Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Tuesday's Tips

Balancing Life as a Military Wife and Mother

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Meet my good friend, Katie. Katie and I met as a result of our sons being on the same baseball team. We had an instant connection in that both of our husbands were away on deployment during the majority of the season. She has a very genuine heart and I am proud to call her my friend. You'll walk away inspired as you get a peek inside of her busy life. 

1) Tell us about your family

Jeff and I met 13 years ago right after he had graduated from The Air Force Academy in Colorado Spring. Little did I know that meeting him would lead to us moving all over the United States and even Europe! We have been married for 11 years and have 4 wonderful children. In the 11 years we have moved 7 times, one of the moves was to Germany where we welcomed 2 of our 4 kids. We have 3 boys, ages 10, 5 and 2 months, and 1 daughter who is 7.  

2) How many deployments (stateside & overseas) have you experienced?

We have been fortunate in that Jeff has not deployed as many times as some of our other friends. We have been through 3 deployments and 1 year spent apart in order to keep stability in the kids lives and education. Jeff's deployments have been 2 1/2 months (when our first born was 6 weeks old), 4 months (also during our first borns 1st year of life) and then a 6 month deployment while I was pregnant with our 3rd born. We spent last year apart, when Jeff received a 1 yr assignment stateside, so we elected not move the kids 3 years in a row. It was a tough decision and a tough year but it was right for our family.  

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3) How do you manage to juggle it all? (balancing being a military wife & mother)

I'm not sure how I manage it all. I just take it one day at a time and hope that I'm not forgetting something big like a school project! 

4) What advice would you give to a fellow military wife/mother?

My advice for fellow military wives and mothers is to make the most of each new move and treat it like an adventure. There will be times when the base/area you are moving to is less appealing than others. If you go into the that assignment mad about where you are going you will end up hating it, but if you go into the assignment with an open mind and the willingness to try new things you might just end up loving it! 
I would also advise fellow spouses/wives to get involved whether its at your kids schools, your church, or maybe just finding a great place to workout. This way if your spouse must deploy you have people you can rely on if you need help or just a shoulder to cry on.  

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5) What do you do for fun? (hobbies, etc.)

For fun I enjoy reading and working out. Reading affords me an escape from every day life. I can tune out the kids and focus on the story and for a few minutes forget that the kids are destroying the house. Working out allows me to blow off steam and it gives me time to myself. I also really enjoy traveling, although with a newborn not too much traveling is being done right now. 

Until next time, thank you for stopping by....

Monday, November 7, 2016

Weekend In Review

Whew! What an eventful weekend it was. There were so many great things happening. Me and my family have a lot to be thankful for. Friday started with my nephew beginning a new chapter in his life. My nephew was born when I was a freshman in college. It's hard to believe that he's all grown up... He recently made the decision to join the Army and I couldn't be prouder. One of the many things I admire about him is that he's never given up. Andrew didn't take the traditional path, going into a four year college right after graduation. He has many gifts and sometimes our paths take us in many different directions. He is a man of good character, has a generous heart and will make a fine soldier. I can only hope that Seth and Spencer model the character traits that they have seen him exhibit. 

We made the two & half hour drive to watch my son's team win their way into the state playoffs! We didn't arrive back home until after midnight. Needless to say, Friday was a long day...

Saturday morning I found myself home alone again while the men in my family went to deer camp. My oldest son sent me this picture of his little brother's target practice with his first rifle ( a 243 I'm told). Not bad Spencer!

Saturday morning, my mom and I met up with Andrew to celebrate his recent success at one of my favorite brunch spots thecornerlr.com. I absolutely love the friendly staff (see above photo) and the food is delicious!

I indulged in the "Cowboy Breakfast." I felt like I had earned after that long day on Friday!

The Razorbacks redeemed themselves in a mighty way on Saturday night! #wps!

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I'm gearing up for a fun week on next week, especially recognizing some very special veterans in my life.

Until next time, thank you for stopping by.....

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Tuesday's Tips

Balancing Life as a Military Mom

Danielle Blackwell

I am honored today to write about my friend, Danielle. With Veterans' Day approaching, I thought it only fitting to feature not only a mom, but a woman who also serves our country. She does this while being an awesome mom to her daughter. Danielle & I met at a church our families previously attended together and I have been fortunate that our paths have crossed again. I am thankful for the connection that we have.

  Tell us about your family
  My family and I are originally from Oakland, CA (except for my granny, she is from Crossett, AR), but we (my mom, sister Jessica my sister Patrice and I) moved here to Arkansas back in December of 1999.  We are a small family somewhat spread out.  My mom still lives in Crossett, while my sisters and two nephews (Malik, age 9 and Kingston age 1) live in Conway.  My 83 year old grandmother and 86 year-old grandfather live in Maumelle and I live in Little Rock with my daughter Alivia (7years old).  Alivia has changed my life! I can't imagine my life without her. She's very intelligent, funny, and full of personality, compassion, love and pure kindness.  She is exactly what I prayed for.

Why did you decide to join the military & at what age did you enlist?

 I had absolutely no intention on joining the military. I always wanted to be an author/broadcast journalist and work for CNN.  So one day while working in the customer service department at my local grocery store, this recruiter approached me about joining the National Guard to pay for my college.  I didn't want the financial burden of college tuition so I said yes! I was twenty five years old when I raised my right hand and swore an oath to our nation and twenty six when I went basic training.

Have you ever been deployed overseas? If so, what was that experience like? Have you been deployed (either stateside or overseas since becoming a mom?
I joined the National Guard in 2001, went to basic training in 2002 and was mobilized to Iraq, to support Operation Iraqi Freedom in February of 2004.  This was the first big mobilization for the Arkansas Guard and I had no idea what to expect.  I knew that I would be safe and protected, but the fear of the unknown weighed heavy on my mind before I went overseas.  My experience was very personal and spiritual.  I began to mature in my faith, grow as a Soldier and a young woman and had the opportunity to look at life through an entirely different lens. I made friends and developed bonds that were strong.  My family was very supportive. Both biological and church.  I received letters and care packages all the time.  I have not been deployed since being a mom.

 How do you balance motherhood & full-duty service?
Balancing motherhood and full-time duty has its challenges, but I do not do it alone.  I have a strong support system with my grandparents.  They keep my daughter whenever I work late hours or weekends, pick her up and take her to school... you name it they do it!  However, I utilize what I call the 4 Ps:

1.    PRAY- .Pray  for guidance and wisdom
2.    PLAN-  Plan my days ahead
3.    PREPARE- Prepare for my days ahead
4.    PROCEED- Proceed with the plan. These principles work at home and on the job!

What advice do you have for other military moms?
My advice to military moms is to first be centered in who you are. As women, we wear so many different hats, we often lose our identity.  So in essence, a strong sense of self-awareness is vital.  Also, I am learning to "be in the moment" with my daughter; to be completely present in my mind and energy when I am in her presence.  It's easy to pick up our children from school or come home with "work funk" on us, so I try my best to rid myself of it! Lastly, take a day off to RESET! Sometimes our internal "Surge Protector "goes haywire and we just need to take a moment and push the RESET button!!  

Until next time, thank you for stopping by....

Monday, October 31, 2016

Family, Fun & Turning Forty-Ish

I'm back!! I unintentionally took a week off from blogging. What can I say, life got in the way. I had a major project at work (4 months in the making) not to mention my normal responsibilities. There's so much to catch you guys up on. Life is busy, but it's good and I'm blessed!

Last weekend, Andre & I took a little mini getaway to attend a going-away party for one of his dear military buddies. Captain Kittrell is being deployed in a couple of weeks and his family held a going away dinner for him. It almost seemed surreal to think about how I was in his wife's shoes not too long ago... I'd be lying if I said I didn't tear up a couple of times. The sacrifices that soldiers and their families make is huge. Please keep his family in your prayers. On a more positive notes, Andre & I realized just how much we need to make spending time together (just the two of us) a higher priority. I see many more weekend trips without the boys in our future!

Well, we said goodbye to fall ball... The season didn't end quite the way we wanted to, but our whole family was grateful to have Spencer back at the mound completely healed. I'm looking forward to the spring. I know these guys will do great!

Another positive note, my sister came in from Atlanta to spend the week with us and this was the first time she was able to see Spencer play in a game. We love Tee Tee Dede!

My girlfriends and I are now at a point where we meet up at each other's kid's games just so we can spend time together. I love my people.

So, my sister got a two for one. She also got a chance to see Seth play in his first varsity game. At least she got to see one of their teams get a W! If they win this Friday they'll be headed to the playoffs! 

This past Saturday I celebrated my birthday. My sweet hubby made sure this was the first thing I saw when I woke up. 

We headed to a local burger joint for some over-sized cheeseburgers & french fries. I swear I probably consumed 5,000 calories this weekend... I will be doing some major adjusting to my diet these next couple of weeks, ugh!!

I'm so glad to be back and looking forward to you all meeting some amazing wives and moms. I'll be starting a new series that I'm sure will bless you and hopefully inspire you.

Until next time, thank you for stopping by....

Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! This weekend is going to be a packed one for me. We started our Friday night lights early supporting one of our favorite couple's son's football game. His team was undefeated headed into the playoffs, but they didn't come away with the win... Can I just say I witnessed several parents on last night that need to read my post about raising a good sport?

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Moving on. This Saturday is our annual Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure. Breast cancer has certainly affected my family, on both sides. Because of my history, I began getting annual mammograms a lot earlier than is recommended. I salute all of the breast cancer survivors, especially my loved ones including my Aunt Lythia who is a survivor and in memory of My Aunt Mae. If you are a survivor, keep fighting!

We'll be hitting the road on Saturday to attend a going away party for a friend of my husband who's headed to deploy to Iraq. I'm pretty sure this place will be hit up sometime during our trip. I have literally been to every Bass Pro Shop in the U.S.... At this point, I'm content to just sit in the care while the rest of my family drools over all the boats, lures, baits, deer corn etc...

I wish you all a happy and safe weekend. Finally, let's pray that the Hogs don't repeat another 4 time overtime against Auburn... Can we just win in 4 quarters with as little drama as possible? #wps

Until next time, thank you for stopping by.....

Arkansas' Josh Liddell celebrates with his team after

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Raising a Good Sport

 Now that I am deep in the throes of both football and baseball season with my sons, I thought that I would share with you all the MANY lessons I have learned. Let me start by saying this journey has not been an easy one and I have made my fair share of mistakes,,,,

Early on, It was pretty evident which sports my boys gravitated towards. For example, one afternoon when I was picking up my oldest son from daycare, his teacher politely took me to the side and said, "Mrs. Watson, does your husband play tackle football with Seth at home?" I had a confused look on my face (keep in mind that my child was only 11 months old!). She went on to explain that Seth had been imitating football stances during their carpet time and attempting to tackle anybody who happened to be in his eyesight! His physicality grew over the years and his passion for football has remained. Spencer, on the other hand, is the polar opposite. He gravitated more towards baseball and began playing at the age of four. 

That being said, here's a list of lessons that I'd like to share with you...

  1. Try to expose your child to as many sports as possible- between my boys, they've played everything from soccer, lacrosse, and basketball. It just so happens that football and baseball were the sports that they gravitated towards. We gave up on trying to force them to keep playing the sports they weren't interested in.
  2. Don't badmouth the coach- I will admit that I haven't always practiced this. However, I have learned that doing so has many negative repercussions. Your athlete will feed off that negative energy and take it with him onto the field. 
  3. Try to avoid critiquing/criticizing your child during and after a game. Again, something I learned the hard way. Your child does not need another coach, especially after a loss. Instead, if you feel the need to say something, try to wait until the next day. I have also learned to feed off of my sons. If they ask my opinion about their game/performance, I give them honest feedback but I make sure I am positive and loving with my comments.
  4. Don't take these sports so seriously- This is a hard one. The competition is stiff these days and, the older my boys get, the more competitive it is. I am like most parents that would love for both of my sons to be able to get college scholarships playing a sport that they love; however, I don't want to create a monster in the process. Try to find a balance. Get your athletes involved in other things besides sports.
Finally, I want to share this book that I found at my local library. It was buried in a pile during an annual giveaway. I saw Cal Ripken on the cover and grabbed it thinking it would be a baseball for dummies type of book. Turns out, it has some amazing advice in it, some of which I shared and more. I'm not even sure how old it is, but you can probably find it on Amazon. It is very well written and worth your time if you're interested.

Until next time, thank you for stopping by.....

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tuesday's Tips

Balancing Life as a Coach's Wife

Dr. Felicia Boyd

Today's Tuesday's tips comes from another one of my college BFF's. We met in college and have remained close ever since. Felicia has been an educator for over 20 years. She is currently an elementary school principal in Missouri.  I've also had the privilege of knowing her husband, Ramone almost as long. Felicia and Ramone met in college and have a beautiful family. In the spirit of football season, I wanted to hear first-hand from her what it's like to walk in the shoes of a wife of a high school football coach.

As the parent of two student athletes, I have gotten a front row seat to what I can imagine what it is like being the wife of a coach. Sometimes I cringe at some of the things I hear in the bleachers/field targeted at the coach. As parents, we have to remember that the coach is a human being and most times, has a wife and children. Throughout the years, I have learned to bridle my tongue. I try to put myself in the shoes of not only the coaches, put the families who sacrifice for the betterment of our sons/daughters.

1)      Tell us about your family
We are family of four.  We have a son Ramone II who is 12 years old and a 7th grader who is very active in sports.  We also have a 9 year old daughter, Symone who is a 4th grader and involved in dance as well as a variety activities at school.   Ramone and I have been married for 15 years.

2)      How long has Ramone been a coach? What team(s) has he coached for?
Ramone has coached for well over 20 years.  Football is his number one sport he coaches.  He has coached recreational football at Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls club for many of those years.  Currently he coaches high school football and baseball as well as our son’s baseball team for the last eight years.

3)      What is the hardest thing about being a coach's wife?
The hardest thing about being a coach’s wife is there is a lot of time sacrificed away from the family.  He has made adjustments in his schedule as our own children have gotten older, however it is hard to schedule family events due to practice and game schedules to work around.

4)      What impact has Ramone's job as a coach had on your children's experience w/playing sports? (advantages versus disadvantages of having a dad as a coach)
The impact has been a positive one especially for our son.  He is now very involved in sports and has a passion for baseball and basketball.  The advantage that Lil Ramone has had as having his dad as a coach is that he is able to process with him after a game and talk through what he needs to do for the next game or reflect about what went well and what he needs to work on.  I wouldn’t say that he has had any disadvantages having his dad coach.  Symone is growing in her involvement with the sports, however it’s still not her favorite thing.  We try to make the sporting events a family thing as much as possible so we are all together and spending time together.  

5)      What advice would you give to other wives of coaches?
As  a coach’s wife you need to be very secure and have a great relationship with your husband.  You need to be understanding that he is making an impact on many children’s lives.  My children and I are sharing their dad with other kids.  He is not only an influence in our home, but to many other kids outside of our home.  I have been blessed that my kids are very understanding of that and have welcomed other kids to have a relationship with their dad.  I have to be understanding that some of these kids come from single parent homes and some are moms doing this by themselves.  Ramone has to balance a professional relationship with these mothers and I have to know and trust that it is just that, professional.  He has done a good job of balancing it all.
I believe it is a team effort and both parties have to have a common understanding and respect for each other for the relationship to sustain.

Until next time, thank you for stopping by....