Posts Tagged ‘things I love’

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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A Moroccan Infusion in a Connecticut Winter {Giveaway!}

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

I know it’s not actually that stupid groundhog’s fault – an overgrown hamster can’t actually change weather patterns – but right now I’m dreaming of a groundhog skin hat to keep my head warm. I don’t actually HATE snow days. Staying home and building snowmen and watching movies isn’t the worst. My kids LIKE the snow and never seem to get cold and sending them out back to throw snow on each other always means we get an early and easy bedtime. But I am a wimp and have a strong dislike of being cold so I like the coming back inside part the best. It’s marginally warmer inside, most of the time. Unfortunately my house is ancient and has steam radiators, so running them full blast also means sapping every ounce of moisture out of the air. When we had the carpet down I couldn’t walk across a room without flinching any time I touched something. I’ve shocked myself with my iPod headphones a dozen times in the last couple weeks (I’m not even sure how that happens). And the poor ginger’s hair stands on end all day. It’s adorable, but they keep shouting “Mommy, you zapped me!”

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This is his hair on a good day

The dry winter air is especially rough on my poor expanding baby belly. I’ve just reached the point where “popped” is the appropriate word to describe my stomach, rather than “Man, she really needs to lay off the burritos and do a few sit ups” (although those are also good ideas, considering how weak my stomach muscles are). Pregnancy always makes my skin super dry and I scramble to find something that helps. So when BlogHer offered to send me the new Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion skin care products I said “OMG SO ITCHY!” And then I said “Uh, I mean yes” because telling the people you work for about your dry, itchy skin is kind of gross.

suave professionals moroccan infusion

Moroccan argan oil is one of those ingredients popping up all over beauty blogs and commercials and known to be rich in nutrients and antioxidants. Suave took the same ingredients from more expensive brands and put them in their Professionals® line so women everywhere have access to premium products infused with authentic Moroccan argan oil. They sent me both the Body Lotion and the Dry Body Oil Spray and while I like them both the spray is my absolute new favorite product. It’s hard to dump oil out of a non-spray container onto your skin without making a huge mess and getting way too much, so the spray bottle is genius. It only takes a couple of squirts and the oil absorbs really quickly (I wouldn’t say INSTANTLY, but by the time I grab my clothes I can put them on without any stickiness). Once you rub it in it’s isn’t oily at all, just soft and moisturized (and not itchy!). My skin feels amazing all day and I smell like a million bucks.

Find more information about the Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Body Care products at www.Facebook.com/SuaveBeauty and get tips for radiant skin, style advice from celebrity stylist Brad Goreski and enter the “Radiant Wishes” sweepstakes for a chance to win Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion products, a spa day or a trip to Los Angeles.

Giveaway! For a chance to win a $1000 gift card, let me know which of the Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Body Care products you would most like to try.

 

Sweepstakes Rules:  No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstakes runs from 2/11/2014-2/28/2014. Be sure to visit the Suave Professionals® brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

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A Special Christmas Gift

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

special gift 1 special gift 2 special gift 3 Those should come in handy right around July  16th, 2014.

 

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Caroline: 3 Years Old

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

I stopped doing Caroline’s monthly updates because it seemed so unnecessary – she had reached all her milestones and it was sort of boring (and braggy) to repeat over and over that my toddler was a genius. But then suddenly I realized it was November and we were only a few weeks away from 36 months old and I was going NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE.

But it’s definitely true. She may actually have been 3 for the last 6 months and I was just counting wrong. It seemed ridiculous to call her 2 when she never uses her a stroller, goes to a real preschool class, has no fear of new things or people, dresses herself, can order her own food at restaurants, sits through a full-length movie in a theater, and can sled down big giant hills without freaking out even a little bit.

(FTR, there’s a chain link fence at the bottom of that hill so they couldn’t go out into the road. It’s a perfect sledding hill.)

I think she acts so grown up because I treat her like she’s grown up. I expect the same things from her that I expect from her 4 1/2 year old brother, which might not always been fair for her but she handles incredibly well. It also makes my life easier, since they’re able to play together, share together and help take care of each other (and me – let’s be honest, being able to fetch things for you is a major reason to have kids). She is so kind and helpful and sweet and full of cuddles I sort of dread the 3′s. And the 4′s. And everything between 10 and 21. Right now when she gets super mad at me she mostly cries and says “I need a huuuuuuuuuuug!” I imagine that won’t last forever, so I’m trying to appreciate it now, even when it happens 14 times a day.

She had a dentist appointment and her flu mist spray on the same day last week and handled both without any crying or running away or fighting. She understands the concept of “Do this now and then it’s over and we can go home and have a cuddle”, although stickers or ice cream make very effective bribes. Sometimes there is a little bedtime stalling – especially if she thinks we’re having fun without her – but sleeps through the night 99% of the time. She finally grew a little bit (I’ll get stats at her check-up in January), but she’s wearing actual 3T sizes in shirts and 2T in pants, although yesterday she wore a pair of 18 month snow pants.

Caroline loves princesses and pink and sparkly things. She also loves running and screaming and playing in the dirt and jumping in muddy puddles and throwing snowballs. Right now she has absolutely no sense of girl things vs boy things or “acting like a lady” and the first time I hear anyone try to explain it to her I will LOUDLY tell them they are wrong. I hope she makes all her own decisions about her likes and dislikes forever, be it wearing gowns to the grocery store or running around the house in boots, underpants and a pirate hat.

Her likes include talking, animals, repeating everything I’ve ever said, pink, cookies, helping, hugs, her brother, Daddy, the iPad, princesses, dress up, snow, sledding, drawing, eating, talking some more, Christmas, sleeping, balloons, school, jumping, running, even more talking, books, singing songs she made up, What Does The Fox Say?, quesadillas, the aquarium, talking to people she doesn’t know at the store, Santa, movies, her stuffed ducky, her stuffed doggy, and her stuffed kitty.

Dislikes include being really tired, being really hungry, when Mommy says no, when Daddy goes to work, wearing the appropriate amount of clothing for winter in Connecticut, and “when Blushes [our cat] gets angwy and goes ‘HAAAAAACH’”.

caroline 36 months
caroline 36 months-2
caroline 36 months-3
caroline 36 months-4
caroline 36 months-5

I did a birthday questionnaire for Evan in writing, but Caroline is better at answering questions (although sort of hard to understand on video) so I broke out the record function on my DSLR for the first time ever and asked her about her favorite things:

Happy 3rd birthday to my Christmas Girl, Caroline Noelle! You are amazing and I love you bunches and bunches forever.

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Slightly Christmasy

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

We have a family tradition of getting our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. It was something my family did, it was something E’s family did, and it’s something we’ve done throughout our marriage. This year Thanksgiving was late, and also fell in the middle of shift work for E, so he didn’t get the day off. Or the day after. I was a little bummed, but we planned to just get the tree in a few days when E could get a few hours off of work.

That never happened. He literally hasn’t had any time off – besides a few hours to sleep most (not even all) nights – since mid-November. If it was at any other job besides the military, his hours would probably be illegal. I know I’ve complained about how much he works before (probably a lot) but I’ve reached a point where I’m not sure how I’M going to get through it.

Right now the only thing I’m getting by on is making sure the kids are still enjoying Christmas. They are so excited about every single part of the holidays that it’s pretty easy for me to let myself get wrapped up in it too, although the fact that we’re missing 1/4th of our family is always in the back of my mind. My mom sent the kids an advent calendar and GOD FORBID I don’t remember to get it down so they can open the day’s door first thing in the morning. And amazingly, they’re keeping track of whose turn it is and remember better than I do. It’s teaching them sharing! And fairness! And that if you touch something covered in glitter it will stick on your body basically forever! Those are all very important lessons.

My biggest accomplishment so far is that I took both kids to the tree farm on a weekend (SO CROWDED) and we chopped down a tree. I CUT IT DOWN MY OWN SELF. WITH A SAW. I did a hack job and a nice guy with his own family came over and steadied it while I was sawing so it didn’t fall over and crush me, but besides that I did it alone. Luckily the farm picks up the cut trees and carts them down to the station where they shake them and wrap them up for you, but then I hauled it to the car, into the car (God bless minivans) and home into the house. I totally failed at getting it into the stand but E got it set up the next morning and now we have a fully decorated tree. We had to rearrange because my little desk/office corner went in the former Christmas tree spot, but now we can sit on our new little couch, enjoy the fire and look at the tree at the same time. Tomorrow the kids get to start opening their Christmas books (I was going to do one for each day of December but books are really expensive, yo) and we can sit on that new couch by the tree and I can read to them about the Christmas story while I sob quietly because magic and family and loneliness and children and Jesus and FEELINGS. It’s raising my level of holiday spirit from Grinch to Slightly Christmasy, which is a definite improvement.

I haven’t had much time for my own photos lately, which makes me kind of sad. Partly because once something is part of your job it loses a LITTLE bit of the fun and partly because it’s hard to juggle the kids in public and take photos. It’s pretty easy to lose one kid while you’re taking pictures of the other one, and I’m generally only seconds away from losing a kid even WITHOUT a camera in my face. It’s amazing I’ve kept them alive this long, honestly. But this might be the first Christmas they remember when they look back as adults and I want to make sure I have at least some pictures to show them, so here are a few.

christmas 2013

Evan’s first choice, but I told him it was too short.

christmas 2013-2

Caroline’s first choice, also on the small side.

christmas 2013-3

Final selection

christmas 2013-4

After we killed it.

  christmas 2013-5

christmas 2013-6

christmas 2013-7

Watching them wrap it with the cool wrapping machine

christmas 2013-8

The farm had all our favorite food trucks, including the delicious kettle corn people from the farmer’s market.

christmas 2013-9

Decorating

christmas 2013-10

The princess places the angel

christmas 2013-11

Yes, I know it’s out of focus

christmas 2013-12

Fun with bokeh cut-outs

christmas 2013-13

 

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