Anchors Aweigh : 2012


Gone to Texas!

Today we are on our way to Texas! We could not be more excited to spend 10 whole days with our families. Thanksgiving in Texas was great, but it was such a tease. We spent about 1.5 days with each of our families and were on the road the rest of the time. It was a blast, but it was go-go-go the entire time. Nothing sounds better to us right now than spending time with our families. Parker decided not to bring his computer so he wouldn't be distracted from spending time with family, and yall, this is a first.

Anyway, I could ramble on and on about how excited we are, but you get the idea. Parker, Jenny, and I will be in the motherland tonight!

"O Holy Night"

Our church has been doing a series on Christmas carols and really digging into the meaning of the songs and the scriptures they are based off of. These are songs we have been singing since we were little, so it is really neat to delve into them and really dissect the meaning of each one. I found the story of how "O Holy Night" was written to be very interesting, so I thought I would share!

"O Holy Night" was written in the mid 1800s. A Parish priest commissioned a French wine merchant and poet named Placide Cappeau to write a poem from Luke 2. Placide was not a Christian and furthermore was known as a real "hell-raiser". He wrote the poem and loved it so much that he asked his also non-Christian friend to set it to music. The song became widely renowned and began to be played in churches everywhere until people realized who had actually written the song. It was too late though. The song was already mainstream.

In Christmas Eve in 1906, a Canadian professor took a make-shift generator, plugged a mic into it, and broadcast the very 1st AM broadcast ever. He quoted Luke 2:1 into the microphone and then took his guitar and played "O Holy Night", the first song ever broadcast across airwaves in the history of the world. How cool is that?!

                      O Holy Night
O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!  
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine! 

"...the weary world rejoices" Ecclesiastes 1:8
"For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn" Lamentations 3: 21-24

Chris and Maggie's Engagement

Our friends Chris and Maggie got engaged Sunday evening! I won't ruin any of their special details, but Parker and I got to be there to take pictures, and so I thought I'd share the evening from our perspective!

A couple of weeks ago, Chris told me he had a special date about an hour and a half east of Pensacola planned for Maggie and asked if I wouldn't mind taking pictures. I am by no means a photographer, but I have a nice camera, so I was happy to help. It wasn't hard to put two and two together and realize he was planning a proposal! The date was supposed to take place Saturday evening, but as luck would have it, Chris got scheduled for his cross country that weekend. He said we would play it by ear and if he got back in time Sunday evening, he would still have the date then. I was in standby mode, and sure enough I got a text from Chris Sunday afternoon saying the date would be a go.

We drove to Defuniak Springs, Fl for this really neat Christmas lights display. Parker and I parked at a nearby church and were going to walk the short distance to the Christmas display. As soon as I shut my door, Parker got this scared look on his face and just stood there. It didn't take long to realize why. Yep, the keys were locked in the car. Awesome. Honestly, we really didn't have time to worry about it. Chris and Maggie were about 20 minutes out, and we still had to figure out where we were supposed to go and hide.

Chris wanted to propose in a gazebo (Maggie later told me she loves gazebos!), so Parker and I got to the entrance of the park and asked to be directed to the white gazebo with pretty lights. The lady in charge gave me a funny look and said there were three white gazebos with pretty lights. I texted Chris to ask which gazebo he would like us to go to, and he specified, so off we went. We got to the gazebo, but it wasn't lit at all and just didn't seem like the right spot. He was already at the park and told us to go to the gazebo with flamingos next to it. We were on the complete opposite side of the park, so we practically ran all the way around these beautiful displays to try to get there before they did. We made it just before they got there!

We heard them coming so I hid behind a tree to start taking pictures. I eventually just got in plain sight because I wanted them to have good pictures. He got down on one knee, she said yes, and it was perfect for them! We were excited to be there to witness it! It was completely dark outside, so it was difficult to take good-quality pictures, but we got a few good ones!

After we took some pictures, we left them alone to spend some quiet moments together as a newly engaged couple. It was time to remember that our keys were locked in the car. All I can say is thank goodness for USAA. They called a locksmith and told us it would be 80 minutes, so we just sat on the steps of the church and waited. Although it was frustrating at first, we ended up having the best time just hanging out waiting to get rescued. We watched old videos on our phones and just laughed. If you're going to get locked out of your car, it might as well be with your best friend, right? It only took 30 minutes for the locksmith to get there (score!), and we were back on the road five minutes later. It was a fun, eventful evening, and I am glad we were able to do this favor for our friends!

Our Last Weekend Before Christmas in Texas!

We love the weekends. I mean who doesn't right? This weekend was amazing and just what we wanted. Friday was date night. I had some exciting things happen at work last week, so Parker told me we could go anywhere I wanted to celebrate. Usually we pick the restaurant and activities together, so getting to pick where we ate was a thinker. I chose Blackwater Bistro in Milton, and no regrets! It's this cute little restaurant that used to be an old house, the food is delicious, and it always feels special. If you are in this area, make it your next date night! After dinner, we saw The Hobbit. Not really my kind of movie, but Parker was really excited about seeing it. It held my attention, and Parker was pretty entertained, although he said it wasn't as good as the other Lord of the Rings movies. It was still a fun date night!

Saturday we slept in, had a big breakfast, and went to Parker's Primary class BBQ. A lot of the girlfriends don't live here, and a couple of the wives couldn't make it, but I got to hang with Britni while the boys played football and frisbee. Thank goodness she was there too! It was a fun time!

Parker's Primary Class

You'd be surprised how hard it is to get 11 grown men to all look at the camera at the same time

Britni and me!

Thanks for taking a break from throwing the football to take a picture with me!

Love this guy :)

Saturday night we went to Ryan Corridan's house for Poker Night. So much fun. I am really competitive (courtesy of growing up with a twin and two other sisters), so I got pretty into it. We each put in $5 and decided winner would take home $30 and second place would take home $10. Towards the middle of the game, I was doing pretty well. I had the most chips and was feeling good until Troy took all my money. It happens. I got third overall, Ryan S. got second, and John won. We probably played a good three hours before someone actually won.

Ryan C. also had this little gem of entertainment called the X-Box Kinect. I can't remember what it's called, but he had this dance game that was way too entertaining. You have to follow along with these ridiculous dance moves. We drew cards and decided the high card would have to do one of the dances for all of us. Of course Parker, the least apt to comply, drew the high card. He gave us a few moves and was done. Troy and John got really into it though. Check out this little gem:


There was also a little karaoke involved

Sunday we went to church and then to the NEX to buy one last Christmas present. Parker wanted me to come with him to buy my present, and oh my gosh am I excited! We are doing our little family Christmas Wednesday night before we head to Texas, so I will post pictures then! We vegged out and played with our sweet puppy most of the day. Sunday night we got to take pictures of two of our friends getting engaged! It hasn't been publicly revealed yet so I won't spoil the surprise, but we are so excited for them!!

Parker likes to drag Jenny's toy under his legs to watch her shrink down and follow it

Jenny partaking in one of the bones left over from the ribs Parker had at Blackwater Bistro. She isn't allowed to take it until we say okay, but incessantly licking her lips is fair game

Please continue to pray for the families of the lives lost in the Sandy Hook tragedy. We are praying fervently and asking God to comfort them in this unthinkable time of loss. Hug your loved ones. Time with them is never a guarantee.

Friday Randoms

So I want to blog about a few random happenings from this week. None of these things were particularly interesting enough to merit their own post, so Friday Randoms it is!

  • I made stir fry for dinner one night this week. This meal is a regular weeknight meal in our house for two reasons: It is stocked with tons of vegetables, and it's quick to make. Can't beat healthy and fast!

I love cooking with so many veggies, and this meal changes each time it's made with different vegetables and marinades. Yummy!

  • Danielle (twin sister) and I Facetime daily and occasionally let the pups converse. They can't see each other, but they can hear each other, and we get a big kick out of watching them react. Seeing Sully always puts a smile on my face!

Pupper cousins!
  • Parker has this helicopter toy, and I assumed it was one of those stress reliever things that you squeeze, but then I caught him waving it in the air and making helicopter sounds. You never know quite what to say when you catch your grown husband flying a toy helicopter around the room. (He was actually using it as a reference point to practice aerobatic maneuvers, but it was a funny image!)

  • Parker and I bought a little kit at Bed Bath & Beyond for a homemade dog ornament. It came with this tough, foamy material, and all we had to do was stamp her little paw print and voila! I am embarrassed to say I spent $10 on this. It didn't occur to me until after that I probably could have done a DIY version of this for 50 cents. We got too excited when we saw it, and logic temporarily went out the window. Jenny could have cared less and was not a fan of pressing her paw into a foreign object, but it's fun to have a little Jenny ornament on the tree!

So in love with these two!

Have a wonderful weekend!!!

Our World Map

One of the things I wanted to do once we got married was create a personalized map of the world and mark everywhere we go. A big perk of being in the Navy is we are going to move... A LOT. Some may see this as an inconvenience or hassle, but personally I think it's exciting. I wanted a way to display our journey in our home. We ordered a large map of the world online, and Parker built a custom frame. Since the map is going to show our adventures and be personal to us, we thought it would be neat for Parker to build the frame. It makes it more special. :)

We decided to mark the map with small stickers. I know push pins are the convention, but this map is going to have to go through a lot of relocations, so I wanted it to be flat and easy to transport. Call me over-protective, but I also didn't love the idea of the push pins potentially falling onto the floor when we have little Phelplets running around. Thus, the sticker option won out. 

We decided to color code the stickers into four categories: places we've lived, places we've visited, places I've visited, and places Parker has visited. I am fortunate to get to travel a little bit with my job, and there are going to be times in the future where Parker will go places without getting to take the wife, so we want to document those experiences as well. Anyway, here is the key:

Gold Star: places we've lived
Silver Star: places we've visited
Blue Star: places Parker has visited
Pink Star: places I've visited

Parker and I were both fortunate enough to take leadership trips abroad in college. It was exciting to venture over to the right side of the map and place a pink star in Greece for me and blue stars in North Africa (Egypt and Morocco) for Parker.

We are excited to add stars to the map as the years go by. We have obviously talked about the future a lot, and we both agree that if we get the opportunity to live somewhere like Italy or Germany for a few years, we would take it in a heartbeat. We'll see what the future holds! 

Parker's First Solo in the T-6

I wanted to be able to document Parker's first solo in the T-6, but I wasn't able to be there, and I have never flown a plane, so I would have been about as descriptive and accurate as a 4 year old. Parker agreed to write the post, and I am so glad he did! Here is his take on his first T-6 solo:

Flying through the air alone at 240 knots and 2500 ft AGL (above ground level) isn't something a lot of people get to do. Not only is the cost of flying an airplane with this kind of performance prohibitively expensive, but it is also inherently dangerous. Fortunately for me, God has blessed me with an outstanding opportunity. Not only do I get to serve my country, but I get to have fun doing it. Last Thursday I had the privilege of taking a United States Navy T-6B on a solo flight. The contact solo is a big checkpoint as an aviator. It symbolizes that a student is good enough to fly an airplane without the assistance of an instructor.

Before you are allowed to fly alone, you have to pass a few tests. The Monday before my solo, I had a check ride with an Air Force instructor named Major Werner. The goal of the checkride is to ensure that a student is "safe" for solo. Although it didn't go as smoothly as I might have liked, I passed. The morning of my solo, the weather was not as nice as it could have been. Although it was forecast to get better, I was wary since I had been cancelled for weather just two days earlier. Eventually we had the 5,000/5 needed for solo flight, and I got a plane issued to me. I excitedly wrote 048 on my hand and proceeded to get dressed out in my flight gear.

Like anything you do for the first time, pre-flighting my own airplane had its own set of challenges. There was a moth wedged in my temperature probe and it looked like my airplane had done a low level through a swamp. It was covered in dead bugs. I secured the rear seat for solo with the help of two separate linemen and then proceeded with the standard ground ops.

I taxied/took off without issue and headed out to our practice area. It is funny how when there is no instructor in the back, it seems like you can't do anything wrong. Of course this is not correct, and what is really happening is that you are too inexperienced to notice the stupid stuff you are actually doing.

Another problem with flying alone is that weird stuff only happens when you are alone. The sky is big and airplanes are small. You can sometimes go an entire flight without actually seeing another airplane (except at airfields). I was transiting to my block when I noticed another T-6 heading right for me. We were both in our "transition zone" flying at our assigned altitudes. I was on a north-westerly heading at 11200ft and he was on a south-easterly heading at 11700ft. I had flown this way on at least 8 flights, and not once had I seen another airplane. Of course as soon as I am alone, here is a T-6 screaming right at me. My flight computer tells me there is a traffic hit and I push my nose over to give us a little more separation and I see him zoom over my head. A "close" call for a solo, but I continue on with my mission.

Once I got to my practice area I was fairly limited in my maneuvers. All of the cool things we can do with an instructor are prohibited on our first solo. I practiced basic airwork called P.A.T. (Power Attitude Trim) for a while and burned some gas. While in the area, I also thought it was fairly entertaining to listen to one of my friends from college, Troy Abney, talk on the radio for his checkride. After I had burned enough gas I started my descent down to NOLF Evergreen. My descent down to  NOLF Evergreen was uneventful and I entered the pattern to practice my landings. This is where a pilot makes his bacon. One mistake down this close to the ground and its "bye bye George." Luckily, my outstanding training kicked in and kept me safe and alive. I had to wave-off my first landing, but I then got three touch and go's with T/O flaps. My departure was standard and I headed back to NAS Whiting Field.

Once safely back on the ground after my flight, there was a big feeling of relief that I had successfully completed my mission. Since VT-3 is a Joint Squadron (we have Air Force guys), I got to take a dunk in the solo tank and walk around the rest of the day wet and cold. I can't say I am too upset though. It was just another day at the office.

Troy and Parker

Andrew and Parker

Parker getting thrown into the solo dunker

Tacky Christmas Sweater Party 2012!

My friend Britni and I decided to host a Christmas party for our friends here in Pensacola this past weekend, and we had a blast! We had a tacky Christmas sweater contest, a make-shift Christmas photo booth, a dirty Santa gift exchange, and more food and adult beverages than anyone should consume in one evening. It was perfect. People got into the sweater contest, and it was very entertaining to see the boys so decked out in what looked like their great-grandmother's sweater. Ryan Corridan won the contest with Ryan Stewart coming in a close second. Tucker the Corgi came in third! I had never heard the term "Dirty Santa" before, but we play a really fun Christmas exchange game with Parker's family every year that I thought would be a blast to play with our friends. Everyone brought a wrapped $10 gift (guys brought guy gifts, girls brought girl gifts), and we had a gift exchange. We all drew numbers, and you could either open a new gift on your turn or steal one that had already been stolen. Once the gift was stolen twice, it was frozen. The boys were pretty funny about it! We are so blessed with such amazing friends down here, and it was so fun to have a themed party. I will let the pictures tell the rest!

My lovely co-host!

Gift exchange!

Parker and I had changed out of our tacky sweaters by this point...way too hot when it's 80 degrees outside in December!

Girls with the Christmas tree!

Happy Tuesday everyone!


I want to start off by saying how amazing it is that God gives you gifts when you least expect it. Parker and I got to experience one of these amazing gifts a couple of weeks ago, and it was so faith-affirming. This is the story of Darla...

It was a Monday night, and we were getting ready to meet some friends for a going-away dinner for our friend, Dave. Three of our friends (Emily, Ryan S, and Ryan C) were meeting at our house to carpool. We got a call from them when they got here saying there was a small black dog on our front porch, and she looked injured. We walked outside, quickly realized that this dog wasn't dangerous, and I knelt down to see if she would come to me. She instantly tried to wedge herself between my legs and get as close as she possibly could. The poor thing was cold, wet, and hungry. She was also limping and had all kinds of cuts on her back legs. She had a collar but no tags. We couldn't just look the other way, so we brought her inside. We kept her separated from Jenny since we didn't know if she had any of her shots. Parker went to dinner so that one of us could be there, and I stayed back with this little girl. We fed her, and I wrapped her in blankets and just sat with her for a while. She was so sweet and clearly loved people. She cried and whined the minute I left the room, but she was so content when I was with her.

Since she had a collar, she obviously had to belong to someone. The next morning, Parker and I went door-to-door for almost two hours showing pictures of the dog, who we were calling Darla. Nobody had ever seen her. We live right next to a dirt road, and in all likelihood, someone dumped her and she walked to the first house she saw: ours.

We took her to the vet to see if she was microchipped. Of course, she wasn't. We decided to have the vet examine her, x-ray her, and give her all of her shots since there was no way to tell if she had ever had any. Honestly, as much as I wanted to help Darla, it was difficult to say yes to the x-rays, shots, etc. since I knew this would not be cheap. It was hard for me to rationalize spending so much money on a dog that really wasn't ours, but Parker was so confidant and sure that this is what we needed to do. He was so passionate and selfless about helping her, and he was such a wonderful example for me to follow. The x-rays told us that Darla had been hit by a car, had 5 fractures in her back hips and legs, and was going to need surgery. We felt so terrible for Darla having to go through all of that pain. Despite it all, she still had the sweetest spirit.

We took her home and loved on her. We realized that clearly nobody was going to claim her, so we posted her picture through Facebook to see if anyone might be interested in giving her the home she deserves. At Dave's going away dinner the night we found Darla, our friend Tiffany told Parker she had been thinking about getting a dog and that she could possibly be interested. Once I posted the information on Facebook, Tiffany said she wanted to come meet her. For some reason, I just knew it was going to work out. Darla was so sweet, and she had already stolen our hearts in the two days we had her.

Tiffany came over the next day, and it was love at first sight. Darla is not shy around people at all, and she snuggled right up to Tiffany. I explained all of her ailments and that she would likely need surgery, but Tiffany had already fallen in love with her, just like we had. She stayed for a while, and we just talked about Darla while they got to know each other. Tiffany said there wasn't a doubt in her mind that this was her dog, and Parker and I were so excited for the two of them. Darla went home with her new mommy, and it literally could not have been a more perfect ending.

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that this was a very faith-affirming experience. There were too many factors that worked so perfectly together that there was no way God didn't have His hand in this entire situation. Had we not been going to Dave's going away dinner that night, our friends wouldn't have come over to carpool. Had they not come over, we wouldn't have seen Darla until the next day, and likely she wouldn't have been on our doorstep still. She was black and completely blended in with the night. Had Parker not gone to the dinner while I stayed back, he wouldn't have been able to talk to Tiffany about her. Those were all little things that God orchestrated to work out perfectly for His plan. But the biggest blessing and evidence that this was all God's doing? Darla showed up on our doorstep. We have a soft spot for animals and both felt like God was calling us to help her. I think He chose us to help give Darla a second chance at life, and I think He chose Tiffany to be her new family.

Darla had her surgery last week and is doing great. She is completely happy and spoiled with pink everything. She and Tiffany have formed the perfect family and have been such wonderful gifts to each other. This was such an amazing story to get to be a part of, and it couldn't have had a happier ending.

Cowboy Casserole

This is one of Parker's absolute favorite recipes, and it is a quick go-to meal for me on weeknights. Fun fact, this was actually the first meal I ever cooked for my husband. After I moved out of the DG house and into an apartment, my then-fiance-now-husband bought me my first cookbook. I sifted through it and decided on this recipe. Honestly, this is one of the easiest recipes I make, but it's sooooo good. Complete with BBQ, beef, and bisquick, it's the perfect guy meal. Ready for the best part? It's a whopping $1.04 per serving. This cookbook is called Money Saving Meals, and all of the meals are not only extremely cost effective but also very quick and easy to prepare. Combine that with the fact that they are delicious, and you've hit the trifecta.

I actually had a friend over for dinner the other day and made this recipe. I had the cookbook sitting on the counter, and after thumbing through the pages, she grabbed my computer to purchase it on Amazon. It's full of lots of great recipes, but Cowboy Casserole is by far my favorite.

1 lb lean ground beef or turkey
1 16 oz can baked beans
1/2 cup barbeque sauce (I use more)
2 cups bisquick mix
2/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cook beef in a skillet and drain fat, if any. Stir in baked beans and barbeque sauce. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Pour into a casserole dish.
*Note: The first time I made this, I used a large rectangular pyrex dish. I have since used the smaller, square pyrex dish, and it makes a much better meat-to-bisquick mix ratio.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir bisquick mix, milk, and butter until soft dough forms. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto beef mixture.

3. Bake uncovered 18-22 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake about 3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let cool 3-5 minutes and serve!


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