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I LIVE HERE

Another move.

Another house.

We have moved nine times in our 15 years in the Army. Except for twice, we have lived in "housing" or "quarters" at each military installation. When my husband was assigned to MacDill Air Force Base, we decided to purchase our first home in Valrico.

Military housing comes in all shapes and sizes. We have usually lived in the standard duplex; which consists of three bedrooms, two baths, kitchen and living and dining room combination. Most of the houses had a carport attached, too. To say that I was excited to have a separate family room, breakfast area and three-car garage is an understatement.

In our last "set of quarters," I believe our total square footage was a little more than half the size of our new home. So being able to have all of our furniture actually fit inside our home and not having to rent a storage facility is definitely a plus.

It is nice to have a different floor plan than my next-door neighbor. While the houses look similar in our neighborhood, there are definite differences in each home and yard. No more drab white walls . . . I will finally be able to paint my walls now . . . once I decide on a color scheme.

We have many military neighbors, but there are also just as many civilians. It is interesting to have neighbors that have jobs outside of the armed forces. Instead of asking, "Which unit are you in?" we can ask "What do you do?" I had forgotten that there are people that do not go to work in battle dress fatigues.

Although my husband has a long drive to and from work, he uses this time wisely to "gear up" or "wind down."

However, our son's elementary school is within walking distance, my gym is down the street and there are countless shopping centers just around the corner.

There are positives and negatives. Similarities and differences. Sometimes there are things I miss about living on a military post (such as seeing the military policeman salute us at the gated entrance or having my husband home at lunchtime), but I believe there are many benefits to "off post" living.

There is a saying that I hear often: "Home is where the Army sends you."

We are happy that it sent us here . . . for a while anyway.

_ Lory Johnston lives on Groveway Drive in Bloomingdale Cove.

Lory Johnston spends time with her son, Jordan, 10, and their Pekingese named Jake, 3, catching up on the day in the family room of their Valrico home last week. Johnston enjoys having a home big enough to hold all the furniture and belongings she has accumulated while being married to an Army man, who has been stationed at more than a dozen military posts.

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