Army Basic Training: 5 (Emotional) Letter Writing Myths

Army Basic Training: 5 Emotional Letter Writing Myths

I wrote a post a few months back about 5 practical myths you’ll run into when sitting down to write a letter to your soldier in Basic Training.  Unfortunately, there are more myths than just those 5. I even wrote about those.  The truth is, many myths aren’t all as cut-and-dry as we would hope.  There are a lot of emotional myths (welcome to life in the Army) and I’m here today to bust those.

Maybe I’m the only one, but separation and lack of communication are usually a recipe for self-doubt and overthinking everything.  It’s easy to try to shoulder the “blame” because as Army wives, we are used to (or getting used to) stepping up to the plate.  It’s a nice quality, but it has to be tempered with reason.  If you haven’t been hearing from your soldier, or you have, but communications just feel “off,” it is likely you might start pointing fingers at yourself.  Your letters are NOT to blame.  Don’t submit to self-doubt, and definitely don’t begin to believe these common emotional lies:

1. My Letters are Getting Old

They aren’t.  I know I haven’t read any of yours, but I can tell you, they aren’t getting old.  Receiving a letter at Basic Training is like Christmas morning for the boys.  You might be that girl that sends a letter once every few weeks, and to your soldier, those are gold.  But if you are that girl who writes him every day (hi, everyone!) you might be wondering if you’re letters are getting old.  They aren’t.  In fact, there is an unspoken competition among the soldiers (generally) about who gets letters and how often.  Not only will you give your soldier a pick-me-up, but you’ll stroke his ego in front of the guys.  If you’re still in doubt, ask yourself this.  Have his letters or phone calls gotten old?  Are you sick of hearing from him?  No.  It works both ways.

2. My Letters are Too Long

Imagine being in a big hospital room with a bunch of other patients and their beds…the lights stay on and there is a continual chatter of noise.  You’ve been given an hour to chill but you have nothing to do.  You have no personal belongings to entertain yourself with–except a letter that just arrived.  The longer, the better.  This is how the soldiers (can) feel.  They aren’t in hospital beds, but they are in big shared spaces with “free time” and nothing to do.  Don’t shy away from writing long letters!  It’s perfectly fine if you’re not a wordy person, just write in the length of style you’re comfortable with.  But if you can write up several pages, go for it!  Don’t hold back just because you are assuming your lengthy letters are annoying.  They aren’t.

3.  My Letters Aren’t Positive Enough, or They are Too Positive

It’s a fine line.  You don’t want to gush about how great life is for you, because you know more than likely he isn’t having the time of his life.  But you don’t want to write drippy and depressing letters because you want to boost his morale, not bring him down.  It’s a personal preference thing, but I found that honesty is the very best course.  If I was feeling down, I wrote about it.  But I tried to balance it out with a positive story or occurrence from my day, to keep the letter from being a “downer.”  Basic Training was just too long of a time span for me to “bite-the-bullet” and just push through emotional conflict.  As newlyweds, I found it was vital to be 100% honest with my husband (and I still do!) because those first few months of marriage are a tender time to build communication skills.  You can’t let Basic Training get in your way.  Be honest and don’t overthink the positivity-level of your letters.

4. My Letters Just Depress Him

So, again, I haven’t read your letters.  But do you have concrete proof that your letters are depressing him, or are you just assuming that?  Try to remember that missing someone isn’t the same as never wanting to hear from them again.  If your soldier has specifically told you that getting letters from home makes him extra homesick, then try to work on your style a bit.  (see above)  If you’ve been sending tons of “downer” letters, try to dial it back.  Or if you’ve been sending extremely peppy letters about how amazing life is back on the ranch, maybe it’s making it harder for him to be away from all that.  Whatever you do, don’t assume your letters are depressing him, unless he specifically tells you so.

5.  My Letters Should Mirror His

Am I the only person who thinks this way?  Sometimes there can be a communications-pressure to try to “stick” to whatever your soldier is doing.  If he is opening up emotionally, you should swoop in with your own emotional update. If he seems down, your letters should be equally as “ho-hum” because you wouldn’t want him to feel like you guys are emotionally imbalanced.  But I’m going to appeal to sticking with the truth again.  Don’t feel bad if he is writing super detailed letters, or sleepy vague ones, or even self-examining monologues.  Unless you talk in person identically, there is no need to write identical letters.  It’s perfectly fine for him to be writing letters that dive heavily into what his daily training is like, while you stick to some fairly round-about updates on school and your job.  Overthinking or manipulating your letters into some kind of mirror effect will only stress you out and keep you from freely speaking the truth.

Hopefully, none of these emotional myths EVER crossed your mind.  Don’t let me put ideas in your head!  But in case you are human and some of these slipped into your mind during those long Basic Training nights of separation, don’t feel like you’re the only one.  Just know that there are hundreds of Army wives/fiancees/girlfriends going through all the same Basic Training nights with you.  And there are many resources you can turn to, either for support or fellowship with people who are or have been in your shoes.

Now go write your soldier a letter!

**Are you doing it right?  Read next: How to Address a Basic Training Letter**

 

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March 2017

march 2017

“Loveliest of trees, the cherry now / Is hung with bloom along the bough.” – A. E. Houseman

A new month and one that is already teeming with aspirations and plans!  I secretly like that.  Even though I’m definitely someone who enjoys quiet days and peaceful routines, I really welcome business and tend to do better when I’m multitasking.  Anyone else like that?  This post is my to-do list of hopes/dreams/expectations/self-challenges…etc for March 2017.  I do one of these every month, in case you are new here.  (Welcome!)  And so, here it goes:

  1. Organize my makeup and lotion collection.  I have SO much that needs to go.
  2. Stop wasting time on IG/random google searches.  “I keep up with the K’s,” but need more writing time.
  3. Make it to chapter 5 in my novel.  See above.  Last month’s challenge was a bit ambitious.
  4. Write a guest post on a military wife blog.  It’s time to get that done!
  5. Make macaroons.  I have wanted to do this forever.  Strawberry lemon?  Yum.
  6. Enjoy a week of sister-vacay.  I absolutely love spending vacation time with my sisters.
  7. Find a new piano book to play through.  I’m thinking romantic era, or classical.
  8. Get a little more done with my Google Analytics account.  Always struggling with this one!
  9. Spend one week doing something “in French” every day.  I’m planning the 3rd week of this month.
  10. Finish season 4 of Secret Life of the American Teenager.  It has to be done.

This entire month will fall during Lent (I’m Catholic) and so I am also planning to do a Lenten almsgiving activity. Since Lent is 40 days long, I want to donate 40 items, whether it be clothing, shoes, household, etc.  At the end of each week I will set aside 6 items, and then once I’ve collected all 40, I will donate them to our community charity center.  Not only am I hoping to help others with my donation, but I’m hoping to improve myself with this plan.  I tend to be super sentimental and am naturally a “saver” so this will be hard for me.  So I’m hoping this program will help me grow in that aspect!

Also, every month I have been trying to do a “focus” word of the month.  For this month, I want it to be honesty.  I think if I “honestly” assessed each time I get on the internet, I would spend less time scrolling and more time writing.  And if I honestly assess my time management, I will have more time for playing piano and baking…etc.  I think honesty is a great virtue and I hope it plats a big part in my March 2017!

What are your plans for the month?  Once again, thanks for stopping by.  I hope to see you next post, for another Army Basic Training letter-writing topic!

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Round-up: February 2017

“Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.”  – Pietro Aretino

I’m going to break some expectations here and omit beginning this with”Wow, February flew by!”  Instead I’m going to say that this February felt longer than I thought it would.  It was by far my favorite month this year (I know, there’s only been two of them).  But it also ended up being my favorite month in a while.  Not that the other recent months haven’t been great.  But this was particularly great because it was our Army Homecoming month!  In case you noticed a gap of time during which I wasn’t posting, it was because we were doing family traveling, Army school graduation, etc.  Very fun times, and I know this month will remain the highlight of the year!  Amidst all the celebrating, I might or might not have gotten my to-do list accomplished:

  1. Write my baby’s birth story.  I started it, but didn’t finish it.
  2. Take a family trip.  Hello, Columbus GA and Phenix City AL (mostly Columbus.  Mostly Ft. Benning).
  3. Make a bundt cake.  I made a Pumpkin Custard Bundt cake where the custard FLOATS to the top.  Mostly.
  4. Publish twice a week here on my blog.  Was going strong until Homecoming rolled around…oops.
  5. Begin Chapter 7 of my book. Nope, I’m on chapter 3.
  6. Learn how to curl my hair with a flat iron.  Tried it but didn’t work for me.  Hot rollers saved the day!
  7. Take my baby to the park more often.  The field across from us, and the sand pit are even more fun!
  8. Write another guest post.  It’s hard to pull together a guest post when I’m not even doing regular posting here!

At least I got done more than half, but this month’s to-do list wasn’t nearly as successful as last month’s round-up.  Oh well, there’s always March!  Thanks for stopping by, and tune in next time for another Army myth-busting post.

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Glam Bag Unboxing: February 2017

 

February 2017 Glam Bag

 

The February 2017 Glam Bag from ipsy got here right on time.   My review of it…not so much.  In my February monthly round-up, I give a bit of an explanation.  Hehe oops.  Moving onto the February 2017 Glam Bag!

This month’s theme was fairly casual–a squad-esque “girl love” denim pouch with “everyday” products. For the first time in a while, this wasn’t my favorite glam bag.  I partially blame the neon orange piping and zipper.  That’s mostly the reason.  But also, this bag felt super familiar…not unlike my September 2016 Glam Bag.  While that bag, and this one, were pretty good, I think the point of subscription bags is to get a variety of products and these were just a little too similar.  In any regard, let’s take a look at the products individually:

 

Naked Cosmetics HD Finishing Banana Powder

Banana powder is totally a product I love.  But this shade just didn’t do it for me.  Back in the July 2016 Glam Bag, ipsy sent out a banana setting powder by BellaPierre Cosmetics.  It was really, REALLY amazing.  The powder was velvety, and the color was a bright banana yellow.  My difficulty with this Naked Cosmetics Banana Powder is that it is a skin-toned “banana” and a little bit shimmery.  I want yellow and matte powder when I’m going for a banana powder–but I can’t officially knock this product ’til I give it a try!

 

BellaPierre Cosmetics Volumelash Waterproof Mascara

I know this is another case of don’t-knock-it-til-you-try-it, but I’m just not on the market for mascara and didn’t get excited to get this.  I have nothing against BellaPiere Cosmetics (see above), in fact, I really liked the bronzer I got in my September 2016 Ipsy bag.  But again, I have no need for another mascara…especially not a waterproof one.  I know there is a big camp of long-lashed girls who swear that a base coat of waterproof mascara keeps their lashes curled.  And maybe this one will do the trick.  I am definitely willing to give it a try.  But I have a hard time believing anything could rival my absolute, hands-down, ride-or-die, go-to mascara.  It just can’t be beat.

 

LAW Beauty Essentials Nail Polish – Smoking Mauve

This muted lavender polish is in the color wheel of polishes I like.  It hovers across the lines of “neutral” polishes and “pastel” ones.  I think I will like wearing this one, and getting a full-size polish is always great.  This particular brand promises for manis to last 5 days, without even chipping.  I’ll believe it when I see it.  If this really DOES stay on, chip-free, for 5 days, it will absolutely be my very favorite polish.  Hands down.  Pun intended.  The only manicure that has ever lasted me 5 days was my very first professional gel manicure, for my wedding. <3  I would love a polish that could recreate that kind of longevity!  And I love that this formula is vegan and toxin-free…a double score!

 

Briogeo Rosarco Blow Dry Perfection Heat Protectant Creme

This protectant smells heavenly…somewhere between fresh, fruity, and perfumey.  The consistency is like a very buttery lotion–not really what I was expecting, but not a bad thing.  I have used this brand before (September 2016 Glam Bag deep conditioning mask of the same brand) and really liked it.  My only problem with it, and this is just a natural part of subscription services, is that the sample bottle provides very few treatments.  Part of that is my fault, since I have about 30 inches of hair.  But still, a heat protectant creme is something I would apply liberally, and with this size bottle, that won’t take me very far.

 

Luxie Beauty Luxie Rose Gold Blush Brush 514

This is the crown-jewel of the February 2017 glam bag!  I absolutely love getting brushes in my glam bags.  And having gotten a Luxie Beauty brush in my July 2016 glam bag, I knew this brush would be a keeper!  I use that little angled brush every single day, and so getting a matching blush brush was a dream come true!  Besides, I can’t say ‘no’ to a vegan rose gold brush.  And I was totally on the market for a big blush brush.  Literally, this brush was exactly what I wanted and needed.

I’m not done about the brush–haha–that brush alone was well worth the $10 subscription, but throwing in a full-size nail polish and three other products made the February 2017 Glam Bag a steal.  While this month’s theme was definitely not my favorite, the products turned out to be pretty great.  And even though I wasn’t thrilled that this bag closely mirrored last year’s bag, I have to say that both bags had a lot of quality products.  I’m looking forward to my March bag, and hope you’ll join me in unboxing it!

If you want to sign up for Ipsy yourself, you can do so here! Doing so will not compensate my monetarily, but it will give me some bonus points for free products!

 

 

 

 

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5 Online Sources for Spouses During Basic Training

5 Online Sources for Spouses During Basic Training

I hope the day that your soldier left for Basic Training, you were not a hot mess.  Hopefully, you were surrounded by supportive friends and family, or at least that you loved your job and knew how to make yourself happy on that tough day.  I hope you were able to stay strong during the entire block of training, and felt like time flew by.  I think a lot of military wives would say they wished they were you.
If you didn’t come from an Army family already, a lot of what you’re experiencing is going to be very new. Unfortunately, friends and family don’t always support your and your husband’s decision to join the military.  They might be just as scared and confused as you are, or much more so. There are a lot of things you can do to ease the burden, and there are also places you can turn to.  Unfortuately, at this stage in your soldier’s career, you won’t have an FRG group to rely on (Family Readiness Group).  In the future, they can be very helpful in situations like this one.  For now, here are the sources you can go for support: (hint: they aren’t negative chat forums filled with lies and opinion and zero fact).

1. Army One Source

I honestly can’t give them a worthy enough shout-out. They were singularly the most helpful of all sources.  In fact, within an hour of dropping my soldier off for Basic Training, they called me to “check” on me.  They have a 24/hr hotline that you can call for anything–ANYTHING.  You can call them for advice, for information, or even for sympathy. They will try their best to answer any question, and will spend as long as you need addressing your concerns.  Even if they can’t give you an answer (like if you ask how your soldier is doing at Basic…they won’t know that)…they can still give you their most educated assessment (for instance, they will ask when he left and then deduct what phase of training he is on and tell you what it focuses on).  Click here to visit their website.

2. Your Soldier’s Unit Facebook Page

I’m actually not a big social media person.  But finding the Facebook page for my husband’s training unit was so helpful.  Every two weeks or so, (sometimes longer) they would post some pictures of the soldiers training.  I was almost always able to spot my husband in at least one picture.  It helped so much!  Seeing his training put visuals to the letters I was receiving, and really helped me feel connected.  Bonus: pay attention to who else is visiting the page, because you might be able to make friends with a  few spouses whose soldiers are battle buddies with yours.  Unfortunately, the soldiers cannot contact you through the page, and there are guidelines as to what kind of questions you can ask on it.  Don’t worry, the guidelines will be posted!

3. Your Soldier’s Training Website

All the bases where Basic Training is located have websites. And on these websites are not only FAQ’s, but often training videos.  I reccomend watching them, because even though they won’t be a film of your soldier, they will still be an accurate depiction of what your soldier’s training is like.  While this source won’t necessarily swoop in to save you (the way Army One Source can), it may have some helpful information for you.  And if nothing else, it’s another way to feel connected.

4. Army Family Information Center

Once your husband fills out all the required paperwork for registering you as a dependent, your information will be used to welcome you into the Army.  The day my husband left for Basic Training, I got an invitation via email from the Army Family Information Center.  The welcoming was perfectly timed!  I really appreciated the outstretched hand, and they sent me a link to join a Army spouse’s support group.  The support group was comprised of new Army wives going through exactly what I was, and it was managed by seasoned Army wives.  They occasionally did a live chat session, inviting us to all ask our many questions (though by that point I didn’t have many to ask).   Army families are great at helping each other out, and this was a really nice experience for me.

5. Blogs

I’m not just saying that because I’m a blogger.  I found that sometimes reading a blog was better (ALWAYS) than the comment section of military-themed social media posts.  The tricky thing about military lifestyle blogs is that the various parts of the Army can be so different that it’s hard to get all your answers from one blogger’s experience.  Shop around and find a few you trust, and follow them.  You’ll probably get answers to questions you didn’t even know you had!

If you’re already alone while your spouse trains hard at Basic Training, consider checking out one of these links.  And if your man hasn’t left, it’s not too early to begin setting up a little support system for yourself.  Remember, the Army Family Information Center will only contact spouses, so be sure that your soldier has all the paperwork necessary to register you as his dependent (for many, MANY reasons beyond that).  Army One Source is also designed for military families.  But the Facebook unit pages, training websites, and blogs are all open to the public, so even if you’re not married yet, take a look at those in your time of need!

Best of luck to you during this important time in your life and your soldier’s career!  Basic Training isn’t easy for them or for us, but the reward is greater than the pain.  I really believe that.  If you have any other online sources to recommend, leave a comment below!  And if you have a question, feel free to post that there too.  I will be sure to answer it.  Thanks for stopping by!!

Read next about Army Life: Why it’s Different for Everyone

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Army Basic Training: 5 (More) Letter Writing Myths

Army Basic Training: 5 (More) Letter Writing Myths -- BUSTED

 

Army Basic Training has its highs and lows, for the soldiers and their families.  The highs can be pretty high (hello, Family Day) but the lows can be low.  One of the best way to combat those Basic Training blues is through love letters!  It can be very romantic to pen letters to each other every day.  But it can also be stressful if you’ve been hearing rumors that swirl around the ever-famous Basic Training mailing system.  I’ve busted some myths before, but here are 5 more letter writing myths you can disregard during your letter writing sessions:

1.  The Drill Sergeants are Hiding my Letters

It’s true that sometimes the Drill Sergeants have to resort to withholding mail as a tool of leverage.  But rest assured, they can’t do this for weeks on end.  That in itself is a total morale killer and the Drill Sergeants have the important job of balancing motivation with morale.   If they every “withhold” mail, it’s usually for one of two reasons.  1) The guys are practicing field training excerises in the field, and when they do that, there is no mail call.  2) The Drill Sergeants are withholding the mail for a few days to increase motivation.  A FEW DAYS.  If you’re soldier has sent you quite a few letters but has yet to receive any of yours, that does NOT mean he is in trouble and isn’t allowed to get mail.  It simply means that there has been a delay in sorting mail.  He will definitely receive your letters in due time.

2.  The Drill Sergeants Open my Letters

The Drill Sergeants won’t open his letters (though they very well might open his packages, if he gets any).  However, if a letter arrives with a suspicious feel–like lumps of gum or a stack of photos, they will ask your soldier to open the letter in front of them.  The soldiers are not permitted to have any candy, so it will be confiscated on sight.  If for some reason the candy makes its way through the letter and into your soldier’s locker, he will get in even more trouble for having it in his possession.  Moral of the story: don’t send gum.  Onto photos…as long as they are appropriate, they will not be confiscated.  See my original post for guidelines on sending pictures.  Again, if the envelope arrives puffy or like it is stuffed with photos, he will most likely have to open the envelope in front of the Drill Sergeants.

3. He is Too Busy to Read my Letters

There are some days that the soldiers will be very busy.  And on occasion, their day and night will be spent in the field, meaning they can’t receive mail (see above).  But for the most part, they are given at least 1 hour of down-time before bed to unwind, talk, and get ready for the next day.  If you send him a letter, just know that he WILL get the chance to read your letter.  And he will love it.

 4. The Letter Rules are the Same as When my Friend Attended a Few Years Ago

Unfortunately, this one is totally a myth.  The “rules” vary from month to month–in fact, they vary from platoon to platoon!  There are some rules that are set in stone: no inappropriate photos, no packages of candy, etc.  But some are a little more flexible.  It all is dependent upon the Drill Sergeants.  Some of the Drill Sergeants are very picky, and will even ban newspaper clippings (does anyone read those anymore?).  Others are okay with the clippings, but draw the line at decorated envelopes (those don’t get confiscated, but the soldier gets reprimanded with PT).  Know the basic rules, and then err on the side of caution.  Don’t be afraid to ask your soldier too!  He might tell you that everyone has been getting scented and colored envelopes, in which case you can do it too.  But there is no harm in playing it safe during your first round of letters, until you find how his Drill Sergeants have been reacting to mail.

5. My Letters Need to be Extremely Varied

After the first 10 letters, you may start wondering if you need to mix-it-up a bit.  A lot of Basic Training letter guides will tell you to send sports clippings, hollywood updates, or even “themed” letters.  There is nothing wrong with those!  (clipping rule–see above).  But there is also nothing wrong with sending a regular, normal letter (or card)!  There is no way for your soldier to add “variety” to his letters, and I’m sure you never get tired of his!  That goes both ways.  There is no harm in adding a special element to your letter, but don’t feel pressured to create drastically different letters each time.  The creative obligation can become overwhelming and you wouldn’t want it to be the reason your letter production slows down!  Write from the heart and you can never go wrong.

That really is the golden rule in all of this:  Write from the heart.  The key is to WRITE.  Write, write, write and enjoy those response letters.  There’s no emotional equivalent to seeing one of those little white envelopes in the mail!  Especially the first one.  Who would have known in this modern world that sometimes the best kind of communication is good old-fashioned letters?  Go write some!

For help with that, take a peek at my post about properly addressing Basic Training letters.

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February 2017

february 2017

“In January a deep freeze. / Small February is a tease.”  — Joyce Johnson

February is usually all about Valentine’s Day for me!  (cliche, I know)  But this month, I’m going to try to break the mold and make February 2017 about more than just hearts and cards.  There will still be plenty of that though. 🙂  My plans thus far:

  1. Write my baby’s birth story.  The month of love would be the perfect time to sit down and write about it!
  2. Take a family trip.  Another trip down South.  We love it down there!
  3. Make a bundt cake.  I have a fleur de lis bundt pan and it’s time to make something in it.  Pumpkin?
  4. Publish twice a week here on my blog.  It was a rough “rule” from the get-go, but I haven’t kept up lately.
  5. Begin Chapter 7 of my book.  I’m trying to do one-a-week.
  6. Learn how to curl my hair with a flat iron.  Sad I don’t know how to do this yet, but I usually roller curl.
  7. Take my baby to the park more often.  She loves getting outside–and fresh air is so good for both of us!
  8. Write another guest post.  Last time I did a beauty post, this time I’m shooting for an Army wife blog.

As I mentioned last month, I’m starting a new addition to these monthly to-do lists.  I’m trying to give myself an emotional to-do item.  This month’s focus keyword (my emotional to-do) is attentiveness.  I want to be present in my everyday life.  I don’t like to embrace a carpe diem for “fear” of losing today, but it is true that I don’t want to miss out on a moment I could enjoy.  So often I look ahead at joyful “plans” I have and get excited about those.  But what I need to start doing is noticing the joy now and in the present “everyday” moments.  A quote really stuck with me this week:

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are.  Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart.  Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.” – Mary Jean Irion.

 I have always felt like it is perfectly fine to chase a perfect tomorrow, because it keep complacency far away.  But chasing a perfect tomorrow is only good in so far as it doesn’t chase away a perfect present and “normal” day.  So this month, I want to be attentive.  It doesn’t mean I won’t be trying new things.  All it means is that I’ll be attentive every day, on the days when everything is normal, and on the days when we are trying new things and reaching new milestones.  (With a one-year-old, there is almost always a new milestone every week!)

Thanks for being here with me.  Your readership is so appreciated.  I hope your February 2017 is brimming with exciting joys and comforting normality.  Come back soon for a follow-up to my most popular post!

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Round-up: January 2017

                               

      “Again I reply to the triple winds / running chromatic fifths of derision / outside my window: / Play louder.” – William Carlos Williams

This month was one for the books!  In the history of monthly round-ups, this is the very first month that have completed all of the items on my wish list!  So often these to-do lists end up as a monthly suggestion list.  And while I don’t entirely mind suggestions, there is something so rewarding about actually finishing a list from start to finish.  It’s the little things in life. 🙂  This is what I did for January 2017:

  1. Write the first chapter of my new book.  I’m about to start chapter three.
  2. Begin reading a romance novel.  Read “A Family for Christmas” by Dana Corbit and Irene Brand.
  3. Do crafts with my baby.  She made her first watercolor masterpiece.  So adorable!  Must be framed.
  4. Try to find and bake a good table-bread recipe.  Same recipe, better technique.  Not perfect, but better.
  5. Go dress shopping.  Any excuse to go shopping is a good one…
  6. Begin diffusing essential oils.  We primarily used Lavender and Sweet Orange Oil…sometimes together!
  7. Reorganize the pantries and strategize grocery shopping.  Did it.  Wasted less and spent less.
  8. Try out 2 new hairstyles.  I tried the “Pebbles” pony and also basic twin braids.   Not a huge fan of either.
  9. Make an ear warmer for my baby.  Matches mine! Why does it take me so long to do something like this?
  10. Waste less time scrolling through instagram!  It’s an ongoing resolution, but I did it this month, kinda.

If you read my original monthly post for January 2017, you may have seen that I’ve started a new tradition for the year.  I’m taking a focus keyword at the beginning of the month and trying to embrace it for the next 30 days.  It’s kind of like having an emotional theme for every month.  In January, the focus theme was joy.  I chose it because I thought it was a good virtue to combat anxiety and ingratitude.  Looking back, I think joy chose me this month.  More specifically, I think God granted me so many joys this month.

The best part about joy is that it’s not just an experience, it’s also a feeling.  It lasts beyond the experiences that occur in the moment.  While I do love experiences, I think I love feelings even more.  I like things that I can keep forever.  I started doing some new things this month and I really enjoyed them a lot.  We took up cooking with my baby, and loved watching her explore.  Starting the first chapter of a new novel felt like starting a new chapter in my life too.  Writing is really good for me, and I enjoyed it this month.  I day dreamed a lot the past 30 days, and that in itself was a source of joy.  My biggest source of joy is always God and my family.  A hefty dose of that made this month of January 2017 truly great, and truly joyful.

I hope you’ll come back in the next day or two to see my post for what I hope February will hold!  Leave a comment below if you have any January moments to share.  Thanks for visiting!

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Glam Bag Unboxing: January 2017

 

This time, I really hit the jackpot! If you read my previous Ipsy unboxing, you might remember I thought the December 2016 glam bag was the best edition yet. But then I got this one.  And now I might have to name the January 2017 glam bag as the winner of all glam bags.  It’s a big statement.  Especially since the theme isn’t particularly special– Metropolis.  Makeup translation of Metropolis = Lifetsyle vibes = makeup.  I wasn’t particularly moved by the “Uber makeup tutorials” inspo and “taxi cabs & lip balm” vibes.  But that’s water under the Brookyln Bridge once I opened the little netted pouch and looked at what was inside.  Miracles.

 

theBalm Cosmetics Contour Bahama Mama

Any Ipsy bag that starts out with a contour product is a really good thing.  And any Ipsy bag that starts out with a product from theBalm is an even better thing!  So a theBalm contour product is really the perfect kick-off product. I really love the creaminess, and longevity of their powders/eyeshadows/etc. and am in need of a new contour since my baby smashed my go-to bronzer a few weeks ago.  My only complaint about these products is the tiny pan and window. I would rather a very shallow and wide pan, especially for a product like contour that involves a large brush.

                                                 

naked cosmetics mica pigment – Desert Sunset #02

I love me a good pigment pot! But one this color especially speaks to me.  In case you missed it, I love the L’Oreal Infallible eyeshadows, which are very similar to mica pigments. I can see this shade easily working for a new year glam look, or a bronzed glow vibe in the summer. Really glad I got this!

 

Manna Kadar Cosmetics blush Paradise

I was in desperate need of a new blush. This one looks like it has slightly orange tinge in person, but once it’s applied it’s actually very pinky and rosy.  It claims to have a shimmery (but not glittery) effect.  At first I didn’t think I liked that quality in blushes.  But this product has reversed my thoughts on that, just like the DS Cosmetics highlighter did.  I will say this product is *extremely* pigmented, so a little goes a very long rosy way.  My only complaint about it is that the compact is incredibly hard to open–I split my nail trying to get it open! *ugh*  The fact that it comes from a Parisian designer made up for that little mishap.  I love french beauty!

 

ciate London geology top coat

If I had gotten nothing else in my glam bag, this product alone would have been worth the $10 subscription cost. This retails at $17, and I have been so close to buying a gel topcoat every time I walk past a shelf of polishes. The at-home gel manicure trend has been going strong for a few years now, but I was never inclined to buy the little UV finishing light.  I also didn’t want to use a two-step polish bc I had colors in my own nail polish collection I really wanted to use.  Now that this product has tumbled into my life, I can finally fulfill my mani dreams with favorite colors from my stash!

 

Rimmel London Lip Conditioning Balm by Kate Moss – 01 Clear

I don’t normal do this, but I saved the best for last in this unboxing.  I was SO incredibly excited to get this! It’s not everyday that I get to carry around a beautiful lipstick case, since I hate wearing lipstick.  I love lip balms, but their packaging is just never that cute.  Total chapstick vibes.  ENTER: Kate Moss Lip Balm.  I die.  This is so incredibly soft, beautiful, luxurious, and moisturizing.  Last unboxing, I said that the Hanalei Lip Treatment was my favorite lip conditioner I have ever tried.  Well, this beauty is by far my favorite lip balm.  Ever.  With those two products, I will never need to try another lip product!

Thank you for stopping by and looking at these products with me!  If you are an Ipsy subscriber, what did you get in your January 2017 glam bag?  If you’re not, but would like to become one, just follow this link.  Doing so will not give me any monetary gains, thought it will credit my account with a few bonus points to spend on more makeup.  Thanks for reading!

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3 Surprise Realities About the Army Life

3 surprise realities about the army life

 

I am an Army brat.  I have experienced the joys of adventuring across the country as a kid, and the fears of falling asleep with my dad fighting on the other side of the globe.  Every time someone asks where I’m from, I have to do the whole awkward explanation, “well, you see, I lived a lot of places…” at which point their eyes glaze over and they wish they hadn’t asked me.  Long story short, when my husband enlisted, I thought I knew everything.

Of course, I didn’t.
And I still don’t.

There are some things that will never change about the Army, whether you’re a dependent spouse or a dependent child. Parades, formal balls, big neighborhoods full of kids: some things never go out of style.  But there are some things (most things) that are drastically different, depending on your relation to your sponsor.  There are many facets of military life that I had to rediscover when I made the flex from Army brat to Army spouse.  (In case anyone is wondering, being an Army spouse is better!)  I wish someone would have helped me edit my picture of the Army life by telling me these three realities:

1. Expect Delays.

The Army is famous for it’s “hurry up and wait” policy. As a kid, I do remember gaps of time between my dad’s assignments, as well as cushions of time off between our moves. But those were pleasant delays. As a new Army wife, I experienced very quickly the other kind of delays.  The kind of delays where your soldier finishes training, but has to stay on site to await his order. And he is told his orders will be ready within two weeks. But they are not. And so you are living states apart, just waiting. You get the point. It is agonizing, aggravating, and completely unavoidable. My advice: talk, talk, talk through everything. Sometimes, the delay is frustrating but you KNOW it’s going to end (like he WILL get orders eventually). Other times, the delay may be months long (due to injury, or a hold up with getting a clearance) and you have to consider new options (like moving to where he is).

2. Your paycheck is flexible.

While it’s true that anybody can google how much base pay your spouse is earning through the military, those numbers aren’t quite as set-in-stone as I originally thought. Yes, there is a consistent base pay that will not change under any circumstances. But there are many factors that go into the bonuses and deductions you will see on your LES. For instance, jump pay (for Airborne soldiers) is an add-on, however if his jump status becomes inactive, so will the bonus. Similarly, you should be receiving a BAS (food allowance) monthly, but if he is scheduled to eat at the facility on post while training, you won’t be receiving that BAS anymore. The good news: flexibility goes both ways! You can make more money than you initially expected, depending on what your soldier is and isn’t eligible for. For instance, if you live off-post, expect a BAH (housing allowance)! You can certainly rely on a steady influx of base pay, but pay attention to your LES each time your soldier begins or ends a training period or school, because things might change monetarily for you.

3. Being a soldier can get expensive.

Or in other words, his wardrobe might cost just as much as yours!  While it is true that soldiers are initially issued the basic clothing necessities when they arrive at Basic Training, that’s definitely not all they will need for their careers.  It’s not costly at all to switch patches and ranks as your solider earns promotions and enters various units.  But the daily wear and tear on the uniforms adds up over time.  There is the costs of dry cleaning and sewing, as well as boot/dress shoe polishing.  Sometimes the uniforms need to be replaced, and other times they need to be adjusted depending on the unit.  Do. not. get. me. started. on. packing. lists.   If your soldier attends a camp or training program, he will have to purchase hundereds of dollars worth of equipment.  He will need duplicates, he will need necessities, he will need duplicate necessities.  Everything!  And yes, occasionally your soldier will receive a clothing allowance, intended to help offset the cost.  But it is extremely infrequent, and does not at all add up to the amount that he spends on his uniforms yearly.

None of the above “shockers” are a make-or-break deal for me with the Army.  But they definitely took me by surprises, and added some time to my adjustment period from brat to spouse.  If you’re a military spouse (or brat, or both), what took you by surprise when your spouse joined?    Hopefully nothing too bad!  Leave a comment below.  Thanks for stopping by!

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