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/

 

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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

Hyland’s Homeopathic Halloween Costume Contest!

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You put all that time and effort into the perfect kid’s costume, why not win some awesome prizes?? Hyland’s Homeopathic is running a contest for the best children’s costume. Three winners with the best costumes will receive Hyland’s products for the whole family as well as a $50 Target gift card!

Entering is super easy! Click here to fill out an entry form: http://bit.ly/1MnpTET

And tag your costume pic on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #HylandsHalloweenCostumeContest

Good luck! Be sure to tag us too so we can see all of your adorable littles in their costumes!

-Burrito Buzz

Product Review: Munchkin Nursery Projector & Sound System

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PROS: I’ve used this sound machine since my LO was about a month old. It has 6 different sound options from classical music and nursery songs to nature and white noise. I’ve kept it on the ocean track for the majority of the time. The blue part on the bottom is a built-in nightlight that isn’t too bright and can be tapped to turn on (perfect for midnight bathroom runs!) It ALSO has four different rotating scenes that can be projected onto the ceiling. The cartridges for these scenes conveniently store in the side of the unit. There is a timer for the sound option (I leave it going nonstop) and it also has the option for voice activation so if your LO wakes up crying, it will automatically turn on.

You get all this in a compact unit that has a good length of extension cord and plugs in to an outlet. I’ve used this an average of 3 times a day for over a year and it has never had any issues at all!

CONS: Really the only con I can think of is that is does need to be plugged in so there is a cord risk if it is not put up during the day or in a higher up location.

This sound machine will cost you about $29.99 and in my opinion, it is totally worth it. This has become a staple in our bed and nap time routine and my LO loves it! It’s easy to travel with and has been reliable in spite of CONSTANT use. A winner in my book!

-Chelsea

Breastfeeding Glossary

Antibodies- A substance that protects against infection

Areola- The circular area of pigmented skin that surrounds the nipple

Breastfeeding.

  • a. Exclusive: Baby receives all nourishment and fluids at the breast.
  • b. Almost exclusive: Baby receives all nourishment at the breast except for small amounts of supplements.
  • c. Partial: Frequent or regular supplements.
  • d. Token: Minimal breastfeeding

Breast shell – a plastic shell that fits over the nipple, used to correct flat or inverted nipples.

Breast shield – a thin silicone shield that is placed over the nipple and areola during nursing.

Colostrum- A concentrated fluid secreted by the breast at the end of pregnancy and shortly after childbirth that provides nutrition as well as protection against disease

Engorgement– fullness, swilling, and enlargement of the breasts.

Foremilk– Low-fat milk that leaves the breast first during breastfeeding or pumping; the longer the time periods between breast drainage, the lower in fat the foremilk becomes

Hindmilk– Higher-fat milk that comes later during a breastfeeding or pumping as the breast becomes more fully drained

Inverted nipple – a nipple that retracts into the body, rather than protrudes when the areola is compressed.

Jaundice – caused by an excess of bilirubin, jaundice causes yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin. Jaundice is relatively common among newborns, and is treatable.

Lactation -The action of producing and secreting milk

Lanolin- This cream is a savior to many breastfeeding mothers who experience sore, cracked nipples. It can soothe and protect, but make sure that you only use a pure form of lanolin to prevent allergies to the toxins that come in impure forms

Latching On – Latching on is when the baby takes the nipple and areola properly into his mouth to begin nursing. Proper positioning is critical, because your nipple needs to touch the roof of your baby’s mouth to stimulate him to latch on, suck and swallow.

Let-Down- This is the process where the brain tells the body to produce milk and make it available in the breast. Let-down occurs when the baby’s sucking action on the breast sends a message to the brain. The message stimulates the hypothalamus gland, which in turn stimulates the pituitary gland. Hormones are then released that act on special cells in the breast to produce the milk and send it toward the nipple where it is available for the baby.

Lipase – An enzyme that breaks down fat in breastmilk. In rare instances, some women may have it in higher quantities in their breastmilk, and it can cause breastmilk to develop a bad smell or taste when frozen.

Milk ducts – ducts in the breast that carry milk from the alveoli to the nipple.

Mastitis – generally occurring in breastfeeding women, mastitis causes the breasts to feel hard, sore or uncomfortable. Mastitis is caused when bacteria enters the breast through a break or crack in the nipple’s skin (such as those caused by chapped nipples) or by a plugged milk duct

Oxytocin– the love hormone, in both mom and baby which helps with bonding, stress relief and makes you relax.

Plugged (milk) duct – often caused by mastitis, plugged ducts occur when small milk ducts in the breast become blocked.

Positioning – The way a baby is held or situated when breastfeeding. There are different breastfeeding positions, and you may have to experiment to determine which one is most effective and comfortable for you and your baby.

Prolactin – A hormone produced by the pituitary gland that is responsible for milk production within the alveoli in the breast. During pregnancy, prolactin makes the breasts grow, and after giving birth, it stimulates the milk production. Prolactin is made in response to nipple stimulation when the baby suckles at the breast. Low prolactin levels can affect the mother’s milk supply.

Progesterone- A hormone produced by the placenta in large amounts during pregnancy that stimulates breast development and inhibits production of large volumes of milk.

Pumping – The method of extracting breastmilk with the help of a pump. There are both manual and electrical breast pumps. Pumping enables mothers to provide breastmilk for a caregiver to give to the baby while mom is away (for example, working).Pumping is also often used to stimulate production in a mother who has a low milk supply, to induce lactation or relieve engorgement.

Rooting Reflex-The rooting reflex occurs when touching your breast to the center of the baby’s lips or stroking his cheek causing the baby to open it’s mouth and turn it’s head to one side looking for the breast.

Suck, suckle– The baby’s milking action at the breast; in traditional usage, a baby at the breast “sucked” while a mother “suckled.”

Thrush – a common yeast infection of the mouth and throat caused by the fungus Candida albicans, marked by white patches in the mouth. Thrush can also occur in the gastrointestinal tract and can cause certain types of diaper rash in infants.