Monday, September 30, 2013

Deployment Care Packages

Sometimes, I don't really understand how long we've been doing this military life. 15 years. 16 in January. In 4 years my husband will be retired!?! Seriously, it's hard to wrap my brain around. I still have to pause and calculate when I'm asked How long has your husband been in? At some point, this long journey to 20 years hit a fast forward button and we have 4 years left. It's weird. I never ever believed the old timers who would tell us the 20 years would go fast. Now I realize they were right. Maybe the first ten years passed slowly but the past six... a blink of an eye.

Promotion to Lance Corporal

With 15 years behind us, you better believe we've done deployments. Not as many as most, especially with Iraq and Afghanistan, but enough to matter. Heck, my mentality is 'one is more than enough'. We did a Korea trip, three Iraq deployments, and a MEU. Korea was in 2001. I'm pretty sure we were using email and snail mail for morale boosters. When my husband went to Iraq, I started sending care packages.

Homecoming 2005
Back in the day (circa 2003), the Marines ate hamburgers and hot dogs practically every day of deployment to Iraq. It didn't take long before they burned out on the limited fare. So, I sent a crockpot and the family would send care packages full of canned goods and spices. The Marines would do the bachelor thing and just mix random things together for soup. I guess it was much better than the alternative. There was even a hot dog soup. Eww!

Not until my husband's recent MEU did I start sending theme care packages. It was fun for the kids and me too. I wasn't quite sure what my husband would think but the themes were actually enjoyable for him. I guess when you are deployed things start to feel like Ground Hog Day. The same day after day. I guess a fun care package helps break things up! Add a little color and excitement to the desert sand or grey metal of a ship.

I'm sort of creative when it comes to simple things. Pinterest still helped jumpstart ideas for themed care packages. Instagram is surprisingly helpful too. Hashtag #carepackages or #militarycarepackages for pictures of military care packages. There is also a blogger, Army Wife Housewife, who posts creative care packages ideas frequently. You can check out my Deployment Pinterest Board for a few ideas. The themes are endless.

Linking up with Eights on The Move

Friday, September 27, 2013

Fall Bucket List

Why, oh, why do I continue to subject myself to the high expectation of a bucket list? I haven’t quite figured out the allure of a To-Do List. But I just can’t help myself! I make a list for everything. Groceries, cleaning, gift giving, weekends, vacations, goals. Type A? Control freak? Organized? Organized definitely sounds more pleasant!

After several failed attempts at a Summer Bucket List, you would think I would learn my lesson. Stop making bucket lists. Nope! If anything, I now see my “failures” as a challenge. There is some internal motivation to beat myself… at a game that I made up… that technically isn’t even a game. Wouldn’t you know the minute I came across the Seasonal Bucket List linkup at Teaberry Trails, I decided this was my time. A sure fire way to accomplish a bucket list… during my favorite season! I’ve learned my lesson. My list will be short. And I won’t be sabotaging my success with any big life events like buying a house or moving. I’m slowing things down and enjoying my favorite season.

What do you think? Simple. I’ll be back December 10 to update my progress. As will all the other bloggers linking up their Seasonal Bucket List.

How do you enjoy the fall season? Any traditions that are a must before the snow is here?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Sunshine Award

Thank you Meg for nominating me for the Sunshine Award. I love the idea behind this award. Nominating blogs that make us smile. What a positive award to give away! However, you are limited to only 10 nominees and I'm sure there are more than ten blogs that make you smile! Meg has created 10 questions for me to answer. And my nominees get to answer 10 new questions I've created. 
Sometimes it's difficult to keep these awards circulating. In the name of an award with such a cheery name...I am going to give it my best effort!

Meg's Ten Questions:
1. If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

I've always wanted to live on the East Coast. I don't even know why since I've never really spent much time there. It just seems like a place I would like.

2. What are you most excited about this fall?

Living in California, I am most excited for fall because the weather cools off. It's the closest thing we get to seasons.

3. What is your favorite dessert? Bonus points for the recipe.

Hmm... I suppose I would choose cupcakes.
We have the best local cupcake shop, Truly Madly Sweetly.
My favorite, Boston Creme. Yum!

4. What are you going to be for Halloween this year?

I will be the official candy passer-outer. It's sorta my thing.

5. Share your favorite GIF or Meme of the moment.

I'm really loving Military Mondays hosted by Eights On The Move.
Here are the most recent posts: Military Family Planning, Mando-Fun, and 
Military Ranks.

6. Favorite article of clothing? More bonus points for a selfie wearing it!

Love my Old Navy Military Jacket.

7. What is your favorite post you've ever written?

My Take On Military Life

8. What is your guilty pleasure TV show or movie?
I'm currently hooked on How I Met Your Mother. It's a little risque but truly clever. I love clever comedy. I haven't been this in love with a sitcom since Friends.

9. Share the fourth oldest photo on your phone.

September 2011

10. What is one goal you have for this year?

My goal was to find a job. Thankfully, I can put a big ole check in that box!
The Nominees:
Each Little Bird That Sings
Raising Our Little DevilPups
Chores and Chandeliers
Trailerhood Aristocrats
Domesticated Combat Boots
Munchkins and the Military
Anchors Aweigh
Ashlea with An A
The Professional Army Wife

Questions from Adventures of a Semper Fi Family:
1. What is the most recent thing you bought for yourself (food doesn't count)? Share a pic.
2.  If you could hop a plane this weekend and go anywhere in the US, where would you go? Why?
3.  Who is the first person you call when you have good news?
4. What is your least favorite blog topic to read?
5. What is your favorite blog topic to read?
6. What is the 10th picture on your phone (or computer)? We want to see it!
7. What is one thing you do to spoil yourself?
8. Who is your favorite coffee date?
9. Share the link to your favorite blog post from your blog.
10. What blogger would you most like to have a blate (blogger date)?


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

September #BlogTwitLov Link Up {Co-hosting}

Twitter Hop

Welcome to the Twitter Hop!
The only "rule" here is to follow as many people on the hop as possible!  I'd love it if you would grab a button and put it on your sidebar or "where hop/party" page.  Alright, let's get this party started!  So, put your TWITTER on the first link up ( USER NAME) and your BLOGLOVIN blog on the second link up, then gain some new followers.

Your Hosts:
Dawn~from Dawn's Disaster
Natasha~from Serenity You

Your Co-Hosts this month:
Night Owl
Adventures of a Semper Fi Family

Don't forget to share and Tweet about this link up!

If you are interested in Co-Hosting for December, please email me: dawnsdisaster {at} gmail {dot} com  to get signed up.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Military Family Planning

Today I get to put on my big sister hat. A role I only get to play a couple times a year when my lil sis decides to clear her schedule and pick up the phone.

See...see what I did there. Total big sister move. Throw the younger one under the bus. And run like the wind! Just kidding. Love my sister. Poor girl gets a lot of unsolicited advice. A Lot! But as the older sister you get the trump card. It's called age and experience. I guess that makes two cards. Trump cardzzz.

On this Military Monday, Ashley from Eights On The Move, asked for advice on family planning in the military. I wasn't quite sure how to approach the topic. I am by no means an expert in family planning! However, I am an expert in non-family planning. I have a pretty good success rate. So, I can definitely educate you on what happens when you don't use strategy when having babies.

To preface this post, I should really point out my target audience. The military is made up of all ages and stages of life. What was a typical career move for a young adult is now a viable choice for anyone under the age cutoff. What is it? 32? 33? Obviously my advice is directed more towards couples who are young and beginning the military life together. Those couples who have the bulk of 20 years ahead of them. Older couples and those who are marrying more senior ranks don't have to consider how an entire military career will impact their children. You all are on your own!

Here is a quick family history. My husband joined the military. My daughter was born 18 months later. Our son was born three years after. And our other son 18 months after that. As I have written before, my daughter will only know life as a military child. My husband will retire around the time the boys enter high school. Of all my worries about being a military family; having to uproot my child during high school would be top 3. I pray we never!

Our kids were born early on in my husband's career. Our first when my husband was a Lance Corporal. We made the conscious decision to not have more children until he was a Sergeant. Zac was born then. Derrick was born when my husband was a Staff Sergeant. Based on our personal experience, I suggest Do not have a child when your spouse is a junior rank, enlisted or officer. #1 reason is money. Self explanatory. #2 is job related. Everyone knows junior enlisted ranks are the peons. They have no freedom and have to ask permission to do anything which includes prenatal appointments with the wife. By the time you've picked up a few ranks, you can talk to people as your equal and balance the workload to allow you to attend a couple appointments without having to deal with a crabby egotistical superior who never had the "luxury" of going to baby appointments.

My second bit of sound advice is Never tempt the deployment "gods". With our second, we knew my husband would be deploying in the new year. We had given ourselves a cut off date. If it didn't happen by a certain month, then we would stop trying. Without success, we decided to just let things happen if it was "meant" to be. Chances are it hadn't happened yet so it probably wouldn't happen. Our second child was born three days before my husband returned home from deployment. I honestly wouldn't recommend having a baby if your husband is on sea duty or in a continuous deployment cycle. Having a baby during deployment sucks. No way around it. It sucks. And the second time around isn't any better. I got to learn that lesson too.

Retrospectively, if I had chosen when to have babies, I would have waited until my husband was 4 to 6 years into his military career. By the time my kids were high school age, we would be settled in our forever home.  But, life doesn't work that way. No crystal balls or time machines. We just have to trust God that everything works out exactly as it should. One lesson all military families learn quickly is to be flexible. Your well intended plans always seem to get derailed by the military's master one. If we would have waited to have kids, then our time in Japan would have been about raising preschoolers and toddlers. We wouldn't have been able to explore our host country for three years toting 3 littles around. And if we tried, the kids wouldn't remember it anyways.

Man, I ran circles today. The family planning question is a toughie! The only real answer is to Be Flexible. Have those babies when you are absolutely ready to be a parent. In fact, wait a few months longer than that. Just to make sure. Parenting is a tough gig. Military family or not. Being ready to be a parent sets you up for success way more than perfect timing.

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More Military Monday posts...

Military Ranks

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Tales From The New Home {week 10}

Apologies for taking the week off. Mr. Fix It was away at training and I was holding things together here by the skin of my teeth. Ok, it's never that bad when he is away for short trainings. But I tend not to blog about his away time when he is away. Defaulting to OpSec on that one.

I had a big list of things to do while he was away. Some were small around the house type jobs and others were big... like removing an entire palm tree solo. You have my permission to laugh. Needless to say, the tree removal didn't happen. Partly because we had an insane heat wave for 10 of the 14 days he was gone and partly because removing trees is not for the faint of heart. I didn't realize this when I added it to my To Do List.

Which leads me to the newest revelation for us. I asked my husband to turn off the sprinklers while he was away. In case one of those sprinkler heads broke off again. I did not want to mess with replacing one. I promised in vain to water the lawn daily. I think. Mr. Fix It says I said daily. Well, I may have skipped a few days. And then the heat wave came. Then some grass started to die.

It happens.

Most people understand... Just not the HOA. That's right. I got us in trouble. We received our notice in the mail stating we were breaking Section IV and something with an 8.4 and some other number. Failure to keep our lot attractive. Opps. Now we need to maintain the small section of grass that has turned brown  with fertilizer. And return our intent to correct in writing within 10 days.

And never ever break the rules again. Yikes!


Thursday, September 19, 2013


Have you heard the term Mando-Fun?  The word is used to describe mandatory military events intended to be fun. Although, most events are not required or mandatory there is definitely a certain expectation put on military members to attend. It's an interesting dynamic of being a military family. Some military members put greater emphasis on military social events than others. I think I'm married to one of those emphasizers.

I have always prided myself as open minded. Friendly. Love my military family. Sadly, the older I get the fonder I become of my jammies, a glass of wine, and How I Met Your Mother on Netflix to occupy my weekend nights. If I'm going to be with people, I want them to be my friends. I just do.

Maybe it isn't old age? Maybe I've attended my fair share of parties... promotion parties and re-enlistement parties... and going away parties... and lately... retirement parties. Ok... is it just me or does it seem like the military likes to party?? Maybe just the Marine Corps?

There is a rich history and tradition when it comes to military social events. I suppose there is something  endearing about a bunch of young military vets sitting around discussing the Marine Corps. I suppose. And there are few things cooler than being in a room full of Marines at any given time. I'm sure the same goes for any branch of service. You can't help but feel proud to be a part of it.

If I had to choose my (second) favorite party, then I would choose retirement. *Marine Corps Ball is my favorite but I can't choose that one for this post*  Retirement parties are a major cause for celebration. I have always felt retirement parties are a much needed pat on the back for 20 years of service and sacrifice.  I always know I am going to see some oldies but goodies at the retirement. People who were senior when we were junior. I love to play catch up. I also can't help but catalog away ideas for my husband's retirement. Believe me, when we say goodbye to the military life we are going out with a bang! Go big or go home.
Linking up with Eights On The Move

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Join us for #BlogTwitLov Hop

I'm co-hosting the #BlogTwitLov Hop the entire month of September. One more post for this amazing hop will happen next week! Every Wednesday stop back and join us for this Twitter and Bloglovin linkup!

Twitter Hop

Welcome to the Twitter Hop!
The only "rule" here is to follow as many people on the hop as possible!  I'd love it if you would grab a button and put it on your sidebar or "where hop/party" page.  Alright, let's get this party started!  So, put your TWITTER on the first link up ( USER NAME) and your BLOGLOVIN blog on the second link up, then gain some new followers.

Your Hosts:
Dawn~from Dawn's Disaster
Natasha~from Serenity You

Your Co-Hosts this month:
Night Owl
Adventures of a Semper Fi Family

Don't forget to share and Tweet about this link up!

If you are interested in Co-Hosting for December, please email me: dawnsdisaster {at} gmail {dot} com  to get signed up.


E.A.T Marketplace Temecula

Organic. Farm to plate. Non-GMOs. Gluten free. Paleo. There are so many terms floating around it is hard to keep them straight. Equally hard to create a diet following all the "rules". And even more difficult to abide when you dine out. I don't know about you but when I go out to eat I have succumbed to the fact that I will be consuming an insane amount of calories, fat grams, sugar, and chemicals in the name of artificial whatevers and preservatives. Check. Check. And check!

When my friend invited me to the local farm to plate cafe, E.A.T Marketplace, I was skeptical. I apologize for my assumptions but I couldn't imagine how yummy one can make food from a garden.  Yes, I grew up on BLTs with garden fresh tomatoes and a one pot boil of red potatoes, green beans, and bacon. However, there wasn't much else to be done with our garden fare in the way of meals.

Enter E.A.T Marketplace. Hello yummy garden goodness! Let's just say my first meal was on Tuesday and I was back on Friday. I couldn't stay away. This restaurant is a hodge podge of eclectic decor. I'm pretty sure they buy their tables and chairs from the Salvation Army next door. Do not be deceived.  Location and decor are no indication of what the menu offers.

There is no better wake up call than your first bite of a sandwich or salad from E.A.T Marketplace. Every flavor comes through. Turkey, tomato, greens, pickled cucumber, bread. All meld together to taste like...wait for it... a sandwich. Quite the novel idea, a sandwich tastes like a sandwich. A salad like a salad.


Veggie Wrap

Tofu Bowl

Roasted Turkey Sandwich

Egg Sandwich

This is my little secret. It will not be the family night out spot. I've got this one locked away as my "lunch date" restuarant. My kids wouldn't appreciate the fare. They would much rather have french fries or corn dogs. By the way, not on the menu! Plus, E.A.T Marketplace is busy busy. If you go during lunch, chances are you will be sharing a table with strangers. Not always a bad thing. Unless they try to swipe a bite from your plate. Then you got problems!


Monday, September 16, 2013

Tom's Farm Corona

Sunday Funday, Monday Funday, Friday Funday. In my opinion, any day of the week can be dubbed a Funday. Maybe not Wednesday and Thursday... they do not rhyme as well. There are so many fun activities to check out around Southern California. I haven't even begun to touch a small portion of them. I'm definitely trying! Last week, a friend and I decided to check out a local attraction, Tom's Farm. As an Iowa girl, when I hear the word farm my mind pictures, well, a farm. In SoCal, when you hear the word farm it likely means a place selling fruits and vegetables. And possible an inoperable tractor staged out front.

If you haven't noticed, Tom's Farm is a shopping attraction. There is plenty of cute stuff and unique edibles. As two kidless moms, we enjoyed browsing around the shops and chatting. I would say coffee cups in hand but we had to trash those. No drinks allowed in the stores. As much as I'd love to bring my kids to a farm, this would not be the one of choosing. Sure there are fun things for the kids to do but it's a really tight area to move around in.

Tom's Farm hosts special events year round. I would suggest visiting during those times. Check out the website for a calendar of events.

The trip wasn't a total bust. I found Sioux City Root Beer in the cooler. That is about as authentic to the Midwest as this farm got.