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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Summer Days, a Song

Posted on Sep 1, 2015 in Adulthood Stole My Cool, My Kid Stole My Cool

Are any of you still on summer “vacation”? What. The. Heck. My daughter is only three, and yeah, technically she doesn’t even need to be in school. But I need her to be in school.  Like, yesterday.  However she doesn’t start for two more weeks.  It’s September, people! By the time she goes back to school, she will have been on break for FOUR FREAKING MONTHS. In the meantime, my son is getting his molars and has been waking up multiple times every night for the past few weeks.  Between that and the endless summer, I have officially gone crazy.  In my madness, I penned a little ditty to the tune of Grease’s, “Summer Nights.” Unfortunately I don’t have the technical skills (or the musical skills) to film a cute YouTube video of me singing it, so you’ll have to sing it to yourself. And don’t pretend like you don’t know the song.  I know you do.     SUMMER DAYS Summer vaca, kids having a blast Summer vaca, it just lasts and it lasts I swear it’s true, I’m losing my mind Kids don’t care, they think it’s fine   Summer days, not drifting away, no no Endless summer days   Well-a-well-a-well-a, huh Two weeks more, two weeks more Camps are making me poor Two weeks more, two weeks more Moms start drinking at four   The college kids have all left town There’s not a babysitter to be found Go to the park again and again Tell me why we paid this month’s tuition?   Summer sun, school has not begun, oh no Endless summer days   Well-a-well-a-well-a, huh Two weeks more, two weeks more How can days go so slow? Two weeks more, two weeks more These kids really must go   My kids’ new parent is PBS I simply could not care less Four months of summer is just plain cruel Our neighborhood doesn’t even have a pool   Summer fun, can it please be done, but no Endless summer days   Well-a-well-a-well-a, huh Two weeks more, two weeks more Don’t think we’ll make it...

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Seek and Destroy: Everything My Toddler Son Would Rather Do Than Read

Posted on Aug 30, 2015 in My Kid Stole My Cool, The Kids Are Actually Cute

Seek and Destroy: Everything My Toddler Son Would Rather Do Than Read 2

My daughter loves to read. She always has. As a baby, she would sit contentedly on my lap looking at board books. As a toddler, she would page through her stories for an hour at a time, if I let her. (Of course I let her. An uninterrupted hour to myself? Heck, yeah!) Even though she cruelly gave up naps weeks before my son was born, I could at least rely on her to read to herself during a mandatory quiet time. It was – and continues to be – my saving grace.   I thought James would inherit this love of books. As usual, I was wrong.  The kid has zero interest in reading. Like, none. I am partially to blame. I was far too tired to read to him as a baby like I did with Elisabeth. Perhaps I missed the opportunity to instill a love of literature in him. I’ve surely stunted his future academic achievement as there is no way he hears the recommended 30,000 words/day necessary to ensure literary and language success. Unless hearing, “Stop!” or, “No!”, or “That oven is hot!” over and over 30,000 times counts, in which case he’ll be fine. His future intelligence aside, I mainly wish he would read because reading usually involves sitting still.  Sitting still means not destroying my house or finding new ways to hurt or kill himself.  But, no. Books – boring. Electrical cords – fun! Reading – nerdy. Death defying stunts – exhilarating! So, what exactly does he like to do, if not read? Almost anything. Here you have it: A list of everything my toddler boy would rather do than read. 1) Sniff his lovey. It’s super weird but super cute, and notable because it’s the only time he is ever still. And while he absolutely loves sniffing his lovey, this unfortunately does not account for much time in his day. 2) Climb into bookshelves. (Which of course requires removing all the books from the shelves first.) 3) Climb up the bookshelves. 4) Eat crayons. Really, most of the greens in James’ diet...

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The Day I Went Dog Sledding

Posted on Aug 17, 2015 in Travel Traumas

The Day I Went Dog Sledding 0

Normally if you were to ask me if I’d like to vacation in Alaska, I’d tell you, “Hellz no.” I think of Alaska and I think of: Cold. Snow. Bears. Salmon. Sarah Palin.  I don’t think: Vacation! But then if you were tell me that Alaska is actually stunningly beautiful and you can enjoy it from a swanky cruise ship and your parents are going so you won’t even have to really take care of your kids, I’d say, “Let’s leave immediately.” So that actually happened. Damon, the kids, and I had an opportunity to go on an Alaskan cruise with my parents and we obviously took it. While Alaska was never one of my must-sees, it has been on Damon’s bucket list for years. He envisioned bear sightings, salmon fishing, kayaking through fjords… Meanwhile I envisioned enjoying the scenic views while sipping the cruise line’s unlimited free wine. It was a win-win. (In reality, we were traveling with two small children so none of the above happened.) On our first night on the ship, my dad announced he had a surprise for Damon and me. A surprise? My interest was piqued.  What kind of surprise could he possibly have planned on a cruise ship? “I’ve booked you two on the helicopter ride/dog sledding excursion when we’re in Juneau. Mom and I will babysit!” Um… Say what? Damon was excited. I was terrified. And confused.  I’m not a huge fan of heights. Or animals, for that matter. So going up in a winged death-mobile to hang out with hundreds of dogs on a glacier is not really my thing. “Are you excited?” my dad asked. “DAD! DO YOU EVEN KNOW ME?” “Your husband will enjoy it.” “BUT WHAT ABOUT YOUR DAUGHTER?” “You used to be adventurous,” he said. “I have children now. Children who need their mother not to die in a catastrophic dog sledding accident.” My dad just laughed at me. “It’ll be good for you,” he said. A massage would be good for me. An uninterrupted nap would be good for me.  A treacherous expedition* to the...

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Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That (Sorry, Second Children)

Posted on Jun 11, 2015 in My Kid Stole My Cool, Pinterest Stole My Cool, The Kids Are Actually Cute

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That (Sorry, Second Children) 2

Sweet baby James turned one about two weeks ago.   I know. I can hardly believe it myself.  To say that his first year was one of my most challenging would be… entirely accurate.  Like, it was soul-crushing, haven’t-slept-through-the-night-in-a-year, crying-in-the-shower stressful and exhausting. Not that it’s his fault. But between a baby, a deployment, a cross-country move (international for my husband), a home purchase and a renovation, life got a little overwhelming. Not to mention my kids were sick ALL THE TIME.  We basically lived at our pediatrician’s office. And the gastroenterologist’s… the urologist’s…. the ENT’s… the ER. So while I hate to see James turning into a toddler (too fast! too fast!), I am looking forward to a calmer second year. And befriending someone other than my child’s doctor. One can hope. And maybe in this second year, James will finally start to get near the amount of attention his sister did at his age. I like to think the craziness of the last year contributed to the unequal attention Elisabeth and James received as babies. But let’s be honest – James is a second child. It was never going to be the same for him. Before James was born, I accepted that his baby stage would never exactly mimic Elisabeth’s. But I convinced myself James would not suffer second-child neglect. I believed I could cuddle/play with/read to/lie around doing nothing with James just as much as I had with Baby Elisabeth, without Toddler Elisabeth feeling totally abandoned. I also believed I could do so in a way that wouldn’t make me totally insane. This is called delusion.  I quickly learned that life with the second baby is completely different than life with the first baby.  Mainly because that precious resource you had as a first time parent – time – is now quite scarce. I finally understand why I am so much better adjusted than my two younger brothers. Sorry, Second Children. (I’d apologize to third children, but third children are too laid back to care.)   So here you have it. The most obvious signs of...

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So This is 30

Posted on Apr 23, 2015 in Adulthood Stole My Cool, My Kid Stole My Cool, Pregnancy Stole My Cool

So This is 30 0

Last month I turned the big 3-0. Trying to distract me from my impending physical and mental decline, my husband invited several of my oldest and dearest friends to town to “celebrate.” Here’s how the weekend went. Kim arrived first, having driven from Pennsylvania. Soon after she arrived, we had to go pick Jess and Molly at the airport. I could not remove my kids’ car seats from our Highlander, so we drove Kim’s minivan to the airport. Car seats and minivans. PARTY ON, PEOPLE! After our last guest Megan arrived, Damon passed out champagne and we got ready to hit the town. Lesson: drinking champagne while bottle-feeding your baby will elicit judgment from the babysitter. Damon dropped us girls off at a restaurant where we met another friend, Brett. Once seated we immediately complained about the noise level and squinted to read the menus. Then we played a little game called, Guess Your Server’s Age. Do not play this game if you want to keep your ego intact. You’ll think she’s your age only to discover you could be her… significantly older cousin or former babysitter. As it was not only my thirtieth, but also Megan’s and Brett’s, our barely-legal server brought us out three free desserts. I think she felt sorry for us, but no matter. Three free desserts was about the most exciting thing to happen to any of us, and also slightly dangerous. After all, our metabolisms aren’t what they used to be. In some misguided attempt to recapture our youth, we went to the bar across the street after dinner. The bartender gave us birthday shots, which were essentially sugar-water. We were all secretly thankful, because no way we can handle shots without a wicked hangover anymore. We had a spirited conversation about Beyoncé and Taylor Swift (We’re young! We know pop culture!), and then admitted we were all exhausted from kids/work/travel and needed to sleep ASAP. The next day we went downtown for brunch and massages. While discussing whether or not to order mimosas, one friend said, “Oh, I can’t. I’ll have to...

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