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Military Mommy Must-Haves

 Posted by on December 4, 2015 at 08:00
Dec 042015


Routines. Do yourself a favor and start a morning and bedtime routine for you and your littles. If nothing goes right or as planned throughout your day, at least you’ll have some semblance of normalcy bookending each day. Write it out on a piece of paper and tape it to your bathroom mirror; type it up in a note on your smartphone; laminate it and stick it on your refrigerator. Make it visible so you see it and do it, even if you just get one small item checked off. Everyone’s teeth brushed? Awesome! Lunches prepped? Even better! Bedtime story? Great way to end the day.

Baby/toddler music. One word: lifesaver. I started playing music in the car for my son when he was just a few weeks old. It’s even better as he gets older. When he starts to get fussy in the car and I’m driving alone, I cannot stand for him to cry or be upset when I’m in the front seat. I downloaded a variety of fun nursery rhymes, children’s songs, classical music and more to entertain him (or put him to sleep) for the car. I may or may not sing at the top of my lungs and make goofy faces at him from the mirror to make him laugh, but that is, of course, optional. A backseat mirror is also a must for rear-facing little ones!

A trustworthy babysitter. Interview potential sitters, even if they come recommended by a friend! If your spouse is deployed or away, you’ll definitely want a sitter for mommy time. If he’s home, you’ll want to schedule in some date nights!

Baby book. As military families, we’re often separated from loved ones. Whether it be your spouse, your parents or friends and family from home, there are going to be gaps of time between seeing each other. This is why I try my best to keep my son’s baby book updated. This way I can bring it with me when I visit everyone to share his growth and accomplishments, add keepsakes to it to show his daddy and write stories down that I want to remember.

Camera or video camera. Along the same lines as a baby book— capture those precious moments and memories so you can share them with your spouse and distant family and friends!

Trust. “Mommy instinct” is a real thing, and I never knew I had it until I became a mother. When in doubt, trust your gut. If you think you child may be sick, if you think something may be wrong, if you think you need help… Trust yourself. Make the call. Your spouse may not be available and it’s going to come down to you. You got this, mama!

Patience. In military life, we know this is a necessity. There is lots to learn when navigating both this and parenthood. Have patience with yourself, your children and your spouse. “Hurry up and wait,” as my husband’s branch says. Sometimes, just the reminder that you’ll always need to have patience makes it easier to manage when you have to muster it up.

Reliable cellphone service. So important! For many of us, our cellphones are our lifelines. They’re how we communicate with spouses who are working late or deployed, how we take most of our photos, how we keep up-to-date with family, friends and social media. And we’ve all experienced lack of coverage at one time or another. If your service is constantly on the fritz, make a change and save yourself the frustration!

Healthy snacks. Totally a must for every busy mom, not just us #milspouses. Have grab-and-go, easily-accessible snacks at your disposal for when you are super busy or super drained. Bag them ahead of time and stock them in your pantry, in a basket on your counter, in your purse, in your car… Figure out what works best for you and work it!

Grace. Life is going to happen. How we handle it is everything. Even in the craziest of situations, try to collect your cool and find your center. Step back if you need to and re-approach such events with grace and a level head.

Someone to call. We all need that “person,” the one who is not our spouse. The one to call to talk to, to vent to, seek advice from, to be heard by. It’s best to have a local “someone” in the event of an emergency as well as someone just for talking.

Deep freezer. Okay, maybe not a “must have,” but certainly a “nice to have.” It’s great to stock pile perishable foods (meat, produce, etc.), to keep extra freezer meals, to store homemade baby food if you make ahead in bulk. And who doesn’t have those nights when you don’t want to cook? A freezer meal can be a healthier option than fast food, depending on what you have in stock. Bonus points if it’s homemade!

Humility. As much as we all want to be supermom, she doesn’t exist. It’s okay to mess up, it’s okay to accept help and it’s okay to let the house go when life gets too busy. Stay humble, give and take, and be your own brand of supermom!

New Parent, New Support

 Posted by on October 7, 2014 at 09:15
Oct 072014


In the days leading up to my son’s birth, I remember friends, family members and even complete strangers asking me if I was nervous about childbirth.

No matter who was asking, my answer was always the same, “I’m not worried about delivery; I’m worried about the 18 years that follow.”

My mindset was that delivery was an inevitable event at that point. I could gather that it was probably going to hurt, but honestly, what was I going to do at 38 weeks pregnant? Ready or not, it was happening.

What kept me awake at night (besides the sciatic pain and 15 trips to the bathroom) were oddly specific concerns about caring for a newborn. How would I know when to feed my son? How often should I bathe him? When could he split a PB&J with me? And what the heck was I supposed to do with little boy parts? Advice from two separate loved ones could be completely contradictory. One parenting book would preach about on-demand feeding while the neighboring book on the bookstore shelf swore up and down that a structured schedule was the only way to go.

On top of the “regular” parenting struggles, like feeding, safe sleep, childproofing and the dreaded potty training, I knew I’d eventually be guiding my kids through challenges totally foreign to me since I didn’t grow up in a military family. Even before officially becoming a mom, I knew that moving and deployments would become like second nature to my kids, which was crazy to think about because I was still trying to understand them both.

Whether you’re confused about the whole new parent thing, parenting as a milspouse or all of the above, the answers you need are closer than you might think – and they’re certainly more convenient than flipping through a dozen parenting book indexes. The New Parent Support Program is easy to join, available at your installation and has services available at no cost to you – which is great considering how much of your budget now goes toward diapers…and laundry detergent.

The program invites you to a network of support that can guide you through frustrating days, tough periods, like deployments or moves, and help you crack the code of your baby’s developmental needs. Through the program, you can participate in prenatal and parenting classes near you, playgroups that offer social interaction for you and your growing child, health care referrals if necessary and you may even be able to take advantage of their home visitation service which allows you one-on-one support for your specific concerns, like breastfeeding, sleeping, behavior management and more.

No amount of forward planning can fully prepare a new parent for life after a baby arrives. You can stock up on the best brand of bottles, only to have your child hate them. The diapers with the best reviews can cause a rash to spring up on your little one’s rump. And everything you decided to do pre-parenthood might fly out the window when you’re in the thick of it. It’s OK to be confused. It’s OK to be overwhelmed. It’s OK to realize occasionally that the thing that smells like spit up is your own shirt. And, most importantly, it’s OK to ask for help when you need it.

The Healthy Road to Postpartum Weight Loss

 Posted by on September 29, 2013 at 08:00
Sep 292013


Pregnancy is a beautiful thing; our bodies transform into cozy homes for our growing babies. When it’s over, though, and I’m changing clothes for the umpteenth time in one day because my little bundle of joy spit up on me (again), I’m just wondering why in the world I can’t fit into any of the clothes in my closet.

Getting our pre-baby bodies back is a process. We can’t cheat and reach that magic number on the scale overnight. Getting our energy, fitness, waistline and confidence back takes commitment, but I can promise you – as a two-time survivor of a postpartum slim down – the results are well worth the effort.

Before diving into what helped me get back into my skinny jeans, it’s important to mention that you should wait for the all-clear from your doctor before beginning any postpartum exercise. Starting too early can lead to injuries or tearing, which will put you on the bench even longer. Your first weeks postpartum are uninterrupted time to bond with your new baby and your body’s chance to heal. Give yourself a break; you just had a nine-month workout with a sprint to the finish.

In addition, I’m a firm believer that your weight loss goal should focus more on health than a number on a scale. If, after reaching your goal weight, you are finding it difficult to maintain, you may have overshot. Listen to your body and steer clear of anything promising a quick slim down. If you achieve health and fit back into your pre-baby clothes on your own, you’ll be proud and confident, and aren’t those the kind of traits we want our growing babies to see in their moms?

Fueling your body

Drink water. Easy enough, right? You wouldn’t believe how many days I got swamped and forgot to drink water. I now pour myself a glass of water first thing in the morning – even before my coffee…GASP! Water keeps you hydrated, improves your skin and can help you feel full.

Don’t count calories. Aren’t you busy enough already without math homework? Unless your doctor has assigned a specific diet, put your calculators away, ladies. Everything is OK in moderation; I know if I deprive my body of something I really want, like cookies, I will go nuts and eat a dozen in one sitting. If you want a cookie, have a cookie – just resist having the entire batch. Make sure you’re eating a variety of healthy foods – not empty calories – and be mindful of your milk supply if you’re breastfeeding. ChooseMyPlate has some great pointers for nutrition while breastfeeding.

Revamp your recipes. I’ve made many simple switches for my family that cut unnecessary calories and fat while increasing nutrients without sacrificing taste. In baked goods, I use unsweetened applesauce in place of butter, oil and, occasionally, eggs. Non-fat Greek yogurt is a perfect replacement for sour cream, cream cheese or mayonnaise, and it’s packed with protein, which can help you feel fuller longer. We also use whole wheat pastas, brown rice and protein-packed quinoa over white rice and pasta. And we swap a meat entrée for legumes a few times a week – it’s an easy trade in some of our favorites: enchiladas and stuffed peppers. There was only a temporary, minor protest from my “meat and potatoes” hubby.

Physically fit

Perfect your posture. Lingering pregnancy-induced lordosis – the common arch in your low back that causes you to push your tummy out, weak core muscles and carrying a baby around all day can lead to “mommy posture.” Do like mama told you: stand up straight, roll your shoulders back and down, and pull your bellybutton in towards your spine (like you’re sucking in to button your jeans – you know what I’m talking about). Check yourself several times throughout the day, and fix your posture if it’s out of whack. Good posture will get you a flatter stomach sooner since you’re strengthening your core without even breaking a sweat!

Take quality over quantity. If you can do sit-ups all day, you’re either an Olympic athlete or you’re not doing it right. Good form will get you the results you want much faster than just going through the motions.

Exercise according to your schedule. Hit the gym on the way to work, hit the pavement for a run (with your jogging stroller, of course) or hit “play” and work out along with a video. I prefer working out at home – a combination of cardio and strength training five to six days per week for roughly 30 minutes each time – because I can do it anytime I have time: during my kids’ naptime, before they wake up in the morning (don’t ask me how many times that’s actually happened) or after their bedtime.

Modify. Ease your body back into exercise. Push-ups are a great example. You can do a beginner version on your knees, then graduate to a traditional push-up, and when you’re ready, lift one leg off of the ground at a time for a little extra credit.

As with any weight loss goal, anticipate a plateau. I seemed to hang on to that last 10 pounds for weeks, and it was incredibly frustrating. For a little extra motivation, involve your family and friends in your weight loss journey. When they know your goals, they’re less likely to pressure you into that ever-so-small piece of cake.

When you do give yourself the green light for that sliver of cake, let yourself really enjoy it! If you scold yourself the entire time, then what’s the point? If you work hard, don’t beat yourself up for occasionally indulging or skipping a workout when you’re exhausted. You make your choices, and if you’re happy where you are, your good enough is good enough!

Your Frenemy, Pregnancy

 Posted by on June 18, 2013 at 14:27
Jun 182013
Your Frenemy, Pregnancy, by Kristi


I’ve heard some women say that they just “knew” they were pregnant because they felt a fluttering sensation like butterflies in their belly. How did I “know” I was pregnant? My first symptom with both my son and my daughter was a sudden and perpetual bloody nose. Welcome to the most beautiful and least glamorous nine months of your life.

My sudden need to shove tissue up my nose is a perfect example that pregnancy does bizarre things to our bodies. Some things we were aware of when we signed up to grow a person and other things come as a complete surprise.

Pickles and ice cream. While pregnant with my daughter, I told my husband that I specifically needed a strawberry milkshake from our local fast food restaurant. Since it was pushing midnight, he suggested that I just make a milkshake with the mint chocolate chip we had in the freezer. I can’t recall exactly what I said in response, but it was something along the lines of growling like a bear. Pregnancy cravings are real and good enough is never good enough. As long as you’re having a salad as often as you indulge, you’re fine by my standards.

Your Frenemy, Pregnancy, by Kristi

No shame! I managed to carry my son for nine months and still feel relatively lady like. That all changed during delivery when I ran shamelessly down the hall to my delivery room in a hospital gown that wasn’t tied well in the back. You’re going to make weird noises, smells, you’ll probably develop a weird rash or two and chances are the pregnant glow you’re expecting will just be sweat. It’s all in preparation for months of smelling like spitup (and not caring).

Sleep? What’s that? All you want to do is sleep, but getting comfortable is a long process. Then you get comfy and you have to get up to empty your bladder. On the bright side, months of tossing and turning prepares you for weeks of pulling all-nighters with your newborn.

I feel like I’m forgetting something. Maybe it’s your name, our lunch date, what labor feels like or even my own name, be prepared to lose track of everything. If you just happen to be naturally forgetful like me, consider this your nine month free pass to be forgetful. You’re welcome.

Paranoid, party of one. Every muscle spasm will send you running (OK, walking cautiously because you wouldn’t want to endanger your developing child) to the computer for immediate reassurance that some woman somewhere has had the same symptom, survived and delivered a healthy baby. That healthy paranoia will eventually translate to concerned parenting.

Your Frenemy, Pregnancy, by KristiTake five. I feel like I’m normally in pretty good shape, and even though I exercised throughout both pregnancies, I still needed a solid two minutes to get off of the couch only to get winded and need to sit down again. The silver lining is that even though you feel exhausted, your body really is stronger (think of all that extra weight you’re toting around). Exercising during pregnancy can make losing the baby weight easier and some say will even help you get in better shape post-baby than you were pre-baby. 

It’s not me; it’s the hormones. My husband’s been to war. He’s seen some stuff, I’m sure, but I’ve never seen fear come over him the way it did when I went from laughing with him to yelling at him for loading the dishwasher wrong to crying because I put dirty dishes in the clean dishwasher which obviously meant I was going to be a terrible mother.

One—OK all—of these pregnancy side effects can be painful or, at the very least, irritating. But they’re temporary. They teach us that we can handle much more than we ever thought we could and that will come in handy for that little thing around the corner, childbirth, and the 18 years that follow. You’ll spend nine months crossing days off the calendar, wishing your belly would get bigger and then wishing you could see your feet again. You’ll inevitably curse pregnancy at some point, but it turns us into mothers, which is pretty amazing, so it’s hard to write it off completely.

Double the Fun: Second Baby Reality Check

 Posted by on October 22, 2012 at 08:00
Oct 222012

Double the Fun: Second Baby Reality Check

Staff Blogger Kristi


After my husband and I found out we were going to be parents again we decided to see how our toddler son felt about being a big brother.

Me: “J, do you want a little sister?”

J nods his head.

Me: “Do you want a little brother?”

J gives me another confident head nod.

I’m feeling pretty good at this point since it seems he’s excited to be a big brother, and he doesn’t seem to care if we have a girl or boy! Double score! Then we continued to prod…I don’t know why.

J’s Nana: “J, do you want a new puppy?”

You guessed it; another head nod.

J’s Pa-Pa: “J, do you want a hamburger?”

Yet another head nod, arguably even more enthusiastic than the one agreeing to a little sister.

Hmm. So, clearly he has no idea what’s going on. He has no idea how much his little life is about to change. That’s when I realized just how much all of our lives were about to change!

When my husband and I started talking about the idea of baby number two it was all sweet baby powder scents and rose-colored glasses. A reality check reminded me that there would be a lot more not-so-pleasant smells, 2:00 a.m. feedings, and the possibility of two meltdowns on aisle 12 in the grocery store.

The hand-me-down catch

What in the world am I so worried about? We planned for more than one child. I made sure everything we bought for J was gender neutral so we could use it more than once. Well, that crib is still being used by our not-quite 2-year- old, as is the playpen/portable crib and bouncer (I, of course, chose one that turned into a toddler rocking chair and my son refuses to part with it).

And then there’s the stroller issue. My son can walk, of course, but that doesn’t mean I always want him to. Rather than chase him through the racks of a department store or walk at a snail’s pace through a crowded airport, I turn to the stroller. Now with two kiddos, I’m shopping in the double stroller section, which would bring us to a whopping fifth stroller since J was born in 2010. Maybe we should’ve sprung for an extra bedroom simply for stroller storage?

The grow-up hurry up

With the hand-me-down predicament in full swing, my husband and I find ourselves scratching our heads and changing our minds on a daily basis. Do we rush potty training just so we can put the diaper pail in the new nursery and limit ourselves to one diaper bill? It doesn’t seem like a bad idea until we try to get J to sit on his potty. Let’s just say J could win an Oscar for best dramatic performance. Call us crazy if we don’t exactly look forward to that 10 times a day.

Do we push the “big boy bed” when the crib walls are really the only thing containing this kid at night and nap time? I’m positive without the crib to limit his options, he’d be running around like a maniac as soon as the lights go out and the door closes. Truth be told, I have no idea what we’ll do. We have about six months to figure it out, and I’m sort of banking on J just magically waking up one day begging to use the potty and falling asleep in the evening without a late-night party of one in his crib. It’s a longshot, I know; wish us luck.

Two of everything

I know I sound like I’m a little freaked about the arrival of our second baby, but the truth is that my husband and I couldn’t be more excited. I just need to get my ducks in a row and figure out how I’m going to juggle two nap and feeding schedules, two sets of temper tantrums, two kids vying for my attention, and…what am I forgetting…oh yes, two car seats. Note to self, we need a bigger car ASAP!

I’m trying my best to take this little adventure one day at a time, and as parenting one child has already taught me, things don’t have to be perfect. We’ll figure it out as we go, and at the end of the day, as long as the kiddos are safe, healthy and know that they’re loved we’re doing something right. If mom and dad can preserve a bit of sanity and free time, we’ll just call that a bonus!

P.S. – Don’t worry; we’ll use the next six months teaching J the difference between a hamburger and a new baby.

Adopting Internationally While Living Overseas

 Posted by on September 20, 2012 at 15:13
Sep 202012

Adopting Internationally While Living Overseas

Staff Blogger Melissa


Adoption has always been something my husband and I have talked about, even when we were dating. We have always been open to the idea because we both have family members on both sides of the adoption process. We see what a beautiful experience adoption is.

Shortly after we arrived in Okinawa, we started to feel a tug at our hearts that it was time to seriously look into adopting.  We quickly wondered if adopting while living overseas was a possibility or if we would have to put our dreams on hold until we got back stateside.

We did not go into this process with rose-colored glasses. We knew it was going to be a long, hard road. Not just because adoption is difficult, but also because adopting as a military family comes with its own challenges. Then if you add being stationed overseas into the mix it brings you to a whole new complex situation. We started off doing some preliminary research. We quickly set up a meeting with the only known social worker on the island, who is licensed to do home studies.  She offered all sorts of resources and information and diligently answered our questions. We learned so much about choosing the type of adoption we want, selecting an agency, and paperwork! Goodness there was a ton of paperwork!  We left our meeting with her feeling more excited than ever! The following is a snap shot of what we have learned.

What kind of adoption do you want? There are so many types of adoptions ranging from domestic to international, private to open, and even foster to adopt. Then there are the specifics. Do you want a specific gender, ethnicity, or age (newborn, toddler, or older child)? Are you open to adopting a child with special needs? If adopting internationally, do you want to adopt from a Hague or non-Hague nation?  This is where you take a hard look at yourself as a couple and decide what would be the best fit for your family. We have decided that international adoption is where we feel our hearts are leading us.

What programs are available? Some countries have a minimum and maximum age for the adopting couple. Some have income requirements (and they can be quite steep!), and they may require you to own your own home. You may even be required to be married for a certain number of years or not have more than one divorce. They can also consider the health of the adoptive parents. Many international programs require there to be no more than two to three other children living in the home, or they may give priority to first time parents. Some countries, like South Korea, will only allow adoption if you are physically located in America. So South Korea isn’t an option for families stationed overseas.  Some of these requirements can be flexible or waived; others are set in stone depending on the country.

How do I select an agency? While researching an agency, check their child placement success record and average wait time before placement, speak with their past clients to find out their experience, and ask questions to determine if this agency is a good fit for you. You need to decide if you want a “hands-on, touchy-feely” agency with more of a personal experience, or if you prefer a more “business” approach and not so much “hand holding.” For us, I want touchy feely! I need the extra reassurance that things are on track and going smoothly!

Don’t wait on the paperwork. Start collecting documents and filling paperwork out immediately! Most people do not have extra original copies of their birth certificates, marriage licenses, etc. lying around the house. Get started on ordering copies ASAP so that you have them ready to go! Also, get a jump start on the FBI background check. Nothing is more frustrating than being held up from submitting your adoption package because you are waiting on documents.

What about budget? Adopting is expensive. International adoption is even more expensive because you have to factor in travel costs as well as extra paperwork for your child to ensure he or she has United States citizenship. It is important to know what your budget is for adopting because it is also a consideration when choosing a program.  Adoption agencies generally have estimated costs available for each of their programs, factoring in agency fees, placement, home study fees, as well as average travel costs. Some agencies may also have sliding scale fees based on the income of the adoptive parents. It is important to remember that it is an estimate and it could end up being a lot more. To help offset a portion of the cost of adoption, there is the DoD Adoption Reimbursement program  as well as a tax credit through the government. We know that we do not want to go into debt to adopt. We want to make sure that when we start our family that we are starting on solid ground. We definitely recommend saving as much as you can for an adoption.  Financing an adoption is a possibility for couples, and it is a popular route to go. Just remember that when you come home with your child, you will have the extra expense of raising a child along with that loan payment that could be going towards a college fund.

I wish this was the part of our adoption story where I tell you that we were placed with a child and have successfully completed our adoption. However, our journey has temporarily come to a halt.  We have elected to wait until we are back on United States soil in order to start our journey again. We know that this isn’t a door shutting forever, but more of a “not at this moment” situation. In the meantime, we stay current on the adoption circuit in case anything changes or an opportunity arises.

“Not of my flesh, nor of my bone, but still miraculously my own. Never forget for a single minute, you didn’t grow under my heart, but in it.” – Unknown

“Wait” is Not a Dirty Word

 Posted by on September 17, 2012 at 15:54
Sep 172012

“Wait” is Not a Dirty Word



“Waiting.” It’s really not a dirty word. No. Really. It isn’t. Waiting implies…caution. It implies thinking something through before committing. It even implies patience, expectance, and looking forward to what is next.

As a military family, there are certain pressures we face, ranging from deployments to frequent moves to… starting a family? Whether it’s self-imposed or from peers and society, the pressure to have kids now is something military spouses face more frequently than our civilian counterparts. Many military spouses tend to start their families at a younger age. But what about the minority of us who have decided to wait?

My husband didn’t join the military until he was twenty-one years old, and I didn’t meet him until after his military occupational specialty school. Since I’m a year older than him as it is, we’re a few years older than a lot of our military peers. And my-oh-my, what a difference a few years makes in military life!

So many of our friends have young children that sometimes we feel a little left out. Especially when couples give us that incredulous look that says, “You don’t have kids yet?” Or worse yet, I once had a doctor on a military installation ask me if I had children or if I was trying to get pregnant. When I told her, “No, not yet,” she turned around sharply and said, “Why not?!”

“We’re waiting,” was all I replied, despite the fact that she hurt my overly sensitive feelings. I just didn’t understand. Back home where I’m from, none of my friends were even remotely ready for babies yet. Half of them weren’t even engaged or married. So why was “waiting” so wrong?

Well, it may have taken me a few years to come ’round to it, after some reflecting with my husband and seeking the advice of close friends (both within and outside military life). But, I know now that waiting is not wrong, not bad, and certainly not a dirty word! Here are some of the many reasons why we decided to “wait” to have kids:

  • waiting until we’re financially stable
  • waiting until the time is right between moves, deployments, etc…
  • waiting until we’re older and more mature
  • waiting until we have progressed in our careers
  • waiting until we are emotionally and psychologically ready
  • waiting until we accomplish life goals, like education and travel
  • waiting until we have more confidence that we will be a great parents
  • waiting until we’ve had plenty of quality time as a couple

Our main reasons for waiting are financial stability, timing, and selfishness. Being financially stable is the biggest reason for us as a couple. We want to be able to provide certain things for our children, and we want to feel confident that we’ll be able to do that before we get pregnant. That’s why we place so much importance on our careers! We’re focusing on work now so we can play later.

While timing seems pretty obvious, it just never seems to be right. Finding the “right time” for babies is an important decision. For us, timing not only involves where we are in our careers and life goals, but also where we are in my husband’s military cycle. Will be he be deploying soon? Should we wait until he returns home? Will we be PCSing soon? How long will we be stationed there? All these questions have factored into our decision to wait, in some way or another.

Lastly, we’re selfish.

There. It’s out there. Selfishness is the third reason why we are waiting to have children. If I asked my husband, he might deny it at first, but I’m pretty sure he would eventually agree. We both enjoy our time together more than anything. We cherish sleeping in on Saturdays, road trips without car seats, and going grocery shopping for all things not diapers. We love our life as it is now.

In the end though, the truth is that we are so excited to have kids. I know my husband and I will be rock star parents when we are finally ready, and that’s what gets me past the times when others make me question our decision to wait. The quality time we have together now, before kids, will make us stronger parents in the long run… ready to tackle the world!

Oh, and don’t forget that just because we may not be ready for our own kids yet, it doesn’t mean we don’t love your kids. We want to be invited to your kid-friendly events. Where else am I going to get ideas for my future baby’s birthday party?

Newborn Necessities: A Shopping List

 Posted by on May 16, 2012 at 08:00
May 162012

Newborn Necessities: A Shopping List

Staff Blogger Kristi


Planning for a baby is full of major events, including hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time, learning the gender (if you so choose), choosing a name, preparing a nursery, and—yes—registering. OK, so registering may not be a requirement for a newborn, but one way or another there are certain supplies that you have to have before your little bundle arrives. Deciding what those necessities are may be trickier than you bargained for because, if you’ve walked down the baby aisle lately, you know it’s a little overwhelming.

Ads for products claiming to be “necessary” for caring for an infant must be targeted at people like me because I played right into them. I can’t tell you how many products we bought because I thought we “needed” them (mostly because if my husband finds out that I’m fessing up to buying useless things, I’ll be listening to “I told you so” from now until eternity). The useless products aren’t worth mentioning, but there are a few things that no new parent should be without:

  1. Infant car seat. You literally can’t go home without it. A member of the hospital staff will check for proper installation before you drive away. Install the seat early and contact your local fire station for a car seat inspection to be sure you got it right.
  2. Diapers. Go easy on the newborn diapers. Our son was a tiny 5 lbs. 6 oz. when he was born, and even he was only in newborn diapers for a month. Have a few newborn diapers on hand, but stock up on larger sizes.
  3. Wipes. Say it with me, “There’s no such thing as too many baby wipes.”
  4. Nasal aspirator. No other aspirator worked as well as the freebie from the hospital. Check with your hospital to see if you get a complimentary “booger sucker.”
  5. Infant tub. Judging by my own baby pictures, this may not be a true necessity since I was obviously just bathed straight in the kitchen sink or in a ½-inch of water in the bathtub. I turned out fine, but I think an infant tub is the safest and most comfortable way to bathe your new baby. Choose a tub with a newborn sling, and be sure to read the included safety instructions.
  6. Tear free baby soap and shampoo. A combination cleanser is fine, but is tear free necessary? Just think about how much it stings when you get shampoo in your eyes.
  7. Breast pump, lanolin, breast pads, nursing pillow. These are needs specific to a breastfeeding mom (clearly). If you don’t plan to breastfeed, you can skip number seven entirely. My advice is to spring for a good quality breast pump because you’ll most likely be spending a lot of time with that machine. If you’re planning to go back to work, consider a car charger for your pump.
  8. Bottles. I would suggest that every expectant mom buy at least a couple bottles, even if you plan to breastfeed. You may need to leave your baby with someone else during mealtime. Obviously, you can fill the bottle with expressed breast milk, if you prefer.
  9. Formula. A necessity for any new mom who doesn’t plan on breastfeeding. I suggest buying only enough for a week or so because you don’t know how your baby’s sensitive tummy will react. You may be changing brands several times until you find your baby’s match.
  10. Burp cloths. You will want these…lots and lots of these. They may be called cloth diapers.
  11. Receiving blankets. Your brand new baby may love being swaddled in order to feel warm and secure, and receiving blankets are the best way to achieve a safe swaddle. Sleep sacks are also a good option for safe sleep.
  12. Nail trimmers. Your baby’s nails will be sharp and they’ll grow even faster than your baby.
  13. Swing or vibrating chair. Most moms are partial to one or the other. You don’t necessarily need both, but having one on hand will give you a much needed break to cook, eat, or fold those teeny tiny little baby clothes.
  14. Baby monitor. This can be as high tech as you want to get; you be the judge.
  15. Baby powder, petroleum jelly, and diaper rash cream. These are all great combatants in the fight against the dreaded diaper rash. You may think you don’t really “need” them until diaper rash strikes and then you’ll be wishing you would’ve listened to me!
  16. Plenty of soft clothes. I remember my son having 5-25 wardrobe changes each day during his first couple of months. Babies spit up and have blowouts and leaks more often than anyone will ever tell you. Keep plenty of soft, comfortable clothes and pajamas on hand. Consider ones with attached mittens and booties to keep your newborn from scratching that sweet little face.
  17. Pacifier. Have one ready if you plan to use them, and don’t get frustrated if your baby doesn’t want one. My son never warmed up to the pacifier idea.
  18. Thermometer. You will inevitably panic the first time you suspect your baby is running a fever. Keep a rectal, forehead, or ear thermometer on hand to let you know if you need to make a call to your child’s pediatrician.
  19. Baby carrier and/or stroller. I had both and used them both constantly. They’re handy when you want to have a free hand.
  20. Bassinet and/or crib. There are 101 options out there. Anything you find in the store should be compliant with the latest safety standards. You might prefer letting your newborn sleep in a bassinet before graduating to the crib. Before you make any decisions or purchases brush up on the sleep safety guidelines.

Sure, there are other conveniences that each mom knows and loves, but check the box for these necessities first!

A Day in the Life: Baby Budgeting

 Posted by on February 14, 2012 at 19:34
Feb 142012

A Day in the Life: Baby Budgeting


This just in: babies are expensive. I’ll wait for the shock to wear off before I continue…

OK, so maybe that isn’t newsworthy information, but parenting is an adjustment in every way imaginable, including monetarily. The good news is that babies are incredibly considerate and RSVP around nine months before their arrival. Whether you’re nine months or two weeks away from welcoming your little addition, there are plenty of budget-friendly ways to keep your little ones happy and healthy.

Shop Around. Paying full price for things is so last year! Back in the dark ages, our parents got in the car and drove to the store when they needed something. Shopping around involved actually going from one store to the next; who has time for that? Today we can compare products in seconds online so we can find the lowest price and the product with the best reviews without wandering all over town.  This is incredibly handy for those large purchases including a crib, stroller, highchair, and car seat.

Continue reading »

Expectant and New Parents: This One’s For You!

 Posted by on January 17, 2012 at 17:58
Jan 172012

Expectant and New Parents: This One’s For You!

By Robert L. Gordon III

Military couples are resilient and strong. They have learned to adapt to challenges such as deployments and relocations, leveraging these times as opportunities for growth and exploration. But, when a couple finds out they are having a child, they confront a new set of challenges. New parents may have imagined being home to experience the first few months of their child’s life, but deployments can make that impossible.

New mothers and fathers may have imagined having their own parents close for support with their newborn, only to find themselves hundreds, if not thousands, of miles from extended family and friends. We understand the unique challenges that military parents must face, and there are resources and services in place to ensure that new parents—no matter where they are located—are empowered with the resources they need.

Your installation’s New Parent Support Program (NPSP) is designed to support military families with adapting to parenthood and to thrive. The program supports military families who are expecting a child or who have a child or children up to three years of age. The NPSP provides important benefits such as home visits by NPSP staff, supervised playgroups, parenting classes, and access to books, booklets, and other written materials on parenting.

NPSP staff members are credentialed professionals in your communities who know the answers to your questions and can refer you to additional resources when necessary. Information shared with the staff is confidential, so new parents can share their worries and concerns in a safe and non-judgmental environment with a supportive person.

During a requested home visit, the NPSP staff member provides advice regarding normal growth and development and addresses common concerns regarding issues such as nutrition, behavior management, sleep challenges, and more. New parents can also take parenting classes to learn more about positive parenting, family communication and problem solving. The NPSP can put you in touch with local resources, play groups, and other fun activities for your family.

What makes this program so valuable is the relationship that new parents form with the NPSP staff. If you are a new parent or you are expecting a child soon, I encourage you to contact your local NPSP and meet with a staff member as soon as you can. Sign up for free weekly emails full of advice and tips, or check out important information and podcasts on relevant parenting topics through MilitaryHOMEFRONT. Please join our discussion. Have you worked with your installation’s NPSP? Do you have additional advice for new parents or questions of your own? Please share your thoughts!

The first three years of child development are critical. The NPSP is here to help. Congratulations to all of our new military families and families-to-be out there! Until next time, be well!

All materials copyright Military OneSource, 2012. Blog content held jointly by writer and Military OneSource, with shared rights to republish with appropriate attribution.