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Toddlers are NOT ideal candidates for a PCS

Little adorable monsters who thrive on routine, familiarity, and consistency just don’t make great PCS companions. While I myself have offered tips for PCSing with children, read many of the same type of blogs, and have moved 7 times now in 11 years – 5 of which have been with children, I have never –until now- PCSed with a 2 year old.  It’s a whole new beast. Seriously, in my utter exhaustion only 6 days into our 4 week transition to our new duty station, I make no attempts to offer advice. I have no wise words on how to make the best of it, I can barely say PCS without needing a nap (which wouldn’t ever happen anyway because why would my 2 year old need to nap when there are hotel hallways to be explored).

ToddlerBlog1PCSing with a toddler does not feel like a simple Permanent Change of Station but more like I Probably Can’t Survive. How has my sleeping-through- the-night, good-natured toddler turned into a blue eyed, hotel night shrieking banshee? My nightly self-commentary has been going something like this:  “Sweetie, I know we’ve slept in 4 different places in the past week. Get it together kid, lay down and go to sleep. It’s 4am, I don’t care what time zone we are in, yes we have been through three of them but everyone in the U.S. is sleeping somewhere, so please for the sake of mommy’s sanity and ability to keep her big girl panties on, please go to sleep.”

Ok.  Maybe I’ve lied. I am not this patient at 4am in the morning but who wants to admit to anything less, right?  In all honesty, I envy my toddler’s ability to unabashedly show his emotions, his frustrations with our transition and his desire to control the world around him because really, I feel exactly the same way.

Here are 10 things that I have learned on our journey so far… Read more >

How to MOVE IT without LOSING IT!: Helpful Tips for your PCS Move

As every military family knows – a PCS can be challenging and stress inducing. (Hey, wait… P-C-S: Personally Challenging and Stress inducing. Well that makes a lot of sense now!) Thankfully as the military community continues to network and grow in personal relationships and through social media, we have a plethora of resources at our hands to help plan, conquer and divide (quite literally). Whether you are planning your very first PCS or your fourteenth, there are always new ideas out there to help the process go smoothly.

 

PCS Blog Boxes PicAs an Army spouse, I’ve moved 8 times in the past 12 years, and have done everything from watch in horror as my newlywed lingerie collection came tumbling down the staircase; to sitting in a hot, empty German house and breastfeeding a 7 day old baby as odiferous German moving men meandered around me.  By honorable mention, I have made an epic 20 hour drive with a 3 year old from the East Coast to the armpit of Hell (Fort Polk, Louisiana) – by myself and arrived at our new rental house that had sat vacant for 6 weeks amidst the sweltering Louisiana summer. Close yours eye for a moment and envision black widow dens in the living room, mold growth in the fridge worthy of hazmat suits, and a swarm of maggoty fruit flies moving around inside the microwave.

Read more >

BRATS on the Move: Tips for PCSing with Children

We have PCS’d 5 times in the last 8 years, and 3 of those moves have been with small children. (Wow, does that thought make me want to run to the liquor cabinet.) Ten months after our last move, I finally have my head together enough to share some tips that make it a bit easier to handle a PCS while your “helpers” shadow you during those weeks surrounding the move. (Or at least keep your happy hour to after naptime.)

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Things to Prep

Remember that TLC show where the people had big tarps on their lawn to separate all their stuff into “Keep”, “Sell”, and “Donate” piles? That’s you right now. Obviously keep the things your child still uses and likes, as well as those a future sibling might need. But that ridiculously loud battery operated nose sucker you tossed in the garage to hide? You won’t miss it. Is your last baby going to outgrow the swing in a month anyway? Sell it now. Use CALL DIBS to sell or give away the stuff you won’t need. Consider donating some of your books and easily cleaned toys to charity, to your pediatrician’s office or a Caribou Coffee kid corner (love those).

Read more >

Memorial Day: The Why and The How

Those of us in the military community have a deep sense of what this 4 day Memorial weekend really means. We remember best friends lost in battle, family members who gave their lives in ultimate sacrifice for our Nation, and a rich history of generation upon generation of men and women who have provided us the liberties, rights, and freedoms we exercise today.

Memorial Day started as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation’s Civil War dead by decorating their graves. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers. On May 5, 1868, Logan declared in General Order No. 11 that:

The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will intheir own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

During the first celebration of Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.

This 1868 celebration was inspired by local observances of the day in several towns throughout America that had taken place in the three years since the Civil War. In fact, several Northern and Southern cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, including Columbus, Miss.; Macon, Ga.; Richmond, Va.; Boalsburg, Pa.; and Carbondale, Ill. In 1966, the federal government, under the direction of President Lyndon Johnson, declared Waterloo, N.Y., the official birthplace of Memorial Day. They chose Waterloo-which had first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866-because the town had made Memorial Day an annual, community-wide event during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.

By the late 1800s, many communities across the country had begun to celebrate Memorial Day and, after World War I, observances also began to honor those who had died in all of America’s wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May. (Veterans Day, a day set aside to honor all veterans, living and dead, is celebrated each year on November 11.)

Today, Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave. Also, it is customary for the president or vice-president to give a speech honoring the contributions of the dead and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

**Remember to fly your flag on Memorial Day. The American flag should be flown at half-staff until noon on Monday. It should then be raised to the top of the staff. If you raise your flag Monday morning (as opposed to having an illuminated all-weather flag you leave out all night), you need to raise it to the top of the staff and then lower it to half-staff from there.**

This blog content was adapted from a beautifully written email message from Loren V. Heckelman, Captain, USN (Ret.)

 

Rental Scams (Guest Milspouse Bloggers!)

Military spouses know how to get things done and are continually obtaining knowledge and skills as veteran movers and world travelers. Knowing how to not only move and keep your sanity in check but also protect your family is not always as easy as it sounds. So today we’d like to share a great blog from The Military Property Project. It is a new and emerging project, developed by two Army spouses, Amy and Lauren. Between the two of them they have PCSed over 15 times and personally manage over 10 properties country-wide. They understand the constraints and hurdles military families face because they experience them first-hand!!! So without further ado, we offer you: Rental Scams: Are you Falling for One?

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They were also featured here by NextGenMilSpouse for their up and coming project!!

Month of the Military Child 2014: Perspectives

As a team deeply connected in the active military community, we get very excited about Month of the Military Child! This year, we’ll be taking a spin on the traditional approach by offering our community’s various, unique ‘Perspectives‘. Throughout the month of April, we’ll be sharing personal, first-hand accounts from children, parents, grandparents, siblings, and teachers – all about their perspectives regarding military children. It will be an informative and moving month, so stay tuned and SHARE with your community.

If you would like to submit an essay about your experiences as a military child, a parent of a military child, or just as someone who knows one of these special kids, please send it via email to events@calldibsapp.com for consideration.

Last year we had great success featuring the photo and story of a military child every day. This year, in celebration of Month of the Military Child 2014, we are holding the #MilKidStrong Photo Contest! So get into those hard drives and photo albums and find any picture you feel illustrates #MilKidStrong. It can be a photo of your parents as children of active duty Vietnam soldiers, it can be your sweet baby sitting in daddy’s boots, or a teenager involved in community service. It’s all about perspective, and that perspective is up to you!

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Please submit all photos to us via our Facebook page in a Private Message or email at events@calldibsapp.com. (You will receive a reply from us with a Photo Release Form that must be completed before we’ll be able post your photo in the contest.)

All photos will be uploaded to our Facebook Page in an album on 1 April 2014 by 1200pm EST. Voting will begin immediately and will be calculated by the number of “likes” each photo receives from the community. So share your submissions and show off your photo for the 2014 Call Dibs #MilKidStrong Photo Contest. The picture receiving the most likes by 1200am EST on 29 April 2014 will be announced at 10am on 3o April 2014. The winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card and the chance to be featured in a TeeSpring.com Tshirt fundraiser.

We can’t wait to share all the creativity and perspectives that military kids demonstrate throughout their lives!

Who’s Talking at TED Talks?

Who is TED?

TED is not actually a super smart guy with great connections spreading ‘ideas worth sharing’ all over the world, but rather something that began as a one-time conference on different topics in 1984 and quickly became an annual conference in 1990. TED (Technology, Education, Design) has grown into a flourishing non-for profit organization, finding the cutting edge experts on important issues and ideas.

In a widening global platform of internet virality, it’s often hard to know what is worth your time and what you should just pass by without a second thought. If you have not yet heard of Ted Talks – they are among the most influential dialogues and speeches making impacts on social relationships, educational approaches, technology advances, environmental resources, political endeavors; you name it, there is a probably a Ted Talk on the topic.

(Cool trivia fact – TED and Call Dibs were both started in Monterey, California. It’s just another sign that great things are ahead for us!)

We’ll be featuring a Ted Talk monthly here on our blog. We’ll be choosing topics that can apply to the military community or just your daily life. If you have a favorite, please comment below with the link. If you’ve never heard a Ted Talk, just stay tuned, sit back, and enjoy!

Our first installment of “Who’s Talking?” will be a Ted Talk featuring Amy Cuddy.

Dr. Cuddy is a professor and social psychologist at Harvard Business School. Her research on non-verbal expressions of power has afforded some ground breaking insights and explanations that are relevant in just about every facet of day-to-day life.

As we travel and move throughout our military adventures, we meet people and experience many new social situations. What better to know than how our body language affects others and how we can cue others into what we are saying non-verbally. Cuddy explains how her research has empirically verified that certain specific types of body language shape who we are and have the ability to influence positive outcomes for us. The base summary of her discourse at the Ted Global event in Edinburgh, Scotland, is that engaging in “power poses” or dominant postures for as little as 2-minutes a day can decrease your cortisol levels (the stress hormone), increase your testosterone levels, and increase your appetite for risk.  Who doesn’t need a little less stress and a little more excitement in their lives? The most immediately obvious use of this model for veterans or service members transitioning out of the military, as well as military spouses seeking employment, is to engage in “power poses” to prepare for job interviews.  Dr. Cuddy, along with Dana R. Carney and Andrew J. Yap, have confirmed that employment of this technique definitively improves the performance of job seekers during interviews. Cuddy summarizes the key aspects of the research with,  “Our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.”

If you only watch one Ted Talk, make it this one; the guidance and advice that Professor Cuddy offers has the ability to dramatically increase the likelihood of positive outcomes as you move forward in your careers and personal lives!

President’s Day Deals

This weekend we observe President’s Day in honor of George Washington’s birthday in February and the remembrance of our previous Presidents. Many families take to the open roads to enjoy this weekend and we hope you all have a safe time. There are a number of places throughout the country providing perks to the Military community and their families too. From ski resorts to car dealerships, you can find an additional savings on top of the usual President’s Day deals. The most important thing you can do is just ask. Bring your ID or Proof of Service and see what deals come your way.

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Premium Outlets: Presidents’ Day Sale Fri – Mon, Feb 15 – 18

Don’t miss the annual President’s Day Sale at Premium Outlet Centers across the United States and Puerto Rico. Enjoy extra discounts on top of already low outlet prices. Military Appreciation: Members of the military, veterans and their families can show their IDs at the on-site Information Center all year long to receive a free VIP Coupon Book.

Veteran Tickets Foundation (Vet Tix) strives to enrich the lives of our Military and Veterans by providing reintegration opportunities and family bonding experiences through socially interactive events. Find a great event in your area today!

Massage Envy Military Discount Program

Join Massage Envy now and save $60 per year

Massage Envy is happy to announce our new Military Discount Program. All active military personnel can now join Massage Envy at a savings of $60* a year. Just ask our friendly front desk associate for details.

ProFlowers

Proflowers is offering a military discount on select flowers for Valentine’s Day and everyday! A special page dedicated to military couples features roses, tulips, and more priced from $25 to $100 so there’s something for every budget. Also, for a limited time, ProFlowers is offering 20% off all orders of $39.99 or more.

Chicago Auto Show Feb. 8-17

Personnel who currently serve in the active duty, National Guard or Reserves and hold valid military ID are admitted free to the show.

West Virginia’s Snowshoe Resort

50% off midweek and value season lift tickets.

25% off weekend and holiday lift tickets.

10% off lodging anytime summer or winter.

Know about another great deal this weekend? Let us know and we’ll pass the word along.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it… and Comment!

You haven’t heard from us in awhile. Why, you may ask? Because we have been restructuring our teams and dedicating all our resources towards some very BIG and exciting new developments.

During the next 5 months, we will be unveiling some amazing updates to Call Dibs, all leading up to our biggest release yet in June. So keep in touch, follow Call Dibs on Facebook and Call Dibs on Twitter and let us know what you think.

Here at Call Dibs, we have the unique opportunity to be an active part of the military community, but are also immersed in the newest and best developments in technology and social networks. After many months of receiving user feedback and studying the role of comments in digital communities, our tech team got to work, and this weekend, we will be releasing an update that will provide the Call Dibs community the ability to comment on listings.

The private message option to communicate securely with a seller will still be available as well. Comments will allow more communication and relationship building between users within their respective military communities. But don’t worry, we’ve also built in the ability for a seller to “delete” a comment if they find it undesirable on their listing.

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Call Dibs is not just a place to sell and buy items – it is a community.

People can definitely meet in communities or social networks. But community is where they develop these relationships. Community can form anywhere, even on a social network site. It is a natural tendency for human to congregate around similar interest and goals. There are many interesting dynamics between communities and social network…both of them have very [real] roles in the human society; that is why they are the most stable social structure in human history. -Michael Wu, Ph.D. (Community Vs. Social Network).

As we continue to develop the platform to allow for more connectivity and relationship building, we foresee it becoming a vital tool for military members and their families to communicate and assist each other, during times of transition and the general hustle and bustle of daily military life.

Holiday Giving & Saving Ideas

With just two weeks left until Christmas, here are some ideas to help you save money and still give meaningful gifts for the holidays!

Creative Giving

Looking for a little gift inspiration for friends and family on your Christmas gift exchange list? Here’s an idea from Erica McMannes, Call Dibs Director of Promotions: Make it a Pinterest Christmas!

Erica did this last year, making Modge Podge Christmas Blocks for her nephew’s first Christmas and up-cycling a thrift store find with some paint, corkboard, and fabric to make jewelry boards for her sisters.

DIY Jewelry Board

DIY Wooden Block

Pinterest is a great site for ideas and inspiration. We’ve pinned some things to help, so check out Call Dibs on Pinterest.

Green Giving

It’s natural to want to de-clutter after Christmas. So why not do it before the holidays?

Gift your infant swing, highchair, or other infant items to a family member or friend who may have just had a baby; or give children’s books your kids have grown out of to little ones. You’ll be giving them something they need while also being green :)

Charitable Giving

We all have a lot to be thankful for during the holidays. One to express thankfulness is to help out those who may be less fortunate.

Give a donation or participate in an Angel Tree. Donate in a family member’s name and then let them know you did so in a Christmas Card. They’ll be happy to know that your gift to them was giving a child or family in need something special. Your children can also participate in goodwill towards others by donating one of their Christmas gifts to another child.

Angel Tree Giving

Time and Talent Giving

This time of year it’s important to keep in mind the true spirit of the holidays. As a military family we are all spread out across the U.S., and for some of you across the world. Having the opportunity to get all of my family gathered in one area is rare. This year our gift to one another is making it home for the holiday. What matters most is the time we get to share when we are all together. Instead of giving gifts share an experience or give of your special talents.

  • Give a private yoga lesson
  • Make a piece of artwork by painting or sewing
  • Change someone’s oil
  • Babysit a friend’s kids for a night
  • Give the gift of making a memory. Plan a night out or an event for everyone to enjoy together, then take a picture and send it to those who were there to cherish the good time.

Kids Giving

Make a meaningful gift that includes your kids. Take candid pictures of your little ones and photo collage them for Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles. Help kids do a craft and personalize it ie: cookies, ceramics, or pictures.

Giving something homemade and/or handmade just gives your gift an added sentiment.

Wherever you find yourself this season, all of us at Call Dibs wish you a Happy and Healthy Holiday!!

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