Ashley Intro: Living A Positive Life through Army Resiliency

Loving A Soldier Readers,

My name is Ashley F. Johnson and I am from the great state of Iowa. My husband and I have two lovely daughters Natalee (four) and Michaela (one).

I married my husband in 2008 and had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was marrying an NCO and felt clueless. I had no idea what was going on. I received a job on post and started to learn all about the amazing programs for families. I passed those resources on to the families in my husband’s unit. When we left Fort Lewis and moved to Fort Campbell, I knew my husband would be deploying shortly after we arrived. I immersed myself in the Fort Campbell community. I learned to listen to anyone that would tell me anything about this life or the area.

FamilyI got involved with the enlisted spouses club and met wonderful women that encouraged me to continue to learn. I started taking Army Family Team Building classes and enjoyed them so much I became an instructor. I felt a calling to teach spouses and civilians. I realized so many were just like me, they had no idea what the Army was all about. During the deployment my company commander’s spouse and the Family Readiness Support Assistant realized I could be used in the Family Readiness Group. I began as a point of contact for families. I loved being there for them and providing them resources.

I was then asked to join the welcome committee to welcome new families into the unit. I provided famlies with resources in the community/post and encouraged them to seek out all of the opportunities Fort Campbell had to offer. The BN FRG Advisor noticed how hard I was working and asked me to attend a work group meeting with her. Through these meetings I was able to express the needs of our families thus enabling us to come up with solutions to issues and activities to provide for them.

During my involvement with the working group the idea of a spouse master resiliency trainer came to light. We thought the idea that spouses could teach other spouses how to bounce and not break during adverse events was amazing. The classes were being offered through ACS. We felt the idea of spouses teaching spouses sounded more encouraging. Spouses could easily relate to other spouses. The soldiers were receiving this amazing training, why couldn’t the families? The group had an amazing supporter on our side, Mrs. Maria Mc Conville, and she pushed for the program until it was approved.

In July of 2012, I was honored to attend the first Spouse Master Resiliency Training Course. After graduation I hit the ground running and began training families in my unit. I had amazing command support and was able to train many spouses. I have enjoyed teaching families these valuable skills that will last them a lifetime.

I graduated in 2013 with a Bachelors in Social Work. I feel that line of work is my calling. If you ask my friends they would say I’m a resource junkie. I like to know what’s going on and share to my friends so they don’t miss the opportunity.

I hope to encourage you through my blog posts to seek out the resources your installation has to offer. I hope to encourage you and your family to live a positive lifestyle through Army Resilience.

Your friend,

Ashley

 

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AWTR Show 482: Keeping Kids Safe in a Digital Age

Slideshow-4Army Wife Network Core Team Presents: “Army Wife Talk Radio”

Army Wife Talk Radio is the leading internet talk radio show for Army wives, by Army wives. AWTR is hosted by the Army Wife Network Core Team – www.ArmyWifeNetwork.com. AWTR guests bring exciting, relevant topics and resources to the attention of our military families. 

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Find the Magic Wherever You Are!

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I know. You are thinking, “Magic? That’s for kids.” I say you are wrong! I don’t mean disappearing acts and gold at the end of a rainbow, (though boy howdy would THAT be nice!) What I do mean is this: If you are stationed in a place that was not your dream location, sometimes it can be hard to get out of the funk of unfamiliarity and loneliness.

About two months ago I began to get out of my funk enough to seek out some magic. The particular magic I’m going to share with you today: watching and feeling a NASA rocket launch into space. Space!

I had been searching and searching for something awesome. Anything awesome to snap me out of my mood. I wanted to feel special and important. I wanted to find something great and big to be a part of. That is when I discovered we have, about an hour away, a NASA flight facility. Who doesn’t think rockets and space and anything of the sort is fantastic and important and special? I also found that NASA has a program called NASA Social. When they launch rockets, or host webinars or do press events, they enlist the social media loving public to come and join in the fun. Bloggers, Photographers, Twitter and Instagram gurus. “I can be a guru” I thought. So, I applied to be a part of the next NASA event at NASA Wallops Island Flight Facility. And, thanks to some street cred from Army Wife Network, I got in!

What does that mean? It means that I got to be a part of a three day behind the scenes event at the NASA Wallops Island Flight Facility. I learned about the NASA balloon research program. I got to see where sounding rockets are built. I got to meet all of the folks that each play a specific, integral role in the NASA program. These people were what made this experience so magical for me. They had such pride in their work. Such accrued knowledge and such dedication to the piece that they played in an endeavor that was bigger than any of them individually. I was moved by their pride. I was touched by their willingness to share with our group everything they could so that we could understand and feel the magic as well. It was the first time in a long time that I felt at home. It was so reminiscent of our military family- all of us proud to be a part of something bigger and more important than ourselves. I felt completely, magically, at home.

Our group? Consisted of about twenty folks from all over. I was the only “local”. People had flown in from all over the country. Some were big time paid photographers; some were just space enthusiasts. Some, like me, were just looking to be a part of something amazing- and NASA did not disappoint. Our group gelled instantly. We became an unlikely team- sharing photos, retweeting awesome quips, hanging out and encouraging and enabling all of us to experience the thrice delayed launch, yes launch- of the Orbital Sciences second Antares rocket. The rocket was filled with over three thousand pounds of supplies and science experiments (most of which came from 7th graders a thousand times smarter and more ingenious than I could ever hope to be) that would be sent to the International Space Station. In space. Outer space people. That’s incredible. That’s tangible magic.

There is a lot of scientific information that I am not including in this story. I am not a science-y sort of gal. I am a people sort of gal. If you are amazed by the science, visit www.nasa.gov. Check out NASA on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. If you are a people person or a science person, follow NASA Social on Facebook or Twitter. Apply for any and all Social events in your area. Apply repeatedly. It is worth the effort. You will leave with awe. You will leave with a once in a lifetime experience under your belt. You will leave with friends. Real ones. From all over who experienced the same magic you did. That is what I gained. An amazing, magical shared experience with amazing now friends.

Some of these images are mine. Some belong to my new space pals. They’ve all given me permission to share them with you. Incredible, right?

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The video? Is mine. I’m sorry about the “God” usage. But, I was so in awe it was all that would come out of my mouth:

 

 

So, in summary- get off your butt. Shake off the funk and find the magic. It is there. There is magic somewhere near you waiting for you to find it. It may not be space. It may be better. Just go look!

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Paula Swanson - July 27, 2014 - 5:05 pm

Great post Alison and sounds like a lot of fun! So glad you had the opportunity to attend, the experience of something awesome, and the camaraderie of those around you.

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The Disney World (or Other Road Trip) Bag of Awesomeness

Hey y’all!

Every summer, we take a road trip. One of our favorite splurge locations: Disney World!! While we can’t get enough of the mouse house, we are often forced to drive extremely long distances to get there.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I love road trips! And I especially love road trips to Disney World! But, it is a 16+ hour trip for us from our current location, and I’m not sure my kids share my enthusiasm for the whole road trip experience.

But, no fear here, because I have created the road trip bag of awesomeness, aka, the please-don’t-let-me-hear-are-we-there-yet-in-the-first-hour of our trip bag! (Yes, I realize I have a thing about bags. See my previous post HERE  about my Secret Weapon PCS bag that you military spouses loved!)

This bag is SO easy to put together for your little ones and it offers most everything they could need right at their fingertips. I have 3 children, ages 3-8 and they have no problems handling their own bags and get super excited about traveling just so they can see what’s in their bag!

Here’s a peek at our bags for this particular trip.

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I’ve included the following things in their bags:

*Their old backpacks from the school year (might as well get one more use out of them!)

*Coloring books from the Dollar Tree

*The leftover crayons they brought home at the end of the school year and some markers we had laying around the house

*Various grade level reading material (yeah, I totally don’t feel guilty about sneaking in some learning along the way!)

*Electronic games that they already know and love (nintendos, nabis, etc) about a month before our trip, I gather all of these up. I charge them, or change the batteries and stick them in the bags. After a month of not playing them, they are excited about seeing them again and playing them

*The chargers for the various electronic items. (Side note: my oldest is good to plug these in on his own, but I worry about my youngest, so I just stick her chargers in a plastic zipper bag and shove them in my purse)

*SNACKS!!!! We have heard “I’m hungry” more times than I can count and adding snacks to their bags makes it super easy for hungry tummies to satisfy themselves. I collected various snacks, using coupons while they are on sale, and stockpiled. These bags include: m&m’s, individual goldfish bags, sixlets candy, fruit roll ups, fruit snacks from Targets dollar bin, and animal crackers that I bought in bulk and divided into sandwich bags. And I know, they aren’t the healthiest choices, but it’s vacation, ok? In my defense, I threw in an apple and cutie orange for them the day of the trip. You could also add carrot sticks, celery sticks or other cut up veggies. Obviously, your snack choices should be based on your child’s age and what you know they like.

* Various dry erase boards from the Target dollar bin

*Silly putty and Disney character from the Dollar Tree

* Sunglasses or hats to keep the sun out of their eyes while on the road and once we get to the parks! And of course, the Mickey ears hats we bought on our last trip to the World.

*A roadtrip activity book that I printed HERE from Pinterest

* Travel size tissues and hand wipes for runny noses and sticky fingers

These bags sit nicely beside them or hang great from the back of the seats in front of them. And everything can be thrown in and zippered up when you reach your final destination.

One thing I will say is we don’t put drinks in the bags. One, because we don’t want them to spill in the bag and ruin anything and two because we don’t want any accidents in the car. We keep a separate cooler in the van for drinks and use small bottles of water or juices.

And in case you doubted that everything would fit (because let’s be honest, I had my doubts too) , here they are packed and ready to go! I’ve also included a homemade pillow for each child to have in the car with them for those oh so golden nap times!

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These are the things that will get us through this trip. I’ve also done similar bags for PCS moves and those various trips to visit friends and family, adjusting what’s inside based on where we are going (how about a map of the area for our PCS move that the kids can draw on) and how long we will be in the car (obviously a 4 hour car trip would need less entertainment!). Do you have some ideas for things I can add to our next bag of awesomeness?

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PWTM: Fort Hunter Liggett, CA

 

 

Photo courtesy of www.army.mil

(photo courtesy of www.army.mil)

This month here at Army Wife Network, our Post With the Most features Fort Hunter Liggett in California. Ft. Hunter Liggett is a combat and combat support services training facility primarily for the U.S. Army Reserves.  But also offers training and readiness for all US military forces and foreign allies.

Fort Hunter Liggett is the largest installation in the Army Reserve, with more than 165,000 acres of mountains, valleys, rivers, plains, and forests, providing ideal areas to meet today’s training requirements. Fort Hunter Liggett’s ranges, training areas and facilities support year-round joint, multi-component, and interagency training. (Courtesy of www.liggett.army.mil)

Fort Hunter Liggett is located 250 miles North of Los Angeles and boasts wonderful fishing and hunting opportunities. The more rural setting boasts gorgeous views and a serene natural setting.

 

Photo courtesy of

(photo courtesy of www.urbancollaborative.com)

On post housing is small, but offers a total of 84 housing units, consisting of duplexes, townhomes and single family dwellings. Given the training nature of the Garrison post, the high rotation of soldiers and short term residency means smaller numbers of family housing, reserved for long term occupation of PCS families.

Fort Hunter Liggett does boast all of the offerings of larger, more residential installations: a PX and Commissary, an on post hotel, MWR services and more! Check out our full PWTM segment here.

 

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(photo courtesy of www.hunterlandowner.wordpress.com)

Never forget that each PCS, each installation experience, is what you choose it to be. We all adjust better with a positive outlook and the beauty contained at Hunter Liggett is sure to inspire you and your family to explore!

For driving directions, local links and more, check out Fort Hunter Liggett’s site here.

 

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