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!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Marriage is Hard Work, and that’s Why the ‘Love Your Spouse Challenge’ is a Good Thing

Marriage is hard work. Some days, it’s excruciatingly tough.

Then there are days where marriage is a piece of cake, and I wonder, “How did I get so lucky?”

But most of the time? Most of the time it’s tough. It’s waking up at different times and not communicating before the day begins. It’s him working a 12-hour day away from home at a dangerous job, while I try to fill time keeping the baby happy and healthy. It’s rushing to have dinner ready, so at the very least, we can have that time together at the table, talking and playing with the baby. It’s spending the evenings apart, despite being in the same home, while he studies for the next day and I clean up from dinner and get the baby to bed.

It’s sometimes, on the luckiest of nights, getting to settle down in the living room together and watch an episode of a mutually enjoyed show on Netflix, maybe even with popcorn, a bowl of ice cream, or a glass of wine. Those nights are the ones that keep everything rolling along.

Those nights provide just enough momentum to make it to the weekend, where things are much happier, more fun is had by all, and we get to spend time together and talk, hang out, go places, cook together, enjoy the outdoors (if you can even enjoy the crazy Texas heat – still working on figuring that one out), and many, many more happy photos are taken (and then shared on social media throughout the week, because let’s be real – no one wants to see eight photos from you in one day, no matter how cute your kid is. Guilty, party of one FOR SURE – sorry, guys.)

I’m sure you’ve seen the ‘Love Your Spouse Challenge’ rolling out on Facebook and other social media outlets. It’s where you’re challenged to share a photo of you and your spouse every day for seven days, spreading love to everyone who follows you – and then you tag two more people each day to keep the love going. Cheesy? Absolutely. But is it hurting anyone? You wouldn’t think so, but I have stumbled upon this article more than once between friends sharing it and seeing it posted in various groups I am in.

At first read, it makes so much sense. I’m sure we’ve all been there – struggling to realize that NO ONE is perfect and that what they share on social media is what they want everyone to THINK about them. I’m guilty. I share happy moments 95% of the time because those are the moments I WANT people to see. I’m a huge proponent of NEVER talking poorly about your spouse publicly – there is NO good that can come of it, so why bother? I do have two friends I confide in, and that is enough to help me keep my sanity when the going gets tough.

If we open our eyes to see that the perfection everyone else shares with their friends and the rest of the world isn’t perfection but simply the highlight reel of their lives, if you will, we would be much happier. In your head, you know your life isn’t perfect. You know you share the happiest of moments on social media. And you also know, deep down, that your friends don’t lead perfect lives either – even those people you keep on your friends list just to stalk, even though you haven’t talked to them in years. Even them.

Don’t compare your outtakes to another’s highlight reel. Isn’t that the truth? Some days, it’s tough not to, but take a step back and remember that the picture-perfect couple has issues too. I promise.

Everyone struggles. Being in a committed relationship is tough. There are small arguments, and there are major disagreements. Couples fight hard, day after day, to make things work and stay together, as they promised in their wedding vows.

And isn’t that what makes the ‘Love Your Spouse Challenge’ beautiful? Despite all the rough days, the arguments and disagreements, the feelings of loneliness and resentment, we still love our spouses enough to share their redeeming qualities with the rest of the world? Sometimes, it’s a reminder for ourselves at the same time. My spouse may not be perfect, but we love each other, and we made a promise to stick together through the good times AND the bad times, and even though he really irks me sometimes, he has a caring heart and has several good qualities.

Is that really so bad? With all of the hate-filled political posts on Facebook these days, seeing couples who love each other throughout the glorious mess that is marriage is a breath of fresh air, in my opinion.

After all, Teddy Roosevelt said it best: “comparison is the thief of joy”, so instead of focusing on everyone else’s seemingly perfect lives, focus instead of your own spouse and what you can do to make your marriage better.

Life should be about empowering everyone and being happy for each other. Life is not a competition, so just click ‘like’ on your friends’ posts and move on. Maybe by taking the time to focus on the positive qualities of their spouses that day, they have gained perspective on an issue within their marriage and have now committed to work on it. Be happy for them. Be happy with yourself and your own marriage. Just be happy, and love one another.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Life Lately (A Long Overdue Update)

Guys, I have been absent from this blog a lot lately. Life is just busy right now for some reason (not complaining), so this little space of mine hasn't been in the front of my mind. I'm hoping to change that now, though, because I miss it! And I apologize now if I commented on every post you have written over the past few weeks... oops. But hey, at least I got all caught up, right?

Anyway, like I said, we've been pretty busy around here, so today I'm going to share some recent happenings around the house... and later this week, I'll be sharing other things that have been going on!

Sorry in advance if this life lately post seems more like an All About Annabelle post... I didn't mean for it to turn out that way, but she's the only person I'm with most days, so....

This girl is luckily LOVING bath time lately. She could spend forever playing in the water, and she especially loves all of her rubber duckies. You'll see why it's a good thing in a few pictures...

We go for a walk every day, and since it's so hot outside, we immediately have an indoor picnic on a blanket in her room with ice water and a snack. One day, she decided yoga would come in handy as well. #DownwardFacingBaby

I don't really have a caption for this one... but isn't she just the sweetest?

Remember when I said it was a good thing she likes baths a few pictures up? Well, this is why. One of her favorite meals is peanut butter and jelly waffles, and this is what happens. It's inescapable. Every. Single. Time. What a cute little mess.

She loves watching her daddy mow the yard! 

On my birthday (oh yeah, I turned 29 on July 22nd... and didn't even write a blog post about it! Ha! Oops!) we got dressed up (okay, so I wore a t-shirt, but hey, I put on make-up, so that's a win!) and had a little selfie fun after lunch. 

My best friend FINALLY had her baby boy, and Annabelle is already in love with sweet Huxley! 

Well, we made is almost 11 months without any kind of sickness in this little girl... but she finally succumbed to a cold / double ear infection. We had a really rough day Friday and ended up in the ER in the middle of the night into Saturday morning... a couple more rough days and nights later (and some antibiotics), she is MUCH, much better... but the bath tub was the only place we could get her to smile while sick. The cool water helped her fever, and of course, her ducks are her favorite! 

I made another round of baby food for Annabelle... I received a lot of comments on my Instagram and Facebook page about this, so I'm planning on sharing my how-to and recipes later this week! Stay tuned! :) 

And lastly... who doesn't enjoy all the Snapchat filters? They're so much fun! 

In other news, we celebrated my birthday by going to Drop Night on base to see a pilot training class receive their aircraft assignments and then went out to dinner. We even had a babysitter for the evening (our first one in Texas!), so that was fun! 

Dan and I both got sick from Annabelle, so we've been battling awful colds ourselves.

Dan has started flying, but I will share more about that soon!

We have a couple road trips coming up this month, and I am hoping and praying Annabelle does well. She used to, but our last trip was not ideal.

I have started to wean from all the pumping - not completely for sure - but since I want to take it slow to avoid mastitis, I started early (but have enough milk for Annabelle anyway!) - and I plan on writing a wrap-up post about my journey once I'm completely finished. 

What have YOU been up to lately?