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Rosslyn Chapel Scotland is a historical treasure shrouded with mystery and legend. It’s unique architecture, intricate carvings and statues, and belief that it may have once been home to the Holy Grail has attracted thousands of visitors around the world. I’ll admit, as we were planning our family travel adventure to Scotland, Rosslyn Chapel was at the top of my list. Thanks in part to the success of the Da Vinci Code, which famously filmed some compelling scenes on location, Rosslyn Chapel has seen an upsurge in guests in recent years. However, past the secrets and mysteries that the chapel has become known for, I found that there was so much more than meets the eye. Read on to find out everything you need to know about visiting Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland.

(We received complimentary passes to Rosslyn Chapel from Visit Scotland in exchange for an honest review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. For more information please read our Disclosure Policy.)

History of Rosslyn Chapel

Rosslyn Chapel, Scotland has an amazing and mysterious history that dates back to its origins in the mid-15th century. Around 1446, Rosslyn Chapel was initially founded as a Roman Catholic Church by William Sinclair, the 1st Earl of Caithness.

The site included much of what you still see today, thanks to continued preservation efforts. Original carvings and statues are still very much intact. There are are also several burial sites around the chapel, as well as the infamous underground crypts.

However, it is the chapel’s intricate pillars and carvings, and the potential for hidden messages and secrets, that have helped create Rosslyn Chapel into the mysterious legend it is today.

Adding to the mystery, many historical records have either been lost or destroyed. Throughout history, this has allowed much to be open to debate and imagination.

Amazingly, the chapel remains privately owned by the St. Clair family. Current owners, the 7th Earl and Countess of Roslin, are descendants to the original founders.

Rosslyn Chapel in Da Vinci Code

These days, Rosslyn Chapel and the Da Vinci Code are synonymous, thanks to the extraordinary popularity of the film.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you need to, immediately! It remains one of my favorite films and yes, it was the reason we made this visit. Without the book or movie, I wouldn’t have even known this beautiful place existed in the world.

As it turns out, I am not alone. Da Vinci Code put Rosslyn Chapel on the map. According to our tour guide, prior to the movie’s release, the chapel hosted around 30,000 visitors a year.

However, due to Da Vinci Code’s enormous success, Rosslyn Chapel now expects over 176,000 guests annually.

The scenes depicted in the movie, were for the most part, filmed on site. Once inside the chapel, head down the stairs into the crypt and you’ll immediately recognize the area as the underground chamber from the movie.

According to the book, movie, and several legends, Rossyln Chapel was the location of the Holy Grail. This belief is still held by many today.

Mysteries and Secrets

Just where do these legends come from? As Victor Hugo once said, “History has it’s truth, and so has legend.”

Looking back into historical and religious texts, compelling evidence ties Rosslyn Chapel into tales of the Holy Grail, if you choose to believe it.

It is fact that Rosslyn Chapel did have ties to freemasonry and the Knight’s Templar. The establishing family of the chapel were also close to Knight’s Templar members, who fled to Scotland after a murderous uprising against them.

Interestingly, although it was long denied, there has been evidence to support a link between the Freemasons and the Knight’s Templar.

Even further, one known location of the knights who fled to Scotland was a few short miles away from Rosslyn Chapel and their allies, the St. Clair family.

The Underground Chamber

Some who believe that Rosslyn Chapel was in fact a hiding spot for some unknown treasure, perhaps even the Holy Grail, insist the answers lie in the crypts and underground chambers.

As stated previously, visitors may enter the chamber where scenes from the Da Vinci Code were filmed.

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I have no shame in admitting this: I am a huge Disney nerd. My family has been fortunate enough to be able to visit Disney World frequently. However, I had never been to any of the special parties that Disney has for holidays. When we moved to Florida, I was determined to make that change. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and to celebrate it at Disney seemed like the perfect combination! With just a few weeks left of the festivities, we were able to pull it together for an epic Halloween event. Now I’m sharing with you, my best Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party tips.

Mickey’s Halloween Party 2018 Dates

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party (MNSSHP) is a very popular event. Not surprisingly, Halloween night and dates closer to the holiday tend to sell out quickly. If you’re planning to attend, it is best to book your tickets in advance. Doing so will also save you $10 per ticket price.

Here are the scheduled party dates for 2018:

  • August 17, 24, 28 & 31
  • September 3, 7, 9, 11, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25, 28 & 30
  • October 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 30 & 31
1. Arrive Early & Stay Late

Although the party officially starts at 7:00 PM, MNSSHP guests can actually enter the park at 4:00 PM. This little known tip can help you get there early enough to get on a few rides, sit down and eat dinner, or shop before the party begins.

If you enter Magic Kingdom before the party starts, you will want to be sure to come back around to the front around 7:00 PM to pass through the official party entrance. This is where you will pick up your Halloween party bags and start trick-or-treating.

The event lasts until 1:00 AM. For those out there asking, is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party worth the cost, it may be helpful to know that going in early and staying until the end gives you 9 hours of park time for less than a regularly priced ticket.

Tip: If you are staying at a non-Disney hotel, be sure to figure out the shuttle schedule and plan accordingly if their resort shuttle does not run that late. We ended up paying for a very expensive Uber ride that could have been avoided!

2. Dress to Impress

This may seem obvious to some, but we actually did not wear costumes to the event. Instead, myself, my husband, and our children wore coordinating Nightmare Before Christmas outfits. In our case, we had been park hopping all day and were finishing the night with the Disney’s Halloween Party.

However, I was shocked at how many people were not only dressed in costume, but completely went all out!

Ariel and Prince Eric costumes on a different day.

We even saw a Belle that was so convincing, a small line had gathered to take pictures with her as if she were the actual Disney character.

In hindsight, I shouldn’t have been that surprised. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is the only time that Disney World allows guests to dress up in this way. Therefore, if you’re going, you might as well take advantage of that and dress to the nines!

Just be prepared to have a way to set aside costume accessories, wigs, etc. if you’re planning on going on any rides or if it gets too hot.

For the full list of costume rules for MNSSHP, check out the complete Disney guide here.

3. Don’t Waste Time on the Rides

During the party, the Fast Pass option is shut off for all of the rides in Magic Kingdom. You might expect the lines to be shorter during the event, but on a sold out night like the one we attended, we did not find this to be true.

If you want to ride, your best bet is to arrive early (see above). The only other ride that may be worth a long wait is The Haunted Mansion, which has some special features during Mickey’s Halloween Party.

However, there are so many things to do during the actual event that it’s just not worth waiting in line and missing these activities when the rides will be there any other day.

Before we took this trip, I had heard repeatedly from friends that we wouldn’t have enough time to complete all of the special Halloween activities that are specially laid out for the event. Even though I went in with a plan and we arrived early, my friends were absolutely right!

Therefore, check out the full list of attractions and entertainment and chose your priorities ahead of time.

The Sanderson Sisters at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party - YouTube

4. Line Up Early for Special Characters

We knew ahead of time that one of our priorities was seeing Jack and Sally. (Thus our matching Nightmare Before Christmas attire!)

Prior to the party, we checked the time and mapped out the location they would be at and planned to arrive at the start to avoid waiting for hours in line.

Even though we got there 15 minutes early, the long line had already formed and we ended up waiting over an hour for the meet and greet.

Was it worth it? Absolutely! However, next time, I would probably plan to get there even earlier. After we left, the line to see Jack Skellington had doubled and the first Hocus Pocus show was about to start.

Tip: Of course Mickey Mouse is also dressed in his costume for the party! His line is generally pretty long, but we visited him on the way out of the park right before closing and walked right in with no wait.

5. Wait for the Second Showings

There are multiple showings of the Hocus Pocus Villans Spooktacular and Mickey’s Boo-to-You Parade. Although I knew this, I didn’t realize that like us, everyone would be running to catch the first ones.

This means lots of waiting around if you want to catch a good spot, large crowds, and tight spaces.

We made this mistake again with the Boo-to-You Parade. (You can get a good idea of just how many people were watching in my video above).

The second showing of the parade, however? It was like a ghost town compared to the first!

Skip the crowds and plan on going to the later parade for more elbow room and a better spot. This time can be used for meet and greets or trick or treating as everyone else will be busy watching the entertainment.

Tip: In my opinion, the Headless Horseman is the coolest thing in the parade and he starts the show. Be on the lookout from the beginning so you don’t miss it!

Headless Horseman at Mickey's Boo to You Parade - YouTube

It is important to note that there is only ONE viewing of the Hallowishes fireworks show so be prepared!

My advice is to grab a great spot early on as again, it will be very crowded, but completely worth it. You don’t want to miss this!

6. Enjoy the Halloween Exclusives

One of the things I loved the most about MNSSHP was all of the special goodies that are only available during the party. Every year, Disney puts out several spooky Halloween-themed treats that you can find throughout the park.

Of course, we went straight for the Jack Skellington dessert at Sleepy Hollow in Liberty Square. This one was a vanilla panna cotta with chocolate cake, vanilla buttercream, and a white chocolate candy Jack on top.

Special candies and foods aren’t the only exclusives offered during MNSSHP. Be on the lookout for exclusive merchandise as well.

Also, party goers who take advantage of Disney’s Magic PhotoPass are treated to special spooky pictures that vary throughout the park. Sadly, this is one of my regrets that I will definitely be sure to do next time we go!

7. Trick-or-Treating

Honestly, I did not expect to spend that much time trick-or-treating throughout the park. There were so many things we wanted to do and so little time!

But we ended up scouting out different treat locations because it was so much fun! Disney had streamlined the process so there is no waiting in lines, just mostly walking through and they are very generous with the candy they give out.

Related:

Furthermore, I was so impressed with that Disney magic even during the event. To make sure that everyone who attends feels included, individuals with allergies can still trick-or-treat at each location, and will be given teal allergy tokens. These tokens can be redeemed at either Liberty Square or the Town Square Theater for your choice of allergy-free products with the ingredients listed.

Military Members

For military families who are thinking about attending MNSSHP, just as with regular tickets, Disney also has been generous enough to offer special discounts as a thank-you for your service.

Additionally, you do not have to buy your tickets to the party in advance. This is because Disney will not turn away military members who want to attend, even if the event is sold out that day.

And it sells out fast!

We bought our tickets a few hours before the event started right outside the gate.

If you can do so, I would recommend buying your tickets ahead of time. However, if you’re like me and happened to be stationed nearby and decided on a whim a week before to go, then don’t be discouraged if the event is listed as sold out online.

It’s just another way that Disney spreads the love and magic!

I hope you enjoyed these Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party tips! I am hoping we can go back again this year and cannot wait to see what has changed, as well as trying to see everything else the party has to offer that we missed the first time. Have you attended MNSSHP? What tips can you share about your experience?

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If you’ve been keeping up with our overseas move into our new Florida home, then you might already know that I am completely obsessed right now with all the farmhouse things! My love for Fixer Upper (RIP) has started to take over our house as we renovate and I couldn’t be happier with how it’s all turning out! My latest victim room has been my son’s nursery, or should I say bedroom as he is not a little baby anymore. We decided to keep his adorable aviation nursery theme that we had in Alaska. In keeping with consistency across the house, I also wanted to incorporate the style of the farmhouse pantry door we created in the kitchen. The end result came out better than I even imagined! This DIY baby closet system is perfect for organizing everything that would go into a nursery. Read on for a complete DIY tutorial, before and after pictures, and baby closet organization ideas!

(This post contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a very small commission if you click on a link and buy something. For more information please read our Disclosure Policy. Thanks for your support!)

Here are the step-by-step instructions for creating your custom nursery closet system.

Supplies: Tutorial:

First, you’ll want to prep and complete any cleaning or priming to the closet before you get started. This closet desperately needed to be painted, so after removing the outdated wire shelving, I went ahead and filled in old holes and damages and applied two fresh coats of white paint.

Before: This was after new paint was applied to the walls and new flooring was laid down.

Once that is completed, go ahead and measure your closet. Be sure to mark where you would like the bottom board of the organization system to go. From the bottom, measure where you would like the top to sit against the wall.

There is no right or wrong here, it’s really up to personal preference.

Next, select and cut two of the 1×8 boards for your top and bottom pieces. Cut the 1×1’s to support your bottom shelf. This will be two for the width, and one that runs the entire length.

Additionally, cut 1×1 supports for your top shelf. These three pieces should be the same width as your board.

TIP: You don’t want the length support to be the length of the top shelf because you will be using this to brace the standing board as you install it.

Next, use the table saw to cut one 1×8 board to match the height that you measured for your built-in system.

After that, cut more 1×1’s that are the same width as the standing board. There should be two per shelf that will be completed later on.

Once that is completed, it’s time for my favorite part: staining! For this project, we used two coats of my go-to wood stain.

TIP: This stain dries amazingly fast so plan accordingly!

Now it is time to pre-drill the holes for your support pieces. Using the pre-drilled holes, place them against the closet walls and then use a level to drill holes into the drywall to mark where your drywall anchors will go.

TIP: It is a good idea to level each support piece individually and use a yardstick (or whatever is available), to level each support piece together.

After that, install the drywall anchors, support pieces, and the bottom shelf piece.

Next, measure half of the length of your standing board and mark it.

Using the standing board as a reference, measure how wide you want your shelves to be, and mark on the bottom shelf for future reference and to measure to the opposite wall of the standing board shelves.

Cut the center long shelf, support pieces, and stain them all.

Then, using the standing shelf mark that we made on the very bottom shelf, go ahead and pre-drill four holes for screws that will go into the standing shelf.

Now, level and install the top shelf braces.

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Teaching children how to cope can be one of the most important things we do as parents. In today’s society, our youth are suffering from anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, bullying, and stress at unprecedented levels. Coping skills offer a way for kids to manage intense feelings and emotions appropriately and effectively. This coping skills worksheet can be used by parents, teachers, school counselors, and therapists as a way to help teach kids about coping skills and how to use them.

Coping Skills Worksheet

This worksheet is meant to be used as a guide to help children learn about coping skills and how they may be used in a variety of settings and situations. Every child is different, and what works for one may not work for another.

This is why it is important to help your child practice different skills to understand what helps them cope and what doesn’t.

Triggers

Little kids can experience some pretty big emotions. Just as with adults, everyone’s triggers and threshold are different. Understanding and identifying triggers can help children prevent temper tantrums or inappropriate behaviors by avoiding triggers or implementing effective coping skills as early as possible.

Warning Signs

Physical symptoms and emotional behaviors can be a strong indicator of our level of anger, anxiety, or other difficult emotions. When children are taught to recognize their own warning signs, it allows them to become more mindful and implement skills required to cope before the situation gets out of hand.

Related: Coping Skills

There are hundreds of coping skills available but not every coping mechanism will work for everyone. It is also important for children to recognize that they will need a variety of coping skills to handle different emotions or symptoms, as well as for different situations.

For instance, if a child listens to music as a way to cope effectively, they should still have other skills in their toolbox for those instances when they don’t have their music readily available and still need a way to cope effectively.

Here is a short list of coping skills ideas for kids:

  • Sing a favorite song
  • Take a walk
  • Blow bubbles
  • Play a game
  • Hug a pet or stuffed animal
  • Talk to a parent or friend
  • Play outside
  • Write in a journal
  • Watch a funny Youtube video
  • Practice yoga
  • Read a book
  • Make/squeeze a stress ball
  • Deep breathing
  • Paint a picture
  • Meditate
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Write a story or poem
  • Do a random act of kindness
  • Take a bath or a shower
  • Create an art and crafts project
Support System

A child’s social support system is an extremely important part of their life and can impact their emotional well-being in profound ways. In fact, research shows that children with positive role models and close bonds to family and community supports are more likely to succeed well into adulthood than those without these ties.

Children can work towards identifying trusted adults that they can talk to in a crisis or as a way to cope.

Positive Self-Talk

Self-talk is an important, yet often overlooked area when helping children process difficult emotions. When negative, their inner voice can contribute to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem that can persist throughout their life if not identified and challenged.

Using positive affirmations and promoting positive self-talk is a valuable coping skill that can increase self-esteem and feelings of self-worth.

CLICK HERE FOR YOUR FREE PRINTABLE COPING SKILLS WORKSHEET!

This worksheet may also be used as a gateway to continue the conversation with children. Helping them identify, express, and process their emotions is a valuable tool that can be carried into adulthood.

Did you find this useful? What creative ways have you found to help teach children to cope with their feelings? Leave a comment below!

 

The post Coping Skills Worksheet for Kids appeared first on Littles, Life, & Laughter.

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Let’s be honest, living overseas is fun, but being stationed stateside again has some pretty amazing perks. Being closer to friends and family, not having to deal with customs forms, and of course, the shopping!

What I would have given to have a Costco nearby when we were stationed overseas. Those awesome deals, being able to stock up on bulk items, and having the option to go from organic to their pizza depending on my mood.

As if you needed another reason to love Costco, here is a great one.

Costco has announced a special tribute to our armed forces, veterans, and their families.

(This is a sponsored post on behalf of FitFluential and Premier Protein. However, all opinions are my own. For more information, please read our Disclosure Policy.)

Military Hour Celebrate active duty military, veterans, and their families at a special shopping event

On Saturday, March 24th, 117 Costco warehouses nationwide will be sponsoring Costco Military Hour. This event will give members of the military community the opportunity to shop before doors open to the general public.

There will be free samples, exclusive product demonstrations, and delicious snacks for attendees.

Make sure to get there early because the first 100 people who arrive will receive swag bags full of goodies!

Best of all, this is the perfect opportunity for members of the military community to take advantage of Costco’s exclusive new membership offer.

For more information on these exciting new membership details, click here!

Note: You do not have to be a Costco member to attend the event, but you do need a membership to make a purchase.

Already a Costco member? Check out the Shop Hour Event to check participating locations and RSVP to the shopping event.

While you’re there, don’t forget to pick up some Premier Protein shakes. Costco is the only retailer who stocks hormone FREE Premier Shakes.

Not only do they taste amazing and come in chocolate, vanilla, and caramel, but they also pack 30g of protein in each shake. Even better for those who are trying to live a healthier lifestyle (hands up, loud and proud), they only have 1g of sugar and 160 calories.

Related:

If you were thinking about trying them before, this is a great chance to do so.

So tell your military friends, neighbors, pack your ID, and enjoy the morning honoring your sacrifice and service!

Are you taking advantage of this awesome event? What do you think of Military Hour for our service members and their families? Let us know in the comments below!

The post Costco Military Hour: Honoring our Heros appeared first on Littles, Life, & Laughter.

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Osan AB in South Korea was not even on my radar when my husband had orders drop. We had just passed our two-year mark at Nellis AFB, a known black hole of a base, when he got the notification that he had an assignment. I was newly pregnant (we had found out the day before) and stunned.

Hang around any military spouse group on Facebook long enough and you’ll see it. The fear and loathing towards those deemed unfortunate for obtaining orders to the ROK. When I first told people, I was met with apologies and empathy. For the first two days after hearing the news, I did what any hormonal pregnant spouse would do. I ate a lot of chocolate and cried.

Of course, it could be worse (Why not Minot?). But orders to Korea unaccompanied meant I would be spending the next year raising my daughter on my own. It meant my husband would be missing out on the precious milestones of our firstborn. It meant moving back home across the country by myself. At the time, it all seemed devastating.

Then, I picked myself back up and did what I always do any time we have orders; I ate more chocolate and researched.

Going to Korea on a command sponsored tour was not unfamiliar to me. However, my husband was an A1C at the time, and the chances of obtaining that sponsorship seemed on par with our chances of winning the lottery.

However, researching about it also led me to discover another, and dare I say better option: Going to Osan AB Non-command sponsored.

What is a non-command sponsored dependent?

Non-command sponsorship has been around for a long time. However, it just recently started gaining more notoriety over the last few years. It offers spouses the opportunity to join their military servicemember at Osan AB with a few conditions and differences from those granted the sponsorship.

While looking up the facts surrounding Non-CSP, as it is sometimes referred to, I came across some interesting things that would ultimately lead me to make the move that would change my life forever.

First, I found that the majority of those spouses and families who accompanied their service member to Korea, whether on a sponsored package or not, loved the experience. In fact, many were quoted saying it was their favorite base and that they wish they could go back. The more I looked, the more I saw this sentiment repeated over and over again. It was one that I would eventually be saying myself after our own tour ended.

Second, the majority of those who turned their nose up at the idea of going to Osan AB to others, had never actually been there themselves. They may have had husbands who had gone previously unaccompanied, known someone who had, or even visited. But most of them had never lived there. Yet, here they were telling others, like my scared pregnant self, what a horrible base it was.

Crazy, right?

Third, and perhaps most important, I discovered that there are so many misconceptions and wrong information floating around out there about going to Korea non-command sponsored. This tends to scare a lot of people away and if you are thinking about going, your decision should be based on accurate information.

Heading to the top of Suwon Fortress, just a few minutes outside of Osan

So get your facts straight from the source and do your research! Check out the official non and command sponsorship regulation here.

After all was said and done, I was not only encouraged but excited. My mind was made up. I was going to Osan with my husband non-command sponsored. After a few months of planning, saving, stress, and delivering a baby; me, my husband, our two-month-old daughter, two dogs, and cat arrived in Seoul, South Korea.

It was June of 2013 and the next year would turn out to be one of the best years of my life. It has been almost four years since we’ve returned. Not a day has gone by that we don’t wish we could go back, and have actively tried. Even now, stationed in literal oceanside paradise, I would be ecstatic to get orders back to Korea.

So, whether your spouse is over there now, thinking about volunteering, or just received orders to PCS to Korea unaccompanied, I’m here to ease your mind and give you 9 solid reasons why you should start packing your bags and join the adventure!

1. Osan AB an amazing base for families

What? Osan? Family-friendly? Despite what you may have heard about Osan’s seedier past, or about the dangerous neighbors up north, or even about other bases around Korea, firsthand experience says that the Air Force has worked very diligently to clean up the Ville (the small downtown area right off base) and to make it a place that Airman and their families could enjoy.

In fact, the first day that we arrived at Osan in 2013 happened to coincide with the decision to ban all “juicies” (foreign “escorts”) from the Songtan/Ville area, and to mark any establishments that employ (and I use this term loosely as many may have been trafficked) these individuals off-limits to Airman, essentially putting them out of business.

Other than occasional sightings of the infamous Songtan Sally, consider Osan Air Base a juicy-free zone.

Exploring Suwon Fortress with my daughter

In addition, the Ville is filled with restaurants, shops, and entertainment. Korean culture is the absolute best when it comes to having young children and they love to give free trinkets and toys away to the kids who come to their shops.

Actually, one of my favorite things about Korea in general is how family-friendly it is. Kid cafés are scattered all around Osan and the rest of Korea and provide hours of fun for your kids for a few dollars. Seriously, I wish the U.S. had more of these.

Check out this amazing Tayo themed Kid Café in Seoul to get an idea:

꼬마버스 타요 키즈 카페. 어린이 놀이터 테마파크. Tayo Bus Kids Playground Amusement Детская игровая комната Тайо - YouTube

2. It can be a money maker

Oftentimes, dependents may decide to move back home when their spouse is deployed, in part to save money. This is common practice during Korean tours as well.

However, going to Korea non-command sponsored can allow you to save and make a lot of money. While it is true non-CSP families will be paying for their plane tickets, this is where the major out-of-pocket expenses stop.

Non-command sponsored families are entitled to OHA, utilities allowance, COLA (at a single-rate), and in some cases, a moving allowance. They also have the luxury of being allowed to live off-base, which in my opinion is way nicer than living in one of the towers on base.

Our master (wet) bathroom in our off base apartment

Korea is light years ahead of us in technology and their cost of living is a lot cheaper. This grants you the opportunity to snag a beautiful, upgraded and fully furnished apartment for your OHA.

Although my husband was an A1C when we arrived in Korea, his OHA still allowed us a nice 3 bedroom/2 bathroom apartment that was five minutes walking distance to the Ville and main gate.

Check out a favorite off-base option, Pasco Apartments, complete with amazing park and amenities to see what the living options are like:

Pasco apartment Osan AB - YouTube

In addition, Korea in general is inexpensive. You want to take the train to Seoul? Cool, the ticket is about $1. Taxi ride to base? $2 and some change. You want to buy a car over there? Cheap, cheap, cheap. And to be honest, you don’t need a car. The public transportation is amazing and everything is within walking distance.

Our decision to forgo having a car while at Osan saved us two car payments, gas money, and insurance payments for a year which added up to a lot of savings by the end of the tour. An added bonus? I dropped that baby weight pretty quickly from walking everywhere!

Also, if you decide you love Korea (and I’m betting you will), your spouse has the option to extend the tour for another two years. Doing so adds an additional $300/month to their paycheck thanks to KAIP (Korea allowance incentive program).

3. South Korea is an amazing country

I didn’t know what to expect before moving to Korea, other than what I saw on the news, which did not portray an accurate picture. In the end, I was blown away by the people, the country, and the culture.

I even wrote an article about it, which you can find here.

A beautiful Buddhist Temple in the mountains

In a nutshell, Korea is fun, it’s quirky, and it’s technologically amazing. There is free wi-fi wherever you go. The country has an amazing mix of new advances and historical monuments and temples that blend seamlessly. They are one of the few countries that actually (generally) seems to like Americans.

(Sorry guys, but it’s true. We are known to be loud and obnoxious around the world. Ask your friends stationed in Japan or Italy how we’re perceived there!)

4. Base of preference

Ah the good old BOP. It’s hit or miss, but if you’re command-sponsored you don’t get a choice.

At least for those who are non-command, they will let you fill out a dream sheet and supposedly try to match you with the base you want.

I can tell you that BOP is the reason why my husband and I only stayed for one year and we did get the first choice on the list.

You can read more about our adventures in Alaska here.

We left our love lock at the base of Seoul Tower

I can also tell you that some friends we were stationed with got their first choices as well, mostly dream bases in Europe. Others did not get their BOP and were stationed elsewhere after Korea.

It..

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Situated on Florida’s Emerald Coast and nestled between Destin and Pensacola is a little-known secret. Navarre Beach, more recently tagged as Florida’s most relaxing place, is pure beach paradise. Surrounded by state parks and preserved national seashore, it boasts miles of untouched, natural beauty. You won’t find tourist traps or an overabundance of infrastructure blocking those pristine views here. Instead, Navarre Beach is home to warm, crystal waters and sandy white beachfront as far as the eye can see. It is no wonder why this piece of heaven on earth is consistently named as a top Florida beach year after year. Here are the top seven reasons why Navarre Beach is Florida’s best kept secret.

1. The Beach

Of course, the secret jewel of Navarre is the beach itself.

Not only does it offer warm, sparkling waters you’d expect to find only in the Caribbean, but the miles of protected lands and lack of notoriety allow for vast open space to spread out and relax. That is of course, without feeling congested with the summer crowds that flood some of the larger, more well-known destinations.

In other words, if you are coming to the beach with plans to relax, Navarre Beach is it.

For the more active and outdoorsy types, there are activities besides laying out and basking in that famous Florida sun. At the forefront of the beach is the longest fishing pier on the Gulf of Mexico, which was recently taken over and is going through some exciting renovations. The Navarre beach pier offers daily fishing licenses, an on-site restaurant, volleyball courts, soon-to-be kid’s play area, and unrivaled views of the Gulf. The pier is also a hot spot for surfers, kayakers, paddle-boarders, and of course, those looking for that perfect, Instagrammable shot.

Movie aficionados may also recognize this familiar location from the movie Jaws 2, which was famously filmed on Navarre Beach.

It is also worth mentioning that Navarre is uniquely situated around several military bases. Eglin Air Force Base, Hulburt Air Force Base, and Naval Air Station Pensacola are all located in the area. On any given day, you may witness military helicopters or the V-22 Osprey flying over Navarre Beach. The Blue Angels also have been known to practice for their air show over the beach and in nearby Pensacola.

2. Small-Town Vibes

Navarre Beach, which encompasses the barrier island just over the overpass bridge from Navarre proper, is home to only around 1,000 residents. Even the town for which it is named and adjoins, has a population of less than 45,000 residents.

Unlike it’s overcrowded neighbors to the East and West, Navarre Beach’s small-town feel allows those who visit to truly vacation like a local. Even more unique is the lack of an overbearing presence of chains. Residents favor and support small, locally-owned businesses that offer those treasures and mom and pop restaurants you write home about.

Don’t just take my word for it though. In 2017, Navarre Beach was named by Southern Living as one of the South’s best tiny towns.

3. Close to Attractions

However, it’s close proximity to the larger cities of Destin and Pensacola are perfect for those times when you do want to enjoy the attractions and amenities that a big city has to offer. On a good day, Pensacola is a mere 30 minutes away and Navarre to Destin can take around 35-40 minutes. Both are a straight shot down Highway 98. Even day trips to places like Panama City, Miramar Beach, Mobile, and New Orleans can be accomplished.

Exploring Fort Pickens in nearby Pensacola

This allows tourists and locals alike to enjoy the big city life and its offerings on your own terms while coming home to that serene beach life at the end of the day.

4. Best Seashells

Besides its unsurpassed beauty and small-town feel, Navarre Beach is known on the Emerald Coast as the place to hunt for seashells, sand dollars, and other ocean treasures that wash ashore. In fact, residents come from tens to hundreds of miles away, even foregoing their own beaches nearby, to visit Navarre for this exact reason.

If you are planning a visit, be sure to bring a bucket, as there are thousands of beautiful shells that wash ashore at any given time of the day or year. Some snorkeling gear and a net also offers the chance to find perfectly maintained treasures right off the shoreline.

5. The Wildlife

One of the most impressive and surprising aspects of Navarre that help make it Florida’s best kept secret is the wildlife. On clear days when the flags are green or yellow, head to the pier to catch a glimpse of the resident sea turtles and dolphins that hang around.

Navarre Beach is a protected and flourishing sea turtle habitat and every year, thousands of baby sea turtles hatch all along the beach and if you’re lucky enough, you may be able to catch such a sight. You can also visit Navarre’s resident sea turtle, Sweet Pea, and other marine life, at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center, conveniently located just across the street from the pier.

Tip: Sea turtles are endangered and are protected by the Endangered Species Act. To protect the turtles and our wildlife, always leave nests and animals undisturbed and keep a safe distance. For more information about sea turtle nesting season and local laws, please click here.

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Besides a wide variety of birds and pelicans hanging around the beach, Navarre is also home to a great stingray migration. If you come at the end of the season, you may catch a glimpse of them close to the shoreline.

Don’t have time to check it all out? You can also see cool ocean wildlife through Navarre’s underwater reef cam here.

Sting rays swimming at Navarre Beach - YouTube

As if that wasn’t enough, more recently, humpback whales have been spotted in nearby Panama City. Although unusual for this area, it is possible for whales to make a detour while returning North for the summer.

6. The Community

There is much to be said about the residents that are able to keep such a hidden gem preserved in its untouched glory. Navarre, Florida is a close-knit community and it shows. No matter the time of year that you find yourself visiting, there are always plenty of activities going on.

In the summer, you can join the local movie night at the pier on the beach. Jaws 2 is not surprisingly a favorite played every summer. In addition, there are free music nights on the beach weekly throughout the summer, and fireworks over the sound for the fourth of July.

There are local farmers markets and expositions throughout the year. Navarre Beach is also home to an infamous Mardi Gras parade, which draws crowds from around the Panhandle. In the wintertime, locals gather for a beautiful tree lighting ceremony at Navarre Park for Christmas.

The actions of those who live here speak volumes of the type of community you’ll find in Navarre. For instance, last year, one of Navarre’s residents dressed up as the Grinch. He went around Navarre hiding popular toys for children to find through a series of fun treasure hunts. When asked about this amazing display of generosity, he reported that he just wanted to give back to the community that meant so much to him and his family.

7. Things to Do

Don’t let its small size fool you. Although Navarre does have that charming, small-town feel, there are still plenty of fun things to do in and around Navarre. No matter the time of year, rain or shine, there are activities available for everyone.

Here are just a few of my favorite Navarre Beach attractions:

Navarre Park

Right at the foot of the entrance to the bridge that takes you to Navarre Beach is Navarre Park. Overlooking the beautiful sound, Navarre Park boasts two separate playgrounds, fishing piers, walking paths, picnic areas, a splash pad, and its Black Hawk memorial, which serves as a tribute to the lives lost in a military training accident.

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Research studies have shown that youth today are experiencing higher rates of depression. Oftentimes, this can include low self-esteem and loss of motivation. Negative and distorted thought patterns may contribute to or worsen these symptoms. Parents should always seek professional help if they believe their child or teen is depressed. However, teaching healthy and appropriate coping skills in childhood can help prevent these symptoms later on and allow children to learn to manage them effectively. Positive affirmations for kids help teach coping through changing negative thoughts into positive ones. This in turn can help influence feelings of self-worth, increase motivation, and lead to greater satisfaction in life. I’ve created positive affirmation cards that can be used for kids, teens, and even adults to encourage healthy coping and create a positive mindset.

(This post contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a very small commission if you click on a link and buy something. For more information please read our Disclosure Policy. Thanks for your support!)

What are Affirmations?

Affirmations are small phrases or sentences we tell ourselves to help motivate, empower, or change negative or distorted thoughts. It is the foundation upon which Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) was based. That is, the notion that changing our thoughts can lead to changes in our behaviors.

Researchers have found a correlation between the impact of our thoughts on our emotions and behaviors. Therefore, affirmations can be a tool in which we combat those negative thoughts we may be predisposed to biologically, or those from our environment.

Why Affirmations are Powerful

As previously mentioned, affirmations have the power to change how we feel and how we act. When practiced often and effectively, this can have a tremendous impact on our lives. Furthermore, this effect can be felt and experienced without changing any of our life events or situations. Rather, we are actively working to change how we think about these events or situations.

Additionally, the minds of our children are growing and absorbing everything around them. By introducing kids to positive affirmations and encouraging them to use these, we can help promote positive thought patterns that may persist into adulthood.

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It is no secret that positive thinking can change our world. Those who are grateful and confident, for example, are more likely to have healthy relationships with others, cope more effectively with symptoms of depression or anxiety, and better manage stress.

By giving your children such tools, you are preparing them for success in life: mentally, emotionally, and socially.

Affirmation Cards

Kids are visual creatures so positive affirmation cards provide excitement and encouragement for them to actually use them. These cards not only provide examples of affirmations to use, but also serve as a visual reminder to practice them regularly.

Click here for your free printable affirmation cards

If you want to get the most use out of these cards, I would recommend laminating them. You could also add a small binder ring after laminating to keep them all together.

How to Use Affirmations Effectively

There are several ways in which kids or teens can use affirmations effectively. There really is no right or wrong here, as long as it works for your child. Many people may recite positive affirmations to themselves out loud or in their head. They may choose a certain time of day to practice this or do it sporadically throughout the day.

Others may write their affirmations down, such as in a journal, or use their positive affirmation cards. To do so, kids may add them to their coping skills box, or print them out and stick them on a mirror or place where they will be reminded to use them frequently.

Choosing a quiet time and place to practice self-affirmations is also a great way to encourage children to practice mindfulness.

I hope you enjoyed these free printable positive affirmations for kids. What affirmations do you use? Please sharing by leaving a comment below!

The post 45 Incredible Positive Affirmations for Kids appeared first on Littles, Life, & Laughter.

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What better time to think about goals for yourself and your future than the start of the new year? For so long, I have been helping clients create vision boards as a therapeutic tool but always put off creating my own. Finally, I decided to make the time and practice what I preach. Since then, I have been getting so many questions about my own DIY vision board so I decided to make this post and hopefully inspire others to make their own! Read on to see how I created my killer vision board and how you can too.

Why Vision Boards Work

There are numerous reasons why vision boards can be an effective and motivational tool to help you achieve your goals. For one, it is a visual reminder of what you are working towards. My vision board hangs in my bedroom where I can easily see it every day. When I do, I ask myself a very powerful question: “What am I doing today that will help me reach my goals?”

Additionally, setting and achieving goals is a self-esteem building skill. When our confidence is higher, we are more likely to take bigger risks, and therefore reap bigger rewards in life.

Vision boards are also motivation to keep moving forward when times are hard. Life is full of ups and downs and we may not always achieve everything we set out to, and that’s okay. We learn from our mistakes, pull ourselves back up, and keep moving forward. Reach for the moon; even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.

Identifying Your Goals

The first and maybe most obvious step to creating your DIY vision board is identifying the goals you want to achieve.

When choosing your goals, I recommend thinking about different aspects of your life and goals or even sub-goals you have for each. It would not be wise just to focus on one area when life itself is so complex.

Some ideas to help you narrow your focus include:

  • Finance
  • Health
  • Travel
  • Fitness
  • Family
  • Relationships
  • Education
  • Professional
  • Personal Development
  • Spiritual
  • Miscellaneous

If you look at my vision board, you can see that I have finance, professional, family, personal development, and travel included.

Turn Goals into Reality

Once you’ve decided on the goals for your vision board, the fun begins. The best thing about your vision board is that it can be whatever you want it to be. Whether that’s digital or on an actual board is completely up to you. Make it your own! Make it inspiring, and most of all, make sure it’s visible.

Pinterest is full of beautiful and inspiring photographs. This is where I found my pictures and quotes, minus one of my children that I took myself. Then I simply printed out the ones I loved, taped them to construction paper, and aligned them the way I wanted onto a bigger collage.

If you choose to create yours the same way, you can always laminate it. However, I chose not to so that I may have the option of adding new goals on later.

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Each picture or word represents a goal that I created for myself to achieve in 2018. For instance, my travel goals include going to Paris and Scotland. Each of these is represented by it’s own photograph.

A personal goal includes spending more time with my children. I chose to represent this with a picture of them and a quote.

The Verdict

I’ll have to wait to post a full update at the end of the year. However, I can say that since I created this DIY vision board, I have been more motivated than ever. Furthermore, I realized that previously, not identifying my goals led to getting sidetracked often. Since I now have them narrowed down and literally staring me in the face every day, I am more intentional on what I’m setting out to do.

Overall, this simple project took me a few minutes to make and is doing wonders for me so far. I’m excited to see what the rest of 2018 will bring. Who knows, maybe I will have to add more goals later on as I start knocking these out!

Have you created your own vision board or been inspired to? Leave a comment below!

The post How to Make a Killer DIY Vision Board appeared first on Littles, Life, & Laughter.

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Motherhood: It’s exhausting, it’s rewarding, it’s messy, it’s fun. It’s embracing all of that and so much more. However, knowing how to navigate motherhood when your spouse is deployed? It brings up a whole new set of challenges that can push you to the limit. The last time my husband was TDY, or on a temporary deployment, we were living in Fairbanks, Alaska. It was dark, roads were icy, and temperatures were in the negatives. At the time he left for warm and sunny Las Vegas, I was working full-time 45 minutes away, with a 4-month-old who was breastfeeding and an hyperactive energetic 3-year-old.

I could have very easily lost my mind.

However, I reminded myself that although this was new territory going it alone with two littles rather than one, deployments were not unfamiliar. I had done it before and I would get through it again, and I’m here to tell you that we made it to the other side once again.

Still, I remember being a young, open-minded, but naive spouse who was green to deployments and babies and all of the challenges they bring. So, for those who may be new to this or to my fellow seasoned mamas who just need a little pick-me-up, I’ve compiled my best tips on how to navigate motherhood when your spouse is deployed.

(This post is sponsored by 1 Natural Way. All thoughts and opinions are my own. For more information please read our Disclosure Policy.)

1. Find your tribe

After two overseas moves and six different bases, one of the most important pieces of advice I can give you is to find your tribe. Find them as soon as you can after you move to a new base. These people will become your family. They will be the ones coming over during the holidays when you aren’t able to go home, can help you find your way around your new home, and understand the military jargon and life that sometimes civilian spouses just don’t get.

Find these people, and when your spouse is deployed, use them. Do the same for them when it’s their time. During this last deployment, one of my good friends offered to take my daughter on a play date in their home every Sunday afternoon for a few hours. It was the only chance I had to relax, re-energize, and catch up on sleep (if my son allowed).

Side note: A Tinder-like app for meeting new mom friends. Is that a thing? Because it should be a thing.

2. Stay busy

One of the worst habits I see in spouses going through a deployment is the lack of doing much of anything. When their spouse leaves, it’s as if they shut down. They may stay in bed or in the house, glued to their phone, waiting for that call or Skype session. Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with staying in contact with your spouse throughout a deployment. However, your world should not stop because they are gone. It’s not healthy, and it only seems to make the time pass by slower.

For those like myself in the throes of infancy and the toddler-stages of motherhood, this is not even an option. We are always busy whether we want to be at that moment or not. Add on working full-time and blogging part-time to motherhood, and this last deployment, albiet a short one, seemed to fly by.

3. Try new things

Speaking of the importance of staying busy, deployments are the perfect time to try new things. Get out there and do the thing you’ve been wanting to but didn’t have the chance. Or grab a friend and your kids and check out that restaurant your spouse didn’t think sounded so great. Staying busy and trying new things are coping skills that can help get you through the deployment as well as work on self-improvement and give you something new and exciting to bring into your relationship while your spouse is gone.

This one goes for the kids as well. We are their biggest role-models in the early years and they look to us to learn healthy ways to cope. Additionally, staying busy and having fun exploring new places and activities promotes positive growth and brain development. And if I can find things to do in -30 degree weather then there are no excuses!

4. Accept the help

For whatever reason, asking for help seems to be difficult for many people. However, there is nothing wrong with this and especially not during a deployment. There are so many resources available out there for military spouses and their families created solely for these times. For instance, many of the bases we have been stationed at offered the Give Parents a Break program through the Child Development Center (CDC). For one night each month, children could be dropped off to play for a few hours, allowing parents a night “off” to relax, enjoy a date night, get things done, or provide some respite for spouses going it alone. This would be a perfect example of an opportunity to accept that help where it is available.

For breastfeeding mommies like me, there are also programs available to make it all easier. For example, 1 Natural Way, the premiere resource for obtaining the highest quality breast pumps from Medela and Spectra to TRICARE members, makes it so simple and stress-free for military spouses who want to breastfeed. It takes less than three minutes to fill out their online application and on average one week from that time to receive your free breast-pump in the mail. Let me tell you, when I was working full-time and breastfeeding my son, I could not live without my pump. 1 Natural Way takes all of the hassle of ordering and receiving your breast-pump while offering breastfeeding education and service to breastfeeding mamas.

5. Involve the kids

Deployments are hard on us as spouses and mothers, but it can be even more so for kids. They don’t always understand or may not yet possess adequate ways of coping without their parent. That is why it is so important to involve them throughout the deployment. There are many ways to do this.

Some opt to use a Daddy Doll or add a special recording into a stuffed animal for younger kids. Older children may like candy to count down the time that has passed and see how many days are left. Creating care packages can be fun at any age, especially for those longer deployments.

6. Be prepared

If you’re a military spouse then you should always be prepared that a deployment may happen. Sometimes you get advanced notice, sometimes it’s not enough. Use whatever time you have before your spouse deploys to have everything in place to support you and your littles. Make phone lists for emergencies, schedule babysitters, get that power of attorney taken care of. Do whatever you need to do to make your life easier and less stressful during the deployment. Do these things while you have your spouse there to help.

7. Practice Self-Care

Have you heard the saying: You can’t pour from an empty cup? It’s true for any mother at any time but especially during deployments, where stress and fatigue levels may run high.

Repeat after me: You cannot help others until you’ve taken care of yourself.

This includes your babies!

So whether it’s having a glass of wine and gossiping about the latest drama on the base’s spouse Facebook group, taking a hot bubble bath, starting a new hobby, or even making an awesome coping skills box, the practice of self-care should be a priority.

There you have it. My best tips for military spouses, new and seasoned, doing their best to navigate motherhood. Did I miss anything? Help out your fellow spouses and give them your best tips in the comments below!

The post How to Navigate Motherhood When Your Spouse is Deployed appeared first on Littles, Life, & Laughter.

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