Anchors Aweigh : December 2015


2015 Year In Review

I'm not sure if these "year in review" posts are fun to read, but they sure are nice to have to look back on! Plus, they only happen once a year, so surely they don't feel overdone. Okay, I'm not sure why I felt that intro was necessary, but let's get right down to it and recap 2015!

I am going to apologize in advance for the length of this post. You won't hurt my feelings one bit if you want to skip to the end for the punchline.

Well, the first thing I remember about January 2015 is our heater going out. Our first Virginia winter rocked our little world, and going without heat for 4 days was plain awful. Four little bodies stayed snuggled in the bed!

On a happier note, January was also the month we visited the Virginia Beach Military Aviation Museum. Planes on planes on planes made for one happy husband!

I turned 26 in February, meaning I am officially closer to 30 than 20. The jury is still out on how I feel about this little fact, but the celebrating was fun!

We attended the 1940's Valentine's Day hangar dance at the aviation museum, which was a definite highlight. We had so much fun getting into the theme, wearing red lipstick for the first time (me), and dusting off the old, never worn bomber jacket (him). 

I flew home to the motherland (aka Texas) to celebrate my birthday late with my family. A twin must celebrate her birthday with her twin. It's just the rule. 

Parker and I had a day date in March exploring the USS Wisconsin and the city of Norfolk. We always have to tour the battleship in the city we live, so it was time to check Wisconsin off the list. It was cold that day, but I was so over long pants, so I remember suffering in silence at my own stupidity of wearing shorts. 

2015 was spent loving the every day moments, which largely meant cuddling our two furbabies. We knew Darla would go home to her mama soon, but she and Jenny brought us so much joy day in and day out!

I went on my first business trip of the year to the always exciting Las Vegas. It was my first time in sin city, and I learned that people like to enjoy their alcoholic beverages around the clock, slot machines are not self explanatory, and there is a Panda Express on every corner. 

In April, we found out we would be staying in Virginia another 3 years! Initially, I really wanted to be in San Diego next. I won't lie about that. However, we have really grown to love Virginia and are quite glad we stayed. I can't imagine either of us fitting into a squadron better. 

We rounded out April with a short trip to Louisville to visit Parker's parents! That was a fun trip to a cool city with special people. 

We headed back to the motherland over Memorial Day weekend for the wedding of the year! My little sis from Delta Gamma married the love of her life, and we had the best time celebrating them! Parker also decided good pictures were overrated on this trip, so that was fun too. 

Our biggest event of the year happened in June when we became homeowners! Buying a house equals getting a mortgage equals officially adult status, right?

Parker joined the 26 club in June, and 26 never looked so good. Since I am 4 months older, I like to give him a lot of life advice and prep him on what to expect in the next year of life. 

We hosted Parker's grandparents in our brand new home just a couple of weeks after moving in. We love having visitors and basically beg family and friends to come stay with us.

And to round out the busiest month of the year (June), we celebrated four years of marriage. Being married to this guy is so fun. 

In July, Darla's mama came home from deployment to pick up her baby. This was so bittersweet for us. I was so happy for Tiffany to be reunited with her baby, but Darla became the fourth member of our family, and saying goodbye to her was killer. We still miss her very much!

July also brought Jenny's fifth birthday! How is our pup already 5? Jenny, please stay with us forever. We love her so.

My parents became our second visitors of the year when they came to stay with us this summer! We loved having them with us and didn't want them to leave!

Parker let me tag along this summer to a flight, and we snapped this beauty. Maybe the coolest picture we have ever taken as a couple.

We celebrated our anniversary a month late with a little sailing trip! We always try to do an experience for our anniversary, and sailing was the perfect choice!

My little sister was our next visitor, and to say we had a blast is an understatement. We toured Williamsburg and just had the best time with her. Our four days with her were easily four of my favorite days of 2015!

Parker's parents rounded out our visitors for the year! We absolutely loved hosting them and showing them our new home!

Parker had to work the NAS Oceana Airshow this year, so we made a day out of it and ended up having a great time! He gave tours of the C-2, and I sold squadron merchandise.

At the end of September, my work sent me to San Diego. I have never been more excited for a work trip in my short little life. Some of my best friends are in San Diego, and I got to see our Darla girl again. It. was. phenomenal. Reunions are the best, and I'm thankful to the Navy for giving me these fine friends.

The annual Hawkeye Greyhound Ball was in October, and it was our 9th ball to attend together. 9th! We are getting a tab bit old. The dinner portion was great, and the after party was probably the most fun one we have ever been to.

And then, the most magical weekend of the year happened. My twin sister and I received Taylor Swift tickets for our birthday back in February, and it was finally concert time! We are big TSwift fans and basically stood the whole time in awe as she gave the concert of the year. Goodness, so good.

We threw a big Halloween party, which was our first party in our new home. Everyone had a great time, and Parker only complained minimally about having to dress up as Mickey Mouse.

We went to Nashville with my twin and her husband and met Parker's family as well for the Texas A&M vs Vanderbilt game. We took a Segway tour of Nashville, ate all the food, and watched our Aggies pull out a 25-0 victory over Vanderbilt.

This was our first year not being able to go home for Thanksgiving, so we decided to host Friendsgiving and have our other "homeless" friends over to celebrate together. We missed our families, but celebrating with our friends was awesome. Since we didn't travel, we had the full long weekend to spend together and decorate the house for Christmas. We loved it!

Before heading to Texas for Christmas, we attended Parker's squadron Christmas party. Good friends, overuse of photobooth, a little dancing, and an iPad prize from the raffle. It was a successful party!

So that is 2015 in a nutshell! I will say that even though I have highlighted all of the wonderful moments, the year didn't come without its share of trials. Not a day went by this year that I did not think of that baby we lost at the end of 2014. Not a day went by that I didn't miss her and fiercely wish she were here with me. So many tears were shed, and arguments were had. Losing a child will really test your marriage, but I am grateful to say that it has made us stronger.

There were wonderful moments and sad moments, and the sad moments were way more frequent than they had been the years prior. I will say this though: it was still a wonderful year. I don't believe in saying "it was a bad year". There may have been bad moments, but there were so many more good moments. Don't let the bad moments overtake you. Get through them, and relish in the good that is to come.

I am excited to say goodbye to 2015 and see what 2016 has in store. I have no doubt that 2016 will bring its own share of hardship, but I know there will be so many more smiles and laughs, and that is what I am looking forward to!

Happy New Year, everyone! See you next year!

2015 Favorite Reads

Hello, friends! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones! I have missed this little blogging space, but a nice break to spend time with family has been so rejuvenating and much needed. To ease back in, I thought we could all sit down and talk about books today.

I wrote a post about my quest to be a bookworm a little over a year ago. I didn't particularly care for reading as a past time, but I knew I was missing out. Thankfully, all I needed to do was discover a few books to hook me, and I was sold. Now, I will pretty much read anything and everything I can get my hands on! I genuinely look forward to curling into my bed each night to read a chapter of whatever happens to be occupying my nightstand at the time.

So far this year, I've read twenty-eight books this year. Twenty eight. That probably isn't very many to some, but it sure seems like a lot to me! In the spirit of being a self-proclaimed bookworm for one whole year, I thought it would be fun to recap my favorite reads of 2015.

My favorite fiction novel was...

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty was one that had me hook, line, and sinker from the get-go. I love the way she wove different stories together, and my jaw actually dropped as I read the epilogue. Loved this one!

My favorite suspense novel was...

I don't know if I have ever had a book that I just couldn't stop reading quite like Hour Game by David Baldacci. I was on vacation with my family who I never see in an awesome new city, and I just wanted to get back to the hotel so I could read this darn book. It was so thrilling and brilliantly written and easily took the title as my favorite novel in the suspense category. Honorable mention was Keep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline, because I really did love that one too. Any other year when Hour Game wasn't in the running, Keep Quiet would have taken the cake.

My favorite memoir was...

I read For The Right Reasons by Sean Lowe almost cover to cover on a long flight and never lost interest. He is one of my favorites from the Bachelor franchise, and his book was an honest look at his life and the show that brought him his wife. If you are a Bachelor fan, read it!

My favorite historical fiction novel was...

Finding Rebecca by Eoin Dempsey was the very first book I read in 2015 (Technically, I think I even read this December of 2014. Semantics.), and it has stuck with me ever since. It was raw and real and so well done.

So those were my favorite books by category. I also wanted to pick a favorite book altogether. When I set out to pick my favorites, it took about .02 seconds to decide my favorite book of the year. This book actually brought me to tears, something that comes easily for movies but is no small fete for the written word. I just loved it. I don't usually reread books, but I'll reread this one in the coming years.

My favorite book of 2015 was...

I really can't say enough good things about The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. I read twenty-eight books, and none were as gripping or entertaining as this one. If you haven't read this one, march your rear end to the book store and start reading it now. Yes, this was definitely my favorite book of 2015!

Here is a list of the books I read this year (linked to the reviews I wrote throughout each month)...

Finding Rebecca by Eoin Dempsey
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
I Didn't Come Here To Make Friends by Courtney Robertson
For The Right Reasons by Sean Lowe
Where We Belong by Emily Giffin
The One And Only by Emily Giffin
The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
The Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison
The Boy In The Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
Babyville by Jane Green
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
Life Is Beautiful by Sarah M. Johnson
The Making Of A Navy Seal by Brandon Webb
Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
Flightsend by Linda Newbery
The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks
The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James
Girl At War by Sara Novic
A Lot Like Love by Julie James
Keep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline
Hour Game by David Baldacci
Double Cross by James Patterson

One year of some good old-fashioned reading is in the books! No pun intended. I am excited to discover some more literary greats in 2016 and share them with you all!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, friends! Remember that Jesus is the reason for the season! For anyone who has never heard the story of Christ's birth, I wanted to write it here. 

Luke 2:1-21

In those days Ceasar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 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. But the angel said to them, "Don't be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you; You will find the baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."

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."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. On the eighth day, when it came time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived. 

What a beautiful day that must have been. I am taking the week off to spend time with my loved ones, and I hope you are all able to do the same. I pray that this Christmas is filled with love and joy for each and every one of you. 

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

This Brought Me To Tears...

Hi friends! We are doing something a little different on the blog today. I don't usually do guest posts, but when I got an email from my sweet friend Kourtney, I couldn't resist. I don't want to ruin the post, but I want to preface it with the fact that I was reduced to tears when I read what she had to say. When we decided to share Taylor Grace's story, we prayed it would help someone, somewhere. This post reminded me that Taylor had a purpose in her short life, and I couldn't be more grateful. I'll let Kourtney take it from here...


Hey y'all! My name is Kourtney and I blog over at The Martins and the Marines. I found Chelsea's blog a few years ago when I was first getting started, and I've been hooked ever since! We've never actually met, but I'm convinced if we were stationed at the same base we'd be quick friends. I sincerely hope our paths cross someday so we can meet! When I'm looking for a blog to add to my must-read list, I generally look for people with things in common. While you won't find me doing book reviews or posting recipes in the near future (with good reason... you'd much rather get those from her), there are a few things Chelsea and I share! 

1. Chelsea and I are both military spouses. We're a Marine family though - hence the blog name. We are currently stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. We PCS'd twice in 2014, so it's safe to say, Chelsea and I both know what it's like to PCS too many times, though I couldn't tell you the first thing about a DITY move and I know she could. 

2. We both love our dogs like they're human children. They are our first babies, after all. See, I can't even go on without including a picture of them. 

3. My love for Taylor Swift. I've been to six of her concerts (and met her after I realized I was sitting next to her mom in the sound booth and asked her for meet-and-greet tickets - and no, I'm not even embarrassed for recognizing Taylor Swift's mom). I haven't been in years, though, so I was quite envious when I saw Chelsea saw her 1989 tour!

4. I try to glorify God any way I can. In the big decisions I make and in the little everyday things. Reading about Chelsea's faith and how she has put her complete trust in Him is such an encouragement to me and my walk with God!

5. I'm sure she'd agree with me when I say that children are a gift from God above and one of the biggest blessing of all. We're both parents of little girls. Mine, Julia Rose. Hers, Taylor Grace.

With Chelsea's permission, I'd like to spend the rest of this guest post talking a little bit about how Taylor Grace has impacted not only Chelsea's family and friends, but also people she doesn't even know. I remember seeing when Chelsea first posted she was pregnant. I was as excited as you could be for someone I'd never met being pregnant. Blogs have a way of making you feel like you're friends. I was pregnant at the time with my first little girl and thrilled to read any pregnancy post I could find. As her pregnancy developed and she announced her complications, I remember my heart breaking for her. I'd like to think I would handle the situation as gracefully and faithfully as she has, but you never really know until you're in it, I guess. As time went on and Taylor Grace eventually passed, Chelsea remained outspoken about her journey with her little Taylor and her trust in the Lord. Which brings me to one of my favorite bible verses:

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" Jeremiah 29:11

So fastforward a little bit. I eventually gave birth to our sweet girl this past January. She has her Daddy's red hair and my chubby cheeks and she's the perfect little sister we could ask for. After she was born, I found Taylor Grace coming to my mind often. When I was tripping over the dogs at two o'clock in the morning for the third time that night to bring a bottle to Julia. When I was walking through the commissary with my oldest throwing all of the food out of the cart and Julia strapped to me screaming. When all four of my backup pacifiers fell to the depths of the carseat and I had to listen to her scream the 20 minutes home in the car. I often found myself thinking about Taylor Grace and what a blessing it is as a parent to care for these little humans. Even in the hard times. 

I'd like to think I'm not the only reader of Anchors Aweigh that has been impacted by Taylor Grace's sweet little life. She crosses my mind about once a day. And when she does, I take the time to pray over Julia for whatever I'm needing at the moment. Sometimes it's for patience, because two toddlers have a way of sucking that right out of you. Sometimes I pray for a greater ability to appreciate, because I never want to take any of these moments for granted. Sometimes I pray for the strength to make it through the workday and get the kids in bed at night. Sometimes when it's a rough day, I pray for all of these things. Taylor Grace has become my reminder to pray. Even in the hard times. 

If you're interested to read a little bit more about our family, I'd love for you to head over to my page and say hello!

Most recently, you'll find me writing about surviving my husband's third deployment and parenting my one and two year old while working full time. And photographing as much as possible along the way! A big thank you to Chelsea for letting me take over her blog for the day! 

Squadron Christmas Party

I've said it before and I'll say it again: this has been such a sweet season! Christmas is always so special and fleeting, and we are trying to enjoy every little second. Parker's squadron had their annual Christmas party recently, and this was our first year to get to attend!

Some of my best friends are also spouses in the squadron... we really hit the jackpot with this one. Since the wives of the squadron are so close-knit, even the wives with husbands deployed attend the Christmas party. I really love this and will be grateful to still get to participate in things like this when it becomes my time to fly solo for a few months. 

I didn't really know we were attending this party until a couple of days before, so I'd like to thank Target for helping me out in the dress department at the eleventh hour. I really pushed the envelope on the "cocktail attire", but it worked. 

The theme wasn't black and blue, but it might as well have been with our attire. I'm a big fan of these ladies!

The theme was masquerade, so Parker and I again pushed the envelope and decided that just meant we needed something to cover our eyes. We opted for some super spiffy, multi-purpose gold sunglasses, because why not? 

Our friends whose husbands were away brought pictures of their faces on a stick. How adorable is that? They were there in spirit!

There was dinner and a bit of dancing, but the main event of the evening was a big raffle. I wasn't really paying close attention while the numbers were being called, but thankfully one of my girlfriends grabbed my attention when she heard my number. Whoop whoop! I ended up winning an iPad air, so that was cool! As I took my prize, I looked at the guy and said "wait, I get to keep this?!". He looked at me like I was a little off my rocker, but it's not every day someone just gives you an iPad. I'll take it!

A few of my friends were also in sororities, so we had to take a greek life picture. Delta Gamma, Zeta, and Alpha Delta Pi were represented! Throw whatcha know!

Love this fellow DG friend of mine. Fun fact- she was the president of her chapter! I was VP: Finance of mine, which is not nearly as cool as being the president ;)

Overall, it was a fun night with fun people. My favorite forever date makes anything a good time, and he was looking handsome as always! Squadron Christmas Party 2015 is in the books! This was our last Christmas party with friends for the year. Sad it's over, but it was fun while it lasted!

Also, big thanks to my friend Lea for being the best documenter at events like this! If you're in the Norfolk/VA Beach area and need pictures taken, I know just the girl!

Life Lately

Every so often, I think "Man, life is good. I love this season". Right now is one of those times. Christmas on the horizon makes everything a little sweeter, and I have just been soaking up every moment. These are the days where I want to press the "pause" button and just keep reliving it. Since that "pause" button doesn't seem to be available in stores yet, blogging will have to do.

So friends, this is what life lately has looked like for our little family...

Parker was away for the weekend, which meant I had the perfect excuse for a little girl time! I saw The Nutcracker with these fine friends and had the best time. So thankful for these ladies!

It has been unseasonably warm in Virginia these past few weeks, which is just fine with me! It still looks and feels like Fall, so I have tried to spend as much time outside as possible. I snapped this picture on a run the other day. Gorgeous!

Parker and I were perusing Target the other day (what else is new?), and he immediately spotted this coat, put it on, and gave me this pose. I didn't even have to ask. He was channeling his inner Jon Snow (Game of Thrones).

I received a fitbit for reaching 5 years of service with my company, and I was so excited to finally see what all the fuss is about! So far, I really like it. It's hard not to become mildly obsessed with getting 10,000 steps each day, but I suppose that's the point.

We had a date night around our town center and just had the best time. There was a free Christmas concert going on outside, so we sipped what was maybe the best hot chocolate ever and listened. The weather was perfect, the town was decorated for Christmas, and my date was pretty darn cute. Not too shabby for a Friday night. 

We watched our friend's dog over the weekend, and Jenny loved having a furry friend to hang out with! We love having Dug the dog over, the coolest golden retriever around. So cool that he even has his own Instagram handle (@dug_the_dog1217).

We also checked ice skating off the bucket list for the winter season! Since it's been so warm out (comparatively to last year, at least), we decided to do the outdoor mall skating. It was slower paced since the rink is fairly small, but still fun!

This mug says it all. Hot chocolate every night, warm pjs, and Christmas music on repeat. It really is the most wonderful time of the year!

So that's what's been going on with us! We hope you are all enjoying this fleeting season as much as we are!


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