Regular people in decorating magazines collect ceramic chickens, hotel silver, blue and white plates, itty bitty Elvises.
Military folks collect addresses. Lots and lots of addresses. When you move every other year or so, you collect addresses and the memories to go with them.
So it isn’t any wonder that when you go into the home of a military family, you often find one of these “Home is Where the Army Sends You” plaques. They come with little add on pieces with each place that you have lived. Like this:
I have never wanted one of these plaques.
I like the look of them. But I’ve always been afraid that if the Navy knew I had a plaque like that it would be like having a ceramic chicken collection. I figure the Navy would just keep adding to my collection whether I wanted them to or not.
I’m at 16 addresses already, Navy. Don’t you think that is address clutter?
But now that I have lived in this house longer than any other home in my entire life (six years—woo!), I’m eyeing all the ways Air Force, Coast Guard, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps families honor their past addresses. So I asked on Facebook how people “collect” their addresses. Here are some suggestions—keep them coming!
1. Go directly for the wooden house plaque.
Whether you go to a crafts fair on base or contact a crafter through Etsy or make it with your own 10 crafty little fingers, there are lots of different designs for your house plaque. Here are a few we especially liked (Thanks Brenda Eatough, Terry Gruny and Kim James):
2. Give the plaque theme your own twist
Marine wife Kristy Wright shared this subway themed house plaque–so House Beautiful.
And Air Force spouse Jana Hurt put together her plaque as “HOMZ WR WE PRK R CAR.” She used all of their license plates from each of the states where they had been stationed (some of the plates had to come from eBay since they did not replace the car in every location). Cool and clever.
3. Collect your house keys.
Navy wife Laurie Beeler put together this adorable collection of keys with addresses attached. Such a great idea. I love the antique keys, but I would probably like the real house keys of my former addresses, too. And putting the keys together in groups of three lets you keep going and going and going….
4. Map it out.
After her husband retired from the Marine Corps, Trisha Grubb put her own twist on honoring her houses. “I bought a large framed world map from frontgate.com and pinned our “homes”, then strung them together. It’s in the front entry of our “forever” home.
5. Choose your state of mind.
State art and artifacts are big right now. You can buy corkboards that have the outline of the United States, individual prints of each state, You can even buy a cast iron frying pan of each of the states you lived in. (See some more ideas on our SpouseBuzz Pinterest page). Kristy Wright also collects pillows embroidered with the names of all the states where they have lived like this:
5. The Accidental Collection
Sometimes you end up with a collection of stuff you don’t mean to collect like wine glasses, beer steins, Starbucks place mugs and those little colored stickers the movers leave on the bottom of your dining room table. I had to admit I had a collection when my husband’s coffee mugs from every ship he had been stationed on filled the whole mug shelf. Run with it, I say.
6. Collect a piece of art from each place that you live.
I heard from a couple of families who play the game a little more subtly by buying a piece of art in each location. Our own SpouseBuzz managing editor Amy Bushatz frames a picture from each place they live. She says it makes you look at your current duty station with a more positive eye toward what is pretty enough to go on that wall.
7. Christmas tree ornaments from each place
Many military families collect a Christmas ornament from each of the places they live. Some command teams even give these ornaments to people in their unit at Christmas. Marine wife Jen Rooker (my old neighbor!) made Christmas ornaments for their homes and schools. “We did keys with tags of our old addresses and wooden pencil shapes with the schools/cities painted on them,” noted Jen.
8. Write it on a piece of paper.
Stars and Stripes Spouse Calls columnist Terri Barnes passes along the advice that in addition to these decorative addresses, you gotta remember to write down your actual addresses, too. A friend told her to write them on the back of your plaque.
“I’m sure some people are so organized that they keep this information filed and organized (maybe on their smartphone),” wrote Terri. ” But for me having it hanging right on the wall is ideal. When filling out a form that asks for our last two or three addresses, I know where to look …
You can also keep that info in a regular ol’ address book. That is info you are going to need for security clearances, financial aid applications, mortgage documents.