Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!

As the Christmas season begins, the buzz amongst mom's seems to be,
"How do I keep the baby/toddler from the Christmas Tree."

When my oldest was a baby, P and I considered all of the obvious possibilities.  Should be put the glass ones on top?  Should we buy a little tree and put it on a table?  Or what about surrounding it with a play pen?  As we were trying to figure out what to do, we finally just looked at each other and realized that we were making something out of nothing.  

Even at 1 year old, he could handle a lot more than not touching the tree...so we decided to teach him.  Christmas would come every year, he was going to have to learn at some point.

Just like with most things, it took about 3 days of consistent reminders and distraction for him to lose interest.  Little C was the exact same and Mini C could care less. 

Now that the older two are toddlers, they know the rules.  They also know that with rules comes rewards and consequences.  Those rewards (Santa coming) and consequences are laid out when we decorate the house.  We also bought them a this absolutely annoying cute singing stocking that hangs in the playroom.  They know that they CAN touch and play with that.  So, when their fingers are feeling particularly needy for something Christmas...that's where we head!

So, this Christmas, I encourage you to decorate as you normally would.  Use it as a teaching opportunity.  Give them the opportunity to be proud of themselves when they listen.  Definitely worth every teaching moment!
  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happily Ever After...

If you haven't read Part I , Part II, or Part III, check it out before reading this post. Nobody like a spoiled ending!
When I was a little girl, I never wanted to be a doctor, banker, or ballerina.  My dream was clear.  At a very young age, I knew that I wanted to be a wife and mother (of 12 to be exact).  As crazy as it sounds, I daydreamed about driving a 15 passenger van, doing the laundry, and having dinner on the table when my husband came home from work.  I have no idea where that dream came from but it is clearly written on my heart.

When P and I met all those years ago, I had found the other piece of my puzzle.  Whether you call it a gut feeling, inspiration of the Holy Spirit, or just plain intuition, I knew he was the one.   I had fought for his heart since the day we met. I refused to settle for anything less than who I knew he was created to be and I refused to let myself by tarnished by fear, temptations, and outside pressures. 

When he proposed, it was like hitting the last mile of a marathon. We were almost there. Our forever was about to begin.  We had no idea where this life was going to take us but we knew that we were up for the adventure as long as we were together.

When our big day came, we were ready.  Besides the dress, the party, and our loved ones, we were ready to be married.  We stood in awe that this was our reality.  How is it possible for two teenagers, from opposite parts of the country, to meet, keep in touch, and then eventually get married.  It was crazy! 

We had so much fun at our wedding!  We laughed, we cried, we danced, and enjoyed the company of our family and friends.  The knowledge that the dating, the distance, the phone calls, and the traveling were over was almost surreal.  At the end of the day, I was going to get in the car with P and we were going to fly out TOGETHER. 

Our happily ever after had come true.  We had a plan.  Little did we know that in the first year of our marriage we'd have a deployment, a pregnancy, and a move to Naples, Italy...not exactly what one would call the 'honeymoon' stage.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Celebratory GIVEAWAY!


The week before P came home, I planned a 'Thank You Mom's Night Out' for my friends who had helped me during deployment.  I knew that I wanted to give them a sweet treat of thanks but considering my incredible lack of creativity, I was stumped with the presentation. 
And then I remembered, I am friends with one of the most creative girls around!!! 




My friend, Natalie, The Busy Budgeting Mama, is the queen of cute! 

In addition to running her blog, Natalie has an Etsy shop, The Pretty Paperie Printables, where she sells the CUTEST printables.  Everything from treat bag tags to custom party packs to cupcake toppers.

So, within 24 hours of calling Natalie for suggestions for my thank you pretzel M&M's, I had my very own printables sitting in my inbox.
They were quite the hit at our Mom's Night Out so I wanted to share them with you!

Natalie was gracious enough to agree to GIVE AWAY one printable of your choice (excluding party packages) to one of my awesome readers!

So, you have two ways to enter this giveaway!
1. Leave a comment below explaining which printable you would choose and why! 

and/or
2. Share this giveaway by pressing one of the share options below (facebook, twitter, blog, etc.).  Make sure you let me know if you shared it!

If you don't have a google profile, make sure to leave your e-mail address in your comment!

This giveaway will end on December 8th at 11:59pm.

Natalie also has a Cyber Monday deal going on today so make sure to check it out!

Good Luck!


The Homecoming

About 2 months ago, a friend of mine suggested that I hire a photographer to capture P's homecoming.  I was a little standoffish at first but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that these were pictures that we would probably treasure forever and I'd rather be present during these moments rather than trying to take pictures.  So, the decision was made and now I have pictures to show you!  :-)

The days leading up to P's homecoming were similar to the days leading up to his leaving.  They were full of anxieties, excitements, nerves, LONG lists of things to do, and many errands.  It was a surreal feeling preparing for something that seemed like it would never happen.  I was nervous about the kids response to their dad, the adjustment back to being a family, and the adjustment back to being a team and a wife.  Life was about to flip upside down...AGAIN.

I have to say, I feel like I did a good job during those days.  I tried to get my list of things to do done during nap times/pre-school/etc. and have fun things ready for us to do together.  I spent a good bit of time sitting with Little P, my sensitive little boy, looking at pictures of other daddy's coming home just so he would know that it would be okay if he laughed, cried, was shy, etc.  He has a tendency to get anxious and then melt down so I wanted to alleviate that as much as possible.


The day before, we spent some time making our signs and talking about how the next morning would go.  Once they went to bed, I adjusted their 'Countdown to Daddy' and their 'Kisses from Daddy' Jar so they had other points of excitement once they woke up.
It was set, we were all ready!  After good nights sleep, it was game time!  His flight was landing around 9:45am so I had to hustle.  I had a babysitter come over so I had a second set of hands and, oh my goodness, that was the best $20 I've ever spent!  She was such a help and got the kids fed, bathed, and dressed.  I was also able to get dressed without toddlers at my toes. 

And then, it was time.  It was 8:45, time to go! 

Once I started driving, that's when it hit me.  We were really doing this.  I fought tears the whole way.  I kept trying to talk and laugh with the kids but that lump in my throat just wouldn't go away.  Once we got there, I got everybody inside and this is what happened:






It was in this moment that Catherine looked at me and said, "MOMMY, I need to go potty!!!"  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!  So off we ran...to the BOYS bathroom.  Hey, it was the closest one and we were in a hurry!

 

I will never forget the first time I spotted him...it was SURREAL!
 




A little unsure of the situation, Little C ran back to me just to check in.

Mini-C finally seeing that man from the computer...






I finally got my kiss...

 

Daddy showing little C that he still had the pocket photo book
we made for him before he left.
I couldn't have asked for a better homecoming.  It was crazy to walk out to the car and sit in the passenger seat.  We were done, it was over.  Our daddy is home!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

We're a Team Again!

The last 10 days have surprised me.  I knew that we had an adjustment coming, but I thought it was more in relation to our children.  I thought I'd be playing the middle man and trying to help P get back into the routine.  Little did I know that I would be the one that needed the most adjustment.

My husband and I approach our life as a team.  We always say that it doesn't matter what comes our way, as long as we're together, we can handle it.  We have this strange way of motivating each other and being on the same page.  We talk things to DEATH.  We are very up front an honest about what our thoughts and we have learned the best methods for effective communication. 

With all of this being said, I figured that we would just jump right back into it when he came home.  For the most part, we did.  He was ready be my teammate again and continue down the same road.  For some reason, it was as if we were just barely missing the beat.  The best way to describe it would be if you were clapping to a beat and your partner was just miliseconds too late on every clap.  Still the same but not quite.

Somewhere in the last few days, we were able to find our rhythm.  We're working in unison, having fun, laughing, and enjoying the company of each other and our children.  It's amazing the peace that it brings.

Experiencing this really got me thinking about how working as a team with your spouse really does bring an intimacy into your family.  Without it, there is something missing.  It's just not quite right.  I love that at 6:30AM on Black Friday, I could make the spur of the moment decision to do our Christmas shopping and know that he can not only run everything here but also get everybody to the parade to meet me by 9:30.  I don't have to explain anything, I don't have to leave instructions, he just knows...after 10 days.  When I saw him walk up with all three kids, I could have cried.  It was the moment when I knew that the pressure was off me and we were a team again.  We work together for the common-good of our family and have a GREAT time doing it!

Cheers to being done!

Make sure to come back on Monday for the homecoming pictures/story and a GIVEAWAY!  And then Tuesday, we're back to normal life.  Thanks for sticking with me through this week!  I hope ya'll had a great Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

3 Lessons Learned

I am so thankful for P's deployment.  As difficult as it may have been,
I. LEARNED. SO. MUCH!

If I were to write out EVERYTHING that I have learned, it would take HOURS to read this post so I decided to stick to the top 3.  So, here they are:

1. I have ridiculous expectations
In August, I had a minor mental/emotional breakdown.  I had been chugging along doing my thing but between the death of my two friends and then the earthquake, it became completely clear that in the grand scheme of things, I have absolutely no control.  For someone who had gotten tired and was barely hanging on...I lost it.
Thankfully, I have the best parents in the world and it took all of 3 seconds of skyping for them to hop in the truck to come to my rescue.  My parents brought the older two to their house for about 10 days and I was given the opportunity to get my act together. 
During this time, I realized that the expectations that I had put on myself were absolutely unrealistic.  I learned that having a completely clean house, folded laundry, and home made dinner on the table at night does NOT make me a good mom.  I had never adjusted my expectations from being a two parent household to a one parent household and I was trying to do it all.  It didn't work.  I needed to address my expectations.

2. Kids are so much more capable than we allow.

I think most would agree that every generation before has some laundry list of things that they had to do that kids 'nowadays' don't.  While I am sure that is true, what I realized is that its not just that kids don't do them, its that we don't allow them to because we're scared.  My three year old does the dishes...seriously.  If I hadn't been upstairs when he first tried, I would have never known.  I started realizing that as moms, we just do everything for our kids before seeing what they are capable of.
Being a single parent for a time, I needed the help.  So, about halfway through, I started challenging them.  I'd give them tasks (not expecting perfection or even success) just to see what they were capable of.  I knew to stay close but the pride on their faces when they tried something new was priceless.  What I learned was that these children are SO MUCH MORE capable that we give them credit for! 
In our day and age, we tend to parent out of fear.  There are so many statistics telling us about the dangers, that we don't ever doubt them to look at the possible greater good in doing what is difficult.  I have been forever changed.  I am happier and, more importantly, THEY are happier.

3. Being Straight Forward Is the Best Policy.
While this lesson applies to all arena's of life, I learned that the more straight forward and specific I was, with my kids, the better.  For instance, I learned to lay out my expectations/rewards/consequences of their behavior before getting out of the car at the grocery store.  Once I started TELLING them what I was looking for, grocery shopping became SO much simpler.  I started breaking our day down so they knew what I was expecting and I knew what they were expecting.  It made life SO MUCH SIMPLER.

So these are the top three that are in my head right now.  I am sure I will talk to a friend, my mom, or somebody who will remind me of another big lesson, but for now, this is it!  Maybe I'll continue this list, who knows.

Things are going well around here.  Kids are happy, I am more rested (and therefore happy), and P is just happy to be home!  It's nice to see the kids adapt to him so easily.  We've agreed that it's not that we can't believe he's home, rather we can't believe that the 6.5 months ever happened.

I also wanted to let you know that if you have any questions, feel free to ask.  Every time I talk to friends, they seem to have tons and I don't mind answering any of your curiosities.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Finding Common Ground

I'm exhausted.  My emotions are just barely under the surface just waiting to come out.  I am overwhelmed, uncomfortable, and irritable.  One would think that when your spouse comes home, life would get easier.  The physical aspect of my day has gotten easier but the emotional side has spun out of control. 

I remember the day that P left, I felt so empowered.  I felt like I was superwoman ready to conquer the world!  I was going to shatter any doubts that people had in our ability to succeed during the next 6.5 months.

What I didn't know was that I was going to have a good friend murdered, another friend pass away, and an earthquake.  P and I went to dinner the other night and for the first time, I got to tell him, face to face, about Shannon's funeral.  What it was like to receive that call.  The sucker punch that I felt that night.  I told him about watching her casket pass by my pew as I imagined my friend laying in that box.  I told him about her brother's eulogy as he so painfully stood up to tell us about his little sister and how thankful I was that my big brother was there to hold my hand.  I told him about watching one of my dearest friends carry her to her resting place and how we stood at her grave until she was covered with dirt.  He saw my tears for the first time.

What was crazy was that in that moment, his eyes showed the same pain as he told me,
"I know, Jeanne, I know." 
He lost his own friends in Afghanistan.  He watched as pure evil took the life of his friend who would soon become a father.  What do you say in that moment?  P knew the pain that would be injected upon that his family within hours and all he could was sit there with it.

As glamorous as the homecoming is, it is hard.  It is very hard.  I go back and forth between pure joy and confusion.  With confusion comes a great deal of guilt.  Why am I not over the moon and happy all the time???  I feel lost in my own world trying to grasp some sense of control.  I feel disconnected from the man who is trying so hard to live up to every possible expectation.  I am trying to figure it out but I feel like I am sinking.  I know with time, we will get back into a groove, but for now, I will just be thankful for those moments of connection between us.  Those times when we can find common ground between the independent lives that we have been leading.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Preparing for Deployment



Over the last several months, many people have stated that they 'couldn't even imagine' doing what we've done.  I'll start from the very beginning and move forward throughout this week.  I can only speak for myself but, in general, I think most of my words will apply to the majority of the military/deploying world. 

My husband, who is now a civilian defense contractor, feels a calling to defend his country. He takes pride in what he does and he believes in the founding premise of what it means to be an American. He is willing to defend that premise to those who attack it. 

When I married my husband, I agreed to support and encourage him in his vocation. Just like all military and deploying defense contractor families, this vocation is not one that is carried by just one. It is carried by all. But it is carried with such pride that the load is bearable.  We are working for a cause, something that we believe in.

So, when our spouses tell us that there is a deployment on the horizon, we all do the same thing...we start preparing.  There is no time to pity ourselves, there is no time to wonder how we are going to do it...we just know that it has to be done so we'll do it. 

We found out about P's deploy date about 3 months prior.  I knew that it was on the horizon but just didn't know WHEN it was going to be.  So, when we finally got the date, I, 4 weeks postpartum, knew that the first thing that we needed to handle was to get Mini-C into a routine.  There was no way that I would be able to handle 3 kids under 3 if I had a baby who was completely unpredictable.  After that, we just started making lists. 

'Things to get done' lists
'Things to buy' lists
'People to contact' lists
'Stuff to research' lists

You name it, we had a list for it.  We organized and re-organized the whole house.  I had my 'handy-woman' book out with the tool kit P had prepared for me.  Both cars were checked out and ready to go.  Our Will was in the safe.  We had everything ready and organized.

For the kids, I made a countdown calendar, a 'kisses from daddy' jar, P recorded a book a week on video, and he took the kids to Build-A-Bear to make their 'daddy bears' (a bear with a recording in the paw from daddy).

Besides all of the physical preparations, I was also mentally and emotionally preparing myself. I had to be in a state where failure was not an option. I had to have my game face on and be ready to take on the challenge.  I couldn't allow those moments of doubt creep into my head because doubt wasn't going to get me anywhere.  Even more, I had to be in enough control that my husband was not going to worry about us.  I have to say, that was a heavy load to carry.

I had my nights of waking up in sheer panic and my absolute emotional breaks.  I had my times of falling into my husbands arms crying because I just didn't want to do this.  At one point, I BEGGED him to get a different job.  I thought all of the same things that everybody around me thought, I just couldn't dwell on them.

So there we were, prepared as we were ever going to be.  What people didn't see were the tears that flowed when I actually thought about what we were embarking on.  What they didn't see was the fear that was trying to take over my body.  What they didn't see was the paralyzing fear that something could happen to my husband.

But, May 6th came and we didn't shed a tear.  I was ready to stand by my husbands side as he set off to do what he was called to do.  We were doing this for a cause, right?

AND THE WINNER IS....

I tallied up all of the entries and used random.org to come up with the winner!

The winner of the free consult and style board from It's Becker Style is:
Marisa S.

Marisa is a military wife, mother of three, and certified Zumba instructor.  After having her youngest (shown in the picture), Marisa set out to lose all of her babyweight.  And, man, does she look great!
I am so happy for you and I hope that you find your new style in your NEW BODY!!!
Congratulations!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Post Deployment Weekends are the BEST!

Happy Weekend!  I hope ya'll have a great one and enjoy spending time with your friends and family!

My first giveaway ends tomorrow at noon so make sure to register!  There are SIX different options for entry!

Thank you again for all of your love and support over the last few days.  I have LOVED reading all of your messages and will respond as soon as I can!

Make sure to check back on Monday for more 'behind the scenes' stories on the deployment and subsequent homecoming.  There may even be a guest post from my husband...:-). 

Unless I have some incredible inspiration to write, I'll see you on Monday.  I'm off to spend more time with my family...and sleep!

HE'S HOME!!!!!


Friday, November 18, 2011

The Next Day...

It is currently 5:33AM and my brain is running wild trying to comprehend the last few days.  The kids are sleeping, my husband is finally in his own bed, the house is dark, and here I sit in my chair typing my heart out.

I am completely humbled by the words of my friends, family, followers, but most of all, my sister-in-law.  Reading her post allowed me to feel, for the first time, the feat that I have conquered.  You see, when you are faced with a deployment, out of survival, you have to stand up and act like it's no big deal.  It's just life.  If you bend to your fears, you won't make it.  What you are doing is so unnatural it's hard to ignore.  So, since May 6th, I chugged along, doing what I needed to do.  People would comment but I couldn't let myself hear it.  On Wednesday  night, I heard it and I appreciated it (and yes, I cried). 

I feel like I should have a great cry just to signify the end.  We're finished.  He's home.  Yesterday, I sat on the couch with my husband fighting that 'tough' facade.   How do you turn it off?  How do I go back to being the protected vs. the protector?  For the last 6 1/2 months, I have been the one to handle EVERYTHING.  I know the kids quirks, their fears, their likes.  I've set the alarm every night knowing that if anything happened in the night, I'd handle it.  All of the sudden, that's over.  I can relax...but I can't.

My shoulders are still tight.  My brain still running rampant.  I feel like I have a new life to learn.  None of us will ever be the same as we were before he left because we grew and experienced so much.  How do I find the 'new normal'?

More than anything, I recognize my husband grasping to gain control.  Not in a powerful way, but as a dad, as a husband, as a protector.  He doesn't know how the potty works.  He doesn't know our night time routine.  He doesn't even know the words of our night prayers.  Last night, as he tried to take over baths, he finally looked at me as said, "I don't know how this works.  What do you do next?"  My heart hurt as I saw his stressed eyes, trying to do what was normal but not even knowing what that looked like.

So, here I sit, the day about to start, preparing myself for change but hoping for normalcy.  With time, I'm sure these kinks will be worked out and we'll find our rhythm but for now, I am so thankful to be able to hug my husband and have someone to hold the kids other hand when we say the blessing at the dinner table.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

He's Home!!!


This day has been absolutely surreal.

I'll write our complete homecoming story when I get our professional pictures but it has been awesome.  All of my fears about the kids being hesitant vanished as they ran to their daddy.  Mini C even took her first steps!!!

It really was an awesome day that has ranged in emotion.  I'm glad its behind us and that we get to adjust back into life as a family.

The next week will be dedicated to deployment/homecoming stuff.  I'll do my best to give you a 'behind the scenes' of what life has been like leading up to today.

Stay tuned for picture overload!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I Can't Wait Any Longer...

Over the last few weeks, I have been telling you about how my family's life is about to change.  I have given a few hints here and there but the time has come.  I can't wait any longer.  I want you to share in the joy and excitement that awaits us.

On May 6th, my husband deployed to Afghanistan for 6 1/2 months.  I chose not to say anything on this blog for safety/security reasons but I can assure you that I have been DYING to tell you about tomorrow.  Because tomorrow...

HE COMES HOME!!!

Right now, 10:01PM on Wednesday night, he is sitting on a very long flight coming back to me and our children. 

The other day, my sister-in-law asked me if she could hijack my blog for a day.  She had something to say and she didn't want me to read it.  I haven't read it yet but for some reason, I have a gut feeling that I should share it with you tonight.  So, we'll read together.  All I have to say is, "Kristi, if you start my tears, there might be problems!"

Without further ado, my awesome sister-in-law, Kristi!
---------------------------
So Proud of My Common Sense Mama

At my humble request, your common sense mama allowed me to hack into her blog and honor her:
"The truth is we all breath differently when they are around." This is what my friend Lauri had told me in a conversation we had months ago about how much us stay at home moms look forward to the moment our husbands arrive home from work each evening. At the end of a long day of feeding, changing, and meeting every tedious need of our small children, it is such a huge relief the moment those men of ours walk in the door. We breath easier, we know we can go potty without someone being nose to nose with us, we can get dinner on the table in the kitchen alone, and baths are taken care of. It's quite a moment.

Over the past 6 1/2 months my sister-in-law did not have this grand moment we all look so forward to each day. For the past 6 1/2 months, she did everything normal moms do and when she got to her breaking point at the end of each day, just like we all do, she kept plugging away... she did dinner, dishes, baths, night time routine and wrapped up the house for the next day to only start hours later all over again. She did what so many of us would dread... she proudly sent her man off to Afghanistan to defend freedom. She held her head high and sent him, as much as it hurt and as much as she knew it would hurt.

Without women like my sister-in-law (your common sense mama), we would be one more man short of what it means to be an American, to have freedom and to defend it. He did not go alone by any means... she fought back here for him on the home front, each day... and each night while she crawled into bed with no one next to her. It is a feat I have to say I am not sure I could rise to.  I must say I have gained a love and respect for her and my brother-in-law in more ways that I ever expected during this time. It was not an easy road. I watched as a woman needed to do something she did not want to do, but surrendered to love, pushed through, and did it... and did it well.

I am so pleased to know that as I write this, he will be arriving home tomorrow morning. I am so thrilled to know that tomorrow night she will breath easier, she will get a well deserved break from baths, and will be able to peacefully place dinner on the table while her courageous husband entertains the kids in the other room and they eat together as a family for the first time in so long.

Thank you to your husband, for his service. And good work, mama. I am so proud to call you my friend. You did it. Well done, good and faithful servant, wife and mother. 

Intermission...

Please pardon the interruption of your normal programming...

....but today is a CRAZY day!

I assure you that tomorrow it will be quite the finale.  Make sure to check back and see what I have in store!

In the place of a normal post, I leave you with this:



Monday, November 14, 2011

A Real Love Story...

If you are joining me for your first Common Sense Wife post, make sure to read Part I and Part II of my story.  It's pretty awesome (in my humble opinion...haha).

I still remember it vividly, my mom and I were in Washington D.C. on a college visit. 
That was where I learned to always ask for a corner hotel room...they are always bigger!  :-)
We had driven 2 hours outside of the city to check out the prospective school.  Upon arrival, I immediately knew that it wasn't right.  We didn't even get out of the car.  I asked my mom to turn around and take us back to the city.  It was there, at the hotel, that I got the phone call.

He was coming.

I jumped around our corner hotel room like a 13 year old at a backstreet boys concert!  The excitement that I experienced was unlike anything I had ever felt.  This was it.  It was finally happening!!!

Although my mom and I were close, the year had been a tough one for both of us.  She knew about P but we had never really talked about how important he was to me.  She was a little standoffish at the thought of him, a 20 year old Navy Sailor, flying in to take her only daughter to prom.  It seemed odd.  I did my best to share my excitement but knew that screaming,

"I'm going to marry this boy!!!"

might not go over well.  So, I kept my excitement contained to prom.  My parents were troopers because, at 17 years old, they allowed me to explore this relationship.  Well, April came, he flew in, and the connection was IMMEDIATE.  (Keep in mind this was only the second time we'd seen each other since meeting each other at 13 years old.)  I was in heaven. 

We got dressed up, took pictures, and off we drove in my mom's Cadillac (we're cool like that) to my prom.  Honestly, I don't remember a whole lot about prom besides thinking that I wished we would have just gone out to a nice dinner alone and realizing that this boy, the love of my life, could. NOT. dance!!!

Well, the weekend came to an end and it was at the airport that we finally discussed it.  We were officially boyfriend/girlfriend!  That determination was also followed up with something along the lines of, 'and we'll get married in a couple of years.'

Over the course of the next two years, we spent our time flying back and forth between Georgia and California and getting through a 7 month deployment.  Although my parents were not against my relationship, they couldn't quite grasp it.  When asked about it, the only way I could explain our relationship was,

"My entire life I prayed to have a friend who loved me as much as I loved them.  For someone who was just as excited to have me as I was to have them.  He does and we have so much fun.  He's my best friend."

Then, in May 2006, it happened.  On California's beautiful coast, he got down on a knee and asked me to be his wife.  As much as I loved him in that moment, I had no clue that my love would grow exponentially and of the adventure that we were about to embark on...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Organizing Old Shoes - Help?!



Today, I come to you asking for suggestions.  As we all do, I have a pile of kids shoes that are still in great shape but simply don't fit!  I'd like to hold on to them for hand-me-downs but have yet to successfully come up with a good storage plan that I will remember when the time comes.  All of their old clothes are in bins in the attic but I'd prefer not to put the shoes up there...I'll forget they are there.
So Mama's, what do you do?  How do you store them away but still remember them when the time comes to move new little feet into them?

HELP...PUUHLEEAASE!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Let's Talk About Forks...

As you read in my 'When Less is More' post, I am somewhat of a minimalist when it comes to stuff for my kids.  Don't worry, they have enough toys to entertain the world but when it comes to their gear, I keep it to a minimum.

So, when Little P and Little C had finally conquered eating with a fork, I realized that we had a little problem on our hands.  These plastic forks that I had been giving them couldn't pick up ANYTHING!  I hated them!  At the same time, I couldn't just give them a dessert fork because it was too big! 

So the research began...

In my normal fashion, I spent quite a bit of time reading reviews.  (I don't like to spend our hard earned money on trial and error when I could just spend my time researching what other mom's have said.  Weird, maybe.  But it works.)

So, this is what I found!

For around $8.00 you get 3 forks that are sized to fit their little chubby hands, have rubber gripping, and...dun dun dun dah....CAN POKE THROUGH A PIECE OF STEAK!!!

I am thrilled!  Although the pretty little picture above is of pink/purple forks, you can also buy them in a cool green/blue color combo.  Perfect, 3 forks for Little P and 3 forks for Little C...DONE!

But seriously, as much as I can love forks, I really do love these.  They are the perfect size and they are sharp enough to pick food up but not sharp enough to hurt them.  And in true Jeanne fashion, it's nice to have structure in my silverware drawer when I setting the table.  I get one of each color and we're ready!

So there ya have it folks!  We, well I, talked about forks!  In efforts to make me feel a little less...dorky, comments are encouraged.  :-)

Have a good one!

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Common Sense Dad - Patrick

Today's post is written by an awesome dad of two boys, my brother, Patrick.

Although he is three years older than me, we started our families around the same time.  I have enjoyed walking along side one of my older brothers as we learned what it means to be a parent. 


_________________________________________________________________
I have been in graduate school since my wife and I got married, so when we decided to have children, there were some logistical problems that had to be addressed. It was always our plan that she would stay home full time with the kids, but as you may have guessed, graduate students don’t make very much money so this was simply not possible. While I didn’t make much money, I did have a very flexible schedule. As a result, we managed to come up with a plan for my wife to work 2 days a week while I stayed at home with our son. Since he was a newborn, I was able to get some work done while I was at home with him, and I would work a little extra on the other days to make up for what I missed when I was at home. We were able to continue with this arrangement after our second son was born. In May, I got a fulltime job that allowed my wife to stay home full time and also provided an opportunity for me to finish my degree. My productivity had begun to suffer since the boys were getting bigger, and I was unable to get any work done while I was at home.

When we got married, this was not our plan, and it certainly proved difficult at some points because I was having to work more at other points during the week and we weren’t able to have as much family time as we would have liked. I knew that I had a special opportunity to spend time with my boys that alot of other dads don’t get. Since I took my fulltime job, though, my time with the boys has diminished, and I find that I really miss it. It was special time for just me and them when we’re each in the prime of our day. Now, I see them when I get home from work at night (and occasionally before I leave for work), but it’s not the same - I’m tired, they’re tired and usually off to bed shortly after I arrive. I also see them on the weekends, but the amount of quality time I get with them is less frequent.

I read an article recently (that I can’t seem to locate at the moment) titled “Hang up the Phone and Arrive”. The thesis was basically an elaboration of the title - when we get home from work, our kids are so excited for our arrival, but we can easily kill that excitement if we are still, for all intents and purposes, at work. Thus, for their sake, when we arrive home, we need to be home. The author, as best I recall, didn’t look at it from the dad’s perspective though. We don’t simply need to be home for their sake but for ours as well. Kids can be hard work, but they add so much joy to our lives that can be sapped by work and other obligations. When we have the opportunity, we need to take advantage of the time with our kids and the joy that they bring us - even if it is after a long day of work when we get to bathe them and help them get to bed.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

SHOPPING ALERT!

My mom just clued me in to a one day sale tomorrow, November 11th, at Whole Foods!


I was checking prices on free-range, no antibiotics whole chickens the other day and I can tell you that it was a lot more than this!

There is a 10 chicken limit so make plans to get there early!

Happy Saving!

I've Lost It, What Do I Do Now? GIVEAWAY

About 6.5 months ago, I made a goal for myself that I would lose all of my baby weight (33 lbs) by my 5th Wedding Anniversary.

Before-size14
After-Size 6/8
Well, my anniversary is two weeks from today and I have made it!

After having three babies in under three years, I found myself in quite the shlump (yes, I made that word up...isn't it awesome?)  I had gradually gained 33 pounds and I felt like it was far too much weight to even try and lose...it wouldn't happen.  I wasn't happy with how I looked and even more with how I FELT.

So, one day, after feeling sorry for myself and giving every excuse under the sun, I decided to get over myself, join a gym, and figure this out. If I wanted to be the mom that I wanted to be, I needed to be able to climb stairs without huffing and puffing.

After much thought, I got a personal trainer. That was one of the most painful decisions simply because of the cost, but it was the single BEST decision I made. I really lucked out because my trainer, Adam, took the time to acknowledge the stresses in my life but never let me wallow in my own self pity. One day, while complaining about how hard I was working, he simply looked at me and said,
"If you want to lose it, you have to do more."
Point taken.

Adam and I met twice a month at which time he would give me a new workout for the next two weeks. It was awesome to work with someone who believed in me FAR more than I believed in myself. Some weeks, he would give me work outs for the sole purpose of proving to me how much I could do...how cool is that?


This pictures just screams
'LAUREN'! 
Isn't she awesome?
As awesome as it is that I have finally gotten back down to my 'pre-baby' size, my body looks NOTHING like what it used to. That was quite an adjustment. After feeling sorry for myself for a bit, I decided to stand up, be proud of myself, and keep moving. The only problem was that I had no clothes that fit and had spent so many years covering up that I didn't know the current styles.

This is when one of my closest friends, Lauren, from It's Becker Style, jumped in to save me. I had a style board in my e-mail inbox within days. She had scoped out the top 10 things that I needed to buy, explained exactly what I was looking for, and their versatility. She pushed me out of my 'mom-box' and as scary as it was it felt AMAZING. For the first time in years, I felt like more than a mom; I felt like a woman...a proud one at that.  Lauren really helped me to learn how to dress my new curves.  She has this natural understanding of what styles fit what body-types...something that I know NOTHING about.

So, in celebration of my accomplishment, I wanted to share with you this awesome gift!  Lauren has agreed to work with one of my readers to create their own style board!!!  This includes a consultation (phone, skype, e-mail, etc) and a visual board consisting of 10 items recommended specifically for you, based on your expressed needs. Includes tips on how to buy the items and where to look for them.

What's even better???  You have SIX different ways to enter!

How to enter: 
Comment on this post for each entry (make sure to leave your e-mail address if you do not have a blog profile).

1) Become a Follower of It's Becker Style via google connect


3) Follow The Common Sense Mama via google connect
(right side of the page under the live feed)



6) Share this giveaway (facebook, twitter, blog, etc.)  Just use the link!

This Giveaway ends on Sunday November 20th @ noon!  The winner will be announced on Monday!

Good luck and Have Fun!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What's the Big Deal?


When I began announcing my second pregnancy, my husband and I were SHOCKED by the amount of feedback we got.  80% of the comments were along the lines of,

"Wow, that was fast!  Don't you know where babies come from?"
or
"You're brave!"
I was shocked.  There I was, a happy-go-lucky mother to one 6 month old baby and people were calling me brave for having another one???  I didn't get it.

THEN, when we became pregnant with mini-C just 9 months after having little-C, the reaction was even GREATER!  I somewhat expected the reaction this time but a few of the reactions still stung.  At one point, after having mini-C, I took all three children to the grocery store.  They were behaving perfectly and a random man had the nerve to come have this conversation with me.

Him: Are they ALL yours?
Me: They sure are!
Him: Well, you sure have your hands full!
Me: Oh, we have fun with it!
(Pause) 
Him: Ya'll should really look into cable TV!
Me: (Completely clueless) We already have cable TV.
Him: Then change the channel!  You're obviously bored!

I. Was. Stunned.

What do you say to something like that?

This whole deal with children just got me thinking.  As the Duggars announce the pregnancy of their 20th child, I can't help but feel bad for them in the backlash that will head their way.  Why do people care so much?  How does somebody else having children affect you?

I'll say this, I understand if I am supporting my children through tax dollars...I get that.  But, I'm not and they are not.  I don't think people can really argue with the fact that the Duggar kids are some of the most well-behaved children out there.  Whether they have been too sheltered is something that they will have to deal with...not me or you.

 As mothers, we all have those overwhelming moments when we look at our husbands and say, 'you touch me; you die!'  And you know what?  Thats okay!  But, I think the most of us would be devestated if we were unable to have any more children, whether we were planning to or not.  I try and keep the flip side in my head regularly so I remember to value my fertility.  It is not something that should be used to complete a 'dream family' casting list.  Rather, these are individual little people who need me in order to fulfill their purpose just as I need them to fulfill mine.

I do not know how many children we will have.  If all goes as we would have it, there will be more.  How many?  We'll have to wait and see.  We'll take it one pregnancy at a time.

For now, I just need to come up with a witty response for all of these crazy people!  Any thoughts?
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