1001 Tips for Military Families - Tip #470

“I Love You Because…” Frames

Our lives as a family are busy.  We have chosen to do the things that we love to do and are having fun but most mornings I don’t really don’t see my kids very much.  In fact, most mornings I wake them (after turning on lights, telling them to get up 5 times and then move to panicked pleading) but then I have to leave for work.  Being a teenager is hard, really hard.  I want my kids to know that they are not only loved but why they are loved - at this age they want facts and evidence or they don’t believe it!  I know that they really don’t hear much that I say with their morning and pre breakfast brain.  I decided that I would make something quick and easy that they could read while they were getting ready and try to start their day off right.

Being that we are busy, I can assure you that these were EASY to make, are easy to do and cheap!  All you need is two frames, paper, and a white board marker.  You can change it every day or once a week.  It is up to you.

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1001 Tips for Military Families - Tip #461

Dividing Time 

Taking a few days off to camp with Dad and eat bacon!

Taking a few days off to camp with Dad and eat bacon!

My husband came home for 3 weeks after being away for 8 months.  My kids had lists of things that they wanted to do with him that couldn’t humanly be accomplished in 21 days unless he chose not to sleep or eat.  I was quickly reminded of a phrase that I live by - What is fair, isn’t always equal.  I had spoken to my husband ahead of time to warn him that he and I would have little time together given the needs (and wants) of our kids on his time and that there was only three weeks.  We also said no to a lot of other visits and family time - I am not sure we were overly popular with this but it was the right thing to do. I think it was helpful to talk about all of this ahead of time but it was still a 3 week long juggling act!

 We decided to base our time decisions around three things:

* Is it important to our kids?

* Will it happen again at a later date when we have more time?

* Will it be time well spent together and fun?

Of course, there were things we couldn’t do and wanted to but in three weeks a lot of fun was had.  In the end, it was three weeks of trying to do things the kids had been dreaming of doing with their Dad in 8 long months.  Of course there was a list a mile long of things we needed to get down around the house, papers signed, bills, etc. but in the end we have no regrets as our kids got the only thing they ever really want - our time.  Don’t get me wrong, now that he is gone again I can often be heard muttering around the house about the things that should have been done or feel frustrated that I didn’t ask about one thing or another.  There is no perfect answer to these quick breaks but I think we came close as our kids were a lot happier for it.

For more information about our tips, resources and books go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org



Living It Week 35 and 36

Calendar - Tip #25

When my husband was away, I was great (if I do say so myself) about keeping a calendar with everything and anything on it.  The kids even got into the habit of looking at it (I know you may be thinking that is a small accomplishment but it really isn’t in my world!).  It really helped to keep us organized and maintained some sanity.  Then my husband got home and all routines fell apart and the calendar was just taking up space on the board in the kitchen.  After two weeks of missing appointments, never knowing where everyone was, being totally out of sync and becoming really frustrated we quickly realized that it was something small that made a huge difference!


I took my own advice and…

1) Asked that everyone put their things on the main kitchen calendar (it isn’t overly helpful to me to know that it is in your phone calendar…) and did the first input with everyone right there to get them started

2) Colour coded the calendar for people so that you would know which things were yours by quickly looking

3) Went over the calendar once a week at dinner (for the following week) so we all knew what was happening, who needs to be taken places, etc.

4) Printed out 3 months at a time so we also knew what things were coming up in the next months that were important too

5) Took a picture of the calendar and texted it to everyone

While I know that we are all in the era where we generally believe that technology can do it faster and more efficiently, this printed calendar in the kitchen may have actually saved the lives of my husband and children as I was teetering on the edge of insanity with the chaos!

For more information about our tips, resources and books go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org

Living It - Week 33

Tip #61 Seek Support


Most people don’t reach out for help until they are in a crisis.  We aren’t going to wait!  I have been 8 months without my husband and have only shared a house, kids and room with him for just over 150 days in 3 years.  I know that we are going to need counseling so I am not going to wait or feel embarrassed about it.  I am also not going to fall into the trap of saying we don’t have enough time to go - we have to make the time.  I have time to watch TV so I have time to go to counseling.  We also cannot use the excuse that it is too much money as there are tons of free services for military members and families - we are going to use the services offered to us.  We are both committed to making the time.  I know that there are definitely families where both couples aren’t committed and ready to go but at the least make an appointment for yourself so that you can have a neutral person with no emotional ties or investment in your relationship to talk to.  I am lucky we are both ready and willing but if my husband wasn’t, I would go anyway.

Great Websites:

  • www.ementalthealth.ca
  • www.militaryonesource.mil
  • www.mindhealthconnect.org.au
  • www.supportline.org.uk

These are a few that I found and have used but please feel free to add your own if you know of any.

For more information about our tips, resources, and books to go:


Living It - Week 28

Tip # 459 - Weight Loss 


This tip generated a lot of chatter!  Many of you asked me to report in on how I am doing and be ‘real’ so I thought it would be a good one to “Living It” with.  I would love to tell you that it has been 3 weeks of clean eating, great sleeps, and 20Lbs just dropped off…  ah… no…

My Updates:

* Stopped weighing myself everyday (my whole day was determined my a number on a scale and I often ate more when I was higher with the defeatist attitude that I am already up pounds so why not) - I have managed to only weigh myself 4 times a week (which is down from 20!).  One week I did survive a whole week but then I started worrying that I was gaining and out of control (I sound crazy but some of you must know how it is…).

* I will not to set insane timelines on my weight loss that I always fail on and then eat through the feelings of failure - I cannot tell you the number of times I started to do this.  I would ask myself how many weeks until I have to wear fewer clothes (layers do cover a multitude of sins) and then I would start to say things like if you could lose 15Lbs before the warmer weather…  it was awful trying to stop doing this.  I am determined not to put a timeline to weight loss so I haven’t set any timelines and am just sticking to the goal of permanent life changes.

* I have cleaned out of the house pop and chips - I have stuck to this even though I decided it would be a good idea to go down this aisle in the grocery store and then tried to talk myself into this fabulous looking bag of chips.  I repeated the mantra (‘I would rather feel good long term than a short term fix’) and then got the cart and myself out of there.  I have also found a good pop replacement (It seems to be the fizz I like) and now have flavoured fizzy water.  For those of you in Canada - PC makes a great one!

* I have changed my routine.  I had the habit of coming home and snacking -  A few times I stayed later at work and just arriving home a little later helped with stopping this habit.  If I was home ‘earlier’ I have taken to do a few jobs around the house that aren’t in the kitchen.  It has worked so far.

* I have worked hard to get more sleep (when I am tired I use the excuse that I am eating for energy, I also make terrible food decisions when I am tired and stressed) - This one is a challenge for me as I LOVE my sleep.  Ideally, I would love to sleep 9 hours a night and this is rarely possible unless I go to bed before my kids!  I did manage to go to bed earlier over the past few weeks and it has helped.  I am shocked at how organized I have to be in order to go to bed earlier.  I also have worked on not watching TV mindlessly and then waking up in the morning saying, “Why did I stay up watching that stupid show?!”

* I am going to work hard on my ‘self talk’ (I think and say horrible things about my body 100’s of times in the day) - I had no idea the amount of horrible things I say to myself until I started to pay attention to them a little more.  It starts in the morning some days before I even get up and then I walk past the hall mirror and just continues throughout the day.  It has been hard but one way I am looking at it is telling myself I would NEVER say those things to my best friend so I need to start being a better friend to myself.  

* I am working on cutting out all diet Coke…  I am an addict - I have had three in three weeks.  That is pretty good although I want it every day still.  The fizzy water has helped and the fact that friends and family are constantly nagging me about it.  

I have lost 2Lbs but some of my clothes are feeling better - I don’t have to lie on the bed to get my work pants done up and when I sit down I can still breathe, all good signs!  What I discovered these last few weeks is that I am my own worst enemy in other ways too.  When I discovered I had lost 2Lbs my first reaction and all the ones following it for days was, “Is that it?  This isn’t working?  You aren’t working hard enough on this?  You have failed, again.”  I just need to be happy with the loss and that it isn’t a gain.  I am also going to work hard on measuring out food.  When I tracked what I was eating, I was shocked.  What I put in my mouth throughout the day was quickly forgotten (almost as soon as it passed my lips).  I need to get a better sense of what and how much I am eating.  No matter what big weight loss companies would like to have us believe, weight loss is a simple formula when it comes to food - calories in and calories out need to, at least, match.

For more information about our tips, books and resources go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org 

Living It - Week 23

Jokes and Quotes - Tip #53


Last week I was at a retirement and rather than having a typical party we were at a comedy club - we all needed a laugh so it was perfect.  There was a woman there that had me in tears.  I was laughing and laughing and so were my colleagues.  I swear that I am still renewed from that a week later!

I laugh every day - if I didn’t I would openly weep and that isn’t nearly as fun.  This week I really took a good look at what I do to find happiness and moments of hilarity in all the chaos.

* I will go onto the computer each day to find funny pictures to put on the staff bulletin (I often get distracted and end up looking insane because I am laughing out loud and no one is around)

* I have a tear off calendar of funny sayings and at least a few times a week we all find it funny.  I also keep the gems, cut the date off and use them to put in staff mailboxes or into my kids’ bags

* My kids and I find funny things to laugh about together at dinner (usually about our what ridiculous things happened to us in the day).  I ask questions like, “What is the funniest part of your day?”, “Who made you laugh today?”, “What is the weirdest thing you saw?”

* We try to find funny movies or TV shows that will make us laugh too (we watch them together once a week - The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family are loved in our house)

* My daughter learned about Pinterest a month ago and we now send each other funny pictures

* Before getting up each morning I think about all the things in my life that are good.  I start my day off grateful (I am not going to lie, it can end in a slightly less positive way and others days I am too tired to feel anything except like having a large glass of wine but starting this way changes how I approach things)

* I surround myself with people that also bring happiness and laughter and limit my time with people who cannot see the bright side.  I am lucky enough to have friends and co-workers that spend very little time telling me about all the things that aren’t working or at least are able to have a laugh about how it all fell apart

* This week I also followed my own advice and put jokes and quotes in my kids lunches and in funny places around the house.  It was really nice to hear giggles or to think of them laughing as they opened their lunch

Through this deployment, I have made it my mission to laugh, find the positives and not harp on all that is annoying, frustrating, resentment causing, or just plain maddening (there is plenty of that but no one really wants to hear about it all the time).  While I acknowledge those feelings and don’t ignore them completely,  I don’t let them define the day either.  Being bitter and twisted isn’t going to help my kids or make those around me want to be there.  Laugh - it is free and there are always people that have it harder than you do.

 For more information about our tips, books and resources go to:  www.whileyouwereaway.org

Living It - Week Sixteen

Top Ten Lists - Tip #54

Our first few top tens!

Our first few top tens!

November has felt long and the grey days and cold temperatures haven’t helped.  I was, once again, looking for something to change things up a little and record a few of our thoughts, feelings and to help fill in the gaps for my husband as he does miss an awful lot and this is a fun way of filling him in.  This deployment has already been exhausting and I am trying hard to find things that are easy and fun to do together so… top ten lists began again.

Here are some titles of ones we have done (our top ten of top tens!) - 

* Top Ten Things We Miss About You

* Top Ten Most Annoying Things that Happened this Month

* Top Ten Best Things that Happened this Month

* Top Ten Terrible Meals We Have Eaten This Month

* Top Ten Movies We Want to See

* Top Ten Things We Are Looking Forward to

* Top Ten Animals We Wish We Could Have As Pets

* Top Ten Songs

* Top Ten Funniest Moments Since You’ve Been Gone

* Top Ten Junk Foods To Eat

Doing this together made us think about all the things we have survived, accomplished and got us thinking positively about the months to come - it was also super easy to put together (which is always a bonus!).  Deployments are life sucking and being able to sit back and laugh, plan and be positive about the future are no small feats when there is so many things that we could openly weep or get down in the dumps about!  Each week we are going to take a picture of them and by the end of the deployment we should have a book worth of top tens to talk or laugh about when their Dad gets home!

For more information about our tips, books and resources go to:  www.whileyouwereaway.org


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