Thursday, July 31, 2014

I Quit!

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     Mom Wars blow! Let's face it, no matter where we turn, there is media and strangers telling us we are doing this mothering thing wrong. I don't know about you but I am done! I know who I am as a mom and wife and while I may trip every now and again it's normally because this pesky Mom War keeps getting in the way and shoving it's opinion in my face. So today I am covering the big issues from both sides and we are all going to learn what is Acceptable Behavior together. And then we are all going to
 Dun dun DUN!!!!(belt :D) QUIT! together :) 
   Now I know that the video is long, but seriously, we women have a  lot of issues! like, this list is the short on to the good stuff! Simply click on the hyperlink below (above the photo) and wait for the download to finish. I'm sorry if it takes a moment, it's a part of Google Share with longer videos :)

     Now let's all say it together: "Not Acceptable Behavior".

Best Wishes,
Jules & Monkey

Friday, March 21, 2014

New Home, Same World

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She's ready to go!
  Our move is finally over and the last picture is, well...almost hung. We were blessed to have a contracted move to base housing and even more blessed to have a house in a cul-de-sac that is full of other kids Monkey's age. The move however, like all moves took planning, patience, and a level of understanding for each other that we don't normally have to have. In my previous post - Not Uprooting, Just Replanting - I mentioned a few things that we use to assist in our moves. This time around I went ahead and put all my other tricks down too. I figured I would share them all with you so you could have your own easy move guide as well!

  My first step is getting my go-to supplies:
  • Accordion Folder
  • Clipboard and Pad-folio combo (Target sells them for about $12 and they are awesome multi-taskers)
  • Two pens, different colors (I use black and red)
  • Coffee, Coffee, Coffee!!!!

   Secondly, I always have a calendar and utilize a schedule but in a move 
He's such a goof...
my calendars either get erased or are too small to be effective. Because of that, I print out a weekly calendar for the week of our move and live on that till we are in our new place. All our moves have happened on a weekend, so all my preparations have started around Tuesday and ended around Monday. Here's the one I use:  Weekly Calendar.

   Next, is my reminder list for my Utilities. If possible, print it front and back to make it easier on yourself. I write down the companies as we remember them, call them, write down if we are getting a deposit back, even if they are coming to either house for anything and on what day. The best part is it is all on one sheet and my Hubby knows where to find it when he needs to do the bills come payday. Just remember to keep the latest bills in your Accordion File so even if you are not settled in to the new house you can still stay on track and not get penalized for late payments. 

     **Side note: always keep your utility companies programmed into your phone to make it easier to pay or solve an issue. If your pay online, bookmark the page. As well, keep a list of your account numbers and PW's for your significant other in a safe location. That way if something happens and someone needs to assist you with that part of your day it will be less stressful.

Pick your battles during a move people.
Pick your battles.
 Also, Your accordion file will come in handy for a few things. Here's my favorites:

  • Important Family Documents (to keep them safe in the move)
  • Bills, to make paying easier
  • Separating money: get cash for your cleaners, sitters, etc and put them in separate files with notes for an easier day. that way no matter who is taking care of that "chore" it is laid out and can't be messed up due to stress or mis-communication.
  • Paperwork from the movers
   Lastly, for my family is food. I always shop on payday and normally cook every night. When we move though I try to empty the fridge as much as possible so I change how I shop. We go to a lot of munchies and sandwiches and purposefully build in a few days for take-out. Don't forget that most likely you won't be shopping for a few days after the move as well so plan for that as well. Take-out, freezer meals, sandwiches, get you through. If you have a grill - use it! And don't forget your paper plates :)
Take a moment to just let it all out! 
Cracking out!
   I mentioned at the beginning, moves take planning, patience, and understanding. I can help you Plan, but learning to have Patience with the process and the companies is all you. The area my family has had the biggest learning curve personally is Understanding. Every move is different, every age is different, even every day is different. We go into our moves knowing there is going to be upheaval and issues and back pain even. The cat will hide in the empty closets and the dog will go crazy about the new back yard. My child will crack out on the latest cartoon addiction for days while I try to unpack as quickly as possible all while telling myself the back pain is worth it as long as we can get back to "normal" quicker. My husband will keep the coffee pot running 24/7 just to survive the chaos and somewhere in there we will end up laughing at everything. Nothing will be normal but everything will be ok and through every move we learn a little more about each other and have a little more understanding for each other. Just remember that moves affect everyone differently. Step back occasionally and see how the ones you love are coping.

Don't forget to do a date in folks :) and Laugh!

Best Wishes,
Jules & Hubby 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Not Uprooting just Replanting!

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My Boys are Crazy!!!
   We are moving. Again. I have moved so many times in my life that when I married my Airman moving was not a hangup in my mind, it was another part of our great adventure story. When we had our son, however, moving took a turn for the complicated. To adults, Movers who come in and pack up our stuff and move it onto a truck are lifesavers, grape toddlers they are bad men who are disrupting their world and taking their stuff. In order to ease up on the issues that moving can create it takes a little planning and a lot of help. So as the master of lists I sat down and figured out what I needed to do to make this transition as easy on my son as possible. 

   We are moving in town. That in and of itself helps. While we love our current house and the big yard the distance from our stationed base is tough on our family. It cuts us off from our community and has made us feel isolated. So my husband suggested moving into Base Housing. We took a look (and I did some research into the floor plans, community layouts, drama issues, etc) and decided that all pros outweighed the few cons. We also found out that we qualified for a contracted move so my Husband and I don't have to lug the furniture ourselves up all those stairs! Thank goodness! It left us with a few things that needed to be handled that are pretty common across the board for moving.

  • My Child's Sanity
  • Cleaning
  • Food / Opened Products
  • Overnight Accommodations
  • Animals
So let's tackle these one by one.
My Child's Sanity: 
Awesome Splash Pad with Pixie Pads :)
 I know that it can be traumatizing whether he is there when it is happening or not but when professional movers come in they are loaded down with exacto knives, scissors, and tape guns. My child likes to touch everything. I like to monitor the movers as they care about the number of boxes over the fragile items being at the bottom...(read that as antique american flag under pile of stilettos last time we moved). Balancing those two can be tricky so we decided that having a family member come into town and taking care of Monkey was a better idea. He gets to spend time running around with family and going to fun places all while missing his house being torn apart. He gets to spend the night at a hotel room with them and then in his own room in the new house the next night if all goes according to plan. Changing rooms can be traumatic enough for a three year old. Try to eliminate the soon to be questions and issues by getting ahead of them. Pack a bag of toys up and hide them away till the day of. Pack an overnight bag including their favorite stuffed animal and PJ's. Anything needed for their bedtime routine as well, i.e. sound machines, humidifiers, etc. I know it sounds like a lot but it is about making them feel like they are at home to eliminate the possibility of screwing with their schedules. You will be tired enough, you don't need a toddler who doesn't want to sleep on top of that.

   Most Yard Sale sites have people who are willing to clean for fairly decent prices. Ask for a Move Out clean. They will deep clean the bathrooms, kitchen, windows, and even the fans and baseboards. Most places have requirements for what needs to be cleaned before they will sign off on your move out. It will affect your deposit as well, so be aware of the cleaning. 
   I also like to have a carpet cleaner come in out of courtesy since we have a kid and animals. Most apartments will offer it but if you rent a house they won't. However it can also affect your deposit so plan wisely. If you have tile or wood Carpet Cleaning places can clean those as well but we use our Kirby personally (best Christmas gift ever from my Hubby). You also can use various cleaning products and do it yourself with a sponge and bucket and save yourself some money. I'm a fan of Seventh Generation everything personally so you could find something in their line to use that will be safe and effective.

Food / Opened Products:
I keep finding him sitting in the fridge
during the a pregnant chick :)
     No moving company will pack or move opened food or chemical containers. If you are moving out of town you just plan appropriately and  give things away or leave the cleaning and painting supplies behind. When you move in town you pack them in boxes and transport them yourselves. Just double check the lids on everything and throw a tarp or paint cloth down in your car to protect your interior in case anything spills. No reason to buy anything you don't need to so take your food with you. Your cupboards you can clean out ahead of time and take over as you go but your fridge you need to plan ahead for. Box quickly, take it straight over, and unpack right away. No need to waste food because of poor planning and the more food you save, the more money you save (which will come in handy as your wallet is probably hemorrhaging money right now). Don't forget to plan that before your cleaning crew comes in to the old house and after the new house fridge has been wiped down. 

Overnight Accommodations:
   We are using a Military amenity with this move. The Contracted Move is being paid for by the Air Force but the timing sometimes can take awhile. As well, our beds may not always be available to be used. You can ask the movers to save the beds to last but you will still end up with a night or two without a home or a bed so plan accordingly. If you are military, use the hotel on base and save some money. If you aren't take a look in advance at some hotels close to where you are moving and make a reservation for one night on either side of what you think you will need it for. You can always call and change the reservation as needed but better safe than sorry.

A Boy and his Dog :)

  If you have animals please take them into consideration. If you have animals who are super sensitive (like our cat) board them at a place they know. If you can take their stuff to the new house first and get them set up in a safe area where you can close the door then do that. Just take into consideration that they are family too and they have their own temperaments. You don't want to traumatize them either with this. If they are easy going like our dog, a new bone in the new back yard is all he needs but hey...each animal is different so be considerate.

Military Specific:
  •  All On-Base moves possibly qualify for Contracted Moves. Check it out!
    • You will need your Pre-lease form for your AF150 form (double check to make sure that is still correct as the military always changes things :D)
    • Forest City is in charge of a lot of Privatized Base Housing but all Bases have their own websites with a housing link. Check your base to make sure who is in charge of yours. As well, it will help you research your area, floor plans, community plans, etc. 
    • Don't be afraid to request things like your preferred housing layout or community. It never hurts to ask! 
    • Once your AF150 is filled out (by the active duty member) you can request a start date for your move. Try to take holidays and weekends into account as they will slow things down, rack up hotel costs, and make things harder on your toddler. A little planning can go a long way so ask a lot of questions and whip out those calendars! 
   Moves are a part of our lives and I never run away from the adventure of them, but I do plan for them. I have a printable list that I use that breaks this entire blog down into easy reminders so I can check them off one by one (it makes me feel accomplished :D). You can print it HERE yourself! I hope your move goes as smooth as possible and just remember, whatever goes wrong just becomes a great story to tell later down the line. 

Best Wishes,
Jules & Monkey

Monday, January 20, 2014

Pre-Schooling Preparations

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Outside the Dallas, TX Museum of Science, such a fun day!

   ***Let me start this with every child is different and every parent is different. However, every preschool requires the same skills from our children upon starting.*** 
  I have a son that is this bright, fun loving, energetic child that seems to pick up on every skill I never want him to that: plunge rubber duckies in the toilet for fun.
Wandering the hallways before his surgery true Monkey style :)
However, due to some never ending ear infections when he was little he suffered from some blown ear drums, scarring, and even had tubes put in because I finally insisted on them (joy of military doctors) that led to some impaired speech ability. Because of this situation that God allowed in our lives, I was able to learn some things about not only hearing and speech but children as a whole and how they learn.
  First, kids will always be able to communicate. My son taught himself and me his own version of sign language when he was 6 months old. It was frustrating and tedious at times but it worked. Over time he learned words, created his own, or would just point.
   Second, children learn comprehension while they learn sounds and words. Up and down are not just noise. They have meaning. Our children learn to comprehend those meanings while they learn the sounds. 
   Third, we can create learning issues when hearing issues come into play. My son learned sounds wrong and did not learn to comprehend what they meant correctly because of the ear infections (he was hearing under water for over a year basically to over simplify his situation). To him learning became a disconnected exercise. 
    As a mom it can be disheartening to watch your child struggle to communicate and to be understood.  We want our children to enjoy their childhood and once we fix the pain we want everything to magically be better! Unfortunately life doesn't work that way and with preschool coming up I knew that my son would struggle and even start late if I didn't do something.  So I did what I do best and I did research.  I talked to everyone I could and found out that most children start out somewhat behind. What?! In Mississippi "more than 40 percent of students in Mississippi are not ready for kindergarten"  according to the study released last year. The article goes on to say that one of the kids in every class were reported to have to repeat kindergarten. Repeat Kindergarten!!!
                                                     What in the world!?! 

As mom's we assume because we prepare our kids to function in the home and not run in the road that they are OK in school. We teach them to not touch sharp objects, not talk back, use the big boy potty, be respectful, be careful when Superman flying off the back of the couch, fix their own snacks even but today's schools start farther ahead than when we were little. They want our kids to already know their numbers and colors and shapes. Those scissors that we tell them to leave alone, they need to know how to use them... And so our children start out behind.  I knew Monkey needed to play catch up but teachers every where are saying that all children need to be prepped. So that's what we are doing. It's taken a while but we got a rhythm down and even a few of our favorite supplies to share! 

To be fair, he was running away in
this picture...he made it to the garage before
turning around for dinner :)

So here's how:
   1. Give your child a ten minute warning so they can end what they are doing. Let them transition happily for better results.
   2. Take 30 minutes a day and play a game and / or read.
   3. Mix it up. Keep it fun. Monkey asks to do school now because he gets specific attention and plays "games". 
   4. Focus on specific goals. I personally like this print out from a former teacher. I keep it in his folder and check off the points as we reach those goals.
   5. Find a time during the day that is best for your child. Being well rested and full will help with their concentration. 
   6. Set expectations during school.  Focus, sit up, no getting out of your chair,  etc and be consistent!  We use our dining room table and Monkey knows to stay in his chair and listen to and follow requests. He sits up and because scissors are in play now we don't grab things. 
  7. Finally, pay attention to your child.  Some days they will just be off. Don't push it. If they are not able to get what you are teaching try a new method or a new time. It took months to figure out Monkey' s rhythm. It may take time for you too.
   The cool part is he learned 2 years of vocabulary in 6 months! I am one proud Mama over here :) He is a non-stop talking spit fire who has a huge dose of curiosity and sarcasm all rolled into one little body.  It takes patience and work but it is worth it. I know he will be ready for school when he starts now and that makes me breathe a sigh of relief. 
    Monkey has his own school box as well as a school bucket / shelf. Here are a few of my favorite multi-taskers as well as what he has (based on professional suggestions).

School Box:
 ~ Colored Pencils
 ~Crayons (jumbo sized for little fingers)
 ~ Pencil Sharpener
 ~Glue Stick (purple so we can see where it goes on)
 ~Safety Kids Scissors with an auto open spring
 ~Pipe Cleaners
 ~Stickers (cause they're fun :D)
**I found all of his stuff at the Dollar Tree**

School Bucket
 ~Construction Paper
 ~Assorted Pom-Poms (Sorting by size and color)
 ~Dr Seuss Matching Game (disclaimer: Monkey received this as a birthday gift from another really great Momma and it is a really long game but it can be used to find things by color, shapes, animals, pairs, etc...he even learned left, right, top, and bottom from this. It's one of his favorites and we haven't even played it with the cards face down yet :D)
 ~Mickey Mouse Matching Cards: Dollar General carries some great Disney sets that have colors, Shapes, and their favorite characters all rolled into one!
 ~Various other card sets that involve matching for pictures, words, shapes, numbers, etc...
 ~Brain Games Kids: Toddler Time ( This is a staple for us. Regardless of what else we do, we always do some of this book. It has a little of everything on a fun challenging template.)
   I knew with Monkey's background that we had some work to do. I didn't know though that he wasn't going to be as far behind as I was anticipating. With all of his hard work and the time and dedication throughout the day both in school and out he has caught up to where he needs to be. We are lucky enough now to be working on things that are fun and just extra at this point. I never thought a year ago we would be at this point. I'm grateful to come from a family of teachers that always emphasized education as a staple in life above all else but in all honesty, Monkey has done all the hard work. He is one dedicated little man! Just remember, no matter where you start that school at this age should be fun for them. Use it to get to know your kid better, enjoy the time with them, and no matter what... remember that they (like everybody else) have talents that don't always translate to a school desk. 


Best Wishes
Jules, Monkey, Hubby, 
Mimi, and Papa MayMay
(the two original teachers :D)      

Friday, January 3, 2014

Aren't they just a Hoot!

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   My husband a while back was diagnosed with a degenerative disc disease that affects his neck on a daily basis. It sounds kinda scary and when we first found out about it, it was. One surgery, multiple orders for Quarters (required sick leave), and too many different pills to count I decided that I was tired of playing fireman. This particular issue flairs up with repetitive strain or workouts that are too much too soon and then requires pain medicine and muscle relaxers to get the issue back in control so my husband can function again. So I did some research...and found that simple things like neck exercises, proper diet, and heating pads / ice packs can help maintain his level of functionality and help prevent future issues. It seems simple but there are always snags in life. The biggest one here is that he can't sit at work with a heating pad plugged in and wrapped around him after his workouts. So I took on the challenge of figuring something else out and something amazing came from it...I re-discovered Rice Heating Pads! They are environmentally safe, non electric, portable little bags that you can freeze as an ice pack or heat up in the microwave and use as a heating pad. They last for years and you can make them in virtually any shape and size you want. As well you can add spices to them to aid in certain issues like headaches, sinuses, stress...the list goes on and on. 

   Enter my addiction to Owls. I decided after making a heating pad for my husbands neck that I would try and make those cute little Owl Hand Warmers that I have been seeing all over Pinterest. I originally wanted to purchase one for Monkey but all the links kept taking me to pictures or Patterns. Since I have been sewing since I was a little girl I decided to make my own pattern and make a few for Monkey and me. It took a few days but I got them done and they are so wonderful. They fit perfectly on my shoulders and behind my neck when I'm relaxing at night and Monkey likes to play with his and just hug it when he watches Mickey Mouse. The best part is the size! I have a few stacked in the freezer now at all times to fix the bumps and scrapes that Monkey gets.
They lay flat for stacking so they store easier in your Freezer
or cupboards :)
They are perfect for his knees and head. When I know we will be somewhere cold I can microwave two and put it in his pockets for him to hang on to or use them to keep my feet warm at night when my blood sugar level gets the best of me!

   They were so cute and fun to make that I decided to add them to my Etsy Shop. I make them in the same four fun patterns we have at the house now and I purposefully made it so the price was affordable for anyone. I
know I have had so much fun discovering new ways to use our owls and I bet you will too. In fact, let me know how you use your rice hand warmers at your house. I would love new ideas for these versatile little cutie pies!

Best Wishes,
Jules and Monkey

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hot Chocolate-y Goodness

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I wrap the needed items for our Advent Calendar and put them on our mantle
so we can enjoy our adventures each day! 
   As a part of our family Advent Calendar every year we do different things to help teach our son that Christmas is about so much more than just Santa and gifts. It is about family, helping others, and (most importantly) about Jesus. One of the ways we encourage family time is with our favorite Christmas movies. We all pile on the couch with popcorn and Hot Chocolate and Nache food and we enjoy watching a good movie together. But let's face chocolate out of the pouches is pretty bland and no one wants to spend a lot a time making hot chocolate from scratch on the stove. So I spent some time researching hot chocolate recipes and found one on Pinterest (shocker, I know :D) that I printed out. I haven't been able to find it since then though so I'm going to include for you a PDF as well as the recipe here. 
   The original is from and is called Best Hot Cocoa Mix. They suggest using it for gifting mainly but I find with a few tweaks and additives it becomes quite delish and amazing for both family time and gifting! 
              Homemade Hot Chocolate

   ~2 Cups Nonfat Dry Milk Powder ( I prefer a higher milk content)
   ~3/4 Cup Sugar
   ~1/2 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa
   ~1/2 Cup Mini Semisweet Chocolate Chips
   ~1/2 Cup Powdered Non-dairy Creamer (french vanilla flavored is pretty good too!)
   ~1/8 Teaspoon Salt

Mix everything together until evenly blended. You can split into fourths at this point and put into Ziploc baggies or you can store in an airtight container for individual use. 

To make one cup: Mix 8 oz of boiling water with 3-4 tablespoons of mix. Stir well.

Additives: Candy Cane Stirrers, Mini Marshmallows, Big Marshmallows, Homemade Whip Cream, Liquor (if your old enough), Chocolate Straws, etc. Let your imagination run wild!

I find that boiling water in the coffee pot and adding to the mix in the cup works best. Everyone's tastes are different so you may like a little more or less mix so play around with it a little.

Christmas is crazy regardless of where you are and how you celebrate. Sometimes taking a moment and just relaxing with a steamy cup of Hot Chocolate surrounded by family is just the thing to take the "Christmas Crazy" edge off. I hope you enjoy this great little way to cut the work out and get straight to the family time!

Warning: Hot Chocolate may cause extreme Sugar High's that
produce Parental Silliness and Toddler Laughter.

Best Wishes,
Jules and Monkey

Friday, November 22, 2013

An honest look at the Church

Pin It    I know this post is going to offend some and stir others and frankly, i'm ok with that. I have been a Christian for years and being raised in a family that believed in helping those who needed it lent a hand to attending various churches. My Dad would work as a Music Minister, my Uncle as the Pastor. It offered up an opportunity for me to see churches in a way that a lot of people don't get to. I saw the behind the scenes versions, the deep dark secret versions, the best of the best, and even the worst of the worst. I learned to watch quietly and got very good at diagnosing the true issues that were the root of all the problems. Funny enough it all came down to two issues normally. My church here is no different. Even with the Pastoral search and committee issues it still comes down to the same two issues. 
   So after three years of taking the remarks and underhanded comments I decided I had had enough. If you can't get someone to listen to you in one way then you try another. This video is that other way. Hopefully you'll watch the whole thing. Hopefully it will help you understand what me and so many others like me deal with on a regular basis.

                                                  An Honest Look at the Church

   So tell me, where does Grace fit into your story? Your church? Your version of Love? Your version of God? 

Best Wishes,