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.

In Pictures: Our Baby Shower

Today's prompt for #LoveBlog is "celebrate." Someone has been a bit clingy lately making it a hit harder to blog. (Hint: he's 2 weeks old and super attached to mommy.) Therefore, I'm introducing a new kind of post to the blog called "In Pictures." Just as the title suggests, today's post will be done in pictures (with captions). To keep with the theme, I thought I'd share the pictures from my baby shower, which was the last party I attended.

I only have a few photos from our baby shower because we were all too busy enjoying the fun activities that my sister planned. I've shared a few details below along with the pictures.

Guests started by making their prediction about my due date and putting their address on an envelope for thank you cards. 

Then, guests decorated an alphabet block for our little boy. He'll eventually be able to play with them, which is pretty cool! 

We had a nice spread of food that everyone seemed to enjoy.

Party favors were a create your own trail mix bar along with a homemade ornament (couldn't locate a picture of the ornament.)

Homemade trail mix

My sister and brother in law made a mobile for Baby Coastie's room. It doubled as decor.

Game: Pick a baby animal and don't leave it unattended. If you leave it unattended, someone else can take it from you for "bad parenting." The goal is to have the most babies at the end of the game.

Game: Who can shoot a pacifier the furthest with their mouth?

Game: Gift bingo. Everyone filled in the card with what they thought I would open. As I opened gifts, everyone played bingo. This made gift opening so much more fun!

Have you been to a baby shower that you loved? I would love to hear all about it in the comments below!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Setting Boundaries for Your Blog

Today's topic for #LoveBlog is boundaries. We've touched on this topic several times, including in a recent post for #LoveBlog. It's important to set boundaries within your marriage but those boundaries are going to be entirely personal and unique to your marriage. Since setting boundaries is such abpersonal thing, I thought I'd talk about another place where boundaries are important - blogging. So, today, I'm sharing how we set boundaries for our family in the online world.

When I first started blogging, it was a hobby and I never expected anyone to read my posts beyond friends and family. Truth be told, I didn't even expect them to read my posts. As my online presence has grown, so has the need for me to set boundaries. Bringing our son into the world has given me even more reason to set boundaries for our safety and sanity.

Be safe online.

The first step of setting boundaries online is establishing what will keep you safe. For us, this goes back to OPSEC and PERSEC that I talked about the other day. I'm careful about what information I share online - especially when it comes to details of what we're doing and where we are.  I even share photos on Instagram after we've done something.

Determine your off limit topics.

There are certain topics that are off limits for the blog.  Sometimes an item is off limits because it doesn't fit with the theme or purpose of the blog. Other items become off topic because they don't fit with who I am as a person (politics, religion, etc). Others become off limits because they aren't a good match for my career and a blog is public after all.

Establish what personal details you're willing to share.

I didn't realize how much people thought I shared online until we announced our pregnancy. Right after announcing, I had a Facebook friend message me asking how I'd kept it a secret for so long when I "share everything" online. I do share a lot online but I certainly don't share everything. There's a lot (some rather big) of things that didn't get shared in 2016. I pick and choose what I feel is acceptable to share about our little growing family. This is a trend that will continue to shift as our son ages.

Be open with your friends and family or use nicknames.

I sometimes include details about family or friends on the blog. I use nicknames such as Bestie K or Mom when discussing people. I don't feel that it's my place to share too much about the lives of others without their permission.

Every blog is different and therefore the boundaries set for each blog will vary. I'd love to hear about some of the boundaries you have for your blog in the comments below!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Creating a Wish List Instead of Setting Goals

Some of the prompts for #LoveBlog spark an idea for a post right away. Others take a while and I have to simply wait for inspiration to come to me. Today's prompt is one of those that made me wait for inspiration. However, when inspiration finally came, it presented me with the perfect idea. In case you're wondering, today's prompt is "wish" and I'm going to be sharing my thoughts on creating a "wish" list rather than a "goals" list and how it can benefit you.

I've always been a big fan of setting goals. In fact, the goal of becoming a teacher is what kept me on track in school and helped me earn scholarships for college. While long term goals were great for me growing up, I've found that they're a little harder to focus on as an adult because life has so many variables and is rarely predictable - especially as a military family with a newborn.

Even though long term goals seem near impossible to set, I still thrive on the idea of looking to the future and aiming big. I don't see the benefit in setting goals that may or may not be realistic. This is where the concept of a wishlist comes in.

A wish is something you desire. However, unlike a goal, it is something that you have little to no control over. If you don't achieve it, it's not due to effort but often do to other factors. This definition and the unpredictable nature of wishes is what makes them a better fit for our family than long term goals.  (I want to note that we still set goals - they are simply on a smaller scale of one year or less.)

For those dreams that are more long term, I'm proposing the idea of starting a wish list. Much like a goal list, our wish list will help guide us towards the future that we'd like to build. However, the wish list will allow for the flexibility we need as a military family with a highly unpredictable future. (We can't guarantee where we'll be living from year to year - let alone what we'll be doing.)

I'm going to share three items from my wish list below and then I want to encourage you to do the same.

1. I wish to expand our family by at least one more in the future.

2. I wish to establish a successful work from.home lifestyle for the first few years of my children's life.

3. I wish for my son to grow up happy and strong.

What items would make it on to your wish list?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Five Things Your New Baby Actually Needs

Today's prompt for #LoveBlog is wisdom. Many ideas went through my mind for this topic after I agreed to be a cohost for the prompt. I thought about marriage and the lessons I have learned in the past two years. I thought about the many things I have learned from being a military spouse. I thought about our recent move and the many lessons I learned. There were many contenders for topics. Then, our little one arrived before I could even prep this post and I knew exactly what I wanted to write about. We weren't quite ready for his appearance and we definitely didn't have everything set up. It wasn't a big deal though because we did have the things that he really needed as a baby.

A week and a half after having Baby Coastie, his nursery is still in disarray. There are still a pile of wall hangings in the hallway that we need to take care of. And the house is far from perfect. None of this matters though because we have our little one in our arms and we're all healthy. We had the essentials that he needed ready and that's what mattered. I know the many lists out there may say otherwise but there are really only a few things that are truly a necessity for your baby. Today, I'm sharing our top five items that you need to have on hand for the arrival of a little one.

Newborns sleep a lot. This means that they need a place to rest their head when they come home. Of course, everyone has different parenting styles so a bed may look different for different people. You might choose the traditional crib, a bassinet, or a cosleeper of some sort. For us, we opted for a pack and play in our room to start out. He'll eventually move to the crib in his nursery, but for now, he's sleeping with us.

Another thing that babies do a lot is eat. After all, they have a lot of growing to do in those first few years. A baby can't eat the food we eat, so having special food on hand before he's born is important. The type of food you choose is once again up to personal preference. For us, food means breastfeeding so we made sure to have a few accessories on hand (pump, nursing bras, nipple cream, etc). For others, formula may be the good of choice. Make the choice that's best for your family but make sure you have what you need before baby gets home.

The third thing that babies do a lot is create body fluids (poop and pee for those of us not afraid of the words). You're going to need a lot of diapers over the course of time but I would definitely recommend having some newborn and size 1 on hand before baby is born. Nobody wants to make a diaper run in those first few days home. I recommend the different sizes because you never know what's going to work for your baby. This is an area with options once again - disposable or cloth diapers. It's best to make a decision before baby is born so that you're prepared for all those dirty diapers.

Babies need warmth - especially if they're born in the middle of winter like our little one. Make sure you load up on season appropriate clothing for your little one to wear. I say "load up" because babies have a way of making a mess throughout the day. Laundry quickly becomes inevitable. Also don't forget the blankets (of all shapes and sizes) that can also provide your baby with added warmth.

Car Seat
They won't let you leave the hospital without this one which is what makes it a necessity. It's important that you pick out a safe car seat that can keep your baby safe on long trips. If you're car seat is a used one, please make sure you check the expiration date. For us, we went with a new travel system that we hope will be used for this little one and any future additions to the family. Travel systems are nice because they come with a stroller, infant carrier, and car seat base. The infant carrier doubles as a car seat for the baby's first few months of life. Eventually, we'll be looking into a convertible car seat that can grow with him. This wasn't a necessity yet though.

I know I said we were sharing our top five items but I couldn't resist adding this one in. The item your baby needs more than anything else is love and security from his or her parents. Those first few weeks in the real world have got to be scary after all. Provide lots of snuggles and affection to let your little one know that it's all okay.

Do you have a little one in your life? What would you put on your necessity list?

Don't forget to link up with #LoveBlog below!! And if you haven't checked out the other prompts, I highly recommend doing so.  This blogging event lasts through the end of the month.

Before you link up, why don't you check out who's hosting the link up today?

Brita of Belle Brita 

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.

Charlene of Enduring All Things

Charlene is a 20 something wife and fur mamma living in Ohio. She uses her blog, Enduring All Things, to inspire young wives to keep God first and their husbands second in everything they do.

And as if a link-up isn't enough, there's also a giveaway to enter! Best of luck!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Long Distance Relationships: Three Questions to Ask

Today's prompt for #LoveBlog couldn't be more perfect for us. The prompt is "long distance," which is something we have a lot of experience with. As a military family, we have a lot of distance between us and our family and friends. In addition to this distance, we also did a year of long distance dating before getting married. Deciding to give long distance dating a try was not an easy decision for us but it's one that I'm glad we made. Today, I thought I'd share three questions that you should ask yourself before entering into a long distance relationship.

Below are three of the questions I asked myself before deciding to pursue the long distance phase of our relationship. We had to make this decision after 8 months of dating when the husband was reassigned to a ship in California (as far from SC as he could go without leaving the country!). We had been dating long enough to see potential in our relationship but not long enough to know if we could survive the distance.

Will you regret not giving it a go?
This was the most important question that I asked myself. I don't believe in regretting decisions and I often use that as a basis for the decisions I make. For this question, I looked to the future. Could I see myself asking "what would have been" if we didn't try it out? I found the answer to be yes which gave me an indication that we should pursue long distance dating.

What obstacles lie ahead?
This next question was important because it meant I wasn't living with my head in the clouds. I recommend looking at the obstacles you might face before making your decision. Long distance isn't easy and comes with many challenges. While you can't predict them all, you can at least recognize the challenges that lie ahead.

Are you willing to put in the time and effort needed?
This one is a big one. Every relationship takes time and effort to make it successful. Long distance relationships take just a little bit more because you're working with more obstacles. If you're not willing to adjust to a different style of dating, then long distance might not work out for you.

Long distance dating isn't easy but it can be done and it can be successful. It's not a fit for everyone though, which is why I recommend taking your time to make the best decision for you and your relationship before diving headfirst into long distance dating.

Have you ever been in a long distance relationship? We'd love to hear your story in the comments below!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

He Said, She Said: Liz Wilcox

We really hope that you've been enjoying this series as much as we have! It's been the perfect way for us to introduce you to some awesome new people while still spending time with our new baby boy. Have you checked Instagram lately to see how we're doing? In the meantime, I think you'll enjoy these answers from Liz Wilcox and her husband! They genuinely sound perfect for each other!

Oh and Happy Valentine's Day to you!

What is the story behind how you two met?

He said: We met on a blind date. A friend of mine and a friend of Liz's were chatting on Plenty of Fish. When they decided to meet up, Liz's friend wanted to bring a friend along, so Dave brought me. We met at Mcguire’s in Destin, Florida, ate dinner, watched fireworks and spent almost every day together since.

She said: It was Memorial Day weekend. My friend was going on a date with a guy she met online. This guy was in town for a road race and brought his friend along for the weekend. My friend asked me to come along to occupy the 3rd wheel. I said yes, but was not looking forward to it. Her dates were not usually guys I would speak to, but I figured at least it was a night on the town.
We got to the restaurant and I was immediately in love. These two guys looked like fun goofballs! I could tell my date was extremely nervous so I just chatted his ear off the whole night. We watched fireworks that night and he put his hand on my shoulder… then immediately took it off, then rested the hand again. How cute that he was so nervous!
He was the first genuine guy I’d met in a long time and I decided on the drive home that he must be mine.

How long have you been together?

He said: May 26 2013 after our blind date. We have been inseparable since.

She said: We have been together since 2013 but have had to endure many long distance stints. We met in May 2013 and spent 2 months dating before Ed moved to NY while I stayed in Florida. I moved in with his parents after 6 months of being apart, and then 4 weeks later told him we should just get married, that I was tired of being apart. We tied the knot 9 months after meeting and enjoyed another 10 months living in that honeymoon phase. At the end of January 2015, Ed began some rigorous military training on and off for about 5 months, where I’d see him for 1-3 weeks at a time. Then he was sent to Afghanistan for 12 months. We were finally reunited about 6 months ago and never want to be apart again!

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

He said: Instantly. A few days prior I had a dream about my future spouse, and I knew as soon as i met Liz, she was it.

She said: Pretty much the day I met him. I told my mother I was smitten the next day. She said, “Oh dang. He’s the one.” (See question number one)

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

He said: Anything really that we can both get into together. We enjoyed Breaking Bad and also Dexter, Fargo, and a few other shows together.

She said: We have very different tastes but we both seem to like the show Fargo.

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

He said: mine is probably mexican, liz could eat pizza hut every day of her life

She said: Ed’s favorite food? Umm, I don’t know. He likes lots of different foods. Peanut butter and jelly? My favorite food is steak, but I think Ed might say Mountain Dew.

What is your favorite thing to do as a couple?

He said: Workout. We have gotten into a really good workout routine lately and out of all the things we do together, I would say that is it.

She said: Drive around and I talk and he listens.

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

He said: Chelsea

She said: The dog. I’d say my child but I know Ed would grab our daughter and forget the dog.

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

He said: Disney in either France or Japan.

She said: I don’t know what it is called but there is some kind of car race in the desert you can participate in. He talks about it from time to time. I know he’d love it. I think it’s in Moab, Utah.

Describe the perfect date night with your spouse.

He said: After we leave the child with a babysitter, just a quiet dinner, most likely steaks, and chatting. We are pretty boring.

She said: Eat steak and potatoes. Go for a long walk alone without our daughter. Lay in bed and talk and laugh.

Describe your spouse in just three words.

He said: Motivated as hell.

She said: Willing. Able. Forgiving.

About the Author

Liz and Ed are currently in Alabama and live in a 36’ fifth wheel home with their 2 year old daughter, Chelsea. To learn more about their unique way of life, go to www.lizwilcox.com where Liz chronicles their hilarious journey into the world of full-time RV travel and helps others find their road to happiness through heart-centered and personalized online training.

Four Ways to Meet New Friends

Making and keeping friends as a military spouse can be difficult. With constant moves and reassignments, you never know where you're going to be next and as adults, we're not always great at making new friends. It's not as easy as it was when we were kids - you can't find your new best friend in your first class of the day.

Since making friends is much more difficult as an adult, I thought I'd share a few ways that I have made some great friends in my adult years. I'm no expert and I'm certainly not a pro at meeting people and making friends but I can safely say that over the past couple of years, I have managed to build quite the support network that stretches across the country.

Get Involved
My first piece of advice is to get involved in the community where you live. This could be attending a class at the local library or going to a town event. Getting involved will allow you to meet new people who have the same interests as you.

Through an Acquaintance
How often have you heard someone say "oh we met through so and so"? Often times, this is exactly how we meet new people. Invite your friends and acquaintances to do something and encourage them to bring a friend or two. You might be surprised at how well you hit it off with a friend of a friend.

At Work
Work is truly a tricky one when it comes to meeting people. You spend a lot of time there (typically 40 hours a week) so it is certainly a huge part of your life and therefore a great place for meeting people. You might have to be careful about becoming too close to your coworkers depending on your job. If this isn't a concern though, I recommend inviting a coworker or two out for coffee to see if you get along outside of the office.

Having trouble meeting people in person? I recommend seeking out online friends. While you can't grab an actual coffee with a friend, you'd be amazed by the power of a virtual coffee date. Some of my best friends are ones that I met online and talk to daily.

What tips do you have for making friends as an adult? We'd love to hear about them in the comments below!

Linking up with #LoveBlog again today!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Five Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage

Today's prompt for #LoveBlog is counseling. We haven't been to counseling before but I can see how it could be beneficial for a marriage. Since I don't have personal experience with counseling, I thought I'd build off the prompt and share five ways that you can strengthen your marriage. After all, counseling is one way to strengthen your marriage.

Keep in mind that we are not counselors or marriage experts. We are simply two individuals who are happily married and offering a few tips from experience.

Weekly Check In
Schedule a weekly check in where you can discuss how everyone is doing. This could be a family meeting or a date night. It doesn't have to be anything formal - you could even check in for a few minutes before bed.

Have the Tough Conversation
Don't shy away from the tough conversations. If something is bothering you, it's much better to get it out in the open rather than to let it stew.  Air your frustrations with each other in a civil manner and work together to find a solution or compromise.

Set Expectations
Let each other know what you expect in a given situation. This isn't about setting rules - it's about communicating your needs. For example, when the husband was deployed, we set expectations of when I could expect communication from him. While he couldn't control it at all times, we did talk about what we needed from each other during that time apart.

As mentioned above, we don't have personal experience with counseling, but it can be beneficial. If you're having trouble communicating, talking with a counselor could help you work through it. Sometimes a third party can be helpful.

In my opinion, the best way to keep your marriage strong is to actually communicate. Communicate the good. Communicate the bad. Communicating with each other on a daily basis will help keep your marriage strong.

What do you do to keep your marriage strong? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Two Acronyms Every Military Spouse Should Know

Today's prompt for #LoveBlog is secrets. At first I wasn't sure where to go with this prompt since we don't keep secrets in our relationship. Then, I realized that there is one area where "secrets" exist for us and it relates to safety and the military.

My husband's job often takes him into dangerous situations. This is pretty common with the military. It is also why protection of information and "keeping information secret" is important. In fact, there are two phrases that every military family member should know and practice on a daily basis.

This term is short for "Operations Security" and should be practiced at all times by the military member and family members. Military members will have even more practice with this term since they have access to a lot of sensitive information. There are times though when family members have access to information such as deployment start and end dates. In these cases, it's important for family members to keep sensitive information to themselves. It's perfectly okay to say "I don't know" even if you do know the answer. Remember to keep safety in mind at all times.

This term refers to the phrase "Personal Security" and is extremely important for family members. Once again, it is important to think through the information that you are sharing with others. I recommend asking yourself the following question before sharing any information with others (especially on a public social media platform): Could someone use this information to harm my loved ones?

Of all the military acronyms that you'll hear over time, these two are the most important ones since they refer to safety and security. It may feel like you're keeping secrets but that's okay since it's for a good reason. If your friends and family have a hard time understanding this, then you might want to explain the two terms to them. After all, a lot of miscommunication is a result of misunderstanding.