Anchors Aweigh : June 2017


Recent Reads: June

I feel like a liar calling this post "Recent Reads: June" because it took me 6 months to finish 3 books. Let's chalk it up to the I-had-a-baby-and-stopped-having-time-for-anything-else excuse. I think that works here. Regardless, here are my three latest reads and thoughts on each!

The Perfect Letter
By Chris Harrison

Being the unapologetic Bachelor fan that I am, it was only a matter of time before I read Chris Harrison's book. It's a fictional novel about a woman with a secret, an innocent man who took the fall out of love, and the person trying destroy them both. I actually really enjoyed it. It's well written and had me entertained from the get-go. There's also something funny about reading it and knowing Chris Harrison wrote it. We've seen him host more seasons of The Bachelor than I can count, but apparently, he's a pretty good writer too. I recommend this one to a friend!

Instant Mom
By Nia Vardalos

This was easily my favorite book I read this month! Nia Vardalos is the star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, so I love her from that role. She wrote a book about her struggle with infertility and journey that eventually led to adopting her daughter from the foster care system. She adopted her daughter at the age of 3, and she writes an honest, candid picture of what that looked like. I think we can have a tendency to romanticize adoption, and I think it's a completely amazing process, but I liked that Nia wasn't afraid to share about the hard parts as well. I really want to adopt a child one day, so I loved this book.

The Hating Game
By Sally Thorne

This is a really popular book right now with high ratings, so I expected to love it. I just... didn't. I thought it was cheesy, beyond predictable, and just under written. It's about a man and a woman who work together and hate each other. But as time goes on, maybe they don't hate each other after all? You can probably predict how it ends. I was just a little bored by it, but everyone else seems to love it, so give it a read and let me know what you think. 

Book-loving friends: Anything you recommend? I'm shamelessly loving celebrity memoirs these days, so send your favorite suggestions my way! :)

Life Lately

Since I took a little unplanned blogging hiatus these past few weeks, I thought I'd take today to share a little about life lately in our neck of the woods...

Life lately has been a whole lot of this... enjoying the gorgeous Virginia summer. These two are two peas in a pod.

Grammy (my mom) was in town, and we were in heaven! I had been looking forward to this visit for months, and my only complaint was that it went by too quickly. I'm henceforth referring to her as the baby whisperer because Preston loved her, and he's been in quite the little "stranger danger" phase lately.

We all went to an airshow for a little early birthday celebration for Parker, and we had a blast! My husband was in airplane heaven, and I was in there-is-someone-else-to-hold-the-baby heaven. Preston managed to have two diaper blowouts in a span of 5 hours while at the airshow, so my biggest takeaway from this airshow was put more than 3 diapers in the diaper bag next time.

Three happy campers and a baby up past his bedtime!

Since Grammy was in town, we took off for a much appreciated date night. We have been wanting to have dinner on the patio at one of our favorite restaurants for months, and the weather was finally warm enough to do it. We had the best time!

We saw our first solo movie since Preston was born, and it was Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Honestly, we didn't love it. It just wasn't as much our kind of movie, but I had a giant bag of popcorn, so no complaints over here.

The next day, this guy turned 28! We had a little family celebration with cake, opened presents, and played with our baby. #parentlife

Parker snapped this shot of Preston and me singing Parker "Happy Birthday"! We love our birthday boy!

On days where it's not someone's birthday and we don't have any visitors in town, we do a lot of this. I'm not mad about it.

In Jenny news, it was empty peanut butter jar day at our house, so she's doing just fine.

And last but not least, I found this guy in our backyard staring into our house. How he got into the backyard, I have no idea! I went to feed Preston and came back to get the turtle and move him to the nearest pond, but he was gone. Little Houdini turtle!

That's life lately!

6 Years

Six years ago today on June 26, 2011, this happened...

...And right before we smashed cake into each other's faces, we actually got married. 

We are scratching our heads at how it's already been six years of wedded bliss, but then again, it's hard to remember what life was like before we were married. It feels like we've been doing this forever! Six years in, two pregnancies, one miscarriage, one baby, a dog, 5 moves, and too many dinner-and-a-movie nights to count. It's been one heck of a ride so far. 

I can honestly say I married my best friend, and I think that's why we work. At the end of the day, we just like being together. Not only do I love Parker, but I like Parker. I think he's hilarious and kind and giving. He makes me proud to be his wife every day. 

Year six was easily our hardest year of marriage, but it's been the most rewarding too. Parker spent 7 months of the past year deployed, so that was a journey in and of itself. Not to mention, he came home to a wife that was 8 months pregnant and ready to pop! Deployment + pregnancy + having a baby... well we can't say year 6 was uneventful, that's for sure! So many highs and lows, but it's all been worth it getting to call that man my husband. I think we would both say the high of year 6 was the birth of our son and the low of year 6 was saying "see you later" for 7 months. Both kind of a given!

Our first dance at our wedding was to "Then" by Brad Paisley, and the lyrics still ring true. "And I thought I loved you then..."

6 years down, forever to go! Here's my wonky attempt at a 6... harder than it looks, yall!

Breastfeeding: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

I talked to so many mamas before I had my son. I googled, I listened to advice, and I mentally prepared myself for all things newborn baby. I was prepared to be sleep deprived. I was prepared for the crying. What I wasn't prepared for? The crazy thing that we call breastfeeding. Whether it's viewed as too personal or just taboo, nobody really talked about it, and man I wish they would have. Today, I am going to dish on the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to breastfeeding. 

For any male readers (looking at you, dad!), let's just stop right here and we'll be back with our regularly scheduled programming next week. 

The Good

Let's start with the positives: Breastfeeding is awesome. It really is. It's such a beautiful bond between you and your baby. It helps them instantly recognize that you are their mom, and it's pretty darn cool that your body can nourish your child's. Your body knows exactly what they need, and breastmilk is so, so good for them. Also, it's free. Monetarily, your baby is eating for free. I hear kids are expensive later, so breastfeeding for the win! So yes, simply put, breastfeeding is a really good, really beautiful thing that I am so grateful I was given the chance to do. 

The Bad

Oh my gosh, the pain. In the beginning, it's so incredibly painful. I feel like it was always portrayed as "a little painful at first" in the movies, and each time I had to feed my child in the beginning, I silently cursed anyone that ever made it sound easy. When he latched on, I would curl my toes so I wouldn't scream. I would make sure my palms were open and fingers spread apart so I wouldn't accidentally squeeze his head from the pain. He was usually hungry every 3 hours, and I would silently will the time to slow down so I had more of a break in between feedings. When I say it's painful, I mean it. Breastfeeding is no joke, and I understand why people quit. 

The Ugly

When I say the ugly, I'm looking at you, mastitis! Mastitis is an infection in the breast derived from a clogged milk duct. It's common in the beginning, and man is it crazy. I got mastitis when my son was 3 weeks old, and I went from feeling completely fine, to shaking, slurring my words, and crying hysterically in a matter of minutes. It's like the flu on steroids, and your breast is in constant pain. I was curled up in the fetal position crying nonstop for about 7 hours before my fever finally broke. The best word I can use to describe mastitis is "violent". It so violently took over, and I never saw it coming. Speaking of ugly, your nipples will be destroyed. Chapped, bleeding... the whole thing. And since something is sucking on them every 3 hours (or even more frequently), there isn't really time for them to heal. The good news is they will eventually heal and restore to normal (or the new normal). 

I am 3.5 months into breastfeeding and so grateful to say that it is going so well. I attribute it to three things: Jesus, my stubborn refusal to give up, and the nipple shield. That last one saved me and allowed me to heal while still feeding my child. I can't say enough good things about the nipple shield. 

I know this post may sound negative, and that's not my intent. I am usually all about looking at the positives and optimism, but when it comes to breastfeeding, I just wish I would have known how hard it can be. If we have ten more children, I will try to breastfeed all ten. I really do believe in breastfeeding and love, love, love that my body is able to nourish my son. 

If you quit breastfeeding, I understand why, and I would never judge someone for that. It's hard, and sometimes it's better for both you and baby to realize when something isn't working. Fed is best. If you're struggling through breastfeeding or about to go through it, know that it's tough, but you really can do it. The pain is temporary. It does eventually go away even though you can't possibly imagine it doing so. You'll get through it, and it will be worth it. 

Saying "See You Later" One Year Ago...

A year ago on June 4, 2016, Parker left for his very first deployment. I tried to stay fairly vague while he was gone, so I never blogged about the details of our goodbye or the date he left. It's been a year, but I still remember that day so vividly and thought it would be neat to write it all out. It's funny, I can't remember what I ate for dinner yesterday, but you just don't forget the day you say that dreaded "see you later".

June 4th was a Saturday, and we were told he had to be at the squadron around 10 AM. We woke up, took some pictures, and I told him how proud I was of him and cried in our kitchen as we hugged. I knew I was going to cry that day, so I wanted to have a little moment just the two of us and hopefully avoid breaking down in front of everyone later.

We got to the squadron, and instead of dropping him off and leaving, I walked in with him. Parker told me I could wait around and watch him fly off. I'll take whatever time I can get! We walked into the squadron building, and it was... empty. There was no one in sight. Apparently, Parker mixed up the times and we got there 2-3 hours earlier than we needed to. Fine by us- we bolted out of there and headed back home.

We watched an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (the show we had been binge watching at the time), and snuggled on the couch with Jenny. You might think that this was extra time to stare longingly into each other's eyes and have deep, meaningful conversations, but if your husband has deployed, you know that's not really the case. You just want to rip the bandaid. The hours leading up to their departure are just sad, and there's really no way around that.

We stopped at Wendy's for lunch, which ended up being Parker's last meal in America! We got to the squadron, and it was filled with men and women in uniform busily running around and families standing in the background. I hung with my friend Karly and watched Parker brief the flight and get ready. We all walked out into the hangar, and it was go time. We kept it short and sweet: a big hug, a last kiss, and twenty "I love you's" before he was walking to the plane.

I watched Parker get in the plane and take off into the sky. It's a pretty surreal, indescribable feeling. My whole world was on that plane, and all you want in that moment is to know they are going to stay safe. I waited until the plane was out of sight, walked to my car, and went home alone. Day one of deployment was officially underway.

As for the rest of the day? I ate cake for dinner. That's what stands out the most. I had a giant piece of cake for dinner, something I recommend every spouse do on day one of deployment.

Saying goodbye is never fun, but I know how blessed I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard!

5 Things I'm Passionate About

I always like hearing what others are passionate about. When someone is truly passionate about something, you can hear it in their voice and see it in their eyes. We all have our standard likes and dislikes, but I tend to think our passions in life are what make us tick. 

I thought I'd share 5 things I'm passionate about today. I was hesitant to write this because on a couple of these, people will either strongly agree or strongly disagree. But, we all have a different way of doing things, and I respect that not everyone will have the same views as I do! I left off the obvious ones like family and friends. Of course I am passionate about my family, but that's a given, so no need to explain. Okay, here we go!

1. Jesus

I have no idea where I would be if it weren't for the Big Man upstairs. I have always been a Christian, but my adult years are where my true passion for Jesus really came through. I have never seen God more clearly than through the lives of my two children. The lowest low of my life was losing my daughter in 2014, and it was the closest I had ever felt to God up to that point. The highest high of my life was meeting my son in 2017, and I've never more clearly been able to feel God's love for me. To think that I love my son just a fraction of how much Jesus loves me... it's crazy. 

2. Vaccinating Kids

This is easily the most controversial item on the list, and I promise we can still be friends if we have a different viewpoint on this. I am a firm believer that vaccinations are here for a reason and keep our children healthy. The studies that came out years ago linking vaccinations to autism were completely disproven, and the doctor that published them has since had his medical license taken away. I am fortunate that my son is healthy and can be vaccinated, but there are sick kids out there that cannot be vaccinated and rely on herd immunity (other children being vaccinated) to keep them healthy. It breaks my heart that a decision made by one parent to not vaccinate their child could hurt another parent that didn't have that same choice. 

3. Adoption

I have always loved the idea of adopting a child. I think adoption is a calling and it's something that's been on my heart for a few years. Adoption is such a cool depiction of Christ's love for us. Parker and I talk about adoption often in our house, and I pray it will be in God's plan for our family someday. 

4. Texting or Drinking and Driving

I just hate this. I've had people tell me they are "good at texting and driving", and I just cringe. Nobody is good at driving with their eyes off the road. It's not worth risking the lives of others to reply to that text. It can wait. Drinking and driving? Too many lives have been destroyed by this one. Another thing that's just not worth it, especially with the great invention of Uber.

5. Rescue Pets

If you know me or have read this blog long, you know I am obsessed with my furborn, Jenny. She is a rescue pup who was found on the side of the road and taken in by a rescue organization. We adopted her when she was 6 months old. We have no idea what her first 6 months of life looked like, but the vet did find a BB in her backside when we had her x-rayed, so we know at some point, someone shot her with a BB gun. Who knows beyond that. The point is, she is now the happiest, sweetest dog. We got to give her a second chance at life. There are so many dogs in shelters that have had a hard life up to that point and just want so desperately to love and be loved. I want to adopt them all! Few things make my heart happier than finding out a friend chose to adopt a dog.

What are you passionate about?


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