Bring it 2013

12.31.2012

As we enter in to the last couple days of 2012, I think we all feel some pressure to reflect back upon our past year and make decisions about how to make 2013 better.  That is how I like to think about resolutions.  Not as short term goals that are easily forgotten but actual thought and dedication to changing things about my life that are shitty or need some improvement.

Like everybody else on the planet, I want to keep my body strong.  I already work out regularly so I am not making a goal to join a gym or get my butt in there a couple times a week but instead simply maintain...  Keep moving.  I am not happy with the shape of my body but I can't lose weight right now (obviously).  I am committed to continuing to work my body.  It helps that by going to the gym, I also get a quickie break from my two year old.  Yay for gym daycare!

I am not going to pretend that I am going to read a certain number of educational books or literary masterpieces, cook more homemade meals than I do now, or take up some sort of trendy or prestigious hobby... I can commit to keeping my two kids alive and our home in some semblance of controlled chaos.  I am not going to scrub my bathroom floors any more often than I do now (*ahem*) but I can commit to keeping the laundry under control so we have clean undies and clean dishes ready for our meals.

I am going to work on feeding healthier food to my family.  I don't eat any meat but I am committing to continuing to switch all of my family's meat consumption to organic and hormone free.  I am not going to pretend that I am going to start a garden or begin composting my waste but I can commit to feeding my family more veggies where I can.

I am excited for 2013.  I am going to have a new baby boy, a precious 3 year old mini-me, and another year with my bestie husband.  I am looking forward to the new adventures that we are going to encounter and the opportunity to continue making memories together as a family.

Wishing us all health and happiness as we enter into this new year.



From co-ed to stepford

12.30.2012

I spent the morning shampooing my carpets and then got excited that I am going to have clean carpets to enter in to the new year.  How pathetic is that?  I am excited about carpet.

Who have I become?  Is this the life that I wanted?

I am a house- wife.  A mom.  I care for our home and our babies.  My job duties include being responsible for the laundry in the closets, maintaining pleasant smells in our home, and re-stocking the food in the fridge.

But this is the life that I wanted.  This is the life that I have chosen.

Regardless, it is still a bizarre reality when I sit back and examine this life that I have created.  

My transformation from hard partying college co-ed to a Stepford wife is almost complete.  That's a good thing...  Right?... Right?!?

24 week bumpdate

12.27.2012

Due to the overwhelming positive response, I will be doing every couple week bumpdates.  Please feel free to skip them if seeing a weird alien belly gives you the willies.  I have every couple week pictures from my pregnancy with Eva also so I will post those along with my current pics to see how different (ie bigger) my belly is the second time around.  I am 24.5 weeks pregnant today.
                                                                       ***
How far along? 24 weeks
Size of baby? Ear of corn
Weight gain? +16 pounds 
Sleep?  Fantastic lately.
Best Moment of the Week? Food.  Guilt free holiday eating is fantastic.
Miss anything? Not being pregnant.  I am over it.  I am thankful that my body is sustaining this pregnancy and that I am having a healthy baby (so far) but I am not enjoying this pregnancy.  I want MY body back.
Movement? Yes.  All day and all night.  He is a wild animal.
Food Cravings? Nothing specific just food in general.
Gender? BOY!
Name?  Still deciding.  I like formal names (Eva's real name is Evangeline.  I want a more formal name for him too that can be shortened).  We have a short list of names we like.  Nathaniel (Nate) is currently at the top of the list.
Symptoms? Pregnant (read that as fat, pimples, cellulite).
Belly button in or out? Mostly out.   
Looking forward to: Entering into 2013.  When I got pregnant, 2013 was SOO far away.  Now it's here.  That means this pregnancy is well under way.  Thankfully.  
Next baby boy check-up?: January 7 is his next growth scan (For more information about why he has to be seen by a specialist every couple weeks, click here)
24 weeks pregnant with Baby Boy


24 weeks pregnant with Eva


Past Bumpdates

Find me on twitterfacebook, and instagram (jamiegrace01)! 


A snarky Christmas thought + Wednesday Walkabout

12.26.2012

Christmas round-ups are on everybody's mind today.  Blah, blah, presents, family time, food.  I got spoiled, my kid loves her new toys, life is good.  Moving on...

Back in the mid 1990's Mariah Carey was young, vibrant and at the top of her career.  She released arguably the best album of all time, "Merry Christmas" which included the now classic song, "All I Want for Christmas is You". (read that sentence with a dash of sarcasm and a hint of embarrassment for my honest 15 year obsession with the CD)
She is fresh and cute as she romps in the snow in an adult sized snow suit and giggles as she opens presents (fully dressed).
Let's now fast forward a decade and a half or so.  She remakes the video with The Biebs.  She is desperately grasping for the final drops of her fountain of youth (the operative word here is desperate).  
The remake of the video looks like this.
My Christmas wish is that we can all maintain a shred of our youth from the past and dignity for the future.  Let's not leave it up to our pushed up silicone, mini- skirts, and over-done make up to take off ten years.  Maybe every10 years or so we can allow ourselves to age 5 years.  
Let's aim for a little less desperation.  {You hear that self?!  I am talking to YOU!}


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It's Wednesday which means its time for the Wednesday Walkabout!

What is a Walkabout?
It's a blog link-up party, every week here and with our co-hosts! Simply put your blog address or a specific post in the linky, visit some other people, and make some friends. Easy as that! I can't wait to talk to everyone!

Something new!  One "Mystery Host" and will have their link as #5 in the linky, as well as be featured in Rule #1.  Follow all 4 hosts on GFC or Bloglovin' and then keep an eye out next week to see if you're the lucky Mystery Host!

PS: You only have to link up with one of the co-hosts, it will link to all four sites!

The Rules
1. Place your link in the linky below and make some new friends. Simple as that.

MYSTERY HOST: Alyssa from Ten Feet Off Beale
Jane - Taingamala
Sarah - G.I. Joe's Wife

If you're a new follower of Handling With Grace, let me know so I can visit you back!

Find me on twitterfacebook, and instagram (jamiegrace01)!  


Merry Christmas!

12.25.2012

 Much love from my family to yours.

The Holiday Blues

12.23.2012

This Christmas season has been filled with joy.  My Eva is finally old enough to be excited about the tree, looking forward to Santa coming to the house, and helping me bake cookies for the neighbors.  She doesn't care about presents at all and really has no concept of presents coming for Christmas but we went totally overboard  anyways.  I am filled with anticipation of watching her delight in them!

There is a darker side of this holiday season.  I am lonely.  Military life is not easy.  It is hard to be separated from family at Christmas time.  I miss my Mom.  I wish she was around to celebrate the holidays with all of us.  Its hard to not get sucked into self-pity.  We are succeeding at making traditions on our own but it is not the same.  I know that Eva is missing out.  I am missing out.  

We have been living in Maryland for just about a year now.  I have made a handful of friends.  It's not like Hawaii, though, where the friends we had were family.  I feel like I reach out a lot here and it just isn't reciprocated.  During the normal hustle and bustle of the work week, it doesn't bother me much but here in the shadow of the holiday blues, it is tougher.  I miss having a core group of family and friends around.  I miss having a strong network of people who I can spend time with and know that I can depend on.

I am thankful that Eva is so wonderful to be around right now.  She is in the best stage yet.  She is giggly and sweet and hardly ever unhappy.  It is hard to feel sorry for yourself when you are being smothered by two and a half year old lovins.

This is a pretty crappy Christmas post but this is my truth.  The holidays are hard for a lot of people.  Many military families are spending this holiday alone.  Grief is magnified, loneliness is more evident, and depression creeps in.  Sometimes, even when things are good, they're hard.  Merry Chrristmas to all of us.

Whether you're surrounded by friends and family or struggling to make memories on your own, Merry Christmas.

GIVEAWAY: BlueBird Bride Jewelry

12.20.2012

Just in time for Christmas! BlueBird Bride is an etsy store with a myriad of colorful and gorgeous statement necklaces, earrings, and other accessories.
Blue Bird Bride jewelry is offering a $20 credit to her etsy shop to one lucky Handling With Grace reader. Enter in the rafflecopter below.
THE WINNING ENTRY WILL BE VERIFIED

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Have you entered the $25 Target gift card with the $10 Starbucks card giveaway from yesterday (here)?

GIVEAWAY (Target and Starbucks) + Guest post + Walkabout

12.19.2012

Today, Janna from Who Am I? is taking over the blog with a guest post and a Target AND Starbucks giveaway!  Welcome, Janna!
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My name is Janna and I blog over at Who Am I? I came up with my title because I believe everyone has or will come to that point in life where you don't know who you are anymore. It could be a small revelation or a big one. But when you come to that point, you know something has to change for better or worse. I reached that point a few months ago. You see, I'm not your typical 24 year old. By the time I was 18 years old, I was already married. By 19, I had a newborn son and my husband of one year was deployed overseas. During his deployment, I enrolled in college. A year past and he thankfully came back to me safe and sound. After attending school for 2 years, I found out I was pregnant again...and that my husband would be deploying...again. Another year passed, he again returned home safe and sound.
As a third deployment looms in the near future, I started to question who I was. Was I an Army wife? A mother to two smart, funny, and rambunctious kiddos? Or was I a college student pursing a degree in history? A United States Army veteran, maybe? A daughter, sister, or friend? Or maybe I was an unpublished romance writer? Perhaps a blogger?

As I sat contemplating who exactly I was and feeling even more lost, I decided to start over. I needed a clean slate. I deleted my old blog and started writing from the heart without holding anything back. What do I write about you may be asking yourself? Well, I write about Jesus, marriage, family life, what I'm learning in college, the Army, what's weighing heavily on my heart, and what makes me laugh. Slowly but surely, I'm finding out who I am. All while trying to remain steady on the balance beam that is life. I may be lost but I know I'll be found--sooner or later :) 
* * *
Guest posts.

Those words scare me. Why? Because honestly, I have no idea what to write and I'm scared of putting myself out there on other people's blogs. When I sat down two hours ago to write this post, my mind went blank. What would the readers of Handling with Grace want to read from me? What would interest them? I thought and thought and went on Pinterest for a little bit. And then it came to me. Why not write a post of five things that I think are interesting about myself? So, here goes nothing!

5 Facts about me
1. I married by husband after dating him for three months. I am proud to say that come February, we will be celebrating six years together!

2. I can cook gourmet meals from the likes of Food Network and Julia Childs but for the life of me, I cannot make eggs and bacon! The irony is cruel.

3. I was 22 years old when I finally got my driver's license. I had a permit since I was 16 but never had the courage to take the test until my second child was born.

4. I have an Irish lilt. I keep it under tight control all the time. However, when I get mad or when I'm sick, it comes out in full force. Am I from Ireland? No, but my grandfather was Irish and his accent rubbed off on me as a child. I love and miss my granddad.

5. I've been writing two romance novels for a year now. One is a contemporary romance and the other is a historical. If you want to read them, here are the links: Sealed by Fire and Capturing Love at Midnight.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know a little about me!  I would like to leave you with a gift.  Here is a $25 Target gift card and a $10 Starbucks card to make the holidays just a little sweeter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
***
Now it's time for the Wednesday Walkabout.

What is a Walkabout?
It's a blog link-up party, every week here and with our co-hosts! Simply put your blog address or a specific post in the linky, visit some other people, and make some friends. Easy as that! I can't wait to talk to everyone!

Something new!  One "Mystery Host" and will have their link as #5 in the linky, as well as be featured in Rule #1.  Follow all 4 hosts on GFC or Bloglovin' and then keep an eye out next week to see if you're the lucky Mystery Host!

PS: You only have to link up with one of the co-hosts, it will link to all four sites!

The Rules
1. Place your link in the linky below and make some new friends. Simple as that.

MYSTERY HOST: Katie from Camo Colored Chaos
Jane - Taingamala
Sarah - G.I. Joe's Wife

If you're a new follower of Handling With Grace, let me know so I can visit you back!

Find me on twitterfacebook, and instagram (jamiegrace01)!  




Military Monday: B- Misawa, Japan

12.17.2012

The Military Monday duty station feature on this blog is designed for us military families to meet our fellow military spouses and also to learn about duty stations across the world.  We all get to (or have to depending on your outlook and particular set of circumstances), move every couple years to different duty stations that are scattered throughout the country and the world.  This feature will allow us the opportunity to explore these different areas of the world before we get there.  

If you are interested in being highlighted for this feature, please send me an email.  
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Name and blog site: B - blogging over at Then There Was We www.thentherewaswe.blogspot.com
Inline image 5
Branch of service: Air Force (and a lifelong Army brat)


Where currently stationed: Misawa Air Base, Japan
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How long have you been there?:
I've been here 6 months, my husband has been here just under a year and a half.

Previous duty stations:

With my husband - Fort Meade, MD

With my dad - Fort Bragg (as a baby), a now defunct tiny post in VA, Fort Campbell, Fort Belvoir

Favorite restaurant in the area:
Most of the food we've eaten here is good but there are a couple of places that are our dining out staples (Disclaimer: There are still quite a few restaurants we need to make it to!):
- Kappa Sushi: A quick trip out the gate, sushi for about 100 yen (just over a dollar) a plate. You can pick what you want off the conveyor belt or use the tableside monitor to get a made-to-order plate (or plates) sent straight to you via tiny bullet train.
Inline image 1
- Curry House Coco's: I hated the idea of curry before moving to Japan and now we eat it several times a month. Basically anyone you talk to who is, or has been, stationed in Japan will go on and on about this place.
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- Pepper Lunch: This place is one of my all time favorites. You pick the type and size of entree you want, whether or not you want a combo or add-ons, stick your money in the machine and hand the ticket to the cashier. In return, you can a piping hot cast iron plate (think fajita style) with rice, meat, and various toppings. You mix it all up and cook the meat to the desired doneness at your seat. I could eat it everyday.
Inline image 3
3 favorite things to do in your current city:
- Visiting the malls: Shopping is shopping anywhere, but Japan has so many neat and interesting things. One of our favorite things is finding new goodies to send to family back stateside.
- Exploring the area: Getting out and seeing as much of Japan as possible is our top goal during our time here. We love exploring Misawa and the surrounding towns as well as venturing farther out across the prefecture. Since we're not sure how long we'll be here, we've also taken advantage of the bullet train. This summer we went to Hiroshima and Tokyo and for Christmas we'll be traveling to Kyoto.
- Going on tours: The travel office on base hosts a TON of tours and we try to take one every month or two. We've seen rice field art and made kokeshi dolls, witnessed an amazing nighttime parade of gigantic floats, gone to a chrysanthemum festival, watched baseball games, and will be going to a hockey game or two and a snow festival this winter.

Favorite duty station so far: 
As much as I didn't think I would like it before I moved, I'd have to say Misawa at this point. Fort Meade was nice since it was close to my parents, I loved my job, and it was a good location to see/do so many things. However, anyone who's ever been in/around the DC area knows how crazy and crowded it is. Misawa is a small, rural town where the base makes up a large portion of the population.

Who is your hero?
My mom! The model military spouse if there ever was one. She taught me everything I know (like keeping your friend circle small, avoiding drama, etc.).

What is the biggest draw back to where your current duty station?
By far, our least favorite part of where we are now is how far away it is from everything and how expensive it is to travel. Outside of Misawa proper, the closest sightseeing is an hour-hour and a half away. Most of the other "must see" attractions in Aomori Prefecture (where we're located) are several hours away by car. The easiest way to get to farther cities in Japan is by bullet train since flying is really expensive. The bullet train to Tokyo takes about four hours and costs $300+ (USD) roundtrip for one adult.
Getting from Misawa to the states (and vice versa) is expensive and burdensome as well. If you can get a flight to/out of Haneda Airport it makes things a little easier, but most flights come into and leave out of Narita Airport. From Misawa, you have to take a train to Narita Airport or a plane to Haneda airport. (Then, if necessary, you'll have to get to the other airport by subway, bus, taxi, etc.) From there you can fly to the exotic (or American) destination of your choosing. One roundtrip adult plane ticket by itself between the States and Tokyo runs around $1500+ (I once lucked out and scored a $1200 ticket).

How strong/ or not is the sense of community in the area? It depends really. I recently described this base to a friend as "like a college campus but less fun." The base is old (WWII era) and small, and living here is essentially like living on a college campus/in a super small town. Since it's isolated--both physically and with the language barrier, civilian jobs are less than abundant, and it's a "two-baby base" there are a lot of unhappy, bored housewives (and some househusbands, too). As you might imagine, that can lead to quite a bit of drama--a lot of it Facebook-induced, sadly enough! But on the brightside, there are also some really awesome people and at the end of the day being here is really what you make of it.

Are there any local festivals you have been to or are planning to attend?Oh, yes! The Japanese love festivals and so do we. Over the summer we went to a Nebuta Festival in Aomori City, a Tanabata Festival in Misawa, and a Chrysanthemum Festival in Hirosaki, and the USAF/JASDF Air Show on base. During the winter we plan to attend the Towada Snow Festival.

What is the overall feel of the community/area/base?
Like I mentioned above, it's very much like a college campus/small town on base. Off-base, or "outside the gate" it's very much a quiet town. The people are all very friendly and even if they don't speak English they will do their best to communicate, and they appreciate when Americans at least try to speak Japanese (and good manners get you a long way!). Misawa itself is pretty small and Japan as a whole is a very compact country. With such a small amount of land to squeeze buildings and homes onto, the Japanese are masters at getting everything super close together. Overall, we really like being here. We're glad we're not near the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, or on a tiny island down in Okinawa. Misawa is very much a unique, and much more Japanese assignment.

Have you joined any groups on base?
I ended up landing a decent job right away in one of the squadrons and participate in the unit's Booster Club. I also take a Barre Class which is a  nice way to meet people and get in my workout somewhere besides a crowded gym. There are clubs for both Enlisted and Officer spouses, but they both seem like pretty small groups. 
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If you are a military spouse or military member and want be featured for this post, please send me an email at HandlingWithGrace {at} gmail.com.  Duplicate stations are welcomed!

The Art of Shaving




The Art of Shaving is the world's leading premium shave brand.  It’s line of shaving products and accessories is botanical based and derived from the “Four Elements of the Perfect Shave”- prepare, lather up, shave, and moisturize.  The Art of Shaving products are recognized as the best selling men’s brand at high- end department stores and salons across the country. 

For B's 30th birthday in October, I purchased him the Art of Shaving set with the badger hair brush.  He said it is absolutely worth the extra money.  It is a splurge but shaving products are used by most of us every, single day.  Is it really a splurge if you use it every day and it helps protect your most sensitive skin?  The set that I purchased for his birthday was the lemon scent.  It is fresh but not overpowering.
He was already using a brush with a shave soap in a bowl prior to me purchasing this set.  The Art of Shaving badger hair brush that came with the set was higher quality than the one that he was previously using. 

If you are looking to get something special for the man in your life this Christmas, check out The Art of Shaving products here.  The products are a great holiday present for the man hard to shop for man in your life.  You will not be disappointed with the quality. 

This is the one I bought B for his birthday.  I paid full price at the salon but if you use this code "15offFSK", you can receive $15 off and free shipping (valid until 12/30). 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post from P&G through BlogHer but I really did purchase the products on my own, months ago for B and can honestly speak to their high quality.  

Movies and memories

12.16.2012

Yesterday we took Eva to her very first movie in the theater.  We saw, "Rise of the Guardians".  It is a cartoon featuring Santa, the Easter bunny, Jack Frost, and the Tooth Fairy.  She loved it.  She was so excited to be a big girl at the theater.

Super lame Mommy confession- I actually teared up as she proudly handed her ticket over to the movie clerk.  She is growing up so fast.  I love the little lady that she is becoming.

{23 weeks pregnant with Baby Boy}

Sorry that these are blurry, iPhone pics.

Baby, money and trash.

12.14.2012

Dear body: Thank you for working properly and making my baby boy thrive. Not only was he growing at his scan earlier this week but he is 6 days ahead of schedule. That is huge people. He is huge.

Dear tipping rules: I think we are going a bit overboard.  I just learned that we are supposed to tip garbage men and mailmen.  It never occurred to me that people tip them.  I don't have a personal relationship with any of them- I couldn't pick them out of a line-up.  They do a JOB that they receive a SALARY for.  Why do I have to tip them?  Bah humbug.

{while we're talking about trash guys}
Dear Trash Guys: I know it is highly unlikely but I hope one of you find that money that I must have thrown out.  It makes me sort of ill to imagine it rotting away in the dump (read here).

Dear Mary Kay mascara: I am pleasantly surprised by you.  I am a mascara junkie and usually purchase every new one that comes out at the drug store (I am a junkie but I am not a baller) but this seriously is better.  It took the place of my previous number one which was L'Oreal False Fiber Lashes.  Try this mascara.  It is good for everyday wear.  You won't be disappointed. (need a Mary Kay rep?  Contact fellow blogger, Dalayna .  She is selling them and also Christmas sets for your beauty lover friends!  Show her some love).    
Dear Dads (What?!  There could be ONE Dad reading.  No?  Yeah, you're probably right): Don't take your toddlers Christmas shopping for Momma's gift if you don't want her to know what you bought.  Toddlers love to share secrets.  Just sayin'.

Dear wine: I haven't forgotten about you.  That I can promise.  I miss you.  Lots.
Dear Readers: Let's enjoy the heck out of this weekend, shall we?  Any big plans?  My only plans for this weekend is to eat some Thai Panang curry.  Yep.  I am pregnant.  My goals all revolve around food.

Find me on twitterfacebook, and instagram (jamiegrace01)! 

Attitude + Wednesday Walkabout

12.12.2012


Today I am going to work on having a good attitude.  My life is good.  Things are OK.  I feel like the road has been a bit bumpy the past few days (maybe weeks. maybe months).  I can't control everything but I can work on my attitude.
***********

What is Adrienne and Paul's big secret that Brandi spilled on this weeks Real Housewives of Beverly Hills?  Bravo took the cowards way out and did not disclose the secret (for fear of being sued?).  Is the secret that she didn't actually carry her boys but used a surrogate instead?  Or maybe that they were experiencing some abuse in their high profile marriage?  What do you think?
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Blueberry/Oat/Apple/Banana Bread.  YUM.  I am making this one for sure.
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Feeling down?  Sad?  Frustrated?  Google image search, "cutest animals ever".  Problem solved.  Right?!
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And lastly,
Source: ifunny.com via Hope on Pinterest

********
What is a Walkabout?
It's a blog link-up party, every week here and with our co-hosts! Simply put your blog address or a specific post in the linky, visit some other people, and make some friends. Easy as that! I can't wait to talk to everyone!

Something new!  One "Mystery Host" and will have their link as #5 in the linky, as well as be featured in Rule #1.  Follow all 4 hosts on GFC or Bloglovin' and then keep an eye out next week to see if you're the lucky Mystery Host!

PS: You only have to link up with one of the co-hosts, it will link to all four sites!

The Rules
1. Place your link in the linky below and make some new friends. Simple as that.

MYSTERY HOST: Krystaladele from Unintentional Stay at Home Mom
Jane - Taingamala
Sarah - G.I. Joe's Wife

If you're a new follower of Handling With Grace, let me know so I can visit you back!

Find me on twitterfacebook, and instagram (jamiegrace01)!  





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