Anchors Aweigh : 2018

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Join The Navy, See The World

It's a common phrase in the Navy. "Join the Navy, see the world". Parker says it every time he goes on another Navy-sanctioned field trip.

I thought it would be fun today to share where in the world he has actually been! I've joined him on a small handful of these trips, but I pale in comparison as a world traveler to this guy. The Navy isn't always rainbows and sunshine, but there are a lot of wonderful perks, and traveling is one of them!

Note: An alternative title to this post could have been: "Selfies with Parker". When you're in a cool place by yourself, selfie or it didn't happen. ;)

I'm going to skip the places we have been stationed in Texas because we are from Texas, so that's not so much seeing the world and more just moving a couple of hours down the road.


Egypt

Parker got a cool opportunity to travel to Egypt and Morocco while he was still at Texas A&M with the Corps of Cadets. It's not every day you get to ride a camel around the pyramids.



Morocco

He got to stay with a family in Morocco and really submerge into the culture. Such a cool opportunity.



Hawaii

Parker went to Hawaii for one of his summer cruises (a Navy cruise, not the fun kind with margaritas) as a midshipman. He started a tradition where he brings this A&M flag with him when he travels so he can write the location and date of his trip on the left side.


Pensacola, Florida

This was our first big move away from Texas. We moved to Pensacola in January 2012 and lived there for 16 months. Parker started flight school there, and we made friends that we will have for a lifetime. All flight students start out in Pensacola, and the Navy really spoils you with that one. There aren't too many places that are better to get stationed than Pensacola, Fl! To top it off, my twin's husband was in the Navy at the time,and they were stationed an hour away. It was awesome!





Virginia Beach, Virginia

Ah, home away from home. We can't believe how much that place became home. In some ways, it feels more home than Texas, but it wasn't because of the location. It was because of the people. We miss our people in Virginia every day. We also miss all the greenery and trees everywhere! Virginia is beautiful!



Jacksonville, Florida

Parker had to spend a month in Jacksonville in April 2016 right before he deployed, and he was staying in a hotel on base that looked out onto the beach. Needless to say, Jenny and I hopped in the car and drove 9 hours to spend a week with him. He worked during the day, so Jenny and I roamed around the beach while we waited for him to get back to the hotel. That was such a fun week for all 3 of us.

Rota, Spain

Parker's first stop on deployment was Rota, Spain. He stayed there a few days before moving on to Italy, but he really enjoyed Spain while he was there! It was June, so nice and warm!


Rome, Italy

Parker's next stop was Naples, Italy, but he didn't have many pictures from that stop so here are pictures from his next visit to Rome. He got to see the Vatican and the Colosseum!



Crete

His final stop before arriving in Bahrain, where he would stay for 6 months, was the island of Crete. His hotel had views of the Mediterranean Sea, and everything was beautiful. He would have loved to spend his entire deployment there (wouldn't everyone!), but he stayed a couple of weeks before leaving for Bahrain.



Manama, Bahrain

Bahrain became home for 6 months. Parker was land based for deployment, so he actually stayed in Bahrain and not on a ship. It was incredibly hot in the summer (over 110 degrees many days) with no breeze or trees around. They speak Arabic there, and the people were very friendly. I actually flew to see Parker on deployment and got to stay in Bahrain for a week. It was the highlight of deployment for him and such a cool experience for both of us.



Granada, Spain

Parker stayed in Spain a few days before heading back to America after 7 months away. It was December for this trip, so he got to see some snow in the mountains!



The Navy has treated that husband of mine (and me too) to some pretty cool trips! We are excited to see where they take us next! 

Dear Future Military Spouse,

Maybe this was the direction you've always wanted your life to go. You are entering into a world of adventure, travel, and love with your best friend, and you are so ready to get this military journey started. Or maybe, you're like I was. You grew up in a small town and lived minutes from family and could have never imagined packing up and moving across the country after graduation. 

Maybe you grew up dreaming of the white picket fence. You wanted a husband with an 8-5 job, toddling kiddos, and grandparents that live right down the road. And now you're looking at your future realizing that will not be your reality. And it's scary. 


I want to take today to give three pieces of advice, from one military spouse to another. Take it or leave it, but these are things I wish someone would have told me. 

The first, and easily the most important, is that you have a choice to make. Right here, right now, you get to choose how much you are going to like military life. You get to decide if you will just survive or if you will thrive. Choose to thrive. See the joy and the good and relish in the adventure. You get one life, so don't waste your time being upset about the things you can't control. 

Secondly, don't compare. Don't keep a list of "things I can't do because we are in the military". Don't envy your friends back home for their "normal" lives. Don't resent them for whining about missing their husbands for a weekend when yours has been deployed 8 months. Comparison is the thief of joy, so focus on you, and surround yourself with people who will encourage you and build you up. 

Thirdly, and this is easily the most vague and cliche, but enjoy this. Seriously, enjoy it! You are going to travel the country and maybe even the world. You are going to move to cool places and meet new, fun people you never would have known otherwise. You are going to realize your strength through deployment and join the ranks of the few that get to experience one of life's greatest joys: homecoming. Military life is one great adventure, so enjoy the crap out of it. 

Future military spouse, this life won't always be easy, but it will be amazing. Congratulations on an exciting adventure ahead. I'm rooting for you to love it as much as I have. 

Sincerely, 

A military spouse of 7 years that couldn't imagine life any other way




Life Lately

Happy Wednesday! I write these Life Lately posts and realize nothing I'm writing about is too terribly exciting, yet I will look back on these days and miss these beautifully mundane moments so much. 

So here's life lately...

We took a family trip to the Botanical Gardens, and it was so neat! Parker isn't so keen on walking around flowers all day, but this Botanical Gardens had so many amazing birds that talked, danced, and that you could pet. Here Preston is petting a bird named Sweetie. So cute!


This picture just screams Texas to me. The water isn't the bluest, the grass isn't the greenest, and the sun is blazing hot, but this. is. home. 


Parker has been humoring me in my love for games, and this week we broke out Phase 10. I played all the time as a kid but hadn't played in 15+ years, so it was fun to relearn how to play. Parker read the rules for like 10 minutes... it's an elementary level game, you guys. 


Preston wasn't feeling well the other night and fell asleep in my arms at 6:15 PM. The cuddles are a little more rare in this toddler phase, so you can bet that I stayed there and snuggled that boy for an hour while he slept. It took me back to the baby stage and gave me all the feels!


When I finally decided to put that sweet boy in his crib, I walked into the living room to a husband and Chinese takeout. Bless him. Oversized t-shirts and Chinese takeout on the couch... just living the Friday night dream!


I have seen every episode of Grey's Anatomy at least 3 times, and here I still find myself binge watching it yet again. I just love this show. This is one of the only shows that can bring me to tears over and over again. 


A Life Lately post wouldn't be complete without a little Jenny update. You guys, she is just the best big sister ever. I love her so much, and I love how much she loves her brother.


And lastly, I jumped into Preston's crib the other morning when I went in to get him up, and he thought it was so funny. I had never done this before, and he looked at my like I was nuts before breaking out into the cheesiest grin. It's the little things. 


 That's life lately!

All About That Twin Life

Tomorrow is my half birthday. I've talked before about how a half birthday should be a real thing, and I always make a point to let Parker know it's my half special day in case he wants to buy me presents. Spoiler alert: sadly, no presents are ever given. 

Tomorrow is my half birthday, but it's also someone else's half birthday... my twin's!

If you've read this blog before or known me longer than .5 seconds in real life, you know that I have a twin. She's my best friend and my other half. We are the same person but also very different. She's funnier. I'm more creative. She makes a better first impression. I am more social. The same, but different.

In honor of our upcoming half birthday, I thought I'd give a few facts about our life as twins:

1. We Facetime multiple times a day every day. It's very rare that we go a day without talking on the phone. 


2. We are both boy moms, and her son is only 5 months older than mine. Basically, we have gotten to go through almost every phase of motherhood together. 


3. We switched places at her high school track meet, and you can read that story here


4. People always ask if twins can read each other's minds. No. At least, we can't. However, we often think the same thing at the same time. Since we share identical childhoods, different stories or words spark the same thought for us both.


5. We are mirror twins, whatever that means. I am left handed and she is right handed, and our hair naturally parts on opposite sides. 

6. We didn't think it was possible to be any closer, and then we had kids at the same time. Motherhood has brought us together, and we are so grateful we get to do the journey at the same time. 


7. Our husbands are very supportive of this twin thing. They know we are close and have just kind of accepted that we are a package deal. Funny story: Parker filmed my reaction when we had our son, and not 2 minutes after Preston was born, you can hear Parker ask me on the video if I want to call Danielle. I waited, by the way, but I laugh because Parker just assumed I would want to talk to her there on the operating room table 2 minutes after my c-section. 


8. Our dream is to live in the same neighborhood and raise our kids together. The Navy is kind of cramping our style on that one. ;)


9. We have the same taste in pretty much everything... we like the same music, the same food, the same TV shows, the same movies. Ironically, the only exception is our taste in men because our husbands are pretty different. Both are great guys though!


10. Danielle was slightly cooler than I was in high school, and one day Freshman year, she saw me in the hallway and didn't say hi. She was trying really hard to be cool and didn't want to talk to someone "not as cool". WE HAVE THE SAME FACE! I have given her a hard time for that for 13 years with no intention of ever stopping. 


Being a twin is one of the greatest blessings of my life. It's a built in best friend to go through all of the ups and the downs with, and I am so grateful I get to experience it. I'd love to have twins one day since I know just how special that bond can be... but then I think about my saint of a mother wrangling us as toddlers and question the desire. ;)

10 Weird Things About Toddlers That Don't Make Any Sense

We are officially out of the baby stage and into full blown toddler life. You guys, toddlers... they are the most confusingly adorable tiny humans. I felt like I had the baby phase on lockdown. I knew just what my kid needed, I could stop his crying almost instantly, and he was just happy to be in my presence. I unknowingly traded that for the world's cutest, most opinionated dictator. I do love this phase too, but man if it doesn't keep me on my toes!

Here are 10 weird things about toddlers that don't make any sense...

1. If they fall asleep in the car for even 2 minutes before their nap, they will only take a 45 minute nap. It could have been from 9:00-9:02 AM, and even though nap time isn't until 12 PM, the kid now seemingly only needs 45 minutes (plus the 2 they got in the car) of sleep vice the normal 2.5 hours they usually get. Riddle. me. that.


2. They have the ability to push every button you have, yet 10 minutes after you put them to bed, you miss them like crazy. 


3. They look at you like you are the worst thing to ever happen to them when they don't get what they want, but don't you dare think about leaving the room while they're upset. They'll just get even madder because how could you abandon your best friend like that?!


4. They have the world's most bipolar appetites. Yesterday, they liked apples. Today, they hate apples. Tomorrow, they will look at you like they have never heard of apples. 


5. Fisher-Price may have spent decades creating the most colorful, stimulating toys for your child, but your kid would much rather play with the empty toilet paper roll. Leave a little toilet paper on said roll, and it's Christmas freaking morning.


6. You know, if I had peed myself and was incapable of changing, I would be grateful if someone cleaned me up and got me into fresh britches. Toddlers, however, will flail and scream every second on the changing table while you're performing this selfless and necessary service. Sitting in poop > clean underpants.


7. They may have their own super cool $10 toddler cup with a weighted straw and fun colors to drink out of, but pass your Yeti, because they'll have what you're having, please. 


8. Do you know how wonderful it sounds to be pushed in a comfortable stroller through the aisles of Target and admire the world around you? Well if you ask a toddler, the answer is "absolutely terrible". Why would they want to sit comfortably with snacks when they could run amuck through the aisles and touch everything?!


9. Right before it's bedtime, they get a super burst of energy that renders them the thirstiest, hungriest, most literate tiny humans on the planet. Aka, they need a drink of water and to read 10 books, please. 



10. They're hungry ALL. THE. TIME. Like where do they put it all???


Don't Undersell Yourself

One of my favorite qualities of my husband is his humility. The guy graduated Summa Cum Laude from Texas A&M University, is good at pretty much anything he tries, and is a Naval Aviator for a living. Yet, when he is having a conversation with someone, if he is not an expert, he will lead with "I don't know anything on this, but...". 

I feel like I have had a habit in the past of speaking for 10 minutes straight on a subject I know almost nothing about. I'm quick to talk and slower to listen, and I don't like that quality. I started trying to take a page out of my husband's book and lead with "I'm no expert..." or something like that, but I realized recently I took it to another level. 

Instead of humbly talking about accomplishments or things I knew, I shortchanged myself. The other day, I made a joke about never opening up a book to study in high school and not trying. I thought about that conversation later, and it ate at me. In reality, I did try in high school. I tried a lot. I took almost all AP classes and graduated in the top 7% of my class while playing tennis all four years. 

Here's another example: when people compliment Preston's behavior or accomplishments, my first response is "oh it's nothing I did". He is a sweet boy by nature, but his good behavior is most certainly due a lot in part to something I did. I am the one home with him all day, and as great of a dad as Parker is, he works long hours and isn't always around. Our son knows sign language, knows how to do a couple of chores, and is (normally) a very sweet and well behaved little boy, and I taught him a lot of that. 

I'm not saying the answer is to walk around broadcasting how awesome you are, but instead of me saying "oh it's nothing I did" when someone compliments Preston, I need to proudly say "thank you". Instead of saying I never opened a book in high school, I need to say "I studied and tried my best". 

It's a trivial concept, but I think a lot of people have a habit, like I do, of underselling themselves. Own your accomplishments. Be proud of your work. There is a happy medium between bragging and discrediting, and I am consciously trying to choose it. 


Military Mondays: What I Learned From Our First Fleet Tour

It's time for another Military Mondays post, and now that we are officially done with our first fleet tour and onto shore duty, I thought I would reflect on what I learned over the past three years and how it grew and changed us as a family. For those that don't know, the fleet tour for an aviator is the three year period immediately following training where the pilot is placed in a squadron. This is when they deploy and carry out the missions they've been trained to do. The training wheels are off, and it's the big leagues!




1. Deployment is awful, but I also learned more about myself in those 7 months of separation than I ever thought possible. 

I went into deployment thinking of it as a game. Either it was going to win, or I was. Either I was going to survive, or I was going to thrive. There were hard days, tears, frustration, you name it... being away from my husband was hard, but I didn't want to just wish 7 months of my life away and be miserable. I tried to live life as much as I could, and I came out much stronger and more independent than I knew I was capable of.

Pro tip: Get a dog. They make deployment 1000x more doable. 



2. Homecoming is better than your wedding day.

Seriously, it's just the best day. It's a moment you have played over in your head a thousand times, and there is not a single feeling in the world like being back in the arms of the one you love, knowing they made it home safely.

Pro tip: If you gain 30 pounds over deployment, give him a little heads up before the big reunion. 



3. The friends you meet over this period will be some of the best friends you ever make.

There is nothing that bonds you like going through a deployment together. The girls in our fleet squadron and in our training squadron right before the fleet made Virginia home for me. They truly became my family. We took care of each other, checked up on each other, and supported each other when we knew the answer to "How are you doing?" was "terrible, eating cake". I could write a novel about how richly the people I met in Virginia have impacted my life for the better.

Pro tip: Find people like this and never let them go. If they all stay in Virginia, don't move to Texas.




The fleet tour has (like everything) so many ups and downs, but (again, like everything), the positives are there in abundance if you're willing to see them. I look back on our three years in the fleet and honestly loved every minute of it... even the not so fun parts. It was one heck of a journey!


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