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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): June 2011

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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Location: United States

After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Gonna be out of commission for about a week

No, just wanted to reassure you that I am not dead and that I did not forget how to use the internet or write.  I have been exploring options on how to make this blog better....whole new design, location...everything under the sun.  That takes time.  I don't have time at the moment to do that AND I have taken a short break from writing.  Please forgive me....

Be sure to check some of my favorite bloggers and what they are up to on the bottom left of this page.  It seems like a lot of folks have been starting their summer travels, so I am excited to hear what everyone is up to!

I will see you soon with more content, more thoughts on living some stuff in the works that I hope you will find interesting!  Ciao for now (oh crap, it's a rhyme)!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Video: Vent day in Europe

Well, I finally went and did it...I vented.  I vented about not being home, in the US of A.  Sure, it's great being over here.  But sometimes, things just get to you and with a slew of late night cookies to make, this is what I had to say.


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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Guest post: Stateside move with three little ones and a hyperactive dog

Lauren is an Army wife of seven years and mother to three kids (4 and under). Her website and her blog are her hobby and a sanity check from her three-ring circus.

In about three weeks we will take off and move to Ft. Benning, GA. For my husband and me the location is very welcome, but like most people, getting from point A to point B will be a real pain. We have 3 kids 4 years old and under, 2 cars and 1 hyperactive dog. Just to complicate things a bit more we are buying a newly built house at Ft. Benning (closing long distance) and renting out the one we currently live in. To add to the fun our 2 year old is potty training – or more like potty protesting- and our 1 year old just went mobile while getting in about 10 teeth at once… no exaggeration. This is going to mean lots of juggling.

This is nothing in comparison to an OCONUS PCS, however there are still lots of moving parts. But because I am a woman, and a Mom, I am determined that I can multitask my way into a smooth sailing move.

Arrive with all three children happy and healthy (it would be a real bummer to lose one).

Have zero meltdowns (I might be -1 on this already, as I did have a mini-tantrum over the incompetence in getting our orders completed).

We really want to limit time spent in a hotel to 3 days or less. I used to think hotels were fun. Then we had kids. I have yet to meet a hotel room that really understands children. I would much rather be in our new empty house on air mattresses where everyone has THEIR OWN ROOM.

I also would like to eat out as little as possible. I actually love eating out, but see above reasons on why that is not all it is cracked up to be anymore :)

Here the number one biggest challenge. I want to unpack and organize our house in about 2 days.

The second biggest challenge is to stay out of a financial hole, maybe even make a little money off this move.

Here is what I am doing to make all of this happen:

Since I have the luxury of knowing our new floor plan I am already determining which rooms everything will go into. I have closets that won’t really match up so I plan on separating that stuff out into containers and labeling them for the “new closet”.

I am taking pictures of all my bookshelves so I can “recreate” them when we unpack.

I am packing up as much perishable food as possible since this is a fairly short move. Do you know how much condiments cost!

I am putting together an "essentials" container that includes air mattresses, blankets, towels, a shower curtain, and some other stuff. Go here to access full lists on what to pack.

I am packing a container with cups, a few plastic plates, a pot and a pan.

Lastly, I will have our movers unpack our house. Read more about the tricks of that here.
Hopefully a lot of prep work at the starting line will translate into a successful move! I will check back in about a month to let you all know what did work, what didn’t work, and any extra tips I learned along the way.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Last day to enter - GIVEAWAY: Only a few more days to WIN the Europa Park tickets!

Thank-you everyone for entering the contest to win the FREE Europa Park tickets!  The contest is now over, and the winner will be announced shortly:-)  Again, thanks to all who entered!!!!

Okay, last day to enter!  To make sure these tickets don't get buried on the blog, remember you only have a few more days for an opportunity to win them.  The odds are very good you will win!  Why?  Because we only have two handfuls of entries....less exposure for me but more for you, right?

Please be sure to read this post and follow the directions.

To enter, go to my Facebook page post and and comment on my entry that asks "What is your current duty station and what has been your best experience so far?".  If you have trouble, let me know so I can manually enter you!

Hurry before it's over!


Guest Post: Top Tips from another veteran military spouse

Military spouses = stone wall (mutual support)
Many of you already know my good friend Susanna who runs Military Duty Stations.  It is a wonderful site that she has put together, detailing information on just about every military post you can think of, including some obscure ones you may have never heard of.  How does she do it all?  She doesn't....she gets her visitors to write in entries, and I think it's awesome that so many contribute...BUT she is always looking for new and fresh information, so please take the time to go help and leave your comment on your current duty station, no matter how small.  We can't expect Susanna to do it all alone, and I think we can all benefit from her awesome work!

And without further delay, Susanna would like to share some of her veteran military spouse tips, as she has been on this bus herself while.

When you are a part of the military life there will be plenty of moments when you are alone or lonely. You will have to deal with the situation, hopefully without becoming bitter but finding new ways to live through it. Attitude is half the battle. Here are a few suggestions.

Forget planning anything. If you decide to plan then make sure that you realize your spouse might or might not be available for the event. Trying to find a date for our wedding was fairly challenging and one of the first lessons for me to learn.

Become independent
Yes, the military brings us spouses up to be Type A, go-getters. Sometimes this seems to backfire on them. Seriously, we are married but we have to know what to do and how to do it without having our spouse there. I remember that I have taken myself to surgery or childbirth before. Unfortunately, this tough exterior comes with a price as I have noticed to have little patience with some civilian wives. I am very sure that most of you know what I am talking about.

Holidays, birthdays, important dates
As mentioned before, planning is an issue when you live a military life. It is even more devastating when your loved one is missing an important event in your life. I believe that in my 18 years of marriage my husband missed...I guess half. However, I am not complaining, as I know that there are ladies out there who have a much lower percentage of their husbands being available.  Holidays have taken on a different dimension. While birthdays and Christmas are still very important, things have changed. Christmas is when we can celebrate it as a family and not necessarily as a date. Birthdays...well, you do the best you can. It will be helpful to look at these dates differently.

Don't buy into the drama
Drama, there is a lot of it. Not sure why. Is it because most of us spouses are female and drama like that might be a female trait?  Is it an outlet for spouses? I am not sure.  Seems that sometimes the drama comes from hurt feelings. Sometimes it's a part of old baggage, when things only seemed right when there was a lot of upheaval in life. I do believe though that we, I , have to do the right thing. I want to grow, do it better. I want to accept others' opinion, even if I don't agree with it. I don't want to be hateful, but put good vibes and some love out in this world in hopes that this goodwill spreads. You try it, it will make a lot of things easier.

Finding new ways of finding together
After frequent or long-term separations it will become important to discover new ways to find your way back together.  Don't be too hard on yourself.....but know that you are stronger than you think. If your gut tells you one thing there is a chance you are right and you need to go with your gut until the situation is resolved. Don't take NO for an answer until you are satisfied. Disclaimer: You might step  on a few toes.

Seek support, support others!

Don't try and fight a situation by yourself. Find and join a support network, help if you can.

Thanks Susanna for those inspiring words.  It sure gives us something all to think about whether we've been in military life for 30 days or 30 years!  Thanks for your words of wisdom!

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

People still calculate in non-Euro currency over here

This just cracks me up...but then again, I'm an American not schooled in such things (even though I sometimes say I am German if it benefits me...hey, I'm half right, cause I'm half German) I bought this book about Paris in our local, an awesome second-hand store which I blogged about before.  They sometimes have cool old books, but this was a new one.  Okay so this is not about the book.  It's about the receipt.  Yes, the receipt.  You see, everything looks nice and orderly, and in fact, just like an American receipt (except in French), until you get to the very bottom.

The entry I circled in the pic says "484,08 BEF".  So what the heck is that?  Well, if you can believe it or is close to a decade that the Euro currency was brought to Belgium and people still calculate what the thing will cost in Belgian Francs, the previous currency.  That's right.  Especially the older generation.  They absolutely want to know what that thing is worth in Belgian Francs before they buy it, whether it's a book, a piece of furniture or a sack of vegetables.  Nevermind that we haven't had the Belgian Franc in nine years to value it against other world currencies.  It is forever stuck in la-la land.

And before you laugh...the Germans do it too.  In fact, right after the German Deutschmark changed over to Euros, you could still walk into stores and see two price signs and tags.  The Deutschmark price and the Euro price.  Of course you could only pay in Euros but people still wanted to know.  My grandpa, rest his soul cause he had already lost one fortune when the Reichsmark went to the Deutschmark and thought it would happen again....even he continued to do it until his dying day about 12 years ago.  I suspect my aunt still does it too although never out loud these days.

So next time you get your receipt in Europe, take a look at the bottom and see if you can find the old currency.  You just might see it there and impress your friends with this fairly useless bit of knowledge!


Monday, June 13, 2011

Score one for the Air Force at RAF Mildenhall in the UK (Great newcomer info)

Well isn't that something...once again I have to hand it to the Air Force.  Yet again, they have put something together that I think the Army should have in Germany!  I was surprised to stumble upon a seven part...yeah, you read it right...a SEVEN PART video series, of a few minutes each, geared towards newcomers PCSing to the UK and our Air Force bases there.  You'll learn about inprocessing, the house hunt, on and off post living and just what you will be doing those first few precious and mind-blowing weeks.

It's funny.  It's kind of like childbirth.  It can be painful and overwhelming moving overseas for the firs time...and next year, when someone asks you about it, you'll be like...ah, from what I remember, it wasn't that big of a deal...yeah right.  Anyway, I want to remind my Germany folks are those coming to other European locations...the inprocessing dance is done almost the exact same way!  Yes, I know I was shocked.  I have never inprocessed to an AF base before.  Imagine that.

Anyway, be sure to check it out here...some of the clips go on to the next one automatically....I think the first one doesn't', so just click on Part 2.  Maybe I should send this to Army Public Affairs or USAREUR...or something.

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

GIVEAWAY: Two FREE tickets to Europa Park Amusement Park!

Thank-you everyone for entering the contest to win the FREE Europa Park tickets!  The contest is now over, and the winner will be announced shortly:-)  Again, thanks to all who entered!!!!

I guess I am going to jump on the giveaway bandwagon this summer!  I'm excited that in partnership with the USO, I can offer two free tickets to Europa Park, an AWESOME American-style amusement park in Germany.  People, this is the closest you are going to get to a "taste of apple pie" American experience...with of course some good German food available for good measure.  Join me and my readers...tell your friends and win these two tickets!

Here are the contest rules:

  • Join my Life Lessons of a Military Wife Facebook page (or already have "liked" it) and answer my question posted on my Facebook page, "What is your current duty station and what has been your best experience so far?"

  • One entry per person please.

  • This contest is open to ALL my blog visitors and readers, regardless of where you are stationed but realize you can only use these tickets for the 2011 season in Europa Park in Germany.  The park is located near Stuttgart and Karlsruhe, Germany.

  • The contest will start on 11 June 2011 and end one week later on 18 June 2011.             

  • I will use to randomly select a winner.  Please make sure I am able to message you on Facebook or leave me with some way to contact you via your answer!

  • These two tickets have a value of 72 euros and have generously been donated by the USO Europe.

  • Looking forward to reading your answers, and I plan to use them in a future post on this blog (names and identifying information removed of course for privacy!).

    Don't forget, if you have a local USO in your community in Europe, they sell discount tickets to many amusement parks, concerts and venues in Germany, so be sure to check them out!


    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    Guest post: Fresh off the plane to Germany!

    So a few days ago, I asked if anyone would like to guestpost.  Well, I asked, and I received!!!  Thank-you so much.  This post is actually fresh off the airplane.  One of our readers packed up kit and kaboodle and flew overseas to Germany.  After the first few weeks, she decided she had better write this stuff down.  Without further delay, this is what she had to say.

    I’ve been having problems with finding current info on Stuttgart so I thought I would share my experiences so far, one week in. OK so here's how it went.

    Dropping off the car was easy and took about an hour. You just have to have what they say on the website
    or on the automated phone system and you'll be good there (you can get the numbers from the website). If you have a loan on your car, make sure you go ahead and get a letter stating that it’s ok to take it out of the country. We had no problem with Pentagon Federal letting us take it out of the country. They took forever getting the letter out to me and I had to request it twice. If you carry a note on your car, please be sure to read this post.

    We rented a car for a week in DC and shipped our car on May 23rd, a few days before we shipped it out of Baltimore. It isn't due in Germany until July 5thish. It took us about an hour to get it shipped and it’s an hour drive to the Dulles airport. I would not suggest shipping your car the same day as you fly out. At least in Baltimore/DC.  If you are flying out of Dulles then get there extra early. We waited in line for two hours and barely made our flight. We got to the car rental return at 4pm and our flight left at 6:54. If we had had another hour then it would have been perfect. We did fly out close to Memorial day weekend so that may have been the problem. Also, an hour layover once you get overseas is NOT long enough. You have to go through passport checks and security again...I got patted down! Fun. I would suggest at least a 2 hour layover, we ran to the airplane and were the last ones on...the plane was already boarded. Give enough time for food and drink and running around. 

    Maybe you are used to foreign airports but I was so lost, the airport in Frankfurt did not flow like an American airport and everything was confusing. At least everyone I encountered spoke English. Once we were on the plane they served us drinks and dinner. We ended up not using the CARES systems but with the car rental, those car seat vests came in handy.

    We have 3 car seats and we shipped them with the car since we didn’t want to mess with them at the airport…and because 3 car seats just don’t fit in one backseat. The boys slept pretty well...until my 2 year old threw up all over everything within a 2 foot radius. It was horrid. BRING EXTRA CLOTHES FOR EVERYONE (and wipes)!! I actually packed some full sized kitchen garbage bags on a prompting thinking it was stupid to do. Now I'm glad I did. It holds vomitous clothing very well. Once that was all cleaned up we had about 3 hours and 45 minutes left. The flight didn't feel that long. Overall it was a good trip. 

    I was stressed out and my husband probably didn't like me that much during our travels but we made it. Driving across the country was worth it, we drove from Fort Carson Colorado to Baltimore. Even though it took 3 weeks because we visited family all along the way, it was slow and relaxed and the boys did really well. Taking off a few hours of flying time was well worth the time in the car.

    Make your temporary lodging arrangements as soon as you can. They are full here and I heard them at the front desk telling someone they could only stay a week since they are booked up. Staying in the Panzer hotel is cramped. We have a one bedroom and would have to have 7 people in our family to qualify for a 2 bedroom. You would be fine in here with just 2 or 3 people. I have heard that the hotel on Patch is better for families.  All we have is a convection microwave oven that is very German and I had to borrow the owners manual from the front desk to try and figure out how to use it. I think I figured out the dishwasher. We bought a car for $3000 on the lemon lot on Panzer. It is in the PX parking lot in the very back close to the Panzer Hotel. Don’t let the name fool you, it has very nice cars. You can also look on for cars AND houses. Along with everything else you might need. It’s like craigslist but this is more popular here.

    The only thing I can think of that I am wishing I had sent in my fast shipment
    (unaccompanied baggage) is something to put the baby in (bouncy seat). I REALLY wish that we had sent our fast shipment a whole lot earlier. It takes the same amount of time to ship your unaccompanied baggage and your household goods (HHG) so they are only arriving one week apart. No one told us when to ship so we messed up there.  We still have 2 weeks until our fast stuff gets here and another 3 weeks until our slow stuff gets here.  We are trying to figure out how to get our iphones unlocked so we can use them. Take my advice, unlock them before you get here or wait to buy something once you get here.

    No one will unlock it here and the German internet is really least in the Panzer Hotel. All incoming calls and texts in Germany are free no matter what service you use. I bought a phone for 14 euros and am doing the prepaid thing here until I figure out my iphone. I am not going to do a contract, too much involved I hear and the prepaid thing has been great so far. If you go to TKS
    (a phone contractor located on most of our posts in Germany - they provide home phone/cable/tv service & cell phone service/prepaid....basically a middleman that provides this stuff in English with itemized bills).  You can do prepaid or a contract. For unlimited data it is 10 euros a month. If you are just going to use the phones here then all you have to do is walk into a store and point out the phone you want and its active once you put in the number from the phone card. It ended up being about $115 after we bought 2 phones and 2 phone cards.  Please be sure to read this article on the cell phone system and phone choices in Europe.

    We found a house by looking on the bulletin board at the commissary on Patch Barracks. It wasn’t listed with housing and no realtors are involved so it’s allowed.  Housing seems to have a lot of drama so I’m glad that we found a house so quickly without using them. I have heard that once you find a house that you like you should jump on it. They don't last long. I would say the average size of a house here is about 1400 sq ft. We like everything about the house except that it is a little far from work. The Stuttgart housing website seems to be out of date but as of now they told us there is nothing available on post and didn’t give us an option of being on a waiting list…not sure if that’s because of my husbands rank or not (E8). 
    You can now find the Stuttgart Housing Office on  Just sign in with a government or .mil email address to access overseas listings.

    As far as home phones go…my observations so far are that Magic Jack is the least reliable with the crappiest reception but the cheapest and calls to and from the states are free. Vonage only works if your internet is working (along with Magic jack) and so that is why Skype is my next option because even if your computer is down, it will still forward calls to whatever phone number you input. Skype is costing me around $60 a year for a stateside number and then you have to have Skype credit or a calling plan for Germany in order to forward your Skype number to your German home or cell phone. The down side to Skype is when you call out you have to use your computer.
    Although, you can buy a Skype phone.  It looks just like a cordless phone and runs off your router, so you can use it even when the computer is off.  So my plan is that I'm going to get a home phone through TKS and they offer unlimited calls to the US. So people from the states will call you on your Skype number so its free for them and you will call them on your TKS home number so its free for you. Otherwise you would never get calls from the US.....maybe that’s not a bad thing though :) It's about 50 Euros a month for home phone and internet...another 20 Euros for Cable TV. 

    Awesome and what a wealth of information!  Thank-you again!  As you can see...there are a lot of things to think about during the move, but you can make it work if you are well prepared.

    My next post, I will cover something on iphones.  I just recently bought a second-hand iphone over here...I paid under $200 for fact, it was closer to $150...and used it a whole week on all the free wifi networks and my wifi at is honestly the best thing since sliced bread over here...that's just me talking!  There are some amazing apps you can use over here, and I have already made good use of the thing...more on this later!

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    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Video: Being a military girlfriend (or even boyfriend)

    It seems that when I wrote about being a military girlfriend, it moved up towards the top of the reading list on this blog (see bottom right of the homepage).  I must've hit a nerve...either that or there isn't a lot out there on being a military girlfriend.  I'm going to go over some things you need to think about before dating that handsome man (or woman) in the uniform!

    Here's what I had to say. Go get a soda and see if any value can be squeezed out of it.

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    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    There is a reason for everything really...

    Visiting my mom on Mother's Day at Arlington National Cemetery
    Funny...someone messaged me the other day and asked how in the world do I get anything done with all the traveling (and writing)....another person said I must have too much time on my hands....honestly, I took a little of a beating on Q&A.  I'm still not sure why.  I didn't let it bother me (okay, well not completely), whereas before, when I was younger, I might have been really hurt by some of the comments, I decided to take the time to ponder why things are the way they are.

    So....I thought I would explain myself since I hadn't really thought about what I'm going to talk about today.  I guess I had to sit and think about it and even pin it down for myself....why do I go to bed late, or get up two hours early to write on my blog?  Why do I leave my computer on when I am home, knowing that electricity is more expensive over here, and make comments throughout the day on my Facebook page?  Why do I feel the need to answer emails and questions?  Why have I bothered doing videos and podcasts when I could be thoroughly enjoying myself for being me?

    I'll tell you why.  I know the answer....or at least I think I do. It's because I come from a family with a strong sense of service and honestly believe it is better to give than to receive.  I also believe you should leave a place better than you found it...I used to do that as a Girl Scout, and you can bet the rental homes (and military housing) we lived in were in much better condition on our way out than in.  You might even catch me picking up an errant piece of garbage or whatever as I walk from my car to wherever I'm going.

    My first memories are of my mom, bless her heart and her soul as she is no longer with us.  I think I was 5 years old, seeing her walk around in a volunteer Red Cross uniform.  Back then, the volunteers wore neat and pressed uniforms before they went out about their business of helping others. I remember the little boy who lived across the street in our onpost stairwell in Germany......before our posts had fences around the housing areas, kids ran freely, maybe too much so.  He got hit by a speeding German car and my mom dropped everything to go with them to the hospital and then spent DAYS at that mother and father's side.  She spoke fluent German and never thought to do anything different.  My brother and I spent those many days being shuttled back and forth between brother wasn't even a year old yet, but me...the five year old was tasked with his feeding, changing and watching over.  Later, growing up, I remember my friends being absolutely terrified of my mom through the years.  She could be very abrupt and honest...and it scared them...hey, it's the German way....but after they got to know her, it was my mother they called when they needed someone to help them or even to talk to, and she never told anyone the no-word.

    I grew up with stories of my German grandmother hiding people and their things during the war.  Even today, a grateful family, who were perfect strangers to our family at the time, stay in touch with me....two generations removed...their children STILL grateful for my grandmother's kindness.  My American great-grandfather, the son of a slave, after the move to Chicago, used to make almost daily trips to the train station to see if anyone got off from his hometown in Mississippi.  He was determined that no one coming from down South would be out on the streets, when they first arrived to the big city.  It didn't matter that he worked long shifts and was bone tired by the time he got there.  My dad remembers sharing a bed with two, three and four others, just so everyone would have a warm place to sleep at night.  My husband can share similar stories of his own family, and we hope our kids will take note too.  I think that is what drew me to him initially.  This is just the kind of  environment I grew up in and feel comfortable with.

    I am not an expert in fact, I'm a dabbler in everything...knowing a little bit of this and that is a lot but not everything....yes, it can make me dangerous sometimes but usually, my common sense will stop me before I wreck anything or anyone.  I take after my father on this one.  He of course walks around with two or three books at a time and can be found almost always waiting in line everywhere he goes with a book open.  Just because I like to give advice and get comfort and a sense of satisfaction in helping others, it does not mean that I don't appreciate the same.  I would love someone to guestpost on a subject.  I freely take advice as well.  I am so grateful that many of you post your wonderful tips and stories here in the comments and my Facebook and Twitter that, and please don't stop doing it!  All of our shared experiences can make us better people on the inside and the outside...

    I don't travel every weekend with cameras and Flip in tow...honestly, no.  And I don't even write about all of our travels, just some of them.  I am also just as happy spending a lazy weekend at home.  What do I do?  We do things locally.  I shop at the PX and eat at the food court.  Many weekends I am on the couch watching a movie marathon, cuddled under a blanket with our cat.  Or maybe we are taking a bike ride along the canal or taking a walk or local volksmarch...just like anyone else.  I wish I was craftier...then I might be working on projects or photo albums or something interesting rather than cleaning the house...would LOVE to know how to make jewelry, as an example...but that gene has left me by the wayside.  I am thankful I have two coworkers who are so creative, I get to tag along with their great ideas and help with the actual grunt for now, that is good enough for me, to broaden my horizons.  Cooking can be fun too, right?  That is evidenced by all the recipes I have bookmarked, and do you know that if I find a really good recipe or someone gives me one...I will write it in an email, email it to MYSELF and then put it in a recipe folder in my email account.  I guess that's kind of weird, and I should've probably left that bit of information out....too much over the top?  Maybe.

    And with that, before I get way too sappy or get myself worked up, I will end here.  Feel free to comment as you see fit....or not.  I just want to say thank-you to my blog readers and those who stop by for a visit.  I know a few of you have been with me and grown with me since the very know who you are!  I have made some amazing friendships through this blog, rekindled some old ones....and just gotten to know a great group of folks....I think 'nuff said there.  Oh, one more thing before you, he did not make it, and I still sometimes think where that boy would be today.


    Friday, June 3, 2011

    Video: Navigating a Volksmarch (what is it and how do I do one?)

    I think my husband holds the record for the most volksmarches in our family...he's done hundreds of events and well over 2,000 kilometers...and that's being conservative.  So what is this volksmarch?  And why can it be so important to you?

    Well let me tell you.  I'll explain it all below.  At the end, I've written some tips out in plain English.  If the video moves a bit too fast at that point (I tried to slow it down), pausing it should allow you to read what I wrote at the very end.  Lots of resources and websites to get you started in this great and relaxing sport too!  Come join me as I walk through a forest and the streets and farmpaths of a small town in Belgium.

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    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    A very lofty mission of free home security alarms for deployed servicemembers

    I received a nice email from a Mr. Kandell and thought his project was so worthy, I would like him to tell us about it!  As you can see, it is not easy raising money and trying to provide a valuable service.  It's all yours.....

    Hi, My name is Eric Kandell and I have worked in the private sector with military men and women for years.  Whether I have been helping service members, deployed troops, or Veterans, my professional career has allowed me the opportunity to give back to a part of the population I have a lot of respect and admiration for. 

    Recently I had the chance to try and form a nonprofit organization that was intended to pay for all associated costs with putting home security alarms in the house of every deployed man and woman possible.  I went as far as securing a law firm that specialized in 501C3 applications with the IRS.  The thought was ideal, we would raise charitable funds and then take all the money raised and install security alarms in the homes of deployed or deploying troops so that the families that stayed behind could be protected and the state of mind of the men and women serving could be relaxed and focused knowing their family members back home were protected.

    We were able to negotiate free home alarms with most of the Nation's leading alarm providers, but ran into lots of issues raising funds and getting donations so that we could pay for the ongoing price to monitor the alarm system each month.  Eventually, with regret we gave up on the 501C3 or charitable organization and continued our efforts to educate and let families know they had a friend and advocate in the home security world.

    Today Protect Our Troops is a normal business, yes we make money, but we still pass on huge savings and lots of education and assistance to family members of deployed or deploying troops.  There is nothing better than hearing from a spouse of a man or women overseas, serving this country, when they tell us how much better they are sleeping at night, thanks to the alarm Protect Our Troops helped them secure.

    Here is what Protect Our Troops currently does for this Nation's men and women of the Armed Forces:

    1. We have negotiated FREE home security systems for both active military and Veterans alike.

    2.  We have advocated for rock bottom monthly monitoring expenses with companies like ADT for example.

    3.  We have removed equipment costs all together.

    During deployment, if you got your alarm from working with Protect Our Troops, we can reimburse two months of monthly monitoring expense while a loved one is deployed.

    I truly think our original goal of 100% free alarms and monitoring, subsidized by charitable contributions was a great idea.  I think that anyone in harm's way serving this great country should be given a free home alarm by our government.  However, until then Protect Our Troops looks forward to advocating and assisting in any way we can the brave men and women of the military.

    Thank you to you all who are sacrificing for the rest of us.  We do not forget the great sacrifices of those family members asked to stay behind and support their loved ones while they are serving.  Thank you all!