pike, Communications Deputy Director