Friday, April 3, 2015

Finding My Faith Again

Back in college I remember my friend Lorena and I were sitting around in between classes when she asked about my beliefs. I told her, "Well I'm a non-institutional Christian." She looked at me kind of weird and then asked me, "What your beef with the church?" Well... to be honest I tried to sound cool and say it was because those people were old school. In reality I was raised to not believe in church by my parents. It was a place that housed more hypocrites than God's holy disciples in my Father's opinion.

When I started high school I made my own attempt to go to youth group at a local church after a suggestion from a good friend.  In all honesty I wanted to seek out what that life was all about. Unfortunately it turned out to be nothing more than a drama enrich environment where people scapegoated their biases for others in the name of Christianity. I had to accept that my Father was right and at 16 I abandoned seeking faith in any church.

Now in 2015, on the eve of this new year, I turned to my husband Brian and asked him, "Can we seek out a church? I'm ready to try again."

It has been a difficult few years for us and we had started talking about it after we started losing people but nothing ever came of it. Those of you who follow me on Instgram may have noticed we finally found a church to attend (actually it's the first church we've ever been to together besides the small chapel we were married in). I was incredibly nervous and my anxiety is still causing my heart palpitation to go haywire, but it's getting easier as we go.

About a month ago one of our friends back in California asked me, "Why now?" Honestly there are a few huge reasons. I won't name them all but the following are some I am starting to deal with.

One of the biggest blows I've had in my life though wasn't anything that happened to our family but it was extremely personal. I think it was a message from God telling me it was time to change my path. After Paige was born and we started on her path to surgery I had numbed myself because Brian was leaving for deployment so I needed to go into that mode that makes it possible to keep going and making the household function. We had sought out and found an awesome couple to help watch the girls for me while I was still working full time. They helped me so much not just with the kids but with the wacky hospital visits and even moral support for me. After a couple months they also had another little girl added to their care and she would change my life.

Bella was a beautiful little thing, big doe-like eyes, and super quiet. At first she was so shy but she warmed up to me when I would come and get the girls. I usually stuck around and chatted so the kids had a little extra playtime but I started to bond with Bella while hanging out. She would even come running up to me to hold her when I'd be there to get the girls. I always joked I was going to steal her away one day. I cared for her as much as I did for my own girls after all the time we spent together. Then came Paige's surgery day, the first big one. I had taken a few weeks off work so I could be home while she was in recovery. I out all my focus on how well she had done that we were in a state of ignorant bliss. Then a few days before we were going to come back, I called Heather (our provider) and I was shattered. Bella had died.

It took months to find out that she had suffered a small stroke which stopped her breathing. This accompanied by an aneurism which left her unable to recover. After two days her parents removed her from life support two days before her second birthday. She wasn't even 2 yet.

I was shattered. Not just because we lost her but I realized how sudden it happened. I started realizing how fast I could have lost Paige. I went from a state of panic to sorrow for quite some time. I started questioning what was more important at that time and then like a eureka moment, I decided it was time to put my girls first. My husband and I talked and pushed our savings so I could become a stay at home Mom. We cut, saved, squeezed, and finally I quit my job right before Christmas. After the first week away from work, I felt new. It wasn't easy, but it was easier than being at a job that had become a burden. I wasn't happy at my work. I was happier at home. But it was also stressful after time. It was a new stress that I always joked would never happen to me, but it did.

Fast forward four years later, my cousin and my grandmother died eight months apart from each other, both in pain. I shut down. I wasn't dealing with the grief and I had started pushing people away because I was lashing out in anger at everyone in my already small family or breaking down over little things. Eventually that pressure turned physical when we moved to Virginia and I had issues with my heart. It's OK though it's not life threatening. It was a definite wake up call though.

In retrospect now, if I hadn't made that choice, I wouldn't have been around to spend more time with my kids and my loved ones. I spent twice as much time that I would have with my cousin than I had ever over the 28 years I'd been alive. I also got closer to her kids who are also now dealing with losing her. In some ways I think that had to do with God's plan. He needed a way to wake me up at a time where I was numb and submitted to the material things that weighed me down. I was too focused on my career. I was holding on to anger and resentment. I was losing sight on what mattered.

I still get down on myself because motherhood itself is tough and I am so far away from my family. I don't have a support network like I did back home. However, I have found some people out here through the church who are genuinely nice and do care about others even when they don't know me much yet. The pastor often tells us during the sermons that we are not supposed to be perfect. He also teaches that love and loving others is important. Everyone goes through something and it's not a sign of weakness to seek out those who wish to help.

I know I'm not perfect. I am now consciously trying to stop worrying so much about the big plans of the future and focus more on today. Perfection is not the key to happiness. If I have grief or anger I need to talk and I need to reach out.

I've also learned sometimes people focus too much on their own plan. The reality is no plan is going to go perfectly and if you are only banking on that you may be sadly disappointed when that curve ball in life is thrown your way and your not ready. It's not what we want sometimes but there is so much that can be learned from experiences. It's not how well the execution went to get to what we wanted but what it took to get there. Life is incredibly too short to dwell on things out of our control, but it doesn't mean you'll never stop worrying. Hopefully if anything develops over time, its you'll worry less.
NIV Ephesian 5:14
Sometimes now, I just have to shake my head and laugh when something goes wrong, then I pick myself up and keep going forward. In the back of my mind I like to think that somewhere in this infinite universe something/someone loves me regardless of how much I just messed up and is pushing me forward. If learning and accepting my beliefs more helps, then I will keep going and keep seeking out more knowledge about what it means to be a true Christian. It doesn't mean it changes me politically or my beliefs about everything, but it helps me stop sometimes now before I react. I guess I just keep needing the wake up call.

Thanks for listening to my story.

Do you have a story about your walk into faith? I'd love to hear it.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

My Love/Hate Relationship with Valentine's Day

Oh Valentine's Day...your back again so soon? I was so sure I'd avoided all unnecessary contact with you last year. But no, here you are again. Creeping along like a snake in murky waters, waiting to strike in that moment of distraction I call life.

I'm not sure how many of you folks are true hopeless romantics whom await this blessedly wretched holiday; I am sure there is a great reason that you do. I, on the other hand, loathe its very being. Yes, it's great to get flowers and chocolates from my wonderful husband. He has never forgotten me or made it unsavory. No, it's not because he sucks at romance (sometimes it's slightly askew to my definition). I simply hate it because it is a holiday of BULLSHIT. Yes I said it, it's all bullshit.

It used to be because my old boyfriend's sucked at it. Thus, why they are now ex-boyfriends. But then my husband came along. Problem solved right!? Wrong. The fairytale lie that having a significant other never guarantees perfect V-Day bliss. Sorry to burst that bubble.

Also, of all the things in the world, love shouldn't have to come down to a single day to be appreciated. I tell my husband I love him everyday. We work together as a team to raise our family and maintain our household. How is that not celebrating love? If we didn't love each other we wouldn't work so hard to make sure we both are happy and one of us isn't struggling, right?

But then something happens that fateful day, that February 14th...

The little Jane Austen in the back of my mind starts her wayward gossip. Suddenly the overly dramatic dialogue comes into play. We haven't been on a date night in a long time. Does he still think I'm special? God when did I start looking so haggard? Holy shit! Is that a pimple??? He has been on his phone forever this week, we've barely talked. When is he going to start looking at me like he know what? It never fails. That little saboteur starts all these little insecurities going off in my head and it always stems around this one horrid holiday.  You can't even go out anywhere without it being shoved in your face. I'm not even safe when making something for my daughter's CLASS! At least the Ninja Turtles cards were cute.

But then it does come. What should my husbandly knight in shining armor do for me? Eggs Benedict made early this morning. A fresh pot of coffee (if you want my love, start with caffeine). He kisses me gently as I hand over our son and bound back upstairs to give him the Valentine's Day card I forgot. I get the morning off of taking care of the kids. We relax to all the movies I had been dying to see that he rented for us, by the way if you haven't seen The Equalizer it's a fairly decent flick. He is now at the store to get the last items we needed for dinner while I am taking a reading break to finish off this post.

Honestly, V-Day isn't all that bad in retrospect. It all counts on how much you care for who your with and not the value of the gifts they give on this day. In all honesty, we haven't had many of these together in our 9 years of marriage. Deployments or training or whatever that would pull him away from being with us, he always sent flowers. He always remembered us. Not many people have someone like that in their lives.

So if anything maybe it's not so much a hatred for the holiday that I have, but more over the way that it's marketed these days. The high expectations displayed to the young, that love is only about how big the bouquet is or how expensive the gift is more importantly than the worth of the person who is thinking of you that burns me the most. If it was only about the bells and whistles, what is it really worth then? If it's about showing off to everyone only one day out of the whole year, is it really love? How strong is a love when it's only right in front of you to enjoy? How about when you can't be together? Is that love still strong enough to carry you?

It's worth the time to think about. Be thankful more for the everyday things. Hallmark will still make their money off the suckers who still haven't figured it out.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Back and Blogging for Me

Man this feels so weird to be back writing on this blog. Like one of those old journal you dust off and find that it's unfinished. That always drove me nuts (I'm OCD like that).

Well for those that follow my Instgram (@chucksandcharlies) you may already know about what a crazy year I've had. Now for those who don't follow me, it's been a freaking year. Like of all years, this was the one that contained the most insanity as well as fun. It was also all the craziness that happened which ultimately pulled me away from blogging. Family first, hobbies second as they say. Or do they? Well they should.

We are no longer residing in California (my home state). I spent six months fixing up our first house and putting it on the market. I had a baby, little Mr. #3 arrived happy and healthy. I flew out alone and bought a new house practically by myself. After a year long deployment, my husband finally came home from Japan. We packed up all the kids and dogs this summer, trekked the entire United States (with many interesting and fun stops on the way), and ended up in our new home on the East Coast. Now I am a stranger in a new state and looking for new fun things to do with the kids. I am dealing with my first actual winter (you don't know cold until you've been in  THE COLD). My oldest started her new school and we are soon preparing for her sister to join her. Then I will only have our new little guy home with me and may actually have time for more projects that I've been dying to do, like finally blogging again more regularly.

"Duck on a Rock" lookout point.

Our stop in South Dakota at Mt. Rushmore. Those stairs, were killer but we did the whole walk with the kids. It was totally worth it.

Now as for blogging, in the beginning it was quite the experience. Needless to say I learned a lot in my first attempts. I read every book, article, and even reached out to some of my favorite bloggers. Some were amazingly helpful and some gave me the cookie cutter answers. All in all it lead me to this conclusion, if I wanted people to follow and become a popular blog, I needed to invest a ton of time and possibly money. Well, sorry people, I am not Rockefeller and my time is even more valuable to me and my family has first dibs.

One thing I am not going to do this time around on the blog is worry about followers. If you like me and want to read about me, awesome. I more than welcome you here. For those who unfollow, I totally understand, this isn't your type of party.This is my venting place. I am here only for two reasons, 1. I'm a stay at home Mom and my adult interaction is almost null unless I drag my kids somewhere or my neighbors come by to hang for a while. 2. Being a military wife is sometimes great and sometimes not. If the ship is going down that day, I need somewhere to unload. Unfortunately the .308 is not allowed for stress relieving in our backyard. Just kidding....maybe not *waves hands in gesture of mystery*. Either way I want to say thank you to you all for reading along and allowing me to share.

Hope everyone has a great day! Hopefully you'll be hearing from me again soon.

Friday, August 2, 2013

"I Support You", I am a Breast and Formula Mom!

If some of you out there have a daily news addiction like I do, you may have already heard about a Mom that's making some headlines. Kim @ Mama By The Bay , who also happens to be blog for The Huffington Post, is also a fellow bloggy Mommy speaking out about what it means to be a breastfeeding and formula feeding Mom.

To read her blog click on this link: I Support You by Mama By The Bay
Here is an excerpt from her posting:

"When I was a Formula Mom, I used to pour formula into Medela bottles, so that the other moms at playgroup thought that it was pumped breastmilk. I felt their eyes on me. I felt shame, and embarrassment. I was different.
Now I am a Breast-Feeding Mom, and I get funny looks and nasty stares when I nurse in public. I feel everyone’s eyes on me. I feel shame, and embarrassment. I am different.
I am tired. I am angry. I refuse to carry the weight of everyone else’s judgment anymore.
I am standing up today to say with pride, that I am feeding my children with love.
And I’m 100% sure that you are too.
I am standing up with Suzanne Barston, The Fearless Formula Feeder and author of Bottled Up. I am standing up with Jamie Lynne Grumet, a breastfeeding advocate and blogger at I Am Not The Babysitter. We are standing together, and we’re asking you to stand up with us."

I read her recent post called "I Support You" and to be honest it really hit home for me. It is one of the most well written and relatable articles on the subject of which is the better way to feed your child after birth and I completely agree with her view, no way is the right way! Sometimes one way is necessary over the other counting your circumstance, as well as personal choice.

Back in 2008, when I had my first daughter, I felt the pressure to try breastfeeding because everyone told me it was better for my baby. After my daughter was born, my only lactation consultant at the Naval Hospital happened to be a young Navy officer who was scared to even look at me topless let alone teach me how to get my little one to latch properly. After 2 weeks of bleeding, aching, cracked nipples, I finally just figured it out on my own. Then four weeks later I had to returned to work at the Cancer Diagnostic lab where I was employed and tried to balance pumping in the ladies bathroom in a stall. On top of that. I was trying to introduce my recently returned veteran husband to the world of an infant, she was a month old when he came home from Iraq.
Eventually the stress of work, daycare arrangements, and dealing with being new parents took a toll on my body and I was no longer able to produce the amount of breast milk my daughter needed. I felt like a failure. So we had no choice but to go to formula. But, it turned out fine and she turned out to be a totally healthy little girl and has never had any major health issues.

In 2010, we welcome a second baby girl and again we tried breastfeeding. But then at her 2 week appointment we were advised that she was going to need a referral to another hospital for a possible developmental issue. After another week of waiting to be seen by the specialist, we were told she had craniosynostosis.
Eventually my maternity leave ran out, I was back at work. Again the stresses started in again. Juggling doctors appointments for my daughter along with her normal pediatric appointments, more stress from taking a higher position, and dealing with daycare issues from flaky babysitter after another until we finally found a great provider. Eventually, I stopped producing breast milk for my baby girl once again after only 3 and a half months. We had been fortunately supplementing with formula during the last month. This time however I understood there were circumstances I couldn't control and made me realize that we needed to change how we looked at nurturing our children.

Now with our son due soon, I'm in a position where I'm not working in a stressful environment, or dealing with daycare providers who bail at the last minute. I look forward to hopefully breastfeeding with him for as long as possible. However, if I can't, I will use formula and not feel bad about it.

So to those Mom's out there that are feeling the pressure about breast or formula feeding, all I have to say is don't. regardless of your choice I support You. It's no one else's choice but your own. So screw those around you who are trying to force you into a decision you yourself are not comfortable with.

I also ask that others out there, support your fellow Moms. No one else understands what it's like to be a mother but other Mom's. Adoptive, Birth, or Otherwise!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Breast Trendy: In Honor of Breastfeeding Week

It's amazing how many offers I've seen this week in honor of Breastfeeding Week. When I was slinging my girls the old udder it was still much a taboo, even in 2008! Luckily as more and more people are advocating this very natural way of rearing children, there have been some awesome Mommy & Baby friendly items that are popping up on the market. For me (now 33 weeks pregnant) I am really looking forward to trying some of these items out.

The wonderful folks over at are actually holding a great promotion right now if your in the market for a baby sling. In honor BF Week, if you use their coupon code BFWEEK13 you will receive a free baby sling (however it does not cover S&H). I ordered "The Captain" sling for my little guy. Altogether with the shipping and handling, minus the exchange insurance, it was only $11.90 with tax included. The normal price for these stylish slings are normally $39 to $49 bucks counting on which sling or set you choose.

If you also go to their sister sites you can use the same promo code to get a free nursing cover, carrier covers, and nursing pillows.

Another item in the process of ordering is from NyUrbanAccessories on Etsy. The shop owner has created a really awesome line of infinity scarfs that are also nursing covers and can be worn long or in the normal wrap around fashion, both which still cover the ladies when confronted with nosy onlookers giving you the stink eye. At $25.00 a piece, these fashionable scarfs are made of lightweight material so they won't smother your little one or cause you to sweat your brains out.
I know some of you veteran Mom's don't you miss those old school covers that were like wearing a fleece blanket during an August heat wave.

I am so excited now for my little guy to get here and knowing I'm well prepared.

If you know any expecting or new Mom's out there, please share the promotion listed above. Trust me, they'll love you for it.

And as always, I want to know what you guys think about Breastfeeding Week? Have there been any promotions or products that you've found and loved? Let me know!

Until next posting, XoXo

From Boobies to Bottles

Buying stuff for a new baby is hard. I know, I've already had to go through it twice before. Luckily with our second baby it turned out to be a girl like our first born, so the buying and preparation weren't as bad.

Now with our new bouncing (and I mean he literally shifts everywhere) baby boy, I've been on the hunt for some cool and fun products that won't destroy our bank account.

First on my list of must gets just happened to be a breast pump, bottles, and all the necessary accessories that go along with them. Also considering that it's National Breastfeeding Week, I decided to stay on theme. I myself am a big breastfeeding advocate, so all you breastfeeding Moms out there keep doing what your doing for the benefit of your munchkins.

The outcome of my shopping trip. Love, love, love...

If your in the market for a well priced pump, which is also easily assembled and cleaned, I would really recommend the Medela Single Breast Pump system. I am not good with assembling anything, ask my husband...but this one was actually really easy and it's not bulky, so it's easy to store. They also give you two starter bottles, storage bags and two sanitary bags for easy cleaning. I got mine on sale too for about $159.00. A dual pump set is anywhere from $269.00 to $299.00 right now.
What the set looks like after it's put together.

 I also purchased a couple fun products that Boon just released. The Grass and Twig bottle drying accessories. Back when I had my girls we just used dishtowels to dry their bottles after sanitizing them. However, that also created extra laundry. Plus the grass and "twig" look super cute on my kitchen counter without taking up a huge amount of space! The "Grass" was only $15 and the Twig was $12 but I got it for $9 on sale.


I feel so much better about getting these things off my long list of baby items has been a major weight off my shoulders. Plus it doesn't feel like my kitchen is overrun with baby stuff, although I'm sure it's coming.

So I want to know, if your shopping for baby, what are some of your favorite products that you have found? Send me a link and I'll check them out!

Until next time!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Collective Blog Hop Monday: I'm Co-Hosting!!

Welcome to the weekly blog hop party, THE Collective.
This is a link up for bloggers who want to gain followers and meet awesome people.
Not sure if this is the blog hop for you? Listen to what other bloggers have to say...

"Just to let you know, your blog hop is the best I've participated in for gaining new friends!!! I couldn't believe the results!! Thank you!"
- Danavee, This Vintage Grove

"I'm dropping by to let you know that I love being a part of your blog hop! 
 I have been meeting really nice bloggers.  Bloggers who are actually friendly and want to connect! 
I'm putting the blog hop button on my side bar, like, permanently!  Everyone should know about it. Just thought I'd share with you. Thank you."
-Vickie, Oh Abby Day

"Hi BreAnna, just want to say that your blog is beautiful, creative, and fun. The GFC collective is one of my favorite parts of the blogging week. Love meeting new friends and fellow bloggers. We just started our blog and were amazed at how helpful the GFC collective is! Keep up the amazing work."
-Alea and Rachael, Sparkle Your Life

"This GFC Collective Hop is seriously one of the best link ups out there! Through this hop I have found so many great blogs & friends that I wouldn't have otherwise found! Thank you so much for hosting such a fun link up! Please take the time to link up & join along! You won't be sorry that you did!"
-Amy @ Keepin' Up With the Smith's

"I'm so excited I found your blog and this wonderful link up! I have met so many new people and found so many wonderful blogs this way. This is a great idea and I'm glad to be a part of it!"

and my lovely co-hosts for the week

Interested in co-hosting? Send an email to peacoatsnplaid(at)gmail(dot)com to get on the list.