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Erin started this blog to support the military community by offering support, sharing experiences and finding good deals for military families. Get information and conversation about military family life, expat life, no nonsense parenting, and surviving deployment & temporary single parenting.
The second amendment is sacred. Wait… Not it’s not.
Life is sacred. It’s that simple.
Gun laws must be amended and enforced, and gun culture in the US needs to evolve. Gun advocates will cry foul. Gun advocates will say the government cannot infringe on their rights to own guns. According to the Constitution, we have a right to keep and bare arms, but the Constitution does not specify what type of guns. I’m not an expert on guns, I’m not opposed to individuals owning them responsibly, but I know I’m not alone in my thinking knowledge that citizens should not have a right to own semi-automatic firearms. Outside of First Responders and the Military, no one needs these weapons.
Too many innocent people: adults and children, have died needlessly due to the easy availability and accessibility of these deadly weapons. There’s nothing to debate. It is unconscionable that existing gun laws are not enforced. Laws limiting the sale of weapons are already on the books, but they aren’t being administered. It is a travesty that it’s easier to buy a gun than a six pack of beer in some states. As a nation, we must insist that our lawmakers change the laws, ban assault weapons and rid them from the open market. Follow the examples of Great Britain and Australia. Ban the weapons, rid our society of these mass shooting tragedies.
This is not an argument about mental illness. That’s a separate discussion. No one, no matter what their mental health status, should be able to buy a weapon of such destruction.
Tell your Senators and Representatives you will not vote for them if they don’t support and pass new gun legislation that aims to prevent further massacres.
When you’re a kid, Valentine’s Day usually means: “class party” — an opportunity to deck the classroom walls and desks with an abundance of pink and red heart-shaped cut-outs and frills, amid an assortment of holiday cookies and candies and cupcakes. But when you’re a Military Kid, it can also mean spending time away from someone you love while they’re on deployment.
So how do you share the love with a parent, grandparent, or other family member across the miles? Well, for kids… it’s easier than you may think to pull together a loving sentiment and send it off. All you have to do is look at them, and you’ll know exactly what their loved one would want most from them —a connection.
Here’s a little inspiration to get you started — 7 ways to help your Military Kids show their love from afar — and all of them are totally personal and meaningful.
Mail a Hug
There’s nothing quite like your child’s warm, loving hug. But how can they give one to someone who is too far away to receive it in person? Try this idea: Trace your kids’ hands on felt, cut out the shape and attach to ribbon or string that matches the length of their arms. Then mail it off. Ta-da! Instant hug from afar. Need the full how-to or to get inspired on what can accompany this cute craft? Get instructions here.
Kids really do say some of the most meaningful things. They speak from their hearts without censorship. Why not capture their sentiments in a letter to a parent or family member who is far away? It doesn’t matter if your child is too young to write, have them color in the stationery page. Then, let them dictate their message to you as you write it out for them. Or, let them show off their own penmanship and spelling skills by writing it themselves. Need some cute Valentine’s Day letterhead? Get templates here.
One way kindergarten kids tend to celebrate Valentine’s Day is with a school choral program where their parents come listen to cute, love-filled songs in honor of the holiday. But when a parent isn’t there, they miss out on hearing this kind of sentiment. Never fear! You can help your kids learn the songs at home and sing them into a recording device that can be sent to someone who is far away — whether it’s a parent or grandparent or anyone else who matters to them. For a start, check out this classic kids’ showtune: Skinnamarink.
Kids grow up so fast! Handprints and footprints are a great way to document the different stages of their lives. And, to someone who is far away, it’s also way to help track your kids’ progress and reset expectations for how big they’ll be next time they get to see them. And, for Valentine’s Day, two feet put together just happen to mimic a heart shape that you can use to decorate a card or other lovable project. Get ideas for this DIY here.
All kids are artists, right? Well… some of the drawings your kids come up with can be spectacularly… interesting. Now you can capture them as a permanent keepsake by having them translated from paper to metal. Imagine a picture of your house drawn by your child, transferred into a lasting gift that be carried wherever you go? Ormaybe a loving saying, or image of a favorite pet? The options are almost endless. See what Formia Design’s shop can do to help your child share the love.
When you can’t be there to snuggle up with the one you love, the next best thing just may be to blow a kiss in their direction. This cute creation is another opportunity to trace your child’s hand and let them write out a special message to the parent they are missing. Take a photo of them wearing a holiday-worthy outfit, cut it out and paste it to a card, then apply a cut-out hand to send a loving message that will bridge the miles. Get the complete how-to.
Love the beauty of flowers, but wish they lasted longer than a few days? These will! And your kids will love making up a bunch of little pompoms in all sorts of sweet candy colors. Glue them to a stem, wrap the bundle in ribbon, and you’ll have a perfect posy that can be sent off for safe keeping with someone who’s off in faraway places. Get the instructions here, then get crafty!
Cathleen Karlsson is the daughter of a retired Navy Captain. Growing up, she lived with her family in a handful of Midwestern and East Coast states before earning her B.A. in fiction at the University of Pittsburgh. She has worked as a copywriter in several advertising and online media roles, including her current role as the Managing Editor for SpouseLink, created by AAFMAA. Outside the office, Cathleen volunteers with a homeless animal shelter and serves as the marketing manager and a board member for a local ballet company. She enjoys being creative and spending time with her daughter through dance, sewing and crafts, and home decor activities.
Our President’s vision of a military parade, which he calls ‘a tribute to American military members and veterans’, if realized, would be more akin to a taunting than a tribute. Such a display of military force is suitable in Beijing, Moscow or Pyongyang, not Washington DC. It is simply not the image the United States should project.
The United States does not need to show its adversaries the physical might of its military. Our strength and world leadership are well known across the globe. To exhibit our Forces in a dramatic display is counterintuitive to the inherent goal of our country. Not only is the visual exhibition unnecessary, it is vile and not the message we want to send to the world.
What the United States needs to project right now is an image of a powerful peacemaker. We can do this by keeping our Forces on the front lines to protect the US, as well as others who need our assistance. American Servicemen and women are stationed around the world, protecting our interests, and attempting to preserve peace and order. Such great endeavors require extreme intellectual focus by our leaders, as well as a massive, dedicated, budget.
Our government struggles to finance its current programs. Funding a multimillion dollar military parade, similar to the $12 million spent on the celebration demonstrating the force of the United States in the Gulf War in 1991, would be an inappropriately huge waste of resources. Parades such as these are disruptive to the military. The gross amount of money wasted could go to much needed programs, including our continued international endeavors, as well as ventures to combat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and other war injuries, in present troops and veterans. Recent analysis shows that the suicide rate of military members and veterans is double that of civilians in the United States. Our funding and intellectual resources are better spent on these current, critical issues.
A military parade, such as the farce envisioned by our President, requires months of training by thousands of troops, millions of dollars of funding pulled from other efforts, and is a drain on everything in its wake, from the local Washington DC infrastructure and government, to the thousands of troops who would have to refocus their essential training to what amounts to a grand performance.
“… confidence is silent and insecurity is loud,” said Sen. John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, when voicing deep opposition to the idea of a parade. “America is the most powerful country in all of human history; (we) don’t need to show it off.”
The United States of America is better than this potential circus. We are not a dictatorship. Our President is neither an autocrat nor a despot. The American people should stand up and prevent our already fractured image from being dragged deeper into absurdity.
Take a stand. Contact your Senators and Member of Congress.
Dwight has started his university application process. He’s our second son, so it’s not my first rodeo, and as we navigate, I feel like I have good information and advice to offer readers. I’ve learned a lot in the past few years, about applying, essay writing, finding the right fit, financial aid, and taking a gap year. I’m going to share our journey and hopefully I will help other families, military or not, to successfully navigate the twists and turns of the university quest.
Last week, Dwight and I attended his school’s University Kick Off. At this half-day event, the High School Counselors introduced the idea of the college process and gave information to arm us with knowledge to not only get into college, but also to find the right fit. After all, There are countless options for higher education and each student has unique goals, hopes and dreams. Finding the right fit uses a complicated mix of art and science, and the process cannot be rushed.
Dwight attends an international school, so kids at the Kick Off will eventually go to colleges and universities all over the world. I am familiar with the United States’s system, so I will focus solely on that. There’s a school out there for everyone; the goal is to find the perfect one for each young man and woman. Parents, check yourselves. Try very hard NOT to influence your child’s decision based on your preconceived notions. Remember, where he goes is not who he’ll be. You can buy the book and watch the author’s video for further information on that. The name of the university your child attends will not dictate his future, what he does with the four+ years of learning and living will.
I feel like the first step towards higher education is the PSAT. Most schools offer it to first semester Juniors, and it’s a great tool to gauge a student’s future performance on the SAT. When your student receives his PSAT score, he gets an indication of how he might perform on the SAT in the future. If the score is not where the student wants it to be, he can start prepping for the SAT by using free online resources. The SAT is a test designed to assess a student’s academic skills. Don’t rush your kid into taking the SAT. The test is designed for High School Juniors and Seniors. Don’t make the mistake of making your kid take the test too early, because it is likely that he isn’t ready and won’t do as well as he will in the future. Second semester Junior year is an ideal starting point. I also recommend that students take a practice ACT test. Generally, students only need the SAT or ACT, not both, as they are both widely accepted by colleges and universities, but by taking practice versions of both, students can make an educated decision as to which test suits them, and therefor, which to pursue. Practice versions of both tests are available online.
Encourage your child to do independent, casual preparation before taking the test the first time. After seeing the results your child can decide if he wants to do further preparation and testing. If the test scores and GPA (Grade Point Average) indicate similar levels, the test has done its job. Counselors advise that students not over prepare for these assessments. If a student scores very high on the test and has average grades, university admissions staff might wonder why there is such a difference. Once a young person has his scores, he can start to narrow down his list of universities to which he will apply. Most universities list their range of accepted test scores right on their websites- a helpful tool for finding a good match.
The first step, for any student desiring to go onto higher education, is taking the SAT or ACT. Student learning and testing styles differ, so comparing performance on both can be very helpful. Now is the time to register for the SAT or ACT, if your child has not already done so.
If your family has questions that you’d like to see answered here, leave them in the comments or send me an email at CINChomefront (at) gmail.com, with the heading: Adventures in Application.
The Miracle Season, directed by Sean McNamara, will be in theaters April 13, 2018. THe film stars Helen Hunt, Danika Yarosh and Erin Moriarty.
I always love a, inspirational story, and The Miracle Season doesn’t disappoint. It is based on the inspiring true story of West High School girls’ volleyball team. After the tragic death of the school’s star player, Caroline “Line” Found, the remaining team players must band together under the guidance of their tough-love coach in hope of winning the state championship. Our military kids are resilient, like the girls’ volleyball team in the story, so it’s a film that goes straight to the heart.
LD Entertainment is an independent film studio that finances the development and production of elevated and thoughtful films, television and theater. Founded in 2007 by veteran television and film executive Mickey Liddell, LD Entertainment has produced numerous award winning films covering all genres.
LD’s recent films include the Academy Award nominated “Jackie”, starring Natalie Portman and directed by Pablo Larrain, “The Zookeeper’s Wife” starring Jessica Chastain and directed by Niki Caro, and “Megan Leavey” starring Kate Mara and directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite. Past films include “Anthropoid”, with Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan, “The Grey” starring Liam Neeson, and “Risen” starring Joseph Fiennes and Cliff Curtis. LD’s also produced and received Oscar nominations for the poignant and complex films BIUTIFUL starring Javier Bardem and ALBERT NOBBS starring Glenn Close. LD recently received 6 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, for the Broadway hit “Dear Evan Hansen.”
Mirror is a theatrical releasing company that believes in allowing creators to maintain individuality with their brands while thoughtfully approaching marketing, publicity, and distribution.
As Veterans Day approaches on Nov. 11, Hilton is looking to spread the word about a unique benefit it offers to veterans: free hotel stays for job-hunt related travel.
Here’s how it works: Veterans who need to travel for any job-related activity, in any industry, can register with their local employment office and receive 100,000 Hilton Honors Points to cover their lodging. Veterans most commonly use the program when they’re traveling out of town for interviews, trainings and certifications. Hilton partners with the National Association of State Workforce Agencies to donate Points throughout the year – and more than 1,100 veterans have benefitted from Hilton’s ~1.2 million Points donated to date.
The Points donation program is one of many ways Hilton is using its business of hospitality to support active duty military, veterans and their families. A few others include:
Discounted stays: Active and retired military and their families receive a 10% discount at all of Hilton’s 14 hotel brands
Military spouse career program: Hilton has developed dedicated career paths that accommodate the unique challenges military spouses and their families face. Military spouses often have trouble finding jobs when the family relocates. Hilton’s work-from-home program offers virtual training, remote working options that can relocate with employees, and flexible schedules for better work-life balance.
You can find more information here about Hilton’s Operation: Opportunity program and the company’s commitment to hire 20,000 veterans, spouses and dependents by 2020 (one of the largest in the U.S. private sector).
In her debut single, storyteller/singer-songwriter AJ Duke takes the listener on a journey into the heart of some of America’s bravest.
Singer-songwriter, AJ Duke (www.AJDuke.com), will release her debut single “Soldier’s Heart” in honor of Veteran’s Day on November 9th, 2017. Written and performed by AJ, the single is the first song being released off her upcoming debut album, “Let Me Tell You a Story”, in which she sends a core message to American’s about “taking a stand for what’s right”.
“Soldiers Heart” is cumulative of the heroic acts that will never be known, the sacrifices these families make, and the heartbreak that they feel daily. “I was initially inspired to write this album while I was sitting in my husband’s truck in the early hours of the morning, waiting for him to be done with his PT. I heard the cadence of a ruck march nearby…the melodies and the words came from there.” shared AJ. “After sharing Soldier’s Heart with a broken, guarded, Vietnam Vet, I decided it was time to share this music, not for my sake, but for the sake of having more stories like that happen.”
Letting her words, inspired by military life throughout Northern California, South Korea, North Carolina, and Colorado, speak for themselves, “Soldier’s Heart” gives her audience a sense of what life is like for military members and their families. A collection of songs that reflect on her husband’s career in the Special Forces, and her life as a military wife, shedding light on the realities military families face in modern-day America.
As a small token of appreciation for their service to our country, Buena Park and attractions throughout Orange County are offering discounts and upgrades to active and retired U.S. Military personnel in November and December.
Start your adventure at Buena Park’s own Knott’s Berry Farm where military personnel and one guest can enjoy all the roller coasters and shows for free from November 1 – November 16 and November 27 – December 15, 2017. Increase the fun by bringing up to six friends at a discounted rate!
Find out all that the State of California has to offer when you swing by the California Welcome Center in Buena Park. All active U.S. Military receive a free collector’s pin as well as free maps, brochures and city guides on how to make your visit to the sunshine state a home run.
Immerse yourself in one of Buena Park’s interactive dinner shows where all guests become part of the show. Practice your best Arrrgh, put on your eye patch and receive a military ticket price of $35.11 per adult and $30.11 per child at Pirate’s Dinner Adventure when purchasing tickets online or over the phone using code “Military”. The cabaret show Teatro Martinioffers a saving of $25 by using the code “Military”when booking online or over the phone. Also, receive a complimentary upgrade to Captain’s Seating for weekday shows. Get the royal treatment at Medieval Times with a free Royalty Package upgrade when you purchase discounted tickets on-base at the ITT/ITR or MWR office.
There’s no shortage of activities to keep you busy while staying in Buena Park. At Big Air Trampoline Park,military jump free and up to four guests each receive $2 off. John’s Incredible Pizza combines amusement rides, arcade games and 10% off their all-you-can-eat buffet. A $3.50 savings on movie tickets is available at the Buena Park Krikorian Metroplex 18. NearbyDisneyland® offers active military and spouses a savings of up to $147 when purchasing up to six multi-day park hopper tickets.
Dine like a rock star at Buena Park’s Rock & Brews where military receive a 10% savings on wings, barbecue, burgers and more. For a sweet treat and to devour The Zoo, head to Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour where a 10% discount is also available. Save 10% on dry-rubbed premium meats and beverages at Santa Maria BBQ. Build your own pizza and save 10% when you head to Pizza Studio. Other restaurants offering traditional American food at a 10% savings to the military include Buffalo Wild Wings, Fuddruckers, Chili’s and Dickey’s BBQ Pit. From November 1 – December 31, 2017, save 20% on the Bloomin’ Onion and other food and beverages at Outback Steakhouse. Try the famous Original Italian sandwich at Jersey Mike’s where military receive a 15% savings on food and beverages.
See Orange County’s visiting whales up-close when you book a cruise through Newport Landing Whale Watching. Military can use code “WhaleWatch13Deal” to receive a discounted price of $13 per person on weekdays and $17 per person on weekends. See over 11,000 marine creatures at the Aquarium of the Pacific where military can save $3 on adult admission and $1.50 on child admission. Retired and active U.S. Military receive 10% off admission and can delve into some hands-on science exhibits at Discovery Cube OC.
Explore all the presidential history at the Richard Nixon Library where active U.S. Military receive free admission and veterans receive discounted admission of $10. Take a guided tour of the legendary cruise ship and wartime vessel The Queen Mary and receive $4 off the admission price. $3 off admission is offered at the Lyon Air Museum where you can see authentic aircraft and vehicles from our nation’s past.
Enjoy comfort and relaxation when you stay at one of Buena Park’s numerous hotels that offer exclusive military discounts and upgrades, free parking, no resort fees and select hotels offer complimentary shuttle service to local attractions including Disneyland®. To check out the full list of participating hotels, visit www.visitbuenapark.com/Militaryhotels
Offers are available year-round except where noted. Restaurant offers are available only at Buena Park locations and apply to military portion only, not entire bill. For the full list of military discounts and complete details/exclusions for each promotion, visit www.visitbuenapark.com/Military
VISIT BUENA PARK
Located just 5 miles from Disneyland®, 10 miles from beaches and 20 miles from Los Angeles is the charming town of Buena Park. A vacation hot spot, the city is home to world-famous entertainment, interactive dinner shows and one-of-kind shopping. Visit Buena Park, the tourism bureau for the City of Buena Park is dedicated to offering first class customer service to visitors and groups traveling to Buena Park. They promote the Buena Park/Orange County brand as well as develop and support destination marketing programs and initiatives. For more information contact Visit Buena Park at 800-541-3953 or www.visitbuenapark.com.
– Grammy-Nominated artists John Ondrasik aka Five For Fighting and Jim Brickman have announced a special collaboration to send a message of thanks, love, and support to the troops this holiday season with the song, “Christmas Where You Are.” Watch a snippet of the lyric video, featuring soldiers and their families, HERE. The song will be released on November 3rd across all digital platforms as well as the forthcoming Jim Brickman album, A Joyful Christmas, featuring classic hymns & carols mixed with new original songs and duets. The album is out on digital formats November 10th via BMG.
“The holidays can be an especially hard time for our troops and their families,” say Ondrasik and Brickman, “’Christmas Where You Are’ is a thank you and reminder to soldiers that we are with them, in heart and spirit, wherever they stand, in service and sacrifice to our nation. We hope that no matter where these brave men and women are stationed, the warmth and love of family transcends the miles. We want them to know that a grateful nation holds them close to our hearts.”
Ondrasik and Brickman witnessed first-hand the raw emotions of families being apart during the holidays through the work they’ve both done with the USO and “Operation Care Package.” The experience was so meaningful and humbling to both of their lives that they wanted to do something special to honor the servicemen and women and their families. Since Brickman has recorded dozens of Christmas songs, Ondrasik asked him if he’d want to collaborate on a holiday song for the troops. So, Brickman started noodling on the piano, then they came up with a musical framework, and that night Ondrasik wrote the lyrics. The call to serve in the military takes so many men and woman far from home and during the holiday season especially, it leaves an emptiness felt by both the troops and their families. “Christmas Where You Are” reaches out with a thank you to the them and is a gentle reminder that though they may not be sitting in our living rooms on Christmas morning, they are always front and center in our hearts and minds.
A percentage of the proceeds of the song will go to the Gary Sinise Foundation, which honors defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need by creating and supporting unique programs designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen, and build communities; as well as to What Kind Of World Do You Want, an initiative Ondrasik created which raised more than $250,000 for five designated charities — Augie’s Quest, Autism Speaks, Fisher House Foundation, Save the Children and Operation Homefront.
The Man Who Invented Christmas tells of the magical journey that led to the creation of Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer), Tiny Tim and other classic characters from A Christmas Carol. Directed by Bharat Nalluri (MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY), the film shows how Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) mixed real life inspirations with his vivid imagination to conjure up unforgettable characters and a timeless tale, forever changing the holiday season into the celebration we know today.
The Man Who Invented Christmas comes to theaters November 22 and I’ll have a giveaway when that date approaches!
Watch the trailer:
THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS | Official Trailer | In theaters November 22 - YouTube
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