Minivan Mama

I officially gained my “soccer mom” status this summer when we traded in my little blue SUV for a MINIVAN. And let me tell you, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made!! It’s true love. I knew I 17194_600always wanted a minivan someday, because I grew up with my parents always having one, and it always just seemed like the most practical with kiddos. What I didn’t know is how much I would not miss my old car and absolutely love this van!

My husband I had been talking about them for a while and finally buckled down and started researching them after we had our second child. We were tired of not having a lot of room in the car especially if we needed to take any extra people anywhere. Two car seats take up a lot of space. We looked at several minivans on the market, but narrowed it down to the Toyota and Honda. We did have a rental Chrysler that we were happy with as well. After test driving, we were actually surprised at how easy the decision was with the Honda Odyssey. The vans were priced roughly the same, but the Honda just felt like it was made better. We didn’t dislike the Toyota (my hubby drives a Toyota Tundra), but the Honda was just better.

 

 

We waited several weeks for the specific model and color to come in that we wanted, but once it arrived, it was love at first sight. I was so anxious and excited that Saturday morning we were able to go and pick it up with the kids. Our 3 year old was excited for the “new van!” too. It was bittersweet leaving our old SUV, but there are new reasons every day why I am so thankful to be a minivan mama now . . .

Here’s a few of them . . .

1.       The automatic sliding side doors… need I say more?! I don’t have to worry about my kids or I banging any cars parked next to us with our doors. You know how loading and unloading our kiddos goes, these door make it a dream come true!! Because of the sliding doors, the opening is so much bigger than an average car door – WONDERFUL! The doors also open and close by the simple push of a button from either the key fob, by the driver’s seat, or on the inside of the sliding doors themselves.

 

2.       Not only is there more room in the doorways, there’s more room EVERYWHERE in this car. I can honestly say I’ve been a passenger in every seat and never once did I feel like I had no space to move. And if you need more room . . . You can MAKE more room . . .

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3.       . . . You can make that extra space because of the movable seats. I know this is typical with most minivans and vehicles with a third row of seats, but the way the Honda was set up was another big selling point for me. Our Odyssey has the option to have an eighth seat. All of the seats are removable (except the front), but with the Odyssey you can have an eighth seat in the middle of the second row. You can easily remove that middle seat of the second row to have 2 captains chairs and an aisle way to the back row, or you can leave it in place to complete the row and have an extra seat. The seat also folds down as an arm rest if it’s left in place. The third row of seats EASILY folds down into the trunk of the van. When we drove to the beach this summer, we opted to fold the third row down so we had TONS of room for luggage and could still see out the back window.

 

4.       Handles on the high way – We drove the minivan on the West Virginia turnpike on our way to Myrtle Beach this past summer, and it handled so much better than my husband’s truck the year before. We could set the cruise control and not have to waver and hit the brake on those winding highway turns.

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5.       Good on gas – I know the gas tank in the minivan is bigger than my tank was in my SUV, but I swear still that the van gets better gas mileage. According to Honda, the Odyssey gets 19 mpg on city streets and 27 mpg highway. Either way, its way better on gas than a huge SUV would be!

 

6.        Does NOT ride like a bus – I traded in a small SUV for my minivan. I had driven it for 5 years. I will say that I was the most anxious that the minivan was going to feel like I was driving a bus after driving my little SUV. I was so wrong. The van does not feel any bigger to me. I would say it sits up off the road the same height as my old car. Even though the van is significantly longer, I really haven’t noticed other than making sure I pull in the garage far enough. The back-up camera has made this easier as well!

 

7.       Bang for the Buck – I’m telling you, you cannot beat a minivan. Even if you have a small family like we do, it is worth considering. For some reason, they get a bad rap, but I can’t think of one negative thing to say about mine. Maybe I don’t look the “coolest” driving the minivan around, but that is the last thing I’m worried about. Most companies offer all the bells and whistles you can find in luxury cars and SUVs, so don’t think those options aren’t available in a van. It’s convenient, affordable, and I know my kids are safe – that’s what matters to me.

If you’re thinking about getting a new vehicle for your new family, growing family, or just want more seats/space, take a look at a minivan. Check out all the options. Take them for a test drive. I think you’ll love it! And if you take the plunge like we did and buy one, you won’t regret it!

-Megan

 

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Pouchie Pals {Product Review}

78291a26dc969dd8aebb5321bda87e9a.jpgI know that I am not the only one out there who has a LO who refuses to do anything, or go anywhere without a certain object! For BK#1 its usually her baby, and she wont sleep without a different one and the lovey. It certainly makes me insane some days, but they are important to her, they make her feel safe, and they calm her down. So, who am I to deny her a toy or blankie to sleep with, or a doll to take to the doctor’s office.

There is A LOT of research in the psychology of transition objects, and how they help our toddlers develop. Lovies, teddies, dollies etc. help with the stress of day to day activities that our children are learning to handle. We have to TEACH our children emotions and feelings, and I believe it is so important to do it as gently as possible.  I could go on and on about this, but I will digress today, because I want to get back to reviewing this product! If you are planning on having kids, or have little ones, you should definitely read this post in Psychology today just to understand a little more about what I am talking about.

d6f09d_8744067e517649729d6927841b0a5961Pouchie Pals heard that my DH is in Law Enforcement and understands how hard that can be on my LO’s some days. There are many  times that my babies don’t see there dad for a few days, and they dont know when that is going to happen. Even harder, they see him for 20 min a day some days. His schedule is crazy! That’s the life though, and we love it most days. But there are days that BK#1 is wandering around the house looking for daddy, or questioning why daddy isn’t reading her a bedtime story. BK#2 is pretty much constantly chanting “Da da da”, and flips out when dad leaves. Bangs on the door and yells. It’s anything but fun.

When BK#1 was around 1 year old she found a picture of her dad and her as a baby. (She was dumping drawers, per usual toddler antics) The picture is adorable all by itself, but the fact that she decided to carry it around the house with her just made it that much better. She would put it in purses, take it in the car, carry it around the house for hours, and on and on. Well, let me tell you this picture is a mess now! Crinkled and bent almost beyond recognition but, she knows its “Me baby and Daddy! The simple picture gives her comfort and JOY that I obviously can’t supplement. No one can fill the daddy void, but that 4×6 photo helps just a little. This is where Pouchie Pals enters our lives.

The company has multiple different types of pouches. They sent me the “Memory Keeper” in pink swiss dot. (They have 9 different fabric patterns you can chose from)

Its a simple back-pack design cloth pocket to attach to a stuffed animal, that includes a phalate – free  vinyl envelope for a photo. You insert a 3.5×5 (I trimmed a 4×6) into the envelope, put the envelope in the pocket, and then put it on your LO’s favorite toy.  IMG_20160409_100352960

Pros:  All of their  products are non-toxic, machine washable (with the removal of insert, obviously), and all of the packaging is “green”.

Made in the USA! <-Big one for me lately! I actively seek out products for my family that are made here at home, and local if I can swing it!

We put in a new picture of her and daddy, and off she went without a care in the world. She has been  carrying a favorite teddy around the house, and not letting it go for anything! Oh! And flipping out when BK#2 touches it! I would definitely say it is kid approved! IMG_20160409_100340109_HDR

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I really loved that we wouldn’t be searching for the little picture everytime she forgot where she left if for safe-keeping last!

Cons: The ONLY thing I am not happy about is the elastic backpack strap. I wish it was some sort of velcro to ensure it wouldn’t come off, and so you could put it on whatever! BK#1’s  favorite stuffed animal is a BAS3MKMonkey by Jelly cat that she sleeps with for every nap, and every night at bedtime. They are designed for babies to be able to hold easily with one hand. (They all have a small upper body) She has multiple Jelly Cat’s and they are all her faves. Unfortunately the elastic doesn’t really stay on the stuffed animals shoulders, because it’s too narrow. I would have loved to make the product even more special to her by adding it to something she is already super attached to! She didn’t know any better and loved the product! So, really not a big complaint.

If you are a military family, LEO, your child is having a hard time with separation anxiety at day care, or you even need a way to get rid of another transition item like a binky the Pouchie Pal is exactly what you need!

~Amanda

 

**Burrito Buzz received this product at low or no cost for the purpose of review or testing. No compensation for a positive review was provided. All product reviews are based 100% off of our personal experiences with a product and we never guarantee a positive review

GIVEAWAY: HoneyBee Baby Boutique 

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Are you ready for a giveaway? We are! 

HoneyBee Baby Boutique was not only gracious enough to send us an amazing product to review, they were also gracious enough to offer to giveaway a set of red ChewBeads Military Tags to one of our readers just in time for the for the holidays! image

Even better news? You can get up to 4 entries per day!

All you have to do it head over to our social media sites (linked below) and follow the instructions on the original post. It’s that easy! One winner will be drawn on Monday, November 30th at 9pm EST. Good Luck!!

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Honeybee Baby Boutique: Chewbeads Product Review

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You’ve heard us say before at Burrito Buzz that we love local and small businesses, especially those with heart.

Honeybee Baby Boutique, an incredible shop for mamas and LOs based out of Colorado,  reached out and shared with us the amazing program they have to support their community, especially the military families in their neighborhood. Not only is their boutique a one stop shop for parents, with a phenomenal online store for long distance customers, but it has also become a place of comfort for local military families.

As many of us know, the military life can be unstable, stressful and exhausting. Moving to a new location is hard for anyone and HoneyBee Baby makes it their personal mission to help ease the stress of transitioning to a new location for military mamas. For imageevery new military family that comes to their area, they offer them Chewbeads Military Tags free of charge.

These unique chew necklaces are styled to mimic the ID tags that all military personnel receive. They are made of 100% silicone with no metal, BPA, phthalates, lead or cadmium.

One factor that make these tags unique is that they are designed for active children over the age of 3. Many children at that age can begin to develop chewing habits, especially during a major move or life change. These chewing tendencies can materialize as a way to:

  • Help the child focus (think when you sit with your legs crossed as an adult and bounce your leg absent-mindedly)
  • Relieve tension or aggression
  • Relieve pent-up energy
  • Reduce any oral pain (teething)

The habit of chewing is also very common in children with Autism or ADHD that struggle with Sensory Processing Disorder. They may be compelled to chew as a way to relieve themselves from being over or under stimulated. (Sources: here and here)

When I gave the tags to my LO (she’s 16 months now), she absolutely loved them! She’s imagehad them wrapped up in her hands and in her mouth since I gave them to her. The grooved details and overall size of the tags are perfect for her to get in her mouth easily and help relieve some of the pain of getting her molars already (yea, it’s about as fun as it sounds).

They have a breakaway clasp that is typical on most teething necklaces. My only complaint is that the string was not long enough for her to easily take on and off of her neck. Which may be for the best because I could see her getting frustrated trying to yank it off of her neck and hurt herself.

I’ve never seen a teething necklace like this that is specifically marketed toward slightly older children, and I must say I’m impressed. My LO loves it to soothe teething pains, but as the back of the packaging says, they are designed as an “alternative to chewing on clothing, hair or nails. Safe for children 3+ as a sensory tool.”

So not only do they sell a great product (one of MANY available in store and online), but Honeybee Baby Boutique is a company with heart. They generally care and give back, specifically to the military families in their area.

They have generously offered Burrito Buzz readers an incredible promotion to help jumpstart your holiday shopping. Use the Promo Code: BUZZ15 to receive a FREE ITEM with any purchase! They ask that in the “notes for this order” that you specify if you would like the gift to be for a boy or a girl.  Umm amazing!!

Thank you so much Honeybee Baby Boutique for sharing your mission with us! I definitely recommend their unique products and I always love knowing that my business is going to a company with compassion and love for their community.

Stay tuned to our social media accounts for your chance to win a FREE set of Chewbeads Military Tags for the LO on your list this holiday season!

-Chelsea

 

**Burrito Buzz received this product at low or no cost for the purpose of review or testing. No compensation for a positive review was provided. All product reviews are based 100% off of our personal experiences with a product and we never guarantee a positive review.**

Seventh Generation Free & Clear Diapers {Product Review}

imageYour resident coupon queen here at Burrito Buzz recently struck gold on a diapers deal. During a Super Doubles event at my local Harris Teeter, I was able to pick up Seventh Generation Free & Clear Diapers (normally $9.99) on sale for $8.99. I then had a $2 off coupon that doubled, making the diapers $4.99. Then I received a $2 rebate from Ibotta for a final purchase price of $2.99. Um, jackpot!

We have been very fortunate that our daughter has had very minimal sensitivities both to foods and materials against her skin. I’ve used several different brands of diapers and wipes with no problems at all. I had heard of Seventh Generation before, needed diapers, and got such a killer deal that I decided to try them out.

PROS: The main thing that I really appreciated about these diapers that tend to fail me in other brands is the length, durability and stretchiness of the straps. imageThey had so much give to them that provided a snug, complete fit. There is nothing worse than crappy straps that break off, are too short or don’t stay put.

During the time that I was testing out these diapers with my 15 month old, she had the unfortunate experience of her regular check up and vaccine run. You know what that means, nastyyy diapers. And to Seventh Generation’s credit, these suckers held it all in there. I was highly impressed. I mean, these BMs were bad. Not once did she leak out the sides or up the back.

CONS: Not that it matters, but the color is dreadful. It looked like I was wrapping my baby up in a brown paper bag. I know that’s part of their thing- no dyes or coloring. But yikes, not visually appealing at all. But again, not important.

The weight of these diapers was interesting. They were naturally kind of heavy which make checking her for wetness a challenge. Several times I felt like she was very wet and needed changed, only to find out that she really wasn’t and it was just the diaper making her feel heavy. They are very sturdy and almost hard to the touch which is why when you do the bum grab to see if they’re wet, you’re mislead by the thickness of the actual diaper.

In going with the thickness of the diaper, I found them to be not soft at all. This is not a diaper I would recommend for a newborn with extra sensitive skin. I mean clearly they advertise themselves as “free and clear” so chemicals and additives are left out, so I’m assuming they wouldn’t cause a rash due to an additive. But I could see them causing some irritation due to simple lack of softness against the baby’s skin.

Overall, I’m neutral on this one. They did the job, had some nice features (especially if you’re really into all-natural products) but they didn’t wow me. They generally tend to be slightly more expensive then your basic Huggies or Pampers so I will probably only be purchasing them again if I get another “WOW” deal. Does the job, not something I’m going to go out of my way to get.

-Chelsea

Raising the Plugged-In Generation

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How many times have you heard the following phrases:

“Don’t let them watch too much television, it’ll rot their minds”

“Those video games, they’ll make him violent!”

“You never know what they’re looking at on the internet…”

“Why would she need a phone? She’s a child.”

I saw this Dateline 20/20 Nightline whatever episode recently that said “we” (me and you, current parents of small children) are raising the “Plugged-In Generation.” And it’s this horrible, scary thing where our kids are ruled by technology, and their minds really are mush and they’re doomed to be socially inept their entire lives because computers and smart phones will do everything for them. Okkkk….

So then I visited a mom friend the other day that told me that they have their television on for a total of 30 minutes a day. THIRTY. I found this out when naptime was approaching for the kids so I turned on a quiet cartoon, went to the bathroom, came back and the tv was off. Alrighty then.

Is it true? Is all the technology of today still rot-your-brains-out horrible? I’m not so sure.

Call me Mom of the Year, but my tv is rarely off. Sorry Mom Friend, but I think you’re a little nuts. But I also don’t want my kid to only speak in Jake the Pirate lingo and not be able to function outside of a computer screen…image

And when I say my tv is on all day, listen, I’m a stay at home, military mom. My DH is in and out constantly and I just can’t be in a house alone with my LO, sitting in silence all day. But that also doesn’t mean I park her in front of the tube and she sits in zombie mode for hours on end. In the mornings, we snuggle and watch a few episodes of Curious George. And then she’s off. Sometimes its a cute, toddler-appropriate cartoon in the background, sometimes it’s the Disney Pandora station. But my tv is on for the majority of the day for the simple purpose of background noise.

So besides my tv always being on, what other brain-rotting sins do I commit? Well I have a Fisher Price app on my tablet that she loves to play and if she could figure out Facetime on my phone, I’m sure she’d call my sister 37 times a day.

I’m a little conflicted here. I’m not a doctor or a scientist. Just a sahm, shrink in training (read: grad student in Professional Counseling), trying to make the best, most practical choices I can for my kid. So here’s my opinion:

1. Cartoons aren’t what they used to be. When we were little, it was Rugrats, Scooby Doo and Wiley Coyote being blown up by a bird. Now, my child has a ridiculous amount of educational shows to choose from. And they really are educational. Daniel Tiger learns how to share, Curious George does odd jobs to buy a kite, and Sofia the First deals with bullies. These are life lessons, in bold colors, with catchy songs that kids remember.

2. Use technology to your advantage. Sure, as your children get older they’re going to learn that there is a world of opportunity available out there on the internet. So be smart. Use the parental settings on your smart phones, your cable and your internet plans. Block what you don’t want them to have access to, give them kid-safe technology like a Leap Pad. As they get older, regulate who they can and cannot contact on their phones. Technology is expanding every minute but that doesn’t mean you have to be an ignorant parent. Stay up to date and monitor what you child, at any age, has access to.

3. Be safe. Get your middle schooler a phone if you want. Shoot, get your elementary schooler a phone. Give them text and call services and teach them that this is for emergencies only. Sure they may text their friends when you turn your back, but this isn’t a Mayberry,-leave-your-doors-unlocked kind of world anymore. My child having a way to contact me should there be, God forbid, some horrible event happening at their school or just some creeper near the bus stop, gives me peace of mind. It’s a safety measure I think is necessary here in 2015.

 4. Teach them OTHER things. Start young. Have scheduled play time OUTSIDE, every day if possible. Read to them. Read in front of them. Instill in them a joy of reading, crafts, music, couch-fort building and imaginary tea parties as soon as you can. The more you encourage non-technology related activities and make them appealing to your children, the less they’ll even care about watching Frozen for the 94th time this week.

Promoting the fun in other activities will also help avoid that feeling that they are addicted to technology. It can be helpful to reward positive behavior in your children, especially when they are toddlers. But constantly using your own personal phone or tablet as a reward WILL turn around and bite you when you eventually need to take it away, resulting in that dreaded inconsolable tantrum in the middle of Walmart that we all love. Try stickers or a musical toy, something fun they don’t always have access to as an incentive for good behavior.

If you want them to have “app time” during the day, schedule it into your routine. This way, they’ll know when to expect time on the tablet and won’t demand it at random moments throughout the day. Routine works!!!

5. Lead by example. The phone/tablet/laptop/smart watch…whatever…put it away. Don’t text and drive. Don’t check emails at dinner. EAT DINNER AT THE TABLE. Talk to your kids, no matter how young they are. I’m a student and I write for this super awesome blog so I suppose you could say I “work from home.” My child sees me use technology often. But I make technology-free time for her all day long. When you’re interacting with your child, be present. Listen when they have something to say. Set the example that you want them to follow.

I really don’t care how many hours a day my television is on. I’ll give my kid a tablet to play an age-appropriate app every now and then. What’s important is that technology doesn’t rule her life. I’m teaching my child how to speak politely to adults, the importance of fitness and a love of several different hobbies that don’t involve a keyboard or remote.

In the right context, technology can be so beneficial for children of all ages. We need to be forward-thinking parents. We need to not be ignorant to changing technology and current safety precautions. Keep up with your kids, stay current in their lives, and set the example you want them to follow. Technology isn’t the enemy, poor parenting is. We can’t protect them from everything, but we can guide them toward becoming successful, intelligent, social human beings that don’t have carpel tunnel from video games, but instead understand the value of new, evolving sciences that will shape their tomorrow.

-Chelsea

 

 

DIY Puzzle Organization

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Puzzle hell. It’s one step below Lego hell. One very tiny step. It’s when your LO decides to get out every. single. puzzle you never even knew existed under your roof, mixes them all together and then bails for the next shiny object that catches their eye. Awesome.

I’m here to share with you a little trick I picked up from my hard labor time working at a daycare that will help you control the chaos and teach your LOs how to enjoy puzzles individually and make clean up a breeze.

Step 1: Take pictures or Grab Scissors. Ok this step is for my fellow Super OCDers. But if you’re like me and you want to go the extra mile when it comes to keeping your kid’s puzzle madness at bay, take pics. This is really going to be crucial for older children’s puzzles that consist of more than just a lion, a bear and an elephant as pieces. If you can’t easily tell what the pieces should come together as when they are apart, take my advice and take a pic of the completed puzzle. Even easier (if you don’t care about chopping up the box), grab some scissors and cut out the picture frome the top of the box. Boom. Easy.

Step 2: Get bags. You’re going to need something larger than a typical freezer sized imagebag. Go for a two gallon or slightly larger depending on the shape of your LO’s puzzle (a typical Melissa & Doug puzzle should fit in a 2 gallon)

Step 3: Label. Print your picture or grab your box top and tape it to the inside of the bag. If it’s a smaller puzzle that didn’t require a picture, label it something simple like “Jungle Animals.”image

Step 4: Store. Get your bags together and put them in a space that may require your assistance in order for a child to get ahold of them (think large storage bin on the closet shelf)

Step 5: Educate. Explain to your LO that they can have one bag at a time and that each puzzle should be put back in the bag before the next puzzle comes out. If they are too little to understand, even easier. When they want to play with puzzles or you plan it in their day, get out one or two bags for them to enjoy. Afterwards, you have a much smaller puzzle mess to handle and they can learn to put back the pieces in the appropriate bag instead of struggling to get the pieces in the correct spots.

It’s a pretty simple process that will take you less than one nap time to complete but save you an afternoon of irritation trying to sort out a bazillion puzzle pieces. Save yourself the stress and the future argument with your kids over cleanliness of the play room and put the puzzle chaos to rest.

-Chelsea

Connected {Military Wives & Deployment Part 2}

I wanted to do a short blogging series reaching out specifically to military moms. We are a small army (ha.) of women that experience a lifestyle that not many can relate to or comprehend. We experience long absences from our men filled with worry and stress. And we also take on a role of solo parenting. We definitely aren’t single moms, but we also have to learn to speak as both parents and guide our children through their emotions and confusion. This series will be focused on letting you know that you are definitely not alone and that there are many skills and resources available that will help you get through.

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1. COMPASS

Start here. The mission of COMPASS is to educate and train new military spouses on the ways of the land. Aka the roughly 8,392 abbreviations you’ll mostly smile and nod when you hear, why you can’t just roll up on the ship and drop off cookies, education opportunities and benefits, how to get a military ID, what to wear to certain events and how you can and can’t behave on a military base. There are courses you can sign up for regularly to get you jumpstarted on this crazy thing called the military and all its qwerks.

2. FRG

FRG stands for the Family Readiness Group. This is your contact for your spouse’s specific command. If he’s on deployment, these are the people you go to with questions and information on dates, events and how to send packages. FRG’s vary from command to command. Some are extremely helpful, wonderful groups of people that look out for imageall spouses, keeping them updated and hosting activities to mingle and meet people. Some are just there to fulfill a duty (the head of the FRG is usually the responsibility of the command leader’s spouse) and you never see them. But more often that not, this is a wonderful resource to keep updated while your DH is away

image3. MWR

You will find the MWR on basically every military installation. This is the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Center that is there to provide you with things like a rec center, bowling, golf, tickets for local events, travel information, lodging and activities for children. You can find local activities for military families that will cost you next to nothing and also purchase tickets to sporting events, theme parks, etc for a heavily discounted price. Winning.


 

The military does a good job providing several resources for military families to keep you informed as well as providing recreational activities. Don’t hesitate to google your spouse’s specific base or command and get a list of phone numbers and addresses for everything from free legal advice to the nearest commissary for grocery shopping. Use the resources that are there for you!

I personally think that once you’ve connected with the command and familiarized yourself with basic military procedures, it’s so important to connect with your community. Sometimes you’re stuck on a base overseas and it’s not possible for you to venture out into the local civilian world. But if you’ll be in once place for any extended period of time, I strongly recommend investing in the area around you.

1. Know Your Neighbors

Get to know the people across the street. Whether they become lifelong friends or someone you simply chit chat with every now and then, it pays to have people nearby in an emergency when your closest family may be states away. I’ve even had a system before with a fellow military spouse across the street to turn our bedroom lamps on when we got home to let the other know we were safe.

image2. MOPS

MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers but it has grown into far beyond that. This is a nationwide organization for moms of younger children simply looking to just get out of the house and meet other local moms and do fun activities. Great way to meet new friends and provide social interaction for your littles.

image3. Volunteer

I’m that nerd that knows the librarian’s names at the local library. Besides the free books, I love using it as a resource to learn about community events, food drives, school supply donation events, whatever. Getting yourself out of the house and doing something simple to give back will not only set a great example for your children but it will draw you closer to the locals and help you not to feel like a nomad that will only be here for a year and then move along to the next town.

4. Find a Church

Finding a local church is not only a great way to meet like-minded people, but also a way keep yourself healthy spiritually. It’s so easy to drown in feelings of hopelessness and lacking in purpose when you’re trying to get through a deployment. Staying connected at church will help nurture your emotional well being and find that joy in your faith that you may have lost in the middle of the frustrating circumstances surrounding you. If you aren’t interested in the religious aspects of church, this is still a great resource for volunteer opportunities and events for children. Check it out, you may be surprised by how renewed you’ll feel after an uplifting service.

Being a military spouse is not something I’ve conquered. I still have no idea what the majority of those acronyms stand for and I don’t think I’ll ever come to a point in my life where deployments are a breeze. But I’m trying. I’m determined to strengthen my family with each separation. It’s so important to me that you know that military life, though foreign to most outsiders, can be a rewarding, uniting experience. Embracing the community around each new assignment and working with your spouse to create a parenting environment that is positive and united is possible.

This won’t be the last you hear me talking about this crazy military life, but I’d love to know where you struggle the most or traditions your family has to stay connected? Let’s get better and better at this military life together.

-Chelsea

For part one on dealing with the emotions of deployment and separation, head here:

http://www.burritobuzz.com/2015/11/03/uniforms-in-the-laundry-military-wives-deployment-part-1/

 

ZZZ Bears: Product Review

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In continuing with my deployment series, I need to tell you about this incredible organization called ZZZ Bears. Whether you have a child that is terrified of the dark, or one that is confused and missing a deployed parent, ZZZ Bears has a unique and incredibly creative solution.

The story behind the adorable Sgt. Sleeptight is simple. The founder’s child was afraid to sleep at night. In order to ease her anxiety, the parents found a teddy bear wearing a Marine uniform and presented it to her as a protector. The story of protection and safety blossomed into a business with the mission of protecting against all monsters, boogey men and thunderstorms, as well as giving back to military children.

imageWhen I received Sgt. Sleeptight to share with my daughter, I basically had to stop myself from bawling all over the box when I saw the passion and attention to detail that clearly went into this package. For about $29.99, you will receive a quality, soft teddy bear dressed in full “Sgt. Sleeptight” uniform complete with instructions on how to put Sgt. Sleeptight on duty, standing guard so your LO can dream peacefully. They go as far to as provide your frightened babe with a door hanger to let outsiders know that Sgt. Sleeptight is on duty as well as include silver and gold “Slumber Stars” to be awarded after successfully making it through the night.

So not only are these the most creative people on earth, they also have huge hearts. They donate a portion of their proceeds to the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation,image assisting those children that have lost a parent in the line of duty.

Not only is this a clever way to bring peace of mind to a child that struggles to sleep through the night, but it also brings a sense of familiarity and comfort to a military child. The language and tone set by the bear and kit that you receive Is sure to comfort a child that is afraid or missing a parent. Knowing Sgt. Sleeptight is watching over them even if mommy or daddy can’t will no doubt be a comfort.

Even though my LO is a mere 15 months, she knows what daddy’s uniform looks like and she surely knows how to snuggle a soft teddy. As we’ve been discussing, deployment isn’t easy for any member of the family. I have no doubt that as she grows, the story of Sgt. Sleeptight will help to ease her little worries as she struggles to adjust to daddy being away.

I am so thankful for companies like this that take the unique needs and fears of military children into consideration when creating comfort items. The story you can create with your little one will let them know that this isn’t just another stuffed animal. If he’s on duty, it’s one more encouragement that everything will be ok and it’s safe to get a good night’s rest.

Thank you ZZZ Bears! I will surely be sharing your product and story with all of my military friends as well as parents of any child struggling to sleep through the night.

-Chelsea

For more encouragement and information on coping with deployments, check out our deployment mini series. Start with Part 1 here:

Uniforms in the Laundry {Military Wives & Deployment Part 1} | A Busy Parent’s Guide to the Latest Buzz
https://burritobuzz.com/2015/11/03/uniforms-in-the-laundry-military-wives-deployment-part-1/

**Burrito Buzz received this product at low or no cost for the purpose of review or testing. No compensation for a postive review was provided. All product reviews are based 100% off of our personal experiences with a product and we never guarantee a positive review.**

Uniforms in the Laundry {Military Wives & Deployment Part 1}

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I wanted to do a short blog series reaching out specifically to military moms. We are a small army (ha) of women that experience a lifestyle that not many can relate to or comprehend. We experience long absences from our men filled with worry and stress. And we also take on a role of solo parenting. We definitely aren’t single moms, but we also have to learn to speak as both parents and guide our children through their emotions and confusion. This series will be focused on letting you know that you are most definitely not alone and that there are many skills and resources available that will help you get through.

My grandfather has been a counselor for a program called Grief Share for many years. I’ll never forget the summer that my family and I lived with him while our new home was being built. I was in high school and my boyfriend (now DH) had just left for bootcamp to begin his career in the Navy. One day shortly after we dropped him off, my grandpa caught me sitting on the floor in his hallway, crying. He immediately came over, embraced me and simply said “I’ve been expecting this.” He explained to me that military life with the constant separation, is not unlike the grieving process. That really resonated with me and helped me accept the range of emotions I was experiencing as normal.

imageLater, as I began to study in the field of psychology, I discovered how true his words really were. There is a model you may have heard of called the 5 Stages of Grief. It is based on the premise that everyone experiences the stages of mourning and loss in the same way. I think every military spouse and family can relate to this broad spectrum of emotions and thoughts we go through when facing a long separation. For me, seeing my experience of what feels like absolute chaos explained in a way that is logical, to be expected and with hope found at the end is incredibly comforting. I give you…

The 5 Stages of Separation:

1. Denial

Whenever I learn of an upcoming deployment, my brain immediately goes into this protective mode. I’ll tell myself, “Nope. I didn’t just hear that. Not the “D” word. We’re just going to pretend that conversation never happened. Carry on then..

This is the time when I am the best “military wife.” I say phrases like “Well it’s the imagemilitary, deployment is a part of it” and “It’s a hard life but you learn to adjust.”

I’m really, really good at the Denial stage. I can cruise in denial until about 2 weeks before he leaves. Yes, I’m making preparations like purchasing items he’ll need and stocking up on the abundance of lean cuisines that I’ll be living off of for the next x amount of months. But I may as well be planning a backyard BBQ.

2. Anger

The Anger Stage irritates me in so many ways but for some reason, I only notice it in other people. Funny how that works. Something about the plank in my own eye. In the anger stage, it’s all about you. When someone is in the Anger Stage, you’ll hear a lot of how “no one understands” and “how dare that girl complain that she misses her husband when he’s just leaving for two weeks!” No. No, that woman is allowed to be upset. Yes, your husband may have been to Afghanistan and you had a baby while he was gone and it was absolutely horrendous. But that should never diminish someone else’s pain. Anyone can experience that debilitating loneliness, no matter how long the separation. This isn’t a game of “whose husband has been gone the longest.”

The Anger Stage is ugly. While you’re in it or around someone else that’s in it. It blows.

3. Bargaining

In this stage, I’m like a child that knows she can’t get her way but is making up crazy alternatives just to try. I say things like “well maybe the deployment will be canceled” or “what if you broke your arm or needed a surgery or something? Could you get out of it then?” It’s a pathetic, pointless segway into….
4. Sadness

This stage always hits me unannounced. For some reason it’s usually the laundry that does it. I’ll be folding a basket and putting away something of his and think to myself “Only a few more baskets and I won’t see his uniforms in the laundry anymore” Yea. Highway to depression.

And then he’ll be gone. In some ways the sadness never completely leaves. In the happy moments, the sadness is “wow, he would have really loved to have been there for this.” In the broken moments it’s “I really, really need him right now. Right this second. And he’s not here.” Even in the everyday moments like “if I seriously have to touch that nasty garbage can and bring it to the curb one more week I’m going to scream!”

This is when deployment is truly like grief. When you aren’t sure what to say to your toddler that hears the garage door open and says “Dada? Dada?” over and over. When people ask you how you’re doing and you robotically reply “Oh we’re getting by!” Because your spouse, your partner, your co-parent isn’t there and the worry that you constantly push out of your brain of where he is or what he’s doing weighs on you daily.

Sadness is the worst.

5. Acceptance

I guess you can say this is what separates the ones that can from the ones that can’t. Because some truly can’t make it in a life that is constant coming and going, unpredictable schedules, worry, trust issues, solo parenting. It’s hard. It’s really, really hard. But this is where the opportunity lies for truly thriving in such a chaotic lifestyle.

In Part 2, I’ll talk about the several phenomenal organizations available for military families to reach out to for support, education, and friendship. There is a unique community that actually, truly does know what you are going through. Please don’t miss the followup blog on several resources to take advantage of!

 

The bottom line is, it’s ok. It’s ok to feel sad, angry, lonely and even depressed at times. The important thing is that we are constantly growing stronger and closer. If we, as military spouses allow these emotions and struggles to overwhelm us, it can result in tragedy for our personal lives, our marriages and our examples as parents. You are not alone. Making it through a deployment and coming out as a stronger, better person and family is possible. Even I need to hear that reminder, especially during those Anger and Sad days where I just feel like falling to pieces. Let’s move forward and embrace this life that is so important and is not for the faint of heart.

-Chelsea

Read more about staying connected during a deployment in Part 2 here: http://www.burritobuzz.com/2015/11/04/connected-military-wives-deployment-part-2/

Shoeboxes and Leftover Candy

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I’m willing to bet that you have an abundance of leftover candy and a few shoeboxes lying around your house right now. I have a great way for you to get rid of both and get your children involved in an awesome gesture of giving back this holiday season.

My DH and I always said that we didn’t want our children to be obsessed with things. That they would know the joy and importance of giving. I wanted to share with you one organization that offers a great way to actively get your children involved in giving back.

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Operation Christmas Child is a program run by Samaritan’s Purse, a nonprofit organization that provides aid to victims of war, natural disaster, disease and poverty all across the globe. Around the holidays, they begin Operation Christmas Child. The idea of the program is that you fill a shoebox with toys, arts & crafts, candy, imagehygiene products, stuffed animals, sports items, anything a child with very little would be overjoyed to receive.

  • Wrap the shoe box in wrapping paper,
  • Label it based on the appropriate gender and age for the items you’ve placed inside.
  • Drop it off at a pick up location (you can find this on their website) with a small donation of $7 to ship it across the globe to be given to a child in need.

My home church has participated in this program for longer than I can remember. Each year I got so excited to collect school supplies, toothbrushes, candies and toys to give to a child like me on the other side of the world. The organization encourages you to write a letter or include a photo of your family for the child that receives the shoebox. I’ve even received thank you notes from the children I’ve sent items to! I’ll always remember the experience as an exciting, interactive way for a little kid to give back to someone in need.

This isn’t a blog about the greatness of any one charity or organization. I’m writing simply to share with you an easy, hands-on way to get your child involved with giving in a season often centered around getting. I can’t wait to fill up a couple of boxes with my LO. I hope this is a small way of showing her how blessed we are to have a roof over our heads and items to spare. Let’s start this holiday season off, not with plotting our Black Friday attack plans, but with taking a minute to be thankful and to teach our children through example. Let’s educate them on how important it is to humbly give back.

-Chelsea

The Stigmas of SAHMs: Finances

We all know the look. The look we get when we tell acquaintances, friends, even family members, that we’re choosing to become a stay at home mom. It’s a mix of confusion, surprise, pity, jealousy and “judgyness”. This segment is about overcoming the stigmas of being at SAHM. Whether placed on us by loved ones, SOs, friends, strangers, MSM, or even ourselves, stigmas are the mantras we tell ourselves over and over that slowly break us mentally, spiritually and emotionally. We can overcome these debilitating scripts. We can become the all-star parents we saw ourselves being from the minute that pink line smiled back at us.

Let’s do this together. Let’s learn everything we can and become fulfilled as women and mothers in this role we were created to thrive in.


 

“We can’t do this financially”

That very well may be a fact. Some of us simply cannot live without the income of the mother. Whether you are a SP and must be the sole provider, or you and your SO are in a place where there is no possible way to make it work, its ok. WOH presents you with different challenges than a SAHM but you dear, are superwoman. You got this. But this segment is for the women that come to the (scary) decision to leave work and take on childcare FT.

I don’t care if you’re Bill Gate’s wife, leaving you job and losing that income no matter what your financial situation, is freaking terrifying. So let’s fix it. Let’s relieve the anxiety and talk about some simple, practical options that may sound intimidating at first but will ease the shock of financial loss and help the transition into FT booger covered zombie a little less intimidating.

  1. Grocery Budget

My DH and I sat down and said “this is what we’ve got.” That number, every pay period is what I have to purchase groceries, baby supplies, gifts, clothes, household imageneeds…pretty much everything besides gas, bills and major purchases. That’s it. Trust me, if I told you, the number would make you fall out of your chair and say “Ramen is disgusting, I can’t do this.” Trust me, you can. And you don’t have to eat Ramen (hey, throw some chicken in it, a couple veggies, Ramen can work!!). But to start, sit down with you’re SO and come up with a number. Freak out for a second, then take a breath and let’s move on.

  1. Couponing

For the love of all that is Holy, do not watch Extreme Couponing and think you need to imageput on an addition to hold all your toothpaste. Just, no. But what you need to do is start small and get the Sunday paper. The Sunday paper will cost you about $2, sometimes as low as $.75 if you preorder and have it delivered. It will provide you with dozens of coupons every week that will cut your grocery bill significantly. Cut, organize a little, and then make a list.

  1. Make a List

I told you. Make a list. You don’t need binders and file folders of coupons to save money (yes I have a binder, yes I love it, no you can’t touch it). Start simple. Make a list of things you need for the week and then start looking. Look through your Sunday paper coupons and start to match up coupons with what you need. Then if you’re feeling bold, check out coupons.com. It’s not scary. Look for what you need ONLY. Don’t get wild and burn through your printer ink. After that, hit up google. I needed rice. I googled “Uncle Ben’s.” I found a coupon. Not rocket science. Just simple computer skills. Go to the store now.

  1. After the store, Grab your Tablet

After you read this, read my review on grocery reward apps. They’re free. Then, look up what you bought, take a pic of your receipt, get cash. Boom. Easy.

  1. Online Shopping = Ebates & Retail Me Not

Ebates is fool proof. Any time you shop online, find the site you’re going to on Ebates first. You’re making the purchase already, why not get 6% cash back?? Then, when you get those orthopedic pacifiers your mom is convinced will prevent braces, check out Retail Me Not for a promo code. Boom. Now you’ve gotten 6% cash back from Ebates and saved 15% off your total and got free shipping because you found a code on Retail Me Not. Online shopping nirvana.

Start here. These are the things you can do from home, don’t take hours and hours of your precious sleep time and WILL save you money. Lots actually if you start to really get into it. We can talk about meal planning, getting your cable bill down (or getting rid of cable altogether) later. Let’s start at the beginner level and wow your SO with how much you saved on groceries this week with a little extra planning and little time on the tablet. You got this.

-Chelsea

For more on our series of Sahm Stigmas, check out:

SAHM Stigmas: Careers

https://burritobuzz.com/2015/09/18/the-stigmas-of-sahms-careers/

SAHM Stigmas: A Day of Nothing

https://burritobuzz.com/2015/09/21/the-stigmas-of-sahm-a-day-of-nothing/