Round-Up: November 2017

Round-Up: November 2017

 

I was going to say that this November 2017 was my most eventful month of the year.  But then I thought through the  rest of the year and realized a lot happened in 2017: Army OCS graduation in February, moving in April, finding out in July we are moving again, another graduation in August, my daughter turning two in September, and then of course this month.  Those were all big and fairly life-effecting events.  But November 2017 still takes the cake.  Because my baby arrived healthy and safe and perfect.  And that’s a life-changing event!  And my favorite kind of event.

But, in keeping with the tradition of these round-ups, let me review my to-do list to see how much I actually got done from it:

  1. Develop a fixed blogging schedule.  hahhahahahhaha.  This month doesn’t count for having one. Next month.
  2. Knit a Christmas stocking for my baby. I’m at least halfway there!
  3. Write a bit in my novel.  This one kinda makes me sad. I wish I had gotten some done.  Even just a bit!!
  4. Nest. I full-throttled nested!  And still am.
  5. Get back into pilates. It’s still modified as I have to heal my diastasis recti, but it’s going great.
  6. Take a ton of photos. I’m not even done.  But yes I took lots of photos.
  7. Celebrate Thanksgiving. Baby’s First Thanksgiving!
  8. Black Friday. With “black friday deals week” I didn’t actually have to shop on ACTUAL black friday.

Quite a few of those were softball assignments, but I did that on purpose.  I like having a breathable to-do list when I have something big and life-changing and emotionally impactful coming up– in my case, having a baby.  And just as a warning for next post, I’m pretty sure my December to-do list will be even MORE softball.  But I don’t mind ending my year quietly–it only makes for an even bigger January!

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you’ll come back soon.  Not just for my December to-do list, but for a few posts I have in the works– specifically a gift-giving guide for your soldier, as well as my November ipsy unboxing, to name a few.  Thanks as always for your support; I really enjoy writing for you, and I really hope you enjoy reading!

Bye-bye, November 2017!!  You were good to me.  In fact, you were my favorite month this year.

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Happy Thanksgiving, 2017!

Happy Thanksgiving, 2017

 

I know I haven’t been posting lately…but I couldn’t think of a better way to “get back on my blog” with a post wishing all my readers a happy thanksgiving.  I’m so grateful for your readership!  I know it goes without saying…but a blog doesn’t exist without readers.  So thank you for coming back so often to read and to support this place!

Without taking up more of your time on this holiday– Happy Thanksgiving, 2017 style!

And PS: thanks for being so patient and understanding about my absence.  I was taking off time for my little growing family.  But you should see some new posts popping up here and there during the holidays.  Maybe not as frequent as usual, but I’ll be around.  I hope you will be too!

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What to Expect at an Army Basic Training Turning Blue Day

What to Expect at an Army Basic Training Turning Blue Day

 

I’ve been meaning to do a post about this for a while.  And since today is the 3-year anniversary of my husband’s “Turning Blue” ceremony, I thought it was fitting to do that post now!  This might have quite a few cross-overs from my What to Expect on Family Day at Army Basic Training, but that’s just because visiting your training soldier has similar boundaries, no matter what the occasion is.  It’s still a very different event, and one I will always remember fondly!

 

What Turning Blue Is:

It’s the day that your infantry soldier-in-training receives the blue cord that all infantrymen wear on their dress uniform.  Without getting into the history behind it, the blue cord is a significant military decoration that designates them as infantrymen.  It’s the proud symbol your soldier earns for serving in the Army as an infantryman.  It’s a really special occasion when they earn it!  The Turning Blue Ceremony celebrates that moment.  You can read a bit more about why they wear the blue cord here.

 

What Turning Blue is Not:

It’s technically not a graduation.  Your soldier has completed his AIT and is now ready to graduate.  This is his award ceremony, but his actual graduation day is usually the day after the Turning Blue Day.  It’s also not a full “day-off” for your soldier.  He will get to see you at his ceremony, and will most likely spend the entire day with you.  But just like for his Family Day pass, he won’t be able to spend the night with you.  The soldiers aren’t officially released from their Basic Training Camp until after they graduate.

 

When the Turning Blue Ceremony Occurs:

This usually occurs the day before Graduation Day, in the morning.  It’s such a pivotal part to your soldier’s career and graduation, that they set aside a day dedicated to celebrating it.  The ceremony itself isn’t long, but you are given the entire day to spend with your soldier, commemorating his induction into the “Brotherhood” of the Infantry.

 

The Turning Blue Day Schedule:

Each company may run their ceremonies a little differently.  But you can expect some kind of schedule like this:

  • 7:30 am – Doors open for the families to receive a quick briefing of the day
  • 8:00 am – Seating begins for the Turning Blue Ceremony
  • 8:15 am – Turning Blue Ceremony begins (the soldiers march in)
  • 9:00 am – Soldiers are released from the ceremony and get to spend the day with you!!
  • 7:45 pm – Drop off your soldier back at his training camp
  • 8:00 pm – Soldiers must be IN formation or else they might not be allowed to graduate the next day

 

Who can Attend the Turning Blue Ceremony:

Anyone.  Family, fiancees, significant others, friends, etc.  When I attended, they did give a bit of priority seating to the wives/fiancees.  There were no name tags on the chairs, but it was announced that the closest seating was intended for the wives attending that morning.

 

Who can Participate in the Turning Blue Ceremony:

Again, any one particular person (chosen by the soldier) can participate.  It can be a spouse, significant other, parent, child, friend, etc.  Your soldier will probably have talked to you ahead of time (not that morning, but on the phone previously or over a letter) about who he wants to participate in the ceremony.

I have heard some say that there are a few soldiers there who have no one visiting them to place the cord on their uniform.  If you see someone putting the cord on himself, and want to offer to help, it’s entirely up to you!  Some might really like receiving the award from another pair of hands, and others are more than happy to do the honor themselves.    It’s certainly okay to at least offer!

 

 How do You Participate in the Turning Blue Ceremony:

If your soldier selects you, it will be your honor to place the blue cord on his sleeve!  He will have been given the blue cord ahead of time by the drill sergeants (YOU don’t have to purchase the blue cord or bring one with you).  The master of ceremonies will announce the time during the ceremony during which the blue cords are to be placed on the soldiers.  This is the moment you get to walk up to your soldier!  And don’t worry, they don’t do it one-at-a-time.  It’s a big mob of family members stepping forward to place the blue cords at the same time.  You don’t have to do it in unison with the other family members, or anything like that.  It’s a relaxed but very special moment during the ceremony where you and your soldier get to interact.

You will step forward from your seating and approach your soldier (who will have been in a tight formation up until this point, but it will now relax).  He will take the blue cord out of his pocket and give it to you.  You will slide it up his right arm, and fasten the stay-loop on the button on his uniform (he will point out both the loop and the button to you).  It’s easy–there is no need to have practiced ahead of time (plus you won’t have seen each other before the ceremony).  After you have placed the blue cord on him, he is an infantryman!  At that point, you can shake hands, embrace, kiss, or take a quick selfie with your newly-minted infantryman.  Then you must return to your seat as the ceremony concludes.

 

Dress Code for the Turning Blue Ceremony:

There isn’t an official dress code for you.  But your soldier will be in his “dress blues.”  It is the equivalent of the civilian suit, so you can dress professionally and that will not be considered overdressing.  However, the ceremony often takes place outside.  So dressing casually isn’t inappropriate either for Georgia weather 98% of the time.  🙂  The Turning Blue ceremony I attended was in an outdoor pavilion in November, so there was shade and seating, and it was a bit cold.  A final note: your soldier will be required to wear his dress blues the rest of the day (when he is in public).  So you’ll be going places with him in his dress uniform all day.  That’s just something to keep in mind as you’re planning your own attire!

 

Rules for Families on the Turning Blue Day:

There aren’t really any extraordinary rules for the ceremony itself.  You can take pictures, applaud at appropriate times, and participate during the actual blue cord placement.  It’s pretty much the couresty rules you expect at anyone’s ceremony: dress appropriately, be silent, don’t bring pets, and enjoy yourself!

But the rest of the day does have some boundaries. They are pretty much the same rules as the Family Day rules.  So if you attended that, then you know what to expect!  I’ll list them again here (this is not an exhaustive list, but its the basics):

  • Do not go anywhere on the training grounds except where the signs and aides tell you to go. You are NOT allowed to go into your soldier’s barracks. There will be a signs directing you to the parking lot, as well as aides (soldiers) who will be directing you from the parking lot to the briefing area. After the briefing in the classroom, you will be directed to the site of the ceremony.  Don’t go anywhere except where you are designated to go.
  • After the ceremony, you have to be the driver.  The soldiers aren’t permitted to drive for safety reasons.  They haven’t driven in 14 weeks (nor have they explored the Army post or surrounding town) and the drill sergeants don’t want them to drive in unknown territory for fear of injury or getting lost.
  • You can’t go very far away with your soldier. He will have mile restrictions (usually a 25-mile radius).  Don’t worry though, there will still be plenty to do within the restriction!  Your soldier will just be thrilled to be leaving the training area to celebrate with you.  It’s a rule simply to keep families from taking the soldiers too far away, risking no return for evening formation.

 

Rules for the Soldiers on the Turning Blue Day:

The rules during the ceremony are things your soldier will have already been briefed on.  When he is standing in formation during the ceremony, he will not be able to look around and spot you, wave, or talk.  It’s tough because you haven’t gotten to see each other before the ceremony, or the day before!  He won’t have been able to see you until the actual ceremony when he marches in. But again, don’t worry about the rules he has for the ceremony, because he will already know them through and through.

The rules for AFTER the ceremony are unfortunately many.  They are pretty much identical to the ones from Family Day.  Note: this isn’t a complete list (and they can vary from battalion to battalion) but you and your soldier will definitely be told these rules ahead of time!

  • The soldier cannot drink alcohol AT ALL, nor can he smoke.
  • He can not wear anything besides his dress uniform in public (no going swimming or changing into comfy clothes).  That includes his head gear (the black beret) if he is outdoors.
  • As stated above, he is not allowed to drive AT ALL. Nor is he allowed to travel outside a certain mile radius.
  • Though it’s a strange rule, he is not allowed to sit on the ground (don’t ask… I think it has something to do with soldierly bearing while wearing a dress uniform.  Not to mention he has to wear it to graduation the next day).
  • He cannot bring snacks, or any other prohibited items, back to his barracks at the end of the night.
  • Until he is dismissed from the ceremony, he cannot leave the training area.
  • He can’t return late (missing the return formation).  Big BIG punishments could await him (like not graduating).

 

Final Thoughts on the Turning Blue Day:

This is a very special day, both for your soldier and for you!  Don’t over-stress about how the actual ceremony will go.  It’s a really nice one, and the master of ceremonies will keep it all on beat.  When it’s time for you to place the blue cord on your soldier, everyone will be paying attention to their own soldier–so don’t worry about having an audience or making a mistake.  Your soldier will know exactly how to place the blue cord on, and will instruct you as you go.  Just enjoy the moment because you will both remember it forever.

And once the ceremony is over, your infantryman is yours for the day!!  Spend the time celebrating his accomplishments, and get excited because the next day is his actual graduation.  That is again a really big and important day in the life of your soldier.  And if you only remember one thing from this post, remember this: the blue cord means your soldier is now an infantryman!  That in itself is a great accomplishment, and one that will shape his entire service time.  He really deserves the Turning Blue ceremony, so enjoy it together!

Thank you so much for stopping by!  If you have any Turning Blue stories to share, or questions to ask, please leave a comment below.  Your feedback is always valued.  I hope you’ll come back soon!

 

*Read next: 10 Things I Learned During Our First “Real” PCS*

 

 

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The Body Shop Haul & Review: Fall 2017

My The Body Shop Haul and Review

 

I’ve been on the quest for the perfect skincare routine for a long time.  Months actually.  Mostly ever since I went on a skincare-focus-kick (addiction) in May of 2016–but even before that.  I was hoping to find a miracle product along the way, and actually have found a few.  But I was never able to fully establish THE routine, which combined the miracle products, and still left my face flawless.  I haven’t achieved “flawless” yet, but I have discovered some amazing products that have gotten my skin in some of the best condition it’s ever been in.

Enter: The Body Shop.

I had heard about The Body Shop long before I actually purchased one of their products.  It was always positive reviews.  So one day when I ran out of my go-to toner (actually I was rotating between two), I decided to try a new one altogether.  I bought the Tea Tree Skin Clearing Mattifying Toner at my local Post Exchange, since I had had success with tea tree oil in my blemish treatments previously.  GAME CHANGER.  More than a game changer actually–skin changer.  I was shocked at how cleansing this one was.  Even after throughly removing my makeup at night and washing my face, this tea tree toner was able to give me the deepest cleansing that any toner had provided (without that awful menthol-stinging feel that harsh toners give).

Months passed and repurchases of the same toner happened.  But I always wondered what other products, ones other than the “Tea Tree” line, from The Body Shop could do for my skin.  Unfortunately, I ran out of my beloved Clinique Moisture Surge Overnight Mask at the same time that my Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion was running low.  I looked into doing a Clinique haul to replenish my supply.  But then I decided to take a rebellious leap and order substitute products from The Body Shop instead!  So, without further adieu, here is the low-down on what I bought:

 

The Body Shop: My GO-TO Toner

“Tea Tree” Skin Clearing Mattifying Toner

I basically already reviewed this above.  But since I have the space and time to keep going, I think I will.  🙂  This is THE best (hands-down) toner I have ever used.  I can’t say that there is absolutely no tingling sensation when it is used, but I CAN say that it has a very natural and pure finish that contradicts the burning sensation that many harsh toners give.  I can also say that it doesn’t strip my pores of their natural oils.  It DOES clean them, and well.  I even use this twice a day.  And I know if I washed my face twice a day, I would have dry and blemished skin within a week.  With this product, that just doesn’t happen.  It deeply cleanses my pores, leaving them feeling refreshed and ready to absorb the lotion I am about to apply.  Can’t say enough good things about it!

 

“Tea Tree” Mattifying Lotion

I got this to replace my Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion (basically my daytime moisturizer).  I wanted something that would give follow-up treatment to my pores, because I was experiencing clogged pores from my makeup.  What I needed was a lotion that sealed out the clogginess (not a word?) of my makeup, but still moisturized my skin well.  This product accomplishes both!  While it is definitely a lotion, it has a sheer quality about it that reminds me of a gel-cream.  It wears well under my makeup, and most importantly, over my pores.  It dries very fast, which kind of took me by surprise and made me wonder if it truly moisturized my skin enough.  But then again, mattifying is all about a smooth and flawless finish, and goopy lotion prevents that from happening.  I really like this product!

 

“Vitamin E” Intense Moisture Serum

I know this is a serum, not a moisturizer.  But I have SO many random, sample-sized tubes of moisturizer (thanks to my ipsy subscription…YAY!) that I didn’t want to purchase a new nighttime moisturizer.  I just wanted to turn those random moisturizers into nighttime ones.  So I got this serum (because of the intensity level) to go beneath my nighttime moisturizer, no matter what brand it might be.  I know a serum can’t magically transform a day lotion into a night cream, but it can certainly help.  It can intensify the moisturizing properties of my nighttime facial routine.  And the added vitamin E can go a long way in the fine-line prevention and skin-cell repairing methods that I like to employ in my nighttime routine.  This serum has a pleasant smell and makes my skin very happy.  I’m enjoying it and so far have loved the results!

 

“Oils of Life” Sleeping Cream

I only paid $1 for this teeny sample.  But I wanted to give it a try because I haven’t used anything from their “Oils of Life” line yet.  I know this is not an eye cream, although they have an Oils of Life eye cream, but I still wanted to try it for my eye area.  If I like it, I will try the actual eye cream next!   While I don’t think anything will ever be able to replace my ride-or-die Clinique All About Eyes eye cream, I still am interested in finding a runner-up product.  I take my eye cream game pretty seriously, and don’t want to run the risk of being completely out of a product.

 

“Drops of Youth” Youth Concentrate

This one is obviously a sample too (but it was free!)  I got it as an alternative to the Vitamin E Intense Moisture Serum that I planned to use at night.  I hadn’t tried anything from their “Drops of Youth” line, and so thought this would be a good place to start.  Plus who turns down a free sample?

 

Hand Cream Winding Key

I have wanted something like this for years….like since I was 8 years old.  (Well, back then I wanted a crank kind).  But this little tool totally fit the bill for what I was looking for, and I think I’ll get a LOT of use out of it.  Or at least, a lot of lotion out of it.  ha!  It was super on sale (like $1.50).  So I decided to do a mini-bitty-splurge and buy this.  I’m really glad that I did!

And that pretty much sums up my The Body Shop haul and review!  Have you tried any of these products?  I’m curious what you thought of them.   And if you are a regular The Body Shop customer, what do you like and recommend?  Please share below!  Thanks for stopping by and I hope you’ll come back soon!

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November 2017

November 2017

“November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.” – Emily Dickinson

It’s officially November 2017 (and a day!)  And I’m just so thrilled.  I feel like November is the kickstart of winter (maybe because I live in the south, so fall isn’t super cold around here?)  I don’t know, it just feels so wintery once November hits.  The clocks change, the weather dips, I shop a ton, and of course holidays galore start happening.  <–dying of excitement.  But before I get carried away with what I want to do, let me put it in list form!

  1. Develop a fixed blogging schedule.  I like schedules and think this could be beneficial around here.
  2. Knit a Christmas stocking for my baby.  I have made one for each member of our family, and it’s her turn!
  3. Write a bit in my novel.  I know this November is going to be busy, but I don’t want to leave my book behind.
  4. Nest.  Because what other activity is there really to do with a newborn??
  5. Get back into pilates.  It’s okay that pregnancy made me take a break, but postpartum pilates will be great.
  6. Take a ton of photos.  Mostly photoshoots of our daughters, but also some family holiday pictures!
  7. Celebrate Thanksgiving.  I just love the holidays and Thanksgiving gives me warm and happy feelings.
  8. Black Friday.  ‘Nuff said.

I’m keeping this list a bit smaller, like I said in my last post.  I know that life with a baby will take our days into a nice, slow routine and I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself to get things done.  I mean, I like to have expectations for myself.  But I also like to be realistic.  ha!  I know myself and I know that the winter is all about slowing down and enjoying little things like baking and online shopping.  And every day with a newborn is slow and full of those “moments” you want to remember forever.  I’m just feeling really grateful for how lovely this fall has been, and I feel so sure that this winter is going to be even more special.  I’m a true homebody at heart and every day with my family is something I treasure forever.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  I would love to know your November 2017 plans.  Leave a comment below about them, and I hope you’ll come back soon!

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