Excellent Tool for Children of United States Marines

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“Mommy, why does daddy have to work for so long? Why can’t he come back?”

A lump caught in my throat as I bit my lip to fight the tears that threatened to spill out. There was no denying it had been a rough day for us. Daddy was already gone for several months, and we were still waiting for the end to be in sight. That day was particularly rough for all of us, and my 3-year old son was just expressing his desire for daddy to return from deployment.

He didn’t understand why daddy had to be gone for so long.

I continued to stroke his hair while his head laid in my lap.

“Daddy just has a very special job, buddy, and he can’t come home until it’s finished. But, I know he thinks about you every single day and he can’t wait to give you a great big bear hug!”

“Yeah,” he smiled. I could still hear the pain in his voice.

excellent tool Continue reading

Cute and Easy DIY Cake Smash Photo Shoot Ideas

I love cake smash photos! I think it is so stinkin adorable to see the delight on the kiddos’ faces when they taste that icing for the first time or the disgust when they can’t understand why they are being asked to touch that sticky, sugary stuff.

There was definitely no disgust this past weekend, when I did a cake smash photo shoot with our baby girl. I never did one with the boys and now I am kicking myself! The photos turned out so well!

cake smash photos ideas

I have to say that the success of the photos was partly due to the super cute bubble-inspired cake idea that I got from the gorgeous Ashlyn over at Loves The Find.

cake smash photos

Ashlyn is pretty much a new kindred spirit. She loves coffee, finding vintage deals, DIY projects, and anything budget-friendly! Sound familiar? If she didn’t live so far away, I’m pretty sure a girl date at a local coffee shop would be in order.

She is here on the blog today, to share some super cute and awesome DIY ideas and tips for an amazing birthday cake smash photo shoot! Continue reading

Why I Refuse to Teach My Children that Everyone Wins

I’m going against the modern grain and teaching my children that not everyone wins, and here’s why.

everyone wins

They were at it again. I could hear my boys squabbling over yet another episode of “Special Agent Oso.” It had come to the end of the episode where the stuffed bear agent “rewards” the viewing children with a special medal.

My boys always, without fail, will start arguing long before the medal part shows up. They argue over who is going to be the winner of the medal. Sometimes it gets pretty heated. They will even get physical with each other on occasion. It’s actually quite comical for me to witness.

When they first started fighting over the silly medal on this tv show, I almost stepped in.

I almost stepped in and told them that they needed to share the medal; that everyone wins.

Then, I stopped myself. Continue reading

Why You Need to Stop Being Defined by a Number

I have this peach-colored, stretchy kind of shirt that had been sitting in my shirt drawer for what seemed like forever. It had been a while since I’d last worn it because it seemed to always fit the wrong way.

It hugged all of my curves, both the good ones and the ones that I would rather keep hidden. You know those unattractive back rolls? Yeah, this momma has them. One of these days I won’t have them anymore. I hope.

But, I did just spend several years in a row being pregnant constantly. As much as I tried keeping the weight off, six pregnancies in 5 years (four of them resulting in live births) don’t really give the body adequate time to recover. Throw in a couple years of severe postpartum depression, and you can imagine the impact my weight has received.

I decided to give the shirt another try. I slipped it on and stared at myself in the mirror. I looked slim. I felt beautiful. It didn’t seem to hug my curves like usual. A burst of confidence surged through me!

I got so excited and ran to the bathroom scale. I stepped on it, eager to see my apparent progress. The number that blinked back at me was not what I expected. Instead of losing, I had GAINED two pounds! No, it was not a result of working out and gaining muscle. I haven’t worked out in quite some time. I know; shame on me.

My confidence shattered and sprinkled all over the floor around me. I got off the scale and put it away, discouragement slowly filling inside me.

I stepped in front of the mirror again, and this time I didn’t see the slim woman I saw before. My curves looked awkward, and the shirt no longer seemed flattering.

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What To Do When Your Spouse Is Changed By Combat

I gripped the steering wheel as if it was my one and only lifeline. Hot, angry, hurt tears made trails on my cheeks as I watched the radio clock tick another minute.

Midnight. 12 a.m.

It was a new day, but I felt as though it was a night that was going to linger endlessly and never take the pain away. Our one year old son (our only child at the time) slept peacefully in his car seat, clueless of what was going on.

Clueless. Oh, how I wanted to be clueless of the man my husband had become. I wanted to be clueless of the fact that the man who returned from Afghanistan was not the same man I had tearfully kissed goodbye several months back.

I noticed it that ride home after our initially joyful reunion. The man sitting next to me had changed. He had become a stranger, despite the countless letters we wrote during the deployment.

As the months went by, I noticed how different he’d become. He struggled with his belief in God. He became angry and distant. He grew stressed. His fuse drew shorter and shorter, and he became all too familiar with the taste of alcohol.

I found myself praying every morning; praying that we would have a good day that day. That I would be able to reach through the shell of the man I had married.

He never became abusive. He was just angry . . . all the time. He said things I knew he didn’t truly mean. But, I was weary. I watched the man I loved so much deteriorate before my eyes. I felt as though I didn’t even know him anymore.

Then, we found out we were pregnant with our second baby. I was terrified. I did not want to bring another baby into this. I did not want our children to suffer with a father who was slowly becoming an alcoholic.

I released the grip of the steering wheel to pick up my cell phone. I paused as I listened for the voice of my mother-in-law.

“Mom? I can’t. I can’t do this anymore. Evan got drunk again and we fought, and it was awful. I left. I have Ian in the car, and we’re sitting in the Walmart parking lot. I’m prepared to just drive right now and leave. We might be at your house tomorrow.”

I was serious. I was ready to leave without even saying goodbye. I wasn’t thinking divorce. I just wanted to get away; for us to take a break from each other. My husband needed help, but I didn’t know how to help him.

Then, my mother-in-law surprised me.

“Lydia, you know that dad and I will be here to welcome you with open arms if you decide to leave. But, is this really what you want? Are you sure you’re ready to throw in the towel just yet? Leaving might make him wake up to what he’s doing, but it also might not be the best solution. If you can work through it, don’t give up just yet.”

I cried. No, sobbed. I didn’t want to leave, but I also didn’t want to stay. I didn’t want another night of alcohol, another night of fighting that would just leave me full of hurt and praying for the man I originally married to come back.

changed by combat

I put the car into drive and found myself on the dimly lit road back to our home. Continue reading

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