Monday, July 30, 2012

Our Big Day

After 7 long months, my husband finally made it home for R&R yesterday! The past couple of days have been filled with tons of cleaning and preparing to welcome him back. My friend and fellow unit wife Brandy was at the airport to capture the moment. I look forward to being able to share those picture but for now, here are some I took on the phone. This is also posted from my phone so it won't be formatted like I normally do when I post from the computer.

Friday, July 27, 2012

United Through Reading - Staying Connected Through Deployment

When I got home yesterday evening there was a large USPS flat rate box waiting for me at the door. I thought it was a bit odd since my mom usually lets me know when she is sending a package. Could it have been one of Hubster's care packages that got returned? As I walked up the walkway, I noticed that it wasn't one of the boxes that I sent since I usually put a little decoration on the outside. It was a care package for me from my Hubs! When I get packages from Hubster the first thing I always do is see what the customs form says. This one said "children's books", which could only mean one thing... United Through Reading!!!

Crappy picture, I know.. I need to upload the stuff from my camera

United Through Reading is a program in partnership with the USO that allows service members to record themselves reading a book and then send that recording and the book back home. I love love love this program! Especially since Hubs was always the big reader in the house and would always read to the girls. V loves to watch "papa's movies" and I love being able to watch my hubba bubba anytime I want. Especially since it's been a very long time since we've been able to Skype.

I was first made aware of this program through another spouse in Hubster's unit who had used it while she was deployed to Iraq. Immediately I started looking into and trying to find out more info. This program is already available at several overseas locations as well as at sea homeports and land-based USO locations. It turns out that they didn't have it at the FOB that Hubs was going to. Well, let me tell you, they were going to have it by the time he got there..!

I got with Hubs' commander so that we could work towards making it happen. It was actually a pretty easy process. The boss man did most of the work and I found an FRG volunteer to take over as a liaison. The USO provides all of the materials (camera, DVDs, books, mailing package) and it's completely free! It took a little while for the unit to get everything set up over there because of space/locations and all that but it happened!

And here is a tip for those of you who may be using this program in the near future.. The disk records for half an hour. If your Soldier finishes reading before that, they can keep talking and send personal messages home.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Expedited Shipping

I'm only 8 months late on doing so, but I finally ordered Baby A's crib last night. She's been sleeping in the bassinet in my room or in her bed since she was born so there wasn't a huge rush to get her a bed of her own. With Hubster coming home next week though, I think it's finally time.. I will miss cuddling with someone once he goes back to Afghanistan.

I did a bunch of comparison shopping and finally placed my order pretty late yesterday and I should be receiving my items tomorrow. That's freaking amazing. Two days! Granted, one item is coming from Orlando, Fl and the other is coming from somewhere here in Georgia. But back in the day, my order wouldn't have even been processed yet with standard shipping.

I've noticed lately that there really isn't any reason to pay the more expensive shipping costs unless you need the product now. Companies have really stepped it up and working at making customers happier. At least in this sense.

I'm very excited to be receiving the crib and mattress and to have my beautiful husband home next week to help me put it together!

Keep an eye open for tomorrow's recap of today! We had a great beach day!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Original Dish Drying Mat

When Influenster sent out the Mom VoxBox recently, some recipients were lucky enough to receive The Original Dish Drying Mat. I was not one of those lucky recipients, however, thanks to Hubster, I already had one.

Image from The Original Dish Drying Mat

Before getting my mat, I always used a dish towel to place wet dishes on and wait for them to dry. Since the towel doesn't absorb much, the counter top always ended up wet. The great thing about The Original Dish Drying Mat is that it is super thick and absorbent so the counters don't end up damp. The fact that it is thick also helps to keep the dishes from sliding all over the place once you start stacking them up.

The Original Dish Drying Mat is available for purchase at Bed, Bath & Beyond for $4.99. It is machine washable and extremely durable. When you're done using the mat, it's easy to fold up and put away in a drawer where it doesn't take much space.

Ring of Fire: We Built A Fire Pit

A friend and I decided to get a little crazy these past two days and build the fire pit that I've been dreaming of! Now while it wasn't a breeze to build, it certainly wasn't that difficult. Thankfully we've been working out in preparation for our husbands to come home and were able to use our brand new muscles.

After a bit of searching and internet investigating, I found a local landscaper that would build the pit for $1200. What?! No. They would deliver all of the materials for a mere $900. Thanks, but no. From there I decided to see what I could get from Lowe's or Home Depot.

Going into Lowe's, I was expecting to pick up one of their $200 kits with all of the bricks and metal ring included for you. Well after seeing the kit, that wasn't going to happen. Boy were those bricks ugly. The nice man at the store said it'd just be cheaper for me to just pick my own bricks and get the ring separately any way. Ok. Seems simple enough. Jacquie and I proceeded to load 68 wall pavers onto the flat cart with the employee's help. We also needed 2 bags of paver base and 2 tubes of Liquid Nails. I already had some of the tools (shovel, rake, level) but needed to borrow the hand tamper from a friend.

Friday morning started bright and early at 8:30am with us digging up a 5ft x 5ft area of grass. This was one the hardest part. We removed the grass and then started raking the dirt level. Once we were satisfied with the level of the dirt, we dumped the paver base and leveled that. The hand tamper was used to pack that down. I made sure that everything was level while Jacquie started bring the pavers from the back of the truck.

Jacquie kept bringing the pavers while I started placing them in a circle. I thought CrossFit was tough but it's nowhere near as physically demanding as building a fire pit was. As I laid each paver, I had to make sure that they were level with one another. The first layer was really the only one that we had to worry about. For each additional level, we applied some Liquid Nails and placed the paver over the space of the two pavers below.

The three top layers didn't take much time at all to stack up. When everything was complete, we poured some egg rocks around and called it a day. The two of us were SO surprised at how well everything turned out. The total project was less than $250 including all the extra little materials that went into the construction. My pit is four layers high of pretty textured brick while the one that they sell in the kit is a kinda ugly plain three layered pit.

I haven't shown Hubster yet because I want it to be a surprise when he comes home on R&R. He is going to be shocked that his wife and her friend put this thing together. It's much too hot to use the fire pit now, but I can't wait for Hubs to be home for good in December so that we can snuggle and toast marshmallows.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Quaker Soft Baked Oatmeal Cookies

Looking for a yummy healthy snack that is perfect for the kiddos? Influenster sent a Quaker Soft Baked Oatmeal Cookie for us to test out. V and I shared one of these individually packed cookies and fell in love! They practically fall apart in your mouth with how soft and homemade tasting they are. It was almost like a bowl of oatmeal in cookie form. The only thing that could have made it better would have been to warm it up a bit.

Image from Influenster

These delicious cookies are nice and chewy and made with whole grain Quaker Oats. They are a great source of fiber with only 6 grams of fat per serving so it's OK to indulge a little bit! You can find these at most major retailers for $2.69 for a box of 6.

I received this product complimentary for testing and review purposes from Influenster

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dino Lingo Review

As a member of Influenster, I was recently given the opportunity to try out a Dino Lingo lesson in Spanish for V. I wasn't completely sure how I felt about it at first since she is only 2 years old, it couldn't hurt to at least try though. After all, I'm not doing the greatest job teaching her Spanish myself.

Image from Influenster

WOW! Almost instantly, all of my negativity flew right out the window! Dino Lingo is an award-winning language program suitable for children two to seven years old and it was fantastic for V! I was so surprised at how quickly she picked it up. There are tons of bright colors and fun sounds which kept her attention. The segments and images also change frequently so she didn't have an opportunity to get bored.

Right away, V started repeating the words and phrases being taught in the video. I didn't even have to say anything. She just did it! Later on in the day she was still saying, "Hola. Como estas?" There are several languages available through Dino Lino. You can find more info and try a lesson completely free here.

Check out the short clip below to see V counting.

I received this product complimentary for testing and review purposes from Influenster

My HUGE Pet Peeve: Fauxtographers

Usually I don't complain about people/stuff like this, but lately this has been bothering me so much!

I think it's great that there are so many military spouses who want to contribute financially to the household and make names for themselves by doing their own thing. However, within the military community there seems to have been an epidemic that turned every other wife into a photographer. Or as I've seen it on the internet, fauxtographer. It seems as though just about anyone with a DSLR camera and Adobe Photoshop is opening up their own photo business.

Recently, one of the Soldiers from Hubs' unit came back and his family hired an Army wife to take their pictures. They came out awful. AWFUL. I feel bad that they had to pay for the pictures that were taken of their loved one coming home. I'm no pro, but even I could see that the lighting and composition was completely off in all of these photos. Of course they were over edited with a ton of artistic effects. What's the point of the picture when you can't even see your daughter running to her daddy because her skin color blends in with the background?

I don't necessarily think that an individual needs to go to school to become a pro in a certain trade, it absolutely takes a ton of practice though. If you have no idea what an f-stop is or how changing it affects the picture, you probably have no business charging for the pictures you take.

An additional point to this pet peeve is when these "business" pages are set up on Facebook and the grammar/spelling is wrong, wrong, wrong! It's third grade English people!

Your =/= you're
Their =/= there =/= they're
Then =/= than

Nothing makes me crazier than a "professional" page that I can't even read in its entirety because none of the wording makes sense.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

It's the Final Countdown!

Less than 3 weeks from now, Hubster and I will be lounging in the sun on a 7 day Caribbean cruise. I can not wait! We spent the morning emailing ideas back and forth for what we wanted to do on the ship and in each of the ports. Nothing has been settled on yet. We'll probably just end up waiting until the last minute anyway and booking excursions directly through the companies since there is a huge up charge when booking through the cruise line. I'm so excited!

Before Hubs gets back, I have a ton of things that need to be done. I'm trying to decide if I want to go all out and get new sheets and pillows on the bed now for R&R or wait until he's home for good. Same goes for having the carpet shampooed and the exterior power-washed. The lawn also needs some serious attention and the flowerbeds up front need major weeding. I'm totally not an outside type of work person. I've already started the major inside dusting/vacuuming to make sure everything is done in time.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Watch Out World!

I was on a roll today!

The morning started out with a CrossFit workout. And one of the harder ones at that. No worries though, I made Linda my B. But I sure am feeling it now.

After the workout Jacquie and I did what any fitness expert would do. We headed to Taco Bell. I scarfed down 3 chalupas. It was the perfect post workout meal followed by a free Hibiscus Berry Refresher at Starbucks. The drink was delicious and just what I needed after the gym and a heavy meal.

I dragged the girls with me to the UPS center to pick up a package that I keep missing. A 21+ signature was required and I'm never home when UPS passes by. It was a basket full of wine for Hubster and I when he comes home on R&R. Thanks mom!

After dinner I was able to conquer the beast in the driveway. I forgot to start Hubs' car for a while so when I went to do it yesterday, it was a no go. I've jump started a car before but I'm always afraid of being electrocuted and dying alone in the driveway or parking lot. Thankfully, I'm still alive and the girls didn't have to be taken into state custody. And the car is running. Now I'll have to remember to start the car more often.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Many Uses of Ivory

When I first got my Mom VoxBox from Influenster, I had NO idea that there were so many things that you could do with a bar of Ivory soap. Soap is soap, right? Well, with Ivory, I discovered that you can use it for literally hundreds of different things.

The first thing I did with my bar of Ivory was make homemade laundry detergent. After melting the soap into a cup of water, you could tell that Ivory really is 99.44% pure because the water was completely clear. There was no haze or film or anything from dyes or perfumes.

One of the other uses that I found for Ivory was to scratch the bar and get the soap under your nails when doing yard work. The soap under your nails prevents dirt from getting down there and then it just washes away when you're done. I used this tip to plant my basil seedings into a larger terracotta pot that I painted which chalkboard paint (which didn't come out how I wanted). Although my nails are pretty short, this worked great to keep the dirt out.

Here are some other things that you can do with Ivory brand soap. Some are obvious and some not so much..
  • Body Cleanser 
  • Facial Wash
  • Fabric Stain Remover
  • Floating Carved Boat
  • Growing Cloud in Microwave 
  • Cleaning Makeup Brushes
The best thing about Ivory is that it is gentle, effective and inexpensive. I was able to use it on the babies as well as myself to get clean without my skin feeling tight or dried out. You can Ivory at just about every grocery/drug store or major retailer such as Walmart or Target. A 10-pack retails for right around $4.49, which is a fantastic price considering all it can do. If you're like me, you'll save a ton on laundry detergent by just using this soap.

For more info on Ivory, check out this site.

I received this product complimentary for testing purposes from Influenster and Ivory as a participant in the Mom VoxBox campaign

Monday, July 9, 2012

Opinions on Spanking

This afternoon I spent about 25 minutes watching a heated Facebook debate regarding spanking children. There were the two main people making their opposing posts with a few random people making remarks here and there. As I'm sure you can imagine, one person was for spanking and the other was against.

The commenter who was for spanking made points suggesting that what is wrong with the world today has to do with the fact that parents don't spank/discipline their children anymore. That she was spanked as a child and didn't become a serial killer. Spanking is a tradition in many civilizations and cultures that are no better or worse off than we are.

The other woman who was debating compared spanking to assaulting a child. One of her main points had to do the adult's force meeting a stationary child. She stated that there are several nonphysical ways of disciplining children that don't have the same consequences. She also added that spanking has been outlawed in many places around the globe.

Spanking has become a super sensitive subject lately. At the daycare that I take the girls to, if you are seen spanking your child(ren), they'll be taken away from you for child abuse. While I don't think spanking is abuse, I know that some parents are completely capable of taking it too far.

I'm curious what those of you in blog world think about the spanking subject.. Do you spank your kids? If not, what are your alternative methods?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent: No Stove, No 5 Gallon Bucket, No Hassle

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably seen plenty of recipes for homemade laundry detergent on Pinterest. The only problem with most of these recipes though, is that they require a few more materials than I'm willing to use and they make a lifetime supply of soap. Well I don't want a lifetime supply of soap. One concentrated gallon at a time is good for me. Plus, this recipe can be made on your kitchen counter using your microwave.

What you'll need:
1 Bar Ivory Soap
1/2 cup Borax
1/2 cup

I start by grating about half of a bar of Ivory soap (which I received complimentary for testing purposes from Influenster) into a 2-cup measuring cup. A 4-cup might be a bit easier.

I added about a cup of water, stirred a bit and then popped it in the microwave for 3 minutes, stirring each minute to prevent it from bubbling over.

Once everything was good and melted and dissolved, I added the Borax and Washing Soda. You may need to add a bit more water which is completely fine..


Once all of that is good and dissolved, you can dump it into a gallon container, fill about half way water and shake it up.

After the soap and water mixture is mixed well, you can go ahead and fill rest of the container with water, shake and get to washing! You don't need a ton of this stuff to get your laundry clean.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

I'm Still Alive.. Miraculously.

These past few days have sucked big time! I haven't felt this bad in a very long time. Since Tuesday night, I've been dealing with a fever, chills, body ache and a headache. Plus there are two miniature people that need to be taken care of. And that damn dog.

Tuesday evening V had a fever for a tiny bit. She took some Motrin and was perfectly fine after that. After the FRG lantern release I came home, went to bed and of course I couldn't stay asleep. I was shivering under the covers, then burning up on top of the covers. My whole entire body ached. When I woke up Wednesday morning it was more of the same. The majority of the day was spent laying/dying/napping on the floor. My poor babies were slightly neglected. They ate and were changed occasionally but that's about it. Caillou was on all day. And when I say all day, I mean ALL DAY.

Thursday: lather, rinse, repeat. I was feeling better by the end of the day though. Although, not much better. The girls and I went to a friend's BBQ where I was able to further neglect them while curled in a sad little ball.

My sad little troll

The grocery shopping and some cleaning finally got accomplished on Friday. The day was good but night time was a disaster. V was back and forth between my bed and hers with an earache. Baby A was a grouch and Mommy got no sleep.

Today it felt like the flu was going to creep back up on me so I quickly drowned it with a few cups of coffee and a bowl of soup. I am good to go and finally back on the normal track. Hopefully no hiccups tonight..

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Retrieving a Deleted Blogger Post

Last night I made a boo boo. I'm still not exactly sure how it happened, but I deleted a blog post accidentally. Damn it! I clicked the back button as quick as I could, searched the page for a restore option, command+z'ed. Nothing. When I tried looking up the cached post on Google, there was no option for me to edit and publish again, and I certainly didn't want to copy and paste the text to a new post.

I did find a solution though! It was a tiny bit complicated at first glance but it easily worked! This is my restored post, and you can learn how to restore your own blog here. You'll have to be able to find the cached post though your search engine and search through a bit of code, but other than that you should be good to go!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Photo a Day Challenge: Take 2

In June I attempted to do the mil spouse photo challenge. I failed miserably about halfway though. This month, I found Fat Mum Slim's photo a day challenge on Darlingist Dr. Momsie. I'll be posting through Instagram (armywifemommylife) and Twitter (@armywifemomlife). Follow me and join in!

Crap. I'll Never Learn..

You know how when your kid is a baby and you can't wait for them to start to crawl. Then once they start crawling, you can't wait for them to start walking, then talking, etc. And you know how as soon as it happens, you regret ever wishing for it? Yeah, well it happened again.

Sarcastic little smile...
This time, I was all excited for V to be able to go into the bathroom, turn the light on, then wash her hands and turn the water and light off.

I've already lost track of all of the times that she's gone and done it. She doesn't quite understand when the right and wrong times for hand washing are and obviously I don't want to turn her off to it. The utility bills are going to be ridiculous this month.