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So your husband/boyfriend/wife/fiancee say they want to join the Navy.


The first thing to realize is that this decision will affect the BOTH of you.  Not just the one joining.  Even if it is not a joint decision (depending on your relationship), you should expect to be kept in the loop and feel comfortable asking questions.

The next thing to remember is that joining the Navy does NOT happen in a few hours.  It is a process that takes several weeks or even months before they have "joined" and it could be many more months until they actually leave for boot camp.

The first step is to set an appointment with a recruiter or apply online and wait for a recruiter to reach out to you. Once contact is made, there will probably be a scheduled time that the recruiter proposes that they sit down and discuss the process for joining.  If you are already married or engaged, then I highly encourage you to go with them to this appointment. It should be a red flag if you are discouraged from attending.  During this initial sit down, the recruiter will ask your SO a series of questions.  These questions will include things like any run ins with the law, health history, school history, work history, etc.  It is very very important that your SO is 100% open and honest with the recruiter from the get go.  The last thing y'all want is to not disclose something and have it come up down the road. Most folks are under the impression that they should just be able to walk in and boom! They are signed up for the military. The reality is that less than half of Americans between the ages of 17 and 35 do not qualify for military service. The recruiter does not want to waste your or their time. Do not be discouraged if your SO is missing some required paperwork or medical records during the initial meeting, there will be follow up appointments.

After the recruiter is mostly sure that your SO is qualified to join the Navy they will go into the sale. It is their job to ask discovery questions about why they are interested in the military; and to find the "need" behind the "need". This is how the recruiter will tailor the sale to the applicant. Be prepared to talk together on why your SO wants to join.

The next thing that will happen during this appointment with the recruiter is your SO will take a practice ASVAB test; called the EST.  ASVAB stands for Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, and the EST stands for Enlisted Screening Test.  This test is used to determine what your SO's strengths or weaknesses are and help the Navy determine what job (aka rate) would be the best fit for your SO.  Now this test that they take in the recruiter's office is just a practice test to see where they are at at that time.  Your SO should have the opportunity to study prior to taking the actual test at MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station).

Before agreeing to take a real ASVAB your SO should study! Get informed about how the ASVAB is scored, how the scoring works and just how important it is that they do well on this test.

This appointment is a good opportunity for you and your SO to ask any questions that you may have but remember, this won't be your only opportunity.  Your SO will have a lot of contact with their recruiter before they ever leave for boot camp.  It is also an opportunity for you to start doing your homework.  Google things, read blogs, talk to anyone you know who has been in the military before and don't ever be afraid to ask questions.

The next step after meeting with the recruiter (and this may be after just one or multiple appointments with them), your SO will be taken by the recruiter to MEPS.  They do NOT leave for boot camp at this point!  Depending on how your MEPS office works, your SO may be required to stay a night there.  MEPS is generally where they do the real ASVAB test, medical examinations, job selections, etc.  Don't be surprised if there are some issues during this step.  To fully process through MEPS, exact forms have to be filled out in an exact way, exact things have to be in the computer the right way, there has to be particular jobs open, etc so sometimes it will require them going back for an additional trip.  Once they are done processing with MEPS, they are in the Navy.  They have sworn in and signed their contract with the Navy!

Now it may be a long time before they leave for boot camp.  It could be as fast as 1 month or up to even a year or longer in some cases.  Your recruiter should have a better idea during your first appointment on what the timeline should look like but it is important to remember that that timeline may (probably will) change.  Sometimes more than once.  There are times when their ship date may be pushed out farther or even moved up sooner and it is important to be as flexible as possible.  Welcome to life with the Navy, things can always change!

Once you have a tentative ship date, you and your SO will need to start preparing for boot camp and him being gone.  While they are in boot camp, they will have limited outside contact.  Usually its one or two phone calls then its just letters after that.  So you need to be prepared to handle things on your own during those 3 months.  If you are married, this means making sure your name is on everything that you might need like the electric/gas bill, phone bill, any loans, things like that.  Also speak to the recruiter about how to set up a Power of Attorney (POA) as well.  They should also have some additional advice on how to prepare for boot camp.

Another thing to prepare for is A School.  Some jobs in the Navy require your SO to go to a job specific school after boot camp.  Your recruiter will be able to tell you where the A School is and about how long it should be.  Most of the time, A School is unaccompanied, meaning your SO will go by themselves and live on base rather than their dependents coming with them.  Once they are done with any A Schools, they will report to their first command at which point their dependents may join them. Remember, dependents are legal spouses, children or a family member whom your SO provides more than 50% of their support.  So until you are legally married, you are not considered a dependent.  You will not have a military ID, access to base, commissary, housing, health care, etc until you are married and in the Navy's system as a dependent.


Please leave any comments or questions in the comments below!

Thanks guys!!

PS:
The website will be undergoing a bit of a face lift over the next few months so please pardon our dust!!




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Hi Everyone!

I promise we are back for reals this time!!!  Life has been extremely crazy lately and finding time to do posts with 2 small kids who are constantly tearing the house apart is difficult!

We have been going non stop lately.  We had our annual family trip with my family to Nashville, Tucker had his first birthday while we were there then had his second hand surgery 2 weeks later then his casts off 2 weeks after that.  His surgeon is in Philadelphia which is a 6 hour drive (one way) for us so just getting up there is a production.  Also, Beau got promoted by his command (up to a 1st Class Petty Officer) which we are very excited about!  The rate that he is currently has a very very low advancement rate via the advancement exams so he is very excited to be done with that!

Another thing that has been a big reason for our break in blogging here is that I was diagnosed with PostPartum Anxiety.  It started up in January, I was diagnosed in February and it took about 4 months to get my dosage of Zoloft correct but I am almost completely back to normal now and since we are finally done with Tucker's surgery, which will be his last until he is at least 7 years old and that one will be optional, I am bumping the blogs and YouTube back up the priority list!

So expect to be seeing us a lot more on here going forward!

Thanks for understanding!!!

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Hi Everyone!

This is Tucker!



And anyone who don't know or who hasn't seen on our Review HQ blog, he was born with a congenital hand defect known as Syndactyly as well as a genetic index finger deformity.  Syndactyly is a condition where fingers or toes are conjoined.  In his case, his toes were not affected at all but his middle, ring and pinky fingers on both of his hands are fused together.  In his case, the bones at the tips of the fingers also appear to be fused.



We were not aware that he had this condition until he was born so as soon as we got home from the hospital we started doing research on the condition as well as specialists/surgeons. The pediatrician that saw him at the hospital gave us the information of an orthopedic surgeon who ran a local (adult) hand clinic however we decided that because surgeries were usually performed very young, we decided that we wanted to find a surgeon at a children's hospital.

We eventually found Dr Chang at the Children's Hospital in Philadelphia and decided to have a consult with him to see what we thought.  We have some family members who happens to live less than an hour outside of the city so we made the 6 hour drive up and stayed with them for a few days before our appointment which was the beginning of September.  They were also able to watch Jordyn for us so we didnt have to worry about taking her with us.

We liked Dr Chang and the hospital very much and ultimately decided to schedule the surgeries with him.  He took X Rays and after looking at them and at Tucker he said that he wanted to do two separate surgeries.  The first would be when he is 6 months old and that procedure would be to separate the ring and pinky fingers.  The second would be when he is 1 year old and that one will separate the ring and middle fingers.  His pinkies appear to be pulling his middle and ring fingers to the side and causing them to bend a little bit.  He said they usually don't do the surgeries to correct syndactyly until 1 year of age but because of the pinky fingers pulling the other fingers over, he wanted to go ahead and separate it so the other two could start to straighten before the next surgery.  They also couldn't do both at the same time because it would be too much trauma for the ring fingers as it would have to be cut on both sides.  He also said that more than likely both surgeries will require a skin graft.  The skin for the grafts will come from his lower abdomen/upper groin area and should be so small it wont even require stitches, just a bit of glue and shouldn't bother him at all.  He will also be in casts for 2 weeks.

So in total we will have to make 4 trips for surgeries and cast removals, plus the one we made for the consult.  We may have to have him seen every so often as he grows to make sure he isnt having any mobility issues and there is a chance that the skin could start to grow back up between his fingers as he grows and if that happens, then he would need a small surgery to cut that back.

As I mentioned before, he does also have a hereditary defect to his index fingers.  See the post over on the review blog for more details on that.  He wont have the option to have those looked at for possible corrective surgery until he is at least 7 according to Dr Chang so we aren't worrying about that until then.


I will be doing a post once on the insurance ins and outs (we are on Tricare Standard) once everything is said and done.  I've gotten some questions about how we are able to have the surgeries done at a civilian hospital as well as how much we are going to be paying out of pocket so once everything is done, I will do a detailed post with a breakdown of how we handled Tricare and exactly what we ended up paying out of pocket.


Tucker's first surgery is on December 28th so head on over to The Review HQ.com or The Review HQ social media for real time updates.



Tucker's Hands:
http://www.thereviewhq.com/2016/08/tuckers-hands.html

Tucker's Syndactyly Update:
http://www.thereviewhq.com/2016/09/tuckers-syndactyly-update.html


Thanks so much for sticking with me guys!  I know I've been a total slacker and haven't been keeping the blog as updated as I wanted to.  I promise to be better in 2017!!

Everyone have a great and safe holiday season!!!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!



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It's that time of year again!!  Time for the Command Holiday Parties!  Fun right?!

Check out our post of tips and tricks for Command Parties here and please remember to be safe this holiday season!

I've taken a bit of a break from the blog over the past several months and I appreciate everyone's understanding.  I will be back after the new year with more regular posts.

Thanks guys!!!

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I wanted to take a minute and share why I've been MIA...


He's here!!!  Our second child, Tucker Thomas was born on June 14th at 4:48pm!

His birth story just went live over on our other blog The Review HQ!!!

Thanks for all the support and for being so patient!!
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Hi Everyone!
So sorry for the lack of posts recently!

We are getting down to crunch time for baby #2 aka Little Dude.  As of tomorrow we are 4 weeks from his due date.  Over the last several weeks I've had a huge decrease in energy (although I'm blaming that partly on my crazy 20 month old...) and have been struggling to keep up with everything.  Fingers crossed he decides to come on out sooner rather than later!

We have also been crazy busy with selling our rental house in San Diego (post on that later), having our floors replaced for the 2nd time (improper install the 1st time), having our HVAC system replaced  at the same time, going on vacation for a week with the extended family and now scrambling around trying to clean up from all that and make sure we are ready for Little Dude!  For full details on our flooring debacle, check out our updates over at The Review HQ.

I hope to have some new posts up very soon and be sure to keep an eye out on our social media pages for updates on Little Dude when the time comes!

Thanks guys!!!

Still a Boy!!








































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Good Afternoon Everyone!!

For anyone who doesn't have a home inventory done, run, don't walk to your computer and do one now!!  I'll wait...

All done? Okay, good!

A home inventory is something that every household should have anyway but they are even more crucial for military families.  We move.  A lot.  And every time we move there is a chance of something getting lost, broken or stolen.



So a bunch of things were damaged and are missing when your truck arrives at your new duty station.    You call to file a claim to have them replaced and what do they ask for?  What are the items, how much did they cost, where did you buy them, what color were they, what phase was the moon when you bought them, when can you sign over your first born child...  Yeah.  And what a pain in the butt it can be to try and find or recall all that information especially while under stress.

This is where a home inventory comes into play.  It is simply a detailed list of your possessions.  Now I'm not saying you need to have a 500,000 page spreadsheet that lists everything down to how many pairs of socks you have.  My basic rule of thumb is a detailed list of everything in your home that costs $50 or more then basic documentation of the other items.  For the detailed list, you want to list everything you can think of about the item.  Detailed description of the item, serial number, where you bought it, when you bought it, how much you paid for it, where in your house it is and some good, clear photos.  For the cheaper items, I usually just have a photo of it.  Just enough to jog my memory if need be.  Good examples of this are photos of the inside of closets, inside cabinets, inside drawers and shelves.

Home inventories can be as simple as a notebook that you hand write and include printed photos, a spreadsheet on your computer or even online services.  It is all about how detailed and organized you want to be.  I prefer online programs, specifically the Home Inventory app which I wrote a detailed review on over on my other blog The Review HQ.  This app is very detailed, organized, and comes with several back up options so you never have to worry about loosing your inventory.



Now starting an inventory from scratch is going to take some time and patience but in the end, it is worth it.  Once it's done, all you have to do is keep it updated.  I recommend just updating it every time you sell or buy anything $50 or more and retake the photos of cheaper items (like drawers) once a year or so.  I also recommend that you take extra time to make sure your inventory is complete before you start packing for an upcoming PCS and make sure you have it backed up in several places so you can easily find it if you need it.  We always keep ours backed up in a couple of different places online as well as a physical copy in our fire box (or PCS binder).

Another plus of a good inventory?  You don't have to guess on how much insurance you need.  Once you have a total approximate dollar value of your items, then you have a much better idea of how much you need to be insured for and that will help to save you money in the long run.  If you are over insured, you are paying too much each month for insurance you don't need and if you are under insured, you could end up having to pay out of pocket to replace items.


Until next time!











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Good Afternoon Everyone!

Today we are looking at the last uniform in our little mini series and that is the Physical Training or PT uniforms.  These are the uniforms that are worn for any command exercise as well as personal fitness on or off base if allowed by your specific command.

Photo from public.navy.mil



This uniform is the same for men and women so I've only done one list.

Physical Training Uniform:

  • Yellow Navy Short Sleeve Shirt
  • Navy Shorts, Blue
  • Sneakers
  • White Athletic Socks
  • Underwear

Optional Items:
  • Ball Cap
  • Skull Cap
  • Long Sleeve Gold Navy Shirt
  • Navy Blue/Black compression shorts
  • Navy Sweat Pants
  • Navy Sweat Shirt

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Pinterest to be notified of new blog posts!!

Thanks Guys!

**Remember, these posts are just for us non-military family member's reference.  Your service member learned all of this and then some as part of boot camp but I've always found that it is helpful if I at least have a clue about what he is talking about.  We've also had many occasions where I've had to run uniform parts and pieces to him at work and it saves a lot of time (and headache on both sides) if he doesn't have to spend 10 minutes trying to explain what he needs.**
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Good Afternoon Y'all!!
Today we are looking at the Working Coveralls uniform for E-6 and below!





This uniform is for "dirty work" or work that would ruin other uniforms.  So things like construction, painting, etc.  The command will let them know when this uniform is needed.***This uniform is being phased out for shipboard use. Its being replaced by a more fire retardant version (post to come!). I the mean time, this is good information about a very comfortable uniform that is still in use. ***



Working Coveralls:

  • Coveralls
  • Ball Cap (Either generic Navy or command cap)
  • Black Boots
  • Black Socks
  • Blue Crew Neck Undershirt
  • Underwear
  • Black Belt with Silver Clip
  • Name Tape
  • Patches & US Navy Service Tape
  • Any Patches
Optional Items (per command instruction):
  • Black Earmuffs
  • Black Gloves

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Pinterest to be notified of new blog posts!!

Thanks Guys!


**Remember, these posts are just for us non-military family member's reference.  Your service member learned all of this and then some as part of boot camp but I've always found that it is helpful if I at least have a clue about what he is talking about.  We've also had many occasions where I've had to run uniform parts and pieces to him at work and it saves a lot of time (and headache on both sides) if he doesn't have to spend 10 minutes trying to explain what he needs.**
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Hi All!
So I last posted about how we budget about 3 years ago.   Over the last few years, things have changed...  A lot.

We now have a kid, are expecting a second in the summer, I quit work, we moved across the country, own two houses, bought a new truck, bought a new van, planning another PCS...  And needless to say, our budget has changed a bit as well.

We still stick to the same basic system as we did before which you can see in my original post here, but I have simplified it a lot and it is working much better for us.  We still write down everything we spend for the week in a notebook as well.

Let me take a minute to talk about my FAVORITE credit card ever which is our American Express Blue Sky card.  We put everything on this card for the points.  We prefer this card because we LOVE Amex and this card isn't associated with any one airline or anything like that.  You save up your points for redemption credits, charge your travel charge, pay your bill, then get a refund for the purchases off the next bill.  No black out dates, no travel restrictions, nothing like that.  If we could charge our car and mortgage payment we totally would!

We don't have any separate categories for things like house stuff, car stuff, pets or anything like that anymore.  I had a very hard time trying to figure out how much to keep in those categories so I just did away with them although I have left up the spreadsheets from my original post for anyone who is interested.

We do still do our budgets by the week.  We budget $25 per person per week for groceries so counting little dude even though he won't be here until June, we budget $100 per week for groceries then we try to stick to $100 per week for "other" purchases.  This is for things like eating out, car wash, etc.  Normal bills like cable, internet and cell phone don't count towards these budgets.


The only categories/accounts we have now are the following:

  • Primary Checking
    • This is the checking account that all of our income comes into
  • Pay Out Checking
    • This is the account we pay bills from
  • Beau's Checking
    • This is Beau's money
  • Claire's Checking
    • This is my money
  • Medical Savings
    • This is money set aside for medical
  • Slush Savings
    • This is left over cash from the end of the month until we decide what to do with it
  • Emergency Savings
    • Savings for emergencies
  • General Savings
    • Regular old savings (we do keep this one divided up into categories (or goals))
  • 2 Brokerage Accounts (our retirement accounts)

    We still have the same credit cards we did before except we have also added a Lowe's card but we only use it to get financing on any major projects.  We opened it to get interest free for 18 months on our floors we put into the house and it was easier to just keep it open for the next project rather than closing then reopening it again later.  We still have our MasterCard as a back up for our Amex as well as the Target red card we use to get an extra 5% off at Target and our Kohls card we keep for the coupons.

    We have our savings contributions set up for automatic withdraw so we treat them like "bills".  We contribute money each month to each of our brokerage accounts, our medical account and our emergency savings account.  We plan to adjust the amounts on these every time something changes like a pay raise or when we pay something off.  Right now debt wise we have two mortgages (our house and our rental property), 1 big car load for our mini van and we owe a little bit on our MasterCard.  We had 18 months interest free financing on our Lowe's card for a special promotion when we bought our laminate floors that we had been paying on when we got our tax return so we just paid that down in full.  Then right before we got the return, we found out that our younger dog Abbey needed two knee surgeries (read about that mess here)...  So we paid the first knee with what was left of our return and we were able to get interest free until next February on our USAA MasterCard so we are using that to pay for the 2nd knee.  We plan to have that paid off by the end of the summer at the latest.

    We are also looking at what we are going to do when we move again as far as our houses are concerned.  Our rental property has appreciated quite a bit and if the numbers work out correctly, we are going to sell it soon.  **Update, it is now on the market!! Post on that coming soon!!**  We will also probably sell the house we are in now unless we can work out getting enough rent to make it worth our while to keep it.  Once all this happens, we plan to pay off the note on the van and look at options to invest the rest.  Beau will also be needing a new truck before too long as well.

    Another change that I have made is that I do all the bills once a week instead of once a month.  So every Monday I pay off any charges on any of the credit cards from the week before.  I use to do that once a month and it would take me hours every time and drove me nuts but once I started doing it once a week, I have have it done in 20 minutes.  Basically, I add up all of our purchases for the week, move the money from the different accounts into the pay out checking and pay the credit cards off for that week.

    I have also updated the monthly bills spreadsheet!






































    I will leave a link here if anyone is interested in using this template for their spreadsheets.

    I have also re done our Savings Spreadsheet to be more inclusive.  I've set it up to list every savings account we have as well as our debts and assets so that we always have a rough estimate of our overall Net Worth.






































    I will also leave a link here for anyone who would like to use this as a template.


    For anyone who is interested, we bank primarily through USAA.  We do keep 2 High Yield savings accounts with American Express but all of our other accounts are with USAA.  We have been with them for years and just love them to pieces.  We have had a couple of smaller problems with some people there before but they have always gone above and beyond to fix the problems so we have always been happy with them.



    As always, thanks for reading and be sure to follow us on your favorite social media platform to get alerts of new posts!!

    Thanks Guys!!



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