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Joining the military is an important decision for a young man or woman to make. Everyone has his own reasons to join the military. My dad decided that he wanted to be a part of our Army. I would like to share with you a list of pros and cons of having a military dad:

Pros
  1. Social Benefits: Being a serviceman, my father was given free Army base housing with the amount of money to cover utilities for our family. The government covered his vacation and holidays. I was privileged to all the perks and benefits of having a military dad such as cheap healthcare, free schooling, discounts at certain restaurants or theme parks. After retirement, he will get a pension that will help him cover most of his expenses.
  2. Opportunity to See the World: My dad has visited countries around the world that he would never have been able to afford visiting. The Army can be stationed in Europe or Asia; the Navy has bases all over the world. Traveling and discovering new places makes military living more interesting. I traveled much more than the kids my age.
  3. Advanced Training: Every position in the military requires different levels of education and training. That’s why my dad is always active and in good shape. His everyday activities help him stay strong and healthy. He keeps telling me that, “Your body is a temple, but only if you treat it as one.”
Cons
  1. High Risks: Military service requires good physical and mental health. There is a chance my father would go to a hot spot. He could face a risk of being wounded or even killed. But I fully understood the main reason why he joined the military was to protect people he loved.
  2. Leaving Home Behind: The military dad is obliged to serve the country and he needs to leave even the newborn kids. Of course, it’s hard to be a first-time mother when your husband is away. My dad was often very far from home. He could not attend my birthdays or other holidays. It made me sad for a while, but I realized that he was serving the country and it was a more important thing. When Dad returned home wearing his military uniform, it made me very proud of him and of what he was doing for our country.
  3. Service Obligations: Getting out of the military is almost impossible. The process of joining the military included signing a contract where my dad specified the number of service years. He could not simply stop serving our country, go home and find another job.

Walter Hurley is a content writer at http://customwriting.com eager to become a professional writer. Walter is passionate about words, texts and literature and enjoys sharing his thoughts with large audiences.

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Look back on your years in school, and ask yourself this question:

Who was the teacher that changed your life?

Now, think back on all the years you have been a military spouse, and answer this question:

Who was the military spouse that changed your life?

Was it easier to answer the first question than the second? Identifying “that military spouse” in the same way that we identify “that teacher” is a significant part of our growth in the military life. Why?

Because that spouse, just like that teacher, is a mentor…and in this life, we need mentors.

Who Is a Mentor Spouse?

Mentor spouses have a rich experience that guides other spouses who are new, young or otherwise feeling lost. Mentor spouses might be called “seasoned,” but their ability to mentor doesn’t rest solely on how long they’ve been married or how often they’ve high-fived deployments, TDYs and PCSs.

Mentor spouses help mentees discover the power within themselves to navigate this life on their own. They inspire confidence, provide honest advice and connect mentees to useful resources.

The founder and president of the Military Spouse Advocacy Network (MSAN), Verenice Castillo, sums up mentorship like this: “Mentorship is more than answering questions or sharing your personal experiences with others. It is about providing the kind of support and friendship that makes strong spouses and stronger families.”

Mentorship Smooths the Path for New Spouses

If you’re a new military spouse, you might find yourself feeling alone, uncertain and overflowing with questions. You also might realize that finding a sense of purpose is the biggest challenge of all. Having experienced similar doubts, fears and obstacles, mentor spouses can offer a combination of emotional support and practical advice.

Finding a mentor spouse isn’t something you can force. Let it happen naturally, but engage yourself in activities where you can meet people with a variety of backgrounds. Participate in your unit’s spouse functions, join spouse clubs or volunteer at local events. You might meet an experienced spouse with whom you will naturally “click.” This relationship can benefit you by:

  • Clearing up confusion. Every military spouse knows what a relief it is to finally crack the codes of acronyms, customs and courtesies.
  • Welcoming you into a community. A mentor spouse can introduce you to people and activities that will help you feel less like the new person and more like part of the family.
  • Connecting you to resources. Discover everything there is to know about your installation and the local community – and gain some insight on the beast that is TriCare!
  • Putting things into perspective. When you’re overwhelmed by the rollercoaster of military life, hearing how another spouse has handled it (several times) can ground you and restore your confidence.

Talk to your mentor – a lot. Ask questions, no matter how small. Listen to advice. The more you do this, the more you’ll grow and the more you’ll feel at home.

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Like many veterans, once I separated from service I decided to take full advantage of my GI Bill. After my first weekend on campus I realized that being a 30-something year old student is oh so different than being an 18-year old student. All the sudden I can relate all too well to Billy Madison.

I am more than 10 years older than my peers. Want to know what that means? I graduated high school before some of them were even in kindergarten! I have had some of my classmates ask me if we even had color TV when I was their age. Apparently my wrinkle cream isn’t working if they think I’m that old! Even my parents had color TV!

On the flip side…when I have an epically awful day I am old enough to go buy my own wine. And I know the difference between a good bottle of wine and cheap Boones’ Farm is that with the extra money I pay for the wine I won’t have to spend money on hangover food the next morning.

Being an older student also means I am slightly out of touch with the terms that the popular crowd uses. Then again, even in high school I was such a nerd I wouldn’t have known a cool phrase if it bit me in the butt. I swear, listening to my classmates talk I feel as if I could use a translator to understand what the heck they mean.

However, being so much older means I am a lot less confused when our professors start cracking jokes. Let’s face it, college professors aren’t exactly known for having the best sense of humor so the dad-jokes and ’90’s references make complete sense to me. Heck, half of the kids in my classes are probably still trying to figure out who Billy Madison is!

Oh, and going back to school as an adult has turned me into my dad. I have the intense urge to tell the girls in the class to put on more clothes and tie the boys pants around their waist with bungee cord. I can remember having a high school science teacher that kept bright pink ribbon in his classroom for any guys who wanted to sag their pants.

If they told him they didn’t have a belt then they got to create one from the ribbon. Back then I thought it was sorta weird but now I completely understand. Unless the student is Marky Mark I really don’t need to see their Calvin’s.

I will say that I have gained some confidence in who I am now that I’m on the wrong side of 30. No longer do I feel the need to attend class dressed to the nines just to impress the cute frat boy sitting behind me. Nope, I’m all too happy to stroll in wearing my not-quite-mom-jeans and comfy moccasins since I know sitting in a cramped desk does not require 3 inch heels and a tank top that I’m going to freeze in.

College campuses can feel like a completely different planet for older students, but you know what? Going back now makes me oh so thankful that I am married, not navigating the dating world, and have grown into being happy with myself.

I might find myself confused by the social structure on campus but at the end of the day I get to go home, curl up with my handsome husband, and laugh about the drama 18 year old kids think is the be all and end all of their lives. Having a little perspective certainly makes college a lot more entertaining than it was when I was 18.

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I LOVE MY MARINE!

Like, seriously. I crave his hugs when he’s gone and I still get girly excited when he walks in the door. But I made a BIG mistake that sucked out some of the passion in our marriage. I didn’t realize how much he loved me back OR how much he actually wanted to be around me. I didn’t realize that he still enjoyed dating me and missed our time together. I didn’t prioritize that aspect of our lives because, well, I was busy with the kids.

Raising twin toddlers (they were two at the time), I thought he understood that I was just trying to keep my head above water. They were born in Okinawa so we’ve never had family nearby to help and ONCE AGAIN, we were at a new duty station. I’m trying to create new friendships, build trust, learn the area and fight what I call the “lonely’s.”

I was educating the kids at home, hauling them to playgroups, library story time, trying to keep the house clean and, at the same time, cook a smokin’ dinner. Let’s not forget that I run a business too. Shouldn’t I get the BME award (Best MOM Ever)? According to him, yes. He would never deny that I am a great mom, but one day he said:

“I feel like you put the kids before me.”

If I could have sucked in ALL of the air on ALL of the Earth I would have. That’s how BIG my gasp was! But after I got over being offended and LISTENED to WHY he felt this way, then I totally got it. Being the best mom and a sucky wife is No Bueno.

Because, think about it, we could have hired someone to do all of the things I was doing for the kids, but he needed me to LOVE him. It’s like me accepting him going to work everyday and doing the heavy lifting around the house as an act of love, without him ever fulfilling my heart needs.

So we had a lot of hard conversations. After figuring out what’s important to both of us, we are back on track and better than before! Since I’ve been on both sides of this, that makes me a pro, right? Here’s my advice.

3 Romance Rituals to keep your FIRE while raising a Family:

1. What’s your ONE THING?

It’s the moment you take daily to come close. Busyness can create accidental distance. The nature of military life already pulls our families apart for periods of time. But everyday activities only add to that. Think about it, you’re usually yanked out of your sleep by your kids either crying or calling your name! You’ve grumbled a goodbye to your spouse and from this point you’re in action/routine mode.

How do you intentionally come close? For my husband and me, it’s when he walks in the door. He knows that my love language is affectionate touch. HUGS ARE HEALING! We embrace and it’s coupled with a few deep sighs and neck kisses. And we can melt our day away in each other’s arms. Our kids are so used to it that they stand next to us and hug each other until we are done. I LOVE IT!

2. Leave a LOVE trail…

This is pretty fun because you can be SILLY and/or SEDUCTIVE! Here’s how the love trail works. Leave post it notes in their boots, send sensual text messages or just tell them how much you miss them. A love tap on the bum while you’re passing in the house is a healthy reminder too

3. Make bedtime COUNT

We try to keep a routine bedtime (we’re fluid between 8-8:30.) But we can look at each other sometimes and know, “Okay, tonight will be as early as possible.” That’s ADULT time. Do what you do! Make it as romantic as possible or keep it simple. The important thing is that it’s just the two of you!

BONUS** If you’re one of the lucky ones, you have at least one person who lives nearby that you trust to watch your babies. USE THEM! Start small by asking them to watch the kid(s) for an hour while you both go for some ice cream and a walk. This alone time is PRICELESS.

I love my children. But one day they will leave. And I can’t let my love for them jack up my marriage…so I have to love my spouse even harder!

Had to check myself while writing this. So we went on a DATE!

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By Natsumi Covey

Before marrying my husband, I never questioned my ambitions for my professional career. I was going to go to law school and become a lawyer. It was my lifelong dream, and it was something that I was confident in. Surprisingly, after marrying my husband, the military made me question those very ambitions. I didn’t question them because of my lack of passion or willingness, I started to question it because of how difficult it became once I became a military spouse.

Generally, once you go to law school, you study both federal and state laws, and you take the BAR exam to become a licensed attorney. Ask any attorney, but the BAR exam is not a test that you would be willing to take over and over again. Not only is the test difficult in itself, but it can cost anywhere from $600 to $10,000 dollars each time you bar in a new state.

I was in the process of studying for the law school admissions test when professionals in this field started to tell me how difficult this would really be for me. They tried to discourage me from going to law school. They told me that I was better off staying a paralegal.

I have encountered more “You can’t do it”, “You shouldn’t do it”, “Don’t do it” comments than any sort of positive encouragement during my journey. I have been silently thinking about these circumstances for about two years now because there are not many military spouses around me who are pursuing the same profession.

I have come to the conclusion that regardless of all the odds stacked against me, I have no plans of giving up. My husband’s career, like all military spouses, calls for sacrifices, but I don’t believe that this is an instance where sacrifice is necessary.

I see my husband put on his flight suit every day, and go to his job like it is his hobby. He absolutely, unequivocally loves it. I, too, am entitled to work for and to fight for a career that I love. It may be more work than everyone else, and I may be at a clear disadvantage but what better advocate could I have for my own rights than myself?

I wrote this to encourage other spouses who are constantly discouraged from the people around them. If there is anything being a military spouse teaches you, it is to be resilient in the grimmest of circumstances. We are fighters, we are strong and we are capable of accomplishing anything.

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How are our military families effected by public school shootings?

“This happens NOWHERE else other than the United States of America –this epidemic of mass slaughter, this scourge of school shooting after school shooting…. We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with ZERO parallel anywhere else. As a parent it scares me to death that this body doesn’t take seriously the safety of my children…” – Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy

My husband and I had been married for three years when we got our orders to Okinawa, Japan. One of the main things our military friends shared about the duty station is how SAFE it is there. They were right! I had never experienced such a calm feeling as I walked down the street at night (which is NOT something I would make a practice in the states). Many friends were so comfortable with letting their kids roam a little more freely. Yes, crimes did still occur, but they were few and far between.

Six years and two kids later, we are set to move back to the states. Our first though is how we’ll raise our kids in America. YES, we both grew up here ourselves, but you think about things differently when you have children to protect, especially after living in such a low-crime country.

We bought a gun and my husband took me to the range a few times. We researched areas of town to find which ones were the safest in proximity to good schools. Most importantly we wanted the peace of mind that they would be safe.

In 2017 Parkland was voted the safest city in the state of Florida.

As news stories continued Parkland Florida shooting this Valentine’s Day, many parents voiced their main reason for moving to the area: it had a safe reputation and great public school system.

According to a search on everytown.org, this is one of six high school shootings in 2018 alone; including college campus shootings, incidents without injury, and personal altercations involving a firearm.

So what effect does this have on military families in particular?

When we feel the government isn’t passing or supporting laws that protect our children, we consider what options we have ourselves!

Many families have chosen to stay overseas longer and let their children finish school. Some have even chosen to live out their retired lives in other countries. Simply put… WE DON’T CHOOSE AMERICA.

It’s not about patriotism. It’s about protection. It’s about peace of mind. It’s about LIFE!

A large population of military families do choose to come home to the states, but we miss that peace. We question our decision to return and contemplate going back. I’ve heard it too many times.

We are tired of the tears, the loss, the fear of losing a child, and the process of watching the country grieve so deeply. Our country.

Until the lawmakers in America CHOOSE to enforce decisions that will protect us, we will make extreme measures to CHOOSE our children’s safety over it all.

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Congratulations
to the Top 18

Here are the Top 18 Base Level Spouses of the Year who will be moving on to the Branch Level voting.
Branch Voting opens on February 20th!

See all Base Winners

National Guard Stefany Buckley

Connecticut National Guard

I hope to continue to spread awareness of the employment issues that military families face. I hope to encourage more states to create licensing accommodations for military spouses; not just for attorneys but for other licensed professions as well. I also hope to bring more awareness to the contributions of the National Guard and advocate for more resources for families of our Guard and Reserve components.

Read more about Stefany here!

Shelia Brookins

Kentucky National Guard

I would like the civilian community to understand that our service men and women are the 1% that not only serve their country but they are also local citizens too. Their spouses, children, parents, family, and friends are a part of the community. The reason they do what no one else wants to do is because of the love they have for their community. I want the community to be educated on the differences as well as commonalties that exist in Active, Reserve, and National Guard and what they can do to support all branches and the families that live in their community.

Read more about Shelia here!

Lorén Westerfield

Texas National Guard

So few service members feel like their country and the American citizens understand their scarifies. It’s hard enough to be gone, but exponentially so when they don’t feel like it is appreciated. I would want to use this opportunity to educate the public about what it is like to be a military family, how they can get involved with supporting our uniformed military and their families, and why it’s so important to our military’s morale to show that support in tangible ways. Additionally, support our military spouses and kids in their sacrifices. They never swore an oath to support and defend, but their strength is equally as vital to the strength of our nation.

Read more about Lorén here!

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Who can resist a delicious fresh baked Raspberry Danish—topped with a Hannah Swensen cozy mystery?  New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Joanne Fluke, the Queen of Culinary Mystery, returns to Lake Eden during Thanksgiving.  But it isn’t all happiness for newlywed Hannah Swensen Barton—not after her husband suddenly disappears.

Raspberry Danish

DO NOT preheat your oven yet.  You must do some preparation first.

Pastry:

One 17.5-ounce package frozen puff pastry dough (I used Pepperidge Farm with 2 sheets of pastry)
1 large egg
1 Tablespoon water
White (granulated) sugar to sprinkle on top

Raspberry Sauce:

3/4 cup fresh raspberries (frozen is fine if thawed and patted dry)
2 Tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (or cinnamon)
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup white (granulated) sugar

Cream Cheese Filling:

8-ounce package brick cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup white (granulated) sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Thaw both sheets of puff pastry on a floured surface according to package directions.
  • In a medium-size saucepan, combine the raspberries with the water.
  • Combine cardamom, cornstarch, and sugar in a bowl.  Stir until mixed.  Add to the saucepan and stir in thoroughly.
  • Cook on MEDIUM HIGH, stirring constantly, until sauce reaches a full boil.  Continue stirring for 2 minutes, then move to a cold burner to cool.
  • Combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl.  Beat until smooth.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F., rack in the middle position.
  • Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Unfold a thawed sheet of pastry and roll it into a 12-inch square.
  • Use a sharp knife to make one horizontal cut through the middle and one vertical cut through the middle to make 4 pieces.
  • Whisk the egg with the water for egg wash.
  • Transfer one square of pastry to a prepared cookie sheet.
  • Use a pastry brush to paint a 1/2 inch wide border of egg wash around the outer edges of the pastry square.
  • Place 1/4 cup cream cheese filling in the center of the square and spread it out evenly to within 1/2 inch of the edges.
  • Spread up to 2 Tablespoons of the raspberry sauce over the cream cheese.
  • Pick up one corner of the square and pull it over the middle to cover just a bit more than half of the filling.  Then pick up the opposite corner and pull it to overlap the first corner.  Gently press on the overlapping corners to seal.  
  • Repeat the above steps with both sheets of puff pastry.
  • Brush the tops of the pastries with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar.  Bake at 375 degrees F. for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Remove the baking sheets to wire racks to cool.
  • Yield: 8 Raspberry Danish that are delicious served warm or cold.  ENJOY!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

JOANNE FLUKE is the New York Times bestselling author of the Hannah Swensen mysteries, which include Wedding Cake Murder, Double Fudge Brownie Murder, Blackberry Pie Murder, and the book that started it all, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder. That first installment premiered as Murder, She Baked:  A Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel, and has since been followed by three more TV movie adaptations (and counting!) based on the series and starring Alison Sweeney. Like Hannah Swensen, Joanne Fluke was born and raised in a small town in rural Minnesota, but now lives in Southern California.

Visit Joanne online: www.JoanneFluke.com

Dying to discover the mystery behind this recipe and over 15 more? Join other Hannah fanatics and click on the links below!

Amazon Barnes & Noble Books-A-Million Walmart Kobo Apple iTunes GooglePlay

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By: Army Spouse and Veteran, Lindsay Dickey

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell

I’m not new to the military community. I served in the Army for six years working in the field if Information Technology (IT), and I’ve been married to my active duty soldier for 12 years. Through it all, I’ve managed to move forward in my career after my transition from service member to Army spouse.

Most of you are already (painfully) aware of the challenges associated with PCSing every few years. Even though we knowingly support our service member’s career by moving every few years…it’s still a hard pill to swallow when we’re forced to deal with the employment challenges we encounter. One of those challenges are the employers themselves, and ONE employer picked the wrong MilSpouse to mess with.

What Had Happened Was…

My family had just moved to a new post while I stayed behind to finish my contract at our former duty station. Our household goods had arrived at our new station, my kids were adjusting to their new school, and my husband was back to work learning the in’s and out’s of his new position; all was right with the world, and I was ready to find a new job.

I had begun my job search before my current contract was up, and applied to five promising positions, most of which involved working government contracts. I was really interested in an opening at one company in particular. The position was pretty similar to the contract I was about to complete. I applied, interviewed, and proceeded to constantly refresh my inbox over the next eight weeks. Finally, I received a response back from the company about my application.

My stomach dropped when I opened and read the email.

“Unfortunately the client would not accept you as a candidate because there is no guarantee that you will be here longer than your husband’s training”.

This is just an excerpt of what the email said, but this sentence made the most impact on my demeanor. I was mortified, to say the least. I thought to myself, “what does my husband’s career have to do with mine? Aren’t we separate people”?  Can this company even do this? This has to be illegal. This company had chosen to not even consider me as an employee simply because of my marital status. I immediately started researching to see if there was some law that didn’t give the company the right to do this.

Based on the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, this law “protects federal civilian employees – from discrimination based on marital status.” It hit me like a ton of bricks. This company was clearly not in their legal right to deny me a position because of my marital status. I started thinking again. As a veteran, I am a protected class, meaning that I am legally protected from discrimination. But as a military spouse, I am not a protected class. I have fifteen years of employment experience in the Information Technology field, I have a Master’s Degree in Project Management, a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology, multiple Professional Certifications, and I have a current security clearance. But the fact that my spouse is Active Duty military makes me unqualified? I was confused. I was angry. I am still shocked. It’s 2018 and I’m still being measured by my husband’s career or status? Now what do I do about it?

I decided to “take it up the chain” and contact the officials who were hiring the contracting company I had applied to directly. Guess what? They knew nothing about any of this and said they’d get back to me. I then emailed the contracting company to let them know how disappointed I was and what they’d done was borderline discrimination and illegal. I also told them I contacted their client directly. (BOOM….mic drop).

I’m not unfamiliar with this type of runaround, but I was NOT having it! I refused to be discriminated against just because my husband chose to serve his country or because I chose to marry him.

After sending that email, the contracting company responded (with a QUICKNESS I might add) and asked me to forward them the email I had received. Shortly after I sent it they wrote me back saying “We have investigated your complaint, and we were unable to substantiate that you were discriminated against on any basis.  The contractor made the decision because you would only be in the area for 6 to 9 months.  The contractor’s job posting was for a permanent position”.

I thought “well that’s it. I guess nothing will happen now”. At that point, did I really want to work for a company that wants to sweep this type of behavior under the rug? I felt punished and shunned for being honest about my status as a MilSpouse and had no idea that answering a question as simple as “what brings you to the area” would result in the loss of an opportunity. So I decided to take it to the military community. I went on Facebook live and told this story hoping that someone would understand my frustration and give me some words of wisdom on how to move forward. Apparently, this is a hot-button issue in the military spouse community. In 24 hours, the video had 3500 views and I began receiving “me too” messages and words of encouragement.


“I watched your video and from the get go was like she’s been through it too. Thank God for you not taking it lying down. This is a real problem!”

“Wow you basically gave me a sigh of relief that someone besides myself has dealt with this. It’s so disheartening. I want to thank you for speaking up.”

“Military spouses aren’t merely a person married to a military member. Usually they are some of the most educated and driven people. I hate the thought of my wife being turned down for a job simply because she is married to me….you have my support.”

Then, something MAGICAL happened: JUSTICE.

The client I had complained to about the contracting company wrote to inform me that they would be filing a FORMAL COMPLAINT against the contractor for the rejection letter they sent me:

We base our needs off of documented requirements, and the company decides to fill positions with personnel based on the requirements set by our office. THANK YOU for bringing this to our attention!”

Vindicated! But it didn’t stop there. I decided to interview with a DIFFERENT company, I got that job and started a few days later. This company didn’t even ask about my family situation and only cared about my ability to perform the duties for the position I interviewed for. I guess not all companies are bad apples.

The best thing we can do as a community is to speak up when something like this happens. I hope my story resonates within the military community so we can bring awareness to the issue, to spark conversations, and teach others that the actions of some companies are not legal. Being denied employment as a military spouse is something that companies could continue to get away with, but we can all be advocates for each other by sharing our experiences. We can create positive change through our stories.

Have YOU ever been discriminated against for your military spouse status? What did you do? What WOULD you do? Tell us your story!

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I don’t know why it is, but every year around this time I start to turn into a bit of a grouch.  Maybe it’s the post-holiday blues that start to sink in as the novelty of beautiful snow days melts into dirty, muddy slush outside. Maybe it’s that I am a teacher so there are too many days since our last holiday break and the next one. Or maybe it’s because about this time every year the Mr. and I fall into a dating rut. Same dinner places. Same indoor activities that will keep us from freezing our butts off. But not this year. This year I am determined to break out of the rut and kick up the fun factor again. Here are a few date ideas that might help you if you’re in a dating rut too (and yes, I do think you should be dating your spouse still!)

  1. Ready…Aim…Fire!– A couple years ago I had a bit of a security scare and as a result my husband decided we needed exercise our Second Amendment rights. Other than boot camp, I haven’t exactly been shooting all that often in my life. In fact, that was the only time I had even held a hand gun in my entire life. But my husband was right. Once I got over the fear factor of being around a bunch of strangers with guns I realized how much fun target shooting can be! And apparently we aren’t the only people who feel that way because it turns out there are more than a few shooting ranges that offer Date Night for couples! The best deal I have seen around the Hampton Roads area offers free gun rentals, free lane rentals, and targets for two at a discounted rate for couples. Not your typical night out, but then what fun is typical?
  1. Take a Hike– Nature girl I am not. In fact I nearly broke my husband’s hand on our first hike because I saw a snake that could have potentially been a large worm. But in an attempt to find more outdoorsy type things to do that my husband would enjoy I have looked into the parks in the area and found that quite a few offer free or discounted hikes for military families. I have a hard time passing up a good deal on a day date. And it doesn’t hurt that taking a hike with my hubby puts us in a beautiful setting where we can disconnect for a little while, hold hands and sneak kisses without worrying about anything other than which path to take next.
  1. Get Your Head in the Game– If you live somewhere with local sports teams, take advantage of seeing a game live. This time of year football has about wrapped up but hockey and basketball are still going strong. Something about being at a live sporting event where the energy of the crowd mixes with a beer and funnel cake makes me turn from a polite Southern woman into a yelling, screaming fan waiting for hockey players to knock each other out on the ice. My husband isn’t the biggest sports nut around, but even he enjoys getting out to a game now and again. Though he prefers that we wait until baseball season so that we can enjoy the fresh air too. And if seeing live sports isn’t your thing, why not look into how to play for the night? Winter offers ice skating rinks in the colder cities, and there is always mini-golf for the sudden spring-like days that pop up this time of year. Just get active! Get competitive! Make a bet about who will win the most frames of bowling and loser has to cook dinner for the winner.
  1. Play Tourist In Your Town– While I’m going to talk about how to make a great stay-cation happen in a few days, for now I’ll just say that being a tourist in your own town can lead to great date discoveries. The hubs and I had to go to a meeting about an hour away a couple weekends ago. Even though I was familiar with the area I decided to Google “best things to do in….” just to see if I might have missed something up there. Turns out I had! I found a meadery and honey place. Who knew that even existed!? My husband doesn’t drink so I wasn’t sure he would enjoy the stop there but he said it was the highlight of the day because he got to learn something new, even if he didn’t sample any of the goods. And because I was already looking into new things to do I looked up new restaurants too. Turns out there is an amazing hole in the wall seafood place not far from our house that gives a 20% military discount and offers dinner plates large enough to feed even the biggest of Marines around.

The biggest thing to keep in mind when trying to stay out of the dating rut is to really let yourself think outside the box. Dinner and a movie is great, but not for every weekend. Remember what it was like when you first met your spouse and how you both wanted to impress the other. You got creative with dates and keep each other’s interests in mind when you were planning. Get back to that mentality and it will break you out of the boring and back into the fun side of your relationship.

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