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Rachel

Loving Lately

Loving Lately: April 2017

April 28, 2017

I probably say this every month, but where in the world did the last four weeks go and how do I get them back? It really feels like April flew by and I would really love for this year to slow down just a little bit. But since we all know that won’t happen, let’s at least wrap up the month with some link love!

We tried this zoodle shrimp scampi recipe this month and have already made it a second time. Really good, although I definitely upped the red pepper the second time!

I shared this on social media, but I absolutely love Chelsea’s list of 5 things she wants to stop doing this year. It’s a must read and I think everyone should make their own list.

I am most certainly an introvert. And I definitely married an extrovert. Elise has some great reasons why that’s a fantastic combination.

Did you check out my newest care package?

I am so jealous that Ashley got to experience Texas wildflower season this year. Bring on all the bluebonnets!

These tips for incorporating your volunteer experience into your resume are great for military spouses and civilians alike.

Make sure to enter my giveaway below!

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Oh and this guy would love it if you gave him and Ruger a follow on their brand new Instagram account.

Military

Five Things Military Spouses Should Never Stop Doing

April 27, 2017

Military spouses are forced to stop doing a lot of things. Between moving frequently and the unpredictability of military life, they sometimes have to stop everything from living near their family to pursuing their career goals, even if it’s just temporary. Heck, we’re even forced to stop sleeping next to our spouses at least occasionally! But I believe so strongly that there are some things military spouses should never stop doing!

Military spouses should never stop…

Exploring.

The military takes you a lot of strange and random places, sometimes for years or just for a day. Military spouses should explore them all, everything from the tourist traps to the local restaurants. Take drives to the lake, plan day trips for long weekends, visit museums and eat all the local food you can get your hands on. You may only be somewhere for a limited amount of time and it may not be your absolute favorite, but keep looking for the best parts.

Pushing.

So much of a military spouse’s attention is focused on the person’s career, which makes sense. No one calls my husband a “communications spouse”; being a military spouse defines our lives in ways other career choices don’t.  But that doesn’t mean that we should stop pushing to have our own identity separate from our husband or wife’s career. Military spouses should never stop pushing towards their own career, education or life goals. Sometimes we’ll have to work a bit harder than our civilian counterparts or tackle the goal a different way, but we can still make them happen.

Loving.

Being a military spouse requires a whole lot of love; we have to love from thousands of miles away and sometimes enough for two people! And while we should never stop loving our spouse, this one is aimed at all those other people who come in and out of your life. Even though we say a lot of hard goodbyes or “see you laters”, we can’t build walls or close our heart to loving other people. So keep loving your friend even though she’s leaving soon and it would be easier to find a new friend. Keep loving your current neighbor even though you’ll kind of be happy when they PCS and stop leaving their stuff all over your driveway. Keep loving the people in your life!

Learning.

I would apply this one to everyone, military or civilians, because there is so much to learn in the world. But for military spouses, we are often given the opportunity to learn from and about so many different people, places and cultures that it’s imperative we never stop learning.

Living.

You’ve likely seen the bumper sticker that says “live like he deploys tomorrow” and while I’m not sure I agree with the drama that implies, I do like the message behind it. Perhaps no one is more painfully aware of just how short life can be than military spouses. So I encourage you to stop waiting to do or experience things. Don’t put something off until the next deployment is over. Don’t wait to say “I love you” until the next phone call.  And don’t let your life come to a screeching halt because your spouse is gone.

What would you add to my list of things military spouses should never stop doing?

Military

Connecting Kids And Deployed Parents

April 26, 2017

Happy Wednesday! I am so excited to have a guest post to cap off the Month of the Military Child-Grace is fantastic and has some wonderful tips for helping children deal with deployment.  Make sure to visit her at her blog as well. 

We have all seen those heartwarming pictures and videos of service members meeting their babies for the first time when returning home from deployments. They are the sweetest thing! But most parents know their kids before they leave for deployment. There is already a bond formed there, one that is most often a crucial relationship, an important influence in children’s lives.

Having worked in a couple of different military communities as a family counselor, I have seen how difficult it can be for children with a deployed parent – often there may be some small behavioral issues at home and school, decrease in school performance, decline in sleep leading to crabby and cranky kids, and an increase in anxiety. Most times these behaviors are not severe and often correct themselves after a few weeks or months of the deployed parents’ absence. And since deployment is hard on us spouses as well, often we are more anxious, aren’t getting enough sleep leading to cranky moms, lack a healthy diet, and diverted attention to more responsibilities.

However, there are ways to mitigate some of those negative effects of parental absence due to deployment, TDY, training, or field time. Making sure to keep deployed parents and children connected is crucial to the children’s wellbeing and to decrease the negative effects of parental absence. As you know most military kids grow up without any lasting impact from these separations so know that the effects are temporary, even if it is hard!

Here are some ways I have seen effective at keeping children connected to their deployed parents.

  1. Phone calls and/or video chats as often as possible. I know this depends on the service members’ jobs, locations, if they are deployed, training or in the field. Some service members I have talked to said they would rather not have video or phone contact back home so that they can push family out of their minds and operate unemotionally while deployed. While I understand their reasoning as a soldier/sailor/marine/airman, it makes it so much harder on the family back home. Having little to no contact can make reintegration that much more difficult, if all ties have been cut for that extended length. It is also hard for kids to understand why suddenly they have no contact with mom or dad. By having any communication – phone calls, video chats, texts, emails, or even just letters allows children comfort knowing their parent is safe and can maintain a connection to them. Any connection is better than no connection.
  2. Deployment walls have also become a big thing lately. This is a great way to maintain connection for older children who already read, write and tell time, maybe not as helpful for toddlers. Having folders where kids can leave their school work, letters, and pictures for mom or dad lets them feel like they are still able to share their days with their deployed parent. In addition to that I suggest having the away parent take pictures of them in their new surroundings to share with the kids and put up on the deployment wall. The multiple clocks showing the time in both places helps the kids imagine what their deployed parent is doing – is he sleeping? Is mommy eating a meal? Etc. Having information about the area of the world the parent has been sent to can also help children learn about a new culture but can also understand what their parents are doing while away.
  3. I love the Hallmark books or other books with the voice recorder so that mom or dad can still read to them or tell them stories. Build-a-Bear also has a voice recording device that can be put into the stuffed animals. Having the tangible item to carry with them can be a great comfort to little children, infants and toddlers.
  4. Finally, the last thing you can do to help your child maintain a connection with their deployed parent is talk to them about their absent parent. If you have a conversation with them while they are at school or asleep share it with them. Tell them what daddy said, share how mommy is doing. And remember that if they are acting out they are not doing it to hurt you or make your life harder; they miss mommy or daddy just like you miss your spouse. Be understanding and patient (trust me, I know how hard that is when you are spread so thin) but try your hardest to be patient.

As rough as deployments and separations are there are ways to make it less difficult for both you and our children. By taking steps to ease the worries and stress your children you can help relieve your own anxiety as well. As parents we often feel responsible for our children’s emotions; we want them to be happy and healthy, even when circumstances are not ideal. When they are upset, it upsets us as parents; any way we can help keep our children connected to their deployed parents will help them feel less upset, anxious and stressed throughout the deployment. So find any way you can help your children stay connected, and it will make it an easier deployment for everyone.

Grace Lipscomb is an Army wife and a family counselor with an emphasis in marriage and family counseling. She is trying to get her foot in the door to provide services for troops and family members. She is currently a volunteer intern with the Family Life Chaplain at Fort Benning, seeing service members and their families. You can find her on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

Recipes

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

April 25, 2017
Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

You know why I like baking? Because if I follow the recipe carefully and stick to it, I will have a great turnout almost 100% of the time. You know why my husband doesn’t like baking? Because in order to have a great turnout at all, you need to stick to a recipe. That is just not his thing. Luckily he’s really good at eating what I bake which works out perfectly for both of us. My latest kitchen victory? These triple chocolate chip cookies.

This recipe is a spin-off of my go-to chocolate chip cookie, but with a “let’s clean out the pantry” twist. I may occasionally purchase a bag of chocolate chips for a recipe, forgetting that I already have some at home. Over time, this results in 15 partially used bags of chocolate chips clogging up your pantry and a batch of triple chocolate chip cookies.

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

I used a combination of milk, white and semi-sweet chocolate chips because that’s what I had on hand, but you could certainly use whatever combination your heart desires/your pantry contains. Like my regular chocolate chip cookie, these bad boys stay super soft and chewy even days later (if they last that long, of course).

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 (scant) cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Equal parts semi-sweet, milk and white chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Beat butter and sugars together, until creamy.
3. Add vanilla and egg.
4. Combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.
5. Mix dry ingredients into butter-sugar mixture.
6. Add chocolate chips.
7. Using a cookie scoop, place balls of cookie dough onto a non-stick cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until cookies are barely golden brown.

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

Military

Qualities Military Spouses Need

April 24, 2017
Qualities Military Spouses Need

I’m going to let you all in on a little secret: before I met A, I never ever pictured myself joining the ranks of military spouses. In fact, I was pretty dead set against it because I didn’t think I “had what it took”. Four-plus years later, I can say that very few people have everything they need to rock military spouse life before becoming one, but there are some must-have qualities for military spouses to be successful.

Military Spouses Need To Be…

…organized.

While our spouses are meticulous at work, things tend to be very different at home. Military spouses have to be organized because things would literally fall apart if we weren’t. Try handling a PCS while your spouse is TDY or keeping track of everything during a deployment without checklists or an organizational system, I dare you.

…bold.

You’ll often read that military spouses need to be independent, but I prefer the word bold because it implies an inherent risk taker. And no, I don’t mean all military spouses need to jump out of planes or take up rock climbing. What I mean is that military spouses need to face everything thrown at them head-on without getting knocked off course. They need to pursue their own dreams while moving every few years. They need to hold their family together even when members are gone for months at a time. They need to be bold.

…calm.

The military throws a lot of curveballs: moves, deployments, random trainings and so on. With all of that unknown, it would be really easy to be a walking bundle of nerves. But military spouses need to be calm in the face of the unknown. We can’t get all worked up at every change of plans or every time our future seemed a bit uncertain, especially when we need to keep little ones calm as well.

…memory keepers.

One of the great things about the military is the many opportunities it gives you to see new places and make new memories. But someone has to keep track of all those moments, especially if not all members of the family are there for them. More often than not, that falls to military spouses. We need to record first steps, vacations, proms and everything in between.

…themselves.

More than anything else, military spouses need to be themselves. Our community is better off having the diversity each of us brings to the table.

To celebrate must-have military spouse qualities, I’ve put together a little Military Spouse Survival Kit that I’m giving away! But anyone can enter below for their chance to win the prettiest notebook, a hyacinth-scented candle, bright pink nail polish and (my personal favorite) a five-year memory book.

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