5 Ways To Make Your Privileged Child Feel Humbled & Thankful During The Holiday Season

The holiday season is quickly approaching.  With Thanksgiving upon us, I’ve been taking some extra time to reflect on my life and really notice all.the.things I’m so very thankful for.  From the really big things all the way down to the tiny, minute things.   I’ve been thinking about this post for a few weeks, brainstorming it all in my mind and somewhat dragging my feet about putting it out there.   As I was sitting in church today, listening to the sermon, I realized that it was extremely important for me to put this message out there and share with anyone else who may be feeling the same way.

My children and my family are extremely blessed to live a life where we never have to worry if there will be food on the table or clothes to wear.  We never have to worry where we’re going to sleep or how we’re going to get somewhere.   But the very harsh reality is, MANY people in this world worry about those things every single day.  Things that most of us take for granted.   Many children do not know where their next meal is coming from and they often wonder if they’ll have electricity at home to keep them warm.

Because my children are blessed with the lives they have, I have tried my hardest to make them aware of how difficult some peoples lives are.  Partly because I don’t want them to grow up and be ungrateful brats and mostly because I want them to be empathetic and have a servants heart.

When my kids start acting particularly entitled, I usually give them a big ‘ole dose of “here’s how bad some people have it.”  I’ve learned over the years that it’s best to be honest with our children and not try to hide poverty from them.  It’s important that they see it, they understand it and that they process it.   The amazing thing is – your kids will want to help the less fortunate.  I’ll never forget the first year we took our then-4-year-old daughter to the City Mission’s annual banquet.   Children, living at the shelter, put on a beautiful play.   My tiny little pre-schooler was so touched by that play and her heart was broken that those children (who looked just like her) did not have a home, or toys of their own.  My sweet girl had the idea that we should collect toys for the children at the Mission and deliver them for Christmas.   She spear-headed the entire project and I was so unbelievably proud to watch her be a helper for those in need.

Y’all, Acts of Service is where it’s at!  Involving your children, and the entire family, in Acts of Service will not only make you feel good about what you’re doing but it will also really make a difference in others’ lives.  Sometimes we’ll never truly know how much it means to a stranger to receive an act of kindness.   Below are some of my favorite ways to teach my children thankfulness and kindness, not only during the holidays but all throughout the year!

  1.  Take your children grocery shopping with you.  Make the entire trip dedicated to buying meals and supplies for the homeless shelter or your local foodbank.  As you’re shopping, talk to your children about how some people are not lucky to have warm meals at home.   Get your children involved in the decision process on what to buy and what foods make them the happiest!
  2. Adopt an ‘Angel’ from the Angel Tree.  Adopt a child that is close to your children’s age.  Take your child shopping with you and let them help pick out the items.   Talk to them about how sometimes we humans get to be Santa for less fortunate families.
  3. Start a winter coat drive at your school or office.  Many adults and children go cold every winter because their families can not afford a winter coat.  Often children are absent from school simply because they do not have clean clothes to wear to school.  Let’s work to keep every baby warm this winter!
  4. Clean out your play rooms each year before Christmas.  Get your children involved on what items to donate and let your children go with you during the donation process.  Explain that their old toys will be ‘treasure’ to a child in need.  (Or run a new toy drive!)
  5. Take your entire family and go serve a meal at the City Mission.  Honestly, this will be the harshest dose of reality that you will ever receive; talk about a humbling experience.   It is also a gentle reminder that none of us are that far away from poverty.

What do you all do with your children to ‘pay it forward?’  Leave a comment below and let us know!

Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours!

XOXO

Jill

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Netflix and Shhh…I actually want to watch this!😉😂

Even though I don’t have an abundance of spare time, (you know, with the whole full time working mom, two toddlers and a husband thing🤣) these latest favs are totally worth carving out some time to enjoy! While some of my favs aren’t on Netflix, I CANNOT stop thinking about these latest movies, shows and podcasts:

 

“Crazy Rich Asians”

crazy rich asians.jpg

 

Based on the trailers alone, I thought this was going to be a comedy. It turned out to be a LOT more than that. The cast was awesome and the scenery of Singapore was breathtaking. (NOTE: Trip to Singapore on the bucket list!)

This re-mix Cinderella story made me laugh, cry and everything in-between. Awkwafina played Peik Lin Goh and was seriously hilarious. I majorly teared up during the wedding scene with all the DRAMA, romance and gorgeousness of it all. Pony up for a babysitter and take your Bae to see this ASAP.

 

“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” – Netflix

to all the boys

 

Dead. I have been hooked on this since I watched it the first time. Yes, this is a teen rom -com; however my inner 16 year old girl is dying over this film. It’s “Clueless” with a little “10 Things I Hate About You” and some “She’s All That”. Remember the hot guy with the jeep in every rom-com, the first look of the girl coming down the steps, and the cute head on the shoulder that made you just tingle?! It really took me back! While it’s not realistic, it’s totally relateable. We so knew these people in high school and felt all the feelings!  SPOILER: It is a cheesy love story, but come on, sometimes we just need that little escape from reality.

Lana Condor (from X-Men: Apocalypse) plays Lara Jean Covey (half-korean…boom) opposite Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo). There are love letters, fake dating and all kinds of perfect chemistry. It’s a super cute coming of age story, which I think this may have inspired my latest corduroy overall mini dress.😂

Peter Kavinsky + Lara Jean forever! “You gotta tell people how you feel when you feel it…you can’t just sit up in your room writing love letters that you’re never going to send out.”

PS – This is based on a trilogy of books by Jenny Han. If you want more, check them out!

 

“Great British Baking Show”- Netflix

Great british

 

I have gotten my whole family addicted to this show. It was originally aired on PBS, but has made it to Netflix. Something about Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood and hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedrovc make this show SO very British and SO very good.

This is NOT your American baking show with ingredients flying, contestants out of control, but brings a certain refinement and dry sense of humor to the show. I guarantee you will not have heard of many of these “bakes”, but nonetheless will be majorly entertained by the mix of contestants and challenges.  “On your marks, get set, BAKE!”

 

“The Lazy Genius”

kendra

 

This is one of my very favorite podcasts. Anyone else relish the 10-20 minutes in your car alone after you’ve dropped off the kids for school?? I don’t know about you, but for me, that is sacred time. Many times I spend it listening to The Lazy Genius. Kendra gives us ways to be a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don’t. She covers everything from cleaning your house, to cooking to planning your life (without becoming a robot). She is hilarious and so very REAL! You will love her and her story about how she met her husband.

 

“The Moth”

TheMoth-JimKrenn_Story-Podcast

 

I stumbled across this podcast during a drive back from a work trip. The Moth tells some of the best REAL stories from some of the most interesting people – some you will recognize and some you won’t. They are inspiring, funny and very eye opening. Check it out.

 

“Unruffled”

Respectful-Parenting-Podcasts-Janet-Lansbury-Unruffled

 

Not only does Janet Lansbury have the most soothing voice, but she offers some real thought-provoking ideas in her respectful parenting podcast, Unruffled. She gives different scenarios posed to her from listeners, each week and addresses the behaviors described and gives practical ways to handle it. Have a child that seems to prefer biting to talking? or seems shy in certain situations? or likes to flip out in public?? Yeaaaaah, me neither. 😳 HOWEVER, if you have a friend that could use some advice, I’d send him/her to Unruffled. While I may not agree with all of Janet’s advice, it’s really nice to hear from a professional that I’m not permanently scarring my child with my parenting techniques.😂

I hope you are able to check out some or all of these and let me know what you think! I’d love to hear your favorite movies, shows and podcasts too!

Xx,

Lauren

(Affiliate links included)

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How to Survive 10 Years of Marriage – 10 Things I’ve Learned!

Twelve years ago, when this Cancer (water sign) met an Aries (fire sign), this ESTJ (executive – think Judge Judy or Robb Stark) matched with a INFJ (advocate – think Mother Teresa or MLK Jr.) and this politico met an apathetic voter (who has since never missed a vote), there was some serious steam! Let’s also throw in the fact that we are both independent, strong willed, first-borns! While we found our perfect match, I’ll just say that it took us a minute to hit our stride once we moved under the same roof.

We just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary which made me want to look through pictures of our wedding but also made me think about how far we’ve come! What?! I didn’t know everything there was to know about marriage at the ripe old age of 25?! HA, no!

Here are 10 of the lessons I’ve learned (yes, just 10 out of the millions of lessons) about making marriage work after you find the love of your life finds you (moves to DC, convinces you that he’s the only one for you and takes you back to your hometown to have two kids):😘

  1. Make smart deals – Before we got married, we made a list of our non-negotiables – a list of our biggest requests from each other. We really got into the weeds and picked our top 3 or 4 things that we thought we’d be able to keep up. For example: After being a bachelor for several years, John really, really, really, really wanted home cooked meals. While I don’t mind cooking, putting together a full dinner every night was definitely not a top priority for me. However, he offered to always do the dishes when I cooked. BINGO! We had a deal. Now, I have a full dinner 4 or 5 nights a week (SAMS is your friend, people!! Flounder + steamed broccoli + rice = dinner) and leave the dishes for John. If either us starts slacking, the other has some leverage. Ha.
  2. Be your spouse’s biggest fan – I guess I’ve always thought John was good at his job, so that part was easy. It was all the other stuff that we learned together about keeping up a house, taking care of our kids, or making big decisions that had us questioning each other’s ability (ok, mostly me questioning…) to do things the right way. Learning that my way isn’t the only way (although usually the best way….he he) was a serious milestone for this independent girl.
  3. Keep letters/gifts/mementos of your favorite memories around – John is really good about keeping notes/cards. I am not so good. I’m more of a picture kind of person. A way around that is a Pinterest board! We have pinned our special vacations, restaurants and gifts. When times are harder, it’s a great reminder of all of the fun things we’ve done, moments we’ve shared and bucket list of adventures that we have to look forward to.
  4. Lay down the sword (or get two tubes of toothpaste) – Seriously, there are just some things that aren’t worth it. I don’t know why I thought we had to share everything and agree on everything. O.M.G. It was so life giving to learn to “agree to disagree” about the things that aren’t pillars of the relationship (e.g. politics).
  5. Do what works for you – Ever heard that you shouldn’t go to bed mad? That’s actually one of the best things John and I can do! I used to be quite the night owl, but these days (ahem…two toddlers) I pretty much shut down around 10:30pm.  Anyone else get irrational and overly emotional when you are tired?! Yeah, me too. If a disagreement crops up when one of us is tired, it goes downhill fast. We do well to hold our tongues and discuss the next day. Many times it wasn’t even a big deal and we forget it and move on.
  6. Spend time together! I never understood the concept of “date night” before we had kids, but now totally get it. Planning one night a week (or month) to just be “us” has been so beneficial for our sanity relationship. Don’t forget to do the things you did together before you got married. After all, these are fun things that got this relationship to the alter. As our relationship grows and morphs, things we do together have changed too. We can’t take two toddlers to the tennis courts and risk them getting pelted with 50 mph balls.  While we still make time for it occasionally (the babysitting money is totally worth it); a lot of times we would rather spend time having an adult conversation over a relaxing meal.😅
  7. Take interest in what your spouse likes (and remember what you like) – I’m still not awesome at this (primarily because I’m worried it entails hours playing Mario Kart…he he, just kidding). John is good at this. He *pretends* to be excited about good deals I’ve found for clothes/groceries/anything at Target, lives at the pool in the summer, indulges my excitement about Disney World, and listens to my rants about the latest issue in the news. It is also good to have separate interests! Putting pressure on our spouse to be our “everything” is a lot for anyone to bear.
  8. Communicate and be flexible – I have to admit, John and I both are the opposite of flexible, so this has taken some work. (*Note: we are still working on this*) No one likes stepping out of their comfort zone and doing things that they don’t want to or don’t think is the best way, but I’ve noticed that when one of us does this, it makes the other want to do the same (occasionally). Communication is hard for anyone. John is crazy tech savvy, so even the thought of adding information to a paper calendar has him cringing. We have set up a family calendar on our phones and are able to add in doctor’s appointments, who is picking up the kids on what day, and any other piece of information that the other should know. This has saved us a TON of irritation about forgetting to tell the other about the-family-trip-we-have-had-planned-for-two-months thing.
  9. Divide and Conquer – This is especially important for parents. John and I have tried to do it all and then tried the divide and conquer technique. I’ll tell ya, DON’T TRY TO DO IT ALL! That will just burn you out and make you tired and grumpy (see #5). Team work makes the dream work. 😂
  10. Show Love – This one seems like it should be the easiest right? I think sometimes its the thing that goes by the wayside. For us, it can be as easy as stocking the Coke Zero stash or stalking the ADIDAS website until I can score a pair of the latest NMD shoes (you can probably tell the love language here right?!😄). Speaking of Love Language, check this out to see what yours and your spouses’ are: Love Language Quiz.

What things have you learned in your years of marriage? Tips? Secrets? New Ideas? We’d LOVE to hear from you.

✌❤💑,

Lauren

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The Hidden Danger Of Splash Parks! The Incident That Landed Us In The E.R.

Ok, I’ll be the first one to admit it; I am the safety queen!  I’m always analyzing risk and calculating hazards in my head.  There is constantly data running through my brain – sometimes I drive myself crazy.  I’d say this is mostly a side effect from my day job and, honestly, it makes my husband want to jump off a cliff at times; but here I am still living the worried mom life.  I used to be wild & care free and now I’ve somehow turned into that “be careful mom” that frets over everything (you know who you are!)  The mom who’s always yelling “BE CAREFUL” any time your kid does something even remotely dangerous and you stand there with your eyes closed just praying they’ll land safely.

Well, last week I told my sweet momma that she should take the kids to the splash park one afternoon….”it’ll be fun,” I said.   Famous.last.words.  While they were there, she had sent me a few sweet pictures of the kids playing in the water, splashing around.  My first thought was “WOW!  That water is spraying REALLY high.”  But, I’ve vowed to try to be more relaxed about things so i just let it go, looked at the pictures and smiled.   (I assumed I was just overthinking things again.)  Fast forward about an hour and I get a panicked FaceTime call.  Baby girl was crying so hard i couldn’t understand her and her eye was swollen shut.  (Ok, now I’m allowed to internally panic, right?!)

{Seriously though, look at the height and pressure of this water!  My oldest daughter is around 4’10” and it’s nearly twice as tall as her!}

So, as luck would have it, my youngest daughter (who just turned 4 and is much more vertically challenged) decided to lean over and look down at the ground right as one of the timed, pressurized water sprinklers went off.  The blast of high pressure water took her right in the eye and since she’s much closer to the ground, it hit her with a lot of force!  It immediately gave her a black eye and her eye began to swell shut.  Long story short, we rushed her to the urgent care because our main concern was eye damage or vision problems.  After they painted her eye balls with this orange serum and flashed all these different lights into her eyes, it was finally determined that they think she will be just fine (PRAISE THE LORD!)  They think the main impact of the water hit her check bone, just centimeters below her eye ball (truly a miracle!)  But talk about a scary wait and lots of praying.   Poor girl was just having fun.

Now, I’m in NO way saying to not ever take your kids to the splash park again – I’m really not!  BUT, I did feel like it was important to share this so hopefully other parents won’t go through the stress that we felt!  Be sure to educate your small children about not looking down or make them wear goggles (I’m ok with my kids looking like nerds at the splash park).  Anything to protect those precious little eyes!!  I mean, honestly, there is just no way that we are the only family this has happened to.

Prayers for a safe summer my friends.

XOXO

Jill

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The People You See in the Airport and Other Entertaining Ways to Pass Time

At some time or another, we have waited at the airport, subway, for a bus or even just in the Starbucks or school pick up line. I think we can all agree that WAITING SUCKS! What is the first thing we do when we are presented with a wait (besides uttering four or five choice words)?? Pick up our phones, right?! We start scrolling though social media like a boss (you are MINE Snapchat filters!).  However, sometimes we are in areas with little to no (free) access to the internet – cue people-watching! During my last few kid-less flights (because we all know this isn’t happening when you are wrangling tiny people) I noticed a trend in the groups of people I saw in the airport. They might look a little different, but they all follow these general categories –

People You See in the Airport:
  1. Judgy old people – This is the couple or group of friends that finds something wrong with everyone around them: “those people are too loud”, “why so much luggage”, “that muffin top isn’t going to stay in those jeans for long”, “there are seats all around here [*there actually aren’t], why is this boy sitting right next to me”. Of course they are loud and everyone can hear them. Depending on your mood (and how close you are sitting to them) these people are some of the most entertaining ones.😜
  2. College/Grad students – They are always talking about how busy they are (HA! Get back to me in 10 years), what exams are studying for and what paper they have just written. They love talking about their coffee addiction and you’ll hear: “UUGGGHHH, I need a double espresso mocha latte…I haven’t had a coffee in hours”.☕
  3. Emo high schooler – This kid is wearing all black, has hair in their face and is scribbling in their journal or drawing some dark picture. 🧛‍♀️ 🧛‍♂️
  4. People with headphones – They like to pretend that headphones makes them or everyone else invisible, leaving them with no situational awareness. Someone needs you to move your giant bag so they can wheel grandma through the aisle? “Sorry, I neither see nor hear you.” (I have to admit that I am a recovering earbud wearer – they are basically an accessory in D.C.) 🎧
  5. Exhausted business travelers – These people get really irritated (somewhat like my toddler)  when anything delays their mission of getting home (*raises hand*).😴
  6. Over-packers – Its one thing to over-pack your checked luggage (it only harms your back and your wallet), but it is quite another to over-pack your carry on! There is always that girl – and I say girl because it’s 9 times out of 10 a girl – who has so much junk stuffed in her carry on and personal item, plus the 4 to 5 things she is holding, that you are praying that you don’t sit next to her on the plane, because you know that shiz is not going to fit under her seat and will most definitely be spilling into your personal space.👜 💼
  7. Food on the plane – Now I know that it is a necessity sometimes and anyone wearing a military uniform gets a pass on this one, but the people that bring STINKY FOOD on the plane…shame on you, just shame.🤢
  8. Overly friendly mid westerners – Ok, I know what you are thinking, don’t you live around the friendliest people ever? Yes, but while I appreciate courtesy and a friendly smile, I’m usually not looking to make a life long friend and bare my soul to the person sitting next to me on the plane. Sometimes people are interested in convo, sometimes they aren’t – check the body language, people.😂
  9. Over/Under dressed – Just recently I was on a flight with a guy in a full (and I mean full) Gucci get-up. It wasn’t gaudy and believe you me, I took note and appreciated e.v.e.r.y. piece. There are also always those people in their PJs. It’s a jungle out there.😎
  10. Family with kids – God have mercy on your souls. I know your pain but, have also already inserted my earplugs/headphones.🙏

Other Ways to Pass Time:
  1. Zulily – Do you all know about this site?? I think most people think babies when they think Zulily – but not so! You can get everything from Egyptian Cotton Sheets to Swimsuits (for the whole family to yoga mats and kitchen appliances.
  2. Shop It To Me – If you love bargain shopping but hate surfing the web 24/7, Shop It To Me does the work! It is a completely free, daily shopping update for the clothing, shoes and accessories you love. You pick your size and favorite brands, and Shop It To Me searches hundreds of online stores  to find your favorite items on sale in your size.
  3. Poshmark – This is an easy way to buy and sell your fashions! There are over two million sellers and millions of shoppers. I have sold and found tons of great items on this site. Use the code: LAUR_SAV to get $5 when you sign up!
  4. Virtual Library – I have recently rediscovered the awesomeness of my local library! There are tons of books that you can “check out” virtually and read them on your kindle/iPad/phone. If you live in Ohio, check www.clevenet.org. It has one of the most expansive virtual libraries.
  5. Ebates – The Ebates Cash Back Button gives you Cash Back while you shop! It even applies coupons automatically at checkout so you’ll always get the best deals. I was really skeptical of this at first. How does this work? Is there some type of bot that follows my purchases? What are they getting out of this? Well, I have to say, I have regularly been receiving checks since signing up! Sign up with my referral code and you will get $10 right off the bat: Ebates.
  6. Ted Talks – Want to learn about your sleeping disorder? Need some parenting advice? Want to know what it’s like to go undercover in North Korea? Plus tons of other interesting videos? Check out Ted Talks. They are some of the most interesting and inspiring videos of varying lengths.

What are your favorite ways to pass time??

Have a great vacation and here’s to all those entertaining co-travelers!🍹

Lauren

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Making Kimbap with my Mom

Kimbap (or Gimbap) is one of my favorite Korean eats and in honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to show you how one of the best (my MOM!!) makes it from scratch.

Throwback to one of my bridal showers. (circa 2008)

For those of you unfamiliar with kimbap, it is basically the Korean version of sushi (but fresher and less raw fish). This dish is a healthy, super easy one to pack and take as a snack or eat at home (after your kids have gone to bed, because seriously, you aren’t going to want to share.) BEWARE – after you make this once, your family will be begging for it day after day. 😂

Ingredients:

  • Korean Seaweed (aka Kim or Gim) – Make sure you get the full sheets and not the snack size (at least 5 sheets)
  • Rice – Get the short grained variety for this recipe (2 cups, uncooked)
  • Eggs (2 or 3)
  • Carrot (1 large or 2 small)
  • Spinach (1 bag of baby spinach or 2 small bundles of fresh spinach)
  • Garlic Cloves (3 whole or 3 teaspoons of the pre-minced kind)
  • Salt (1 teaspoon)
  • Soy Sauce (2 tablespoons)
  • White Sugar (1 to 1.5 tablespoons – to taste)
  • Sesame Oil (2 to 2.5 tablespoons – to taste)
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Canned Tuna (optional) (1 can)
  • Skirt steak or tenderloin (optional) (.5 pound)
  • Yellow pickled radish (optional) (1 radish or 5 small strips)
  • Cucumber (optional) (1 large or 3 small)

Ok, this seems like a lot, but if you are like me, you will double it and have enough for a couple of days.

Directions:

  • Cook the rice (do yourself a favor and get a rice cooker if you don’t have one already).  A rule of thumb I learned from my mom is that you should rinse the rice at least two times to get it clean. After that, fill the pot to about an inch of water over the rice line.
  • Transfer the cooked rice to a mixing bowl and add .5 teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of sesame oil with a rice scoop or a wooden spoon.
  • You are ready to prepare your veggies!
    • Dice the carrots into matchstick sized pieces and saute them with a drop of vegetable oil and pinch of salt. (TIP: buy the precut carrots and save yourself a few minutes!)
    • Spinach (recipe here!)
  • Crack Eggs into a bowl, add a pinch of salt and beat. Spray or drizzle some vegetable oil in the pan (just enough to lightly coat the bottom) and add the eggs. Cook the egg on low and flip with a spatula before it gets too brown.
  • The rest is optional:
    • Steaks – Trim the fat from the skirt steaks and slice into ¼ inch wide, 3 to 5 inch strips. Put the strips into a bowl. Add 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 1 minced garlic clove (or 1 teaspoon of pre-minced), ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper,1 tablespoon white sugar, and 2 teaspoons sesame oil. (Let marinate while you are prepping the other ingredients.)
    • Tuna – Brace yourself…open the can and drain (whew!) – Many times I opt for this instead of the steak.
    • Yellow pickled radish or Danmuji – cut into thin strips.
    • Cucumber – cut into thin strips or dice like the carrots.

TIP: If you have all of these ingredients ready before you attempt to assemble, it will make your life so much easier!

READY to ROLL:

  • Place a sheet of kim (seaweed) on a bamboo mat (like this one) or just on a cutting board if you don’t have a bamboo mat.

  • Add a layer of rice on the kim (seaweed) on about half of the sheet.
  • Add the carrots, a few egg strips, and spinach in the center of the rice (in addition to tuna or steak)

  • Here’s the tricky part, use both hands to hold the filling and start rolling the kim. Check out the master at work:

  • Then, simply cut the roll into ¼ inch pieces.

If you really want to send this over the edge, dip the pieces in soy sauce or as I like to do, pour a few drops on each piece as you devour them! Ha.

Enjoy!

XOXO,

Lauren

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Major Life Hacks From A Military Momma! How To Streamline The Moving Process And Make Friends Easily!

 

My name is Lorin Beier, and I’ve been married to an Air Force pilot for 11 years. We’ve moved 8 times to 6 cities and one foreign country. At any given time, I’ve got friends on just about every continent, in 10+ countries. We’ve got 3 kids who were born in Alabama, Japan and Georgia; and one on the way.

 

Over the years, I’ve gained some insight that I want to share with you! How about some moving tips?!

 

Moving Tips

  1. Valuables in your trunk! Our first set of movers taught us that. Jewelry, personal papers, etc.  Keep those in your possession!
  2. Plastic totes. We bought 30 from Big Lots and they lasted us through 4 moves and we lent them to a friend for her move as well. It was a tad expensive to do, but I really don’t have to save or buy new boxes every move.
  3. If you prepack, use your linens! Also, paper plates in between your dishes works great.
  4. Label your boxes by room. Make sure the movers place the boxes in the correct room at the new house. It’ll make the unpacking way easier.
  5. Take out your trash. They will pack it. Including dirty diapers {gag.}. I remember thinking surely, they know there’s TRASH in the cans, but if it’s not nailed to the floor, it’s gotta go in the truck or the crate. They’ll also pack drain stoppers, the rack in the dishwasher, and water hoses with water still in there. But heaven forbid they pack non-perishables.

 

Making new friends

In the military spouse world, we call this friend dating. Often times when you get somewhere you have to decide on someone very quickly to be your go-to person for those emergency contacts.

 

  1. Find a church!! And look what social opportunities they have. Whether it’s a mom’s group, playgroup, bible study or couples social group.
  2. Ask ol’ Facebook who you already know in the new location. An option would be to search for ‘Name of City’ Play group, or Mom’s Group.
  3. Once you get your kids in activities, try to recognize other parents who are there often and introduce yourself.
  4. Try to befriend your kids’ friends’ parents at school.
  5. Good golly, go meet your neighbors. Nothing says hello like a box of cookies! We have an inflatable, when we blow it up in the front yard, kids come out of the woodwork.  Great way to meet their parents too!

 

How to help kids adjust

This might be the hardest thing. Sure it’s hard on you leaving familiarity, friends and comfort zone. But, depending on kids’ ages, it’ll be nothing or the hardest thing they’ve ever gone through. And I think it all depends on your kids, their maturity level and your parenting skills.

 

  1. Start early. I will prepare them for an upcoming move several months in advance. Sometimes I know where we’re going, sometimes not. But we will play the “what type of house” will we live in next game. My son’s vote is a red pizza cabin mountain house. My daughter thinks it’ll be a yellow beach house.
  2. Look up their school and find an activity they can join. Special interest groups are instant friends with similar likes.
  3. Google the new city and what to expect. Will there be mountains or a beach? How about an aquarium or skating rink? Of course, find a Mexican restaurant, cause mama needs a margarita.
  4. Find fun things to do. For the first several weekends we will pretend to be tourists. Go find fun places, parks and restaurants, no chains!
  5. If you get farewells, I’d suggest giving stationary and switching addresses; so the kids can have a pen pal. Shoot, that would be great as an adult. It’s really cool at Christmas time getting cards from all over the world.

 

I know the inevitable will happen and the kids will get sad. My daughter is 6.5 and I think this is her first move out of 5, that she fully understands what is happening. Best advice I ever got was to let the kids be sad. Let them cry and feel the weight of the moment. But its really important that they don’t stay there. Kids are more resilient than you think.  It’s going to be fine, momma!

Guest Contributor & World Traveler,

Lorin Beier

 

 

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Packing Hacks and Must Haves for Family Vacations

I have noticed that there are two camps when it comes to packing for vacation. Those who pack everything and the kitchen sink and those who try to take as few bags as possible. I generally fall into the first category. 🤪 This leaves John to try to juggle at least 4 or 5 bags while I wheel the kids through the airport. In this scenario, we usually (A) break down and pay one of the porters to help us, (B) John hurts himself (and is grumpy the rest of the day) or (C) we rent one of the carts (which you can never find where to put them when you are done).

If you’ve been following the blog this year, you know that one of my resolutions is to travel more. So far, I’ve been to the mountains of WV, NYC and now sunny Florida! After each trip, I vow to pack less. Besides the packing and lugging it through the airport, there’s the UNPACKING!😭  This trip I dove in and tried minimalist packing!!

As you all are probably aware, traveling with kids really makes you want to curl in the fetal position changes the game. So, one big caveat to this minimalist packing experience is that I knew that there were (easily accessible) laundry facilities at our condo. Here’s what my minimalist packing looked like for a 4 year old:

Here is what it looked like for my 1 year old:

All-in-all, I was super happy with the experience. It really did streamline our check-in (yay Southwest – and yes, I did sit next to the window; if anyone was getting sucked out it was going to be ME!) and we generally had everything we needed. Believe it or not, we didn’t even use everything we packed! While, I’m sure my over-packing days aren’t over, I am going to try my darnedest to pair down my packing. There really is something to be said for simplicity (especially when you will be spending the majority of the time in a bathing suit).

Just to clarify, the items above are just the clothes portion of the packing. After all of our travels with a baby, baby + toddler and two toddlers, here is my MUST HAVE non-clothing packing list (click on the pink links below to get a better look at the product described):

Pack ‘n Play – If you have a baby, this is the numero uno crucial item. We were lucky because one of my mom’s friends had a smaller pack ‘n play that she gave us after our son was born. This was awesome to take to grandmother’s house and also to travel with! If you can, find a smaller one than your large one with the bassinet and changing table, you will be glad you did. This Costco one is only $50! Not only is is smaller, but lighter! Your baby won’t know the difference and you can have a little peace of mind bringing your own. Another option is to use the one at your hotel or condo. I was weirded out by that with my oldest, but the poor second child has used the hotel’s several times, after a clorox drench wipe down.

Toddler Cot – This might sound weird, but we got this idea after seeing our kids sleep so well on the cots at school. Our kids were introduced to cots at 18 months (or earlier) at their “school” and there’s something about them having their own space. It’s smaller than a pack ‘n play and if you can get away with it, it’s less to pack (it can even fit in a suitcase)! This Regalo one took the cake. It comes with a case and a sheet  – win/win.

Car Seat Cover – We like the J.L. Childress brand for the car seat travel bag. It is durable, can be worn like a backpack and fits most car seats. It’s always a struggle to figure out what will be less of a hassle – taking car seats or renting them upon arrival. What we’ve found, is that if you are renting a car, rent the seats. If someone is picking you up at the airport, take your own. There is nothing worse than being trapped in a rental line after a tiring flight with cranky kids, when everyone just wants to get to the destination.

Umbrella Stroller – We love the UPPAbaby 2015 G-Lite Stroller. Anyone who knows my husband, knows that he researches like crazy to get the best deal. This stroller has proved to be great for ages 1 – 4 (we don’t have anyone older than that, ha). The best part about this stroller is that the shade has an extra extender part, that keeps the sun off the kids. I also love the mesh back and it has a strap so you can carry it over your shoulder. It is crazy lightweight and worth every penny. It made it across the Pacific Ocean and back and still looks brand new.

Stroller Cover – This gate check stroller cover has been super durable and it prevents parts from going missing or wear and tear to the stroller.

Sippy Cups – I seriously might have all the sippy/insulated cups ever created and sold in the U.S. market. When traveling, my fav and go-to is the CamelBak. I like these because they hold a lot of liquid, can clip to a stroller hook and the spout can fold down to be less exposed to whatever gross stuff it might come into contact with. The runner up is the Thermos Funtainer. This is a little heavier and not as convenient to hook to a stroller or backpack. However, the spout is completely covered and it does keep things cold/warm longer.

Sunscreen – Toddler tested, mother approved. My son tans really easily and we haven’t had a burn (knock on wood). My daughter is super fair, like her Dada, and I was pretty frantic about finding a non-toxic sunscreen to provide crazy coverage, without tons of re-application. Here’s what I found, Babyganics. We applied this once in the morning and once in the afternoon and girlfriend didn’t get pink! Hooray!

Bumpers – These hiccapop bumpers were recommended to me by a friend (thanks Brittany!) and whoa!! total GAME CHANGER. Forget lugging those bulky plastic or metal bed rails/guards around. These take up little space when rolled up and have treads that keep them in place under the fitted sheet. Not only are these great for traveling (*read – you don’t have to drag the toddler cot around all of the time*) but, they are also great when transitioning your toddler to a big bed. Buy them, you won’t regret it.

Packing Cubes – I can’t stop talking about these.  Here’s the latest review: packing cubes.

Things to NEVER forget (and might be best in a carry-on):

Blankie

Favorite Stuffed Animal

Sound Machine

Tablets/chargers

Snacks/drinks for take-off and landing

Time Savers

  • If you are going to be somewhere for a week consider ordering essentials: diapers, wipes, formula, baby food from Walmart and have it delivered to your room (2-day shipping 🙌 ). Amazon Prime works for this too!
  • Walmart has free grocery pickup in tons of locations now. You just order online and they will load your groceries for FREE! Here is a $10 coupon to try it: Walmart Grocery Pickup
  • Many grocery stores offer free shipping to your room/condo if you order over $50 (which is super easy with 4 people).
  • If you want to stay in one night and don’t want to cook, check with GrubHub or Seamless. These services deliver from tons of participating restaurants.
  • Look really strung out and desperate in the airport…lol. TSA usually has mercy on our souls and lets us through a shorter line.

Many of you have asked me for these tips, so I hope this is helpful! Let me know if you have any favorite products you can’t live without when traveling. I love hearing new ideas!

Happy Vacationing!

XOXO,
Lauren

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Happy Anniversary, Glitter Jungle! Come Celebrate With Us!

Believe it or not, Glitter Jungle turns ONE today!  It seems like just yesterday that we started out on this amazing journey.  As we sat and brainstormed, tirelessly trying to come up with a name for our new project,  we wondered if anyone would even read our blog.  Would people even be interested?!  Well, we’ve been astounded by how awesome you all are!  Not only have you read our blog, but you’ve shared us with your friends and welcomed us into your homes and lives.  Over the last year we’ve been able to partner with local businesses, collab with our friends and meet so many people along the way!  This first year has been so much more than we could’ve ever imagined.  And the good news is, the best is yet to come!  Here’s a short video, featuring some of our favorites, celebrating our one year milestone.

We’d love to hear your feedback!  What’s your favorite blog from this past year?  What do you enjoy reading the most – fitness, fashion, travel, fun, mom life?  What do you want to see us get into in 2018?  Would you like to collab with us?   Reach out to us and let’s chat!  We’d love to partner with you.

Cheers to many more years, and thanks for coming along for the ride!

XOXO

Jill & Lauren

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Bright Lights, Big City – My whirlwind work trip to NYC!

Anytime I get an opportunity to visit the Big Apple I jump at the chance! This time, I was there for work. I attended an intense, but really good academy to sharpen my skills after my-somewhat-career-pivot. I was in the classroom from 8am to 5pm. No joke (did I mention it was intense??). However, each day after 5pm, a few girls and I set off to explore the city. Surprisingly, NYC felt a lot smaller than I remembered. While there are tons of huge skyscrapers and masses of people everywhere, once you get your bearings, (and have your walking shoes on), everything you want/need is super accessible!

I originally had planned to arrive early afternoon the first day, however a cancelled flight and a tour of Pennsylvania, I finally made it to LaGuardia around 8pm. (Tip: if you want to get an insider’s scoop on what’s up with the airport you are flying into/out of, follow them on Twitter! Super helpful especially when you are flying in bad weather.) After waiting in a LONG taxi line, I finally made it to my hotel. (Tip: DO.NOT.RIDE with the randos asking you if you want to skip the taxi line, unless it’s your Uber or Lyft driver.)

I was stayed right in Times Square (as all the NY people roll their eyes…ha) and was SO excited to be there and among….the tourists, 🤣.

I was starving and really had my heart set on Korean food. It was 9:30pm and I wasn’t really comfortable navigating to Koreatown, by myself, at that hour. So, next best thing…Seamless! You’ve all heard that you can get anything you want, at anytime you want in the city. Seamless is a great delivery service that brings you food from any participating restaurant. Lucky for me, there was a great Korean restaurant open and I got a fabulous dinner. The banchan and bulgogi was so yummy!!!

So, you know how some little things give you a good feeling and really set the tone of a week?? Well, here was mine: 

This conference had Coke Zero. I was in heaven. Done.

So, when in NYC…right?? I wore grey on black on black the whole week…and loved every minute of it. I really need to get out of this dark wardrobe rut, (I’m trying out Trunk Club…more on that later).

One night we made our way to Chelsea Market. This fabulous market had super unique shops and delicious and affordable restaurants!

I tried a chicken soft taco and pork quesadilla from Los Tacos No. 1. The meat was so tasty and the service was so fast. Plus it was under $12!!!!! If I was a local, I’d be there once a week.

Another night we headed to Central Park. A girl I was sitting next to at the conference was dying to see the carousel. We raced to Central Park but missed it before it closed. However, we did see this great message on our way:

So, Central Park after dark wasn’t the best idea. We followed a little old lady with a dog, to the outer ring where all the runners were congregated. Back on track, away from the wierdos that all seemed to look like Al Pacino. Whew.

Throughout the rest of the week, we went to Carmine’s for dinner, shopped at Century 21, Nordstrom Rack, and everything in Times Square. I loved seeing the sites and taking in all of the architecture.

The second of two major Nor’easters that came through NYC, hit the night before I was supposed to fly out. The snow made the city look beautiful! PTL – the ground crews at the airport were ready and I got out of the city without so much as a delay!!

NYC is always a blast and reminds me of the amazing diversity in our country. You hear the stories of people coming to NYC with $50 in their pocket and making dreams come true. It is so humbling and an great reminder of all I have and motivation to hustle! As much as I loved my work trip, I completely missed my family and was SO happy to see them! I can’t wait to take my kids and show them NYC! Till next time!

XOXO,

Lauren

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