Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Dan's T-38 Solo Flight at ENJJPT

Last August (which feels like an eternity ago, to be honest), I blogged about Dan's solo flight in the T-6. He has now soloed in the T-38 and is well on his way to completely pilot training at ENJJPT (Euro-Nato Joint Jet Pilot Training) at Sheppard Air Force Base. He's such a stud, and I am SO proud of him. He is putting in a lot of hard work and long days, but it's all for the best for him and our family, and one day, when this is all over with, it will be worth it!

Unfortunately for his solo, no one was available to take Annabelle and me out to the flight line like we were able to for his T-6 solo. Everyone was busy flying at the same time that day, so it just didn't work out. But I made sure he snapped a photo afterward anyway!

The T-38 is a lot faster (and more fun, according to Dan) than the T-6. He has been having a blast flying it. Since his solo, he has also passed his first check ride! More to come, though!


Pilot training certainly isn't for the faint of heart. And I can definitely see why there are so few married student pilots and even fewer with children. Dan is gone ALL DAY five days a week. He gets to see Annabelle for about an hour a day ON GOOD DAYS. We're sacrificing so much time with him right now, and the single parenting gig isn't easy. BUT we try to make up for it on the weekends. Annie is SO excited when she gets to see him and play with him.

Drop night is quickly approaching, though, and that will bring an end to this crazy season... as least for a while. (B Course or whatever follow-on assignment he gets based on his assigned plane will be just as crazy, but we'll hopefully have a short break in between!)

Since many people have asked what drop night is, I'll give a quick run-down. Basically, all of the student pilots in one class (about 25) will receive their assignments (aka what plane they'll be flying for their Air Force careers, along with their first base) in a public setting on base on a Friday night. Drop nights happen every six weeks at Sheppard, and they're SO much fun. One at a time, the student pilots take turns standing up in front of everyone and learning their entire future right along with the hundred of people filling the room. It's exhilarating, nerve-racking, and crazy all at once. There's free beer involved and lots of screaming! It's a really fun tradition... but just know that my own husband is the one in the hot seat, I'm going to be one big ball of nerves. He has just under 11 weeks to go until it's his drop night! Only one more takes place before his. AAHHHH!


Monday, March 20, 2017

18 Month Update - Annabelle

I know, I know. I'm WAY behind again. Blogging just hasn't sounded enjoyable lately for whatever reason. But I know deep down that I want to document our lives (especially Annabelle updates!) so we can read back over them someday.

That's why I am sharing her 18 month update today completely out of the blue. I haven't posted in over a month, and then I show up just to talk about my child. Typical, right? Ha - sorry!

It has already been two weeks since Annabelle turned a whole year and a half old. How all of those months have passed by, I'm still not sure. Sometimes, the days really do seem long (especially right now while Dan is in pilot training

Annabelle has grown quite a bit since her last update at 15 months old - she is now 33 inches tall and weighs 22 pounds! She is tall and skinny, just like her mama used to be. Now, I'm just tall... and not so skinny. She now has 14 teeth (okay, actually 15, as another one has popped up since her actual half birthday), and she is as feisty as ever - and we LOVE it!


Since her last update in December, Annabelle has traveled to Kansas City and Joplin to celebrate Christmas, San Antonio for her dad's centrifuge training, and Dallas for another wedding (Nate and Margot). She went to the San Antonio Zoo (her 4th zoo!) and has exploded with words! Her vocabulary grows daily, and right now, she's up to about 30 words she uses pretty regularly (but not always on demand).

Annabelle still runs constantly - she is nonstop motion. She is still obsessed with all things duck and Daniel Tiger, and she is really starting to love owls as well. She can count to three, and she is wearing mostly 12 and 18 month clothing.

Our little Annie (what we call her most of the time) sleeps through the night from about 8PM until 8:30AM or so. She has started and completed a class at the public library about playing with a purpose, where we both met some new friends. She enjoys playing at the park, going down slides, and jumping on the trampolines at Urban Air. We're looking at getting her into a toddler tumbling class as soon as possible, but we're waiting for Dan's drop night so we can KIND OF know what to expect in the months to come. More about that soon...






It is such a privilege being Annabelle's mama. She is ornery and stubborn, but she has such a big heart as well. She loved fiercely, and she gives the best hugs and kisses. She is my little shadow, and I wouldn't have it any other way!

Next Annabelle update will be her 21 month update in June! How?! HOW?! My girl is growing up way too quickly.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Little Update

Guys, did I promise to blog once a week LAST month? 

I did indeed. And I have failed.

I don't really have any excuses other than that life got in the way again, I haven't felt like writing (despite having a lot to write about), and just trying to keep a certain toddler constructively busy and not tearing down our house.

I do have some upcoming things to share soon, such as new recipes, reviews of a few trips we've taken, a 2017 goal update, an Annabelle update, a new shop announcement (eek!), and just some life lately posts. 

I've been super busy lately during Annabelle's nap time taking pictures of and listing her old clothes for sale. It's so sad when she outgrows pieces I've loved seeing her in. I am stashing away those really special pieces in the closet for now and will box them up when we move next, but it has felt really nice to sell a lot of her stuff. After all, we do need to keep buying her new, bigger clothes, so it's nice to recoup a bit of what we spent! 

We  also finally went through a ton of baby stuff and ended up donating to a local women's shelter so much of what we no longer need: three breast pumps (two electric and one manual), a metric ton of breast pads, milk storage bags, bottles, bottle parts, and more. It feels great to have that all out of the house since we no longer need it - hopefully it can benefit some other new moms and families! It is slightly bittersweet, though, since I spent so much time with those dang pumps! BUT it feels great to know we won't be moving those across the country again! 



It's hard to believe she was ever so tiny! I ended up keeping a few of the outfits shown for myself because she was just so adorable in them, and I'm far more attached to her newborn stuff than the rest! 

How have YOU all been lately? 

Monday, January 16, 2017

2016 Reading Round-Up

Yes, I realize we're more than half way into January now, and I also realize that I already missed my goal of blogging at least once a week by missing last week altogether... but that's because my dang MacBook is out of commission AGAIN. We're waiting on a new hard drive to arrive (thank goodness that was under warranty still!), so I've only had access to Dan's laptop during the work day since he needs it in the evenings to study.

Anyway...

I set a goal to read 16 books in 2016, and I met that goal (and exceeded it by a couple - yay!) I use Goodreads to organize the books I have read, am currently reading, and want to read. Are you on there? If so, we should be friends - find me here! :) And if you'd like to see my post about my favorite 15 books ever that I am always recommending to people, please check out this post - but I feel like I need to make an updated version soon!

What I Read in 2016


1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - If you enjoy WWII novels, this one is for you. It's about a blind girl living in France during WWII, and it alternates between her and the story of a German boy at the same time and how they're both just trying to make it through. It's great.

2. The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin - I read this one for book club. While it was a great story, I almost wish I hadn't read it because my perspective of, and thus my opinion of, Charles Lindbergh has forever been tainted. But I guess it's better to know certain things than to live in ignorance. It WAS a good book. The story was engaging, and I enjoyed learning about an American couple that I didn't know much about. 

3. Zlata's Diary by Zlata Filipovic - This should be a mandatory book in school. It's quick, and it is literally a diary, so it reads fast. And the topic is so, so important. Similar to Anne Frank's diary, Zlata's diary is also set during war-time, but instead it is during the Bosnian war of the 1990's. 

4. A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold - I have always been fascinated with the Columbine shooting from 1999, so as soon as I saw Sue Klebold speak in an interview early last year and learned she had a book coming out, I was all over it. This book did not disappoint. It was interesting reading about the tragedy from one of the shooter's mother's perspective - it's difficult to not have empathy for her. 

5. Sacred Space by Corie Weathers - Military spouses, rejoice! This one is for you. Corie Weathers, a military spouse, had the unique opportunity to travel with Secretary of Defense Carter in 2015 after winning Military Spouse of the Year, and this book reflects her thoughts on how it is for the spouses waiting at home AND for the servicemembers who are deployed - and the dichotomy of the two. I was lucky enough to be on the launch team for this book and was able to read it and discuss it in an online group before it hit shelves. 

6. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - This one kind of bored me, I'm not going to lie. I read it because I feel like so many people have, and it's so often talked about. The subject matter was good, and I don't think it was the book. I think I was in a reading funk when I read this one, so I won't blame the book. 



7. Columbine by Dave Cullen - After reading Sue Klebold's book, I was browsing reviews online and came across this one and decided to read it as well. It's a very factual based book that follows the events chronologically, which I enjoyed. It was objective and written after years of research, and I appreciated being able to read about the tragedy from yet another viewpoint.

8. The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp, MD - Annabelle is a toddler now, so I read a couple parenting books... this is one of them. I'm not going to review a parenting book. 

9. What to Expect the Toddler Years by Heidi Murkoff - Annabelle is a toddler now, so I read a couple parenting books... this is one of them. I'm not going to review a parenting book. 

10. Shine by Jodi Picoult - This is a short story by Picoult that comes before her newest novel, Small Great Things. It was a quick read and got me VERY excited to read the full novel! 

11. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - If you're looking for a fast-paced mystery, this is it! I enjoyed trying to figure out who the "bad guy" was all along, and there wasn't a slow spot in this book. 

12. Push by Sapphire - If you aren't comfortable with "bad" language, then sit this one out because there is a LOT of it, and some is far worse than anything I've ever read in a typical novel. That said, this book was eye-opening to me about the lives of some young women who live in places that aren't as well-off as what we picture in our heads. Physical, emotional, verbal abuse... neglect... sexual assault... these are all big themes in this book, but it's worth reading to see the triumph that takes place. 



13. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult - This is by far the best book I read in 2016, and it will for sure be added to my favorite books of all time list when I get around to updating it. It's about a black nurse who is forced to be alone with a white baby after the extremely racist parents have made it clear she should never be around him... and of course something goes wrong. The book chronicles the trial and is told from several different perspectives. It's an eye-opener for sure. 

14. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah - Another WWII novel set in France, this one is also great. It tells the stories of two sisters who are very different and how each of them lives day to day throughout the war. I've heard it's being made into a movie, and if so, I'll happily go see it! 

15. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai - This one had been on my to-read list forever. It's written by the girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan and lived through it and her family's journey (from way before the shooting took place) of trying to make sure girls in Pakistan could receive an education as well. Malala is a hero in many regards. 

16. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne - Okay, where do I even start? This is the worst book I read in 2016, and maybe it's just because I am very well-educated when it comes to the Holocaust and Auschwitz (which I visited in 2015, something I had wanted to do for YEARS), but there are so many factual errors, and it just makes me cringe. And don't even get me started on the ended. That said, it is a best-seller for a reason, so others definitely enjoy it. There's a movie as well, and I may watch it just to see if it's any better done than the book. Note: Auschwitz is never ACTUALLY mentioned in the book, but duh, we all know what the author is referring to here.

17. My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares - This is a quick read about two people who keep meeting up in their new lives after they both die, but only one of them can remember everything. It chronicles several different lives and is fascinating. My only complaint is that there was supposed to be a sequel, but this book is several years old now, and it never came about. 

18. Rena's Promise: A Story of Sisters in Auschwitz by Heather Dune Macadam - Another Holocaust book... are you sensing a trend? This one is a gem. I firmly believe everyone should read every Holocaust account they can because all of these stories are worthy of being read over and over and over. What Rena and her sister went through at Auschwitz (like everyone else) is despicable, and we need to know the truth so it doesn't happen again. 

Note: My husband challenged me to go a year without reading a WWII book, but how can I when The Zookeeper's Wife movie comes out this spring? I can't - I'll have to read it right before. 

... and that's a wrap!

Did you read any good books in 2016? 
What's next on your to-read list?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2017 Personal & Family Goals

Can you believe 2017 is here?! I'm not sure how that happened. It seems like Dan and I were counting down to 2014 for so long, and that year took FOREVER to get here, but ever since then, time has seriously flown. We'll celebrate three years of marriage this year. Already. It doesn't even seem possible!

Like every other year, I love to start with fresh goals. Without them, I have nothing to strive for, and this year, I set some personal goals and worked with Dan to set some family goals... so here we go!


PERSONAL GOALS

1. Blog at least four times a month. This only works out to be once a week, and I think I'm comfortable with that goal. There were six weeks that slipped by during the fall that I didn't blog once, and I think it was in part due to me being unable to commit to blogging regularly and catching up on everything I missed. I don't want that to happen again. I want to document our life, so I'm going to focus on quality over quantity here. And if I'm able to post more than once a week, then I'm happy with that too!

2. Read 20 books. Last year, I successfully completed my goal of 16 books and even surpassed it with one more. I figure if I can read 17 books in a year, I can definitely read 20 as long as I make a conscious effort. I definitely sleep better when I read before bed, so that habit will continue.

3. Grow my current Etsy shop. AnnaKate Paperie was pretty successful at making passive income last year. December was definitely my busiest month with people shopping for Christmas gifts, and since all of my items are digital downloads, the orders kept rolling in through Christmas since customers could print them at home to give as last minute gifts. I am more inspired now than even before and hope to continue and piggyback on that success... which brings me to...

4. Start a new shop with a clear focus. This has been in the works behind the scenes for a few weeks now. It was actually my husband's idea, and my target customers are going to be military families. I am in the process of creating designs and setting up shop, so I'll be announcing it soon. Stay tuned.

5. Finish my personal cookbook. Yes, this has been a goal of mine for quite some time. I like my recipes to be tidy, so I am re-typing all of them to be in the same format with the same fonts, spacing, etc. I want them to be easy to read when I'm cooking and organized by category. It's been a huge undertaking, and I need to catch up so that all I need to do is add new ones as we try them.

6. Make healthier choices with food and activities. This one is the cliché "get in shape" goal, but I seriously do need to take better care of myself, and that begins with the choices I make. Dan and I are in this together, so I'm hoping that helps us stick to it.

7. Learn how to actually use my camera. We have a nice Canon DSLR camera, and I love it. It's the best purchase we made right before Annabelle was born. The problem is that I'm stuck in auto mode because I don't know how to work manual mode, even though I know I'll get better photos once I learn. There's no better time to learn than when you're trying to capture a wild toddler, am I right?!

8. Publish a piece of writing somewhere. This one is vague, but it's also my big, scary goal for myself. This is the one that will push me out of my comfort zone. It's something I've ALWAYS dreamed of. It doesn't matter if it's a bigger blog or a website or even a printed piece. I just want need to make this happen this year.


FAMILY GOALS

1. Socialize Annabelle. She is such a social butterfly, but she doesn't have any real friends. No one else in Dan's class here has a child, and of the people I've met here who do have children either have tiny babies or older kids. We want to make more of an effort for her to play with other toddlers. This will start with library story time.

2. Go on at least one date night per month. All parents know how hard it is to stay romantic when dealing with a baby/toddler/child 24/7. We want to prioritize our marriage, so we'll be taking advantage of the Parent's Night Out put on through the CDC on base once a month to go out just the two of us and have a great time.

3. Do at least one ACTIVE family activity each week. Remember my personal goal up there about making healthier choices? This will help. Dan is SUPER busy with pilot training, but we can go on a family walk or do any number of other activities at least once a week. We have to make time for it.

4. Hike in the Wichita Mountains. These "mountains" aren't big compared to the ones we were used to in Colorado, but they're only an hour away in Lawton, Oklahoma, so we definitely want to get up there this spring to check it out. It'll be the perfect first "hike" for Annabelle!

5. Go on an Oklahoma City trip. Dan and I explored Oklahoma City once when we first started dating nearly eight years ago, but we haven't really been back together since then. I've been on a couple solo trips there, and we've driven through several times, but we want to take Annabelle to the zoo and the kids science museum there, among other things.

6. Visit San Antonio. Luckily, the Air Force will make this one easy for us. Dan has a training there later this month for a few days, and Annabelle and I will be tagging along. We want to check out the Riverwalk for sure, but there's so much to do there compared to our little town in North Texas.


Do you have any goals for the year?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2016: A Year in Review

This is one of those posts that probably won't interest too many of you, especially as I've blogged (not too well this year!) about many of these topics already... but this is more of a post for the books. For my memory. For my family... and especially for my daughter. 


Regardless, 2016 was good to us! It was less life-changing than 2015 was, but it did bring along a cross-country move and home-ownership for the first time. Each month was filled with many different events, and I want to remember as much as possible.



In January, we took our first family vacation to Niagara Falls, Canada (with a stop at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio on the way) when Annabelle was four months old. 


In February, we had lots of visitors to our home in Ohio - my mom, followed by Lydia, followed by Michelle! 


March brought Annabelle's half birthday, Dan graduating with his Master's in Applied Physics from AFIT, and saying goodbye to good friends in Ohio before moving to Texas. 


We stopped in Missouri to see family for Easter on our cross-country drive and got settled in Texas in April. Annabelle went to her first air show and (kind of) enjoyed it. 


We traveled to Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and New Mexico in May, and Annabelle got to go on her first six flights, including one Space A flight on a C-17. We visited family and friends on that trip and even took Annabelle to our favorite places from our years in Colorado Springs. At the end of the month, Dan and I celebrated two years of marriage. Exciting! 


In June, Dan promoted to 1st Lieutenant and started pilot training at ENJJPT, signifying the real beginning of our life in Texas. 


July was hot, and we spent a lot of time walking around our neighborhood in the mornings before it was unbearable. 


August was spent with a trip to Branson for a wedding and a trip to Kansas City for a bridal shower and bachelorette party. Dan flew his Dollar Ride in the T-6, and Annabelle and I went to the airfield to watch Dan fly his first solo in the T-6 - how fun! 


September brought our sweet and sassy Annabelle's first birthday, which was a blast, and a family trip to Dallas to take her to the zoo for the first time. That month ended with a trip to Kansas City so I could stand by one of my best friend's side as she became a wife, and then Annabelle and I visited another best friend in St. Louis so we could meet Baby Huxley! I also finished my exclusively pumping journey, which was a long but well worth it year-long extravaganza for me. 


In October, Annabelle and I returned from our road trip, and we celebrated her second Halloween by taking her to a Trunk-or-Treat event on base. 


November was busy with Dan flying long hours, hosting a giant Thanksgiving dinner, and just living life. 


December brought about Dan completing his training in the T-6 and traveling to Missouri for Christmas and New Years! 


What a wonderful year we had as a family. Here's to 2017 - hopefully it will be even better!