Monday, April 29, 2013

Embrace Local

There are pros and cons to moving every two or three years.  You don't grow roots, but you get to see a lot of new things.  You make many friends from many areas and countries, but you have to say "see you later" far too often.  And on a lighter note, you get to experience the local food and shopping scene, but you never become that "regular" that goes there for decades.

By far, one of my favorite things about the military lifestyle is living in areas long enough to explore the local culture and vibe.  I am one of those people who loves to try new restaurants, wineries, and visit small downtown areas.  You won't find me in a chain restaurant unless it is a dire circumstance (like, a road trip where even Yelp can't find me a place other than Cracker Barrel) and my husband makes me pay in cash at Wal Mart because he doesn't want any paper record of us ever shopping there.  No, not kidding.  Supporting local families and getting a quality product and a good shopping/eating experience are things we appreciate very much.  (I realize I might sound hipster or snotty and I hope I don't.  Believe me, I love Amazon Prime a little too much.)

Yesterday Johnny and I got to experience a wonderful local farm experience.  For my birthday, we bought tickets to a Wine and Cheese Appreciation event at Green Dirt Farm.  It was a pairing of farmstead cheese with the Amigoni, a local urban Kansas City winery.  And as if that wasn't enough, we happened to be seated next to a writer/reviewer from Edible Magazine.  Um, can I have her job, please?

The barn at Green Dirt Farm, Weston, MO
I now have a list impossibly long of all of the amazing Kansas City eateries, butchers, farmer's markets, and local farms to try.  We are only here until December, so hopefully we can experience enough where we feel like we really "did" Kansas and Missouri local. 
If you are at Fort Leavenworth or coming here soon I highly recommend the food and wine events that Green Dirt Farm hosts.  The food and wine was delicious, the atmosphere was wonderful, and the hosts were extremely friendly and made us feel right at home.  I am so excited for the Leavenworth Farmer's Market to open back up next week so that we can buy more of their delicious cheese throughout the summer and fall. 
If you are a military family, do you prefer trying the new or do you find comfort in staying with familiar favorites? 
For local recommendations and to write reviews of your local favorites, visit Military Word of Mouth, a great website created and run by my good friend Laura.  The website only gets stronger with more opinions and critiques!
Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Runners will Overcome

I call myself a runner, but I know I am probably not as avid or dedicated as millions of others.  I love to run, the endorphin rush is amazing.  I love the solitude, the breathing, the music, and even the clothes.  On a crisp day I cannot think of anything more satisfying than a long run in a pretty place.

Non-runners don't really understand runners.  They don't understand why people would pay a good sum of money to hoof it 3 or 10 or 13 or 26 miles.  For most, it isn't the race itself.  It isn't the medal, or the "swag", or even the post-race beer. It is the feel of these racing events.  The people, the support, the beautiful encouragement from fellow runners and spectators.  Racing events truly are some of the most inspirational and positive places you can be.  All shapes and sizes, all athletic abilities, all nationalities coming together going one direction and pushing each other on.  The avid marathoner pushing on a first time racer.  The mom who has lost 30 pounds of baby weight and looks at that finish line with more meaning and pride than she can explain.  The sister of the cancer survivor who went from the couch to a 5k to a 1/2 Marathon and beyond in the name of her cause.  Lots of energy, moving together, helping each other.  Aside from the very elite, most are not competing with anyone but themselves.

I cannot express how heart broken I am about the bombing at the Boston Marathon.  I am sad for the city, the victims, their families, and of course for the running community as a whole.  Worried that racing venues will need TSA-esque check points and that runners will always worry about their family and friends who are there in support.  Sad that events created to inspire health and happiness will be marred with reminders of the darkness that sometimes envelopes us.

Runners will overcome.  If you think about the mentality it takes to run a marathon, what those individuals had to do to train their bodies to endure 26.2 grueling miles, you know that those terrorists have messed with the wrong crowd.  Races will go on. 
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
~Martin Luther King, Jr
For me, this incident has inspired to sign up for some races this summer and fall.  To support the running community in the wake of this horrific tragedy.  Refuse to do what those evil people wanted most: to be terrorized and paralyzed.  Hopefully others will do the same.  
Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Green grass, shorts, a nice breeze, sidewalk chalk, and a flower lei...  What more could a 3 year old ask for?

Slowly but surely the temperatures are starting to warm up.  It is still in the 30s in the morning, but by mid afternoon we are over 50 which feels rather balmy.  I, like so many others, get annoyed with constant weather complaints on Facebook.  It is like the complaining during daylight savings time.  It is what it is, it happens every year, it is cyclical, get over it, blah blah blah.  I know.  So when I whine about the weather I pretty much want to slap myself in the face.  I'm sure people have defriended me over my winter blues.  But people, this winter has been the longest of my life.  Probably because we moved in December so any time you are adjusting to a new area where you know not a soul and your kids have no friends and you are stuck in a place that isn't quite organized and it is 10 degrees outside you just want to sob.  And I did cry.  It snowed our first night in Kansas in early December and the last snow mound (dear God, please let that be the last snow mound) just melted a few days ago. It was the first time we moved where I just felt out of sorts and completely out of my element.

But as the days are getting longer and the temperatures are rising higher I am starting to feel much better.  More at home and less like the grumpy hermit I had become.  Things are looking up!  I am ready for bubbles and playgrounds and the pool and tank tops and flip flops and even complaining about humidity and mosquitos.  As I approach my 32nd birthday at the end of the month I am finally comfortable admitting that I am most comfortable in warm to hot climates with lots of sunshine.  My husband and sister (and most of my extended family who are avid skiers) always make me feel like such an outcast with my dislike of winter.  But I am embracing it.  I am a greenhouse flower and just get sad looking if the temperatures drop below 50.

So there you have it, an entire post about the weather.  Like an awkward conversation with a stranger on an elevator.  Happy Spring!
Monday, April 1, 2013

Everyone Serves

It's here! I'm officially published!

For a good portion of last year I was contracted by Blue Star Families, a wonderful non profit organization that advocates for military members and their families, to help re-write a deployment toolkit.  "The toolkit" as we came to call it over the months of research, re-writes, and edits, is a comprehensive guide for families of all branches of the service (including the Coast Guard) to prepare for, endure, and reintegrate after a deployment. 

We are all very proud of the final product and extremely happy that it has come together.  If you are a military spouse, please download the free toolkit and share it with your support groups.  It is full of checklists, resources for military families, mental health information, information about children during deployments, and even information for extended family and friends.

As I was researching and writing I was amazed at the information available to us these days, but dismayed by how hard it is to wade through and how there are a thousand websites with a few pieces of information.  Hopefully we have created the "one stop shop" for military families facing down deployment. If you check it out, we'd love your feedback!

Click here to see the book: EVERYONE SERVES


Hi, I'm Jill!

Hi, I'm Jill!
Extrovert. Mom of two. Wife of a cute Naval Aviator. Lover of wine. When I'm not chasing my two kids around town you will find me writing, taking too many photos, and researching the ten future areas the Navy could potentially (but probably won't) PCS us. We are fish out of water, landlocked at 7,000 feet. For now.

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