Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Midweek Musings

Well, a journey that began on October 5, 2015 is finally over. As of Monday I completed my last requirement for graduate school. Pending my final grade I will graduate on May 15, 2017! 

I said to Kyle that is honestly feels quite anticlimactic. I expected to have more of a sense of relief but I didn't. I think part of the reason is that I can't believe that I am actually finished haha. When I started school in 2013 to obtain my Bachelors, I had zero intentions of pursuing my Masters but I am so glad that I did. 

I am happy to be done so I can now focus on spending more time with E and Kyle (because lets me honest, school does cut into family time), enjoying trips to see family (which now includes a trip to Florida for Easter, yay!!!!), and prepping for the move. Speaking of the move, I had a new duty station sign made for our new home and I love how it turned out. A shop on Etsy called BeachBettyDesigns created it for me. I'm not creative at all so I'm happy to let others do the work. :)

I figured I would end this post with a few photos of E. She is almost 7 months old (this Saturday to be exact!!) and a total riot. She has discovered her voice and lets everyone know that she is in the room. 

She loves hanging out in her new playard, it is so nice to take it outside so she can enjoy the nice weather. Plus being able to get some yard work done in the meantime is awesome.

This is 100% her personality! She is so screamy but in the cutest possible way.

She loves food just like us and will happily smile with a face smeared with applesauce.

I am sure she won't be so happy today since she is getting the booster part of her flu shot. But then again she may surprise me.

Kyle actually has a long weekend coming (gasp I know!!!! lol) so we will actually get to spend time together as a family. Yay!!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, March 27, 2017

New Things

When Kyle and I got married we did not have a lot of furniture between the two of us. I basically left an entire furnished house in Las Vegas and he was a young LT living with a card table and futon haha. So of course we bought some furniture together that has lasted us for quite some time. When we moved to Louisiana we bought a new dining room table as well as a new sectional. 

Now it's time to replace other large items in our house, which I'm not going to lie has me quite excited. I know that I will be utilizing my sister's help from afar because she is great with this type of stuff. But here are some items that I have been looking at lately.

*Entertainment Center. Our current one is pretty sad, it is bowing in the middle and it is almost 9 years old. It's time to go. I am eyeing this one from Wayfair. We have to have one that will support the 70in TV that occupies our living room haha.

 *End Tables. The ones we have we got in El Paso for dirt cheap and to be honest, I hate them. I want the end tables that match the entertainment center so Wayfair wins again.

 *New desk. The desk that I currently have has been with us since our first house at Bragg (circa 2008). If I am really going to consider going to school for my Doctorate I would love to have a desk that can be utilized for that. I absolutely love this desk, the L shape is perfect and it would be functional for what I need it for. Wayfair

*Bathroom decor. I'm not going to lie our bathroom decor is pretty sad. I usually throw our shower curtains/rugs away before every move and just pick up new inexpensive things to get us through. I don't want to have to do that with every single move. I love the idea of gray/blue together so this shower curtain is a winner to me. Wayfair

 *Lastly, our bedroom linens. More often than not I want to throw them out and start over every few months but that does nothing for our bank account haha. We typically stick with quilt sets because Kyle is a human furnace and will increase the temperature by at least 20 degrees at night haha. We also have to be careful with what we choose because of our furry children and their little claws. This set is calling my name! Wayfair

Until we move and are officially settled in our new home I will continue to dream about these new items making their way into our house haha. 

What are you wanting to upgrade in your home?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

It Never Gets Easier

To be honest I wasn't sure if I was going to write this post but I knew that I would regret it if I didn't. I do my best to not spend a lot of time dwelling on the past but this time of year for me and my family is always one of the most difficult. We are coming up on the 6th anniversary of my Mom's passing (the 31st) and to be honest some days it feels like yesterday and other days it feels like it has been so much longer. I don't think the pain ever really goes away, you just make room for it.

This time 6 years ago I was spending time with my parents at the Cancer Treatment Center of America in Phoenix. 

My Mom was there receiving treatment and I decided to fly in from NC to spend time with her. I had never been to the clinic and I wanted to see where she was spending so much time. It was incredible, the care she received was amazing. 

She did not have a lot of energy during that trip but she wanted to go to IKEA, so we did. We pushed her in her wheelchair and she was happy to just be out and about. We also spent a lot of time on the roof of the clinic enjoying the weather.

I soaked up that time with her and wanted to make the most of it. 

I spent 5 days with her and my Dad, it was so hard to leave but she insisted that she was okay and off to NC I went. Before I left she gave me this, it is one of my most valuable possessions.

A little over 24 hours after I arrived back in NC, I received the phone call that I had been dreading. She was gone. I was absolutely shattered. I had no idea that those 5 days I spent with her were going to be the last. I am so grateful that I was with her but I also feel a tremendous amount of guilt, still to this day. 

My sister was pregnant with my nephew at the time and my niece was only 4 1/2. My Dad lost his wife of 30 years and we lost our Mom. It was such a hard time but I am glad that were able to be together as a family and honor her in the best way we knew how (at the race track).

 I miss her every single day and I wonder how aspects of our lives would be different if she were alive. She loved her family fiercely and did not take crap from anyone (my sister and I certainly got that from her). I know she would be loving on all her grandbabies and having a blast. I hope E (her middle name is Kay just like my Mom) grows up to be tough as nails like her grandma. Everyday I hear a song, see something, or smell something that reminds me of her. I hope I never forget all the things she loved.

I miss you and love you, Mom.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Some Things

I am finally back from visiting family in Florida! E and I spent the last week there and it's always nice to spend time with them and just hang out. 

We had lots of fun filled with golf cart rides, mini golf, playing at the park, pedicures, ice cream, and just enjoying each others company.

I feel like these next few months are going to fly by. I am headed back to Florida in 2 weeks to go to a concert with my sister and niece. Then it's off to Disneyland in May with my sister and then back to Florida for Memorial Day Weekend. After that June will be here and it will be time to move! 

This week is the week I have been waiting for though, I will be submitting my final paper for my last grad school class!!! I got feedback from my professor and I am really happy with it so I will work on revisions today and finish it up. I just want to submit it and be done with this stressful part of my life. I am looking forward to the day when I can wake up and not worry about school.

Yesterday, I had my consultation with an oral surgeon about having my wisdom teeth removed. It definitely did not go how I expected it to. I will NOT be having them removed. They are so impacted that I run the risk of having more issues if they are removed. My top ones are so far into my sinuses that I could have more issues later on. Also, my bottom ones are so far down that they are touching nerves, I could potentially lose feeling in my bottom lip and tongue. He advised against it and I'm so glad he was honest with me. Let's face it I really didn't feel like having my gums cut and my teeth ripped out haha. So I'm glad I can avoid that.

Our weather here has finally leveled off (hopefully no more back and forth anymore) so I can really focus on getting good runs in before Disney. E and I will be running a 5k this weekend (well she will be riding haha) so that will be a nice motivator to get outside. Definitely making the most of the last few races we will get to run in Louisiana. 

I hope you all had a good weekend! 

Friday, March 17, 2017

2017 Goals: Update

At the beginning of the year instead of focusing on resolutions I wanted to focus on goals. I honestly believe when they are framed as goals they are much easier to accomplish and do not feel as stressful or daunting. 

I thought it would be fun to do an update of how my goals are going so far.

Finances: At the beginning of the year my goal was to have my car paid off by December. Well that goal is coming a long much better than I anticipated it to. When we received our tax return we decided to use that as a principle payment on the car loan and that made a huge impact. As of right now if we continue on the path of making the regular payment as well as additional principle payments each month we will have my car paid off in October. That is 2 1/2 years early!! We are thrilled. Once that is paid off we can shift focus to our credit card, it is the only one we have but it has 0% interest so that is why it is not a focus right now.

Health: My goal was to get better about eating breakfast and lunch. I run on a consistent basis and drink a ton of water but those two things alone are not enough to make a difference. I have actually done really well with this. For breakfast I make homemade oatmeal with either granola or a small amount of brown sugar. For lunch it's either a salad with shredded chicken or grilled chicken and brown rice. I am proud that I have been keeping this up. Something I want to add to this is actually prep my meals in advance, I need to start doing that.

Be More Present: My goal was to have at least 2 hours daily where there are no electronics. I have been good about it but it does not happen daily like I know it should. However, I have noticed that the easiest time of day to accomplish this is in the morning right after E gets up. That is when me, her, and Kyle will spend time together before Kyle goes to work. While it doesn't happen everyday and it may not be two hours we still make the most of time together.

Declutter: We have done a TON of decluttering so far and I know it will continue right until the movers come. One thing that I need to get done is shredding documents and going through old sheets/blankets. Also, I need to figure out what curtains (if any) that we are taking with us. 

I have to say that the goals I set are coming along nicely and I hope that I can continue on this path. Of course it's not going to be perfect all the time but we are moving in the right direction. This will likely continue even after we move.

Did you set goals or resolutions this year? If so, how are they going? 

I hope you all have a great weekend! I'm heading home day after tomorrow so I'm going to enjoy the rest of the time with my family.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

My "Home"

As a military spouse we get the unique privilege of seeing and living in different places that we may not have ever expected to. In the almost 9 years that Kyle and I have been married we have lived in North Carolina, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, and soon to be Kansas. What an amazing journey and adventure it has been. 

A few days ago I read a post by the awesome and fellow military spouse Carolann at Finding Ithaka and I thought it would be fun to play along and answer the questions that she shared.

1. Where were you born, where did you grow up, and where do you currently live? 

I was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. Yes, you read that right, I was born and raised in Sin City haha. As of right now I call Louisiana home but will be leaving Cajun Country in June. 

Fun Fact: My SIL's Grandma designed the Welcome to Las Vegas sign.

2. What made you leave your home state?

I got married. I honestly had no desire to leave Vegas. My whole family was there (my family has relocated to Florida within the last few years) I had a great job, a house, and I was comfortable. However, Kyle changed all that. We got married on a hot June day and loaded up what I could fit in my car and headed out for NC the next day.

3. What type of reactions do you get when you meet new people and tell them where you are from?

Oh gosh, don't even get me started haha! I have been asked what casino I lived in, did I gamble when I was little, did my parents have normal jobs, and did I go to school. Of course, I also get the standard "oh my gosh, that is so cool!!!". 

4. What was the easiest/hardest part in adjusting to your new state?

I really did not have a hard time adjusting to Louisiana. I embraced the small town life because we had just come from a bigger city (El Paso) and I think we were both looking forward to a more simplistic life. If you know anything about Fort Polk or the surrounding areas you know that it is very small. For any bigger restaurants and shopping we have to drive at least an hour to get to it. We have a Walmart and that's about it, that was a small adjustment but it wasn't hard.

5. Images, words or sounds that sum up the experience you’ve had so far.

Life Changing: We had our daughter here and it will always have a special place in our hearts.

Family: We have been able to have so much time with my family. Not many military families are lucky enough to live close to family. We have had the last few years of being close to them and I am so thankful.

Charming: It may be a small area but it has so much charm and so much to offer. It is stunningly beautiful with all of the greenery it has to offer.

6. Your favorite food or drink item in your new state?

Crawfish and Beignets!!! Yes please!! You can't come to Louisiana and not partake in these delicious items. 

7. What’s the one thing you said “yes” to in your new city that you wouldn’t say “yes” to, back home?

Trying new foods! I was never an adventurous eater living in Vegas, I stuck to what I was comfortable with and never expanded my horizons. Living in Louisiana you are almost forced to try new things because the variety of food is huge. Believe me I would have never thought of eating etouffee, alligator, or boudin but now I love those foods!

8. Are there any cultural norms/phrases in your new state which you cannot stand?

To be honest no. I have not come across anything that has bothered me enough to really take note.

9. What are the cultural norms/phrases in your new state which you enjoy?

Kindness. I have to say that everyone I have encountered has been incredibly friendly! I have been in situations where I needed a little help and have always had people jump to help. People here really treat everyone likely family and I love that.

10. What do you enjoy most doing in your new state?

      To be honest, everything. The food, the culture, the scenery, the activities, and the people. We have loved living here the last 2 1/2 years and we will be sad to say goodbye when the time comes in a few months.

 Feel free to grab the questions and play along!

Monday, March 13, 2017

She's Just Like Us

One thing that I was always worried about when I was pregnant with E was whether or not she was going to have bad eyesight when she got older. Let's face it, we knew it was bound to happen because Kyle and I both wore glasses since we were young and had terrible vision.

Thank goodness for LASIK (well PRK for Kyle) because otherwise we would still be wearing glasses and be blind as a bat without them. A few months ago I went in for my yearly eye exam and I noticed that my eye doctor was part of a program called Infantsee that provides a one time free exam for children between 6-12 months old. As soon as I saw that I knew I wanted to make E an appointment as soon as she hit 6 months.

Well the time came and I took her in for her appointment last week. She did so great with the eyedrops and the pre-exam which consisted of them waving paddles in front of her to see if she followed them. She never fussed but did get a little restless in the waiting room.

Once we were called back the doctor started all of the tests. She is the wife of my eye doctor and such a sweetheart. She used a variety of different lenses to look at her optic nerve, the cornea, retina, and the back of her eye. I was trying to gauge her reaction but man she had a really good poker face haha. Well after she finished she confirmed what I had feared, E is farsighted (which is common for most babies but hers is a bit worse than it should be) and has astigmatisms in both eyes.

As of right now it's not bad enough to need glasses but she does want her evaluated again in a year to see if there have been any changes (good or bad) and if there hasn't been any changes for the better then it looks like our little nugget will be getting her first pair of glasses.

I am so glad that I took her and now know what to expect. I know a lot of people wait to take their kids in for an eye exam but it never hurts to start early. 

Here is more information about the Infantsee program.

Friday, March 10, 2017

It's Never Too Late

I've had a lot of people ask me why I waited so long to go to college, well I figured it was time to share that story.

Most high school students have the desire to attend college right after graduation but there are those that simply feel burnt out from the school. 

I graduated high school at 17 and already had a full-time job. I made the promise to my parents to go to college (well to at least attempt it) and I was determined to keep that promise. I enrolled in classes and began a hellish schedule. I worked Mon-Fri 7am-5pm and attended class from 6pm-11:30pm every night. I was okay for the first few months until I realized that I was spreading myself too thin. I wasn't willing to give up my full-time job because at that point I was living with my sister and had bills of my own to pay.

I ultimately made the decision to drop out of college, let me tell you that was the most difficult decision I ever had to make but I knew it was best for me. I had feelings of guilt because I thought I was letting my parents down but all they wanted was for me to be happy. I put any idea of going back to school in the far back of my mind and continued on my working path. When Kyle and I got married I had an amazing job but opted to not transfer and settled into married life.

After a while I started to feel like I was missing something. Most of our friends had college degrees and while they never made me feel less than them I always felt like I missed out. Not so much of the college experience but the educational aspects. In 2013, Kyle came to me and told me that he was finally eligible to transfer his Post 9/11 GI Bill to me. It is an entitlement afforded to service members (they can transfer to a spouse or children) that pays for 36 months of schooling. Cue the guilt, I knew it meant an additional 4 years of service. He assured me that even if he didn't transfer the benefits he was staying in the Army. 

I bit the bullet and started school that fall. I am grateful that I waited. Looking back I realized that I just wasn't ready at 18 years old, I didn't have the drive and determination to continue school at that point. You know what?! That's ok! I didn't appreciate the process then, I didn't appreciate the work that the professors were putting in to educate me, and I didn't appreciate my time being taken up by something I wasn't happy with.

Too often I see parents forcing their kids to go to college just because that is the natural progression. Yes, we will encourage E to go but if she comes to us and says it's not for her, that's okay too. Some just aren't ready and honestly some may never be ready. It's important to encourage kids and let them choose the path they want, whatever that may be. I am so glad I waited because I proved to myself that age doesn't matter, I may have been 28 years old when I went back but all that matters is that I did and I did it on my terms.

It's never too late and you are never too old to achieve the things you want to.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Life Lately

Happy Wednesday everyone!

* I am in week 5 of my last grad school class, which means there are only 3 weeks left after this and only 2 weeks until my 32 page integrative project literature review is due. Cue panic attack! Holy cow this went by quicker than I expected it to. This was my view last Friday night...double chocolate cupcake and school work haha. I have spent the last few nights staying up late getting work done.

*Kyle had a 4 day weekend last weekend! Oh it was amazing. We were able to just hang out as a family and run random errands just because. It was really nice having him home. Plus, I took advantage of being able to run stroller free haha. It was glorious. I don't mind doing it but man it's tiring. 

*E achieved a big milestone over the weekend. She has 2 teeth! We had a feeling she was close to having some break through but to be honest she didn't act much different. Imagine our surprise when we opened her little mouth and saw these cute little teeth poking out. It's not a great picture but if you look close enough you can see the little white spots of her teeth.
*Kyle received his class reservation for ILE! He has a report date of July 14th so it looks like we leave here around June 14th (he likes to take 30 days of leave). It would be awesome if he got an RFO and orders soon but it's the Army. We have gotten good at waiting but I'm ready to get the movers scheduled and housing figured out.

*I was originally going to put off having my wisdom teeth taken out until we moved but I decided it was best to take care of it before then. I have my consultation with an oral surgeon on March 20th to discuss everything. Fingers crossed we can schedule surgery for April.

*E and I are heading to Florida to see my family on Sunday. Definitely taking advantage of being close for a few more months.

What's happening in your neck of the woods!? :)

Monday, March 6, 2017

Get Involved

Being a military spouse is something that I never thought I would be. Of course all of that changed when Kyle and I got married in 2008. (If you are a new reader and don't know our story check it out here)

Kyle was already in the military, having commissioned the year before, and was living in NC at Fort Bragg. I was thrown into this whirlwind and I was terrified. Quite a few of my family members were in the military but I did not have direct experience with it. You are thrown into this dynamic of soldiers, spouses, and protocol. I was living in a new place, with a husband who was gone all the time, and I had to find where I fit. 

I was lucky enough to find a group of friends outside of Kyle's unit and some within. A senior spouse took me under her wing and really guided me in those early years, helping me figure out where I belonged. She is still one of my dearest friends (well family) and her husband has been an amazing mentor to Kyle.

2009- I didn't know a lot of people but I attended any event I could.

Once I was able to figure out who I was, I was able to really take hold of what I wanted to do and what impact I wanted to have. I became really involved in the FRG (family readiness group) and thrived on planning events, running fundraisers, and providing help/resources to those who needed it. I learned a lot from my leaders at the time and it served me well later when I became an FRG leader and a Battalion Senior Advisor.

 Being able to volunteer and be a part of the units that Kyle was in made me feel connected. Kyle was never the type to tell me that he didn't want me a part of his work life, too often I have seen soldiers who do not want their spouses to be a part of groups such as the FRG. That makes me sad because even in the not so great ones you might just make one friend that will last a lifetime. I have so many amazing friends that I have met over the years and they are a huge part of our lives. Even as a spouse if you don't want to volunteer, attend the ceremonies (changes of command, promotions, changes of responsbility, etc) they are full of so much history and you will still meet some awesome people.

When Kyle took company command in 2013, I was able to take all I had learned and put it to good use. I knew the type of leader I wanted to be and the type I didn't want to be. I wanted every single spouse to feel as though they belonged, that no matter who they were or where they came from that they had something to offer and that they were wanted. I also wanted the soldiers to know that I cared. I was at the company at least 3 times a week, I wanted them to see me and know who I was and I wanted to know them. It was probably one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, being able to give back to those who give so much was an honor. I can't wait for E to be old enough to volunteer with me.

 I have always been the type of have a glass half full type of attitude, is life perfect, no way. However, when you make the most of it it can be really amazing. I also know that there are those who don't want to be involved and that's okay, I commend them for knowing that about themselves. Even as a spouse if you don't want to be involved with the military side find ways to volunteer in the local community,

I've been able to experience a lot of cool things because I chose to be involved. Watching 20,000 soldiers run in formation during All American Week, dressing up as Blind Mice for a unit Trunk or Treat, volunteering to serve food at the largest pancake breakfast awarded to a military installation, walk with some amazing ladies to support our deployed soldiers on Veterans Day, and honor amazing volunteers who give their time to others. All of these experiences were made better by the people involved.

Honestly, this doesn't even have to directly apply to military life, it applies to life in general. Get out there, get involved in your communities, and get connected to the places and people you are co-existing with. Find and do something that you are passionate about, it can make all the difference.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

6 Months

As we were going through our fertility journey I often thought about how amazing it would be to experience all of the milestones that come along with having a child. You can dream in your head how it will be but no amount of dreams can truly compare to living it. 

Of course parenting is tough! It's tough, messy, exhausting, but gosh it's so worth it.

Our sweet little blessing, Emmy, turned 6 months old yesterday! Um excuse me?! It is so hard to believe that so much time has already gone by, I feel like she was just born and handed over to us. 

This girl is pure joy! She changes everyday and seeing her develop makes us feel like we aren't doing too bad of a job raising her haha. I mean come on who looks this happy after getting 4 shots?! Certainly not me. She had her 6 months well-baby appointment yesterday and is growing just as she should. She is 15.1 pounds and 25 inches tall, she is a healthy little shorty lol. She is an expert at grabbing handfuls of hair now haha so this mama puts her hair in a ponytail most of the time. 

She is just like me and Kyle in that she LOVES food! She will pretty much eat anything that is put in front of her. Her favorites though are sweet potatoes, squash, green beans, bananas, apples, peaches, and peas. We have also given her small amounts of mashed potatoes and I will break off small pieces of cornbread and other soft textured foods for her.

She gets super cranky when she is hungry, just like her mama. We also are attributing some of her sass to teething, no little teeth have broken through but her doctor felt some pretty significant bumps and said it could be soon.

She still enjoys her carseat, she has been on 4 road trips to Florida and has been a champ every time. 

She is still sleeping great, she is down by 7:30-8pm every night and sleeps until 7am. I tend to stay up late and get up early so this her schedule is fine by me. :)

Probably one of her favorite things to do is sit and play. She can sit up on her own now and it's like a whole new world has opened up for her. She sit among her toys and just babbles. Her favorites are her BeatBelle, stuffed giraffe, remote, and a giraffe puppet haha.

It does free up my hands so that I can get some stuff done in the kitchen. I can see her so she feels independent and I'm not tied to her. We can tell that she is trying to crawl, she gets on all fours and will move back and forth, but she can't quite figure out how to make it happen.

Even the really hard days aren't that bad, this is all that we have ever wanted and we are so lucky that this sweet girl is ours.