It’s definitely spring in Texas. We’ve had some gorgeous weather the past couple weeks and there is nothing I like better on gorgeous spring days than taking the kids out on an adventure. Saturday involved a lot of things, like a new farmer’s markets, some Texas history, and bluebonnets. I knew they were in season, so after a little recon online, we were off to find some. You can’t go wrong driving country roads on a nice day, so I don’t mind driving around until I find what I’m looking for. We found so many fields of flowers. It doesn’t get much prettier than that. Any field of flowers is pretty, whether they are planted or wild, but there is just that something extra special about a field of wildflowers.
Compensation for this post was provided by Proctor & Gamble via MSB New Media, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
In their short lives, the children of Active Duty, Reserve, and Guard members have dealt with long separations from their parent(s), as well as continuous disruption in their lives. In the past 13 years, they’ve dealt with countless deployments. Do you see them complaining? Sure, they may occasionally say something, but overall, they deal with it because it’s what they know. My kids don’t complain, simply because they don’t know a life where this isn’t normal. Military kids are dealt a life that most adults don’t want, but they love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.
With all those deployments, PCS’s, and other life distractions, a parent sometimes wonders if this is the best life for their child. We all want the best life for our children and in turn, we want them to grow up and be happy, functional adults. Here’s my tips for raising a happy and healthy military child.
1. Love Them
Isn’t that the most obvious? With all the moves and deployments, knowing their parent loves them and is there for them is beyond reassuring. It works the same way for adults.
2. Talk To Them
I have found the best way to explain things to my kids is to talk to them. That may seem obvious, but some people don’t talk to their kids. Every time we have moved, we’ve explained to the kids, on their level, what is going on. Telling them simply that the Marine Corps wants Daddy to work at a different base now, so we are moving there. We explained how we would get there, what would happen with our belongings, and anything else they had questions about. It’s an easier process and they understand. As they’ve gotten older, I also talk to them about other subjects as they come up. I try my best to be honest with my children. I would much rather them learn certain things from me, than from kids at school or, heaven forbid, the internet.
3. Keep A Routine
That seems completely logical, until you are in the middle of a PCS and your entire family is living in a teeny room in lodging. Do it though, as best you can. Kids need a routine. They thrive on routine. Keep dinner times and bedtimes the same. If you bath them, read them 1 Dr. Suess book, 1 Elephant and Piggie book, and If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, in that order, every night, continue to do so. Their life might be upside down, but the routine will help.This also comes into play during deployments. It’s easy to get off track with your spouse gone (raise your hand with me if you essentially quit cooking when he is gone!), but it will help the kids feel like everything is ok if the rest of their lives are the same.
4. Keep Connected
A lot of military kids don’t know their extended family as well. With families living far away and money and leave time not always being readily available, kids aren’t as close to their grandparents or aunts and uncles. They need to know they have a whole group of people who love them and will appreciate knowing them as they get older. Even if it isn’t possible to see them all the time, do your best to keep your kids connected in other ways. For the little ones, have them Skype or talk on the phone. For the older kids, have them do the same, as well as write letters (easy penpals for the beginning writer) and emails.
5. Make New Connections
The first thing I want to do at a new base, after we unpack anyways, is get out there and meet people. Your kids need to do the same. If they are school age, they will make friends at school, but still enroll them in classes or sports, such as gymnastics, soccer, or t-ball. This will allow them to stay active, while making friends. If they are younger, it is up to you to help them make friends. Find a Mommy and Me class or a group such as MOPS. Smaller kids can also start gymnastics and certain sports. This will help you and your kids meet new people and keep the kids active. At the very least, kick them out the door and make them play outside. They’ll meet the neighbor kids and get some exercise in the process!
6. Let Them Express Their Feelings
The military life brings out some emotions, for adults and kids. Let them express their feelings. They’ll feel better and it will better help you understand what they are thinking, feeling, and going through.
P&G is also aware of how awesome military kids are and are celebrating with a Month of the Military Child Campaign that focuses on raising healthy and active military kids. They have partnered with DECA to help bring ProCamps to military installations. The camps are a great way for your military child to make new friends, they encourage a healthy, active lifestyle, and it provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to play football with a NFL player. You can help bring a ProCamp to your base by purchasing select P&G brands at the commissary between March 19 -April 8. Eligible items include Tide, Bounty, Charmin, Pantene, Crest, and Gillette. To receive special P&G brand coupons, exclusively for military families, sign up at the P&G Family Unit site.
With our recent move, we are near a commissary again! I don’t think I have to tell you how happy this makes me. The commissary is not perfect and doesn’t always have what we want, but they are cheaper overall than shopping off base. I’ve got some tips below to make your grocery bill a little less, while utilizing the already big savings.
Do you take advantage of the rewards card? It’s like any other store card. Pick up a card next time you are at the store (they are at the registers), then go to the website to register. You can then load coupons onto your card and use them next time you shop. You won’t have to worry about forgetting your coupons!
Like any other store, the commissary takes coupons. Overseas, they can be used for 6 months after the expiration date. The stores also have coupons on the shelf and in ads at the front of the store. P&G has a site that will send coupons that are specifically to be used at the commissary.
Case Lot Sales
It’s spring, which means its time for the commissary case lot sales! I know people have a love/hate relationship with them, but give them a chance. The commissary gives you the chance to buy items in bulk. This gives you even lower per item pricing. If you know you won’t use everything, take a friend and you can split the cost.
There are a lot of coupon apps out there, but only a few can be used with the commissary. The apps that can be used are Ibotta, Checkout 51, and Snap. The money will be put in your account on the app and when you reach a certain amount (ex. $5 for Ibotta and $20 for Checkout 51), you can cash out for cash or gift cards.
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Friday night, we went to my first American spring training game. That sounds weird, but we went to a spring training game in Okinawa. The Dodgers were in town to play the Rangers, so of course we had to go. The husband wouldn’t have it any other way. They also won. It was 10-5 when we left in the 8th.
It rained all day Friday and the forecast called for it all day Saturday too. What’s a little rain though, right? We had heard about a smaller music festival outside of Austin at the J. Lorraine Ghost Town. We only wanted to see Whitey Morgan and the 78’s and they said kids were welcome, so that was a no brainer. We dressed to stand out in the rain for hours, but it was actually inside. The crowd wasn’t very big because of the rain. The little one enjoyed her first live musical experience. She knows their music and afterward said she loved it.
It finally quit raining Saturday evening, so Sunday was spent doing the usual. Mowing the yard, running errands, a trip to the library, and the park of course. She lost one of her top, front teeth and the other one is just hanging by a thread.
Last week, I wrote a post about easy ways to keep the confidence. That came in to play a few nights ago.
With my husband going through the medical board process, he got to know the ladies with the Semper Fi Fund in Pendleton. They are by far the best non-profit organization we have encountered when it comes to helping injured Marines and their families. They were the ones who bought my husband is Irlen glasses. They have also helped us out in other small ways. It’s never been something we asked for, but more a situation that came up where they saw a way they could help us and offered to do so. They’ve been sending regular invites for me to attend get togethers for the spouses and caregivers of wounded Marines. I was never able to go in California with work and all that, but I got to go a few nights ago.
The invite was for dinner at Olive Garden. Nothing super special, but it was a night out to have fun and get away for a bit. I RSVP’ed right away. Of course I wanted to go! It’s the perfect chance to meet new people and et out of the house. Worst case scenario, I don’t click with anyone and best case, I end up with a few new friends. Three hours and a LOT of food later, I left with new numbers in my contacts and new Facebook friends. It was a super informal dinner. There was 10 of us and we just talked amongst ourselves. It’s nice to talk to women who understand. A few of the girls I talked to had husbands with missing limbs on top of the PTSD and TBI’s. I am fully aware that we are lucky. While my husband has injuries, he could be worse off. We shared our stories, talked about the kids, had all the “does your husband do this?”and “how is your husband with this?” conversations. We also shared resources for different places that could help.
As many get togethers I’ve been too in the blogging world, this was the easiest and most comfortable get together with people I don’t know, yet. Dinner lasted almost 3 hours and I can’t wait until the next one. I never realized how nice it would be to talk to people who truly understand what my husband and by association me, go through. My military spouse friends get it, but there is still somewhat of a disconnect unless you are dealing with it. I have never wished our life any different or wished my husband was different. Yes, I wish he didn’t have to deal with the stuff he goes through, but it’s a fact of life. It’s an effect of war and he’s going to bear that the rest of his life. He has people to talk to, I never had. I never thought I needed it though. I felt so much lighter after I left that night though. This is going to be a good thing.