Reaping Your Harvest

Archive for the ‘Support’ Category

We’re almost halfway through the month of September. Have you all been taking advantage of some of the events and activities going on on the Charleston Air Force Base?

Go HERE to view the complete list

FREE FAMILY CRAFT NIGHT: Looking for some great family time at a great price? Plan to attend our free Tuesday evening, monthly craft night at the Arts & Crafts Center on 14 Sep 10. Sign up is encouraged to ensure enough materials are on-hand for everyone. These one-hour sessions starts at 5:30 p.m. This month’s craft night theme – “Show us your team colors!” Call 963-4936 for additional information. (628FSS/FSCT)

LATIN NIGHT AT THE CLUB: Looking for an evening out with great music and a dance style that actually encourages you to hold on to your dance partner? Come to Latin Night at the Charleston Club on Friday, 17 Sep 10 at 2100, and have fun dancing to a rhythmic Latin beat. If you don’t know how to salsa or Cha Cha Cha, we’ll have dance lessons at the beginning of the evening to give you and your partner some pointers. Music will be provided by the area’s top Latin DJ, Luigi Bravo of Latin Groove. There is a $7 per person cover for the night. The kitchen will stay open until 2200, and there’s drink service until 0200. No RSVP needed. Call 963-3914 if additional information is needed. (628FSS/FSCC)

DAY FOR KIDS: Youth Programs will host a Boys and Girls Club of America “Day for Kids” on Saturday, 25 Sep 10, 1300-1500. Activities include free food, drinks, games, giveaways and much more! This event is at the Air Base Youth Center and is open to all children ages 5-18 of JB Charleston military and civilian employees. (628FSS/FSFY)

There are so many families who desire to have a child of their own, and for whatever reason, are unable to. Many are unsure of adoption or desire to adopt, however their finances may not be in the right place, but their heart is…

That is when the DFAS Adoption Reimbursement Program comes into play.

The program reimburses servicemembers for certain adoption expenses such as agency and placement fees, legal fees and medical expenses. Servicemembers who serve continuously on active duty for at least 180 days can receive up to a maximum of $2,000 per child, but can’t exceed $5,000 per calendar year.

Benefits are also available for a spouse adopting a step-child. There is a restricted window for filling. For further details, PLEASE visit the Military Pay: Adoption Reimbursement page. If, or a fellow military family, has gone through this process within the past year and was unaware of this program, act fast!

Each month Pepsi is giving away 1,300,000 to fund some really awesome ideas. One of those ideas is geared towards providing Military Spouses of Deployed Members with complimentary beauty services.

Their goals:

Develop and expand a non-profit organization “A Pink Heart”
Serve every military spouse who requests “A Pink Heart” Award.
Get stylists nationally to give beauty services at no or reduced cost
Make a difference in the life of a military family each day.

How can you help?

Head over HERE to cast your vote of support of this awesome idea! I know I would have LOVED to have reaped the benefits of this service while my Hubby was deployed and know that so many other spouses would appreciate a day of relaxation, as much as possible, in the midst of all that comes with having their loved one away.

Let’s make it happen!!!!

Reaping In Abundance,
Kay

Have any of my fellow military families took a peek at Operation Homefront? I noticed that we just missed a couple of great giveaways, such as a FREE Vacation to Florida and tickets to the Tim McGraw concert hosted here in Charleston, SC! Make sure you go pay them a visit and add the blog to your favorites to keep abreast on other goodies and offers. It’s so great to have others out there that seek to seed into the lives of our military members and their families. Every little bit helps and is appreciated. Thanks Operation Homefront!

Words cannot express how stressful it is to have a loved one deployed. So many of our families seek out ways to handle the daily routines that once involved our husband, wife, son, daughter, father, mother…the titles go on…the pain does the same.

Give an Hour is a nonprofit organization that provides FREE mental help services to families dealing with the strains of a deployment due to current events in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I recall a trip that Hubby went away on that left me feeling so drained and exhausted from simply missing him. I needed a way to feel connected to him so I came up with this idea of hosting a “date” on his days off.

Here are my notes: (warning…very lenghty & unedited)

24 November 2007
It all began with www. I laugh at myself now thinking back to how it all started. This was my husband’s third tour to Iraq and I didn’t want to believe that while he was gone that we couldn’t continue our alone times together. As we were e-mailing on one of his off days, I asked him if he would like to cyber date. Of course he was gamed but he wanted me to send him the link to the site so he could read up on how to do it. Well, I didn’t have a site address because I had just come up with the idea and never heard of anyone else doing such a thing. I didn’t want to just go to a chat room; I wanted to experience what a real date would be like even though he wasn’t here with me. So, I decided to do the first date to give him a feel of what I was trying to convey.
Now the big question, where would we go, what will do, what do we eat? Yes, the same questions you ask when your significant other is standing right in front of you. I wanted to give the idea that we were out on the town and at the end of the night feel as though we had experienced an evening that we could recreate over and over again.

The date…
The Attire
Mode of Transportation
Outings
Restaurants
Winding Down
Book Corner
14 December 2008

It All Began With WWW…

Special Moments

Section allocated for pictures of missed events, i.e., birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, births, graduations, etc.

Come Along Children

You want to create a link between the parent and the child as well. Each of our children that were able to read and write were taught to type and send their own personal messages via e-mail to their Dad. I created a separate e-mail account for them, amazing how much that meant to them, and allowed them to check it when they returned home from school. Not only did this help them feel closer to their Dad, it also improved their typing and computer skills.

When they weren’t able to get on the computer for some reason or another, the children found comfort in drawing pictures and writing to their Dad in their personal journals. One trip we attached a picture of their dad to something they were sleeping with, i.e., blanket, teddy bear.

I’ll be getting older while you are away but I wanted to save a piece of my day to share with you….

Our youngest, at the time, was turning a year old and his dad was really sad about missing this big event, so we froze a couple of the cupcakes, one for each of them, and surprised him with a little mini delayed birthday party with him and his baby upon his return. This small gesture turned out to make a significant impact on hubby and he didn’t feel so “left” out.

Let me see…Picture this…

Want to see the children’s faces light up, let them receive a video message from their deployed parent speaking to them and it means the world! I’m not sure how many times I had to replay those messages but it brought them so much comfort and made it easier for the younger ones to remember their Dad.

15 December 2008

Pictures are a definite way to capture those missed special moments. My husband loves working with media software and programs, so he would take the pictures that I would send of the children to him and create movies for them with some background music and him talking to them. Upon his return, we would all sit as a family to watch the slideshow of al of pictures gathered. The children love to watch them to this day.

The Book Corner

Prior to his departure hubby rarely picked up a book, aside from his Bible and books written by wrestlers. As part of our routines, I added the idea of reading together. Instead of purchasing the books while he was stateside, we would wait until he got to his destination and he would go to the BX and purchase a book or two. We are huge John Grisham fans, so for the past two tours, all of our readings have been of his, with the exception of one.

The idea was to read a couple of chapters a night, and “discuss” them via e-mail or phone conversation. There are many of us who only hear from our spouses once or twice a week while they’re gone, if that, so send letters that only discuss the book that you’re reading. Even if you have limited communication, don’t allow it to increase the lonely feelings. When I wasn’t able to speak to my husband, curling up at night with my book and knowing that he was reading the same thing made me feel like we were still connected.

Since we would end up with two copies of the books, I would go to our local Goodwill or thrift stores and try to locate the books there first before purchasing a new copy. If the books were more recent and I couldn’t find them for less, then would I go to Books-A-Million.

Ever heard of the pay-it-forward idea? Well, if you don’t plan on reading the books again, donate them to another couple whose spouse will be deploying. Better yet, start a “While You Were Gone” book club with your fellow spouses.

The Date

Make it fun, make it memorable, and make it happen!

So what are you wearing tonight? Where will we go? On a cruise, to the mountains, or down the street to our favorite restaurant?

My husband had one day off during the week and I was eager to meet him for our one night out to together. I had to set up the plans for the first week. I went online and did a search for evening gowns, local restaurant online menus, parks, and movies playing at the theater that we hadn’t seen.

We were blessed to be able to have access to the internet on those days so we would e-mail one another with pictures of our attire for the night, and website addresses of the places in which we were to visit that night.

For our first date, we began the day visiting the Cypress Garden. Both of us were on the website at the same time and talking to each other as though we were actually there. “Run, Babe, run! There’s an alligator in there!” I told him. We discussed the beautiful flower gardens, the different species of animals on the grounds, and the sheer joy of just being there in that moment.

(18 December 2008) The whole idea of actually making plans and going through the motions is to set up the opportunity to pick a couple of the dates that you created and fulfill them upon your reunion. It was great waiting for hubby’s days off to have our alone time, but when he actually returned and we were able to sit and think back on the ideas that we had, the transitioning phase for our relationship felt so much easier.

If your spouse is unable to gain internet access long enough on his/her day off, think of creativity ways to get the idea rolling, maybe letter or journal form in which you would pass the journals back and forth between one another throughout the course of the deployment.

Devotions

The book of Proverbs was our standing rock. Each day we would read a chapter in accordance to the day of the month we were on. Hubby would e-mail me the chapter just for accountability purposes, and again, it brought on that sense of togetherness. Regardless of length of tour, and how often you read the chapters, we always seemed to experience a new revelation from our readings each month. Not sure if it was the fact that with each reading we were more comfortable with the material or because our experiences over the month gave way to a clearer understanding of the word, or both. Whatever the reason, that one book alone made us a stronger unit. We didn’t limit our discussions to Proverbs, but it helped keep us focus.

Quote of the day

In addition to our scripture readings, my husband would forward me quotes that his chief would send to him and we would share with one another how it related to our current situations or how it simply inspired us to keep going and make things better for our family.

Recipes

Have you ever received a call, e-mail, or letter from your spouse about a new treat s/he received in a care package or a new dish from the chow hall that they just had to have when they returned?

One of my husband’s new cravings were that of apple crisp, a friend said her husband tasted oatmeal scootchies and just had to have them again. What did we do with the new information? Well, we found the recipes and had them ready for them when they returned home.

I’m always thrilled to see hubby’s reactions to coming home to a new dish that he had mentioned to me during conversation, of course he had forgotten mentioning it to me, so it made the reactions even more rewarding. Just a small way to say welcome home and thank you for your sacrifices, not just for everyone else in the country, but mostly for what you gave up to make our family stronger.

Back to the children…

Give them pencil and paper and their hearts reveal the most beautiful words and pictures!

My children tend to speak so clearly when they are allowed to draw and write out their feelings. One of our sons has a few notebooks dedicated to his writings and drawings. They’re not solely focused on moments when his dad isn’t home, but they captured his most sincere thoughts and emotions.

Allow your child to write to their parent, draw pictures, and create a skit to perform for him when he returns home. You would be amazed at the things that are able to reveal in words and pictures that they are unable to say when you ask them how they’re feeling.

What you should know BEFORE they go

Squadron contacts, Phoenix spouses, Family Support Center, New Spouses Classes, Give Parents a Break, Auto Shop Offers, i.e., free oil change…

18 December 2008

Power of Attorney (Important)

Families of children with special needs

STOMP, Yahoo Military support groups, respite care

It is extremely important to have a strong network set up prior to your spouse’s departure. Our oldest son was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2, our second child was diagnosed the very next day with rickets, and the following day, we were informed that we were expecting child three. At the time, we were stationed overseas and hubby was working long hours. I began feeling the strain of being the primary caregiver and starting experiencing symptoms myself of, at the time, an unknown condition.

Upon returning to the states, we have been blessed with three more children; our youngest still has yet to make his grand entrance. All five of our children have experienced something medical and have had some form of surgery. During hubby’s first tour to Iraq my medical conditions, Mixed Connective Tissue Disorder and fibromyalgia, worsened. I became unable to manage taking care of the children on my own. Although I had family members living close by every one of them had families of their own and work schedules that wouldn’t allow them to help out as much as they would have liked or as much as I needed. My mother-in-law came over to help out when she could. After awhile I felt it wise to contact my husband’s squadron for assistance and support.

It is vital that you make it a point to set up an emergency care plan and go meet with the commanding officers, if possible, to explain your situations so that your family can take the necessary steps to easing your separation.

That tour and his next tours to Iraq would have been extremely difficult for me to handle if it had not been for our family and the support we received from those he worked with.

30 December 2008

Reintegration

Regardless of how much we were getting along and coping while he was gone, there is never a simple way to reintegrate my hubby back into the adjusted life we’ve adapted during his absence. I have found one thing to be very crucial to how well he handles being back and that is his awareness of anything “new” that has occurred within home, i.e., new pictures on the walls, furniture layout, etc. To many spouses this wouldn’t be such a big deal, they may even suggest getting some of these things done while they are away so that they don’t have to worry about it when they return. However, in our case, hubby felt like his mark in the home had been tossed out the window with the new ideas that I thought would make the home feel more comfortable and inviting. Therefore, it is best to speak with your spouse before undergoing any remodeling before their arrival.

Throughout hubby’s deployment I made it a point to keep pictures and videos that he would send via e-mail to the children in front of our youngest to help her remember her Dad. Nothing prepared me for the heartache hubby would endure for months AFTER his return because our baby girl simply saw him as a stranger! Odd thing is, she would cry for him and he would be sitting right next to her. He would reach for her and she would scream even louder, she didn’t want the physical Daddy sitting next to her; she wanted the Daddy on the laptop screen. I had to pull up his pictures and videos to calm her down which made him feel unwanted. He couldn’t understand how she wanted him but couldn’t comprehend that he was the same person on the screen and in the pictures.

Prior to him leaving, he made up a little song that he would sing to her and we continued singing it to her throughout his deployment. As a way to help her warm up to him, I would hold her while he was nearby singing the song out loud to her so she could hear his familiar voice and begin to see that he was the same person that she was looking at in the videos. This was one of the hardest obstacles we’ve have to tackled but with a lot of prayers and determination the weeks didn’t seem so long anymore.

Allow the reintegration process to be just that, a process. Don’t expect your spouse to come home and jump back into the routines head on. There are going to be days when both of you are going to feel as though the other is expecting too much from the other. Whether they’ve been gone 6, 12, or 18 months, they have become use to taking care of themselves, and you on the other hand have adapted to taking care of everything back at home alone. Both of you have to learn how to live together as one again and this will take some time, especially when children are involved.

Finances

It becomes quite easy to get into financial trouble during a deployment due to the increased pay received. There are some that have committed to additional financial obligations that extend beyond the deployment period and once the pay goes back to its pre-deployment amount our budgets are too extended to cover the new expenses.

It is best to try to continue to live base on your income prior to deployment. If it is difficult to see the funds in your account and not be able to spend it, have your spouse set up his Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) prior to his departure and have the funds diverted to it. Not only will this help curve your additional spending desires, but it will give you tax-exempted retirement savings. Another option would be to set up the Savings Deposit Plan. While deployed you earn a nice 10% return your monies.

The whole idea is to avoid additional debt. The extra funds can be used to pay down some of your smaller bills (using the snowball effect), to save up for a nice date that you’ve created throughout the deployment, to build an emergency fund, etc.

Were you thinking that this would be easy?
Marriage
School
Deployment
Stages
Support for self

1 January 2009

….and this is where I stopped writing. I didn’t stop because I wanted to, but I simply didn’t know what to do with the information once it was completed. I gave up on my project until I got this e-mail today from Lisa sharing this website (Give an Hour).

If you have a loved one whose deployed, don’t sit and allow yourself to go through the hard times alone. There are people out there that can help and want to help. If you know someone who can benefit from Give an Hour, whether it be a military family or a professional interested in offering their services, please pass the website information on to them in hopes of seeding a way out, a sense of peace, and a harvest of hope!

Reaping In Abundance,
Kay


Kay n Hubby FL
Hello and welcome! I am a military spouse & mom of four boys and two girls, ages 1 to 10, oldest diagnosed with autism. We're located in the Charleston, SC area. My family and my faith are very important to me. Since I've started using coupons I have been able to save more money and become a better steward of my household. I hope to seed into the general public, and our military families, how to spend less and get more.

Get ready to take your grocery & household spending to a whole new level! Couponing is not only a means to seed but an avenue to harvest...both opportunities are endless & a joy to delight in.

I welcome feedback and comments! Thank you again!

Kay

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Couponing Terminology

$1/1, $1/2, etc. One dollar off one item, one dollar off two items, etc.
b1g1/bogo(f)- buy one get one (free)
CC- Coupon Connexion (Military Coupon Booklet)
Deal- Grocery plan worked out to spend the less money out of pocket (OOP)
FLIP- Food Lion Internet Printable
OOP- Out of Pocket
P&G- proctor & gamble
Q- Coupon
RP- Redplum
SS- Smartsource
wyb- when you buy

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