Friday, May 13, 2011

Resource Thursday: Free Childcare during Deployments!

So, how many military spouses out there know that you qualify for free childcare when your husband is deployed? I learned this just in time for our last deployment, and it was a lifesaver! It is called Deployment Respite Care. Each child qualifies for 16 hours free per month. This service is offered through NACCRRA (The National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies). They actually do much more than just assist during deployments. They assist military families in finding qualified daycare providers at any time, and offer subsidies based on your location. Their website is: NACCRRA.
Signing up for the free care is a bit of a process, but it is worth it. First, you will need a copy of your husband's deployment orders, stating the location of his deployment. (Iraq and Afghanistan get immediate approval, other locations can take longer to approve.) Then, call NACCRRA at: 1-800-424-2246 and they will give you a fax number or e-mail contact for your local representative, which is where you send a copy of the orders. Once the local office approves you for Respite Care, you then go in person and fill out paperwork for each of your children. Once that is processed, you will be given a list of local approved childcare providers. You can interview, visit, and meet with the providers before you make your choice. Once everything is finalized between you and the chosen provider, you can begin to schedule your free hours of daycare!
Last deployment we had a provider on base, who watched children in her own home. This was a great arrangement, because my kids seemed more comfortable in a home setting, and got to know the other kids well, since she was limited to a few children at a time. The entire program was supervised and subsidized, so she provided healthy meals and creative activities for the kids. I usually scheduled 4 hours at a time, once a week, and would use that break to get groceries, go to the gym, or do something else that was challenging with children in tow. It was a huge relief to know I had a few child-free hours to look forward to for the various errands and unexpected chores that come up during deployments! Plus I never felt guilty about leaving them because it was free and good quality care! If you have a deployment coming soon, make sure you are registered for this program!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Who will do fun things like run the leaf blower in our son's face when Daddy is gone on deployment?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Birthday Party!

Last weekend we celebrated my daughter's 3rd birthday! Yes, it is crazy to believe that she is 3 and to see her exhibiting new "big-girl" behaviors every day. I was so excited that my husband was here for her birthday this year, since he missed it last year and will be missing both our sons birthdays this year. So I had planned a fun backyard BBQ with a bounce house, and invited all our friends. Apparently, we have way too many friends! Because a week before the party we suddenly discovered that our guest list was over 60 people (including kids) and we had no idea how to feed them all. So... we had to start from scratch, "cancel" the party invites, and call just a few close friends to come over and celebrate. We ended up with 7 other families, which was a perfect size. Sophia was grinning all day long. She loved her 'bouncy castle,' her friends, the cupcakes, the presents, the balloons, all of it! It was wonderful to see her so happy, and I actually had a wonderful relaxing time! Most other parties I have gone to without my husband, so it was great to have his help serving food and keeping an eye on the kids.
It's also good that he keeps me in check sometimes. I think as moms we are flooded with birthday party ideas in magazines, conversations, parenting websites, etc. As we were faced with our gigantic guest list, hubby commented, "This is a 3-year-old's party. What you're talking about is what my parents did for my sister's graduation from high school!" And he was right. It is easy to get carried away inviting people, planning a "theme" and buying decorations. But at this age it is the little things that make the kids happy. She was thrilled to pick out "Tangled" plates and napkins, and her favorite colors of balloons, and that's really all it took. I went over the guest list with the birthday girl to whittle it down, and was surprised to hear her say of a few playmates, "I don't really like him/her. Danny (her brother) likes them." So she got to pick the guests, in the end. We had a wonderful day, and I was thrilled to be able to enjoy it as a family. Do you have any memorable birthday stories or tips to share?