Military Spouse of the Year


So … I have been nominated to be the 2012 Military Spouse of the Year and made it all the way to the finals! Right now I’m up against four other Army wives, all of whom are really impressive. One of us will be chosen and then the overall Military Spouse of the Year will be chosen out of that group. At this point it all comes down to votes — whoever gets the most votes wins. The good news is that anyone can vote — and you can vote EVERY 59 minutes!  So please vote for me and tell your friends to vote for me, too. And if I win I promise to buy each and every one of you a rainbow-striped pony.

Click here to vote:

(And, just in case you’re wondering, I have no idea *what* I will actually win. Probably just some validation and the opportunity to meet with military and political leaders and to inflict my opinions on them. But how often does one of us get to do that?)

Happy Holidays, Military-Style


When I was growing up, my family’s holiday traditions rarely varied.  Sure, every now and then my mom would mix up the Thanksgiving menu by making a seven-layered salad instead of a green bean casserole or my grandparents would visit for Christmas.  But typically our holiday rituals remained unchanged.  It wasn’t Thanksgiving without a turkey.  It wasn’t Christmas Eve without hors d’oeuvres and stocking stuffers.  And it wasn’t Christmas Day without a plate of cookies and wrapping paper that was color coded for each family member, both of which were gone before the sun had a chance to rise.

But holidays are different when you’re married to the military.  As hard as we may try to maintain traditions, the military tends to test our resolve by deploying our husbands and moving us to remote locations.  We celebrate holidays where and when we can, sometimes ignoring the calendar so we can collect the special days and celebrate them all when our family is intact.  Yes, we military families have to make do, convincing our kids that Santa can find us wherever we are and convincing ourselves that one day we’ll look back on this and laugh.

I’ve definitely had some interesting military holidays.  I spent my first military Christmas in a hotel in a strange new city where Christmas dinner consisted of beer and nachos at a local bar.  I spent my third military Christmas repeatedly telling myself that it’s not a big deal that my husband was missing our 9-month-old son’s first Christmas because the baby wouldn’t remember that his daddy was in Iraq.  And I spent my fourth military Christmas in Japan, this time with my husband, but without anything else that felt familiar.

That first Christmas in the hotel made me resent military life.  The third Christmas without my husband made me feel powerless.  But that fourth Christmas overseas introduced me to an aspect of military life I had never experienced before: the military family.  And although the specific members may come and go, that military family has become just as important to me as my real family.

I expected my first holiday in a foreign country to feel, well, foreign.  Most of our Christmas decorations were in storage back in the States, and our family was an ocean away.  It was just me, my husband, our 22-month-old son, and our dog.  Or so I thought.

There were so many holiday events throughout the month of December in that small Japanese town that by the time Christmas came, I was all Christmas-ed out!  We watched Santa drive into our favorite park in a fire truck.  We gazed at Christmas lights downtown and learned how the Japanese celebrate the holidays.  We attended multiple Christmas parties for kids and adults.  We even got our dog involved when the base offered Santa pictures with pets.  It was the most festive holiday season I had ever experienced.  And I had my military family to thank for that.

We were all in the same boat.  We were all missing our families in the States, many of us missing our husbands as well.  We had no other choice but to join together and make the best of it.  And boy did we ever make the best of it!  That Christmas in a foreign country was the farthest thing from foreign.  I felt like I was home.  I felt like I was surrounded by family.

Throughout the three years we lived overseas, I learned to embrace my military family and adopt as many family members as possible, especially during the holidays.  In fact, the last Thanksgiving we spent in Japan was probably my most memorable military holiday.  I bought the biggest turkey the commissary had.  My husband and I invited acquaintances who had nowhere else to go or whose spouses were deployed.  I cooked for four days, preparing a feast for a gathering that included both close friends and people I had never met before.  Some have remained friends, some I’ll never hear from again.  But that day, as two dozen or so people came in and out of our house at varying intervals, we welcomed them as family.  From the geo bachelor missing his wife’s Thanksgiving spread to the Korean wife who had never had a Thanksgiving spread, we welcomed them all.  Our military family.

Since leaving Japan, our holidays have been surprisingly unaffected by military life.  And while I appreciate the luxuries of living stateside, having my husband home, and establishing our own traditions, I sometimes miss those holidays made so memorable by military life.  But I’m sure that one day the military will test our holiday resolve again, and when it does, I’ll be ready.  I just need to remember the recipe for the perfect military holiday: A main course of adventure, served with a side of adaptability, a bottle of vintage flexibility, and a hefty helping of humor for dessert, all prepared with a dash of love.  And a little help from my military family.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

(Be sure to check out the Riding the Roller Coaster blog to read more great posts like this one. And you can find me today over on Witty Little Secret, a hilarious milspouse blog that I’m sure you’ll want to bookmark –  Rebekah)

What would a flat tax mean to the military?

This is the question I’ve been kicking around, particularly as Herman Cain appeared to rise in the polls. (Though now it seems that 9-9-9 for him also meant that he got nine tries to get with an uninterested woman, and was nine – or more- times rebuffed before seeing his nine political lives all expended…)

I’ve listened to Neal Boortz preach the flat tax for years and have always thought it to be an enticingly simple and fair idea, but what would it mean for me and other military family members in reality?

I will not even attempt to answer this question. For the record, I failed Algebra 1 four times in high school and never passed Algebra 2, a failure that led to me holding the dubious distinction of being the only person in the history of my university to be admitted on both academic scholarship (for high SAT & ACT scores) and academic probation (because Algebra 2 was an admission requirement). I have always believed that paying someone to do my taxes for me was money well spent and I’ve been known to use a calculator to help my first grader with his math homework. All of that is to say:

You. Do. Not. Want. Me. To. Crunch. These. Numbers. For. You.

Sadly, nobody else seems to want to crunch them, either. I’ve been scouring the internet and can’t find any articles or blog posts that do a good job of explaining what effect a flat tax could have on military families.

Cash Money (which is tied to the The Military Wallet) has this prediction about the fate of flat tax proposals. (Spoiler: They say it’s unlikely to ever happen because lobbyists and their legislator pals will never part with the lucrative loopholes.)

And there are umpteen billion posts, columns and articles arguing for and against a flat tax, but I can’t find a good analysis anywhere. Post a link here if you know of any.

So, you’ll have to resort to my guesswork. I think military families will end up paying more under a flat tax system. Here’s why: Troops in combat zones are exempt from paying income taxes. If there were no more income taxes, that exemption would go away. Their families, however, will keep on paying for goods and services throughout a combat deployment, though, so the families will still be paying sales tax — and sales taxes will almost certainly increase if we have a flat tax system. I suppose some procedure could be created where you could save all your receipts and turn them in with a copy of the active duty members orders to get a tax refund, but (judging by the wad of receipts in my purse and in my car) many of us would never do that.

So that’s my, ahem, 2 cents on the issue. And don’t ask me to count any higher.