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Rachel

Military

Military Spouse Gratitude List

November 22, 2017

The holiday season can be difficult for military spouses. Maybe you’re spending it away from your extended family in a new town. Maybe your spouse is deployed and you’re struggling with working up the energy to feel festive. Maybe you’re in the middle of a military suck fest and are in a cruddy mood. I get that, but have found that when you look for things to be thankful for, more and more appear.

Once I began thinking of things to be grateful for as a military spouse, the list grew quickly. As hard as this lifestyle can be, it does give us many wonderful moments.

Military Spouse Gratitude List

Deployments

I know that deployment doesn’t seem like something that should immediately be on a military spouse gratitude list, but it should be! Deployments can seem like all bad, but in the midst of the suck, there are moments to be thankful for. Maybe it’s accomplishing something you never thought you could do solo or fixing the leaky faucet like a rockstar or getting to control the remote and have the whole bed to yourself.  Deployments are opportunities for growth and when we approach them with that mentality, we’re far more likely to get the most of out them.

Each other

The military spouse community is one of my favorites part of the military lifestyle. By marrying into the military, you are immediately part of a worldwide network of men and women who are so welcoming and willing to support you. This group of people who “get you” can be the biggest source of strength during the hard times and cheering during the good times.

Flat rate boxes

Anyone who’s ever sent a care package (or shipped anything overseas) knows that flat rate boxes can save you a significant amount of money. My poor husband would definitely not receive as much love from home during deployment if I had to pay by weight!

Time spent with family

Many of us will spend the next day or two with family, whether they be immediate, extended or friends who feel like family. These moments are not always possible when you move frequently or are stationed far away.  The military steals a lot of family time so any time you do have together is precious.

Homecoming

Of course, homecomings are on the military spouse gratitude list! That moment when you’ve survived (and thrived during) a deployment and are reunited with your loved one can feel like the best moment in a long time. We all look forward to that first hug after a long separation and are so thankful when it happens.

A strong internet connection

Is there anything you crave more during a deployment than a good solid Skype date? Phone calls are good, but there’s something about seeing your loved one’s face that really lifts your spirits. This past deployment, my husband had awful internet and we never got to Skype. It made an already difficult situation just a tiny bit harder because I didn’t have the benefit of seeing A. So anytime there’s a good quality internet signal, it’s time to be thankful!

A fulfilling career and understanding bosses 

So many military spouses have a hard time finding quality and fulfilling employment that I am always very thankful for my career, even during frustrating days. When A is gone, it’s one of the things that keeps me sane and I honestly don’t know what I would do without my day job. A second part is definitely understanding coworkers, including your boss. No one is their best self during deployment and having people give you a little extra leeway during the hard days is so appreciated!

An extra mess

More often than not, an extra person in the house means a little extra messiness. So when your spouse is home, odds are there may be more socks on the floor or dishes in the sink or boots to trip over in the dark. While you may silently (or not so silently) rant and rave about having to tidy up more stuff, deep down you know that the extra mess is actually a good thing because it means he or she is home. And how could you not be thankful for that?

As a military spouse, what are you thankful for this year?

Countdowns & Cupcakes Store

Countdowns and Cupcakes Sale Week

November 20, 2017

Happy Monday, everyone! We are officially back in town after the most amazing few days in Ireland. I’m going to have oodles more about our trip over the next little while here on the blog, but definitely check out my Instagram for a sneak peek.  Today though, it’s all about all the money you’ll save if you shop with me this week!

That’s right: I have a big sale going on in the Etsy shop that runs through Cyber Monday. Starting today, when you use the code THANKFUL at checkout, you’ll get 30% off everything in the shop (including the Christmas and New Years care packages).

30% off is huge, y’all! If you’ve had your eye on something for your next care package, now is the time to purchase it. The sale includes all of my care package flaps, the kiss kit and countdown frame.

This sale will run through next Monday, but quantities are limited (especially for the Christmas and New Years care packages) so shop early!

Marriage

Three Years Later Q&A

November 14, 2017

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that this past weekend was an excellent one for me because my husband came home! There are not enough exclamation points in the world to accurately show how excited I am about that. After 139 days apart, he showed up just in time to celebrate our wedding anniversary together.

That’s right, today is our third wedding anniversary! Over the past three years, we’ve bought and sold a home, added another dog into our family, traveled to four new countries and gone through three deployments. I can honestly say that there isn’t a single person out there that I’d rather hold hands with through life. Having my husband home this year so we can celebrate our anniversary together makes the day even more special, as I’m grateful for even the littlest signs of us being together.

To celebrate, I’m keeping the mushiness to a minimum and instead I forced my (seriously jet-lagged) husband to play a mini version of the newlywed shoe game. For the most part our answers matched, but there were definitely some disagreements.

Q: Who is the most likely to wake up grumpy?

My answer: Me

A’s answer: Me

Q: Who is more likely to injure themselves?

My answer: A.

A’s answer: Me

Q: Who is more creative?

My answer: Me.

A’s answer: You

Q: Who is more likely to get lost?

My answer: Me

A’s answer: You

Q: Who made the first move?

My answer: A

A’s answer: Me

Q: Who takes up more than their half of the bed?

My answer: A

A’s answer: Me

Q: Who’s the better driver?

My answer: Me

A’s answer: Me

Q: Who’s more stubborn?

My answer: A

A’s answer: Me

Q: Who fell in love first?

My answer: A

A’s answer: Probably you.

Q: What is your favorite part of marriage so far?

My answer: Making a life together: finding that first home we both loved, traveling together, having holidays as a family. It’s all exactly everything I’d ever wanted.

A’s answer: Just being around you all the time. We always find something fun to do.

Things will be a bit quiet around here over the next few days while A and I travel a bit, but I’ll be back on Monday with some pretty fantastic deals for the shop!

Military

More Than A Thank You: Take Action On Veterans Day

November 10, 2017

Veterans Day has long been set aside as the time to recognize our military veterans. For almost 100 years, Americans have paused on November 11 to say “thank you” to the men and women in uniform. This year, I’m just not sure that’s good enough. Don’t get me wrong, saying “thank you” is never a bad thing, but sometimes you need more than a few grateful words; sometimes, a group deserves more than a parade and a discount at the local chain restaurant. This Veterans Day, go beyond the thank you and take action to truly improve the lives of the men and women who’ve sacrificed so much.

But Rachel, why can’t I just say thank you? I mean what could veterans possibly need?

That’s a good question! It’s one that many Americans probably have because they are so far removed from the military lifestyle. It’s easy to forget that service members are still deploying, still fighting and still returning home very different people, many of them broken physically, mentally or emotionally.

It’s easy to block out the fact that today approximately 20 military veterans will commit suicide. And then 20 more will do it the next day. And the day after that. And 20 more will continue to do so every.single.day for the rest of the year.

It’s easy to ignore that while you’re scooping up great deals at major retail stores, more than 39,000 veterans are preparing to spend the night on the streets because they are homeless.

It’s easy to remain ignorant about long VA wait times, about important programs losing funding or about the hardships that military veterans and their families face when the uniforms are put away and Americans stop celebrating their work.

I worry that despite all the talk, tweets and posts over the next few days about respecting our military, so few will mention any of that. And that despite all these statistics and fervor for honoring those who fought for us, so few people will continue to talk about fighting for them at home.

But y’all, we must continue fighting for them. Whether it’s donating your time to the VA or giving to an organization the supports veterans (I highly recommend Give an Hour, which focuses on mental health care for veterans and their families) or contacting your senators and representatives to urge them to vote in favor of bills benefiting veterans, I urge you to DO something in honor of Veterans Day. Go beyond the thank you and take action.

Gift Guides Marriage

Traditional 3rd Anniversary Gifts

November 8, 2017

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

I like the idea of giving traditional wedding anniversary gifts, mainly because they usually require a little creativity to make them useful in the modern day. Things like paper and cotton don’t immediately scream great gift idea to me. But traditional 3rd anniversary gifts may be the easiest year I’ve done yet because there are so many leather options!

Leather is the perfect traditional 3rd anniversary gift material because it’s strong, but subject to change over the years, just like a marriage. Think about it: leather is made to withstand a lot of things, but will also show signs of surviving the years. Hopefully, a marriage withstands everything, but it will certainly be changed by events, both good and bad.

The past two years, I’ve shared traditional wedding anniversary gifts for guys, but this year, I decided to throw some suggestions for ladies into the mix as well. There are so many ways to give traditional 3rd anniversary gifts to both genders that finding suggestions was very easy!

Traditional 3rd Anniversary Gifts

Passport Holder: this would be a perfect traditional 3rd anniversary gift for a guy or a girl who loves to travel, especially if you added a plane ticket in there as an added surprise!

Baseball Art: this baseball art is such a neat idea for a sports fan! If you’re super crafty, you may be able to put this together on your own, but the Etsy shop I’ve linked has them at a very reasonable price.  Another idea would be giving a collector’s item, like a signed baseball. This would likely get far more expensive, but is a nice idea if your loved one isn’t into super sentimental things.

Earrings: Joanna Gaines strikes again with these leather earrings.  They are simple, made using ethically sourced leather and help employ at-risk women in the Waco community.  I think we can all get behind a gift that gives back!

Watch: my husband would probably want a watch with a leather band for his traditional 3rd anniversary gift. I really like the simple look of this one (and its reasonable price tag), but there are styles and price points to fit just about anyone.

Valet Tray: raise your hand if your loved one comes to bed every night and empties his or her pockets onto the dresser or night stand. Keys, coins, receipts, a random pen cap or two all pile up and almost NEVER make it back in their pocket. This valet tray keeps all those bits contained while still looking nice. Plus this particular one has an Irish wedding blessing on it which adds a bit of sweetness to its functionality.

Messenger Bag: I love this messenger bag! It’s stylish and would be perfect for your loved one to take to and from the office. It’s also a great travel bag for business trips and works for men or women.

Luggage Tag: you could easily combine this with the passport holder for the travel enthusiast in your life.  These two items make a nice gift if you’ve planned a trip for the future, but would still like a tangible way for your loved one to find out.

Bookmark: customizable bookmarkis your loved one an avid reader? Well then this would be a perfect traditional 3rd anniversary gift. You could add your own sweet message so every time they read a book, they’re reminded of your love.

Dopp Kit: my husband currently uses his military-issued Dopp kit for travel, which is fine, but this one is so nice that I think he’d love the replacement.  Plus this Dopp kit is made by R.Riveter, a military-spouse owned company that uses a business model that allows them to employ as many military spouses as possible.

Keychain: I love that you can have both the outside and inside of this keychain engraved. It’s a reminder of your love that will be seen and used every single day.

Now, if you’re not into leather or are vegan, you could certainly give something that’s synthetic or one of these leather-scented candles instead.

Traditional 3rd anniversary gifts made of leather are easily customizable to your loved one’s unique tastes.  Between all the different items and the variety in leather color, there is truly something for everyone.  Do you give traditional wedding anniversary gifts? What did you give for your 3rd anniversary?

Check out my traditional first and second anniversary gift ideas.