My Current Routine for My Two Year Old

I have always appreciated having a routine that I can use as a guide, ever since my daughter was a few weeks old.  This has helped set my daughter up for success in knowing what to expect, and has also greatly reduced any power-struggles that can sometimes come with going down for naps or bedtime.
Here is my current general routine that I am following with my two-year old, keeping in mind that we all have ‘off-days’ and that is okay!  It is steady consistency and getting back on track when you are able that is the real key. 😉
6:00am–Ava wakes up and I bring her into my room for a diaper change, some snuggles and milk.
6:10– I let her watch one cartoon (such as Puffin Rock, Berenstain Bears, or Beginners Bible) while I get ready for the day, listen to a short audio devo, or inspirational podcast and then start breakfast.
6:30–breakfast
6:45–clean up and put away dishes (she helps with the dishwasher), tidy a few things in the house if needed
7:00–I have printed routine cards that my daughter likes to point to when it is time to get ready (brush teeth, make bed, etc.) and we start by getting dressed.
7:30–independent playtime in the living room, while I study in the same room.  She will sometimes color, or play with legos as well.
9:30–snacks, and playtime with mommy
10:00–go outside, story-hour at the library, run errands, or playdate…
11:30/11:45–lunchtime
12:00–naptime
2:30–up from nap, read several books together
3:00– independent playtime, while I clean up around the house or maybe do a little more studying
3:30–either continue playtime, or go outside to the playground
4:00–screen time
5:00–start dinner, sometimes she can help, or will color while I cook
5:30–dinnertime
6:00–clean-up, and then books or play with daddy
6:45–start getting ready for bed
7/7:15 bedtime
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How To Balance Life as a Stay-At-Home-Mom & Online College Student

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Two things: expectation management, and scheduling/planning ahead.  Those are my secrets!  Sounds easy enough, right?  Well let me break it down a little bit…
First of all, as moms, we all know our days often do not go as according to plan.  For those days, you have to be willing to let go of what you cannot control, and adjust your day accordingly.  You planned on studying early in the morning before your little one wakes up but they decided to wake up before 5 am?  A good nap and a few tweaks to your schedule will definitely be necessary!  And coffee…lots of coffee.
I raised my daughter on the “Babywise” scheduling method since she was born, and having a daily schedule, or even just a guideline to follow, has saved my sanity!  It’s been a lifesaver, not just for me, but for my 2 year old as well.  Children actually thrive on schedules and knowing what to expect in their day, so it is a win-win for everyone. 🙂
If you know when you child naps and for how long they nap, then you can plan your study time accordingly.  My daughter sleeps about 2-hours now, so I take one of those hours to nap (especially now that I am pregnant with my second and get tired pretty quickly) and the other hour to study.
I also take advantage of the mornings when she is more sleepy and like to lay on the couch, or play quietly with her toys.  She will either watch a cartoon, or have independent playtime for an hour while I study.
On the days that I have more study work than normal to do, I chose a simple dinner (or let my husband make his own when he comes home! He doesn’t mind), 😉 and do a little more school-work while he plays with our toddler.
The weekends are when I catch up and accomplish my tests, quizzes, and finish my papers.  Saturday mornings, my husband plays with our daughter (and catches up on his football!) while I complete quizzes and extra homework in my room with the door locked.  Bless our children’s needy little hearts. 😉
Sunday afternoon and evening are for finishing papers.  I will usually do this while my little one naps and then work on it some more in the evening.
With this kind of schedule, we still have pretty full weekends to spend time as a family and relax–online college has been such a blessing!
So again, just remember that not every day goes as planned and that is okay, but the weekends can be used to catch up, and a daily planner (filled out a week advance before each class) is your best friend!
College as a SAHM is totally doable!  Find your support system, the people that will cheer you on and have your back and encourage you on the tough days.  As with everything, this is but a season of life and I know you can do it!

First Trimester Musings | New Duty Station Announcement

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:: Our Big Island, Hawaii trip in 2016 ::
I will be about two months along by my first official OB appointment, next week, at Daegu Catholic University Hospital.  I remember how thrilled I was when I discovered I was pregnant for the first time, with Ava.  It was just hours before my husband was coming to pick me up from work, on his lunch break, to drive me to the airport for a long weekend visit to a friend of mine in Indiana.  Not my ideal scenario for surprising him with the news!  So I waited until I came back from my trip, and gave him a gift bag that had a box of chocolates inside, with a two-piece newborn outfit underneath the chocolates, and a positive pregnancy test.  I remember the excitement we both shared and driving to Fort Bragg that afternoon to stroll one of their wooded walking paths.  I also remember my husband saying a prayer of thankfulness and a blessing on our unborn baby.  It was a special memory that I will always have of our first baby.
Being pregnant with a second feels so different than the first.  Still exciting, just very different.  I told my husband by handing him a little box with a Christmas ornament that said, “Can’t wait to meet you in August”.  Our 2-year old grabbed the box before he did, and the note came out of the picture ornament and he didn’t even understand it when he read it.  Ha-ha!  But I showed him two pregnancy tests and that got the message across clearly enough.
I am so happy to think about our first-born having a sibling and friend and I cannot wait to see their dynamic together.  I realize it may be hard for her to adjust to someone new taking up so much of mama’s time at first, but we will get through that and I look forward to lot’s of mommy-daughter dates together.
I was never sick with my first and didn’t honestly experience really any symptoms at all until I was well into my second trimester, but more so in my third.  In my late second trimester I had really sore feet (probably due to improper footwear…such as flat sandals) and could hardly walk without wearing my Keen-brand shoes.  I also had acid re-flux in my third trimester that made it hard to sleep.
With this second pregnancy, symptoms have shown up much sooner.  Bathroom breaks are frequent, exhaustion is intense, I had morning sickness all last week (feeling a lot better this week), and have had some food aversions.  Strangest aversion is hot coffee.  The thought of it makes me sick, so I make my own cold-brew with this pitcher from Amazon. It’s only $18!  
Another thing about this being my second pregnancy, is that I am less nervous.  I’m sure that is pretty normal.  I’ve done it once before, so not immediately seeing my OB as soon as I find out I am pregnant doesn’t worry me, thinking about the baby and worrying over it happens less because life with a toddler keeps me busy–and I am thankful for that!  I also have online college classes starting again this month and that keeps me pretty busy as well.  Staying busy has been a good thing for me and I am looking forward to classes starting back.  I like having goals and seeing them accomplished, whether it’s cleaning my house or knocking out college courses!
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:: Holland, Michigan in 2016 ::
I already miss holding a little baby and keep feeling that Ava is growing up too fast.  <insert sad face>  Thank heaven for babies!  It’s exhausting work, but the more work we put into something, the more rewarding it is–can I get an amen?! 🙂
2017 was so full of blessings, with a pregnancy announcement being one of them, and my husband being promotable to Major being another!  I am SO proud of him.  With that news comes another PCS move and in only six months because of the upcoming promotion.  But it means we are heading back to the states, and this time to Charlottesville, Virginia!!  I am really looking forward to being closer to family and to spending the holidays with them this year.
God has been so good.

Disney’s Aulani Character Breakfast

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My husband and I have wanted to visit Disney’s Aulani Resort since we have lived here and finally decided to check it out last weekend.  We didn’t book any rooms but discovered that you can have a “character breakfast” at the Makahiki restaurant, (hosted by Auntie and Minnie) for about $37 per person with children 2 and under free.  The breakfast is a buffet with a decent selection of fruit, cereals, hot foods and mini character-shaped waffles.
You do have to make reservations for this breakfast, and can easily do so online–breakfast hours are 7am through 11am.
Pro Tip #1: Go early!  Perhaps going very late (11am) could work as well, but we went to the 7:30 breakfast and by the time we left, the place was overflowing and had long lines.
Pro Tip #2: Keep your parking ticket with you after you park and validate it when you pay for your meal.  Parking will be FREE up to 4 hours after you validate it.  That’s pretty huge since it can cost around $12 per hour or $37 all day.  Free is always good. 😉
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Makahiki restaurant with outdoor and indoor seating.
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Before you are seated, you are handed a card with your name on it, for photo-taking purposes, and then you get in line for pictures with Mickey before going back to the front desk to be seated for breakfast.
Ava was getting pretty excited to see Mickey while we waited in line–again, I’d go early so that you don’t have to wait in too long of a line.
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A Mickey Mouse waffle with coconut syrup!
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Minnie, Goofy, and “Auntie” who is the hostess and plays songs on her ukulele, all walk around the dining area during the breakfast to chat with you and get pictures–Ava was especially fascinated by Goofy. 🙂
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We walked all through the back of the resort where the lazy river, splash pad, and slides were, and ended up letting Ava cool off a little in the ocean and play.
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One of the things I love about Disney–there is something special around every corner!  Ava loved watching the fish in this little aquarium.
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Look at this cute movie corner!  It was playing Ava’s favorite show, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
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Isn’t this place beautiful??  We really loved our visit, touring the resort and enjoying the character breakfast with our little one–totally worth it!  Plus it made for an uber-long nap for Ava afterwards…win! 😉
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A Few of My Favorite Things About Living in Hawaii

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Aloha Fridays
Everyone’s living for the weekend in Hawaii!  Locals love to set up tents and camp by the beaches, often for the entire weekend.  Plus, there is even a song dedicated to this day…”It’s Aloha Friday, no work ’til Monday…”.  Look it up, it will get stuck in your head. 😉  Saying “happy Aloha Friday!” to someone is absolutely a thing, and I love it!
Hawaiian Food
Oh my goodness…Kalua pig, sticky rice, mac salad, haupia, lomi lomi salmon, poke, taro-flavored desserts, malasadas (it’s actually a Portuguese donut but you have to try them hot from Leonards Bakery…mmm).
God’s Creation
If you dont like the outdoors and beautiful mountains, sparkling ocean, sandy beaches, jungles to explore, waterfalls to swim in and spotting rainbows almost weekly
…Hawaii is not for you.
The Culture and Language
I love the beauty of the Hawaiian culture. I feel privileged when I get to watch the men and women perform the hula and sing in their musical language.  The simplicity of the native Hawaiian life is fascinating, especially in today’s fast-paced way of living.  “Ohana” is a word you won’t be able to forget when you leave the islands.  It means ‘family’, yet at the same time, so much more than that.  You dont truly understand it until you’ve lived here and then have to leave.  I will miss Hawaii so much.
So Much to Do!
Like to shop?  Oahu has you covered on that one.  World’s largest outdoor mall (the Ala Moana) or downtown Waikiki is a good place to start. 😉  And for flea market-type shopping, check out the Aloha Swap meet.  Like to lay out on the beach?  Well…you picked a good place to visit/live then.  Like to hike?  There is no end to trails and amazing views.  Sea turtles?  Whale watching?  Discovery?  Adventure?  Nothing about Hawaii is boring so long as you get outdoors and explore!
Keepin’ it Casual
It’s a more relaxed and casual lifestyle in Hawaii.  You can dress up for a night on the town in Waikiki but mostly people dress casually during the week, in athleisure, shorts and tee shirt or cool and comfy dresses.  And nobody goes anywhere without their ‘slippers’, aka flip-flops. 😉
The History
Pearl Harbor, Ford Island, Queen Emma’s Summer Palace, Iolani Palace, Bishop Museum, Battery Cooper at Kuoloa Ranch, the WW2 pill boxes all over the island… The island is rich in history and it’s fascinating to learn about!
Hawaii has been my first overseas (OCONUS) duty station and it has been a fantastic experience.  If Hawaii is your next duty station or in the possible future, congrats!  I hope you have as wonderful a couple years as I have.  Aloha and happy PCSing!

Vitamin Sea Detox | Strength Through an Overseas PCS

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What a week!  Two of my girlfriends from Indiana visited me and we hit up a bunch of different beaches and drove around the island like tourists–so much fun.  Although I am not one to spend more than and hour or so at a beach, I do love the relaxing vibe that the cool water, blue skies and soft sand put out….ahhh…so peaceful.  It was just what I needed!
My husband and I have gotten a lot done in preparation for our trip to Michigan and then our move from there to Korea.  The best part of the whole process has been how much God has been stretching me.  Turns out, being stretched as thin as a piece of paper doesn’t feel so good.  And there are some days when you wonder why you even woke up. haha  But to use a word I heard today that summed everything up…it’s been sanctifying.  To sanctify means to “make holy”, to “set apart”, or “consecrate”.  Funny thing, but my name (Beth) actually means “pledged (or) consecrated to God”.  Mind blown!  What an amazing reminder in the middle of our busy lives, whether they are chaotic, fast-paced, or both, that we belong to the King of Kings and that He is working on us to set us apart and make us more holy through our trials.  It’s important not to miss that.  We can choose to be made stronger through them, or bitter and weak.
I am thankful for this time in my life right now.  This time of change, of stretching, of challenges…it only serves to make me stronger and to help me grow.  I ask God to make me more like him and a woman after his own heart, and He gives me challenges to strengthen me.  It’s funny how we forget that and assume that challenges must not be from God because they are hard and difficult and sometimes we suffer during them.  God knows what is best for us and He will never walk away when we need Him.  Just something to remember as you PCS this summer, or as you are going through your own challenges and changes this year.
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How I Organize My Diaper Bag

My number one tip for streamlining the process for switching out diaper bags, or even handbags, and keeping my bags orderly is to keep everything in pouches/zippered bags.  It also saves me a lot of headache when I need something immediately (Umm fussy toddler at the grocery store anyone?  “Where on earth are the snacks honey??  I need them stat!”).  When I need to run an errand, and enjoy some mommy-alone-time, all I have to do is remove a couple pouches to lighten up my bag and I am good to go!
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I always keep a travel-sized rash cream with me–shouldn’t have to explain that one. 😉 At least 2-3 diapers and plenty of wipes are always kept in my diaper pouch
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Snack pouch!  I try to steer towards less-sugary snacks (heaven knows children don’t need that extra energy from the sugar), such as dried fruits and veggies.  The fruit snacks are for myself. 😉
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My little toy pouch is perfect for using at a restaurant when trying to kill a little time as you wait on your food, or to use as a distraction at a doctors appointment.  I only keep small toys in here–sometimes I toss my daughters lovey in my bag when it’s getting close to her nap and she needs to wind down in the car.
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Coupons!  I think I found this cute polka-dotted accordion container at Walmart a few years ago–it’s perfect for keeping my coupons alphabetically arranged.
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I really love my Ju Ju Be Be Rich in the Queen of the Nile print.  I bought it because I wanted a wallet that opened up completely so I can easily view all the contents inside and not have to go digging through my wallet to find hidden loyalty cards and such.  You know exactly what I am talking about, don’t you… Should I also mention that this wallet can be safely tossed directly into the washing machine for a good cleaning??  I mean, does it get any better than that?  All Ju Ju Be products are washable, in fact.  And no, this post is not sponsored, I just love Ju Ju Be! 😉
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Ta-da!  Easy access.
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This clear pouch keeps some of my makeup products, as well as miscellaneous items such as eye drops, teething gel for the baby, and some feminine products.  Tip: also keep a few feminine items in your diaper pouch for convenience.
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My Ju Ju Be Be Light Tote has two deep from pockets that I keep a few more random items in (my rosebud salve and earplugs for exams and plane rides could probably be kept in my misc. pouch…).  I always have a pair of sunglasses with me, a small medical pouch, gum, a mini Fiber One snack bar and a travel-size brush.
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And that’s it, the full contents of my diaper bag–minus the pacifier pod hanging from the straps. 😉  It seems like a ton of stuff (and I have not even mentioned the milk and water sippy cups you bring for each trip haha) but it really is so nicely organized that my bag still has space to spare!  What are your top tips for keeping your diaper bags and/or purses organized?