Being Intentional

 

Wow! 2016 just flew by you guys! I am so overjoyed and thankful for all of you who have supported my blog Dog Tags and Heels and my newest business venture DTH Powerhouse PR which has proven to be a good career move and money-maker. Last year I would not have imaged I would be here. I gotta start thinking Bigger!

And now that the year is wrapping up everyone is talking about resolutions..blah blah blah! That is how I feel about those! I don’t make resolutions or anything like that to be honest. I usually end up forgetting or feeling crappy for not losing the 15 lbs I vowed or reading to my kids every night. The guilt alone kills me!

So, this year instead of a list of resolutions, try something different and come up with a word or phrase. Mine is Intention. I am going to have a purpose in doing all and everything with INTENTION! From my relationship with God, spending time with my family, listening to friends, or even just relaxing; I just want to take it all in and capture moments. For with all busyness of life we forget to smell the roses.

I have really dove into the deep end when I started my business. I had no idea what I was getting myself into and until I found supportive communities. I was lost. I HAD NO IDEA there was this creative entrepreneur world out there. I have really learned so much from each of them. These communities are loaded with inspiration, information, and support to name a few. Here are my two fav Savvy Business Owners and The Rising Tide Society…eye-opening! Having influencers on your side allows you to see a bigger picture in where you want your business to be.

And with 2017 around the corner.

Here are some things that did not work for me in 2016 ; undervaluing my work, that not everyone is a good fit for your business, wearing too many hats can be a disaster, staying busy does not mean more money, and thinking small.

What I did learn; How to say NO, value my talent, collaborate over competition is the best, imitation is the best form of flattery, take out food can be healthy, and there is enough for everyone so why not share and think BIGGER!

I am ready to learn and grow so much more in 2017’s ventures and goal getting. I am waiting for my new planner from She Plans which I fell in love at a Savvy Business Community meet up, so I can start planning away! If you don’t have something to get you on track I encourage you to invest in a great planner it will get those wheels turning and creative juices flowing! You will WOW yourself!

This year there are so many great things coming so make sure to subscribe and stay connected with me on facebook and insta!

I am wishing you a great New Year and an Intentional 2017!

XO, Moni

 

The Day in the Life: Military Spouse Entreprenuer

This year has truly truly been one of the most challenging and blessed years to date. It wasn’t until earlier this year that I decided to take my blog more seriously and start another new business. I have grown and learned so much not only about myself but about balancing the day to day of an entrepreneur and running not only home but business, as well. Yeah, I made my life more complicated. Before, I was invited to the Military Spouse Town Hall 2015, I was complacent. I was ok with just being a blogger. I was comfortable but I realized that being ok was not enough for ME. I wanted more!! I went in full force and no one said it was easy but it is so worth it! go7a1115
 Photo credit to Emma Hill Photography 
My days are filled with hustle, uncertainty, mistakes and can be overwhelming and I frequently get the, “I don’t know how you do it,” comment and I always respond with..coffee then wine! LOL
So, here it is my day in 24 hours as a military spouse entrepreneur! Hold on tight!
 
  • Anywhere between12-5am: Most nights either one or both my 4 & 8 year old wake me up for random things. Nightmares, to check on me and ask a random question, having to use the bathroom, sore throat, cough or just to snuggle. So, I usually wake up 2-3x a night. It used to be more when the kids were a lot younger and I didn’t mind because I was a stay at home mom, but now that I am my own boss with 2 businesses. It sometimes sets me back a lot, which causes me to end up having 2 cups of coffee and 2 cups of wine on some days.
  • Roughly 5-530am: Roy, my active duty husband wakes up! Oh, the natural alarm clock the military has set in him. I swear I think he hears reveille every single darn morning. It’s like a clock! I am a light sleeper, so I hear him turn the alarm off and get up to either shower and get dressed for the day or head out to PT which is 2x a week. And, it never fails that once daddy leaves the youngest usually gets in the bed with me to snuggle. I am down to my last baby so I really relish in these moments.
  • Sometime between 530-6am: Baby falls back to sleep and I wake up and read SHE READS TRUTH, get in some prayer and devotion. I then create or take a look at my to do list and grab my first cup of coffee. If I am going to the gym, I put my gym clothes on so I don’t change my mind LOL
  • Between 6-7am: I am up, the oldest is heading out to school and have at least had 1 cup of coffee so I am ready to ROCK THIS DAY!! I have my laptop opened, caught up on emails updating social media accounts, responding to client messages, checking calendar for any appointments for family or clients. Basically, I use this time to plan my day to make it the most productive as possible.go7a1128
  • 7-830 am: Kids are both up by now and usually have already had an argument…Close laptop, phone off and MOMMY HAT IS ON! Breakfast, hugs, brush teeth, clean room, get dressed, brush hair, catch up on any homework or paperwork that needs to be filled out for the kids. If I have a networking event, client call or coffee meet up I am simultaneously getting dressed with them. My 8-year-old, is such a huge help at this time and my 4-year-old is very self-sufficient too which helps a lot. Getting my hair, makeup and outfit on point is always a challenge, but it gets DONE!! My best advice to myself is keep it simple, check out my make up video for tips.
  • Between 830-845am: Get kids situated to head to the bus stop and they are off on yellow wheels. I now have 3.5 hours to get stuff done before I have to be back here to get my pre k baby. Half days are such a damn tease of whats to come. I keep telling myself a few more months and I will have an entire day to RULE THE WORLD.
  • 9am: Grabbing my 2nd cup of coffee, either gym bag or computer depending on the schedule. Oh and I get to finish my breakfast, pack a snack and water for the car for after my workout.
  • Between 930am-12pm: Either I am meeting with clients, have a networking event or get a chance to make it to the gym during this time. I am usually home by 11:30 am. I try to get home a bit early to eat lunch, shower and get ready for my son to get home. There are days I use this time I use to run errands, grab groceries or go to a doctor’s appointments.
  • Between 12-1230pm: My baby boy gets home and I make him lunch and spend time with him. I will catch up on some housework, if needed. My kids are very helpful and have daily & weekly chores. So, this is not a lot because I delegate.GO7A7466 (1)
  • From 1230-200pm: WORK WORK WORK! This is the time I take conference calls, work on freelance writing, my blog, client proposals or contracts, and work on current clients and projects. Ty is such a good boy, he usually sits right next to me and works on crafts, books or watching a movie.
  • Between 2-230pm: BREAK TIME!! WHOOHOO To be honest this is the hardest part of my day. By this time, I am exhausted. I usually take a confianza pill, grab some protein and fill up on tons of water. My oldest gets home from school and we catch up and chat about her day and get her a snack.
  • Between 230-5pm: Back to work and wrapping up my day. This is where I get the bulk of my blogging and client projects and updates done. I make tons of phone calls during this time and I am updating most of my social media and following up on referrals or holding conference calls. Lots of work in this block of time! 
  • Between 630-730: Clean up, chores, finish up homework, read as a family, meditate, or just veg out and watch tv it just depends on the day and events going on.
  •  Between 730-8pm: Bedtime routine begins! Finally, but I am exhausted by then this time, especially if the hubby is not home. Daddy usually does bath time this which is the time I can get in a shower or prepare for the next day. Then story and snuggle time and family prayer.
  •  8-9pm: I am usually getting ready to put my pajamas on and rest, catch up with the hubby, check out calendars and check in with each other about our day.
  • 9-10pm: IN BED! Usually watching some reality tv or catching up on my personal social media or texts.
  • Anywhere between 10pm-12am: SLEEP! THANK GOD!!
I just want to mention this is when the hubby is home and I have a tag team partner to help me when he gets home! On days when he is tdy or deployed I am usually in bed wayyyy early like 8pm, I don’t cook everyday and there are many days we have breakfast for dinner or soup and sandwiches! LOL 
 
Being a military spouse entrepreneur is not an easy life but, it is MY LIFE.  I am enjoying the endless possibilities of creativity I am able to achieve. Dreams do come true! No matter where you are stationed, your education, fails, family, you too can be the entrepreneur you want to be, you too can have a career.
You just have to be willing to step outside the box, take risks, create one and believe in yourself. 
Bloom where you are Planted my fellow Spouse!
XO, Moni
 
 

Staying In Touch During A Deployment

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Two years ago, when my husband was deployed I could not have been more appreciative of all the methods of communication available to us! It didn’t hit me until then how much power and capability I have to connect with him from 7k miles away. And sometimes it was just seeing his face or hearing his voice that turned my hectic, overwhelming, stressful never-ending day into the best day ever. We sometimes talked multiple times a day and then there were times we went days without hearing from him. Those were the hardest days. The fear of the unknown or having to make a decision on your own when you need input from your spouse. Or just having the need the urge to connect even if it was thru technology. So, I used multiple ways to stay connected, not only for myself but also for him. Keeping him in the loop, allowing him in during those silly story times or memorable moments. I made them as shareable as I possibly could. I know some of those clips, videos, voicemail and letters pumped blood thru his heart.
Like I said I used multiple ways to stay connected.
Smart phone/Computer 
Before my husband left we went and got him a new Apple computer to keep in touch and made sure he had all the tools he needed to stay in touch. We chose Apple because of the face time feature and we all have iPhones so this worked for us. I didn’t realize how much I loved FaceTime. I mean, to get to see that person in real-time action is just priceless. To have the ability to catch and see the emotion, talk about your day and share events was such a great way to be able to stay and keep an active relationship. Although technology can be our best friend it can also be unreliable and lead to disappointment and frustration when there is signal trouble or a deployed parent is unavailable and beyond anyone’s control, the communication gets disrupted. My kids used to cry when he wasn’t available. Which is why the next one became our backup plan.
Videos
When we couldn’t get thru to daddy. I would just say,”Hey let’s make a video!” This allowed the kids to share whatever they wanted to say show them projects or things they were doing. There is nothing like a nice family video to make your day. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy long or edited. I usually text/messaged them and also emailed to make sure he got them. I know sending videos allowed him to save and look and listen to the videos whenever he couldn’t get in touch with us. I would record the kids singing, during milestones, and events. It wasn’t the same as if he was there, but I know it made him feel included and in the loop.
Facebook Messenger
So, my husband specifically activated his Facebook page for the purpose to communicate while he was deployed. This was great for when the phones were not working and we happened to miss each other due to time constraints or bad signals. We were able to at least say.” Hi,” check in or keep each other up to date with changes going on with each other, the family and event updates. We also used this to send funny things on facebook like jokes, memes, recipes, music, videos, with each other. I used this a lot because I just wanted to share as much with him as I could. I know him being overseas he was missing out on a lot of things here that we have easily accessible.
And, Good ‘ol fashioned snail mail
Although, this takes more time and effort. I feel this is the most appreciated. Each month we would send a themed box. We included, not only missed snacks and requests made by my spouse but also included school work the kids were proud of, kids art work, holiday decorations and photos. There’s just something about the tangibility knowing that someone touched an object and holding it in your hands, the smell and textures can make it feel like we send home in a box. The kids love putting their own personal touch into the box and makes them feel connected to their parent and keeps them actively involved and connected.
Deployment is hard on every family member and affects each of them differently. Another thing about deployment is that it never gets easy but communicating can help smooth the transition a bit. Do you use all or any of these ways to communicate? I would love to hear how it worked for your family?
Moni

Holiday Shopping Survival!

 

woman-1329790_640In my younger days, before I was a mom that had an endless list of “to do’s” on the daily. I could go shopping on the whim, without making any plans. In fact, I enjoyed shopping. I could go anywhere, whenever, and  however I wanted to at any time.

Those were the good ‘ol days…..daydreaming here! 

And then, I had children. Which meant, that now I have to take luggage with me to the mall or shopping with me anywhere I go.

Over the years, I have definitely had to readjust, plan and strategize my shopping days. It all about the logistics now a days.

Here are a few simple tricks that help me survive during the holiday shopping season.

First and most importantly Maps– location is everything. I like to download the mall or outlet map on my phone to see where is the best place to park. So, I am not running around the mall by stores I don’t need to go to. This makes going to the mall an in and out, not to mention easy if you have a stroller and kids. Maps also usually include the food court, bathrooms and the oh so much-needed play space!

CONVENIENCE is everything in my life.There’s nothing more stressful than having to rummage thru your purse at check out with a crying baby and wondering 8-year-old. So, having everything in one place is a MUST. That’s why I love the jimmyCASE. You can put credit cards, cash and ID in one spot. Not to mention you won’t be looking for 3 things all at once while trying not to lose a kid and feed one at the same time. 

The art of Saving Money! Now I am no professional at this, as my husband can contest, but I do have a coupon book and always download apps like retail me not to make sure I get those last-minute discounts.  Which in turn makes-not only hubby happy-but it gives me that guilt free feeling when buying during the holidays. $$$

GOT SNACKS! I learned this the HARD way…Grabbing snacks and drinks for the kids and forgetting about myself always happens. Snacks are not only good for the kiddies but also for yourself. Having something to snack on while shopping can be a sanity saver, because let’s face it shopping can work up an appetite. Having a mommy snack will prevent you from the bingo eating on all the sugary snacks easy and readily available every corner of any mall or store.

Lessons learned and still not mastered this one yet, Make a List. Not only make a list of the stores but also of the items you have to purchase. That way you don’t have to make more than one trip. Especially, if you have the kids with you…that is what I call an EPIC FAIL! Which has happened to me plenty of times. Now doing this doesn’t always guarantee you won’t forget anything-but chances are you will get mostly everything! SMALL WINS!!

What are some tips that have been successful for you? I would love it if you shared here. A girl can always use good advice.

Happy Surviving!

 XO, Moni

 

Rock Your Week!

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My weekday mornings are so unpredictable from day-to-day. Sometimes, waking up to sick or arguing kids or worse being late can always throw a wrench in my “plans.” So having a few things in place and done the weekend before helps just a little bit with organizing and not stressing out about last-minute changes.

Planning a productive week

Meal prep on Sunday’s. Get the family involved.  I like to cook and my kids love to help. My kids range from 4 to 12 years old so they can each do different things in the kitchen. From mixing or cutting to getting ingredients and reading the recipes. The options and opportunities are endless. My go to trick is throwing a few pounds of chicken or ground beef in the slow cooker with some seasoning and separate it into freezer bags for dinner meals that week. I have the kids make their snacks or pre-pack them for the week. One of my favorite things to do is making breakfast burritos for the week and freezing them. I just pop them in the microwave and run out the door to the gym or appointments.

Clean out your purse. Get rid of rubbish, papers, cards, receipts and coupons or whatever anyone else in your family has deemed necessary to thrown in your purse. Literally!! Like shopkins…REALLY?? I also make sure to put anything in there that has to go with me anywhere. Like referrals, mail or business cards. There is something about opening up my purse and being able to find my wallet that gives me a sense of organization.

Check your calendar. This is something I know helps keep me from say– UH OH, THAT WAS TODAY!! I not only review my work, social and kids events for the week but also touch base with the hubby on any events or things he has going on and we sync our calendar. We both have Iphones so it’s really easy to change categories and specify if i am just letting him know what’s going on or if I need him there at the event or to do the task. It also saves a lot of arguments in my house on miscommunication, which is a plus.

Check the Weather. Ok, I am bad with this one. But, checking the weather will help prepare shoes and jackets for kids instead of scrounging around last-minute to find out where you put them. Also, helps predict driving time if you are going out-of-town and what to wear from day-to-day. I usually layer because it’s not only cute but guarantees me to either stay warm or peel off layers to cool down.

Make a to do list and set goals. Most important! To know what you’re tackling within the week ahead, the goals you set give you a sense of accomplishment at the end of the week when you look back at the beginning of the week. And even though it may be Monday you know exactly what you need to do, who to call and where to go. You know what is going on.

Have a family meeting. My family usually has a Sunday Family Meeting. We talk about up and coming concerts and events at school and with friends. We share our calendar with the kids and let them know if parents will be out-of-town or unavailable. We go through the weekly rundown of what is events, appointments or spots the kids have coming up. That way no one’s surprised if they can’t play outside after school or wonder why they are eating soup and sandwiches for dinner.

Life can get LOCO and ADULTING can be hard! But with a few of these tips in place it will guarantee somewhat of a smooth transition from weekend to weekday. Monday you will wake up feeling more accomplished before your day even begins.

Happy Adulting!

XO, Moni

 

5 Ways To Stay Motivated In The Winter

When it gets cold outside, I slow down, heck the whole world slows down. I just want to stay bundled up in bed and eat lots of comfort foods. But, the saying summer bodies were made in the winter is very true. I always find changing it up a bit and adding some new things to the routine will keep you motivated.

  1. Dust off all your equipmentpexels-photo-54200. Yes! You know all those investment pieces you have spent tons of money on that you swore up and down you were going to use. Only to end up letting them collect dust, use them as a shelf or store them at the bottom of a basket. I’m talking about treadmills, DVD’s, weights, bands and the list goes on and on. Well now is the time to dust those items off and put them to good use. All you need is 30 minutes a day to maintain or make an impact on staying in shape during those winter months.

2. Can you say HOT SALADS, healthy Comfort Food. When it gets colder I crave warm comfort food. Discovering new ways to make healthy salads that are filling and comforting are a huge plus. I love me a wholesome meal. So, get creative and get cooking. There are great recipes on Pinterest like Warm Sweet Potato and Spinach Salad or Warm Zucchini Salad.mg_4270-683x1024

3. Get out of the house and go outside. Get some fresh crisp cool air it does so much for the mind,body and soul. girl-570556_1920Bundle up with some layers, sit outside with a hot cup of coffee or coco, go for a walk or better yet shovel some snow for a really good work out. Get the blood flowing and endorphins going. Just keep moving. Don’t let winter wear you down and enjoy the nature winter has to offer.

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4. Get new workout gear. Any type of shopping is a define motivation for me to begin! But, going out and adding  a new pop of color or a fresh pair of tennis shoes make me want to workout in them, like immediately!!

5. Take Vitamins.When the weather gets cold and there is less sun, your body needs more vitamin D. Both Vitamin D and Magnesium can help fight depression among several other detriments that might occur during the winter months (of course consult your healthcare provider). Vitamin D is called the Sunshine Vitamin. So add it to your daily routine to get your energy back. Create your own SUNSHINE! 

There are so many great things about the cooler months of the year. There seems to be more family time and cuddling in my house. But, I know it can be hard to stay motivated and keep moving. I’m hopeful that some of these tips help you out! What are some things you do to stay motivated during the winter months? Share them here; I can always use a good tip! 

Stay Warm

Xo, Moni

Denim on Denim

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Photo credit Emma Hill Photography/Torrid boyfriend jeans medium wash with ripped construction(similar here) and light wash Denim Shirt. Light brown boots(similar here) from Plato’s. 5-in1 Stella & Dot Garden Fridge Necklace and Breezeblock Enamel Bangle 

One of my favorite “GO TO” pieces in my closet is Denim! From the 80’s to now you can not go wrong with pairing up some denim with versatile modern pieces of jewelry for an everyday playdate look for mom. I am constantly drawn to denim, you can dress it up or down. And especially jeans since they started making such amazing fit jeans for plus size woman. Denim tops are a great way to layer and add depth to either a summer or winter wardrobe. I paired it with some cute booties I bought at Plato’s Closet. If you have never been there you are truly missing out. If you like to thrift/vintage shop at a discounted price and in good condition this is the place to go and shop. I added some of my favorite pieces from Stella & Dot’s newest collection. I am obsessed with gold and any kind of roped jewelry! This piece is GORGE!!

Mom life is busy, but it doesn’t mean you can’t look good while momming. You would be surprised how a piece of jewelry will not only change the entire outfit but your attitude, as well! 

Keep Momming, XO, Moni

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Denim top from Old Navy.com

Denimu jeans from Torrid.com

Jewelry Stella & Dot featured

Local Colorful Cafes

If you are like me, you’re always on the hunt for a good local coffee shop! Local cafes are always the perfect spot to catch up with your girlfriends, enjoy day dates or date nights, or even make it your go-to place to just get away.

Since moving to Patuxent River Naval Base, I have been on a mission to find the best ones around. And while there are many around here—these are my go-to’s for a solid cup of JOE—and a little more.

Each coffee shop is special and unique in its own way.

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First up on my list is a very eclectic place with a vintage feel. The Lotus Cafe is located in the heart of Solomon’s Island. The hubby and I went on a day date to this coffee shop. You can enjoy fresh coffee sitting outside watching and listening to the water. What I adore about Lotus is the simplicity of this place. It buys from local and is run by local. I’m always looking to support local. Its menu is select, yet fulfilling. Lotus is famous for its Key lime pie and quiches! You just have to go and have a taste!

Next up is, of course, The Coffee Quarter. Walking in makes you feel just like it’s the neighborhood spot. Locally owned and operated, everyone here is friendly and knows who you are! It’s a very lively place with comfy couches and tables tucked away. The croissants and the Greek salad are fresh and to-die-for. My favorites!! The Coffee Quarter has a full breakfast and lunch menu with an array of hot and cold coffee selections, guaranteed to please the palate!

Newly discovered is Blue Wind Gourmet; here, they now proudly serve Peete’s coffee. The combination of chocolate, coffee and wine in the air are just mouth-watering. It offers wine pairings and tastings, and serves fresh local cuisine and sweets. Okay, so you have got to try the Garbage Sandwich—very, very, very, very flavorful!! Tastes way better than it sounds. TRUST ME!! This is a perfect place for a great date night, business appointments and/or coffee with girlfriends.

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A bit up north of Pax River is Cool Beanz Coffee. Such an inviting place to sip on fresh coffee, hot or cold. It owns a very upbeat and modern feel and has a large yummy selection of pastries and sandwiches. Its delectable menu items are made fresh to order, and Cool Beanz has cute little punch cards to earn a free cup of coffee when you become a regular. I love incentives, don’t you? You can sit down and grab a book to read or catch up with friends. SO, if you have time “Get your bean on” at Cool Beanz!

And to round out a colorful and flavorful list, I would have to include the BTB Coffee Bar. This eclectic place is like fine china, and it’s snuggled in Leonardtown. This place is a coffee shop by day and a Speakeasy by night! Coffee is pipin’ hot and service is quick and pleasant. BTB serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Call to make reservations for the Speakeasy. It’s located right behind the coffee shop, and it’s an experience that stands all on its own. Walking through the door always makes me feel like some sort of rebel, stepping out of an old movie!

Coffee can be a great pick-me-up; and it is a great thing to sip on, while catching up with an old friend, making new friends or cozying up with the love of your life. Southern Maryland has fantastic places to do just that.

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If your local, where is your favorite spot to have coffee? Share it here, I would love to give it a try!

Have a BREW-tiful Day

XO-Moni

 

Get Out of Your Own Damn WAY!

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It’s so easy to get lost in your family, spouses career and all the busyness of life. When you’re a mom, you just get wrapped up with everyone else’s needs and events, they all seem to come before yours. And that’s ok, that’s what moms do, right? Add moving every three years on top of it. That can be discouraging when it comes to your life or career. So as military spouses, we have to thrive wherever we are planted in any situation. Many spouses revert to becoming entrepreneurs, which is what I ended up doing. We, Milsprenuers are popping up everywhere and doing everything you can imagine. It amazes me!

For 11 years, I was a stay at home mom. And one day I decided that I just wanted more for myself. I wanted to do something, but I had no idea what that something was. I was stuck!  So I had to really dig deep and figure it out. Here’s what I did. It was a process that took some work, but in the end finding what I was passionate about gave me a sense of accomplishment.

Finding Your Passion

#1 Get out of your OWN damn way – This one is the hardest to do but it is the most vital. You have to think positive when you feel trapped, in a slump or have no idea what is your passion. The first thing to do, is to stop thinking negatively, having self-doubt and making excuses. The truth is you are capable of doing those things you want to do. You just have to get out of your OWN damn way and believe in yourself!

#2 What do you WANT to do? This is a simple yet difficult question. Think of something you were passionate about years ago or a hobby you once did well.  Write a list of the things you enjoy doing. This can be cooking, writing, exercising or shopping…the possibilities are endless.  What do people say you are good at? What are your strengths? Write those down as well, this will help you hone in on finding what you are passionate about. Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself and step out of your comfort zone. You will be surprised with what you come up with and how it will motivate you to move forward to creating the life or career you want!
3-haute-chocolate-styled-stock-photography-september-free-images-2-final#3 Finally,  Make sure it is something that brings you JOY? Do what makes you happy no matter what it is. You definitely don’t want to get stuck with something you aren’t excited to share with others or do everyday . Finding joy in what you want to do will keep you optimistic and excited about your new-found passion. It will just be the beginning of endless possibilities for your new venture. Who knows where it could go and what it could become unless you try?

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So if anything, focus on what your purpose is today.

We are all passionate about something. I’m passionate about fashion, writing and helping people grow their business. What are you passionate about? What steps do you feel would help you with finding your passion?

XO-Moni

 

MOMS Fall Bucket List

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The kids are back in school and I’m starting to see the leaves change colors, feel the cool crispness in the morning air, orange is everywhere and all the fall fashion!

Autumn is upon us, my favorite season!! And with each new season brings the opportunity for a fresh start, feelings of what to do’s, places to go and things to eat. Exciting stuff

In the fall I usually concentrate on the family and make a “Family Fall Bucket List”. Which, I LOVE to do. The kids get all into it and always have a good time making suggestions. They come up with ideas of places to visit, their favorite foods like s’mores & cocoa and snuggling on bean bags under the stars watching a movie from daddy’s projector. Then we cross them off as we do each one! It’s the little things, RIGHT?

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But, this year I am going to switch it up a bit!  In addition, why not make a Fall Bucket List for MOM!

And honestly, I think I have been making one for myself for all these years. I just have not written it all out like the one for the kids. This year I am going to share with you what’s on my“MOMS FALL BUCKET LIST!”

So, here they go!

      #1 Drink any and everything Pumpkin Spiced!! You heard me right….Especially the Pumpkin pumpkin-spice-latte-with-pumpkins-600Spiced Latte from Starbucks! There’s just something about that drink that feels like a holiday party in my mouth. It’s so flavorful and yummy!! Not to mention Starbucks is a great supporter of Military Families which is a plus to visit them!

#2 Spice up your wardrobe! For me this means a new scarf which adds so much to any outfit! Here is my fall wardrobe inspiration this season! The colors are fun, vibrant and looks good on all complexions and you can style it so many different ways. I also promise myself a new pair of boots every fall.This year  booties are TO DIE!

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#3 Warm it up a bit with a new hair color or cut. Just as the seasons change so should your hair. Plus, who doesn’t love a new do? RIGHT?? I tend to change my hair color by season. In the fall I go darker, of course. But, if coloring isn’t your thing maybe a trim or updated cut will make you feel fresh and rejuvenated. Seriously, there’s just something about a girl with a new hair do!

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#4 Celebrate at a holiday “Adults Only” party or fall festival . I can not emphasize enough how important it is to just have time with your significant other. When the holidays come around it tends to be all about family quality time. I say that’s all amazing, but try to take time to go out to a Halloween adult party,fall festival or Thanksgiving event without kids. It nice to celebrate with just the hubby.

#5 Good old fashion Fire Pit and with a hot toddy or wine tasting! I am huge on fire pits in the fall. Getting all snug with your favorite drink in the evening like a hot toddy and just listen to the crackle and woody smell of the wood. Even better head to a vineyard for a wine tasting with girlfriends. Merlot is my go to in the colder months, warms me right up. And I can always use some girl time. 

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#6 Decorate of all things this is my favorite thing to do. It’s the beginning of the holiday decorating. I get all my boxes out that say Fall, blast some jazz and fill my house with as much orange, gold and browns that I can find! LOL Having pumpkins set up everywhere just seems more Fall’ish!

I hope some of these inspire you to jump right into Fall! There are so many things to look forward to with the new season and whether you do one, all of these or none and make your own MOMS FALL BUCKET LIST, just remember to take a moment for yourself to reflect.

So, what’s on your MOMS FALL BUCKET LIST? If you have your own, share here!

I would love to see it!!

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Happy Falling

Moni

Why I Blog

I have been blogging for about one year and a half now. I will say I have learned a lot. I haven’t earned tons of money. But I have managed to stay consistent with freelance writing and some free products. Not to mention great relationships with fellow blogger. I’m not making a ton of money but something is something, RIGHT? I started blogging because I wanted to share how I managed to get thru this life with a positive outlook, not just bitching about being a Military Spouse. I never intended to try to make money but it just happened.

I did this by surround myself with others doing the same thing and doing it waaay better. And I stay inspired by watching others and asking questions. I know for me sometimes I felt so DUMB asking the simplest questions. I had to learn to let it go and just ask…it goes back to when we were children right? The only questions stupid is the one not asked…I think that’s how you say it.

I fell into my PR Business because I got sick and tired of companies telling me that I was over qualified or too many gaps in my resume bc of my husbands job, which is serving this country. So, I woke up one day, created an LLC and registered it. Don’t ever let anything steel your JOY, Create your OWN opportunities because no one is going to do it for you!

Be the BEST you can, Everything else will just happen!

 Just don’t give up on yourself.

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Blogging hasn’t made me rich but it has given me a sense of self, personal accountability, enjoyment in comradery and something that is MINE to look forward to everyday!

Hope you have something that keeps you going from day-to-day that is yours! Just don’t give up on yourself. Blog if you want, you never know who is listening!

Happy Bloggin, Moni

Just Take A Nap

Sometime, well a lot of time, my brain just gets so fatigued! I’m usually rippin and runnin, typing and reading for hours before I just hit the WALL! The afternoon fog! So, I just TAKE A NAP! You be surprised how much inspiration is created when you rest and let your mind just wonder and rest. No matter your profession you can always use a mental break!

I have hit mine for today! Having been up since 530am answering emails, following up with client text messages from late last night, updating social media, checking accounts, touching base with my assistant…then to my mom duties of getting the beautiful children of mine up and dressed, fed, loved on a bit, and ready for school! That was just until 9am…

Take dinner out and then its time for me! Spin and weights till 1030 am and back home to work on client projects, client phone calls and  till Ty baby gets off the bus from half day at 1215pm. Have a quick lunch and listen to his day before I set him up with an activity so I can get to prepping dinner and picking up, folding laundry oh and showering somewhere in there…..Then I hit the wall around 200pm.

If I don’t rest I will not be at my best for the second part of my day!

So, its NAP TIME FOR ME….here I come slumber even if its for 20 minutes!

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Happy Nappin, Moni

The Perfect Time is Now, Labor Day!

Well school has started,  the weather is supposed to be cooling off(any day now would be nice) and Labor Day is just a few days away! The unofficial last day of summer! I can’t believe it!!

Do you feel the panic of it all? Thinking what did I do, what didn’t I do and oh I guess I will have to do it next summer. But, it’s not too late there are plenty of ways to celebrate Labor day with your loved ones over the three day weekend, here are some fun ideas!

Labor Day 2016

Traditional BBQ

Of course there is the traditional BBQ. Which is the first thing that comes to mind. So grab your family & friends and burn up the grill. You can go the normal BBQ route with some hot dogs, hamburgers. Or if you are feeling fancy,  check out some of these recipes from The Food Network. http://www.foodnetwork.com/holidays-and-parties/photos/cookout-classics-for-labor-day.html Ask friends to bring a side, so you do not have to buy and prepare everything. Fun outdoor activities can include corn hole, playing catch/baseball, kicking around the soccer ball or play some Frisbee. And for dessert, do not forget to make some s’mores!

Snag some Deals

If you shop sales like me then this weekend is the perfect time to hit up the store or mall for LABOR DAY SALES! With it being the end of the summer, there are a lot of fantastic deals happening. Stores have summer clothes to stock up for next summer and it’s a great time to snag the patio set you have been dying to purchase!

Soak up the Sun

It seems like yesterday it was Memorial Day and the  pools were just opening up. Well,this weekend will guarantee most public pools with closed 🙁 I never got this especially when the weather is still so HOT!! So, take advantage of these last few days and splash around in the pool, play games with the kids and just bathe in the sun! The pool is a great option to relax and keep cool from the heat.

Hit the Road

If you are lucky enough, you still may have a three day weekend in October for Columbus day, however, for most of us Labor day is the last long weekend of the year. Take advantage of this and take a mini vacation. You can road trip to the local beach, or try looking at flights to go somewhere new, or take this opportunity to go and see family that you normally do not see. Southwest is always having great deals on flights for holidays. You can find one way flights for less than $70!

Whatever you decide to do over the long weekend, please enjoy your time after all it is a celebration in honor of working people, spend it with your loved ones and stay safe!

Happy Labor Day

Moni

4 Essential Things To Do For Back-To-School

 

3 Essential THings TO Do for back-To-School

Doing these 3 things could help with a smooth transition not only for you but for the kids as well. Head over to my youtube channel and see what I Vlogged about with a few interruptions and a cameo appearance from one of my kids expressing her feelings on some of the changes! 

 

#1 Out with the OLD in with the NEW- Go thru the kids clothes socks, undies, summer and winter clothing before shopping. This will not only avoid buying things they already have and don’t need but also make space for all the new pretty things. This will also keep you from wasting money and a trip to the store for a return.

#2 Bedtime Routines- This is my personal favorite. As, it means more quite time as the end of the evening for us parents. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE & ADORE MY KIDS, but having them home all summer can wear on a mama, if you know what I mean. I start them 1 hr before I even want them to go to bed with a transition of quite time, bath and story time. This makes it flow so much better when it’s actually time to incorporate this to our daily schedule. It will also allow for less cranky kids when they have to start their new school routines. 

#3 Decrease Tech Time- This is so hard you guys! As, I myself am guilty of this too! And with the summer they have been getting way more TECH TIME then they need and ashamed to admit. But, this mama has to work and keep her sanity!! So, during the summer i’m a little bit more lenient with the use of the electronics. However, they decrease back down to 1 hour a day during the week in advance before school starts. This helps me avoid meld downs and arguments when school actually starts because the rules are in place.

Hope you guys enjoy these tips and tricks I have leaned over the years! 

Don’t forget to celebrate back to school in some form with a girlfriend over breakfast, a quite cup of coffee ALONE on the porch or if your like me with your favorite reality tv show binge!! 

Wishing you and your kids a successful and fun school year!

 

XO-Moni

6 Workout Tips That Will Help You Conquer The Humidity

It’s 9am and I navigate the stroller through the garage screen door, my 3-year-old protesting that she wants to walk.The humidity envelops me like a thick blanket over my head, and the sun beats down with a vengeance on my 34-week-pregnant self.“I’m not sure I’m gonna make it through this walk,” I think to myself, wondering how people live their whole lives with weather like this.

Workout tips

I’m from the Pacific Northwest where summers are a dreamy 80 degrees with little humidity. The military deposited us in Virginia in the sweltering humidity, high temps in the 90s for weeks and  over 100 on the heat index. Add pregnancy into it, and I’m COOKED. DONE. VERY WELL DONE.

 

Can I conquer the humidity?

We settle into the walk, and I quickly realize this is going to be a tough one. I take a drink from my water bottle, but I’m still roasting.  “Am I light headed or just nervous about becoming light-headed? My stomach feels weird. More water.” The thoughts swirl in my head like cotton candy wrapping around the stick. As I approach the choice between “long walk” and “short walk” it’s a no-brainer. I turn and head around the short loop toward home, hoping that I can make it home without sending my body into pre-term labor.

 

6 Workout Tips That Will Help You Conquer The Humidity

 Staying fit to in the heat and humidity requires taking extra precautions. I want to stay healthy, for myself and especially during pregnancy, so I’ve been learning a lot about beating the summer heat. Here are 6 tips:

 

Workout early or late in the day

Avoiding the hottest part of the day is the best choice if you want to exercise outside. I’m terrible at getting up early, and even 9:00am is too hot on some days. Find what works for you.

Avoid the heat altogether

Working out inside is a valid option. You have free access to the base gym, and many bases have pools. You might need a gym with childcare such as a YMCA (this doubles as a mental health break for you moms & dads). YouTube videos provide a variety of workouts you can tackle from the comfort of home. Check out your cable on demand feature, get a DVD on Amazon, hit the treadmill/elliptical or do some simple stretching in the comfort of AC. 

Hydrate before & after

Being prego, I’ve had a tough time staying hydrated. I’ve gotten leg cramps so I’m trying hard to stay on top of my water intake. The heat makes your body work a lot harder to stay cool, so drinking throughout the day as well as before and after your workout is vital. Just don’t gorge yourself on water right before, or you’ll feel sick when you start working out.

Bring water

Carry a water bottle or put it in the stroller cup holder if your kiddo is riding along. You can also wear a camelback. If you can’t carry water, make sure to stay within range of a place to stop in case you need some, even if it’s a neighbor’s house.

Wear light but protective clothing

Your body can’t cool down as easily when it’s humid because the moisture-laden air reduces sweat’s ability to evaporate. Wearing moisture-wicking clothing helps take the sweat away from your body, allowing it to cool easier. You can also wipe sweat off with a towel or change shirts during workouts to help your body stay cooler.

Cool down

As mentioned above, be sure to hydrate after exercising in the heat. You can splash your face and run water over your forearms and wrists where blood is closer to the surface.

 

So did I make it home?

I survived the walk home and breathed a few lungs-full of air-conditioned glory, wiping off sweat and drinking a glass of cool water.

After sitting on the couch for a few minutes, I convinced myself that I was not having contractions. Phew!

Since that day I pay better attention to the heat and how I’m feeling. I tend to walk on our treadmill inside more often and do exercises on a ball when it’s uber-hot out.

If walking around the block is such a challenge in the heat, imagine if you’re trying to train for an event or take on an intense workout!

Take care of yourself and don’t overdo it so you can stay healthy and beat the heat.

 

1508101_10155288131520048_3346655930650137440_nHeather Goffrier is a Navy wife of 6 years and a mom to a spunky 3-year-old girl. When not blogging over at HappyFitNavyWife.com, Heather enjoys Bible study with girlfriends, family adventures, and traveling as often as possible. She loves sharing about her experiences as a military wife & mom and hopes to encourage others who are on this journey. You can find Heather on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.

Making My Marriage Work,WORK,WORK,WORK,WORK(Love that song…Right??)!!

Making My Marriage Better! ####What do you guys do to maintain your marriage? Listen as I share with you some great free programs and things I do to keep the marriage healthy.

CHECK OUT THE VLOG HERE on my Dog Tags & Heels YOUTUBE Channel

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***Check out more blogs http://www.dogtagsandheels.com
***LIKE on FACEBOOK @ https://www.facebook.com/Dogtagsheelsblog/

!!!!Don’t forget to share what makes your marriage successful!!!!

If your interested in joining Compass go to http://gocompass.org/and register next session is August, which is right around the corner here at PAX River, but Compass is everywhere. I will be there…WILL YOU!! LETS MEET!!
**This is a Navy spouse mentor program thru the Navy but spouses from all branches are welcomed to join***

Head over and check out Sacred Spaces by Corie Weathers. I had the pleasure of speaking with her last year at the MSOY Townhall earlier this year. She is really such an inspiration. Thank you Corie for writing this book! This book will give you goosebumps! ITS A MUST HAVE !!http://www.corieweathers.com/index.php?
option=com_content&view=article&id=166&Itemid=428&lang=en

Get free, confidential counseling at http://www.militaryonesource.mil/

Head over and go on a retreat by CREDO for FREE check out their facebook page for the local area here in DC https://www.facebook.com/NDWCREDO/ email credo.ndw@navy.mil or call 202.404.8831/8828
***If your in another area reach out to your base Chaplin or Family and Fleet****

Xo, MONi

Date Night Ideas in your Local Area

Date Night Ideas in your Local Area

Date night

Who doesn’t long for a night out on the town? Just you and your BAE..

Groupon is always offering great date night specials our local are here in Southern Maryland. So, if you’re trying to find something to do this weekend head over to Groupon and check out the local listings.

For the Romantic head over to Port of Leornardtown Winery and check out the 2 deals they have going on right now starting at $19.00. Get out and expand your palate while not breaking the bank literally. 

Explore a little further out and head to another very popular date night spot at Running Hare Vineyard. This place is amazing the plush landscape and weekend entertainment is sure to get you relaxed with your date. This spot will allow you pay for both babysitter and wine without going broke. 

Can’t get out on a date night but like to do something special for your loved one. You have plenty of options that will be delivered right to your doorstep.

Sheri’s Berries offering gourmet dipped strawberries. I have had these plenty of times and was very skeptical of the freshness, but they were very juicy, fresh and delish! If you have never tried them, You really must try!! A perfect dessert to share on an in home date night. 

And of course you cant’ go wrong with FTD or Proflowers for some beautiful arrangements or plants with up to 50% off this is a special surprise for anyone to come home. 

For the creative couple Wine & Design is guarantee a fun night. You guys, the hubby and I have done this multiple times and we love it. We bring our wine something to snack on and get messy with some paint. They have couples nights where you both paint different pictures so that you can showcase in your home. THIS IS A MUST DO!!

These are just some of my favorite local finds! If you have any you wanna share post below. I love to hear about your experiences!!

Happy Date Nights

XO, Moni

 

 

 

Slow Down Mama

 

summer is over

It’s mid summer and we are looking behind us at the things we have done so far this summer and the events we have planned in the near future before school begins. This list probably include places to go, things to do, and people to see. But, we mommas truly have just slooowww it down just a bit.

 

I mean all summer I have been running myself in the ground. Trying to go to the gym everyday and have an activity for the kids and if you work outside or from home the list goes on and on, to include but not limited to just regular household duties like laundry and dishes oh and dinner….

But, I, you, we have to STOP! Think about it, once the days get shorter and are filled with homework assignments and projects, fall activities, and the rigorous schedule of waking up and getting to bed on time….it will be over all that time just gone!!

 

 

So before summer is gone, slow down and try doing just these 4 things:

Cuddle longer…mama just slooowww down watch a cartoon in the morning in your PJ’s, sip on some coffee and cuddle in bed or on the couch with your babies. They really are growing up so big and beautiful. But, it will pass in the blink of an eye and they will no longer have time to cuddle or snuggle with you.

Eat breakfast or dessert for dinner. Every single day doesn’t have to be “PERFECT” dear mama!! Listen sometimes cereal and pancakes are the best things your kids will remember when they grow up. They will see a more relaxed,playful, and  fun side of you. Create a pancake bar or scramble some eggs with tons of cheese and have a feast. These in my opinion are the best DAMN MEALS!!

Play with them. It’s’ the best simplest thing you can do with the kids is just to play with them. Play the games they like, you be amazed at the connections and conversations you have when you put down your phone, your list or chores and just play when they ask you. They really truly need just YOU; not everything we think they need. Plus playing is a great way to relieve stress for us parents. So, everyone wins.

Take OFF! Yes you heard me TAKE OFF. That means wake up without a plan, a list, or place to go. Just take off and see where the day takes you and what you get into with your kids. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have a scheduled day, so this one right here is a “TO DO” for me this week! Seriously!!! Being an adult can be exhausting!!

 

I mean really don’t you agree that we should do more of “THIS” and less of “THAT?”

What do you do that completely gets you involved with your kids in the midst of the madness we call LIFE during summertime? I am definitely taking my own advice and doing ALL of the above.

Because in the end MAMA, All they want is YOU! We make it harder and more complicated than it is. So, give yourself a break to just be their MAMA!!

Hope you enjoy the rest of your summer


XO, MONI

 

Military Spouse Groups to join in Patuxent River MD

Military Spouse Groups/Organizations to join in Patuxent River MD

Pax River Groups 2So, you got orders to Patuxent River MD. Great!

Getting orders can be overwhelming so one of the first things I do when orders drop is search. I search facebook, meet-up and the web for local military support groups or organizations to connect. This not only helps me in getting to know the surrounding area and asking questions but also I start making new friends, which is very important in connecting with others at the new base. 

Below are some great groups/organizations to head over and check out! 

Military Affiliated Organizations

Pax River Moms and Tots

Free to join if you are stationed at Patuxent River Naval Air Base in Maryland. This group runs weekly playgroups, sometimes different days and times so mom’s have a chance to come. They will always have a play date on Thursday starting at 10am. Play dates will include a craft and time at the park to play.

Patuxent River Officer Spouse

Free to join and meet local spouses and make new friends, ask questions, and support each other. You will find links for up and coming event, or any other information For more information head to face book PROSC and send a request.

Patuxent River Officer Spouse Club(PROSC)

This is an actual $30 fee for 1 year membership for more information head to facebook page of Patuxent River Officer Spouses and request to be added to this group. This club is for those spouses of retired or active officers in the military. 

COMPASS

Free to join this is a spouse-to-spouse mentoring program that introduces participants to all aspects of the military lifestyle.COMPASS offers military spouses the opportunity to establish a peer network, acquire knowledge and develop skills necessary to successfully meet future challenges of military life.

Non-Military Affiliated groups

The groups below are not military, but since our base is so much smaller there aren’t as may military spouse groups or organizations and I figure it’s always nice to get out of your comfort zone and meet some locals, RIGHT?

You can also find a local MOPS Group near you. MOPS is Christian based. I love MOPS, I was a member the last 2 years and learned so much. There are a few local ones, so head over to the site add your zipcode and the locations will show up.

I found these groups on meet-up. If you have never used meet up, its easy. Head over to Meetup.com, register and create an account, add your city and zip code and all groups and organizations in you area pops up. Super simple!

St. Mary Moms of Tots 

Local Mom group open to all in St. Mary County and costs $5 per year. They have an array of activities to include In-Home Playdates (blanket baby, toddler, preschool),Playground Days, Historic St. Mary’s City, Beach Play, Stroller Walks followed by playtime, Preschool Learning Activities, and Calvert Marine Museum to name a few. 

Well Mamas

Free to join. Mamas with various interests in natural parenting and living. We get together for monthly meetings, potlucks, play dates and other activities. We are welcoming of all moms who have an interest in raising their child/children naturally.

Of course, there are more groups and organizations to join in the area based on your preferences and search.

I hope this helps you get started or involved while you are stationed in Pax River. Hope to see you and meet you at a few events. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions or just wanna connect;I be happy to meet you!!

Welcome to Pax River!

XO, MONI

5 Reasons Military Spouses are INDEPENDENT

Sparkler and American flag

July is the month of Independence and it got me thinking about my Independence as a military spouse. For the longest time we were called Dependents. I no longer allow anyone to call me a dependent I immediately respond with, “Yes, I am a Spouse.” They always look at me crazy and look back at them crazy like..how dare you!

DO YOU REALIZE HOW INDEPENDENT I AM!

Military Spouses now a day are a HYBRID of what we used to be. We serve 24 hr, 7 days a week just like our spouses while wearing invisible uniforms and fighting quite storms from day-to-day and year-to-year.

We are definitely not Dependent, in fact there are so many things that make us Independent as HYBRID Military Spouse. 

#1 We are Entrepreneurs More and more military wives are starting small home based businesses. They are focused on their talents and make them mobile taking it wherever they move. I’m not only talking about businesses like Scentsy or Stella & Dot, where the money that can be made in these are amazing.  I’m also talking about  woman have taken their craft or talent and created a business plan. Some of the woman I have met have started tutoring, blogs, crafts, social media or fashion business and work them from the ground up while creating an income and building their portfolio.

#2 We are getting educated. With so many programs, scholarships and support for spouses to get their education like MYCAA and the use of The Post 911 GI Bill. We are more educated than ever before.  There are so many opportunities for education. We are going to school, earning degrees, or certificates and using them in our everyday lives.

#3 We are Single parenting in a dual parent home. With the active duty member constantly being deployed or TDY, it is left to us, the spouses to handle all the child rearing. We wear so many different hats and still manage to hold it together and create a nurturing and supportive environment to raise our children. 

#4 We are Open Minded. Military spouses are the most open-minded group of woman you will ever meet. We are constantly meeting new people from different places with diverse backgrounds and cultures. We are always moving into new neighborhoods across the country and the world. Learning to navigate and become a native of each community. Nothing surprises us and everything amazing to us!

#5 We are Genies. Dream of a MilSpouse? Just like I dream of Genie with a snap of a finger or a twitch of the nose we have to move and create a whole new household every 3 year or so. Packing, unpacking, hanging, organizing, creating that HOME for our family to come home to time after time. And each time just like a Genie we disappear right back in to our lamp till the next time. 

We do this all of this while supporting our Spouse and Country. We are amazing woman with unbelievable talent, knowledge and power that has manifested into todays HYBRID MILITARY SPOUSE! We are INDEPENDENT But that is just scraping the surface.

So, make sure to not only celebrate The United States Independence but also celebrate Your Independence this month sometime. Take a moment to reflect on all the things you have accomplished and realize how so very Exceptional YOU ARE.

XO

Moni

Parks to visit while being stationed at Patuxent River Naval Air Base

                           Parks to visit while being stationed in Patuxent River

                                                                                                image1

There are times when the weather is nice and you want to get out be active and get to know the outdoors where you are living.  Patuxent River is actually a very nicely kept natural area with many parks and trails to enjoy. 

Below are some great parks to enjoy while being stationed at Pax River. My family and I love to explore and get to know the new area.

We usually pack lunches and have picnics. It’s also a great way to get in a good workout and spend quality time with the family. 

1.Patuxent River Naval Air Station:

Let’s start here. This base has so many hidden parks and beaches. Just head thru gate 2 and follow  Ceder Point Road around the base and you will find tons of parks, pavilions, beaches and picnic and fishing areas. All Free of course.

2. Chesapeake Beach Water Park

A water park in Southern Maryland, who would have thought?! Now this park is unbelievable. I didn’t even realize this place existed!

Fun for all ages! They have food, a lazy river, slides and an area just for little kids to splash and play. 

3. Lancaster Park:

Another Free park in St. Mary’s. Plenty of activities for everyone even furry family members.  Basketball courts, a small trail, baseball fields, playground, football field and a dog park all open to the public. 

4. Calvert Cliffs State Park:

Admission is $5 per car. Really neat  recycled tire playground in the main day use area. There are 13 miles worth of trails that you can bike, run or walk. There is also a 1.8 mile red trail that leads you to the Calvert Cliffs Beach, where you can see the cliffs up close. This is definitely a must see!!!

5. St Mary’s River State Park:

Admission is $3 per car. Good for the adventure type of families. A 7.5 mile trail around the water with amazing views. You can bike, walk or ride a horse on the trail and you can bring your dog. They also have a water access so you can bring kayaks or other water activities.  Plenty of running space and playground for children and pets.

6. Point Look Out Park:

Admission depends on the day. This is a huge very

There are boat launches, hiking trails, beaches, canoe rentals, camp sites, and cabins, historical sites.  They even have a junior ranger program and offer summer programs.  It was once used as a prison camp for the civil war.

7. Nicolet Park

Daily Admission $ 2 per person. They have season passes for individual or family. This spray park has tons of water activities with an array of awesome water spray play!

 

SO, if you have time, put done those electronics and hit some parks. I really hope you all enjoy these parks like my family and I do.

If you want to share your experience below I would love to hear about them. Of if you feel like there should be one on this list that didn’t make it that you LOVE, I would love to ADD IT! 

 

XO, Moni

 

 

I’m SOOOOO Bored!

 

 

Summer doesn’t have to cost a ton!

Summer entertainment can be daunting and keeping the kids from being bored can be stressful.

IMG_0491Here are some programs I get into during the summer that I find helpful and cost efficient, hope you do too!

Kids Bowl Free – YESS you heard me right! Head over to Kids Bowl Free and register each child for 2 free games! I learned about this 2 years ago and wish I had known sooner!! Plus its an indoor activity for those super hot dayzzzz…..

Reading Program Head over to your local library and sign for their reading program. Once they complete the program the kids get a goodie bag full of fun free food and activities. Each county has a different bag and theme. Not only is this something for kids to work towards but it also keeps those brains active! Barnes And Noble Summer Reading Program also offers a fantastic program that they actually give away a book after they read 8 books. It’s a 2-4-1.

VBS- I said it and I’m not ashamed!! Vacation Bible School….This is a perfect free way to keep your kids active and connected to other kids their age. Some offer evening VBS others during the day. Either way you can’t loose. Kids get a free meal or snack and supervised playtime. WHY NOT> RIGHT?? Every year I VBS CRASH! This means yes, my kids go to multiple churches , but so be it! The hubby and I have enjoyed some great free date nights from VBS!

Parks & Recreation- Your local county Parks & Recreation offer tons of free summer activities from toddler to teen. A lot of these programs are geared towards out door and natural nature and animal life. My kids love hands on and the out doors so this is definitely on our list of todo’s during summer break.

Local Youth Center Your local base youth center is always offering free events for kids & teens. They have trips to places, as well as crafts, games, parties, and outdoor activities. I love this program especially for my oldest because it gives her an outlet to meet other military kids and a break from her younger siblings. Most of these programs and drop off are usually free or nearly free.

With so many options of things to do and the desire for us to make the kids summer some big grand thing. The most important thing is to spend time, relax and allow time for the kids to just take a mental break from the stressful school year.

I used to go to school and I know when it was summer time I just wanted FUN FUN, and MORE FUN!

Relaxation and more FUN! Nothing more nothing less…It’s that simple!

Happy summer

Xo Moni

Celebrating Dad

Holidays!

 

Wow! It’s that time again. I feel like this year is just going by so fast. We are already halfway through the year and we are at Father’s Day again. Now, I didn’t realize until recently that Father’s Day is such a new holiday.

I mean, I knew it existed but never felt a need to explore the origin until this year. So I did a little research and found some fun facts that you might enjoy.

Father’s Day 101

-The idea of having a Father’s Day originated from a young girl named Sonora Smart who lost her mother and wanted to show her father William Jackson Smart how special he was since he raised her and her siblings.

-Since her father’s birthday was in June, she chose to hold the first Father’s Day celebration in Spokane, Washington on the 19th of June in the year 1910.

-July 19, 1910, is also when the governor of the U.S. state of Washington proclaimed the nation’s first “Father’s Day.”

-The National Father’s Day Committee was formed in New York City in 1926.

-A joint resolution of congress recognized Father’s Day in 1956 and in 1966.

-President Richard Nixon established a permanent national observance of Father’s Day to be held on the third Sunday of June.

-It was not until 1972, 58 years after President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day official, that Father’s Day became a nationwide holiday in the United States.

-Father’s Day is the day to celebrate father figures. For some that can be a brother, uncle, father, grandfather or close family friend. This is the day we celebrate and show our appreciation for the special dads in our life, whoever they are, by taking them to dinner, giving gifts and through acts of service.

Celebrating Dad

Moms and dads definitely deserve a full day of celebration. On Mother’s Day in our house, we actually celebrate Mother’s Day weekend. I think it should be more than one day and I don’t lift a finger. I want to be pampered to the 10th power. My husband goes above and beyond to make it special, even though he thinks the weekend-long celebration is ridiculous since it’s only supposed to be one day— hence the name Mother’s Day, not Mother’s Weekend.

But on Father’s Day, we’ve typically only celebrated on the actual holiday. Well, the other day my husband says “Hey it’s going to be Father’s Day weekend.” I was shocked since when I say it’s Mother’s Day weekend, he gives me a smart remark or stare. So you can imagine I was surprised, but gladly responded and said “You know what? You’re right!” This year he’s embracing Father’s Day Weekend! And I’m happy to oblige.

So this Father’s Day, we will be celebrating him to the 10th power.

Father’s Day is officially on Sunday the 19th this year. But, his weekend will begin Friday, June 17.

And with so many tips on what to buy dad for Father’s Day, I will not fail. I’m very excited to celebrate him, as he plays such an important role in my kiddie’s life. Not everything we are doing is going to cost money. We’re planning lots of thoughtful little things to celebrate. Here are some ideas to help you celebrate your special dad this coming weekend:

-Let dad relax and take a day off from the household duties

-Treat dad to a massage

-Pamper him

-Cook him a delicious meal

-Take him out to dinner

-Make a special card or craft

-Plan an activity like golf, mountain biking, or his favorite hobby

It’s the simplest things that count. So make sure you take the time to really celebrate the special father figures in your life this day or weekend, whichever you choose, if you choose.

Happy Father’s Day Weekend!

Xo, Moni

Moving During the Summer-Tips for Military Kids

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Close up view of happy smiling kids in a group together outside
Close up view of happy smiling kids in a group together outside

t’s that time of year again. Where the days are getting longer and a new summer story begins to erupt. Summer is so simple, it’s a time to enjoy the little things in life, like sleeping in on a weekday and the smell of tanning lotion and barbecues while hearing the laughter of the kids splashing around and watching them catch firefly’s in the still of the night.

And while all these great thoughts come to mind when we think of summer vacation. There are so many kids not looking forward to getting out of school for break. Military kids tend to dread it, especially if they or a friend are moving. They know once that last bell rings their time together has come to an end.

Summertime especially can truly be one of the hardest times in the life of the military kid. Simply said, “Saying goodbye is so hard.”

Growing up a military child myself, I always felt such a sense of deep loss when I moved. I didn’t know then, but now I understand that I did go thru the process of loss and I remember thinking I would never meet anyone or make another friend again.

Of course, with time and resilience, I always got over it and built a tough skin for which I am now grateful.

I will say looking back it was hard to keep in touch with friends. With the constant address changes and no modern technology to stay connected it was hard to keep in touch with friends. Sometimes, letters written to friends came back to me as “Return to Sender” or “No longer a Resident.” It was very disheartening.

Since I lived through the life my kids are now living through, I see myself in my mother’s place and my children in mine. I realize how hard it is not only to keep myself together but also my children.

So, in keeping the summer positive for them as the year wraps up, I try to keep them focused on staying connected and looking forward to the next time they will meet again. Even thought we will never know for sure when that next time would be.

We have adopted a few things from my childhood and some new things to keep staying connected fun and easy.

moving for military kids

Journal I know this works for my kids. I get them a cute new journal and send it to school with them to get contact information from teachers or friends. So, they can plan to be pen pals. This is not only good to keep in touch and look forward to getting mail, but also helps the kids to keep working on penmanship and writing throughout the summer. In this day and age a little pen to paper could be good for the soul, RIGHT??

Create a photo album. Print out all the photos from the year and put them in an album or create a collage. My daughter actually has a wall collage above her bed of all her friends from different places we have lived. We print and staple them…it looks really cute.

Have a moving/farewell party. That way who ever is moving will have a great party to remember most of all and go with a bang. There’s nothing like pizza, music and laughs to cheer anyone up.

Also, parents should exchange information like phone numbers or connect on Facebook. If kids are older they can stay connected by exchanging phone numbers themselves. This allows them to text and FaceTime so they can catch up from time to time.

In this life of constant emotional ebbs and flows for Milkids, it’s good for them to feel like a part of the process rather than just going thru it and expecting them to just deal with the changes. Some of these suggestions will help them cope with their feelings as well.

And I know YOU, just like ME, want to set your MilKids up for success any chance you get. Having them participate in some aspect of moving and give them some form of control will help them thrive not only during the summer, but also in LIFE.

So, whether your staying or going this summer. I wish you a Happy & safe summer!

XO, Moni

– See more at: http://blog.corviasmilitaryliving.com/moving-during-the-summer-tips-for-military-kids/#.V1G1gJMrLeR

TDY Travel with Family

 

TDY Travel with Family

No matter what branch of the military your family is in you will experience a TDY  –  a Temporary Duty Assignment. This is where they go away for training a conference or tour on behalf of their unit or to further career requirements.

A TDY can be anytime of the year within hours from your duty station, across the county or on the other side of the world. You never know what you’re gonna get from one TDY to the other!

When our airman goes TDY and its summertime, we go TDY too. Summertime TDY’s are our favorite. We totally take advantage of getting away from the monotony of our everyday lives and schedule. We enjoy traveling to cities new or old with him. This allows us not to only enjoy ourselves and take advantage of touring a new place, but also allows for us to relax a bit without breaking the bank.

If the destination is close to our base then we always road trip to the destination. You can also choose to buy your own plane tickets to get to the location. We haven’t done this yet. But, I recently met a spouse who shared her experience with me and I was in AWE!!!

I love the story she tells…

She traveled to Italy for 2 weeks with her spouse for a TDY. All she had to do is buy a plane ticket and rent a car. She said she toured the city and ate good food while he was in school during the day and then the evenings belonged to them. When she speaks about it her face lights up! She said it was the best time for her and her husband. No kids, no chaos of the everyday, no schedule just them. She said she is so lucky and blessed to have done so.
 
What an amazing experience! I always think how lucky she is to have that opportunity.

Some of our Favorite things to do when we go TDY with Daddy

Hotel Benefits-

    • Since Hubby is TDY, the room is paid for by the government and may include a breakfast. My kids love breakfast time at hotels. They get to eat all the yummy, sugary treats I don’t buy at home! (IT’S VACATION RIGHT???)
    • Room service- No cleaning for a few days, I’LL TAKE IT!!
    • No Schedule- sleeping in and watching TV, the pool, sometimes they even have kids activities and happy hour in the evenings. Just take the day as it comes.

Touring-

    • Become a Tourist- If you’re on a tight budget – no worries! I always google or check on trip adviser for free things to do in the local area. There are always free or discounted museums or events for military families. And, of course, walking and touring the city, parks and libraries are always free and fun too.

I don’t know about you but when I’m away from home, I’m away from chores, obligations, and the stress of everyday life that gets in the way of enjoying my family and taking advantage of the day. So, when those orders for a TDY come in don’t frown, especially during the summer. You could end up creating some amazing memories. That’s what this life is about, right?

Creating Memories – Xo, Moni

– See more at: http://blog.corviasmilitaryliving.com/going-tdy-service-member/#.V0MQBZMrLeQ

This original post was first published on Corvias Military Living am honored to be a collaborator with them.

Why I Am A Proud Military Spouse

 

Why I am a Proud Military Spouse

This original post was first published on Corvias Military Living I am honored to be a collaborator with them.

Why-I-Am-320x200I watch him pull it out of a dry cleaning bag and hang it up. He inhales, takes a step back and looks at it. That navy blue mess dress. He grabs his clear box with pins and medals and pulls them out one by one. Reaches for a fresh a piece of cardboard and it begins. He starts lining them up row by row. He does this quietly, meticulously, eagerly. Hangs it back up and reviews his progress.

He grabs the lint brush. He rolls it up and down and down and up…..over and over until there is no lint or fabric hanging off and the uniform looks fresh and new. Like never worn before. It is done.

Wax. Rag. He begins to polish. He shines the shoes till he sees his reflection. Straightens out the shoe laces and sets them in the corner.

He puts it on his uniform and looks in the mirror. Straightens the rows, adjusts the medals and pins, pulls the blazer, lines up his belt with his tie and pants. There is a formation to this procedure. (There is a method to the madness)

He turns and asks me, “How’s it look.”

Let me tell you, there’s just something about a man in a nice well-kept uniform that makes a woman weak. His tight tucked in shirt and tailored suit makes him look so dapper.

I watch him, I watch him each and every single time for the past 17 years. I am in awe….

That’s why I AM A PROUD MILITARY WIFE! It’s an unexplainable feeling you have to live it to understand the butterflies!

How can someone be so detailed, remember the order in which these are placed and take so much pride in the colors, awards, and pins he has received. I tell you who, an Airman, who wears them with pride.

WE have earned each and every single one of those darn rows of colorful pins and medals.

The sacrifices he and our family have made to receive these to honorably wear them and to add them to create another row. Row upon row, sacrifice upon sacrifice. Trials and tribulations. It shows our beginning, our progress and it will one day show our end. No words need to be said for the more rows you have the more the sacrifice for one’s country.

I am mostly proud of the service my husband has given to this fearless country. We are helping them to make their job easier. His job is a marvelous thing. He has missed holidays, birthdays, life events, shoot he has even missed college football for this country. He has done so with an open mind about the mission, a positive attitude that he is helping his country so that we are safe and knowing that his country is proud of his service.

That’s why I am a PROUD MILITARY SPOUSE.

XO, Moni

 

Why I decided to STAY during a Deployment!

  This original post was first published on Corvias Military Living I am honored to be a collaborator with them. 

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When orders drop, the first thing you may think about is going HOME and being close to family or a more familiar place with comfortable surroundings. Whether you have been married for 1 or 15 years, it doesn’t matter, there are so many advantages to being home while your spouse is gone. Yes, you will be around family, friends and places you love but there are also benefits of staying with your military community. Making this decision is a person-by-person case, and there are pros and cons to each.

There was a time in my life where once my hubby was gone I could easily go home. I was young, had tons of energy, flexibility, and time.

As the years rolled by and we had kids, we had to consider sports, activities, school, friends and other obligations that the flexibility become non-existent. Not to mention, having to pack up, store, and move your household back and forth. Sometimes, the load just became too much to bear and you have to realize that you have to stop moving and start growing where you are planted.

Staying means

First and foremost, a chance to give a place a chance Creating a home environment with a routine established will help a lot when your deployed spouse comes back home for a smoother transition.

Kids routines stay intact. Although, it’s even harder for children when your spouse is gone, it’s still good to have something familiar like their home, routines and activities.

Military support. Having a community of military spouses who understand the lifestyle is comforting. It will be a great way to meet new friends and have people around you to support you through this hard time.

A lot of people ask me when he’s gone, “Well, why don’t you go home, back to where you’re from?”

Huh…..I always wish it was that easy. Getting up every time when he’s gone I realized it’s just not a life. You have to build your own life, your circle of friends, and create activities to get involved in. It’s hard and lonely, but it can also be an empowering experience if you allow yourself to embrace the process and create your life.

I have been living this military life for a long time and if I packed up every time my spouse left, I would have never had the chance to bloom anywhere, meet the interesting people I have met, seen the beauty of different places, and enjoying the different local cultures each place has to offer.

When I decide to stay, I planned on family coming to visit for the holidays or long weekends. This always gave me something to look forward to and allowed for a bit of help and a break with kids and housework. I found a hobby. I decided to immerse myself in DIY projects. I know it’s a little cliché but I enjoy it and love making old things new. And I always, always stayed positive!

I will say this though; when your spouse is gone it’s HARD AS HELL! Deployment is like Death!!. Trust me; I have many of lonely nights with glasses of wine, boxes of tissue and a hole of emptiness. But, those nights don’t last long, now I can’t even remember the pain. You will come out strong, you will come out independent, you will come out empowered and a very different person than before.

So, whatever you decide. I encourage you to STAY. See what life throws your way, how you can overcome and grown in your own space.

Xo, MONI

– See more at: http://blog.corviasmilitaryliving.com/decided-stay-deployment/#sthash.HiSCxsKF.g7IRTS7S.dpuf

Letter from A Military Child

 

Letter From A Military Child

This original post was first published on Corvias Military Living  I am honored to be a collaborator with them. 

This letter is from an 11-year old, born into the military who has moved 6 times and counting. Who has attended 4 schools, lived in an array of houses with and without family in between transitions, has gone thru 5 bikes and countless friends and boxes of tissues!!

Dear people who don’t know what a being a military kids all about,

I want people to know that being a military kid is like having your home in your book bag taking your things out everyday to do work and putting it back in your back pack over and over again and again and never having a locker.

It’s not comparable to other kids who are not in the military at all. It’s hard to move and make new friends; it’s hard to have favorite places because you know you’re going to move. You end up having a million BFF’s, seriously. Its always hard to fit in at school because everywhere you go kids and cultures are different. The other hard thing is when my daddy leaves its really breaks my heart. Because I miss him lots and he is gone and don’t know if he is safe all the time. I also don’t spend a lot of time with my uncles and other family because we live far away. Its stressful not to know what’s going to happen next.

Letter from a military childOh the brighter side of things! I get to see lots of places and do really cool stuff every time I move that I would not have done if I didn’t move. Some people don’t do anything – just stay in the same place all their life. Which is ok…I mean if that makes them happy. I meet lots of interesting people who are all very different. I get to redecorate my room all over again when I move. And I get new stuff when the movers break it, I really like that!!  I think that’s fun. Sometimes when we move we are close to family and get to see them. I like that a lot.

I think being a military child is good, stressful, fun, sacrificing, interesting, and I have to be BRAVE, that’s what my mom says all the time…

-AJ

Month of the Military Child

When I read this, it not only makes me sad but also makes me proud!!! They are our little soldiers, they are so BRAVE. Yes, that’s me always telling my kids to be BRAVE! There’s no wonder why every year the month of April is dedicated to celebrate the military child.

However, I have never really done a celebration for my Military Kids. How do we (military parents) celebrate the military child? I posed this question to many military parents and they said, “It’s just another month, another day…nothing special.” I say, “This has to change!”

They at least deserve something, so this year I have planned to do at least 3 things to show my Military Kids they matter, that their sacrifices don’t go unseen, heard or felt.

I encourage you to do the same, if you can. It doesn’t have to be spectacular. But just make it all about them!

When I asked my 11 year old, “How could we show her appreciation?” she said,

“A PARTY!!!!” I figure that’s easy enough, RIGHT??

Let’s Celebrate

So, that’s #1- A Party!! Just the family. My kids love candy, popcorn, movies and pizza add a movie and games. BAM you have A PARTY!!

#2- Family Craft – Maybe making bracelets that say military kid, initials of states they have lived or their names spelled out for them to wear. Kids love crafts and it will be about them.

#3- April 15th  – We are definitely going to PURPLE UP! Wear purple to show your support for the military child on this day!! Take pictures and hashtag it with #PurpleUp!

I hope that this year for the Month of the Military Child you change it up a bit and participate in celebrating our little soldiers! However, wherever, whenever JUST Celebrate…

XO, Moni

– See more at: http://blog.corviasmilitaryliving.com/letter-from-a-military-child-2/#sthash.Cbf3PHwX.dpuf

Branding Shoot

 

Branding Shoot

w/Emma Hill Photography

A few months ago on a cold day, Emma Hill Photography, did some branding photos for me!

I’m so Happy! She really captured my vision in these photos. Emma definitely is a lighting specialist and an energetic, creative, fun and professional photographer.

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She encouraged me. Made me feel comfortable and confident in these natural poses. It was cold but she didn’t care she kept shooting until she go the shot she wanted. She also talked me thru, got to know my personality and asked questions about my business, goals, and future.

 

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She managed to capture me as blogger, busy working woman ready to take on the world with my Blogging and  Public Relations Consulting company Dog Tags & Heels.

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Emma was also able to capture the jewels I was wearing to showcase accessories from Stella & Dot.  Which is another home based business I run from home. I love being a stylist. A lady boss always needs a statement piece, right?

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Shout out to Emma with Emma Hill Photography. You have truly found your gift in life. Thank you for this day!

XO, Moni

Solo Parenting During a TDY or Deployment

This original post was first published on Corvias Military Living  I am honored to be a collaborator with them

phontoA common problem when a spouse is on TDY or deployed in child rearing.  Solo parenting adds stress since you are now responsible for all aspects of day-to-day life without your tag team partner. Doing everything alone can cause additional pressure, stress as well as mental and physical fatigue.

Last year, I faced my very first long-term deployment. I had gone thru many TDY’s before, but a deployment, NONEXISTENT! Sometimes, well, a lot of times, I found myself too tired or distracted that I was just not able to emotionally support or discipline my children, which meant that behavioral problems tended to happen. In the beginning, I had no faith, no energy or structure. But, by the second month, I took charge and stopped letting my house run out of control.

I came up with a few ways to deal with the challenges of solo parenting while my spouse was gone. These worked for me, maybe they will work for you!

LOVE. Tons of LOVE, I can’t say this enough. I offer tons of praise, love and support to my kids. I try to set aside time for each kid, once a week to spend a little bit of extra time with them. Especially in the evening to talk to them about what challenges they are facing or just if they need a little extra attention. And if they feel loved, usually this keeps the misbehavior at a minimum.

Routine. Having a routine creates structure especially since one parent is gone. They will know what to expect from day-to-day. And by routine, I mean structure – everything from meals, activities, and bedtimes. Just try to create a regular schedule and write it down somewhere. I use a chalkboard wall or dry erase board on the fridge. Have them help you with everyday household chores. Everything shouldn’t fall on you. I learned this the hard way, in the beginning I was trying to do everything. I found that the kids love to participate in household chores because it makes them feel like they are contributing to the family.

Self Care. Take care of yourself. Make sure you exercise, eat right, stay on a good healthy path and get enough sleep. Take a moment to set up time to get way and pamper yourself or hang out with friends.

Make sure the kids get to bed early enough for you to get some decompression time each night.

Child Care. While some spouses get to stay home while the other is gone, there are a lot of spouses who also work outside the home. So finding regular, consistent, safe care is vital. It will allow you to either work without stress or get a break during the day to decompress. For me this worked because I had a baby. I needed the break a few hours a day. I used the CDC and paid $4 hr., which was great. So, make sure to check your base resources.

Limits. Set guidelines and expectations to each child about the house rules. Share examples like speaking back, hitting or not getting chores done. Have consequences and enforce them and come up with a reward system. The kids got a lot done and behaved knowing they could pick something from their goodie box at the end of the week. I found when I let things go the kids would then let a lot of things go, too. Just keep to the limits you set for them and they will eventually know you are not playing around.

Guilt. Don’t feel guilty, blame yourself or spoil your child to try to make up for the parent being gone. Feeling guilty is easy for us to do since we do feel like we are falling short for some reason. Trust me, you are not! Your family is going to get through it! In the end, you will all come out stronger and accomplished.

Be Positive. This is so hard sometimes when you feel like the walls are caving in on you and you can’t catch your breath before the next fire has to be put out. Also, don’t be scared to share your fears with your kids. It helps them to see you struggle just like they do. But, know that there is an end in sight. Your spouse will be home soon and all will be back to normal. Things will get better and easier during your everyday challenges. So, mark the reunion day down on a calendar and look forward to it. There are also some apps for countdowns or great ideas on Pinterest as well.

What it all comes down to is being a healthy and happy family! And, remember YOU ARE NOT PERFECT, CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES & YOU ARE AMAZING!

Xo, Moni

– See more at: http://blog.corviasmilitaryliving.com/solo-parenting-tdy-deployment/#sthash.zDs9Gbts.dpuf