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!

Plugging into a New MilSpouse Community

Finding a community is a crucial part of making a new duty station feel like home. Here are my tips for plugging into a new MilSpouse Community.

A few weeks ago I shared about the loneliness you can feel when you don’t have a military spouse community around you. But since then I have moved to an area that has a strong military presence (on Hawaii all five branches of the military are represented), and I will be here for a while. It is really important for me to find a community here since my husband will be gone and we will be having our first baby while I am there.

But it really takes intentionality to get plugged into a new community. This intentionality happens before you arrive at your new location and then continues when you arrive.

Before you Arrive:

As soon as I knew I was going to be in Hawaii I went looking on Facebook for their spouse pages and groups that I could join. I went and found their PWOC page, MOPS (Moms of Preschoolers), Stroller Warriors. By joining these pages early I can see what activities they engage in and can begin to plan how to engage with them when I arrive. I was part of PWOC at Ft. Benning, so I knew I wanted to be part of it again. It was such a supportive community and I knew I would need that when I arrived.

MOPS is a new group to me. It is important to me to find a group and community for our little one to be socialized in when she arrives. Stroller Warriors is also a new one to me, but I heard such wonderful things about Stroller Strong Moms at Ft. Benning. This can a fantastic way to stay active after baby.

More than just Military groups, I also joined more general Facebook groups like the Baby Wearing group and La Leche League of Hawaii. I thought these would be important for finding mom community as well when my little one arrives.

By doing my research ahead of time and knowing when these groups meet, I can look for events that I can attend once I arrive. For example, I found that the USO is hosting a What to Expect Shower for all expectant moms right after I arrive and I could register. This helps me be accountable to make it out of my parents’ house!

After Arrival:

After I got here I immediately plunged into the community. Like the USO event I mentioned above, registering before I arrived helped me stay accountable to attend. I could meet women who are in the same place in life as me.

It is not enough to just join the Facebook Groups/Pages and hope that community will find you that way. You must get out of your house and go to the events. I am quite an extraverted situation, but I much prefer to go to new places armed with at least one friend already. This is not always a possibility. Even though I have friends in Hawaii, it will be totally different when I am there for an entire year. Yes, my family is there, but they all work full time, and I will have lots of time on my hands during the day.

Because I am an extroverted person, I know I get down when I am lacking friends and support. This will get me out of the house during the week! So I got out of the house and participated!

Why it is Important:

If ya’ll have been following my blog for a while you know my opinions on the importance of community. Without the community I developed at Ft. Benning moving would have been a nightmare. The ladies I knew there really came together to support me and make sure I could get it all done! They let me stay with them, help me clean up, and give me encouragement I needed to succeed. I know I am going to need this community aspect in Hawaii too.

Finding a community is a crucial part of making a new duty station feel like home. Here are my tips for plugging into a new MilSpouse Community.

Baby Proofing Your Marriage

Becoming a parent is a huge shift in your marriage! But it shouldn't detract from the intimacy between you and your spouse!

We’ve all heard it said that your marriage is more important after you have children, not less. Yet, there has been a huge shift in parenting over the last several years in which we are always putting our children first.

The reason our marriages matter more after children is because our marriage is a model of what healthy relationships look like. And parenting children is so much easier when you are a team. And being a co-parenting team is much easier when you have a solid spousal relationship. Always remember that before you were a mom and dad, you were a husband and wife.

While I was working in the Chaplain’s office at Ft. Benning I read And Baby Makes Three: The Six-Step Plan for Preserving Marital Intimacy and Rekindling Romance After Baby Arrives by John Gottman. I liked it so much that it’s a book I highly recommend to all parents and parents to be (I even list it on my resource page!)

I value Gottman’s insights on marriage and so I really took some of his principles to heart in preparation for when we had our own kids. And it sure is coming in handy now! Gottman has Six Steps for Maintaining Romance After Children. Who doesn’t want to keep that spark alive? Nobody goes into having children intending to neglect their marriage. But during the new born phase so much of a new parents’ life begins to revolve around the new baby. The new baby’s eating schedule, sleeping schedule. And suddenly the intimacy and closeness between husband and wife begins to decrease. It just happens.

Maintaining the same level of romance and intimacy takes a lot of work. Here are just a few of the steps he recommends for maintaining Intimacy and Romance in your marriage:

  • Soften how you bring up a problem
  • The importance of repair
  • Accepting influence
  • Savoring your friendship
  • Giving Grace

Giving Grace

It is not about avoiding problems that may come up as new parents, but finding positive strategies to manage the problems as they occur. Tensions can begin to run high in the first few months home with a new baby. Neither parent is particularly experienced or confident in their parenting abilities. This insecurity can make emotions run high. New moms have a surge of hormones to top it all off making them even more prone to being emotional. Lack of sleep also contributes to the rise in tensions in the home. Nobody can function at their best when they are being awoken every two to four hours.

So small events may turn into larger disruptions than might be normal. When this happens remember to give yourself grace. And to give your partner grace.

Giving your partner grace can be more difficult for new moms. New moms may not see how the transition for their partner is as difficult for dad as it is for mom. New moms, especially those who nurse are now the primary source of survival for a new born and are often still struggling with postpartum symptoms. But both new Mom and Dad need grace during the transition into parenthood. Grace can help promote intimacy in your marriage because it will prevent harboring resentment. Resentment prevents intimacy because it allows there to be separation within the marriage. Resentment can build up walls. Walls up = no intimacy.

Importance of Repair

Because tensions run high during the transition from a two person family to a three person family, repair attempts are so important. Why? Because we may often hurt our spouse’s feelings. Making and accepting repair attempts is more telling of relationship satisfaction than how many arguments a couple has. But it is not enough for one person to constantly be making repair attempts; the other must accept them. By accepting the repair attempt you are coming back together and creating more intimacy. When you reject your partner’s repair attempt you are putting up a wall between you. This prevents intimacy from growing in your marriage.

Savoring Your Friendship

Remember what brought ya’ll together as a couple to begin with. Most likely it has something to do with a friendship that was cultivated. During the postpartum period sexual intimacy is off the table. So finding old ways to create intimacy is important. At the beginning of your relationship, most likely sex was no the element of your relationship that created intimacy. Most often intimacy is created through friendship which leads to a more sexually intimate relationship. Get back to basics and by spending time together you can help maintain levels of intimacy in your relationship. While you may not be able to find time to get away and spend one on one time with your spouse, spending time together as a new family can help you maintain your friendship. It is a way to create new memories and experiences together.

This is just a way to start maintaining intimacy in your relationship after the newest addition has arrived. If you are looking for more information check out Gottman’s book And Baby Makes Three. He has such relevant information for new parents!

Becoming a parent is a huge shift in your marriage! But it shouldn't detract from the intimacy between you and your spouse!

Mindfulness Techniques You can Do to Reduce Anxiety

Life gets crazy, we get anxious; but using mindfulness techniques can help reduce anxiety by centering our mind and regaining focus.

There are a lot of coping mechanisms you can use to combat anxiety and depression. One of the newest areas that is being promoted to reduce anxiety is Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a mental state that is achieved by focusing on the present moment. It is a calming technique that involves acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, or bodily sensations.

How does Mindfulness work?

Mindfulness can be a great relaxation technique, which is one reason why it is used so frequently in reducing anxiety. Anxiety is worrying over things that have already happened or something that may happen. Meaning it is a past or future emotion, and your brain power has been removed from the present.

Mindfulness is a method of bringing your focus back to the present. By doing so you reduce the tension caused by your past or future thinking. The present is a finite period of time. The smaller the period of time, the easier it is to cope with the struggles at hand.

An Example

a couple of weeks ago my stress levels were going through the roof. We were having issues selling a car we couldn’t afford to fix (it didn’t run), trying to fix a car that did run so it could be shipped, extra blood draws and labs for monitoring my health during pregnancy. I was struggling, no matter how hard I tried, everything seemed overwhelming because there was just too much to do, and not enough time. However, had I used some mindfulness techniques I may have been able to center myself more quickly. Rather than taking a day or two I could have calmed down and relaxed in a few hours.

So the next time you’re getting anxious, overwhelmed, and can begin to fathom solutions to your problems try out some of these mindfulness techniques and see if they help!

Mindfulness Techniques

  • Breathing Exercises:

    • Deep breathing is an excellent way to draw your focus on of worry and into a calming presence. When we begin to get anxious we begin breathing rapidly and shallowly. The logical part of your brain shuts off when overwhelmed, and so we can’t get to a place where we can problem solve. By slowing our breathing intentionally, we create a pattern that automatically pulls our brains out of the anxiety provoking thoughts. When physical symptoms of anxiety dissipate we can begin to problem solve. Deep breathing creates a reduction in the physical sensations that anxiety brings. Centering you into the present, rather than past or future.  It is recommended that you spend at least one minute, but up to five minutes can have an even more lasting effect. If you are having a hard time focusing on breathing, try listening to a YouTube video, or an app that has guided breathing exercises.
  • Grounding exercises:

    • When we are anxious we become overwhelmed and recess into our thoughts, losing track of our surroundings. A simple way ground yourself bringing your back down is to find 5 things you can smell, touch, see, and hear. It is all about using your senses to identify your current surroundings. While yes, taste is one of the senses, unless you’re eating something it isn’t useful as a grounding sense. The way it works is when you become overwhelmed and you begin to recognize those feelings open up your senses. I like to start and encourage others to start with sight. I think it is easiest to start with identifying 5 objects that you see around you. Maybe it’s a stop sign and a tree, maybe it is your dog. Either way it will orient you to the location in which you are in. Then identify 5 sounds you hear- cars going by, the tv, birds singing. Repeat with things you can smell, and things you can touch. This will help bring you back to your present situation.

Why Mindfulness Works

Mindfulness has a way of restructuring the wiring in our brain. This means that the more we practice Mindfulness when we are anxious and stressed, the less stress we will feel overall. We will be more equipped to handle the challenges that come up against us.

You don’t have to be perfect at it; just have to keep trying. As a counselor, I have worked on this in my own practice with myself. As a military wife, there are so many circumstances that come up in my life that I have no control over, it is so easy to become overwhelmed by it. That is why I turn to mindfulness techniques to regain my focus on what I can control.

You don’t have to be a counselor or being seen by a therapist to manage any anxiety in your life using these mindfulness techniques, or many others.

Have you ever tried mindfulness as a way to manage your anxiety? Did it work for you?

Life gets crazy, we get anxious; but using mindfulness techniques can help reduce anxiety by centering our mind and regaining focus.

What to do when you Can’t Nest

One classic phenomenon in pregnancy is the desire to clean and prepare the house for baby, but what if you are pregnant and aren't where baby will make his or her appearance? Here are some ways to fulfill the need to nest when you can't do it physically.

I have always been super excited to decorate my baby’s nursery long before we had our first positive pregnancy test, to be honest, well before we even decided to start trying for a baby! I had a secret Pinterest board full of baby nursery ideas for both boys and girls! Of course soon after I found out I was pregnant I realized I wouldn’t be decorating any nursery! To say I was a little disappointed might be an understatement, but I quickly moved past it, and started dreaming about ways I could make a wonderful shared space for baby and I at my parents’ house! But dream is all I can do until I am more than seven months pregnant and starting my third trimester!

Not all pregnant women experience the phenomenon of nesting, but it is the intense feeling of wanting to clean and prepare your home for baby’s arrival. And all women experience at different points in the pregnancy. But I am a prepare-er, so I feel like I have felt this instinct since fairly early in the pregnancy, but without being able to really do much to prepare for her arrival since I had two moves to get through between when I found out I was pregnant and when our little Miss will finally make her arrival! This hit especially hard after the baby showers! I had all this cute baby stuff and all I could do was put it in boxes and suitcases as I prepared to fly to Hawaii.

For Military wives we may not always get the opportunity to nest in the traditional sense, maybe our nesting instincts get sublimated into a pack out and move out cleaning. Maybe we know we will be moving within a couple months of baby’s arrival and so we don’t want to put so much energy into making a Pinterest worthy nursery! Maybe we are living in a hotel waiting for housing at a new duty station when our next bundle of joy arrives. Whatever the case is, we can find ways to direct that energy and make the best out of it!

While I know the urge to nest typically hits the hardest towards the end of the pregnancy, it still has been challenging to be able to do so little to prepare for baby early. So here are some things I am doing to help ease my anxiety before I have a physical place to prepare:

  1. Ordering bigger pieces of gear and having them sent to my parents’ house. By having some of the bigger items already waiting for me it will be easier to set up the room when I get there with minimal rearranging once my bed is purchased (better believe that is the first stop we are making on the way back from the airport!). Since her bassinet and crib (A Graco dream glider bassinet and swing in one; and Graco travel lite crib with stages pack n play) are already at the house I can sleep easier knowing that should she make an early arrival she will have a place to stay.
  2. Lots of online research. I spent so much time researching the best baby items for small spaces. I have known since the beginning of the pregnancy that me and baby would share the one extra bedroom at my parents’ house for just about her whole first year! So, finding products that served multiple purposes, were small/portable and most space effective were so important to me. Thank goodness for Google and Pinterest. It made it so much easier to decide exactly which products I needed. Also, it was helpful to feel like I was picking out strollers and car seats without having to purchase and then transport large items. I now know exactly what I want and can order it as soon as I get there.
  3. Thankfully I am going to be living with my mom and dad, so I can send them hunting for items on island to get for me, so they will be ready for me when I get there. I can go to my local Target here look at it all and then send my mom the link so she can find it at her local Target! She can do that with baby items too! I have sent her to her Target with my baby registry so she can tell me which items are more expensive at her local target so that I can get those before I get there or order online instead of paying for the island mark-up!
  4. And finally, spend countless hours envisioning the space. Since my parents have been there for the last 8 or so years I have spent a great deal of time at their house for vacations even though I have never lived there. So making layouts of the room in my head has been helpful so when I get there, if I am too big to move it all around myself I can direct my dad with how I want everything to be!

So while I may not be able to nest in a traditional sense, I have found ways I can prepare for baby and reduce my anxiety so I don’t feel pressured to have everything done in the first few days upon arrival!

What are some of the non-traditional ways you have nested in preparation for your new addition?

One classic phenomenon in pregnancy is the desire to clean and prepare the house for baby, but what if you are pregnant and aren't where baby will make his or her appearance? Here are some ways to fulfill the need to nest when you can't do it physically.

Pregnancy Update: 2nd Trimester

When I shared our pregnancy announcement I included a pretty inclusive recap of my first trimester including the hardships of morning sickness and emotional sensitivity that I can thank my lovely hormones for. So now that I am through with my 2nd trimester I thought I would share another pregnancy update including our Gender Reveal!

So the start of my 2nd trimester marked our move from Fort Benning. Funnily enough during this pregnancy I will be in a different state for each trimester. So being home in South Carolina has been fun for this trimester because thankfully I am feeling so much better, no more morning sickness and nausea! There was a light at the end of the tunnel!! And pregnancy is really starting to be more like how I imagined it to be, although I didn’t look anything close to pregnant till I really hit 6 months! Now that bump is poppin’! It has been fun to be with family and friends when I am actually feeling good about being pregnant and getting to celebrate this time and prepare for baby with those who will love this baby along side of me. However, everyone told me my energy would be back in the 2nd trimester, and that simply hasn’t happened yet! I still need a nap during the day if I want to be awake past 9pm! But hey, I will take that over nauseated any day!

One of my favorite parts of the 2nd trimester was getting to find out the gender of our little bundle of joy. So Are ya’ll ready to find out???

I am so excited to say we will be having a little baby girl!! Everyone was right except my hubby- he thought it was a boy! I personally had no inkling one way or the other, although in my dreams (when I wasn’t dreaming it was twins) it was always a little girl! Everyone said they saw me with a little princess, and you know what, she isn’t even here yet and she is already a little diva. When I leave for Hawaii next month, she will have her own suit case of clothes she already has so many! (I just can’t help myself at TJ Maxx and the Consignment stores sometimes- they are just so cute! And so affordable!!).

She is a super active little baby! She kicks and flips and elbows me all day long until her daddy comes home from work (he still hasn’t felt her move because of this) and then starts up again once he is asleep! She has kicked me so hard several times I have actually seen my belly jump! I love feeling her move around in there letting me know she is ok! I just wish she would cooperate with me so her daddy could feel before he leaves. But with us as her parents, I am truly not surprised by her intense stubbornness.

She confirmed her stubbornness during the anatomy ultrasound. When the technician was trying to get some of the brain and head measurements, she put her hands over her head to block the camera! She was being too funny!! It took a while but eventually everything turned out looking perfect! We have a precious healthy baby!

Putting together baby registries has been so much fun also! I chose to do Target & Amazon! Both had really fun welcome gifts! It was so much fun to pick out all the things for baby! And imagining how they are going to be used!

I can’t wait to tell her how loved she was before she even made her appearance! Since this was the only trimester I would be near my husband’s family, my mom’s extended family and my friends, there were two showers thrown for her! My mom decided to have a gift card shower during our family reunion with her side of the family! Knowing I still had one move ahead of me before Little Miss arrived she wanted to make my life easier when traveling! She had some of the cutest games: the price is right! & Yummiest cupcakes!

Also while I was with my mom she took me shopping for some maternity clothes. And even though I didn’t have a very visible bump till month 6, the stretchy waist band of the shorts was so much more comfortable than my previous shorts! I found some really cute options!

And then my Sister in Law through another great shower with friends and my husband’s family! We had a great time, and I was so impressed with her gift wrapping skills! She had wrapped a whole clothes line of baby clothes ranging from new born to 24 months for us!! It was so cute! And I told her even the clothes pins would come in handy since my parents don’t have a dryer and they still line dry all their laundry!!

(that is my sister in law wearing the baby!)

So all in all the 2nd trimester has been really great so far! But it has not been without its difficulties either. Now that my appetite is back with a vengeance we don’t have a kitchen to make any food, living in a hotel is kind of the worst sometimes. And so, I can’t just make whatever food I am craving and fresh foods can be hard to come by!

Another drawback of the hotel room is there is really nowhere else to sit in the room other than the bed, which turns out is killer on your back to just sit in bed all day! So I have taken to doing all my work at Starbucks because at least I can sit in a chair for a few hours a day! Driving can also be hard on my back. One way I am alleviating some of this pain is through prenatal massages!

Heartburn is also a killer now. Being in the hotel means limited fridge space, and I get tired of water quickly so I have had the crystal light lemonade packets in our room, which have always gone down well before, but now I am finding that lemonade is giving me heart burn ☹ Tums have come to my rescue many many times!

Finally, not being able to nest has been hard, especially after all the baby showers and all the cute baby things I have! But only a few more weeks till I am in my final location before the birth! (+ more on this later!)

As my 2nd trimester comes to a close I am so excited about the final trimester, getting the baby’s room (also known as my room) settled at my parent’s house and getting into a good routine before the baby comes. Hopefully building a community of friends in Hawaii so that when the baby gets here I will be able to get out of the house. What a crazy journey it’s been so far!

Check out my latest BumpDate! The end of my 2nd trimester! It's a ....!

Always on the Move: Lo & Sons Luggage Review

This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links

Let’s get honest right now, traveling with the military is no joke. And if we had enough suitcases to take all of our belongings with us they would need their own room, and that just is not feasible anywhere! That is why I am here to share my luggage review of Lo & Sons!

Our luggage goes through the ringer- moving trucks, whole families + pets in the car, rough handling by the airlines. This summer alone I have spent my weeks crisscrossing the state of South Carolina just to see everyone before we leave the country for the year! And I want to tell you about my new wonderful travel bag!

Quality luggage is important to me, as someone who travels so frequently I always find it such a waste when I buy a suitcase of a duffel bag and it only lasts a few trips before it falls apart. I have had Vera Bradley duffel bags that have had the handles ripped when handled to roughly when checked on the airplane. I have had suitcases where the lining rips almost immediately; where wheels stop spinning, or handles are broken. And I know I am not alone in this.

I recently discovered Lo & Son’s luggage. I have the Catalina Weekender bag, and let me tell you it has held up to four airplane trips and numerous road trips over the last several months! I received this stylish canvas weekender bag in April. And I have not been disappointed. The first trip I took with it I was packing for nearly two weeks! And it fit everything (plus several unnecessary pairs of shoes)! For a weekender bag, I thought that was pretty good!

Here are some photos from my last 2 week trip I packed into my weekender:

I was able to fit all my toiletries, makeup, three pairs of shoes, 3 dresses, 4 shorts, 1 pair of pants, a skirt, mix and match tops for it all plus 2 pairs of PJs, gym clothes, & my bathing suit!!

It also made a wonderful carry-on bag. Since it is canvas it is soft sides make it easy to squeeze into even full overhead compartments!  The cross body strap made it easy to carry through the airport! Even for this preggo momma.

Why I love this bag?

  • The bottom compartment for shoes and toiletries. I love that I don’t have to keep my shoes or potentially exploding toiletries with my clothes.
  • Outside pocket for easy access. It has a great outside pocket that I can slip my phone charger into as I am walking out the door. Then I can easily slip it out in the airport.
  • Heavy duty canvas makes it super durable. I know I am not the kindest to my luggage between trying to squeeze it into overhead compartments or just throwing it into the car with all the dog supplies the stitching and canvas have proven to be extremely durable.
  • I love the beautiful blue color! It is a is dark so it doesn’t show a lot of dirt! Which is excellent.
  • I love that when I am not using it, it folds flat completely making it extremely easy to store! This is super important for me because I may not always have a lot of room to store extra luggage!

This bag is great for military families because it extremely durable, can fit two weeks’ worth of clothes in it so it’s perfect if having to drive cross country without and laundry facilities or if you’re flying home for the weekend to visit family. If you’re interested in checking out their full line of bags and suitcases check them out here!

When you're always on the move a great suitcase is a Must Have Item! Here is my luggage Review of Lo & Son's duffle bag! A necessity for MilSO's on the Go!

I received the Catalina Weekender bag as compensation in exchange for writing this review. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.