October 2017

October 2017 - my to-do list!

” O hushed October morning mild, / Thy leaves have ripened to the fall; / Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild, / Should waste them all.” – Robert Frost

It’s October!  For so long, I didn’t really like this month…it’s cold…it’s in the way of Thanksgiving and Christmas…it’s full of scary decorations in all the stores.  But for some reason, this October I’m totally getting into the spirit of fall!  Maybe it’s because I’m in the south and so September didn’t really feel like the fall.  Or maybe it’s because my baby will be here soon, that October 2017 is full of good feelings and anticipation.  Whatever the reason is, I’m just happy to be excited for this month!  And excited for getting my to-do list done:

  1. House clean my blog  – I have some irrelevant content that I want to sweep up and trash.
  2. Write my guest blog post – I still need to do this.  It’s been on my list for a while.
  3. Finish my baby tutu – I’m working on the top ruffle, and then need to do the bottom one and the waistband!
  4. Read “The Beautiful and the Damned” by F. Scott Fitzgerald – For my book club.  And for me.
  5. Complete my baby diary – You guys, I’ve made so much progress.  I just need a FINAL push to get this done!
  6. Buy some clearance fall decor – I never really stocked up, and don’t feel like doing it at full price!
  7. Sign up for a class or study phone photography tips – Mostly for blogging, but also just for us.
  8. Spend Halloween with my family –  I don’t even like Halloween, but we’ve been married for 4 and never spent one together!

Is it bad my to-do list is shorter than normal?  It’s just that last month I made an ambitious list and got like none of it done.  So I’m trying to be a bit more realistic.  And I also don’t want to put too much pressure on myself, as I really want to enjoy this fall and special time!  For some reason, I haven’t been as “productive” lately when it comes to checking off my lists, but I’ve been having really happy and productive days.  So it kinda balances itself out in the end I guess!  Anyway, what’s on your October 2017 t0-do list?  I would love to know, so leave a comment below!  Thanks for stopping by and I hope you’ll be back soon for my next post.  (Spoiler: It’s a revelation of the baby mobile I’ve been working on!) See you soon!

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Round-Up: September 2017

September 2017 round-up!

“Bronze bells’ breeze of September showers, / Freezing fluttering fragile flowers, / Tearing the time’s tide tactile sense / May leave long love’s lighting lance in tense.” – Marieta Maglas

I love posting round-ups of the month because I get to revisit the past 30ish days and contemplate what we did!  This month, pretty much everything we did was NOT on my to-do list.  Which I was totally okay with!  It was a wonderful month.  I always love September and this was a particularly good one.  But sometimes good = fun which can also mean too much fun, or in my case, just not getting a lot of my “projected” items done.  Here’s my attempts on the to-do list I made at the beginning of the month:

  1. Celebrate my toddler’s birthday!  It was a really, really fun day.  We did a 2-day celebration for turning 2!
  2. Finish my bunny mobile and decorate the nursery.  Finished both!
  3. Get back into writing my novel.  
  4. Invest some time in photography tips.
  5. Enroll in an online class.
  6. Journal more.
  7. Write a guest post.
  8. Do a daily art project with my toddler.  
  9. Finish watching the Gilmore Girls.
  10. Put together my photo album. 

Hmmm… 3/10.  Not my best record.  In fact, I think it’s my worst!  But like I said, we did a lot that wasn’t on the list, and they were (almost) all important things.  We created a (paper) list of things that we hadn’t gotten done around the house that were long overdue, and we did every single one of them!  I can’t tell you how relieving that felt. haha  Plus I need to take a moment to mention that the Starbucks in our area began carrying the PSL and Salted Carmel Mochas, among other things.  It’s too important of a September thing to not make note of.  Besides the aforementioned coffee, this month was full of swimming, walks, and playdates (toddler mom life), and those are the unplanned things that filled up the month with a lot of fun and special memories.

Anyways, enough about me.  What did you do this month?  I hope that you will come back soon to see my hopes and dreams for October.  And thanks so much for stopping by!

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10 Things I Learned During Our First “Real” PCS

10 Things I Learned During Our First Real PCS

After moving 10 times (Army brat life), I thought I pretty much had the whole PCSing thing down pat. (For non-military fam readers, PCS means Permanent Change of Station, and it’s the military term for moving from place to place). Then I made my first official move as an Army wife and learned that I didn’t actually have it all down pat. Big surprise. <–not really.

One important note: this is actually our second “move” but it’s still our first real PCS. It’s the first time that we were being sent somewhere, by the Army, during which they fully helped us with the move (giving us time, resources, etc). Our first move deserves a blog post of it’s own, but to put it simply: it was one of those scrappy throw-your-goods-in-a-Uhaul-and-drive kind of deals that happened in a 48-hour period. We had just gotten married and were moving in together, at our new assignment. This time around, we were given a whole month’s notice to move *gasp!* So this PCS was basically great. Kind of.

Anyway, despite the big “notice” we had ahead of the PCS, and the fact that it was to be my 11th move, I learned a lot.  Quite a bit more than I thought I would, and I plan to keep these things in mind for our next move. Which is scheduled to be in the next 6 months. We shall see if that actually happens or not!

1. Things happened fast.

I wasn’t anticipating such a great (read: TIMELY) moving team. They packed AND moved us in 1 day. That rarely happens. Ever. And their drop-off day was 3 business days after pick-up. That’s also a little (read: VERY) unusual. We literally sat in our apartment and within the same day, it was completely boxed up and emptied out. When we got to our next station, everything was unloaded and in our new house within a week of when it was taken from our apartment. I was utterly impressed. And grateful because I had horrible morning sickness. #9weekspregnant

2. Everything goes.

I knew the packers would pack everything besides perishables and liquids. But on our end of the process, I wasn’t expecting to take everything. We donated one trunkful of items, and threw away quite a bit of open food, but that was it. (Note: sorting through food is NOT a first-trimester-morning-sickness-friendly activity. I do not recommend it). I had totally planned to do a grand and rigorous pack-n-purge before the move. But it turns out I was in the early stages of my second pregnancy when we moved and morning sickness was way too much of an obstacle. We just ended up taking everything, and that was okay in the end. It was nobody’s fault but my own, but I realized that for next move, things aren’t going to throw themselves out! haha

3. Not everyone wants pizza 3 meals a day.

Crazy, right?  Jk.  I didn’t think about how often the packers/movers are offered pizza. It was too hard not to feed the crew because there they were, working in my house all day. But I wish I would have REALLY asked them what they wanted, because no family of three needs $40 worth of pizza. haha They were gracious but pretty much hardly partook of the meal. I learned from this, especially since some crews are understaffed (on purpose) and like to plow through the workday as fast as they can. In that case, maybe having grazable snacks and drinks on hand is more flexible for them, and for us.

4. The truth doesn’t always come out on the paperwork.

I learned this one the hard way.  The head packer told me straight to my face that he wouldn’t notate on paperwork that any of my furniture or belongings were damaged, unless they really were. He schmoozed us reassuringly, saying he didn’t want to just “cover” for his company and that they would accurately describe my items’ conditions. It was all talk. When I got my paperwork and all my belongings on the other side of the move, the paperwork was not accurate for many items. Almost every item that had even the slightest bit of value was marked as damaged and some items were severely misrepresented. To the point that I was like… “Wait, are we even talking about the same item? If my electric keyboard was this horrendously mangled, it wouldn’t even turn on.” It was frustrating to say the least.

5. The paperwork was more detailed than I thought.

While the “conditions” section of the paperwork was heavily inaccurate, I was shocked at how descriptive the paperwork was (in a good way). Any item not in a box, was listed (strollers, chairs, baskets, guitars, table legs, etc.) by name.  And the boxes were all vaguely described as well. I thought we would just have 45 identical boxes with “bedroom” or “living room” marked on them. But no! Each (numbered) box was also given a brief/vague description on paperwork. This made hunting for lost items infinitely easier during the unpacking phase!

6. Things I packed got repacked.

I had plastic storage tubs of winter clothes, college papers, Army equipment, etc. And some bins they left as-is. But others they dumped out and filled with other items that they wanted in tubs. They repacked some of my Christmas decor that we had already packed in cardboard boxes. (<–they didn’t want to be liable for any poor packing on my part).

I also heard a common moving trick is to cling wrap dressers and drawer units, with everything in them. It’s supposed to cut down on time and boxes. That Pinterest hack didn’t quite reach my moving team. But I suppose moving companies can’t take that kind of contents damage risk and so every. single. drawer. was emptied into a box (or 5 boxes). Basically, moral of the story is don’t spend a lot of time packing things yourself, because they will get repacked. And don’t bother organizing your drawers before the move because everything will be taken out of them.

7. It’s hard to lose a box.

I’m not trying to sound like a newbie. I know TONS of people have horror stories of losing important or special items during a move. One day, I will probably join their hallowed ranks. But I pictured our belongings being shoved on a big truck that had other people’s belongings on them.  I figured we would just have to keep our fingers crossed that, when they arrived at our new house, the majority of our boxes would still be on the truck. Our apartment was so small though that we had our own moving truck (not shared) and it was never opened once the packers closed the door for good. It stayed locked up and arrived at our new destination, untouched.

And at our new destination, I was given a sheet (the infamous aforementioned paperwork) and crossed off EVERY SINGLE ITEM (box or loose item) as they were carried into the new house. It was impossible to be missing something, because I literally approved of every item being brought inside, and had total awareness if something hadn’t been brought in yet.  Again, years (and moves) later I will probably be laughing at this after losing a good couple of boxes and items during a PCS.  But for now, I’m riding on the coattails of our previous success and am feeling really great that it was so easy to keep track of our goods.

8. Our hotel bills were reimbursed.

I didn’t quite realize this would happen.  After our first move, we got quite a bit of money reimbursement for “moving ourselves.” We were given a surplus of money that way covered our actual expenses. I thought that since this move was completely paid for by the military, that we wouldn’t get any compensation besides the requisite DLA (Dislocation Allowance Pay–it’s basically consolation money for having to pick up and move houses, which gets expensive because the little things add up). Turns out, the Army paid for our hotels AND our pet fees in retrospect. (Note: they reimburse you for up to 10 days, but we didn’t need all 10).  And that hotel money had nothing to do with the DLA, which we also got.  Yay!

9. I hate boxes.

I didn’t quite comprehend just how much of a pain it would be to get all those boxes broken down and out of our house. Remember my “to-do” list entry from last month? Yeah, that’s because we ended up storing all the empty boxes (full of packing paper) in our unused basement storage room, since bulk trash is on an every-two-weeks schedule. We needed somewhere to put them, but once they were out of sight, out of mind…they just lived there in our basement. Turns out we are just finally clearing the boxes out now. We moved in April. *sigh*

10. The movers rebuild your life and your house for you.

Kind of.  Basically, besides carrying everything back inside, the movers will also rebuild any furniture that was taken apart.  Maybe that’s not surprising to some, but I was in happy shock.  I knew they would put all the boxes and everything in the appropriate rooms. But our movers went above and beyond that.  They actually reassembled furniture.  I have a mini crib that is IMPOSSIBLE to build. I was dreading anything happening to it. But the packers/movers on one end took it apart, and the movers on the other end put it back together. A total relief!  Especially because I’m going to be needing that crib soon! <3

If you’ve already PCS’d quite a few times, maybe you already knew all these things. Or maybe you’re laughing because you know they will never, EVER happen again to me. I’m okay with that–I fully expect every move to be wildly different. And I know moving companies themselves have totally different procedures and policies. Hence why after 10 moves, I still was surprised by some things this time around. But if you haven’t PCS’d a million times, maybe some of these sound surprising to you too.  I’d love to know what experiences you’ve had with PCSing.  Please leave a comment below!  And thanks for stopping by!

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Military Wife Must-Haves

 

Military Wife Must-Haves

I’m sure everyone has their go-to’s when it comes to kitchenware, beauty, fashion, etc.  I definitely have a running list in each category!  Kitchenaid ANYTHING for starters.  But then there are those things that don’t necessarily fit under the same category (or any) but tend to share one common theme: they are must-haves if you’re a military spouse.  Some of these have been gifted to me, some I have bought for other, and some I have bought for myself!  They are either “necessities” for getting through the military lifestyle we live, or they are the perfect way to embrace and celebrate it.  Do you have any of these?

 

1. Address Book

It’s no secret I’m a firm believer in stationary, especially as an Army wife.  But this one isn’t actually meant for all those Basic Training love letters you write.  I have found that the frequent moves (both of our family and our military friends) has created a great need for change-of-address organization.  I think the Kate Spade address book is a cute and classy way to do it.  However, there is a pretty cheeky address book that leaves room for nicknames and shoe sizes.  And then of course there is a classic and more tame little pink book version.  Take your pick and fill it up!

 

2. Push-pin Travel Map

Speaking of moving around, you will probably fill up one of these too!  A push-pin map of the USA not only gives you a visual reality-check on just how many times you’ve set up a home somewhere, but it also is a great way to document your lifetime of travel.  If you want to go all-out (or if you are lucky enough to live overseas) a push-pin map of the world is also a beautiful career display.

 

3.  American Flag

I feel like this is the initiation gift that every military wife should receive, or gift to her husband!  It’s the perfect salute and symbol of what your family stands for.  Fly it proudly outside your home!  And if you have an apartment and no balcony (like my first 2 years of our marriage), then hang it as a wall tapestry behind your couch or in your dining room.  It’s still a beautiful way to celebrate your lifestyle and the country we are all so proud of.  A final option, though it’s a little less visible, is to invest in a glass flag case and keep your folded flag displayed in it.  A very classic, very respectful display of the flag!  If you want the whole flagpole kit, and not just the flag, this is all you need.

 

4. The Army Wife Handbook: A Complete Social Guide

For all my Army girls out there!  There is a complete set of “social rules” and expectations that come with the territory of being an Army wife.  And navigating through those can be tough!  This guide is geared towards etiquette and social obligations, which I find to be one of the least “discussed” topics among Army wife literature.  It’s not really a crash-course about acronyms and what to expect on deployments, which is what this book covers.  But the social rules can be really tough to “pick up” naturally, and having a guidebook is extremely helpful.

 

5. The 5 Love Languages ~ Military Edition

I’m not saying this because I’m a love-book junkie (thought I am), I’m saying this because every military relationship deserves a book celebrating and coaching the tumultuously beautiful journey of a military romance.  I have great respect for Gary Chapman’s interpretation of love languages and how they are spoken.  Even if you’re not a military couple, a firm understanding of how to identify your preferred language, and how to speak your spouses’s is extremely important.  The love languages are a true eye-opener in any relationship, but most significantly in a romantic one.  Curious what your love language is?  Take the test here.  (Then buy the book and learn about how you give and receive love based on it!)

6. His and Hers Silicone Wedding Bands

These are often more necessary for the military member than the spouse.  But for those of us that like having matching wedding bands, or who want to feel a special connection, getting a his and hers set is the way to go!  Wearing a metal wedding ring during training can sometimes be dangerous for your soldier (if he is paratrooper jumping out of an airplane, etc) and other times it can just be painful (pull-ups during PT).  Having a silicone option can be useful for your soldier to slip on before a training exercise, or before he leaves for an Army school if he worries about losing his real ring.  During those times, it can sometimes be nice to switch rings with him, not because you have to, but because he does.

7. Military Wife Jewelry

This one is pretty basic.  It’s like having a tee that supports your favorite sports team.  Everyone should have at least one.  Even if you’re not the kind of jewelry-wearer who wants a black and gold charm bracelet that says “Army” in capital letters, you can still have military-themed jewelry that supports your lifestyle.  (Like this Morse Code bracelet).  One of my favorite ways to connect with my soldier when he is gone is to wear a meaningful necklace or ring that reminds me of him.  When he went to Basic/OSUT in Ft. Benning, I wore a Georgia shaped ring every day.  Other times, even when he is home, I often wear sapphires, as their “Infantry Blue” color celebrates the lifestyle we have chosen together.  Get creative with the meanings and treat yourself to some bling!

8. Amazon Home Services

Not a traditional must-have, but I put on because WHO hasn’t had their fridge break an hour or two after their soldier leaves for a few weeks? *raises hands*  My internet goes out when he is gone, computers crash, and of course some kind natural disaster occurs (Hurricane striking the NIGHT that he leaves).  #myreallife.  Anyway, Amazon can’t control the weather, but they CAN and DO offer home services.  Meaning no matter where you live in the US, you can have someone come over and fix your problem when your soldier isn’t home to do so.  Seriously, they have tons of services: from mounting TVs to painting the baby nursery to ASSEMBLING FURNITURE.  Basically, they’re the magic fairies we always hoped would exist.  Now they do.  Click here to browse their services!

I feel like there are a million military wife must-haves…haha…but that’s really not true.  The only thing I must have is my soldier by my side!  And of course my babies.  And my faith.  Okay, so there are a few biggies.  But the small things can be really fun too, and can make the military wife life a lot easier!  What is a must-have for you?  Leave a comment below, sharing your faves!  Thanks for stopping by, and come back soon.

*Note: the links I provided are affiliate links*

Read next: My Favorite Stationary Supplies for Writing to My Soldier

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September 2017

September 2017

 

“for all I can really do is /stand here /in September’s rain /savoring…/ soaking it all in/ slipping…” – Sanober Khan

It’s a few days in and I’m already loving September 2017!  Maybe because amazon is having a 20% off baby sale all month.  I just made my registry!  Maybe because I have a bunch of craft projects keeping me busy.  Or maybe because September has a bunch of romantic memories for me.  Probably a combination of all three!  Anyway, I have a list of projected “to-do’s” that I’m hoping will help me usher in fall.

  1. Celebrate my toddler’s birthday!  I love celebrating her everyday, so her birthday means a lot to us!
  2. Finish my bunny mobile and decorate the nursery.  It’s one big project…mobile goes in the nursery. lol
  3. Get back into writing my novel.  It’s been too long. 🙁
  4. Invest some time in photography tips. I’m particularly looking for some phone photo ideas/information.
  5. Enroll in an online class.  It can be about blogging, massage, or aromatherapy…etc. I just want to learn!
  6. Journal more.  Its therapeutic.  So, I need to do it more.
  7. Write a guest post.  This is making a reappearance on my to-do list.  Because I REALLY need to do it!
  8. Do a daily art project with my toddler. She’s so artistic, and I forget til I see her with a pack of stickers! haha
  9. Finish watching the Gilmore Girls.  I started the series soooooo long ago and I’m ready to end it.
  10. Put together my photo album.  Luckily, I have all the photos printed.  So now I just need to organize them!

I tried really hard not to make this a baby-nesting list.  Obviously I have 5 million things running through my head of things I want to do before my little girl arrives.  But, I think I should just make an entire post about that!  So for now, that’s what I’m hoping I can get done in September 2017.  Will it happen?  Probably not all of it.  Ha!  But a girl can dream.

What are your September 2017 goals?  Thanks for stopping by.  And come back soon!

                         

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Round-Up: August 2017

Round-Up: August 2017

“That August time it was delight / To watch the red moons wane to white.”  — Algernon Charles Swinburne

I loved August 2017!  This month was such a bright, beautiful, breath of fresh air.  I finally reached my third trimester, and hit a “turning point” in my pregnancy.  I mean, it has been a good pregnancy.  But there is something about being 30 weeks today and realizing that within 10 weeks I could have my baby in my arms!  My husband also graduated from his Army school and that was a big accomplishment, as well as a great move for our family.  It’s bringing our future assignment closer into view and we’re excited about that.  Plus, we had some unseasonably “cold” weather (meaning not 100* F) and for a moment or two I felt that “windy blow” of fall approaching.  It was a magical few moments, and is getting me incredibly excited about the cozy fall!!!!

But oh my goodness, I’m totally getting ahead of myself.  Here’s my list of to-do’s from my original August 2017 post:

  1. Enjoy two visits from my relatives.  So much FUN with my sisters and dad.
  2. Celebrate my husband’s graduation.  I’m beaming with pride and joy!  It was such a great day.
  3. Make an exercise routine.  I’ve been doing afternoon pilates and evening walks.  And loving it!
  4. Get my toddler back into a consistent nap and night routine.  She sleeps a good 12 hours a day now.
  5. Update my wardrobe/jewelry collection.  Did this a bit, but will finish it once I’m not pregnant. lol
  6. Catch up on my baby diary.  I made a lot of progress this month!
  7. Expand/develop one blog category.  My Mama category is my current target.  Read my latest post.
  8. Write a guest post.  
  9. Scrapbook.  I love scrapbooking and have almost completed our book!
  10. Make a crib mobile for my baby.  I’m needle felting little bunnies for it, and thinking of adding hearts.
  11. Get an editing program for images.
  12. Find a skin-clearing secret formula.  This toner right here.  Miracle worker for smoothing the face.
  13. Clear the basement boxes out.  I’m counting this as something I did because we are doing it this weekend!

I’m actually surprised that I got most of these done.  It was kinda a long list for me, and I didn’t think I’d be able to get quite so many done.  But I guess that’s what the elusive “burst of pregnancy energy” is all about!  lol

I already “recapped” my month at the beginning of this post, but I can’t sign out of August without bringing up a very heavy topic.  LWYMMD.  Words?  There are none.  I actually really like it.  I thought I would love it.  Then I heard it and was pleased.  I listened to it two more times and began to dislike it.  Then the VMAs happened and I have a whole new appreciation for it.  Now I’m a total fan of the song.  Probably because I am a tried-and-true Swiftie.  Anyone else?

Okay, I’m done. haha  Thanks for sticking around and reading about my August 2017 (and letting me ramble).  I hope you’ll come back soon.  My next post will be my goals for September…see you then!

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8 Pregnancy Rules I Decided to Break (and Why)

8 Rules I Broke While Pregnant

You’ve been told a LOT of “rules” ever since you got the positive test.  And while the information can often be conflicting, there are some laws that seem to consistently harmonize.  I have found many of them to be true.  Unfortunately, one of those was the no-eating-raw-cookie-batter rule.  That was completely true.  🙁  But there were some definite “golden rules” that I chose to break and it worked out for me just fine!  My first pregnancy was delightful and culminated with a healthy baby.  I’m about to begin my third trimester with my second little baby, and still am enjoying breaking these 8 rules.  I’m certainly NOT advocating that anyone else feel obligated to, nor do I think anyone else needs to!  These are just the rules that I chose to break, and enjoyed doing it:

Rule One: Eat for Two

I broke this one right off the bat–mostly because of all my food aversions!  But as my pregnancy continued, I found that “eating for two” wasn’t necessary or possible for me personally.  I found myself eating more frequently, rather than  eating larger portions.  Many doctors will advise that your nutrient intake doesn’t need to increase until at least the second trimester, and this ended up being the case for me.   All the vitamins and minerals (and calories) that my babies needed were easily supplied by my body without any additional food during the first trimester.  There is nothing wrong with listening to your body, and in my case, my body didn’t want or need any “extra” food until the second (mostly third) trimesters.  And even then, I couldn’t handle a lot of food at once.  All my meals had to broken up into snacks.  It’s just what worked for me!

Rule Two: Lose the Baby Weight After the Baby is Born

It’s pretty normal to go through a shrinking period after you give birth.  I mean, there is no need for all that extra fluid once the baby arrives!  But I didn’t wait until after birth to begin exercising.  It’s much easier to workout BEFORE you have a tiny newborn in your house.   Trust me.  While I did find it was important to rest up during my pregnancies (and I really did rest a lot!) I definitely didn’t leave the working out for the post-birth time.  I found my body had a significantly easier time bouncing back to pre-pregancy size because I worked out during my entire pregnancy.  And it made me feel happier and more confident during my pregnancies.  Bonus: being fit made the delivery infinitely easier too.

Rule Three: Buy a Pregnancy Wardrobe

I kind of blame this on the fact that my babies are small, and that nursing has become my jam.   But I never bought a “pregnancy” wardrobe per se.  I bought a few loose fitting tank tops and that was pretty much it.  I did, however, buy a nursing wardrobe.  So my personal advice to nursing moms: don’t spend more on your pregnancy wardrobe than on your nursing wardrobe.  By the time you need to buy pregnancy clothes, many mommies-to-be are expecting their little one’s arrival in the next 6 months.  So why invest in a wardrobe that will only last for 6 months, when breastfeeding can easily go on for 12 months or longer?!  Again, it’s totally a personal preference thing, but I recommend keeping the pregnancy wardrobe smaller and “more simple,” because you’ll want to have the funds/space for beautiful and versatile clothes during all the months that you breastfeed.

Note: I only own one or two things specifically designed for nursing.  My nursing wardrobe consisted of “normal clothing” necklines that stretch.  For me, there were plenty of “regular” clothes that worked great for nursing–but they weren’t things I owned when I first took my baby home.  I found myself needing to purchase quite a few new tops postpartum because my regular clothes were not nursing-friendly!

Rule Four: Wear Nursing Bras

Speaking of breastfeeding: you might have to set aside all your current bras during the pregnancy and after.  But if you’re one of the many expectant mothers weeping over your vast Victoria Secret collection–no more tears!  Not everyone ends up finding a nursing-specific bra they like.  Most demi cut bras are completely nursing compatible, and come in a variety of support types: wireless, underwire, push-up, etc.  The sky is the limit with those!  Keep in mind that throughout your pregnancy and nursing journeys, your size will fluctuate to accommodate lactation growth, so be aware that what works for a few months may not work later on, or vice versa.

Also, most breastfeeding mothers are advised to wear bras to bed–and the demis will still work in this case.  Be aware certain bras can lead to mastitis, especially at night.  But don’t feel like the only bras that won’t cause mastitis are bralettes–because there are plenty of “normal” bras that are nursing-friendly too.  It’s really about finding your own style and what feels comfortable.  You don’t have to sacrifice looks for comfort or safety, but those two should definitely be at the top of your list of requirements when shopping!

Rule Five:  It Took 9 Months to Gain and Will Take 9 Months to Lose

No.  It takes your body as long as it takes YOUR body.  For me, it was a lot closer to 9 days than 9 months.  For some, that’s a matter of weeks and for others, a matter of months.  Don’t hold yourself accountable to someone else’s metabolism, breastfeeding habits, sleep cycle, and genetics.  Treat your body well and give it time.  Comparison is the their of joy and trying to “recover” the way someone else did will only mislead you in taking care of your body.  Remember: the grass is greener WHEN you water it–so try hard and make great efforts to help your body recover.  But realize it is the effort and not the wishing that will make a difference.  The most important thing is focusing on your body’s health and peace, not on the clock or calendar and wondering if it’s taking too long to “bounce back.”

Rule Six: Get Over the Fact that You’ll be Wearing a Hospital Gown

Maybe I’m alone here in feeling like the gowns are itchy, uncomfortable, and look horrible on my skin.  BYOBG.  Bring your own birthing gown.  Most hospitals will let you (check before you don it).  If you don’t want to purchase a birthing gown though, there are many options out there.  Consider making your own or altering a nightdress you already have.   As long as your gown has straps instead of sleeves, the only adjustment you’ll need to make is cutting a long slit down the back from the neck to the hips (which you can attach ties or velcro to so that it closes).   Get something that is soft and dark in color…you’ll be so much more comfortable in your own gown than in the hospital-issued gown!  For my first birth, I wore this.  And for my second, I’m buying this.

Rule Seven: Rock the Bump

This one is again a TOTAL personal preference.  Probably the most “personal” of all preferences in this post!  I have seen so, so, so, so many beautiful pregnant bumps that look super cute when accented.  So many women have found “rocking” their bump to not only help them celebrate their pregnancy blessing, but also to come to terms with the fact their body is changing and so is their wardrobe.  It looks GREAT on them and I think they should totally go for it.  But all of a sudden when I found myself pregnant, I found the bump-hugging styles didn’t suit me!  I partly attribute this to the fact that I carry my babies high, and that I carry them small.  It takes me months just to get a “bump” and I think the long and slow progression never inspired me to find bump-rocking styles.

I was discussing pregnancy wardrobes with my grandmother, and she told me in her time that pregnant women gravitated towards lose-fitting, concealing outfits.  I thought I would give it a try and ended up LOVING it!  My pregnancy jam became leggings, shorts, or tight-night pencil skirts paired with a flowy or non-fitted top.  (I have summer pregnancies so tank tops were my go-to).  It didn’t bother me that people couldn’t tell I was pregnant, because I tend to bring it up in conversations all the time! haha  I just felt really relieved that I had finally found a style that looked good and felt right for me.  I can’t advocate enough that a HUGE part of pregnancy confidence for me was a finding a style that worked.  It surprised me that my pregnancy style was very different from my non-pregnancy style, but that’s just how it worked out!!

Rule Eight: You have to Give Up Coffee

It’s TOTALLY important to limit caffeine during pregnancy, most especially during the first trimester.  And I did.  While I didn’t even want coffee for the first few months of pregnancy (hello, food aversions!) my nurse found it perfectly fine for me to enjoy a cup once a day, however.  Most research will conclude a safe caffeine limit during pregnancy is 200 mg, leaving room for an average-sized cup of coffee–about 11 oz.  That’s only IF you’re comfortable consuming caffeine though (because it’s your choice!).  And if you’re more of a soda and chocolate person than a coffee person, then just remember to go by the same caffeine guidelines.  Sneaky trick: in order to drink “two” cups a day, I ended up making 1/2 caff coffee, so that my caffeine was split into two mugs over the course of the day.  Teehee!

It’s possible that I’ve broken more than 8 rules… haha!  However, there are many rules that I totally followed (and am following right now!)  Again, I’m definitely not trying to say that everyone should break the rules that I chose to.  In fact, I really want everyone to know that I believe you should live your pregnancy as YOU feel is best.  But I’m sharing what ended up working for me because sometimes someone else’s positive story can be helpful when evaluating your own pregnancy goals.  Maybe something that worked for everyone isn’t going to work for you?  Or maybe something that works for you is something no one else can handle!

Every person and every pregnancy is so unique, and that’s really special.  Thanks for taking the time to read about mine!  Please leave a comment below if there is a rule you broke, and why!  I’d love to know.  I hope you come back soon!

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5 Ways to Save Money in the Military

 

Whether you’re a military family or not, saving money is probably something your enthusiastic about.  And most of those “how to save money” hacks are applicable for military and civilian families.  But, there are some ways to save money that are specific to military families only!  Go us!  🙂  Today I rounded up my 5 favorites:

1.  Live Off-Post

I’m putting this one first because it has the power to be the singular MOST effective way to save money.  Obviously, you could purchase a house well beyond your means and it would only be a financial sabotage.  Or pay rent/bills above your BAH, and that would also be ineffective and detrimental.  But I suggest researching your BAH (literally, google it) and then shop for houses whose monthly average cost (including upkeep) is lower than your BAH.  If you set aside $200 of your BAH every month for only a year, that would still be $2400 in savings.  It adds up!

 2.  Check the LES Monthly

Errors, overpay, underpay, unfair withdrawals…don’t wait and get money revoked!  This one is unfortunately not a guaranteed “money-maker,” but it can be.  It can be an extremely effective preventative against losing money that is supposed to be yours.  One of the most common complaints I’ve heard from wives is that their soldier is incorrectly charted for eating on the DeFac meal plan (aka: the family isn’t receiving their BAS–basic allowance for sustenance).  Fix it!  The Army will backpay you for ANY missed funds, so be diligent to get all the money you deserve!  But don’t let the Army accidentally overpay you either.  If your soldier is no longer supposed to be receiving jump pay, but is–fix it!  The Army always, always, always notices, and it’s a big headache (and heartache) to have to backpay the Army for months of unearned pay.

3.  Save All Military Clothing

My word of advice: don’t throw ANYTHING out.  Save the “not-so-favorite” socks and uniforms for packing lists, field uniforms, etc.  There may be times where he has to have a pre-packed bag full of items, and he won’t want all of his favorites to be in there.  He also probably won’t want to shell out the cash to purchase dozens of brand new items that are going to go straight into his pre-packed bag, completely unused.  Those mandatory packing lists are the perfect place to stuff old and used items that he isn’t going to need available in his locker.  The best part about old?– FREE! Occasionally (again, extremely infrequently) he will get to trade in some of his items for new items.  This rarely happens.  But when it does, you don’t want to be missing some items that you are supposed to be trading in.  Also, you don’t want to have to pay out of pocket for something he is supposed to be turning in, but no longer owns!

4.  Use the Free Resources the Army Gives You

Did you know that the Army offers discounted tickets to many, many events around the country?  This is not just a military discount at Disney World (though boy do they offer deals on that!)  The MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation association) has an entire ticket chart offering discounts at various attractions around the country–for things as small as tour rides in Savannah to things as big as passes at Universal Studios.  Look into the MWR ticket offers before you make big purchases!  Also, the Army offers a variety  of free workshops– resume builders, career networking, etc.  You can earn scholarships as dependents (wives and children) and get financial aid for school.  The list goes on and on.  While you will still have some fees to pay, many of the paid-clubs on military installations are a fraction of the cost of their civilian opponents.  If you’re looking for a casual soccer league for your children, or a summer pool pass, definitely look into the opportunities on post before you decide to go elsewhere.

5.  Look to the Army’s Opportunities to Lessen your Financial Debt

Do you have college loans?  There are *some* programs that can help pay for those <– for the soldier’s loans at least.  Do you have high car insurance and credit card interest on your account?  You can get those refinanced through a military banking source.  Navy Federal has one of the best rates for car payment interest, and USAA offers some of the best credit card deals.  There is also a Military Star Card that offers On-Post discounts on gas and shopping.  Look into the military options you qualify for because they can almost always shave off some of the debt and bills that your past civilian life heaped upon you.

It goes without saying that any department store you shop at is a good place to ask for a military discount.  Don’t be shy!  It’s your right as a military dependent–and there is no shame in flaunting that.  You’re not begging for a free handout, you’re giving stores the opportunity to [willingly] show their support of our troops!  Unfortunately, many stores do not offer military discount (don’t ask me why…grrr).  But there are more ways to save money than a token 10% discount on four tee-shirts at Old Navy.  <–they have a great military discount program for the record.  Do you have any techniques?  Share them in the comment section below!

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August 2017

August 2017

“eighth month commences / august as in grandiose- / resigned to the heat.” – Laurie Kaz

I am SO happy August is here.  It is one of my favorite months, and I really think that this year it will reign as a favorite.  I’ve got my usual list of “to-do’s” compiled–which feels but exciting but longer than usual.  I’m just really looking forward to August 2017, and have high hopes for it.  Hopes that include:

  1. Enjoy two visits from my relatives.  My dad is visiting, as are three of my sisters!  YAY.
  2. Celebrate my husband’s graduation.  I’m so proud of him and can’t wait to celebrate with him!
  3. Make an exercise routine.  Walking and pilates are my two favorite, but I need a consistent mix of them.
  4. Get my toddler back into a consistent nap and night routine.  We’ve made progress and regressed. lol
  5. Update my wardrobe/jewelry collection.  Not necessarily shopping, more like weeding thru what I own!
  6. Catch up on my baby diary.  I wasn’t going to add this, but now that I’m making progress I want to finish!
  7. Expand/develop one blog category.  Even if that just means contributing a few posts to it.
  8. Write a guest post.  I’ve done this before, and would like to do it again!
  9. Scrapbook.  I love scrapbooking and want to do some this month!
  10. Make a crib mobile for my baby.  I’m needle felting little bunnies for it right now.
  11. Get an editing program for images.  Just something small, to get me started!
  12. Find a skin-clearing secret formula.  Maybe no such thing exists?  I have hope…
  13. Clear the basement boxes out.  Something that should have been done a few bats ago…

I could add some more but I should probably start there before I get carried away!  I guess my love for August has just created some pretty high expectations.  But maybe there is nothing wrong with that?  I can tell that I’m not really seeing this month as the beginning of autumn, the way I usually do.  Maybe it’s just the South and all this heat?  Or maybe it’s because my baby is due in the LATE fall?  But I can’t help but feel this August is going to just feel like an extension of summer.  I guess that’s not a bad thing though…is there such a thing as too much summer?!

Oh, but before I forget (AGAIN), I need to make one last goal.  Back in January, I established a plan to choose a virtue/skill/strength and try to embrace it during the month at hand.  In a few of these monthly check-ins, I forgot to do it formally.  But I almost always have some kind of emotional/mental goal running through my mind and making an appearance in my month.  For August 2017, I want to focus on being present.  I have a LOT coming up in the future: more Army school, my second baby being born, and a second move within a 12 month period, just to name a few.  I don’t want to live in anxiety or in the future, because I have everything I need right here, right now, in front of me.  I’m so blest and I want to savor that grace and be grateful for it!

And now I feel like I can sign off.  I have a long August in front of me! lol  And I’m so happy about that.  If you are a list-maker, please share some of your own August 2017 to-do’s in the comment section.  I would love to hear your plans!  Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll come back soon.

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Round-Up: July 2017

Round-up: July '17

“Fine Fourth of July /Another one has passed by / Thanks to our soldiers.”  – James Horn

Goodbye, July!  I’m looking forward to August in a lot of ways.  July has never been my favorite month, and this one definitely wasn’t.  Is it okay for me to start out that gloomy?

I mean, it definitely had some highlights–for instance, celebrating our 3-year wedding anniversary over the long Independence Day weekend was SO incredibly special.  And we did some really fun retail therapy this month, as well as countless mommy-and-me dates.  Those are priceless to me.  We also discovered a new Mexican restaurant, drank a ton of coffee and swam pretty much every day.  But there were some stressful patches that come with being pregnant and also being in the Army lifestyle, and especially being both at the same time.  I’m lucky to have such a wonderful husband and daughter(s), and they definitely make everything better.  Before I get side-tracked, here is a list of what I was supposed to do, reflecting what I *actually* did this month, haha:

  1. Begin a walk routine.  But my morning walk routine was replaced by 3 weeks of swim!  Same benefits!
  2. Catch up on my baby diary ONCE AND FOR ALL.  No, but I did some SERIOUS catch-up, so yay!!
  3. Publish a blog post once a week.  Finally!  I’d like to do it more than once, but once a week was manageable.
  4. Drive “downtown” on my own.  I did it!
  5. Knit a tutu for my new baby.  Almost started it, but changed my mind about the yarn I had.  Time to shop!
  6. Add buttons and a pom-pom to my previous knitting project. I should post a pic of it!
  7. Put together a memory chest for my baby.  I made a temporary one, but would like to buy a prettier box.
  8. Take a Mommy-and-Me Tumbling class with my toddler.  OMGEE we love this.
  9. Take a Mommy-and-Me Swim class with my toddler.  We love this too!
  10. Create/Expand a category of my blog.  I can see this happening soon.
  11. Read to my toddler every day.  If we add this to our routine we will have more success!

While I can’t say this was my most productive month, I definitely feel good about what I got done!  I started a few new projects that weren’t on this list.  More than that though, I created quite a few mental lists of goals and intentions that I think will carry through August.  I already noticed them making a difference in my July!  While I didn’t get everything on my list done, I felt like I made some personal progress in a few areas…blogging and socially especially.  Any kind of progress in those areas feels extra big to me, since they aren’t always my natural strengths.  For me, making steps in the right direction feels like a goal in itself.  haha

I’m very hopeful about August and think it will bring a great many joys and accomplishments!  I’ll be posting about my August plans soon, and hope you’ll be back to share yours in the common section!  And if you have any thoughts to share about your July ’17, please be sure to leave those in the comment section below.  Comments are some of my most favorite things to read, ever.  And I’m a Lit major, so I really mean it. 🙂  Thanks for stopping by!

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