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?

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.) ;)

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

I’m sure you all can relate when I say that, as a military spouse living far away from family, I have missed a LOT of important events. I’ve missed weddings and funerals, graduations and showers…the list goes on and on. Normally, I can find a way to justify missing something:
“I’m nine months pregnant and can’t travel.”
“I’ll just send a really good wedding gift.”
“I write better than I speak, so I’ll send a sympathy card.”

But that was before this most recent death. My husband was on a training detachment, and I found myself on the other end of one of “those” calls. The ones that everyone dreads. My dad saying, “Well, Grandma called this morning. Aunt Mary passed away last night. The services are Saturday.” Immediately, a thousand different thoughts went through my head, but I pushed them aside to go into Survival Mode. You all know this feeling: your spouse is gone and you have to take care of something important, so you shut off your emotions to solve the problem.

The first thing to do was book a flight. I called Southwest and they got us on a flight out the next day at a ridiculously low military fare. Contacted the dog trainer to pick up our dog. Started laundry and packing. By the time we sat down for dinner, I was exhausted, and frustrated that all of this was happening while Craig was gone. Perhaps the most difficult thing was canceling on a luncheon scheduled for the same day as the services. I was to be honored at a luncheon that had been on the books for six months. It was also the first event that my mom was going to be able to attend, we were going to debut our newest book (stay tuned!) and I could not have been more excited. However, I knew that if I stayed I wouldn’t be at my best. I would be worrying about my Grandma, my dad, and the rest of my family.

My Aunt Mary was one of those ladies that would do anything for anyone. When I was in elementary school, if I needed to go home sick and the school couldn’t reach my mom, they would call Aunt Mary and Aunt Ginger (sisters) to pick me up. I would lie on the couch, watching The Price is Right, eating fruit Mentos. One day when my throat was particularly sore, I was given a bell to ring if I needed anything. :) She could only see the good in people and this was never more evident, or entertaining, than a few years ago when my Aunt Marg and I walked her out as Aunt Ginger went to bring the car around. Aunt Mary proclaimed that “Ginger really is the best driver” as she backed over my Aunt Marg’s beautiful flower bed. She will be missed. And I needed to be there to say goodbye.

Have you lost someone important to you while you were living away from home? Did you stay, or did you go?

“Can’t We All Just Get Along?”

Those are the words my dad would say to me any time I had a falling out with one of my “friends” in high school. Until one time I came home from school, my senior year, crying because one of my best friends called me fat. My dad listened, and when I was finished I waited for him to say “Can’t we all just get along?” with a snide smile. Instead he replied: “Why don’t you go to school tomorrow and tell her that you can lose weight, but she’ll always be ugly?” Before I could pick my jaw up from the ground, he came back with some of the best advice I’ve ever been given: “Do you think she’s at home crying over this too?” No. No she wasn’t. So I splashed my cold water on my face and got over it.

I thought I was done with mean girls after high school, until I married Craig and was introduced to the world of military spouses. Don’t get me wrong, the true friends I have in this world are unparalleled; they’re there through thick and thin. There’s a reason why I refer to my good friends as my “military family.” But beyond that, there are lots of mean girl military spouses. Not in the military? Here’s an example: a few years ago, I went to a party hosted by one of the families in Craig’s new squadron. He had been in the squadron for a little while, but it was the first event I had been able to attend. When we walked into the room there was a group of maybe eight senior military wives talking together. As if out of a movie, they all looked at me, then immediately turned to each other and began gossiping about me…within an arm’s reach. Ouch.

Until recently, I had (happily) never heard the term “Dependapotamus.” Yikes. While I’ve heard horror stories of spouses cheating during a deployment, the way this term is used to describe wives in general is pretty sad. Yesterday, I was reading through a well-meaning Facebook post promoting the Military Spouse of the Year nominations, and references to Dependas were rampant. Graphics were posted, people were tossing insults and all I don’t think my eyes could have opened any wider. (One said something along the lines of: “I could give you some tips on that, but you’d probably just sugar coat them and eat them!” First of all, that’s incredibly clever. Secondly, it would have been hurtful if the person she replied to had been dealing with body image issues.)

Listen, it’s the start of a new year, and I think we should stop being so hard on each other. Let’s not judge one another on who works too much, too little, doesn’t spend enough time with their kids (in our outsider opinions), etc. I’m guilty of it in the past, but I am making a promise to myself that I won’t be that way ever again. Y’all with me?!

And to those that may be feeling badly, consider this: anyone can be brave behind a computer. If you are a good person and your family is happy, you should sleep well tonight. And remember, those mean girls aren’t at home crying, so you shouldn’t be either. You are loved! :)

Helping During the Holidays

A question that I’m often asked is “What can I do to help?” (a family currently going through a deployment). Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Care packages: we sent weekly care packages to Craig, but he was only able to send, say, two to us. People often want to send care packages to deployed troops, but forget about the families back home. (Not that either is more deserving.) My parents would send care packages to the baby and me (like a lot of parents do during college years) of homemade breads, funny movies, things I can’t get here that remind me of home; likewise, one of my good friends sent cookies from my favorite restaurant in Grand Rapids, MI.

2. Ask your friends and family if they are close with any military families going through a deployment and offer to help, or ask around your neighborhood:
–I was teaching during Craig’s first deployment and every week one of my neighbors would bring my trash can up to the door. It wasn’t the act of bringing it up that was difficult or time-consuming, it was knowing that someone was thinking of me every week. I have another friend whose family hired a lawn service to come mow for her twice a month (she has two young boys and it was always hard to do).
–There are cute ways to help families stay connected too: one thing I have done for friends with older children is buy two set of the same unique stationary. The child keeps one set, the deploying parent takes the other, and when they both get their mail they know immediately there’s an important letter for them when they see the special envelope.
–If your close friend/family member is going through a deployment, see if you can plan something fun. One of my best friends planned a trip out to Raleigh and I counted down to it for WEEKS. The weather was terrible, but it was the best weekend of the entire deployment: lying in bed, watching movies and eating chocolate with my bestie.

3. If you’re a considerable stranger, there are many sites that will send care packages overseas to deployed units (many are tax deductible!). (Shameless plug) We’re running a Deployment Angels Book Sponsorship drive where families/businesses can sponsor books specifically for families with a deployed spouse this holiday season. We’ve been working on it for a little over a month and we’re already at 200+ books sponsored. If you’d like to sponsor a family, please go to http://www.daddysdeployed.com/pages/faq and click on the Donate button at the bottom of the screen. A $40 donation covers a hardcover book for a family.

4. There are sites that provide other cool services that I could have used in the past. Bake Me a Wish (http://www.bakemeawish.com/operation-birthday-cake.php) ships cakes to deployed service-members for $15. They can choose where it goes, or you can request to have them sent to a specific person. We sent a couple to Craig during his deployments and they somehow made it without a scratch. :) We also adore the folks at Lock ‘N Load Java and their option to send coffee direct to troops: http://www.locknloadjava.com/product/deployed-troop-package.html

Do you have any additional suggestions for well-meaning folks out there? Please leave them below!

All Things Disney!

We recently returned from our first family trip to Disney and I wanted to share some tips!

Our best trip to Magic Kingdom was the first night we were there. I pre-purchased tickets for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party (right around $160 for two adults, our daughter was free since she’s under three). We got to the park just before 5 the first day and had to exchange our vouchers for the four-day hopper military ticket ($167 each, purchased at the Shades of Green Resort–so easy!). The helpful ticket mousketeer saw I was holding the Halloween party print out and explained to us that we could save our hopper pass for the next day and enter solely on our Halloween party pass. Awesome! An extra day at Disney. :)

We had dinner reservations at Cinderella’s Castle, so we went straight there. By the time we finished, the park emptied out, except for those there for the Halloween event. If there is anything like this when you’re visiting DO IT. There were no lines. We went on the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups three times in a row, the Dumbo ride about twenty times, the new Ariel ride was empty, and everything in between. They advertise “trick or treating” which was pretty lame, so I’d skip that, and just do the rides. At the end of the evening, there was a parade. There were certain parts that may have been too scary for young children, but the music was fun and mostly upbeat, so our daughter danced around in joy, not noticing Maleficent casting her spells on the crowd. Cinderella’s castle was lit up green and the fireworks didn’t disappoint. Truly a great night.

I had done some research several months before our trip and discovered that it’s recommended you book your dinner reservations 180 days in advance for the more popular restaurants. I did and, even still, could not get in to Be Our Guest to save our lives. The next morning we tried to sneak in early for lunch there and were told that there were no openings, but they then issued us a card to come back an hour later and have lunch. I’ll be honest with you, as we walked up to Beast’s castle, I turned to my husband and said, “This is for me, okay?” and my inner ten-year-old self wanted to start singing “Little town, it’s a quiet village….every day like the one beeefore…” but I held it in. The environment there was amazing. The line moved quickly, then you order and choose where you want to eat: the great room (look outside the window when you’re there: it’s “snowing”) , the ball room, or the West Wing (complete with hologram rose losing its petals and a shredded portrait of the prince hung above a fire place). The food was fast and phenomenal, especially the cupcake with the “grey stuff.” I would have eaten every meal there if (1) there was an opening, and (2) we could afford it.

The other homerun restaurant choice I made was Le Cellier Steakhouse at Epcot. It was a b*tch to get to Epcot and took way longer than expected; we had to sprint to make it to our reservations (twenty minutes late), but it was totally worth it. Mommy and Daddy enjoyed some amazing Canadian beer over fantastic food, and our darling girl ate her weight in pretzel rolls. After dinner, Epcot was nearly deserted so Charlotte was able to run free–chasing ducks and exploring all of the countries.

We chose to arrive on Labor Day, as that’s supposed to be one of the least crowded weeks of the year to visit. It was still crowded, and SO hot, but absolutely less crowded than the other times I have been there.

With a toddler, we spent most of our time at Magic Kingdom and found a good schedule in heading to the park as early as possible, returning back to our hotel room for lunches and naps, then heading back to the park for an early dinner and more fun. I knew I wanted to be able to splurge on our dinners, so I made a bunch of muffins/granola/etc to eat for breakfast, and brought sandwich materials to make lunch every day. My husband made fun of me for this initially, but he appreciated it once we got there!

I was also pleasantly surprised that we were able to bring in food and drinks. At 90+ degrees every day, we were going through liters of water like it was cool (pun intended). Every morning we loaded the stroller up and no one ever said anything. Much appreciated.

Things we wished we knew ahead of time:
1. Bring twice as much water as you think you’ll need.
2. Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride is exactly the same as Dumbo, with a fraction of the line. 3. The Pirates of the Caribbean ride is entirely too scary for anyone under….25. No
matter how funny it is to you, in your childhood memories.
4. It’s a Small World is actually pretty scary too, and was a little intense for our first
ride…especially when it stopped moving for 15 minutes and we were trapped in the
loudest country, seemingly. Charlotte started crying and pointing at the water, saying,
“All done boat!!!” I was ready to jump in too.
5. If you want to meet Elsa and Anna you better find someone to bribe, somehow. The
wait times at Magic Kingdom were astronomical. I’m talking 60+ minutes and no
FastPass option.
6. Speaking of FastPass, research it and use it. You have to choose three at a time, so
pick the best time for the most important activity and don’t worry about the other two.
7. Toddlers love the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. Any time our gal needed a
break from the constant stimulation, we would go there and she was happy as
could be.
8. Hollywood Studios is in need of a face-lift and they’re trying to use Frozen to do it.
The Frozen show that they put on is cute, but is essentially a group sing-a-long that
lasted thirty minutes. We used our FastPass for that and were able to get in early
and sit in the front row. *Spoiler alert, it snows!
9. The Wandering Oaken’s activity center is fun. They have a big ice-skating rink and
a big snow pit. A certain amount of families are allowed in, then you can build
snowmen and castles, etc (all building materials are provided).
10. Allow the kids to pick out one toy that they love from the park. Charlotte liked a thousand things that she saw. But she only loved one. So we bought her that one, and she didn’t ask for anything else. :)

Have you been to Disney recently? Post your comments below!

Deployment Angel Book Sponsorship

Daddy’s Deployed (Personalized Children’s Books) is teaming up with the amazing forces of Powerhouse Planning, LLC to spread holiday cheer to 150 deployed military families…(How awesome is it that we’ve already hit 51 families before I could even send this blast out!?)

From the president of Powerhouse:

So I’m super pumped to be teaming with Daddy’s/Mommy’s Deployed this holiday season to help brighten some military families’ holidays. (Learn more about Daddy’s/Mommy’s Deployed here: www.daddysdeployed.com) I’ve made it my personal goal to get 150 “Daddy’s/Mommy’s Deployed” books donated. Each book (with shipping cost) is around $40. The cost is a little higher than normal books because each book is customized for each family. The kiddos in the book have the same hair, eye color, etc. as in real life…it’s amazing! The mom/dad that is featured as “deployed” also has the physical characteristics of their parent (including military branch specific items).

All that being said…I’m reaching out to families, companies, etc. that are looking to sponsor book(s) to help brighten our military families this holiday season. If you’re interested I can get you the price breakdown on additional books too. For people/companies that order, Daddy’s/Mommy’s Deployed would also love to feature you as a “Deployment Angel” during December.

Please email Bridget (Bridget@daddysdeployed.com) with your level of interest and we can chat further! Thanks for reading and considering giving back to our troops in this meaningful way!

 

Shades of Green: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Shades of Green

Last week, Craig, Charlotte, and I spent five days at the Shades of Green Resort at Walt Disney World. This blog entry will highlight the good, the bad, and the ugly. :)

When I asked for feedback on the resort a few weeks before our vacation, I was surprised about the mixed responses I received. It seems people either loved or hated the resort. When we arrived, I realized, however, the staff take their military resort seriously. With a gated entrance, and identification check, we felt safe and secure for the duration of our time there. Check-in was quick, and our room was ready early. Surprisingly, we felt comfort in our Navy Lodge-esque surroundings.

THE GOOD

The Cost. We paid $133 nightly, for a pool-side “suite” with two double-beds, a large TV and dresser, pull-out couch, and small table and two chairs. There was also a large closet (with very few hangers) and a mini-fridge.

The Pool. They’re currently renovating one of the pools (turning it into a splash/pool area for small children), but the other pool is a great size, and has two points of shallow entry walk-in shallow. My favorite part, being the mother of a brave two-year-old, was the abundance of neoprene life-jackets at our disposal. We also had fun watching the ducks waddle around and come into the pool, not at all afraid of people.

The Play Area. We didn’t find this until our last night at the resort, but there’s a new and amazing jungle gym next to the pool currently under construction. We all had a blast playing on it. Word of warning though–stay off the big slide if it’s potentially wet! We dried off everything after a rain storm, but my 6’3,” 215 pound Marine still shot off the slide like a canon. It looked like so much fun that I decided to try it too and ended up with a massive welt (as well as a new fear of slides!).

The Exchange. There are tons of Disney treasure items in here (less expensive toys, dresses, etc.), but also the essentials you may have forgotten at home, at a reasonable price. Make sure to grab water here before hitting the parks! (Note: we picked up the bubble wand for $7.50 and it was mind-blowing. If you’re there, get one and try to stop yourself from running through the hundreds of bubbles created from one swipe of the wand.)

The Location. The resort is about a quarter mile away from the monorail at the Polynesian resort, and I highly recommend walking there to get around (more on that to come).

THE BAD

Charm. Several people said that there is very little “Disney charm” at the resort, and I’d have to agree. There’s a giant Mickey statue when you first enter, but very few other signs that you’re at the happiest place on earth.

THE UGLY

The Buses. Here is the grumpy part of this blog entry. Again, we were warned that the bussing system is not ideal, but we decided to take our chances (bad idea). The bus schedule is pretty standard, but make sure you are waiting a few minutes early. We were headed to Epcot one afternoon and were disappointed to learn we needed to catch a bus to the Transportation Center, then jump on the monorail to Epcot (we could have taken the monorail to the TC and saved ourselves a lot of trouble). Our last day, we took the bus to Hollywood Studios and, were one minute late waiting for the elevator. Craig sprinted down the stairs to ask them to wait and the bus driver said curtly, “If I do not see them in one minute, I will leave.” Luckily we made it into his line of vision in time, but then Craig was yelled at for pulling the stroller onto the bus before it was collapsed. The bus drivers were not friendly, the buses were crowded and hot, and waiting for them to pick us up at the parks was the most painful part of the entire trip (including the ten hour drive to and from Florida). If we ever stayed there again, I would happily walk a mile out of my way to just jump on the Disney resort buses, or boats.
Overall, it was a pleasant experience. For the money you save in room charges (half the price of the Polynesian), it’s worth it, in my opinion. Have you stayed at the Shades of Green resort? Leave your thoughts below! Stay tuned for our next blog entry, where I will discuss all things Disney parks, including lunch at Be Our Guest (so amazing, and so hard to get in). Look for tips on how to get in!

Summer Travel Blog

Before every trip back to visit family, I always find myself saying the same things to my husband: “I can’t wait to get home and just relax.” “I’ll be able to get so much work done when I’m at home and have extra help with the baby!” “Honey, we’ll be able to go see a movie or go to dinner together.” He always smiles and nods in agreement, but he knows better. Being honest, none of those things ever actually happen, but I can’t be the only military spouse who has these lofty dreams, can I?

I should have recognized the foreshadowing in the most recent plane ride home to Illinois: my busy daughter turning into a raging…toddler, jumping up and down on her airplane seat, screaming along to “Let it Go,” and my husband looking up from his tablet long enough to ask, “Should we do something about that?” as I riffle through my bag, looking for something to bribe her down from the peaks of Arendale.

My parents are fantastic, and are always waiting just past security for us. My daughter squeals with glee and my husband and I no longer exist, as we struggle to drag all the necessary bags through the throngs of people: carry-on backpack stuffed with activity books, games, three different electronic sources of entertainment (kindle, ipad, and dvd player), and all the junk food she’s never allowed to eat except when on a plane and I need to keep her occupied; giant suitcases stuffed with everything we could ever possibly need, and rarely ever use; car seats and strollers: check, check, check.

My husband’s family lives just under an hour away, and we’re always working hard to ensure that both families get enough time while we’re in. This summer my better half, ever the Marine, put together a daily schedule (which I highly recommend to anyone in a similar situation) and we had the trip jam packed with excitement: trips to the zoo, aquarium, waterpark, and everything else we’re lacking in our sweet little Southern military town. The days are long and exhausting, there is never relaxation or rest, but I don’t think I’d have it any other way.

Of course there are horror stories of stolen suitcases (it even had white dog hair on it like ours! I can’t be held responsible for that!), car sick children, and Chicago traffic, and yet, I can never wait to do it all over again.

©Bridget Platt, 2014, Do not use without permission.

GUEST BLOG: ‘The Dust Always Settles in the End’ by Elizabeth

This last PCS for us was a rollercoaster from the very beginning.  We spent 7 months preparing for a move to Japan, and in November 2012, found out that wasn’t happening anymore.  We then scrambled to submit another preference list to the monitor, and by that point had decided we desperately wanted to stay in New Bern, while my husband did a FAC tour out of LeJeune.  It wasn’t ideal, but we liked the continuity and comfort for our little guy, who was not even 3 at the time.  I also had amazing friends and a fantastic support system, and we were within driving distance from home (KY).  From November until right after Christmas, we thought we were staying in New Bern.  We came home from a party celebrating Addison’s homecoming (he had been deployed through all of this), and received a text message informing us that we were instead moving to the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, on Oahu.  Originally, they tried to move us in 3 weeks time.  CRAZY!  My husband was able to convince them to give us more than that, so we packed up and moved out on February 26th.  I guess it’s true what they say in the military– don’t believe anything you are told until it’s in writing…and even then, don’t believe it until you’re physically “on the move” and headed towards your destination.
Leaving New Bern was by far the hardest thing I’ve had to go through, even more so than the deployments.  It was our first home (we owned), where we started our little family, and where we truly embarked on the insane journey that is the military.  After experiencing two lengthy deployments and countless trainings/detachments there, I had made such an incredible network of close friends and neighbors.  They showed up with dinner at least once a week, brought wine over on lonely nights, babysat Owen, and kept me so busy with play dates and girls’ nights out.  The bonds I had (and still have) with those amazing people made New Bern the first place I’d felt at home since leaving the town in which I spent my childhood.  I knew that we would make friends in Hawaii, but I didn’t realize that even a year later, I’d still be mourning the loss of those day-to-day interactions with those amazing people.  I also was scared about how Owen would handle the transition, and whether or not he would be able to make friends.
We decided to make the move an adventure, and drive across the country, stopping along the way in various locations.  Owen has always loved road trips (weird for a toddler, I know), and he did great.  The best decision we made was to make sure that every hotel we stayed in had a pool, so that after a long day of driving, Owen could get out a lot of energy (we moved in February, so we needed INDOOR activities to wear him out).  At the end of the road trip, we stayed at the Navy Lodge on Coronado, and spent 3 days exploring San Diego.  The 12-day trip holds a lot of wonderful memories for us, and I’m so glad we did it that way.
Arriving in Hawaii was surreal, to say the least.  You feel like you’re supposed to be on vacation, but are immediately thrown into the process of trying to find a place to live, which is incredibly difficult here.  Good places are snapped up in a matter of minutes, literally.  We spent the first week in a hotel room, with our iPads and iPhones duct-taped to our heads, checking craigslist and all other rental websites every 10 minutes, dropping everything and rushing over to look at properties.  It was chaos, and emotionally we were drained.  After the first week, we still hadn’t found anything, so we moved into the villas on MCBH.  There we continued the process of searching, and after 2 weeks, still hadn’t found anything.  We then moved AGAIN, into a month-long vacation rental.  We only had our express shipment, which was a blessing because of all the moves, but a curse because I could tell my little guy was starting to struggle with the lack of routine and consistency.  He had been used to a 5-day preschool program from 9-12, and lots of time with his friends.  I decided that the only thing I could control for him, was preschool.  I quickly found an amazing Montessori school for him, and stuck my hand out to every single mom I saw there, hoping to make a connection.  I feel very strongly that the sooner you connect with your environment and plant some seeds, the sooner you will find peace and start to settle down internally.  I gave out my number and in no time, Owen and I were out with friends almost daily at playgrounds, signing up for soccer together, and immersing ourselves in socialization.  He cheered up immediately, and so did I.
We finally found a place to live for a year, and moved in about a week before I found out I was pregnant with our second child.  I felt so lucky to be settled for that, and to know we’d be in a home when the baby was due.  Soon after we got our stuff and unpacked, everything fell into place.  Although I am still not as connected to Kailua as I was to New Bern, I can definitely say that we have found our peace with it and are enjoying it as it is, while we are here.  Owen is happy, has made some amazing friends, and I have too.  That’s the beautiful thing about this lifestyle…the unknown is scary, but it forces us to step outside our comfort zone, be courageous, and often discover that every situation can be so much more than we originally anticipate.  It keeps me hopeful, optimistic, and feeling very lucky.  I wouldn’t trade the people on this journey for anything, and I feel very confident my now 4.5 year old would say the same thing (in his own little kid logic, of course).  I’ve also learned to focus on what I actually can control, and roll with the punches of what I can’t.  I know the dust always settles in the end.
 
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