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When I found out that you were growing inside my belly, my love for you was already there. I dreamed of you- the person you would be, who you would look like, the life we would have together. Every time I felt you move, my heart skipped a beat and I got even more excited to meet you.

When I first saw you, I saw that tiny little face with those blue- gray eyes looking up at me, and I knew in that instant my heart was yours. Any love I had ever felt before was so different than this one. I knew in that instant, I would lay down my life for yours, every time, without question. I never understood the power of the love a mother has for her child until I met you.

My hopes and dreams for my future changed. It was no longer about me, it was all about you. You are all of my hopes and dreams come true. Anything I wanted before that was not what was best for you, no longer mattered to me. The greatest job and accomplishment I have ever had, is being your Mom.

I held you each night longer than I needed to to, because there is no better feeling that you nestled into my arms. Your face at such peace with the world. That face makes me feel peace even when there is nothing but uncertainty around me.

As we grew together, so did my love for you and your love for me. Watching the way you loved me, the way you experienced such raw emotions with your whole being, takes my breath away every day.

Watching you grow, learn, smile that mischievous smile, play with such uninhibited joy, makes me smile with such wonder that God blessed us with such a beautiful life. Your face lights up my world and there is no other place I would rather be than taking care of you.

My arms will forever be your safe place. When the world is scary, when you are hurt and disappointed, you can always run to me. I will do everything in my power to protect you.

I will be anything you need from me. A safe place to land, a shoulder to cry on, a perch to be carried, a place of comfort. When you need space, I will give you space. When you need encouragement, I will be your best cheerleader and your number one fan.

No matter what you do, I will always love you. There is nothing that could extinguish it. In my eyes, you will always be perfect.

I was blessed with you for a reason. You have irrevocably changed me for the better. You have made me a better person. I am more patient and more understanding, because I now know how to love with every fiber of my being. Knowing you has brought me closer to God and has made me stronger in my faith because nothing so perfect could have been created by chance.

And even after I pass, I will look down on you and watch over you still because a mother’s love never fades and transcends even through death. My love will be with you always.

The post A Letter to my Son appeared first on Military Spouse on a Mission.

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My son recently turned one and I had so much fun planning his birthday party. Here is how I made it extra memorable.

Picking a theme:

When choosing a theme, you want to think of likes, dislikes, and personality traits of your child while also trying to keep things simple for you. If you are crafty, choose a theme where you can easily make some cute decorations for the party. If you struggle to make anything that does not look like a toddler made it like I do, search on Amazon and in local to stores to see what items you can buy that go along with that theme.

I have always loved the children’s story book “Where the Wild Things Are”. It is one of my favorites and I read it to my son often. When I was trying to think of ideas for a theme, I wanted something that fit with his wild and funny personality. It worked out perfectly that it was also one of our favorite stories. The story worked well with it being his first birthday because I called it his “Wild One” Birthday Party.

Another thing that also worked in my favor with this theme is that there was a lot of ready-made party items that are “Where the Wild Things Are” themed on Amazon. If I was craftier and had a Walmart or a Hobby Lobby nearby, some cute decorations could easily be made by hand but I took the easy way out and purchased them online for less worry and stress.

The cute outfit:

Nothing makes cuter pictures than a cute birthday themed outfit! You can find birthday shirts, onesies, and outfits for both boys and girls in stores, on Amazon, and on Etsy!

I found the cutest Wild One shirt from Etsy that I loved. Paired with some cute jeans and some matching socks, it made such an adorable look for his birthday pictures. I think the red really made it stand out against the background and the Wild One on the Monster print worked perfectly with our theme.

If you are familiar with the “Where the Wild Things Are” children’s book, you also know that Max was wearing a crown when he was dubbed king of all wild things. I found a Fur Crown on Amazon that looks exactly like the one in the story book and it was just too darn cute to pass up. It also came with the cute ONE banner in the picture.

The Party Favors:

For a one year old, it can be difficult to find cute things to put in goodies bags that are suitable for small babies as well as older toddlers. When choosing what to put in your goodie bags, you want to consider the ages of the children that will be at the party.

At my son’s party, we had a range of ages from newborns to about 6. I tried to include things I thought everyone would enjoy and if the child was too young, the snacks could always be eaten by mom or an older sibling.

Amazon made it easy for me because I just bought small things along with the plastic party bags with ties pretty inexpensively and paired them with a couple of snacks from our local store. We had Bubble Wands , maracas, teddy grahams, and fruit snacks in the baggies. It worked out great because even little babies love to watch bubbles (handled by the parent of course) and the mini marracas made for great rattles.

The Decorations:

You can keep it inexpensive and low key with decorations by simply buying balloons and streamers or you can find cute decorations to go along with your party theme.

I found some super cute decorations that were easy to blow up and hang and looked adorable. We kept it relatively simple because the party was held in a small kids cafe (all the rage here in Korea). We also ordered these Birthday plates and napkins which were an awesome deal and I can use the leftovers for another party at some point.

The Food:

The main thing I made was the cake. For his pictures I made a mini smash cake with a gluten free box cake mix and the 2 medium round Pyrex glass containers filled 3/4 full and baked until golden and cooked through. I made my own buttercream frosting with powdered sugar, butter, and milk. I topped the cake with this adorable Wild One cake topper. It was perfect for the pictures and was a big hit for the party!

For food for the party I wanted snacks that were easy to carry in a tote to get up to the kids cafe and would be good for kids and adults alike. We had chips and dip, a veggie tray with ranch, sliced summer sausage, cheese with crackers, and cupcakes. For the kids I also made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut into stars using a cookie cutter and goldfish. It was more than enough and we ended up with tons of leftovers.

The Location:

When choosing a location, you need to consider the number of people that will attend, and the activities you want the children to be able to participate in. A party at your home can be less expensive and can be more individualized with fun party themed games and decorations. However, it can also be more work for you.

I initially was going to throw the party at my apartment but we just did not have enough space for all of the guests that sent  an RSVP. Instead, I threw the party at a local kids cafe. They are everywhere here in Korea and are really neat. They have tons of toys, play areas like ball pits, sensory play, and trampoline areas for the kids to play on. It also made it a lot less stress for me with less clean-up.

Have any other tips for throwing a great birthday party? I would love to hear about it!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy:

The Truth About a Perfect Parent

Saving Money With Amazon Prime

How to prepare your diaper bag for any situation on the go with baby

The post Throw an Epic First Birthday Party! appeared first on Military Spouse on a Mission.

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Does a perfect routine or a perfect parent exist?

I was reading something on a mom group I am a part of on Facebook where one of the moms was asking advice on a usual day of activities and routine for a toddler.

It made me think of my daily routine and all the things I had wanted to do for a daily routine that didn’t end up happening. While we do try to follow a routine every day of naps and he has the same bedtime and nighttime routine, everything else was hard for me to put into words.

Before I had my baby, I had so many grand plans about all the things I was going to teach him and what kind of mom I would be. After I had my baby, all that went out the window and 90% of those aspirations never happened. And that’s okay.

I wanted to exclusively breastfeed for a full year. It took over a week for my milk to come in and that made breastfeeding very challenging. I never made enough to not supplement with formula and ended up stopping altogether when we moved at 6 months. And that’s okay.

I wanted to teach my baby healthy sleep habits. I ended up rocking him for the majority of the first 4 months of his life and frequently let him nap on me. And that’s okay.

I wanted to teach my baby sign language and do early learning activities every day. Although I do try and do some learning activities every day most of this didn’t happen either. And that’s okay.

I wanted to make my own baby food from scratch from only organic produce. I ended up buying the packages of baby food. And most of the time it wasn’t even organic. And that’s okay.

I wanted to only give him healthy foods and never anything with sugar. I gave him a graham cracker today and goldfish. But I also gave him fresh fruit, an organic veggie pouch, and scrambled eggs. It’s all about moderation. I’m okay with feeding my kid a little treat every now and then.

I wanted my kid to have zero tv time. Clearly that did not happen. Sometimes I do let my one year old watch TV so I can use the restroom or make us a snack. *gasp*

Some days we have a great schedule and we are playing on the floor all day while I teach him letters and colors and he giggles and smiles at me. Other days, I use the TV to distract him more often than I should. And it’s okay.

At the beginning, I had put so much pressure on myself to be perfect. Be the perfect parent, the perfect wife, and still make time to pursue my own goals in my schooling and career. It just was not feasible and the pressure of it all was suffocating. I still have to remind myself to give myself a break.

Because in life, no one is perfect. Perfect does not exist, it is simply one person’s idealistic image that is in forever evolution. You can spend your whole life chasing perfect and you will never attain it. So stop. Let it go. Give yourself some grace and let yourself have some slack.

You may not have the perfect schedule or do everything you wanted to as a parent and that’s okay. It doesn’t make you a bad parent: it makes you human.

To one imperfect mom to another, you are doing an awesome job whether you are like me and let your kid watch TV and eat goldfish, or if you feed your kid organic veggies and and only do educational activities. Parent on my friend.

The post The Truth About a Perfect Parent appeared first on Military Spouse on a Mission.

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I am a big advocate of Amazon. Living overseas away from a main base, I buy most of my items from Amazon because shipping is free and many items I cannot find here in Korea. It is not only more convenient for me but I also save a ton of money. Read on to learn how I use Amazon to keep me on budget.

When I was living in Kansas, if I needed something I would just drive across the street to Walmart. Here it is not that easy. Going to the store involves wresting a toddler into a car seat he hates, and battling traffic for an hour to get to the PX. I also have to be careful about leaving the house on higher pollution days so inevitably, I choose to just purchase whatever I need from Amazon. 

We buy most of our food and everyday groceries like toilet paper and paper towels from our small commisary (grocery store). All of our baby items such as baby food, formula, and diapers we buy off of Amazon because it is far cheaper for us in the long run after comparing prices. There are a few items that are cheaper in the store so I purchase them there such as cleaning supplies, shampoo and conditioner, and soap. 

After doing this for several months, I have seen that I have been spending far less money. Although “buy now with one click” is very easy and can be dangerous if you aren’t careful, it also means I’m not walking through aisle upon aisle browsing items. I search for only the items I need. Often times, they are cheaper than what I can buy them for in the store here. 

Reasons Amazon Prime saves me money: 1.) Eliminates (or at least lessens) unnecessary spending and impulse buys.

I do not go to shopping malls or department stores regularly. In 6 months, I have probably gone a handful of times which has really helped to cut down even more on unnecessary spending. 

If I need a sippy cup for my son, I search “sippy cup” and click purchase. That is around $5 for my one item. However, when I used to make a trip to the store for one thing, I inevitably would leave with several items that weren’t on my list like a bag of cookies because I was hungry in the store or a cute hat for my son because it was on clearance. 

Purchasing online, you have to make a conscious decision to search for the particular item you need which gives you time to consider your need for that item. I also try to think about whether I can get an item used before I purchase it online. None of my son’s clothes and less than half of his toys were purchased new. They outgrow things so quick it isn’t worth the money on many things if I can find the same thing gently used. 

2.) Online spending is easier to track for budget purposes.

Like following any budget, you have to purchase mindfully on Amazon as well. Amazon purchases need to be either a separate allowance of funds in your budget or included in your grocery budget. 

Our Amazon account is linked to a credit card which we pay off completely each month. Our allowed credit card limit is also worked into our budget spreadsheet and we always spend less than what we are allowed. (If you don’t already have a budget, check out how we make ours by clicking over to How to Budget Like a Boss- Create a Budget with a Template and Example). 

3.) Shopping online gives you time to consider items and price check easily without having to go to multiple stores.

Make sure to price check items to insure you are saving the most money. For me personally being overseas, it is much cheaper to buy most items on Amazon but if I were in the states, many of the items I have purchased I may have been able to find on clearance at a store such as Walmart or Target for cheaper. 

With each item, search to see the price on Amazon that is eligible for Prime (free shipping) and then check on other popular department store sites like Walmart or target to compare prices so you find the best deal. Convenience is a big factor for my personal situation. Also, the less I go to the store, the less money I feel I spend. 

How do you save the most money to keep your spending within the budget? I would love to hear about it in the comments!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy:

How to Budget Like a Boss- Create a Budget with a Template and Example

Slash Your Grocery Budget With Meal Planning

Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post. I am simply sharing how I use Amazon Prime in hopes of helping others.

The post Saving Money With Amazon Prime appeared first on Military Spouse on a Mission.

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Inevitably, there will be duty stations that you are more fond of than others. Sometimes, it is very hard to be optimistic especially if you left a duty station you really loved. 

Each new move will come with hardships but it will also come with opportunities. It’s in these opportunities and the little things in life that make each new move an incredible experience, it is just about finding the joy in each new place. 

It’s important to note, there is no place that can make you happy. Sure, there are places that have more challenges than others but only you can let it bring you down. Only you can make yourself happy. 

I’ve said it once and I’ll keep saying it: unhappiness is contagious. People want to be around that happy person and you are better at your roles in life: a wife, mother, employee; when you are happy. 

We just moved from Kansas to South Korea. I loved Kansas. We made some

incredible memories there. We had a beautiful home with wonderful neighbors, we had our first baby there, I had a job I loved, and we made some great friends. 

South Korea is quite an adventure but it certainly comes with a lot of challenges. I still have to remind myself every day what I am thankful for and the things I love about this new home we have created. 

So with that, here are my tips for finding joy in each new move: 1.) Find the beauty in the little things. 

Often times, we get so busy that we overlook the simple things that bring a smile to our face and that we find beautiful: the wild life, the scenery, the architecture. Take a look around you and find something beautiful and take a moment to enjoy it. 

I love the Fall colors here. While Fall in Kansas was breathtaking, the colors of Fall here are gorgeous. 

2.) Find the positive side of each challenge. 

I know this can seem difficult but I promise if you look hard enough you can find something positive about the situation even when it looks pretty bleak. Rewording a situation in your head can make you feel a lot more optimistic.  

When we first moved here, we got settled into an apartment. I was bummed that there were mostly only apartments available but I made the best of it and was feeling pretty positive about our new place. It was close to the base and it was right next to several other military families. 

Well, then about four weeks later, just after I had unpacked the majority of our Household Goods, a pipe burst and our apartment flooded. We were forced to leave but did find another apartment pretty quickly. 

I liked that first apartment more but there are tons of positive things about this new place that make me feel happy that we are here and know that this is what was meant to happen. For example, I love our landlady. 

Getting stationed in Korea threw a wrench in my own career ambitions but it also came with positives. For example, I have the opportunity to stay home with my son. I’ll never miss one of his first learning experiences during his first two years which I am happy for. 

3.) Make yourself a part of your new community 

If you are living on base, it is even easier to make yourself a part of the community. Living off base (which we have always done) you can still make yourself an active member and make connections with other spouses or neighbors. 

Some ways to meet people and get yourself involved is by volunteering in your family readiness group or in the community, join a church or bible study group, or attend spouses events. 

To get involved and form bonds with your neighbors, go out of your way to introduce yourself. When a new neighbor moves in, take over a baked treat and welcome them to the neighborhood. 

In Kansas, we had the most incredible neighbors. They were all mostly retired military and were so kind and helpful. I would take them pies and they would help me mow my lawn when my husband was away. They came to our baby shower and invited us to all of their get togethers.

 I was blown away by how supportive and welcoming they were and it inspired me to do the same to others in each new community we move to. You never know how much a helping hand or a warm welcome can be needed and appreciated by another person in a chaotic time like a move.

4.) Get out and take advantage of what your new home has to offer 

This one is easier said than done. It can be difficult to get out especially with small children. I know I regret not getting out and seeing more of what Kansas had to offer when we were there. It was such a beautiful place and the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. 

Now that we are in Korea, getting out and seeing the sights and the culture has made me more excited for this new adventure. I’m hoping to take advantage of even more travel and sightseeing in the time we are stationed here.

5.) Continue or pick up a new hobby 

Making time for yourself to do something you enjoy is very important. Especially in a new place, keeping up with something you love whether it be hiking on new trails nearby, reading, or knitting, can increase happiness. 

A hobby is very relaxing and therapeutic. If you don’t already have something you enjoy doing, try something new! 

You can also ask around or look at the local community center to see what classes or events are offered. There may be a weekly painting class, a book club, or a yoga class that will allow you to practice your hobby and meet new friends.

6.) Remember the important things

When you hit a rough patch and you are thinking “why am I even here?”, remember that that handsome man in combat boots you fell in love with will come home, kick off his combat boots, with a look of exhaustion but a smile just for you.

No matter how rough his day was, you are his home. His rock. The smile he looks forward to seeing everyday. The love that made you say I do is what is important, and what keeps you going even when times seem bleak.

7.) Remember that in the military, change is inevitable 

Even if you do not love your new location, chances are it is temporary. On average most locations are 2-3 years long so enjoy it and make the most of the experience.

If you enjoyed this post, please like and share!

You may also enjoy:

Strengthening your relationship during a deployment

Why You Aren’t “Just A Dependent”

Maintaining an Identity Aside from a Wife and Mom

The post Finding Joy in Each New Duty Station appeared first on Military Spouse on a Mission.

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It’s easy to lose part of your identity when you become a wife and mother. When you throw in all of the changes that can come with being a military spouse, it can feel like you lose track of the things that you love (other than your family) that are uniquely you. Sound familiar? 

Life gets so busy with kids, taking care of the house, and everything else we do on a daily basis, that often the “us time” that we crave is the first thing off the list to go undone. I know it does for me. Luckily, there are ways to help keep an identity aside from being a wife and mom by practicing a little self-care.

Have you ever heard the saying “happiness is contagious”? I know I have. Well I also believe that unhappiness is contagious. If you are unhappy, it’s harder for those you love to be happy when they are around you.

My family and I just moved to Korea for two years. Although I really think I will love it here, I can already tell that if I don’t get out there and do the things I love and make myself part of the community, I can easily get lost, squared away in our apartment with only my baby to talk to. 

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing I love more in life than my son. That being said, we all need something else in our lives other than being our husband’s wife or our child’s mother.

Just being here for the first few months, I can tell that it’s easier to lose myself here. Being a stay at home mom in a foreign country (or even moving away from friends in family in the same country) can feel very isolating. 

It is harder to stay connected with friends and family back home. My saving grace is FaceTime with my IPhone. I FaceTime my mom every morning here (evening for her).

Even when we lived in the states, the first 4 months of my sons life, I barely left the house. It wasn’t until after we left that I realized the huge toll it was taking on me. 

I no longer was going out and talking to people or doing the things I used to love doing like taking long walks with my dog, yoga, or going to lunch with friends. The socialization and sense of accomplishment I got daily at work was then replaced by talking to an adorable tiny human that did not yet talk back to me and my accomplishments, (while a feat themselves) were being able to get the house cleaned up during nap time.

Staying secluded can be bad for your mental well being and happiness. Not only was it affecting my personal happiness, but it also affected my ability to be fully present with my son and husband. 

Now that we are all settled in, I have started to implement a game plan on self care and ways to have another identity other than a wife and mother. 

I hope these ideas help you to find your “me time” and enjoy those little things you often leave on your list undone. 

6 self care ideas to make you a happier mom: 1.) Take time to enjoy a hobby: 

This could be painting, reading a nice book, or knitting. For me, I love to write. I used to journal and now I love writing for my blog. I find I often put this on the backburner though and do not spend the time I would really like to. 

To make time for your hobby, mark a little part of your day off to enjoy it. Even if it is only 20 minutes before the kids wake up or after they go to bed, it will give you a refreshing sense of renewal and accomplishment. 

2.) Indulge in a beauty routine

Pampering yourself is needed and even a 10 minute shower can feel like pampering for a mommy. A shower can make you feel so refreshed and ready for the day. Add some nice lotion or even a face mask if you have a few extra moments.  

During my sons nap time in the morning, I have a couple self care and pampering routines like a shower, fixing my nails, or putting on a face mask. It is amazing how refreshing it feels and makes me ready to take on the day. 

3.) Arrange play dates for your children 

A play date is an amazing way to spend time with other moms while the kids get to play with friends as well. Being a stay at home mom, you can quickly find yourself going days without talking to anyone other than your husband for a couple hours before bed. 

Having a conversation with other moms can help you to feel understood and make connections. It’s also great to get advice from other ladies that are going through similar things. 

I take my son to a weekly play date that many moms of children under 3 get together at for a couple hours to play and socialize. It’s so much fun to watch my son interact with other kids his age. It’s also a great time to ask for advice or guidance.

4.) Find time for friends 

Even if it is just to run errands or to take the kids on an outing, it is so nice to talk to a friend as well as get out of the house! 

Once a week, I try to get together with another military spouse for lunch, coffee, or a trip to the store. It’s funny how a trip to the store seemed like a chore before having kids and now it’s a fun treat even if you bring the kids along. 

5.) Take your children for a stroll 

Getting outside is good for you and for your children. A nice walk is great exercise and going with another mom gives you a chance to socialize too. 

At least once a week or so if the weather allows, I try to take my son for a walk with another mom.

6.) Volunteer or be helpful to others

Volunteering and helping others is so rewarding. It can bring joy to help out another person when they need it. Whether it is volunteering at your local animal shelter, or just helping out a friend in need, a little kindness can go a long way.

I help out at events, volunteer with the Family Readiness Group for military spouses, and offer assistance to other wives in the area. Whether it is helping out  by babysitting or making a meal for a friend that has just had a baby, doing something for others brings me so much happiness. 

I have begun making  these ideas part of my routine and I can already tell that it makes me a happier person. I love my family more than anything but it’s also important for me to love myself and have an identity other than a wife and mom. If I am a happier person, I’m better able to be the wife and mom my family deserves. 

What are some of your self-care ideas and ways that you make time for yourself? 

If you enjoyed this post, please like and share!

Some other posts you may enjoy:

A Note to the Struggling Mommy

Strengthening your relationship during a deployment

Why You Aren’t “Just A Dependent”

The post Maintaining an Identity Aside from a Wife and Mom appeared first on Military Spouse on a Mission.

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Deployments are hard. You can feel completely alone and they feel like they can go on forever. A year is a very long time. However, it is possible to enjoy each other and strengthen your relationship from across the globe. Distance really does make the heart grow fonder in some instances. Read on for my tips on how to strengthen your relationship during a deployment.

The other day as I was unpacking our things from another move, I found a huge stack of letters. I realized they were the letters I had sent my husband (then boyfriend) while he was deployed for a year, many years ago. He had kept every letter. 

Naturally I started to read them all again and the sweet young love in the letters brought tears to my eyes. I started to think about that first deployment and how much stronger our relationship became because of it.

My husband has many times told me it was during that deployment that he fell deeper in love with me and that he knew then he would marry me and spend the rest of our lives together. It was hard to be away from each other for a whole year but somehow it made our love that much sweeter and stronger. 

It is possible to enjoy each other and strengthen your relationship from across the globe. Here are some of the things that I think greatly contributed to that.

How to make your relationship stronger during a deployment: 1.) Send him off with a gift to remember you by. 

I got Mike a pocket watch engraved with the saying “where ever you are is where I want to be” and put a picture of us on the inside. He loved it. He carried it with him so he could look at our picture and think of the girl waiting for him back home. 

2.) Facebook is your friend

If they are able to connect to Wifi (not always going to be possible depending on the location), Facebook is a life saver. The connection was never strong enough for us to FaceTime using our iPhones so we used Facebook messenger to communicate most of the time. 

Facebook messenger has the ability to send voice and video recordings that the other person can then save and replay later when they are missing you. We did that quite a bit and I just remember replaying his 3 second videos of him saying “I love you” over and over again when I laid in bed alone at night. 

Although Facebook also has the audio calling feature, the signal was not strong enough for us to be able to see each other and talk without the other persons face freezing every other word. So instead, we would record messages and just send messages via the messenger. 

We had a “window” where we could talk to each other every morning my time and night for him. It was never very long but he always made sure to at least send me a message letting me know he loved me. Again he was in a place where he was able to do this but that will not always be the case. 

3.) Get out and experience new things and take pictures of you doing it. 

*Note- Forgive the poor quality of these photos. These were actual pictures I sent to my husband several years ago when he was deployed that I had taken on my phone.*

When your soldier is deployed, the last thing you want them to worry about is you falling to pieces at home without you. To reassure him that I was still making time for myself, I would go do something new and take pictures doing it. 

One of his favorites I would send was of me doing an aerial aerobics class. I had never done it before but it was so fun and Mike loved to see the pictures of me out enjoying myself. 

I would also cook my Dad dinners at least once a week and always made something I knew Mike would like: seafood. Seafood is my dads favorite as well so it was a win-win. If I made something particularly pretty, I would take a picture to send to Mike the next day. 

3.) Send pictures of yourself. 

I am not talking raunchy pictures. Keep it relatively appropriate. You never know who else might be seeing them on the internet. I sent a picture of me almost everyday. Smiling in my office, holding a coke can that I found that had “soulmate” or our names on them. Anything I could think of. He loved seeing me happy and waiting for him back home. 

He would always tell me that even on the worst of days, after a 13+ hour workday, my smile brought him peace and happiness. 

3.) Send care packages.

These can definitely get expensive so if you are only able to send one every few months or for special occasions, that is understandable. If you can’t send packages, send cards or even just notes in an envelope. 

I sent him a package almost every month. It gets hard to be creative and get ideas of what to put in them but he loved opening them and knowing I was thinking about him. I would theme them or just send random things I think he would enjoy. Snacks (that are non perishable and that cannot melt), a coffee mug with a cute saying, the sky is the limit. 

A great thing to put in the care packages is personalized items with your picture on them. You can get a coffee mug or a mouse pad printed with your picture on them pretty cheap at Sam’s. Other things I would put in were little random things with post-it notes tacked on them like a pair of super man boxers with a post-it reading “because you are my super hero”. 

For his Christmas box, I made sure to put in a couple things to make his room feel a little more cheerful. I put a a string of Christmas lights he was able to hang up and an ornament I had personalized with our names for him to tack to the wall. He tacked it up on his “Jess wall”. He took a picture of his Jess wall for me once- it was his favorite pictures of me and cards I had sent him. 

One thing I wish I hadn’t put in his Christmas box that he still jokes about with me from time to time is glitter ornaments. I wasn’t thinking about it at the time but they are not gentle with your packages. 

Sometimes they are tossed around like soccer balls in transit and the Christmas box must have been one of those times because all the glitter had come off the ornaments. He said he tore the tape open and “poof” glitter explosion everywhere. He said he found glitter months later cleaning up his room. 

I also always included a card or note from me. When I couldn’t send a package, I sent just the card with a hand written message so he knew how much I missed and loved him. 

4.) Keep him updated about life back home but try not to add more negativity. 

This is a delicate balance. I would tell him about how much I missed him and about difficulties back home but tried not to burden him too much to add even more stress than he was already experiencing. I wanted the time he talked to me to be his reprieve, his safe space. 

Now that we have a child, the next deployment I will definitely keep him up to date on everything that’s going on and all the milestones but I will try not to complain too much about solo parenting our son while he is gone. I know he will already feel awful that he can’t be there to experience our son’s first moments that he may miss or help out. I don’t want to cause more stress by rubbing it in. 

5.) If possible, try to make a special trip in the middle for you both to look forward to. 

I was able to meet Mike in London for a week. My aunt lived there so we had a place to stay for free and it was wonderful to have a little vacation together. Meeting him overseas was great because then he didn’t have to add travel time to his leave days. It made the first 5 1/2 months go by quickly knowing we would be together halfway, if even just briefly.

 This isn’t always possible for everyone (we would not be able to go somewhere that extravagant now). Even going away for a weekend without the kids when he is home for a couple weeks mid deployment will be a great way to add a little romance and something to look forward to during those long days apart. 

Well that is my top things that I feel helped to strengthen our relationship and make the time apart easier on both of us. What would you add to the list? Is there something  that you did on your husband’s deployment that helped in keeping your relationship strong? Please let me know in the comments, I would love to hear about it! 

If you enjoyed this post, please like and share! 

You might also enjoy: 

Why You Aren’t “Just A Dependent”

The post Strengthening your relationship during a deployment appeared first on Military Spouse on a Mission.

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There is nothing like being out with the baby and not being prepared.  Going for an outing with a baby can be a big deal especially if it is for multiple hours. You never know what you might need and in situations where you may not have the ability to buy something you need, it is even more important to be prepared for anything.

Several years ago before I had my son, I offered to take my sick nephew to the doctor because his mom had to go to work. I went and picked him up and his mom handed me a diaper bag and the baby and we were on our way. I, very naively, did not check the bag.

We get to the doctor’s office and are waiting for about 45 minutes before we get called back. While we are in the waiting room, he starts fussing so I open up the diaper bag to get out a toy or snack to distract him. The only thing in the bag are a few diapers and some wipes. I sigh and try to just bounce and play with the fussy baby to distract him.

Luckily he took it much better than my son would have and was not too distraught until we were called back. When we get to the exam room, they tell me to take off the baby’s clothes and cover him with a blanket until the doctor came in.

Again, I cringed with embarrassment as I had no blankets to cover him with in the cool room. I left the clothing on until the doctor came in, who was annoyed that he was dressed.

The man thought I was the worst mother ever especially when he asked a bunch of questions I had no answers to.

He took pity on me when I explained I was not the boy’s mother. Still, I was mortified.

Don’t get yourself in this situation. Ever since then, I have always checked the bag and am beyond prepared when going anywhere with my son.

When leaving the house for a lengthy amount of time, this becomes even more important. This list is the same for any trip just make sure to increase the quantity for longer trips. Download this cute free Diaper Bag Checklist to be prepared for each outing with baby!

The items you need in your diaper bag for any outing:

1.) Diapers and wipes- pack at least enough diapers and wipes for a full 6-12 hours, a small tube of diaper rash cream, and 2-3 sacks or zip-lock baggies. I always keep at least 10 diapers in the bag. If something came up and you weren’t able to get home as quickly as you planned, you don’t want to run out of diapers somewhere where you cannot purchase more. Baggies come in handy not only for dirty diapers but for wet or dirty clothes as well.

2.) Bottles and Food- For newborn-12 months add 2-3 empty bottles and enough formula and infant water for at least 3 4 ounce bottles (even if you won’t need that much, it’s better to have it just in case!).

For babies 4+ months, throw in a couple baby foods or snacks like these puffs or pouches. These Reusable Food Pouch are also awesome for on the go to fill with applesauce or homemade fruit and veggie purée. I throw in a spoon and bib for easy feeding and clean-up.

I use this portioned Formula Dispenser to save space and make it even easier! I also usually take one prepared bottle with me. When I was breastfeeding, I would put that milk in the bottle to take because it lasts longer without spoiling.

Put your infant water into a clean water bottle to save space. For older babies and toddlers, make sure to pack a sippy cup or a juice box.

3.) Clothing: Pack at least 2 extra onesies of outfits, a burp cloth, and a pair of socks. You never know when you will need to change the baby’s outfit from a blow-out or from throw-up. For summertime, include a hat. For wintertime (or when going to the pediatrician) put in a small blanket.

4.) Soothing and Entertainment: Make sure to pack at least two pacifiers in case one is dropped or lost. I also love this Pacifier Clip to help keep track of my sons’s pacifiers. For long trips, like all-day flights, pack pacifier wipes.

I also always pack my Baby Shusher for car rides. The first two months, my son loved car rides and fell asleep easily when I was driving. After that, he just wasn’t having it. He doesn’t mind the car for the first 20-30 minutes but once he gets tired he gets very fussy. This helps soothe him so I can keep my eyes on the road.

I pack one small toy in the diaper bag like this Teething Ring or Wubbanub to always have with me when you are on the go.

5.) For mom: Add a small thing of hand sanitizer, a chap stick, sunglasses, your wallet and keys, a travel pack of antibacterial wipes, and a travel size container of Excedrin. I also throw in eye drops for myself because I tend to get dry, itchy eyes. Also throw in a snack for you like a protein bar or some nuts.

If you are starting to wonder, man how does she fit all of that in her diaper bag, it’s because my Ju-Ju-Be Convertible Diaper Bag carries quite a lot. It also turns into a backpack so it’s not as hard on your shoulder.

However for our long 24 hour flight, I used my husband’s Tactical Dad Daddy on Diaper Duty backpack because it is huge and fit more than 25 diapers, 4 bottles and everything else on the list easily.

Any diaper bag will fit all of this, however, I do recommend getting a back-pack style so it is easier on your shoulders and back for long trips. I also love that with the backpack style you can easily wear your diaper bag while you are carrying your baby in a front carrier. Whichever bag you choose, make sure to get one with plenty of pockets and pouches for easy organizing.

Putting everything in the bag:

It is so important when packing any diaper bag to be incredibly organized. To get everything to fit neatly, I begin by putting my diapers in first. I fill the diaper pouches in my bag and then put extras at the bottom of the bag. Then, I put the one extra bottle and the water bottle of infant water in the bottle pouches inside the bag.

I use the outside compartments for my full bottle and for an extra bottle.

Then I start packing stuff in starting by neatly folding the extra clothes on top of the diapers. I then place my shusher and the extra bags on the sides next to the diapers. If you have any extra pockets in your bag like I do, use these to put in your smaller items like pacifiers and diaper cream. Then, you place your other items on your list like the formula and toy on top of or next to the diapers.

There are tons of pockets in my diaper bag and I use every one. The biggest compartment is for the baby and the small compartment is what I put all of my items in.

Well that is my list of diaper bag essentials so you are always prepared no matter what situation while out with the baby. Is there anything else that you have to have in your diaper bag? I’d love to here about it!

Don’t forget to download this cute Diaper Bag Checklist so you are always prepared for your day with baby!

If you found value in this, please like, pin, and share!

If you enjoyed this post you may also like:

The Best Items to Entertain Baby and Make Your Life Easier

10 Ways to Ease Gas/ Colic in Babies

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10 ways to ease colic symptoms and relieve gas in babies

When you are a new Mom and your baby is in pain or suffering from colic, you can feel helpless and want nothing more than to make the pain go away. Read on to learn the things that helped my baby the most with his tummy pains.

During the first three months after my baby was born, it seemed like he constantly had a tummy ache and there was not much I could do to relieve his discomfort. I researched everything I could find and tried many different techniques to help him. I compiled the techniques and products that I found helped the most.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. These techniques helped in my situation with a baby with tummy problems but may not work for everyone. Talk to your baby’s doctor if you are concerned with your baby’s crying to rule out more serious issues. This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase an item through my link, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you- thank you!

Listening to your baby cry, you can feel so helpless. It can make you feel like a bad mother and can make the transition to motherhood even harder. If your baby suffers from colic or tummy problems, I hope some of these tips can help to bring a little bit of relief to you and your baby.

Again, I am not a doctor. If you are concerned about your baby’s health, reach out to your pediatrician right away to rule out any serious conditions.

How to help relieve gas or reduce colic symptoms:

1.) Bounce on the edge of a bed with your baby in your arms upright, while patting his back- this can greatly help to get the baby to burp.

You can also raise the baby in the air, and jiggle him up and down gently. This can help the air bubbles to rise and get a burp easier if you do not have a bed nearby. *When I say “jiggle” I mean to slowly and gently raise and lower the baby in the air with both hands, over your lap.*

Warning- Once I started bouncing my baby on the edge of the bed, he no longer wanted to be put to sleep any other way. Now, even when I am not trying to get him to burp, he falls asleep very quickly if I hold him sideways with a pacifier in his mouth and bounce him.

Sitting on the edge of a bed like that for extended periods of time is definitely hard on your back. Try to pay attention to your posture when doing this to avoid lower back pain.

2.) Lay your baby on your legs, with his tummy over your right leg. Support his head on your left leg and with your left hand. Gently jiggle your right leg and pat his back with your right hand to help relieve gas.

My Dad originally showed me this technique and it really helped my little guy when his tummy was hurting him. It was amazing, as soon as he got in that position, he stopped crying.

This was a tad difficult for me to do on my own the first time. Have your partner or someone else help you for the first time to get the baby in position safely.

3.) Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water Night Time– Like many moms, I swore by this gripe water. It is amazing for an upset tummy. I especially like the night-time gripe water to help in getting my tough sleeper ready for bed. You just put the recommended dose at bedtime in a bottle or directly in the mouth if breastfeeding. I also used Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water during the day.

4.) Little Remedies Gas Relief Drops– This can be taken up to 12 times a day, just make sure to measure the recommended dose with the enclosed syringe. I put several drops in each of my son’s bottles to help with his gas. He has always been a very gassy baby and this definitely helped to lessen the discomfort. 

5.) Babies’ Magic Tea– This tea really is magic. It can help relieve gas, colic, and upset stomach. I made this in the morning and added some to his bottles throughout the day. 

6.) Happi Tummi Colic and Gas Relief Waistband– this is great to help ease discomfort from tummy aches. You heat the bag in the microwave and place in the pouch. You then put the pouch over the baby’s belly. ALWAYS follow all directions on product, never overheat, and test on your wrist before placing on baby, over clothing.

7.) Add a probiotic such as Gerber Soothe Colic Drops– My baby’s doctor gave me the green light to introduce a probiotic at 8 weeks. Check with your doctor to see if this may be a good option for your baby. 

You can also try changing your baby’s formula to something like Enfamil Gentlease

8.) Hold baby in a “football” hold with his belly against your arm and his head resting in your hand. Your arm should be between his legs. Having the baby on his tummy can help to ease some of his discomfort. 

I was not able to hold my baby in this position for very long, especially as he got bigger. If you are having trouble with this or are afraid you do not have a good hold on baby, get your spouse or a partner to help you.

9.) Do “bicycle kicks” with your baby’s legs, straighten the legs and then gently push upward towards the belly, bending the knees to help expel gas, one leg at a time. I also bend the knees, bring up to baby’s belly, and gently rock the knees side to side lightly against the belly.

This will help to ease discomfort and expel gas, bringing instant relief to baby.

10.) Give baby a warm bath. If the baby’s tummy is not fully submerged in the warm water, place a warm washcloth over the tummy. When nothing I did helped my baby’s tummy ache, a warm bath would always help to calm him if only temporarily. I love this baby bathtub because it allows baby to be kept at an incline without the hassle of a mesh sling. This allows the baby to be safely submerged in warm water. NEVER leave your baby alone while in the tub, even for a second. Pre-position everything you will need before the bath: towel, washcloth, onsie, diaper, swaddle, baby lotion,etc. 

I hope these tips help to ease some of your baby’s discomfort. Have any tips to add that helped with your baby’s gas or colic? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear about it!

If you found value in this post, you may also enjoy:

The Nursery Items You Need for Baby

Swaddle Transition: The Zipadee Zip v.s. Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit

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When you are a new or expecting Mom, there are so many choices when it comes to baby items. It is very easy to get overwhelmed. There are many things I bought that I did not need and there are others that I could not live without. Read my top favorites that helped to entertain my son and make my life easier!

Those first four months were a blur to me. Honestly I would look up at the clock, wonder where my entire day went, and realize I never got a chance to eat!

After I got the hang of it, I found several things that helped me to entertain the baby so that I could get things done around the house or grab a quick snack. These were my favorites. Also check out The Nursery Items You Need for Baby for the best nursery items including those that were amazing help in getting my tough sleeper to sleep!

The best items to entertain baby:

1.) Portable Swing– this is great to put in different rooms as you go about your day and allows you to take that 5 minute shower you have been dreaming about while baby is contently swinging outside the shower. 

I also did this when he was very congested to help loosen the mucus with the hot steam from the shower. After I was done in one room, I just picked it up and carried it into the kitchen so I could make dinner.

He loves this swing as compared to others and will be entertained for at least 15 minutes while I get stuff done. I know that may not sound like a lot, but for a clingy baby, it definitely is! He loved to look up at the hanging toys when he was younger and as he gets older he loves to bat at them and watch them swing.

When we were packing up our house to make an international move, this little swing saved me. I was able to put him in it and have him entertained so that I could clean and pack.

After we moved, we took it apart and put it in our suitcase. I was so glad to have something to entertain him because it was one of the few things we were able to bring with us.  I love that you can fold up the swing and pop it in the trunk or in a suitcase like we did to take with you on trips. 

2.) Six-Position LILLEbaby Carrier – we tried several carriers first before finally dishing out the cash for a Lillebaby. From Baby Bjorn, the Boba wrap, and an Ergo. Let me tell you, the Lillebaby is worth every penny. Save yourself the money and buy this one first because it is the only carrier you will ever need.

It can be used with newborns and then as they get bigger the Carrier can be used on the back, side, or front with the baby facing towards you or looking out to the world. We bought this Carrier hoping that our baby would like it better than the others since he can face out and look at his surroundings.

When I am out, I put him in the carrier facing outward when he is awake to keep him happy and then can quickly convert it to have him facing towards me for naps. My son is not easy to get to sleep so I was very excited when he slept in this so I could get some shopping in.

For our international flight alone it was a lifesaver. I tried to do a short flight with him in his Boba wrap in the airports so my hands could be free and he just was not having it. I ended up having to hold him in my arms while carrying a diaper bag, a water bottle, and a meal for myself and navigate the airports solo.

Apparently it was pretty impressive because I even had a random guy come up to me and tell me “those are some mad mom skills right there”. After the craziness of late flights and flying with a new baby, that was an awesome feeling and made me feel like supermom. That being said, going overseas and having to carry a diaper bag, a boppy, and two carry on suitcases, I did not want to have to be carrying him (when he is much heavier than at 3 months!) and juggling all of my baggage.

The back support compared to the other carriers- well there is no comparison. The Baby Bjorn really hurt my back even after just  ten minutes when he was just 10 pounds. The Ergo was better than the Bjorn but this one is much easier on the back. I also love how it has a zip down ventilation. I liked the Boba wrap (even though my son wasn’t a fan) but it got very hot for me and for baby! 

3.) Kick and Play Piano Gym– my son loves looking up at the colorful toys and kicking his feet on the keyboard. I also use this mat for his tummy time or also lay him on it so he can play. Its small enough to pack in a suitcase so we also were able to take this in a suitcase when we moved.

I love that it grows with your baby as well. It is a mat for tummy time and laying on their backs looking up at toys from 0-6 months. It can then be transitioned to a horizontal keyboard for baby to sit up and be entertained and then finally the keyboard can be removed to be carried around and played with when your baby is walking.

4.) VTech Musical Dreams Light Projector– My son loves this toy! It plays lullabies, lights up, and has a little bear inside that moves along to the music. It also has a projector that projects a moving picture onto your ceiling! There is a setting on the toy where it is voice activated so that it can entertain baby while you are coming in after baby wakes up. This little toy will entertain my son for a good 15-20 minutes in his crib.

5.)Hug and Tug Musical Giraffe– This toy is amazing for the car and on the go. When my son starts to get a little fussy in the store, I just pull on the giraffe and it starts to play music which instantly soothes him. There is also a teether on the giraffe and rings for the baby to pull on and play with.

6.) OBALL Toys– My son loves these toys. The design with the large holes are perfect for babies to grab onto. These are great for practicing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. My son’s favorite is the little car which he loves to shake and push around.

I also will grab the rattle to throw in my bag for on the go. It has a suction cup on the bottom to stick onto tables. Perfect entertainment if you go to a restaurant.

7.)Wubbanub – We love our Wubanub! These are great for tiny hands because they are able to put the pacifier back in their mouth by themselves much easier. It also stays in their mounth better because it has support against the baby’s chest from the toy.

8.) Exersaucer Triple Fun Active Learning Center– This has got to be son’s absolute favorite. He loves to stand up and push his legs down, bouncing and playing with toys. He is all smiles and I love it.

A great thing about this exersaucer is that it grows with baby. It starts out as a playmat that can be used from 0-3 months and can then be used as a bouncer from 4-12 months. Then it can be transformed into a play table for toddlers.

There are so many fun toys to play with on this bouncer that he stays entertained for a lot longer than on other toys. With melodies and so much to look at, he loves it! It is also great for exercising his legs, and for fine motor skills in grasping and reaching for toys.

Those are my favorites that have not only made my life easier by bringing my baby entertainment but have also brought joy to my son. I am so bad about buying new toys or gadgets we do not need because the smile on his face when he gets something new melts my heart.

What were some of your baby’s favorite toys or gadgets?!

If you found value in this, please like and share!

You might also enjoy:

The Nursery Items You Need for Baby

Swaddle Transition: The Zipadee Zip v.s. Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit

Help to Relieve Uncomfortable Symptoms of Pregnancy

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