Munchkins and the Military

http://www.munchkinsandmilitary.com

I'm a stay at home mom of two rambunctious toddlers. Hubs is an MP in the Army. After a year long deployment and a cross-country PCS, we're settling into "normal" life. I enjoy cooking, crafting, and hanging out with my little girls.

Alejandra is a winner of Top 25 Military Moms - 2013

What's a tip for celebrating a holiday or milestone with your kids when your partner isn't able to be there?

I'm so thankful that my girls are still young enough to not really have to put an emphasis on celebrating holidays. My husband was gone just after Christmas 2011 and didn't return until New Year's Day 2013. Literally an entire year full of holidays. I did my best to keep celebrations as low-key as possible. I had a Flat Daddy made that accompanied us to special events, just so that daddy could "be there".
For Veronica's second birthday, I did my party supply shopping early to be able to send one of everything to my husband so that he could celebrate with us from Afghanistan. He got a party hat, a set of all of the paper/plastic wear, and even his own goody bag.
Since I thought he might be home for Christmas, I went crazy and started decorating long before Thanksgiving to give myself time to make sure everything was PERFECT. Well, it turns out he wasn't home in time so I got together with several other families from the unit and we had our own little anti-Christmas party with hot chocolate and holiday movies. We made sure to not let the kids realize that it was actually Christmas though. V started getting curious about when Santa would be coming, so I told her that he was on the same plane with Daddy, coming from far away.
Hubs finally made it back on New Year's Day. We greeted him at the homecoming field in our Christmas dresses and opened the gifts that I had put out just before leaving for the homecoming ceremony.

What have you learned about parenting from living in different places?

I've learned that kids are resilient. No matter how young they are, they can tell when something is up and changes are being made. However, they are easily able to adjust to their new surroundings.
With us it took a while for veronica to feel comfortable in our new home in a different state, but she's adjusted very well. Even at three years old, she's aware that she left friends behind in Georgia, but has been happy making new ones at daycare on post.
As the girls become older, I have confidence that they'll be able to adjust well.

What are your best tips for traveling with kids?

I really hate traveling long distances with kids. My best advise would be to plan as much as you can, as early as you can.
My kids have done really well with a portable DVD player and a bag of snacks. The key is to keep them as busy and entertained as possible. A new book or toy also works well for a little while.
I've also learned to pack twice as much of anything that I think I'll need. Diapers, wipes, snacks.

What are your family's favorite activities for keeping cool in the heat (indoor or out)? Please share a link to a picture if you have one!

Alex

We're all huge fans of playing in the water. Frequent trips to the water park, along with splashing around in our own backyard keep us all cool during the summer. I recently bought us a kiddie pool for our patio. The girls can spend HOURS out there running around and taking a little dip when they get too hot. I recently made some sprayable sidewalk chalk which is their absolute favorite! Most of the time, they end up spraying each other, but since it's made with flour, I'm confident that they're safe while having fun. The girls also love when I get the sprinkler going in the grass. They'll run around as if they're challenging the sprinkler to try to get them.
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Can you suggest a fun summer activity like berry picking that helps kids learn where food comes from? Please link to a picture we can use if you have one.

Alex

Having our own little garden and having the girls help with planting and maintaining it is both fun and beneficial. Since we are renting our current home, digging up an area of our back yard is out of the question. However, it's just as easy to grow vegetables in pots along our patio. The girls get to help out with water and picking. When it's time to eat, they connect that what they're snacking on came from our yard and they actually had a hand in producing it!
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What's your family's favorite, healthy homemade summer treat that's NOT a popsicle? Please share a link to a recipe and picture if you have one.

Alex

Frozen yogurt drops have been a HUGE hit here this summer. Not only are they SO easy to make, but they're healthy as well. The girls love them because they're nice and cold and almost taste like ice cream. I love them because it's not nearly as messy as handing yogurt cups over to toddlers and letting them go to town. These are a nice snack while playing outside on a hot day.
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What's a great kid snack that would travel well on a car or plane trip? Please include a link to a picture if you have one.

Alex

Our little ones are still toddlers, so we stick to little or no mess items. Some of our favorites are Welch's fruit gummies, fruit pouches, and animal crackers or Goldfish.
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What do you do with all your digital photos? Please share your best tip for rediscovering memories and de-cluttering your hard drive.

Alex

I try to load all of my favorites to Facebook and/or print them out my favorites as hard copies. I used to just save all them from my phone and camera to my computer, but after having one computer take a dump, and the other stolen, I have no photos from either of my child's births other than the ones on Facebook. I currently have a 16GB disk in my camera that has about 7000 photos on it. Once the disk is full, I'd like to burn it to a disk and keep the SD card in our safe. That way I'll have two copies of the photos in case of theft or damage. When this card runs out of space, I'll just buy a new one. Spending $20 on a new card every few month is totally worth it to keep images of my babies when they were babies.
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