Friday, May 31, 2013

repost: real moments of new motherhood

** Originally posted on September 22, 2012

I awake with a pounding head, blurry vision and an upset stomach.  It's the third time this week.  Normally I would stay in bed, pull the covers over my head and try my best to sleep through the pain until the migraine relented and I was able to get back to life.

But today that's not an option.  Seven weeks ago I became responsible for another which means I can't just pull the covers over my head.  Instead I crawl out of bed and soothe the crying babe.

How can I care for this tiny human when I'm the one who needs to be taken care of?  He's crying for his mother, but right now I'm crying for mine.

I am hit with a wave of nausea.  I know it would be a tiny bit better if I could just lay down, but I can't.  Please, Lord, not today.  I just need to be well enough to care for my baby.  Looking across the room, I eye the bucket sitting there.  Can I just make it until the end of this feeding?  ...nope.  I hear the baby howling from the crib where I hastily laid him as I sit hunch over the bucket.

Everyone talks about how hard it is to have a newborn, but not many talk about doing it with a chronic illness; when you are in a battle with your body to simply get out of bed in the morning.  So far I've been managing through my daily pain, but a migraine is like a giant wave that knocks you to the ground no matter how firmly you have your feet planted.

An arsenal of baby supplies are spread over my comforter.  My plan is to only leave the bed to change diapers.  Carrying a baby around with a migraine is simply not a good idea.  To my left is a Boppy, a blanket, a soother and a burp cloth.  To my right is his pack n play.  I can do this.  I have to do this.

But the questions linger in my mind.  How will I ever be a mother when I'm this sick?  How do you explain to a baby that mama just can't get out of bed that morning and that she just really, really needs you to stop screaming in her ear?

I hear the hum of the garage door and whisper in my little man's little ear, "Papa is home.  It's gonna be okay."  On his lunch break, my dear husband has brought me food and drink.  We both know from experience that if the migraine gets too bad we'll end up spending the evening in the emergency room and we'll try everything we can think of to stop it.

The shades are drawn.  An ice pack is on my head.  The medicine has been taken.  I'm sipping liquids as much as my upset stomach will allow.  A fan is blowing on my head.  The lunch break is over and he must return to base.  Together we pray that I will receive the strength to continue. 

Baby finally falls asleep on my chest.  I lay him in his bed hoping to close my eyes against the sun which feels like lasar beams penetrating my skull.  Thirty seconds later he is awake and screaming.  I take him in my arms again speaking softly to calm him for his sake as well as for mine.  Sweet baby, mama is doing her very best today.  I'm trying so hard to give you everything you need.  Please, please just sleep for me today.  Please just stop crying.  I'll make it up to you another day. 

As I breathe in air to sustain my body, I breathe in grace to sustain my soul.  I tell myself the truths that I am prone to forget.

This is not the day to compete for the New-Mother-of-the-Year award.  Today is not a measure of how much I love my baby.  I will not let this day be indicative of the next twenty years nor let it scare me into fearing this heavenly appointment.

Today is not easy.  Today is not enjoyable.  But I know that God has given me enough grace to make it through today.  The migraine, the crying babe, the pain.  All of it is covered by the grace I've been given.  Tomorrow holds the promise of "new mercies".  Which is good.  I've exhausted all that I've been given for today.

And although my son slumbers through my words, I whisper in his ear:  "We're gonna get through, Haddy.  We've got grace.  And life is all about grace."

T'was grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

day 614

dear mr. mays,

Happy day 614 of marriage!  :)  Most people write letters like this on anniversaries or birthdays, but I decided that EVERY day with you is worth celebrating.  So why not write you a letter today?

Marrying you was the best decision of my life.  That is NOT saying that the last 614 days have been perfect.  There have definitely been days when we've argued, when we miscommunicated and when we've hurt each other.  There have been days when we question why life seems so hard or why certain things have happened to us.  But even through the hard times, I'm glad that we're on the same team.

My love, I so appreciate you.  You come home at the end of the day and listen to a rundown of all the blogs, articles and books I've read that day and you actually engage in conversations about them.  Thank you for encouraging me and enabling me to get involved as a Key Spouse in the Air Force including helping me make and deliver the meals.  You are gracious and kind and you are an example of selflessness.  Sometimes you surprise me at how well you know me - it shows that you care to see me thrive, not simply survive.  You're a wonderful father to baby Hadden too and watching you two together makes me exceedingly happy.

can't wait to see what the next 614 days together hold!

  miss glorioso (-mays)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

six quirks of military life

When my husband first commissioned into the Air Force, we had a bit of adjusting to do.  There is a big learning curve the first few months, but after awhile, things seem second nature.  Here are a few of those quirks that we've gotten used to in the past year and a half.  :)

1.  Hearing the "Giant Voice" announcements  

There is a speaker system throughout the base and in base housing that is mostly used for emergencies.  For instance, two nights ago we were woken up at 1am to crazy sirens and soon after a booming voice spoke to us:  " tornado...warning...has"  For some reason, hearing the Giant Voice always makes me feel like I'm in a scene from Harry Potter.

2.  Planes overhead all the time.

This one is pretty self-explanatory.  It's like living next to an airport.

3.  Having our IDs out and ready at the gate.

Or the commissary.  Or the BX.  Or the doctor's office.  Or the library.  :)  Basically, always have your ID with you because you'll need it to do almost anything on base.  It's like the grown up version of a college ID.

4.  Stopping your car while the National Anthem plays at 4:30pm.

You also avoid walking outside at 4:30pm because when the music starts you stop what you're doing to face the closest flag and put your hand over your heart until the music is done.

5.  Tipping your baggers at the commissary

Always remember to have a few dollars on hand!  Your groceries get taken to the car and loaded by a bagger and you need to have a tip ready.

6.  Having low expectations for parking spots

In addition to handicapped parking and "stork parking" (for pregnant women), the front few parking spots of main buildings are reserved for the important people.  Like generals and colonels and chiefs.  There were a couple times when we got excited about scoring an awesome parking spot, only to realize that it was reserved.  It was a bit of a disappointment, but now we're used to it.  Although, let's be honest, how often do generals honestly do their own grocery shopping??

What did I miss?  :)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

base housing (one year later)

It's been one year since we moved to Offutt AFB!  We were just remembering what it felt like to drive here for the first time, explore base and see our new house.  In September, I shared pictures of our house and talked a little about base housing here.  If you want to know more about which style of house we have, that post will fill you in.

Since we've lived here for a year, I'm sharing a little update on what we've thought of base housing.  This is solely based on our experience here with Rising View.  I am receiving no compensation from Rising View for this review, I simply wanted to help other families who might be considering where to live when they move to Offutt.

  • Overall Neighborhood
    • We like living here!  We are close to base and close to other amenities (Target, movie theatre, Churches, Walmart, restaurants, etc).  Since we have friends who live in the neighborhood, we can walk to their houses.
    • There are playgrounds everywhere!  They vary in size and style which keeps it interesting.  It's really nice to have so many options for the kids.  When it's warm, we go to the playground once or twice a day because they are close and convenient.  However, most of them are not shaded and there's no running water, so come prepared.  Also, there aren't trash cans.
    • We love taking neighborhood walks.  There are a few areas with bumpy sidewalks, but overall there are nice sidewalks throughout the neighborhood for pushing a stroller.
    • Our area of the neighborhood is very active.  Lots of people walk/run for exercise.  Our street has a lot of children who play outside in the evenings.  In the summer, there are many people sitting on their porches which gives it a friendly, family feeling.
    • My one major complaint about the neighborhood is completely out of Rising View's hands:  the birds!  There are some very territorial birds who try to build nests each spring near people's front doors.  I happen to be petrified of birds, but even my husband (who normally isn't bothered by birds) thinks that these birds are mean.  We've seen people put up fake owls or wind chimes and that seems to keep them away.
  • Maintenance
    • We've had a good experience with maintenance.  I've called about four or five times this year and have always had someone come within 24-48 hours.  
    • When it was something serious (my fridge wasn't cooling properly), they sent someone over within about an hour. Even though I hadn't given them any details about the fridge ahead of time, he guessed what was wrong and walked in with the proper part in hand.  It was installed in about ten minutes and my fridge was working again!
    • The smoke alarms can be very sensitive which can be frustrating if it happens while cooking or in the middle of the night.  However, when we called they had someone out that day to replace it and we haven't had a problem since (11 months).
    • We have had some problems with bugs (crickets, water bugs, etc).  Rising View will come out and fill holes to keep them from coming inside and if the problem persists, they will have a terminator come.  We have had them come out twice to fill holes (about six months apart).  I was very skeptical about it, but the second time it really did seem to help.  We also spray our garage regularly for bug and spray inside the house with a herb-based bug spray (so we don't fill our house with nasty chemicals).  
  • House Condition/Size
    • Again, if you want to see more about our specific house, you can read about it here.  Our house was clean upon arrival and was in very good condition overall.
    • The house is basic and is built with some cheap material (e.g. carpet, paint).  The appliances are also basic (e.g. fridge doesn't have an ice maker).  While it would be nice to have beautiful, cushy carpet, painted walls and a fridge with all kinds of cool features, it has been fine for us.  
    • The downstairs rooms can be awkward due to size.  This is also true for a friend of mine who lives in a different style of new housing.  We don't have a lot of furniture, so it has worked out for us, but if you are coming with a sectional couch or a big dining room set, you may have problems getting it to fit nicely.
    • Backyards vary in size based on the house, but most of them are good sized.  If you would like a fence, there is a rental company that you may use.
  • Moving Out 
    • We don't know because haven't done it yet!  :)  We have heard rumors that they are strict about cleaning and maintenance before you move out, but we have no personal experience.

Again, I can only speak to our experience in Rising View.  I know that other people have had different experiences living here, but overall, we have liked living here for the past year.  We plan on staying here until we PCS again!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

article from The Gospel Coalition

Today I happened upon The Gospel Coalition's website.  Although I'm familiar with TGC, I'm not on their website often, but today I was looking for something in particular.  However, an article on the front page grabbed my attention called "Parents, Do You Think Before You Post?" by Jen Wilkin.

Here's an excerpt:

Every day parents use social media and the blogosphere to offer up photos and posts chronicling all manner of child misbehavior, parental frustrations, and mishaps involving bodily fluids. I think these posts are made by well-meaning parents, unaware that they are creating an online identity for their children. But with every post, we construct a digital history of our child's life—a virtual scrapbook for public viewing—and we might want to think harder about the trail we are leaving behind. Do our comments and photos preserve our child's dignity or gratify our own adult sense of comedy? Do we post our thoughts to satisfy a need to vent? Do we miss the truth that our families need our discretion far more than our blog followers need our authenticity?

I've written before about our decision to make a private family blog to protect and respect our son's personhood.  Wilkin's post follows this same theme and is an important read for any parent.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Watermelon Feta Salad (from Bread and Wine)

Last week I reviewed Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist and mentioned that I was going to try her Watermelon Feta Salad.  Well, we did and it was superb!  I made it for lunch one day as part of our summer produce challenge.

To be honest, when I was preparing it, I was nervous that it was going to live up to my expectations.  But it did!  I ate two bowls for lunch (which is really unheard of for me) and a couple hours later, I had a third bowl for a snack!!  Today I made it for lunch again and I'm already looking forward to the leftovers with dinner tonight!  :)

I've been telling people to try this recipe and they have responded with, "Well, send it to me!".  After a few Google searches, I realized that the recipe must not be online so I'm sharing it here.

Watermelon Feta Salad
From Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist


8 cups watermelon, cubed
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
1/4 of a red onion, finely chopped
10 ounces arugula
2 limes
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
   salt and pepper to taste


Cube 8 cups of watermelon, and let the cubes marinate in the juice of one fresh squeezed lime for several hours.


Combine the fresh squeezed lime juice and zest from the remaining lime, white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

At serving time, toss arugula with half the vinaigrette, and combine watermelon, feta, red onion, and fresh mint.  Layer the watermelon mixture over the arugula, and drizzle with remaining vinaigrette.

Serves: 6 to 8

Sunday, May 19, 2013

one of those days.

We woke up in a rush to get ready for Church.  It was raining outside.  Bed sounded much, much nicer than Church on this particular morning, but we go up anyway.

I thought we were walking into Church just on time so I took the baby to the nursery while my husband got seats.  The nursery already had several crying babies which didn't really make me feel good about leaving Hadden, but I did anyway.

When I got back to the auditorium, the service HADN'T started, but we realized we left my Bible in the car.  No biggie.  We can share.  A couple minutes later, the service started and the screen turned on.  Immediately a nursery number was flashing.  Even though I had our number memorized, I checked it again, pulling the card with our number out of my wallet.  Nope.  It's close, but not ours.

The number stayed up there for a while and finally went away.  "Good," I thought, "the parents got their baby."

Then it was back up there.  I wanted to go to the nursery to check on Hadden, but I also didn't want to be a paranoid mother.  "They have your number.  They'll page if anything is wrong."  I repeated the mantra to myself.

The number was still there.

Suddenly someone is at my side.  For a moment I can't place her face and then I realize she was at the nursery when I dropped him off.  "Your baby needs you."

As we rush back to the nursery, we realized that the women had given me the wrong number.  All the while the number was flashing on the screen it had been MY baby who was crying and needed his mama.  She apologized profusely.  Of course it was an honest mistake.  But my baby's red-rimmed eyes made mine start to get teary too.

I rocked him and held him and whispered love to him and almost immediately he calmed down.  So we went into to sit with Caleb for the rest of the music.  Hadden was quiet and watching everything going on.  When the music ended and it was time for the sermon, it was clear we weren't going to be staying in there.

Soon I was outside the auditorium walking with Hadden and eventually found the empty "cry room" where we could sit.  It was just a circle of five chairs with a changing table so I tried to give him a bottle and some snacks.  Soon one mom came in with a newborn.  Then two more.  The room was getting crowded so I decided to leave.  Plus I was overhearing an overly enthusiastic "good job for you for breast feeding your baby for fifteen months" conversation as I fed my baby a bottle of Target brand formula. 

As soon as I walked out, I saw Caleb come out of the auditorium to see if I wanted to switch.  "Honestly?" I said, "I just want to leave."

And so we did.  Midservice.

I've never done that before.

We were all frustrated on the way home.  But we made it home and tried to salvage the day.  Caleb listened to a sermon online and Hadden and I practiced "sit time".

Later, Hadden was in his pack n play while we made lunch.  He has just learned how to pull himself up onto things and so he is doing it non-stop.  But this time he fell, resulting in a little red bump on his head and lots of tears.  But it was nothing a few hugs and an ice pack couldn't help.

A couple hours later we put Hadden on the floor in our room for just a minute, but, of course, the minute I turned around he somehow found a bottle of Tums (the same bottle I had been unable to locate the night before) and managed to get the lid off (the kid has mad skills, let me tell you).  Only one got into his mouth, but there was pink drool all over the carpet and his outfit.  Lovely.

It was an exhausting day of parenting.  And the thing about parenting is that you wake up the next day and do it all again whether or not you're ready for it.

Of course, there were perfectly lovely moments in the midst of all these crazy ones.  That baby is so absolutely amazing and we are enraptured with him.

But we're also exhausted by him.

And that's okay.

I remember talking to my sister before Hadden was born and saying something about "being a bad mom" because of some choice I was making.  I might not remember her exact words but they were something like this, "Stop that!  Stop it with the mom-guilt!  You're going to be a great mom and it has nothing to do with silly choices like letting your kid watch TV or feeding them non-organic grapes."

Stop it with the mom-guilt.

Man.  Couldn't we all stand to hear that?

Or, more importantly, stop making other moms feel guilty.  

Or, stop with the comparisons.

This doesn't mean, of course, that we don't try.  There are still things that matter a tremendous amount to me.  There are certain principles I want to instill in my child and certain ways I want them to be raised.  And, to be honest, I feel pretty darn strongly about some of those things.

But it's most important that my child is loved and that he has sane and happy parents.

My baby cried as soon as I left him in the nursery and I didn't come to get him right away.

But he is loved.

My baby fell out of his crib yesterday (don't worry, it has since been adjusted)

But he is cherished.

My baby hit his head.

But he is cuddled and cared for.

My baby found a Tums and ate it.

But he is adored.

And tomorrow?  We'll wake up and do it all again.  

But it's okay.  

Because even though my energy wears out, the one thing I really need to keep going is never-ending.  And that's love.

**In no sense am I discounting safety, of course, of course you need to be vigilant about safety and, even though this post may not give the impression, we are extremely careful about his safety.

Friday, May 17, 2013

shoe recommendations for erythromelalgia

Warm weather is here!  We've been soaking it up with trips to the playground (sometimes twice a day!) and family walks.  One thing was stopping us though: my Erythromelalgia!  Too many walks were being cut short due to pain so my husband announced that it was time for me to invest in some new shoes.  I googled around to see what shoes were recommended for Erythromelalgia, but I didn't see too many suggestions, so I thought I'd share my choices here.

We looked through several different options for shoes and talked through the pros and cons.  My husband encouraged me to get two pairs: one for activity and one for style.  Obviously wearing any kind of closed toed shoe (especially athletic shoes!) is a no-go in the summer with Erythromelagia so we needed the "activity pair" to be super comfortable and good for long distances, but still open.

I've heard so many good things about Birkenstock's so I wanted to try these Kairo Sandals (sold through American Eagle), but we decided they were too expensive and not versatile enough.  My sister has a pair of Saltwater Sandals.  They are supposed to be incredibly comfortable and durable.  I'd still love a pair some day, but I was afraid that they would be too hot around my toes to be an every day pair.

For the "activity shoes", we ended up choosing these Teva Zirra Sandals.  I couldn't be happier!  We bought them for walks and special activities, but I've ended up wearing them all over the place!  They were very comfortable from the time I first put them on.  My Erythromelagia has still flared up while wearing them, but the shoes don't seem to be contributing to the problem.  I would feel comfortable doing all sorts of activities in these shoes, so I definitely recommend them to others with Erythromelagia looking for a replacement for athletic shoes.  

The second pair I went with were these American Eagle Braided Sandals.  I had a similar pair for the past couple of years, but last fall they were falling apart!  I ended up getting this replacement pair because they served me well.  They pair equally well with shorts or a sundress so I like how versatile they are.  My one complaint is that they are not comfortable for a long time.  Running to the grocery store or spending the morning at church?  No problem.  But when I was trying to use them to go on walks?  Definitely a bad idea!

Finding functional shoes might not seem like a big deal to most people, but with Erythromelagia it is a challenge.  I'm grateful to have found these options so I can stop worrying about my pain and enjoy the litte things like an evening walk with my family and pushing my son on the swing.

**All opinions are my own.  I received no compensation from any company for writing this - I am simply sharing my experience.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

currently reading: Bread & Wine

I loved this book.  And, just to be clear, I've never begun a book review that way!  

Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes is Shauna Niequist's third book.  Unlike many other reviewers, I knew little about Niequist before I began the book.  Really, I only knew that she was a blogger, but I'd never even visited her site.  But with this book, she won me over.  It felt like I was hearing from a kinded spirit and, over and over, I found myself nodding, crying, laughing and drawing little pencil hearts in the margin to mark my favorite points.   
The book is arranged into four sections, each consisting of about 10 essays.  Most of the essays are followed by a recipe referenced therein.  I liked the essay format because it was easy to read a little at a time.  Food, of course, is the predominate theme throughout the book, but addition topics include Christianity, infertility, miscarriage, family, friends, body image/self-confidence, parenting, hospitality and running.  Her life was transparent in these pages.  Sometimes that was hilarious, for instance, when she talks about training to run a marathon ("the runners themselves kind of freaked me out").  Other times the honesty was sobering and convicting.  The essay 'Hail Mary' made me cry as she talked about being all alone in the hospital with a very sick baby and I thought of my own baby and how terrifying that would be.

Niequist is a foodie.  She admits to obsessing over dinner parties and getting carried away when planning events.  But it didn't come across as snobby.  In fact, what I loved about the book was that she urged the reader to 'Start Where You Are' (the title of one essay).  She says to "order pizza and serve it with a green salad and a bottle salad dressing."  In other words: don't let not being a perfect chef stop you from entertaining.  This same idea was seen in another essay 'Open the Door' where talked about hosting in less-than-perfect situations (e.g. a tiny apartment).  Over and over again, you see how Niequist sees food as a way to connect with people.  And that's what I loved.  This book was about food, yes, but it was about more than that.  

As I said before, I knew very, very little about Niequist before this book.  Through reading the book, I picked up on the fact that her parents must be well-known.  A quick Google search told me that she is the daughter of Bill and Lynne Hybels (the founders of Willow Creek Church).  Near the end of the book, she mentions hosting a dinner for a family friend named Shane.  As she described a little more about him I realized was Shane Claiborne.  While Niequist could have done a lot of name-dropping throughout the book (it's clear that her family is well-connected), I appreciated that she didn't.  She just wrote.  She was simply honest and, with that, she won me over.

Since I'd never read any of her other writing (blog or books), I do wonder if this could have felt like a repeat to some readers.  I have read other books by bloggers and, sometimes, it seems that they simply recycle their blog material and turn it into a book.  So much of this book is based on Niequist's life, so there may be repeated stories from other places.

When the book first arrived, I was itching to open it, but I had another book/review I needed to finish first.  So I just read the first essay.  I read a little aloud to my husband because I was so struck by it and he said, "I can already tell you're going to like this book.  This book is you."  We love trying new foods and I cook a lot, so I loved reading her descriptions and I'm looking forward to trying the recipes (tomorrow we're making the watermelon feta salad!).  Overall, I loved this book: the stories, the writing and (hopefully) the recipes.  I think it's a beautiful read for anyone who sees food and hospitality as an act of love.  One word of warning:  reading this will make you hungry!  :)

**I received a copy of this book from BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

staying organized during a PCS (part 2)

Last week I wrote about one of our tricks to stay organized during a PCS (move for the military), which was a big three-ring binder to hold all our paperwork.  Today I'm sharing another one.  After all, organization is half the battle during a move!

In addition to "Big Blue" (the 3-ring binder) we also have a Steno Pad (our last one was blue so, of course, we named it "Little Blue".  Stupid names, but they worked for us!).  As soon as we find out we're moving, I go buy a new Steno Pad and it stays with me for the next two months.  Here's why:

We document everything.


We document everything.

From the very beginning of our move, we take notes, compile lists, save phone numbers/addresses and more in Little Blue.

This sounds silly, right?  I mean, after all, it's the age of technology!  Of iPhones and tablets and who needs paper anymore?  Well, people in the midst of a move do!  :)

Like with Big Blue, it's about having the information you need all in the same place.  Instead of keeping track of packing lists, calendars, shopping lists, phone numbers and more, I just have to keep track of the Steno Pad.  If you carry a purse regularly, make sure you get one that fits in your purse so you don't lose it!

I can't tell you how many times we've written something down that we are SURE we'll remember, but we faithfully write it down anyway.  And it always ends up that we need it later.  The meme above is silly, but it's our exact philosophy when it comes to the Steno Pad!

Yes, this is a simple piece of advice, but it is so helpful!

Here's an idea of the things we wrote down with our last move:

  • contact information (name, phone number/address) for anyone connected with our move.  This also included any estimates we got from companies so that we could easily compare later on.
    • moving companies
    • truck rental
    • TMO office (the people who handle moves in the military)
    • housing office at new base
    • hotels along the road (including confirmation numbers)
    • Caleb's sponsor at new base
  • packing lists
    • last items to pack at old house (e.g. bath towels, shower curtain, etc)
    • items that travel with us in the car (e.g. cleaning supplies and plants)
    • first items to unpack at new house (e.g. toilet paper, hand towels, soap, paper plates, etc)
  • grocery lists/shopping lists
    • a list of basic necessities to buy at new house (e.g. milk and eggs)
  • meal lists
    • plan basic easy meals like boxed mac and cheese that use basic ingredients so you start emptying your kitchen (especially refrigerated foods)
  • to-do list (multiple copies updated frequently and perhaps organized in the following categories)
    • by date (i.e. a mini calendar to take with you)
    • by necessity (i.e. must be done TODAY)
    • by person responsible
    • by location (e.g. on base errands, new town errands, etc)
  • cleaning lists (trust me, if you live in base housing you'll definitely need a list for this!)
That's just a sampling of the things that we wrote down while we were moving.  Trust me, spending $2 on a Steno Pad will be well worth it!  By the time your move is over, you'll be use to carrying around this notebook and a pen at all times and will be swearing by this method too!  ;)

Staying Organized During a PCS - Part One
Staying Organized During a PCS - Part Three

mother's day

Today I'm thinking of my mom and wishing her a happy day.  I'm so thankful for the energy she put into raising six children and how she's passed on to us a love for books, learning and caring for other people, among many other things.  Wish we could be there with you today, Mom!

We're keeping it low-key here today which is exactly how I wanted it.  Just a little time for the three of us to enjoy together.  Some time ago, I read this post about a mother who write a note to her children each year on Mother's Day and I knew I wanted to do the same so Caleb bought me a beautiful moleskin notebook to collect my notes to Hadden.  We are running errands, baking, delivering meals and going on a family walk.

I understand that Mother's Day can be a really difficult day for many people whether they've lost a mother or are wishing to be a mother or are alone today because of deployment, etc.  Today I hope that someone reaches out to you in kind remembrance and that you draw encouragement from that.  

For an interesting read about Mother's Day, here's an article about Anna Jarvis**, who "invented" Mother's Day and how she later fought against it as she saw how it turned into another big marketing scheme.  

**I realize that mental_floss is not the most noteworthy of sources, but I've heard this other places as well...this was simply the place I saw it today. :)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

comfortable people

Years ago someone told me that I was their "comfortable friend."

Really? I was dismayed.  Comfortable?  Why couldn't I be your inspiring friend?  Or hilarious?  What about your fascinating or really talented friend?

Comfortable, to me, meant I was akin to a large sofa.  And, even though I knew she meant it was a compliment, it didn't feel like one in that moment.

It took me a little bit of time to realize fully what she meant and perhaps it wasn't so far off from being a human-sofa.  When you've had a really, really crappy day, isn't there some part of you that just wants to be enveloped in soft cushions and plush fabric?  You want to sigh and let the worries of the day fall off your shoulders so that you can just "be".

That friend trusted me with the most precious parts of her life.  She let me into her world and allowed me to mourn and grieve and, yes, to rejoice with her.  And I realized that being her "comfortable friend" was really one of the highest honors she could give me.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

my fashionista sister

My little sister was recently featured on College Fashionista!  She told me about it when she first got asked to do it and I've been waiting to see the post go up and here it is!

McKenna was at lunch with a friend when the writer/photographer approached her and asked if she could take a picture of her outfit.  When she was telling me about it later she said, "I felt so dumb standing there!" (I'm sure I would feel the same way), but I think she looks great!

Monday, May 6, 2013

staying organized during a PCS (part 1)

When you're in the military, moving is just a way of life.  I grew up moving, so I learned a lot of tricks from my parents and I've passed some of those along to my husband (like how to pack a box of dishes so none of them break!).  We moved to our current base about a year ago and this became my eleventh home!  And I'm only 25!

Organization is vital during a PCS (permanent change of station)!  If you're like me, you like to be organized all the time.  But when half your home is packed away in boxes and the other half is in random piles that are supposed to make sense to you, it's kinda nice to have a system to stay organized.

Here's our secret: a three ring binder


We love our's so much that we even named it:  Big Blue (any guesses as to it's color??;)

Moving (especially in the military) means lots of paperwork.  Instead of trying to keep track of all the separate papers, we stick them all in Big Blue and then we just have to remember it!  If you've ever heard of the FLYLady, Big Blue is loosely based on her control journal.

Big Blue has page protectors and it has a couple binder pouches too.  The page protectors hold all the paperwork.  Here are some examples: copies of my husband's orders, copies of our marriage certificate, copies of birth certificate, printout of hotel reservations, maps to our location, copies of driver's licenses, reservation of moving truck, leasing agreement, **birthday/anniversary cards, map of the new base, etc.
**about a month before our move, we buy cards and get them stamped and addressed.  then i put a sticky note on the front with the date it needs to be mailed so we have one less thing to think about during those crazy weeks.

One of the binder pouches hold little things like our passports, stamps, random keys, etc.  The other is where we put all receipts pertaining to our move.  When my husband is in-processing to a new base, he needs those receipts so we make sure that every single one goes directly in Big Blue!  So far, we've never lost one!

Big Blue rides with us in the truck/car which means it's easily accessible at all times and,  at nights, it goes into the hotel with us.  It might seem like overkill to have printouts of everything (maps, hotel reservations, etc) because most of those things can be accessed online these days.  But let's be honest.  Murphy's Law seems especially true during a move.  One time we got to our hotel and their whole computer system was down, but since we had a printout with our confirmation we were able to still get into our room.  The LAST thing you want at the end of a long day of traveling is to have a technology fail.  The maps have come in handy at times when the 3G on our phones wasn't working well (i.e. driving through rural Arkansas).

Anyone else have moving tips to share?? :)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

TED talk: violence & silence (dr. jackson katz)

Sometimes it's hard to figure out how something "went viral".  Like Gangnam Style or the Harlam Shake.  How in the world did those become worldwide trends?!

Other times there are important messages that *need* to go viral.  This is TED talk by Dr. Jackson Katz that I believe is important for our society (really, our world).  I hope that you'll listen and, perhaps, share as well.

I found this specially interesting because my husband and I had just discussed this very topic about a week ago (before I'd heard about this talk).

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