Just a Quickie

Just wanted to give a quick shout out before bed! I've been pretty busy lately. Mostly doc/dentist appointments and trying to get the house organized. Not only because Z comes back in a mere 2 days (EEE!) and I've got a huge surprise for him (can't disclose it here just in case he peeks!) but also because I needed just any excuse to get my house in order. I've got to say it's been a huge success. Especially with a good friend of mine who's been cracking the whip and making me work and helping out a ton!

Tonight I did some arts and crafts with my friend. It was really nice, I really miss having crafting time - reminds me of my college days. There's probably 1,000 other things I should have been doing but hey, why not some time for fun (and something that truly takes my mind of things - cutting and placing bits of paper woo!) with friends.

This is the time of year when the funk creeps in the most. I know I've been kind of a bummer to some of my friends lately and I am gracious for those who take it and still love me and do their best to cheer me up. It's the time when I start getting bam-bamed by so many anniversaries and memories. Happy ones, of course, but they make me miss him so badly. That's why it's good I've got so much to look forward to during this time and it's great timing for Z to be coming home - he's good at cheering me up and when I can't be cheered just being there for the rough moments. I finally broke in and went to a psychologist today (Head shrinker. Hey I'm allowed to say that since that's what I initially wanted to do, and I just think the term's funny - don't get offended). It was pretty great and I am feeling confident there will be some breakthroughs with my crazy anxiety, so that's another helping hand through these funky months ahead.

Tomorrow I get to head down to SC and see one of my closest and oldest friends (my matron of honor from our wedding!) and spend a couple days with her and her family before I see Z. I'm very excited about that, too. Like I said, lots of fun things happening to help keep me upbeat from being a complete drag. I don't like being that person but sometimes I can't help it.

Another cool thing, today I got an email from an editor at Reader's Digest informing me this here blog has been named one of Reader's Digest Best Blogs and will have a mention in their Dec-Jan issue! I was both super shocked and super excited about the news. It's a huge honor, to me, to be a best blog anywhere, let alone a publication as large and widespread as Reader's Digest. I still can't believe anyone cares about my ramblings, so thank you so much to all who follow me and take the time to read the musings of a slightly (ok, let's face it - completely) crazy widow trying to make sense of her thoughts.

Well, exhaustion seems to be setting in and I've got a lot to do tomorrow before heading down to SC so I'm off here, just wanted to let everyone know I'm still alive and kickin'!
Don't forget - it's hump day, it's almost the weekend! Keep your chin up and push through the rest of the week!

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It's common knowledge with my friends and family (Hi mom!) that I'm exceptionally disorganized. I don't think DISorganized really sums it up, it's more like UNorganized - complete lack of organizational skills. It's very strange for someone with as much anxiety and OCD tendencies as me (LOL) to lack any sense of how to organize, but it's true. As a kid, my room was always messy, but it was my messy and I could find things. My desks and binders in school were always a problem. Maybe it's laziness, I have a bad habit of just stacking things, setting them in piles (am I a hoarder? Maybe).

It never really bothered me, because usually I could find things (and my memory wasn't always this bad so I didn't forget things left and right) and it was just my way of doing things. However, recently I've really wanted to get organized. Get some systems behind my madness, and honestly make things look better than just piles here and there that I have to root through when looking for something.

So, I've settled to be a better homemaker and essentially mom but digging deep with in to find that organization itch that I know is buried somewhere within all the OCD tendencies. With the help of the ever-addicting pinterest and stumbleupon, I've come across some really cool ideas that make organizing look not only easy but fun and let's face it - cute.

Today, I made a system for my mail. My mail is one of the biggest problems in my house. I go through it when I get it, look at what interests me and then leave the rest piled up until it gets so big I finally file it away in the office. The laying around part had really started taking over my kitchen table and my coffee table and I knew there had to be an easy solution. I'd seen lots of examples of mail organization systems hanging on walls via pinterest, but that wasn't really the route I wanted to go. That's when I remembered the magazine basket I'd acquired from a gift or something, some how, that's always just sat in my bedroom, empty, staring at me begging for use. This afternoon, I made this:
Sure it's not super fancy, but it serves it's purpose and I practiced the good art of "Reuse" in the Reduce, Recycle, Reuse theory. All it is is the magazine basket and a piece of a box cut with "Cut, Shred, File, Pay" printed on the top with sharpie. Easy peesy, and it keeps the mail off my table and I know what I need to do with it when the basket gets full! It will help keep track of what bills are still left to pay, too. The basket was big enough I could even get some other clutter off my counter tops when I included blank envelopes, pens, and memo pads that had been lying around. It may not be much but I'm proud.

Another down fall of my lack of organization is my grocery shopping habits. I just kind of buy and then try to figure out what to make with what I've got. With a baby though, I can't run out last minute when I've finally figured out what meal to make and there's a little something missing. I've heard lots of people rave about meal planning and Jonny and I actually used to do it (just on paper) back in the day to help us budget (it helped save A LOT of money). So I realized it was a great habit to get back in to. I'm a big fan of white boards (or writing on mirrors with dry erase markers) and inspired by many different meal planning systems on pinterest, I came up with this tonight:
Still not the most elegant, but I'm actually really proud of it. It's just scrapbook paper that I wrote on with my trusty sharpie again and stuck in a frame. I hooked it up to the side of a kitchen cabinet with those command strips as not to destroy the cabinet. I think it's pretty cute and goes well with the decor in the kitchen and can really help us figure out what we're eating and what to buy for the week.

So there you have it, Mrs P's attempt at organization. I know many of you out there are domestic godesses (I still read even though I don't comment much!) so please, by all means, leave your organizational inspiration in the comments section! I'm most interested in organizing laundry doing (I feel like I do 80 thousand loads a day and man do I HATE putting it away), the laundry room, and closet space. Any other organizing tips are appreciated as well, as I'm sure even the smallest thing will help me get on track!

Happy Friday everyone, hope you've all had a great week!

Sleep Issues (Part II)

Thank you to everyone for your comments on my Night Time Mommy Woes post. It is good knowing I'm not the only mom who's experienced this. It seems that Ariana is sleeping better these days. Maybe it was a teeth thing, maybe it was a nervous thing, maybe she just didn't feel like sleeping last week! I'll probably never know and more than likely it will happen again. She is back to taking good naps during the day, too, instead of sitting and talking the whole nap time. Woo hoo! Once again, thank you all for your support. Being a first time momma it's always good to have insight from other mommas out there.

Now that her sleep issues are mostly cleared up, mine are kicking in again. What am I talking about, I don't think they ever stopped. I'm a natural night owl. Have been since I can remember, really. If I had my way I'd be able to stay up all night and sleep in til like noon every day. But of course, I don't have my way ;) Lately, though, my sleep issues have been worse than normal. Last night was pretty rough. It seems at night my anxiety kicks in really bad. I lay there and just think, think, think. I'm incredibly scared of losing people I love, especially since Jonny died. I've always been fearful of it but, reasonably so, it's kicked up ten fold since he died. At night I just lay there and see horrifying images in my head or imagine what I'd do if something happened or how I'd get somewhere in time. It's terrifying. My heart races, my chest tightens, and my brain buzzes. I feel there are thousands of cinder blocks sitting on top of me and all around me. Then I think about other worries too, more normal ones - money, appointments, the like. The cinder blocks pile on. Then of course my mind always goes to Jonathan and the bricks are so heavy I can barely breathe. It's not always in that order of course, but it's similar thoughts and so much weight on me. During the day, I'm fine. I know things are fine I don't worry as much (ok, I'm not fine I'm still anxious but not nearly the way I am at night) but at night it's quiet and I'm not doing anything so every irrational thought on the planet has time to plant a seed in my already over-active imagination.

It's been worse lately. I think part of it is the bed I'm sleeping in. I'm in the room I was in when I found out Jonny was going in to Marjah (that's an awful story in and of itself) and some nights, even when I'm not thinking about the other things, I think of that night I found out and I feel it all over again. I was so upset that night I ended up puking. In hind sight, it's almost as if I knew, as if my subconscious knew that him going into Marjah would mean...
I remember feeling so bad freaking out that night because most my friends husband's were already there, some were in the actual push and some had already seen their brothers die before their eyes. And here I was, my husband had been "safely" tucked behind the wire was just heading in and I was losing it. So I lay in that same bed these nights and I replay that night in my mind. My stomach starts to turn over and I feel the screams wanting to be unleashed building up in my mind -- DON'T GO.

Replaying that awful night does nothing, obviously, to help with the anxiety that already builds itself up at night time. I'm thinking maybe if I get it out, write it down, maybe I can let it go? Just a little bit? So that maybe I can get some sleep. There's nothing wrong with the room or the bed, the bed is super comfy. During the day I could lay there all day if I had the chance. And the memories don't hit every single night just some of them. Ugh I don't know I just wish the constant anxiety would go away. I wish I didn't have to stay up until my eyes were closing themselves to sleep. Even at home in my own bed I do that - I keep myself awake until I can't any longer - less time to think before sleep takes over.

I try counting backwards, I try singing in my head, I try thinking of happy things, I try focusing on my breathing, I try checking out facebook just to get my mind on something else... nothing seems to work. Anyone out there have any good strategies for calming your mind, releasing the pressure of an impending panic attack and falling asleep? I'm all ears!

Sometimes You're Wrong (And It's Ok...

as long as you're open and honest about it).

The last few days have been fun. I'll get to the title of this post eventually but some bus-nasty and a recap first.
-- There is an official "Little Pink" fan page on facebook. So, if you like this blog and think I'm neat, head to FB and "Like" A Little Pink in a World of Camo over there, too! Or you can just click here. I really appreciate that so many people have sought me out on facebook, but my friends list has become a little more than I bargained for and I've found I'm losing touch with my close friends and family so I think a fan page might be an easier way for me to manage.
-- I will be at the Blog World Expo again this year. This year, I'll be running a panel on the military track called "Blogging Through Loss." I am honored that Blake who works with BWE has asked me to return and this year MandyMy will be on my panel with me. Blake told me they were looking for someone who was a non-milblogger to join me and the first person I thought of was a fellow widsta who also happens to be one of my best friends. Who better to go to LA and speak with?! So if you're at BWE stop by our panel or just hit me up on FB or twitter!

Ok, now down to the meat. This weekend, I got to spend some time with some of my closest friends in Maryland. I love the time I get to see them all because it's few and far between that I get these opportunities. On Saturday, I went to Virgin Free Fest with my good friend Britt and met up with our other friend Maryana. I had a blast! I didn't know any of the bands playing but I definitely found some bands that are new to me that I LOVE and were so fun live. I had a great time. A huuuuge thanks to Britt for inviting me. I ended up wearing jeans and it was hot (I thought I could handle it being used to NC weather but I was wrong) so I ended up purchasing some clothes there and changing. I had a "hipster-for-a-day" wardrobe. It was neat.

That evening, I went down to Federal Hill, one of my favorite places to go out, and met up with Amanda and Chelsea and their fiancees and some of their friends. I had a blast with them as usual. I love Fed Hill, it's just so fun and reminds me of my college days when I was there just about every weekend.

That evening, I spent some time chatting with one of the girls' fiancee's that I've known for years. He complimented this here blog and made me blush. I'm very humble and modest about what's going on here, it's just one silly girl and her crazy thoughts - but it was nice especially considering I didn't expect him to be a reader. We got talking about politics and I of course ended up calling the president some names because I am not his biggest fan and I was pretty intoxicated (ok, I was on the verge of hammered, I'll be honest). He is a staunch Republican but he defended the president in the fact that he is our president and deserves our respect as such. Sure, we don't have to like him but there's no use for immaturity either. He put me in my place and I realized I was wrong. I know nothing about politics which I've admitted before (I always want to know/learn more but I really have trouble grasping it) and I'm angry at him for more personal reasons than anything (whether the reasons are actually his fault don't matter in the mind of an angry person seeking blame). We talked a long time, though, and he brought up some great points. Certainly not defending the current president's policies, but the fact of respect and what arguments are worth it. If you're going to dislike him, do it for the right reasons - his policies and the ways he runs the country. I admit when I'm wrong and I heard what he had to say and I took it all in. I don't remember the full conversation, for obvious reasons, but I'm glad it was had and it will certainly make me think twice. I may be angry and I may have dumb opinions but I am also very open minded and like to hear what others have to say and am willing to change my thinking when I know I'm wrong. So thanks to you for that whole conversation - you know who you are.

We also talked a little about 9/11 coming up. I chose not to post this year and instead remained silent. Whether or not that was the right decision, I couldn't tell you. I was very overwhelmed by the news and all of the media attention broadcasting the events of that day 10 years ago. I certainly agree we should remember, and it's a huge part of the American history, however re-watching that day over and over, it's tough and I often wonder if seeing the horrifying images is really what we need. Yes, we need to remember. Yes, even our children should know (in my opinion - I know Ariana will know when the time is right) I just know if I were a family of one of those who died it would kill me to watch it over and over and over, I'm glad there's no news footage of Jonny's incident because reading what happened in words is hard enough. It doesn't mean I wasn't thinking about that day all day long, I just chose to be respectfully silent instead. Just like last year though, I wish I could hug every widow from that day and let them know they are not alone. I read the People article where the kids who had been in their mommies wombs that day were speaking out now at 10 years old. It broke my heart and I cried in line at the super market thinking of what my baby girl is going to say in 10 years. These are kids just like her who never got a chance to meet their dads. I'm glad they chose to put their thoughts in the issue, though, I think the kids who suffered aren't often recognized and it's an awe-inspiring tribute to their fathers and the perfect perspective, in my point of view, for the 10th anniversary.

Of course, I honor our troops every day. Being a military spouse and daughter, I have seen and experienced firsthand the sacrifices our men and women in the military have to make each day. Let us not forget, however, those who go to work every day. As my friend's fiancee (I'd call him out but I think he may appreciate his anonymity) pointed out when we were talking that evening, America was first built on manufacturing and producing things. People working, and working hard, to make a life for themselves. So let not be forgotten those who work every day. Those who make the things we take for granted. They deserve some recognition and some honor, too. My mom always says, "It takes all kinds to make the world go round" and it also takes all people and all jobs to make a country run. If there weren't people working, making things, protecting and serving, doing paper work, saving lives, delivering babies, picking up garbage, growing food... everything, we wouldn't be where we are today as a nation. So to EVERYONE out there who works and who makes America what it is today, Thank You.

I'm honestly not quite sure if this post made sense to anyone but me and the person who had the conversation, honestly it was conceived from some drunk ramblings on a Saturday night, so I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't. But I just wanted to say that my mind has, once again, been opened and I am reminded, yet again, how proud I am to be an American.

Night Time Mommy Woes

Well look at that, the elusive Mrs. P blogging twice in one day! Who'da thunk in the days of my random and very spotty blogging?! Maybe I'm slowly coming back!

Anyway, my post now is not about my blogging habits, as bad as they've been lately, it's about my little diva and her recent night time... difficulties, we'll call them.

Little Miss AP will be 20 months old this month. Can you believe she is almost 2?! Four months and my baby girl will be 2. Holy cow! With this age, comes many new triumphs and challenges. She has grown such the little personality and is such a joy to be around, when she wants to be. It seems the "terrible twos" may be hitting her earlier than the inferred "TWO," (hence, terrible twos). She's become quite the fit thrower and loves testing her limits. Honestly, it's not so bad. There are some moments during the day she makes me want to pull my hair out, but most the time, I find myself trying to suppress a giggle rather than be upset. It's tough, let me tell you - It's so funny, seeing so much personality, determination, independence and sheer will in a person so small.

Her vocabulary is certainly growing and I just love hearing her say new words. She knows mom, momma, and mommy and uses them with different emphasis throughout the day. She knows grandma (and how to yell it) as well as grandpa and papa (she uses them interchangeably for my dad). She can say Bad Dog with a pointed finger when the dogs are not listening (we're at my mom's, there are 3 here right now). She can say bubble and balloon, stick and deck, and she'll bring you a book saying book when she wants to read. She will point to her diaper and say "Poopoo" and grandma taught her the very descriptive UGH (it's usually a "poopoo UGH" greeting me after nap time). These are just a few examples. She understands even more than what she can currently express. She'll pick up her trash and throw it away, she'll do "nice nice" on the dog, she'll hand you things (if she wants), she'll come, she'll go, she'll dance. She does what she's told very well... when she wants to.

Using a fallen tree branch piece to "sweep" the walk way - she came up with this all on her own!

At this age, she's very adamant about what she wants. Even if it's something that makes no sense. For instance, yesterday she wanted the loaf of bread. We thought she wanted a slice of bread, so grandpa gave her one. She put it back in the bag then took the bag and carried it around. She wasn't so happy when it was taken away from her. She also wants things even more when she has been told no already. That's when the fits are the strongest, I'm telling you, the girl is determined.

All these new qualities are quite exhilirating for a mommy. Sure, they can wear me out sometimes, but usually it's just amazing seeing all the new things she can do and understand. She really is becoming a little... person (not that she wasn't before but now she can do things... moms... you know what I mean).

The thing I'm having the biggest 'woe' about right now, we can call it, is her sleep patterns. My daughter just doesn't seem to feel like sleeping lately. I'm not talking about just naps either, I'm talking about sleeping period. Every night around 2 or 3 am, I hear her chattering away. Sometimes she'll make soft cries but usually just makes sounds or sings. I try to leave her because I know my daughter - you go in and fuss with her and it's all down hill from there. She's much better at putting herself to sleep, as soon as another person enters the equation it's wide awake and play time. I keep wondering why she is waking up at the wee hours of the morning. We have a solid bed time routine that really hasn't changed... well... ever. Even as much as we travel/visit grandma, I try my very hardest to stick to the same bedtime routines, including the time she goes down (between 730 and 830, it can vary slightly depending on when the sleepies hit her and when her nap was, etc). She often has a poopy diaper in the morning, so I began wondering if it was around 2 or 3am she was waking up because she had to poop. I thought maybe it could be her last cup of milk before bed, so for the last few days I've tried without it. She hasn't been poopy but I still hear her talking in the wee hours of the morning if at least just a few minutes every night.

Then last night, we had the epitome of wee hours wake up. I had heard her talking a little around 230 and just let her be. Around 3 I heard her make a weird sound, kind of like a choke or gag then it was real quiet. Of course I had to go in and check on her. When I opened the door, I heard her move and peaked and saw she was fine. I shut the door after just sticking my head in and after that it was DONE. She was up and she was YELLING. I tried everything. I tried rocking her back to sleep, I changed her, I spoke softly to her, rubbed her head, rubbed her back, patted her, snuggled in bed with her, putting her back in her own bed and leaving, putting her back in her own bed and laying down in the other bed... Nothing worked. She doesn't sleep well with me, she wants to move around and try to play so even though I tried that didn't work either. At 520, my mom took over. She gave her some milk in case she was hungry and some itchy medicine for her misquito bites that she was digging at. But see, she was good and quiet as long as I or grandma were there with her, she just wouldn't sleep. As soon as she was put back into bed, she was standing, arms up, screaming again. Mom snuggled with her so I could try to sleep and around 7 she finally went back to sleep, waking up again at 820.

She went down for a nap around 1230 and actually took a decent nap today, getting quiet around 1 and waking up around 3 - unlike the last few days. My daughter used to nap like me (or like I would like to, lol) - for 2-3 hours a day, usually around 1230. Lately, we're lucky if we can get her to stay upstairs for an hour, let alone sleep. I don't want to push naps too hard but the problem is if she doesn't nap, around 5 o'clock she gets outright mean because she's tired.

Tonight, putting her down, she cried much louder than usual. Nothing has been changed about the room she's in and these sleep issues have just been the last week or so we've been here, not the entire time we've been here. She gets put in bed and instead of laying right down, whimpering a little and drifting off, she's standing up with her arms out screaming. She got a few extra cuddles tonight to try to calm her down but the same thing kept happening. It took her about 15 minutes to finally stop crying and then probably another 15-20 of talking before it was quiet up there.

I'm guessing this change in sleep is probably part of all the other changes coming along with this stage of life, but if anyone made it through to the end of the post (I know it's been a long one, I can talk about my kid all day long!) I could use some possible insight or tips. Or even just an "I've been there, it passes" would be nice. I feel like I'm at my wit's end. At least she is sleeping now and I'm praying - very hard - that we don't have an episode like last night's. Those nights are tough for me as a mommy too because 1. I hate hearing my baby girl cry like that, it was sooo heart breaking and 2. I'm a raging insomniac so I was just laying down to attempt sleep when this all started.

Here's hoping she gets a nice sound sleep tonight, and mommy and grandma (and grandpa, can't forget him!) can, too!

To Simba Leigh - Big/Lil Shirts

*Well hello there! I wanted to comment back to you or email you but you have no blog and a no-reply email address so this was the only way to get a hold of ya!*

Simba Leigh left me a comment when my big/lil shirts back in the good ol' sorority days came up in her google search when she was looking for ideas, asking how I did it. I will share with you all, it's simple really. I used to be really into crafting, and now with my recent addiction to Pinterest, will probably (hopefully) get back into the crafting habit.

Anyway, after rooting through really old facebook pictures, here are the shirts in question
Shirts I made for my first little Theresa, from the back

Theresa and I, from the front

The shirts I made for my second little, Katy. Couldn't find a pic of the back.

So, I used the same basic idea for both, with little tweaks to make them each different. I learned the way to do it from my own big, who made ours yellow using the same kind of idea. Couldn't find pics of that either.

It's really simple. Your materials include:
  • A cotton t-shirt
  • Fabric of your choosing (can be any number of different patters, I stayed with 2 different patters with colors that went well together)
  • Puffy paint
  • Heat-n-bond iron-on fabric adhesive (here it is on Overstock, so you know what it looks like, I got mine at either JoAnne Fabrics or Michael's back in the day)
  • Stencils if you want your letters to be really neat
  • Pencil
  • Iron/ironing board or iron-safe surface

I wish I had photos to show the process but I guess I never took any, so I'll describe as best as I can.

First, you're going to want to attach your adhesive to your fabric, so you can cut out all your letters/shapes as one instead of cutting and then adding adhesive and cutting again. Follow the directions with the adhesive, it's really easy to use. You just iron on one side onto the "wrong" side of the fabric. Leave the peel part on, that's how you're going to attach it to your shirt.

Next, you're going to draw out your letters - all of them, sorority letters, names, dates, whatever you want on the shirt. (As sorority girls know, you're not supposed to wear double-stitch letters until you've been initiated which is kind of the purpose of these shirts, so your littles can have "letters" but not LETTERS, ya know? At least, that's why I liked them.)

Use your stencils, or your free hand, to write your letters on the paper of the adhesive. On the shirts from Theresa, you can tell on the back that I wrote "Lil Sis/Big Sis" and "Fall 2006" in my own not-as-neat-as-a-stencil handwriting, however for Katy's shirt, I used a stencil, which you can tell by the "Lil Sis/Big Sis" on the front which made it much neater - learn by doing - it was much neater and easier with the stencils. Since you're writing on the backside, remember which direction it's going to have to go... backwards to transfer onto the shirt correctly. You can write forward on the fabric if you must, but you'll have to be really careful to not mess up when cutting and use something that you can see the writing on the fabric. Another reason I prefer the stencils, then you can just use pencil and do it backwards - easy peasy.

Once you've got your adhesive attached and your letters drawn, cut them out!

Lay your shirt out and line up your letters/shapes where you want them to go. Then peel off the backing, place down the letter or shape, and iron it onto the shirt. Remember to lay everything out ONE side at a time (work with the front or back at a time - don't try to rush!) because if you iron with something on the other side it could get stuck in a place you don't want it/ruin the adhesive.

Once everything is ironed on and pretty, it's time to make it a little more long-lasting. Iron-on adhesive isn't known for lasting through any wear and tear, so what we did was outline our letters in puffy paint. This added some reinforcement, sealing the fabric onto the shirt, as well as giving the letters a little more pop.

With my first big/lil shirts, I used just stick-on letters for the stuff on the front, as well as a stick-on fabric lion, I learned later that doing each letter by hand instead of buying the premade stick-ons, although tedious, looked better, and lasted longer (my little's lion fell off about a week after having it and I think mine lasted maybe two. I think some letters fell off mine, too) so the hand made fabric with the iron-on adhesive letters are much better than the store bought. I don't think I ever even puffy-paint outlined the front of the hand made letters on the shirts with Katy, just the big ones on the back.

So, that's my little tutorial. Of course, this doesn't have to be just for big/lil shirts, you can use this for any kind of shirt and make any design - maybe even good for homecoming shirts for my milspouses or walk/run shirts/remembrance shirts for my widstas (and other 5k-ers) out there!

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