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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Commissary Adventures: Using Overage at Your Commissary

Surprisingly many people are not aware of how to use overage or what it even is. I would know because I had NO CLUE...and I consider myself to be in the know on most things military.

Well have I got a juicy tip for you that can save you major bucks. Watch the video below and then take a look below the video for more information.

Many spouses have stated that commissary cashiers are not aware of the policy. To prevent any issues the good ladies at A Full Cup have been so sweet to post the DECA Commissary Policy Handbook which verifies that the commissary honors overage on page 44 7-4N.  Below is a screenshot of the specific page in the policy that covers the overage policy.
Hooah & Smooches

Monday, March 29, 2010

Ask Army Wife 101: How to Find Work Onpost

*I received a question from a reader about working on post. I thought this was an great topic since I have not really touched on the different career options and career counseling programs offered on many military installations for military spouses.


Q. Hello, I am a new Army wife and I feel so overwhemed. My son and I are moving from California to Fort Lewis WA to live onpost. My question is about working on post. I work in social services and my husband said that im sure to find a job there on post, but I dont know what the process of applying is like. Are there services there that can assist me in finding a job?

A. Nicole, their are many programs online and within the military support community to help you locate work on and off post. I have learned that if you prefer to work onpost that usually you will be working for a contract company or the government. Your first step to applying for a job onpost is to visit the Army Civilian Personnel Online site better known as CPOL. This is a site through the Army that many spouses I know personally have used to apply for jobs at their current military installation or surrounding bases. You can seek and apply for onpost employment USA Jobs. There are a plethora of other job hunting sites but these are the most recommended.

In speaking with my friend (another military spouse) who has held numerous contract and government positions onpost , she informed me that for the most part everything is done by computer when it comes to the application process. Alittle birdy put into my ear that the computer seeks out certain keywords when sorting through the many applications they receive. They informed me that this is why it is so important to read the specialized experience and other requirements on the vacancy announcement thoroughly.

If you would like to receive career guidance their are quite a few paths you can take to get career counseling or advice. The first and most obvious one (at least in my opinion) would have to be to visit Military One Source which has a wide array of services to help military spouses find careers in their chosen field as well as in a particular location. The Military.com Spouse Career Center also has some great information as well as communities where you can chat with other spouses seeking employment. CPOL which I mentioned at the beginning of this post also offers some excellent advice on careers for spouses. 

The above information relates to seeking employment through the internet. If you want to speak to someone face to face,consider visiting your local ACS (Army Community Services) which provides all types of services for soldiers and their families.

Lastly you will want to know that most likely you will qualify for Military Spouse Preference. In summary MSP(according to afcrossroads.com) provides priority in the employment selection process for military spouses who have had to relocate due to a PCS. Keep in mind MSP does not guarantee you a job. You can learn more about MSP here.

Best of luck!
Hooah & Smooches


Friday, March 26, 2010

How I'm Able to Speak With the Commissary, PX Housing & Tricare Daily??

I spend countless hours online doing what I love to do research. Sometimes it is researching things for myself or for some of you lovely spouses. In doing that I spend alot of time finding a way to contact someone of relevance which usually means I have to call somewhere and go through a million people to get the job done.

As of lately in my Facebook and Twitter travels I have noticed that many of the services and programs we as spouses use daily are online and corresponding back and forth with us spouses regularly. Yes finally militaary services are finding a way to connect with us patrons on a more personal level.

Did you know that you can chat with AAFES PX & BX right on Facebook?
Many spouses as well as soldiers are using the AAFES Official Fan Page to chat with AAFES and give feedback on customer service as well as get answers to specific issues they may have experienced at a PX. I love this page simply because they are on it usually daily and respond to questions promptly.

You can also tweet with AAFES @aafes_stys on Twitter. Personally I found their Facebook page to be more active.

If your a Facebook addict like me and shop at your local commissary you will be happy to know you can now share your feedback and experiences on the Official DECA Facebook Page. They to also have a Twitter page @TheCommissary . Once again I find their FB page to be more active.

On the health end of the spectrum I know so many of us have Tricare questions or could always use alittle more clarification. You can find that at the Tricare Facebook page. They too can be found on Twitter @Tricare .

Our dental provider United Concordia can be found at their Official Facebook Page where you to can get more great information about benefits as well as ask questions.

Last but not least is Army Housing who I would have to say does an amazing job of getting back to everyone on that posts on their page. People have posted problems they are having with housing at their particular installation and receive a reply. You visit them at their Army Housing Facebook Page.

Now I can't help but to be my normal blunt self and say that the Commissary needs to step up their twitter game. My suggestion please tweet more then once a day. I also think that while it's great to hear about obesity and eating healthy, more tweets and facebook messages on how to save and sales would be better.

Hooah & Smooches

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Easter Basket Care Package Ideas



If you have been reading my blog you know that I usually do a post on different holiday care packages. As you know Easter is approaching and while hubby isn't usually into the cutesy wootsie stuff, I thought it would be cute to send a care package with the Easter spirit in mind. While it's nothing creative or new by any means it will give anyone new to care packages an idea of what to put in them and how to put them together.

To learn more about sending packages overseas check out this past blog post.





                               Share your Easter care package ideas below in the comments section.

Hooah & Smooches!

The Commissary Adventures.......

Over the next few weeks Army Wife 101 will present a series of posts on utilizing the commissary and PX and how to save and make the most of your money there.

I will also feature post from guest bloggers who also happen to be military spouses and are skilled in finding some great deals.

You will sometimes see post more then once a day on deals being offered as well as coupons that can be used at the commissary in addition to current sales happening.

I hope you will join me and other military wives as we share the low down on one of the best perks of being a military spouse "The Commissary".

Hooah & Smooches

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Winner Of Rubbermaid Giveaway......


Congratulations to the winner of the Rubbermaid Giveaway:

Jenni from Sweet Home Montana .

Congratulations Jenni and thanks for participating!

Pampers Cruisers Review & GIVEAWAY!!!!!! *CLOSED

A few weeks back I was given the opportunity by Pampers to try their new Pampers Cruisers with Dry Max. Now unfortunately I dont' have a little one in diapers, so I gave the opportunity to review them to a lucky military spouse. This is what she thought of them :

Erin From Hawaii:
The new Pampers promised to be thinner, more absorbent and feel dry for up to 12 hours.
Honestly, I am not usually a Pampers brand diaper mom but a free pack of diapers is nothing to pass up! After using the diapers for a week, including overnights, I am sold. The new Pampers are awesome. They keep all of their promises and then some. I was skeptical about the 12 hours of dryness. My daughter is a heavy sleeper and usually sleeps for 11-12 hours per night so I generally change her about half way thru. I decided to 'brave it' and put the Pampers to the test. They lasted all night with no leaks!! The legs have two sets of elastic gatherings around them, this almost guarantees no accidents! I really liked that feature. The thinness of this diaper is also very impressive. Even when full they don't bulk out and sag like a regular diaper. All in all I am very impressed with the new Pampers and will be using them in the future. Thank you Armywife101 for giving me the opportunity to test out the new diapers!!

Thanks to Pampers you can have a chance to win a WEEKS worth of Pampers Cruisers w/Drymax and a Liz Lange diaper clutch retail value $50.

To Enter:

1. Leave a comment below letting me know what what you look for when purchasing diapers. Also leave a valid email so I can contact you if you are the winner.

2. Subscribe via email or as a follower and leave a comment letting me know you subscribed.

The optional ways to enter listed below are just that . You need to complete the mandatory entry in order to enter optional entries. You are NOT obligated to complete the optional entries
* Fan the Army Wife 101 Fan Page which you visit by clicking the Fan page badge to the right side of the page.

* Tweet :Win a Weeks worth of diapers and a diaper clutch from Pampers @armywives101

Contest ends Sunday March 28, 2010 at 11:59 EST. Winner will be chosen via Random.org

* Disclaimer: I was offered a pack of Pampers Cruisers w/Drymax to give a military wife to test. The opinions expressed in the review above are those of another spouse who tried out the diapers and do not necessarily reflect the views expressed here on this blog. I received no other form of compensation for this.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ask Army Wife 101: When Housing Onpost Isn't Available?

Brittani


This question relates to: Housing

Q. I wanted to know what happens if we move to our new duty station and no housing on post is available , what do we do?

A. Brittani once again thank you for writing Army Wife 101 again!

This is a really great question and part of it I wrote about a few weeks ago. I always tell spouses to always plan as if you might NOT get housing onpost. When my husband and I PCS'ed to Georgia I was already looking for homes off post this way , if we were not able to get housing right away(which we didn't) we would already have an idea of where we wanted to live. You will want to make sure you visit housing first  and if you choose so put your name on the waiting list anyway . They will inform you when your # comes up on the list. They too can guide you to particular areas to live offpost.

The Dept of Defense has a really great tool called the Army Housing Referral Network which I did a video on a few weeks back. Simply put the AHRN site helps Army families to find housing near their post which fits into there BAH range and offers a military clause in the lease. Their are also some other great features which you can search by.

When you and your spouse arrive at his new duty station he should be allowed 10 days of permissive leave which most soldiers use for the sole purpose of house or apartment hunting. This will be your time to actually go and do some actual searching but, you can make better use of this time if  you already have your sites narrowed down.

Best of Luck!

Ask Army Wife 101: Can I Go With Him To AIT& Onpost Daycare

Brittani

This question relates to: Bootcamp/AIT

Q. What is your Question? I  wanted to know after my spouse graduates AIT am I able to go with him? I also wanted to know if the army has a daycare? If so how much?

A.Hi Brittani,

Thanks for writing Army Wife 101!

If your spouses AIT is 20 weeks long or more, then your eligible to be moved by the Army. Your husband will need to file all the paperwork and see if the exception can be made for the orders to be approved for you to live there during his schooling. The command does not have to approve it so even with his AIT schooling being 20 weeks or over their is no guarantee that you will definitely get to move with him.

Keep in mind when they are in AIT they are still in training and will most likely be on a pass system, so their is a chance you will not get to spend as much as time as you would like. One person screwing up can mean pass privileges being reneged for everyone.

In regards to onpost daycare, yes most Army installations offer this. The amount you will pay for your child to attend onpost daycare usually goes by rank of the soldier and income. Many Army post have waiting list for their daycare programs and alot of times the list goes by priority. This means a single soldier who has a child might get priority over a two parent household with a stay at home mom. In order to register your child for daycare you will have to contact the Child Youth & School Services (CYS) at the Army installation where you live. You can also look into FCC providers which are usually spouses onpost who go through CYS and provide in home daycare. This is another alternative to CYS as their tend to be more openings.

You can learn more about CYS at the link below:
Child Youth & School Services

Best of luck!

Military Discount Monday

I am pretty sure we are all aware of the awesome discount Disney is offering military personnel and their families. If you not in the know read my previous Disney discounts blog post. In searching today I came across another cool discount for Universal Studios which has been extended to March 26, 2010. Yes yes I am quite aware it is short notice but hey if your near Florida maybe you can hit them up cheap. Visit BaseOps Marketplace for more information.

Photo courtesy of Military.com discount forum

You service members can receive a free Bloomin Onion from Outback.

Lowe's now offers 10% military discount year round.

Do you happen to be stationed in the Atlanta area or plan on making a trip there. Visit the World of Coca  Cola and your service member will get in free. See more information here.

Do you have a National Amusements movie theatre chain near you...if so they offer a cool military discount.

Do you offer a Military Discount? 
National Amusements offers a military discount to all active duty personnel and their dependents. The special military program pricing is $7.00 for general admission, and $5.00 for matinee and children. Appropriate Active Service ID must be presented at the theatre box office to receive military discount.


Visit me next Monday for more Military Discount Monday!

Hooah & Smooches

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Rubbermaid Junk Drawer Organizer...Review & GIVEAWAY *CLOSED*

We all know the life ....the Military life!
The constant PCS moves can leave even the most organized of them all alittle unorganized and we can all use alittle organizational help to makes things easier.

That's why I was truly happy when Rubbermaid asked me to try out their new Junk Drawer Organizers. In the spirit of Spring cleaning even though I absolutely refuse to Spring clean because I'm too lazy I decided to at least organize of my junk drawers which in my case is my makeup drawer. Below you will see a picture of my make up drawer. The problem is that is just one of my four drawers. It is completely out of control and no reason for it to look this bad.

                                                 Here is the before without the organizers:

Thank you lord for the organizers. I really enjoyed neatly tucking my makeup into each individual compartment. The organizers also interlock so they pretty much stay together when putting them in the drawer. You also do not necessarily have to use each piece of the organizer which means you can add and remove at your leisure. The set in total comes with six pieces so it gives you a good amount of storage space to work with. It also has rubber tabs on the bottom so the organizers will stay in place in the drawers.  I absolutely had no complaints with the junk drawer organizer. Below are the after pictures:
Rubbermaid has 3 great tips to a functional junk drawer:
  1. Give junk drawer inhabitants a specific place to live in the drawer.
  2. Do not throw things in the junk drawer that belong elsewhere.
  3. Clean the drawer out every once in a while.
You can visit Rubbermaid for more information on the junk drawer organizers.


Rubbermaid is giving one of Army Wife 101's readers a chance to win the Junk Drawer organizer set.

To Enter:
1. Leave a comment below letting me know what's in your junk drawer. (Please leave a valid email so I may contact you if your the winner.)
2.Subscribe to my blog by email and let me know you did by leaving a comment below also.

Optional Entries: In order to to enter using optional entries you must do the mandatory entries above. You do NOT have to do the optional entries to participate in this giveaway.

*Become a fan on the Army Wife 101 Facebook Fan Page
* Tweet: Win a Junk Drawer Organizer from Rubbermaid and get organized from that last PCS move www.moourl.com/junkgive @armywives101

Contest Ends Wednesday March 24, 2010. Winner will be picked via Random.org.

I received the product above to try out and review and give my honest opinion. My opinions are mine and mine only and you may have a different opinion of the product. I only received the product above and no other form of compensation was received.

Hooah & Smooches




Friday, March 19, 2010

When Single Soldiers Occupy Housing!!!!

* I do realize that this post might be alittle confusing do to the phrase in the title "Single Soldier" . When I referred to that I mainly was referring  to soldiers who are married but there spouse  has not arrived at the duty station yet. From another reader's viewpoint I could have been referring to soldiers who have children but are not married...forgive the confusion and read on anyway *hehe*

This post came to my mind today when I talked to a friend who is stationed at a Army Post that shall remain nameless (ahem think of where the book Army Wives takes place)  informed me that 4 bedroom homes there were being occupied by people with less then the required amount of dependents to fill those homes. That's another topic for another day but it did get me thinking to does housing really pay attention to those who occupy the homes?

Case in point...about 7 months ago a single soldier arrived across the street from me . I had noticed the day he arrived that a bunch of other male soldiers were outside jumping around excitedly , like they had never seen a house before. It wasn't until three months later that I found out that the only person living there was the soldier. Yes that means no wife, no kids, no one except him oh does the constant flow of females and single soldier room mates count. Hence there excitement they had obtained themselves a freshly built bachelor pad. Now don't get me wrong my neighbor is actually a pretty cool person he watches out for our houses and is a funny guy. At the end of the day we all know his wife who lives in another state is not coming here to live...so I ask myself and housing why is he still living there?

This same situation occurred when we were stationed in Georgia and a soldiers wife had left the home with the kids and yet he remained there. I was subjected to constant partying ( I mean it looked like a block party every weekend) for my husband last 15 month deployment.

Now realistically on paper many times a married soldier who does have dependents who plan to arrive shortly after can qualify for a family home onpost, but what I wish housing would do is actually verify that the dependents have arrived and now occupy the home. Their is absolutely no reason that a new housing area onpost should have to deal with constant partying, broods of single men in and out , and females who live in housing as if they are actually military spouses. Do not get me wrong I am quite aware that these same issues can take place just as easily with married couples, but at the same token I think they magnify when your dealing with a single person.

Whewww now that I've got that out my system share your stories or comments below and let me know Should single soldiers be allowed to occupy family housing?

Hooah & Smooches

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Army Wife Streaming Live From the Pacific Ocean

 This is just an experiment !
With a program from my G1 phone called Qik I can livestream from wherever I am in the world if there is cell phone service. Today I am being a good little Army wife and braving the cold harsh world ok warm harsh world cause I'm in Hawaii hehe and heading out to the Pacific Ocean with my children (who are on spring break) on a Whale Watching Cruise.

Hopefully if everything pans out right you will be able to watch me live from right here at Army Wife 101.
If it does not work live from here then click below:

Watch Army Wife 101 Live Here

Keep in mind that I live in Hawaii and if your on the East Coast I am 6 hours behind you if your anywhere else in the world use this Time Clock to figure out my time zone in relation to yours. I will start streaming on and off at 9:30AM Hawaiian Time.


Hooah & Smooches

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Should I Move Home During Deployment???

Recently I received an email from a reader who wanted to know the pros and cons of going home during a deployment and should she move. While I think this is more a decision of personal preference my friend Sherrill and I shared our advice and past experiences in the video below...feel free to share your comments.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Journey Through Deployment: Update on Coping With This Deployment

 I started the Journey Through Deployment series when I began this blog. I wanted Army spouses as well as other branch spouses to actually be able to connect with me via video and see someone in their shoes going through deployment.
I documented via video (vlogumented) everything from him packing, our last breakfast date and of course the day he left.

The other night I decided to update you on life so far as we enter our 6th month into this deployment. Feel free to share your updates in the comments.


Hooah & Smooches

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Great News...MYCAA Will Resume Operations But.......

We all know what happened with the whole MYCAA fiasco. If your not sure watch my MYCAA video where I explain it all and then some.

This morning I was notified via a MYCAA Facebook group I am in that MYCAA will resume operations March 13, 2010 at 12PM but only for spouses who have applied and been approved for the program already. Spouses wishing to apply for MYCAA for the first time will have to stay tuned. You can view the details by clicking the official MYCAA link below.

This is the message I received when I went to the official MYCAA site .

"A Message from DoD:

 In the days following the announcement of a temporary pause of the Career Advancement Account - MyCAA - we have heard your feedback, suggestions and concerns.

We are pleased to announce that the MyCAA program will resume operations on March 13, 2010, at 12 p.m., noon (EST), for military spouses who currently have existing MyCAA accounts.  Those who have an existing account will have access to the entire Web site, including the ability to create and have financial documents approved.

We are currently developing options for the long-term management of the program and expect to be able to announce the details soon.  Until then, no new accounts can be created.  During this time, Military OneSource Spouse Education and Career Consultants will continue to be available to provide education and training, career exploration, assessment, employment readiness and career search assistance. "
Tommy T. Thomas
Deputy Under Secretary of Defense
Military Community and Family Policy

I am glad to see the DOD is doing something but I will be even more happy when it is available to all again.

Hooah & Smooches

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Help I'm A Bad Foodie!!!...A Sneak Peek into My Refrigerator

We all know in this economy no one can afford to buy groceries , never use a majority of them and then throw it away.

Well readers that is exactly the situation here...I Krystel aka Army Wife am a "Food Waster" I buy a carton full of groceries use some and never get to the rest in time. Part of the problem stems from the fact that hubby is deployed and while I do plan my dinner menu for the week , sometimes I do not stick to it or frankly I am to lazy to make full course meals everyday. The kids and I tend to live off nuking food as well as stuff that can be thrown in the oven.

Take a look at my situation below and feel free to offer your commentary!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ask Army Wife 101: ERD (Early Return of Dependents)

I received this question below from a reader whom we will call Mary. I consider my self to be a Google Diva in that I can find anything, but I make it known that I won't talk to much on a topic I know little about. If any of my readers know more about ERD's please feel free to add your experiences with it in the comments section below.

Q. I am stationed in Germany and we have some family issues back in the states. I am trying to research information about PCSing early for hardship reasons. I am not getting anywhere. Can you tell me what exactly it is called? So I can do some research. Thanks.

Hi Mary and thank you for writing Army Wife 101!

It sounds like what you are looking for is called Early Return of Dependents. While I am somewhat familiar with it , I do not know much about it and have not done an ERD myself.
Since you are willing to do some research here are a few links that will guide you on your journey to completing an ERD.

1.http://www.imcom-europe.army.mil/sfac/admin/erd.htm

2. http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=140&article=51744

3.ERD Source

Best of Luck!

Hooah & Smooches

Friday, March 5, 2010

I'm Excited About the Season Premiere of Army Wives!!!

You may or may not know that I am a HUGEEEE fan of the show Army Wives. I mean your talking to the chick who boldly drove onto the set. In any event for those who don't know season 4 premieres April 11, 2010 at 10PM EST and I am filled with excitement.

Here is a sneak peak if you haven't already seen....

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Army Wife 101 Real Talk: Likes/Dislikes About The Commissary

As much as many of us shop at the commissary , we all have a some issues with it at times. Today my friend and I discussed our likes and dislikes about our local commissaries.

* NOTE* We are in no way bashing the commissary but as frequent patrons we feel we have every right to share our concerns.

Feel free to join in the conversation by leaving your comments below or on the Army Wife 101 Facebook Fan Club.

Excuse our Candidness by the way...We are BFF's so we are alittle crazy when chatting!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Finding Housing Offpost

It happens alot...we arrive at our new duty station only to find out from the housing office that the housing list is a six month wait or possibly even a year. You now need to locate housing offpost in a area suitable to your needs, learn how to do it with the quick PCS tip in the video below:

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