Baby Love Pinterest Inspiration.

Babies.

Apparently pinning baby stuff on Pinterest gets people talking…

I didn’t quite realize this until I went back East a couple weeks ago and was bombarded with a ton of baby questions. So, I figured I’d address these questions to the masses on here – NO, I am not pregnant. I just happen to love pinning baby stuff!

Time to calm down people… I don’t ask you if you are getting married just because I see your wedding board! Or if you’re trying to lose weight because I saw you pin a weight loss regimen! 😉

Anywho, I put a little collage together of how I imagine Baby Draper’s nursery when he or she does decide to join our family in this crazy world! These are all pins you can find on my Dreaming board on Pinterest.

Since I have always loved maps and would really like to be surprised with the sex of Baby Draper, having a map room would allow me to create a beautiful gender-neutral nursery! These are just a few of the pins I’ve been inspired by…

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So, mamas to be, how are you decorating the nursery for your lil’ one?  P.S. It’s nice to be back on the blog! I’m finally on break from school. Yippee!3name

How to Make a Care Package + Some Cute Ideas!

Hello! This post is all about care packages and what you’ll need!

These were seriously so fun to make and I loved putting them together for Taylor. I would try to make them as great as I could and would put a personal touch on all of them to make them special for him!

Care packages can be anywhere from really basic to really extravagant. Because I was a full time student, whenever I had a chance to send a package I would always try to make it as extravagant as I could.

Care packages took exactly a week if not a day or two less to make it to Afghanistan from Reno, Nevada. The best thing to do to find out how long your packages will take is to go to your local post office and ask them!

Things you will need from the post office: 

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Care Package and the white forms.

All these items are absolutely free! 

You will need to get a large flat rate box. When I was sending care packages they were $16 and because I was sending it to an APO address (overseas military base, which could also be FPO or DPO) I was given $2 off—score! You can fit a lot in a large flat rate box so don’t be fooled by how small it may appear. The only thing you have to make sure of is that your box is not over 50 pounds. Once it bounces over 50 pounds they will ask you to take some stuff out of the box. Then you can decide whether you want to pack it in another box, or just wait to send it in the next care package. However, it is hard to reach that 50 mark. I think the heaviest one of mine was almost 20 pounds and that was because I packed a cake in a Kerr jar.

* The address label to stick on the box. The first time I sent a care package Taylor’s mom and I didn’t get this sticker and they just gave it to us when we brought the package to the post office, but the next couple times I sent a care package I asked if I could have the sticker. I liked getting it all done before getting to the post office to save time.

* You will also need to get the white customs forms. To make sure you get the right forms just ask them for the ones that are for sending care packages to your deployed significant other. I always had them give me a lot of these forms because you have to list every item that you are packing in the care package along with how much it weighs. These forms take a lot of time to fill out, so I would always do them before going to the post office.

The first time I tried to fill out this form with Taylor’s mom, she and I were reading the instructions that come with the form and we were completely confused on how to put in the address because it is different than a normal address. The link below will take you to the website that specifically shows you how to fill it out. This was a huge help for me and cleared up all the confusion I had!

http://www.skipcares.org/228/care-packages/customs-form/

When you take care packages to the post office they will weigh them and go through everything in your form to make sure you are not sending anything you are not supposed to like weapons and alcohol. So it takes some time. This is why I like to have all the forms and the sticker for the front of the care package filled out before even getting to the post office. There is also less room for error if you take the time to do them at home.

Taylor’s Care Packages 

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Valentine’s Day Care Package!

The first care package Taylor’s mom and I sent to him wasn’t until we knew he was in Afghanistan. We waited until he told us that he was there because we didn’t want the package to beat him there. Your significant other deploys on a certain date, but that does not mean they will be to the base they are going to overseas that day. It takes a few days for them to actually get there. So wait to send anything until you know for a fact they are there.

We really didn’t send much of anything in this first care package…because we really didn’t know what to send. So, we sent him his favorite candy, snacks, magazines and a roll of Copenhagen. Tobacco products are more expensive overseas and they are not good quality, so if your significant other smokes or chews you may want to consider sending them a couple packs, or a roll in every care package you send. I never really had to worry about this because his parents would send him care packages and his dad would always make sure to pack a roll of Copenhagen, so I would just send a can or two in mine.

The second care package I sent was a Valentines Day themed package. I did the 14 days of Valentines Day and had a present for every day leading up to February 14th.  I wrote a letter explaining that he was allowed to open one present every day and I numbered each present so he knew what order to open them in. Then there was a letter to go with every gift, which explained why I got him the gift and then wrote something cute and cheesy about the gift and what it represented in our relationship. There were 14 presents and 14 letters. The first present I had him open was homemade Rice Krispies, which sent really well! I got a Ziplock tupperware from Walmart that I wouldn’t care if he just threw away in Afghanistan. I got one that was small enough to fit in the large flat rate box, but big enough to fit enough Rice Krispies in. I then put a sheet of wax paper between each layer of Rice Krispies and Taylor said they were still perfect and chewy by the time they got to him, which I was glad to hear because I was not sure how well they were going to send.

I also sent him a can of Copenhagen, gum, a hand warmer, Chapstick, a blender ball (which he wanted to mix his workout shakes), toothbrushes, peanut m&m’s, Kit Kats, an iPod charger, and his big Valentines present was a photo book I made on Shutterfly of every year leading up to the day he deployed. I combined all of our best pictures from each year into a book and wrote little blurbs about every year. It turned out really great and it was something I knew he would really enjoy. There were other presents too, but I just can’t remember them all!

The next and final care package I sent him was his birthday one. Taylor turned 21 in Afghanistan and I wanted to make sure it was as special as possible. He had about a month left there and so I wanted to send things that I knew he would like and be able to use or eat in that time. I sent him cashews, almonds, beef jerky, pop tarts, peanut m&m’s, Copenhagen, buffalo wing pretzels, birthday cake Oreos, and some other snacks. Then I also made him a cake in a jar, which is super easy and sends really well! I saw it on Pinterest and made one for a friend for her birthday and knew it could be something I could send Taylor in a care package.

The link on how to make a cake in a jar is below:

http://www.babble.com/best-recipes/rainbow-cake-in-a-jar/

You don’t have to make it a rainbow cake you can use whatever kind of cake you want! Then I didn’t send frosting, but if you wanted to I would recommend buying the frosting in those small tubs at the store and packing one of those.

Decorating the Inside of Care Packages: 

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Taylor’s Birthday Care Package!

Taylor’s mom and I did not decorate the inside of his first box, but after seeing all the neat things people have done with care packages on Pinterest I knew that I wanted to do something more on the next ones I sent.

In his Valentines Day box, I wrapped all the presents in red wrapping paper and then bought stickers, tissue paper and construction paper to decorate the inside of the box. I also printed out some pictures, which I just scotch taped to the inside of the box because I knew that Taylor would want to keep them, but not the whole box.

I did the same thing for his birthday box and bought birthday decorations to decorate the box. I also bought a bag of confetti and pretty much confetti blasted the box, but he thought it was fun and I was glad because I wanted him to feel like it was his birthday. Then instead of wrapping everything in this box, I just put tissue paper in the little to no space that was left.

The best place to buy decorations for care packages is Dollar Tree or whatever dollar store you have in your area. These decorations do not have to be top notch. Your significant other is going to get the care package, take all the goodies out of it and then  throw the box away, so don’t waste your money on the things you don’t have to. Buying cheap tissue paper, stickers and confetti allowed me to be able to buy him more goodies for his care packages.

Care Package Wrap Up

I really thought that I was going to go off of what I had seen on Pinterest, which by the way is an awesome place to start! However, I ended up really getting creative and making each box have a little personal touch of my own. You are sending these to your significant other, so use Pinterest to get some ideas and then put your own creative, personal spin on them!

As far as knowing what to pack you really need to ask your significant other what things they would like to have. Taylor’s mom would send him lots of candy, so he always asked me for more snack type foods, which is why I started sending him almonds, pop tarts, jerky and cashews. Then his dad sent him tuna packets, which he really liked just in case there was a day or night he didn’t feel like going to get food. Snacks like those are perfect to send!

You can also send things like shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and deodorant. It is really all up to your significant other’s preference. Taylor was fine with just running and getting that stuff on base, so I never really had to send anything like that….except toothbrushes because he complained about how terrible the ones were that they sold there, so I sent him some nice Oral-B ones.

Some other good ideas are things like iTunes and Amazon gift cards, or other cards they can use to buy things online while they are overseas. Because hey have Wi-Fi they are able to shop online and have things delivered to them. So, if you have family or friends who want to send them something, but don’t know what have them get them gift cards for iTunes, Amazon, or even regular Visa gift cards that they can use to purchase things online.

Care Packages from Tay

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St. Patrick’s Day cake pops Taylor sent me!

You are not the only one who can send things. Your significant other can order things online, or buy you things at the base they are stationed at that they can send you. While Taylor was deployed I got a few packages from him. He bought me a pair of Dre Beat ear buds that he found on base and mailed to me. He sent me a quilted deployment heart wreath along with a bouquet of flowers for Valentines Day. Then for St. Patrick’s Day he sent me some cake pops. It was really neat to get things from him as well because it felt even more like we were really connected even though we were a whole world apart.

Kaitlin

Deployment Communication

Hello again all!

Oh how I am so very excited for this post!! Communication is so important during a deployment. For Taylor and I, we are used to making sure we call and Skype each other as much as we can. So making sure this continued throughout his deployment was not that big of a change for us. However, for those of you who live with your significant other you may have a harder time adjusting. So I hope these helpful tips can make it as easy for you as possible!

communicationOnce your significant other is out of the United States their phone will not work unless they go to their service provider and pay for overseas service. Know that this is expensive and so NOT worth it with the other technology available to us today.

They have access to Wi-Fi overseas, so communicating is not as hard as it may seem. They can use every mean of social media and video chatting available and even play certain app games with you like Words with Friends or Draw Something.

*Understand the Time Difference*

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The flowers I got for Valentines Day and the Skype date we had.

There is quite a big time difference between places overseas and the United States. This is one of the first things I wanted to figure out, so I knew how different our days would be. There is a 12 and a half hour difference between Nevada and Bagram, which was quite the difference. However, it worked out pretty great for us because Taylor would be going to work right as I was getting into bed.

Once you find out where your significant other will be overseas figure out what the time difference is going to be. It will make communicating easier if you know what time it is there in relation to what time it is where you are.

callsHere is where you will need to look at apps before your significant other leaves. The one that I heard is the best is called Viber. However, this app needs to be downloaded in the United States and Taylor and I didn’t find out about it until he was already in Afghanistan. So he downloaded an app called Magic Jack that gave him a new number while he was deployed, which allowed him to call me. I did not need the app for it to work. He would just call my regular phone number from a different number that the app gave him and we would be able to talk on the phone. Because it was a random number I saved it in my contacts as Taylor Desert. He would call me whenever he had a chance. I normally never called him, but that is because I was never sure if he was sleeping or working because of the time difference!

Both of these calling apps are absolutely free and will not affect either of your cell phone bills.

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The first night we were able to Skype!

Whatever your means of video chatting is, it is important to see your airman face to face while they are there—it always made me feel better. I would think that messenger and the calls were enough, but there was nothing like the feeling I would get after seeing him on Skype! For those of you who do not have iPhones with FaceTime there is a Skype app, which is what Taylor and I used because he had a Droid. It was nice to have Skype on the go, so that he could be apart of things he thought he would miss. One night I was at a basketball game with his mom watching his sisters cheer and because I had Skype on my phone he was able to get to see them cheer for a while. It meant a lot to him and even more to his sisters!

Be sure to make time to video chat with your significant other while they are deployed because it will make both of you feel so much better just to see each other’s face!

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Facebook is a great way for family and friends to communicate with your significant other. Taylor’s parents and sisters would write on his wall, along with my family and his friends. Then his grandma would write him a note on his wall every single night. It is a really good way for those who don’t get to talk with him on the phone, to communicate with him. He was busy and when he would get a chance to call it was not for a long period of time, so he would just call me and update me on his day and would message me whenever he would have Wi-Fi. So, for his family and friends who did not have that communication with him his Facebook page was a good place to get a hold of him because he would comment back whenever he would have a chance.

Facebook Messenger: Taylor and I used Facebook messenger as our texting. We both downloaded the messenger app to our phones so we didn’t have to go to Facebook every time we had a message from one another. I would get good morning and good night messages from him and we would message throughout the day about what we were up to and how each other’s days were going. We totally used it just like we do texting and that was our daily means of communication. It was really nice to have because even if we didn’t get a chance to Skype or talk over the phone we were still able to talk to each other through messenger every single day he was deployed. It was really nice to have and something I strongly recommend!

lettersI did not send a lot of letters like I thought I was going to. I bought a notebook and pens with the intention of writing a letter every day, but they took so long to get there.

Taylor’s address was in his deployment packet, so the day he told me he was in Afghanistan I sent a letter. Then the very next day I went to his house and his mom and I put together a care package and sent it. The care package got there a week from the day we sent it and the letter was there 4-5 days later. Because letters took so long to get there I got discouraged and was really bad at sending them. I also felt very spoiled by messenger because I had a way to talk to him everyday making writing letters difficult because I didn’t know what to write that I hadn’t already told him. So, I did not send a lot of letters, but it is still a really personal way to communicate and they are neat to have and keep forever.

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His Birthday Care Package!

Care packages can be anywhere from really basic to really extravagant. Because I was a full time student, whenever I had a chance to send a package I would always try to make it as extravagant as I could.

Care packages took exactly a week if not a day or two less to make it to Afghanistan from Reno, Nevada. The best thing to do to find out how long your packages will take is to go to your local post office and ask them!

Tomorrow will be a post on what you’ll need from the post office, plus some ideas to get you started!

So there you have it! These are the basics to communicating with your significant other while they are deployed and the different ways it is possible. Like I said for those of you who are already in a long distance relationship this will not be too different from what you have already been doing. Don’t get me wrong it is still hard. I was not used to having to wait to get a hold of Tay because he was sleeping while I was up, or because he was on the flight line with no Wi-Fi. It was weird not being able to call or message him at any hour of the day and have him answer or reply right away. Sometimes it would be hours before I would hear back from him, but it is something that I got used to.

If you have been living with your significant other and have been able to see and talk to them everyday then this will definitely be a little more difficult for you to get used to. Just remember that it is not forever, it is just temporary and that if you make sure to communicate as much as possible then the time will fly by and before you know it they will be back in your arms again!

Communication is so important because it really makes you feel less like you are a whole world apart from your airman. It will help you get through everyday if you get those good morning and good night messages from them, hear their voice and see their face. It will also help them! Don’t let the fact that the communication is different stop you from taking advantage of all the great ways of staying connected we have now!

Next week will be my last full post in this series and will be one of my favorites because it is all about the day Taylor came home! I will go over what needs to be done before, the day of and the days after your airman returns home!

Until then!

Kaitlin

A Great Escape – Army Marriage Retreat and Tulip Festival!

A Weekend Trip.

More pictures of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival below!

More pictures of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival below!

There’s something to be said about a spontaneous weekend trip. They are random, and fun, and stress-free. So when Blair’s platoon sergeant asked him if we wanted to fill in a couple’s spot at last weekend’s marriage retreat, we jumped on the opportunity to go!

The retreat was in Bellevue, Washington – an hour North of Fort Lewis and right next to Seattle. Our hotel room was a suite with a main room, great bathroom and HUGE king bed. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were provided. And the chaplain did a great job teaching the marriage course “Couple Links”. While the classes were something completely out of our comfort zones,  we ended up loving it and feeling even closer by the end of the weekend.

So extremely blessed to have the opportunity to go – even if it was planned at last minute! Thank you, Army! 🙂

After classes, we had the chance to go out on our own. We ended up going to downtown Bellevue and seeing Place Beyond The Pines (GO SEE THIS MOVIE RIGHT NOW! – Seriously, it was so good!) and driving another hour North to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in the Tulip Town Mt. Vernon.

If you’re in the Army or Air Force or a civilian or just in the area this next week, take the time to go see these magical tulip fields. They are jaw-dropping and beyond stunning. Now I might be biased – tulips are my favorite – but it is one of many truly unique festivals that the beautiful Pacific Northwest has.

Jump on the chance to go see the fields soon though – the festival ends on April 30th! You and your family won’t regret it!

Lauren

P.S. Active Duty Military entry tickets to Tulip Town are only $4 a person!

P.S.S. I’ve been getting a lot of messages from fellow wives making the move up to JBLM here soon, so we have decided to do a month of PCS blog posts to happen in the month of May to help you all out! We’re excited – stay tuned!! And message me any questions you have at therealsweetheartblog@gmail.com!

Our First Year Captured

A Year.

A month from today, Blair and I have officially been married for a year. It blows my mind how quickly it’s gone by – let only how fast the last six years have flown by! So to remember our first year together and freeze our time here in Washington, we decided to have our photos taken at the beautiful Tolmie State Park by the talented Marjorie Santiago at Sugar Lilies Photography!

Blair and I have always loved looking at old photos of our parents and grandparents, and I can’t wait to have a huge collection of photos for our kids to look at and ask us about. Marjorie’s photos captured exactly what both of us were looking for. And despite it raining some (no surprise there!) and being very cold outside, she got us to laugh while we stayed snuggled close to each other to keep warm!

Below are just a few of our favorites that we wanted to share with our friends and family around the country. Enjoy!

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Marjorie is one of my all time favorite photographers, as well as someone who has become a good friend here in Washington. She’s everything a great photographer is: talented, friendly, creative and a go getter! But, I’m not going to lie, one of the best things about her is that she is a fellow Army wife! I love supporting fellow Army wives and she is definitely one that is majorly deserving of praise for her hard work and beautiful creations!

If you are in the Fort Lewis area, she’s the gal to go to for photos. She has great prices, creates beautiful photos and is always having awesome promotions (her last one was a free mini session for Easter!). To check out more of her work, visit her site here!

Lauren

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P.S. I asked Marjorie if I could use the photo to the right so I could show everyone what the part of Washington we live in looks like. Washington definitely lives up to their nickname “The Evergreen State” – they are everywhere here!

Tolmie is right by the water, and is a fun place to visit if you are up in Washington too. Such a great state park!

A Fresh Cut – Going Short

Short Hair.

I did it – I cut my hair. And no, I didn’t cry! I figure it will grow back, and since I’ve been letting it grow out for the last few months, it was time for some change.

Enter my inspiration: Julianne Hough and her Safe Haven haircut. *JAW DROP*

It’s seriously chic, edgy and fresh. And it’s exactly what I wanted after walking around with long hair like practically every other girl. I’m not the type to dye my hair over and over, so I’ve always gravitated towards just chopping my locks off. I’ve had long long hair, pixie short hair and styles in between – and I’ve got to say that this is probably one of my favorite haircuts of all time.

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If you are in the Fort Lewis area, definitely head down South to downtown Olympia for your haircut. Lindsey Hammer, a talented sylist at Salon Paixao, gave me this new haircut and I sure do love it!

Lauren

P.S. Here is a before and after of my hair!

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Long hair isn’t always better! 🙂