As a military wife, you learn very soon that never every holiday will be spent with your loved one. What I didn't really take into account, is I will also miss out on celebrating holidays with my family, especially my parents. This Mother's Day I wanted to do something special for my mom, because she is always sending me packages for every holiday! It's time we celebrate our moms! Whether that is your mom, sister, wife, friend, etc.; giving that mom in your life a gift will show them how much we love and appreciate all they do.
Now, I am no stranger to care packages and I thought this would be a perfect way to send my mom a gift even though she is thousands of miles away. I went to my AAFES on base and found the cutest American Greetings Mother's Day cards and gift essentials. They had an adorable stand and a huge selection of cards and gift supplies! It helped me establish the theme and I took the floral and bright colors into account when picking out her presents. This is an easy way to establish cohesiveness in your gift and act as an aid when finding the perfect gifts for mom!
This American Greetings wrapping paper was the first thing that caught my eye and was my inspiration when designing this care package! I decided to measure my box flaps and cover them in the wrapping paper, so when she opened it, she had a bright floral welcoming! Also, if you buy 3 cards, you can save $2 from 4/17-5/14. This is perfect to show the appreciation and love to all of the mom's in your life! Being on an Army or Air Force base means we are away from our families, so this is a perfect way to give the mom in your life a nice pick me up and gift for this holiday.
I found this little wall art piece and a light scarf that she can wear for the summertime. I added in a photo of me and J because she has been asking for one for awhile now (great and easy gift for any mom, they love pictures!). I then filled a cute Mom mug with chocolate that I will be bubble wrapping at the post office to keep it safe in shipping. I wrapped all of the gifts in this American Greetings tissue paper and gift wrap! I also found an adorable women's devotional, that just so happened to go with the theme extremely well, and a floral lotion.
While shopping for the perfect Mother's Day card, I stumbled upon this grandma one, and it was too perfect! This is my mom's first Mother's Day as a grandma and I wanted to throw in something special that would remind her of this special year and add in an ultrasound picture of her granddaughter. Adding special touches like this will give that personal feel and be great keepsakes for years to come. I love that American Greetings has a card for every mom out there, there are plenty of personal to you and unique cards to choose from.
For more Mother's Day inspiration and to
find the perfect card for the mothers in your life, check out
Sometimes the smallest acts can make the biggest impacts. I cannot wait for my mom to receive her care package! I posted this early enough for y'all to go out and buy the mother in your life some adorable American Greetings goodies and be able to recreate a care package too. I know how tough it can be to be states away from your mom, but never feel like you can't still treat her as you would if you were there with her.
Happy Mother's Day to all of the moms out there, we wouldn't be here without you.
Call me naive, but it never dawned on me until recently that our children will be growing up in a military home. And it scares me.
I fear the day my husband is deployed and our children are old enough to understand, but not fully grasp why daddy is leaving again.
I fear being a single mom for the days, weeks, months he is away and hope I can be a good enough mother.
I fear those days when I need to be strong for them and my husband, when I don't even feel strong enough for myself.
While I don't have all the answers, I do know there is a huge network for raising our children in this military lifestyle. 'It Takes a Village' could not be more accurate and I'm glad I have found a few resources to rely on. I feel better not being so alone in this, and while it may be a challenge, I feel better equipped to raise our children in this life.
FRG & Community Events
Family Readiness Group and any community events can be great outlets for children. Staying involved in the military community will not only be great for social interaction, but also because they are families and children going through the same situation. You can find more information on the individual branch's support groupshere.
All children can also utilize the youth center that is equipped with computer labs, gymnasiums, music and game rooms, and special field trips like swimming, bowling, or movies.
Books & Videos
Sometimes reading or hearing stories can be the best way to reach a child and have them understand the situation better. There are a variety of books and videos you can present your kids, and it's something a little more tangible than an activity. Below are a few books and videos you can purchase, fitting your family's current situation.
Military Youth Coping With Separation: When Family Members Deploy
Mr. Poe and Friends Discuss Family Reunion After Deployment
Sesame Street’s Talk, Listen, Connect: Deployments, Homecomings, Changes
A little bit of a step up from community events, there are several camps that our military children can take part in. This is a great way to make friends and to take their minds off anything that may be currently going on.
Kids 11-17: RV Camp For Kids
AFR & ANG Kids 14-18: Teen Leadership Summit
Armed Services YMCA: Operation Outdoors
Operation Free Ride: Horses for Heroes
Operation Purple Camp: National Military Family Association
Our Military Kids
Care Package for Military Children
Little Patriots Embraced Care Package
Brat Town Bugle (free book)
Free admission to Sea World or Busch Gardens
Free admission to National Parks
A Story Before Bed
When your loved one is deployed, creating a deployment center or wall can be a great visual for your children. This can include a countdown of some sort, what time it is where your spouse is, letters to their parent, and any pictures you want to include. This will keep your spouse very much alive and around even when they aren't, and give your children something to look forward to taking part in.
I love having the reassurance that I'm not alone in this. My husband is a 'military brat' and was raised moving around and dealing with his father not being home in his early years. It's no easy lifestyle, but I know that it is doable. To all the military spouses out there raising children, we got this. We may not have all the answers, things will break, our kids will miss our spouses more than anything, but this is just a small sacrifice we make for our families and this country.
What is your biggest takeaway from raising your children in a military home?
You know when you stalk your mailman because you are ever so patiently waiting for your package to come in? Literally me. From the second I ordered this dress from Shop Pink Blush, I immediately went to my closet and started figuring out how I wanted to style it! Y'all know I am a huge Shop Pink Blush fan, especially with their maternity clothing! I am so happy to announce I was invited to be a style ambassador for them, which means a ton of cute looks will be coming your way.
Dress: Shop Pink Blush Maternity | Shoes: H&M | Purse: bought in New York City | Necklace: gift
I can't wait to wear this dress to church and it is surprisingly stretchy, so I know I'll get use out of it for the entire pregnancy! It makes my bump look so cute and I love that it accentuates it, without looking too tight and like I'm bursting in it. Their maternity dresses are always such great quality and the perfect length. And y'all... This color is unreal. I love the lavender color, it is so perfect for spring!
This weekend we will be working more on little one's nursery and I'm so excited! Last weekend we painted the walls so I'm excited to work on it more. We also are going to be attending a Rockies game which will be a lot of fun! I'm excited to be getting out more with the weather warming up and attend fun summer activities.
I have so many fun blog posts coming soon and I can't wait for them to be published! I have really enjoyed making motherhood and pregnancy related posts, but I have some amazing military related ones you don't want to miss.
I am sure we have all heard from a relative or two, how expensive babies are. When compiling a list of what all I wanted to have for baby, I realized just how expensive they really are! But, babies don't have to be! I am a firm believer in if somethings for sale, there is always a cheaper way. Large companies dote on expecting mothers with wide eyes and have an array of expensive, sometimes unneeded products.
While I am all for splurging, and will probably buy a thing or two that I don't need being a new mom and wanting to spoil her; I wanted to put together a list we could all benefit and save a few bucks from! Soon I will be also sharing some freebies that us moms can take advantage of, so be on the look out! This post does contain affiliate links to provide a better and visual shopping experience.
There are a few different money saving tips when it comes to diapers. Every month that passes in this pregnancy, we have bought one box of diapers. I have particularly gone to Target because they consistently have $2 off Pampers or Huggies diapers. Since she's our first, we don't know what diapers she will like so I have been buying a variety. Target will allow you to exchange diapers out for different ones, even without a receipt, so this will be a great way to test out which brand works for your little one. Also, if you have the cartwheel app and scan it after every purchase (even if you didn't apply the coupons), it'll rack up your spending into points and you can turn it around and it will cover one of their rewards. Usually on the list: a free pack of diapers or wipes.
If you are totally not into brands, investing in memberships at Costco or Sam's Club cards would be worth your while and you can buy their brand of diapers in bulk and usually for a little cheaper than on brand. If you don't know what sizes to buy, I discovered this helpful chart that will be posted below on how much of each you should stock up on!
If you are having a baby shower, your friends and family are probably going to help you big time with this one. A great tip is to scour online selling pages, like Facebook marketplace to find huge amounts of baby clothes for a really low cost.
I know the struggle of wanting to buy every single custom onesie on Etsy, or buying that must need outfit at the baby boutique, but honestly I am being realistic and know that my baby will probably go through so many outfits in a day, and I'd rather not have my money crapped on: literally. I recently went to a baby consignment store and got a lot of clothes for a very little cost. The benefit is, when she grows out of them (and they aren't destroyed) I can take them back and make a few bucks off of them.
If you read one of my most recent posts, I purchased the Playtex drop in liner bottles. I am excited to use them because even though I plan to breastfeed, it'll be handy to store them and drop them in the bottles for feedings. I didn't realize just how expensive bottles can be, and it is honestly intimidating with all the different brands and styles on the market! If you go back to my post, Cartwheel app is doing a 15% off all Playtex bottles, which would be a perfect time to stock up!
Another great option is to go to Amazon and find what deals they have. They have a pretty good return and exchange policy, so I would check that before purchasing. You can also read real customer reviews which could help make your decision a little easier! Some things to take in account would be the bottle size and style. You can always fill up the bigger bottles with smaller amounts, and add more as the baby grows and needs more milk. Smaller bottles are nice, but you'll get more use out of the larger quantities. Also, bottles like the drop ins, ones with vents or an angle to them, and any designed to reduce air bubbles would be a great type to start off with. These reduce stomach issues and gas which would save you in the end if your baby did have these problems.
Obviously it is dependent on your parenting style and preference, but deciding on how and where your baby will be sleeping now will save you some bucks in the end. If you plan on co sleeping, maybe investing in a co sleeper for the bed or a connecting bed would be wise, and to just skip the bassinet or free standing beds. If you are choosing to have your baby start off in a crib, you won't have to worry about having alternatives.
It may be tempting to buy a co sleeper, pack n play, and a crib but chances are you'll only use one or two. Cribs themselves can be pricey, so finding one second hand could be a great money saver. If you do buy it from a previous mom, check the recalls and make sure it is a safe version. Take into account what is most practical and fitting for your space.
Kind of a hard thing to avoid purchasing, but man can these things be expensive! I know a lot of moms will have different opinions on what carseat is the must have, so take in account what is a need for you and your family. A lot will say infant car seats are a waste of money because they are used for a smaller amount of time, and others will swear by them because they are lightweight and can easily be carried inside and back to car. The number one tip is to find what fits your needs as a mom and find the best version you can.
All car seats have to pass the same safety test, but some will have additional padding and safety settings. Find a car seat that will fit easily in your car, be light enough if you do plan on carrying baby in it, and won't break the bank too much. It could be tempting to buy a car seat secondhand, and while it's acceptable, make sure you research that model and ensure there aren't any recalls on it. Also, if a car seat has been in an accident, or is over 5 years old, the safety expires and it is not recommended. Finding a car seat with padded head and sides, because this will be vital in impact.
Toys are another tricky thing, because you'll never know what your baby might like and favor. Toys can also be super expensive, so finding tricks to save a few bucks will make you a happy mama! A great way to save is to make your own toys. Make a baby rattle or noise maker by adding some beans or rice to a water bottle, tie together some socks of different fabrics, or even sew up your own toy for your little one. If you are looking to just buy toys on the market already, find some that have a multi-purpose. Toys that have fabric, plastic, and a mirror are great for babies senses.
Investing in a good teether, a few soft animals, and maybe a noisy toy or two will be great starter toys for your baby and give them the most stimulation until you find what they prefer.
I plan on spoiling her, but I feel so good knowing I will be saving in different areas, especially on the must haves! I will be featuring a post soon of different freebies you can get as a mom, because I know there are a ton of other money saving mamas out here too!
Have you found a great deal on a baby essential?
I would love to hear it! I have just finished adding things to my baby nursery, but I am all for saving in areas I can! Thank you for reading.
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FirstsMadeEasy #ForBetterBeginnings #MomsFirsts #CollectiveBias
I am a stage one over planner and that didn't change when I got pregnant! One thing I was really excited to plan for, was our diaper bag! J picked out the most fitting diaper bag for us to use (military family, come on we had to get this one) and I was so excited to start packing the essentials I knew I would need. I wanted to share with y'all how I packed our diaper bag and what essentials I have included. It has really eased my mind to have the diaper bag prepped, because being a first time mom, I feel a little in over my head!
Being first time parents, we are always thinking safety first. We want to take all precautions to ensure peace of mind! Having a thermometer, lotion to keep baby Stratton's skin hydrated, and a nasal aspirator were all essentials for baby. I will later be adding a pacifier, and a mini first aid kit.
Having a few burp cloths, an extra onesie just in case, and a cute turtle toy were all basic baby needs I knew I wouldn't want to leave the house without! Also, I tested out our diaper bag bottle pouch and it perfectly holds our bottle of choice, the Playtex Baby™ Nurser® with Drop-Ins® Liners. We chose this after doing some research and found with the shape the bottle can conform in, it will reduce colic and the liners allow for a stress-free feeding because the liner collapses as it's emptied. This prevents air from getting into the milk and upsetting baby's stomach! I may be buying the Playtex Baby™ VentAire because it offers complete tummy support, if I see this being a concern with Baby Stratton.
Additionally, the nipple is designed to allow baby to easily and naturally latch, which is reassuring for when we will rely on these bottles during travels! The concept of the liners is really intriguing to me, because not only are they recyclable but it will make transporting formula or breastmilk a breeze. Click below to shop the Playtex Baby Nurser and take advantage of the Cartwheel savings at Target!
I have needs too! I am a huge snacker, so having food on hand for me is an essential. I also packed my chapstick and some hand sanitizer, because all moms know, I'm sure, you can never have enough sanitizer!
Last but not least, when duty calls: I am prepared! I have newborn diapers packed (we've already started stocking up, thanks Cartwheel app!), diaper wipes, and our diaper changing pad! Our bag also came with a dirty diaper pouch that is located in front of the diaper storage which is so handy. Also, can we just talk about that changing pad? My husband got a kick out of that and it's the perfect ounce of military humor this baby will soon be introduced too!
If you are a momma in the market for a new bottle, you can find these in the breastfeeding and bottle aisle of Target! I am so excited for our little one to make it's debut in August and I feel so reassured and prepared knowing I have quality and safe products!
If you are a mom, what are your must haves for your diaper bag?
Thank you for stopping by The Strattons Blog! Here are snippets of my life, motherhood, and the military!