Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Less drama, more real: The Real Military Wives of Blogland

Mal Smiles

I found this link-up from Janelle at Wild Blue Yonder and thought I'd jump in! I'm Diana, Army wife. We'll celebrate our 8th anniversary this year and he'll mark his 7th year in the Army this summer. We're high school sweethearts--we met and started dating when I was a freshman, he was a sophomore. When we first met, he told me he wanted to join the Army, become an Airborne Ranger, and die in combat before he turned 30--meaning he didn't want to get married or have kids, because he didn't want to leave a family behind. Thankfully his goals have changed a bit! 
As for me, I'm a stay at home mom to our two kids, Munchkin (4) & Lil Man (2) and while they drive me absolutely crazy some days, I absolutely LOVE the time with them. In fact, we're planning on homeschooling, partially due to our military lifestyle!
Our military story is fairly uneventful, he joined about a month before our first anniversary and went through training at Fort Knox, KY. After he graduated, he went to Airborne training and then came to beautiful Fort Richardson, AK (now Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK). After a few months of paperwork, in March of 2008, I finally got to move up too! 
He had a fairly busy year with getting ready to deploy for the 09-10 rotation, and about a month before he left, we found out we were pregnant with Munchkin, only a month after a miscarriage. He did make it home for her birth at least! As far as deployments go, it wasn't bad. (Especially looking back on it 4 years later!) Soon after he got home, he got orders for Fort Polk, LA. We moved down there, were there for 1 year, 4 days and came right back to JBER, AK! We really couldn't leave there fast enough, but there were good times--which is good because we're heading back there in just a couple months! 
We're calling ourselves a ping pong ball. Who knows where we'll end up after this? As much as I love Alaskan summers, I'm not a fan of the bitter cold and insane amounts of snow (that wasn't as bad as the rest of the country this year!!), and I'd really rather see somewhere else while we're moving on the Army's dime! 
Something that I'd like others to know about military wife life is that it's nothing like you see on TV--ESPECIALLY if you happened to catch OWN's Married to the Army: Alaska (oh gosh, that was a pain to have filming all over post!). I only watched one full episode and bits of others and couldn't handle how crazy they made it! We're just normal people living our lives like everyone else. Yeah, we have different challenges with training schedules, deployments, TDYs, and moves, but we roll with the punches as best we can. Every military wife I've met just does her best to make the most of her situation, and isn't that what most people do? 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Avengers: behavior style

You may remember my post about Munchkin's Princess chart, well, we forgot to use it for awhile, but we've started back up again and it's helping. I've decided that Lil Man needs his own chart, because even though he's way younger than when we started it for Munchkin, he is NOT your typical 2 yr old! In some ways he is, hence the reason we need this chart. Sometimes getting dressed in the morning can be a hair-pulling, blood-pressure-raising, are-you-sure-it-isn't-socially-acceptable-to-drink-at-this-hour (and I don't even drink) affair with the internal mantra of "don't scream" repeated as many times as possible. Wait, did I say sometimes? Make that every time and even worse when we actually have something going on outside of the house. He's also needing a reminder to speak nicely sometimes. He has a million things he does well and makes me proud so many times every day--like being potty trained and almost ready to be done with diapers at night too, his willingness (sometimes insistence) to help, his fierce love for his sister, and how he so tries to be a "big boy".

He idolizes Munchkin, and I figured that we've seen this work once with her, we'll give it a shot with him too. He LOVES The Avengers, with Captain America and Iron Man being his favorites. So I figured that we'd go with them for the chart.

Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Director Fury, Hawkeye, and The Hulk
This time, I got to use a thermal laminator instead of the self-laminating sheets. Let me tell you. It's SO much better this way!! I'm still not 100% clear on WHY we have a thermal laminator, but it has something to do with the fact that someone in the troop needed something laminated, there wasn't a way to do it, so Mark went to Target and bought one with our money, so he brought it home.  It's really nice and SO easy to use. We've had it sitting in the garage for a bit and while I don't see us using it all the time, I won't be getting rid of it any time soon.
Our thermal laminator!
I finally got a poster from Target (I've made more trips to Target in the past couple weeks than I have in a few months, I kept forgetting one or two items each time!!) and set to work making the chart. My paint pen blobbed, but I don't think Lil Man will mind! We had a bit of a tough time figuring out the things to write on the "An Avenger is..." and "An Avenger..." sections, the only thing Lil Man wanted to tell me they did was "save the town!". Some of the things aren't necessarily something you'd think of off the top of your head for Avengers/Superheroes, but at the end of the day, this is a chart to help him remember good behavior. Yes, I know he's far from reading, but he can ask me any time what they say. It also helps me remember what we've been over and what to try to reinforce. I love that I have a room to add more things as we think of them too.

The chart in progress: An Avenger is: helpful, friendly, nice, smart, hardworking, determined
An Avenger: follows directions, cleans up, keeps trying, has manners (later added shares and works as a team)

I also made a pocket for me, because I ended up having to make Munchkin a new Snow White because she got lost one day when Munchkin had to give her up. I never had a specific place to put them and just had her bring me the princess wherever I was at the time. I like that now we'll have a home for the princesses and Avengers all the time, whether on the chart or in the "Lost" pocket. The bottom of the pocket says "*Earn back with 1 extra good deed!*".

The completed chart, with guys, and the "Lost Avengers & Princesses" pocket.
I got everything hung up and I'm really happy with the set-up now. I put Munchkin's stickers up last week and really love that now she can't play with the stickers any old time, I always know where they are (no more last minute rush trying to find the sticker before bed), and it makes it so simple and easy, we actually remember to do it!! Oh, and I'd like to complain for just a second...boy stickers are hard to find!! Target had NOTHING and we ended up going to JoAnn and found this sticker activity pad hiding in the scrapbook aisle. It's got 600 stickers, coloring pages, and slick activity pages so you can make a story with your stickers. I'm just glad it has 600 stickers and I won't have to search for more any time soon!!

Everything put up and ready to go! Also, enjoy Lil Man's fashion statement of the inside out and backwards shirt...I'm just glad he's wearing clothes!!

My next step in this project is something to do while we're out. I still use them as a reference when we're out, saying "Do you need to give me a princess when we get home?", but I find myself being more lenient because the immediate physical act of giving me the character is lost. I'm thinking of making another set of each of them, but about half the current size, laminating them (of course), and putting them on a key ring. The next problem is how to tell which ones are still theirs while keeping them on one ring--and keeping it all simple!! Once I figure out the best way to take care of the travel sets, I will most definitely post about it!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Munchkin-ism of the day

So I have no idea why, but Munchkin says "set the bed" instead of "make the bed". Every morning she'll tell me "I set my bed, Mama!" It's just one of "her" things. Tonight while I was trying to get Lil Man to go to sleep (trying being the operative word here), she runs into his room quite upset. "Mama! I have bad news!!! Lightning unset all your pillows! Your bed! Unset!" All the while gesturing wildly like she's knocking pillows over. Sure enough, Lightning had burrowed through the pillows and they were all over the bed.
We have 6 extra pillows on our bed when it's made: 2 Euro pillows, 2 king pillows, and the two small accent pillows that came with our bedding set (it sounds like so.many.pillows. like that, but it's what came in the set!). Apparently it's quite tempting for the kids and the dog to hide in them. I found Munchkin hidden in them last night after I told her she needed to sleep in her bed and Lil Man likes to hide there to try to escape the terrors of getting dressed--and he's actually quite good at hiding in them! 
Who knew that making the bed could bring such drama and shenanigans into our day! 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Plans? HA.

So most people know the saying "Tell God your plans and watch him sit back and laugh." right? Well, at this point, add Army into that as well.
We're at reenlistment time, and a few months ago, Mark decided that he was ready to be done with the Army, finishing his contract this November. So we started that process (there are required classes for soldiers to take prior to ETS) and were working out as many details as we could this far out. We were excited (and terrified, I won't lie) and our families were excited that we'd be coming back home too.
Enter the Army (and God, too, really) when Mark finds out that he's come down on assignment. Location? Ft. Polk, LA. I just had to laugh. Seriously, we're the ball in a game of ping pong! The wrench in the works of this is that he now can't just quietly finish his contract. If he chose to decline the assignment (that requires a 2 year minimum reenlistment), his ETS date (last day in the Army) would be moved from November to July, which is when we would be moving if he accepted the assignment and reenlisted. We are NOT prepared to move up our move that quickly, because while his last day in the Army would be in July, he has terminal leave of about 60-70 days to take, so we'd be leaving in May! Um, that's right around the bloomin' corner! Talk about scary. So, we talked, weighed options, thought about it all, and he has decided that the best course for our family is to reenlist. I won't lie, I'm happy and disappointed at the same time. Happy because even with as crazy as the government is, it's still a more stable financial situation than getting out would be. Mark used to love his job, then got a little burnt out, but is starting to get the love back, so I'm happy that he's happy at work (most of the time ;) ). I'm disappointed because I was REALLY looking forward to living in the same area as our family again. FaceTime is great, but it doesn't replace really being together. At least we HAVE FaceTime for the kids to get to know their extended family!
I do feel bad for Munchkin, as we had told her we were moving to Texas around her birthday (since she now knows when that is, and will proudly tell you!), and she is SO excited about it all. Bursting her little bubble by telling her that we're moving to Louisiana instead will be hard, but we're already making plans to make sure we get some quality time with the family.
One plan that hasn't changed is we are not taking the most direct route (again...) and we're snaking our way down the west coast with a little stop at a special place called Disneyland! Thanks to their generous military discount on tickets and hotel, we're making one of Munchkin's dreams come true and visiting the princess castle. Now, granted, the park she REALLY wants to go to is Walt Disney World in Florida, but that's just not in the cards! We'll get her there someday. There was even a Disneyland special on the travel channel a few weeks ago and she saw bits of that and got super excited--and so did Lil Man--Cars land anyone?!? So at least we have a super bright spot about halfway through the trip!
I know that July will be here before we know it and I've got the moving butterflies, but I know that in the end it will work out like it always has and we'll grow where we're planted again. I won't say I'm thrilled to be going back to Ft. Polk, but again, we'll make the best of it.