January 15, 2018

Survival Tips for New and Pregnant Military Moms

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of 1 Natural Way, a TRICARE breast pump provider. All opinions are entirely my own.

I’m a military wife, mom of three and my husband and I have PCS’d three times while pregnant. When it comes to having babies in the military, I consider myself to be highly experienced! I’m going to give you some of the top insights I learned (sometimes the hard way) over the last few years.

1) Choose Your Coverage – On-Base or Off?

Not all military hospitals are created equal. The first thing you need to do when that pregnancy test shows a plus sign is figure out if you want to have your pregnancy monitored on or off base. If you are at a really small or even a medium-sized base, there may be no on-base option. If this is the case, you can stay on TriCare Prime (the free insurance) and go to any off-base facility that takes your insurance. If you do have the option of staying on base—ask the hospital for details on care. What happens if your delivery turns into an emergency or if your child needs NICU time—do they have the capability to handle things of this nature? Then, ask around for opinions. Facebook groups are your friend! If you don’t have many friends locally, or perhaps you are brand new to your base or post, there are typically unofficial “wives” groups for every installment. Ask for other’s experiences before making a decision. Once your decision is made, if you decide to go off base, contact TriCare to get your insurance switched to TriCare Standard and you can typically schedule an appointment with your selected provider right away.

2) Take Advantage of Freebies

There are some perks to being a military family, which include discounts and freebies!

Military hospitals often offer a wide range of free pregnancy and parenting classes you can take before your baby arrives. Check with Women’s Health to inquire.

Don’t pay for baby items you can get for free. Did you know you can get a free breast pump through 1 Natural Way? This company offers the popular Medela, Spectra and Kiinde brands, as well as accessories and other postpartum care supplies. All breast pumps are covered under your TriCare insurance plan and are completely free. Fill out this short form and 1 Natural Way will take care of contacting your physician and TriCare for you!

Want to discover more freebies? Here are nine organizations that offer free services and goodies to expecting military moms.

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3) Tips If You Are PCSing During Pregnancy

As I mentioned before, we PCS’d three times during pregnancy. It’s not easy, but if you do these couple of things, you will get through. First, do your research for your new base well in advance to moving day. Again, ask a friend, find the “wives” Facebook page for your new location or perhaps your squadron has their own Facebook group and get the details about on and off base care. Try to set up an appointment at your next location before you leave. If you are going on base, this is relatively easy. If you are going off base, contact TriCare and ask what you need to do to set up your first appointment at your next location.

Second, let your current doctor know that you are moving and that at your final appointment you will need all of your records. I say this because, in my experience, records can sometimes take a few days. Sign the release forms and have those records in hand before your movers arrive and keep them with you so you are not searching for them in one of your many packing boxes.

Third, have a baby shower before you move! It may seem like just another thing to add to your already full pre-PCSing plate, but if a friend is offering, just say yes. But again, don’t register for things like Tricare breast pumps that you can get for free.

4) Find Your Community

One of the most valuable lessons my parents taught me growing up was how to make friends. This is crucial when you are a military spouse, even more so when you are a pregnant or a new military mom; you need friends, you need help.

I have found the military community to be incredibly welcoming because we are all in the same boat—we are all living in unfamiliar places away from family. So, put yourself out there.

Join service clubs, take classes on base, try out some churches, go to the parks by your home or on base, take classes at the gym, just get out. If you aren’t meeting people naturally, get online. There are often sub-specialty Facebook groups (at our current base I’m in a military medical spouse group) post a picture of yourself, list your interests, tell which area of town you live in and how many kids you have. Just say that you’re hoping to make friends- there’s no shame because we have all been there.

Build your local family, because you will need them.

5) If Your Spouse is Deployed

My husband has not been deployed, but I asked my closest friends whose husbands have been on multiple deployments while either pregnant or having a brand new baby at home. Here’s the summary of their advice: grace and friends.

You cannot get done what you normally get done at home with two adults when you’re suddenly down to one, period. That’s okay, give yourself grace. When friends offer to help, say yes. I’ll say it again when friends offer to help, say yes.

The deployment will be on you, but when someone offers to lighten your load a bit, let them. Also, if your spouse is deployed during the pregnancy, they may need a special POA to handle all things baby related, contact your JAG office to inquire.

6) When Baby Arrives

Actually, before baby arrives, select a pediatrician. We have had good and bad experiences with on-base pediatric clinics. The bad experiences have been due to poor access to care. Ask around to see if it’s easy or difficult to secure an appointment.

Also, when the baby arrives, enroll that sweet bundle in DEERS right away and choose either standard or prime insurance.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of 1 Natural Way. All opinions are entirely my own.

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January 9, 2018

This One Hack Will Revolutionize Your Parenting/Work Balance

tip parenting work life balance stay at home mom working mom work from home mom wake up earlyThis parenting blog post is about tips to achieve a better work-life balance. Tips working parents.

I started a habit about two or more years ago that has revolutionized my stay-at-home-mom/part-time-work-from-home life.

I started setting my alarm two hours before my kids (mostly) woke up, no matter what I had going on the next day. Wait! Before you click out of this article, hear me out.

This one habit has been a game-changer in my life. Period.

In the last two years I have played all of the following roles, at certain points I played all of them at the same time: stay-at-home-mom, contract public relations worker, master’s degree student, I was the communications director for the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network, a singer at church, I also run this blog and corresponding social media sites.

I have three children, one of my sons has special needs and requires therapy multiple times a week and my other son has health complications, so I am constantly at appointments.

How do you do it all? Is a question I get a lot. Here’s the answer: I wake up at 5 a.m.

When I was a new stay-at-home-mom I let my baby be my alarm clock. Unless you are in the sleep-deprived newborn phase- I just don’t think this is the best way to start the day.

I have a whole day of being at the kid’s disposals in front of me, so now I guarantee myself some time alone before the day really begins.

Here’s what waking up at 5 a.m. ultimately gets me—more time with family. By waking up at 5 a.m., I can be done with work before the evening rolls around. Which means I can have a glass of wine with my husband and truly relax with him at the end of the day.

Here’s what it also gets me: I start my day off feeling whole and not rushed.

With three kids under five-years-old, I find it crucial to have my mind awake and my heart grounded before being pulled in a hundred different directions. When I give into the temptation to hit the snooze button, my patience with the kids automatically becomes thinner. 

There’s a lot of unpredictability, with kids, especially really tiny ones, but I can count at a minimum the first hour, or a full two, of my day to be mine and mine alone.

A morning news anchor gave me this little piece of wisdom several years back—getting out of bed is hard whether it’s at 7 a.m. or 2 a.m. It’s just hard. So, why not give yourself the extra time to do some things you really want to do?

No single schedule works for everyone, I get that. Some get their best work done at night; I get that too. This works for me because I don’t have to sacrifice time with my husband to get my work in. He also wakes up even earlier than I do, so he can go to the gym without it cutting into our evening family time. Which is something I may also have to start doing with my current list of goals.

So, if you’re looking to have more time to yourself in 2018, or to be more productive, or both, set your alarm two or maybe even three hours (I’m seriously considering it) before you need to. Try it for a week or two and see if this habit works for you! I think it’s smart, I think it’s self-care, I think it’s a New Year’s Resolution that may actually stick.

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By the way, here’s what a typical weekday of mine looks like. Of course, this doesn’t account for unexpected interruptions…which happen every single day, but here’s what a day loosely resembles:

5:05- I’m on the couch with coffee and reading my bible

5:30- Either working on a blog, PR piece, school or working out

6 :00- Either keep working OR Quick shower

6:30ish- Baby typically wakes up

7:00- All kids are usually up, start getting breakfast together

7:15- Let the kids eat breakfast in front of Sesame Street, get dressed (or stay in work out clothes and get more work in)

7:40- Get kids dressed

8:20-12:30- Out for preschool, doctor appointments, a fun activity, etc. I often get additional work done in these hours by taking the kids to childcare at the gym.

12:30- Lunch at home with the kids

1:30- Toddler goes down for a nap, I do some activity with my four-year-old

2ish- I work, four-year-old gets iPad time, does puzzles, magnet tiles, plays with baby brother, etc.

4:00- Toddler wakes up, turn on TV

4:30- Start dinner while kids either play or watch another show- depending on their moods.

5:15- Eat Dinner

6:00- Baths

6:30- Dance Party

6:45- Read Books

7- Start putting kids in bed

7:30-8- Husband I tag team picking up the house

8:00-9 or 9:30- Husband and I spend time together

9:30- Bed


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January 8, 2018

To my Son with Down Syndrome on Your Third Birthday


Dear Anderson,

Your father and I spent the morning of your third birthday crying on the hallway floor. I know this sounds confusing, so let me explain the words that didn’t need to be spoken between us that morning.

We were crying, because of how deeply you have changed who we are in the last three years. We were crying because these years have often been hard. We were crying because we are so completely in love with you and all that you are.

Dear son, I’m crying as I write this now. You bring out the best in me, the best in us, the best in those around you.

Yes, your Down syndrome diagnosis makes things harder for us at times, harder for you at times. I won’t deny that fact like I used to. The Sesame Street shirt you wore at your party read, “Easy As 1,2,3”, but getting to where you are, where we are, has not been easy. But it has been good.

I’ve realized that an easy life does not mean a good life. A good life is one full of love and purpose. You have given us both.

My love for you has fierceness beyond what I can humanly describe. I love you when you’re trying with all your might to complete an obstacle course in physical therapy, I love your mischievous grin you have when you’re doing something you’re not supposed to, which is often, I love you when you give kisses to total strangers, I love you when you bring your baby brother toys, I love your infectious excitement that exudes from your veins every single day, I love that you have an empathy that surpasses most adults at the age of three.

You’re about to start public school. Things are getting more real. You aren’t a baby anymore. Advocating will have to be more than from behind a computer screen. I’m ready to fight for you. I will always fight for you.

When people say you don’t belong, I will be in your corner as you show them how wrong they are. When people say you or others with Down syndrome shouldn’t exist, I will share your life with them. Whatever battle comes your way, I will be there to fight for you until you can fight for yourself. But no matter how grown, how capable you become, I will always be a fellow soldier by your side.

I love everything about you. Thank you for being you. Thank you, God, for giving me this adventure I never knew I wanted. Thank you, God.

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