We Don’t Negotiate with Potty Trainers (Yeah, Right.)

Add this to the list of things I never thought I would say to my husband: “You’ve got to see these tinkles!”

I remember watching Vince Vaughn talk about potty training his daughter on Ellen. He said something about everything going out of the window in order to potty train: his daughter, who had only been allowed to have green smoothies for breakfast, was now being bribed with bags and bags of M&Ms to use the toilet.

I have read all the articles out there on different ways to potty train your child. From studying their eyes and stance to potty parties (decorating your bathroom like a party to celebrate this milestone), but none of them seemed right for Charlotte. We’re currently experimenting with a princess sticker chart.

I’d love to say that we are using a sticker chart because I don’t want to use food as a reward…but that’s not it. I didn’t have any candy in the house when Charlotte first said she wanted to use her potty, so we have a sticker chart.

Last night, she told me that she needed to use the potty, but when she sat down, “it wasn’t working.” I knew she needed to go, so I tried to bribe her with leftover Valentine’s Day candy.

Mom: “If you go, you can have TWO stickers and a chocolate heart!”
Child: “It’s still not working!”
Mom: “That’s okay then, we can try later.”
Child: “Where’s my chocolate?”

A few things ran through my mind in this split second: (1) do I explain cause and effect to my almost three-year-old? or (2)….well, I didn’t have time to get there because she started stomping around like a T-Rex, demanding her chocolate.

My husband somehow summoned the strength to turn his blood shot eyes away from the House of Cards bender he was on all weekend to say, “We don’t negotiate with terrorists.”

“Potty Trainers.” I corrected. By this time the T-Rex was in full-blown meltdown mode, after fighting through her nap time earlier. I knew I couldn’t give her the chocolate. She would win. So what did I do?

I broke. (Feel free to judge.) I gave her the chocolate and watched her rip the foil off like a gremlin that was fed after midnight. Her face covered in chocolate, laughing hysterically as she came closer and said, “Mommy. You smell that?” and pointed at her diaper.

It could have been worse. It could have been like Friday night: she made it through the entire day dry (!!!!) and was ready for her bath. I jumped in the shower while Craig gave Charlotte her bath and I almost had a heart attack when he started yelling in panic from the bathtub area.

Dad: “AUGH! She pooped! In the tub!”
Mom: “Take her out!”
Child: “Help! Mommy!”

So, DD/MD families, please, please God, help me. I’m a week into 21 Day Fix and can’t drink. ;)  What worked for your kiddos?

Keeping the Love Alive All Year Long (Guest Blog)

“Distance between two hearts is not an obstacle…rather a beautiful reminder of just how strong true love can be.”
– Unknown

Let’s address the elephant in the room…deployment sucks! There is no getting around that first punch-to-the-gut sensation when you hear the words, “We found out when we deploy.”

Deployment can put a lot of strain on a family. Our service members miss a lot of things. For our last deployment, our oldest was just ten months old – my husband missed a lot his “firsts.” Now, he’s going to be 4, and his baby brother is only six months old, so Daddy will miss all the firsts again.

It’s not just about keeping the love alive in your relationship for you and your spouse; you need to keep it alive for your children as well. We adults understand why our service member has to leave, but the kids just know that Mommy or Daddy is gone. My husband has been gone for the past few weeks and every day our son tells me he misses Daddy, or he asks where Daddy is. If I am on the phone with my mom and I say something about my husband, our son will start yelling, “Nana! Daddy is on his ship!”

Believe it or not, this will be our fifth deployment. I can tell you that the first one was like a crash course in what not to do! We fought like crazy and we let every little issue get under our skins, driving a wedge between us. You CANNOT do that! You have to call a time out. If you are fighting in real time or even in email, tell each other to take a break, reevaluate the situation on your own, and then talk again. Fighting won’t do anyone any good, and, honestly, it’ll just make you feel more alone and disconnected from each other.

To help us stay connected, my husband and I keep deployment journals. Communications can go down at any time, and this way we can still keep each other up-to-date with our day. My husband and I each have a journal, and when he returns home we switch books and let the other read what we’ve written. Sometimes those journals are our way of saying things we aren’t sure the other one wants to hear when we’re apart.

Another fun way to stay connected is to do “couples questions.” Each person asks and answers a question. It can create a really good discussion and you just might learn more about your spouse! Silly or serious, there are no stupid questions :) Click here for some great questions to get started! (http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/list-100-questions-ask-your-partner-date-nights.html)

To help keep your kids connected to Mom or Dad, create a deployment wall. I love this one! (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/254523816414281289/) Pinterest has SO many ideas. Keep pictures your kids’ rooms so they can see Mommy or Daddy during the day. Set up a “mailbox” (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/254523816415816067/) for them to fill with pictures or letters they’ve created, and then add those to a care package or make a special trip to the mailbox or post office. The most important thing to remember is to keep your children involved. If they cry, cry with them. They are experiencing emotions that they don’t know how to express, and if they see that you are feeling the same, it may make it easier for them to talk things out with you. Answer their questions as best you can (but don’t throw too much information at them).

Deployment is hard on everyone. No matter how many you’ve been through, it’s hard. Your life feels upside down and sometimes everything goes wrong at once – Murphy’s Law indeed! It’s up to us to keep it all together. It may seem like a lot of pressure, but we are what will keep the love alive for our heroes. Ultimately, you are the support for your service member but they are your support, too. You’re never really alone; you are always under the same sky.

Angela and Dwight

Angela and her Sailor, Dwight, are high school sweethearts. After graduation, Dwight enlisted in the Navy and said “I do” to Angela soon after. Two adorable boys (Michael and Joey) and four deployments later (with #5 coming up next month), the Martins are rocking and rolling along. Originally from San Diego, they currently call Virginia their home and have fallen in love with it – “this state is beyond beautiful!”

It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye

I’ve been meaning to write this blog entry for weeks. And yet, as I sit here and type, I can’t swallow the lump in my throat.

As military spouses, we say good bye lots of times: to our family and friends back home, to our spouses, and to the military friends that we make along this crazy journey. Two weeks ago, my best milspouse friend moved away. I’ve said goodbye to lots of good friends, but this one is different.

Beth and I have spent our entire time as military spouses together. We married our husbands within two months of each other; we’ve been stationed at every base together for the past seven years. Our dogs are best friends. My almost three-year-old idolizes her almost five-year-old.

I had a rough semester of teaching when Craig first deployed. One of my more complicated students wrote some threatening things in his journal, was suspended indefinitely, then somehow was cleared to return to school the next morning, knowing that I had turned his threats in. The crazy thing was: no one thought to tell me this. All my students knew Craig was gone; I was home alone with little protection (that has since changed) and I was terrified that this student, with a history of psychotic and violent behavior, could pose a real threat. I was allowed to leave school early that day, but I didn’t go home. I went to Beth’s house. Her husband was gone on a training detachment at the time, and I spent the entire day there, holding her baby, as we chatted about everything else in the world. I went home with a sense of calm that I wouldn’t have otherwise had. That’s the type of friend Beth is.

I’m sure you all have friends like Beth: you go to their house, or they show up at yours, with coffee, dogs, and kids in tow, and play on the floor, discussing everything that happened in The Real Housewives, and laughing at silly stories (like when one’s husband went grocery shopping and didn’t know that green bananas were hard as bricks because they weren’t ripe). The type of friend that, when you have a seemingly major health scare, will drop everything to babysit your child all day, one week before their moving date.

They certainly didn’t move far away, only a few states, but I’m scared that we’ll drift apart. I have said goodbye to military friends in the past and we always plan on staying close, but most of the time that doesn’t happen. Life happens. New friendships happen. I’m not ready for this one to end.

What do you do to stay close to your friends?

(Our dogs seriously are best friends. This is after a day of playing together.) ;)