Friday Top 5, About Traveling & Kansas

Well, we’ve been back from our trip to Kansas for four days now, so I guess I should write something.  I have quite a few pictures to share, but haven’t got around to editing them yet, so that will come next week.

Kansas and Traveling Top 5

1) Bribe Your Kids

Kind of, not really, but kind of.  I did, if you want to call it that.  I packed our carry-on bags with TONS of snacks, and electronics. Lots of electronics.  Coloring books, markers, fun stuff, iPods, iPod touch,  a Kindle Fire HD, Kindle keyboard, candy, Nintendo DSI, books, and more candy and snacks.

Seriously, it really works.  I will always travel like this, because the kids stay quiet and entertained and give me less of a headache trying to entertain them.

One thing I also bought was “ear planes” ear plugs for all of us, which helps reduce pressure when you land.  We all suffer from sore ears when we fly, so these are a lifesaver.  Look for them on amazon or at your local drug store.

2) Airports kind of suck

Coming from a giant wonderful airport called SeaTac, to a dinky airport called Kansas City International, I was in for a big shock.  First off though, SeaTac… the kids and I got to the airport early, and with plenty of time to spare, just like I planned. There was no line at security, and we walked right up to the TSA officer.  He got our boarding passes scanned, checked my ID, and just as he was about to wave us through…an alarm went off and the airport shut down. Yeah, completely shut down.  We were waiting there for a half hour before the all clear came through, and then we were able to go through the metal detectors.  Thankfully I had enough time to spare, or we would have been in trouble.

Second…Kansas City International is the world’s worst airport.  Tiny, cramped, and their bottled water tastes like garbage.  Not to mention, $4 for a 1 litre of water was ridiculous. What really frustrated me was that we had problems at security again, but this time the TSA agent didn’t like how our boarding passes had printed out.  She made us leave the line, go all the way back to the Alaska desk, and have our boarding passes re-printed, and go through the line again.  Ugh.  We were running through the airport at this point.  Then once we got through, we had nowhere to sit and the airline didn’t let families with small children board first, so everyone went before us.  Ok, I can understand boarding by row, but come on…families with any young kids should be allowed to board first. I’ve never had any problem doing that elsewhere, but had to wait a half hour this time.  Kids take time to board, they need to get settled and get their stuff out, and in disallowing us to do that, you make other passengers wait.

3) Kansas is great

Not going to lie, I really liked it this time, even more so than January.  It could be that we got a few little “privileges” with the housing office, and explored the area a bit more, but I felt more at home.  And perhaps it was because it was my second time visiting too.  Either way, I am looking forward to moving, and counting down the days. Washington will always be home, but home truly is where your heart is, and my heart is with my husband.  I can’t wait to make a home with him when we move there.

I’m sure Andrew was a little annoyed with me, but I INSISTED we visit our house a few times.  I also insisted we go to the housing office to see if we could get a tour inside, but since our house was being fixed up after the previous tenants, they let us see inside the model home…WOW!!  It is about 250 sq feet smaller than what we have now, so we will have to downsize, but the houses are really nice. Our bedroom furniture will also fit quite nicely into the master, and we have a huge closet too! I love all the storage space, there are a TON of closets.  He didn’t think they would let us see a home, but the squeaky wheel gets the grease 😉 It pays to ask sometimes!  After we saw the model home, we drove down the road to our actual house and peeked in the windows.  It looks great, and we are pretty excited to fill it with our furniture and memories.  And on the plus side, we’ll be getting a few new pieces of furniture including a new kitchen table/chairs, and new washer/dryer, and a new desk.

4) Homesick

I really miss Kansas. I really miss my husband.

I was on our local Army post yesterday and I didn’t like it nearly as much as our new home in Kansas.  Kind  of funny because everyone wants to get stationed here at JBLM, but to be honest…Ft Riley is a bit better.  Much less “civilization”, which does take getting used to, but it’s not as crowded like JBLM.  We have a lot more limited selections where we will be living, and no Panda Express/OldNavy/Sephora/Target within a 10 minute drive. “Sad Face”.  We will adapt though, and it’s not the end of the world.

What we do have is the awesome Wizard of Oz museum a half hour away, which I have visited twice and just love.  Target and some major chains are about 20 minutes away, and we just got a Starbucks! Woohoo!! There is a huge lake nearby for swimming/camping, and the post has a ton of pools to take the kids swimming.  Ft Riley is a very family friendly post, and I like that.

I just really miss being in Kansas.  I like Ft Riley, and I like that I will have my husband home every night (usually).

5) Always Come Prepared, and Never Assume

Ok, this is a friendly little love jab at my husband, and I can’t help but say it. I should have brought pots and pans with me to Kansas, because he didn’t have what I needed haha. I cooked twice for us while we were there, and dinner one night was almost a disaster.

He had requested I make Ziti, which is a family favorite, and on the way back the apartment, I found out he did not have any spices.  No spices? who doesn’t have spices? I can’t make my ziti without spices!!! Specifically rosemary, thyme and oregano.  Really Andrew? you didn’t have spices!!!!  So off to Wal-Mart we went to get the spices, and then while at the apartment, I started cooking the sauce.  I casually remarked to him, “where is the pot so I can start cooking the pasta”. Ummmm….what? you’re using it.  I had a minor freak out to be honest, and was pretty frustrated.  He only had a saucepan/frying pan, so I had to cook the sauce first, transfer it to a separate bowl, and then cook the pasta on the stove top in a sauce pan. Oy.  It would have been much easier if we had a pot! How does someone not have a pot?  You’re a bachelor honey…and you still don’t have a pot? talk about being a minimalist…or would that be just relying (too) heavily on your George Foreman? 😉

Thankfully dinner turned out delicious, regardless of cooking the pasta in a saucepan, and he had tons of leftovers.  And thankfully we wont have that problem anymore, because next time we’re there, I’ll have my own cookware!


Top Five, Better Late Than Never

FYI…this is a LONG post, be forewarned.

If you recall past posts, we were trying to figure out what to do about a honeymoon. Everyone bailed on us for watching the kids, and I can count on less than one hand, the amount of close friends I have here. So that left us with no one, as my family is all out-of-town too.  I was really trying not to be depressed about not getting a honeymoon, but yesterday the sun broke through the clouds…

My wonderful amazing sister gave up her vacation with her friends to spend 5 days with our kids.  I don’t think I could thank her enough for giving up her time for us, as we won’t get the time alone for years.  She knows how much we love her for it!  Love you Sissy Poo! She’s like a second mother to the kids, so it will be special for all of them.  I know I have to get to the Top 5, so without further Top 5 is about…

NEW YORK CITY  and Honeymooning

1) Honeymooning

Some couples don’t place a huge importance on honeymoons, but I totally believe that every couple deserves and requires time alone at the beginning of their marriage/or without kids, to nurture and invest in your relationship.  Your relationship will suffer over time if you do not put the work into it, and Andrew and I have made a point since we started dating to carve out alone time for ourselves sans kids.  We still do that now that we’re married, and we will continue to do that. Kids won’t suffer if their parents are gone for a weekend, or a date night, but they will suffer if the marriage is not nurtured.  Date nights and trips are essential for a health marriage, and it helps keep you in love with each other. Plus, sex in a hotel room on a vacation with only you and your spouse is sexy.

Think of your marriage as a beautiful flower that you lovingly plant.  As time goes by, you have to keep watering and giving it food, or else it’s going to die.  If you don’t give that plant the love and food, it’s going to wither beyond all recognition and become an empty shell. But if you do feed it, love it, water it, then the plant will continue to flourish as the years go by, and it will grow such deep roots that you can never tear it apart. Dates, sex, honeymoons, flirting, weekends away (if you can find a sitter)…those are all food for your marriage.

2) WICKED!!!

Oh my gosh, I am so freaking excited to see this musical on Broadway.  I read most of the “Wicked” series by Gregory Maguire, and fell in love with Wicked.  We missed it in Seattle this past October, but now we get a chance to see it on Broadway! Score!

The Wizard of Oz is my favorite movie of all time, and I have always loved the Wicked Witch.  I really can’t wait to see this, I don’t think I can say that enough!!

Wicked The Musical

3) Statue of Liberty

This one is pretty self-explanatory. I know that as of right now Ellis Island is closed due to Hurricane Sandy, but we can still take a harbor cruise to see it.

Being a newly minted United States Citizen, this is at the top of my list. Not much else to say than that…it pretty much explains itself.

4) Museum of Natural History

Dinosaurs! History! More Dinosaurs!!!!!

Another one on my must see list, I have fantasized about this forever ever since I read “Relic” in high school.  I loved that book!  Do you know how excited I am to walk through this museum and see a T-Rex skeleton? I often wanted to study paleontology/archeology when I was growing up, and history has always fascinated me.

5) Alone Time/Central Park/ 9/11 Memorial 

I wanted to write about all three of these, so I’m lumping them all together.  I am excited for alone time with my husband, and especially to travel with him sans kids.  I’ve never done that before, been on a vacation with the man who I love, ever, so this is going to be super fun. An Adult vacation!  I can’t wait to explore NYC with him, and to walk hand in hand through Central Park.  Maybe we’ll take a clichéd horse and buggy ride, or maybe we’ll rent a boat and paddle across the lake, or just sit on a bench and people watch as we eat an ice cream cone.

Andrew’s one request for this honeymoon was visiting the 9/11 Memorial, and I am happy to go visit that with him. Being a soldier, 9/11 was the turning point in his career, and it means so much to him to see this…and I’ll be the forever supportive wife who holds her husband’s hand as we go there.

P.S….yeah I know this Top 5 was all over the place tonight, but oh well!

It’s Friday, Top 5 Day!

I may as well just make this a regular feature on the blog, and I might start doing a “Wordless Wednesday” post too.  Keep an eye out for that.

Top 5

1) My Baby Turned 7

Yesterday was our youngest daughter’s birthday! I can hardly believe she is 7 already, and it makes me a little sad because she doesn’t seem so little anymore.  Growing by leaps and bounds, she weighs 60lbs and is almost 51″ tall.  She reads like a champ, and is one of the best readers in her first grade class.  She loves to tell jokes, has two buck teeth from sucking her thumb when she was younger (so occasionally I call her Buck Tooth Billy lol), but still calls me mama.

I wish they could stay little forever.

2) That’s Not Me Anymore

The other day when I was at Safeway paying for my groceries, the cashier called me “Mrs So&So” as I walked away.  I stopped for a moment, thinking…wait, that’s not me!  But it was actually.

She called me by my previous married name, the one I have now taken as a middle name.  I had forgotten to change my name on my Safeway club card, so on the receipt it automatically has me listed as “Joanna So&So”.

It was the weirdest feeling because it took me a moment to realize that, Yes, I am that person, but NO, I am not that person anymore.  I almost didn’t recognize even being called that, even though it’s been almost 5 months since Andrew and I have been married.  I really don’t identify with that name anymore, and it felt so strange to even be called that.

When she called me that, I realized that I don’t feel like that Joanna anymore.  That chapter in my life has closed, and a new one as Andrew’s wife has been started.

3) I Love Birchbox

Ok, this is not meant to be a total spam post asking for referrals, but if you DO decide you want to sign up for Birchbox, click on this link here.

Birchbox is a $10/month beauty subscription where you get about 5 deluxe size samples every month, and occasionally a FULL size product! The boxes vary each month, and after you receive your box you can review the products for points, and then spend your points in the birch box store to get free products! Every review earns 10 points, and 100 points equals $10 to spend in the store, and every referral you get earns you 50 points.  You can redeem points once you have over $10/100 or in increments of $10/100 points.

I just placed an order last week, and with my $30/300 points, and a 20% off code they had at the time, I got LuLu Organics Lavender & Clary Sage dry shampoo (AMAZING! I had it in a birchbox a few months back and just ran out of my sample, it’s my favorite!), a Classic Bagu Bag that I will use for shopping, and Shea Terra African Black Soap. It cost me less than $7 total after tax/shipping.  In the past I’ve bought a few other products too, including my favorite eyeliner and a BB cream, and beneFit erase paste and stay don’t stray eye primer!

Some samples I have received included a handful of full size mascaras, hand lotion, eye liner, a FULL SIZE stila primer (which is valued at $36 retail), chocolate fortune cookies, lots of shampoo and perfume samples, lipstick, face wash, BB cream/Foundation/eye cream, dry shampoo, exotic tea, nail polish, FULL size blush, cuticle cream, and a beauty blender (and those are $20 too!). One of my favorite samples was a volumizing shampoo sample that  was valued at about $10, and I am going to save up my points to buy a full size. That’s just a handful of what I have received, and my birch box subscription has more than paid for itself, especially with the full size products I have received.

Here’s the link to Birchbox again if you want to sign up (please, I want points!!! 🙂 )

4) Parent’s Who Don’t RSVP

You suck.  Really, You should be tarred and feathered. And put in the stocks, and have rotten fruit thrown at you.

All it takes is 30 seconds, just 30 seconds, to pick up your phone and text me to say “so&so will be at your daughter’s birthday party”.  But you’re too damn lazy to even do that, so shame on you.

I invited her whole class to the party, 23 kids.  We have to do that to be fair.  And do you know how many parent’s RSVPed to me? 3. Only three.  Oh, and one last minute one last night.  Four kids (three are coming) out of 23 kids. I sent out the invitations last week, and asked for an RSVP date of yesterday.


Parents, don’t you know that we have to plan a party and make sure we have enough cupcakes and party supplies? Don’t you realize we have to pay for birthday parties? Don’t you realize that you disappoint the birthday child if you don’t even bother to let us know if you are bringing your own child?

It’s called manners and common courtesy. LEARN IT. And RSVP for fuck’s sake. Ugh.

5) 19 More Days!

Oooh, we have a countdown on our kitchen chalkboard for our spring break trip to “Ottawa” to see my brother.  My poor kids are so dense sometimes, lol, and haven’t even picked up on the fact that we’re going to Kansas to see my husband.  Never mind that I told them we have a 2 hour layover in Missouri, and at the airport that’s only a few hours from our new home this summer.  They still think we’re going from Seattle to Missouri to Ottawa.

I’m so excited to see my man, I really miss him.  It’s been almost three weeks since he has been gone and it stinks.  Four more months till he’s back home for a month, and then we move three weeks later.

On another note, I could keep this little tidbit for next week, but it’s too cute not to share. Since we will be in Kansas for Easter, I was unsure about Easter baskets for the kiddos.  I gave up control on this one, which if you know me, is a BIG deal, and handed the responsibility over to Andrew.  And now we all say “awwwwww”, because there is nothing sweeter than a first time dad (even if he is a step dad, which I don’t really think of him as, because he’s their dad!) showing so much excitement over getting Easter baskets ready for his kids!  He has shopped at WalMart, the commissary and the Exchange buying all sorts of goodies for them, and new Easter baskets as well.  He loves it, is giddy when he talks about it, and it really shows his excitement of being a father.  I love seeing that, and it makes me appreciate and love him even more.