Clickin' Moms

Camping With Kids

The last weekend in June we went camping at the Land Between The Lakes with our kids and dog for the first time. I grew up camping. We went to Yosemite, Big Bear and other random spots in Southern California. I was a Girl Scout for 12 years so that also included a lot of camping. We also went a couple of times as a couple before we had kids.

Camping With Children

Man, camping with kids and a dog is something else.

We stayed for two nights although we were going to stay for three. We ended up going home early because it was rather stressful and it was so hot that second day. I am used to camping in the mountains of California where it gets warm but not humid hot like that. It also rained on us on Sunday morning. At first that was frustrating but it actually cooled down the day and we got used to it.

Overall it was a good little trip. Stressful yes, but I am glad we did it. It has taken us all this time to go camping with the kids. Partly because of deployments and partly because of being worried about camping with small children.

I think if I didn’t like camping already, I never would have wanted to try it.

Camping at Piney Campground

We are probably going to wait until next year to go again. Probably in May before it gets too hot.

We need to get a tarp to put over the eating area. That would have made things easier with the rain. And here, there is always going to be a chance of some rain.

We bought a new tent because our other one was too small for all of us. We still had a stove and other random items from our pre-kid camping trips. The boys loved the smores and swimming in the lake. Drew had a hard time with the whole idea of it. On Sunday morning he was ready to go home. “Awe, this was fun but I am done now. I want my own bed.”

 

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Next time I would like to find a campground that is more spread out. We went to Piney and I was impressed with it. Everything was nice, bathrooms were clean but the camp sites seemed really small and close to me. I guess I am used to have more space. I think I would like a campsite that was a little bigger, had more room for the kids to play and was a little further away from other sites. It might just have been where we were located within Piney. I did love the view we had of the lake. That was nice to wake up to.

Camping at Land Between The Lakes

Camping at piney campground

Have you been camping with your children yet?

 

So You Want To Get A VA Loan?

file0001117035713Military families can have a difficult time trying to decide if they should buy a house where they are currently stationed at. There really is a lot to think about. It also depends on how long they will be staying, what their options are and what their goals might be. There really are a lot of pros and cons to buying a house when you are in the Military. 

In July of 2011 we started looking at houses here in the Clarksville area. We were renting and needed  to move. Rent was too expensive for us so our options were to move on post or buy a house. We knew we would be in the area for a while. At least until 2014, if not longer. We knew that we didn’t really want to live on post. We wanted the extra space and freedom that buying a house would provide.

We also knew we could get a VA loan. A VA loan is a mortgage loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The loan is issued by qualified banks and lenders. It was created in 1944 as a way to help those who have served in the Military receive a home loan a little easier. It is important to remember that the VA loan is a way to fund the loan. You will still get the loan through a bank and have a monthly mortgage payment.

As far as banks go, some people like to go with USAA. As much as we love using them for everything else, we had heard going through a local bank is your best bet for a home loan so that is what we did. I do know a lot of people who are very happy with their USAA home loans too so it really just depends.

We found our house and started the VA loan process not sure what to expect. It actually went very smoothly and we paid very little out of pocket. There is a VA funding fee but it most cases you can add it into the loan. This is what we did so we pretty much just paid for the inspection and that was it.

If you do decide to go ahead and get a VA loan, it is best to go with a realtor that knows what to expect from them. The VA can be pretty picky about what it accepts. If something is wrong with the house, it might make it harder for the VA to approve it. If you have a good realtor that knows what to look for, they can tell if there is something about the house that might make it more difficult to get approved.

Buying a house is a big decision for anyone, especially military families. There is a lot that goes into it. Three years later I am glad that we did decide to buy a house here. We have no plans to move in the immediate future and we love our home. 

Have you bought a house with you VA loan? Thinking about it?

 

See’s Candies Invites Consumers to Visit Local Shops to Write Personalized Thank-You Notes for U.S. Service Members

I love See’s Candies! Here is some information on how they support the troops :)

See’s Candies Invites Consumers to Visit Local Shops to Write Personalized Thank-You Notes for U.S. Service Members

See’s Candies Expands Partnership with Operation Gratitude to Show Appreciation for Men and Women in Uniform

2012 FRLollypops -  media relations 

LOS ANGELES – June 26, 2014 – See’s Candies, one of the most trusted and timeless candy makers in the country, is expanding its partnership with Operation Gratitude to support members of the U.S. military.  Starting Saturday (June 28) through July 6, See’s will provide materials in its shops for customers to write personal notes of gratitude to our troops. Shop associates will collect these notes which will be delivered to Operation Gratitude, to include in their care packages and send to service members who are stationed all over the world.

See’s has worked with Operation Gratitude since 2006, providing candy for care packages. The organization assembles packages year-round and delivers them to veterans, first responders, recruits, wounded warriors, care givers, and U.S. service members deployed overseas. Their mission is to lift spirits and meet the evolving needs of the active-duty and veteran communities, and provide volunteer opportunities for all Americans to express their appreciation to members of our Military. See’s fans and customers can now join the candy maker in showing their own appreciation by visiting a shop and writing a personalized message for the troops.

“As we approach Independence Day, we at See’s think it’s important to make sure our military know how grateful we are for their service,” said Brad Kinstler, president & CEO of See’s Candies. “We’ve been working with Operation Gratitude for years to share our American-made chocolate with U.S. service members.  We’re pleased that we can now invite our customers to join us in supporting our troops by sharing their thanks in personalized, handwritten letters.”

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See’s fans and customers who are unable to visit a shop before July 6 can show their support by visiting www.sees.com/operationgratitude and completing an online form with their personal messages for U.S. service members. See’s will print the notes and deliver them to Operation Gratitude for inclusion in their care packages.

The troops often express surprise and appreciation when they receive these special care packages and personalized notes.  In response to receiving a package, one lieutenant colonel wrote, “I received an unexpected care package from you today and it is a little embarrassing how touched I was by your generosity. I have been sitting here trying to understand why this care package was so different from the others. I think it’s because you don’t know me. We expect to get things from friends and family, but you sent me something out of a deep respect for your country and its defenders. That’s powerful. I wanted you to know that your thoughtfulness made today better for all of us.”

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About Operation Gratitude:

Operation Gratitude annually sends 150,000+ care packages filled with snacks, entertainment, hygiene and hand-made items, plus personal letters of support, to Veterans, First Responders, Recruits, Wounded Warriors, Care Givers and to individually named U.S. Service Members deployed overseas. Our mission is to lift the spirits and meet the evolving needs of our Active Duty and Veteran communities, and provide volunteer opportunities for all Americans to express their appreciation to members of our Military. Each package contains donated product valued at $75-100 and costs the organization $15 to assemble and ship. Since its inception in 2003, Operation Gratitude volunteers have shipped more than One Million Care Packages.

About See’s Candies:

Delivering deliciousness since 1921, we happily continue to make candy Mary See’s way, using only the finest ingredients — with no added preservatives. Our chocolates and treats are American-made in our own candy kitchens, from our decadent truffles and chocolate-covered nuts to gourmet lollypops and our crunchy Peanut Brittle, its quality you can taste in every piece.

Step inside one of our shops, and you’ll see a crisp, clean black-and-white checkered motif inspired by Mary’s original kitchen.  Each day, visitors are welcomed with the friendliest service and can choose a delicious piece of candy to try.

Headquartered in sunny California, we have over 200 retail shops across the country and an online shop that serves See’s fans around the world. We continue to uphold our commitment to delivering the highest level of taste, quality, tradition and service.

Mary would be proud.

Giving Birth Without Your Husband And What To Do About That

Giving birth without your husband

Me and Baby Drew!

If you walk into a room of Military wives and ask how many of them have given birth without their husbands, you would get quite a few hands. It is something that has happened to a lot of us. Despite planning, a compassionate chain of commend and lots of prayer, sometimes the dads have to miss the birth. It just comes with being a Military spouse. It can happen.

For us it was because I was having a baby during our deployment. He left in August and I was due in December. In some cases they might let someone stay back for a birth but it just depends on the situation. When I was due with Josh, my husband did get to stay back but it was also a case of him not being allowed to deploy until November 1st even though the unit left in August. I was due December 1st so they let him stay back and he eventually left in February.

With Drew, the baby I had without my husband, I was due December 18th. I was pretty sure I was going to have him early because I had Daniel two weeks early. They told us they would try to send him home for R&R in time for the birth. They ended up sending him back to Germany for R&R leaving on December 14th so he would be in home on my due date. Yes, it can take three days to get to Germany from Iraq, even though it is closer than flying to the US. Anyway, I went into labor the morning of the 14th and had him without Ben. Ben got to meet him when he was three days old.

Luckily I was able to have my Mom there with me. When I found out he might not be there in time for the birth, I asked if she could come out. Since we knew Daniel was early, we had to plan on Drew being that early too and she came about 2.5 weeks before my due date. In the end he was only born four days early.

In some cases the service member is not going to make it home for the birth or be home for a few months after the birth either. It really just depends on the situation, the unit, rank and all of that. During that first deployment I had a few friends who got pregnant on R&R thinking their husband would be home in more than enough time to be there for the birth. In the end, the deployment was extended for 15 months total and the men were not allowed to go home to see their children being born. They got to meet them when they were about two months old.

If you think you might be in a situation where you will have to give birth without your husband, it is important to remember that you are not alone. Others have done it before and you will be able to get through it.

  • Find someone who can attend the birth with you. Family member, friend and in some cases a doula can step in when your husband can not be there. Find someone you trust that you want to be by your side. It will make a big difference if you don’t have to go through the birth alone and that you know you have someone on your side there for the whole thing. Ideally the father of the child is supposed to be there for the birth, but if he can’t, a good friend or family member is the next best thing.
  • Prepare yourself for the possibility. If your husband just left and they tell you he can come back for the birth, don’t believe in that 100%. Things always change in the Military. Promises can be broken. Nothing is set in stone until it happens. Tell yourself early on that if he can’t be there, you will be okay. Then hope and pray that he can be there. It is all you can do.
  • Use Skype. We didn’t have this back in 2006 but these days women are giving birth while their husband is watching and cheering them on using Skype. Now this will take planning and help from the Unit but it can be done. Thank goodness for modern technology that this is even an option. Now a dad can help coach his wife through childbirth, even from overseas.
  • Take any help you can get it.  When people find out that you are having a baby by yourself, they will offer to help you. Take them up on it. From watching your other kids to taking you meals. Don’t say no to it. You will need the help and be very grateful for it later.

As a Military spouse, you have to make sacrifices and giving birth without your husband could be one of them. Know you are strong enough to handle it and remember, you are not alone.

Have you had to give birth without your husband? How did it go?

 

 

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