Anchors Aweigh : December 2014


2014 Year In Review

I always like to do a quick little recap at the end of each year before we start a whole new one. I can honestly say 2014 was really tough, but I would never categorize it as a "bad year". Heartbreaking, difficult things happened, but joyous things happened too. You have to take the good with the bad, and this year had its share of both. We received many blessings in 2014, and I am very thankful for so many good moments! A lot happened, so if you make it through all of this, you are a trooper! Let's see what we were up to this year...

Parker started the year off with a little promotion! Ensign Phelps became LTJG Phelps, and I loved getting to be at his ceremony and pin on his new ranks. 

Parker went to Key West, Fl to get carrier qualified in the T-45. Landing on the boat was definitely a high for him this year!

We moved from Kingsville, TX to Corpus Christi, TX. Though it was just an hour up the road, a move is a move and doing it ourselves was quite the adventure. 

I turned 25 years old and celebrated with my family. Since I have a twin, we make it a point to make sure spend our birthday together. We haven't missed a year yet!

I ran my first half marathon with my twin sister! What an amazing, exhausting experience that was. We were sore for a week, but it was the coolest accomplishment. 

We saw the Blue Angels perform in Kingsville. AKA, I had a very happy husband. 

I shared my little sister's story of how she lost eye sight unexpectedly in her right eye and used her story to glorify God. Though her sight was never returned to her in that eye, she remains so faithful and such an inspiration to me. 

We visited our alma mater one last time before leaving the Lone Star State. We will be back one of these days, Aggieland!

We fell in love with Corpus Christi and really never wanted to leave. We had so many fun adventures there and wanted to freeze frame time and savor every moment of daily walks along the water, sunny weather, and wonderful friends. 

Parker's winging date was moved with very little notice (I would say we were shocked, but it's the Navy. We should have seen it coming), but my family kept their reservations and came down to spend a weekend with us before we moved to Virginia. So much fun being back on the beach where I vacationed as a kid. 

Parker became a winged aviator, a goal he worked towards for two years and dreamed about his whole life. Words can't describe how proud I felt then and now!

Parker and I celebrated 3 years of marriage in June. This was our first anniversary being apart, but we celebrated as soon as he returned home with a getaway to Colonial Williamsburg

While Parker was away, my mom and I roadtripped from Texas to Virginia to move Jenny and me in and had so. much. fun. I will forever cherish the fun week we got to spend together! She made 22 hours in the car enjoyable, and that's saying something. 

Our household grew by four furry feet! Life got a little more interesting when Darla, the pup who we rescued back in 2012, came to live with us while her mom was away serving our country. It was a big adjustment for me especially, but it has been so much fun having her with us. Jenny loves having a sister!

We found out Parker is going to fly the C-2! This is the plane he had hoped to fly, so we were over the moon!

I flew to Texas to surprise my twin sister at her graduation from nursing school. She cried. I cried. It was wonderful. 

I didn't reveal it on the blog for a couple of months, but Parker and I found out we were expecting a baby! August 11th, 2014 is a day we will remember forever. We couldn't believe it! 

My twin, mom, and grandmother flew out to spend a weekend with us in Virginia, and then a month later, Parker's parents came out to see us. We love hosting family in our new home!

We went to the Norfolk Zoo and successfully earned the title as the only adults there without kids. We didn't care- we had a blast! The zoo is for adults too, yall. 

We finally announced our good news to the world! Letting our secret out made everything that much more real. There really was a baby growing inside of me! So surreal, such a blessing. 

We attended the E2/C2 Ball in October. This was our eighth military ball together!

We visited the pumpkin patch and celebrated Halloween as Tony the Tiger and Parker Robertson, respectively. 

We drove to Annapolis for a wedding and loved exploring such a unique town. If you ever have the chance, go spend a weekend in Annapolis. Such a cool part of the country!

We felt the greatest heartbreak we have ever experienced when we learned our baby girl had triploidy. We shared her story and treasured each beautiful day we were given with her inside my tummy. We loved that little girl so fiercely while she was here, and on November 23, 2014, God took her home

We celebrated Thanksgiving in Texas with family. Though it was a tough holiday knowing we had lost our baby just days before, we made it through and were very grateful to be surrounded by family. 

We finished off the year with Christmas in Texas and a memorial service for Taylor Grace. Taylor Grace's memorial service was more than we could have ever imagined, and we loved getting to celebrate her short but meaningful life. 

Like I said at the beginning of this post, it's been a year mixed with joy and heartbreak, but it was another blessed year nonetheless. Thanks for being a part of it and going on this journey with us! We love sharing our lives and our story on this blog and look forward to new journeys in 2015!

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Remembering Taylor Grace

We knew we wanted to have a memorial service for Taylor Grace, and we decided to do it over the holidays with the family. We prayed it would bring some closure. To be honest, I don't think I will ever have "closure", at least not in the way that I interpret that word. I see closure as closing the chapter and moving on. For me, my chapter in life with Taylor Grace will always be open. It's going to get easier down the road, but there will never be a day that I don't think about our baby in Heaven. I can't ever receive closure in that sense, but what I do feel after the ceremony is an overwhelming sense of peace I didn't know I was missing. This was the final event for her, and it was a celebration of her life in every way we hoped it would be.
Parker's uncle, the same uncle that married us, led our daughter's memorial service, and he couldn't have done a better job. It was short and sweet like her life here on earth, but he dove right into the Word and reminded me that she was absolutely intentional, absolutely perfect, and absolutely fearfully and wonderfully made. God didn't make a mistake when he created our Taylor Grace. She was so perfectly formed in His image and in my belly. Taylor means clothed in salvation, and she truly is at the feet of her Father.
To conclude the service, Parker and I symbolically released a single white dove. She was always His, and seeing that bird fly home reminded us that Taylor Grace had flown to her forever home too. We are so thankful to our families for being there for us. Her memorial service was so much more perfect than either of us could have imagined. I am so thankful that we had this opportunity to celebrate her life with some of the people who have loved us, loved her, and prayed us all three through this journey. 

I didn't pull my camera out until almost everyone had left, but I wanted to upload the pictures of the family members I did capture. It really was so wonderful to have so many loved ones surrounding us. This is the first time our families have come together since our wedding, and we wish more than anything that it would have been under different circumstances, but it was amazing to have everyone together nonetheless.

We love our little angel baby, and I am so thankful that we got the chance to celebrate her life. 
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Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Can yall believe Christmas is just around the corner? I mean literally, we are 2 days away from the most magical day of the year. The little kid in me is so excited! Before I sign off from the interwebs for a few days to be with family and celebrate the birth of our savior, I always like to share our Christmas card for the year. 

This is our fourth married Christmas and my favorite Christmas card yet. It's not the best quality (we got lazy and used a tripod this year), but we took our picture a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, meaning Taylor Grace was still with us. She was in Heaven by the time they arrived in the mailboxes of friends and family, but she was still growing inside me when the picture was taken. I love that, and I love that the card has her sweet name included. This will be the only card she is in, and it will likely be the only card Darla is in as well, so it's just a special card to us this year :)

We hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Luke 2: The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

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I Won't Be Pregnant This Christmas

As random as it sounds, I saw Christmas as a pivotal point in our journey to have a baby. I think I've shared this on the blog before, but one of my biggest fears was that Parker and I wouldn't be able to have kids. You never really know until you get to that point, so it was always a concern of mine. We decided to start trying to have a baby in March. I remember thinking "If I'm not pregnant by Christmas, something might be wrong". Obviously everyone is different and some get pregnant by sneezing and others take years to conceive a child. Even knowing this, I knew Christmas would be hard if I looked down at my stomach and didn't see a baby in there. 

Here we are. It's Christmas. I can look down at my belly and clearly see there is no baby in there. It's flat. As I look at my body and see there is no other life inside of me, I don't feel any of the emotions of fear and doubt that I thought a childless Christmas would represent. It's quite different. Instead, I know I am a mom. We were given the gift of a child, just like we had hoped and prayed. Our baby is just spending her first Christmas in Heaven instead of in my tummy. God may have taken her home far sooner than Parker and I ever wanted, but he did make us parents this Christmas. Taylor Grace is going to have one awesome first Christmas in Heaven, and we will have a wonderful Christmas knowing she is safe and happy with Jesus while she waits for us to one day get there. 

I know waking up Christmas morning and not seeing a big, 6 month pregnant belly like I should be seeing will be hard, but I also know that my empty belly doesn't mean we don't have a baby. We do. We got to become parents this year. God is good. He is good all the time. 

I received this ornament from one of my best friend's mother-in-law. Tears flow every time I read it. So beautiful :)

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Favorite Christmas Gift

I think it's fun to reflect on my favorite Christmas gift I have ever received over the years. My family has always gone all out for Christmas, so we've had some pretty fun Christmases! One definitely stands out as the hands-down winner though, and we like to remind our parents that Christmas of 1998 will never be topped. It was so magical!

My twin sister and I were 9, my younger sister was 6, and my youngest sister was 4. My parents surprised us with a trip to Disney World! The Christmas was completely Disney-themed. We received stockings with a Disney character on them that we still get way too excited to see today. I seriously cannot wait to go home and see my Pooh stocking sitting next to Danielle's Mickey, Natalie's Tigger, and Faith's Goofy. We opened a few presents that were all Disney-themed, and we were told there was one more gift left for the end. We each unwrapped clues to tell us what that gift would be. One of us unwrapped a toy limo because my parents wanted us to get to ride in a limo on the way to the airport (very cool for a kid!). One of us unwrapped an airplane, so that let us know we would be flying somewhere. The third kid unwrapped a picture of our grandmother to let us know she would be joining us. The fourth kid opened up a Disney World booklet, and that's when my Dad immediately turned on the TV to Christmas at Disney so we all could find out at the same time. Seriously so cool. Disney World was beyond amazing, and it will always go down as the best Christmas ever. Thanks Mom and Dad!

Here's a throwback from that glorious event. My sweet mother is missing because she was behind the camera, but this picture makes me so happy! I may not have thought it then, but my little sisters were so stinkin cute. 

Check out what these awesome ladies had to say about the best Christmas gift they ever gave or received!

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What is the best gift you have ever given or received?

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DIY Personalized Mugs

I had seen tutorials all over Pinterest and blogland for personalized sharpie mugs. They all seemed to say different things, so I combed through each tutorial and picked out what seemed to work and what didn't. If I am going to sit down and craft, I want the craft to last and be well-made. I originally bought these mugs to decorate for a Christmas gift, but then I got greedy and kept them for myself. Oopsies! Seriously though, I am so pleased with how they turned out! Even the husband loves them, and he's not usually all too thrilled with crafting. Now that I have the technique down and have found the method I used works, I really can't wait to make more! This will be so fun to do with kiddos one day too!

Below is one of the mugs I made that I will be using for this tutorial. Want to know how to make one too? Then follow the steps below!

Ceramic mugs from Dollar Tree- The cheaper mugs work better for this project, and they only cost $1 per mug. Winning. 
Sharpie oil-based paint pens- I bought mine on Amazon, but they can be purchased at any craft store. Make sure it says non-toxic.

1. Make sure the mugs are clean. I ran mine through the dishwasher and let them completely dry before I worked with them. 
2. Start designing your mugs. For the design I chose, I placed letter stickers on the mug and then drew around the stickers. To achieve this look, firmly press your stickers onto the mug. Next, take a sharpie paint pen and draw dots around each letter. Place the dots close together around the letters and farther apart as you navigate away from the letters. The dots need to touch the edge of the sticker in all places. When you peel the stickers off, the letters won't look right if they are not completely outlined by dots. Let your first color dry (it will dry within a few minutes) and begin dotting with a second color. I didn't follow a set pattern. Let your creative juices flow and just keep working until you think it looks good. 
3. When you have finished designing your mugs, let them sit and dry for about 24 hours. This helps to set the paint for the baking process. 
4. Place the dried mugs onto a cookie sheet upside down, and set it in the middle rack of the oven. Do not preheat the oven! Once the mugs are in, set the oven to 425 degrees. Start timing 30 minutes once the oven reaches 425 degrees. 
5. Once your 30 minutes is up, turn off the oven and leave the mugs in there to cool. You want to avoid sudden changes in temperature as that can cause the mugs to crack. To be safe, just leave your mugs in the oven for several hours while it completely cools down to room temperature. 

That's it! This method does make them dishwasher safe, but I really would recommend just hand washing them. 

I also made one using our Taylor Grace's name that I am pretty obsessed with! Here's a 360 view of the mug. I included the date she went to Heaven on the back of the mug. 

I had a lot of fun with this little DIY. I look forward to making more in the future!

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