Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thankgiving 2014

Being as this was our last U.S. Thanksgiving for at least two years, we feel so blessed to have had such a good time with family and friends!


The week before we had friends come to Fort Campbell to visit us. We are so blessed that they travelled so far just to see us. The boys were so excited, the absolutely love Tyler and Jenna. Jenna has been my best friend since high school and when Tyler came into her life, it was an instant connection between he and our boys. He is their best friend (other than each other) for sure. They love our children like we do and I hope they know how much they mean to us and our little family. We had a great time while they were here. We went to see Big Hero 6 (such a great movie!). We also spent hours playing Dominoes and Cranium after the boys went to bed at night. A low key weekend, but that's definitely our style. Seeing Jenna have to act out "toaster" in a game like charades and hearing Tyler scream "BREAD ROCKET!" as if it made perfect sense was priceless. You are never living that one down, Tyler! (:




In preparation for moving to South Korea in the dead of winter, I've been "winterizing" my wardrobe a bit. I found this awesome coat at Kohl's. I LOVE it! It's so warm, it's waterproof, and it had a hood with fur.



I also finished the hat for myself that I talked about here.


Thanksgiving in Ohio was great. We spent time with both sides of our family, ate lots of food, and cherished (almost) every moment. Jack barfed on Thanksgiving morning from congestion, I didn't really cherish that.

I didn't take many photos because everyone else was snapping so many, but I did manage to catch Pop-Pop sleeping on the job. Hehe. PS. Boy 2 looked so handsome that day but he promptly stripped his adorable button-down shirt off as soon as he started playing with cousins and got sweaty. And see that jar he's holding? Aunt Michelle let him go to town on some M&Ms. No wonder the boys love family holidays!


The best part of my Thanksgiving came when I was least expecting it. Boy 1 got home from school on Wednesday and I got his folder out of his backpack just like I always do. I immediately felt the tears welling up in my eyes when I opened it and saw what was inside.


At only five years old, he has seen more in this world than some adults have ever seen. And he's about to embark on an even bigger journey. Despite all that he's seen, all that he's been through in his little life, he us thankful for US. How can that be? This little boy is nothing short of a gift from God. He and his brother have been our strength through some very tough times. We thank God every day for them. And yet, at five years old he feels thankful for us. That is amazing. God is so good.







Monday, December 1, 2014

HHG Shipment - Check

Our Household Goods are officially on their way! This is the biggest of two shipments that we have going to Korea. It includes furniture, most of our small kitchen appliances, dishes, extra clothes, and anything else that we won't need immediately upon arrival. We opted to send this shipment two months in advance since it typically takes 2-3 months to arrive (it goes by boat). We would rather be inconvenienced for a bit here in the states rather than be without our stuff for longer than necessary in a new country. We can always borrow from friends here and because it's holiday season, we are traveling and visiting with family a lot anyways.

The hardest part of preparing for this shipment (and the rest) is that we're still living in the house. My strategy for this first shipment worked fairly well so I think I'll use it for UB (Unaccompanied Baggage) and our Storage Shipment as well. Here are some tips I found helpful.

First, get yourself a good organizational app and use it. I recommend Evernote. I have lists for each shipment stored in my Evernote app. I recommend organizing these lists by room. Walk through your house and take note of every single thing and which shipment and where (in what shipment) it's going. I also have serial numbers of our high value electronics and photos of each. I haven't even explored what else I can do with Evernote but I know I can record audio too if I need to in order to take notes later (would be great to utilize during a housing move-out or PCS brief). One more thing about Evernote, it is available for smartphone, iPad, and computer. So I will have access to my notes everywhere.

Designate a certain area or areas in your house for the shipment items to go. A few weeks before our shipment date I cleaned out our downstairs storage closet and my youngest son's bedroom (we moved him in with his brother for the remainder of our time in this house). Then, I started using my lists to gradually put all the HHG items in those two places. Obviously, our furniture could not go the closet. We have two family rooms downstairs so we put all the furniture going in one and the furniture NOT going in the other. Simple. When the movers got here, I was able to just point and say "pack all of this." It made their job easier and it made me worry less that they may pack something they weren't supposed to.

Have something for your children (and pets) to do! If you can, sending them to a friend's house would be best. If not, designate a kids/pet room for the day. The house will be filled with brown paper-wrapped furniture and boxes. It can be overwhelming, and a dangerous place for precious babies! Our boys were in pre-school for half the day, when they came home we sent them to our master bedroom with snacks and the iPad for a movie night afternoon.

Be nice to your movers! We were lucky enough to have great movers. Plan for them to be there the entire day. Offer help/advice where you can. It's your stuff after all, why not do your part to make sure everything gets there safely! If you have original boxes, keep those and provide them, your movers will appreciate it. They will also appreciate coffee, water, Gatorade, snacks, and/or lunch, but those are not required. We didn't have that much stuff this time around so our movers were only here until about 2pm, so we provided them coffee and water but not lunch. When the company comes to do our storage shipment, I imagine it'll take most the day so we'll likely provide chips, fruit, and sub sandwiches for lunch.

Be flexible! Things happen, timelines will change, things will get packed that weren't supposed to, there will be things you didn't plan for, etc. Remember that most things can be borrowed or replaced fairly cheap. Did your movies accidentally get packed? Visit the library. Did your hairbrush end up in the box? Walmart (or if you're already in Korea, I've heard Daiso is a good place to shop!). If your salad bowls got packed? Thinks outside the bowl and use a flower vase. I definitely never would have thought to do that but my husband did!

Lastly, do a big woooooooo saaaaah, have a glass of wine, and relax.
The next shipment will be going out soon enough.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Veggie with a Wedgie

This week, Boy 2 had storybook day at his school. They don't celebrate Halloween, instead they have a day where the children bring their favorite book and dress up as a character from that book. 

So of course, I asked my independent 3-year-old what book he wanted to bring... "the veggie wedgie book!!!"

Of course.
Why am I even surprised.
We had recently checked out this book from the library.

Boy 2 loved it! He thought it was the funniest thing he had ever heard. 

So being the supportive mother I am...
I ordered a copy from Amazon (thank goodness Amazon Prime and 2-day shipping!)

and I crocheted my boy an awesome carrot-top hat... 

and we dressed him up as a carrot with a wedgie

Boy 2, 
I apologize in advance for putting these on display at your high school graduation party and/or in your wedding reception video.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Goals for November

Hi, I'm Kate.
And I love lists. 
So here we go,
my list of goals for November 2014.


1. Have a successful HHG shipment pickup. This is happening in t-minus two-ish weeks. Yikes. Why am I even still sitting here. 

2. Yoga at least 3 times a week. I'd really like to aim for more than that, but 3 times is good.

3. Thanksgiving with family in Ohio. We are really looking forward to this. Must take lots of photos.

4. Keep my A in Calculus III. A lot of my time is consumed by studying but it's worth it, and I love math... most the time (:

5. Dress Boy 2 up as a carrot with a wedgie. I'll leave you to ponder this. TBA.

6. Be available and supportive for my neighbor/good friend. Her husband left for Africa this morning to be a part of the fight against Ebola. Prayers would be much appreciated. 

7. Enjoy my sweet husband! We are both so busy sometimes we forget to just stop and enjoy that we are blessed enough to be together. I love that man.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

This policeman and his police dog wanted to wish everyone a fun and safe Halloween.

Boy 1 had "mismatch day" at school recently. 
Here he is at the bus stop with some friends.
Minion hat, orange polo with a bow tie and an easter sweater vest, baseball pants, Christmas socks, and brown shoes.

Nailed it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Word Vomit Wednesday

Mr. Soldier has been working really long days/nights lately. We always try to count our blessings because he is home with us. But our family loves spending time together so, it hits everyone really hard when daddy is away more than normal. Luna included. Right around dusk, she parks herself at the front door and waits to greet Mr. Soldier as he comes in.

Our first shipment is going out in three weeks. A lot has to be done before then. I texted this photo to a friend and she said "Even your mess is organized!" Guilty as charged. I love organization. At the moment, I'm separating shipments. Everything must be declared into one of five categories:

1. Luggage 
2. Unaccompanied Baggage 
3. Household Goods
4. Storage
5. Donate/Sell
6. Ohio (important/irreplaceable things that we'll leave with family)

The first two have low weight limits so they have to be planned meticulously. So I have to separate those things and then everything else that needs to go to Korea goes in #3: Household Goods. However, Household Goods goes out first. So all this separating has to be done now so we don't forget anything we'll need in Korea. But alas, if we do, we'll find a Daiso (Korean Dollar Store) or an Emart (Korean Walmart) near by and I'm sure we can get what we need. Right, mom? Right, okay (:

I had the opportunity to crochet these super cute hats for a neighbor. She gave birth to twin boys a few months ago and they are going to look so cute for Halloween. We even sized them big enough so they can wear them all winter. Thinking my own boys may need some of these (: Though I've got many projects lined up. Another little of one of my neighbors asked for a pink owl hat specifically, and I think I'll go ahead and make two more for her siblings as well.

And my next "me" project, will be this super cute slouchy beanie.
 I donated (AKA let a co-worker borrow and she never returned) my beloved navy one last spring :( Oh well, must be a sign I needed an updated one. Maybe different buttons, though.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wishlist Wednesday (Travel Edition)

In planning our overseas traveling, my wish list just keeps getting longer. Things I think will make our lives easier, are necessities, or some things are just plain cute! 

First up, I need carry on. One that will allow me to have my hands (mostly) free and NOT a rolling one because I'll be pushing Boy 2 in the stroller. Enter, Vera Bradley. It's washable, no wheels, and it's squishy, so we'll be able to use it as a big pillow for naps in the airports. We have a 8 hour layover in Seattle that we have to stay in the airport for, (military flights make you check in 4-6 hours early). 
Vera Bradley Weekender in Plum Crazy ($98, hoping to buy this on sale!)

And of course my hubby is going to need a carry on too. Well, he already has a small carry-on suitcase, this will be his "personal item".
Merona Men's Canvas Messenger Bag from Target ($18.74)

For my own "personal item", I have been swooning over this bag. It's highly recommended by many frequent international flyers and their go-to for their personal item. There are many color options, but the black looks so classic, I may stick with it or the navy blue color. I hope to find this on ebay for a decent price. If not, I may look into cheaper alternatives.
Longchamp Le Pliage Large Tote via Nordstrom ($145)

Boy 1 already has an iPad Mini & Boy 2 will be receiving one for Christmas so headphones to watch movies and play games are going to be a must for them. I'm sure they would love this design.

Holy Cow: 3 months

Passports picked up? Check.

Household goods, unaccompanied baggage, and storage shipments scheduled? Check.


Things just got real.

One month until our first shipment of household goods gets packed and shipped.
Two months until we move out of our house.
Three months.. and we'll be in Korea.

The end.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

PCS Plans

Just wanted to write a little something about how our PCS experience is going 3-4 months before the jump across the big pond. Everything has been pretty smooth.

We found out we got concurrent travel, meaning the boys and I will travel with Mr. Soldier to Korea (sometimes the family has to follow after the soldier is there and settled, this is called deferred travel).
Concurrent is definitely what we were hoping for! I was worried about making that 14 hour flight with two preschoolers by myself, but now we know that we won't have to worry about that... we'll be flying together as a family!

We also received our hard copy orders! 
This is an important step for military families who are PCSing. Hard copy orders are what we use to schedule the movers, arrange for our car to be shipped, and schedule our flights! Often there are delays with receiving hard copy orders for one reason or another or corrections have to be made, so we are so happy to have them in hand 3-4 months out. 

And today, the boys and I picked up our No-Fee Passports. These are our our official government passports that we will use while traveling on Mr. Soldier's orders to and from Korea. (Any leisure travel we do will require use of our tourist passports instead). I checked and double-checked... and triple-checked all the information to make sure they were correct. Everything looked great. But everyone involved, even the family travel clerk, found Boy 2's photo amusing. 

"Sup, Korea?"

Something else exciting happened recently, Mr. Soldier got promoted! We are all so happy for and proud of him! He's been working at this for a long time.

As of right now we are 3-4 months from leaving the US. Now that we have hard copy orders, I'm it's really starting to hit me. We have started getting rid of things we don't or won't need via yard sales and posting them online. We repainted Boy 1's room back to "Fort Campbell White" (I kid you not, I was told I had to ask for that color in Sherwin Williams). We have started purchasing our luggage. It's  feeling more and more real by the day. I went from feeling like we had all the time in the world so I needed to make sure I wasn't planning too far out... to feeling like I don't have enough time to get everything done. We were recently told we will be flying out sometime between beginning of January and the beginning of February. Tack on PCS leave in Ohio before that and we could be moving out of our current house in December, that's only two months away. Stay calm, Kate, stay calm. 

Mr. Soldier said something yesterday that really resonated with me. We were having sort of a heated discussion about moving plans and details, the usual things you have to figure out. However, the difference between my husband and I... I like to plan for everything and really far in advance, he would rather deal with things one at a time as they happen. Different strokes. Most times we keep each other balanced, but sometimes, in times of stress, we butt heads about decisions. I was pressing him about what his preferences were for a flight date, and leave, and a household goods pick-up date, etc... and I finally said (in a not very nice tone) "What do you wanna do?" and he said 
"I want to get our stuff picked up by the movers, and fly to Korea." 

I had been stressing so much about all these small details that I haven't even realized that it didn't matter all that much. Sometimes I think I'm so used to the Army telling us exactly what to do that when we get a little bit of wiggle room (or they ask for a preference), I get overwhelmed with making the perfect, best, most cohesive decision. 

Mr. Soldier's simple statement brought me back to reality. In the end, it doesn't matter that much when our stuff is picked up, when we fly, when we take leave, etc. We will get to Korea. Our stuff will get there. Sure, it's awesome and smart to make educated decisions, but don't let it drive you crazy. Make sure to enjoy the time you have left in the US with family and friends. You'll have plenty of time to stress about the other stuff when the time comes, I promise!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Three-Year-Old

I've been trying to be a more relaxed parent lately. 
Not that I'm crazy, I let them get dirty I swear!
But, and I'm sure my fellow parents of preschoolers will agree here, it's hard to know when to put your foot down or when to just let it go.

Lately I've been learning to pick my battles;
let my boys make more choices for themselves.
My motto has been, if it's not really hurting anything and/or it can easily be cleaned up, then it's really okay.
Am I right?!

So far it's been saving us some stress, so we're going with it. 

Boy #2 just recently turned three. 
Here's what a typical day looks like for him:

He starts off the day with a little sticker-ing. Honestly, who wouldn't want a Goofy and a Pluto plastered to their face.

Next up after some playtime is picking up big brother from the bus stop... in a puppy costume. He also barked and hopped on all fours all the way there. I drew the line when he asked me to put him on Luna's (our mini schnauzer) leash . Sorry puppy, mommy does not have time for an interview with Child Protective Services today!

He finished up the afternoon with a trip to see the dentist! He loves Dr. Deeds and the ladies in Dr. Deeds office love him. He had them swooning over his dimples and favorite fedora.

Never a dull moment. He keeps me on my toes. That's for sure.

My best friend got hitched!

This girl... I love her. 

And last weekend someone else that loves her almost as much as me, became her husband!

We spent all day Friday and Saturday preparing, which included:

-Getting our nails done.
-Eating too much at Sumburger.
-Discovering that we were overcharged for our nails.
-Picking up a gigantic bucket of teal baby's breath (pictured above).
-Using said baby's breath to assemble bouquets.
-Getting Jenna a spray tan.
-Playing with the spray tan disposable undies.

-Spending hours making sure everything was just how it was supposed to be.

-And then finally having a blast at the gorgeous wedding!

I was one of the bridesmaids and Boys 1 & 2 were the ring bearers, err excuse me, "ring security".

Jenna & Tyler had a beach theme wedding with their colors being gray and teal. It was so pretty. If I was going to do a beach theme wedding, I would have wanted exactly what they had! Wouldn't have changed a thing!

Sneak Peek:
Boy #2, taking a little break. Security is tiring business!

Boy #1 lovin' his job.

Jenna Ellen,

I'm so thankful and lucky to have you in my life. 
You are Tyler are such precious gift for my boys. 
We love you both very much! 
Your wedding was beautiful.
You are beautiful!
Thank you for including us on your big day, we were so happy to be a part of it!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Graduation (a little early)


While I'm REALLY excited we're moving to Korea, I was a little bummed when I realized I would miss my college graduation. I finish my degree in December and I was supposed to walk in my college's May 2015 graduation.


Fort Campbell really came through for me on this occasion. They held a college graduation for students from any (accredited) school, getting any degree, who graduated or are graduating in 2014.
You go, Fort Campbell!

There were eighty of us from 22 different schools. The graduate section was a rainbow of caps and gowns and it was awesome. We were a mixture of soldiers, spouses, military children, and retired veterans. To be a part of a group of people that I know worked long, hard hours for years and years just to achieve this one goal... I honestly got goosebumps. All of us endure a lot of stress but on that day, Wilson theater was only filled with celebration and smiles. 

My mom and dad are both teachers and with it being their first week back to school, neither could make the trip down. But, I sent them this photo the morning of and I'm pretty sure they both got teary, probably my usually straight-faced stepdad too. 

Although my parents couldn't attend, I was so happy to have my sweet husband cheering for me in the audience. I definitely could have never made it to this day without his unwavering support and love.

They even held a reception for all of us afterwards. 
This cake had some weird cappuccino buttercream icing (so they claim) but honestly it tasted like coffee with whiskey in it. Fine with me! hehe

Good job Fort Campbell, do more things like this for families! We appreciate it more than you know. Sometimes when you are the spouse of a soldier (or if you are really familiar with military terms, "a dependent of the sponsor"), you feel like everything you do revolves around them. Everything is ultimately because of them and their career and your family's commitment to the military. Being a mom, same thing. Everything you do, is for your children. 

But this degree, this degree was for me.

So what if it was 6 years after I completed high school.
So what if some assignments were not my best work because I was up all night with a sick baby instead of studying.
So what if I didn't declare a major until 1.5 years in.
So what.

I did it. 
I'm doing it.

And as a result... children will learn what hard work can get you husband will breathe a little easier knowing I will someday have a career that can support our family too.
... my parents will be proud of me (I know you have always been, mom and dad!) 

As for my future plans, 
I'm going on to obtain my Bachelor's in Mathematics/Statistics.
After that I plan to become and actuary, but I'm open to other careers in the field.

Therefore I will not be offended if someone bought me this shirt...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

School Daze

"I am a mom of two preschool boys."
I feel like I just have to keep saying it, and eventually it will sink in.

Boy 2 started first. He had been talking about going to school for months. And then, as with everything in the Army, we had to sit through an an hour long orientation and fill out 15 pages of paperwork the week before he started. After that, he did not want to go back. Great. How do you convince a strong-willed three-year-old that school is awesome, and cool, and such a fun time?! 

You tell him three things:
1. There are snacks, every day without fail and you can even have two glasses of milk if you want!
2. They don't make you take a nap like mommy does.
3. They have lots of books and you get to color lots of pictures!

He wasn't totally convinced, but he had a good first day.

We are now in his second week and this morning he was ready with his backpack on 30 minutes before we had to leave. He has the same teachers Boy 1 had last year and I'm so thankful for them! He and Ms. Haley have already created a special bond and as a parent I couldn't ask for anything better than that.

Boy 1 started Pre-K this week. This is his third year of preschool (he has a late birthday) but this is his first at the elementary school and his first time riding a school bus. Boy 1 has always been a worrier. He's the one keeping the other kids out of the street and always wondering if we are going the right way to get home. 

The soldier and I have been trying to "talk up" school for a while and it seemed to be working. T-minus 20 minutes til bus time and he smiled so big for my all my ridiculous photos.

Then it was time to get in line for the bus. I kissed his head, guided him to his spot and started to back up a little and he squeezed my hand and looked at me in a way that said "Mom, do NOT let go"

Of course I tried to keep it together, and I was totally cool as a cucumber until he turned around and gave me this look. 

"ABORT,  I REPEAT ABORT MISSON! Nevermind! YOU DON'T HAVE TO GO! You can just stay home with me until your 18!" I wanted to say all that so bad. 

My heart was screaming, but thank goodness for the soldier. He held me tight and our brave, brave boy got on the bus and went to school. 

He still gets nervous and most days doesn't really want to go to school, but I just keep telling myself it'll get easier for him with time and routine. He does love that they feed him breakfast.

He is brave.
He is strong.
He is smart.
And he is such a joy to have in my life, time to share him a little.

Both boys go to school half day (mornings). Boy 1 is 5 days a week and Boy 2 is 3 days a week. Today, while they were at school, I went to the gym and it was awesome. I miss my boys and sometimes feel a little lost in a quiet house. But, I am looking forward to a little me time and they are thriving and happy and learning new things every day. That can never be a bad thing!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Kate and the boys go to Korea

We've known about these orders for a while. But as of today, the boys and I have officially been approved to accompany the soldier to Korea! 

When the text came through a few months ago, "Babe, I have an assignment, it's Korea"
I just said "Okay"
and then I said "Okay"
and then I said "Holy Crap... Korea.... OKAY!"

Then the panic set in,
It wasn't "What if I get lost in a foreign country?"
It wasn't "What if I get homesick and miss my family?"
It wasn't even "What if they make me eat KIMCHI!" 
*which is fried pickled cabbage for those of you not familiar with Korean ridiculousness.

I constantly started to worry...
"What if the Army doesn't let me go with him?"

It's been about three months and that worry is finally over. 
I can't even begin to explain the relief I feel. 

We will not be separated for a year.

and we will get to experience an amazing culture together and give our boys this amazing experience.

The details will all be worked out in the next few months but it looks like we will be heading that way around January/February 2015 and the tour will be for 2 years. 

I do, however, know that we'll be living in Seoul (the capital of Korea).

This city is bigger than NYC and most likely, this little country bumpkin family of mine will be calling a big city high-rise apartment home for a while. Crazy. 

Some military families dread orders to Korea, but I can say that we are honestly so excited!
 This is one of the reasons we love military life. 

We can't wait to arrive in the land of the morning calm. Hopefully they welcome us with open arms. and is it too much to ask for a place a girl can get a good american burger and beer? (: Thank goodness for the commissary.