Wednesday, January 25, 2017

When your oldest turns 3.

Her first gymnastics class fell today, on her birthday!

Happy birthday Grace Elaine!

The other day your dad and I were driving out to look at hunting land with you and your sister in the backseat.  Dad asked (for the millionth time) when your birthday party was and I reminded him.  Before reminding myself that a week from that day you turned 3.  I asked him if it seemed possible.  His answer was that he barely remembered his life without kids.  And while that is absolutely true, I also can't believe it was 3 years ago that you finally made your entrance.

Three. Years.

Watching you grow has been my greatest joy and biggest accomplishment.  You are the sweetest and most stubborn little lady.  There is no doubt who your parents are because you directly reflect traits from both of us.  But above all else you are a big sister, and a good one at that.  I don't know if I could ever express how it makes me feel watching you with your sister.  You are a very special little girl and I am proud of you.  Without a doubt.

I can't wait to see where you are 15 years from now and what you've accomplished in life 25 years from now.  You've got big things in your future baby love and I can't wait to watch your life unfold.  Know that mama is always going to be here for you.  To pick you up when you need an extra big hug, and give you the pep talk you need.  Celebrate all the little milestones with you and make countless memories.  Know that the years can slow down and I would not have one problem with it.

Thanks for making me a mom baby.  I never knew that my life was missing something until my job role changed and I became a mother.  It has been my greatest accomplishment.

So eat some cake and dance like nobody is watching.  You are three after all and your moves are way better than your moms (and especially your dads!).

I love you, sweetie.

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Monday, January 23, 2017

The final goodbye (plus, what I will miss about the Army)

Today is Rob's last day in the Army.  He has been on terminal leave since October, but today... today he is really done.. and with that, we are really done with Army life.

The last almost 7 years of my life have been dictated by the Army and their needs.  When I married Rob in that small Annapolis courthouse back in 2010, I only had a small idea of what was to come.  We have experienced so much life thanks to the Army and it has always been an adventure.

Am I sad that this chapter is ending?  Yes and no.  There are so many great things about the Army that we will truly miss...

-Free healthcare.  It goes without saying that not having to worry about co-pays and hospital bills is a huge relief.  It may not have always been the best or quickest care, but we've always been healthy and able to do what we needed to do without worrying about a giant bill at the end.

-Opportunties to see and live places this Kansas girl would only dream of living.  While we never made it overseas to live... we called Maryland, Georgia and Tennessee home.  Places I never imagined I'd ever call home in my lifetime.  Of course, there is nothing like coming home.  But I can say I left, and I became a better person because of it.

-The sense of community. There is no community like the military community.  We are bonded by the fact that we are all separated from home and our loved ones.  We move somewhere often knowing nobody and we build a new life within our new community.  We stand behind and do everything in our power to support our service members.  And I'm not sure we will ever find a community that compares.

-The overall job security.  Except for the fact that the Army can choose to Med Board you after any doctors visit and because of any ailment... overall there is great job security in the military.  If you excel at your job and are continually striving to achieve promotion, you can easily make the military a career and retire young.

-Built in volunteer opportunities.  My years spent as a military spouse included many volunteer opportunities.  If you want to help, there is a niche for you within the military community.  Being far away from home and not having a job left my days empty and needing to be filled.  I personally enjoyed serving on the board at Fort Meade's Enlisted Spouses Club and Fort Gordon's Spouses and Civilians Club.  Was there some drama here and there?  Yes. But it was rewarding to see the clubs do such good in the community.

-Making friends from all around the country.  Without a doubt the very best part of the military life is the people you will meet.  Brooke's Godparents and our military best friends are originally from Massachusetts and West Virginia and our paths would have never crossed had it not been for the military.  I've also made friends from other countries and states both near and far filled with all different lifestyles.  It taught me a lot about life... because lets face it.. not everyone was raised as I was and culture shock is a real thing y'all.

We have the Army to thank for a lot in our life.  It opened many doors for Rob in his career that allowed for him to succeed out here in the civilian sector.  Our two sweet military brats are thankful beyond words to be around family on the regular now.  Apparently mom and dad are boring.  And for me it helped me become the wife and woman I am today.  Taught me many life lessons and social skills I was lacking.

If you have been along for this journey, I have you to thank.  To name a select few... Rachel.  I could never thank you for helping me that first year at Fort Meade.  So many conversations were had that helped me see what I wasn't already seeing about life outside of my bubble.  I am very thankful that our paths crossed again at Fort Gordon.  You are one of those military spouses the Army should be thankful to have.  Abigail.  That night we met around the bonfire in your backyard, I didn't envision you become one of my closest confidants and friends at Fort Gordon and beyond, but you are in so many ways.  I can't wait to meet baby V #2 and watch your journey unfold even more.  I only wish we were still just a few minutes away from each other for those late nights and countless memories.  Heather. I feel like you are my spirit animal in that we are so alike, but still so different.  I remember many a pep talk about how it is what you make it and this life can only make you stronger.  Now I'm watching you kick butt in so many ways, first and foremost as a mama.  I only hope our paths cross sooner, rather than later.

(While the above list could go on and on, please know that if I met you thanks to the military, a special place in my heart will always be reserved for you.)

This chapter is officially closing and a new narrative has already begun.  But we will look back someday at our years spent within the military world and we will smile... it's where life began for us...

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Official Clarksville wrap up.

Over two months ago we left Tennessee, for one last road trip to the sunflower state.  Two PACKED months ago.  With the holidays and my overall hiatus from blogging while moving and being with family and friends again... I never got around to officially closing our Clarksville chapter.  So let's flash back two months to our last week in Clarksville.

Other than running around like a crazy person trying to get everything done that must be done before a move... we also managed to...

Drive into the Kentucky country to scoop up some TO DIE FOR donuts.  I had heard through the grapevine that I would not regret it.  And I do.  But only because I waited until the last freaking week to go up there and get some.  They were hands down some of the best donuts I've ever had.  Leave it to the Amish. (Also, just checked.. I've mentioned this donut trip on here before... so clearly they were the bees knees.)

On a particularly rainy and gross afternoon we had lunch at Silke's Old World Breads Bakery & Cafe.  The food was mediocre at best, but it was a fun little outing with just my girls.  They have a small play area and serve piping hot food (ask Brooke, she stuck her hand in Grace's pizza two seconds after they served it to us...).  After we ate we meandered next door to a few amazing antique type stores.  I regret not going to Warehouse 41 prior to the movers coming.  So much stuff that I could have easily taken home with me and should have.

Another evening after leaving the dungeon that is the hospital basement where one finds the medical records office, we headed over to the park next door to the Fort Campbell museum to walk around and look at all of the helicopters.  Our home in Clarksville was under the flight path of training for a wide range of military helicopters and it became a familiar sight for all of us.  Needless to say seeing the "copters" up close was a real hit.  That was our official goodbye to military installations.

Our last major thing to do before leaving town was say goodbye to our lone friends in Clarksville.  We knew Miranda and the girls from our time at Fort Gordon... but we were reconnected at Fort Campbell for a few months and the girls really enjoyed each others company.  So we met up for dinner at Blackhorse and said our goodbyes.  Hands down the worst thing to do, ever.

Without a shadow of a doubt I can say that our time at Fort Campbell was not exactly my favorite.  We lost our beloved Piston and had more than a few other crazy incidents, often shared with our neighbors.  But Fort Campbell will also always be a special place to me.  That is where I gave birth to Brooklyn and we added Diesel to our gang.  We had many great visits with friends and family.  And lots of memories were made in just one year.

But I don't miss it, at all.

Here is what I will miss about Fort Campbell and Clarksville, Tennessee.

-Blackhorse, the restaurant.  Family friendly and they make their own beer.
-Miss Lucille's Marketplace.  Used, new, reclaimed and antique.  It's all there.
-Nashville.  Close and TONS of stuff to do.
-The sounds of freedom, in helicopters and range action.  Heard 20 minutes out, no less.
-Liberty park.  The playground, walking trails and restaurant.
-Our neighbors.  We weren't super close to them, but did experience a lot of life with them.
-Our friends.

Here is what I will not miss about Fort Campbell and Clarksville, Tennessee.

-The panhandlers.  Somebody always needs something from everyone else.
-Our rental company.  They were great in the beginning but kind of screwed us over in the end.
-The large military aspect.  Coming from Fort Gordon and Fort Meade.. Campbell is huge.
-"Free" anything.. especially events.  Not worth it, at all.
-Our split level home.  Loved the home, HATED the stairs.  Especially on grocery day.

Rob's terminal leave ends shortly and we will 100% be done with the Army.  It's kind of surreal.  But I'd be lying if I said it hasn't been good for this family...

So there you have it.  The closing of our Campbell chapter.  Late, but still glorious.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

New year, new me?

It is all too cliche.  The new year comes around and everyone insists that this will be THEIR year.  They will change immensely and become the person they have longed to be.

After all, according to my Facebook 2016 was an especially rough year for everyone.  There can be no other way to go, but up.

January 1, 2017 dawned just as any other day.  Maybe the bags under my eyes were a bit bigger than normal after staying up to welcome the new year.  But it felt different in that it was a fresh start.  It is funny how a new year can make one feel that way.  Nothing really changes but the date, but a fresh world of possibilities opens up.

I'm not one to set resolutions, because I can almost never stick to them.  So I just wanted to do better this year.  Be a better mom and wife.  And above all, be better to myself.

So I've started a new routine of sorts.  Every night I reflect on the day and take note of two things I did that day that were for myself.  They have been as simple as taking an extra long hot shower.  Or as complicated as finally organizing the downstairs storage closet.  But I recognize two things, and I write it down in my planner (because I went back to a paper planner and life is GLORIOUS!).

I'm forced to focus on me at least once a day.  Just me.  I'm a mom first, a wife second and any time after that is for me... just me.

Here is just a small sampling of what I want to do this year... for me...

-Get back into practicing yoga regularly.  30 minutes makes me feel so much stronger and better.  Just 30 minutes.

-Go to the spa.

-Blog regularly.

-Write and send more letters and packages.

-Leave my kids more.  Time away is healthy for all of us.

-Maintain a clean and organized home.

-Get my hair trimmed more.

-Find a great new dentist and get my teeth cleaned.

I am about a week and a half into this trying to do things for myself bit and so far I've been able to do things no problem.

So 2017, what'chu got?

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Friday, January 6, 2017

Brooklyn | Eight Months

As I type this, we are closer to 9 months than 8 months.  Of course.  Basically the story of this blogs life.  A day late and a dollar short chronicling just about everything.

Our Brooklyn is EIGHT months old.  And such a fun, easy going baby.

Brooke's quirks this month...

.You finally got to the doctor for those 6 month shots, which you HATE.  You are getting long and lean like your sister... with a big ole head to boot.

.You are wearing size 3 diapers and still in 6 to 9 month / 9 month clothing.  At this point it is really whatever mommy can find clean and matching... we just go with it.

.You are a sitting champ now and don't particularly like sitting in the exersaucer or anything else mommy can contain you in.

.You FINALLY started accepting solid food right before you turned 8 months old.  You've tried bread and french fries at this point.

.You are currently sleeping in mommy and daddy's room in your pack and play because of the funny set up of our current home.  Downstairs, where your crib is, is FREEZING.  So we are all camped out together in the master.  Which is both good and bad as your naps are SERIOUSLY lacking these days but you are an arms reach away instead of a staircase away when you wake up.

.You nurse mainly in the morning, before your morning nap, before your afternoon nap and before bed.  Occasionally you wake up in the night and will only go to bed once you have gotten some milk.

.You were sick this month with your first ear infection.  Zero fun for mommy.

.You still have AMAZING thigh rolls.

.You no longer sport the static hair style, as your hair finally decided to completely lay flat.  So unless you just got a good nap in, it keeps to your head pretty well.

.You have this sweet little quirk, where you will babble right before you fall asleep.  It's a tactic to try and keep yourself awake, and mama loves it.

.You are still obsessed with daddy and sister.  They can do no wrong in your eyes.

.You don't really pay any mind to the dog.  Occasionally you reach out to him in an attempt to say hello.  But otherwise you both just do your own things.

.You are still so amazingly easy going with most things but you refuse to nap unless it is in a dark quiet bedroom or the truck.  Which is awesome when we are out and about doing things.

This year is FLYING by.  I thought it went fast with your sister, but Lord have mercy.  It is going ten times as fast with you.  I am trying to remember to sit down and take all of the small things in.  Which is sometimes much harder than it sounds.  Slow down baby love.

To read about Grace at 8 months, click here.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Fa La La... on repeat

Happy New Year friends!

Another holiday season has come and gone.  In our house Thanksgiving kind of marks the beginning of everything though.  We have Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and then Grace's Birthday, Valentines Day, My birthday, Rob's birthday, Our anniversary, Diesel's birthday and Brooklyn's birthday at the end of March.  This is what I live for.

We were lucky enough to host our very first Thanksgiving with family (basically FOREVER ago).  My parents and sister are just a mere 30 minutes away from us so they came over for the day for a feast, an afternoon at the park and some football.  The weather was decent for Kansas in November and we all filled our bellies before walking over to the park to get some energy out while B napped at home with Rob.  Then one of my very best friends stopped by with her sweet family and nothing warms my heart like watching my girls play with my best friends kids.  Nothing.  So it was the most perfect welcome back to Kansas I could have ever asked for.

Also - we got our house set up in time, as promised.  Still patting myself on the back.

Somehow another month passed and then it was Christmas.  This year was so very special because Grace was much more invested into the activities and what we were up to day in and day out.  We got to spend another holiday with family.  Christmas Eve was the traditional gathering at my parents house.  We attempted to go to church.. but after pulling into the parking lot over a half hour early, there was literally nowhere to park and already standing room only.  So we headed home to get dinner cooked up and on the table.  After eating we opened presents from Gaga, Papa and Aunt Erin before calling it a night.  Christmas Day we were lucky enough to wake up in our own bed.  Something we pushed hard for this year.  By the time Grace had pulled herself out of bed my parents and sister were over for presents, breakfast and mass take two.  Fortunately our town is a little smaller, and a college town, so we had no problems getting a seat for Christmas Day mass.  After mass we ate breakfast and watched a movie.  The girls made out like bandits with their Christmas gifts.  Rob thoroughly enjoyed some online shopping for the girls and they are still waking up excited almost every morning.  And I am enjoying all the new baby clothes.  Definitely a mom thing to be excited for.

We welcomed the New Year at home.  After dinner out downtown with my parents and sister, my sister came back to our house for the night.  The girls were in heaven and they eventually crashed, not quite making it to 2017 awake.  Rob, Erin and I welcomed it with a toast and the awful-ness that was Mariah Carey.  I mean what was that y'all?  I can't say it was a wild party out... but somehow it was just right.

Our holidays are not quite over yet as we still get to celebrate with Rob's family as well as our close friends.  But it has been just right thus far.  And 2017?  Not too bad.  Although I can't really complain about 2016.  We brought home Brooke, added Diesel to the gang, got out of the Army and moved back to Kansas.  HELLO.  Who could complain about that?!

Here is to hoping that 2017 is everything everyone is hoping for, and more.

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