Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Month of the Military Child: Thoughts From a New Mom

Seeing as it's April 27th, I'm pretty late to the ballgame here. That's because I debated all through April whether or not I should post about the Month of the Military Child... seeing as how Annabelle is only 7.5 months old.

Ultimately, I obviously decided it was okay. She IS a military child. And she will be for a long, long time. Her daddy has a ten year commitment to the Air Force once he finished pilot training, which means the earliest he could get out would be 2027... making Annabelle 12 years old then.

By age 12, she will have experienced military brat life in several different locations. She will have moved across the country multiple times, if not across the world. She will have made friends and then had to leave them. She will have friends move away from her. She will see her dad sometimes... and then other times, he will be gone on a TDY, training, or deployment. She will have me as a single parent sometimes. She will suffer, undoubtedly, at some point because there just won't be enough of me to go around while her dad is gone.

But she will thrive. She will adapt quickly to new schools and learn how to best make new friends. She will utilize the technology that we are SO lucky to have in this day and age to stay in contact with her good friends after they (or we) PCS.

She will never take time with her family for granted because she'll grow up knowing that sometimes, her dad just won't be able to be there.

She will spend birthdays and holidays without him some years. She will live in places she doesn't enjoy... but she will also live in some fabulous locations she loves.

I was never around the military as a child. I didn't know anyone who served. I didn't grow up near a base. I knew NOTHING about military life.

When my parents decided to move when I was in 8th grade, I was LIVID. I would have to switch schools and be away from my friends? I think I threw several fits that must have worked because we stayed in the area but still moved. That itself was tough enough for me, and I didn't even have to change schools.

When I was pregnant, I thought a lot about the lifestyle my baby would grow up having. But after reading so many other blogs about this topic, especially this month thanks to the Month of the Military Child, I'm feeling more confident. 

Annabelle will be just fine. 

{photo: Annabelle Cook | photography: Magical Moments by Megan | graphic: Janelle Cook}

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Life Lately {Since We Got to Texas}

It's been a long time since I've shared our day-to-day life here on the blog, and I kind of miss that aspect... so here's a month-long catch up post!

It's been a pretty hectic month getting to Texas, unpacking, and diving right in to having people over. (Seriously, guys - that's the only thing that gets us unpacked at a new base. We invite people over for a cookout the second weekend we're there, and it forced us to have the boxes GONE! Works like a charm! I will add that we've been lucky to know more than a small handful of people at both bases we've moved to before we got there, so we did have people to invite over. Try it!)

Annabelle has really been enjoying trying new foods. They're still hit or miss with her, and she is still drinking a ton of breastmilk, but she LOVES puréed squash, refried beans, and chomping on raw veggies, like cucumber, carrots, and fresh green beans.

There is a park a quarter mile from our house, and I just know it's going to be so much fun while we live here. Annabelle got to swing outside for the first time, and she enjoyed it after getting used to it. I can't wait until she can go down the slides too!

A comparison photo - 2 months on the left, 7 months on the right... exact same outfit (it's a 0-3 month onesie, but it is HUGE! She hasn't fit into that size in anything else for a long time). She wore it as the Royals won the World Series last fall, and she wore it again for Opening Day 2016! 

Long story short: Dan bought me this mug way back in 2009 when we hadn't been dating long. He was at tech school at Sheppard AFB, and I was back in Missouri going to school. It was our first taste at long distance, and I loved the mug! Well, that mug made the move from Missouri to Colorado, then the move from Colorado to Ohio, and now from Ohio to Texas... back to the very same base it was purchased at seven years ago. Crazy! 

Dan celebrated his 27th birthday earlier in April. We didn't do much, as he had a stomach bug the day before that really wore him down, but we hung out and luckily were able to go to dinner at a local steakhouse since he was feeling better. I made this collage of him being a dad for his birthday social media post. ;-)

Little Miss needs to SLOW DOWN. All last week, she started crawling (pretty fast, too!), pulling herself up to standing, said her first word (dad, of course - three times in a row while looking straight at Dan), and cut her first tooth through - finally! She is officially MOBILE, and she's loving it!

I eventually caught the stomach bug Dan had earlier in the week and was pretty much out of commission. Annabelle was such a patient trooper with us this week - a happy one at that! 

Girlfriend has so much teething pain. I feel so bad for her poor little gums... she's working hard, but so far, just one teeny tooth is there. 

And last but not least, our fur-babies for National Pet Day last week. Ironically, only the picture of Gilligan in the sink was taken in Texas. Stormy and Smudge's photos are both from Ohio. Oops. I need to capture some new shots of them soon!

Well, I guess that pretty much sums up our life lately! We are finally falling into a new normal here and making a routine for ourselves. I can't wait to share more of our Texas adventures! 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Annabelle's First Easter

Yes, I know Easter was nearly a month ago, but I'm just getting organized after our move... and since Easter happened smack dab in the middle of our cross-country journey, I'm just getting around to all of this. Please bear with me - normally, I would just skip something like this, but since this blog has become a record book of sorts for Annabelle's life, I did not want to miss her first Easter!

We were driving through Missouri on Easter, but I knew I had to get Annabelle's photo with the Easter Bunny since she has a photo with Santa. We stopped at Bass Pro Shops in St. Louis while we were visiting some friends there, but there was a THREE HOUR WAIT for a picture... uhh... what?! No way. We needed to get on the road to Columbia, where we were seeing some of Dan's high school friends for the night. I found out the Easter Bunny would be at Bass Pro on Easter morning too, so we went there right when they opened on our way out of town - two people in front of us! Score!

After getting her photo, we had lunch at Fazoli's (yum!) and drove the rest of the way to Kansas City to have Easter dinner with my family. It was a long, tiring, stressful day with a cranky, teething baby in the car, but her Grammy and Great Meme were excited to see her anyway! Annabelle opened her Easter baskets from each of them and had a blast digging through all of her new things. Silly Mom forgot her basket in the other car that was parked where we were staying, so Annabelle got TWO Easters... she opened my basket the next day in an outfit from one of her original baskets. Confusing, yet fun. She loved it all!

When we got settled in to Texas (okay, settled in would be lying... I took these photos a couple days after we arrived at our new home), I decided I needed some better Easter photos of Annabelle. I took so many adorable photos for her first Christmas, but we were packing, cleaning, living in a hotel, and moving during all of the times I could have done it in Ohio... so I took her official Easter pictures a week late. Better late than never, though, right? I probably won't even remember they were late years down the road... and honestly, who cares? My little bunny is cute with her ears!

Hopefully, we'll have a normal, stress-free Easter next year where we can begin teaching Annabelle the reason for it, enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal in our own home, and spend time together outside as a family! 

Did you do anything fun for Easter?

Friday, April 15, 2016

A Beer Lover's Birthday Gift

Last weekend, Dan celebrated his 27th birthday. He is one of those people who has everything he needs because he just buys things (mostly on Amazon...) whenever he needs something.

That leaves very little room for someone who wants to purchase a gift for him besides a gift card... which is why I'm always making things myself. This time around, however, I did not have time for a homemade gift. A baby and a cross-country move kind of do that to a person...

Luckily, I planned ahead and found something I knew he'd love while we were still in Ohio. I ordered this wood beer tote through an Etsy shop called AbsoluteImpressions, and I was so satisfied with my purchase that I'm sharing them with all of you. *I did NOT receive a discount for this; this TRULY is my opinion... they don't even know I'm writing this post.

Not only is the quality outstanding, but the customer service was completely on point. They sent the proof to me of our last name on the side within 24 hours. Also, I needed my beer tote to be shipped after a certain date so it wouldn't arrive to our new home before we got there, but I also needed it to arrive BEFORE Dan's birthday about a week later. They were more than accommodating, and I arrived the beer tote exactly when expected.

I added a six pack of beer to make the gift ready-to-give, and Dan loves it. I know it's something he could have made himself... but he never would have. He's so difficult to shop for, and I'm really glad I discovered this!

You can find them here: AbsoluteImpressions

What do you give your husband for gifts?
Do you like the challenge of buying gifts for people who are hard to shop for?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

AFIT Graduation

Last month, just the night before we left Ohio, Lieutenant Lovemuffin graduated from AFIT (the Air Force Institute of Technology) with a Master of Science degree in Applied Physics. He worked SO hard for that degree. It was really special being able to watch him defend his thesis in February, but seeing him walk across the stage in what is one of the coolest venues ever (the National Museum of the US Air Force) was incredible.

Many people opted not to take their babies/kids, but I decided that no matter how difficult it was, it was important for Annabelle to be there. We found out about her and had her all during Dan's time at AFIT, so it only seemed fitting. She was on her best behavior... she ate twice, fell asleep once, and flirted with LOTS of people during the ceremony. I even received a compliment on her behavior afterward from someone sitting behind us. I'm so glad she was able to be there with us, and I know Dan was glad to have her support too.

Now, we're all settled into our home in Texas, and we're enjoying some leisurely days before Dan begins pilot training!

Do you enjoy graduations?
Have you been to the National Air Force Museum?

Friday, April 8, 2016

Seven Months: Annabelle

The past month has pretty much been a blur since we left Ohio and moved into our new home in Wichita Falls, Texas... but in that time, somehow Annabelle turned seven months old. 

We packed, loaded, drove, unloaded, and unpacked. And Annabelle has been SUCH a trooper. Sure, she had naps thrown off by hotel living, traveling, and seeing so many family members and friends, but all in all, she is still one happy little girl. 

She has reached a couple new milestones, such as crawling a bit and sitting up on her own this past month. We absolutely love seeing her accomplish new things after much practice. She hasn't completely taken off crawling yet - just cautious and slow - so hopefully I'll be able to add real, legitimate crawling to her milestones next month! 

Annabelle has definitely found her tongue this month, too. She stuck it out occasionally before, and she even chews on it with her gums when her teeth are REALLY hurting her, but now, she plays around and sticks it out at us to be silly. She knows she gets a reaction because, duh, it's adorable... so she always has it out these days. See below for further proof. Such a silly girl. 

Seven months in of being this girl's parents, and we are so happy. She lights up every room she enters, and we couldn't be more thankful to call her ours. Even if she is the biggest little weirdo we know.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Hello, Texas!

Well, we made it to Texas! We are moved in to our new home, and we love it!

We've been taking our time unpacking boxes, figuring out where we want things to go (isn't that always the worst when you have a new layout in your home and certain things just don't seem to fit anywhere?!), and getting settled in.

We've checked out some local stores and the base, and it seems like we're really going to enjoy our time here.

Lieutenant Lovemuffin doesn't start pilot training until June, so we have a couple months to relax before the full-blow CRAZY begins... and I'm okay with that.

I'll be going back through everyone's blog posts from the past week and a half and going on a commenting spree to play catch up... so I apologize in advance about that! ;-)

Do you enjoy moving in to a new home?