A Year of Thanks – August

August.  August is a good month.  (Mostly because it’s back to school for many kids AND my birth month.)  I have a had a lot to be thankful for this month, and I am going to narrow it down to 31 things.  (“Narrow it down?”  Okay.  Maybe that’s a stretch, but, you know… Stick with me people.)

I’ve been doing this since January, so here you can find January, February, March, April, May, June, and July.

Here’s my August: 

1. AFN — We lived in an off post high rise in Korea, so we couldn’t have AFN. It would have been nice, but we made do with Netflix and Hulu. That being said, I’m thankful AFN exists, because a.) those who live on post have the option, and b.) we are in an on-post hotel as we prepare for our PCS so we now have the option!
2. French toast — Because I don’t want to know what it’s like to live in a world without French toast.
3. Martha Stewart — Think of how much more uncivilized this world would be without Martha. I learned how to fold a fitted sheet because of her. That’s not to say I ACTUALLY fold fitted sheets, but if hard-pressed, I could.
4. I’m American — Yeah, America has its faults, just like everything in existence, but after having lived in Korea for three years, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I am proud to be American.
5. Keyboard short cuts — I use Command Z, Command C, and Command V as if my life depended on it.
6. iTunes Radio — Thank you, Apple, for getting on the free radio bandwagon. ‘Preciate it.
7. iPhone — The iPhone was revolutionary when it came out. Hell, it still is. I remember when my husband (then boyfriend) bought me the first iPhone. It was love at first sight!
8. Smucker’s Goober — You know, the peanut butter and jelly in the same jar? It’s genius and deelish!
9. Little Women: LA — Best guilty pleasure since Sister Wives. Love!
10. Every now and then, Hulu plays a show without commercials. That’s like getting a present on Christmas morning.
11. The first day of school. THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL.
12. Silence — Because it really is golden.
13. Getting our HHGs from Korea nearly a month ahead of schedule.  (Which is more than I can say for my car, but that’s NOT something for which I am thankful, so we will just move right along.)
14. Finding the perfect house — My family and I are renting this gorgeous house in Alabama.  We even talked about buying it, but, while I love this house, Alabama isn’t my forever anything.  I’ll miss the pool when we leave.
15. Positive pregnancy tests.
16. Being officially out of the first trimester — My last pregnancy resulted in miscarriage, so I feel like I can finally relax now that I am in my second trimester.
17. Seeing my son’s school work when I pick him up — The amount of pride he has in the things he has done in school makes me beam with pride.  Kindergarten has gotten off to a good start.
18. Having an “eye” for photos — That’s not to say I’m the most amazing photographer who has ever walked this Earth, but I do acknowledge I don’t completely suck at taking pictures.  I found something I love to do.
19. Bookshelves — Never mind the fact that there are books on my floor, because I need another bookshelf… Bookshelves are awesome.
20. Gorilla by Bruno Mars — Just.  Yeah.
21. Refrigerators with ice and water on the door — Genius.  GENIUS.
22. Having a pool in our backyard — I really didn’t want to live some place with a pool, because my son (and I) can’t swim, but guess what?  I not only learned how to swim at the tender age of 29, but my son is also getting the hang of it.
23. Dog Days & Nights Too — We take our neurotic dog to this kennel, and it’s truly perfect for him.  The staff are not only amazing, the set up is genius.  They have couches and chairs and pillows for the dogs to lounge on.  It’s basically a house for dogs, and they have a ton of room to play outside, too.
24. BIRTHDAYS!  Happy birthday to meeeee!
25. Office Depot — Because I love office supplies the way some people like shoes.
26. My new tripod — My old tripod broke in our PCS from Korea, so my husband surprised me with this fancy pants tripod.  Love it!
27. Visitors — My in-laws came to visit and about a week later, my friend Janet came to visit me for my birthday.  I loved spending time with them.  Despite the week in between visits, all I did with my in-laws and Janet was watch Pawn Stars and CNN.  Either way, it was great catching up after three years in Korea.  It was also great having my son bother someone other than me.
28. Ice Cream Cake — Noms.
29. My best friend Mary’s Angel Food Cake — It was all I wanted for my birthday.  I am proud of myself forphotosharing, because I had already threatened everyone’s life if they even looked at it.  Thanks, Mary, for sending me TWO, so I could share those slivers of cake with my family.
30. My birthday care package from Mary — Okay, so this is two in a row of Mary, but let me tell you: she’s that amazing.  You know these blogs I do where I list something I am thankful for every day?  Well, she picked 30 things from those blogs and mailed them to me for my 30th birthday.  She’s thoughtful, and I love her. But since I already said I was thankful for her in one of my earlier blogs, I’ll say I am thankful for those care packages.  ATLADIATW.
31. Inside jokes — Because it’s fun to have something which makes you laugh or smile that only a special person/people would get.  I’m teeling* you, it’s true.
*See?  That’s FUNNY to those crazy AWN ladies.

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Cost-Effective Backyard Updates for Families

Update YourSpace (2)When you’re relocating frequently or need to rent out the property you are living in, finding ways to update your home easily, including the yard, without a lot of expense is important. Even if you are planning to stay for a while, and are renting your property, you want to keep the backyard updated without investing too much to show that you are a good renter. Whether you are looking to impress your landlord or to spruce up a property you own in order to sell or rent it when you move on, keep these thoughts in mind to update your backyard in a cost efficient manner.

101217_patio_furnitureInvest in Patio Furniture

Patio furniture makes your backyard space usable and inviting, and it can be an affordable addition to your home. The great feature about patio furniture is the fact that when you relocate, you can either take it with you, maximizing your investment, or you can leave it as a benefit to the home’s new renters or owners. Either way, you will get use out of the furniture while you live in the home.

ivy-potAdd Some Potted Plants

Investing in landscaping is a challenge because of the cost and work involved. If you are going to be moving on soon, you don’t want to invest the time and money into planting a garden, which you may not be able to enjoy fully before you have to move. Potted plants and hanging baskets are a great option. They come pre-planted, so there is less work involved, and can be positioned wherever you think is most attractive in the yard. Pots and baskets also add color and interest to the space without too much unneeded cost.

trellis-newengland2Install a Trellis

A pre-made trellis from a garden center at your favorite hardware store doesn’t have to cost much. Yet the architectural detail on a trellis adds interest and creates a focal point in your yard. A trellis is also the ideal place to plant a flowering vine to add another type of foliage to your yard. When you are ready to relocate, the new owner or renter will love the look of the space.

Mulch-typesPlace Some Mulch

If you want to give your garden spaces in your backyard a finished look, add some mulch to them. This unifies the look of the backyard and also keeps weeds from growing back too quickly. If you are living in an area where water is in short supply, mulch can keep the water in the soil and prevent unwanted evaporation. When you’re selling or renting out the space, or simply want to show your landlord that you are going to keep it up well, you’ll find that the mulch makes a huge difference.

contemporary-outdoor-lightingAdd Some Lighting

Outdoor lighting does several things. First, it makes your backyard usable at all times of the day. Second, it gives it more visual appeal when people drive by after dark. Outdoor lighting can be as simple or complex as you want. You can invest in outdoor lights, or you can re-purpose something you are not using in your home. A fancy chandelier from a rummage sale, for example, can be fitted with solar light bulbs and hung outside. Rope lights left over from Christmas decorating can be laid along the edges of walkways or flowerbeds to light up the space a bit.

With these simple upgrades, you can personalize and dress up your space, making it more usable for you while you enjoy the house, then making it easier to sell or rent when you’re moving on.


About the author:

Jessica Kyriakos is Brand Manager of Webcoat Inc. in McAlester, OK. She has worked in the site furnishing industry for 15 years. The company provides durable, economical and comfortable amenities to enhance your outdoor area.

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Army Spouse Profile: Sandee Payne

Sandee Payne has been an Army wife for 18 years.  Besides being an Army wife, she is also a mother, author, entrepreneur, Realtor, and interior designer.  Sandee’s husband has been deployed 8 times in their 18 years of marriage.  They have been stationed at 7 different installations including Fort Drum, Fort Leonard Wood, Germany, and are currently at Fort Hood.

Sandee has been consulting other military families with decorating and organizing their homes since the beginning of her Army wife life in 1996.  Every time they PCS’d, the need for her services kept escalating.  So, her talents evolved into her current interior design business just about 10 years ago.  Once her family moved to Fort Hood, she began her own business called Buy The Hour Interiors in 2007.  She recognized the need for an interior decorator and consultant among military families.

Sandee says that one of the best things about owning her own business is “the flexibility it gives me to be available to schedule my family’s needs first.”  She loves being creative all the time and being able to “adjust the business as the client market shifts and changes.”  Sandee has recently expanded her creative talents to include being a realtor who helps her clients stage their homes for sale.

Sandee Payne 2

Sandee does consulting for individuals, families, and even businesses in the Fort Hood area.

During one of her husband’s many long deployments, Sandee began writing a book called That Military House: Move It, Organize It, & Decorate It.  After many years of decorating for military friends and neighbors, as well as experiencing her own personal PCS moves, Sandee recognized a pattern of challenges when it came to making each new duty station into a “home.”  As she encountered a challenge, she would write it down along with her solutions.  She gathered these ideas on index cards and filled up shoe boxes with these cards.  After the encouragement of many friends, she decided to write her book as a PCS resource.  She began writing the book as a way to pass the time during a long deployment.  In 2006, she self-published the book.  It is available on line on websites such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as through her publisher website at www.lulu.com.

Sandee Payne 6In 2010, Sandee was picked to help with a special project for a Fort Hood soldier who was wounded in the 2009 shooting attack on post.  SSG Patrick Ziegler was severely wounded in the 2009 attack and was chosen to receive a new home from ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition.  Sandee helped the Extreme Makeover Home Edition team with decorating and design decisions for everything from the sofa to the master bedroom headboard for Ziegler’s new home.  Sandee called this the “most rewarding feeling of selfless giving that I have ever experienced.”  Sandee said the whole team was so emotionally involved and it really showed in the smallest of details.  “To be an integral part of another Army family’s home life and rehabilitation after such a terrible event was so important to me,” said Payne.  Sandee told me that when there were no cameras around, the cast of the show had tears in their eyes as they worked on each project.  “It makes you realize your opportunity to be connected to something much bigger than you are,” said Payne.

Sandee Payne 3

The bedroom that Sandee Payne helped design for wounded Fort Hood soldier, Patrick Ziegler, during ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition

For other Army spouses who want to start their own businesses, Sandee says, “Follow your bliss.  Find something you love to do, and do it in a way that no one else is doing it and always strive to care for your customers better than anyone has cared for you.”  For more information on Sandee Payne’s interior design work, go to www.buythehourinteriors.com.  You can also follow her work and ideas at www.thatmilitaryhouse.com.



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Marily Durbin Considine - August 30, 2014 - 6:20 pm

Sandee Payne :)

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Put it back into Perspective

When your thinking about your child heading back to school it can sometimes be stressful. I know this year I thought about everything. This year will be my daughters first year at school. I found myself staying up all night thinking about everything that could go wrong. Would she make friends? Will she have everything she needs? My stress almost got to the point of pulling her out of school. Then I reminded myself a skill I learned while taking an Army Resiliency Course.

The tool is called Put It Into Perspective, the goal of this tool is to stop catastrophic thinking, reduce anxiety and improve problem solving by identifying worst, best and most likely outcome of the situation. The great thing about this tool is that it helps build optimism.
Catastrophizing is when you waste critical energy ruminating about the irrational worst case outcomes of a situation, which prevents you from taking purposeful action.

This is exactly what I was doing I was catastrophizing! I was thinking of everything that could wrong with sending her to school. I was thinking of everything that could happen or might happen. I wasn’t able to sleep at night because my mind could not stop. Back to school was too stressful for this mom to handle!

So I got out my handy dandy Army Resiliency Manual and went through the steps
1. List worst case outcomes
2. List best case outcomes
3. List the most likely outcomes
4. Identify a plan for dealing with most likely

So what’s really the worst thing that’s going to happen to my daughter, I’m truly afraid children are going to make fun of her because of her speech and call her names.
The best outcome would be that she makes tons of friends and excels in her studies.
The most likely outcome is that children are going to have a hard time understanding her and may make comments, she will also probably have fun.
So what’s my plan to deal with these issues, I need to sit down with the teacher and explain that Natalee is just a little different. She does have problems with language and will be taking speech at school.

After going through the steps I found myself less stressed and able to cope with sending her to school. I’ve been able to sleep at night now knowing I have a plan. My husband even noticed a difference in my attitude. He thought I was crazy worrying everyday about our daughter, but that’s what momma’s do, we worry about our babies.

I encourage everyone to seek out an Army Resiliency class, it has change my life so much. I learned a lot about myself and my family. After taking the class I improved my relationship with my husband and we can talk now without raising our voices. Classes are usually held in the unit setting or Army Community Service. Your unit might also have a Spouse Master Resiliency Trainer. Ask your Family Readiness Group leader or stop into ACS for more details!

Thanks for reading my blog and I hope to bring you another Resiliency Skill next month!


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Jennifer 101

My crazy, wonderful family.

My crazy, wonderful family.

I’ve wanted to start a blog for years.  I’ve attempted, and failed, several times.  For the last few months, I’ve felt the need to blog even more than usual. I’ve talked to (okay pestered) my BFF, Corrie who is a seasoned blogger, about starting my own blog but there are always other things that seem to pop up and take precedence.  In June, I was offered a position on the Army Wife Network Core Team as News 6 and along with it, the chance to be a blogger for Loving a Soldier.  The timing couldn’t have been better.  Now I have to blog, its part of my JOB, and I think this was just the kick in the pants I needed.

What makes me qualified to be a blogger for LAS?  I have been a military spouse for almost literally half of my life.  My husband and I have been married for seventeen years and he has been active duty Army for over twenty years.  We have been stationed at Ft Jackson, South Carolina, one year unaccompanied in Korea while I lived in Ohio close to relatives, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, USAG Yongsan, South Korea, and now Ft Knox, Kentucky.

We have raised six (yes, six) crazy, wonderful, resilient children in this amazing Army culture.  While there are days when I’m not too fond of the Army and some of the decisions they make for us, I wouldn’t trade this crazy life for anything.  I love the Army way of life, love the fact that our kids have gotten to experience and live through so much in their short lives, love the friendships and families that have come into our lives and continue to be a part of our lives even after we’ve moved on to other duty stations.  The Army culture is like no other.

Why do I want to be a blogger for LAS?  Along with my love for the military lifestyle comes a great love of helping others; whether they be new Army spouses, seasoned veterans like me, retirees, new to a duty station or part of the world they’ve never experienced before, facing a situation they’ve not had to deal with in the past, you name it, I want to help.  When we were stationed in South Korea, I was part of the spouse sponsorship program which allowed me to help incoming spouses and families get acquainted with USAG Yongsan and Korea on a one-on-one basis.  I loved the work I did for the program.  Unfortunately, that program has not made it stateside yet so here I am at Ft Knox, looking for an opportunity to help.  When the chance to blog for LAS appeared, I jumped on it.  YES!  This is what I want to do!  This is how I can help!  My goal is to write a blog that is helpful and informative and not always serious, to maybe impart a little bit of wisdom in the stories I tell of my experiences in the Army and of raising multiple children in the Army culture.  I’m looking forward to this journey and hope that you’ll hang around for the ride.

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