Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Crazy....

So, just a few days ago I wrote about how this separation was going. And how it is going Really, really well. But in that post I said this:

I'm not saying the goodbye was cake and that it didn't hurt. It did. I'm not saying that tears have disappeared from the house. I'm just saying that we are all doing really, really, well on the home front.

At this can flip all crazy in a split second.
Well, it has.
The truth is - I AM tired.
But not from a lack of sleep.
I'm tired of battling every. little. thing. out with a particular 2 year-old man-child.

Today, as he started his 10th fit of screaming, snotting, and writhing on the ground (In public)...something in me just broke.

I'm tired of complete strangers offering their opinion of what is wrong with Boy when he is throwing a fit.
I'm tired of outlasting the fits.
I'm tired of constantly questioning if I'm doing the right thing, making the right decision, handling it correctly.

So, when I was wrestling his stiff-as-a-board body into his car seat....accompanied by his guttural screams where he attempts to lose his voice....I was able to hold it together. I stayed calm. I miraculously got him buckled. Then I calmly went around and buckled Bitty Bean.

But, after closing the door of the Swagger Wagon?
I just stood there in the empty school parking lot and cried.
I climbed into the driver's seat with 3 of my sweet children buckled in behind me, and cried. The ugly cry. The 'I'm overwhelmed and just would like him to obey happily and quickly because I'm tired of fighting him' cry.

I know people will say - ask for help. But the kicker is I can't ask for help in this one. He's not having power struggles with all of humanity. He's not fighting and kicking the entire world.
It is just with me.
His mama.
And I can't outsource these battles.
These are battles only I can fight. Because they are battles only I must win.

We've been battling everything out for weeks now...but today took it to a new level. We normally only have one fit a day - and that is anywhere from 15-45 minutes. (Although one day it was an hour and 15) But today? Today we had one GOOD hour. Of the entire day. And that is obscenely exhausting.

It will be worth it in the end. I'm sure of it. 
I just had no idea "strong-willed child" came with a turbo feature.

I must go - 
my reservation for "Crazy mama, table for 1" is ready.

(and if you think about it...please pray for my endurance.)

 Copyright 2013

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The HOW of Deployment...with Kids


Such a crappy word. I mean, it is a word that just makes your face go scrunchy like you just smelled a nasty poop and you know you will have to deal with it. It is just yucky like that.

Although so far (we are only on day 14), it has actually been pretty easy.  My Beans normally don't sleep for the first week My Love is away - they EACH typically wake up twice between midnight and 6 am - so that means I don't really sleep that first week.
While I can handle minimal sleep for a fairly long amount of time...that is just brutal. 

This time has not been like every other time. 
We have all slept. WELL.
And awakened rested!
I know it sounds like a little thing - but I truly believe it is a miracle in our house.
It has been that much of a shock to get sleep.

The Beans have transitioned well. They miss My Love - but they aren't living in fear.
I have transitioned well - I miss My Love, but I'm not dying in loneliness.

Long, long ago....December 2004. 

This is where doing this before really comes in handy.  So, I thought I'd share some of the stuff we do to help make the separation easier for the Beans...maybe it will help one of you!

Spring 2004

We don't spring My Love leaving on the children.
We actually learned of this separation about a year ago, but since schedules can switch (a LOT) we waited to inform the children until we were a month away from the first brief time apart - 3 weeks.

Work ups are not my favorite thing.

We sat each of them down separately, and talked openly about him leaving. How he would be gone and then home, and then gone, and then home, and then gone, and barely home, gone longer, home briefly, and gone for a long, long time. We tried to give them the best big picture they each could understand.
String Bean cried.
Jumping Bean asked if she could go play.
Bitty Bean asked for candy.
Boy Bean didn't listen.

It may seem silly to do that with children so young - but they understand more than we give them credit for.  It helps them trust us - that they won't wake up one day and daddy will just be gone. 

Summer 2012
I always tell them that Daddy loves them wherever he is. It may seem like an odd thing, but that was a fear for some of the children during one of our separations. So I remind them he doesn't stop loving them just because he can't kiss them goodnight. In fact, whenever he is gone - I give them gentle, "Mommy kisses" and  silly, noisy, "Daddy kisses" when I tuck them in. Sometimes, when they really miss him - they ask for those "Daddy kisses." I'll talk in a low voice and do something silly that he would do. It helps keep him in our days. It keeps him a part of our life.

We talk about emotions and address fears

Summer 2011
About how it is okay to be sad, or angry, or happy, or miss Daddy, or not miss Daddy. We talk about how they will probably feel all of those things at some point. And that is OKAY. What is not okay is getting swallowed by emotions. It isn't okay to believe lies or live in constant fear - and we go to the Bible:

God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind  2 Timothy 1:7

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

When they ask me the hard questions, things like: 
"Is it dangerous what Daddy does at his work?"
"Could Daddy die before he comes home to us?"
"Will I ever see Daddy again?"

Easter 2011

I answer them truthfully. 
Yes. What Daddy does is dangerous. But he is where he is supposed to be. God is taking care of him.
Yes. Daddy could die before he comes home to us - but that is true for all of us, every single day. God has given Daddy a job to do - and he needs to do it. God has given us a job to do, here, and we need to that as well.
We are planning on you seeing Daddy again! They practice and check all of the things on the boat and on the aircraft to make everything as safe as possible - so Daddy should come home to us, but sometimes the Daddies and Mommies don't come home.

January 2011

We made Daddy Pillows. 
Each girl (slacker mom hasn't made the boy's) has a travel size pillow case with a picture of them with Daddy screen printed on it. They can hug it, they can kiss it, they can talk to it. They are allowed to bring it around with them if they are having a hard day. It has been a great comfort to each of them. I'm sure the Boy will feel similarly once he has his to hug. Or wrestle.

We have pictures of My Love with us all around the house.
And I tell the stories of the pictures - we keep Daddy in our daily life as much as possible. In fact, even though My Love is away, whenever Bitty Bean poops in the toilet - the first person she wants to tell is her Daddy.
I just love this picture! November 2008

The rules don't really change
I try to keep life as normal as possible when My Love is gone - I don't want the children resenting him when he returns. So, since they don't sleep with us when he is home....they don't sleep with me when he is gone. (Unless there are extenuating circumstances)

This means there are battles we have chosen not to fight when he is home - because we knew I couldn't keep up the fight when he is gone.

On the pier - December 2010

Prepping children for deployment is very tricky - but not insurmountable. 
Each of our Beans LOVE their Daddy. 
They've adjusted to his returns with ease. 
They've run to him on the pier and on the flight line.  

But the weight of what their relationship looks like? 
(Especially when they are young) 
Rests on the parent still at home. 

Flight line - October 2012

Which is probably why, after a recent separation, all 3 girls ran to hug Daddy....and Boy Bean punched him in the nose.

~Whitney Copyright 2013

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Movie Review!

Okey, I'm about 30 years behind in movie watching.
I am 30.
I've not watched a bunch of movies in my (or a book) was always more interesting. And, when I was pregnant I had serious trouble concentrating on anything longer than a 30 second commercial. But now? Sometimes it is really nice to just sit on my bum and watch a show.  Not a documentary (I have to be in a special mood for that) but a movie that tells a story of humanity.

I'm a sucker for a good story.

Which brings me to this whole movie review business. I recently asked, via facebook, what movies I should see while My Love is away.
Did that ever get a response.
Apparently, people are attached to their movies. 
Which is exactly what I wanted!  
So I'm starting with whatever I can watch that is already on Netflix, then I will see what I can borrow from friends or the library, then I will pay to rent something...but it will probably take me so long to get through this massive list, they will be free by the time I get to those!

This past week I watched 
The King's Speech (2010) and 
Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (2009) and
Tinkerbell and The Secret of The Wings (2012).

They were all excellent.

The King's Speech 
The King's Speech is definitely a grown-up only movie.
There is some serious language at parts - although it does make sense in the story line.  (Due to muting a couple curse words, they dropped the rating from R to PG-13. )  The movie tells the story of King George VI of Britain and how he learned to overcome his stutter. Honestly, I had not wanted to see it, because it sounded like it would be super boring. It was not. While I am sure the historical record reads differently than the movie (like most movies based in history), the over-arching story line rings true. It made me laugh. It made me cry. It is the story of a man not only finding his voice - but finding someone who wanted to hear it. That is what resonated the deepest with me - the universal struggle this movie captured. We all have speech impediments of some sort...finding someone who cares enough to listen, to give us the time to find our way through the difficulty...that is the point I gathered from this movie. Due to the language, I would recommend it with reservation. For me, the story, the characters, the inspirational aspect of facing fears and conquering them - far out weigh the language and make it worth your time to see.

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story
This is a great movie for the entire family for a couple of reasons -
1. It is true
2. It clearly demonstrates the importance of self-discpline and hard work
3. The mom is an AMAZING person
4. It is a true-life rags to riches/hero story.
Honestly, I don't want to spoil the story - but know that Ben Carson overcame great odds (Through his faith in God, the determination of his mother, and his own personal drive) to become a Pediatric Neurosurgeon. I finished that movie - having laughed and cried - completely inspired. I was challenged as a mother, as a Christian, as a human. If you have a child who wants to believe they are dumb - or wants to cop-out on the hard work success requires - watch this movie. And read the book. You really will not regret it.

Tinkerbell and The Secret of The Wings
Now, before you skim over this one because it isn't some high-falutin' fancy pants should get off your high horse and give it a shot. And here is why:
1. The story is well told
2. The animation is beautiful
3. The music is lovely
4. It has a GREAT point and can be an excellent spot to start relationship discussions
First - we are interactive movie watchers with the Beans. Sometimes, when it is nearing a key moment, I'll pause the movie and ask the Beans what they think will happen. And why they think that. We really hash out and discuss many of our movies and shows....every single one is sending a message, and I want my Beans to be aware of that.  I am a HUGE fan of Tinkerbell because it is a story for little girls that doesn't revolve around a love interest. Tink is industrious, creative, determined, hard-working, loyal, dependable, and not perfect. (She has anger problems - she's working on them)  I like that throughout all the movies (this is the 4th installment), Tink realizes friendship is worth a sacrifice. The Secret of the Wings takes yet another twist on relationships - this time it is familial. The way they portray the importance of family - even when extreme self-sacrifice is required - is beautiful.
The clothing the fairies wear is shorter than I'd want my girls sporting, but we just talk about modesty whenever the issue comes up. (Jasmine showing her tummy in Aladdin is a pretty frequent conversation!)  Overall, I'd say it is completely worth your time.
(And there are enough fast-flying-fairy moments that it even held Boy Bean's interest!)

There ya' go! 
My thoughts regarding my most recent movies...what do you think? 
Any movie recommendations I should add to my list?

 Copyright 2013

Monday, January 28, 2013

Just What I Do....

Welp. We have officially had the easiest transition for a separation this time around. I am actually shocked at how smoothly it has gone!

Here is why I think it has gone so well...
1. Everyone I know is praying for us. :)
2. We've done this before and have added to our arsenal of tricks every time

Disclaimer: I'm not saying the goodbye was cake and that it didn't hurt. It did. I'm not saying that tears have disappeared from the house. I'm just saying that we are all doing really, really, well on the home front. At this can flip all crazy in a split second.

Deployments are like kids - 
Your first child has you terrified out of your mind. 
You don't know what to do. You are lost in Babies R Us. The plethora of books, magazines, advice, opinions, and products is ridiculously overwhelming.  The thought of Labor and Delivery scares you to your core. You are overwhelmed with all the things you can think of to be overwhelmed about.
And then you have a baby.
And you realize - the stuff you stressed about is not at all what you should have spent your time freaking out over! It is all these OTHER things that you had no clue about. You are learning how you parent. You are learning a new human. You are figuring out how to heal.

It is just a lot of new.

Your second child - has you scared in a new way.
You know what is coming - the exhaustion, the difficulty, the decisions that only you can make.
You still have no idea what is coming - it's a new HUMAN. And while you learned a lot with #1, #2 is whole different ball game. Thankfully, you are a little more sure of yourself this time around. You learned a bit of your groove with #1. You identified things you'd do differently, or repeat. You have an arsenal of tools for handling teething and colic and sleep difficulties and eating challenges and all that jazz.

After your second child, your entire defense changes. 
You are no longer able to field man-to-man. 
From now on, you are always on Zone. 
And that is an entirely different bag of tricks.

Deployments are exactly the same.

The first one is petrifying. 
Will we be able to handle all the time apart?
Will we grow apart?
Will they still love me when they return?
What will I do in the lonely time?
The military acronyms are overwhelming.
The fluctuating schedule is enough to drive you out of your mind.
Leaving them on the pier, or at the squadron, or at the airport - is a deep ache that you can never prepare yourself for.
The shock of an empty closet - chair - bed - it is just a bit awful.

Especially that first time.

But it gets easier. 

Not because you love them less - but because you learn your tools. 
Each time they go, you discover more of who you are and what you are made of. 
Just like labor and delivery is never just learn how to handle it better. 

Honestly, I think a large part of the strength in our marriage (9 years - woohoo!) has been due to what we've learned through our separations:
We learned what was worth fighting over.
We were trained to not waste our moments on the phone.
We were forced to focus on what we love about the other person - instead of what drives us crazy.

I think deployments have been a huge gift in my life. 

Not because I like being apart - but because I have found out I have more in me than I ever knew.

Here are some of the tools in my arsenal for handling deployments...

1. Know Thyself - thyself is not an Island.
Assess who you are and what you need. You will be pushed waaaaaay beyond your comfort zone - get ready.  I know I am an extreme off-the-charts extrovert...which means I'm gonna handle the separations differently than someone a little more on the line of normal. (And I have absolutely no clue how a shy person should handle deployment. I won't even guess on that one.)

Even back on our first time apart, I knew that nights and weekends all by myself for months on end were not a recipe for a happy chick. Back then, I worked full-time at a job I loved. I lived in the town I grew up in...just minutes from my family. So I helped with my family as much as I could...I babysat for friends...I saw movies by myself...I did fun stuff with my brother (he's 13 years younger than I am)...I helped in AWANA at our church...I joined a gym. I did NOT learn to cook, clean, or sew. Which is unfortunate. I really should have tried to learn one of those back when I had all that free time!

The next separation had My Love leaving just 5 weeks after moving to a new state where I only knew 2 people within 7 hours. It was a little different than the first one.  I still knew that I would need to be around people so I wouldn't be enveloped in a great dark I threw myself into our new church and got to know the people I worked with at Geico (selling motorcycle insurance. seriously) I am immensely thankful for that difficult time of knowing no one and having to put myself out there and create my support. It was hard. It was lonely. But I learned I am not going to fall to pieces just because I'm alone. 

So this time around (there have been a couple other separations in between those two and now!), I'm thankful. I've learned that I am not able to do it all on my own from our previous times apart. We are surrounded by amazing friends whom I affectionately call my support team.

Part of my team has happened organically...we met, we clicked, and angels sang. Some of it has happened very deliberately. I'm not gonna lie - some relationships I've developed because I knew we would need each other once My Love left. Or the other person has a special bond with one of the beans. Or they've been where I've been and can help me find my way.

Part of knowing yourself is knowing you are not super human. 
You will need help at some point. 
If you get in the habit of helping others and accepting their help - 
deployment will be much smoother sailing.

Actually, life will go much better in general....but that is for another day.

2. Don't look at your life as "on hold" while some one you love is away
If I had waited for My Love to be around to do anything fun...entire years of my life would have been serious bummers.  Truly - while he is still my favorite person to hang out with, fun can still occur without him present.  Plan adventures - explore new places - learn a new skill - take a class - read a book - watch a movie.
Do NOT sit on your couch having a pity party every night.
A) it will age you to always be crying and sad.
B) a deployment is not the hardest thing in the world - not by a long shot.

3. Get over yourself
New place?
Feel like nobody would care if you died?

(Yes, I felt that way. I wasn't suicidal - I was too tired to put forth the effort - it was more of a over-dramatic mental conversation.)

Push yourself. Take the kids to a soup kitchen. Volunteer with an organization that helps those with less. Commit to others.
There is no better way to get over your dark cloud than by investing in others.
I've been in some dark places where I thought the loneliness would swallow me whole. Cry out for help if you are there. Give help to others to keep it at bay.

4. Choose to be thankful
Some days everything in the house explodes or cries or whines or is utterly awful to be around. Those are hard days. I'm not really calm on those days.  I want to be - I try to be - but sometimes the nutcase overwhelms me and I just cry. On those days - those hours - those moments - where all I can see is the crazy-insane-chaos that is my life....I stop, and start thanking.
Actually, we all do.
When everyone is at each other's throats - I set a timer, and we go around and only say what we are thankful for until the time is up. Granted, we often start out with material things because the people are driving us loony. But the crazy thing is - after we start saying
thank you God, for this house
thank you God, for our food
thank you for our clothes
- our attitudes start changing.
Then, instead of griping about not getting to face time Daddy or call Daddy, we can say
Thank you God, for keeping Daddy safe
Thank you that we can email Daddy
Thank you that I can get hugs and kisses every day

Realizing the gifts before us. 
That is the biggest challenge - and the greatest reward - of deployment.

Do you have any tips for how YOU get through deployment? (As the grown-up...the kids one is coming later this week. Don't go stealing my thunder!)

 Copyright 2013

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Zone 1 - The HOW

Somehow I've suddenly gone all organizey on this blog....but it is where I'm at, so I'm gonna roll with it.  This should be the last post on my kitchen. Then I'll get back to sappy Navy wife business and psycho crazy-mama stories.

This is my "tutorial" on how to organize your kitchen. 
Well, at least the steps I follow/followed.
(Like there aren't enough organizer things online already! 
We've lived in 8 houses - I've had to figure out quite a few kitchens!)

First - psych yourself up. Pep talk yourself about how easy it will be. How totally awesome you are. And that HGTV will want to interview you after you are done. 

Then sit down and drink a cup of coffee. (This is vital)

Next, pick ONE drawer (preferably your junk drawer) to go through. Stand next to it with a trash can...and throw away. If you have held on to that recipe from a magazine for 2 years and have never made it - throw it away. It is sitting in the drawer (1) guilting you about not cooking something particularly amazing, (2) causing clutter, (3) adding to a list of ridiculous expectations for what you should be doing.  THROW IT OUT.  Broken crayons, scraps of paper, expired coupons, crappy plastic toys your kids got at the doctor, Sunday school papers - throw it all away. 

If it made it to the Junk drawer - it most likely wasn't a special enough, whatever, to keep. 
Chuck it. 

Once you are left with the important stuff - screwdriver, cookbook, masking tape, AWANA books, pencils that actually have an eraser, smoke detector that never shuts up - then you can figure out what to do with it. BUT FIRST - figure out the NEW purpose of your old junk drawer.  Put the stuff back in - making a list of any organization stuff you need - close the drawer, and you are done for the day. 

Seriously - don't burn yourself out! Anything that involves paper is exhausting to go through. So pace yourself!

**side note about organizer stuff: You want to go to Dollar Tree. DO NOT go to Wal-mart or Target and spend $6-$10 on one bucket just because it says Martha Stewart. That is dumb. Plastic bucket thingys are all the same - buy the cheap one. **

Next step - the rest of your drawers. I have an massive kitchen - for which I am very thankful - but that meant I had THREE drawers with papers in them. So, I managed to do all of them in the same day. Then, another day, I did the silverware drawer, the measuring drawer, and the tupperware drawer. A third day - I handled spices.  You do NOT have to do it all at once! Allow yourself a 2 week window and then commit to a certain amount of time to go through the smaller areas. 

After your drawers look beautiful and you can find everything easily - you will be annoyed that isn't the case for every spot in your kitchen! (This is why you do little things first - they give you the umph to tackle the big areas.)  

First wipe your counters - clear them off and scrub them. Wipe down your toaster - empty the crumb tray. Scrub your coffee pot. And then replace each item on the counter carefully thinking about its purpose. . . does it make sense to have it there? 
Does it have to be where its always been? 
Do you typically have to move it out of the way? 
Do you use it? 
Do you like it?  
Sometimes, there are decorations in a kitchen and they are there because they've always been there. Try clearing your counter off and seeing what it would look like set up differently. 
Maybe no decor? 
Maybe with a fruit bowl? 
Maybe a basket for collecting the mail? 
Think about what you use the space for....and what you WANT to use the space for. 

When it comes to the dishes/pots/pans/appliances section of organizing a kitchen - this is a bigger job. Leave this as the only thing you do in organizing the kitchen for one day. 

(I actually split it up over THREE! 
Dishes/serving dishes on one day, appliances another, pots/pans another)

First - pull everything out. 
Do you really need 6 serving dishes of the same size? (The answer is yes for some, and no for others!) Do you need 12 muffin tins? (I don't - but I have friends who definitely need all the baking gear they have) 
Kitchen at house #7

Are your dishes too many for your space? If yes - and you don't want to get rid of them - do you have a place where you could box them up and store them? 
If yes - and you DO want to get rid of the excess - walk them straight out to your car.  The next time you drive near the thrift store - drop them off.  
Go through each item carefully - why do you keep that one platter you've never used? 
Could it be displayed on a plate hook? (Use it as decor instead of as a platter)  
Or, use it in another area of the house as decor, or to hold plants, or jewelry, or bath things....just because it is sold to be used with food - it doesn't mean it has to stay there!

Kitchen at house #7...slightly short in the space department! And no dishwasher...very, very, sad.

Basically, when it comes to your kitchen - it shouldn't stress you out to work in it. If you have a small kitchen that can hold 5 days worth of food for your family and not a canned-good-more....don't fret! You have the gift of not "losing" food in your pantry! (Our last kitchen was that small. We stored cereal in a bucket on top of the dryer, and paper goods were stored in the back of our Suburban - along with the stroller) A small kitchen enables you to learn how to be more organized than if you had gobs of space. 

The white cabinet was my "pantry" at my last house!
Finally (probably a separate week!) attack your pantry. One shelf at a time...go through everything in there. Throw out what is bad or expired or stale. Donate stuff you will never use. Write down the things you have a little bit left of...and then figure out what you can make using those ingredients.  The goal is to streamline what you have. If you were moving in 6 months (we aren't!), you would start cooking from your pantry as much as possible so you wouldn't have to throw anything away....try to do that.  It will save you money, it will de-clutter the space, and it will make you feel like superwoman because you are so creative and thrifty! 

Maybe that last one is just me. 

Final thing - if I'm re-organizing anything and end up putting something in a new spot...I label the spot. With an actual label maker (LOVE!) or with masking tape and a sharpie. It helps the entire family find stuff...and put it away in the right spot! 

Have fun organizing!! 
I'd love to see pictures of your spaces...or of you drinking coffee and pysching yourself up. :)

 Copyright 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Zone 1 - The Kitchen

Well, organizing has been a'happening here.  And it feels good. I have little bit of control in my spaces. At least until the Beans wake up. :)

The first Zone I decided to tackle was the Kitchen. There were a couple reasons I picked the kitchen first...
1. It was driving me crazy
2. I needed to re-organize everything so the Beans could be more helpful
3. My pantry was too over-loaded because I've never stayed in one place so long

When we first moved in this house...Bitty Bean was only 6 months old. Jumping Bean was just past 2 and into everything.  So, everything breakable was placed as high as possible.

Just 4 months later - Boy Bean was in the pod. So those dishes stayed high to keep me from bending over all the time.

But no longer.

Now our plates and bowls are in a bottom cupboard - String Bean can easily unload the dishwasher, and Jumping Bean can easily set the table.

We DO have a couple more kid-friendly plates....but my dishwasher is running. :)

Tupperware are in a bottom drawer - everyone can reach it there

Kid cups are in a bottom cupboard....the girls can reach everything themselves :)

I need to hit up the store....we typically have 5 juice jugs stored down here 
Measuring cups. spoons, and all that jazz....obnoxiously organized together. This drawer just makes me happy. :)

My pantry wasn't horrid...but I didn't know what I had...and that was causing me to poorly meal plan and throw away food. Not cool.

Now, everything has a place. And I actually know where it is!!! I am extremely thankful for this kitchen - it is by far the biggest kitchen I've ever had as a wife. (The pantry cupboard is actually bigger than ALL of my storage space in our last house)

Normally, there would be 5 cereal boxes in that breakfast shelf zone. 
In fact, there are so many cupboards....we made one our "office zone." The bucket on the 2nd shelf has all of my correspondence stuff in it (stamps, address book, notecards, envelopes) and the rest of the area is important stuff like sharpies and masking tape. :)

 Over all, I spent $15 on all the Green and blue organizing bins (I love Dollar Tree!) as well as $30 on new airtight containers for various foods. A kitchen I can easily cook in, and know what I have? Priceless.

Do I feel more in control? Not really.

But at least I'm no longer hunting late at night for treat that isn't there!

 Copyright 2013

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


#1 question this week:

"How are you doing with him gone?"

A valid question. An understandable one. And a pretty easy one to answer.

"Fine. (Really) We knew this was coming - we prepared - and now we are in it. The separating is never easy - but the I'm-in-charge-of-everything-all-by-my-big-girl-self? That part we have down to pretty smooth."

The first time apart - Basic Training, 2004 - was wicked, insane, horrible, hard.  I didn't have any tools in my arsenal to know what to do when my favorite person is far away and unable to communicate. (2 letters and two, 5 minute phone calls weren't much communication.)

The next time - tour of the Caribbean January 2005-April 2005 - was less awful. Although, I still was often battling against some huge, heavy, wall of dark that just wanted to immobilize me. I had to fight exceptionally hard to not spiral into deep spaces of sadness.

And I learned that it is okay to use paper plates sometimes. (Doing the dishes is overrated anyway.) Especially when you are in your first trimester with your first child, exhausted from throwing up, at a new job, and only know 2 people in the city and are all by yourself and it is sleeting and 33 degrees and the sun hasn't showed up for weeks and when you DO hear from your husband he's in a tropical, WARM, paradise.  But I digress.

But, honestly, each time it has gotten easier. Not because I love him less (quite the contrary!), but because I know better what to expect and how to handle things. I know there are rhythms and normal ups and downs that will happen every time.

Like organizing like a mad fiend. 

What? You don't see how that has to do with a separation??? Well, let me explain.
I like control. Or at least the idea that I have control over something.
Being married to a Navy man....and an aviator at that!....leaves me with diddly squat in the control department. So, I organize. When he leaves - always - I pick SOMETHING to work on. To improve. Not because I need to "keep myself busy," but because it makes me happy to be in charge of something.

This year, I'm going through my house. We've never lived anywhere this long - 3 years!!! - so I've actually never had the chance to organize and re-organize a home. I've always just been prepping for a move.   I've gone through the house and broken it down into zones to work on. I'll do one per month. (I also have a sedentary project for each month, just in case I lack get-up-and-go, or get ahead of schedule. HA!)


The Kitchen.  

 More on that....tomorrow. ;)

~Whitney Copyright 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

Fashion again....seriously. :)

Well, apparently my "fashion" (yes, I will continue with the quotes around that word) was not completely abhorrent to the general public.

Which is both encouraging, and completely shocking. 

Here are a couple more of my thoughts regarding how you clothe yourself:
(Not like anyone should/does care....but, I'm writing it anyway with a rather skeptical face)

1. Few people have limitless budgets. (And I am not one of them)
I am a HUGE fan of hand-me-downs. (This belt is one!) But, I'm picky.
If the choices are:
A) article of clothing I'm not die-hard about
B) go naked
I'm gonna pick A.
(Unless it is a muu-muu. Or Leopard print. Sorry, just not my thing)
The key with hand me downs is this: Just because it is FREE - doesn't mean you have to keep it; AND  it doesn't mean you have to keep it the way it is.  :)  Free clothes that don't fit perfectly are an excellent place to attempt some re-fashioning!

But, much of the time the choices are:
A) Article of clothing I'm not die-hard about
B) Wear the clothes I have
I don't like digging through 10 shirts I don't like (but kept, because they were free) to find the 2 shirts I love. That is wasting my time. And energy. If it was too big/small/itchy/weird cut/showed my stomach/too short sleeves/made me uncomfortable the last time I tried it on....then why do I keep trying it on??? (and then putting it away)  There are some things I've kept because they were just too beautiful to pass up. And even though I couldn't zip them when they were given to me - I kept them as motivation items. :)  But those items are few and far between. (but more on that later)

2. Figure out what you light of your life AND your body that you have now
Whew. I'm about to get real honest. Since 2004, my body has gone from size 2/maternity/post-partum/size 14/12/10/8/6/maternity/post-partum/size 14/12/10/6/4/maternity....(you get the picture). I've had quite the varied sizes and shapes (OH THE SHAPES!) over the past 8 years. During that crazy who-the-heck-knows-what-size-I-am time, I just wore whatever kept me covered.
Hard-core mom jeans? Yep.
Shirts totally the wrong size? Indeed.
Stuff that fit but I wasn't comfortable? Of course.
Stuff that I absolutely hated the look of? Unfortunately, quite often.
I tried to look nice - but I wasn't gonna go buying or hunting down a bunch of things until I knew I was gonna stay a size. (I hope this is making sense.) Now that I am done with that body roller coaster....I am looking for pieces to fill the holes in my current wardrobe. The body I have now - although the same number as long ago - doesn't fit things the same way as it used to. And that is okay. But that also means many of the clothes from long ago that I wishfully held onto....aren't gonna work. EVER. Again.

(I can't believe you are still reading)

3. Just because it is sold in a store doesn't mean you should wear it. 
Seriously. Sweater dresses look ridiculous on me - but many people look lovely.  You aren't a failure if you go through an ENTIRE MALL and don't see anything you love (or that loves you back.) That has happened to me a'plenty. I'm picky.  Don't buy something because someone else thinks you should or everyone is wearing it - if you put it on, and don't LOVE it...put it back. (Or try it with something else. Sometimes you just need to pair stuff differently.)  ;)  If you aren't 100% about an item in crappy dressing room lighting - you aren't gonna like it more in the real world. It doesn't matter HOW good of a deal it is...$3 is $3. If you spend that money on something you will never wear again - purely because you want to feel like you bought something...go get a coffee. Same amount spent - but you didn't clutter  your house or add to your laundry pile. 

side note - yes, I wore black and brown. TOGETHER. They are Neutrals. It's allowed. :)

Happy Hunting!

Jacket - Buckle (2010)
Necklace - Gift from a friend (2009)
Shirt - Target (Spring 2012)
Belt - (fave) hand-me-down (2008)
Jeans - Levi's skinnies on clearance (All my jeans are Levi's....Love them!) (Fall 2012)
Silver cuff - Thrift store ($1.50!!)  :) (2013)
Boots - Off Broadway...Steve Madden (Fall 2012)
(I'm putting the years to show - it takes a while to collect a wardrobe!)

 Copyright 2013

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Well, it has almost been a decade since My Love and I met....and I had quite the fashion sense at that time. We were recently reminiscing over some old pictures, and we came up with a label for my style back then:

Trashy Redneck

Yep, that was me. I owned a pair of overalls. And I wore them out and about - not just at the barn! Seriously. Iamsoashamed.
Clearly, that is the redneck part of my style....I'm not going into the trashy part. But, if my girls ever contemplate wearing a skirt that looks like an oversized belt - I may just lock them in a dungeon.

Since February of 2005, I've been sporting maternity, post-partum, and enough different sizes to open a small store.

Overall, I think I am a basic chick. Give me some comfy blue jeans, a soft shirt, a strong ponytail holder, and I'm good.

But, there is this place called Pinterest.
And it has totally messed me up.

First let me explain about pinterest....I fought tooth and nail about joining that time-sucker. I was gonna hold out and be the LAST person to join!
But then I realized I needed to buy clothes for myself that weren't maternity. 
And I had no idea what my style is now.  (I really didn't want to be Trashy-Redneck-Dance-Mom)
Thankfully, online shopping is not a temptation for me - I like to touch my clothes before I buy them - so pinterest is the perfect place for me to discover my style! I just hunt through their Women's fashion category and pin whatever I like...and you know what? I found a couple common themes!
I figured out My Style. Woohoo!
Potentially more on that in another post....if this doesn't turn out to be one of the dumbest things I've ever posted.

Side note - Pinterest is a completely selfish place for me. 
I don't look for kids stuff or recipes or cool crafts to make. 
I have pinned some....but that is because they have been mislabeled and placed in the "women's fashion," or "home decor" categories.  :)

I thought a couple posts about how I've been styling stuff would be fun.  Since I don't have a massive wardrobe - everything I own (winter/summer, tops, bottoms, dresses, pajamas, pants, skirts, workout clothes) everything, equals barely 3 loads of laundry. (Not including Jackets and accessories) Which is fine, because then I get to be creative!

I have 3 rules I follow about clothes -
1. Pajamas are not allowed in public. Ever. I try to not wear work-out clothes in public....but that doesn't always happen.  I get "dressed" every day....well, every day that I want to accomplish anything! Even if it is a work-out-clean-the-house kind of day - pajamas are switched out for work-out clothes. :)

2. I have to be able to move and be comfortable in them. If I can't get on the floor to change a diaper, or quick sprint to grab an errant Bean, or if I have to waste time constantly adjusting something....I don't buy it.

3. I have to like an item 100% for it to enter my  home. I would rather have 3 shirts I absolutely love (which is all I had for a long time), than 10 shirts I'm just "okay" with.  I'm really picky, and I don't have a limitless budget, so I don't have overflowing dresser drawers.

I don't really know how these fashion posts are supposed to work....but here's the run down:
Yes, half of the pictures were taken in the church bathroom. I took advantage of a child needing to poop. I'm a mother of four - I got dressed today - and brushed my teeth. 
You should stop judging my photo-op location.  
(I did not brush my hair....I went hard-core wild woman today.)  

Head band? Wrap? Whatever. The blue thing on my head - from a mall kiosk.
Jacket - L.L.Bean after Christmas clearance sale last year
Scarf - Gift last year
Shirt - Old Navy clearance. It had a hole in the side seam - I sewed it up in 5 minutes - so it was $5
Belt - Hand-me-down from 5 years ago from a super-stylish friend. (It is so exciting to finally be able to wear it!)
Jeans - Levi's clearance
Shoes - Plato's closet (Bluefish Malibu brand)
Watch - gift from hubby a year ago. :)

~Whitney Copyright 2013

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Calendar Squares....

Calendar Squares.
(I.E. - The DUMBEST thing ever. )
What is a calendar square, you ask?

To me, it is a thing that creative women thought was a good idea to make non-crafters (like myself) stress out.  It is a thing women do for themselves...I don't know a single guy who gets all stoked about a calendar square.  Seriously.

Specifically, a calendar square is an Aviator thing (I've not heard of it for other communities...please correct me if I'm wrong!). Their general work space is the "Ready Room" - where they brief and de-brief and gather - a water cooler with flight suits, if you will.  On a wall in the Ready Room, the wives figure out a large something with 31 hooks/pockets on it. Ours is actually totally awesome. One of the wives has an extremely handy Dad....and he crafted a beautiful board with our squadron name on it and everything! (That part has been edited out for safety.)  :)

While the squadron is deployed, the board is loaded with special "squares" made by various families/friends of deployed personnel.  If you have a special day of a particular month, you can pick it and then craft your calendar square to suit the occasion. Otherwise, they just get put wherever in the month.

Are you tracking?


I am NOT crafty. I don't scrapbook. In fact the mess and clutter created by scrapbooking totally causes me to start twitching. The Beans all have baby books....but they are (most likely) the saddest looking things you've ever seen. Nothing special. Very Boring.

Sorry Beans, I have no idea when your teeth started falling out....I was too busy keeping you fed, clothed, and alive. Just trust they fell out. Oh, and about the Tooth Fairy? She is one seriously absent-minded chick....and she's always taking vacations! Maybe she will eventually snatch that tooth within a week of you losing it. But I wouldn't bank on it.

Back to the square. You are supposed to do one each month they are deployed.
I've never done one.

Not one.
The last time he was deployed was the first time I had even heard of calendar squares. We had a 5 year old, a 3 year old, a 15 month old, and I was in my third trimester with the Boy. My Love doesn't care about Calendar Square stuff, so I told him - they aren't happening. You will know I love you because I'm feeding and bathing the children every day. 
Thankfully, he was fine with that.

Fast forward to Tuesday night....after remembering about 10million wrong times to make my calendar square, I realized I had never actually DONE it. And My Love would be leaving in the morning.  Oops.  So Tuesday night found me doing the absolute bare minimum of the calendar square.

I didn't have any pretty paper - and we were out of plain paper - so I had to glue two chore sheets together and then cut them to the correct 5x7 size.
Redneck? A little.
I prefer to say "improvisation."

I had picked Valentine's day as our date....because it actually holds a lot of meaning for us.
It's the day we met.
10 years ago.

In honor of that, I glued a picture from our dating days on my square...sharpied a couple words....punched a hole for hanging it...and was done.

On the back, I hinted at the lack of creativity to come:

Creative success? Nope.
But, I view the calendar square (if you make one) as a glorious opportunity for embarrassment.

My Love, look out - 'cause I'm getting all daughter-of-Eve-crafty on you. :)

 Copyright 2013