Living It – Week 13


Mapping Their Journey – Tip #76

World Map

I have not been great about living my own advice with this one.  When I wrote it a few years ago I was doing it but we have moved and not had another deployment until now so I had forgotten.  This week my kids started talking about where their Dad was and I quickly realized that they had no sense of where in the world he has been deployed to, how far it is, etc.  so I bought a map (there are also a ton of free printable maps online too).  We have been able to map out where their Dad is, how long it would take to get there, time zones, etc.  It was a good geography chat and I think it make them feel better too.  We have decided to now mark (with different coloured stickers) all the places that he has been, all the places that we have been as a family and then use a completely different coloured sticker to mark all the places that we would like to go.

When I taught at a base school (quite a few years ago now) we put up a map and attempted to run/walk the number of miles that it would take to get to Afghanistan in a school year.  It gave students a goal and a sense of distance they hadn’t considered before.

I am sorry but for safety reasons I won’t post my map right now.  

 For more information about our tips, resources, and books go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org

1001 Tips For Military Families – Tip #452


Daddy Dolls – Tip #452  

Chilling out by a cosy fire

Chilling out by a cosy fire

When my kids were younger they would have loved to have cuddled with a doll that had their Dad’s face on it.  I realized that they are older now and that might not be considered ‘cool’ but I still loved the idea of having something with his face on it to take on trips, to eat with us, to put into pictures and have fun with so… I ordered an Daddy Doll to have some fun with!  This doll is going to be on a lot of adventures with us while their Dad is away and we are going to keep track of them all through photos.  We have also started pinning ticket stubs, momentos, receipts, etc. onto the back of the doll.  When their Dad is back we will be able to talk about all the adventures our Daddy Doll went on while he was away.   It was $100 including shipping and taxes and has been one of the best things we have ever purchased for absences!

 

Texting together!

Texting together!

A day in the principal's office!

A day in the principal’s office!

For more information about our tips, books and resources go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org

Daddy Doll link: http://daddydolls.com/index.php?route=product/category&path=83

1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #453


Responsibilities Chart

In our house can be painful trying to get my kids to lift a finger at times (okay, a lot of the time).  I am usually greeted with things like, “I have too much homework”, “I am so tired”, “_______ never does it.”.  It is frustrating and when my husband is away it leaves me to be the only one nagging which frequently sends me over the edge!  There was always a potential argument brewing about who walked the dog last, whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher, putting away their laundry, help with dinner, etc. until we started marking it all on a calendar I got in the after Christmas sales (you need to get one with big boxes for writing).  It is so exhausting having to ask and ask for things to be done that I am often tempted to do it myself to save the aggravation but I don’t want my kids to grow up believing that if you complain enough, someone will do it for you.

The only thing that has stopped the discussions (mostly) is our chore chart and dog walking schedule.  It is in the kitchen, written out for everyone to see so that we can avoid having a lengthy “debate”.  We make it together each month, agree it is fair before posting it up and stick to it whenever possible (my next goal is to work on teaching them to pitch in even when it isn’t written down or jump in when you see someone else is overwhelmed but I think that might need to be a long term goal!).

It has marked on it dog walking, their activities, help with dishes or dinner.

It stands out as we use different colours for things and I put it on the fridge as it is a high traffic area where everyone in the house goes regularly.

For more information about our resources, tips or books go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org

A whiteboard calendar will also work!

A whiteboard calendar will also work!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living It – Week 11


Hide Pictures – Tip #68

IMG_3064

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!

FullSizeRender (4)

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

 

For more information about our tips, blog and resources please go to:  www.whileyouwereaway.org

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: www.whileyouwereaway.org

 

Us being us!

Us being us!

 

For more information about our resources, tips and books go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org

Living It – Week Six


Comfort Blanket – Tip #66

Sometimes I think that I could really do with a comforting blanket after a long day of work, kids, dog, housework and all the things in between!  Having said this, I did follow up own advice and this has been something that my kids have used, loved and found to be a great source of comfort.  Their blankets were a gift – a friend of their Grandma did one for each of my kids when their Dad was deployed to Afghanistan.   They LOVED these blankets.  My daughter used to say she was going to bed to talk to Dad!  Fabulous pictures of him with them were all over it and on the other side it was soft and just the right type of material to snuggle up to.  Those blankets wore and washed well and they went with us everywhere.  It has only been in the last year that the pictures have faded.  My son said that it meant a little part of their Dad was always with them.   He still has his on his bed (although he would not want me to be telling people that!) and now that his Dad is away so much I think it is something that he associates with feel safe and comfortable.

Ethan's deployment blanket

Ethan’s deployment blanket

I was lucky enough to have someone who could have these made for me but if you aren’t…  I have researched a few options for you.

Shutterfly has an online service that you can simply send in your photos and they will send you the blanket: http://www.shutterfly.com/photo-gifts/fleece-photo-blankets

Walmart has on line and in store service and they are cheaper but some families have reported to me that they don’t wash well.  Having said this, the price is probably the most competitive: http://photos.walmart.com/walmart/storepage/storePageId=Blankets

Snap fish is very user friendly and the blankets look fabulous.  They even have a military one: http://www.snapfish.com/snapfish/photo-gifts/personalized-photo-blankets

 

For more information about our tips, resources or books go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org

Living It – Week Three


Get Organized – Tip #1

I was one of the most disorganized people I knew as a child and teenager.  Now, my only little act of rebellion is that I always have a pile of clothes somewhere in my room that needs cleaning, sorting or putting away and I never make my bed.  I am not sure what the exact events were that caused me to begin to organize myself but I know that since having children and being a military wife it is one of the main things that saves my sanity (to be clear, it is sometimes temporarily lost no matter what I do…).  One of the things that I advised people to do was create a ‘year box’ and put birthday, anniversary cards, etc. in it by month… okay, I have never done that… My mother did it and was always so thoughtful about sending family and friends cards and little notes (it is where I stole the idea from).  I always feel a little sense of disappointment when I get a birthday reminder on Facebook (or just remember the date when it arrives or has passed) that I couldn’t get my act together enough to send a card and then I post a Facebook message which feels like cheating.  I always have good intentions but they don’t lead to actual action.  So…  this week I went on a card shopping expedition and have organized a year of birthday cards (get ready friends and family!).  What I realized is that if I am going to really follow through on this I am also going to end a good selection of stamps too… regular trips to a post office aren’t going to happen! So, I have confessed what I wasn’t doing but below are my organization tips that I do actually follow through with…

Our latest selection of cards

Our family’s latest selection of cards

1) I keep a weekly calendar for meals and activities that is on our fridge.  Each Sunday night I do one for the week. We don’t always stick to all the meals but it is there as a guide when I don’t want to think.
2) A weekend a month and on holidays I carve out some time to bake and cook. I always double or triple recipes and freeze them so they are available during busy weeks.
3) Mornings are not pretty for our family so anything that reduces time and energy in the mornings seems to work. We sort out what we wear the night before. This small thing reduced time in the morning and thinking that often led to arguments.
4) We have a calendar in the kitchen that has all important dates and activities marked in advance and everyone can add to it. It is also in our high traffic area so no one can say they didn’t see it. Once a month we all sit down and go over what the month looks like (it isn’t as if anyone remembers the discussion but they all feel consulted and I have a chance to hear what they are and are not looking forward to – I can prepare for battle!)
5) There is less wasted time, fewer arguments and everyone feels calmer when bedrooms are clean and organized. Once every two weeks rooms are sorted out. Once every 6 months we go through their clothes (our kids grow like weeds).
6) We have a divided box for mail, magazines, coupons and bills. It helps us not to lose mail and other things that we need to action. Before doing this there were 10 different places to find things and it used to send me over the edge more than getting the actual bill!
7) We used chalkboard paint and made a chalkboard above the phone in the kitchen. It keeps phone messages and my grocery list. Before I go grocery shopping I take a picture of the list on my phone.

Our kitchen information area!

Our kitchen information area!

 

Being more organized has really given me more time – time to sleep more, time to relax, time to make better choices or do something selfish (today I went and had a massage and it was an hour of magic!). It is also one of the main reasons that I am still able to get up in the mornings and function despite deployments, exercises, IR, work, children’s sports/school/social calendars, laundry, the dog ,meals and life in general.  You don’t have to be an ‘organizing fanatic’ but doing a few small things ahead of time can make military and family life so much easier.

For more information about my tips, resources or books go to:  www.whileyouwereaway.org

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