Saturday, May 18, 2013

BMT: Laundry Bag Living

Disclaimer: I don't typically post "cheats" for those heading to BMT, if you could call it that.  I advise and educate you on aspects of training, but have refrained from telling you things that you will learn on your own through the process.  It's not that I want to withhold information from you - I've always wanted to see trainees be successful at BMT - but some things are better learned in a hands-on manner than by reading.   

"Living Out of Your Laundry Bag" is a more advanced BMT concept/strategy for success.  I had a reader request a post on this topic, so away we go!  I'll chunk the information so it's easier to understand.

Problem(s): Success at BMT depends on inspections, particularly inspections of your locker and clothing drawer.  Passing an inspection depends on you being able to perfectly fold and display your clothing items.  [See my YouTube videos if you want to see the extent of perfection they require.]  You have an abundance of clothing items, which means more items to fold and keep perfectly displayed.  You're limited on time.  You're exhausted.  You kind of suck at folding/rolling one or more of those items.

Solution: "Living Out of the Laundry Bag" is the concept of rolling folding only the essential items perfectly, leaving them in your clothing drawer, and never touching them again.  You won't wear them at all - you'll only maintain the drawer as needed to ensure that it's always looking perfect, including dusting, lint rolling, slight adjustments, etc.  The items you'll actually wear will be stored in your laundry bag, hence the name.

Caution: There are two different laundry bags in the dorm - a personal one that hangs on the end of your bed and the larger ones the laundry crew uses to transport everyone's laundry down to be washed. You will not be storing all of these excess items in your personal laundry bag.  The MTIs know when they're overstuffed and will dump them out and call you on it.  Your excess items will go in the main laundry bags in the utility closet, but not all of them.  You'll stash some of your extra clothes in your civilian luggage, never to be touched for the duration of BMT.  So, you'll have your perfect items in your clothing drawer, one set on your body, a dirty set in the laundry, and a clean set in the laundry.  You'll cycle between the set on your body and the sets in the wash.

Pre-Requisites: Your laundry crew has to have their routine down.  This is huge, and this is why this strategy doesn't work right away.  The laundry crew job is overwhelming at first - having to clean the clothes of 50ish people, dealing with whiny trainees who can't find their items, etc.  We had a number of outbursts from a disgruntled laundry crew.  Eventually, they get it.  Once they figure it out, you can put this system in place.  Before then, you'll be tapping into your perfectly rolled/folded items, which is not the objective.  The laundry crew also has to maintain an organizational system in the utility closet, positioning the laundry bags so that they know which ones are clean and which ones are dirty.  Technically, you're not allowed to have clean laundry stored in the utility closet laundry bags, hence why you need to figure out a code for clean versus dirty laundry, typically by the positioning of the bag's opening.   

Making It Work: After PT in the morning, we would immediately load the laundry bags with our PT clothes and the laundry crew would go start those loads.  This requires everyone else to pitch in and get their areas squared away during dust down and details.  It wasn't uncommon for the laundry crew to get the shaft when it came to showering, although we generally had them eat first so they could get right to work.  Later in the afternoon, we would distribute the clean laundry and stash only the items needed for the next day in our personal laundry bags.  Every now and then we would have to use an item from our wall lockers; we would use this time to redo those items.

Hope that helps!  Again, you'll pick this all up eventually, but don't expect to have a flawless system in the first few weeks.  Your laundry crew will network with more advanced trainees for tips and hints, and eventually your flight will coordinate and work together.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Expecting

Life, Day Two
No, not another one, it's too soon!  We would only be so blessed!  ;)

I was recently contacted by the folks at What To Expect - yes, the renowned guide for pregnant women - about doing a review of their books.  When they first contacted me, it was late in my pregnancy, and given MAC's early arrival, I was through that stage quicker than anticipated!


Fortunately, they sent me three books - What To Expect Before You're Expecting, What To Expect When You're Expecting, and What To Expect The First Year.  I've enlisted the help of my friend Haywee, who's just beginning the family planning process to help me review the preconception book, and I'm going to be leafing my way through The First Year.  You know, in between changing and feeding...and changing and feeding and changing and feeding.  


In the meantime, check out the wealth of resources from the What To Expect folks.  I can appreciate what they do as it's not all that far off from AHE.  We're both educating those that are about to undertake a major life change, and you know I'm all about researching and knowing as much as I can, so that I can make informed decisions and feel as confident as possible.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Motherhood and the Military

Photo by Tina Joiner Photography
Two years ago I was gearing up to depart for BMT.  I was eager to leave and start that new chapter of my life.  Fast forward and here I am, at another milestone in my life with a four week old daughter.  Nothing could've prepared me for these last few weeks, and the learning curve has been steep.  Little by little, things are getting better as I learn more about my darling girl and how to be her mother.  It's a humbling experience and I have a newfound respect and appreciation for single parents and stay at home parents.  ;)

How has motherhood affected me and my role as a service member so far?  I've found myself more hesitant to get back into my routine and normal duties.  Had she come on/near her due date, I wouldn't have to drill again until mid-July.  With her coming early, I should return in early June.  I don't feel emotionally ready to leave her just yet, or physically, in terms of having enough bottles ready (she's exclusively breast fed and hasn't tried a bottle yet, nor do I have enough in my stash).  I can't imagine how active duty moms go back so soon after birthing.  Fortunately, I'm able to reschedule my UTAs until later this summer, closer to when I have to return to my civilian job.  I've been really fortunate to have such an extended maternity leave, thanks to the nature of my job.  I hope to pop into this weekend's UTA for the sheer fact that I'll be awarded my CCAF at Commander's Call.

As for commissioning, I finished up the last portion of my physical the other day, the chest x-ray.  From here my physical results are sent for approval along with my package to AFRC or AFPC, either the Reserve Command or the Personnel Command, I'm not entirely sure.  I'll be given the dates for OTS and the opportunity to pick my top three.  My hope is to pick ones in between the holiday season and her birthday.  While I know she won't remember my absence and DH reminds me that they can travel, I don't want to miss those firsts if I don't have to.

In the meantime, I'm getting as much time with my little girl as I can!  Feel free to shoot me an email if you have any questions.  I spend much more time on my phone than I do on my computer (next to nothing).  In fact, I've written 90% of this post with one hand.  NOT easy or fun!