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Ella’s Perspective: Military Kids

Ella (age 8) submitted the following about why she likes being a military kid.

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“I like to be a military child because I travel all the time. I like to know that my dad flies the dolphin helicopter. It is fun to be in a military family. I like that my dad is in the military.”

The Cummings’ Perspective: Military Kids

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Here is what the ladies of the Cummings Family had to say about military life.

Genevieve, age 7

“The good and bad about being a military kid is we have to move a lot. Moving is hard work, seriously. You have to pack up all your things and say goodbye to friends and then make new friends. There is a lot of sitting in the car or the airport and wait and wait and wait when you have to move across the country or around the world. But it is fun to meet different people and make new friends. And it is fun getting to go different places and live in new houses. And then your dad has to go away a lot. I don’t like that part of being a military kid. But when Dad is home, we get to do things together, and I like that a lot.”

Annabelle, age 5

“Well, being a military kid means you make new friends and you can hear the bombs from Daddy’s work. You have to live a long ways away from your family and if you want to see them, you have use the computer to talk to them, or ride on an airplane, or ride in the car for a long long time. I like getting to live in different places, and go do fun things. Being a military kid is the best.”

Lauren, proud Navy wife and mom

“We are a family of six, and we are a successful, well-adjusted military family. With all the excitement and stress that comes from military life, we try to keep things simple and calm on the home front… as simple and calm as you can with 4 kids and a neurotic dog in tow.

I knew from the moment I met my husband what I was in for. We dated for almost 5 years, 4 of which were long distance. My husband claims he was testing me to make sure I could handle the lifestyle. I like to think I passed with flying colors.

By nature, I am a planner and researcher, but I have learned to also be flexible. I try not to stress about the next PCS, or the next deployment, or the 18 month work up that leads to that deployment. It is my job to keep my family happy and functioning. I am under the mindset we will make the best of any situation, and when you stop worrying and stressing, you can focus on all the positives and create lasting memories in otherwise difficult times. My family is my job, and they are my number one priority.

When I first started to think about the question, “What is it like to be a military family?” I asked my daughters, 7 and 5 their thoughts on the subject. They talked about moving and saying goodbye to old friends, but getting to make new friends. It made me feel good they did not have really any negative comments on the subject. I also had to agree with them. Moving is probably the biggest hardship on our family. When I think of moving, I immediately go into research and planning mode. I need to find all there is to know about a potential hometown. I want to know the houses, the school districts, the preschools, and activities, etc. What is the best transition for my kids, and how does that line up with my husband’s report date? I look at it like a big puzzle and I need to figure out how to make all the pieces fit together. That can take some doing when you have 4 kids.

As for everyday life, we try to be quite normal and stick with a routine. We eat dinner as a family, we do activities as a family, we explore and we plan outings as a family. When our service member happens to be working away from home for extended periods of time, we try not to disrupt our daily lives. We make the necessary adjustments and include him through pictures, videos, and daily chats via the web.

I am immensely proud of my children. They have only known the way of the military child, and handle it with style and grace. They have made friends for life, as have I. The military has afforded us the opportunity to experience the world many would never see in a lifetime. And while we make great sacrifices by being a military family, we appreciate the time we are together, the friendships we have forged, and the world at our doorstep.”

Genevieve and Annabelle at the Daddy-Daughter dance

Genevieve and Annabelle at a Daddy-Daughter dance

Jacob’s Perspective: Military Kids

Today’s post was written by Jacob, a college student, about how life as a military child has shaped the adult he’s become.

“It was once a huge obstacle. It has become a great strength. It has left me lonely, and it has given me great friends. It has made me scared, and it has made me laugh. It has made me sick, and it has healed me. It has helped form my character, focus my direction, and change my world view. This obstacle has helped me become the young man I am today. What is the obstacle? It is simply living life as a military kid.
Many people cannot understand why a parent would choose to move their family every few years to a new neighborhood, new school, new everything. Military kids must develop a unique set of personality traits to adjust to the strains of this lifestyle. For me, those traits became 1) finding an appreciation for different cultures, 2) finding the courage to step out and try new experiences, and 3) holding on to the personal standards I have set for myself.

I have lived in seven different cities, including two on the tiny island of Guam. I have attended seven different schools, each campus with a different feel. Without an ability to appreciate different cultures and individuals, I would not have been successful in finding my niche in all these different cities and schools. Being a military kid has opened my eyes to the value of each individual culture, and I know I will carry this attitude with me on any college campus.

Secondly, being a military kid has helped me find the courage to step out and try new experiences. This is sometimes difficult to do because every new location means finding that courage again. General George S. Patton once said, “Accept the challenges so you may know the exhilaration of victory.” In other words, if you don’t put yourself out there and try something new, you may never know the feeling of overcoming that fear. As I have grown, I have overcome that fear in athletics, academics and extracurricular activities. I know that I will continue this trait as an undergraduate as well.

Being a military kid has also helped me solidify my personal ethics and standards. The military is a tight community. Right and wrong are pretty clearly defined. Respect for others is admirable, but it is the respect I have set for myself that has allowed me to maintain a level of inner strength no matter where I live. Balancing an appreciation for others while holding firm to my own beliefs has made a significant impact on how I view life.

What will the next obstacle be in my life? I do not know. However, I do know that the strengths I have developed living life as a military kid will help me succeed. Without a doubt, an appreciation for different cultures, the courage to try new things, and maintaining high personal standards will be beneficial traits regardless of any challenges I may face.”

Jacob and his father at the 2014 JROTC Ball, where he received a medal and award from AMVETS

Jacob and his father at the 2014 JROTC Ball, where he received a medal and award from AMVETS

 

Celebrating Our Military Kids

Happy April 1st! No matter what Mother Nature’s doing, the calendar says spring, and I keep looking out the window for green grass, buds on the trees, and dandelions sprinkled around my yard. I know they aren’t the most popular, but I just love the bright little pops of yellow sprouting up everywhere!

Of course, this might be because my son likes to give me bouquets of dandelions for my little vase by the window, and I like to weave them into wreaths for my daughter’s hair while my youngest son tastes several.

Fia Dandelion

But I also love looking out my window at the dandelions because they are indeed very much like my littles, growing up in a military family.

The official flower of the military child is the dandelion. Why? The plant puts down roots almost anywhere, and it’s almost impossible to destroy. It’s an unpretentious plant, yet good looking. It’s a survivor in a broad range of climates. Military children bloom everywhere the winds carry them. They are hardy and upright. Their roots are strong, cultivated deeply in the culture of the military, planted swiftly and surely. They’re ready to fly in the breezes that take them to new adventures, new lands, and new friends.

Experts say that military children are well-rounded, culturally aware, tolerant, and extremely resilient. Military children have learned from an early age that home is where their hearts are, that a good friend can be found in every corner of the world and in every color, and that education doesn’t only come from school. They live history. They learn that to survive means to adapt, that the door that closes one chapter of their life opens up to a new and exciting adventure full of new friends and new experiences.

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All of our military kids are truly special, and April is all about celebrating our littlest heroes!  Whether you are a military child, have a military child, or just happen to know one of these amazing kids, here are some things you can do to participate in the celebration:

  • SHARE your story
    CallDibs is celebrating our military kids’ perspectives this month!  Write an essay, create a drawing, make a list of advice, take a picture of a past project – anything that you feel represents your unique experience related to military children.  Share your thoughts with your friends, parents, teachers, and US!  We’ll be featuring a variety of perspectives from our community, so check back daily!  If you’d like a chance to be featured on this blog, please submit your perspective to events@calldibsapp.com for consideration by April 4th!
  • Wear PURPLE
    Purple is the color that represents all branches of our military: green for Army, red for Marines, and blue for Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Although April 15th is the official day, we encourage you to “Purple Up” all month long to show your support! RELATED: Operation Purple camps for military children and their families.
  • Vote for your favorite PHOTO
    We are hosting a photo contest for our Call Dibs users!  Photos were submitted in March, and have been uploaded to our Facebook Page. Vote by ‘liking’ your favorite photo between now and April 29th, and the winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card.  Good luck, everyone!
  • ATTEND an Event
    Your MWR, base Youth Center, or school liaison may have information on events, camps, workshops, concerts, and more.  Also check out www.operationmilitarykids.org to search for event calendars by state.
  • THANK a military child
    It’s so important to remember all the little things our kids sacrifice, often with no choice in the matter.  A simple gesture can recognize their strength and sacrifices, give them a boost of confidence and pride, and show that they are not forgotten. Need some ideas? Plan special one-on-one dates with your kids, send handmade cards or drawings to friends who are military children, volunteer at your local USO, volunteer to be a TAPS mentor, or simply offer a handshake or hug.

 A HUGE THANK YOU to ALL our military children from the CallDibs team! It’s going to be an exciting month!

 

Lydia DiCola Call Dibs, Military Content Manager

Lydia DiCola
Call Dibs, Military Content Manager

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!

Pits and Pendulums: Military Cutbacks

Don’t worry, this isn’t a high school lit class. I am not going to go into a deep literary analysis of one of Edgar Allen Poe’s most prolific tales but recently the title and general gist of this story keep coming to the forefront of my mind. Any guesses why?

The confusion, the punishment, the loss of sensation – they all come to mind as people are trying to grasp their brains around the upcoming boards determining who will be cut from the Army in the predetermined year groups.

I don’t mean to make this a dire report of impending doom, but more of a comedic relief in some dark, twisted way – because that is how I feel. It’s a bit scary and on a raw emotional level – it’s all twisted.

Historically, the military has seen waxes and wanes in size, military cutbacks most often occurring after major wars and conflict. It happens. In the civilian sector, people face lay offs and downsizing frequently, forcing families to make dramatic changes. I take nothing for granted. I was recently talking to my grandmother about the upcoming downsizing and she told me that my grandfather had been laid off 8 times in his lifetime. They had 5 kids, they tightened resources, and it always worked out. I look at this and think, ok, we only have 2 kids, we both have higher level education degrees – we will be ok and we will make this work.

Contrary to my rational reaction, my raw emotional reaction (once again) is to be defensive. HOW on earth can you ‘fire’ someone who missed FIFTEEN months of his first born’s life? HOW can you ‘fire’ someone who has lost friends in combat? HOW can you ‘fire’ someone who has handled a battle buddy’s’ suicide? Will a ‘cut’ from the force be a final draw for individuals already teetering on mentally stability? Has anyone looked at the need for transitional support for these soldiers and their families? It’s kind of like being pushed into a dirty, dimly lit pit and feeling your way around. At this moment in time you don’t really know where you are going but must proceed as if hope will prevail, yet all the while feeling the faint whoosh of the Pendulum at your neck.

So what do we do? We plan and we organize our resources. If anything as military families, we know how to rise up in the face of adversity and make the most of what we have. We draw together resources and research options. My spouse and I have started looking at our finances, paying off debt as fast as we can using the Dave Ramsey “snowball” effect. We engage in regular conversations about our options for employment, location, reaction time, timelines, etc…. We are amping up resumes and updating LinkedIn profiles. Our extended families are aware that we may be making a huge life transition next summer. In this case the “hurry up and wait” mentality is a benefit. Plan now, be prepared, and when the news arrives – you’ll be set either way.

Even though Poe’s Pit and the Pendulum had a military connection in a very different time and a very different place (imbedded with a few literary vs. historical liberties), it was fiction. I am not an “alarmist” by nature, but this, my friends, is reality. So how are you feeling? What steps are you taking to prepare? Please use this as a sounding board, conversations need to start now. No complaining and spewing hatred that will get us nowhere fast. We need to seek support and encouragement from each other as we move forward, and some of us move on to new adventures.

Erica McMannes Call Dibs, Brand Manager *Proud Army Spouse*

Erica McMannes
Call Dibs, Brand Manager
*Proud Army Spouse*

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!

Call Dibs STRONG at SXSW 2014!

You’ve seen the articles – veterans make great entrepreneurs. Google it. We dare you!!

This week our Call Dibs co-founders hit the open road and headed out from Oakland, CA to SXSW 2014 in Austin, TX.

Call Dibs Co-founders, Anthony and Derek

Call Dibs Co-founders, Anthony and Derek

Anthony Garcia (Army Veteran) and Derek Artz extend an open invitation to other military entrepreneurs, service members, veterans, milspouses, and anyone else interested in meeting up at The Brass House in downtown Austin ( located at San Jacinto and 2nd Street). Join them and the rest of the Call Dibs Team on Friday, 7 March at 18:00.

Brass

“We chose to host our meet-up at the Brass House, since it’s owned by Marines. The owners told us, ‘everyone says they want to open a bar, but we did it.’ That statement sums up the veteran entrepreneur,” says Garcia.

SXSW is an annual series of festivals and conferences for the Film, Music, and Interactive Technology industries.  It’s a great place for early stage startups and businesses to showcase their products and network with industry leaders. It’s also an amazing experience for those interested in technology… and it’s in Austin!

Kristin, Army Brat and co-founder

Kristin, Army Brat and Team Member

Throughout the week, the Call Dibs team and community members plan to attend various events to help spread the 65 Million Strong message. The military community is STRONG and our mission is to close the technology lag gap!

We will be attending the 6 Mar Capital Factory Startup Crawl, the 7 Mar Sparefoot.com 2014 Party, the 8 Mar The McCombs School of Business Texas MBA and MSTC Entrepreneurship Night, and the 8 Mar Cornell Reception at SXSW Interactive.

Hope to see you Friday!

Erica McMannes Call Dibs, Brand Manager *Proud Army Spouse*

Erica McMannes
Call Dibs, Brand Manager
*Proud Army Spouse*

 

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.

Sometimes ‘boxing’ up your feelings is the best way to go!

Everyone deals with the inevitable separations of military life in their own ways, and though there is no replacement for our service member, the little things can be a big help.

My husband and I spent the first half of our marriage apart more than together (not a rare story for military couples). I wanted to crawl into every dufflebag that deployed with him but quickly realized that was not realistic or good for either of us in general. Before the days of Pinterest or viral Facebook ideas, I got creative and made him what I named, “Me in a Box”. (Please note: I also invented this before J.T. made a certain SNL skit popular; moving on…)

The concept was easy – buy a small box, small enough to fit discreetly in a footlocker or dufflebag, and fill it with miniature items that symbolized me and our relationship. I found a 4 in. x 4 in. box on clearance at Michaels, decoupaged a few stickers and a little framed picture of myself on the lid. I found small things around the house that had memories or purchased small items that would remind him of me: wooden ladybug, small glass figurine of a dog, coins from a recent trip to Italy, a piece of lace, a pin from our college alma mater, a mini vial of Givenchy perfume, and so on. When I set out on this project, I found  myself absorbed and focused on how good it was making me feel and how much he would love it. I was totally unaware of the special moment it would create outside of what I was expecting.

Most of the items for the box were easily found, but I really wanted a small sample vial of a Givenchy perfume. My sister and I visited about 4 department stores and no one had any. I was pretty bummed, but we had one last stop at a Macy’s in Raleigh, N.C. A graceful, older woman in her seventies was working the counter and apologetically told me the same news – they had no samples. Sitting there on the counter was a very cool collector set of 7 miniature Givenchy bottles for holiday purchases, but I didn’t have $100 to spend.

The sales woman struck up conversation and asked, why I was interested in just a sample bottle if I knew I liked it so much? I explained my project to her and then grew quickly concerned as her head dropped and her eyes filled with tears. She could barely control the shake in her voice as she turned her back to me, picked up a phone, and talked for a few moments. She turned to me and said, “I’ve checked with the manager and I’d like you to have this without a purchase.”

She was GIVING me the entire collector set of little bottles?! I hesitantly replied with a confused thank you and asked why? She said, “I lost my young husband in Vietnam and would have wanted him to have every piece of me that he could carry with him too.” She then thanked me for my dedication as a young military spouse and our sacrifices as a young couple.

Wow!

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So in the spirit of military relationships, love, and the upcoming Valentine’s Day – take a moment to find/make something special for the one you love. There are some suggestions below to get you inspired, whether you’re missing a friend, sibling, child, parent, or significant other. You never know how the energy and good intentions will affect those around you!

Ideas for boxing up those feelings:
*Local postcards and pictures
*A puzzle piece from one the kids like to complete
*A personalized Road ID for them to wear when they go out for a run
*An earring or hair accessory
*Handprint crafts 
*Personalized or photo bookmark
*A piece from a board game you played together
*A special ornament from the Christmas tree
*A favorite coffee mug from home or design-your-own 
*A clean wrapper or take-out receipt from a favorite food/restaurant
*A dryer sheet or freshly-laundered pillowcase

P.S. Don’t forget about yourself and your kids, if you have them. Try a Hero Doll or Daddy Doll! Please share your ideas with us. Feel free to post in the comments below or post on our Call Dibs Facebook Page.

 

Erica McMannes Call Dibs, Brand Manager *Proud Army Spouse*

Erica McMannes
Call Dibs, Brand Manager
*Proud Army Spouse*

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