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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A new way to grocery shop: Walmart Grocery Pickup

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Grocery shopping is the errand that all parents dread (I do at least). It never seems to go smoothly, there are always crying children (sometimes mine), and it’s just overall stressful. It’s like there are set scenarios that always play out: the toddler falls asleep one red light from the store parking lot, a diaper explodes in aisle 9, or there is a choir performance from the older kids full of repetition of “I’m bored”, “can I get this?”, “can I go to the toy section?” or “are we almost done?” It can never be a simple, quick trip to the grocery store. Until now.

I saw a posting about Walmart and their new online grocery pickup on Facebook and had no feelings toward it either way. I didn’t see myself grocery shopping online and then have someone else load my groceries into my car for me. I don’t even let the baggers at Publix or the Commissary take my bags to my car, so why would I let someone else do my grocery shopping, bag all of my stuff and bring it out and load them in my car? It seemed like the lazy easy way out. But then it clicked. It’s not lazy, it’s convenient. I work 40 hours a week, get off at 5:30pm and have a 40 minute drive home every single day during the week. If I stop to grab groceries on my way home, I typically don’t get home until almost 7:45 – 8:00pm on a good day.

They don’t offer online pick up at the store in my town yet, but they do in the town where I work and where my mother-in-law lives. We just so happened to be heading to her house on a Sunday and I happened to need groceries, so why not give it a try?

Let me start by saving you $10 off your first order. Use promo code RCMUR0YA (that’s a zero not an “o”) at checkout on your purchase of $50 or more and you will automatically save $10! 1

It was a rather simple process. I went to Walmart Grocery online, put in my zip code, signed into my walmart.com account and viola! It allowed me to choose my store, secure a time slot to pick up and then add items to my cart. You can search through the “store” by department,

2 or search for the items you know you need by name. I quickly added items to my cart (it shows the total in the corner and there is a $30 minimum) and when you’re ready to check out, you simply put in a credit or debit card number, check out and then you receive a detailed list of your order and pick-up instructions via email.

The instructions were quite simple. In short, “Go to the grocery pickup location. We will call you 15 minutes prior. Call us back 10 minutes prior to your arrival and again when you get here.” It even showed me a cute little map of the store and where the parking locations were in the parking lot which were marked as well.15469435 It was that simple.

So I called 10 minutes before and again when I got there. Not even 5 minutes later, two sweet young ladies brought me my groceries and I never even had to get my kids out of the vehicle. I received a “Welcome” bag containing some grocery and health care full size samples such as After-Sun Aloe wipes, Sea Salt Covered Raisins, Cucumber Ranch and some other goodies. They loaded the items into my car, I signed the delivery receipt and I was quickly on my way. I hesitantly added produce and eggs to my list and surprisingly had no issues. They showed me my eggs before placing them in my car and my bananas were handled with care and not bruised.

I did figure out that if the store is out of stock with the item you want, they will offer you a substitution at no extra cost, if available. I wanted a 1lb bag of Gala Apples, but since they were out of stock, they gave me a 3lb bag of Gala Apples for no additional cost. Also, if they don’t have the item or a substitution, they immediately issue you a refund for that item.

Overall, if I had to give a star rating, it would be a 5 out of 5. Quick, easy, convenient and so worth it. I would definitely recommend it to busy moms if it’s available at your local Walmart!

– Kirstyn

Playground Etiquette 101

2009-04-21_Hampton_Forest_Apartment_Homes_playgroundTrust me, it’s a real thing and no one seems to know about it. It’s like a list of silent rules to abide by in order to not make other moms and dads despise you (and your child) on the playground. With warm weather becoming more steady, and playgrounds being a great way to socialize and wear out your stir-crazy toddler, I figured it couldn’t hurt to share the (unspoken) playground rules.

  1. It’s a jungle gym, not a babysitter. I know “gym” sounds like “Jim” and it can be confusing for some, but I assure you “gym” won’t take very good care of your child. Under no circumstance is it okay to leave your child, no matter the age, at the playground. Please do not try to give me your phone number and ask me to text or call you if there is an emergency. I don’t know you. You don’t know me. See Rule #4.
  2. Don’t let your kid be a punk. I know, I know, name calling isn’t nice and I would never tell your kid he’s a punk to his face, but I would have no problem letting you know. If your kid pushes, hits, kicks, spits on or throws a handful of mulch at my kid, the playground drama will be redirected between you and I. I mean seriously, its a park. It’s full of fun things, let’s keep it fun.
  3. Stay off your phone. This is my biggest pet peeve and I’m sure everyone else would agree. Pay attention to your child, and not whatever time consuming electronic you brought with you to the park. This kind of goes hand in hand with Rule #1 and #4. Multiple times I have seen parents show up to the park, release their children and find a shady bench under a tree and sit down and scroll through what I’m assuming is Facebook. It only takes a second for your kid to put themselves in a potentially dangerous situation and I’m sure your Facebook feed isn’t nearly as important as the safety of your child. I can’t make this up… 2015 Mom of the Year shows up to the park with her 3 kids. Kids run to the play area, mom sits on a picnic table in the shade 100+ yards away and digs out her phone and throws on some headphones. I’m paying attention to my child and chit chatting with the other parents whose child is playing nicely with mine. Fast forward 10 minutes… Mom of the Year hastily runs over in a panic to me and another mom, and asks if we have seen her son and how she doesn’t know “how this happened” and that she was “checking her email and listening to Spotify”.  Turns out this kid is severely non-verbal autistic and he wandered over 400 yards from the play ground and was on the walking path through the wooded area by himself. SEVERELY NON-VERBAL AUTISTIC CHILD. FOUR HUNDRED YARDS AWAY… on a WALKING PATH THROUGH THE WOODS all because his mother wanted to sit in the shade and rock out to the Biebs. What irks me even more is when I hear a kid yell “Mom look at this!” and the poor kid gets an “uh huh” while their mom scrolls through her phone not even glancing up. Come on lady, your kid is begging for your attention. Who cares if you’ve seen them go down the slide backward 99 times before, they obviously think the 100th time is just as cool and important as the first 99. The little moments go by in the blink of an eye, and the next thing you know the “Mom look at this” comment is when they’re handing you their college acceptance letter.
  4. Your child is not my responsibility. Attach this to Rules #1 and #3. If little Tommy wants to climb to the very top of the highest piece of playground equipment, I will most likely belt out a friendly “oh no don’t fall” and then proceed to tell my child that if he ever thinks that’s a good idea, to unthink it. If your child falls face first in a pile of mulch and you’re not paying attention, please DO NOT get an attitude with me because YOUR child fell while YOU weren’t paying attention. My child is my responsibility and your child is yours. It’s that simple. Maybe I should make it a habit to get non attentive mother’s cell phone numbers so when their child is in a situation where they will  have splinters of mulch in their face, I can just shoot them a text to advise her.
  5. Unless your child is “5 or under”, they shouldn’t be in the “5 and under” area. This is pretty self-explanatory. If the sign says “5 and under” then keep it that way. Us toddler parents use it as a safe haven from the oblivious-to-others older kids who run around playing God knows what and trampling our toddlers. Yes, I will tell your child nicely to watch out for the little ones and that “this area is for smaller kids”. Why would I correct someone else’s child? Because clearly their parents haven’t told them.

It’s really not that hard. It’s very basic concepts but the lack of common sense when on the playground makes it miserable for everyone involved. My kid cries because your kid is being mean, your kid cries because you’re not paying attention, you’re crying because your child wandered away. It’s a playground, let’s keep it fun.

-Kirstyn

Pacidose {Product Review}

I find it super frustrating as a parent and as a nurse when I have to give little ones medications. Usually, kiddos are already fussy, snotty, and cranky, and then we come along and try to force some nasty medication in them. We cross our fingers and hope they get the proper dose and dread the next time we have to medicate them. This has not been the case with my little experience with the Pacidose. The Pacidose is a product designed to medicate our kiddos using a typical syringe and a pacifier. GENIUS, especially if you have a binky baby.  My kids have both been binky babies, so I think that aided in the success with using this product with them. I think it would work for non-pacifier babies as well.

The Pacidose is easy to use by just drawing up the desired amount of medication through the syringe like you would normally (it also works with syringes other than the one it comes with!). Once the med is 61ENriIl2NL._SX522_drawn up, the syringe just attaches to the binky portion of the product. There is a narrow tube going down the middle of the pacifier that then delivers the liquid med.  According to the Pacidose, this tube “prevents wasted medicine. Medicine is delivered to the back of the tongue, decreasing the chance of rejection.” I found this to be accurate with my 8 month old. He fortunately has not had a lot of experience with taking medications, but he received the whole dose I drew up using the Pacidose. Once he started sucking on the binky, I started to slowly push the plunger of the syringe until he had swallowed all of the medication.

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Here were some other benefits I found with the Pacidose:

          Available in 3 different sizes (0-6 month, 6-18  month, and 18+ month) Although I only sampled the 6-18 month, if I have any more new babies, I will be investing in the smallest size!

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          The pacifier end actually feels like a pacifier! I thought this was important because then it didn’t seem as foreign to my little guy. The package recommended putting the pacifier into another type of liquid (formula, breastmilk) and then giving it to your kiddo so they can get used to the pacifier before you use it with medication.  I think this would be good if your child doesn’t do well with pacifiers.

 

          The syringe is easy to read to ensure you are giving the right amount of medication. I haven’t noticed the markings wearing off at all, but I also have not used the product very much. Hopefully they hold up!

 

          As a nurse, I would LOVE to have something like this to dispense medication to our little ones that come in for surgery. where I work. So often the kids are upset, and they almost always have to take oral medication before and after their procedure. They DO NOT want to take it from me, a total stranger!! This would be great to have in the hospital/doctor’s office setting.

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The only downfall I can think of with this product would be that it is not dishwasher safe. Some reviews I have read talked about the pacifier portion falling apart after only minimal usage. I have not experienced this. I think if the product is taken care of properly (not put through the dishwasher); there won’t be any trouble with this. It seems to be of good quality and very well made.

You can purchase the Pacidose for $12.99 right from their site or from Amazon Prime for $14.99. This might seem like a steep price, but I think it is worth it. This product would also make a fabulous baby gift for new moms and moms-to-be! In my mind, you can’t put a price on making sure your kiddos are healthy and happy and this product does both!

 

-Megan

 

 

**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.**

Have an Egg-celent Easter-How to Easter Egg Hunt with Toddlers

So unless your kid is some sort of sharing, not greedy breed of child then an Easter egg hunt involving anyone but him/herself is going to be tremendously disastrous! 

We opt out of city functions when it comes to Easter because I don’t want to have to explain to Cayden why kids twice his age have 50+ eggs, and well, he has 2. So we set it up at my mother in laws house for the 4 grandchildren and it’s phenomenal. 

  
1. Color coded eggs- when you have more than 1 child varying in ages participating, this is a life saver. Last year was semi-disastrous as E (who was 11) was able to find the eggs more effeciently than C (who was 2) therefore creating a huge ordeal. So this year, color coded. E has his own color and is only allowed to pick up his color, K has her own color…and so on and so forth. 

2. Make the eggs visible- Your toddler is not going to think to look half way under the birdhouse on top of the post in the back yard. He just won’t. Kids don’t care where they are, they just care that they’re there.

3. Make them reachable- again, logical. If your kid is only 38.75″ tall, placing an egg in the “Y” of an oak tree isn’t feasible. 

4. Count-For once, count your chickens before they hatch…or at least your eggs. Knowing how many are out there keeps you from having any piles in your backyard in a few weeks or flinging a plastic egg full of Jelly Beans through the car window the next time you mow. 

5. Edibles- Do NOT…I repeat, do NOT fill all of your toddlers eggs with candy. It’s easier to avoid the meltdown rather then calm it down. Your toddler will want every single candy item and they will want it now. So if you fill the eggs with other edible things such as dried cranberries, goldfish crackers, popcorn, grapes…you get the jist, you can allow your toddler to eat it all and they won’t go into a sugar induced coma. 

Last but not least, 

6. Just stop stressing-Grab your camera, make little Susie poses for a picture with bunny ears on and then relax…let them have fun. Your child is a child, not a professional egg hunter. 
Happy Easter

-Kirstyn

I want to keep my kiddos in their bubble forever!!

Lately, I have been quickly reminded that as parents, we are not always going to be able to protect our little ones. For some reason, I thought that as my babies got older, things would get easier. Boy was I ever wrong!! It is only going to get more and more difficult to protect them. What was I thinking?! I should have known better!! I just hope I can get better at “letting go” and “dealing with” the fact that I can’t control everything. I can’t keep my kiddos in a little safe bubble forever and ever (even though I wish I could).

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Just recently, my oldest (she’s almost 3) slipped and fell in the shower. This was not her first time in the shower with her dad or I, and it wasn’t even the first time she has slipped. Kids slip, kids fall, kids can even get hurt, but this time was different. She developed a goose egg above her eye immediately that I noticed as soon as I scooped her up off the floor. I had a pit in my stomach and the “I want to vomit” feeling instantly, but did my best to remain calm and get my husband. She never lost consciousness and eventually stopped crying, but her eye kept swelling, to the point where she could barely see out of it. We put ice on it and got some advice from a family member who is a physician (it was a Saturday night of course). She ended up going to bed that night, but I couldn’t help but worry about her and if it was going to be okay. My husband ended up taking her to the ER the next day (here’s a helpful site on when to take your kiddos to the hospital). Everything turned out to be fine, but it’s over 3 weeks later and the little thing still has a bruise and a bump. If I could just protect her from everything, this never would have happened! I couldn’t help but blame myself.Mommy-Guilt-Drs-Orders-CrestProHealth-Sponsored-MamaMommyMom-2

 As parents, we’re going to beat ourselves up about every little thing that happens to our kids. We can’t help it; it’s how we’re programmed. It doesn’t mean that we are bad parents when our little ones get hurt or injured. It just means that we love them when we sit and think about not wanting anything to ever happen to them! We have to lighten up on ourselves though! I took total responsibility when my little girl got her first black eye/goose egg. I was worried sick about her. I felt like the worst parent in the world, but it happens. It wasn’t my fault. I’m not the worst mother on the planet. She’s probably going to have more goose eggs. It took me a long time to come to terms with this, and I am still working on it.

 We experience this feeling of guilt for a multitude of reasons and on a daily basis.  My “mom guilt” 2ad5c4477fb3f866c83f63d3365610f4occurred instantly when my little girl slipped and fell. Sharing what happened with others and hearing them respond with stories of their kiddos having similar accidents, made me feel like I wasn’t alone. People reminded me that things like this are going to happen, no matter how much I try to prevent them. It’s how my kids are going to learn and grow, but we have to let them. They can’t aren’t going to stay babies forever.

So, for all you parents out there who might have experienced something similar with your little ones or are just worried that someday you will . . . IT IS OKAY!!! You’re still a fantastic parent and your kiddo is going to turn out fine! If you still worry all the time, that’s okay too, but cut yourself a break sometimes. You’re not alone. We are never going to stop worrying about our kids. We are always going to want what is best for them and to protect them. It just means we care!

 

Check out the Parents website for more helpful links related to infant emergency situations. They have links to common infant health scares and first aid tips.

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-Megan

Finding Mary Poppins

fecsw3ihprcwbtbqpeln.jpgAt some point in our crazy journey of parenthood we’ve all needed a babysitter… Which means we’ve all realized just how virtually impossible it is to find someone who is the perfect fit, and who won’t break the bank.

After over a year as a SAHM, this momma has rejoined the workforce…which also means, I’ve rejoined the someone-else-has-to-watch-my-kiddo-force too.

So, how exactly do you pick the perfect sitter? Note: I have not personally used every resource listed in this post, so please do your own homework and research.

Try sites such as care.com or sittercity.com.  They require tons of information from people soliciting their sitter services, and most have background checks available to.

You can even turn to Facebook to the local buy, sell, trade pages as they often contain a vast amount of information. Do your research. Ask for references. Meet with the sitter prior to dropping your child off, and go with your gut.

Your best place to start would be writing down just exactly what you want in a sitter so you can narrow your search down.

  • CPR/SIDS/First Aid Certified

If you’re going to have someone with your child during the day, unless you’re going to wrap your kid in a bubble, it’s good to find someone who has been trained for the worst. Things happen. Even under the best care and watchful eye, things happen. If someone is prepared to deal with said “things” then it makes it all the better.

  • Cost

I have found that home childcare ranges from $50-$200/week. I always shoot for somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. It needs to be worth while for you to work. If you’re working just enough to pay for childcare, then what is the point of working? But also remember, you get what you pay for, typically.

  • Availability

Will the sitter be available when you  need them to be? Do they offer drop in care or last minute care? Nights? Weekends?

  • Meal Plans

Maybe it’s just me but this is a big one. If someone is going to feed my kid junk food all day and sugary juice, I won’t even entertain it. I’m not asking for free range chicken and bacon wrapped filets, but at least hit some different food groups other than “highly processed” and “full of sugar”

  • Experience with food allergies

If the potential sitter has no clue what gluten is, and your child has a gluten allergy, this is probably not a good match. I prefer someone who knows the warning signs of a real, true allergy attack and knows when action is needed.

  • Punishment tactics

This is a touchy subject. I am not so picky on who punishes my child…but better yet how they punish him. I had a potential sitter tell me that she has spanked children before. She has SPANKED a child that did NOT belong to her. I was baffled. I mean, I can deal with an age appropriate time out,  removal from the situation,  or even a stern “no”,  but lord help the person who lays their hand on my child.

  • Activity plan

Coloring? ABCs? Macaroni pictures? Something other than a TV on a constant repeat of a DVRd Peppa Pig? Ask. Seriously.

  • Duties

Are you expecting the potential sitter to come to your home and clean? Take the child to appointments, or play dates? Are you wanting them to help with bottle weaning, or potty training? This all needs to be conveyed and explained.

It’s hard enough to find child care. It’s even harder to find someone you trust.

Do your research. Don’t be scared to ask for references and follow your gut.

Your Mary Poppins is out there.

-Kirstyn

Water Wow! {Product Review}

Melissa & Doug have done it again! My oldest received a Water Wow coloring book as a gift when we had her younger brother, and I am still in awe of it! I cannot tell you how many times I have showed this to people who haven’t heard of it or recommended it to fellow mommies out there. It is so great!

 

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If anyone knows my husband, you know that he is not a fan of messes or anything that makes a mess. Things like markers, paint, play dough, etc. are not played with in our house without supervision. We keep all food in the kitchen, take off our shoes at the door, and wash our kids’ hands good after they play outside or eat. That being said, when I discovered this AMAZING toy, I could not wait to get on Amazon and order many more!! Water Wow is a unique toy in that it is basically water color painting, but it can be done over and over and over again in the books that it comes with. All the kiddos have to do is let the pages dry, refill their pen with water, and then do it all over again!!

 

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Pros:

Literally, NO MESS. Unless you’re worried about a little water (and I mean a little) that is the only “mess” that comes along with this toy. We’re even comfortable with our child playing with this on the carpet and furniture because the water stays on the pages and rarely leaks from the pen.

 

The refillable pen is great because . . .

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1. It’s refillable. You don’t have to worry about buying new because it ran out of ink. The two pieces that make up the pen easily screw together so refilling is simple to do and can be done wherever water is available!

2. It can be stored in the plastic compartment on the front cover of the book. This makes it great for taking on trips and ensures it’s not easily lost.

3. I mentioned it rarely leaks. We don’t even take the time to empty it at the end of each use. We haven’t experienced any problems with it leaking when it’s stored on the front of the book.

4. It’s “chunky,” so little ones can easily hold it and use it for fine motor development.

 

 

The book itself is spiral bound and compact. I find this is important because kiddos can carry it around themselves and not lug around a big coloring book and box of crayons. Everything is all together in one little book and they can easily turn the pages as they please.

The pages are durable. You would think that the constant water on these pages would eventually make the pages soggy or warp. I will say that ours has held up great after several months of use. The color is still vibrant on the pages and the spiral binding is still sturdy.

 

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Melissa & Doug offer several options for this product. On Amazon, you can find single activity books for $4.99 and sets of 3 books for $14.99. We’ve also tried out the Water Wow Splash cards with our oldest, and they are equally as awesome. There isn’t a convenient place to store the pen if you don’t keep the box, but the cards can be bound together with a ring which is nice too. These are $9.99 on Amazon.

 

 

It’s a great learning toy for your kiddos. Letters, numbers, colors, animals, are just a few of the book options offered. Not only will your kiddos’ imaginations and creativity be triggered with this toy, their fine motor and writing skills will develop.

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 Cons:

I’m really pulling at strings to come up with something negative to say about this product. My kid loves it. It’s clean, it promotes learning and development, and it can be taken anywhere we go . . . what more could you ask for in a toy?! I think it’d be great if Melissa & Doug came out with a less compact version. This may not be as convenient to take places, but I’m sure my little one would love even larger pictures to paint and play with.

 

We would give this toy 6 out of 5 stars if we could, and it will definitely be a go-to gift for any birthday parties we have in the future. I have a feeling my nearly 3 year old is going to be loving this toy for a few years to come, and I am totally okay with that!!

Another round of applause Melissa & Doug – thanks!

 

-Megan

PLEASE parents, do this ONE thing!

As parents, we have tons of responsibilities. There’s work, household chores, bath time, grocery shopping, making dinner . . . I could go on and on and on. Our jobs never end and there are no days off. We always have to be on top of our game and ready to take on anything our lives or kiddos throw at us (sometimes what they literally throw at us). 

I feel one of the MOST important things on this list of responsibilities needs to be taking care of ourselves. I don’t just mean trying to eat as healthily as we can or trying to fit in some form of exercise a few times a week. I’m talking about seeing a primary care physician (PCP) regularly. This doesn’t mean you have to go to the doctor every week or every other month, but just go once a year for a full head-to-toe history and physical (H&P).

How many of you actually have a PCP?

I was totally guilty of not having a PCP before I had my kiddos. I went to STAT care if I thought I really needed to be seen or just went to the campus nurse when I was a student in college. I thought going to see my GYN for my yearly appointment was sufficient. It wasn’t until I graduated, got married, got my own job, and my own health insurance that I really made an effort to find my own PCP and go for a yearly exam. Luckily, my husband agrees and never put up a fight about also going.

For most insurances, an annual H&P with blood work is covered. It’s considered “preventive” care and encouragedso take advantage of it!! So many insurances also cover the yearly GYN visit and dentist appointments (these are so important too!!). Even if your insurance doesn’t cover it 100%, I’m sure a good chunk will be covered – you won’t regret looking into it.

It’s so comforting to be familiar with your doctors and to know that if there ever is an illness/problem/question (of course we hope there never is) you will know exactly who to call. Sometimes it’s tough finding a doctor in the beginning. Some won’t accept new patients, there’s new patient paperwork to be completed, and not all doctors are covered under every insurance company. Imagine having to go through all that when you really do have a problem and need to be seen. Find a doctor you like now while you’re healthy! Then, make it a point to see that doctor every year. What have you got to lose?

If you’re still not convinced, think about those little kiddos or grand kiddos. Think about your nieces and nephews. Think about your loved ones who really care about you and your family. Do it for those people. Those people need you, love you, and don’t want anything to happen to you. You owe it to them to be responsible about your health – see a doctor!

If you already are known to a doctor – great for you! Does everyone in your family go too – your spouse, your parents, and your siblings? You love and care about them too, right? Encourage them to do the same. It took a lot of convincing, but my husband and I had this discussion with our parents. We told them it was very important to us, especially since we were starting our own family. We want them to be around to love and care about our kids the way they did for us. Now, all 4 of them see a primary care physician regularly!! It’s a peace of mind for everybody, and didn’t cause any pain or suffering. It starts with a simple phone call.

 The U.S. National Library of Medicine refers to MedlinePlus and here they list several things to consider when choosing a PCP:

  • “Is the office staff friendly and helpful? Is the office good about returning calls?
  • Are the office hours convenient to your schedule?
  • How easy is it to reach the provider? Does the provider use email?
  • Do you prefer a provider whose communication style is friendly and warm, or more formal?
  • Do you prefer a provider focused on disease treatment, or wellness and prevention?
  • Does the provider have a conservative or aggressive approach to treatment?
  • Does the provider order a lot of tests?
  • Does the provider refer to other specialists frequently or infrequently?
  • What do colleagues and patients say about the provider?
  • Does the provider invite you to be involved in your care? Does the provider view your patient-doctor relationship as a true partnership?”

 

I know I’m probably adding to your already lengthy to-do list, but I promise this is one of the most important things you can do for your own well-being and your family. You won’t regret it and they will be proud of you for doing it!

 

-Megan

Ode to the Good Dads

Question: “How did having an absent parent of your own change your own parenting/expectations of your significant other?”

Kirstyn: “It changed me as a parent because I was so scared I would have to do it all alone like my mom did so I made sure I could do it. I often refused help…”

Brianne: “I made the decision that I would never leave my kids to feel abandoned like I did growing up. Even though I had both of my parents my father was gone a lot. There were always missed birthdays and plans. So if anything I never wanted my kids to feel that disappointment.”

Elizabeth: “As I matured my standards and expectations evolved. At first I thought it was just important to have a dad around but then I realized they need a damn good dad and a damn good dad who is good to their mother, a role model.”

 

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Photo of my husband holding our newborn son Lucas’ hand the day he was born.
My husband is an amazing husband. I admire him even more as a husband, now that he’s a father. A good father. He loves teaching our son to drum on things, zoom him around the room in his walker, loves caring for him (even on the rough days,) and gets so excited to go pick him up after work. I admire my husband as a father even more-so, because I don’t have that. I did at one point, but those days are fleeting and difficult to remember now. My father has been off the grid of my life for most of a decade now, making brief visits back yearly, where it feels more like inviting a stranger into my house than my own bloodline. It makes me long for the moments that I pictured growing up. Watching movies like Father of the Bride makes me terribly sad. My husband didn’t need to ask for my father’s permission to marry me. Where are my moments of playing basketball with my dad in the driveway? Where is he when we need taught how to do house projects? When we put our nursery together? When I graduated college?

Now I live happily by these simple facts: I’m an adult. I have my own family.

Simple enough, right?

Not quite.

I have a great family. My husband, son, mom and amazing step-father that treats me as his own, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brother and his own family. So why is it, that the simple concept of not having a biological father around as a permanent fixture bothers me so much sometimes?

I’ll tell ya: In the last year my fascination has grown tenfold. Now that I have my own child, I cannot IMAGINE a moment without him, much less days, weeks, or years. The very structure of my being would crumble. I know this is true for my husband, too. And while I understand that as our tiny human gets older, he’ll gain more independence from us… but I LOVE him, I NEED him, and I absolutely will not let him live a life without the love of his parents on a consistent basis. So how is it possible for some biological parents to live without their children? What’s different?

I definitely don’t have the answer. Whether my son is 2, 18, 25, 40, or 60… I want him in my life. He is not a passing phase. He is not a “portion” of my life. He is not only my responsibility until he’s 18. He’s not just an obligation. He is certainly not, and will never be, unwanted.

He is beautiful. Smart. Wonderfully curious. He loves us, more than anyone on this planet. We are his safe haven. His entire world, and he ours. He is wanted. He is us.

So as raw as this article is, and as undoubtedly and unfortunately relatable as it is for many, I want to thank the parents out there that commit to their children fully, and for a lifetime.

A billion things could change, and I know with no hesitation that my husband will always love and care for our son. Whether he is 2, 18, 25, 40, or 60… he will want him in his life, all his life.

My husband. He is one amazing person. He is everything that a dad should be. In the fullest sense of the word, he is “Dad”.

I sincerely hope that I’m hitting home with a Dad out there that’s reading this, and realizes he needs to step up to the plate. You are the only biological father your child will ever have. Waiting means missing memories and milestones. Be there. All the time. Even if your child is 40 with a family of their own and you have royally screwed up, be there. Go mend that relationship. It certainly won’t happen over night, but try.

-Katie

 

ABCs of Parenthood

Alcohol – Now that you’ve experienced your near 10 months of sobriety and been your hubby’s DD, it’s your turn! If you’re breastfeeding, it’s okay to take advantage as well, to an extent. Beer can even help boost your milk supply. After those long days and nights the first few weeks, you’re going to want to indulge a little, believe me! Even if alcohol isn’t your thing, I’m sure there is something that can help you unwind – exercise, ice cream, a good book, etc.

 

Breastfeeding – If you are able and want to breastfeed, this is going to be a big part of your life now that your baby is here. At the end of the day, do what is best for you and your new baby. Seek out support from friends, support groups, blogs, or a lactation consultant if you have questions or concerns. YOU can do it! The first few weeks can be the roughest, but don’t let that stop you. You’ll be glad you did it in the end. Plus, it’s totally convenient, saves money, and is super healthy for you and your baby.

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Coffee – If you’re like me, you will find that there will NEVER be enough coffee some days. Drink up! If you avoided caffeine while you were pregnant, good for you. Now it’s time to welcome it back! I look forward to my morning cup of coffee, whether I’m drinking hurriedly on my way to work or sipping on it cold after several hours of chasing my kiddos around the house, it still tastes good. Enjoy!

 

Diapers – Whether cloth or disposable, these will be a part of your life for quite some time, especially if you have multiple little ones. You’ll change a bazillion (thats an understatement) of them and get quite good at it! Sometimes I think of it as a game – how fast can I get the dirty one off and the new one on – especially with my newest little guy. I have to get him changed before he decides he’s going to pee all over us both.

 

Eating – Make sure you’re not only feeding your baby and your family, but you’re not forgetting to feed yourself. Mommy needs food for fuel. You might think you’ve eaten enough by eating your toddlers’ leftovers or grabbing a quick bite on your way out the door in the morning, but more than likely it’s not enough. Try to eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day if it’s too hard to sit down for 3 meals. Your kids keep you busy, but you need to make sure your eating so you have the energy to keep up!

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Fights – Pick your battles with your kiddos. Don’t argue over things that at the end of the day are unimportant. I know I haven’t even reached the peak of this because my kiddos are still little, but even with my almost 3 year old it has started. I’ve learned to not argue over the shirt she picked out or whether she has her shoes on the right feet but instead about brushing her teeth or holding my hand in a busy parking lot.

 

Giggles – There is nothing better than hearing our little babies giggle. Even though my oldest is going on 3, I still can’t get enough of her little belly laughs and the way her face lights up when she is happy and giggly. My youngest is 6 months old and in the phase where we can make him laugh now. I love hearing him and trying new ways to make him giggle at me.

 

Hero – I hope that someday my kids can say that I am their hero (or one of them). It’s actually something that I think about a lot and something that I strive to be for them. As their Mommy, I try to always keep in mind their best interest and to do things I would want them to be proud of me for. I want them to be able to look up to me as their role model. I need to be a positive influence and make good decisions in my life for them.

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Inseparable – I didn’t leave my almost 3 year old overnight until right before her 2nd birthday. Am I crazy? Maybe just a little. I never had a reason to spend a night away from her so I just never did it. I’m inseparable from my kids, but at the same time I know and need to remember that someday I will have to let them go. I have to let my kids become their own individuals but that doesn’t mean I never, ever want to leave them!

 

Juggling – A great blog written by one of my fellow mommies here with Burrito Buzz. As mommies, we do all kinds of juggling! It’s an adjustment being a parent, but it’s the greatest adjustment we will ever adapt to. We aren’t perfect and being a Mommy is a lot of work, but we sure do know how to juggle it all in the end. You’re all pretty amazing!

 

Kitchen – You might be spending more time in here now that you have bottles and other baby items to wash which means your mobile little ones might be too. Make sure this area is safe. Make sure you have the cupboards and drawers kid-locked, especially those with sharp objects and harmful chemicals. We tried to keep at least one drawer and one cupboard accessible to our little ones so they could play in them with more kid friendly kitchen items. They love that!

 

 

Laundry – It is never ending, literally. The minute I feel like I’m all caught up, another load comes down the laundry chute. I’m so lucky that my husband and I share this chore, because it is time consuming. I wish I was better at doing like a load or two everyday instead of waiting and doing load after load all in one day. Maybe that way it wouldn’t seem like so much!

 

 

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse –Will this show ever go away!? I’m sure as my daughter who will be 3 in April grows out of Mickey Mouse, my 6 month old son will just be starting to like it. And the cycle will just continue – I’m stuck with it forever! We always have episodes saved in our DVR and it’s by far my daughter’s favorite cartoon. I guess there are worse things than hearing the Hot Dog song 5-6 times a day.

 

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Naked – Our little ones have super sensitive skin and much of the time they are dressed, so take advantage of the naked times and make sure their skin is still precious as ever! Check for any new skin rashes, bumps, bruises, etc. 

 

OutsideGet out when you can and when the weather allows it. I always want my kids to want to be outside playing. I never want them to be the kids that are inside glued to the TV sitting on the couch. The activities outdoors are endless. Some of our favorites at home include the swing set, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and going for walks.

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Pack – I’ve become quite the packer. Nights before I work the next day, I always get everything packed up for me, my husband, and the kiddos. It makes it a thousand times easier getting out the door in the morning. I also always have a fully stocked and ready to go diaper bag. I try to have a small bag left in each of our cars too with the basic essentials so my husband and I both always have whatever we might need when we are out.

 

Quiet time – You will learn to value the quiet moments. Being a Mommy can be chaotic, overwhelming, and just plain busy. I feel like I’m in a constant rush, rush, rush mode; especially through the work week. That quiet time, whether it’s in the mornings when I’m pumping before everyone else in the house is up or at night when I get to get a shower by myself, uninterrupted, is precious time. Enjoy it, soak it up.

 

Responsibility – There is no greater responsibility than being a parent. Not only are you responsible for making sure the essential daily needs of your children are met, but you are responsible for being a positive role model and support system. It’s the best responsibility but also the most crucial.

 

 

Spouse – I am a firm believer in spouses working together as a team when it comes to family and their household. You have to stick together on everything – discipline, chores, good times, bad times – your kids will sense when you don’t see eye to eye. If you do have fights (because let’s face it, you will) do it behind closed doors and don’t take it out on your kiddos. But at the end of the day, stick together and love one another.

 

Toddler – Although a super fun stage of our kiddos lives, it also brings its challenges. My oldest is a toddler. It’s so rewarding to watch her constantly learn, grow, and develop into a little girl who isn’t a baby any longer. I can see her own personality more and more. With that brings opinions, arguments, and tantrums, but it’s part of who she is becoming. Even in the most trying of moments, I know some day I will look back and miss these times! Enjoy them.

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Unconditional love – There is not a better term to describe the relationship between parents and their kiddos. No matter how angry they make you or how disgusting they can be, we still love them. There will be days when they make you want to pull all of your hair out and nights where they won’t let you sleep, but we love them no matter what.

 

Versatile “able to adapt or be adapted to many different functions or activities” – This is very important as a parent with little ones running around. I have quickly learned since becoming a mother that I have to be versatile. My plans may not always go the way I envisioned and I may never be on time again, but I can’t let that get me down. What matters is that me, my husband, and my little ones are happy.

 

 

Water – It is the best beverage for you and yours kiddos. If you struggle with drinking just plain water, add some lemon or lime. My kiddos only drink juice on rare occasions because I think it’s important for them to actually like water. I didn’t grow up that way and it took me until I was pregnant with my first to really start to like water and drink it all the time. I hope my kids can be the same because water is so important!!

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XOXO – As a parent, there is NEVER enough of these!! I especially love the before bed hugs and kisses and when my toddler kisses my 6 month old. It just makes my heart smile! I also love the hugs and kisses from my husband. I think our kids need to see that lovable connection between their parents.

 

Yelling – It is so difficult as a parent sometimes to keep your composure and not go off the handle on your kiddos, especially when it is over something minuscule. Maybe you’re just having a bad day. No matter what, try to think about it first before you yell at your little ones. I think there are moments when you need to raise your voice to get your point across, but if all you’re doing is yelling; your kids aren’t going to listen.

 

ZZZZZZ Have you been missing this lately?! I’ve learned to greatly appreciate every little bit of “ZZZZZs” that I can get since becoming a Mommy, even more so the second time around. With my first kiddo, I could rest and nap when she did, but that is so not the case with baby #2. One of them usually always needs me. I find myself doing things around the house or watching my DVR on the off chance they are both napping because there is always something to catch up on!

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-Megan

Fight the FLU

*BurritoBuzz is a group of moms that gives advice, and any medical content should be regarded as non-professional advice. Please consult your physician with any medical concerns you may have.*

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I will start off by saying that I am not a physician. I’m only listing my recommendations from the perspectives of both a mother and a nurse. I cannot guarantee that you won’t get sick if you listen to me (wouldn’t that be a money maker!). My hope is that these simple tips will keep you and your loved ones healthy and happy this flu season. These tips come from experience (I have two kiddos and I work in healthcare) and I believe have helped keep myself and my family in good health in the past.

 

  1. Get a flu shot

You can read more about vaccinations in this blog by one of our guest bloggers about a month ago. No one enjoys getting stabbed with medication or watching their children get stabbed and crying hysterically thereafter. Let’s face it, it sucks getting shots. It also sucks being sick with the flu – fever, body aches, chills, fatigue – symptoms that last far longer than the quick little poke of a vaccine. These symptoms are also easily spread to others. Please get the vaccine to keep yourself and others at a decreased risk of getting the flu. It is so easy to get at most doctor’s offices and pharmacies. Most often it’s free. Your arm will be sore and your kiddos will probably cry but it is totally worth it!!!

 

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  1. Drink water!

If you’re not sure if you’re drinking enough water, you probably need to drink more. According to the Institute of Medicine sited on Mayo Clinic, it’s recommended that women drink 9 cups of beverages a day and men to drink 13 cups of beverages. I know I personally struggle getting in this amount, but I really do try to have my own bottle/cup when I’m at work that I’m always refilling. I try to do the same thing at home. The bottle in the photo is similar to the one I received from my hospital after having a baby and I LOVE this thing. My 2.5 year old does too. It’s perfect because it large, insulated, and clear. I know I’m always getting plenty of water and it’s measured so I know how much!

 

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  1. SLEEP

I know, I know. It is easier said than done, especially with little ones at home. Try to make an effort to get as much rest as you can. Even if it’s not always “sleeping,” resting/relaxing and just letting your body recharge and catch up is a good way to stay healthy. If you have kiddos at home, make sure they’re getting the rest they need too. Let them sleep in when they can and try not to skip nap time. We all need our rest!

 

  1. Wash your hands

This is a simple task. It’s so simple that sometimes it’s easily overlooked. We all should be washing our hands quite frequently especially when germs are more prevalent this time of year. Wash your hands after going to the bathroom, before preparing and eating food, after being in public places, after coughing/sneezing into them, the list goes on. If you’re not sure, just do it. You can use sanitizer too. Keep sanitizer always on hand – leave some in your diaper bag, purse, in your car, and around the house. Sometimes I just have my little one sanitize after using the bathroom or being outside, but other times a good hand washing is the best. Along with keeping your hands clean, try to keep other commonly used surfaces throughout your home clean too (this will keep those germs off of your hands in the long run!). I love my CLOROX wipes any time of year!

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  1. Cover your cough

Use a tissue or cough into your elbow to avoid spreading those germs when you cough. If you do end up coughing into your hands, avoid touching anything and wash them ASAP. Pass these good habits on to your little ones. The sooner they learn to cover their cough appropriately, the better off everyone will be!!

 

  1. Stay away from others who are sick

This goes both ways. Try to avoid others that you know are ill and being in public places where you could come in close contact with potentially sick people. The same goes for you and your kiddos. If any of you are sick, stay home. Avoid spreading that sickness any further than beyond your own home.

 

  1. ENCOURAGE

We need to hold each other accountable. I mentioned before about teaching our kids early on about covering their cough and good hand hygiene. We should do the same with adults. Encourage visitors at your home to wash their hands before they hold your babies or coworkers to sanitize after blowing their nose. We have a strict policy at the hospital I work in to wash/sanitize our hands before and after entering a patient’s room. It doesn’t matter whether or not I touch anything while I’m in that room. Germs spread like wild fire, and we need to look out for ourselves and each other.

 

Along with what I consider “The Top 7,” it’s important to maintain a nutritious diet, regular exercise regimen, and manage your stress to stay healthy and avoid the flu. Even though flu season is upon us now, all of these tips should be utilized year-round as best we can. With just a few easy adjustments to our daily living, we can avoid feeling miserable and downright bad with crippling flu symptoms down the road.

 

Check out the CDC’s website for even more helpful links and tips to keep your family happy and healthy!!

 

– Megan

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/

 

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/