It’s that time of the month again! I’m pausing the DIY, organization and craft goodness to catch you up on life behind-the-blog. In this month’s Coffee Break, I’m sharing a recent military milestone for my husband and our family, am answering some of your “Ask Megan” questions, and have a simple favor to ask you. So grab your favorite beverage or tasty snack, and let’s catch up!

Catch up on past Coffee Break posts HERE!

A Military Milestone

In my mid-year reader survey, sooooo many of you asked to read more about our military lifestyle. And while I’m going try to share more than I currently do, most of the time, our “usual life” isn’t that exciting. But this week…something pretty big happened in Greg’s career, and I’m thrilled to tell you all about it!

Just a week after passing 16 years of service in the United States Marine Corps, Greg was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Even typing those words seems incredibly surreal. Not necessarily because of the rank itself (which, admittedly is a pretty “big deal” and we are super proud of him) but because I can’t believe we are this far into his military career. I swear it was just a few years ago that he was a brand new Second Lieutenant (the very first Officer rank) and we were wide-eyed newlyweds heading off to his first assignment in Okinawa, Japan. I so distinctly remember meeting his first Commander (who at the time was a Lieutenant Colonel) and his wife…and thinking his rank and her experience level seemed soooooo far away. Yet here we are.

I didn’t make the amazing cookies, this fabulous lady did!

In many ways, we still feel like we are a “young Marine family” figuring this lifestyle out and just doing our best to “carry on” through all the relocations, uncertainty, separations, and ceremonies. But there’s nothing like a big, fancy promotion to cause you stop, look back and reflect on the journey so far. The truth is, we aren’t that “young Marine family” anymore. We’ve moved 8 times, endured 3 long deployments (2 to Iraq), seen amazing places, made lifelong friends, and mourned fellow heroes all while losing our mothers, having three babies, going to graduate school (both of us), and building a business (which interestingly, likely would have never come to be if we weren’t a military family moving all around in the first place!) In the last 16 years, we’ve seen a lot, done a lot, and learned a lot; and we are both humbled and grateful to still be on this journey.

Even with COVID-restrictions in place, we were really fortunate to do Greg’s ceremony with many of his co-workers, friends, and our families in attendance bother in person and virtually. Promotions don’t come around very often (this is his 4th in 16 years), and you never know if it will be the last one. Complete with programs, gorgeous cookies, and a few other touches, it was a day to remember!

Ask Megan

Each month, I’m spending a few minutes answering your questions about our life, day, family and more!

Q: Where is the best place to shop online for key large ticket items that I normally would have shopped in person? How do you tell what is good quality or not? 

A: Even before COVID, I did most of our home shopping online. When we are trying to setup our houses fairly quickly, I need access to a wide variety of items really easily. I find you just can’t beat the convenience, selection, and ease of price comparison with online retailers. That said, shopping for big ticket items can be really tricky since pictures and descriptions only go so far, and returning large items can be a big ol’ hassle.

When deciding where to shop, I mainly consider three factors: selection, price, and ease of return. This leads me to a small handful of retailers that I primarily rely on: Target | Amazon | Wayfair/Joss & Main. All three have a wide selection (ranging from inexpensive to high-end), reasonable prices (especially if you watch for sales), and have feasible return options. These certainly aren’t the only stores I shop; but when considering other retailers, I always make sure there is a return-in-store or “free” return policy in place.

As far as assessing quality online, that is admittedly much trickier to do. A few years ago, I shared how to shop for rugs online, and the tips I include can apply to other home items as well. In general though, price is my main indicator: if something is priced too good to be true, it probably is. I also suggest taking the time to hunt down personal experiences beyond what is shown in the product’s “Review” section. In fact, I will often Google around for additional pictures and testimonials (ideally from home bloggers) to see how the product looks in other spaces, lighting, etc. Even with a good bit of research though, I’ve had quite a few “duds” show up on my doorstep, which is why that easy return policy is so incredibly important!

Check out this modern home office and craft space full of smart storage solutions, a hardworking layout, and vibrant design details!

Q: How do you squeeze personal fitness or workouts into a busy day?

A: Several readers have asked about my personal fitness routine, and I’ve somewhat kicked the question “down the road” a few times. Truth be told that despite “bragging” about my professional fitness and nutrition qualifications, my current workout routine isn’t as “impressive” as you might expect. Let me explain!

For the last almost-four years, my main form of exercise has been walking. I’ve found that pushing the kid(s) in a stroller not only provides a good workout, but (more importantly) allows me to exercise while the kids are awake. I am VERY protective of my kids’ sleep hours (mornings, naps, and evenings) because that is when I primarily work. Our daily walk (usually 45-60 mins) not only fills up a good chunk of our morning, but also (pre-COVID) provided socialization with other Mom friends who joined me to walk and then stayed to play afterward.

So why the “guilt” in sharing my meager walking routine? I will be the first to tell you that walking is one of the absolute best ways to get healthy and lose weight (in conjunction with a sound diet). I’ve used walking as my primary weight-loss and weight-control method for over 20 years. However, once you are at a certain fitness level, the intensity garnered in walking (even when pushing a big stroller with two heavy boys in it) simply isn’t enough to improve your cardiovascular fitness (and other metabolic markers) or provide that good “sweat session” a run, fitness class, bootcamp, or weight training session does. Because of both a bad hip I injured running two different marathons and not working in a gym since having Sam, I haven’t regularly participated in what’s considered “vigorous physical activity” for quite a long time. But I can tell you: my heart, body and mind all are needing it!

With Jack (finally!) sleeping through the night and the cold weather coming, I am mentally and physically in a place where I want to put my personal fitness program back as a priority. In fact, this coming holiday weekend, Greg and I are cleaning up the out-of-control basement to make room for a home fitness space; and I plan to start waking up early to squeeze it in (which is the only time I can exercise alone without sacrificing significant work time). So many of you seem interested in my routine, so I will be sure to update what I’m doing and how as we head into winter!

Curious about something…anything? Ask away in the form below, and I’ll answer in a future Coffee Break!

I Have a Favor!

As you may know, I just celebrated 9 years of working away on this little corner of the world wide web.  How crazy is that? What started as my stay-at-home-Mom hobby is now way beyond a passion project, and has become something I am proud to call my “work,” and is a valuable part of my family’s story and financial picture. Although I have been hustling for years and years on this little biz of mine, there are so many goals and plans I have not yet met. So behind-the-scenes, I’ve been plugging away on a blog course to help me focus in, refine my message, create the content you want to read, and ultimately grow! But to do that, I need your help!

Will you please share my page(s) with anyone who would enjoy what I post? This can be as simple as liking, sharing, pinning, tweeting or emailing any and all posts that resonate with you. (You can do this via the big red buttons at the bottom of each post, forwarding on my email newsletters that come into your Inbox, or sharing live post notifications that come across your social feeds.) Additionally, if you really consider yourself a “Super Fan” 😉, you could also share my site with a personal note directly on your Facebook page, in a Facebook group you’re a part of, or in an email to your friends or family. As much sharing as you do on a regular basis not only informs me what content is resonating the best with my most loyal followers, but also helps me get my ideas in front of the people who could really use and enjoy them! Thanks in advanced for anything you can do to spread the love!

That’s all for this month! Thanks for catching up!!

See You Soon!