Step-Families & Smartphones

I belong to a few step family and step mom social media groups, one of the most common questions that gets posted is about the blended families being on each other’s social media pages. Some families agree with being on their step children’s parents social media pages to be able to see what they are doing and get pictures. Now while most blended families would disagree with this, in my opinion, it all depends on the situation. In my case, I am very open on my face book page; every person on my friends list knows me personally, my family, or is a close client. Though I think my stepdaughter’s mom is really cool and we get along well, I feel that I am not that close to her (yet) to share some of my personal posts. My husband no longer has any social media pages and other social sites I am on, like Twitter and Instagram, are public because I don’t mind sharing those.

I understand Facebook is a great tool to exchange pictures, but for blended families, there is a possibility it can also stir up harsh feelings, cause drama, and I don’t think exes need to keep tabs on you and your spouse’s whereabouts and vice versa. Some things are just not sharable and some families don’t even get along at all to even want to be on each other’s social media pages.

Email and texting is another great way to exchange pictures and video, but when you have tons of pictures (as I usually do) and big video files, email and text does have a limit and you are not able to share them that way. The best thing that has worked for my husband and I, is Dropbox.

dropbox-logoWhat’s Dropbox? “Dropbox is a home for all your photos, docs, videos, and files. Anything you add to Dropbox will automatically show up on all your computers, phones (android and iphone) and even the Dropbox website — so you can access your stuff from anywhere.

With the Smartphone craze these days, everyone has downloaded an app or two on their phones. The Dropbox app is a free download and service (unless you need more memory) and can be accessed anywhere. I even use it for work files and sharing pictures with my family. I take lots of pictures and video wherever I go, it is time consuming to have to upload them to the computer and then break them down into emails. With Dropbox, we click on all the pictures we want to share with my step daughter’s mom, upload them to her Dropbox folder, and she can view all of them in minutes due to the shared folder feature. With the shared folder feature, you can add anyone to the folder via email to have access to any of your folders.

Dropbox can also be downloaded to your laptop, desktop, and tablets. If you ever lost any of your devices or got them wet, your pictures, videos, and files are safe in your Dropbox folders and you can access them anywhere you can log into your Dropbox account. To learn more about Dropbox, check out their website. With such a neat and handy app, there should be no reason for blended families not to share pictures and videos of the children between them. Please share this idea with other step families.

For Stepmoms on Facebook, be sure to visit this great Support page:

Shine Beautifully






Keep Busy During Deployments

Being a Military spouse is a tough job; no one knows how hard it is to keep your mind off thinking the worst. During a deployment there will be days, weeks, and sometimes months before you get to hear from your spouse. In the meantime, you are always on edge, waiting by your home phone, have your cellphone near you at all times, checking the mail and your email always…it’s crazy how your life changes at this time. Other military wives ask me how I survived during my husband’s (6) deployments… here are some of the things I did to keep busy.


List of Things to Do During a Deployment:



Hang out with old friends

Make new friends

Strengthen family bonds

Get better at your job

Take classes

Tend to the hobbies & passions you normally don’t have time for

Road trips

Visit museums, art galleries, or historical sites

Plan a girls picnic

Take fitness classes

Go Wine tasting

Go for walks at a near by track or park

Pamper yourself at home with a bubble bath

Catch up on the latest books

Try new foods

Start writing to let your emotions out

Keep a journal of your daily thoughts

Book a spa day

Go on vacation

Never turn down an invitation to do something fun

Go to local events

Volunteer in your community

Start a business

Buy a house, renovate and/or rearrange your home

Save money

Get to know yourself

The trick is to KEEP BUSY!!! Get out of bed, throw the box of tissues away, pick yourself up, get dolled up, and do things. Before you know it, time flies by and you’re love is home and back from deployment. These are just the things I can remember off the top of my head. Don’t spend to much time on driving yourself crazy…it’s stressful, wears you out, and not healthy.

About the Author:

Beauty Writer & Lifestyle Blogger April M. Monterrosa is a Proud Latina from San Antonio, Texas, a Military wife, the mama of a dachshund, a licensed Cosmetologist of 18 years, Owner of The Lil Spa Room, & a Nuskin Skin Care Distributor. With beauty & blogging being such passions, Shine Beautifully was born. Shine Beautifully will feature beauty tips, home remedies, quotes, poetry, recipes, personal stories, travel adventures, & an array of other topics. Don’t forget to subscribe!

Veteran’s Day: A Military Wife’s Memory

This Veterans Day brought back a memory of something I had never gone through before. I decided to share it…I’m sure other military spouses will know exactly what I went through and how it felt. Here it goes…

MarineI was the most non-military person you’d ever meet before I married my husband. Being raised in a blue-collar, musician filled family, the last thing I’d ever thought of doing was marrying a (USMC) military man. I had to learn so much about being a military wife; luckily my husband was very patient with me. His 6th and last deployment was coming to an end finally. We went through a year of being apart; though this wasn’t the first time, it was the first time being husband and wife. I thought I would be able to handle it just fine. I have to admit, I had a few bad days, but I kept as busy as I could. The good that came out of that year of being away from him was I started my own business, renovated our home, lost over 100 lbs, strengthened relationships with my close friends, and spent lots of time with family. The bad was the constant knots in your stomach, the stress, the fear, the not knowing where he’s at, always waiting by the phone, checking your email, going days without hearing from him, barely getting any sleep because you want to stay up to take his 5 minute phone call, not being able to call him after a bad day, him missing out on family outings and holidays, and most of all not knowing if he’s going to come home in one piece or alive.

But the day was finally here! He was coming home and for good! The 12 years my husband was in the Marine Corps he was never300685_2373408335086_4078829_n greeted by anyone but personnel from his unit when he returned home. By this time I have a full-time corporate job, my business is getting started, and two blogs…a full plate. But…with my husband never having family there to greet him home after a deployment in his 12 years of active duty service, there was no way I was not going to be there when he got off that bus. You can only imagine all the planning I had to do to make this happen.

The Plane Ride

300192_2373404654994_109124_nDuring the time I was back and forth between San Antonio, Texas and Jacksonville, North Carolina where he was stationed, I was very fortunate that my family and friends were always available to take me to the airport, whether it was from home or work…both being a bit far. I made to the airport on time (San Antonio) to make my way to North Carolina to finally see my husband after a year. When I landed in Atlanta to hop on my connecting flight, not only did my plane arrive late, the connecting flight departed a few minutes early. There aren’t very many flights that go to Jacksonville, NC…after my flight, there was only one more. I was beyond devastated…so upset…I went into the nearest restroom and puked my guts out. What was I going to do now?  First person I called was my mom, I started balling! Crying and trying to tell her what had happened, I could barely breathe. After our conversation I went to the nearest customer service desk, I explained to them what had happened, that I needed to get to Jacksonville and that same night! All the representative could say was that she was sorry and they would try their best to get me on the next flight. When I turned around to look behind me, there were so many people, angry, crying, going through the same thing I was and going to the same place. I called the Delta airline customer service line, what did I have to lose, I was stuck in Atlanta anyway! They told me the same thing the front desk people said…that they would try to get me on that last flight there or the flight first thing in the morning. If I would have agreed to take the flight first thing in the morning I would  miss my husband walking off that bus…I would not be the first face he saw coming home from deployment. I even looked into renting a car and driving there, but with the distance, there was no way I would make it there on time.

Now What?

297561_2373412095180_5446855_nI paced that airport back and forth…I had not slept due to excitement and hadn’t eaten since I lost my appetite. What the hell was I going to do now? I needed to get there! Not sure how this popped into my head but …I remember meeting a client when I was working at the Marriott that was an airline attendant…I don’t quite remember the story but I remember her saying airlines usually held emergency seats. I walked over to the nearest help desk, cut in front of everyone like a crazy women, and demanded they get me on that next flight. I was extremely loud, yelling, crying, telling them to have a heart and that I could not miss seeing my husband get off that bus, and I know they hold emergency seats! At this point I had nothing to lose! The representative was so sweet; she was a military wife herself. She told me to calm down, had someone get me a bottle of water, and gave me some tissues. She asked what my name was and said so calmly, “Mrs. Monterrosa, we WILL get you on that next flight, don’t you worry”.  My flight from Atlanta to Jacksonville left within that hour and I was to land at midnight. My husband’s bus was arriving at 4am…I still had time to freshen up and get dressed. I had been in jeans and a t-shirt for hours by this time and I looked like a raccoon from all the crying. 297845_2373399654869_8042675_n

I Made It!

Arriving in Jacksonville, North Carolina, my husband had set up for a good friend of his who was also a Marine to pick me up from the airport. He was already there when I landed. There was just one problem…my luggage was lost! I had nothing to change into, no toiletries to bathe and freshen up with. Thankfully I had my makeup bag in my purse which I normally do not. My husband’s friend was a total gentleman; he picked me up at midnight, drove me to Wal-Mart so I could buy a few things to freshen up with; I even looked for something to change into but had no luck, plus I didn’t want to be late. We get to the house I shower, freshen up my hair and make-up, and then we make our way to the base (Camp Legeune). We get there and we are one of two cars in the parking lot; after sitting for an hour, we find out the bus is running late. I felt so bad for my husband’s friend, it’s now 1:45am and he has to be at work by 6am. He never complained once. We both even napped in his car. I remember barely opening my eyes and I see the bus pull up. My husband’s friend says,” well there’s his bus, he’s here!” I immediately jump out of the car, at this point I could care less how sleep deprived I look. I made it! After missing flights, vomiting, crying, screaming like a mad women at the airport, losing my luggage, not eating, not sleeping, none of that even mattered…I was there when he was going to walk off that bus!

The Bus

297596_2373415055254_3365688_nI was so excited, my heart was racing…I was thinking do I wait for him to walk up to me, do I run up to him at the doorway of the bus…what do I do now! He walked off that bus with the biggest smile, it was the same smile he had on our wedding day. We both just walked really fast to each other. The first thing he did was hug me tight, he couldn’t even let go and seeing him tear up, I knew all I went through to get there didn’t matter; I was literally at a loss for words. That is a feeling that I will never forget. Not only was he home safely, seeing his wife after a year, someone who he loved was actually there the minute he walked off that bus like he always wanted. I was so overwhelmed, I couldn’t even cry. I wasn’t even tired, hungry, and could have cared less if my luggage was found or not. My Marine was home, safe, and I was the first person he got to see. (A big thank you to Teekie for picking me up from the airport, getting me on base, & taking pictures of this moment for me.)

Military Wife Duty

Yes, our military goes through training, they’re suppose to be tough, go through war, protect us, and serve our country. But they are still human. Support your loved ones that are in the military, we can only imagine what they go through, what they see, what they feel. They need patience, understanding, and most of all love. After all, it’s because of them that we are free. Happy Veteran’s Day to all of our precious military.

Like You’ll Never Be Loved Again

Has someone ever loved you so much they know your every move? The kind of mood you’re in just by the tone of your voice. If you’ve had a good day, a bad one, or just an ordinary one.  They know the curves of your face, the exact detail of your eye color, how your hair smells, and how your hands feel.  They know the kind of soup you like when you’re feeling under the weather; they show up with flowers just to make you smile for no reason at all. They look at you and see right through you, they know when you’re fibbing, when you’re scared, or when you’re the most confident.  You’re the most beautiful thing they have ever seen, even on your ugliest days. They write you poetry, send you song lyrics that remind you of them, and every site of beauty they see has your face imprinted on it. They constantly ask you questions about your past, show interest in your present, and hope to be a part of your future. They know when to back off to give you space, how to comfort you on a sad day, and act silly just to make you laugh. They can’t get enough of your company, are saddened when you have to part ways, and make plans to immediately see you soon.  When they lay right beside you still in the night, no conversation is needed and a bond is still felt even in the silence.  When the two of you make love, all disappears from your mind; you’re so wrapped up in the moment tears stream down your face. When you say goodbye it seems like forever till you’re joined again. Love

If you’re loved like this now, treat it preciously, guard it with your life, and make sure you take care of it because you may never have the chance to have that again. I believe only one person comes along in our life that loves us this much. Most of the time we take it for granted and treat it as if it would last forever. Forever only lasts when we give the same kind of love in return, if not, we lose it. No matter how hard we try to replace it when it’s gone, it will never be the same. Love those more that love you this way.

aprilmaemonterrosaApril M. Monterrosa is a Proud Latina from San Antonio, Texas, a Military wife, the mama of a dachshund, a licensed Cosmetologist of 18 years, & Owner of The Lil Spa Room,  PCA Skin Chemical Peel certified, a Nuskin Skin Care Distributor, & freelance beauty writer. With beauty & blogging being such passions, Shine Beautifully was born. Shine Beautifully will feature beauty tips, home remedies, quotes, poetry, recipes, personal stories, & travel adventures. Don’t forget to subscribe!

Sept 3: My 3rd Year of Marriage

3-year-anniversary (1)Today is my 3rd year wedding anniversary. Three years ago I never would’ve thought I’d be saying that at all, much less writing it. Far from your traditional marriage, I still took the plunge and became a military wife. Funny how life turns out; unexpected twists and turns of love, loss, heartache, bliss, and never-ending surprises. This year was particularly hard. Both of us have been through huge transitions and handled them the best and only way we knew how. Unfortunately, it was the wrong way. I’ve always been too ambitious and impulsive for my own good, while my other half is patient and cautious. Opposites attract right? I guess that’s why it had been working so well. Again, I’ll admit, this year has been a rather difficult one.

Between therapy, alone time, and dealing with my own inner demons, I’ve learned a lot about marriage, life, and 6863_20121109_170345_75913_413125865425792_1535894639_n1myself. I’ve learned not everyone is the speed demon I am, I’m not the same person I use to be, some things aren’t as important, if someone really wants you no excuses will be made, anyone can change if they want to, and sometimes you got to take your time and not use your emotions to make huge decisions. As for marriage, I’ve learned that your spouse should come before your career, especially if they’re supportive of your every move and just want a tinny tiny bit of undivided attention. I’ve also learned that even though you’re extremely upset, you need to bite your tongue if any ugliness is on its way to coming out. Words spewed out in heartache and anger can really break someone’s heart.

579784_4042463780429_465533200_nI use to be one of those “marriage is a piece of paper” people. Now that I have one of those pieces of paper, I know now it’s far much more than that. When you marry for true love, you lose yourself, you give more chances, you forgive more, you ache harder, and even though you want to run away from it all, that bond of marriage gives you more gall to fight for it. I’m talking real unconditional love, the kind where you forgive and want things better not like they were, respecting your vows, and knowing you can’t nor want to be without your spouse.

Marriage has its highs and lows; I’m learning it can’t always be a honeymoon. Though this year has been difficult, the both of us are trying to find each other again along with ourselves, we still laugh with one another, the towel hasn’t been completely thrown in, & I still feel blessed to have him in my life. I’ve given and invested so much in quotesthis marriage; it may last, it may not. I can’t see the future and neither can anyone else so any negative opinions will be paid no attention to. With any not so good situation, the blessings are there. With everything that’s happened its lead me to some pretty awesome things; I am now my own boss, I’m the strongest I’ve ever been, I have more pride in my accomplishments, my home is filled with more love, had the chance to travel, enjoy life, make new friends, and find the person I want to be.

Trying times can produce the most valuable lessons in life. Those that truly love you will accept whatever decision you make or direction you decide to go and be there for you when you’re blissfully happy or torn up to pieces. So to my husband, the both of us are full of imperfections, no mistake is worse than the other, both of our fingers are too dirty to keep pointing at each other and I’m glad we’re slowly getting away from that whether we are under the same roof or not. We can now only hope for the best since we’ve been through the worst. Thank you for helping me learn more about myself, allowing me to grow and branch out to new opportunities, and mostly, for still loving and supporting me in every way possible despite the mess we’ve made. Happy anniversary & much love always.

About the Author:

Beauty Writer & Lifestyle Blogger April M. Monterrosa is a Proud Latina from San Antonio, Texas, a Military wife, the mama of a dachshund, a licensed Cosmetologist of 18 years, Owner of The Lil Spa Room, & a Nuskin Skin Care Distributor. With beauty & blogging being such passions, Shine Beautifully was born. Shine Beautifully will feature beauty tips, home remedies, quotes, poetry, recipes, personal stories, travel adventures, & an array of other topics. Don’t forget to subscribe!