Living It – Week 11

Hide Pictures – Tip #68


This is advice of mine that I followed just last week.  I had my husband pull four faces as I snapped pictures and then had multiple copies printed of each.  I got card stock cutouts and spent a few minutes writing phrases, comments and requests and attaching them to the different faces of their Dad!  I not only had a big laugh doing it but already it has paid off!  There is one in the fridge reminding them to listen to me, one by the recycling asking them to take it out, one in the linen closet reminding them to put their laundry away, there are ones in their rooms telling them how much they are loved and I have even hidden some in winter coat pockets for them to find in a few weeks time.  There have already been several smiles and laughs about it.  It is just another fun way of reminding them they are loved, that he is never too far away and that he can nag too!

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This one is in the bathroom on the inside of the cupboard – I hear giggles on a regular basis!


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1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #451

“When I Do It – When You Do It”  Chart 

During a deployment that is half way around the world, it is sometimes hard for us to imagine what our loved ones are doing while we are at home living the daily grind and it is another way for kids to understand the time differences that exist.  It can also be hard for families to understand that it isn’t always easy to have well timed phone calls or Skype chats.  We have created a chart and it is filled out and on our fridge for everyone to reference – it is also in our deployment journal for kids.

Understanding time zones

Understanding time zones


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Living It – Week 10

 Display Photos – Tip #22

This week the  Living It advice I am taking from my tips books is about displaying pictures (not just selfishly enjoying them on my IPhone!). My husband is leaving this week for a longer deployment.  I have taken a few deep breaths, eaten my body weight in chocolate, went to look at all of my own advice for preparing for a deployment, have kept my pre-deployment checklist close by (see tip #449 on the blog) and then asked for help.  In the past we have had a little more notice so there was time to do more to prepare.  This time we have days to prepare so I had to prioritize what was important – photos came first.  We hadn’t had proper family photos taken in a couple of years so I asked a family friend to come and take some – he was amazing and dropped everything to come and do this for us and they are fabulous (another tip – I printed out more than I needed so that they were ready to give as Christmas presents too!).  I then went out immediately and had them printed and got frames right away.  I know myself – if I waited a few days it would never get done.   They will be displayed in high traffic areas and I have printed out a variety to also put on the fridge.  I also made sure we had some funny ones that are really “us” to put up (and send with him) as those are true to who we are and I want the kids to remember to laugh every day and my husband will then have something to laugh about while he is away too.


Our 'real' family photo!

Our ‘real’ family photo! For more information about our resources, tips and books go to:


Us being us!

Us being us!


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1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #450

While You Are Away Candy Jar 

Full jar ready for our next deployment!

Full jar ready for our next deployment!

As we are preparing our kids for another deployment it was funny to hear about the things they remembered from the last time… deployment quilts, a vacation in Florida, having great pictures of all of us taken before he left and most importantly… the candy jar!  There are few easier and more effective ways (that I know of) to countdown the days and time passing.  Due to the fact that this deployment is longer, that my kids are older and a jelly bean a day isn’t going to cut it (like when they were younger) – I had to go out and buy a bigger jar.  Thankfully, it is Halloween time so finding candy in smaller sizes didn’t cost a fortune and was easy to find.  I bought fabric paint at Walmart and marked four depths on the jar (“It is going to be awhile”, “Making progress”, “Still Waiting”, “Nearly home”).  I also put extra candy in as we have no idea about return dates.  While our dentist will probably not be pleased this is something easy to do and is a small treat for surviving each day without their Dad.  It took less than 30mins to put together too which is a bonus when we are madly trying to cram a thousand and one things into 2 days!

The lid!

The lid!

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1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #449

As our family gears up for another deployment it was definitely time to update our pre-deployment checklist!  I hope you find this as helpful as we do.  Some of the items may not apply to you or your family but I have tried to make them as general as possible.

Here is the link to it in a printable format:

Pre-Deployment Checklist

To Do

Additional Info


Walk through of house to locate:1) Fuse box2) Water Shut off3) Breaker

4) Gas Valve

Health Insurance Information, Policy number, etc.      
Mailing address during deployment       
Military Family Resource Contact Information during the deployment      
Contact info for:Rear Party: ___________Unit Contact Information:_______Email: ____________________    
Update Contact information for schools     
Update family and friends with contact information      
All bills and payments are on prepaid schedule or set up and accessible      
Updated will & power of attorney       
Power of guardianship completed       


Marriage certificate, birth certificate, health cards, etc.  all accessible     
Location of mortage or rental agreements      
Household budget agreed upon and summarized      
Emergency Contact Lists done – phone tree created      
Authorization to access accounts and information      
Pay office information and pay allotments organized      
Passwords available – computer, internet, etc.   Computer: ________________Alarm: ___________________Internet: __________________Other: ____________________  
Update calendar with important events and dates and give to each family member or have an online calendar everyone can access    
Create first aid kits and emergency kits      
Give set of house and car keys to friend or trusted colleague      
Car Maintenance and Insurance all done and up to date   Name of mechanic/ contact info:____________________________  


Get CAA/AAA  Membership # ________________    
Permission to travel with children form completed     
Organize yard maintenance, snow removal, grass cutting  Contact #’s:     
Create a “need to know” sheet for the fridge     
Get family photos taken      
Vet Information      
Emergency Car Kit    
Create a countdown calendar for the kids or candy jar     
Put up pictures in the kid’s rooms      
Create a set location to put mail & make an agreement on what to open and not open     


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Living It – Week Nine

Eat Together Every Day – Tip #43

This is a tip that was easy for our family to follow consistently.  Our dinner table has always been a place where we talk about things that are bugging us, discuss hopes and dreams, ask questions and where I find out the most about everyone’s day – sometimes because of the things that they don’t say too.  This routine is just as important to my kids as it is to me – they count on it and so do I.  About a year ago I started taking the mystery and stress out of what we were having during our busy weeks by planning the week of meals on Sunday night.  I also ensured that at least one meal a week is loved by each family member – this reduced complaints!  We always eat around the same time so the kids know to be home at that time or to not plan things between 5:00 – 6:00pm.  There are no electronics at the table, we don’t answer the phone and the TV is always off – no one would say a word if we had devices at the table, I would be lucky to get a nod or grunt.

A book about military life, deployments, great dinners and lessons learned.

A book about military life, deployments, great dinners and lessons learned.

The Smileys have taken dinner together a step further!  Recently I started reading a book called “Dinner with the Smiley’s”.  I loved the idea of it from the moment I saw the cover.  It is about a military family that invites a different person for dinner each week.  Immediately I thought of my own dinners and thought to myself that it would send me over the edge trying to think of wonderful dishes to make our weekly guest and how to cover up the dryness, burnt bits or soggy things that weren’t supposed to be soggy.  I couldn’t stop reading though as it turns out Sarah Smiley had the same fears but did it anyway!  I fell in love with the idea of committing to such a thing.  The lessons she and her family learned from this experience will last a life time for her and her family.  It has taught them the value of spending face time with others, taking chances, opening themselves up, how taking risks can be so rewarding and so much more.  More than loving that they ate meals together I loved that they didn’t sit around for an entire deployment complaining and feeling sorry for themselves (which is so tempting to do), they looked at it as a learning opportunity for everyone.  I highly recommend this book in the hopes that it will inspire you all to shake up your family dinners a little or do something that gets you and your family to step out of their comfort zone and spend time together in a meaningful way.

If dinners won’t work, find a meal that does and do it consistently.  You cannot begin to imagine the benefits it will have for not only your kids but for you too.

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Living It – Week Eight

Time with Friends – Tip # 6

I picked this tip as it is something that I am failing miserably at and thought I should take my own advice a bit more. In theory, I am positive that I would be a much better human being if I had more time to spend time with friends that I can be real and laugh with. In practice, Monday to Friday I am flying solo (Friday night I quietly die on the couch) there is little time to connect with my friends. I miss being able to meet friends for dinner on the spur of the moment or not visiting when I am practically falling asleep in my meal. It isn’t easy to find time to spend time to sleep let alone visit with friends. This week I took a good look at my schedule and carved out time to go and have nachos with my best friend and sat with a friend at my children’s swim practice and had a great chat and one of my favourite people in the world offered to come to me with lunch. It has been renewing and definitely makes me a better Mom, principal (a lot less grouchy in both of these roles) and person in general.

I have given myself a report card for this tip based on the advice I gave in the book and how well I was doing actually keep it.

* Spend time with people who energize and enrich your life – I do this: A

* Attempt to see friends and family in person instead of on the phone, using Facebook or email – I am not doing well with this: C-

* Join a club, organization or evening class that you’ve always wanted to – signed up for pottery again: A

* Get a partner to go with to the gym:  I have been walking my dog 3-4km a day and while this is wonderful, there is no one that wants to get up at 5:30am to join me:  F (failing at spending time with friends) & A (for getting up at 5:30am each morning and actually doing it)

* Make spending time with a friend or family members a part of your weekly routine:  I give myself a failing grade on this right now but…  I have booked one evening a week for 2 hours where I am going to attempt to reconnect with friends so while I am currently failing this is the tip I am going to attempt to live by so I give myself a C-


While I don’t always practice what I preach with friends, I am very lucky to have patient friends who will still be willing to connect with me even if it has been over a year.  Look for those people in your life and connect with them, they are the people that know all about you and love you anyway.  Facebook is a lonely place.  My advice remains the same despite my struggle to follow it – get out and spend time with friends and make it a part of your routine.  You will feel better, hopefully your friends will too.

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