Coming Soon: We are Pregnant!

We have another big announcement for us over at Adventures of a Young Wife

This week I have a special announcement to make. So far 2017 has been a year of great challenges and change for our little family. First we finally got word that My husband was switching branches within the Army to avoid Medical Discharge (YAY!!!)! But with that came an unaccompanied assignment to Korea, and I would spend the year with my family. This meant a big move for us (more on that later…)!

But then we got an even bigger surprise!

We found out we are expecting our very first baby!

 

I found out I was pregnant just before St. Patrick’s Day! I took the opportunity to surprise my hubby with the news in a fun way.

He came home from work and found this on the kitchen counter! Of course I miscalculated the due date by a month! He came home and couldn’t believe it! We had been planning for this baby of course and were thrilled that it was here! We qucikly began planning how we were going to tell our families.  since my family is farther away I knew it would be harder to pull of a cute surprise for them! But we set to work on making sure we could get all of his family together for Easter Weekend! And with a little bit of work, we finally got there! I made Easter baskets for all of them with an extra special surprise! Of course I filled them with chocolate (because seriously, what is an Easter basket without some really good chocolate.) And one egg had a surprise pacifier in it!

It took a bit, but finally everyone got our surprise!

I would love to be able to tell you that this has been the easiest pregnancy ever, I mean it only seems fair on some level with everything else we have going on!

But that would be far from the truth. I was pretty sick, and so lethargic that some days just getting out of bed and coming downstairs would zap the remaining energy that I had. I had zero appetite for many weeks and was sustained on peanut butter toast and blueberry muffins for a few weeks (not the healthiest). And my poor husband lost  much help around the house with the cleaning and cooking!

Thankfully as far as husband’s go (in my entirely biased opinion) I have one of the best! So he easily picked up some of the slack, as we started into our crazy PCS last month.

Not only was has this pregnancy been hard physically so far, it has also been hard emotionally in many ways.  As exciting as this pregnancy has been so far, it has been quite an emotional pregnancy, knowing that my hubby will miss so much of our babies first year!

It is hard knowing that I will be bringing our baby into the world on my own (well with my parents) and that grandma and grandpa will be a bigger influence in our babies first year than his or her own daddy. And how to I reconcile that. How do I help my husband feel included and an influence in the babies life without having to be present 24/7. While we grapple with these realities that military life has thrown our way we can’t be more thrilled to start celebrating this life!

We have another big announcement over here at Adventures of a Young Wife! And we can't wait to continue sharing this journey with yall!

Four Deployment Questions You Need To Ask

Deployment is hard! First time deployments can be even more difficult because we don't know what to expect! Rachel from Countdowns and Cupcakes is here to answer our deployment questions!

 

When my husband deployed for the first time, I learned a valuable lesson: I should have asked more questions of him, of myself and of others who’d been there.  But everything was too scary, too unknown for me to even start wrapping my head around. Growing up in a non-military family, I had no frame of reference for what a deployment would be like and I certainly had not prepared myself as well as I would have liked. Looking back, I know that there were certain deployment questions everyone should ask, but are usually too afraid to.

What if the worst happens?

I know. We’re really starting out with a doozy, but this one is beyond important to ask before your first deployment, and I would argue before each one that follows.  You need to update wills, understand final wishes and understand what will happen if the worst comes to your door.  Who gets notified? What are your responsibilities? What are your loved one’s wishes? How will you continue to pay the bills?

As some of these things can change throughout a military career, it’s important to have this discussion before each deployment. Have a good honest conversation before your service member leaves so that you feel a bit more in control.

So um, what about the…you know?

We’ve officially gone from one end of the serious spectrum to the other. Or have we? Intimacy during deployment is a legitimate question and one that you should discuss with your loved one.  Technology has come a long way in offering you options, but just remember that once something is out on the Internet, it never really goes away. Be careful and make decisions together that you’re both comfortable with.

One of the benefits of deployment (or any long term separation) is that you can actually increase aspects of intimacy through more conversation. You may be surprised to find that you finish a deployment feeling closer to your loved one than when it began.

Should family be invited to homecoming?  

There are probably as many different answers to this one as there are different types of families. My personal opinion is this: invite whoever is going to make that moment better for you and your service member. If that’s extended family, friends and their high school biology teacher, go for it. If it’s just you, that’s ok too.

Homecoming and reintegration can be a very emotional time for everyone involved and additional family and friends being in attendance (or even staying with you after) may make things harder. Be honest with yourself, your service member and your family/friends about your preferences. Offering up a good compromise (inviting people out a few weeks later) may help folks accept your decision. Just remember that ultimately, it is your decision and everyone will understand.

How am I going to make it through this?

Oh boy. I ask myself this question every.single.deployment and am not sure I have a perfect answer. Each deployment requires you to adjust to a unique set of circumstances, so one deployment’s answer won’t necessarily hold true for the next. For example, a deployment without children is a very different beast than the next one that features a toddler.

But I have learned one thing: making it through a deployment is largely contingent on me staying busy. No, it does not actually make time go by faster, but it does reduce the amount of time you have to wallow in missing someone. Pick up a new hobby, get back in shape, send outrageous care packages to your service member, throw yourself into your career or start your own business. Find something that excites you and fills your free time with fun.

 

Deployments are scary; there is no way around that. But if you ask the right questions beforehand, you may feel more in control of the situation. Don’t be afraid to ask your service member “what ifs” or reach out to fellow military spouses for advice. You will make it through this deployment!

Rachel is a proud Navy wife, avid reader, dog mom, baker and care package maker. She blogs all about life as a military wife at Countdowns and Cupcakes, a place where military spouses, new and experienced alike, can come for support, encouragement, a little humor and maybe a care package idea or two. She can also be found on InstagramTwitterFacebookPinterestEtsy and Bloglovin.

Deployment is hard! First time deployments can be even more difficult because we don't know what to expect! Rachel from Countdowns and Cupcakes is here to answer our deployment questions!

Military Spouse Appreciation: It takes a Village

There is no way we could do this all on our own, even when we can't find the courage to ask for help, someone will always be there to help. A true testament to it takes a village

“It Takes A Village”

We have all heard this phrase in reference to raising children, but I am here to tell you it has wider application.

As some of my regular readers know I have been going through quite the moving process, and like all good military moves it involved 4 months of hurry up and wait, and then 2 weeks to get it all done (and no I am absolutely not exaggerating!). My husband received orders to Korea for the fall, in February this year. While he is gone for the year we decided the best thing to do was to go live with my family. But of course because my family lives in Hawaii it caused all sorts of issues because that’s OCONUS. So after 8 weeks (that’s right it took eight weeks to get 5(maybe?) signatures) we finally have permission for me to go live with mom and dad!

Only here is the catch the day we got the exemption to come through was less than 10 days out from my husband’s report date!!!!!!!

And here is where it comes to it takes a village! I am now fully responsible for being present during 4 days of movers and packers (because out stuff is going three different places!) because my husband has to leave before they were able to schedule movers because it was such a tight turn around. And then after the four day pack out I get to deep clean our apartment so we can get our security deposit back.

While as you know from a couple weeks ago that I am the one used to being on the move, I have never packed up a fully furnished house on my own in less than a week! But you know what? I have been blessed to be part of an amazing community here. One that always has a hand out offering assistance however they know how. Whether its taking my dog to be out of the way of movers, letting me crash at their house when the movers take my bed. Lending me cleaning supplies to get my apartment inspection ready!

There have been points over the last couple weeks that I have been so stressed that I literally just sit on my couch, watching Gilmore Girls, making endless lists in my notebook, constantly checking and rechecking Facebook and Pinterest but so unable to get up and actually tackle anything off my lengthy to-do list.

Thankfully I have some wonderful ladies in my life who have stepped in and helped me realized how capable I am of taking care of business. By stepping in to take one thing off my plate, like offering to take my puppy for the day so I don’t have to stress about boarding her, or telling me I don’t have to worry about taking apart my bed frame before the movers get here, or just giving me a lovely bouquet of flowers or thank you gift, and encouraging texts to lift my spirits. Even the cyber-space community has been there when I reached out looking for guest posts (Get ready to hear from Rachel next week!) so that I can check one more thing off my list in these crazy weeks.

While I am always the first to offer help in any situation, I am rarely quick to ask for help when I need it. I would rather try to tackle it on my own without burdening anyone else. While Military Spouse Appreciation day was last week, I think the lovely ladies in this community that has rallied around each other deserves much more than just one day of appreciation because we wouldn’t make it through this crazy life without each other.

Encouraging Positive Behaviors in Your Children: Using Behavior Charts Effectively

Behavior charts are one of the most effective methods of encouraging positive behavior in our childrens

Do you struggle to encourage good behaviors in your kid? Do they do what you ask them to do?

It can be difficult to encourage and reinforce good behavior because so often we are employing the wrong strategy! We are more likely to discipline negative behaviors in our children then we are to encourage and reinforce the positive behaviors.

SO how do you encourage those positive behaviors you might ask? By reinforcing them! A great way to do this is with Behavior Charts, you know like the ones they have in the classrooms! Every kid wants to be on “green” or whatever the top category is, and often feels ashamed when they fall below. But time and time again I have clients come back to me telling me the behavior charts just aren’t working for them.

The trick to behavior charts is rewarding good behavior, and rewarding it often! Behavior charts are not used to punish bad behavior. The more we reward positive behaviors, the more they will engage in desired behaviors. As much as we might think otherwise, our kids want to please us! They want out praise! And so, when they get our praise and attention for completing good behaviors they will continue to do so!

This is not to say we shouldn’t punish our children, but that is another post for another time!

Children are extremely visual operators. As much as we can praise them verbally, hug and kiss then when they listen, having a visual, tangible reward can be helpful. We will have an even greater impact when our verbal praise is paired with a concrete tangible reward. That is exactly what a behavior chart does.

But why do so many people come back saying it isn’t effective? Because sometimes we are over ambitious with the number of behaviors we start with. Or we are inconsistent with rewarding the good behaviors. So here it is:

My Simple Instructions to Rewarding Good Behavior Using Behavior Charts
  • Use separate charts for each child
  • Only start out with 3-5 behaviors
  • Consistently give them praise and marks when the complete or preform the behaviors listed
  • Agree when starting: ___ # of checks/stickers = 1 reward (i.e. ice cream, a dollar store toy, a special outing, 15 minutes extended bedtime)
  • When they master those behaviors, add in more behaviors slowly
  • All behaviors stated positively
    • Example: Do ________. Instead of Don’t do ___________.
  • Do not remove checks for bad behavior!

 

I have created a behavior chart that you can download here. Print one for each child. Then sit down with your kids and decide on what 3 to 5 behaviors you want to address first! Remember these are things you want your child TO DO, like pick up their toys, eat dinner, stay in bed at night. Then both you and your child should sign it, it is a contract. They are agreeing to do the behaviors, you are agreeing to reward them for doing so. Each time they do one of the behaviors listed, praise them verbally and give them a check mark!

Depending on the age of your children I recommend between 10-15 check marks equal a physically reward. You want them to be able to earn the tangible reward every week to two weeks. They younger they are the more frequent the tangible rewards should be.

The key to behavior charts are: consistency, reinforcement not punishment, and follow through. When we get lazy and stop praising our children and giving them check marks, we will most likely see a decline in the good behaviors we desire. Eventually these behaviors will become habits, but we should always keep a sharp eye out to praise our kids. Have you ever heard of the movement catch them doing good? This was developed to encourage parents to keep an eye out for the good behaviors kids do.

Military parents, I know how hard it is to keep good behavior patterns going through times transitions. Between deployments, PCSs and mom/dad coming and going, friends PCSing can all disrupt our children’s behavior patterns! If you looking for great ways to help lead your children through these transitions and maintain good behavior hop over to my Military Parenting Page and check out my program coming soon: Parenting Coaching Designed specifically for Military Parents to address the unique concerns that we face with our children. Take a moment and sign up for updates and receive a FREE GIFT: An Easy How to Guide for Promoting Positive Behavior in our children to help go with your Behavior Chart.



Have you tried behavior charts to encourage positive behavior in your kids? Did it work? Let me know in the comments below!

Behavior Charts are an effective method for reinforcing and rewarding the positive behaviors we want to see more of in our children. Having trouble using them? Here is my simple explanation for behavior charts used effectively!

Growing Closer to your Spouse: Learning from Each Other

When we come into a marriage we have our set of unique experiences we bring. We can either let these differences get between us or we can learn from each other and grow closer together

We all know military life comes with lots of moving. But in some ways I feel like an old pro at that! No I am not a military brat, but I did move around quite a bit as a kid. I can’t count on two hands the number of houses I lived in before I went off to college, and in the three years since I have graduated college I have lived in as many houses! I know crazy! So I totally get the feeling of never having deep roots or feeling like you can settle all the way into a home because you know you are going to be packing up and moving soon. My hubby grew up in the same house his whole life. His parents have been in that house for 30+ years! Talk about different childhood experiences!

Where his roots went deep, mine went wide! Home became much more generalized in my mind. It was the people I was with and the experiences I was having. During my senior year of high school after my parents had already moved, rather than the house I was staying in, my church became home to me. Later it was another’s house and their family completely took me in! So, you see I made a home out of the community I was surrounded with! It was the same when we were overseas, but I was really young then and much more outgoing!

His roots run deep. He had grown up in a two-stop light town (he says he remembers when they put the second one in!) He still hangs out with the two guys he has been friends with since he was a toddler! When we moved him here to GA, he didn’t know how to pack boxes or a car efficiently. He never had to! I am a master of it! I fit an entire kitchen’s worth of items, plus bedding and bathroom necessities into the trunk of my mini SUV! He struggles more to be away from home, because he hasn’t had as many experiences outside the state of SC. It is all he has ever known.

Neither one of us are right or wrong to have a different root system. It’s a by-product of how we are raised! Many couples face these kinds of differences. We have had vastly different childhoods. So, we can empathize with how the other is feeling, but we can never truly understand what the other went through and learned because of those experiences. This is part of the reason that nearly 60% of a couple’s problems are unsolvable (other contributors are differences in belief systems and gender differences).

This is where we get to learn from our spouses! Learning something from our spouses is one of the greatest ways to connect even deeper. Not only do we get to learn more about their interest or skills, we get to spend time together. And even more it gives us greater appreciation for their perspective on life. Although my husband says he prefers to stay out of the way while I am packing, when he helps me, we learn together the best way to make all our stuff fit then he can gain a deeper understanding of my experiences. Also, now when he moves by himself he will have some tips for how to do it himself. And we get to spend time together, which in military life we all know is to be cherished! Especially with a separation looming on the horizon.

In marriage, we are called to separate from our families and cleave to each other, becoming one. This is hard to do when we don’t understand each other. I mean typically before we get married we date, talk about common interests and get to know each other. But marriage means doing so on an even deeper level, something we could never accomplish while we are dating. As we learn from one another we grow even closer together, losing ourselves in each other (not to mean we cease being our own person). This also means that we can’t hang onto ideas just because they are something our parents did. We have to find ways to be together, be our own family. We do this by seeking understanding, and appreciate their view, and then possibly find a new way of doing things together.

If we appreciate our spouses more, than we will have less time to criticize our spouses. Criticism is one of the roots of issues that can lead to divorce. It can lead to contempt for our spouses, which is the leading cause of divorce. Learning from your spouse can be a way to divorce proof your marriage! And who doesn’t want that! Nobody’s goal in marriage is to set out to fail. But we do have to work to succeed. We can’t expect our marriages to work if we are not working on our marriages. There is always room for improvement, even in the best of marriages.

You can teach and learn anything from your spouse from a hobby, a religion, a culture, an area of interest like history, or a skill! I have learned a lot about football, especially Carolina Gamecock football! I have also learned a lot about history and (unfortunately) some grammar!

What Have you learned from your spouse?

When we come into a marriage we have our set of unique experiences we bring. We can either let these differences get between us or we can learn from each other and grow closer together

How my Puppy Eased my Transition to being a Military Spouse

There were so many times I was lonely in a new city, by my sweet puppy helped ease me into the transition!

“A dog is man’s best friends”

Well I don’t know about all dogs, but my Lucy truly has been my biggest comfort. I had just moved to a new city and state. And to top it all off my husband spent more days in the field than he did at home. I have seen a lot of people talk about how having a pet can be a grounding for a military child. But I haven’t seen much about how comforting a pet can be to the spouses who are constantly moving around.

I am sure if you follow me on any social media, have seen pictures of my sweet Lucy. Before we got her I had wanted a puppy for months! But I was still in school so it had to wait! But as soon as I graduated we were going to get that puppy! I was determined! Although there was a lot of disagreement about what kind of puppy to get. My husband wanted one that would grow up to be a monster, a horse our children could ride! I wanted what he called, an ankle biter, or as I called it the most adorable things ever!

Anyway, by chance I found the sweetest little thing, and she needed a home! And we gave her a home! Just look at her, how could you not!

Anyways, Lucy is absolutely my buddy, according to my husband she pouts and mopes when I leave the house. She is my best cuddle buddy! And when my husband had all those long weeks in the field, I had a friend. I was not used to being alone, I had lived with roommates before I came here, and was so busy I was rarely home. Now I am in Columbus, living with my husband, who for a while was barely home, with no where to go! Thank goodness for Lucy!

Not only did she keep me company when I didn’t have anyone else around to listen to me! But also because having a puppy was such a great way to get out of the house and meet new people. Having Lucy made me get out of the house. We don’t have a backyard so the only way for her to get out is to take her for a walk or to the park. She is little bundle of endless energy! Lucy is destructive when she doesn’t get out to play! And she has destroyed every “indestructible” toy in 30 minutes tops!

So here is how my puppy helped me ease into being a Military Wife

She forced me out of my comfort zone.

I had never had a dog before, I grew up with cats and hamsters (which my children will never get!!). So first she forced me to stay at home instead of traveling back to South Carolina. If I didn’t have Lucy it would have been so easy for me to just drive back to Columbia or Charleston each week while my husband was gone. But traveling with a dog is much more work! Being in a position that I was “forced” to stay at Benning gave me the opportunity to meet friends that I will have forever now!

She got me out of the house.

I could have stayed on the couch watching Gossip Girl, Friends, Gilmore Girls, and One Tree Hill forever. I have discovered that having a puppy in a way is like having kids, by making a “date” to go to the dog park with another lady the dogs give us an excuse to get out and get to know each other better! Going hiking together worked the same way. It got me out of the house and interacting with real people. And she is definitely a dog that needs to get out of the house, the only indestructible toy I have bought this year she hasn’t destroyed is the KONG Extreme Dog Toy!

She gave me company.

I am one of those pet parents that talk to my dog. In general I am a chatty person so living “alone” is not my forte. I love being around other people. So while I wasn’t exactly with other people I was at least able to talk to her, cuddle with her and play with her while I was at home instead of just twiddling my thumbs.

She comforted me.

As we all know dogs can be really attuned to people’s emotions. That is why they make such great service and therapy animals. While obviously Lucy is just a puppy, and she is far from trained she is attuned to me and can easily read when I am feeling sad, angry and happy. When I was home by myself and feeling lonely and sad, without any prompting Lucy would run and hop on the couch. She gives such great cuddles.

And finally,

She gave me a purpose.

Once the boxes were unpacked and the house set up and decorated I was feeling a bit lost in my purpose. I was a wife without a husband at home to serve; and I didn’t know what to do with that. But enter Lucy. It was my responsibility to feed her, love her, and train her. I wasn’t the best trainer by any means, but she can do all the basic things!

See so as grounding as a pet can be for military kids, I think they can absolutely ease the transition into being a military spouse just the same. Dogs and puppies make wonderful companions and can teach us so much! So if you are looking for one more reason to get a pet, here are five!!

Lucy is my best friend sometimes and as I prepare to spend a year away from my husband there isn’t anything I won’t do to get this dog to Hawaii with me! My in laws graciously offered to host her for the year I was gone, but I just can’t be away from that sweet thing for that long! The month at Christmas was hard enough!!

How has your pet helped you make it through the crazy ride of military life.

Being a military spouse is hard, starting over in every new city. But my sweet puppy helped me ease into this transition!

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Never Stop Dreaming: My New Vision of Future

Never stop Dreaming. Life requires adjustments! Nothing is written in stone and plans change! IF we are flexible we can make the best out of every situation

 

If you read my Vision of Future letter to myself a few weeks ago, one of my final points was that this will be a fluid letter. There will be changes to it as a life is not static. Just after I attended the workshop I received a phone call from my husband. The army has finally given him new orders to his next assignment. Unfortunately, this news causes many changes to my Vision for the Future. So we need to keep on dreaming, finding new ways to accomplish our dreams!

So because well Army… I am going to share my revised Vision of Future with you as well! So of course, as soon as I finished my plan it has been foiled. Such as life, or at least military life! Here it goes:

Dear Me,

Well as with most things, my plans have changed. This Christmas eve is one spent apart from my husband. But at least I am getting another Christmas with my parents. In fact, I am getting much more than just another holiday with them. With my hubby in Korea I get to spend the whole year with my parents. I haven’t spent that much time (or more than two weeks) with them since I was 17 years old!

Clearly if I am in Hawaii there is no fire in the fire place. And while I my hubby and I are not cuddling on the couch to a Christmas movie, there are at least still puppy cuddles. She better know how much I love her for all the trouble it was for me to get her here. Any who I diverge.

But family life isn’t the only thing that has changed due to some of this news. Moving to Hawaii is another obstacle to getting my counseling license. Unfortunately, Hawaii requires a different licensing exam and those tests aren’t exactly affordable if you aren’t going to be able to finish the license. Plus, not too many states use that license either. It is just one more step farther away to become a professional counselor. So, I have been taking a good long hard look at what I want my career to be.

So, I have taken the first steps to turning my blog into a business. I bought and set up my own website. It has been such a fun and stressful process. I have developed components necessary moving forward. Also, because I have never taken a business class in my life I signed up for Kayla Roof’s Work from Anywhere Academy! I am so excited to learn all about this new business venture. I am also trying to figure out how to become a parenting coach. So many exciting things to come.

So, for now I will close this addendum so that I can pack (read contemplating packing). I am sure there will be more updates to come. So, until then.

Love,

Me

Life requires adjustments! Nothing is written in stone and plans change! IF we are flexible we can make the best out of every situation

Parenting Toddlers: More than the Terrible Twos

Parenting toddlers can be wonderful and infuriating all at the same time! Here are some ways to help keep the toddler years more fun than stressful!

I had a client come to me once, and they told me, “Whoever labeled it as the terrible twos, clearly never had a three year old! My toddlers has it out for me!”

The toddler years can be some of the sweetest, most fun, and hilarious times of your child’s life. But they can also be one of the most frustrating and exhausting stages of parenting. After all we have all read those hysterical stories of why toddlers are crying. My niece was because she wasn’t allowed to eat dog food! With their new found vocabulary and growing sense of independence, the most commonly heard word out of their mouths (and their mother’s) is “no!” Sometimes that “no” can be cute ad you can’t help but giggle and grin as he says it. And yet other times it is downright infuriating, using every last ounce of patience to stay calm.

As trying as it is I promise you, your toddler is not out to get you! They are just trying to assert their own space in the family. Up until now the baby was so connected to you, she didn’t need or occupy her own space. As she grows and turns into a toddler she starts to need more and more of her own space. If she does not get it, she will begin to demand it. As parents our goal should be to raise children to be happy and healthy individuals who are productive in society. We want our children to be kind and strong people who can take care of themselves. So if that is our goal we can’t stifle their independence right from the beginning.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for giving into every tantrum or toddler whim that blows their way. Part of raising strong independent people comes from knowing the boundaries and understanding that every decision has a consequence for good or bad. But we do have to find ways in our daily lives to allow our children to begin making their own decisions and supporting them in that, even our tyrant toddlers. Here are some ways we can help our toddlers gain some control over their surroundings.

The Never Ending Questions

Toddlers will question you about everything and anything they can name – what they wear, eat, do, see, hear, anything. They are trying to control their surroundings by gaining more knowledge. While the endless questions get old fast, by answering them we are giving them more and more pieces to the puzzle they are constructing in their heads. When they don’t know something and you won’t answer they get incredibly frustrated and begin to tantrum. This is not manipulation so much as lacking the ability to articulate clearly what they want or need. So answer their questions the best you can, they don’t know any better.

Channel their desires to make Decisions

            One way to help them gain more control is to allow them to make their own decisions. This can be from what they play with to what they eat. I am going to talk mostly about dressing themselves and meal times because those are the biggest struggle for parents to relinquish the control while still remaining in authority. I say this because, unless they are playing with something harmful we don’t particularly care, and it is easy to allow them to make that decision.

            Dressing themselves.

Being allowed to dress yourself is a lot of freedom. As parents we can control what they are allowed to choose from by only putting out things you want them to wear. This means putting up or away all seasonal wear so that everything is weather appropriate. As much as we might hate it, if they choose to wear three different patterns, it isn’t going to hurt them. They can be proud that they made a decision about something that you can support.

         Meal times.

Meal times are another area of struggle for many families. One way to let your toddler have control over meal times is by giving them several options and allowing them to eat freely from their plate however they choose to do so. Now please hear what I am saying, do not make your child 3 different meals, just present them with a few options you already have prepared. If they choose not to eat, that is their choice. But the consequence of that choice is not eating, so they don’t get to go directly to the pantry and demand fruit chews.

Work with your Child

            Working with your children instead of against them will make everyone’s life easier. Giving your child your attention prevents them from having to demand it from you in negative ways (i.e. tantrums). While they are growing in their independence, parents are their safe harbor. They want you to be right there with them every step of the way. This means answering their questions, playing with them, instead of watching them play. Remember in just a few short years they will want nothing to do with you. So soak it up now!

Set them up for Success

As you work with your children give them every opportunity to success and make you proud. That means catering your schedule to theirs. Don’t go out during nap times or right before nap time. And be prepared for the expected and unexpected when you leave. If you set them up for success from the beginning there will be fewer tantrums along the way. Because as much as they want control, they still rely on you to help them.

So see, toddlers don’t set out to make our lives more chaotic. They just want your love and attention as they begin fully exploring their world and claiming their independence and place in the family. As parents we begin to learn the art of slowly giving more and more freedom along with more responsibility as we pull back control a little at a time. Parents are resistant to this process because somewhere deep inside they know it means they are losing their baby. So they hold on tighter. If we learn to allow our toddlers to make their own decisions, we will be surprised by how much happier they can be. Find the areas you can give them some freedom and praise them when they succeed. And then you will be well on your way to raising those happy, healthy, independent adults you dream of.

Military parents, I know how hard it is to keep good behavior patterns going through times transitions. Between deployments, PCSs and mom/dad coming and going, friends PCSing can all disrupt our children’s behavior patterns! Age affects how children react to all of these events, as development plays a huge role in behavior and ability to process change.

If you looking for great ways to help lead your children through these transitions and maintain good behavior hop over to my Military Parenting Page and check out my program coming soon: Parenting Coaching Designed specifically for Military Parents to address the unique concerns that we face with our children. Take a moment and sign up for updates and receive a FREE GIFT: An Easy How to Guide for Promoting Positive Behavior in our children to help go with your Behavior Chart.



What areas do you let your toddler have more control?

Toddler years can be wonderful and infuriating all at the same time! But here are some simple ways to help make them more wonderful than stressful

My Self Care “Tool Box”

Self-care is so beneficial and necessary to our well being. But it only works if we actually do it. Here is what is in my self care tool bx to help make self-care convenient

I have read 100’s of blog posts about self care – ways to care, checklists, why it’s important; and so many other great benefits about having self-care built into your schedule. But I know I am not the only one who finds it difficult to fit it into my day! As a counselor I was told constantly in my classes to practice good self-care.

I am constantly on the go, running from one place to another and so often caring for other people. This makes making self-care a priority hard for me. That is until I really saw how run down I had become; I was exhausted, irritable (just ask my husband), and ineffective at helping other people. But life is so busy, it doesn’t slow down just because you are exhausted. The key to making self-care a part of my routine was to make it convenient, take all my excuses away! So I created a self-care “tool box” Today I thought I would share what is in my tool box and why!

Nail polish & accessories –

Who doesn’t feel better after a mani/pedi. But being a student and a babysitter doesn’t pay enough to routinely get them done. So I decided to keep them neatly done myself, Essie nail polish is my favorite, and lasts the longest. Doing my nails myself is calming and relaxing for me. Plus, I feel so much more confident and pretty when my nails are done.

Coloring book & pencils –

Adult coloring books, like this one Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Animal Designs, are everywhere right now. Focusing on the colors and shapes can calm down emotions and physiological reactions to stress and anxiety. Coloring can help regain mental clarity when you are upset or overwhelmed.


Journal & pens –

Being able to get your feelings and emotions down on paper can relieve tension in the body. The physical release is beneficial because there are no more pent up feelings waiting to burst out.

My favorite music –

You know that feeling on a beautiful day driving around with the windows down, blaring your favorite song, singing at the top of your lungs? Its great isn’t it! Well not every day can be beautiful, but put on your favorite song and just belt our frustrations away!

Tissues –

It is ok to cry, healthy even. So if you’re mad, sad, exhausted, hurt or just need a good cry, just let it out! That is what tissues are for!

Some chocolate –

Chocolate after a good cry can feel so rejuvenating and help bring you back together. Now I am not advocating eating your feelings away, but chocolate has endorphins in it, and endorphins are a natural chemical in your body that helps create feelings of happiness. It can be a way to boost your spirits.

My phone –

Talking to my mom, dad, husband, or best friends can help me when I am feeling rundown. It helps remember I am not alone. Just because it is self-care doesn’t mean it can’t involve others. As long as it is boosting yourself!

Some bubble bath (or other spa like things) –

Again like getting your nails done, we can’t always make it (or afford) to go to the spa. But a home spa night can be relaxing too. Set up some candles, fill the tub, some quiet music, maybe a glass or wine or some chocolate, and a good book can relax the mind and the body. So get that lavender vanilla bubble bath and feel the stress melt away.

A good book –

Maybe it’s one you’ve read before, or a brand new book, but loosing yourself in a good book can do wonders. Reading lets you move out of yourself and open your imagination. Freeing your imagination can help you find new solutions to your every day stresses.

Doing something just for me –

Now this one might not fit in a box, but I love to craft, scrapbook or work on a DI project I have had pinned for ages. I love getting out my pictures and crafting supplies and just working. It makes me feel productive and satisfied with my results. In the past one of the things I have done just for me is to take an hour out of my week to spend with a counselor. This has helped in so many ways process different things that happened like loneliness from my hubby moving away shortly after the wedding.

So these are my top 10 items in my self-care tool box. The idea is to keep everything together in one little box or bin so that it can be handy. Maybe you have a few minutes and so you pull out the journal or coloring book for a 15-minute mental break. However, you do it is up to you, because remember it is your self-care. Now take a lesson from me, and don’t wait till you are run down and exhausted to start taking part in self-care, do it now and do it often to help stay on top of your game! I promise it can make a huge difference in your outlook on life!

If you want to read more about self care see my guest post on reducing anxiety. Have a child that suffers from anxiety check out my post for reducing anxiety in children here.

What are some of your self-care go to’s?

Self-care is important, but often overlooked due to our demanding schedules at work and at home. Here are the contents of my self-care tool box that I use to make self-care convenient so I am more likely to use them.

*This post contains affiliates lant

Taking a Leap of Faith

Taking a leap of faith can be scary, but so rewarding. Looking to take a step of faith but not knowing what to do next? Check out here my plan for reducing vulnerability when taking a leap of faith

In the last few weeks I have taken a huge lead of faith, and it definitely was not easy. My lead of faith was making an investment in my blog, a few actually. This is the first time I have spent money on my blog since starting it July 2016! But we have all been in a place where we have to make a choice – stay where we are OR jump and take that leap of faith in hopes of reaching something even greater! My leap of faith was moving from a free site to a purchasing my domain name and becoming self-hosted, investing in some branding images and purchasing planning resources! This is the first move I made towards making my blog a business. I am so nervous, but also excited! And you too can take the leap of faith.

The first step towards taking that leap of faith is having faith in yourself. It is hardest to have faith in yourself and your own abilities. When my husband has a challenge at work I am always confident he will overcome it. When my friends are job hunting, I am always sure they will find the perfect job. But for some reason I struggle to have the same enthusiastic confidence in myself. I know I am not alone! I have talked to many people who struggle to have faith and confidence in themselves. But if our goal is to be happy and healthy people, we need to be confident people. Not afraid to step out and take a risk. So how do we get there and grow in our own confidence?

The short and simple answer is practice; but that is not very helpful. Practicing vulnerability sounds like a terrible idea to most people, myself included. Putting ourselves out there with no plan to succeed is frightening. And I am with you, I wouldn’t want to do that either. BUT what if I proposed another solution. One with a plan, a plan to succeed when you take that leap of faith.

Here is my guide for growing in confidence in order to take that leap of faith!

Finding someone who believes in you

            Let their encouragement build you up. I am sure you have noticed changes in yourself based on the mood of those around you. When you surround yourself with positive people who believe in your. Then we can feed off of that as we begin to belive it. In trying ti get my blog going, the person who believed in me has been my husband, encouraging me along the way.

Make a Plan

We don’t like to take a step ad feel like we don’t know what is next. Taking a leap of faith can be like that. But that doesn’t mean we have to go in blind. So what do you want to accomplish with your leap of faith? Build a business? Go back to school? Take your relationship to the next level? Grow your family? Move far away? Whatever that leap is for you what do you want to happen next? I would love to grow tis blog into a business. Why? Because I got into the business of counseling to change people’s lives. I think I can do that here too. So here is my plan to do so. By starting my own website, I open myself up for the opportunity to become a business. I plan to find adds and sponsored posts. By earing money, I can invest more into my blog and continue to grow it. I am taking that leap of faith, but I am not doing it blindly.

Evaluate & Readjust

So we’ve surrounded ourselves with people who believe in us, gained enough confidence and we have made a plan. So now it is time to take the leap! You can do it!! Now we have to ask if we are accomplishing what we set out to! Are we meeting our goals? If not, what can we do about it? My goals for myself when I bought and created my website was to make back the $40 I invested! Hopefully even make a little more than that so I can continue to pay for it next year. As I am still in the building phase I am not ready to re-evaluate yet, but I am hoping by the 3 month mark I can start monetizing. Then I will check inn again at 6, 9, and 12 month markers. If I don’t think I am making enough I will adjust my strategy for marketing.

I know it is scary. I worry all the time whether I am going to reach my goal but for now I am just going to be excited that my website works and is up and running. So celebrate the small wins every day! Remember with big risk comes big reward. And it is not called a leap of faith for nothing! You can do it! I believe in you

What are some ways you have found to help you take that leap of faith?

Deciding to take a leap of faith can be a hard thing to do. It leaves us vulnerable to our fears. Here are some ways to grow in confidence and feel more secure in your vulnerabilities when taking that leap of faith