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Showing posts from 2016

I stand because I have hope

There has been so much talk and division about whether or not to stand for our national anthem.  I've had a lot of time to think about it and decided to finally weigh in with my opinion.

As a child I learned to stand and put my right hand over my heart for the playing of the national anthem.  I didn't ever really learn why.  But, as I've grown, matured, and become a part of the armed services as a military spouse, I've heard the playing of the national anthem more times than most people - and I've learned why I stand for the anthem.

Every weekday afternoon, living on an Air Force base, I hear the playing of the Star Spangled Banner over the base's loud speaker.  If I am driving my car, I pull over and wait.  If I am outside watching my children play, we all stop, turn towards where we know the flag is flying, place our hand over our heart, and listen - not moving.  We don't do this because it's required, but because of the respect that we have for our c…

Getting out the tangles

There are so many great things to do with my children, but one of the simplest ways that I enjoy spending quality time with them - especially with my daughter - is by brushing and styling her hair.  I find this a bit odd seeing as I hate brushing and styling my hair.  After all, my hair never does what I want it to do, it gets frizzy, is turning grey (or "super blonde"), and it just takes a lot of time.  Even though my daughter has pretty much the same hair as me (I mean, it is the color that I tell my stylist to make mine every time that I go in for a hair appointment), it's so much more pleasant and rewarding to style my daughter's hair.

Brushing my daughter's hair isn't just about getting out the tangles.  This simple act of proper hygiene gives the two of us time to sit and chat about the day, about troubles or wishes.  It's a bonding time for us...time for the two of us to just sit and be together even when the rest of the day has been filled with sc…

Pre-K Homeschool: Day 1

I never thought I would find myself homeschooling my 4-year-old son during the first part of his Pre-K year.  But, as luck would have it, we were unable to get into a local preschool - instead being put on all the wait lists - after a military move to an installation we weren't expecting.  But, thus is the life of a military family and, as a parent who wants my child to be fully prepared for when he enters Kindergarten, I was left with little choice but attempt to teach him at home.

I know there are parents out there who absolutely love the idea of homeschooling their children.  And, the "idea" of it does sound great to me.  It's the practicality of ME teaching MY SON that frightens me.  I'm not a preschool teacher.  I had to google how to pronounce the letter "X" during my daughter's Kindergarten year (FYI, you pronounce it like at the end of fox...not the beginning of xylophone).  I taught English and Spanish to high school students where we worke…

Where has the Golden Rule gone?

You would have to be living in a cave or some extremely remote location with no access to satellite or wireless reception in order to not hear or read about American politics and the upcoming elections.  It's everywhere...and it's an all out war.  Or, at least that's what it seems like to me.  I usually try not to say too much about politics because I was taught that talking about politics in polite conversation was rude and uncivil.  Today's state of social media and 24-hour news has proven to me that this lesson is, sadly, true. 

As a parent, I am trying to instill a sense of respect in my children.  Yet, how am I to do this in a world where everyone is out to get anyone who thinks, speaks, looks, or acts differently than they do?  No, this isn't always about politics.  But, let's face it, we've politicized everything.  There has been no subject left untouched in this year's political race.  There's no topic deemed to be out of bounds.  So, where …

Tests

As my family now approaches the end of our second week of school, my daughter has come to the understanding that she hates school.  She tells me that it's too hard and there's not enough time for play.  If you talk to her for a bit longer, you may come to the same conclusion that I have...it's not school that she hates.  It is the understanding that she now has to take tests at school. 
TESTS.EVERY.WEEK.
I chuckled a bit when she told me just how hard the tests were.  After all, she's only in first grade.  When I think back to some of the tests I took during college, I cringe!  The only tests that are currently on her syllabus are spelling/sight word and addition/subtraction (to 10) tests!  But, I realize that tests must start somewhere.  At six years old, this is probably a good place to start.

As I thought about the test situation a little bit more, I began to contemplate just how many tests my daughter - or all of us - will face in our lifetimes.  Tests won't ju…

Thoughts on being a twin

As a twin, I've been told numerous times how lucky I am and how other people wish that they, too, could be a twin.  But, as a multiple, there are some things - both good and bad - that people don't understand about being a multiple.  And, as an identical twin, there are even more things that people don't understand about having someone else who looks pretty much exactly like you.

1. You share the same birthday.
CON: Yes, you share the same birthday.  This also means that you most likely share the same birthday party.  So, now you have to compromise on what you're going to do to celebrate your birthday.  And, while I never really remember this being a problem for my sister and me on our birthdays, it could be a problem.  After all, everyone wants their birthday to be special.  
PRO: You never have to worry about celebrating your birthday on your own.  Even if everyone else forgets, your twin never will.  It's also a great day to remember just how awesome your mother…

Flying J Ranch in Ruidoso, NM

I'm always on the lookout for new adventures to do with my family.  But, I have to admit that when the opportunity became available to explore New Mexico, I had to question what we would find.  Having only ever driven quickly through the state, I didn't know much about it except for the fact that there was a lot of desert.

Ruidoso, New Mexico has expanded my horizons - quite literally.  The beauty of this mountainous area almost makes me feel as though I'm driving through the Pacific Northwest.  The fact that it was 60 degrees (and an elevation of over 7,500') also blew my mind.

Only a couple hour drive from El Paso or Albuquerque, Ruidoso is a beautiful, mountain village that offers a lot of activities during any time of the year.  Because we were visiting in the summer, we opted to check out the Flying J Ranch - a replica of Western cowboy living.

Flying J Ranch is a dinner theater-type event that opens at 5:30pm when you can pick up tickets that you've ordered on…

Summer PCS'ing

Summer brings a lot of things with it...sun, heat, BBQs, pool time, outdoor adventures, vacation and, for those of us in the military, PCSs.  Granted, since we aren't your typical military family - as a Guard family, PCSs haven't been a traditional part of our lives in quite a while.  The last time we had to PCS was nearly a decade ago when I still had a MySpace account and Facebook was just opening up to those of us who didn't have a .edu email account.

So, when my family recently had to do a PCS, things were a little different.  Not only was I able to find information on the base website, but I was able to ask questions to other milspouses through numerous Facebook pages and groups.  Where to send kids to school?  How is base housing?  What is there to do in the area?  And, where do you get your hair done?  But, there's still one question that's hard to ask over social media and still a very relevant question for anyone moving - even outside of PCSs...

Will you b…

Why I restrict social media posts about my kids

As a person of the 21st century, I have found that I rely a lot on my social media accounts to both give and receive information.  Add in my role as a mommy, milspouse and travel blogger, I probably use social media more - and across more platforms - than many others adults my age.  Let's face it: social media is a great way to stay connected with family and friends both near and far.  As the military has moved my family all around the country, I've been able to connect - and reconnect - with numerous people who I would have, before social media, lost touch with. 

While I provide quite a bit of information about my personal life online, I have developed a line which I will not cross when it comes to my children.  I will post - limited - pictures of them, but their names, where they go to school, and teachers' names will not be posted online.  I even go so far as to delete comments and tags which include this identifying information.

As an extremely important part of my lif…

Ask the difficult questions

This past week as I was breezing through my day-to-day life, I was blindsided after one small conversation with another mom who I had never previously met. Randomly, we began a conversation (over something so mundane I can no longer recall what it was) and this mom began to tear up.  Not being an extremely emotional (at least on the outside) person, I had no clue what to do. So, I asked her if she needed something. Her response is one I'll never forget.

This stranger of a mom heartbreakingly explained to me that just a few short weeks ago, her teenage son committed suicide. I knew of this tragic death through suburbia chat from friends who had teenagers in the same local high school. So, while it was not new information for me, it suddenly hit home.

SOMEONE'S.CHILD.DIED This wasn't news to me, but now it was - and still is - personal to me.  Too often we count the numbers, look at the statistics, of death and suicides. We seek to resolve a crisis which can truly never be r…

I'm no longer telling my kids to have fun

Today, I've made an important realization that is changing the way that I talk to my children.  I am no longer going to tell them to have fun.

Don't get me wrong, I desperately desire that my children find joy, happiness and laughter through numerous experiences and adventures.  But, my children's definition of fun and mine have two VERY different meanings. I'll give you an example.

My almost four-year-old son loves to destroy things.  He's like his dad - a man who just wants to learn how things work, as well as cause and effect.  So, he takes apart toys, sister's dolls, kitchen appliances, and more.  He tears books because "the story was in the wrong order."  He pushes buttons - both literally and figuratively.  He colors on walls, floors, computer monitors, furniture, carpet and more because he wants to create maps and "building plans" for his Duplos.  This is his idea of fun.

Do you see my dilemma?  His idea of fun is so completely the op…

No longer faking it through depression

The days on which I had my children live in my mind as two of the greatest days in my life.  Granted, I didn't really think that before the second they came out and the doctor told me "It's a girl!" and "It's a boy!"  But, in those seconds where my babies were set on my stomach and I looked at them for the very first time, I felt pure joy.  Unfortunately for me, that joy didn't last the way I thought it would.

The joy of being a parent hasn't come easy to me.  And, as I grow more and more in my parenting, I've come to realize that I have am living a life where I'm faking my way through depression.  Granted, I'm not living in a continually depressed state, but there are days and weeks where I struggle just to make it through the day.  I get angry.  I get frustrated.  I know that my emotions are sometimes all over the place.

This depression didn't just start one day.  It came on slowly - stemming from multiple factors in my life.  …

Parksville, B.C. with Kids

For a long time, I have had the desire to visit Vancouver Island in British Columbia.  I've heard so many stories of how beautiful it is and how much there is to do there.  So, when given the opportunity to travel there with my family, I jumped and I was not disappointed!



While many people had told me that Victoria was the place to see on Vancouver Island, I was a little timid at taking my children there.  After a very busy couple of days in Vancouver, I wanted a place where we could just chill.  So, we drove north off the B.C. Ferry that brought us into Nanaimo and ended up in Parksville - otherwise known as The Canadian Riviera



This quiet, beachside town was just the place to unwind and let our kids run free.  We drove to Rathtrevor Beach where the tide was low and the water was the warmest in Canada.  Despite the cool air and chilly breeze, our children enjoyed splashing and running in and out of the water, then hunting down clams and laughing over these mollusks spraying the…

Vancouver, B.C. with kids

Recently, my husband and I decided to take a last-minute trip up to British Columbia.  In over a decade of living in the Pacific Northwest, this is one place we have never been.  Since there were so many things we did and saw, I've broken this post down into question you might have about visiting Vancouver.

What do you need when crossing the border?
Because this was a last minute trip, we did not have the time to get our children passports.  So, we were very excited to learn that children under 15 do not need passports when driving across the border.  You only need to have their birth certificates.  As adults, we did need to bring our passports.

Note: If you fly into Vancouver, then you and your children will all need passports.

What about your auto insurance?
We almost forgot to check on our auto insurance coverage when driving into another country!  So, we were very grateful to learn that our coverage was still valid as long as we did not stay in the country for over 90 days.  Howe…

Are we living too globally?

Over the past several months, I've been doing a lot of thinking.  In light of recent tragedies both in the U.S. and abroad - whether domestic issues or terrorist activities - I've begun to take a look at myself and what I can do to make a difference.  I want to make a difference so that my children do not grow up seeing violence and hate everywhere they go.  I want my children to understand that they can make a difference in the grander scheme of life.  But, how do I teach them to do this?

One question that keeps coming to mind is whether or not we are living in a world that thinks too globally instead of locally.  Technology and social media have allowed us to view atrocious acts of violence and deprivation throughout the world.  Acts which need people to step in to stop and change for the better.  We need people and organizations who are willing to act globally.  However, as I look at the community around me, this same technology and social media has caused a great divide in…

Salt Lake City Airport

Because of the often high cost of travel, I have become very picky about how I get from Point A to Point B. However, living in the West Coast, flying often makes the most sense.  Since I often travel with my kids, I look for airlines and routes that are family-friendly. Recently, I learned I need to start looking at even more: the airport through which we are traveling.

Nothing is worse than a long day of travel - often starting early in the morning - with kids who just want to get to their destination.  But, when you toss in a non-family-friendly airport...well, things have just about become impossible. This is where my kids and I found ourselves on a recent trip: in Salt Lake City.

I used to love traveling through the Salt Lake airport. They had numerous play areas where my kids could let loose and use up some energy before our next flight. When you have two to three flights in a day, these play areas are a lifeline for family travel. But, Salt Lake has taken out all of their play a…

4 things I don't want for Valentines Day

Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved Valentines Day.  There's something about knowing that you have a person out there in this world - be it a parent, friend, significant other, or spouse - who cares for you enough to give you a small (or large) semblance of their love for you.

The gifts don't have to be expensive or luxurious.  After all, it's the thought that matters.  But, over the years, I've found that there are numerous gifts that just do not portray love in the way that I would like it expressed on this holiday.  So, here are the gifts I do not want to receive on Valentines Day.


Appliances
Yes, yes, yes, it's the age-old adage of truth.  I may have told you just how much I want to get that new vacuum or the latest and greatest blender, but please do not buy it for me for Valentines Day.  I do not need a reminder of the chores that need to get done around the house.  Getting me a new appliance does not show that you love me - it shows that you love the…

Real parenting instead of sexy parenting

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about feeling sexy before and after having a baby.  I wrote this post just six months after having my first child.  At the time, what I wrote had meaning for me and helped me to get through the dramatic changes of having a newborn, lack of sleep, getting back to work after maternity leave, and a husband who was deployed all the way around the world.  At the time, doing those little somethings like painting my toes or wearing a great looking outfit, helped me to feel more like myself.

After having another child and now running the gauntlet that having school-aged kids requires, being sexy isn't quite as important.  Yes, I still want to look and feel sexy - after all this gives me a positive approach to each day.  But, more importantly I want to feel real.

Too often, as parents, we try to hide who we truly are.  We want people to think we have it all together.  We want to protect ourselves and our families from people who would put us down or sa…

Parenting sucks

Let's get real. Parenting sucks.

This statement may not bode well with everyone.  After all, we like to tell people just how much of a blessing our children are to us.  We like to say that we would never take back the happiness that we have received from having children and becoming a parent.  We tell others that there is no greater gift than the gift of parenting.  And, while all of these things are true, parenting still sucks.


People will tell you that different situations will prepare you for becoming a parent (like having pets or the loss of sleep in your last trimester), but they're wrong.  Nothing - absolutely nothing - prepares you for having children.  These tiny little beings who you love beyond belief will test every aspect of your humanity.  They will show you new limits of frustrations.  They will teach you that your patience can fully run out.  They will have you screaming and begging, at times, for it all to just stop.

In my relatively few years of parenting, I h…

Homework

Do any other parents ever wonder the purpose of assigning homework for Kindergarten? I constantly wonder this as I battle the balance of school, play, meal times, and bed times.

My Kindergarten child gets home from school close to 4pm. If we have evening activities, we have to cram in starting (not always finishing) homework, dinner, whatever activity is planned, and the *hopefully* a decent bedtime.  It doesn't always all fit.

What do I do as a parent? I put off the homework. It's not that I don't value her learning and schoolwork. I want to be a parent who knows what my children are learning and help my child achieve her educational goals.  But, I also want my child to be a child.  So, sometimes this means saying that she's done enough work during the day and it's time for play.  I also want my child to be able to function well during the next school day, so it may also mean that my child needs to go to sleep at a decent time (in my house, this is around 7pm).

Wi…

The Fantasy

Do you ever fantasize about what your life could be?  I do.  In my fantasy, I wake up after a decent night's sleep of 8-9 hours.  Upon awakening, I am filled with energy to start my day, so I have no trouble immediately getting out of bed and starting my day with a nice, warm - uninterrupted - shower where I can leisurely take my time shampooing, conditioning, scrubbing, and shaving.  I then have plenty of time to not only dry my hair, but also style it and put on my makeup.  Then, the perfect outfit automatically pops out of my closet, and I don't have to squeeze, stop breathing, or wear shapewear or push-up anything to make myself look good in this outfit.

As I finish dressing for the day, I come out of my room to find that my two children are also well-rested and excited to start the day - as evident by the fact that they dressed themselves in both weather-appropriate and occasion-appropriate clothing (they remember not to wear flip flops on PE day and that it's cold ou…

Misconceptions of the National Guard

One of the aspects that I have loved about my life has been my role as a military spouse. It has allowed me to travel, meet new friends, and have experiences I never dreamed of. But, it's not always the glitz, glamour and drama that you see in the movies, on TV, or in the videos of surprise reunions all over the Internet.

As an Air National Guard spouse, I've learned that there are many misconceptions about what the modern day military looks like - especially within Guard units.  Here are what I consider to be the top five misconceptions faced by the modern day Guard unit. 

The Weekend Warrior
No longer does the Guard look like an organization who only work one weekend a month and two weeks a year - especially if you fulfill a position that requires you to stay current with training requirements and military readiness. Also, for many reasons, there are fewer support staff available to fulfill needs and responsibilities, thus increasing work demand on those still serving.  T…