Tip{py} Tuesday…kids’ clothing storage!

Okay so today I’m going to share something I did at my home to organize our kids’ clothing. That said, in order to share I will be including pics of my son’s room. *Disclaimer: I did not pick it up first! I took the pics as-is; it was a crazy morning. Try not to judge 🙂 Any illusions you had that my house is always clean are about to be shattered. Don’t say I didn’t warn you 🙂

Our youngest’s room is on the small side and we were struggling in our new house to fit all the furniture we needed in his room. We had his bed…

ryan pan
His train table

train table

And no room for much else. Here is a panoramic of the whole room.

A nice room, just not tons of space. We didn’t really have anywhere to put his clothes. I was at Target in the dollar section and I saw these clothes hangers. They were only a $1 and the size of each of the sections made them work perfectly for stacking clothes.

clothes hanger

When I am really on top of my game and organized, I will have each section designated for a type of clothing. PJ s in the top, then t- shirts, then long-sleeve, then pants, for example. It was a space-saving option that was also cost-effective. Win-win! Hanging shoe organizers would work really well too.


Tricare/Therapy Thursdays- DIY Weighted Lap Bag


Several times we have tried to use a weight lap bag or vest for Bug. Typically his teacher tells us its a distraction for fun time and plays with them more than it is helpful. But that is not the case for every child.

A weight lap bag can provide a grounding of sorts for the child. I have often heard Bug has a hard time with spacial awareness. He just isn’t quite sure where his little body is in reference to the world around him. He is everywhere! Upside down, right side up, hands in his mouth, head buried in a couch cushion and the list can go on. He often reminds me of a rubix cube someone is working to solve that is getting all twisted around. He just doesn’t understand where his body stops and the world begins. Having a weighted blanket, lap bag or vest can often help give them boundaries and make them feel safer in their environment. But their cost can be astronomical if insurance doesn’t cover it.

We use a heavy quilt during times of Bugs infusions to provide comfort and security for him. A friend of my moms makes “comfort quilts” for those she feels needs a little extra hug at times. Bug and Diva were recipients of them. Even though, at their age, they don’t understand the generosity of another individual; they know their quilts are something special and use them on a daily basis.

But enough about what a lap bag can provide for your child. Here is a great DIY lap bag idea I conjured up to make your own for home or school. And it’s so cute! I got the idea from Bugs school. They use some commercially made one. But I knew there was a easier, cheaper and DIY way to do it. Then I remembered the rice sock.

The rice sock is a great little invention our teacher told us about during our birthing class for Bug. She told us to fill up a tube sock with uncooked rice. Then instead of fumbling with cords of a hearing pad, to heat the sock up in the microwave. It is amazing and holds its heat for quiet a while.

So I took that concept and altered it a little. But the sock was too short. So I searched around for another source. We were playing with some neighbors dogs when one of them ripped all the stuffing out of their toy. Creating this long tube sock like casing. Ta da! All I had to do was go to the local pet shop and search for a similar toy to gut. The only other item needed was the rice. But it needed to be washable. So I looked up what was used in the commercial made weighted lap belts- poly pellets.

Next all you need to do is know the formula for your child’s weight vs the weighted item your making. Therapists say the most recent research suggests blankets should weight 10% of the persons body weight. However, since lap blankets are smaller and more condensed you can do 5% and make sure it weighs no more than 3 pounds.

All you need to do is add the appropriate amount of weight and sew up the open end.

**Update** After searching the web for a little more information on how to make these, I ran across Stacy’s at post at Starfish Therapies. Great minds think alike. She has some additional ideas on how to create one, materials to use, and other uses for the weighted lap pad.

Wordy Wednesday…DONSA!!! Woo-hoo!!!

We’re tackling another acronym this Wednesday and this one has to be one of my favorites!  DONSA…Day Of No Scheduled Activities!  Sometimes these are pretty predictable like the upcoming Monday we have off for Labor Day (some people will have duty on this day of course if they are deployed or depending on their MOS).  If you’re really super lucky maybe Friday this week is also a DONSA for you, making it a 4-day weekend!  If that’s true, seize the DONSA!  Go on an adventure, cook a great meal, try a new hobby!  Or, rest on the couch, order some pizza, and watch Bravo TV if that’s more your style 🙂  DONSA is what you make of it.  The main thing is, enjoy the extra free time with your family, extra time to skype or write to loved ones that may be far away, and generally just a chance to “refuel.”

Here is a picture of my son from a Veteran’s Day parade last year.  I figured it could work for Labor Day too 🙂

Screen Shot 2013-08-28 at 5.00.54 AM

Have a great upcoming Labor Day everyone, whatever your DONSA 🙂

Wordy Wednesday…PCS!

I should get a T-shirt with this on it to wear while we PCS.

I should get a T-shirt with this on it to wear while we PCS.

Okay, this week’s word is one that all military families become very acquainted with.  Some hear it and sense adventure and excitement.  To others, it brings a feeling of dread and foreboding (a little dramatic, I know, but drama makes things more exciting!).

PCS (Permanent Change of Station)…

This phrase itself is a little misleading, I mean, if it’s a permanent change, why are we doing it again?  And again?  (and again, you get the point).  Since joining the army 9 years ago, my hubby has gotten PCS orders 7 times (with some deployments thrown in), and we have moved as a family 5 times.  With each move, we are more organized and better equipped to deal with the change.  However, each move also gets more complicated as our family grows and we accumulate more stuff.  I am getting better about getting rid of things, but it is definitely still hard for me.  As a former teacher, I am still generally a keeper.  A “you-never-know-when-you-might-need-that” type of person.

Check out the wall o’ boxes in my garage…


True, a lot of it is Christmas decorations, my husband’s pro gear, and some of my teaching stuff, but I know I should be whittling it down.  We just found out that we will soon be on the move again.  Number six as a family!  I am looking forward to it one minute and then filled with anxiety the next.  I started thinking that there are several phases of deployment that we go through as military spouses:

1.  Initial reaction:  This will largely depend on if you actually wanted to go to the place you are assigned.  It can range from, “Seriously!  We got that?!?!?!” to, “Seriously!!!!  We got that &8$%@#!?!?!?”

2.  Reconnaissance:  Whether you wanted it or not, you’ve got it.  The next step is most likely going on Facebook to get info from others on whether it’s a good duty station or not, checking the housing on-line, or doing frantic google searches about the area.

3.  Acceptance:  Usually this phase has a sort of serene calm to it.  “We have to move, but it’s going to be okay.”  The length of this phase depends on how much forward notice you got about your move.  We are a little more than two months out, so I’m hoping that for me, it lasts a little while.

4.  Refusal:  This usually starts when you start doing the actual legwork of the move, like starting to pack or getting your kids lined up for therapy, healthcare, or school in the new place.  “This will never work!” or “There is no way we are going to make it!” are common thoughts at this time.  This is my least favorite, most stressful part.

5.  Resolution:  This starts when things begin to fall into place, like when there is no wait list for housing, or that the school your kids will be attending is an awesome one.  You begin to see things working out and that there is a light at the end of the PCS tunnel.  This phase ends when the movers load up and pull out and you are on the way to your next home.

Now, there is a whole new cycle of actually moving and getting settled in the new place.  But, that’s a little too much for me to think about right now…Maybe I’ll tackle that in a few months when we’re in the thick of it 😉

In the meantime, here are some awesome resources to help you the next time you PCS…

Go to http://www.militaryonesource.com and type “PCS” into the search bar

Top 5 PCS Money Tips

Military Children and PCS

PCS:  10th Time’s the Charm

Military Moving:  Sell It or Save It?

A Choice We Shouldn’t Have To Make

jet plane

This song rang through my head over and over when we boarded our flight to PCS to Hawaii in 2010. I never knew 3.5 years could go by so fast. I didn’t know I would actually be sad to leave this place. But home is where you make it (I ditched “Home is where the Army sends you” on that same flight). You have to embrace change and make the best of it. But here I sit trying to decide if Hawaii is still home.

Of course the Army has the ultimate last say; but we do have input. With our children’s special medical needs, requirements and Hubs job, there are only so many bases we can be stationed at. We have acquired several notes and reports from doctors and therapists documenting reasoning behind us staying in Hawaii. It’s basically a ace in the hole.

In my “old” age, I have come to the way of thinking that everything happens for a reason and if it is meant to be, it will happen. And as if on course, we got a one year extension without needing that ace. I felt it was what was best of our children and Hubs career. We are now a few months into that extra year. And with not to much time left, we have come to the cross roads again of “do we stay or do we go {now!}*

My mind has entered this state of brain fog. Mulling around the pros and cons, I feel like my head might explode. I have been brought to tears, fears, joy and anger. You have to understand there are two trains of thought when a military spouse moves to “paradise”.

    1. I hate it
    2. I love it

It is pretty simple. Either you love living here, embrace its beauty and enjoy exploring the island; or you don’t. Lets face it Oahu is only 44 miles long and 30 miles wide. Which means you can easily drive around the entire island in a day (twice!). After doing that a few times, you have 2 years and 11 months left with nothing to explore or discover. Island fever soon sets in and your on Facebook asking how easy it is to do Space A; when you realize air fare is $1000/person.

Which you see is a major dilemma. Especially when family thinks A) you chose to move thousands of miles away from them and don’t plan on coming home to visit so B) family refuses to visit you saying its to far to travel. But expect you to travel with three kids under 5 = $5000 in plane tickets (irritated much? yes.)

So am I #1 or #2? I guess that is one thing I haven’t really cared to figure out. I am to busy to dwell on hating or loving it here, so I live in the moment. However, at the end of each day when my kids are in bed, 99.9% of the time I am sitting down with a smile on my face. Don’t get me wrong; I get homesick like everyone else. The only difference is knowing that no matter where we are stationed I will be homesick. Hubs and I always comment that we love it here and if they would build a road across the ocean to get us home, we would never leave. Having no family here for support or companionship is the ONLY draw back for our family. So knowing that is going to change next year is a incredible feeling and something that keeps us and our mainland family going each day.

So you ask what the problem is and why I have rambled on for 5 paragraphs on loving or hating Hawaii; and the answer is what if you had to choose between family and therapy?

I have started researching potential duty stations and every one I come across has a wait list for every services my children require. Some are over a year. A lot can happen in a year for our children; set backs, regression and relapse. So here is the final question –

Would you sacrifice living close to family for access to therapists for your children; or would you sacrifice access to therapists for family?

Ultimately do we have a choice. No. But it relaxes me to pretend we do. What upsets me most is the fact we have to sacrifice something; and that something is the two biggest things in our lives. Why does it have to be like this? I could keep writing on and on about this, but I’ll leave it at this- which would you choose?

*Sorry I have these genes in me that if I hear a phrase related to a song I tend to burst out in chorus. So bare with me.

Cant Google Everything