It’s the Navy Life

A Look Back at 2015

Posted on Jan 1, 2016 in Adulthood Stole My Cool, It's the Navy Life, My Kid Stole My Cool, The Kids Are Actually Cute, Travel Traumas

A Look Back at 2015 1

Hello, Friends.

This blog has not seen much action this year.  Mainly, because of this rascal:

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I’d love to write more, and hopefully will in the upcoming months. In the meantime, this post is my attempt to recap everything I would have blogged about this past year had I had the mental capacity to do so. Here it is, 2015 in one blog post:

January: The stressful end of 2014 – unending remodel, constantly sick kids, overworked husband, extreme lack of sleep, etc. – continued on into January, but things slowly turned up. The remodel wrapped up, we sort-of sleep-trained James (though it didn’t quite take), we began to settle into a routine. Now that James is a walking, running, climbing little boy, it’s hard to imagine that just a year ago he was still a baby, but it’s true, and this month saw him teething and cruising (or, the beginning of the end for me.)

January's first snow. James' first snow, too!

January’s first snow. James’ first snow, too!

February: Snow, snow, snow. School closures, school closures, school closures. I don’t know if Elisabeth saw the inside of her classroom that month. Instead, she watched a lot of Frozen. I’m a good parent.  I also had an unfortunate incident in a Trader Joe’s parking lot involving my Toyota Highlander, a pole, and a personal injury lawyer’s BMW. Can we talk for a second about how it’s like a requirement that every Trader Joe’s has the worst parking lot in the city? Seriously. Every. Single. One. Anyway, moral of the story is don’t go to a Trader Joe’s on a holiday the day before a massive snowstorm.

Sweethearts

Sweethearts

 

Great-Grandma Dottie and Pop-Pop

Great-Grandma Dottie and Pop-Pop

 

More snow!

More snow!

Oh, we did have an exceptionally beautifully warm and sunny day in the early month that happened to coincide with our wildly successful housewarming party. Win!

March: March was a good month. Mainly because I stopped nursing James. If you read my blog last year, you may remember I basically ate birdseed for the majority of his infancy due to his allergic colitis. Well, that sucked, and he and I were both hungry all the time. So I began eating cheese again and he began drinking outrageously expensive hypoallergenic formula, and we were both the happier for it.

Pizzzzzza!

Pizzzzzza!

Other good things in March? My thirtieth birthday and a ski trip to Sunday River, Maine. I don’t ski, but Elisabeth does now!

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We even met some distant cousins - It's too bad Elisabeth didn't care for them.

We even met some distant cousins – It’s too bad Elisabeth didn’t care for them.

April: My dad has been coming to D.C. frequently for work, so we have been lucky enough to see my parents on a monthly basis, at least. April was no different, and my mom joined us for Easter. We hosted all our local family for Easter dinner, which I only did because my mom was here to cook.  My mom, Elisabeth, and I saw the live action Cinderella in theaters, and Elisabeth has not taken off her Cinderella costume since then.  My dad came in a few days later and caught the end of Cherry Blossom season. The kids also enjoyed their first baseball game: Nats-Phillies. The Nats crushed it, but Elisabeth was too busy enjoying her snacks to notice.

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These two took up gardening together.

These two took up gardening together.

May: The ‘rents were back at the beginning of the month, and my dad and I took the kids to the Museum of Natural History to get educated.  Damon celebrated another year on Earth with his family and mine all present.

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I got my first weekend away from both kids – what!? – and flew out to California for my friend Jessica’s bachelorette party. We spent a fantastic weekend in Santa Barbara drinking copious amounts of wine. Elisabeth had her last day of preschool, kicking off the longest summer break in the history of the world (Four months. FOUR!) and sadly had to say goodbye to her best friend, Anna, whose family moved to Florida. We still miss them, but such is the military life.

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*Tears*

*Tears*

First day of preschool vs. last day of preschool. Whoa.

First day of preschool vs. last day of preschool. Whoa.

Of course, I can’t write about May without mentioning James’ first birthday! I tried to do a cute cake smash photo shoot and dress him up in one of those Pinterest-inspired outfits, and it was a complete failure. James, who is usually all smiles, refused to crack a grin and later erupted into full on tears when faced with his cake. Probably because he was dressed like a Chippendales dancer, as Damon pointed out. My bad. We had a laid-back BBQ to celebrate, and even my California-based brother made it out to attend.

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I'm really sorry about this, James.

I’m really sorry about this, James.

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Oh, and James began walking this month. Game over.

June: Welp, summer. Kids all day, every day. And our local pool has a five-and-a-half year waiting list (not an exaggeration.) Luckily the monotony of summer break was broken up with a trip to California for Jessica’s wedding. Damon was unable to attend, so I braved a cross-country flight with both kids on my own. AND I LIVED TO TELL ABOUT IT. The wedding, in Sonoma, was lovely. Elisabeth was the flower girl and kinda sorta stole the show. I mean, Miss Thing had a job to do and after that job was done, she needed to par-tay. My mom graciously traveled up to help me take care of the kids, so I also got to do partying of my own.

Guess who's the boss?

Guess who’s the boss?

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Also notable in June: James also got ear tubes put in and Damon and I sat down to watch a show together (True Detective, Season 1, in case you were wondering.) This may not seem notable to you, except that it was the first time we had done so since February 2014, possibly earlier. (What the Hell is Netflix and Chill?)

Summer hike at Great Falls

Summer hike at Great Falls

July: Still summer. Still a five-and-a-half year waiting list to get into our pool. July seemed interminable until it was time to pack for our summer vacation (an Alaskan cruise), when suddenly there were not enough hours in the day to get ready. It was our first vacation as a family of four, and a bucket list trip for Damon. I was just stoked to not have to fly by myself with two kids again.  Before we had even boarded, our car seat got stuck in the security scanner and Elisabeth pooped in her pants (I had forgotten an extra pair of underwear, of course.) I now understand why my parents always took vacations by themselves.

Not-So-Happy Fourth of July

Not-So-Happy Fourth of July

We made it to Alaska and onto the ship, where we joined my parents. We traveled on a small ship with excellent service. Elisabeth befriended the entire ship’s staff, but especially Gede on the housekeeping staff, whom she called, “Mr. Ga-DAY!” and still talks about to this day. Alaska was beautiful, if a bit chilly, and we kept busy hiking, dog sledding, ziplining… you know, normal things. James and Elisabeth particularly enjoyed the cookies and ice cream that the staff spoiled them with on a daily (hourly?) basis.

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Damon, James, and I stayed in Vancouver a few extra days and Elisabeth went home to California with my parents. Damon and I had a great time exploring Vancouver and Victoria with only one child.

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Beer tasting on Granville Island.

Beer tasting on Granville Island.

August: I hopped down to California with James for another three weeks or so and discovered that James is a swimming prodigy just like his older sister. Check him out. 15 months old, people.

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James got his first hair cut in California.

James got his first hair cut in California.

Upon returning to Virginia, Damon and I celebrated our fifth anniversary – and our first together since our first.

Most notably for me, I got my Fit4Mom certification. I’ve been a Stroller Strides devotee since Elisabeth was born, and I’d long considered becoming an instructor. Well, the stars finally aligned (somewhat suddenly!) and I had the opportunity to get certified at the end of this month. I’m thrilled to be teaching for this great organization.

September: Stilllll summer. We spent a fun-filled Labor Day weekend in Philadelphia with Damon’s extended family. I love, love, love that Elisabeth and James have this awesomely big family to grow up with.

Summer, Baby!

Summer, Baby!

 

Elisabeth started ballet.

Elisabeth started ballet.

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Cousins

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I took my fourth trip in five months out to California for a college friend’s wedding. Lauren got married outside of Lake Tahoe. There were forest fires raging not too far away, but the wedding was rustic and beautiful and I appreciated the chance to catch up with old friends.

Damon couldn't make it, so my college friend Brett was my date!

Damon couldn’t make it, so my college friend Brett was my date!

Then… PRESCHOOL STARTED! HALLELUJAH! I even put James in the nursery classroom at Elisabeth’s school for two mornings a week. While Elisabeth mentally exhausts me, James physically exhausts me. I was hesitant at first to put him in “school” while I’m at home, but I quickly realized the six hours a week he’s in the nursery helps keep me sane for the other 162 hours I have to deal with his shenanigans.

Elisabeth's first day.

Elisabeth’s first day.

 

James' first day.

James’ first day.

Oh, and our kitchen exploded. Okay, not really. But we had a slow leak that caused lots and lots of floor damage that we didn’t realize thanks to a large rubber mat in the kitchen. Hello, unexpected and unwelcome kitchen renovation. Buh-bye dishwasher, kitchen floor, cabinets, and countertops.

Go Navy!

Go Navy!

 

Ed Sheeran concert. Sometimes we do grown-up things.

Ed Sheeran concert. Sometimes we do grown-up things.

October: Fall was in full swing! We had a great day at the famed (at least in Northern VA) Cox Farms, Damon completed the Army 10-Miler AND the Marine Corps Marathon, we had a GLORIOUS long weekend in Freeport, Maine, and of course, Halloween. Elisabeth wanted to be Tinkerbell, which I fully supported since it was easy to find on Amazon. James was obviously Peter Pan. I’m going to milk the sibling costumes for as long as I can.

Cox Farms hay ride.

Cox Farms hay ride.

 

Cox Farms

Cox Farms

 

Apple picking with Great-Aunt Fran.

Apple picking with Great-Aunt Fran.

 

Beautiful Maine

Beautiful Maine

 

Freezing in her costume, but refusing to ruin her outfit.

Freezing in her costume, but refusing to ruin her outfit with a jacket.

 

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After co-teaching Stroller Strides throughout September, I started instructing on my own. I’ve been told I’m bossy, so getting to tell people what to do and how to do it – in a kind and encouraging way, of course – is right up my ally. Kidding. Sort of.

November: The birthday month. Elisabeth turned four on the 21st. FOUR. It’s kind of a big deal. She’ll tell everyone who asks (and even those who don’t) that she had three parties. THREE. Not really, but I’ll let her believe it. She had a little celebration in class, we went downtown with a couple of friends to see Cinderella – the Musical, and she had her princess-themed party. OK, it was kind of a lot. But as the world got a little darker this month, it was somewhat comforting to be surrounded by a throng of glittering, giggling, carefree princesses.

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We celebrated Thanksgiving with Damon’s cousins, before heading back up to Philly for his family’s annual Turkey Bowl.

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And perhaps most importantly, our kitchen remodel finished! It was an obnoxious inconvenience to be without a kitchen for two-and-a-half months (#firstworldproblems), but we did get a brand new floor and new countertops with insurance picking up the tab. Since our kitchen/living room floors looked so new and shiny and pretty, we decided we had to update the floors in our family room. And the outdated built-ins, while we were at it. And a couple other things, because why not? Thus began: Remodel, Phase 2.

New-ish kitchen

New-ish kitchen

 

Also got a West Wing tour in this month!

Also got a West Wing tour in this month!

 

And got to read to Elisabeth's class. Elisabeth's face is priceless.

And I got to read to Elisabeth’s class. Elisabeth’s face is priceless.

December: We got some good news this month. For the past several months, James has had several hearing tests, all showing him to have some hearing loss. The audiologist finally suggested he undergo a sedated ABR to determine the significance of the loss. Well, the test showed his hearing is actually fine! That was a completely unexpected result, but an incredible relief.

We then got wrapped up in the usual holiday busyness. Damon and I attended a gala (for what, I still don’t know…), we hosted a small Christmas party, Elisabeth’s preschool put on a sweet Christmas musical, we visited the National Christmas Tree, etc., etc. All topped off by our family trip to California. We had a wonderful, semi-relaxing time with my family, and Santa was very generous to everyone. I guess we were good this year.

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The kids and I returned home Wednesday evening, and Remodel: Phase 2 officially ended yesterday. Meaning we entered 2016 without any outstanding home projects! AMEN! Damon and I had big plans to celebrate NYE drinking champagne and watching The Holiday – and maybe even Love Actually, if we were feeling crazy – but much like last year, James had different plans for us. We ended up ringing in the New Year trying to coax a very awake toddler back to sleep. Oh, well. Everyone’s healthy, everyone’s home.

That brings me to today, January 1st.  I noticed as I was reflecting on this past year that everything seemed so very normal. Which was kind of weird for us. The past several years were full of BIG things for our family – New jobs, new babies, new homes, crazy fun travel experiences…All amazing things.  But it’s also kind of amazing to have a little calm (as calm as life can be with a preschooler and toddler) and consistency, a rare thing for a military family. So even if it was only for 2015, I’m going to appreciate it, and look forward to whatever exciting things 2016 will bring.

Happy New Year, Friends!

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My Sweet Baby James

Posted on Jul 1, 2014 in It's the Navy Life, My Kid Stole My Cool, Pregnancy Stole My Cool, The Kids Are Actually Cute

My Sweet Baby James 0

Labor. People say you forget about the pain of labor, or else you wouldn’t ever have more than one child. BS. I certainly didn’t forget.  Maybe I didn’t remember the exact type of pain, but I sure remembered that it hurt. A lot. And not just during labor, but after. For some reason, none of the books or blogs or classes I read or took during my first pregnancy mentioned anything about postpartum recovery. Perhaps they reasoned ignorance is bliss.  Expectant mothers: You’re in for a surprise! But I won’t ruin it for you… Anyway, armed with the knowledge of just how much pain was coming my way, I started to freak out a bit.  Especially because I know many women who are really into natural childbirth, and therefore I felt like I should be really into natural childbirth. Hey – I’m just as badass as they are! If they can do childbirth without pain medication, so can I!  But the prospect was still scary. As I approached my due date, my doctor insisted I would deliver early.*  She was wrong, but at the time her predictions forced me to face reality. Labor was coming. Pain was coming. So I psyched myself up.  I’m active! I’m strong! I do yoga and know how to breathe! I can do this! (Plus, I have no choice.)  I even got kind of zen about the whole thing. Childbirth has nothing on me! And then labor actually happened.  If you read my last blog post, you know that I spent the 36 hours before labor running around Orange County visiting various doctors, and went into labor late Thursday night. It was a restless two days, followed by a restless night of contractions.  Point is, when I did go into labor I was tired.  And a little stressed out.  All of a sudden I wasn’t so badass. At first, I just kept moving through the contractions.   Hey, this isn’t so bad! I thought to myself.  I can totally handle this.  And then the contractions started coming faster.  Like, a lot faster. Wait, hold up. I...

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Sayonara, Japan

Posted on Feb 27, 2014 in It's the Navy Life, Travel Traumas

Sayonara, Japan 6

A little over a week ago, Elisabeth and I boarded a flight from Narita to LAX.  This was our third NRT –> LAX, but likely our last.  At least for a long while.  Elisabeth and I are officially CONUS residents again, living in California for the next several months until Damon joins us and we move to Washington, DC. I don’t believe I’ve entirely updated this blog on our current situation, so here’s the short version: I’m pregnant (duh).  Damon is currently in Nevada participating in a major training exercise for the next several weeks.  When he returns to Japan, he will be doing work-ups for deployment.  If you don’t know what any of that means, that’s okay, I don’t really either.  Basically, he’ll be really, really busy and gone a lot.  And ultimately, he’ll deploy again.  All before the baby is set to arrive. Given his timeline and my due date, we decided the best decision for me was to move back with my family in California to have the baby and wait out the deployment.  So here I am. It was strange leaving Japan – and the Atsugi community – so many months before I had previously planned.  There were so many things on my bucket list left undone, and time I had counted on with friends that I had to sacrifice.  But ultimately, I was ready to move; I desperately needed an In-N-Out burger.  I lived overseas for 22 months, which hardly sounds like any time at all.  But since graduating college in 2007, that is actually the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere.  Crazy, right? If I’m being honest, I didn’t love Japan.  That’s not to say I disliked it – not at all!  It’s just that I never felt 100% comfortable in the culture.  Part of that is my own fault.  Before moving, I assumed I would fully immerse myself in the Japanese culture, and frankly, I didn’t.  When we moved, Elisabeth was five months old.  I struggled – more than I thought I would – with balancing parenting a baby (and then toddler) and...

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The Real Lives of Navy Wives: Excessive TV Watching

Posted on Sep 19, 2013 in It's the Navy Life

Okay, maybe this doesn’t apply to all wives of deployed servicemen, but it does to me. When Damon is gone, I watch a lot of TV.  More than I should admit.  But here’s the thing.  I have a small child who goes to bed at 7:30.  While I’d love to quell my loneliness by jetting over to my friends’ houses for nightly happy hours, I’m pretty sure leaving my toddler alone in the home is frowned upon.  So that leaves the TV to keep me company. I’d like to say I read and stuff – and I do that, too* – but at the end of a long day of taking care of my kid all by myself, I just want to zone out.  My brain no longer functions on “Reading Literature” levels, but more like “Real Housewives” levels. Netflix and Hulu have been THE WORST INVENTIONS for military spouses.  Besides the Cricut.  Damon was on detachment in Australia for the majority of March (rough life, I know).  During that month – thanks to Netflix – I watched the entire first season of Scandal.  In about four days.  (To be fair, that first season was only seven episodes.)  And then – thanks to Hulu – I caught up on the current second season.  In about another four days.  I was actually relieved when I caught up and had to wait each week for a new episode with the rest of the population, because as I discovered, watching a high-intensity show like that back-to-back does bad things to your psyche.  We’re talking jitters, anxiety, insomnia.  Damn Olivia Pope for being so addicting! After Scandal, a friend recommended I start Grey’s Anatomy after learning I had never seen it.  Why not, I thought?  I wasn’t getting anywhere on my Book Club’s selection of Emma (See!  I have good intentions!), so I started the series from the beginning. What a mistake.  Once Damon left for deployment last June, I got sucked in, and fast.  But my brain couldn’t handle all the drama. Oh my gosh, a show as emotionally fraught as Grey’s...

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The Real Lives of Navy Wives – Forgotten Anniversaries

Posted on Aug 21, 2013 in It's the Navy Life

The Real Lives of Navy Wives – Forgotten Anniversaries 2

Today is my anniversary.  And I forgot.  Whoops!  Isn’t Damon supposed to be the one to forget these things? I blame the Navy Life.  How am I supposed to remember my anniversary when my husband isn’t even here to celebrate with me? I’m not complaining – I’ll see my husband soon enough.  And certainly, most military spouses have spent far more than one anniversary (or birthday, or holiday…) separated from their husband or wife.  This just happened to be my first (though I’m sure not my last) anniversary by myself.  And I forgot. I’ve found that with a deployed spouse, most days feel about the same.  Especially overseas, and especially as a stay at home mom of a young (read: non-school attending) child.  Without something like school to demarcate the week from weekend, days tend to blend into one another, weekends cease to be unique, and special occasions become just another day on the calendar.  When you never know what day it is anyway, how are you supposed to remember something like an anniversary?  When I woke up this morning, did I think, “Oh, August 21st!  I got married three years ago today!” Heck, no!  I thought, “Why does Elisabeth insist on waking so early?”  Followed by, “Is today Wednesday or Thursday…?”  And then, “It’s still August, right?” It wasn’t till I saw a missed call from my husband that the date registered.  “Crap!  Now I have to go buy a card!”  Sheesh.  I am the worst wife ever. Except I’m not.  Because I can also contribute my forgetfulness to Homecoming.  I’ll write more about Homecomings another time, but I’ll mention briefly that Damon is returning home soon, and thus I am in a frenzy trying to make up for the week of housework I’ve neglected since returning from the states.  I want Damon to return from deployment to at least a halfway clean, only moderately cluttered house.  See, I’m a good wifey!  I forgot my anniversary out of thoughtfulness for my husband!  (Just go with it). On a semi-unrelated note, being apart from your significant other on a...

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The Real Lives of Navy Wives: Calendar Squares

Posted on Jun 29, 2013 in It's the Navy Life

Hey Folks, I’m writing to you from California today.  Did I mention I would be in California?  I can’t remember.  But in California I am, and I am pretty darn stoked about it. Elisabeth and I arrived about a week ago after a nine-hour flight from Tokyo.  I’m still recovering.  The stress and exhaustion of such a trip is so monumental it requires lots of time and alcohol to feel normal again.   Still working on it.  But the monumental-ness of the trip also inspired a mini blog series I am going to kick off soon: What Not to Do with a Toddler.  That will be next time. Because today I’m going to kick off a different mini blog series!  The Real Lives of Navy Wives.  (I hear Bravo calling now….) I’m in California is because it’s deployment season again.  Bummer, right?  I schlepped Elisabeth out to CA to wait out the first part of deployment with the grandparents.  Last year I touched on the highs and lows of deployment, but I thought this year I could really get into the nitty-gritty of what it’s like to be a military wife (or husband) with a deployed spouse.  There are numerous articles and blogs that offer thoughtful and sentimental details into the life of a military family, and I highly encourage you to read them.  Because this ain’t one of them. No-no.  Things are about to get real.  This post – this post is going to rage.  This post …is about calendar squares. What is a calendar square?  A calendar square is a 6-inch by 6-inch square that spouses decorate for their husbands or wives while they are on deployment.  Each squadron has a large calendar with (I would assume) 30 or 31 slots into which these carefully decorated calendar squares are inserted.  The idea is that the deployed serviceman will gaze upon his designated calendar squares and be filled with joy and happiness at the sight of a 6×6 cardboard square decorated just for him. We wives typically decorate the squares with family photos and little notes to give our...

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