Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Once Upon a Time in Thailand

I'm excited to say that we're getting back to things after taking a break to enjoy Coastie Baby and our family that came to visit. We kept things casual in February with the #LoveBlog challenge, but we'll soon be getting back to our regular posting schedule. In fact, we'd love a little feedback - what would you like to see on the blog for the rest of the year? Travel is top on our list as we still have a lot of places and photos to share with you, including today's guest post from Lindsay.

My husband and I are frequent travelers of the world. We are lucky to have experienced many different cultures, customs, and places together. It was a big dream of ours to pack bags and go- and so we have.

Our most frequently asked question from fellow travelers and curious hopefuls is:

What has been your favorite place?

That one stumped me for a while, perhaps because I see favorite as too grand a term to live up to. But my husband knew. He had a favorite: Thailand.

As soon as the word was whispered from his lips, I could smell the incense. I could see the purple orchids everywhere, the monks in their brilliant orange robes. My tongue burned by the sweet, smooth blend of coconut curries. Our bodies walked on and bended furiously in a Thai massage. Visiting the open markets and delighting in the assault of fragrances: spice, sweat, motor oil, animal droppings, and dust. Swinging from zip lines and looking over to see the gibbons naturally doing the same feats.

Mr. B (my husband) was almost crushed by an elephant as we washed them in a rescue camp. The joyful beast made up for it later by allowing B onto his back, bending down majestically so he could find a foothold on the elephants leg and clamber up. Our story kept unfurling as we sailed out to sea caves in kayaks. The plankton in the water reacted to sunlight, and in the evening you could trace your fingers through the water. It lit up like a million fireflies. Flying down the roads on our rented mopeds, only stopping to purchase another liter of gas, the fuel filled to the brim in an old coke bottle. Learning to bow and say “thank you”. Buddha, Buddha: everywhere.

It was a magical trip for us. It was made of favorite moments, a traveler’s dream experience. Thailand wrapped up all five of our senses and touched our lives. We can say it is our favorite because we would go back, in a heartbeat.

But it was not just the magic of the place that makes it fall to favorite. It is who we were there. We found ourselves free of the weight of the previous months. We had just taken travel a step further and moved overseas for B’s work. The Thailand trip was the light at the end of a long, stressful tunnel. I didn’t even tell him what we’d be doing there. I just worked on the trip until the wee hours of the morning: planning, researching, hoping he would love it and be able to relax.

The day we got on the plane, we grabbed hands and I felt like we could breathe again. The move had been everything we thought it would be. Challenging, hard…and now amazing because we were doing the main motivation for it: see all the Asia we could in the process.

Those amazing Thailand memories are what they are because of traveling with him by my side. It came after a tough season that we weathered together. His laughing eyes are what I saw swinging through the trees on the zip line by the gibbons. His strong arms paddling the kayak with me, my arms around his waist riding on the back of the moped. Clinking his glass in “cheers” as we ate smooth curries. Staring up at the stars and finding hope again for the days ahead.

Thailand is a fairytale. But sharing it with my spouse is what makes it a favorite for me. Once upon a time in Thailand we fell a little more in love.

About the Author

Lindsay is a military wife, mom, and writer. As a former professional dancer you can find her doing pirouettes in the kitchen whilst also flipping pancakes. She finds solace in hearing the sound of her sewing machine and a hot cup of coffee. A journal with scribbles is never far from her side, and being outdoors lifts her soul. She’s lived and traveled all over the world but believes there is always more to experience. Her blog Uplifting Anchor encourages mothers and military spouses.

Uplifting Anchor | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Reflection on #LoveBlog

It's the last day of #LoveBlog and I have to say that I'm sad to see it go. Today's topic is "reflection," so I'll be going into more detail below on why I'm sad to see it go. Before we get to that, I want to say a big thank you to Brita for hosting and that I hope to see it back again next year.

When Brita first posted the details for #LoveBlog, I got excited. Then I realized that there was no way I could participate in all of the prompts this year. (I attempted all of the prompts last year but fell a little short.) With a baby due in February, I had too much on my plate for #LoveBlog. So, I settled on cohosting a few days and picking out a prompt here and there.

I decided to selectively participate and I was happy with that decision. Until February 1 came and I found myself writing a post for the first prompt and then the second prompt. I'm not sure what exactly caused the shift but somewhere between writing the first and second post, I decided that I was going to attempt #LoveBlog after all. I even hired a VA to link up my posts each day.

Our little one arrived a whole week early which meant I didn't get ahead on the #LoveBlog posts like I planned. However, I was determined to participate and set out to blog when I had the chance...during naps, while breastfeeding, and at other random moments when I found the time.

There were several times when I felt like I wouldn't succeed but I kept trying anyways and I'm glad that I did because #LoveBlog has taught me a few things. It taught me to enjoy the process of blogging again without worrying about getting ahead. It also taught me a few tricks for blogging with a newborn (more on those later).

And most importantly - it showed me that blogging is a part of who I am. I managed to be ahead enough on posts that I could have gone through February without touching my blog once. While this is a great thing, #LoveBlog showed me that it's not who I am. Blogging is a stress reliever for me and without it, I'm sure this month would have been even more stressful.

So, once again - thank you Brita for hosting this month long blogging event. I'm excited to say that I wrote a post for every prompt this time and learned a lot about myself and how to adjust my blogging process for life as a mommy.

Have you ever participated in a blogging challenge? What was your experience?

Monday, February 27, 2017

Then and Now: Why I Blog

Last week, I shared a new type of post that I'll be doing from time to time on the blog (In Pictures). Today, I'm sharing another new type of post - then and now. Today's topic for #LoveBlog is "bloggers" and I thought it was the perfect topic for me to introduce the "then and now" feature.

Time changes things. It can make things take on a new meaning. It can also alter the way we look at things. Time and how it changes things is a big reason for this new "then and now" series where I share how things in our lives have changed over time. I'm going to be kicking off this new series by focusing on the topic of blogging in today's post.

When I first started blogging, it was a hobby to pass the time as we started the long distance portion of our relationship. It was summer, so I wasn't working (perk of being a teacher) and knew that I'd need a distraction. Writing seemed like the perfect distraction. I started simple, knowing nothing about blogging and never expecting it to go further than a few posts. I predicted that I'd be done by the start of the school year. Instead, I discovered a community of bloggers and started to enjoy the social side of blogging - which is what kept me writing three years ago.

Now, I blog for different reasons. The social side is still important to me and some of my best friends are online. It's not the only reason I blog though. Now, I'm working towards pursuing blogging as a business endeavor. It's one small part of my plan for staying at home with our little one. I'll be sharing the rest of my plan soon enough but today's prompt seemed like the perfect time to reflect on my "why" for blogging.

In a nutshell, my "why" for blogging is to help others and being in a little extra income for my growing family.

Why do you blog? I'd love to hear your why in the comments below.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Being Present in the Moment

Today's prompt for #LoveBlog is "past, present, and future." When I first read the prompt, I immediately thought of Scrooge and the ghosts that visit him in the classic holiday story. Then, my mind started thonking about how someone should do a Valentine's version of that story. Then, I realized I was getting distracted and I decided to come back to the prompt and to use my distraction as inspiration. Today, I'm going to share how I try to stay present in the moment so that I don't miss out on the special little things that happen.

I have a little challenge for you. It involves being a bit more observant. The next time that you're out to eat, I want you to take a look around and see how many people are engrossed in their phone even with someone else sitting at the table. (You get a free pass in my book to be on your phone if you're dining alone.)

Why do I bring this up? I wanted to mention this because I've noticed a growing trend of families going out to eat and everyone - parents and kids - spending time on their electronics rather than being present in the moment. It makes me wonder whatever happened to family meal time and discussion. The nose in devices trend is one that I hope to avoid when our son gets older. (Right now it's all sleep, eat, and potty...)

Here are a few goals I have for the future that will hopefully help me be present in the moments that we spend as a family:

1. No electronics at the dinner table.

2. Spend time each week unplugged from my phone and social media.

3. Make family time a regular thing that doesn't always revolve around technology.

I know these may seem idealistic and that you may be rolling your eyes and saying "Just watch - you'll cave more than you think." This may or may not be true, but I'm allowed to dream and plan and hope that things turn out the way I'd like.

Our days as a family around the dinner table aren't here yet (unless nursing counts as a dinner table). So, in the meantime, I'd love to hear how you try to stay present in the moment.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Dear Son: I Want You to Know

Today's prompt for #LoveBlog is role models. I have always had a hard time picking out who my role models are so this was a bit of a difficult prompt for me - until I realized that I'm now in the position to be a role model for my son. I've always known what I would want to teach a daughter (to be strong and independent), but I'd never really thought about what I would want to teach a son. So, I thought I'd use this post as an opportunity to reflect on what I want my son to know about life and how to navigate it with kindness.

Dear Son,

I want you to know that I'll always be there for you. I won't always do things for you because I believe in independence but I will be there to cheer you on and support you in your endeavors.

I want you to know how to respect others no matter how different they may seem. Skin color and gender shouldn't influence your opinion of a person. Rather, I want you to make judgements about people based on their morals and actions. You're not always going to get along with everyone but I do hope you'll give everyone a fair shot at earning your respect.

I want you to know how to be kind and caring towards those you love - whether they are human or animal. I hope you'll understand the importance of always showing this love as well. You're better to show too much love than to let someone pass through your life because they never knew their importance.

I want you to have values and inner morals that guide you in making decisions. I hope to set a good example in this area since I know that I'm your first (and possibly one of your most important) role models.

I want you to know that you are loved and will always be my little boy - no matter how old you get. There will always be a special place for you in my heart and in my life.

Your Momma

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Budget Friendly Travel Tips

Today's prompt for #LoveBlog is "travel." Since one of our blog categories is travel, it only seemed fitting to sign up as a cohost for this day. So, today we're cohosting #LoveBlog and sharing travel tips for the budget conscious.

If you've been around the blog or our social media, then you'll know that we love to travel. Sometimes we keep our adventures close to home and other times we book a hotel and escape for a while. Our destinations may change often, but one thing never does - our budget mindset. We are constantly working to save money on a day to day basis and we extend this into our travel as well. You don't have to break the bank just because you're on vacation. That's why we're sharing a few of our budget travel tips with you today.

Make a plan.
There is something to be said for planning out some of the details of your trip in advance. You don't have to plan every detail but doing a little advanced research and planning can help you save money. It can also help you determine what's most important on your list of things to see.

Book in advance. 
I recommend booking hotel rooms, travel, and attractions in advance. You can often save money by busing the tickets before you arrive. For hotel rooms and travel, I recommend going through a discount site to see what sort of deals you can get. (We're fans of Travelocity.)

Look for coupons and special deals.
We're not big couponers but I will search out coupons and good deals for a vacation. This one goes back to planning in advance since it will give you the time to find these special deals. If you're a military family like us, I also recommend looking into military discounts for your trip. Many places offer special deals for our men and women in uniform. 

Search for free attractions. 
Most travel destinations are loaded with paid experiences. This can very easily break the bank if you try to do them all. I recommend checking into some of the free attractions for an area. By creating a balance between free and paid experiences, you'll save some money but still get to enjoy the area. 

Get recommendations before you travel.
Recommendations from friends and family can help you narrow down the best attractions in an area. I highly recommend polling your friends list to see who has visited your destination and what they recommend for activities and food. This is also a great way to find something off the beaten path. 

What's your favorite budget tip for travel? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

One of the perks of cohosting #LoveBlog is getting to share giveaways with you and introduce you to other great bloggers out there. You can check out the giveaway and cohost details below before linking up your own travel post!

Enter the Minted Giveaway!

Minted is giving away $150 in store credit! That could buy a lot of party invitations, or home decor, or whatever your creative heart desires. To enter the giveaway, just provide your first name, last name, and email address at the giveaway page on Minted. Due to promotional laws, this giveaway will only be open to U.S. residents. The giveaway starts today, 02/22/2017, and will run until 11:59 pm PT on 03/01/2017. When it ends, Minted will randomly draw one winner and send their $150 prize code via email. Enter the Minted giveaway now!

About Today's Hosts

Brita Long is the pink and sparkly personality behind the Christian feminist lifestyle blog, Belle Brita. While her first love will always be Paris, she lives happily with her husband Daniel Fleck in the Atlanta area.

Pam is one half of the duo behind The Coastie Couple, a blog that chronicles the military lifestyle through the eyes of a husband and wife. The Coastie Couple recently moved from California to Michigan and are expecting their first son this month.

Ady is the founder of Verbal Gold Blog, a Global lifestyle and travel blog she runs with her best friends, the #VGBsquad! She lives in Atlanta with her husband and two dogs, a pitbull boxer mix and yellow lab, with goals to travel the world! She loves all things gold, confetti, and glitter. Roll Tide!

Caitlin is a twenty-something southern belle currently living in Atlanta, Georgia. Despite working full-time in PR, she spends every spare moment traveling around the South and the world, and capturing the sights. She's all about leaving a little Southern charm wherever she goes.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

He Said, She Said: Ohh Sash

Today we're excited to bring you another installment of He Said, She Said! This week, we're featuring a fellow military spouse that is also pursuing her dreams in Early Childhood Education. It's always finding new people and finding out that you have things in common!

Don't forget that you can catch updates of our lives lately on Instagram.

What is the story behind how you two met?

He said: I made up a story to go all the way to Brooklyn to meet her. I showed up at her house, we hung out, talked for hours and then we went out on our first date New Years Day. I ended up asking her to be my girlfriend right before I left to go back to Hawaii.

She said: We were friends on Facebook thanks to a mutual friend. We were always tagged on posts, so we started talking a little more frequently. We met on December 31 of 2010, and I remember squealing and running back inside because I was a little more excited than I thought I would be.

How long have you been together?

He said: A little over six years now.

She said: Too long? Lol. Six Years.

When did you know that your spouse was “the one”?

He said: About a month later during our Skype sessions.

She said: I can’t pinpoint when I knew. It was just a feeling. It felt right. It was like we knew each other for the longest time. We got to know each other, we spent time (the little time we did have), and we put a lot of effort into what we had, what was growing and where we wanted to be.

What is your favorite TV show and/or movie to watch together?

He said: Uhhh. Well, apparently she doesn’t like to watch The Walking Dead anymore. We like Once Upon a Time, This is Us, we like Sleepy Hollow.

She said: We have a bunch of shows that we make a point to watch together. We end up doing a lot of Netflix and DVR sessions because he happened to be away when all of our shows came back. We are all caught up on Once Upon A Time, The Walking Dead, and Sleepy Hollow. Up next is This is Us, and we’ll watch Game of Thrones to make him happy ;)

What is your spouse’s favorite food? What is your favorite food?

He said: Her favorite food is all of it. My favorite food is Italian.

She said: Italian. Hands down. He can always go for a sub or a really good burger, too. Me? Tacos, Pasta, and Spanish Food – pork chops and rice and beans are TO DIE FOR.

What is your favorite thing to do as a couple?

He said: Uh. Relax? Go to Target; I don’t know.

She said: Lately, apparently, it’s been cleaning. Uh, we’re pretty simple. Give us a goal and/or an idea, and we’re pretty much on it.

If the house caught on fire right now, what would be the first thing you grabbed?

He said: My phone.

She said: The first “thing” would be our photo books or laptop. It has every single picture, memory, and story.

If money were no object, where would you take your spouse for a week?

He said: Tahiti.

She said: Italy. I know he’s “been there, ” but he’s dying to go visit and be a tourist. I know it would make him super happy.

Describe the perfect date night with your spouse.

He said: A couples massage for two after a chiropractor visit, wings, and beer.

She said: Pizza, PJ’s, and TV. We’re pretty simple, routine and it defines how we are. We are perfectly content being in each other’s presence and spending quality time. Anything else would require jeans and shoes, and we leave that for days where we are up to it. Seriously speaking? Probably a sushi date at our favorite restaurant followed by or following a movie, target walk around or something semi – outdoorsy. I don’t do outdoors.

Describe your spouse in just three words.

He said: Beautiful, tiny, smart.

She said: sincere, strong, dedicated.

About the Author

Sasha is a military wife and first-time mom currently living in Maryland. She is pursuing her dreams in Early Childhood Education while writing about everything relating motherhood, marriage and all that is in between. She’s addicted to Law and Order: SVU and quite literally runs on Dunkin’.

You can usually find her chatting away on Twitter (@OhhSash) or writing on Ohh Sash.