Meet New AWN Blogger: Jolene McNutt

New friends, it’s so good to meet you here.

I’m new around AWN blogging, but I’m not exactly new to the Army. I’ve been married to my husband, Phil, for nine years. He has 17 years of service, with 15 of those active duty.

It may sound weird to bring attention to that, but he’s part of the Active Guard Reserve (AGR) for the Wisconsin Army National Guard. Because of this oddity (or as Phil puts it, “the best kept secret in the Army”), I’m forever explaining what he does and how he works full time for the National Guard.

We are an all-out active duty family…but with the benefit of staying within the state. I’m actually a teensy bit jealous of some of you all who are moving every which way. It’s one opportunity we miss out on on AGR status. However, I know that we are very lucky to live near where we both grew up.

So…that’s how I got here. Married Phil and the Army right along with him. I didn’t really know what I was getting into–do any of us, really?! I think that’s what I love most about other military spouses. Sometimes all we need is a look between us, and we know.

From deployments, to long trainings, to separations by choice. And the socks. Seriously. Why don’t those green socks ever match?

Chances are, unless you’re fresh from your vows, you just know. You’ve been there. And you’re so gracious to share your experiences with other spouses to help along the way. It’s what I love most about Army life.

Phil and I have a six-year-old son, Finn, and a gigantic, 90-pound lap dog, Odin.

Finn is quite the character; in fact, I often refer to him as a cartoon! His mind is always going. He’s a happy little guy, loves math and creating things, and is the best traveler I know. I will take him anywhere! Finn also has food allergies to dairy, soy, and gluten, so I spend a great deal of time cooking for him.

I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but he has revolutionized my kitchen and stretched my skills. His allergies were daunting at first, but I’m so grateful that I had the challenge that has made me grow both in culinary areas and also in my awareness of others.

Finn is friendly, outgoing, and extroverted like Phil. He and Phil share many of the same passions like hunting, fishing, gardening, playing games, and going places.

 

I’m significantly opposite – an introvert to the core. I’ve learned to balance my introverted nature with Phil and Finn’s extroverted ways. However, we have a few things in common: a love for exploring new places, an addiction to Jocko Podcast, and loving people.

Spending time with people doesn’t come as naturally to me as the boys, but I’ve seen it work out for us in so many good ways. Finn makes friends with anyone on the playground and it makes it easy to invite friends over for play dates after school.

Phil is forever inviting people into our home, which used to drive me insane, but now I roll with it (and secretly have developed a love for it…don’t tell him!). It’s a great opportunity for me to try out a new recipe (yes, I use my guests as guinea pigs!) or tidy up our guest room!

Then there’s Odin. He’s big. He’s loud. He’s ooey-gooey, warm-chocolate-chip-cookie-sweet. Find me on Instagram for regular updates of his nonsensical ways. Between Finn and Odin, we have no shortage of laughs!

 

And finally there’s me. I lived pretty fast and wild {ha ha!} until I met Phil. I graduated from UW-Madison where I spent four years in too many clubs and activities to count.

The highlights of my college years included being a member of the UW Marching Band, CFFA, NAMA, Saddle & Sirloin…and more. Once graduated, I spent a year traveling as the American Honey Queen. I still volunteer for the program, managing their social media and aiding in an annual training.

After my reign, I came home, ran into Phil, and I’ve switched gears into family life since then. I work from home writing, editing, and doing some graphic design.

I also run a business with my dad called Brain Brigade. We create hands-on resources for teachers to use in their elementary and middle school classrooms and sell them at Teachers Pay Teachers (an incredible place in itself).

I’m very close with my family (see pic below…this is of me and my sister, Kendra, on a girls’ and kids’ trip to Nashville this summer…I’m in the stripes!). We all have travel in our blood, which came from our parents’ sense of adventure. I’m sure I’ll be talking lots of travel here!

I have also begun to enjoy decorating our house. I didn’t always. I read a book (and now a blog) a few years ago that helped break my fear of doing something wrong and it has helped me grow and make our house a little cozier and more “us.” It’s really become something I enjoy.

I’m looking forward to getting to know you better. So, pull up a chair, grab your hot coffee or tea, and chime in when something strikes a chord – I’d love to get to know you and your interests as we meet here in this Army wife life.

 

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About Jolene McNutt

Jolene McNutt is a writer, editor, and graphic designer. She co-owns a business with her retired teacher dad creating hands-on resources for elementary and middle school teachers. Jolene has been married to her extroverted husband, Phil, for nine years. Phil is serving as part of the Active Duty Guard Reserve (AGR) in the Wisconsin Army National Guard - possibly the best kept secret in the Army! They have a six-year-old son, Finn, and a 90-pound lap dog, Odin. Jolene enjoys traveling, reading, and making allergy friendly recipes for Finn. Despite her introverted nature, Jolene loves hosting friends and family. Find her on Instagram @jolenemichelle1.

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