March 31, 2014

Brightens up my day!

Sometimes getting a picture like this can just brighten up your day. 
This was made by my husband's nephew who is 8 years old :)

March 28, 2014

Welcome Ticket Club

Free Memberships! 

Welcome Ticket Club to the right hand sidebar of A Military Story. You may have noticed their badge over there. If you click on it you'll be brought over their military page with this information:

U.S. Military Members Discount 

As a special thank you, they are offering a FREE Ticket Club™ Premier membership, valued at $49.99 to active duty and veteran U.S. military personnel. While anyone can shop on the Ticket Club™ website for great prices on a large selection of tickets to concerts, sports, and theater events, you, as a member, can save even more - with no service fees! 

How to sign up:

Signing up is simple! Just use your current military email address* when you register for a Ticket Club™ membership here. Your military email address is only required for registration purposes. Once your account is created you are welcome to change the email address on file in your preferences.
*Don’t have a military email address? Simply send proof of active duty or veteran military status to, and Ticket Club™ will send you a code to redeem on the website for a free membership. 

For more information make sure you click on their badge plus follow them on Facebook:

March 27, 2014

Casting Call For USAA Members

Nationwide Casting Call: For USAA Members

Searching for: Families who are currently insured by USAA for a new television commercial. Especially seeking multi-generational families with USAA
Email with the following information:
  1. Your Name/Family Members Name 
  2. Contact Info (phone, email)
  3. Current City/State
  4. Did you, your parent or grandparent serve? If so, when/where?
  5. What branch of service were you in? Did you serve in a conflict or were stationed in an interesting place? 
  6. Who else in your immediate family is covered?
  7. Tell us which USAA products you currently have 
  8. Please attach recent photo of family
Please tell us if you have interviewed with Dan Bell for a previous USAA project
Skype interviews will be held starting this Saturday March 29, 2014

March 21, 2014

{Sponsored Post} Rhino Laces

Rhino Laces
Your boots are only as strong as your laces. 
I have another awesome company to share with you today!! Rhino Laces were invented by wildland firefighters who were tired of their laces breaking at the worst possible times (usually while fighting a fire), so they made a pair of laces that are UNBREAKABLE! 
  • Rhino Laces are the only unbreakable laces on the planet. They cannot be burned, cut, chopped, sawed, or destroyed, or we will replace them for free.
  • Proudly Made in America!!
  • Cost $20 and hey they are guaranteed!!
  • Share this with your military friends and squad leader to buy 10+ pair and get a squad discount of $20 OR Buy 25+ pair and get a platoon discount of $75
Plus learn more about them here:

March 14, 2014

{Real Wedding} Brittany & Donavan

Welcome to my very first local photographer from the North Country of New York! YAY! Jennifer of McCluskey Photography has shared a pretty winter themed wedding. Jennifer enjoys photographing weddings and feels so honored that so many couples over the years have let her in to record their special wedding day. Her specialty is capturing the moments of emotion and beauty that happen during the wedding. Those moments pass by so quickly and she wants to make sure the bride and groom will have lasting memories and beautiful photographs to show their children and grandchildren. Jennifer serves Upstate NY, including Watertown, Potsdam, Canton, Ogdensburg, Massena, Alexandria Bay, Thousand Islands, Malone, Syracuse, Oswego, Plattsburgh, Old Forge, Lake Placid, the Adirondacks, Saranac Lake, and other areas in the North Country.
From Brittany, "We met on while Donavan was in Afghanistan and we messaged back and forth as just friends. I finally got my first date when he came home. The summer after that we fell in love. He proposed with my favorite yellow roses and we decided to plan a quick wedding. I had surprised him a military themed cake. We had an amazing wedding day. Even despite the weather everyone who came made it an even better day.

Funny story that her M.O.H. told during her toast about how Brittany had always said she didn't want to change her last name when she was married, but when she first saw Donavan Lawless' profile she said she could see changing her name for that."
On that snowy winter day shortly before Christmas Brittany and Donavan were married at the Brandon Wesleyan Church in North Bangor, NY and the reception was at the Adirondack Room at Mo's Tavern, Malone, NY. Thank you Brittany and Jennifer for sharing this winter wonderland wedding.

March 12, 2014

{Real Wedding} Debbie & Kevin

Before the winter is over (which if you are like me and Kellie Hetler and live in the North, you are probably soooooo ready for it to be gone, gone, gone!) I have a couple winter weddings for you to enjoy! Today's winter wedding is from Hetler Photography who specializes in wedding and lifestyle photography-serving mainly Michigan, but willing to travel. I absolutely love their flowers, the reindeer, and Kevin's Mess Dress Air Force uniform!

From the bride, Debbie, "Kevin and I met in the mid 1990s while working at the same restaurant. We dated for a short time, then went our separate ways. We reconnected again in February 2010 when Kevin flew me to Las Vegas while he was briefly stationed there. We started dating again after that, and got engaged in April 2013 while I was visiting him in North Carolina. We wanted to get married in 2013, but it had to be a the end of the year because of Kevin's 3-month deployment in late summer/early fall. We ultimately chose December 7 because it didn't interfere with Thanksgiving or Christmas plans. We had a great wedding experience. I enlisted the help of my sister-in-law, Aletha Vander Maas of Pearls Events, to help with the planning because we wanted to get married in Grand Rapids, but I was living in Lake Orion (near Detroit), and Kevin was in North Carolina and then overseas. Aletha helped us find all of our vendors, which saved us a lot of time. During one week in July, Kevin and I were both in Grand Rapids and we did the marathon of meetings. We met with the caterer, florist, cupcake maker, minister, photographer, and church wedding coordinator within the span of 2 days. We decided on blue and white for our main color scheme with a hint of red. The wedding day was perfect. Everything ran smoothly, and everyone had a wonderful time." Thank you Debbie for sharing your story and to Kellie Hetler for sharing their beautiful photos.

Vendors: Planning & Design:  Aletha, Pearls Events – Grand Rapids, MI // Ceremony Location:  Plymouth Heights Christian Reformed Church – Grand Rapids, MI // Reception Venue:  Frederick Meijer Gardens – Grand Rapids, MI // Bridal Gown:  Mori Lee from A’Dora Belle – Waterford, MI // Catering:  Applause Catering – Grand Rapids, MI // Cake & Cupcakes:  Mirabella Confections – Grand Rapids, MI // Floral Centerpieces and Bouquets:  Posh Petals – Grand Rapids, MI // Music & Entertainment:  Music Host Productions – Grand Rapids, MI // Hair Stylist:  Erin Brown // Make-up Artist:  Julie Strating

March 7, 2014

Spartan Up! is hitting the bookshelves

This is my 3rd post for the Spartan Race and I just can't get enough of the inspirational people who endure these races, but today's post is about the man behind Spartan. If you missed my last Spartan posts click here and click here. I've had quite the treat!! I get to read a brief synopsis of Joe DeSena’s new book “Spartan Up!” before it is released on May 17th. But you can pre-order your copy here: After reading the outline of the book, I'm hooked! There are so many great passages like these, "I've been through so much already, I push through when others would stop." "You just commit to something and then get it done, no matter what." "Failure can be your greatest asset if you use it to move forward and keep progressing."

Who is Joe?
An entrepreneur from 8 years old Joe has had a passion for life that moves the ball forward against all odds. Born in Queens NY to a yoga teaching, meditation practicing mother and an Italian father that was an uber-entrepreneur the author learned simple techniques for forging ahead no matter the odds. Find out how a young kid breaks out, builds multiple businesses, changes lives, and eventually partners with military SpecOps. 

So what is Spartan Up! Guide to Life all about???? 
• If you want to change your life you have to change your frame of reference.
• Anyone can demand instant gratification... but if you can delay it, you might just get where you want to go.
• Who says easier and faster is always better? Adversity paves the road to success. 

Spartan Up! Will comprise 10 chapters, designed to teach you to systematically apply the Spartan way to every aspect of your life: food/diet, working out, health, business or work, education, relationships, parenting. Chapters will be structured around the following: 

1. A visceral description of an obstacle from Spartan races that symbolizes the greater life challenges. Whether it’s mud or ice water or greased walls, the rationale behind creating each obstacle will shed light on the lessons to be learned from it. By the time the reader reaches the end of Spartan Up! they’ll feel like they’ve run an entire race and have that same sense of accomplishment and empowerment. 

2. Guidance and advice on applying the lessons of the obstacle to their own life. 

3. Examples from my own history in adventure racing and business that illustrate the points being made in the chapter. My own unique voice and life experience will shine through at every turn, and while some may initially see me as a life coach from hell, they’ll come to realize that I have a heart of gold (albeit a well-conditioned one).

4. Examples from those who have already undertaken the Spartan challenges. The stories of these people will place readers on the edge of their seat, because they see so much of themselves in the tales. Many of these people were leading unsatisfactory lives and filled with self-doubt before entering a Spartan Race. But doing such extreme racing in short periods of time merged their work and their play, allowing one to bring meaning to the other.

 Enjoy some video clips of The Journey to Becoming a Spartan and Joe talking about what a burpee is and why they suck.

March 5, 2014

The Federal Voting Assistance Program

Sometimes on this blog I would like to share important information which can be helpful to those in the military. I know you probably want pretty photos to look at, but don't worry I will have lots more pictures to share soon. - Layla

TheFederal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) administers the Federal responsibilities of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).  FVAP works to ensure Service members, their eligible family members and overseas citizens are aware of their right to vote and have the tools and resources to successfully do so - from anywhere in the world.

FVAP provides U.S. citizens worldwide a broad range of nonpartisan information and assistance to facilitate their participation in voting - regardless of where they work or live.

Unfortunately absentee voters still face unique challenges. FVAP is continuously working to combat those challenges by improving the voter’s experience, providing greater support to election officials, and fostering relationships with stakeholders. provides many tools to support the absentee voting process, including online assistants to quickly and accurately fill out the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) and Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). 

The FPCA is a form used by UOCAVA citizens to register to vote and request absentee ballots.

The FWAB is a back-up write-in ballot UOCAVA voters can use if they’ve made a timely application for, but haven’t received, their regular State ballot.  FVAP recommends voters use the FWAB 30 days prior to the election. If after submitting the FWAB the voter receives the State absentee ballot, he/she should vote and return it. If both ballots are received by the deadline, only the State ballot will be counted.

FVAP encourages Americans who are eligible to vote to complete a new Federal Post Card Application (FCPA) annually and with every change of mailing address. The length of time the ballot request is valid varies by State, so submitting a new FPCA in the New Year will ensure that you receive an absentee ballot for each election in which you are eligible to vote.

The information you provide on the FPCA allows your local election official to reach you.  If you have moved, complete a new form to make sure they have the correct address and contact information.

Where can you get an FPCA?

·         A digital PDF can be found online at, and there is an automated tool to walk you through completing it.

·         Hardcopies of the form are available at all military installations and U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide.

When filling out an FCPA, remember the following details so that your form can be processed correctly:

·         Write legibly.

·         Remember to sign and date the form before mailing it to your local election office.

·         Submit your FCPA in a manner in accordance with State law. (You can find your State’s requirements at

·         Submit the form before the registration or request deadline.

Numerous absentee voting failures occurred in the ballot delivery process due to late or no ballot arrival to the overseas voter, late ballot return to the United States or an inaccurate completion. They want to help solve these problems by promoting early registration and absentee ballot requests, and successful completion of voted ballots. Together we will help ensure military and overseas citizen voters who want to vote are able to successfully exercise their most fundamental right - from anywhere in the world.

To learn even more about FVAP, please visit

I am a voluntary member of FVAP’s Blogger Network and am not compensated for my posts.  The thoughts presented here are my own and do not reflect the opinions of FVAP or any of its representatives.

FVAP, a nonpartisan Department of Defense component, helps military and overseas citizens register to vote and request absentee ballots from anywhere in the world.