Friday, December 5, 2014

All about the Boots

Every time I wear my boots I get asked "Where did you get those boots?" "What are those boots for?"

So for Red Friday I want to highlight the Boot Campaign!

I absolutely LOVE the Boot Campaign. I love them enough that I literally check their career page all the time! It would be an honor to work for a company that does such amazing work for active military, veterans, and their families.

I read Service by Marcus Luttrell and that's how I heard about the Boot Campaign. So earlier this year I decided I had to have these boots. I don't wear them everyday, but every chance I get I wear them.

Boot Campaign helped me realize that even though I'm not a military spouse or retired military I will be able to help veterans one day! The money raised from their sales, events, and donation goes to help in five different areas. Jobs, Housing, Wellness, Urgent Assistance, and Family Support. They don't just do that; they promote patriotism, cultivate awareness, and provide assistance.

The 5 women who started the Boot Campaign have inspired me so much! They all cam from completely different career backgrounds, and no immediate connections to the military. They were 5 Americans who wanted to do something for the military. I just hope I can make a big of an impact in the lives of veterans as they have.

So go out there on this RED FRIDAY and find your passion. Fight for it. Work for it. Remember someone is out there fighting for you today, make their sacrifice and the sacrifice of those who gave their lives worth it. Live a life that was worth someone else's. Do something to honor them.

Want to get some boots? visit http://www.bootcampaign.com/

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thank you Veterans!

Today is veterans day so I have to say a HUGE thank you to all those who stood up to serve our country!

I am so so proud to be an American, and so very proud of our military!

On Sunday I had the opportunity to continue a tradition my grandpa had started at my church with a Veterans Day service. I got some of our children involved, some didn't even know what a veteran was. I was able to make a speech that I hope made an impact on someone at the service.

"As most of you know my grandpa used to do a Veterans Day service every year, so I think it’s my turn to take it over since he’s gone. He instilled in me a respect for veterans and I couldn’t let Veterans Day go by without recognizing our veterans.
When looking up the “official” definition of a veteran I found the generic “someone who served in the military” pretty simple. but I found this that seem to be more fitting…
What is a Veteran? A veteran whether active duty, discharged, retired, or reserve is someone who, at one point in his life wrote a blank check made payable to the United states of America up to and including his life.
It continued, by saying that is an honor. And there are way to many people In this country today who no longer understand that fact.
And its true.

Young men and women have been serving our country even before we were a freed nation…farmers, slaves, immigrants, rich, poor, some with their whole lives ahead of them and some old enough that they left their lives behind to fight…from Yorktown, VA, to Fort Sumter,SC, from Little Big Horn to Flanders Field. From The beaches of Normandy to the black sand of Iwo Jima. From the mountains of Korea to the jungles of Vietnam. From the Hindu Kush Mountains in Afghanistan to the dangerous street of Iraq.
On veterans day the best way we can honor veterans is to not allow them, their sacrifice and the sacrifice of their brothers be forgotten.
Appreciate your freedoms, make the most of your education, your faith, your life. They were more expensive than you know.
Live a life that honors the sacrifice of the hundreds of thousands of Americans that died for you.
And shake the hands and say thank you to those veterans who are still here with us.
That’s how you can honor veterans
."

We as American are so lucky for the opportunities and freedoms we have. It is all thanks to those men and women who sign that check. Your freedom really is the most expensive thing we will ever have, cherish it.

Please on this day and everyday REMEMBER and honor our veterans! Don't forget those who lost their lives, don't let their sacrifice be forgotten. Remember their families as well!



Monday, October 13, 2014

Care Package 101

Over the last 10 almost 11 years I can't tell you how many care packages I've made, probably hundreds. I've sent them to my brother and to service members I adopted when my brother wasn't deployed. I kind of have a system and a plan when I do care packages. Currently I don't have an adopted soldier, I had an adopted Marine who just left Afghanistan and haven't had a chance to get a new one.

The biggest question I hear when it comes to care packages is what to pack. Its a lot easier when you know the person you are sending things to, but when its an adopted one its really hard.

Here are my go to care package items:

-Jerky (everyone I've ever sent to like Jerky I don't get it)
- Gum
-Chapstick
-I always send playing cards, UNO, dice games. Any small game they can play to fill their time.
-small snacks (granola bars, small chip bags, cereal bags etc.) Just small things they can fit in a pocket if they leave their base or if they are at a FOB. My brothers first deployment we would send tons of snacks because how little they had. Iraq '04 was no joke.
- A hand written note, card or letter. This is especially nice when its an adopted soldier, just a small gesture so they know you care!
-Fresh baked goods. My personal favorite thing that I do for my brother and my adopted soldiers it to bake for them.

I think people assume not to send hand made cookies or treats because they may get stale. I've never had an issue, we just makes sure to pack them once they cooled into some GladWear containers.

If you would like some of my favorite care package recipes let me know!

Also if you don't know anyone currently deployed check out Adopt-a-Soldier groups! Some have long term partnerships (being the adopter of a soldier for their whole deployment) or a one time adoption where you send packages or letters one time. Lots of great ways to show support!


Thursday, October 9, 2014

BLUES HOME OPENER !

So for Blogtober day 9 its all about the St. Louis Blues season opener!

I LOVE HOCKEY. Hockey season is my favorite season. Not only do I love pro hockey, but I love college hockey too! I loved it enough that I almost left school here in St. Louis and moved to North Dakota so I could go to the University of North Dakota and cheer on the Sioux. I'm going to sound like a typical Blues fan and say that this is OUR season.

In honor of opening day here are some fun pictures!


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Inspiring TED TALKS

I love TED TALKS, I had never seen one until I was a junior in college and now I could watch them all day. My goal is to be a TED Talk speaker one day! So I just wanted to share a few TED Talks for you.







Favorite Reads

Let me start by saying I never really considered myself a reader. In high school I literally only read World War II books, no joke that is it. I'm kind of a history nerd. During the summer before my senior year of college I kind of went on a reading binge. This binge included 50 Shade of Grey which were pretty good, not the best technically written but good. I've kind of moved on from THAT type of book because yes I read a few series similar to 50 Shades.

I went and saw Lone Survivor last December and I LOVED IT. So I read the book, then had to read Marcus Luttrell's other book Service. Next on my military book kick was American Sniper by Chris Kyle...SO GOOD. LOVED THEM (military book review coming to you very very soon and I will talk more about them).

The book I'm going to review is called Crazy Good by Rachel Robinson...

let me start by saying the author is a military spouse and there were events in this book that I know were probably not easy to write about. As a sibling I have those similar fears, so I think its amazing that she was able to write about them and honestly made it very accurate. Okay so before I start this review that will probably be ridiculously long because I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH how about a little synopsis of the book...
click here



I linked to Amazon because if I wrote the description I would just tell you about the whole book.

Okay so my review...
I loved the book, seriously loved it. I've never read a book where I really got attached to characters (that sounds weird but I loved Stone and Morganna don't judge) I think this book was well written grammatically and technically, which following some of the other books I've read recently was a breath of fresh air. The portrayal of the military guys was perfect. I've grown up around the military so I would read things and just remember all the crazy things my brother has done or read the banter between the guys and have names of my brothers friends, it was just so accurate. My favorite part about it was how different it was from the "typical romance novel" it made me laugh...a lot...it made me mad, and it definitely made me cry. There were times I wanted to put it down because the mission, the death and the funeral were almost too much, but it was so good I couldn't put it down. I can't even tell you how much I enjoyed this book, I literally want a Stone ( love Mav but Stone was the best, read the book and you will understand) This book brings out every possible emotion and seriously couldn't put it down. I've read it three times and you better believe that when the author puts out her next book Set in Stone I'll read it again to prepare myself! I just read another review to see what others wrote and this literally describes it the best "the fact that a book can simultaneously make you want to jump your husbands bones, laugh, cry, cringe, and thank a veteran is a skill not easily achieved by many authors." Perfection that is what this book is. This is the book I read to get through internships, senior projects (campaigns for my classmates) and just the stress of life.

Not the best reviewer, but seriously the book is great. Go read it. The new book will be out soon so HURRY.



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Lessons Learned from adopting a shelter dog

I had a dog for 10 years, we got her as a puppy and she was literally the best and smartest dog ever. She was family she even vacationed with us. When she died in 2013 it hit my whole family really hard, I didn't really know life without a dog and my brother moved his dogs out a few weeks later and it was pretty crushing coming home from school and not have a dog waiting for me. So I was ready for a new dog asap, my parents weren't so ready.

Well November 8, 2013 I was looking at the APA a local shelter here in St. Louis and we found two dogs we loved. So we went the next day with my niece and nephew to visit both dog. We didn't know if we would leave with one or two or really any at all. First was an 8 year old miniature pincher (zoe) who was great. Then a 2 year old German Shepherd (Bella) , my pick. We took Bella outside to play even though the staff said she never played and also never really socialized with families that had looked at her. Well they were wrong she played with me and my nephew, she was all over us. I knew she was coming home with me, I couldn't leave her. We loved Zoe but we really fell in love with Bella and all agreed she had to come. We kept Zoe in mind and planned on adopting her a week later when a rescue got her for a specific family. So on November 9, 2013 we adopted Bella who is now known as Lola. Bella just didn't fit her personality.
It was rough bring her home, we didn't know her past. All we knew was she was surrendered because the owners moved and couldn't afford her. She seemed well trained and we were told she was kennel trained...

She is filled with anxiety when she is left alone and continually broke out of her kennel and would have accidents in the house. She is pretty much scared of all sudden movements and sometimes if I touch her back she freaks out. So I don't know what her previous life was like.

Lola stuck with me from day 1, we just clicked. She is literally my baby. It took about 6 months and 2 kennels to really get her "kennel trained" and after that she was basically perfect except for her crazy excited freakouts every time I come home (but I kind of like it)
She has vacationed with my family, and that was an experience. She did really well though especially since she was forced to be with 2 other HUGE dogs and 2 toddlers. When we came home she had a kennel relapse. We are working on it and it looks like the Kennel wont be happening anymore. She does better when I leave her out rather than in. So no more kennel.
I can honestly say that there were a lot of struggles with Lola, but I would do them all over again. That dog got me through a lot, from my fear of not getting to graduate to dealing with my grandpas death. She has turned into an amazing dog and part of my family. I can't imagine having any other dog.

Lessons from adopting a shelter dog:
-There is nothing wrong with older dogs, Lola isn't super old but shes also not a puppy. I would much rather have a sweet gray faced dog than a puppy I'm up with every 2 hours.
-BE PATIENT, you don't know what these dogs have been through. Give them time to adjust. Lola wasn't in a shelter long but it definitely affected her.
-Don't compare your new dog to your previous dog, there is literally no replacing Lucy. No dog could. But Lola is different she is my Lola. She has her own personality and mannerisms that make her her and I wouldn't want it any other way.
-You can get a purebred from a shelter. Lola is 100% German Shepherd.
-MUTT ARE JUST AS GREAT! Lucy was a mutt she was a little pit, lab, miniature pincher mix and she was perfect, they also have less health problems.
-You aren't just saving them, they are doing the same for you. Seriously my parents got me Lola right when I needed her. My family was going through a lot, school was crazy and work was crazy.
-Go to a no kill shelter! Putting your money into a no kill gives them more opportunity to rescue!
-Finally DON'T GIVE UP ON THEM, there were days that I got so frustrated with Lola, but she just needed a little guidance and time. Give your dog time to learn what you want and you will get an amazing dog!

So if you are looking for a dog, give a shelter dog a chance. You wont regret it.

My Go To Fall Outfit

Disclaimer here, I am not the most stylish person in the world...I would literally wear Yoga pants, Nikes and some sort of military or sports shirt everyday. Not a joke, ask my friends from college. I have to text pictures to friends before job interviews or going out just to make sure I'm okay.

However its socially unacceptable to wear yoga pants and t-shirts all the time...so I've learned to dress a little better. Fall is my favorite season as far as fashion! I love cardigans, boots and hoodies.

My go to fall outfit is pretty simple:
I have fallen in love with the denim shirt, I have worn it with super dark jeans or leggings and its just perfect.
Cowboy boots from Ariat
And of course my Combat Boots, look for a post all about my boots Friday! They are not only real combat boots but the proceeds go to a great cause!

So what is your go to fall outfit?

I'm failing at Blogtober...

So we are 8 days into Blogtober and I've been behind since day 3...clearly having some commitment issues. I would like to point out I've done 2 photo shoots for the blog so technically I've been doing things!

So be ready for a "catch up" today with all the post I was supposed to do since Saturday.

1. My Favorite Reads
2. Inspiring TedTalks
3.Care Package advice (get some military love in there)
4. Go to fall outfit
5. Lessons Learned from adopting a shelter dog

GET READY BECAUSE THEY ARE COMING...

Friday, October 3, 2014

RED Friday

So as a military sibling I like to do anything I can to show support for our military! One of my favorite ways is RED Friday.

During Blogtober I'm going to do something Military related on Fridays just as a way to support those who support all of us.

If you don't know what RED Friday is it stands for Remember Everyone Deployed Friday. Just a way to bring attention that we still have people serving overseas. It is a really simple way, all you do is wear red on Fridays.

You can get special RED Friday shirts from different places, including Etsy, Ranger Up, MarcusLuttrell.com, or the Boot Campaign. Most veterans owned or military themed stores will sell RED Friday products.

I wore my RED Friday shirt from Marcus Luttrell and Team Never Quit today but its was like 40 degrees and rainy so I didn't get a pictures. So here is mine from vacation with Lola because I yes even while on the beach I honored RED Friday.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Sweet Tea 101

Obviously I love sweet tea, it's part of my name I love it!

So I consider myself a sweet tea connoisseur. I'm a little bit of a snob.

First off the best places to get sweet tea is anything with southern roots, I'm completely serious about it. The farther south of the Mason Dixon Line the better everything gets especially tea.

If you are out and need to grab a sweet tea I highly recommend Chick Fil A, McDonalds, or Texas Roadhouse. Honestly nothing beats sweet tea made at home.


This is my families Sweet Tea Recipe, and I think its perfect!

2 cups sugar/ gallon
2 tea bags (luzianne tea is the best)
1 gallon of water

So I just boil half a gallon of water at a time, boil it with your tea bags (don't get distracted because if you let it go to long the tea bags break and you have tea flakes in your tea!) Then add it to your pitcher with your sugar and stir. Then boil the next half gallon with the same tea bags and pour it into your pitcher and boom best sweet tea you will have!!

Do you have a tea recipe? I would love to know what y'all do!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Blogtober Day 1 Fall Bucket List

If you know me you know Fall is one of my favorite seasons! So my bucket list is pretty random but its everything I love about Fall!

1. Pumpkin picking
2. Carving Pumpkins
3. Go to Hockey Games
4. Apple picking
5. BonFires
6. Smores
7. Watch a lot of Football
8. Avoid all Scary movies (yes you read that right)
9. Bake A Lot
10. Got to a Fall Festival
11. Boo at the Zoo (if you are in St. Louis this is a must)
12. Drink Starbucks Hot Chocolate

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Gold Star Mothers and Family Day

The last Sunday in September is a day to honor the mothers and families of fallen service members.

As a military sibling I know what its like to be left at home, but I have been truly blessed and lucky to have my brother return every deployment. Countless other families aren't as lucky. Today is the day to remember and honor them. Everyday thousands of mother, fathers, widows, widowers, siblings and children carry on with their lives following the lose of a family member over seas.

As Americans I think its is our job to take care of and honor these families. They paid the ultimate price for freedom, giving up someone they loved and cared for. So those of us who haven't had to make that payment, those of us who haven't experienced "that knock" that all military families fear, and those of us who haven't been asked to carry on owe it to those who have to stand up and be a support for them.


So in honor of Gold Star Mothers day, take time and remember those who gave all and those who were left behind. Take a moment to visit a national cemetery, volunteer at a USO or Fisher House, do something to benefit the families and those currently serving. Don't let them be forgotten.

Today I have the families of Jon T. Tumilson and Clayton R. Beauchamp in my thoughts and prayers. I never knew them or their families but I wear their names every day and will not allow them to be forgotten.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Life has just been a crazy hot mess

So as Y'all know I've been mia for the past few months. Like I said in the title like has been just a hot mess.

I have had a lot of ups and downs this summer which caused me to kind of abandon the blog.


The biggest high was obviously graduating college! Seriously the best day ever (except my brother was gone at training)


Then it kind of went down hill from there, I lost a really close family friend a week later from cancer. Then just a few days after that I lost my grandpa and if you know me you know how important he is to me. I've been through a lot of lose but this one really hurt. I've seen him literally everyday of my life. He had dementia and for a long time told all my family I was the only one who cared about him. We had a really close bond. I'm like him in a lot of ways but especially in my need to be EARLY like really early and in my love for our military. He is the one who instilled in my the passion and determination I have when it comes to helping veterans. So its taken a lot of time to move forward from this. I definitely miss the phone calls every time it storms making sure I'm okay, the times he asks me about boyfriends and his response always being "you don't need any boy, you have too much going for you to worry about a trouble maker" and Strawberry shakes will never be the same not sharing them with him.


Most of my summer has been spent with my grandma, I'm with her everyday. Sometimes its running errands, some days in lunch and others its doing things I never thought I would at 22. Seriously. Planning a funeral and picking out a tombstone are not fun and its as horrible as it sounds. As hard as all this has been, I've been able to really learn how strong I really am and I've formed an even stronger bond with my grandma and I got to be with my grandpa in his final moments. All things I wouldn't change for anything.

Okay so TOO much emotion for me! I'm not a really emotional person or a crier so enough of this.

So I decided to do a blog revamp. It was getting difficult to just post about military sibling life and not bring up personal things going on, or doing fun post about random stuff. BUT I will still have a focus on the military because that's my life its what I love. I'm just adding a little more of a personal aspect outside of the military life.
As far as the new name, I love the military and my Boot Campaign combat boots and I love sweet tea!

Expect a lot from me coming up, I'm taking part in a Blogtober challenge with my friend Elena | Cheetahtalkymas


Monday, September 8, 2014

Sorry I've been gone!

Hey y'all! Sorry I've been a little absent recently. I have had a pretty crazy summer to say the least.

I graduated from college in MAY!!! Woohoo! Best day ever honestly!
Its pretty much been down hill from there. My brother was gone at training on my graduation, then a dear family friend passed away a week later. Just 4 days following that funeral my grandfather passed away. I've been the one pretty much making sure my grandma gets to the store, get her medication and even had to go pick out a tombstone. Something I never thought at 22 I would be doing.

Enough of the sad stuff. I just had a great family vacation (much needed) and I'm ready to get back to blogging.

Which leads me to the fact that I am going to do a blog overhaul. New name, new mission, a whole new plan. So be ready for what I hope will be an AMAZING blog.

Look for DIY, more personal post (Vacation and graduation will be the first) and some beauty tips as well!

Don't worry though, it will always have a military focus. It's who I am and what I'm passionate about so I could never forget about that. I will always fight for and support military siblings and military families. Just need to change the blog up a little bit.

I'll be back soon y'all!
Shelby

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Military men come with a lot of baggage

I don't mean emotional baggage, I mean literal baggage and stuff.

If you are new to this military life you may not see it yet, but give it a few years, a couple PCS' and maybe a deployment or two and trust me you will.

My brother has been in South Carolina, Texas, Germany, Iraq, Germany, Texas, Iraq, Texas, Missouri-along with being in 4 different National Guard units- and Afghanistan. Over the years I can't tell you how many different bags and footlockers have been left behind at our house.

Be ready to give up space (and be ready to stub your toe on a footlocker and almost pass out from the pain) when ever he comes around. My brother owns his own home and we STILL have at least 4 footlockers in our basement from his first deployments. DO NOT OPEN THEM...They don't smell good.

With all this stuff...remember it gets moved at some point. You know who gets volunteered to move it...you. the sibling. I've helped my brother and his wife move 4 times. To Ft. Leonardwood (twice), to my house in St. Louis and to their new home. Let me just say you have no idea how much stuff you accumulate until you pack up a 10 year military career. Footlockers EVERYWHERE!

Be ready to use muscles you've never even knew you had and prepare for it to poor down rain or be a million degrees every time. You should probably hope and pray you have an OCD sister in law like I do who had everything packed and ready to go weeks in advance.


Also remember that the move means one thing...he isn't in a war zone and he is going on to new opportunity :)

Stay safe y'all


Monday, June 9, 2014

All about my KIA Braclets

I get asked a lot from strangers and friends about my KIA bracelets. Most people really didn't know what they were and I guess people thought they didn't make them anymore. Well they do and I wear two for very different, yet very similar reasons.

The first KAI bracelet has more of a personal connection. Not because I knew him, but because he was someone who my brother remembers. My brother deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 as a Medevac Medic, and on 7 Aug 2012 his Blackhawk got the call of some injured Marines needing evacuation. HM2 Clayton Beauchamp was Navy but was with a Marine Regiment. He was injured when his patrol was struck with IED's. My brother was one of the medics to respond and he took Beauchamp in his helicopter, he sadly didn't make it home. When I told my brother I wanted a KAI bracelet but wasn't sure whose to get, Clayton Beauchamp was the first name he gave me. All my brother really said was he was helping his guys when he was injured, and that it was one of the hardest days his DUSTOFF group had experienced.

My other bracelet is more of an inspiration, to remind me of the person to be like. Jon Tumilson was a Navy Seal who was killed when Extortion 17 was shot down. I didn't know much about him until I read Service by Marcus Luttrell (good read, gave me a better understanding of what my brother went through) and every time he was mentioned it was nothing but great things. He was always willing to help others, was an amazing friend, man and SEAL, and he never quit. To me he is the definition of a hero. It's hard to explain why I decided to wear his name, but to me he is one of those people whose name should never be forgotten. I didn't know him, I've never met his friends or family but the more I found out about him the more I realized that I would love to be just a percentage of the person he was. This article describes it better, and I think after reading it you would totally understand why I would get a bracelet in honor of JT. http://www.runnersworld.com/runners-stories/navy-seal-becomes-more-inspiring-his-after-life?page=single I think this quote from a fellow SEAL describes best what inspires me about him "But once he set a goal, there was no stopping him." I have always been one of those people that looked at my big dreams as being impossible something I would never achieve. It forces me to fight for what I want, I think its impossible to be a quitter or a complainer wearing his name. I wear his name because he is an example of what a good person is and who people should aspire to be like.

I look at both of these names everyday, not a day goes by that I don't see them shining at me. Wearing these reminds me how lucky I am to live in the United States, where people are willing to stand and fight in my place. It reminds me why I've worked so hard in school, reminds me that my dream of helping veterans is truly where I want to be. They push me to fight for that dream and that goal. I know those men sacrificed for me and I'm going to live my life to honor them and all those who paid the ultimate price.


They represent heroes.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

POW release, Prisoner swap, and what we should really be talking about.

Okay so I've already been on my soap box today on Facebook about this subject. I thought I would share it on here too.

First and foremost let me just say its great for his family to have him home, but I think there is a lot more to this story than anyone knows. I have followed this story for a while, but I obviously don't have first hand facts. I think there is a lot of explaining that needs to be done with this. And I also don't really see how the Taliban get 5 pretty big guys for 1 man but whatever.

That's all I'm going to say opinion wise of this event. My real issue here is the fact that 2 US Soldiers will killed in action in Afghanistan this week. In the last 7 days two heroes, two sons and brothers were killed and there has been no mention except from the DOD and their local area papers.

There is a wife who is now a widow, 2 sets of parents who have lost a dear son, and siblings left with a missing piece. They are all left behind to pick up themselves up and move forward, but I don't know if there is a moving forward after a loss like that or starting over. While all the media outlets are talking about a prisoner swap, and saying Bergdahl is a hero or a traitor, or goodness just talking about what this celebrity or the celebrity is doing there are families whose world fell apart.

In the last month, we have had two other service members killed in Afghanistan and another killed in Jordan in a training accident. This past Friday there was a training accident at Fort Bragg. This incident I heard nothing about until I was on the Military Dad Facebook page.

Throughout this story there have been numerous stories about the men who were killed while searching for Bergdahl. I think the best way to honor them is to keep their names alive, and the names of other veterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice. To remember the families left behind and make sure they are taken care of and to always remember those who are still overseas.

So tonight remember the names of the fallen: That is 6 in the last month. Names that haven't been all over the news, the families were not given time with the President, and weren't able to talk to the media about how amazing their loved one was.

Capt. Jason B. Jones, of Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania
Pfc. Jacob H. Wykstra, 21, of Thornton, Colorado
Spec. Adrian M. Perkins, 19, of Pine Valley, California (non combat related)
Command Sgt. Maj. Martin R Barreras, 49, of Tucson, Arizona
Chief Warrant Officer Deric M. Rasmussen, 33, of Oceanside, California
Sgt. Shaina B. Schmigel of Medina, New York (killing in training at Fort Bragg)

I personally wear KIA bracelets for CPO. Jon Tumilson (Navy Seal killed in the Extortion 17 Helicopter that was shot down) and one for HM2 Clayton Beauchamp (Navy corps man, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2012. My brother was on the Medevac helicopter that picked him up)

So in times like these, rather than talk about the controversy talk about the heroes. Take time to honor the fallen, and pray for those remaining.

This video shows the pain of these losses and those who have to pay for the price of war.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial day, a lack of repect and the price of war.

Today is Memorial Day, I started my day at 8am working a Murph Challenge in honor of Lt. Michael Murphy (whose heroic actions during Operation Red Wing made him a Medal of Honor Recipient) and ended my day visiting Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.

Sadly in the United States, Memorial day has become a summer kick off party instead. It is just a long weekend to go to the lake, drink and BBQ or take a weekend trip. Memorial day isn't supposed to be a day to forget about the real world. Its supposed to be a day to remember whats been given to allow you to go to the lake, have a long weekend, take a vacation and go out and BBQ.

There have been over 600,000 men and women killed since World War I. That 600,000+ group of people singed over their life for this country, for us and for our future. They may have been just 18 with their whole lives ahead of them or may have been 40 something with a spouse and children.

It takes a true hero and a an amazing individual to stand up and say "I volunteer, I know the cost but I will go."

I live very close to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, so close that I'm there at least once a week. Typically when I go I may see 1 or 2 cars. Today to my surprise there were countless cars. Its amazing to see on Memorial day, but its sad that it isn't like that everyday.

While I was at JB I saw two things that really just upset me to the point of anger (which lets be honest here it really doesn't take much, I've gotten my brothers Army attitude over the years). There was a group of people sitting on headstones. SITTING ON HEADSTONES AT A NATIONAL CEMETERY. Then just a few minutes later there was another group smoking while other families were trying to visit the graves of the fallen. This place is supposed to be sacred ground, it is a place of honor, reverence and respect. As the sister of a soldier and a granddaughter to both a World War II veteran(who is buried at the cemetery) and a Korean War Veteran. I found it so disrespectful.

That is the problem with people, a lack of respect. The number of people who recognize Memorial day is dropping each year, my personal age group is the least represented. We have become a generation that expects things and are hand held through everything. Obviously I'm not talking about every member but a large percentage. We have forgotten where we as Americans came from and what had to be give for us to get to where we are.

I think Americans who don't have/had someone in the military really struggle with the concept of the cost of our freedoms. When someone you know could be taken from you at any moment you tend to get a greater appreciation, when you don't have any risks involved why should you stress? I was raised to appreciate the military and when my brother deployed that respect doubled, I know the cost of war, I've said goodbye knowing it could be the last time to see my brother, I've stood on the side of a road while a local soldier was taken to their final resting place and I've driven every road of Jefferson Barracks Cemetery.

The Price of war and freedom is more than just added national debt or a never ending list of countries that "dislike" America. It is fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, cousins, nephews, nieces, granddaughters, grandsons, and friends. So many men and women sacrificed so we can be free, so we can enjoy life, so we could go to school and so we can have basic rights so many don't have. Memorial day is a day-ONE DAY- to honor that sacrifice and those who are currently serving.

It is an easy thing to shake a veterans hand, visit a cemetery, volunteer with the USO, or send a simple care package to a deployed soldier. So remember while you are out at a BBQ, on the lake, on vacation, out shopping some great sale or having a few beers with friends...that countless lives were sacrificed to allow you to enjoy these things. Remember that we are a country still at war and there are men and women away from families who need your support.

Wounded Warrior Project says it best with "the greatest causality is being forgotten"

Don't forget the sacrifice, don't forget the real price of war, and always show respect to your fellow people and especially while visiting a national cemetery.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

I GRADUATED COLLEGE

So I know this is a more personal post, but I thought I would share with everyone that I have finally graduated college.

During my sophomore year in college, I went through a really rough time after a death in the family and my brothers deployment that I wanted to to leave my school and I had NO idea what I wanted to do anymore. I really didn't think I would graduate college in time if at all. So seriously I'm pretty proud and excited that I graduated within four years!

Sadly my brother couldn't come to my graduation (post regarding this drama to come later the army was being a little difficult this weekend), but lets be real I'm pretty used to that. My grandpa couldn't come either he is pretty sick so I went and spent sometime with him a few days after. Overall, it was a great day and a great experience. I am the first college graduate in my family-my brother and I were in a competition on who could do it first.

I've gotten some of the most amazing friends and memories in college especially this last year, and I can't wait to see whats next!

Here are a few photos from the day!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Homecomings are great, but don't always expect a big surprise

So I'm in the stressful time of being less than 5 days away from college graduation and I have no idea what I'm doing following graduation. Obviously, to make myself feel better I like to watch some soldiers coming home. Its literally my favorite, if you are having a bad day pull up YouTube and watch them right now!

I'm not going to lie either, I always wanted my brother to walk into my class room and surprise me, or show up at my soccer games. Lets be real I would die if my brother would show up at my college graduation in May (he will be gone the whole month training so it would be AMAZING)

But three deployments and four homecomings later (came home for a 2 week funeral leave) I have yet to get a cool, exciting surprise. Never. Not once. It's been 11 years and our "surprise" was "hey, my flight comes in a blanktime come pick me up..."

My brothers whole thing around not doing a surprise for any of us is that he's been deployed for a year he just wants to come home and be done with it. Nothing crazy, no signs, no big plans (he got signs he obviously didn't know his mother, sister and grandfather were pretty freaking excited)

In my 11 year old mind that was the only positive of a deployment (and it kind of is) I thought it was the norm, that everyone did that when they came home. So you can imagine the slight disappointment when he just called and said he was coming home. I mean I was happy he was home but I wanted a cool surprise.

Have you been surprised by your sibling? Or do you have a favorite homecoming video? If so let me know!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Month of the Military Kid

So this month is a dedicated to military children everywhere and although this is a sibling blog I can't ignore all these amazing kids! Now I am not a military child and obviously I don't have a military child myself. I am however the aunt of a military child.


My personal experience with a military child was with my niece during my brothers most recent deployment. A deployment that she wont remember and my family wont forget. At just 9 days old my niece had to say goodbye to the daddy she just met. Now I've seen a lot of goodbyes through the years but that was the most difficult one. At that same time I was watching children of all ages say their farewells on the base. It's not an easy thing to see and I can only imagine what those kids were thinking.

My nephew who isn't a military child but absolutely adored his Uncle Jon would see soldiers walking around the mall and the veterans parade and would try to run to them screaming "Uncle Jon Uncle Jon..." As cute as that was it hurt to see...it made you want to cry a little bit. My nieces first word was "Dada" she loved pointing him out in pictures and even carried around a little picture of him around until he came home.

That was a long year and I took on a parent roll, making sure my niece was always taken care of. Let me tell you those Army Wives those are some pretty strong women, my sister in law has little family, just had a first baby and was going through her first deployment she had 2 surgeries during this deployment and had major car troubles...I maybe heard her complain twice, but she never let any of us see her upset.

When my brother came home my niece was never afraid of him and didn't cry when he held her...its like she knew this is her daddy and hes finally home; which was a shock because she seriously doesn't like men or really anyone. My nephew who was dying for him to come home was the one afraid of him it took all of a day for him to be all over uncle Jon.

If you want to see strength just watch a military kid, those are kids who are going through something many of us couldn't even imagine. The are a tough group and a group that deserves a lot of love and support.

They give up time with their parents, they leave all their friends and homes every few years for a new PCS and sometimes they give up a parent all so we as American can be free. Sacrifice isn't always on the battlefield sometimes it happens here. There are thousands of kids who have lost their mom's and dad's in Iraq and Afghanistan...some who have never even gotten the opportunity to meet their parents.




So this month and every month, don't forget about the little ones who are left behind so we can be free. They are sacrificing a lot for us.