Thursday, September 15, 2016

Twelve Months: Annabelle

One year old. My tiny baby is ONE YEAR OLD. I'm not even sure I understand how this happened... it seems like just yesterday, I was finding out I was pregnant... and the next thing I know, nine months had passed, and I was delivering her... and now 12 (!!!) more months have passed, and she's already a toddler and no longer a little baby. Life sure isn't fair that way. 

We celebrated Annabelle's birthday two days early over Labor Day weekend so family could be in town. It was small since nearly all of our friends were traveling for the long weekend (they don't get many breaks in pilot training, so when they have the opportunity, they take it!), but it was so much fun anyway. Little Miss enjoyed all of the attention, getting to be outside, and of course her cake and ice cream. 

I think we created a monster, though. She now loves sweets. Oops. 

The next day, we all went swimming in the hotel pool that my family was staying at. Annabelle just loves being in the water, so we knew it'd be a fun birthday activity for her. She loves her whale, but she also loves trying to dive out of it. Little Miss Independent just wants to do everything on her own.

After swimming, we went to Braum's, where her great grandma got her some blue birthday cake ice cream - her first time eating ice cream at a restaurant! She loved it and kept diving in for more with her mouth open.

Dan and I had an unexpected date night after all of that since family was around to watch Annabelle. We had a fun time, but then I realized how upset I was that I didn't get to put her to bed myself on her last night as a little baby... so we snuck into her room when we got home so I could take a picture of her last sleep before she turned one. Look how peaceful and angelic she looks. Aww. And that was her last night in that size of pajamas too - she's now fully into the 9 month size there! My sweet tall girl. 

When she woke up, we had a little balloon party in bed! Dan helped me blow up all the balloons the night before, and she was so amazed at them. I don't think she'd ever seen one, let alone played with one, before. She loved having them around, and we let her play for about a half hour (supervised, of course). Her little face is filled with such joy! 

Before her grandparents and great grandma had to leave town on her birthday morning, we took Annabelle to Cracker Barrel for the first time, and she really enjoyed it. She ate SO MUCH FOOD (which she totally does now - she eats constantly all day long... I have no idea how she's so small!) and waved at every single person who walked by our table. She's such a flirt. 

I can't believe that in one year, she's gone from the teeny tiny baby in the center to a big(ish) one year old! Time sure does fly once you have a sweet baby to spend all your time with.

I won't be posting monthly updates anymore because it seems like overkill now. I really wanted to record her first year with as much detail as possible, though. Thanks for following along as I did that! I will still share about Annabelle, of course, and post lots of pictures... and I'll probably make an update post about her every three months or so. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Eleven Months: Annabelle

If you follow me on Instagram, you DEFINITELY know my sassy babe is a whole year old now... yet I somehow never got around to blogging her 11 month update, and in true Type-A personality fashion, I just can't let is slide by and skip straight to the 12 month update... so you can expect to see two Annabelle updates in a row on here before I can move on, and for that, I apologize. At least she's cute.

This month was an exciting one full of lots of travel. We road-tripped to Branson, MO to see Dan's cousin get married, and although it was a very quick weekend trip, it was really nice to see his family, and Annabelle of course enjoyed all the attention! She did NOT do so great in one of our hotel rooms (the one in Tulsa) - we had a VERY long night. But the rest of the trip was fun. A separate weekend, we drove down to Austin to visit a friend who was in town there, and that was another whirlwind trip. We also drove back to Kansas City at the end of the month, and Annabelle spent her very first night away from her mom and dad just one week before she turned one! She stayed with her Grammy and Great Meme, and she slept through the night for them - WHAT A STINKER!

Other events this month include going to see the Budweiser Clydesdales on base, watching a TON of Olympics on TV, going on walks to the park, reading books (upside down, of course), and playing in the front yard while waiting for Daddy to get home from work. 

Annabelle is nonstop energy, and we parents wish we could bottle it up and use it when we need it. It would be far more effective than caffeine, but for now, that's all we have, so it'll have to do. She just runs around all day long, and she gets distracted easily, moving on from one toy to the next. I think we need to do some serious cleaning up of the toys so she isn't overwhelmed with so many options all the time - I read about putting various toys in separate storage type boxes and pulling out a new one each day for a week (and rotating through them) so kids will actually play with all of their toys, so we may try that soon. We'll see! 

Annabelle was wearing size 3-6 months and 6 months clothing during her 11th month of life - she's tall, but she's a string bean for sure, so she wears smaller than average clothing (except footed pajamas since she's so tall). Her feet are still itty bitty - she's in a size 2, but they're way too long for her. She needs the size 2 because they're pretty chunky, though. 

I'm still so flabbergasted at how quickly time flies by. 11 months went by in a FLASH, and I can't even believe it! 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Dan's T-6 Solo Flight at ENJJPT

Just a couple weeks ago, I shared about Dan's T-6 Dollar Ride, where he flew with an IP (instructor pilot) for the first time at ENJJPT (Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training). Well, he's been flying nearly daily since then, and last week, they trusted him to take this $4+ million dollar plane up in the air all by himself!

Annabelle and I were so fortunate to be able to head to the airfield to watch the big event - major thanks to a friend who is a few classes ahead of Dan who escorted us out there and explained everything to me all morning.

I hope we are also able to watch his first solo flight in the T-38 when he transitions to that jet in January or February.

We arrived and headed inside to his flight room, and we had to wait to make sure winds were low enough for them to let Dan solo. He was already out with his IP flying, so I couldn't talk to him and was so nervous we wouldn't get to see him solo. (We had a really rough night the night before Annabelle couldn't sleep from her teething pain and late nap, so I was up with her for quite a bit of the night and ended up with significantly less sleep than normal... I would normally cancel all plans for the day and just chill around the house with her after a night like that, but we just couldn't miss this!)

When Dan's friend was sure he would be able to solo, he took us outside, and we took  the shuttle out to the flight line and found the plane Dan was flying in the hangar. He looked thrilled to get to go out on his own, and it was amazing seeing him in his element. It was neat seeing him taxi out all on his own, and Annabelle was the most adorable waving at his plane as he left the hangar. Heart. Melted.

Annabelle's shirt says, "Dad is my wingman" - she knows she's the real boss around here. And that's sweat on her, not pee. She was in the Ergo for a long time in the Texas heat and humidity, so homegirl was pretty hot. She did great overall, though, and she looked adorable as always in her Baby Banz ear protection. (Not an affiliate link - I just really love these, and they're perfect for stadiums, air shows, Space A flights, etc.) 

After he landed, we were able to take some pictures with him, and the one with us up on the wing and Dan still in the cockpit is probably my new favorite family photo. 

I was able to get a few more pictures of him with the plane and then with his IP (who recently finished IP training, so Dan was his very first solo student - how cool is that?!) 

And after all of that, Dan was tossed into the dunk tank by some of his classmates. The tradition is that you get chased down and tossed into the water after your initial solo in an aircraft, but if you're able to make it all the way back to the flight room undetected, everyone owes you beer. This moment was kind of anti-climactic because Dan WAS able to make it back to his flight room because SO MANY STUDENTS were soloing that morning, so no one was able to catch him... but I was disappointed, so I told everyone in the flight room that they needed to toss him in anyway because that's what kind of mean wife I am... and because I carried an extra pair of his heavy boots to him to change into when he forgot his that morning, and I'll be darned if that was for nothing while also juggling an almost one-year-old and all of her stuff as well. 

I'm SO glad he was thrown in the dunk tank because I got some pretty great action shots that he will love looking back on.

His class is called Shark-NATO... they all have different names, and they will have a patch for their flight suits that match the theme. It's cheesy, but it's sort of clever, and it's fun. That's why there are sharks in the dunk tank. There are students from Italy and Germany (as well as several others from the USA) in Dan's class, and it is SO cool to me.

Have you ever watched your spouse do something super cool?

Monday, August 8, 2016

Exclusively Pumping is Breastfeeding Too

I initially wasn’t going to post during World Breastfeeding Week because I kind of, sort of feel shortchanged. But then, I decided that no, I breastfeed my child just like all these other mamas out there, and I work damn hard to do so. Instead of sitting this one out, I’m going to open up (a lot) to educate the public on my situation, as it’s more common than you’d think, and many of us have been attacked by nursing moms in public. (seriously – we receive glares from strangers, disapproving looks from nursing mamas because we’re feeding our babies what they assume is formula (which, by the way, is NOT evil; it’s actually amazing stuff that keeps babies all over the world nourished, full, and healthy when they couldn’t be fed otherwise for whatever reason), we are told we pump because it’s “easier” (hahahahahahahaha - if you call packing empty bottles, flanges, a pump, tubes, a cover, bottles of milk, a cooler packed with ice everywhere you go, all the while praying there's a power source where you're going "easy", okay), we’re told we didn’t try hard enough and gave up too easily, we’re told that there is no baby who can’t latch on and breastfeed the “normal” way – the way they were meant to – the “natural” way… guys, I WISH I were kidding.

When I was pregnant, I longed to be able to nurse my baby. I wanted that special bond. We took a breastfeeding class that assured me that it would be a piece of cake – and if not, there was a lactation consultant available at our hospital for free who would help us figure it out before we went home. That never happened. Even the lactation consultant, after many tearful visits before we left the hospital and after we were discharged, agreed that nursing just wasn’t going to work for us. I was devastated to say the least. After my delivery didn’t go how I’d planned, this was another huge blow.

But thank God for modern technology and a double electric breast pump. I have a love/hate relationship with the Medela Pump In Style Advanced (or how I like to call it – PISA, otherwise known as PISA Shit, haha). Why does this matter?

You see, today is International Pumping Day. Weird, right? Why should there be a day devoted to doing something so uncommon? Because it’s not uncommon.

There are THOUSANDS of mothers out there who exclusively pump to feed their babies because nursing just didn’t work out for one reason or another. Some babies won’t or can’t latch, no matter what. Some have physical reasons, such as the baby having a cleft lip or palate, or a tongue or lip tie, making it too difficult to transfer milk. Some babies are born too early and are in the NICU, not strong enough to work their heart so hard by latching on, so they are bottle fed. Some moms have to work so many hours that they aren’t around to nurse their babies. And some simply choose to pump instead of nurse.

I’m one of the lucky moms: Annabelle doesn’t have any medical issues, and she’s certainly strong enough to eat however she pleases. But that’s where things get tricky – since day one, she has rejected my milk straight from the tap. She loves it if it’s pumped for her and put in a bottle. Lazy? Maybe. Crazy? For sure. All I know is that I have spent an enormous amount of time hooked up to a machine doing my baby’s job over the past 11 months.

I have pumped at home, in friends’/family members’ homes, all alone, in front on people, in the car, in the airport, in the bathroom, while crossing the border into Canada (and back, just for good measure), and more places that I’m SURE I’m forgetting. 

Check out these stats:

Days Spent Pumping: 337
Number of Pumps: 1,481
Time Spent Pumping: 493.67 hours (or 20.5 full days!)
Ounces of Milk Pumped: 8,648.5 oz. (or about 68 gallons)

Crazy, right?! But there are thousands and thousands of us (seriously – we have private Facebook groups to discuss what’s normal, share tips and tricks, and simply chat, one pumping mom to another). This may not have been the route I was planning on taking, but this isn’t MY journey. This is Annabelle’s journey.

See that ring in the picture down there? Yeah, that’s made out of my breastmilk. At first, I thought it sounded weird… but the more pumping took over my life, the more I thought it was an incredible way to remember this difficult journey… so Dan got it for me for Mothers’ Day.

While I am so thankful that I have been able to provide her with my milk for all of these months (and one more month full time – and then she’ll get four ounces a day until my stash runs out, which is apparently the magic number of ounces babies need per day in order to reap the benefits), I am still sad that nursing didn’t work out. I know that I would continue feeding her that way until she wanted to wean, but instead, I am cutting myself off at one year simply because I just don’t have time. I will be gaining so much time back when I stop pumping – time I can spend with Annabelle, teaching her new things, taking her on adventures, and being a better mom.

After all, does it REALLY matter what we feed our babies? Breast milk from the tap… breast milk from a bottle… formula from a bottle… newsflash – our babies don’t know a dang difference, and they love us just the same. They think we’re super rockstar mamas, and they’re happy to be fed. Fed babies are happy babies, am I right?!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Dan's T-6 Dollar Ride at ENJJPT

After yesterday's more serious post, I wanted to share something fun today!

Dan officially started his ENJJPT pilot training in June, and a couple weeks ago, he had his Dollar Ride - aka his first flight in the T-6 with an IP (instructor pilot). (He will also have a Dollar Ride in the T-38 in January or February, so stay tuned for that post in the future!)

He has flown many times since then, and it's amazing what that change means. He comes home in a much better mood and has SO much to talk about - compared to when he was in graduate school and doing the initial academic phase of pilot training.

Soon, Dan will solo in this aircraft, and he can't wait! This is a dream that's been a long time in the making, and I am so proud of him for sticking through it all. I am hoping to have the opportunity to go watch him when he does his first solo flight, so expect some fun photos sometime soon!