Sunday, June 28, 2015

Operation Smile

Happy Monday y'all.  Just a few days shy of July.. how?

This weekend Rob and I spent a lot of time watching some shows on TV that made me cry.  Like ugly cry because they featured amazing stories - ones where individuals just could not be knocked down.  They kept getting back up and fighting.

Then I got on here to work on a partnership post which sent me to Operation Smile.  And I'm close to doing the ugly cry again.. because this last weekend has just been so good.  Life is good y'all.

Operation Smile is an amazing international medical charity present in over 60 countries that exists to improve the medical condition and lives of children.  To date, Operation Smile has provided more than 220,000, yes THOUSAND, free surgeries for children born with facial deformities to include cleft lip and cleft palate.

How about we let that sink in...

They said it best...

"For too many families around the world, safe surgery is not an option.

At Operation Smile we believe every child deserves exceptional surgical care. We believe that all children deserve to be treated as if they were our own.

That’s what drives each and every one of us: our global network of medical professionals, who donate hundreds of thousands of hours toward the care of children around the world each year, and our supporters who are moved every day to make a difference in the lives of children they’ve never met."

How amazing is that for a Monday?

So spread the word.  Donate.  Or if you are a college student, RENT your textbooks. donates to Operation Smile with each textbook rented.  And there are so many advantages to renting... like 40-90% off bookstore prices, free shipping both ways and flexible rental times.

Any company that donates to such a worthy cause is a company I will vouch for.

****I received compensation for this post, but all opinions expressed are my very own.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Seven Year Army-iversary.

"No matter where I go or what I do in life.  One thing is for sure you're in my heart forever and always."
-Rob June 25, 2008
Via text message before leaving for BCT

Flashback seven years ago.  Rob and I had just graduated from high school.  Our plans were big.  Law school for Rob at KU.  Elementary education for me at KSU.  Rival colleges.  We spent the month between graduation and June 25th doing summer things, because we were 18, young and free.  At the time we were just friends - the best of friends.

About a week before June 25th Rob dropped a bombshell on all of his friends.  He had decided to enlist in the United States Army.  Nobody expected that.  But we all accepted it - and knew he was destined to kick ass and take names.

June 25th, 2008 - Rob was officially in the Army and leaving for BCT in Georgia the next day.  Our only contact would be letters for the next ten weeks.  A flurry of text messages were sent the night before.  Tears were shed.  And he was off.

Here we are seven years later.  Married, parents, on his third assignment.  Rob has gone from BCT to SSG to Warrant Officer.  He has stepped up and lead.  He has learned and specialized.  He has grown up so much.

The Rob from June 25th, 2008 would not recognize the Rob of today.  He makes us all so proud.

Happy Army-iversary Rob!  You are my best friend and I am so proud to be your wife.

Here is to the next 13 plus years...

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

eShakti-Shaking Things Up.

Summer Is Here

So remember when I posted about this awesome little black dress that was custom sized for me by eShakti?  Remember how much I loved the high-quality, fast shipping and excellent customer service?

I've got good news for you guys - and IMPORTANT news.  eShakti has now upped the anty.  They are now selling new products like pants, jumpsuits and shorts... and they made some amazing changes to their website.

If you haven't already checked out eShakti - here is why I think you really need to:
  • eShakti is one of the few clothing companies out there that sells for girls size 0 to 36.  AND you can custom order items - selecting different hem lengths, sleeve styles and custom sizing the entire garment.
  • Ordering through the eShakti website is EASY.  They tell you where to measure and how to measure and if you miss something, they will contact you.
  • Shipping is FAST.
  • Item quality is above average.  Remember my LBD is fully lined.
  • These
  • This
  • This
Somewhere Over the Camo readers can use the below code for a $35 gift coupon valid until June 30th!  So don't miss out... there is something for EVERYONE at eShakti!

Enter this code in the 'Gift Coupon / Referral Code' box at checkout
Only one gift coupon can be used in an order
Not valid on previous purchases / purchase of gift cards.
This gift coupon cannot be transferred, re-issued or exchanged for cash.
Minimum order value $30.

Bright Ideas

Happy shopping friends!

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day.

Happy Father's day!

It is a beautiful, warm day here in Georgia.  We have big plans for Rob to fire up the Big Green Egg and cook another masterpiece for not only us, but Abby, Nick and Logan too.  Until then, Grace and I are cleaning.. which is really just her making a mess as I pick up.  Rob is sleeping off a benadryl induced coma.  Darn allergies.. darn having to be responsible and mow, which makes said allergies worse.

So let me take a moment and send a special shout out to my husband... for being the best dad to our daughter I could have ever asked for.  She is lucky to have him and I am lucky to be his wife.  My heart never knew love until I watched my husband with Grace.  From day one he has been wrapped around her sweet little fingers and to watch that love grow every day is an indescribable feeling.  Thank you Rob for being such a great dad - Grace and Piston are lucky.

To my Dad - Happy Father's day!  I wish so very much that I could be there with you today.  Not just because you are spending the weekend at the lake... but because you are my dad and you are irreplaceable.  I am lucky to have you as my dad... to laugh with, get lectured by, create memories with and love every single day.  Thanks for everything you have done for me in life.  I think I will keep you. ;)

One last special Father's day wish to my father-in-law Mark.  I'm fortunate to have married into such a great family.  From day one you have accepted me as one of your own and I am very thankful for that.  Rob is lucky to have a dad like you in his life.  Very lucky.

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Friday, June 19, 2015

A first for everything.

We've had some interesting firsts around here lately.

We went to Grace's first kid friendly event.. Sesame Street Live.  For the first 15 minutes or so she just stared at the stage - not showing any emotions.  Luckily we met up with some pretty awesome friends of ours here and their oldest kiddo started dancing and it helped loosen Grace up.  She started having a blast.  Unfortunately they had to leave a little early and after that Grace's attention span was shot.  We left shortly after intermission with a light up Elmo toy and $15 less in the bank accounts.  I'm thankful we had the opportunity to go though and watching Grace experience this was tons of fun.

P.S. Check out my friend Heather's blog - Raising a Mini Diva.  She writes all about her Mini Diva and military life with three kiddos.  (She took these pictures!)

Rob and I had a Harry Potter marathon a few weekends ago (thanks ABC Family for airing said HP marathon so I could record it!). This was my first time seeing all of them.  I'm a fan.  I read one or two of the books as one of my best friends in elementary school was definitely a Harry Potter fan girl.. but I never finished reading or watching... I think I'm almost ashamed to admit that.

For the first time in my life.. I took Piston to a vet appointment and I was scared.  P developed a lump on his back hip.. It doesn't bother him at all, but it is noticeable so when I took him in to get his shots updated I wanted to know more.  They wanted to run tests on it at the appointment because apparently boxers get a particular skin cancer that develops into lumps.  Yes, cancer.  Which she tells me right before she sticks a needle into said lump, then goes and looks at it... those five minutes were terrifying.  We are so so very lucky (the vet said so!) because it is just a cyst.  NOT skin cancer.  But reality check, P is five.. and getting up there in dog years.

And the first time in awhile where I wished Georgia wasn't my current home.  Two nights in a row I have had awful, awful encounters with rather large spiders and their little babies jumping off their backs and wrecking havoc on my heart/emotions at a very late hour.  I. Can't. Y'all.  I love the South - but I was never afraid of bugs until living down here.... like for realzy.

Otherwise --- we are working on our fourth move in five years, going to bed super early to avoid after dark bug encounters and binge watching tons of Friday Night Lights to get through this INSANE heat.

Happy weekend friends!

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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Our next duty station.

If you didn't already know, we finally found out where we will finish the year out at.

Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

We were lucky and we got our first pick.

So why was Fort Campbell our number one pick?
  • Going to a BCT/tactical unit is best for Rob's career at this stage in the game.  Like I said here, so far all that I know is strategic units, so this will certainly be an adventure.  To say the least.
  • We are under eight hours from my parents and under seven hours to Rob's parents.  That's a win, win in my book.
  • The houses we will be able to rent off post are exactly what we need right now, if not more.  4 bedrooms and some place to put a man cave other than the living room?  Check and check.
  • Rob is particularly excited for the insane hunting and fishing.  Me?  I'm excited he is excited... but having a kiddo I don't get to enjoy that excitement on a personal basis.  #MomProblems
  • It is not Korea, Fort Wainwright in Alaska or Fort Irwin in California.
So we still have a few months here before we leave.  But now that we know WHERE we are going we can do things like book the hotel for the PCS, make plans for what to sell and what to keep and daydream about houses that may or may not still be available when we PCS.

Until then, I am going to soak in all the time possible with those that mean the most to me here at Fort Gordon... because I will after all be sad to leave this place.  I guess there years will do that to you.

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

College degrees and the military.

Five plus years ago – it was March 2010.  I was visiting Rob in Maryland over spring break.  When he picked me up at the airport, we went out to the parking garage at Baltimore Washington International Airport.  He loaded my bags in the trunk and got down on one knee.  He was wearing his ACU’s and around his neck was a second set of dogtags.  They said “Will you marry me Amanda Dawn” and a shiny ring was threaded through the chain.

I, of course, said yes.

By the end of that week we had gone down to the courthouse in Annapolis, Maryland and I was a wife and Rob was my husband.

After that trip in March I returned back to Kansas to finish off the last semester at the local community college.  In May of that year I graduated with an Associate of Arts degree before loading my little Toyota Corolla up to join Rob across the country.

At the time I had every intention of continuing my education.  I wanted to be a teacher while I was doing my Associates.  But by the time I looked back into classes, I was ready for something else.  So I dabbled in interior design for a session at the community college in Maryland.  I had a come-to-Jesus moment and realized our plans of moving back to the Midwest after the military didn’t really support an interior design degree.

Enter graphic design.

The next year we had loaded that same Toyota Corolla, a Honda Civic and a moving truck down and started the trip back to Kansas.  I was going to live in a one bedroom apartment with the dog while Rob spent a year in Kuwait.  The perfect time to finish my schooling.

So I signed up to take online classes and two years later I graduated last summer with a Bachelor of Science in Multimedia Design and Development with a Web Design emphasis.

It took me 6 years after graduating from high school to get my degree finished.  Six long, painful years.

There are a couple of things I would have changed about that path.

For starters, I would have not dilly-dallied around about what to major in.  Changing my major three times added extra semesters that were nothing but a waste of money.

Then there is the money side of it.  As a military spouse of a service member E-5 and lower (at the time)… I was qualified for MyCAA certifications among other degree paths.  Had I looked into this form of tuition assistance I could have spent a year or two gaining an education that would easily transfer and not cost us a lot out of pocket.  If there is one thing that needs to be shouted from the rooftops, it is the MyCAA program and how it benefits military spouses nationwide.

Martinsburg College is one school that does its part to help military spouses master a portable career.  Since 2004 Martinsburg College has worked closely with the military community in an effort to assist service members and their families with their unique lifestyle.  By providing a sophisticated learning management system and providing easy to use learning resources, Martinsburg College has over a 95% satisfaction rate among past students.

So if you are getting an education and the spouse of an E-5 or lower – do your research.  The MyCAA program is there to help you – just like Martinsburg College.  You deserve an education and you deserve to not stress about how you are going to get it.

For more information about MyCAA and Martinsburg College, please visit this special Facebook group full of helpful resources and information for military spouses.

Disclosure - I received compensation for this post, but all opinions and stories are my own.

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Friday, June 5, 2015

We finally saw the list.

Finally.. last week the list came down as to where we could possibly go.  While I'm not going to give specifics... it was not what we were expecting.  Although I don't know what I was expecting... I just know, it wasn't this.  I thought waiting around to know where we could possibly go was bad.  No.. now that I know where we could go, waiting to be assigned one of those slots is way way worse.  But as it goes in the military life.. we hurry up and wait my friends.  We have done what we could do and it is 100% out of our hands.  Hopefully we will know by the end of June.  Hopefully.

Completely unrelated picture of the dog thinking the babies pool is a giant water bowl.

In other news, we finally watched American Sniper last weekend.  My thoughts?  Holy. Crap.  Saying Chris Kyle is an American hero is an understatement.  I can't imagine what he battled when he returned home.. after a career like that.  And then to know that he came home and was killed on American soil in a country he loved so deeply, makes me irrationally mad.

And Taya?  My heart aches for her.  I can't imagine the phone calls left dangling in the battle field.  The pain of knowing how much her husband was hurting inside and not being able to take it away.  Then loosing her other half way way too early.  Being a military spouse, it hits way too close to home.

This movie made me cry.  Not just because of the loss of this hero.. but because the next part of our military adventure is very unknown to me.  Rob likes to call it the "real Army".  In the five years we have been married, Rob has been stationed at Fort Meade, Kuwait and now here at Fort Gordon.  Two non-deployable slots sandwiched around Kuwait.  I haven't yet experienced what so many military spouses experience when it comes to deployments.  Rob spent a year in Kuwait.  It was hard and he has mentioned that he was boots on the ground in Afghanistan at one point or another, but I was blissfully unaware.  We were able to talk daily and except for the giant timezone difference, it was like we were just doing the whole dating long distance thing again.  Our next duty station will very likely include a deployment or two.  And I'd be lying if I said it doesn't scare me.

But I'm ready.  Or as ready as I can be.  So if you need me, I'll be anxiously awaiting Rob's RFO so we can finally figure out where we will be come September - and the end of WOBS.

Story of my life.

****thanks to all that entered the Sesame Street Live family 4 pack giveaway!  The winner is:

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

And that's a wrap.

The Wednesday before my parents got here was the last event of the 2014-2015 Fort Gordon Spouses' and Civilians' Club club year.  And unlucky lucky for me it was an event I decided to take charge of.

With a lot of hard work and a great group of ladies helping me execute, it was a fairly successful event.  I think.  I spent the majority of the event inside Quarters One with the baby because it was 239851938 billion degrees (like 90) outside and I had just spent two hours sweating my butt off.  Then I helped serve the food and before I knew it... the event was over and we were sweating again loading way too much stuff back up.

Regardless, I am very appreciative that our adviser let us use her house, Quarters One (also known as the Commanding General's quarters) and that it went off without (mostly) a hitch.

The general gist?  We brought in tables, chairs and tents.  Went out and got tons of donations from club members and CSRA businesses.  Put together awesome goody bags.  Served a light lunch.  Played an ice breaker game.  And gave away lots of great prizes.  It was free to all of our members and guests - as an official send off to the club year.

And I'm not sad about it being the end of this club year.  I've mentioned the club on here before.  It has kept me the busiest this entire year while also keeping me in a constant state of frustration.  I took on two board member slots, membership chair and webmaster.  So that is the busy part.  The frustrated part?  It was a year spent fixing the constitution.  Working with conflict among other board members.  And battling roadblocks at every turn.  It wasn't always enjoyable.  So I am very glad it is over.

To the ladies I served on the board with... thank you.  I know it wasn't easy this year but I am a better person for knowing all of you.  I wish those departing nothing but luck and I wish those staying a successful 2015-2016 club year.

Installation dinner - the week before.

I'm not 100% done with the club yet.  I was talked into taking over the expo chair.  The FGSCC sponsors the CSRA-Fort Gordon Community Expo in August.  This will be our second year hosting it and thankfully last years chair ROCKED.  She took great notes and everything is completely laid out for me.  The expo is one day before Rob graduates.. so cutting it a bit close.  However, I think with the help of an expo committee and the incoming board.. we will rock it.  Hopefully. ;)

Regardless.. that quiet lull has fallen on my calendar with no immediate meetings in the future.  I'm okay with that... I really, really am.

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