1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #460


Easter Hunt for Tweens and Teens (Updated)

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A couple of puzzle pieces in each egg and sometimes a chocolate egg or two!


With Easter coming, the pressure is on to prepare an Easter Egg hunt and with them being older, they needed a challenge and we have a dog so hiding chocolate eggs isn’t great.  My kids don’t want to give up being kids so I am all for that for as long as I can get it!   This was a big hit last year and I decided that I would do it again.  I bought two 100 piece puzzles, will write on the back of it using markers with the clue to where the baskets were hidden.  Being teenagers, I have written two messages on each of the puzzles.  I will then put the puzzle pieces in plastic eggs and when they finished the puzzle they would be able to discover where their baskets were hidden.

You will need: permanent marker, plastic eggs, two puzzles exactly the same and a few jelly beans, mini chocolate eggs and something you are giving them hidden in a safe location. 

Directions:

1) Buy 2 puzzles (got mine at Walmart this year and chose two 100 piece puzzles to add the to the challenge I bought two different puzzles)

2) Use a permanent marker and write your message across both puzzles. 

Message Is: Hoppy Easter! Your baskets are somewhere in the laundry room!

Message Is: Hoppy Easter! Your baskets are somewhere in the laundry room!

3) Mix both of the puzzles together and then put a couple of puzzle pieces in each egg (sometimes I put some jelly beans or chocolate in the plastic eggs to keep them fueled up)

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Two puzzles mixed together

 

4) Count how many plastic eggs you hide so you know when they have all their puzzle pieces 

5) Hide eggs and then enjoy an hour or so of watching them work together to figure it out, make a coffee and put your feet up! 

Happy Hunting!

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1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #471


Making Time

As the holidays draw closer and closer for many of us there seems like an endless list of things to do, buy, wrap, make, go to, etc.  It tires me out just thinking about it (and then I flop down and watch a couple of hours of Netflix and accomplish nothing)!  This time of year I always try hard not to get caught up in the gifts and things but more in the time with friends and family, doing things with the people I love and letting them know how I feel.  This is always easier said than done, however, here are the tips that I have followed for the last few years and they have really helped me to retain my sanity and have a lot of fun too.

Holiday Sanity Savers –

  1. Bake easy things – I looked through my cookbooks and chose cookies and desserts that are easy to bake and not going to require a ton of steps or days of planning and prep.
  2. Hire a wrapper (not rapper) – My teenager did the majority of the wrapping and this alone gave me hours of additional time!  It also forced me to carefully sort through everything so I knew exactly what I had.
  3. Shopped for it all in one weekend –  In the past my shopping has been spread out over a couple of months.  I think that I spent more (forgot what I had already bought) and wasted a lot of time going back and forth.
  4. Electronic Christmas letter and photo – I know that some people really prefer paper so I did 10 of those and everyone else is getting the electronic version.  It saves money and a lot of time but I am still able to keep in touch with people and share our year.
  5. Made a meal plan for the week of Christmas – this way there is little thinking or prep to do and more time to be spent having fun with the kids
  6. Combining Events – Rather than having 2, 3 or 4 dinners we have invited people to one.  This way we get to see all the people that are important to us but also aren’t cooking and cleaning the holiday away but have time to do other things with our kids and just relax together.
  7. Reality Break – Our kids are in competitive sports and while it is wonderful for them and they love it the holidays are a good time to take a break for all of us.  Even though we aren’t going away, we are going to behave like we are and mark ourselves as busy for two weeks.  Everyone needs a break from reality (and from being a taxi service).  I have put an auto message on my email and stepped away from work until the new year (I know everyone is not as lucky as I am to have 2 weeks off but step away for the time you do have).
  8. Nothing Day – Over the holidays have a day scheduled and planned where no one has to do a thing.  There are no commitments or obligations – no one even has to get out of pyjamas or brush their hair.  Eat leftovers and only do things that you want to do.
  9. Make a list – Everyone makes a list of things that they really want to do, must do and really don’t want to do.  This way we get a sense of what is important, can prioritize as a family and let go of some things that no one wanted to do in the first place.  Having said this – a large portion of my family would love not to have to decorate the tree.  As a parent, give yourself veto power so you get the tree you want and everyone slaps a smile on their faces as they decorate it!
  10. Take Photos – On Christmas day, to make your life easier, use your phone to take photos of gifts & the tag so that you remember who gave what to you and your family members.

  

 
Happy Holidays!  From my family to yours. 

1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #470


“I Love You Because…” Frames

Our lives as a family are busy.  We have chosen to do the things that we love to do and are having fun but most mornings I don’t really don’t see my kids very much.  In fact, most mornings I wake them (after turning on lights, telling them to get up 5 times and then move to panicked pleading) but then I have to leave for work.  Being a teenager is hard, really hard.  I want my kids to know that they are not only loved but why they are loved – at this age they want facts and evidence or they don’t believe it!  I know that they really don’t hear much that I say with their morning and pre breakfast brain.  I decided that I would make something quick and easy that they could read while they were getting ready and try to start their day off right.

Being that we are busy, I can assure you that these were EASY to make, are easy to do and cheap!  All you need is two frames, paper, and a white board marker.  You can change it every day or once a week.  It is up to you.

 
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1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #468


Tell Your Story – Tip #468

Everyone has stories inside of them to share about their experiences during a deployment, re-integration, posting or their lives as part of a military family.  Whether you were the one on a deployment or at home waiting for the deployment to be over, tell your story – a lot happens to you!  You don’t have to write a public blog or have a published book but you do need to put your thoughts out there – write them or record them somehow.  By sharing your experiences you are processing your thoughts and feelings, letting others understand your experiences and taking the first step in letting go and moving forward.  This is also a great way of sharing all the things that happened to you while your family member or friend was away.  They can look through it or read it at their pace when they return and it will help to fill in the gaps while they were away.

Tips:

* If you don’t enjoy writing, tell your story through a video journal

* Take a photo of something or someone every day

* Decide in advance whether or not others are going to be allowed to read it/see it

* Remember to record dates and times (you think you will remember but time really does fly)

* Make time to do this every day – it will be time just for you (which we all don’t do enough of)

* Another option is to consider using StoryWorth.  For Veterans/Remembrance Day,  StoryWorth are launching the Military Stories Project to help veterans across the country share their stories with their families. From November 1st until November 11th, they are offering free accounts to active service members, and 50% off subscriptions to all veterans and their families. Additionally, for anyone else who purchases a subscription during that time, we’re donating $10 to an organization working with veterans (Wounded Warriors).

However you decide to share your stories, make sure you do.  You may feel as though what you have to say is important, not necessary, not worth talking about or too difficult but those that love you will definitely disagree and the benefits of letting it will flow over into every part of your life.  Writing this blog has been one way that I have been able to share my experiences and it has strengthen me in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

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

To use Storyworth and make a donation to the Wounded Warriors Project click:

https://www.storyworth.com/veterans?utm_medium=blog&utm_source=whileyouwereaway.org&utm_campaign=Veterans+Day+2015&utm_term=Wounded+Warriors

1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #467


Thankfulness – Not Just A Temporary Thing!

Each year at Thanksgiving, we go around the table, talking about the things we are grateful for – as I know many do.  This feeling of fortune and happiness often extends beyond the meal times because we leave the table not only full but also focussed on what we are happy about rather than all the things that aren’t working in our lives and I like it.

Being a part of a military family means you often have to go without – family, friends, homemade treats only certain people can make, etc.  It got me to thinking that perhaps we should  list things that we are grateful for each day until Christmas (or American Thanksgiving or New Years) and keep that feeling of gratitude for a little longer than at just one dinner or day.

This year I bought a second hand tablecloth from a thrift store.  Each day we are going to write something on it that we are grateful for having had happened this year or something/someone in our lives that we are grateful for.  Then we are going to use it as our Christmas or New Years table cloth – it will not only remind us of how lucky we are but there will be some great conversation starters in there too.

How To:

  • Buy a material tablecloth (wash before using)
  • Buy Sharpie Markers (all colours)
  • Have a flat piece of cardboard under the cloth to ensure that if the marker goes through it isn’t on your countertop or table
  • Commit to adding to it on a regular basis (have it on the table before meals or fold it into squares and place the cardboard underneath there is an exposed square for people to write on easily without taking the whole thing out
  • After completed, throw into the dryer on high heat for 10-20mins, leave for 24 hours and then wash only in cold water (some people also recommend throwing a cup of salt into the cold water too)
  • Use at your next big event/dinner!

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

1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip#463


10 Quick Things To Do Before A Deployment

  1. Take pictures – and get them printed before they go (you’ll get busy once they have left and they will not get put up)
  2. Talk to each other about worries and fears – make a list of all of the things you are worried about and then talk about each one and come up with some things you can do or just acknowledge that it will be tough.
  3. Do a walk through your home: talking about shut off valves, fuse box, etc. – bring a note pad (and phone or camera) with you and just make some jot notes and take pictures so that when they are away you have something to reference
  4. Make emergency kits for the house – go to: http://www.redcross.org or http://www.redcross.ca to get more information- do a search under emergency preparedness guide
  5. Make a list of contact information for the fridge – friends, family, emergency contacts, unit information, how to get a message to your absent family member and most importantly (which people normally forget) is your own contact information at the top.
  6. Organize bill payments and schedule appointments – put on a large calendar in central area where everyone can access them and add to them when necessary.
  7. Make sure you have all the legal documentation you will need while they are away – ID cards, birth certificates, power of guardianship, powers of attorney, copies of insurance info – if you are traveling alone with children you will need additional documentation to identify that they are permitted to leave the country in your guardianship (I nearly couldn’t get back into the country once with my kids because I was missing this documentation!).
  8. Complete a calendar of events or update your phone calendars  – include birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions you normally acknowledge – this way you will both have the information.
  9. Hide notes in their bags/luggage and they should hide notes around the house for you to find when they are gone – come up with your own, use Post-its that are already made for you or other notes like the ones on: http://www.sayplease.com (you may have noticed that I LOVE these!)
  10. Make lists of short and long to goals for yourself while they are away to keep you busy, learning and doing new things and not always focused on their absence – Top Ten Things I Will Do, While You Are Away

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

1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #462


Talking 

Communication

As we head into the last weeks of going it solo I am now spending a lot of time thinking about how we are all going to come back together as a family and some of the things that need to be said. We have lived in the same house for approximately 100 days in 3 years. In that time the kids have grown and changed and we both have too.  There are a lot of things that were awful and difficult about all the time away but there were also a lot of things I enjoyed too.  All of this needs to be talked about.

Tips for communication:

* Don’t take on any heavy topics for the first few weeks. Focus on fun and spending time together.

* Carve out time to talk each day once you have begun to settle into a routine of some sort. Even if it is for 5-10mins this is important and will truly help.

* Try to choose one or two things to tackle at a time.

* Be prepared to hear things you don’t want to.  No one enjoys hearing negative things about themselves or about all the things we are doing wrong but we aren’t perfect and if you don’t know what is bothering someone you can’t move forward.

* Be honest and courageous in your conversations not angry and spiteful.

* Set some common goals – we are talking about this because we both need/want…

* Listen to understand, not to be understood.  There is a huge difference and it will make a difference if you really try to understand what it is they are saying.

* Start and end conversations with something positive even if you have to dig deep!

* Take time outs when you get emotional. Talking when you are in a heightened state will accomplish little and may take you back a step or two.

* Conversations should not take place in front of children or family members. Go for a walk, sit outside, wait until the kids are out or have gone to bed.

* Don’t try to have discussions when either of you have been drinking or are exhausted. I don’t believe this has ever been a successful technique particularly as the other person may wonder if it was said because of intoxication or if it was even true or they just wanted to get to sleep.

* Turn off phones, TV, etc. I am not sure I know of anyone that appreciates someone watching the TV, texting or answering the phone in the middle of an important conversation.

Feeling anger, frustration, sadness and so many other emotions is normal and natural but… To have a healthy relationship you will have to let go of these things (eventually) and you can’t let go until you let them out!

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