Mommy Panda Blog

I may not be super crunchy, but I'm no softie either!

The Family Dinner Project: My Army Thanksgiving

This year, if I’m being honest, I wasn’t really feeling Thanksgiving… Not in a “I’m going to decorate for Christmas right NOW!” way, but in a “Meh, why bother?” kind of way. With John being deployed, I just thought about all that food prep, all of those left overs, and really just me to eat it… (History has shown me that my boys aren’t big on the Thanksgiving food.) and it didn’t seem worth it. All of our friends are going home for Thanksgiving, so we’ll be by ourselves for the actual day. It was all kind of a bummer.

However, I recently got a big reminder that Thanksgiving isn’t about the food, but about acknowledging what you’re thankful for.


I’m sure I’m not the only spouse that feels sad around the holidays with their husband deployed, so it was nice to be able to go to a Thanksgiving meal with my army family. It kind of broke up the lonesomeness of the season. If I can’t be with biological/marital family, these people are a great bunch to be with instead!

Last Thursday, John’s company‘s (battalion‘s?) FRGs threw their Thanksgiving dinner for the families of deployed soldiers and Rear D soldiers. It was a pot-luck style dinner, and everything was delicious. If there is one thing I’m thankful for this year, it’s the support of my army family. I’ve kind of glossed over it here, but over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been sick. For the most part, it wasn’t too serious, but all of that came to a head on Thursday. I was not able to function.

The Munchkin’s ABA tutor, also an army wife, had to feed the boys breakfast. After ABA ended, my friend Jina, another army wife, came over to put The Munchkin on the bus, feed The Bean and her boys lunch, and watched The Bean for the rest of the afternoon. She got The Munchkin off of the bus, and kept them at her house until dinner time. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have been able to go to the FRG Thanksgiving at all. Because of these women’s help, I was able to sleep off basically the plague, and felt human again by 5:30. I tested the waters by eating a small soup dinner at Jina’s house, and then felt well enough to take the boys to the Thanksgiving dinner.


The Munchkin was pretty full by the time we arrived, and only ate some rolls, grapes, and a cupcake. The Bean, always the good eater, had some stuffing, mac & cheese, a roll, some grapes, and a cupcake. I decided to play it safe and didn’t eat anything. I was just happy to have kept the soup from Jina’s house down, and to be able to be out amongst the living again, haha.

There was a great turnout for the event; about 150 people showed up in all, and everyone seemed to have a good time. A lot of planning went into this dinner, so I was pleased that so many people came, and that it went so well. It really was a great event.


This is only “my” second deployment, and I’ve been really lucky to have a great support system of friends and acquaintances around me. When John deployed the first time, I was a new mom, working full time, and then planning a move by myself. My friends in Rochester kept me sane. Once at Fort Drum, my FRG friends taught me the basics of army life, and I value the friendships I made there immensely.

Now, it is time for me to do my part. Our battalion has welcomed a new baby into the ranks, and the father is deployed. A meal train has been set up so that the mother doesn’t have to cook dinner for a couple of weeks. I can only imagine how hard it is to give birth alone, during the holidays, and can’t wait to get my dinner for her together. I love how supportive our army family is, and even though we come from all different kinds of places, and all walks of life, it doesn’t stop us from sitting down together for a meal, or coming to the aid of another when they need it. For that, I give thanks.

This post is part of a compensated editorial partnership with The Family Dinner Project. All storytelling/opinions/pics/etc. are my own.

It’s The Family Dinner Project’s mission is to inspire families to enjoy food, fun, and conversation together. It doesn’t have to be fancy; the point is actually, to return to a simpler and more meaningful way of being.

To participate in #familydinnerforward, simply snap a dinner/giving-related photo and share it via Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #familydinnerforward. You can share as many photos as you like and all photos tagged on Twitter or Instagram with #familydinnerforward between December 2-16 will be entered to win prizes from Lenox! Click here to learn more.

What We’re Currently up To: Week 50

This past week, we’ve been…


Finding ourselves with lots of electronics time. I just haven’t had the energy lately to occupy the boys, so I’ve been letting them play on the tablet/phone/computer a lot, and watching lots of TV. I still try to stick to my “no electronics after dinner” rule, but some days… I just don’t have it in me. No regrets though; I’m feeling too crappy to care.

I’ve been writing out my blogging schedule. I find that I’m much better at updating this blog if I plan out my blog posts in advance. I’ve been doing it since October, and I think it’s looking much better around these parts. I really should be writing out our Christmas cards, but maybe next week. I still have time.


We’ve been dressing in pajamas as much as possible. See above where I’m feeling too crappy to care. The Munchkin gets dressed for school, and The Bean and I stay in our pajamas all day long. I think the only day I got dressed maybe was Wednesday, and that was only because we had to leave the house to go to The Munchkin’s speech & OT appointments. I’m ok with this.

The Munchkin has apparently been thinking about bowling a lot lately. He asks to go bowling all of the time, and plays bowling apps and computer games, but this love for that game has carried over to school as well. He got a little note on his daily sheet one day that said he was “obsessed with bowling today.” Hahahahaha! I guess I’ll have to take the little man to the bowling alley again soon. They’re having a Turkey Bowl event this weekend, so maybe then. We’ll see how I’m feeling.


The Bean is beginning to really impress me with his ability to teach himself letters and numbers. I’ll have to look up where he should be, I think he’s a little advanced. Sure, he still says “1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, yay!” but he’s trying. He actually knows quite a few numbers past 10, which I think is impressive. He likes to skip the middle of the alphabet too, but we’ll get there. The boys were hanging out at my friend Jina’s house one day this week, and she said that my boys and her boys (her boys are the same ages as mine) were sitting around the table, and they were all singing the alphabet song. How cute must that have been????

Pictures: TB sleeping on the floor during our sick day | The boys in coats | TB coloring

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Tiny Swag, FabKids Edition, November

It is officially starting to get too cold to take outfit photos outside. What’s a mom to do?! Luckily, it was in the 40s today, and that seemed super warm compared to the temps we’ve been feeling lately. Sure, we actually had to wear coats today, but it was warm enough to be able to run out on the deck for a few minutes and snap some photos. There were almost 20 cows out today, but sadly, they’re all hidden by the deck railing. *shakes fist*


Anyway, onto the FabKids outfit! This month, I chose the Punkster Outfit, and it’s so cute. Oddly enough, I think the shirt is a bit darker than these photos and the ones on the FabKids site imply, but if I didn’t show up in either set of photos, I guess the color can’t be that far off!

This outfit came with coated black denim skinnies, which The Munchkin has received before, but I ordered again because he needed a bigger size! I was pleased to find that I needed to roll them up a couple of times. The cargo pants we have from FabKids in the same size can be worn as is now; no rolling up required. These still look cute rolled up, and that means that I’ll get lots of use out of them!


The Munchkin got lots of compliments on his outfit today. He had speech and OT today, and people commented on his outfit there, and then he was called a “fashionista” when I dropped him off at school. In response, one of the other aids said to the one who made the comment, “He is always a fashionista, what are you talking about?” with a grin. While I give a lot of credit to FabKids for making The Munchkin look fashionable most of the time (since we get a new outfit every month, the bulk of his wardrobe is from FabKids) can someone come up with a male version of “fashionista” please???

Outfit Details
Beanie – Walmart
Shirt & Pants – c/o FabKids
Stickers – c/o school
Shoes – Adidas

Heads up: I got this outfit for free from FabKids in exchange for writing this post, but all opinions and photos are my own.
This post also contains affiliate links.