Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Most "Awesomest" Kids Ever

  The semester is nearing to an end, and boy is this mama happy! 
Mark my words...
Never again will I ever take 18 hours in one semester ever again...ever.
My little mama brain is fried, and my husband and kids are lucky to be bathed and fed (well actually, Nick can bathe himself...thank goodness).
I have one more final to take, and just a couple little assignments here and there to turn in, and I am free!
I'm only taking two classes this summer, so it'll be a nice change of pace.
I'm seeing lots of pool time and family time in my future.
As much as I am ready for the slower pace and the hot sticky days of a good old Texas summer, I am so sad that Dannika will be done with Kindergarten!
There is no way that an entire school year has already flown by!
I look at photos of Dannika from August, and she already looks so much more grown up than she did.
I feel like she loses a little of her baby face every month that passes by.

Here she is in the Fall when we first moved here...

And here she is yesterday after a grown up haircut at the salon...

Excuse me while I go cry please.

Today's the last day of April...The Month of the Military Child.
It's always hard for me to put into words just how proud and lucky I am to be blessed with two awesome kids to go on this crazy life in the Marine Corps with.
Mattis is just starting out in this life, but my little Miss Dannika Jane has been part of it for almost 6 crazy years now!
With Nick being gone so much between deployments, training, and everything in between, she has been my one constant through it all.
She was with me all the way till the very end when I finished my tour as an active duty Marine.
I haven't always been the strongest person during periods of separation from Nick, but this little girl has always given me a purpose and a reason to smile when I didn't feel like it!
She's been a champ at adjusting to every place we have lived, and she does it with such grace and ease. 
She truly blooms anywhere and everywhere the Marine Corps has planted her, and I am so honored that God chose us to take her along on our crazy journey in the Marines.
I 'm sure when Mattis is older, he too will become a shining beacon in our family and with an amazing example to follow like his older sister, I have no doubt he'll fit right into our crazy life.
The moves....the separations...the future deployments....We're all in it together, and my kids are pretty dang awesome for being "semper gumby" for the ride!

I busted Dannika out of school a little early last week to take her out on a movie date to watch Cinderella!

Kindergarten spring fling!

Took her to mommy's salon to get a big girl wash, cut, blowdry, and flat iron!

Meanwhile, back at home...

My son likes to bite Nick....

My future fightin' Texas Aggie!
Class of 2034!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Why TAMU Is > Boston U

When Nick was the AMOI in Boston, we had a unique opportunity to be around college kids and the NROTC program.
There were like 3 Marines who were in the MECEP program (the program Nick is doing now here at A&M), and the rest were all 18-22 year old college kids wanting to be Marine and Navy Officers one day. 
It was hard for us in Boston because of the lack of "Marine camaraderie", and just missing being around Marines.
But coming down here to a college with a HUGE, nationally recognized NROTC program has made such a world of a difference in our experience with "NROTC life". 
There are a dozen or so active duty Marines in the program (vice the whopping 3 there were at Boston), and the Corps (what A&M calls their ROTC) is ridiculously huge.
I also think being back around a college that is part of a big sports conference makes a heck of a difference. 
This weekend, the NROTC had a "mess night" (if you don't know what it is, google it).
It's only for the men and women who are in the NROTC program.
The mess nights in Boston were never fun for me.
My husband left for an evening of fun and drinks, and I was at home with the kids being resentful.
When I found out about the mess night here, I was really pleasantly surprised when I got an email from the CO's wife inviting the spouses to drinks and dinner during the mess night.
Afterwards, the spouses were to meet up with all the guys at the hotel where their mess night was to hang out altogether.

Instead of going out for drinks and dinner with the other Marine spouses, Nick and another fellow Gunny (Matt) surprised me (and Matt's wife) with a limo on Saturday night to take us out!

We went to a fancy shmancy restaurant called "The Republic" to have wine and steak tartare until it was time to pick up the boys!

Out for a night on the town with these handsome studs. 

You know what's better than a Fightin' Texas Aggie?!
Fightin' Texas Aggies in dress blues!

I am absolutely LOVING the NROTC program here, and I absolutely love that Nick gets to be around Marines again.
It also helps that I've met some pretty cool wives that I've had tons of fun hanging out with!
I'm excited for the rest of our time here, and I'm going to be so sad when it's over!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Happy Life

Is it Friday already?
This week seemed to have flown by!
My brain is fried, and although I currently have some riveting reading to do on American History and "The New Deal", I choosing to give my brain a rest. 

Do you participate in "Throwback Thursdays" on Instagram and Facebook?
I shamelessly do (almost) every Thursday.
It's fun to look back at old photos, whether it be from a year ago or 20 years ago, and think of all the memories that come with it.
I've been accused of being an "obsessive picture taker" and "Instagrammer". 
Maybe I am, but I love capturing life's daily moments so that I can look back at them.
I once read somewhere that people who overly take too many pictures end up "living in the moment" less than people who choose to just soak up the memory.
I don't believe it...
I have wonderful memories from past experiences, and I'm ever so grateful that my obsessive "picture taking" has captured those moments for me to cherish forever.

Anyway, this was to Throwback Thursday picture from yesterday...
It was from a Marine Corps ball probably about five (maybe 6) years ago.
It was one of the "funnest" balls Nick and I ever attended together.
The boys had just returned from Afghanistan 3 months prior, and I think this picture captures perfectly, how "over the moon" I was with having him back safe and sound in my arms. 
It was just a perfect shot in a moment of time where my happiness looks genuine.

Fast forward to today.

Life is still wonderful, and I we are a happy little family of 4 in my (kinda) small Texas hometown.
A friend of mine commented on this photo yesterday on Facebook.
She said:
"Hands down y'all are my favorite couple. I pray I find something like this. There's no denying y'all are best friends"
Boy, did that make me grin from ear to ear. 
I always hope that even through something like social media, I can portray a strong, God centered, and happy marriage.
I never post anything negative about my marriage or my family...even when I am feeling negative about them. 
It's never been not my style anymore.
I leave my family matter and matters of my marriage in my home away from social media.
It doesn't mean I'm fake, and in fact, if you have read my blog long enough, I've written some pretty candid things about marriage and life in the Marine Corps.
 Or worse...
I've had people mention that "people who overly post happy things about their lives on social media are actually the most unhappy people."
I say..."BALONEY!"
I am an optimist, and I choose to only portray that side of me on social media.
For those who truly know me, y'all know me outside of "Facebook" and "Instagram", and y'all know that there is a whole another side to me that isn't always "rainbows and unicorns...oh and glitter...".
I love sparkles.

And I also love my awesome kids.
Dannika's been in gymnastics since the beginning of preschool, and I am so impressed by how far she's come in the last 2 years!

His face may be sweet, but this is the look after he hit his sister in the face with a heavy plastic guitar.

And one of my favorite parts of family life...
Watching Nick on the floor playing with the kids before bed time.
It makes my heart happy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

My Mom Thoughts

You ever look back at your life and wonder what you've been doing all these years?
Don't tell me I'm the only one who does this!

There are some days, when I'm writing a paper for my college class while juggling marriage and motherhood, that I just want to "throw in the towel".

Nick's JOB in the Marine Corps right now is to go to school.
He is getting paid his regular Gunny salary just to get an education....pretty sweet deal.
His education takes priority over mine in our family right now because if he fails or something happens, his career is done.

But some days, I wonder if it'd be just easier to wait till he retires to finish in 10 years....

Could I be as successful as I am in college at 40 vice 30?

These thoughts run through my mind constantly.

Then I am instantly reminded that my last 31 years of existence have not been "wasted" (like I sometimes feel).

When I look at my beautiful family and the life that we have built, I know that I am doing exactly as God has intended for me to do.
I love that I am setting an example to my kids that a woman CAN, in fact, "have it all".
I feel like I've had the unique opportunity to experience many different facets of motherhood.

Working Mom...
This was a tough "billet" (there's that Marine in me coming out).
But the satisfaction I got at the end of every day when I got to go pick up my angel from daycare after a hard day's work with immeasurable.
I hope to one day, sit down with Dannika, and have a long conversation about how I juggled working as an active duty Marine, being a mother, and dealing with a deployed husband was like.
It wasn't the "peachy" life, but I think I did an alright job of "mothering".
 Can you believe we spent the majority of my time as a working mom....just the two of us? 

Stay at Home Mom...
This is a job I couldn't WAIT to do, and I was so enthusiastic about it.
As soon as I got out of the Marine Corps, I jumped headfirst into stay at home motherhood.
Is it a challenging job? yes.
Is is thankless? yes.
Is it rewarding? yes. yes. yes. 
But, I'm not gonna lie...
I truly missed having "important meetings" and having conversations with like minded individuals during the day (like minded being other Marines).
I missed feeling important, and all of a sudden, I felt myself yearning to be back in uniform again.
This is something I learned most veterans go through as part of their transition.
By the way...
I do NOT miss being a Marine.
I DO miss being around and leading Marines every day.
Some people are born to be stay at home moms...
I think, I'm ok at it, but I'm definitely not the happiest doing it.
Not that being with my kids, taking them on play dates, chauffeuring them, etc. is miserable for me (in case you took it that way).
For me, I need a little more.

Full Time College Student Mom...
Taking two years off to be home with my kids after getting out of the Marine Corps was long enough.
I knew that I needed and wanted to go back to college.
Silly me, I jumped blindfolded and headfirst into college life by starting my first semester taking 18 credit hours...
My brain is fried most days.
I am busy taking my eldest to dance and gymnastics...
I attend Kindergarten classroom parties and "sing-a-longs"...
If I can, I try and squeeze in a lunch date with my Dannika Jane at school...
In between all of this, I have this crazy 1 year old in the mix.
I cook dinner most nights.
You can catch me studying in my car while waiting for my child to be done with gymnastics class.
You can catch me reading while cooking dinner.
I'm making study guides while feeding my son his lunch.
It's crazy some days, and as much as I complain about it....
I. Love. It.
It's purposeful to me.

I have always had dreams of BOTH my kids going to college (at Texas A&M...of course...).
A big part of me being back in school is so that they can't throw the, "Do as I say, not as I do" card in my face when I tell them they need to get an education.

Military life is not an easy life, and I don't want my kids to subjected to this lifestyle...especially my sweet precious Dannika Jane.
Not that she couldn't handle it, but life is tough enough for a man in the Corps, it's 200 times tougher to be a woman in the Corps.
I like to say that Nick and I have done enough time in the Corps together to cover our kids'.
As much as I joke that my son WILL join the Marine Corps...
Deep down inside, I pray to God he chooses college (to be an

Who knows what the future holds?
I just hope I have done enough to make these kids of mine proud to call me their mom.
We've been in Texas too long. She was cold with 67 degree weather, and put on her parka.

And of course, there's no one I'd rather do it with than this handsome guy....

Monday, April 13, 2015

Just Play In The Rain

April showers...
Bring May flowers....

Here in east central Texas, we've been hit with our April showers.
Thankfully, it hasn't been a torrential downpour, but it's been enough to bring the Texas sized bugs and muggy weather back.

Our family was spending a nice warm, humid day outside yesterday when a sudden downpour hit us. 
Normally, I would have grabbed the kids and made them go inside.
Yesterday, I let them play in the rain.
I let them get barefoot, splash around in dirty puddles, and play in the mud.
Their squeals of laughter and joy warmed my heart.
As a "neat freak" who hates messy kids, this was out of character for me. 
But I realized yesterday that there was beauty in the "dirty rain", the "dirty puddles", and the "icky mud". 

I have a few friends going through some rough times in their lives right now, and my heart aches for them.
I have this thing where I take on other people's emotional pain as my own.
But as I watched my kids squeal and laugh in the rain yesterday, I couldn't help but look at it as a metaphor to life.
To some people rain is miserable, dreary, and a nuisance....
But a child can take that and turn it into absolute joy and happiness....spreading it to those around them.
Watching my kids so happy and free in the rain yesterday made me realize that as much as I dislike the rain, there was still some beauty to it...the beauty of my adorable kiddos enjoying the little droplets of water falling from the sky...

Ahh Texas...
Hot, humid, mosquitoes, FIRE ANTS...
Yet, it's the place I'm most happiest though.

A friend of mine told me the other day that we are always drawn to the place we call "home".
Texas is by no means perfect (although we claim perfection a lot)....
But the thing that makes so happy here is that it's familiar.
It's my home.
My family's here...
My roots are deep here...
I love it here...

 Scooter rides to school in the morning....

My baby D had her dance photos last weekend.
All year long, I've been telling Nick that this is her last year in dance.
I want to put her in gymnastics full time...and go "all in".
Then I see her in her recital costume...
She looks gorgeous...
I watch her twirling around....
In that moment, I realize we are going to be dancing for a very long time....
 And that's ok with me...

Poor Nick...he's gonna be fending all those boys off...

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Mattis Chronicles

No one told me parenting would be easy.
In fact, when I excitedly shared my news of my first pregnancy with people, a few of them (to include my own mother) shook their heads and told us we should have waited a little longer.
Lots of people told us that we should have enjoyed being newlyweds a little longer before we got preggers....but it happened.
Thank the good Lord that Dannika was/is a SUPER easy child.
She is an angel child....
Dannika Jane can do no wrong.....well...maybe just a little....
But I DO understand what an easy going baby, toddler, and (now) child she is.

Then came my son...
People have told me many times to blog about my day to day shenanigans with my son.
The reason why I haven't is because then my blog would have to be titled "Adventures of Mattis".
Every day is a freaking "adventure" (aka parenting challenge) with him.
Don't get me wrong...I love this little joker with all my mama bear heart...
But there are days when I scratch my head, look up at the sky, and ask God, "Why me?"

So here are some of Mattis' most recent escapades that have made parenting...well...difficult...

A few weeks ago...
I was cooking dinner and realized it was awfully quiet in the house (which means the kids are up to something).
I called for Mattis, and I heard splashing coming from the kid's bathroom.
Low and behold...
Mattis was dipping his pacifier in the toilet, putting it in his mouth, dipping it back in the toilet, his paci was a dang french fry in ketchup!
I almost died......I threw his paci in the sink, cleaned him up, and gave him a little bowl of goldfish to eat peacefully in the living room while I finished cooking.
When I looked to check on him, he had brown stuff smeared across his face.
I grabbed a baby wipe to wipe it off, and realized it smelled poop...
Then I realized he had a dirty diaper.
My first thought was, "how did he get poop on his face?!?"
Then I realized he had poop all over his hands, and was using those poop covered hands to eat goldfish.
Yes...he was digging in his poopy diaper, while simultaneously eating goldfish with his poop fingers and rubbing his face...
BTW...he got pink eye a few days later.....

Then there was that time I was touching up baseboards in our house with white paint.
I was so busy concentrating on painting that I didn't realize...
He had stepped in my paint tray and stolen my stir stick.
I had little white foot prints ALL OVER my house, and a 1 1/2 year old covered in white paint....

We were at the playground this week...
He had spent some time playing on this little railing and walked away.
Of course when he saw another little kid on it, he walked straight up to this kid to "talk to him" about "his property".
The kid was obviously older than him and refused to move.
Mattis proceeded to hit him.
The parents of this kid were sitting on the other side of the playground and witnessed this "hit".
Luckily, they understood Mattis was WAY younger....

This kid seriously keeps us on our toes...

As much as I would NEVER trade him or have it any other way...
Some days....
when he has poop smeared on his face...
I say things like...

"Why can't you be like your sister?!?!"

Monday, April 6, 2015

Hockley Oil Ranch

Two weeks ago, Dannika went on her very first Kindergarten field trip!
 Two reasons why this field trip was so awesome:

1) They went to the Hockley Oil Ranch in Hockley, TX.
 This was a field trip my little sister and I went on when WE were in elementary school!
I couldn't believe they still did this exact same field trip!
I was SUPER excited for Dannika to go!

2) Nick only had one class that day, so he requested to be excused from his professor to chaperone!
Can you imagine being a college professor teaching under grad being asked by a student if they could be excused to chaperone a field trip?! 
I'm sure he got a kick out of it, and he graciously allowed Nick to chaperone

 I know that with our life as a military family, Nick wouldn't have many opportunities to chaperone a field trip, so this was super important to me.
Also, Dannika got a whole day with her daddy without her bothersome little brother....
And me :(

I was so excited to pack their brown bag lunches!
I decided to spruce it up :)

All ready!

Nick kept me updated throughout the day with pics of the field trip.

She had such a blast, and I am so grateful that Nick had the opportunity to enjoy the day with her!
We know these days are few and far between, and we have definitely embraced this duty station and assignment to the fullest!