Friday, May 29, 2015

Kindergarten Shenanigans

My baby finished Kindergarten today!
I bawled the night before Kindergarten while my husband looked at me like I was a weirdo.
It's just so bittersweet watching the little babygirl I gave birth to back in 2009 grow up so quickly right before me.

Dannika started Kindergarten at Memorial Elementary in Natick, Massachusetts....

She was only there for a month before we moved to Texas, and she started over at a brand new school.

I couldn't be more proud of how well she adjusted at the tender age of 5.
It also helps that we moved backed to the greatest state everrrrrr....and ended up at the BEST school ever...with the BEST teacher....

Yup...she went from dentist to cheerleader in one school year...

She went to ONE cheerleading clinic in the fall, and ever since then, she has decided that she wants to be a cheerleader...

 Dannika and her absolutely amazing teacher!
I have seriously contemplated holding my child back so that she could have her as a teacher again.
She's different than other teachers for many reasons....
She has the calmest voice, but can make a room full of Kindergarteners listen to her at the drop of dime.
She's become a friend of our family....not just a teacher.
I've been able to text her about randomness at all hours of the night...
I love listening to stories about her adorable and crazy daughter...
The bottom line is...
She's become more than just my child's teacher...
She has become a friend, and I know that Kindergarten will not be the end of our friendship.

 ONE of Dannika's Kindergarten BFF's.

She requested we take her to lunch at Chuy's after Kindergarten celebration!

Dannika had her classroom birthday celebration this week too, since she has a summer birthday.

She requested a cookie cake.
I put her on a balance beam since it's her favorite thing to do at gymnastics!

As sad as I am that Dannika's growing up so fast, I am so excited about her future.

Today, we watched a slideshow her teacher made of her class, and all the kids were asked, "What was your favorite part about Kindergarten?"

Dannika's answer...
"My favorite thing about Kindergarten was...subtraction."

I decided that it was her Asian genes that made her come to that conclusion about Kindergarten....


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Rain, Rain, Go Away

It's been raining a lil bit in Texas....
By "lil bit", I mean torrential downpour....we need to build an ark like Noah type rain.
There are families that are missing...people whose homes have been swept away by floods...
It's devastating.
My parents live in Houston, and the bottom story of their home flooded.
Luckily, there was nothing TOO valuable that was ruined, but a few of my mom's photo albums got a little wet. 
I am grateful to God that that's the only damage that occurred to my parent's home.
We've gotten a lot of rain here in College Station, but we have been fortunate enough to avoid any heavy flooding (at least in my part of CS).

Here is a "no filter" photo I took of the sky at 8:20 in the evening a few nights ago....
Thunderstorms and tornado warnings...
Welcome Home to Texas!

And some random photos from the weekend (most posted on Instagram)...

I LOVE this photo of Nick and Mattis eating breakfast together on Saturday morning.
It perfectly captures a normal Saturday at our home...

Ever had a "beet margarita"?!? 
There's a new taco joint in College Station called "Mad Taco" , and not only do they have the most AMAZING tacos....
Their beet margarita is to die for...
Oh...did I mention I hate tequila and margaritas?!

Dannika had her end of semester gymnastics party....
Nick and Mattis took full advantage of the access to the gym...

Dannika also lost her very first tooth!!

The "tooth fairy" AKA Nick...brought her 4 dollars!!!!
I guess the tooth fairy takes inflation into account.

Random photo of a fort Nick built for the kids.

And THIS girl...
Is almost done with Kindergarten...
2 more days...

I. can't. take. it.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Dogs, Motorcycles, & Pretty Girls

"This is Mr. Vince. He is a Marine. He likes dogs, motorcycles, and pretty girls. He is a hero."
-Dannika Jane, Age 5 (Speaking to her Kindergarten class about her daddy's best friend)

Last night, we sat down and had an honest, real, and deep conversation about the meaning of Memorial Day.
The best way we could explain to her was by telling her about a very good friend of Nick named SSgt Vincent Bell. 
Our son's middle name is named after him, so the conversation started with her little brother's name, and why we chose to honor Vince by giving Mattis his name.
We told her that he went to Afghanistan to fight bad people, and never made it back home, and ended up going to heaven before he could even get a chance to say bye to his family and friends.
We told her about the millions of little girls around the world who were not allowed to go to school because they had no freedom like we do here in America.
The conversation was a lot more in depth than what I want to put on my blog, but at the end of the conversation, she wanted to share with her class mates about "Mr. Vince" and what he did for our freedoms. 

I was so moved by my five year old's request, so I texted her teacher right away and asked her if that would be ok.
Then we sat down together with Nick, and Dannika wrote down some fond memories that Nick had of his dear friend.

Pretty Girls.

Vince also liked beer, but we decided that was not appropriate to share with a Kindergarten

Afterwards, I had this bright idea that maybe Nick could go in his uniform to talk to her class about Memorial Day, what it meant, and talk about Vince. 
Dannika's teacher immediately said yes, and invited Nick into her classroom.
He shared photos of Vince with the class, talked about Vince's service, and talked about the Marine Corps.

The day was even more special because Vince's older sister London got to "sit in" via speakerphone and listen.
She even got to say hi to the kids, and they thanked her for Vince.

My hope is that these adorable and precious kids have a small understanding of why we have the freedoms that we do.
I hope that most of them will remember 10 years from now the "Gunny" that came and spoke to their Kindergarten class about Memorial Day, and remember hearing about SSgt Bell.

And lastly...
Yes...Memorial Day is a day of remembrance of our fallen heroes.
That does not mean "get on Facebook and make everyone feel bad about enjoying Memorial Day with BBQ's and celebrations".

Enjoy your day...
Have a BBQ.
Smile, laugh, and have fun...

Just take a moment to remember why the day is there.

Terminal Lance described it best...

"Memorial Day is a national holiday dedicated to remembering the fallen. This much is true and should be regarded with absolute respect. With that said, I think every Marine I’ve ever met would rather see me spend the day enjoying my freedom–a gift bestowed upon me through the sacrifice of good men–then spend all day on Facebook trying to make people feel bad. I think a moment of silence, a thought of remembrance, a deep breath in solemn respect for those that gave their lives, is enough for any ghost of Marines past to feel satisfied."

Have a great weekend, y'all!
I've started mine with a glass of chilled pinot grigio in my new long stem wine glass!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Another "Life of Mattis" Post

My son is a hoot....actually...."hot mess" is a better description.
Never has there been so much chaos and destruction in our lives until this tiny little human being became a part of our family.
He has the most awesome giggles, and when his tiny little voice says things like "uh-oh!" and "bah, bah!" (bye, bye), it's hard not to smile.
When he snuggles up to me and says, "mama", or when he runs up to me to throw his chubby little arms around my neck when I go pick him up from the gym day care after a good work out, it's just enough to melt this mama bear's heart.


This sweet cuddly "babaloo" (our affectionate nickname for him) can be quite the.....ummm....handful...

Story behind this photo...
 Mattis is crying because he locked himself into the pantry. 
I opened the door for him to get out....but then he decided to get angrier that I saved him from the dark he did the logical thing and put himself back into it. Now he is upset because I locked the pantry so he can't lock himself in it anymore.

Then there's this...
Mattis is crying because he refused to take a bath unless we Skyped Gigi (my mom).
So Nick Skyped my mom, and let Mattis interact with her on his iPhone while he bathed him.
Mattis-1 Nick-0

Then the other night there was this...(which I don't have a photo for)...
Mattis was upset we would not give him fruit snacks because it was almost dinner time and he had already had some he thought it was cool to have a screaming meltdown....thrown a tantrum....slam Nick's Xbox controller on the floor causing the batteries the fly across the living room and almost taking Dannika and me Nick took the controller and put it away where he couldn't get it...which made him he threw my brand new MacBook on the floor.
All because he wanted fruit snacks.

But sometimes....
He can be so cute...
We went out to lunch today, and Mattis spent a portion of it trying to lick Nick's face...

Everyone warned me about boys...
I laughed and silently thought, "MY son won't be crazy. MY daughter was an ANGEL, therefore, my son will be an angel."

All of y'all who told me about the trials and tribulations of boys...

Y'all can now have y'alls last laugh...

The jokes on me...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Motherhood Is...

Motherhood is...
Going to Target on a whim at 7:30 in the evening, because you realized that the next day was "Silly Socks and Sunglasses Day" at school...
And your daughter can't find her sunglasses OR any silly socks.

Yes, that happened last night. 
Good thing I only had one glass of wine before I realized it.
Luckily, all the college students have left town since finals are over, and there was no traffic.
Even better, no one AT Target. 


Here she is for her fun day!

I think I actually want a pair like this for myself...

Motherhood is...
Taking 'selfies' with a baby on your hip (and a photobombing baby daddy)...
Motherhood is...
Testing out your daughter's new scooter before she rides it home from school...
You know...
Just to make sure it's "safe". 

Side note...
Have y'all seen the new Starbucks "mini" sized Frapuccinos?!
 They are so little, and so cute, and so perfect, and so ME!
I can never finish an entire regular "tall" sized anything from Starbucks, so this size is perfect!
As a super health conscious and self proclaimed "fitness freak", I also have a problem with America's obsession with gigantic portion sizes with everything.
So this definitely made me smile :)
Did you know...
This "new" mini size at Starbucks is not actually "new"?!
This is actually a "tall" in Japan.
When I was deployed to Japan, I remember ordering a tall Frapuccino, and being baffled at how little it was compared to my normal "American" frap.
After 7 months in Japan, when I came home and ordered a tall frap in America, it felt like I had ordered a big gulp!
Japan doesn't have an obesity epidemic....

Happy Tuesday, y'all!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Dancing In Texas

Today was Dannika's second ever dance recital!
What made this dance recital so special was the fact that my parents were able to come and watch her.
Every day, I am so grateful for this opportunity to be stationed in MY HOMETOWN!
I know a TON of military families that would D-I-E for an opportunity to go back to their hometowns for a little bit.
It just so happens MY hometown is home to one of the biggest military colleges in the nation, and MY husband chose to come HERE for ME instead of his beloved "Roll Tide" ( worries folks...he's a full blown Fightin' Texas Aggie now! I WIN!).
I'm gonna quit rambling, and share her photos!

Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photos during the recital, so I didn't get any of her on stage.
She SHINED though!
She did 3 numbers....a ballet, tap, and jazz dance.

I can't believe how much she's grown up in the last 3 1/2 years!
It makes me sad.

I am so thrilled that my parents get to participate in our children's lives for these next few years.

And THANK YOU LORD....Mattis was an absolute ANGEL during the ENTIRE recital!!!!

Dannika and her dance teacher, Miss Macy!
Miss Macy is also a Fightin' Texas Aggie, and such an awesome teacher!
Dannika absolutely LOVED going to dance every week to see her.
Most importantly, Miss Macy always had a smile on her face :)

Say hello to my gorgeous MOM!!! 
Not my sister...MY MOM!!!

My parents celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary yesterday!
They immigrated here from South Korea...
Started their own business from the ground up....
Expanded that business to two locations in College Station...
They raised TWO AWESOME and pretty much PERFECT daughters (just a TINY bit biased)....
And most importantly...
They have kept God in the center of their marriage.
Happy belated Anniversary!!!!

Watching our first child...our baby girl...our princess...dancing today on stage brought so much joy into my heart.
I cried when she first came out and saw her beaming face on the stage. 
Nick won't admit it, but his eyes got a little "sweaty" too. 
We are so proud of you, Dannika Jane!
You're the shining star in our lives!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

American Wife

I started listening to Taya Kyle's book American Wife yesterday on Audible.
I'm not even halfway through it, and I have already cried tears of joy and sorrow, and laughed.
Listening to her voice read her words brings so much more emotion to the book.
You can tell by the way her voice chokes up when she's talking about her pain, and I love how she imitates her husband's (Chris Kyle AKA American Sniper) Texan accent when she quotes him. 
So far, it's a beautifully written love story about a woman deeply in love with a man with a deeply complicated job.

In her book, she includes a few emails that were written to her from Chris while he was deployed to Iraq.
As she reads those emails, I could feel tears well up in my eyes as I ran on the treadmill at the gym.
I couldn't help but think of the cherished emails I keep saved in my Yahoo account from Nick.
I don't really use my Yahoo email account anymore (does anyone?!?), and I've talked about just deleting the account several times.
But when I login to that account to delete it, I see the deployment emails.
The emails I would impatiently wait for, and obsessively check when he was deployed.
If I was lucky, I could respond to an email immediately, and he would respond back within minutes.
We would have entire conversations back and forth by email if I caught him while he was on a computer over there.
But my favorite emails...
Were the love letters...
My 6 foot tall, rough and tough Marine could write words that could warm my heart from the other side of the world in a combat zone.

From: "Romer SSgt Nicholas \(MEB-A HIMARS\)" <>
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2010 06:06:56 +0430
Subject: Hey sweet heart
I hope you feel better today baby.  We are waiting for the phones to come back up.  9th comm had to reconfigure everyones phones on this side of the base.  I told the Marines to come and grab me as soon as they are back up.  I love you so much.  how is Dannika doing?  Did Mrs McGowan give you some time off to get better?  I hope so.  I really miss you.  You can adjust your count down board to 7 weeks on Sunday!!!  I love you and cant wait to talk to you. 

The emails were usually brief, but they were my sanity.
It gave me comfort in those few lines that he was safe at the moment.

From: Romer SSgt Nicholas (MEB-A HIMARS)
Hey baby I just wanted to say I love you and miss you.  I ran out of time this morning.  The phone is being used for a conference call.  I will try and call you later.  I love you so so sosos so sos ososos so os much

From: Romer SSgt Nicholas (MEB-A HIMARS) <>
Subject: I have been thinking abou you.
Date: Thursday, April 15, 2010, 6:40 PM
There has not been 1 moment that I have not been thinking about you.  I day dream about you and I dream about you at night.  I love you so much.  I don’t know what I would do if anything ever happened to you or Dannika.  I wish I was there to protect you and take care of my ladies.  We were in RC yesterday so I couldn’t call. I left my together we served up but didn’t touch it so I wouldn’t get denied access.  I thought I would still be able to email out but I couldn’t.  I love you so much hana.  There is no way I could ever show you exactly how much I love you.  Your 2 packages made me smile.  I liked the definition.  Handsome man with big ears…    babe!!  Hahah  you are funny.  I miss you so much.  Thank you for the NESQUICK!!!  it is so delicious.  We passed our 90 day mark yesterday.  I think. Well close enough.  Well baby I have to go I will call you in a little while.  There is someone on the phone at the moment.  Oh and just so you know I really want to do dirty things to you ;)

From: Romer SSgt Nicholas (MEB-A HIMARS)
Hey sweetheart.  You know you can tell me anything.  I love you so much.  I am going to worry about you no matter what.  I love you more than life.  I know you will handle everything and it will be fine.  You are amazing.  I think about all those things all the time.  It is unbelievable how far we have come.  I remember when we first met.  I don't think I would have ever known life would be this great if I hadn't met you.  Our baby is so beautiful. She gets that from you.  Sorry I had to run earlier.  I had a forklift waiting on me.  There is so much going on.  Either way i am a busy man.  It will all pay off though.  I just got one of your letters this one was labeled 1804 at the top.  It had a pic of Dannika helping me drink my Newcastle.  I miss Newcastle.  Hah.  Well baby I have to go again.  I love you and I love Dannikwa.  Give her a kiss for me.  You are the low sodium soy sauce on my rice.

I can read these emails and be instantly taken back to that deployment.
I was a new mom, an active duty Marine on an extremely demanding assignment...
I was trying to hold it all together and be strong, but the reality was I broke down many times.
I bawled my eyes out in front of my SgtMaj when he came to do a recruiter eval on me.
He just stared at me blankly like I was crazy.

(recruiting duty trying my best to look happy for the camera)

I am so grateful that he's come home safe and sound from every deployment.
And as much as I wanted to NOT burden Nick with my worrisome heart and stressful life, sometimes, I just couldn't hold it in.
I'd lash out at him on the phone, and/or write him mean emails....
Then afterwards, I would feel terrible, and of course, I couldn't just pick up the phone to call him to apologize for being a jerk.
Sometimes I'd wait days upon days until he'd finally call, and a sense of relief would flood over me that I could finally apologize and end the call on a happy note.
I would/could never forgive myself if the last phone call I ever got with my husband was one of anger.

If y'all get a chance, I highly recommend the book American Wife.
For military spouses who have dealt with the agony of sending a loved one away on deployment, it is written beautifully in a way we can all relate to Taya.
For the service member, it's an awesome perspective of what a spouse goes through emotionally, physically, and mentally while "holding the fort down" at home.

And I recommend this book the most for civilians.
With all the "support the troops" hoopla that has been around since the war, I feel like a lot of civilians are out of touch with the reality of what military families go through.

This book will make you cry, make you laugh...
It'll make you appreciate the sacrifices of our military and those who support them!

Before Nick deployed, I recorded him reading a few books so that I could play them for Dannika.
She LOVED seeing daddy on the computer reading to her!

A few lucky times we got the Skype!!!
I would literally just keep the computer on and pointed at Dannika.
Nick would sometimes sit on Skype for an hour just watching her eat cheerios.