Cammo Style Love

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Day Trip With My Biggest Littles {Antietam Battle Field}

Spending time with the kids, going on an adventure, is one of my favorite parts of parenting. I love that I have little explorers in my family. Mr. Air Force and I have also believed that it was important to expose our children to as much life as possible even if they were too young to fully appreciate it. We've also taken them on day trips, camping, hikes, road trips and lots of other things from the time they were very young. So, on one of our free weekends we planned on taking a day trip out to Antietam Battle Field. However, our littlest little decided he was going to have a bit of tummy trouble that day. Hubby insisted I don't postpone the trip, even though I really wanted to experience this with him. So we dropped off the hubs and the little and we set out on our adventure!

Antietam isn't far from the DC area but its a good little drive none the less. I had packed up snacks, some of my favorite road-trip games from The Joys of Boys and Capturing Joys, and the kids also put together their backpacks full of items of their choice {usually books, a few toys, and car-friendly art supplies}. These are things I keep handy in the car all the time because we  try to use technology only sparingly in the car. The Visitor Center and Battlefield were amazing! You could do so much there. We chose to do a partial walking tour and then we did the driving portion - stopping at different landmarks along the way and exploring.


We are currently going through a "Wearing our uniform every chance get" phase. They are only young once and I love that he is so proud of his daddy...even if it is the wrong branch. But seriously, finding the kid Air Force uniforms is hard!! 



It was such a beautiful location, stretching out for miles. Trying to image the horrors that occurred here so very many years ago can be difficult at times. It is both humbling and an incredible honor to be able to walk these grounds.



One of the cool things that we didn't really get to explore was Burnside Bridge. It is currently be restored, as are several things on the Battlefield property. Burnside Bridge is dedicated to Ambrose Burnside, whose name and crazy facial hair gave us the term 'Sideburns', and was also the first president of the National Rifle Association.


There is a monument to President McKinley, that was dedicated after he was assassinated. He had played such a large role in the Battle here that they wanted to pay particular homage to him. 




On the way out we stopped at the National Cemetery at Antietam. There is a beautiful church on the property as well Civil War grave sites. It is almost exclusively for Civil War soldiers, with a few exceptions from WWII and the Korean War. The cemetery lies in the town of Sharpsburg which was where the Civil War era hospital was located. When an official plan for the cemetery was created and the place officially dedicated (on the fifth anniversary of the Battle of Antietam) President Andrew Johnson came out.







My sweet little milkid wanted to put as many flowers on as many graves as she possible could. Having been to Arlington so many times, she was deeply concerned about who comes to spend time at these graves and wanted to visit as many as she could. 





 If you are looking for a great starter Battle Field to go to I would absolutely recommend Antietam to you. Having been to several this was really one of the better ones as far as things to see and do. We went on a weekend and it wasn't unbearably crowded. The kids had space to jog up ahead of us, and lots to see so they could keep their minds active. It is surrounded by several great towns, including Sharpsburg and Boonsboro. They are both great little towns with little shops, ice cream and places to eat. They each have their own history to check out.




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Friday, June 17, 2016

To Move or Not To Move... {The Extended TDY}

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of CORT for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

Sometimes in military life, there are curve balls. There are so many opportunities for strange things to happen, or to be faced with decisions that one wouldn't otherwise have to make. Moving with your service member spouse for long-term TDYs or a pcs to less than desirable place are just some of those choices. So what do you do?



1. Staying Home/Geo Bach - The first option would be not going. I hate this option personally but I get it. In a world where I feel like I'm constantly being separated from my husband willingly doing it just drives me crazy. However, now I've got children in school so I can't really just pick up my life and go anywhere temporarily. It's one thing to PCS, but a temporary move where I'm going right back to where I came from, nope. Get your countdown calendars ready and prep your care packages! Even if they aren't overseas, it can be just as difficult to be separated from your loved one for an extended period of time.
2. Going - So you pack up your clothes and anything else you might want and you move with your service member. You like adventure right? You might not have kids, work from home, take online classes, homeschool or just have pre-school aged kids. So why not take advantage of your perfect situation in life and jump on the crazy bandwagon and go with them. When I was pregnant with my oldest we did this. It was really fun. We stayed in a TLF for a couple months, but we were together.
3. A Little of Both - This is option that is the best of both worlds. Maybe it is a really long TDY, and for whatever reason staying the whole time just won't work for you. Make it a vacation and go for an extended period of time. During one occasion I also combined vacation time with my family. It was a nice diversion that ate up the time. It was great and made the time apart so much easier.




Now that you've made your decision you've still got more decisions to go! Will it be TLF living, a furnished apartment, housing on base or some combination of the three. Maybe there's another option? Have you heard of CORT Furniture Rental? I have heard of the company before, back in California years ago. In fact we purchased furniture from them from what used to be model homes. It was coolest thing ever! When I discovered they had a program designed for the Military I was thrilled, and the opportunities seemed endless! Instead of moving furniture, rent a small place and use the per diem in part to rent furniture. How fabulous is that? Elizabeth {a fellow fabulous milspouse blogger} talks more about using per diem on her site,The Reluctant Landlord . It's got some great information. CORT Furniture Rental is available for to fit the needs of any military family, Geo-Bachelor or single service member. One of the first things that jumped to mind was post-pcs when your furniture gets "lost"..man what a relief it would be to call up CORT Furniture Rental. The possibilities are endless.



Visit Sponsors Site




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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

10 Resources Every National Guard Family Should Know

As a National Guard family member, it has taken me years to feel confident within this community. It can be extremely difficult to find support within the community. Most of the time it is simply an issue of education; and many do not realize there is even a problem. We are often spread out, with our service member spouses traveling hours or even in an airplane, to their units. Many spouses, like myself, spend countless hours searching for support, assistance and reaching out to anyone that they can. Still, many others simply don't try. The misnomer that this is a one weekend a month, two weeks in the summer job is simply incorrect. The idea that National Guard families don't need as much support because we all live in our hometowns, with our families, is also not true in many cases. And what I want to make especially clear - most of these resources I mention here are accessible to National Guard families REGARDLESS of status. This is an important distinction to make because so very many of the non-profits in the military world DO NOT include National Guard families in their events and programs unless we are in a specific type of orders and for a specific amount of days, or deployed. Making sure NG families know these specific resources is very important to me.



I hope that this list provides information to families out there that are like me, seeking support and assistance. Maybe this post might even provide insight to those providing the support and other military branches that we view as part of our larger military family.


1. Military One Source - Even if you have never used Military One Source you probably have heard about it if you've been to any military event. I'm hoping you've at least heard of it. If you haven't it is a large resource of information for military families in general. However I want to point out two specific aspects of the program that I have used. One is the counseling program. It appears overwhelming when you go to the website but it is so very easy. You simply call, verify your information and move on from there. If you are worried about privacy and information getting back to your spouse's unit, please do not worry. The information is given simply to verify that you are military and qualify to have access for it. In all the cases that I have used it I have never once found that the information went anywhere else. Use it! The second is their products for purchase. They have books, the Sesame Street programs and many others are available to order for FREE! We have ordered several for our families and to give out to others.

2. EANGUS - This is the Enlisted Association of the National Guard. Mr. Air Force and I have been involved with EANGUS for years, only recently having stepped back a little bit with our schedules. You typically see more activity from retire service members and their spouses, however I really believe in this organization and wish more young people, especially spouses, would get involved. EANGUS does amazing work to improve the Guard, especially in regards to legislative issues. I would encourage you all to check it out and consider getting involved.

3. The Wingman Project {Ready Airmen} - this resource applies specifically to the Air National Guard. Here you can find resiliency resources, suicide prevention, and PTS support. There is also an App. What is really great about the Ready Airmen app is that you can access the information to whatever unit is close to you. If I needed assistance or information I could easily access the information of whatever unit is closest me, rather than contacting my unit across the country which may be unable to assist me easily.

4. Strong Bonds - Strong Bonds is a program in connection with the Army National Guard, however Reservists, and Guardsman from the Air Force side of things can access and attend these programs. Find a Chaplain at your unit to assist you in getting access to the events, or simply go on the website and do it yourself. We have done both. In connection with deployments sometimes you can get orders to attend. Usually it is a short weekend event as a couple or as a family, usually staying at a hotel in the area. I would encourage you to check out the information on the website. Also please share with any single Airmen or Soldiers as there are programs for them as well.

5. The JSS, National Guard Family Programs website - This website can be difficult to navigate but once you get to where you are going you can usually find some great information about events in your area or people to contact. On the map page you can find a list of contact information.

6. PillowProject USA - Similiar concept to a daddy pillow, except its a small pillow-shaped size. We have them, and after several years they are in great shape and our children love them. They ask for a donation to help cover shipping costs because they don't charge for them. I try to donate to them occasionally simply because they really met a need for me when I was absolutely desperate. My sweet children were in desperate need of something that as a National Guard family we were having a difficult time qualifying for in the traditional sense of the word. Spread the word about them, and even if you don't need them consider giving.

7. Blue Star Families - BSF is one of the first military focused non-profits that I discovered when I moved to the DC area, that also offers event invitations and programs to every branch of the Military - including Coast Guard, National Guard, Reserve.....regardless of status. Their Blue Star Museums program, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, partners with museums across the country to provide free entry during the summer months. National Guard and Reserve families can access this program. This is such a huge deal to National Guard families.

8. Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program - What is great about this program is that it is a 'Purple' program, meaning all branches. You can find all sorts of events and support for you no matter where you are living. These can be really great opportunities to meet other Guard families in the area and get some valuable information for the locations in which live. Even if you think you've got it together, and you've got what you need, take the opportunity to go. Don't make it a missed opportunity for something great!

9. Operation Purple Camps {National Military Family Association} - Operation Purple provides a free week of camp to military children of all branches and service status {National Guard and Reserve}. While priority is given children of wounded or deployed, or children who have been to the camps the previous years, it doesn't necessarily mean you won't get in! Apply!

10. Military Spouse Advocacy Network {MSAN} - MSAN is a more recent non-profit that has recently launched a mentorship program. They have advocates all over, and are really trying to grow their National Guard reach. Since they were founded by an Air Force Spouse, that is their most dense area of reach, but they are growing so quickly I know they can barely keep up. If you are an experienced Spouse in the NG or Reserve I would definitely encourage you to get involved! And that doesn't mean you have to have been in for a really long time either! It's a great opportunity to give back to our community.

Bonus Resource - I'm also including one of my most popular posts here on the blog in this list. It is all about how to make a readiness folder. A readiness folder is usually something that an FRG or Key Spouse might assist you with. But as we have already discussed sometime that person just isn't around, you are too far away or you just don't know how to even find that person. I encourage every military family to make a readiness folder, even if you think you aren't going to go through a deployment. Having all that stuff together in one place is great. Making it on your own, while a little tedious, will be such a benefit to you and will also empower you because you are now armed with all the information you need.


Check out the Resource Tabs up top for my National Guard/Reserve resources!

stop by my National Guard Families Facebook page. On this page I try to provide as many resources and connections to Guard/Reserve and Remotely located families as I can! Contribute information, ask questions or just see what we have going on!



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Friday, June 3, 2016

Summertime Fun for Families in Washington, DC! {Military Discounts Included}

I'm really excited because Summertime is on its way! Although here on the East Coast, Mother Nature is really trying to hard to keep it at bay. We recently had some ridiculous number of days {like 27 days} straight of some type of rain with absolutely no sun. It was really starting to wear on me. But, looking forward to summer helps pull me out of the funk. Getting out of the house is my jam, and as an extrovert this should come as no surprise. I try to get the kids out of the house a lot during the summer vacation and they are all about it. In most of posts about getting out with the kids I'm always talking about how important it is to travel with your kids, even if its local. My kids love going on the Metro, into DC, road trips - so try to make it something normal for your kids.

On to the good stuff! So, you find yourself in the DC area this summer, now what?! There is so much to do here and one could easily get overwhelmed, but there's a few things that we do almost every year and as much as we can. So while I could go on and on about the things to do, here are a few of our favorites!!!

1. Twilight Tattoo -  This is an event on Fort Myer Army base, open to civilians as well. It is sort of hard to describe, but its a show really. And really, its almost best described in descriptive words - Singing, cannons, guns shooting, guns twirling, bayonets and horses!! Twilight Tattoo kicks off the season and we try to go at least once, but really going more than that is my goal. We pack up a dinner, bring a blanket and hang out. I would show up 45 min early, picnic and then when the show starts you'll be ready to go. What is so great about it is we give the kids the camera and they head out on the field after the show to snatch pictures and talk to the soldiers. It really is a great opportunity for them to get up close and personal.




2. Baseball Games - I love baseball in the Washington, DC area. We have the major league Washington Nationals, and the minor league Potomac Nationals. Both of them offer military discounts (the Potomac military tickets are such an affordable price) and are great for the whole family.

3. The National Mall - There is so much to do down in the National Mall area. We frequently go down there and just hang out. Walk around, let the kids run around in the grass, take a picnic. Sometimes its super crowded, sometimes its not. If you head down there, make sure you snag your tickets for Washington Monument. They are free to request online (with a small fee) or you can just show up first thing and hope for a walk on.

4. Smithsonian Museums - If you're going to head out down into DC there are a ton of museums to check out, with the majority of them being free. Our personal favorites are the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of American History.

*visiting the Wizard of Oz props at the American History Museum*


5. The Spy Museum *military discount*- If you've got older kids or the opportunity to sneak away with just adults, make sure to check out The Spy Museum. Aside from the Crime Museum, this one is my favorite! The store itself is full of cool things. There are also special guests and speakers...including real-life retired spies, that come into the museum from time to time. Go around the corner to Shake Shack to eat and you can thank me later.


6. Blue Star Museums - from Memorial Day to Labor Day Blue Star Families, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, offers free admittance to museums across the country. The link takes you directly to museums in Washington, DC, however check out museums in other states as well. There are some really good ones on this list to check out. In particular check out President Woodrow Wilson House, The Dumbarton House and the National Building Museum which have quite a hefty admission fee.

7. Mt Vernon - This isn't located in DC, but just outside. It's worth the trek out if you're staying in the city. They have a great discount for military, but also if you purchase online which is nice. Also, ages 0-5 are free which I think is just so cool. For the free rate to go up so high is something I feel like you never see, so that's why I like to mention it. Lots of places to run around outside and get your ya ya's out before the house tour, or as a reward for being good through the house. It is a very manageable length of time inside the house. If you are visiting during Christmas time try to take the special house tour. It is the only time of year they open the very top level. They also have the Christmas camel out and fun actors.

8. Fort Myer MWR - Fort Myer is accessible fairly easily by Metro. Most people take the Blue or Yellow Line to Pentagon and you can walk over if need be. Hop on over to the community center for discounted tickets to various sites in the DC, Virginia and Maryland area. If you are close to another base near you, you can probably access the tickets you need there as well. But there are lots of local specials that you may only be able to access here locally.

9. Busch Gardens and Water Country USA - if you're a local for feel like taking a drive you can check out Busch Gardens and Water Country USA down in Williamsburg! You can use your Waves of Honor discount to snatch free and/or discounted tickets! Check out my post about Busch Gardens, and tips for doing it with kids on the cheap!




10. Great Falls - We love going to Great Falls. The falls are gorgeous, but there's open grass area for hanging out, throwing a ball around or having a picnic (bring a trashcan, its a take in, take out park). There are several walking trails and lots of shade. It's humid here, so you have to contend with that, but its fun.



11. RecCenter or Base Pools - There are tons of indoor pools at all the local rec centers, as well as great pools on one of the local bases in the area. We spend a lot of our summer at the pool on base, but we have used the Rec Center pools before and they are really great. If you want to get really wild and crazy you can travel out to CubRun Rec Center out in Chantilly. There they have indoor slides and water park attractions, with a rec center price tag.

12. Baltimore - Take a trip out the Baltimore Harbor area for the day or overnight! The Harbor has attractions and sites like Ripley's Believe It Or Not!, Science Museum, Children's Museum, the Aquarium and huge historic ships that are docked there. Most of those things have great military discounts available. Check out my post for more details on that.

13. Delaware City, Delaware - This is definitely worth the trip if you are looking for something that is maybe more than a daytrip, but still close enough that you don't feel like you are packing up for a huge, complicated vacation. We had so much fun in Delaware City!


I could go on with so much more. The DC/VA/MD area is so full of so much to do! You could even branch out further a take a day trip up to Philadelphia or head up to Annapolis. Not to mention one of the beaches like Virginia, Bethany or Ocean City. The options are endless and could take three or four blog posts to get through and still barely have scratched the surface. So have a great summer and drink it all in! There are sometimes it really does feel like a magical place, even after four years of being here.

happy summer!!!!


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