Friday, August 31, 2012

Before You Marry A Marine


   The divorce rate in the military is astronomical, and it is no surprise. It is a life unlike anything you've ever known, unless you were a military brat. And really there is no way to prepare for it. I can't count how many hours my husband has spent working with Marines and their spouses helping them through their issues. Or how many complaints I've heard at the playground. Let me be clear, there is a difference between venting frustration and being a nagging negative shrew. Some people are just NOT cut out for this life style. There is nothing wrong with thst. Before you marry a Marine think long and hard to make sure this is the life for you. And read this!

 If you plan on marring a Marine you better be independent. You need to be mentally strong, and brave and self sufficient.
   It helps to be out going and thoughtful. And sometimes self sacrificing. And able to bite your tongue.
   Know the difference between seeking help and seeking trouble.
   Be ready for nights alone. Moves alone. Births alone. Be ready for the Marine Time. If your husband says he'll be home at 4pm, be waiting at the door at 8pm. And have the dinner warm.
   Expect the man cold. In the ten years my husband has been in the Marines he has never called in sick. Not once. It's not really an option. But when he finally drags his butt home at the end of the day he is done. He has been a big bad Marine all day, and the second he walks through the door he will warp into the biggest baby on the face of the earth.
   You'll rarely see your family back home. So be prepared for birthdays and Christmases away.
  Plans will change. And change again. Nothing is official until you have it in writing. You will not know where you will be living in two years. You will not know when your husband will get back from deployment until his plane is on the tarmac.
   Get ready to speak Jarhead. I can have an entire conversation with some of my girlfriends speaking in acronyms. The head is the bathroom, the deck is the floor. CO is commanding officer, which means smile and be polite. Brig is the jail, and chow is food.
   Regardless of what Jill from Home Improvement said, military time is not hard to learn. 1am to 9am just add a 0 in front. 0700 (said zero seven hundred) is 7 am. 1100 is 11 am. After 12pm just minus 12 from the number. 1300 would be 1pm. 2000 would be? Let's see. 20-12=8, so 8pm!
   If you are not a person that rolls with the punches you better love your man (or woman) a great deal, because you are going to have a lot to deal with.
   Are you scared yet? Second guessing? Good. Now let me tell you why I wouldn't have it any other way.
   You will not want for help. Your neighbor will take out the trash while your husband is gone. If a Marine sees you trying to get that 30 pound bag of dog food into your cart, he (or she) will jump to your aid. I think I can count on my hand the number of time I have had to open a door myself. It's a little thing, but when you are juggling a screaming two year old and four bags of groceries, it means a lot when that person stands at the door a full twenty extra seconds to hold it open for you.
   Your FRO (family readiness officer) will organize social events and keep you updated. If you're having a baby and are in need of things your husbands friends and coworkers will donate like new gear. The FRO might even arrange a baby shower.
   There are so many wonderful programs. New Mommy Groups, classes for parenting and your marriage. Sports, and fun runs.
   Forget co-pay. Unless you are a special case, medical is 100% covered. Some people have complaints about the service they get on base, but I have NEVER had a problem. It is fairly easy to get appointments and you are rarely kept waiting more then 15 minutes.
   I have never once felt unsafe in my house, even when my husband is gone. It's a comfort to know that at least 10 Marines are within screaming distance. I'm sorry, but if there is something in your house that 10 Marines can't handle, no one can!
   There are parks within walking distance. Everyone you meet is in the same boat as you. It is easy to start up a conversation with a perfect stranger and be talking like old friends in minutes. You will make friends that will last a life time.
You will move. You will move a lot, but the Corps is a small enough community that no matter where you go, you will know at least one person.
   If you want a job, people on base will help you find one. They have amazing child care, at a fraction of the cost you'd find off base. I love the commissary (grocery store), and couldn't live with out the Exchange. The Exchange is like a Target. That has Coach and LV. At massively discounted prices!!
   You get to travel the world and live in place you most likely never could afford otherwise. ITT will have attractions and travel opportunities at special rates.
   You are never lacking a friendly smile, a strong back, or a shoulder to cry on.
   It's a big step marrying a Marine. A brave one. Be a credit to him. And look for the good.

   I'd love to hear more words of wisdom that fellow MC wives have to share!

What Works for Me Part 2

   If you read part one you now my first seven tips of weight loss for me, here are some more. A note about the first post, I did not start all of these changes at once. If you overwhelm yourself you are more likely to revert to bad habits, so pick one or two that might work for you and test those out before you do more.
   One thing that has really helped me was to find my peek snack hours. From lunch time until around 4 pm is my danger zone. I want to graze like a prized Hereford. I can't help myself. I've tried to limit myself to breakfast, snack, lunch, snack and dinner. Doesn't work for me. I have found that in the mornings, I'm not as hungry. I do think that having a good breakfast is important, so I do that, but after that I'm good until lunch. I keep a good chunk of my calories for the afternoon. This may not keep my blood sugar level all day, but it keeps me sane, and from beating myself up when I inevitably get the munchies in the afternoon.
   Don't allow yourself to go hungry!! When you are hungry you make bad food choices. Mom's are busy people, so plan ahead and throw a banana or some baby carrots in your purse before you run out the door. You don't forget to feed your children (mostly because they a loud, insistent little stinkers) don't forget to feed yourself.
   Try new things. Two years ago a friend brought some hummus to a play date. I had never tried it before. I had only vaguely heard of it. That stuff is good! It is now something I keep stocked in my fridge. I'm a big fan of the roasted red pepper hummus. That on a slice of whole wheat bread with some thinly sliced cucumbers is one of my go to meals. It keeps me satisfied for hours and is only 184 calories, full of protein and has very little sugar. I also recently tried grapefruit. I hated it as a kid, and had no interest in trying again, but I forced myself to and I was pleasantly surprised. With a little sugar, and I do mean a little, it was downright yummy. It doesn't hurt to try new things. If you're really lucky, you may find something so revolting you lose your appetite all together for hours! (This was a joke.)
   Mommy Tax. I am a big fan of the Mommy Tax. My mom liked the idea so much, she installed the Grandma Tax. I know that weekly pancake breakfasts are not a good choice for me, but my girls love them. So I instilled the Mommy Tax. I get one small bight from one or each of them. These are small little cheats that I allow myself. I get a taste of the good stuff with out wiping out my good intentions for the day. I don't count these little taxes. Just like I don't count every time I burn calories going up the stairs or folding laundry. I figure they balance each other out in the end. And they keep me from pushing over small children in a rush to get the last Snickers at the grocery store.
   Stock up on the good stuff, and get it ready! When ever you do your weekly shopping stock up on healthy choices. And even more importantly go home and cut up that cantaloupe, and put those baby carrots into convenient baggies. You are much more likely to make good choices if they are easily available.
   Hide the bad! If I have to climb up on the counter move a bunch of canisters just to get to the Oreos, I'm much more likely to go for the peach that's right there, an arm length away. For me it will never be out of sight out of mind, but it is true that I am lazy at heart, and am more likely to make good choices if they are staring me in the face.
   Get over it! At some point you will fail. You'll give into temptation and eat one of those amazing 300 calorie cookies from Subway. And for many people, they just say "screw it, I've all ready cheated, I'll start again tomorrow. Pass the pizza." DON'T DO THIS! Enjoy that cookie for all it's worth, but go back to being a good little girl when it's gone. A cookie slip is much better than a cookie, pizza, ice cream, and beer slip.
   Race the microwave. You have 1:45 before your soup is heated, how many plea squats can you do? Find little moments in your day to get a little exercise. Take multiple trips up and down the stairs.  Do sit ups while your water boils. These things will slowly add up.

   There are so many things you can do. Little things. What works for you? Leave a comment to give me some great new ideas!

What Works for Me

   There are so many diet plans out there, I'm convinced if you just sit at your computer and don't eat until your done reading them, you'll lose all the weight you ever wanted. Since most people aren't fans of starvation, actually trying them is the next option. I've tried some, but if you know me, or read some of my blogs, you know I have very little self control when it comes to food, so most of these plans don't work for me.
   A point system is awesome, and it works great for some of my nearest and dearest, but I would fill my points eating Lucky Charms and Doritos. Not the healthy way to lose weight and keep it off. So this is what works for me. It's a work in progress, and mostly a hodge podge of stuff I've read, but it seems to be working.
   Please remember I am in not a health expert. Half of this stuff I've read online, and we all know how accurate that is! So if what I'm posting is total B.S., it's not my fault, my five year Bella told me to do it...
   #1 This is an awesome website. You create a free account and can then track food, exercise, progress... You can join up with your friends as well. This is great for a military wife with friends and family spread out across the country. They can stop by your page and leave encouragement for you! It's very customizable. You can track calories, sugar, fat, carbs, sodium.... what ever you want to track. It also keeps track of the vitamins and minerals you are getting. A food and exercise diary at it's best. It also has a handy app for my iPhone.
   This week I have been especially thankful for it. My weight has plateaued. It is sooo discouraging to be working so hard, to get up and go for a jog, to say no to the pancakes I'm making for my girls, and see the scale stay the same. I might be tempted to, in the best Janet Evanovich tradition, hold up a Cheetos truck. But for one thing. I get to track my measurements. And while the scale isn't moving, the measuring tape is. I've lost a half inch around my belly this week! You're safe for now Cheetos man.

   #2 Processed Foods = Boo!: Your liver has many jobs, and one of it is to clear the blood of waste and poisons. It acts as a filter to all that you eat and drink. To your body preservatives and processed ingredients, or in the more technical term "crap", that is found in most foods now days are considered waste that your liver needs to process. For most people this is a big job for their livers.
   Your liver also metabolizes proteins, fats and carbs. These are just two of the many jobs of your liver. So the way I think of it is, if your liver is so busy cleaning your body of the artificial crap you put into it, it wont have has much time to do it's other jobs. Like, metabolizing all you eat. Forcing your body to store it. So if I eat less crap, the liver has less to filter, giving it more time to metabolize the good stuff. It makes sense in a twisted kinda way, right?
   So I LIMIT the processed and refined foods I eat. I'm sorry I don't want to live in a world without brownies, or chips or cereal. But it has worked. For the first week I cut them out completely. Along with working out four days that week, I lost six pounds!
   I found this awesome blog, through Pinterest, that really made it click for me. 100 Days of Real Food.
   She explained how she thought she was buying her family a healthy whole wheat bread, but when she actually turned it over and looked at the ingredients, she didn't know what half the stuff was. I scratched my head, walked over to the bread box and looked at ours. Same reaction. This is BREAD for Gods sake! Does it really need all of this stuff? So I followed her recommendation and went to the local Great Harvest and got their Honey Wheat Bread. Five ingredients, non-processed, all natural. And it tastes really good. This is from a die hard white bread eater. If you don't live near a Great Harvest, talk to your local baker, or even turn to your trusted bread machine.
   I applied this "test" to the rest of my kitchen and pantry. Those low calorie snack bars? Refined wheat, and hydroganated corn syrup, aka sugar. I was eating a low cal sugar bar. Awesome. This seemed to be the trend.
   So I made a change. If I'm going to eat sugar, I damn well want to taste it. So I save it for the good stuff.
   #3 Good Bye Pop (soda for the rest of the country): I gave up pop at home. I sometimes get it in a restaurant, but try to stick to water, or even lemonade if they make it fresh. Yes, I know lemonade has sugar in it, but it's the real stuff, and I'll explain why that's better for me.
   I also gave up my very good, very delicious friend Crystal Light. It was a big help getting me to drink my water, but it stabbed me in the back in the end. Here's how. Pops, Crystal Light and other drinks are filled with artificial sweeteners, even the diet kind. It is true that these are much lower in calories. The real problem is they are often 10,000 times sweeter then normal white sugar.
   Before I had my kids, this wasn't a problem. I was a salty junkie. Give me those chips and corn nuts. I was a happy girl. After I had them, I developed an almost debilitating sweet tooth. And I found out these artificial sweeteners were like crack to my sweet cravings. It was okay if I would have been able to stick to just the Crystal Light, but it wasn't enough. I wanted the donuts, and Coco Puffs and Reese's. For me artificial sweeteners are a gateway to other sugar and fat filled yummy's.
   The first week was hell. I made shark week seem tame, but I did. And my children are young enough to forget that dark time. Eventually. And it is crazy how much my cravings have gone down.
   #4 Water: When I'm pregnant I like to really branch out and experience every possible discomfort, hemorrhoids, heart burn, bloating.... and whenever I talked to my OBGYN/Midwife/Corpsmen (in military hospitals it's rare to see the same face every appointment) they always said, without fail, drink more water.
   I'm going pee every 20 minutes, am so bloated I almost float, and my heart burn is so bad I could breath fire and you want me to drink MORE WATER!?!?!
   But the f***ers were right. We are made up of mostly water, so it makes sense that we need a lot of it. It also does a jimdandy job of filling you up, and if you drink it ice cold like I do, your body burns a few calories warming it up to digest it. So get a cute water bottle or ten, and drink up. Along with your cell phone, oh and probably your kids, this should go everywhere with you. I'm talking room to room everywhere.
   #5 Exercise, duh: This is a dirty word for me. Drop f bombs, disparage my mother, and I won't blink, but say "lets go exercise" and I will give you such a dirty look a puritan in a whore house would be proud. I hate it. I loath it. I have yet to get to the point where it's like a "meditative experience".
   With all the motivation methods I've seen; pictures of the fridge, moving speeches, your bikini on the counter, none have work so well as a stupid meme I saw on Pinterest.
   It's true. As I'm laying in bed dreading the jog (really a walk with some jogging thrown in), I think of this stupid saying. If I just get up and do it, it will be over and I'll be proud of myself for the rest of the day. If I don't, I'll be kicking my own ass for the rest of the week. Which is worse?
   #6 Don't eat after 7PM: The great Oprah taught me this. Your digestions slows WAY down while you're sleeping, so don't eat for a few hours before you go to bed. This is a golden rule only to be broken on very special occasions.
    This obviously isn't all I've done to lose weight, but they are a few of the biggies. I hope they have helped you, and you don't walk away thinking I'm a complete idiot. Again, Bella told me to do it...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Melted Crayons

   If you're a fan of Pinterest you've no doubt seen one version or another of melted crayon art. I  thought it was one that my oldest could help me do. They were after all, for her room. I quickly discovered a reluctance to hand over the blow dryer. I got some strange pleasure murdering these perfect little crayons.
   And this was obviously one of those gateway type craft projects. Every week I see a different version of it popping up on Pinterest.
   "Just give me the blow dryer, honey. I'm going to do one with daisies on it!" Kindergartners watch out! Mommy has it in for your art supplies. That right, sit there in the corner eating your glue stick while Mommy melts the good stuff......
   With the amazing talent of me friend Kelisa, Bella and I stamped out our own little corner of the melted crayon craze.
   I got the canvas's at Ben Franklin's and sent them off to Kelsia, along with cute pictures I had found of the Disney Princesses. She did an AMAZING job! I got a few big boxes of crayons and picked out coordinating colors. Since I bought smaller canvass I had to cut down the crayons. Not an easy task. I then hot glue gunned them to the canvas.


   Then the fun begin. I turned on the blow dryer and melted to my hearts content. I like how these turned out.

   I did learn however, that this is not the project for someone like me. You know someone with borderline OCD. They didn't turn out just how I pictured them. No matter what I tried, I couldn't get them to melt just so. And it didn't help that different colors took longer under the heat to melt. Damn you yellow! If you do this I recommend a few trial runs first.
   Another problem. My daughter is a picker. What better revenge for making her take a nap than standing on her train table and picking at my, I mean her, works of art?
   I hope you have better luck, but next time, I think I'll stick to Kelisa's talents and have her paintings be the star.

My Family

   I was lucky enough to meet my husband, Gilbert, my freshmen year of high school. I first had to get past the ugliest sweater ever worn by man, but I'm glad I did. I was double lucky to have meet him because he had just moved to Washington (state, that is) from Puerto Rico and his English was still a work in progress.

   Right after high school he joined the Marines. I stayed and after finishing my senior year, started attending Eastern Washington University. We got practice right off the bat on making a long distance relationship work. And wasn't it fun planning a wedding while he was deployed in Fallujah. "Yes Father Mike, we would like to be married in June, unless his deployment gets extended...."

   After an awesome honeymoon in Disney World, he went back to California, and I stayed in Washington. We lived most of our first year of wedded bliss in different states.
   When he reenlisted and PCSd (permanent change of station), I had had enough and left school to join him. So I moved, to the Navel Base Bangor, Kitsap. All the way on the other side of the...... state. We quickly started our family and in April 2007, NINE DAYS LATE, we welcomed our first daughter, Isabella Christine. She was a beautiful baby, and a Daddy's Girl from the start.

   2009 was a big year for us. We PCSd (look at you, speaking jarhead!) to Marine Corps Base Hawaii, on Oahu. We we're expecting baby #2 and Gilbert was set to deploy. We were reprieved THE DAY BEFORE he was set to leave! He went to Instructor Trainer school instead.
   Marines were different colored belts for different levels of martial arts. Just like in karate. Thanks to our time at Bangor, he was already a black belt. He was also certified as an instructor, meaning he could teach other Marines and help them upgrade their belts. Instructor Trainer school trains Marines to certify instructors. Following? This is one of the most intense schools in the Marines.
   On Gilbert's second day he called and told me one of his class mates got a compound fracture. On the SECOND DAY! There I am, alone with a two year old, eight months pregnant, boiling my ass of in Hawaii and my husband is telling me it is a distinct possibility that he be severely injured. Classic. He made it home, safe and mostly sound the day before we welcomed daughter number two, Alejandra Yadira. She was famous, hospital wide for her head of hair. It looked like a little wig!
   In 2011 we had our youngest little girl Sophia Marie. A year later and she is still one of the calmest babies I've ever seen. I think she knew that Mommy needed a break.

   Our family was complete. And unless you plan to bear him yourself, no we will not try for a boy!

  In the beginning of 2012 we found out that Gilbert was due to deploy. So instead of leaving me with three children under five years old, and thousands of mile away from the nearest relative, it was decide that we would move home with my mom and step dad, Mike.
   This is us now, five months in. The girls and I in Eastern Washington, and Gilbert deployed!

Why blog?

   I love to write! I mean, I really love to write. It is my goal to someday write sleazy romance novels. The very best kind. I have note books full of stories dating back to my middle school years. But I've never actually let anyone read them. So I needed to practice letting people see my writing on a smaller scale than an entire book.
   So here it is, and you poor people are my guinea pigs.
   While it is my ultimate goal to write romances, it's not what I want to blog about. So what should I blog about? Does the world need another mommy blog? And then I realized I have a rather unique perspective to mainstream America. Our family's life in the military.
   A mommy blog from the skewed view of a woman trapped with three small children, mostly alone, and far from "home". My life, and how I live it. For all my friends and family who say, "I don't know how you do it."
   Here's how.