How to Make it Cheerful when You’re Spending Christmas Apart

Christmas is about spending time with family, but sometimes military life can stand in the way of that! Here are some ways to celebrate Christmas apart.

We have been in the swing of the holidays for a few weeks now, and have a few weeks left till New Years and we go back to normal. It seems like the holiday season can last forever. With Christmas decorations hitting the store before Halloween it definitely can last. But sometimes as a MilSO we end up spending the holidays and specifically, Christmas apart from one another. When this happens it is hard to get into the Christmas spirit!

This year I am finding myself in this camp! While last year we were marking off our Holiday to-do list, this year I am contemplating Christmas care packages. And longing to decorate; especially when my Christmas decorations are all packed up in storage with the rest of our HHGs.

So what am I doing this Christmas to make it feel like the holidays?

I am focusing on the good parts of Christmas I do have this year! This year I will get to mark all the great milestones of Baby’s First Christmas! I get to spend Christmas with my parents and brother and be surrounded by all the Christmas traditions I grew up with. I may not get to decorate a tree, but I get to decorate great Christmas care package for my hubby to bring some feelings of home to him.

Doing all this makes it feel more like Christmas, even if we can’t be together.

Baby’s First Christmas:

I love to craft! It makes me feel productive. Throughout my pregnancy every time my nesting instincts kicked in I started crafting- making burp cloths, baby blankets, baby mobile; rather than channeling my energy into extra cleaning! So since this was going to be baby’s first Christmas I started working on Christmas ornaments, Christmas photo set ups, picking out outfits for Santa pictures.

This gave me something to focus on rather than just missing my husband! As much as I wish he would be here for all of this, I know she is only a few weeks old and so I know next Christmas will be like another First Christmas for her to experience again, at just over a year old!

Spending the Holidays with my Parents

We flew to visit my parents last year for Christmas, and with a newborn I definitely would not be making the 15 hour flight to Hawaii to spend Christmas with my parents again if I wasn’t already here. Since moving home after the hubby left it means I get to spend Christmas with my family while I am alone. It means Grandma and Grandpa get to help me celebrate baby’s first Christmas.

For me it brings feelings of comfort because while I don’t get to be in my home for Christmas with my own Christmas decorations; I get to enjoy all the traditions I grew up enjoying. Christmas breakfast after opening presents. Making Christmas cookies by the dozens and dozens. Bubka’s famous nut bread (my favorite treat!!). Christmas even candle-light carol service.

Care Packages for the Hubby

My favorite part of Christmas is picking out gifts for everyone! And I love buying presents for my hubby. He doesn’t always think he needs presents, which makes it all the more fun for me because I get to do it just because! And so I get to know I warmed his soul just a bit when I send him his Christmas care package! In my mind I plan to decorate the box, however I know if I come into a pinch I can order one from my friend over at Countdown and Cupcakes! And my box will look like the holidays for him!

 

So while this is one holiday I will never forget, getting out and enjoying the parts of Christmas I can without my husband will make sure I don’t remember it as an only sad time. It can still be a Merry Christmas.

 

How do you celebrate the holidays when you are missing your loved one?

Christmas is about spending time with family, but sometimes military life can stand in the way of that! Here are some ways to celebrate Christmas apart.

PCSing to Hawaii: You Guide to Avoid Quarantine

PCSing to Hawaii can be stressful, especially when there are animals involved. Here is my step by step guide that got my dog there safely!

When I decided to go to Hawaii while Brian was in Korea the hardest part of the whole transition was making sure my puppy got there safely. As ya’ll know my puppy is very important to me, and she has proven invaluable in adjusting to new places.

My first instinct was to head to Google and Pinterest to see what I could find about getting Lucy to Hawaii with me. Of course, what I found was all convoluted and unclear. So I thought I would help consolidate some of the information I found! All I found was that there was a FOUR month quarantine period if you didn’t get to it in a timely manner! There is a 5-day or less track that you can get your dog on if you start early enough. So I made sure to start as soon as the possibility of going to Hawaii became present!

Here is everything you need to know about getting your pet (cat or dog, I am not 100% sure on procedures for other animals!) to Hawaii on the 5-Day or less Quarantine Track!

  • As soon as you have a hint that you might be going to Hawaii, make an appointment with a vet! I started before we had hard orders because I knew the vet care process would take a while (about 6 months!)
    • At this first vet visit my pup had a check up to make sure she was healthy, and she got her 2nd rabies shot. This is important because dogs need TWO rabies shots (At least 31 days apart) to be able to get into Hawaii. The 2nd must be no less than 90 days before entry)
  • Before you get your animal’s rabies shot, ensure that your animal has a microchip implanted. If the microchip is not implanted prior to the rabies shots and FAVN test, he or she will still spend 120 days in quarantine.
  • Three weeks after that first visit we returned to the vet. At this visit she had her blood drawn and sent to a lab. The test preformed was a FAVN. It is a blood titer test to make sure she had enough of the rabies vaccine in her system. This important because Hawaii is a Rabies free state. The results will be sent from Kansas State University to Hawaii- it is good for 36 months!
  • After the FAVN is done your animal begins 120 day quarantine period. This is why I started the process before we had hard orders. Even if orders get changed having the 2nd rabies shot won’t hurt your pet. If you wait till too close to your departure date, then your pup will have to spend the remainder of those 120 days in a quarantine facility once landed in Hawaii.

I was personally willing to spend a bit extra upfront with the chance our plans would change to avoid my puppy spending up to four months in quarantine and paying for that cost- since it is out of pocket!!! That is a big expense!!! And a lonely time for your animal!

  • After your pet passes the FAVN test then it is mostly just a waiting game until about 2 weeks before you leave for the islands. Within 10 days of arrival on the island your pet must get a health certificate from a vet. I am personally choosing to use an Army vet to do the health certificate since they are very well practiced at sending animals overseas for service members.
    • During this appointment, the vet will administer and sign off that your pet has flea protection. Regardless of what normal flea medicine your animal uses this will be frontline.

 All Documents you will need for your pet to gain entry into the state of Hawaii:

  • Original Ink signatures of Rabies shot certifications- you will have 2!! Must be original, no photocopies accepted
    • Vaccination certificates must have vaccine name, serial number, booster interval, vaccination date, and expiration date
  • Original Health Certificate done within 10 days of arrival in Hawaii
  • Vet must treat pet for fleas and ticks with Frontline within 10 days of arrival- noted on health certificate
  • Send all documents to Animal Quarantine Station:
    • Completed Dog and Cat Import Form
    • Payment and Fees:$165 per pet in advance for direct airport release or $224 for 5 day or less program. Must be a Cashiers Check or Money order (no cash or personal checks)

Other considerations that need to be made when sending your dog to Hawaii:

  • How big is your pet? If it is a cat or small dog you can carry them in a soft carrier under the seat.
  • If your pet is an emotional support animal you need a letter from your health care provider. Let the airline know as soon as possible. Have all the proper documentation. Same for Service Animals.
  • If your pet is large and not a service animal then you will ship your pet as “checked” luggage. However, most airlines will not allow you to check your animal when it is above 85 degrees Farenheit or below 65 degrees F.
  • You can either wait to send your animal for the weather to cooperate. Or you can consider a pet shipping service such as Island Pet Movers.

So, there you have it, a condensed version of the information needed to move your furry loves to Hawaii. Unfortunately, the military will not pay for any of these pet related expenses, which can really start to add up!

If you want a printable checklist to make sure that you have everything done in the proper order, please check out this checklist. This will ensure your dog spends as little time in quarantine as possible!

If you have any other questions you can check out the Hawaii Animal Quarantine Information Page for FAQ that I found helpful!

PCSing to Hawaii can be stressful, especially when there are animals involved. Here is my step by step guide that got my dog there safely!

Third Trimester Bump-Date

As my first pregnancy ends I wanted to share the ups and downs of my third trimester! How her nursery came along & all the highlights!

I can’t believe I have made it to my due date so quickly! As my third trimester comes to a close I wanted to share how the last three months of this pregnancy have gone! Its been both challenging and fun! But I am so excited to meet our Little Miss, so whenever she wants to make her debut, we are ready for!

The Last Move

The start of this trimester marked the final move of the pregnancy! I started my third trimester by saying “see you later” to my hubby as we flew off in opposite directions! It was incredibly emotional for both of us. But after we made it to our destinations it was much easier to keep going (because he had to for work & I needed to find my new normal).

Being where I was finally going to bring baby home I was able to start getting my room ready for her! Finally letting my nesting instincts come out! Wanting to buy everything at once has been my biggest struggle! I was so ready to have stuff all set up! However, I managed to slow myself down and do it piecemeal. After all when I arrived I still had 3 whole months left! For the small room that I have to share with her I am so excited about how it turned out. Check out our shared bedroom & nursery! I love the way the colors can be subtle and adult, but also fun for a baby girl! Plus everything can be reused for her toddler room once we make it to our next location.

Just look at how cute I was able to make the room!

Plus, my dad has been so helpful in helping me hang up everything and build all the baby gear! Definitely could not have done that all by myself!

My Pregnancy Health

Health wise I have been lucky in that I have a super healthy baby! Everything has been going great. I have of course had my hiccups. Unfortunantly one isn’t such a small hiccup. At 24 weeks I failed my 1 hour glucose test and was called back in. At 26 weeks I failed the 3 hour glucose test! Despite everyone telling me that I was going to be just fine, that plenty of people have to take the three hour test and never actually get diagnosed with GD.

Well I guess I was just wasn’t one of those people. I have been lucky that I have been able to manage my GD with diet. I didn’t have to take any medications or insulin to help manage my blood sugar. But it has taken great creativity to find ways to curb my sweet cravings- I definitely miss ice cream!! It has been really hard since fall approached in full swing as pumpkin treats are one of my favorites, and they are all super sugary and carby!

Because of the Gestational Diabetes the growth of our Little Miss has been monitored pretty closely to make sure she isn’t getting too big, too fast! Its been fun to get to see her and check on her every few weeks! Even though I know she is always healthy because her movements are constant if I am sitting still for more than 5 minutes!

As I get closer to the end of my pregnancy they grow more and more worried that she will be too large to deliver vaginally. At 32 weeks she was 5lbs, measuring 3 weeks ahead. At 36 weeks she was still 3 weeks ahead weighing 8.5lbs. So they are bringing me back at 39 weeks to check her size one more time before delivery. They are worried her size will be too big. However, they don’t induce labor for large babies.

Because of this I have been doing a lot of research on c-sections since this was not part of my plan originally.

But pricking my finger 4 times a day has definitely not been the highlight of this pregnancy!

My Birth Plan

I also attended a Child Birth Class at the Hospital at my mom’s instance. It was there I learned that I had completely ignored the childbirth part of pregnancy and in my mind always skipped over it straight to the baby being born. I think it’s because I knew my hubby would not be around for her birth and that scared me so I just chose not to acknowledge it. Now that it is so close I have had no choice but to begin to acknowledge the birthing process. Of course just as I began to come up with a plan (As quickly and painlessly as possible- I am terrified of the pain!!), a planned c-section became an option on the table due to Baby L’s supposedly large size!

Highlight of the Third Trimester

The highlight of my third trimester has definitely been getting my maternity photos done. I had them done around 33-34 weeks. I wanted to have a clear belly, but I could see the swelling starting to creep up and wanted to feel great in my pictures! Especially since I am planning to do them on the beach! I mean when in Hawaii, you have to do your pictures on the beach! Here are some of my favorites!!

                          

 

My photographer did an awesome job and I am so pleased with how they turned out.

Some other highlights have been getting to see her squishy little face on the ultrasounds as they monitor her growth. While I would totally give up the extra ultrasounds if it meant I didn’t have to go through GD, I love that I get those little extra moments with her!

But as the pregnancy draws to a close I have some final reflections I want to share:

Even though it hasn’t always been easy, I have loved being pregnant.

As you have read in previous posts and this one as well, my pregnancy hasn’t been the smoothest, or always easy. I was so sick in the beginning, emotionally it was hard knowing our family would be separated for almost her whole first year of life, diagnosed with GD, and back pain. But I wouldn’t trade any of these things! I have loved being pregnant, even when its been hard. I was so excited when I got to the 2nd trimester and pregnancy felt like what I always had imagined. And while we aren’t planning to have another any time soon, I know I will look forward to it all again. Even the constant rib kicks, because they let me know she is doing ok!

As much as I have loved Pregnancy I think I will love being a mom so much more!

All of this has prepared me so much for the challenges that might arrive in motherhood. But I think it will be so much sweeter than this time has been. I can’t wait to cradle her, hold her, snuggle her! I can’t wait to introduce her to family and watch them love her! She is already so loved! And I can’t wait for her to feel that!

As my first pregnancy ends I wanted to share the ups and downs of my third trimester! How her nursery came along & all the highlights!

IF you are new to the blog and wanna check out the rest of my pregnancy journey see my first and second trimester Bump-dates!

Making the Best of Travel During the Holidays

It is wonderful to spend the Holidays in your own home, but sometimes it just isn't always the case. Here is how to Own the Holiday season away from home

As a kid we always stayed home at Christmas time. I can only remember one Christmas when we traveled and I think I was like 4 years old. In college I had to travel from the dorm to my parents house, but it definitely isn’t like traveling away from your own home at Christmas. The last two years though I traveled once to my in-laws’ house for Christmas and once to my parents’ house for Christmas. This year I am staying put (no need to travel with a 3 week old!!), but not in my own home.

Each year away from our home for Christmas has been bittersweet for different reasons. The 1st year we were married we traveled to my in-laws’ house for Christmas. It was bittersweet because it was our first Christmas together and we didn’t get to celebrate together in our own home, making our own Christmas traditions. The 2nd year we went to my parents house. That year it was bittersweet because it was our first Christmas in a house that was just ours, that I had decorated! And this year our baby will be celebrating her First Christmas in a house that isn’t ours. I say bittersweet, because it is always wonderful to spend the holidays with family.

But there are unique challenges to travel during for the holidays.

The First is How to Transport Gifts.

The first year we traveled for Christmas we drove, so it was a bit easier to transport everyone’s gifts. I could wrap them ahead of time and put them in the car. This way they stayed out of preying eyes! It also made traveling with everyone else’s gift easier too. I didn’t have to worry about any space issues. The second year though we flew. This made everything more tricky. We only had finite space in the suitcase, that we shared! For this one we opted to mail presents ahead of time to my parents’ house, and wrap there. Then we brought back an extra suitcase.

Not Being Able to Start our Own Traditions.

Every family has their own unique twist on Christmas traditions. Growing up we always went to Midnight Mass on Christmas eve and when we got home we were allowed to open one present before we went to bed. It was generally one from my grandparents or Christmas jammies to wear to bed that night. Then we woke up in the morning and opened presents from Santa and Mom and Dad before enjoying a Christmas breakfast. It was generally just the 4 of us at Christmas. My husband’s family celebrates differently. They didn’t attend a service on Christmas. They woke up, did presents, and then later that evening had a big family dinner with extended family.

But since we haven’t been able to celebrate Christmas with just us in our own home we haven’t had the opportunity to start making Christmas traditions of our own. I sorta miss that. I want our little ones to be excited about the Holidays and the traditions they bring! Maybe next year we will get lucky enough to spend Christmas as our little family of three!

But there are some great things about traveling for the holidays too!

We have been lucky enough to spend the holidays with our families. I know for military families this is not always possible. But my hubby has been fortunate enough to either get holiday block leave or a 4-day pass for the Christmas weekend.

That means spending time with family that we may live far away from and not get to see regularly. I know this was especially important to my hubby on our first Christmas when we weren’t even living together yet because I was still in school and he was training.

So However you are spending the holidays this year! Make the best of it, someone else is probably desperately wanting to be in your position! 

It is wonderful to spend the Holidays in your own home, but sometimes it just isn't always the case. Here is how to Own the Holiday season away from home

The Best Holiday Gifts for MilSpouses In Your Life

Best Holiday Gifts for MilSpouses in your life that deserve the best Gifts! No better way to celebrate than supporting MilSpouse Businesses in the process.

The Holidays are fast approaching! I can’t believe it is only 6 weeks or so till Christmas! This year really has flown by! And while this Christmas I am so much more less concerned with what I want for Christmas and how I am going to make this Christmas special as it is our baby’s first Christmas (she may only be a few weeks old but still counts) and special because the hubby and I will be separated by duty this holiday season.

But I can’t forget all my fellow military spouses (and I thought I might put together a Christmas list for the hubby to follow as well 😉). I didn’t want to just put together a list of things I wanted for my holiday gift guide, but I really wanted to highlight and feature all the wonderful Military Spouse Businesses that are out there selling great products! So, I went hunting for all the things I would love to receive this holiday season that were made by military spouses for military spouses (we can deal with the kiddos another day because there are so many great options for the kids too, but this is for us!)

For the Organized (Or Not So Organized) MilSpouse

  • Rosie Planner: The Rosie Planner is so cute in its three different covers. With Deployment and PCS check lists it has everything the busy MilSpouse needs to take charge of her family life and Make Things Happen! I love my planners and spend months picking a new one out for the new year and I personally can’t wait to try this planner out in 2018! My favorite planners have separate monthly and weekly planning pages! It will be perfect for keeping my blog organized! And all the activities for me and the Little One. Since this planner comes UN-dated it allows you to start at any point in the year. Whether a year of PCSing, Deployments, or planning coffees is in your future- this gift will have all the MilSpouses in your life covered! To get your Rosie Planner Click here!

For the MilSpouse who loves to Read

    • Sacred Spaces by Corie Weathers: We all have one friend (or maybe we are that friend) that just devours books! Which makes books a perfect gift! As military spouses, we all go through separations- deployments and TDYs. And during those separations we all face challenges that our partner just can’t understand. Both the service member and the spouse left at home. For the service member, it might be a combat mission that changes them; for spouses, maybe we faced childbirth alone. We will never be the same person we were before they left. And those will be our sacred spaces in our marriages. Corie addresses these sacred spaces and how they affect our marriage, and how we can use them to make our marriages stronger rather than pushing us apart.

For the Trendy MilSpouse

  • Rocco & Norah Headbands: For the Busy Mom on the Go what better than a soft headband wrap to keep your hair out of your face, worry free, and totally on point! When your hair looks this good so easily, you are ready to rock your day without a care! Soft fabric that stays in place! If you want you can even purchase matching momma and baby sets! Find their products on their website here!

 

  • Riveter Bags: I know I am not the only one who carries a bag that contains everything I may *ever* need. So, I love a big heavy-duty bag that is still cute and stylish. Enter R. Riveter tote! The R. Riveter tote is heavy duty and durable so it can carry the heavy load we MilSpouses carry around with us on a daily basis without compromising style. I love this bag for its durability! I am constantly going through cheap TJ Maxx purses because I try to carry way to much in them on a daily basis. Because Starbucks is my favorite place to work I often find myself carrying my computer, books, and more. This one stands up to it! Also, now with the Little Miss this bag is big enough to throw in some of her stuff if we are out running a quick errand! What better bag to carry your planner around 😉 Check out their site to see all their fabulous bags and accessories!

                      

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

  • Subscription boxes is one of the top new gifts to give to anyone! Here are two awesome subscription boxes that will come once a month full of goodies.
    • MilSO Box: Dedicated to honor and respect the women holding down the home front, MilSO Box sources gifts meant to excite, comfort, assist, and beautify our warriors at home. Each month’s box will feature 4 to 7 thoughtfully curated gifts.  Even though these items will be a surprise, each subscriber can expect a mix of bath & beauty products, home decor, accessories, helpful gadgets, inspirational items, unique gifts, and of course, anything patriotic! They feature products from Veteran and Military Spouse owned business. When you purchase this gift you can choose a single month, or a monthly subscription where the recipient gets a unique curated box each month! Click here for more information and to shop their site

 

  • The Six Box: Everyday we support our service members and we care for the kids at home. We send care packages, but who of us ever wishes we could receive a care package?? Now with The Six Box you can! Again this is a monthly subscription where you receive a box especially designed to help you care for yourself so you can stay happy and healthy caring for everyone else! It is all about self-care! They call it a Reverse Care Package! They’ve got your six. Click here for more information and to shop their site.

I hope you take the chance to explore these MilSpouse businesses this holiday season as you make your holiday wish lists and gift lists. Don’t let the holidays slip by without getting one of these fabulous gifts! Even if you have to buy it for yourself (don’t worry, we all do it)!

Best Holiday Gifts for MilSpouses in your life that deserve the best Gifts! No better way to celebrate than supporting MilSpouse Businesses in the process.

Choosing a Parenting Style Before Baby Arrives

With so many books available to soon to be parents all claiming to hold all the secrets how do you choose which parenting philosophy is best for you?

 

There are so many books out there that all promote their own philosophy on how to keep your new born happy and yourself sane during the transition of adding a baby to your family. Books like The Happiest Baby on the Block, What to Expect the First Year, On Becoming Baby Wise, and so many more all offer their own solution to getting your baby to sleep more and cry less! I have read so many books on helping toddlers behave, teens be compliant and respectful and parenting strategies for the ages in between, but I have read so little about the infant stage. So as a naturally curious person I dove into books promising to help my infant the most. I wanted to be prepared. But I was quickly confronted with a choice. How do I want to raise and treat my infant? And guess what, she isn’t even here yet! I still have quite a few more months in fact! How am I supposed to make those kinds of decisions before I even meet her!

                              

The trap that these books set for new sleep deprived parents is that if you can’t follow them to a T you are failing your baby! And that simply is not true. There is no one size fits all parenting strategy because no two kids or parents are exactly alike. I have talked to many new moms and they feel the pressure to make sure their feedings last so long, go through extreme measures to make sure their baby stays awake for a full feeding and stays awake for a certain amount of time after the feeding. And when hormones are already raging after birth it can create quite a tense situation between the two parents.

Each book claims they have the best way to calm down your infant so they get the most sleep (theoretically so you do too), and help them be the happiest baby possible! But you must adhere to their premises, their schedules and philosophies behind their decisions. And typically, they say to start from birth! But what if the one you pick doesn’t work for you in application, or your baby just won’t follow an “Eat, Play, Sleep” schedule? Guess what it’s ok! In this post I am going to summarize some of the most popular infant parenting philosophy books. And then show you how you can mix and match them together to make it work for you.

  • Happiest Baby on the Block: The premise behind this strategy is the 4th Babies are not prepared to be out of the womb yet and are still very underdeveloped. By mimicking the sounds and feel of being in the womb it will reduce colic in babies. He has 5 S’s that help you mimic the womb and when done together in the perfect combination induce the calming reflex. The 5 S’s are: swaddling, sucking (nursing, bottle, or pacifier), shushing sounds, side/stomach laying (not for sleep- but in your arms to calm them down), and swinging. When parents do all of this to mimic the womb it will reduce colic. His research is based by studying the parenting strategies of cultures all around the world, particularly those that have the smallest incidence rate of reported colicky babies.
  • Baby Wise: Baby wise follows a strict wake/sleep schedule and has adjustments all for baby’s first year. They are proponents of a strict “Eat, play, sleep” schedule. I feel like this is the most strict parenting philosophy because the book includes timed schedules for each week from one to 52. Including how many naps, how long they should nap, and when they should be woken up. What if your baby just won’t follow this schedule, maybe their metabolism is faster and so they get hungry quicker and end up waking up more often at night? This book also says you should not rock, nurse or comfort your baby to sleep. This can be super difficult for a new mom. Who wants to listen to a new baby scream in protest? Definitely not me, or anybody I know either!

No new parent wants to feel like they are failing their new helpless little baby, but this can happen when parents try to adhere to only one philosophy that was picked before they even meet their baby! But we are often warned to not spoil our infants. Don’t nurse them to sleep, they will pick up bad habits and we will be doing it forever. Don’t let them sleep in the swing- they will never sleep in a crib after that. No pacifiers, they will get attached. Don’t pick them up every time they cry. They will learn to cry to get their way.

But guess what? Babies do not have the mental capacity to be manipulative in that sense. They just don’t know how to get their needs met. But meeting an infant’s needs is quite simple: change, feed, love them. If you can do those three things then all your infants needs will be met. You can’t spoil your baby too much! In fact, there have been recent studies that show cuddling your infant and picking them up on demand when they cry has positive impact on their brain development! Now what new parent doesn’t want that!

SO here is how to take those popular parenting philosophies and make them work for you!

What Baby Wise does well:

reinforce the importance of routine with infants. This is so important. Babies love predictability and routine. It allows them to predict what is going to happen next. That is comforting for an infant who depend on mom and dad for everything. Gives you the basics of sleep training for older babies- after the first 3 months or so. If you want to follow along exactly it provides sample timelines for each age bracket as your baby ages from birth to the first year.

What Happiest Baby does well:

What Baby Wise misses to me is how to help comfort a baby who isn’t following the timelines to a T! It gives parents step by step strategies for how to calm down a baby. It helps gives parents confidence moving forward when comforting their baby. Reinforces the idea that you can’t spoil your baby. If you have to nurse your newborn to sleep then its ok. And provides ages when more and more boundaries becomes helpful, starting around 9 months.

Remember, parenting is not a size fits all endeavor.

What worked for your 1st baby might not work for your 2nd. Or what worked for your neighbor might not work for you, and that’s ok! If you pick one strategy before the baby arrives and it doesn’t work for you when the baby arrives, its ok! Adjust! And enjoy your new bundle of joy!

With so many books available to soon to be parents all claiming to hold all the secrets how do you choose which parenting philosophy is best for you?

Where to Find Help When You Need It

The military provides mental health services in many different forms. Here are some popular sources to find help when life gets hard and need extra support.

Military Life is hard, and we all need some help from time to time. And as much as we hate to admit it, we can’t always do it on our own. But sometimes we need a little bit more help than even a friend, neighbor, or family member can give us. And that is OK. It doesn’t make us broken, damaged, or any other negative idea we get about people who seek counseling. It can be hard to find help when we need it.

Know It’s Ok to Seek Help

Sometimes we exhaust all our coping strategies, self care just isn’t working and we need a little extra support. It is not a sign of weakness, but knowing when you’ve hit your limit can be a sign of strength.

The military has improved the services to meet the mental health needs of service members and families. However, these services are often not publicized. So few people know where to find help when they want/need it.

Where to Find Help:

1. Military Family Life Consultants (MFLCs)

MFLCs are social workers and licensed counselors contracted by the military to provide free, 100% confidential counseling services. They are equipped to handle individual counseling, counseling for children, family counseling, and marriage counseling. If you are looking for them they are housed by ACS. Military One Click recently published an article about what it is like to talk to a MFLC. Hopefully that will help demystify the process.

2. Family Life Chaplains

Most soldiers know that chaplains have 100% confidentiality as well, but are hesitant to seek out help from their unit chaplains because often their offices are very close to the commander’s office and so they may be seen going to and from appointments. Service Members worry that the chaplains are not equipped to do formal counseling, pushing religion down their throats. Most chaplains only have a course or two in counseling during their seminary. Family life Chaplains have degree in counseling. Their sole responsibility is to provide marriage and family counseling services. While yes, they are chaplains they are not there to necessarily provide Christian counseling. I have worked with the family life chaplain’s office at two different posts and provided services through them.

3. Military One Source

If you are looking for other resources, providers that are outside of the military post you can go to Militaryonesource.mil and click on Confidential Help and they have options for face-to-face counseling, online counseling, phone counseling, or video counseling. While I have no personal experience with using this resource I know many people who have had lots of success using these services.

4. Behavioral Health

This is service members least favorite option. The reason this is that since it provided through Tricare, commanders know when you are receiving services here. Service Members can be mandated such as ASAP (alcohol or substance abuse program) or PTSD treatment.

The next time a friend or fellow MilSpouse is suffering, hopefully you will be able to share resources with them. Nobody should have to go it alone, just because they are unaware of the resources available.

The military provides mental health services in many different forms. Here are some popular sources to find help when life gets hard and need extra support.

What is on my Baby Registry

One of the things I was most excited about doing during pregnancy was putting together my baby registry. There are so many components! Here's what I picked!

One of the things I was most excited to do during my pregnancy was making my baby registries! I love browsing baby registries to find the perfect gift for my friends showers! So I couldn’t wait to get started on my own baby registry! I even started before we knew if we were having a boy or a girl, picking out gender neutral items.

I decided to make two registries (see why multiple registries are handy here): Target and Amazon. And between the two I was definitely able to find everything I needed for reasonable prices. Knowing I would not be able to furnish an entire nursery, would have limited storage space and would be sharing a room with baby the first year I chose space conscious, multi purpose items whenever I could.

What I am using as a Crib & Bassinet:

To save space in my room- I knew I wouldn’t have room for a full size crib I found The Graco Travel Lite Crib . It has stages so it can accommodate baby as she grows!

And then for a bassinet I found the Graco DreamGlider that is a two for one item! It is a swing and a bassinet! The back can be moved to an incline for babies that have acid reflux! In all my years as a nanny, no piece of baby gear ever saved me more than the swing, so I was definitely putting one of these on my registry.

Since the crib is an odd shape, I found these sheets and waterproof liners that will fit the mini pack n play! Mine and babies room will be grey and pink, with mint details and flowers. So these grey sheets work perfectly for her bed too! The Kushies Baby Bassinet Fitted Sheet fit and are so cute, plus being 100% cotton will keep her cool in the warm Hawaiian weather. Munchkin Waterproof Changing Pad will protect both the swinging bassinet and the pack n play in even of a blowout!

                                   

Car seat and Stroller:

I had read so many great things about the Chicco Keyfit car seat. So off to the baby store I went to try out how easy it was to lift the car seat, how heavy it was and more. And when I liked it I decided to check out the stroller that went with it! It folds easily and small, and is fairly light. So I chose the Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System to easily meet all my needs! The Keyfit car seat is the number one safety rated car seat across numerous panels including Consumer Report! A baby seat is namely about safety and so I feel confident in choosing this one! If you need more convincing just check out some of the reviews on Amazon!

Play Gym & Toys:

Because I knew I wasn’t going to have a full nursery and I would be saving money from not having to buy a crib, a glider, changing table due to lack of space I thought I might be able to splurge a little bit in some other areas! Like the play gym I picked out. It is the Infantino Grow-with-Me Playtime Teepee. Just look at how cute it is!

I think she will love it, and as she gets bigger we can remove the mobile and she can have a fun play space!

Baby Bath:

Originally I wanted to get a sink bath support since the house is small, and doesn’t have a lot of storage space. Normally those are smaller and take up less space and I figured this would be our best bet. But, the kitchen has no counter space and the bathroom sink has no vanity. So we decided that a smaller tub I can put in the big tub will be the best bet. Then I save money by only having to buy one baby bath. Because I have seen it in action, used it, and its collapsible I picked the Stokke Flexi Bath with Newborn Support.

And then to save my knees and elbows I found these two products! I love the what theme going on with baby bath supplies. For my knees I am getting the Milliard Bath Kneeler Cushion Mat and for an elbow rest, Skip Hop Moby Bath Elbow Saver. I think these will make bath time easier on me!

Baby Carriers:

I was a nanny and a baby sitter for nearly 12 years at this point in my life! So I have tried a lot of baby carriers out. And my favorite is the Baby Tula Ergonomic Baby Carrier! It is so comfortable to wear, wasn’t hard on my back and is cute too! Since you have to purchase an infant insert to support them as newborns I wanted a wrap style a carrier instead for the early weeks. I decided to try the Baby K’tan Original Baby Carrier. I wasn’t excited about the moby wrap and trying to figure out how to wrap it on my own. But the baby K’Tan is based on your t-shirt size so it is already more fitted to my size.

A baby carrier was important to have because my hubby won’t be home during her first year. I can use the carrier so I can get chores around the house done, like laundry.

Nursing Essentials:

I plan to breastfeed our little one when she arrives and so being prepared to nurse was important to me! My favorite nursing bras are the Gilligan and O’Malley brand from Target! They are affordable and so comfortable! I may never go back to wearing an underwire bra again!!

But I wanted to make sure I was prepared as possible so I also went for a Boppy Nursing Pillow on recommendations from family! I know babies make a lot of mess- from leaking diapers to blowouts and spit up, so I wanted to protect the boppy so I could save it for future babies with a Boppy Water Resistant Protective Cover and a washable cover in a fun color, Boppy Pillow Slipcover Trellis Turquoise.

Beside a nursing pillow I wanted to be prepared with breast pads. I got some Medela Washable Bra Pads, and UpSpring All Natural Nipple Balm so that I don’t have to remember to wipe it off before each feeding. I also have already had some tenderness, so I’m worried about the level of sensitivity and tenderness at the beginning. These heating pearls by Lansinoh TheraPearls should provide relief.

Diaper Bag:

The diaper bag is another item I picked out because I had used it while babysitting. It is cute enough to use as your every day bag. Plus its roomy with lots of pockets. The Skip Hop Baby Duo Diaper Bag w/ Mat can double as my purse, meaning I only have to carry one bag. As a bonus it has a changing mat for public bathrooms. And can easily hang on the back handles of the stroller so I won’t have to carry it while pushing her around!

So there you have it! All the basics on my baby registry! I am so excited to be setting up the nursery and getting to start using all these baby products soon! Be on the look out for reviews of them as I get to use them more!

 

What were your favorite registry items?

One of the things I was most excited about doing during pregnancy was putting together my baby registry. There are so many components! Here's what I picked!

Five Fab Fun Fall Date Ideas

Ah the Crisp Fall Air is here! And so its time to get out and enjoy all the fall has to offer! Here are my favorite fall date ideas!

Ah the crisp fall air is finally here (well if you don’t live in the Hawaiian Tropics, that is!) But for the rest of the world we are in the land of pumpkin spice everything and warm cinnamon apples! Some of my favorite flavors are found at home in the fall. I love sweaters, boots, flannel shirts and jeans!

So if you’re loving this fall weather as much as I am then what a better time to get out with your loved one to spend some time together!

Here are some fun Fall Date Ideas to get you up off the couch and out around town!

  1. Bon Fire: Now this might be a group date idea, but it is one of my favorites for the fall. When it’s a bit chilly in the air there isn’t a better way to spend a night under the stars than with a bon fire. Plus, I mean S’mores and warm Apple Cider!! You can’t get better than that!
  2. Pumpkin Patch: Who else loves carving pumpkins?? One year I got so in to it during a competition I actually hurt my hand to the point of needing physical therapy! But hey our cookie monster pumpkin was definitely a hit! But carving a pumpkin starts with a fun trip the pumpkin patch! Dress up and make sure to get some cute photos while you’re there!
  3. A Haunted House: Adrenaline rushes when we are with our loved ones can help us feel more connected! So head on over to the local haunted house for a good spook! And if you get a bit shakey, that’s when you grab your hubby’s hand!
  4. Apple Picking: My hubby eats more apples than most and I love to cook with apples! So picking fresh apples can be a fun way to get outside now that the heat has subsided some! Plus all the apple orchards I’ve ever been too have really yummy apple donuts (one of my favorite kinds of donuts!)
  5. Corn Maze: If you like an adventure getting outside and wandering through a corn maze can be just the ticket!

What are some of your favorite fall date ideas? Let me know in the comments!

If you loved these ideas, then be sure to check out my summer date ideas too!

Ah the Crisp Fall Air is here! And so its time to get out and enjoy all the fall has to offer! Here are my favorite fall date ideas!

How Nesting is Preparing me For Breastfeeding

One area my nesting has centered around is breastfeeding preparation. I wanted to share some of the ways I am preparing to breastfeed with all of you!

A few weeks ago I wrote about my nesting instincts and all the ways I was working on getting ready for our Little Miss before we made it to Hawaii and I could start getting her nursery/my room all set up! Now that I have just two short months left till we meet her, I am nesting in a whole new way! One of the biggest things I am preparing for her arrival is preparing to breastfeed!

I have heard stories that run the gamut.  From being super easy- latching for baby is easy and happens quickly, milk supply comes in easy and in full force. All the way to struggling with latch and supply issues. I know there is no real way to prepare for breastfeeding. So much is dependent on your baby, you just have no idea what will happen. I am trying to educate myself as much as possible. And have as many tools at my disposal as I can to begin with. This includes a determination to breastfeed, and tools like a nursing pillow, nipple balm, and lactation teas and treats.

I want to share a little bit about how I am preparing to be able to breastfeed.

I set up my Registries to Promote Breastfeeding Success.

From the beginning I knew that I wanted to breastfeed my baby if we are able to do so! Of course, if she is having health issues and we struggle then I am totally open to formula or exclusively pump. But it is my goal to breastfeed for the first year. So, when I started setting up my registry I added breastfeeding essentials to my registry.  I registered for a boppy pillow, nnipple balm, nursing cover, nursing pads- disposable and washable, and a rocker to comfortably nurse in. Another essential piece of baby gear that is often recommended to promote breastfeeding is a baby carrier. I also registered from lactation tea and goodies- cookies and granola bars that had good recommendations.

These are not items that many people purchase as shower gifts. However, having them on the registry will help you feel prepared; just like purchasing bottles and formula will help you feel prepared to feed your baby that way.

Another essential tool for breastfeeding is a good nursing bra and nursing tanks. I have purchased a couple of nursing bras from Target and some tanks from Motherhood Maternity; but there are so many options out there.

I’m sure all you mamas-to-be out there know how daunting it can be to try and pick out a nursing bra before you’ve started your breastfeeding journey, so I wanted to share a new option that’s on the market. ThirdLove recently released their nursing bra collection and it looks as cute and stylish as it is functional! Their nursing bras come in wired and wireless versions so you can find something that works for you no matter your preference. It’s nice to be able to stock up on both styles so that once baby comes you can test out which works best for you. Don’t forget that your size is probably going to fluctuate once you’re nursing, so have a variety of sizes on hand to avoid squeezing into a bra that’s suddenly way too small!

I spend time Researching

As a blogger, one of the first places I turned to for information (other than friends and family) was the internet and other bloggers. Reading firsthand accounts about what made their breastfeeding journey a success or failure really helped me nail down what I needed to do to start my journey out on the right foot. So I went and bought the recommended books other bloggers shared. I added the products they wished they had to my registry to keep track of the best tools I needed to succeed.

One of the most popular books was the ­The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding that is put out by the La Leche League. It is a comprehensive manual that includes trouble shooting for when issues arise. I also plan to register and for a breastfeeding class at the local hospital. They talk about latch, storing pumped milk, and other breastfeeding essentials.

 

I talked to Friends and Family

As a part of my research I reached out to friends and family members that have breastfed their babies. They told me about their favorite nursing bras, how they kept track of feeding schedules. They told me which were their favorite nipple creams from natural coconut oil based products to lanolin. What I learned was that what works for one might not work for everyone. But, there are so many options out there that everyone can find something that works for them.

Another friend who is big into natural wellness suggested the use of essential oils. Fennel and Clary Sage are both great essential oils for helping establish your supply. I plan to ask about this at the breastfeeding class.

I Choose a Baby-Friendly Hospital

OK, now I know being on military insurance that I didn’t have a great deal of choice in where I would deliver my baby. But there are a lot of things that Tripler Army Medical Center does to promote breastfeeding success. If there are no required medical interventions necessary from mom or baby then skin to skin is immediate. I will immediately be handed baby to hold and try to nurse her.

After I am moved to the mother-baby recovery unit, then baby remains in the room with me. This promotes nursing success because baby is right there. I won’t have to wait for the nurses to bring her to me to nurse her. This will help me identify her feeding cues even early on. Breastfeeding works on a supply and demand schedule, and so the more I nurse the more supply I will make.

Furthermore, while I am in the recovery unit, I will have access to a lactation consultant. She will be able to help me assess baby’s latch and guide me on nursing positions that will work for us and other helpful tips.

I also plan to take my lactation teas and cookies & granola bars to the hospital with me so that I can begin using them right away. I have heard this is the best way to establish a good supply.

Like preparing for anything as a new mom there is only so much preparation I can do.

Everything will depend on how baby is when she arrives, but I am a planner. Since breastfeeding is important to me I am preparing the best I can. As a SAHM I don’t have to worry about the stresses working moms have when it comes to breastfeeding. I also have a supportive community behind me. My hubby is supportive (even from afar!). My parents who will be primary supports are also supportive. They purchased the rocker for their living room for me to nurse in.  Preparation is key and I can’t wait for her arrival so I can start my breastfeeding journey!

One area my nesting has centered around is breastfeeding preparation. I wanted to share some of the ways I am preparing to breastfeed with all of you!