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.

Continue Reading

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!

 

 

 

 

Continue Reading

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.

Here are a list of the training websites:

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

Continue Reading

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 a total myth that Drill Sergeants withhold letters on purpose.  That used to happen in the Old School US Army, but it’s not a tactic of the modern Drill Sergeant.  It would be 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, and never on purpose:  1) The soldiers are busy with a task at night that interrupts the time they would have to receive mail.  2) The soldiers are practicing field training excerises in the field, and when they do that, there is no mail call.  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.  It doesn’t mean his mail is being confiscated.   Usually, it simply means that there has been a delay in sorting mail.  But if you’re unsure, I wrote an entire post on why he may or may not be receiving your letters.

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 sent through a letter, 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 eventually.  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).  I talk about the issue of sending non-letter items in this post.  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 or see here).  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.

Continue Reading

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!

Continue Reading