Posts Tagged ‘family’

Five Ways to Celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day {and an iPad Mini Giveaway!}

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014
five ways to celebrate military spouse appreciation day

I took this at the boat homecoming I attended last fall – Homecomings are magical days for milspouses.

While our 10th wedding anniversary isn’t until August, E and I broke the decade mark on our relationship last year. He’s been in the Navy the entire time I’ve known him. That’s 10 years of planning everything from vacations to oil changes to babies around someone else’s not-s0-flexible schedule.

I planned our wedding from the East Coast while he was deployed in the Pacific. We moved one week after the wedding to a city I had never seen. If you check the mortgage documents for our current house, you’ll only find my signature – a change in his boat’s schedule meant he was at sea we when bought it and I did the whole thing with a power of attorney. Right at this very moment, E is supposed to be gone (he is not). He was also supposed to be gone for Christmas (he was not). And we planned this next baby’s birth to fall in the “safe” summer window, where he was supposed to be done with sea trials (nope) and home (it is looking more and more likely he will be gone).

But I’m not thinking too much about that right now, because it could change again in the next breath. If there was one word to describe what it takes to be a military spouse – without giving yourself an ulcer – that word would be FLEXIBLE.

May 9th, 2014 has been officially designated as Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Since I’ve been a milspouse for 10 years now – and part of a military family my entire life – it’s nice to know we get a specific day to be appreciated. At any given time only 1% of Americans are serving in the military so you might not have a lot of military spouses in your life or social circle. (That seems crazy to me, since it’s always been such a HUGE part of my world, but I am the exception not the norm.) If you do know a milspouse, here are 5 ways to celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Although you could start with a hug and a “thank you for your sacrifice”. That always makes me cry.

1. Watch the kids. Or the dog. Or volunteer to water the plants. Whatever thing she (or he) is responsible for, take it off their hands for a few hours. There’s a lot of life-juggling involved in being a milspouse and having just ONE less ball in the air can make a huge difference. Plus during deployments or separations there’s one grown up managing 2+ lives, so a couple of hours to get a haircut or visit the dentist can be a total sanity-saver. (While we were engaged, I got a call from E’s San Diego apartment complex saying his rent check hadn’t gone through and they were going to pack up his stuff and evict him. He was unreachable under the ocean. While I was trying to straighten it all out it would have been AWESOME to have someone come and feed my cat so I could focus. For real, one of the most stressful weeks of my life.)

2. Provide a meal. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be healthy. When E is gone we eat more fast food or hummus-for-dinner meals than I like to admit. But just like doing some free babysitting, feeding someone is the ultimate in kindness and one less thing they have to worry about.

3. Take care of some yard work. In the winter you can shovel their walk, in the summer you can mow the lawn. I assure you that it’s not a matter of “poor milspouse doesn’t even know how to start the lawn mower” but a case of “do I dare leave the kids in the house alone for 45 minutes while I do the yard work or will I find them swinging from the ceiling fan again?”

4. Learn about organizations that provide support. There’s a great website called Military OneSource that provides everything from legal and tax advice to confidential crisis counseling. For members of the Navy or Marine Corps, the Relief Society can provide emergency loans or financial support (would you believe I didn’t even know they existed until a few weeks ago?). The Army has a version too. Check out Joining Forces and the USO to learn about volunteer opportunities and ways you can help. If you know a military family that is struggling, having a website or phone number to access real, tangible help can be the lifeline they need.

5. Listen to them. Some days I just really, really need to complain about all the ways military life makes me crazy. I am very lucky to have plenty of people in my life to go to when I need to vent without having to start with a ton of qualifiers. There are a million ways my life could be worse, a billion ways we are very blessed, a zillion things that could go wrong and we could experience real tragedy. But dammit, some days I just want to whine about how I’m supposed to be going out of town NEXT WEEKEND and E’s job STILL can’t tell him whether or not he can have the days off to watch the kids. Or the whole maybe-giving-birth-while-he’s-on-a-submarine thing. Which I am still not thinking about. Nope, not thinking.

You know what else makes me feel appreciated? Presents. Who doesn’t like presents? To celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day, AT&T has very generously given me two gift bags – one to keep and one to give away to a reader. It has a hat, a t-shirt and -oh yeah!- an iPad mini! To enter, just use the Rafflecopter widget below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

AT&T reached out because they wanted to do something nice for me and my readers as a #milspouse blogger. You can learn more about what AT&T does to support our troops and their families here. No monetary compensation was provided for my participation. I have the iPad mini for the giveaway in my possession RIGHT NOW and will send it to the randomly drawn winner.  

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Spring Break 2014 (NoVa/Washington DC)

Monday, April 21st, 2014

This was not “Spring Break woo-hoo!” I don’t think I’ve ever been on a woo-hoo kind of Spring Break and I am definitely too old for it now. Plus my pregnant belly would totally get in the way during drunk limbo contests.

That doesn’t mean we didn’t have a wild and crazy trip to visit my parents in Virginia. Going to DC during cherry blossom season? AND while everyone is out of school? AND not bringing a stroller?? I live dangerously.

Before our trip into the city, we tried to make the best of some pretty bad spring weather. Our neighborhood is full of paved paths, playscapes and little creeks, so I had the bright idea to go play outside even though it was raining. I patted myself on the back for packing boots and raincoats, even though patting myself on the back never, ever ends well. After about 5 minutes poking rocks with sticks and looking for frogs it went from sort-of-drizzly to torrential-downpour. It was pretty clear our trickly little creek wasn’t going to stay cute and shallow for long, so we booked it home for some dry clothes and Disney movies.

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The rain cleared out overnight but the sun came with lots of cold wind. I tried to keep the kids entertained inside but they were way too crazy. Bouncing off the furniture crazy. Tantrums over nothing crazy. Make me want to run away and leave them there forever crazy. So we bundled up and walked to the elementary school playground for them to burn off some of the crazy.

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And that brings us to Thursday. THURSDAY. The day I realized just how much my oldest child is like me when it comes to crowds, being hungry, being tired and did I mention crowds? I hate crowds. HATE. And if crowds were bad enough, it was crowds of field trips, big families and strollers. So many strollers.

Personally, I am greatly enjoying having children at an age where we don’t HAVE to have a stroller. No diapers = no diaper bag = purse I can fit enough stuff in but it’s too heavy to carry all day + children who have seemingly endless energy = a math problem that defies all logic but means I didn’t bring a stroller into DC. I’m doomed to rejoin the Stroller Mafia in a few months and I still love/adore/worship/etc my Baby Jogger, but NOT dragging a stroller around makes me want to throw my arms in the air and shout “FREEEEDOOOOOOOOM!” It also makes me instantly intolerant of people with strollers who block aisles and hallways and walking paths and generally get in my damn way. It’s just one of the many ways I am not a very good person.

Luckily we planned our trip pretty well, catching a post-commuter-rush-but-still-early Metro into the city so we got to the Natural History Museum 30 minutes after they opened. All the good exhibits were crowded but not so crowded I couldn’t stand it. The kids got annoyed and hungry pretty fast though, so we went for lunch early. It was an excellent (lucky) choice, since when we LEFT the cafeteria the line to get it went all the way to the back entrance of the museum.

I do owe an apology and possibly an explanation for my child’s behavior during lunch to anyone who happened to be in the Natural History Museum last Thursday. I promise I did not actually beat Evan, spank Evan, hit Evan or torture him in any way. I did not tell him I hated him or he was an accident. I MAY have threatened to leave him with DC police after 20 straight minutes of crying, but at that point it wasn’t so much a threat as something I was actually considering. What caused such a huge disturbance in the force, you may ask? I didn’t let him carry his very own cafeteria tray.

Trust me, that was NOT a hill I was prepared to die on, and if I had known he really wanted a tray he could have had a damn tray. He just didn’t NEED a tray, so when we went through the line I said “No, we can share” and then breezed in to grab our food. By the time I realized he was sobbing silently behind me it was too late to go back for a tray and mine was too full to let him carry it on his own. TRAGEDY.

I made him stand in a corner for a while, but the judgey looks from other people got to me so I planted him in a seat at our table and eventually he calmed down enough that he actually ate most of his food, drank some Cherry Coke (DESPERATE MOTHER IS DESPERATE) and ate a dinosaur cookie. SHOCKINGLY, once he was no long hungry he perked right up and we enjoyed the rest of our visit. The crowds eventually got too bad to fight and the kids kept needing to sit down for breaks, so we left the museum to walk on the mall.

I was too sore already (stupid pregnancy sciatica) to make it to any of the monuments, but as soon as they were out in the fresh air and sunshine the gingers got a second wind and begged to ride the carousel. Their very generous grandmother said yes that I am confident it was the highlight of their day.

Based just on our pictures you can’t tell at all that it wasn’t a super fun trip, which is basically the foundation of blogging, right?

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We only misplaced Creepy Baby ONCE for a few minutes in the rocks & stones hall. Thank God my mom realized it and we found her quickly.

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We drove home Friday to discover E DIDN’T have to work all weekend, the weather in CT was at least as nice as in Virginia and that both children were totally exhausted from our trip. It was a lovely, relaxing Easter weekend with approximately 75% more sleeping and fewer tantrums. Apologies again to everyone in NoVa/DC/especially my parents.

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My Week(181) in iPhone Photos

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

Happy Easter! I have a ton of big-girl camera pictures to post from our spring break in VA and our holiday weekend, but I fell asleep this afternoon and didn’t wake up until just now, so my editing is a little behind. I am behind on everything. Except baby-growing, which seems to be happening far, far too fast.

Sunday:

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Easter egg hunting at church is not an advanced skill

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That’s how Target makes me feel too

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I think they chose Panera just because they like the buzzer

Monday:

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Fancy rest stop is fancy

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Life of luxury at Mormor and Bumpa’s

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This was my bedroom when I was a teenager. It was a lot less classy then.

Tuesday:

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Maybe not a good day for taking a walk

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Oh Northern Virginia, how I don’t miss you

Wednesday:

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Ginger Noir

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Monkey

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Someone was a big fan of Cafe Rio

Thursday:

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That cookie cost like $6, but the museum was free.

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Bones. It’s basically a whole building full of bones.

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PREGNANCY CRAVING: SATISFIED. Evan loves “The chicken place with the playground.”

Friday:

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Somehow we made it through vacation without losing Creepy Baby

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Fancy artisan Dominos pizza was oddly delicious

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Catching up on my favorite hate-watch show

Saturday:

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She calls those two babies her “twins”.

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Cheese and crackers for dinner makes everyone happy

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This doesn’t do the gorgeous colors justice

Today was warmish. Yesterday was warmish. I think the whole week is supposed to be warmish, which gives me hope we’ve reached the warmish part of spring and pretty soon we’ll be sitting on the patio instead of the couch. I can’t wait until I can flop by huge pregnant butt down on a beach and get a nice sunburn.

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Evan is 5! A Pirate Birthday Party

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Evan choose a pirate birthday party for the big FIVE and it was super fun.

My dad pointed out (several times) that a pirate birthday party might not be the MOST appropriate theme for a bunch of 5 year olds. Murdering, robbing, raping and pillaging don’t really seem like good party games for kids, but based on the internet pirate is still a really popular theme.

“Popular theme” can mean two things – easy to find supplies is the good part. TOO MANY IDEAS is the bad part. I could have used an extra 6 months to plan the perfect pirate party but I’m sort of glad I didn’t give myself that time. This might actually have been my lowest-stress party to date (although it also might have been one of the most expensive – SO MUCH pirate stuff on the internet!)

OK, now for pictures because you’ve probably already skimmed this whole intro. Blah blah blah my kid is 5 blah blah so big blah blah blah some people came over. I’ll source stuff at the end, if I miss anything let me know and I can add it.

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I drew that chalkboard map with chalk pens. It is not impressive but I am very proud.

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She ate so much her belt didn’t fit anymore.

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Also, apparently tiny ginger pirates have pet lizards instead of parrots.

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Food:

Once again my parents and my in-laws came for the party, so I had a ton of help prepping food. There actually wasn’t TOO much to do this time, besides cutting  fruit/veggies and making sandwiches. I made the cookies and cake and jello ahead of time and counted on my cute names to make boring food more exciting.

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The empty spot on the bottom right is “Catch of the day”, which was fish sticks (a bigger hit than I expected – they were all gone at the end!)

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E carved that watermelon with my instructions being “I dunno, like a ship”. It’s even better than the one on Pinterest.

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Really excited with how blue these came out – just blue jello!

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GONE at the end of the party

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Turkey, cheese and hummus in a spinach wrap

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One part weird blue raspberry sugar water that came in jugs at Walmart, one part Sprite Zero

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Bottle of pineapple soda, bottle of Sprite Zero, half a bottle of orange soda, bottle of orange/peach/mango juice from BJs

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Second try cake! I still hate frosting them myself but it looks adorable and was very, very tasty (I made lemon curd for the filling)

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Fun:

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All the kids got to hit the pinata and LOVED it.

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Eventually E hit it – first he broke the bat, then he smashed it open with a hockey stick.

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The stomp-rockets were the first gifts Evan opened and E wore all the kids out playing with them in the yard

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My Pinterest Inspiration Board – lots of the food ideas came from here
Plates, napkins, round banners, table cloth, straw, chocolate gold coins, pirate shower curtain (backdrop) – Target
Hats, swords, 5  balloon, pirate balloons, pirate flag, torn sail netting, pirate mugs, popcorn boxes, fake coins, treasure maps, pirate tattoos – Oriental Trading Co
Sword toothpicks, flag toothpicks, pirate pennant banners, pinata, gummy sharks, pirate masks, skull shaped cookie cutter- Amazon
Pinata favor bags, buried treasure, candles – Walmart
Evan’s costume & Caroline’s tights – Costume Express
Caroline’s costume – made by my awesome friend Leah
Signs and watermelon ship sails – designed by my awesome friend Becca
Plank (board & cinder blocks), galvanized tub, sand, twine – Home Depot
Lots of fabric – JoAnn’s
Recipe for sand dollar cookies – Delicious Inspiration

Ta-da!! That really was a great time. SO glad the weather (mostly) cooperated (it wasn’t actually warm enough for Evan to be barefoot) and the kids all got to play outside. We had friends stay all afternoon and when they left my kids COLLAPSED into bed. I love parties.

I’ve got a BUNCH of hats left over, so if anyone is throwing a pirate party I’ll give you a great deal. Plus also masks, toothpicks, fabric, banners…yeah. Lots of stuff. Someone please have a pirate party.

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Sunday, March 30th, 2014

As of RIGHT NOW if someone knocked on the door I wouldn’t be ashamed to let them come in. All the general living areas of the house are in fairly decent shape with no visible disgusting messes. Except the basement. The basement is full of water.  Hopefully it stops raining before the whole house floats away and no one gets to see my nice clean kitchen.

Sunday:

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Aquarium day

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Mr. Ray says hi

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Peas in a pod enamored with technology

Monday:

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Despite the face, she was very excited about the flower

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Scanned and Artkived 6 months of kids art so I could THROW IT AWAY

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Hugging the bump

Tuesday:

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I got an emissions inspection, he built a castle

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Comparing our big bellies

Wednesday:

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Happy to be in a second session of swimming

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Pretending it’s spring

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Drive-thru dinner makes me happy too

Thursday:

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Hats

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Getting their namaste on

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Thank you Aunt Sara! Unicorn is their new favorite!

Friday:

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ALMOST warm enough to be outside

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Helping Brutus be brave

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All of us doing things we love: Caroline is napping, Evan is building, I am watching HGTV

Saturday:

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“Reading” me the info about her first dance recital!

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Father-son bonding over blowing shit up

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I spent 2 hours last night trying to pick a font for a new header. You probably didn’t even notice.

This is going to be a crazy week leading up to Evan’s birthday party on Saturday (FIVE! FIIIIIIIIVE!!!!!) but I’m excited. The weatherman is promising it will warm up, there are crocuses blooming in my yard, and my house looks like it’s been attacked by pirates. In a good way. They left a lot of hats.

I also have big plans to get my eyebrows done. I live a very exciting life.

I was also accepted to promotion for that new Disney Pirate Fairy movie that means I HAVE to go buy it the day it comes out and the kids HAVE to watch it. Considering they both scream their heads off every time the preview comes on it shouldn’t be a hardship. Like my friend Sara said, Disney basically buys ad space on the inside of parents’ eyelids, but in this case they’re also paying me to make my kids wicked happy. Blogging is still cool, even if I’m not super good at it anymore.

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