Saturday, November 21, 2015

American Museum of the G.I.

It's a chilly Saturday here in Texas.
I use the word "chilly" lightly.
My New England friends would probably laugh at what I am considering "chilly".
Saturdays are usually pretty busy for our family during Aggie football season.
Between games, tailgates, and hunting season, we never have any down time.
Today was a pretty low key day, and we decided to take the kids to our local military museum here in College Station.
As a Marine Corps family, it's really important for us to instill patriotism and the value of service to  country to our kids.
This museum was just another perfect way for our kids to see "up close and person" what the military is really all about. 

Funny story...
We told Dannika we were gonna go look at "tanks".
She thought we meant "fish tanks", and asked us what kind of fish we would

You know when we see a Marine poster, it becomes a photo op.

If y'all didn't know, Nick is an artilleryman by trade in the Marine Corps.
When he saw the display of this 105mm Howitzer (M2A1), he was OVER THE MOON.
He showed/taught Dannika how it worked.
Afterwards, I asked him if he missed the gun line, to which he promptly responded, "yes".

A WW2 era replica pistol

You know you have two Marine parents when the first thing you're taught about guns is weapons safety...
"Keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready the fire."

General Vandegrift's great nephew (Lt Vandegrift) and me. 
For those who aren't familiar with Marine history, General Vandegrift was the 18th Commandant of the Marine Corps.
He even has a big street named after him on Camp Pendleton!
*Side note...Doesn't he look like Christopher Walken?!?!*

They had a book signing there today, and I HAD to get Nick this book for Christmas.

The author is an former Aggie named Colonel Woodall....


"Every Medal of Honor represents a story of gallantry, courage, and sacrifice. Conceived in the early 1860s, the Medal of Honor, awarded “in the name of the Congress of the United States,” has been presented to more than 3,000 members of the United States armed forces. Seven of the 464 Medals of Honor awarded during World War II went to Texas Aggies.
Author James R. Woodall, a 1950 graduate of Texas A&M University and a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, carried out a dedicated search of archives, family collections, and scores of other resources to gather, for the first time, the complete stories of these seven courageous men.
 Texas Aggie Medals of Honor will undoubtedly be of great interest to former students of Texas A&M University, members of the Corps of Cadets, and others associated with the university and its distinguished tradition of military training and service. But the book will also hold great appeal, in the words of one advance reader, “to those interested in the nation’s highest award for valor and the individual stories of ordinary men who did extraordinary things when confronted by life-threatening situations in combat.”
 “ . . . a fast moving narrative of short, thoughtful portraits of the lives of seven World War II Texas Aggie Medal of Honor recipients. . . has meaning for readers both inside and outside the Texas Aggie Nation, and they will certainly grasp Woodall’s admiration for these seven men and appreciate his tenacious research into their histories.”—Southwestern Historical Quarterly

JAMES R. WOODALL ’50 holds, among other awards, the Silver Star and three Bronze Stars. Following his tenure as commandant of cadets at Texas A&M University, Colonel Woodall retired from the U.S. Army and presently makes his home in College Station."

Hope everyone's weekend is amazing so far!
We are ending our Saturday watching the Aggues  BTHO Vanderbilt!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Thoughts

It's the last weekend before Thanksgiving.
Where did November go?
\\They say time flies when you're having fun//
I can't complain about how much I have been loving life in Texas.
This is definitely going to be one of the hardest duty stations to leave when it is time to move.
Southern California was tough to leave, but after being separated from Nick for a year, it made it easier knowing that we would finally be together under one roof again...even if it had to be Massachusetts.

So here are some Friday Thoughts...
Some deep thoughts and some "not so deep" thoughts...

****It was tough being a Christian in Massachusetts where it's not "popular", but finding an amazing home church (Connect Community Church) made it easy.
It's way easier being a Christian in Texas where there is a church on every corner, and EVERYONE literally goes to church on Sundays.
The toughest place ever to be a Christian is the internet...Facebook to be exact. 
I find it harder and harder every day to bite my tongue as people bash my God and make a mockery of Him and Christianity.***
It was never supposed to be easy to be Christian.
John 15:18-19 
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you."

 ****I can't believe that I have a 6 year old who reads chapter books. I'm pretty sure I was still trying to figure out Chicka Chicka Boom Boom in 1st grade.****

"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." -Joseph Addison 

 ****This awesome .50 cal round is a bottle opener made by a company called "Bottle Breacher". If you ever watch Shark Tank on ABC, they were featured on the show and made a deal with Kevin O'Leary. I love this company because 1) Their product is absolutely amazing, high quality, and just plain cool 2) They employ veterans, reservists, and active duty service members and 3) The CEO is a former Navy Seal himself!
A a short story about how awesome this company is...
I posted this photo of me holding Nick's bottle breacher on Instagram and complained that it was unfair that Nick had his own, and I did not. The company contacted me via IG that day and offered one to me "on the house" to thank me for my service and to thank me for being such a supportive Marine wife to my active duty husband. I kindly refused, to which Eli (the CEO) insisted it was "on them". I asked if they would personalize one for a Gold Star mom (SSgt Vincent Bell's mom),and of course they obliged. They literally had it shipped to her home within a week!
Go get you one....go get two, three!!! THEY'RE AMAZING!


So there are my Friday thoughts!
I hope y'all have an amazing weekend, and if you're in Central Texas, enjoy the little "cold front" we're getting.
And if you're in Massachusetts, you can laugh at our "cold front"....the high is in the 50's and people here in good ole Texas will probably be busting out their Uggs.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Fall Photos

There are a few times throughout the year that put a lot of stress on our marriage.

Hanging new stuff on the wall...
It's usually poor Nick on a ladder with a hammer and nail while I change my mind a million times how I want one dang picture frame to be hung.
Look behind anything hanging on our wall in our home, and there is guaranteed to be at least 3 holes behind it.
It usually ends up in an argument.

Hanging up Christmas lights...
Nick on a ladder, but this time much higher in the air with a string of lights while I impatiently yell at him from the ground on how he is hanging them up ALL WRONG.
BTW, I am usually enjoying a glass of wine while my poor husband is sweating profusely (in 40 degree weather) trying to hang Christmas lights on our super slanted roof.
Argument ensues...

Annual family photos...
I am a teeny tiny bit of a control freak.
I start stressing about what we're all going to wear, if it matches, if it's TOO "matchy matchy", is Nick gonna gel his hair, what bow is going in Dannika's hair, and how the hell are we gonna get Mattis to freaking smile for once?!

This year was no different...
However, thanks to Michelle of Michelle Voigt Photography, she made the whole photoshoot smooth, quick, and painless.
Just how we like it.
Here are a few of the amazing shots she got!

I am keeping the one I chose for our Christmas cards a secret until after Thanksgiving.
So y'all will just have to wait!

And lastly...
Who doesn't love an awkward school yearbook photo????
Here she is, folks!
Dannika Jane's 1st grade yearbook photo.

"Isn't she lovely...." 

I surely can not be the only person who struggles with things like Christmas lights in a marriage?!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Is It Friday?

Oh, you mean to tell me it's only Monday?

I have a big research paper due for my English lit class, but because the future of my children's teeth are more important than my education, I am putting off English lit today for blogging.
D & M both had dental appointments this morning, and it screwed up my brain for school.
It was Mattis' very first dentist appointment, and the chair freaked him out, so the sweet dentist ended up doing his check up with him sitting on my lap.
I must say how impressed I was with Brazos Valley Pediatric Dentistry!
Cartoons on the ceiling at every chair, video games and toys around every corner, toy dispensing machines....
Why can't adult dental practices do that?!
I'd definitely be a little more excited about going to see the devil dentist.

So let's do a little weekend recap, shall we?

Do you own a Yeti tumbler, yet?
If no, WHY NOT?!
Quick story:
On the morning of Dannika's field trip, I put ice and Diet Dr. Pepper into my Yeti tumbler at 8am.
2 hour drive to the still in tact and drink still nice and cold.
Left the cup in my friend's car from 10 until STILL in tact and drink still nice and cold...after sitting in a car on a warm sunny day for almost 3 hours!
Drove home, got home around 330, and the ice was JUST beginning the melt, and my drink was STILL cold.
That SEVEN hours that my ice did not melt in this cup!
It is truly an amazing cup, and totally worth every penny!
I decided to get mine personalized, and had my friend Melissa at make me a glittery pink version of the decal I have on my car.  

 On Friday night, Nick, some Marines, and some veterans from the Marine Corps League were invited to the opening ceremony of our local Christmas light park, Santa's Wonderland.

We hit up College Station's locally famous Layne's for dinner afterwards!

Do you have a significant other who hunts?
I do.
You know what that means?
From October until winter is pretty much over, early mornings and afternoons are spent alone while my husband sits in a tree stand for hours at a time.
Dannika has been DYING to go with Nick, so this weekend, he got her all "real tree'ed" out and took her out for a little bit.
She was over the moon.

Nick finally shot his first buck of the season late yesterday afternoon.
I was hoping this meant I'd have him home for a little while the next few weekends.
But nope.
It has just fed into his habit, and he has been wanting to kill this 12 pt buck he has spotted on his trail cam. 
So until he gets that 12pt, I will continue to spend many lonely mornings and afternoons.

Our neighborhood at its' annual Fall Festival on Saturday afternoon, so we took the kids.
They had an absolute blast, and even better, it was walking distance from our house!

Dannika rock climbing (still in her hunting boots!).

Insert turtle emoji here....

Our weekend was a blast, and it was also the last Aggie home game!
Thank goodness they won!!!!!!
As much as I love me some Aggie football, by this time in the season, I'm pretty exhausted from all the tailgates and games!
I need me a break!
Hope y'all had an amazing weekend!
Here's to another 5 days until the weekend!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Messina Hof MC Birthday Dinner

On Tuesday, Nick and I attended Messina Hof Winery's Marine Corps birthday dinner.
Everyone told us that this was a "must go to" event, so Nick and I jumped at the opportunity.
It is a semi formal Marine Corps birthday ceremony complete with dinner, cake, and of!

Paul Bonarrigo Jr. (the son of the Messina Hof Winery's founder and owner) was a former Marine, and has kept the tradition of celebrating the birthday every year at his family's winery.

The guest of honor was Nick's CO at Texas A&M, Colonel Bright.
He gave an amazing speech about the Marine Corps, and what it is today.
He talked about how even with all the changes from generation to generation, the core concept of the Marine Corps has not changed.
The crowd is not your typical Marine crowd at this event.
It's mostly older, retired Marines, and I'm pretty sure the only currently active duty Marines that were there were the Marine MECEP'ers from Texas A&M, and the Colonel. 
That's what made this evening really special though.
I got to talk to the older generation of Marines, and as humbled as I was to be amongst them, they seemed to have been humbled themselves to be amongst the younger Marines.
It's a mutual respect us Marines have for each other, young and old, old corps and new corps...
It's what makes us great. 

I scored this amazing Nicole Miller dress for an absolute steal at 50% off its' original price!

How gorgeous is this cake!
Anything with edible glitter is a 10 in my book!

Colonel Bright's speech

The passing of the cake from the guest of honor, to the oldest Marine (a class of '53 Aggie grad), and the youngest Marine.
You know this is an older crowd when the youngest Marine happens to be a SSgt.

The narrator of the event was a retired Cobra pilot.
As an aviation ordnanceman who worked on Cobras at one point in my career, anyone affiliated with this magnificent chopper is a friend in my book.

Col Bright's wife, Jill.

Can't hang out with Mary without being suckered into a selfie!

My handsome date and I

Nick and I had such a fabulous time.
We came home with our bellies full of delicious food, wine, and plenty of memories to share.
It was truly a perfect way to celebrate the Marine Corps' 240th birthday.
Thank you to Messina Hof Winery for hosting such a fun filled event and honoring our Marine Corps' birthday!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Totally Awkward Veteran

I just finished writing a research paper for my English lit class on dramatic literature, so my motivation to actually blog went out the window.

But I feel that since today is Veteran's Day, it's important that I share what today means to me.
As a veteran and the wife of an active duty Marine, days like today have a whole different meaning. 
I know firsthand and have experienced the sacrifices that come with serving our great nation.
Missed birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, milestones...
Pain, grief, loss, guilt...
Mental health issues, physical issues...

With that said, it's still incredibly awkward for me when people tell me "thank you for your service". 
I honestly end up mumbling some words like "it was an honor", "you don't have to thank me", "thanks"...
The best one is when I blurt out, "No, thank YOU"....
It usually gets a little awkward, since the other person is looking at me like, "why the hell are you thanking me? I'm not a veteran, and I just thanked YOU!"
 I feel like I am coming off as insincere, when in reality, I am SO grateful that there are people in this country that will recognize a veteran for their service.

Being thanked for a job that you volunteered for and absolutely loved is sometimes awkward matter how you put it.
But when I think about it, most of my friends that are fellow veterans probably feel the same way I fact, I KNOW they do.
I've had many discussions about it with fellow vets and even my husband.
If you're a veteran and you don't, then I'm going to assume that your humility level is slightly lower than me (haha...sorta.)

But this doesn't mean I'm not proud of my service, and proud of my accomplishments as a Marine. 
I love being part of this "exclusive club", and even better, I get to be married to someone who is in the same club as me! score!
I am constantly in awe of what Marines accomplish every day, and I am so humbled some days to share the same planet earth as them!
How can I not be proud to be amongst such great men and women?!

So, I end with this...
If you're a veteran, don't be ashamed to go get your free meal and appetizer at participating restaurants. 
Don't be ashamed to post your photo of you proudly in uniform on your social media.

If you're a thankful citizen...
A thank you means a lot.
A hug means a lot (but be careful...I know lots of vets who hate being touched and may get all awkward if you try and hug them...or even violent...haha....but really...)

And in the off chance you meet a veteran like me who is totally awkward in "thank you for your service" situations....
Just break the ice, and say something like...
"I bet you don't miss wearing them combat boots anymore!"
 "I bet you don't miss getting up at zero 430 every morning!"

Dannika's school had a Veteran's Day flag raising ceremony this morning.
The students were encouraged to wear red, white, and blue.

Dannika and her principal.

The boy scouts did an awesome job of raising the flags.

I love how so many kids showed off their patriotism in their red, white, and blue!

Silly kids.

Afterwards, they invited us all in for coffee and cookies in the cafeteria.

I even got some adorable "thank you" letters from the kids.

Some of my faves..

Dear Veteran,
Thank you for 'hiting' bad guys. I love you.
Love, Billy

Response from me: *I've actually never hit a bad guy, but I have build bombs, rockets, and guns that might have aided in their deaths...* (is that appropriate to even say to a child?!?!?!)

Dear Veteran,
Thank you for dying for our country.
(Name illegible) 

Response from me: *I'm so glad I could die for you! lol.*

 Happy Veteran's Day, folks!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Profound Birthday Thoughts

Today is the Marine Corps' 240th birthday!
I woke up genuinely excited for today, almost as much as if it were my actual date of birth.
I guess part of being a Marine is identifying so strongly with the birth date of the Marine Corps.

Nick and I will be attending the Messina Hof Winery's Marine Corps Ball tonight to celebrate.

I won't say much today, but I wanted to leave y'all with something Nick wrote on his Facebook last night.
It really struck a chord with me, and by the end of it I was crying big ugly crocodile tears.

Here's what he wrote, and I'll end with my thoughts...

"Just a few more hours until our beloved Corps turns 240. I normally leave it to my wife to post something life altering or prophetic but I will make a statement this year. 11 years ago I participated in a battle that was compared to one of the most intense house to house fighting that ever occurred in Marine history, Hue City during the Vietnam war and fought house to house and street to street In some of the most intense combat our brothers had seen to date. As an artillery man I always thought I would take my cannon and a crew into combat and lay waste to targets I would probably never physically see, (As we did in Afghanistan) but this time was different. I was no longer a section chief. I was a squad leader. I had 4 trucks, 13 Marines, 6 crew served weapons and more ammo then I knew what to do with. Being a participant in Operation Phantom fury or The Dawn will live on through me for the rest of my life. Long story short, over 11 years, November marks a very difficult time in my life. I lost a friend that I rarely talk about, Brian Wilson in Iraq to a vehicle accident, my best friend Vincent Bell to an IED in Afghanistan, I lost my mother to stress and poor health, Christopher Nelson in a case of mistaken identity. To tell you the truth it is hard to embrace the good that this month holds when there is so much to remorse. Thanksgiving, Veterans Day, and the marine corps birthday are the positives but I know what the pain of remembering brings to mind. Vincent bell was the epitome of patriotism, Chris Nelson was a contradiction to the rules of broken, my mother was a light to all, and Brian Wilson gave his life for his country. The pain And emptiness I feel is replaced with pride, respect and patriotism. I am thankful for the Marines I was able to serve with and for, I am honored to have made my mother proud to call me her own and I am proud to be a United States Marine. Thank you [Christopher] for not giving up on me, [Thomas] for being a model for all Marines to emulate and being the man of my house when I was deployed [Dore] for being so selfless that you would give your time and life to the service well after anyone would ever do so and taking care of my blood like your own, and all of my Marine friends and family. I want to thank my wife who is sound asleep next to me and my children who went to bed with smiles on their faces for being patient with me this month. November is full of reflection and I am thankful for every opportunity I was ever given. Happy birthday Marines. Semper Fidelis, kill bodies, and most importantly never forget the ones who paid the ultimate price. They are truly the heroes and should be celebrated"

Nick very rarely shares his feelings and thoughts about his experiences in combat.
I literally have to pry it out of him, or I have to hear about it from Marines he has served with.
His humility is what is so attractive about him.
I've learned that Marines that "boast" about their experiences in combat, and are constantly talking about it are the ones who have never truly experienced pain, hurt, loss, and guilt.
So for him to share this on Facebook and be vulnerable...
Opening himself up to social media...
It made me realize just how important a day like celebrating the Marine Corps birthday is to him.

So with that...
Happy 240th Birthday, Marines. 
Semper Fi.


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Mimosa's Before a Field Trip?

Has it really been a week since I blogged?!?!
Holy "poop"
I'm taking macro economics this semester, and it is seriously ruining my life...
It has consumed every ounce of my being.......

But I know you don't care...
"cry me a river...blah blah blah.."

Ok....I'm OBVIOUSLY kidding about drinking adult beverages before a 1st grade field trip.
But, I'm not gonna lie....
The thought crossed my mind (and a friend of mine who I chaperoned with) when I imagined myself surrounded by a crowd of 100+ first graders running around a zoo.
I thought we'd have a hard time figuring out the difference between the kids and the animals!

The 1st graders of Dannika's school went to the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco for their field trip last Tuesday!

As a Marine, my biggest feeling of "mommy guilt" came from the fact that I couldn't do fun things with Dannika during a regular work week.
My life was dedicated to the Marine Corps and its' rigorous hours.
 The ONE thing I looked most forward to when getting out of the old gun club (amongst a million others) was getting to be "that mom" that got to go on field trips, class parties, and just be present in my kids' lives without the Marine Corps dictating my time.
I was over the moon to be able to work around my school schedule to chaperone her school field trip this year.
We had an absolute blast!

Dannika's class!
Her teacher Ms. Rod is THE BEST 1st grade teacher in the world.
I may be a teeny bit biased, but she's pretty awesome!

 My friend Katy and me with some of our kiddos (plus some extras).

Adorable, right?
Maybe we can round these kids up one day when they're older and get a similar photo.

The field trip was an absolute blast, and absolutely exhausting!
I got home, bathed the kids, threw on my PJ's, and had a giant glass of wine (or two).
I am so blessed to have the opportunity to chaperone a field trip!
I seriously used to dream of this stuff when I was an active duty Marine!