Sunday, January 22, 2017

Deep Within My Heart Lies a Melody...

"...A song of old San Antone..."
 -Patsy Cline

Apparently, we have a new President? lol. My timeline is filled with all sorts of politics, and as much as I have some strong opinions, I choose to keep that stuff to myself behind closed doors. You know the old saying, "keep politics and religion out of family dinner talk." Well my "Facebook family" happens to be some pretty diverse individuals, some of whom I strongly disagree with and some of whom I strongly agree with. However, I find it easier for my soul and my emotions to just "let it go". I'm sensitive, and I get "riled up" pretty easily.

On to more important things, I really want to blog about our family's mini vacay to San Antonio last weekend! School started back up this week for Nick and me, so I haven't had a chance to jump on the old blog and catch up! Our family had all these awesome plans to travel around Texas for the winter break, but our plans got screwed over when our entire family literally got sick at some point in time during the holidays. I was determined to make ONE trip happen, and on the very last weekend of our break, we booked a hotel on the Riverwalk in San Antonio and spent two days there. Two days was just perfect for our family, especially with Mattis. I think one more day may have sent Nick over the edge 😂😂. Bless his heart for being such a great dad and putting up with our crazy three year old, so that I could enjoy our trip a little more with Dannika. 

I couldn't wait to take my family and experience San Antonio with them. I have such great fond memories of my parents taking me there as a child, so it was really neat to go back there as an adult!
Enjoy the pics! If you're planning a quick trip to San Antonio anytime soon, I have some great recommendations for a short weekend!

Our nanny is from SA, so we asked her for a lot of recommendations before we left.
Her mom recommended the Westin on the Riverwalk, and so that's where we stayed!
It did not disappoint!
I've stayed at several Westin Hotels, and I have never been disappointed!
Here is my sweet girl at the hotel seeing the Riverwalk for the first time!

In front of the Riverwalk!
The Riverwalk a man made river in San Antonio lined by bars, shops, restaurants, nature, and public art.

And you can't go to San Antonio without eating AMAZING Mexican food. Mexican food ever....
We had lunch at Casa Rio.
Casa Rio (according to a tour guide) is the pioneer in Riverwalk dining in San Antonio.

We took the Riverwalk cruise around the river.
It's a tour lead by a knowledgeable guide on a river boat. 
The kids loved it! 

Next, we made a stop at the "Cowboy museum" or better known as its' official name, "The Briscoe Western Art Museum".

 A vintage Selena Barbie still in its' box!
If you don't know who Selena is, you are clearly not a true Texan.

The San Antonio Calligrapher's Guild was there making free bookmarks!
It was amazing to see the artistry of free hand calligraphy!

They even let Dannika give it a whirl!

The finished bookmark!
Completely freehanded!

Dannika in front of a display of Spurs...

And Saddles...

We snagged a room with a view of the Riverwalk!
The kids loved sitting out on the balcony and people watching.

We watched a very hard fought Cowboys game....
That caused me to drink....

For dinner, we chose to go to a restaurant recommended to us called Rosarios. 
It was hands down the best Mexican food I have ever had.
I started with a bloody mary...nice and spicy and made with Titos vodka, just how I like it.

I had Pozole and Mexican style Shrimp cocktail. was HEAVENLY.
Nick had their beef and shrimp fajitas and our kids and I split an enchilada plate with white cream sauce.
best Mexican food I've ever had. 

This is Nick and I on "Marriage Island".
According to its' website, Marriage Island holds "360 weddings a year, and the island is now the root ball of a cypress tree that was planted over 100 years ago."

On our last morning, we found a little cafe in "La Villita" (a small shopping district on the Riverwalk) called "Cafe Villita".
They had the most amazing breakfast tacos and pancakes ever.
I highly recommend their brisket taco and chorizo and egg taco.
Another cool thing, the owner of the cafe is an Aggie!
He spotted our family (and Nick's giant Aggie bling), and came to chat with us.
Super friendly!

We found a little shop next to the cafe that sells wax melts for warmers (like a Scentsy warmer).
You can create your own blends.
It smelled so good in there, and we walked out with three boxes of our very own customized blends.

Our last stop in San Antonio was, of course, the world famous Alamo!
The kids did not appreciate the beauty and history of it (because they were just too young), but it was still cool for Nick and me to see it.
I hadn't been there since I was a kid, and it's just as I remember it.

"Davy Crockett"

On our way home, we stopped at a snake farm and zoo right off the highway in New Braunfels. 
It was a HUGE hit for Mattis.

They have a small zoo behind the snake farm.
The zoo actually made me a little sad. 
The animals had barely any room to really run around and be free in 😕

We had such a blast for our two short days in San Antonio.
It was great to have one last "hoorah" before spring semester, and our family really had an amazing time. 
If y'all are ever planning a trip to San Antonio, definitely check out the restaurants I mentioned!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Great Wal-Mart Debacle

If you're a frequent visitor of my blog, you'll notice it's a little different! I was ready for a change, and wanted something a little cleaner and more modern for my blog design. I found Kailey Annice Design on a random Etsy search, and she designed this beautiful layout for me! Her prices are SUPER reasonable, and I think she did a pretty fab job on my blog!

Back to what this post is REALLY about. I feel that I need to give y'all a little background beforehand. I hate Wal Mart. There I said it. I hate Wal Mart. I said it again. I have yet to go to a Wal Mart store where I truly have an amazing experience. Yes, shopping is an experience for me. Grocery shopping, clothes shopping, shopping for candles, shopping for I appreciate when a store provides outstanding customer service (or as a friend described as "Disney World level customer service"). It will make or break my opinion of the store and opinion of the products the store is selling. I can't tell you how many times I have overpaid for something or bought something that I did not need from a store because of the outstanding customer service (also the way products are displayed make a big impression!).

I hate Wal Mart because I've never had that level of experience shopping there. I understand some people may be saying, "you're seriously expecting 'Disney World level customer service' from Wal Mart?" The answer is yes. I am a consumer that is giving your company MY money. I expect to be treated with respect and provided a pleasant shopping experience. Every Wal Mart I have ever graced (which after living the Marine Corps life for almost 16 years now means I've been to a LOT of Wal Marts) is full of disgruntled employees who don't want to be there, don't want to at least fake it, and aren't very friendly (RUDE). I think this atmosphere bleeds into its customers too, because the customers I encounter at Wal Mart are equally as disgruntled and rude.

Several years ago, Nick's uncle David and his partner Andy came all the way from England to visit us in California. It's become a big inside joke between us about my hate for Wal Mart after a conversation about it that we all had during that time (after consuming some adult beverages). Just recently, they mentioned on Facebook about how it'd be great if I sent them some Hamburger helper from Wal Mart. (Side note: the British love them some Hamburger Helper. I'm not even sure why, but some of the British candy I like is equally frowned upon by actual British people). ANYWAY, to humor them, I went to Wal Mart today to buy them Hamburger Helper. I could have easily gone to HEB (it's closer), but I thought it would be funny. I went live on Facebook to prove I was there. A friend of mine even texted me this:

 So as y'all can tell, people who are close to me know that I prefer not to shop there. Also, I'm sure someone is gonna hate because they feel I am judging people who go to Wal Mart in pajamas. This is a stereotype of Wal Mart shoppers, and I have no regrets about saying it. It's funny! Look, I don't get all dolled up to go to Wal Mart, Target, the grocery store. In fact, you can catch me many times with wet hair thrown up into a bun, athletic shorts, and an old t shirt at the store. But let's be real here, I'm a self conscious person as it is, so you won't catch me in pajamas in public...ever. So if that is your choice of outfit, I say, "go on with your bad self!"

Afterwards, I posted about my experience...

"My Wal mart trip. The size is overwhelming. My cashier gave me an attitude because I asked if their chip reader was set up (how was I supposed to know?! Half the businesses that have them don't use them yet)...I asked an employee (based on the collared shirt with wal mart logo on it) what aisle hamburger helper was since I never buy the stuff...she claimed she didn't know because she doesn't work the floor....she looked less than pleased to help me find someone who could help me... I'm pretty sure I felt her rolling her eyes at me as I walked away after thanking her.
Why are they so unhappy? This is every dang wal mart I've ever been to."

As usual, my yearly trip to Wal Mart was exactly how it has been since I became an adult and had to shop for myself. This little Facebook post went viral. Ok, not VIRAL in the sense that it was shared a gazillion times, and now I will be on Ellen tomorrow. However, it garnered a lot of attention and comments. I didn't realize how many of my friends had friends and family employed by Wal Mart, and it surely was not meant to disrespect their place of work. I did get some insightful comments that I took to heart.

So why I am blogging about this? Because my Wal Mart Facebook post was based on an inside joke with family, and it got out of hand. I'm just going to add that there is a Fortune article that just recently came out saying that Wal Mart is laying off thousands of employees, and focusing on in-store customer service. Just last year, they closed hundreds of stores as well. They claim it is because of competition (sites like Amazon) that is taking over this industry. I find it hard to believe when chains like Target are doing amazingly well. I can't help but think that their customer service is a big reason why they are losing customers and business. It's sad that they're laying people off in order to focus on "in store customer service", but at the same time, their "in store customer service" is the reason why I (as many others) don't shop there. 

I'm not boycotting Wal Mart. I go there once in a blue moon, but each time I go there, I am always reminded on why I don't like it there.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Marriage and First Kill

If y'all have followed my blog long enough, you already know some of the marriage struggles Nick and I faced when we lived in Massachusetts. I like to call that phase of our marriage the "7 year itch". It's real y'all! Mix the "7 year itch" with the stress of getting out of the Marine Corps, losing half our income because of it, having a new baby, and moving a strange, unfamiliar (and cold) was a recipe for disaster. I think it was the lowest point in our marriage thus far (and with a lifetime ahead of us, I'm sure there will be many more lows). I remember driving 45 minutes to Boston in the middle of the night from my quiet suburban home with Mattis in just a diaper and Dannika half asleep to go yell at Nick. Yell at him for getting drunk at a work function. Yell at him for not coming home. I remember driving to his office in fury, in the cold, with both my kids at 1 (maybe 2) in the morning with every intention of causing hell. I remember showing up at his office at Boston University (Mattis in just a diaper in my arms and Dannika behind me) and seeing him passed out on the floor wreaking of booze. I angrily woke him up (probably kicked him). Instead of the conversation I had envisioned in my head on the drive there, he was too drunk to have a coherent conversation with me. Instead, I left his office with a drunken promise from him that he'd be home in the morning, and a broken heart. 

He came home the next morning as promised, and we sat on the floor in our kitchen and talked. We realized our marriage needed repair, and I needed repair. I hadn't realized how much getting out of the Marine Corps had damaged my ego and my pride. I went from being a Staff NCO in charge of Marines to feeling like the most insignificant person in the world. I learned later that this is a common feeling most veterans go through when they exit the service.

Marriage is tough, and it's not everything you always see on my social media. I think Nick and I have an amazing marriage, and a strong foundation to get us through the tough times. After our low point, Nick and I decided to do counseling. I did counseling for myself and dealt with the issues I had with my "identity loss" from being a Marine to a "house wife". We did couples counseling together to work through our issues. I basically resented Nick for getting to live the life I used to live, and he was feeling guilty because of it. 

One of the things that Nick and I did to reconnect during this time was just have coffee together every morning before he went to work and before the kids were up. That meant getting up at 4AM every morning. We are morning people, but 4AM is still rough. We chose the early mornings vice the evenings because it is easier to wake up than to stay up (when you're tired). Those mornings were my favorite. We prayed together, for each other, and we just had coffee and talked about whatever. We slowly began to reconnect, and I honestly believe our marriage has never been stronger since then. 

When we moved to Texas, we were in such a great place in our marriage that we have just sorta "forgot" to continue nurturing our marriage. When things are good, it's easy to forget to maintain. We are still in a GREAT place, but I want to make sure we stay where we are. I decided to start a couples bible study book together for the New Year. Nick and I decided to wake up early every morning like we used to, drink coffee, pray, talk, and do our bible study together. 

  I chose this book by Jefferson and Alyssa Bethke.
I read a book by Jefferson Bethke a while ago called "Jesus > Religion", and I absolutely loved it.
This book is one of the best books I've read that is relateable to the "modern day Christian". 
He's not so "grandpa's church", but he's also not "Cheesy mega church Joel Osteen" either.
He's real, compassionate, loving, and tells the truth.
It's the reason why I chose to do this book with Nick.

I plan on blogging about it, and letting y'all know my thoughts about it so keep up!
I'm really excited to  be doing this!

Oh, and as far the "First Kill" part of the title of this blog...
Dannika shot her first deer...all by help from Nick...


Friday, January 6, 2017


It dawned on my yesterday that I have been blogging for almost 8 years now. I started blogging when I was pregnant with Dannika to document my pregnancy, and keep my family and friends in Texas updated on our newlywed life in Southern California. It turned out to be a great little piece of my cyberspace where I could post pictures of my family, brag about "stuff",  and even vent. It's become a place where I've often shared my frustrations and struggles in military life, marriage, and parenting to complete strangers (and friends on family). I'm sometimes more open on my blog than I am to those who are closest to me. Writing my feelings and thoughts down is just easier than having to say it out loud to someone. In fact, I've used it to air my frustrations about Nick TO Nick. I vent on here, and I let him read it. It has saved our marriage hundreds of petty arguments because instead of me getting emotionally charged and saying things I don't mean, I can just write it, rewrite it, edit it, and really take a hard look at it before hitting "publish".

My blog has never meant make any money, nor is there anything I can really make money on. Who wants to pay me to write about my own kids and my own life? lol. I laugh as I write that, because I've always thought my testimony and life story would make a great book/Lifetime movie. I've done a couple little sponsored posts here and there for free, meaningless, and often useless "stuff". I've been paid a few bucks here and there to review something. Most of these posts were when I was in transition from Marine Corps life to Marine Wife life (hey, check it out...I'm a poet and didn't know it!). I was bored, home, and trying to find something to fill all this "extra" time I had all of a sudden. Yes, Marine wife and SAHM life is hard, but being a full-time, active duty Marine was like a billion times harder...I can say that, cause I've done both, right? 

Since moving to Texas and starting college, I've had less free time, and blogging has been on the back burner. I don't know how many times a day, I say to myself, "oh man, I can't wait to blog about this", but never get around to it. I've used Instagram and Facebook as a "not so great" alternative to blogging. But I truly miss consistently sitting down every day to write my thoughts. I don't make New Years Resolutions, because honestly, I'll forget what they are by January 10th (random date), but I hope this year, I'll make more of an effort to find time to blog.

I have also toyed around with the idea of transferring my blog to Wordpress, but seeing as how I am not using this to make money or using it to promote anything, I think I'll stick to blogger. I also am clueless on how to do it, which means I'd have to hire someone, and based on quotes I've looked at, spending 350 dollars to do that is not my priority. People have complained about this platform, but it's been pretty darn good to me for the last 8 years. I am planning on redesigning my blog theme, and by "I", I am going to hire someone to do it. I think I'll keep the name. I still feel like my life as an active duty Marine was still just yesterday, and most days, I still feel like a fish out of water trying to adjust to "Marine wife life". As for "domestic bliss", I am definitely a lot more "domestic"than I was as an active duty Marine. I actually do things like cook a homecooked dinner from scratch (almost) every night, and I no longer hire a cleaning lady to clean my house. GASP...I actually clean my own house (with a tremendous amount of help from Nick, and minimal help from the two little humans I created). I do things like take my kids to the park on a Wednesday at 1:00PM (notice, I did not say 1300). I like my new slightly "domestic" life, and I don't miss my old one. I take that back. I miss the people in my old one. I miss Marines. I miss going into work and hanging out and talking to Marines. I miss being surrounded by so much culture and diversity, and yet sharing the same title and uniform as a group of people. America could learn a thing or two from the Marines....

Anyway, it's a cold day today. I say "cold" in Texas terms because after living in New England for two years, my definition of "cold" is drastically different than those around me here. This cold made me want to blog, and reading back, I did a lot of rambling. Here's to more blogs in 2017!

And because no blog seems quite complete without a photo....
Here's an adorable one of my son!

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 Thoughts

Happy 2017, y'all! 

I'm a day late, but only because I've been sick and in bed all day yesterday (just a little cold and maybe some bronchitis). I am feeling a little better today, but still not well enough to be out and about. Thankfully, my illness did not hit me until after I got to ring in the New Year with our friends and my family. I am sad that I was not well enough yesterday to make my family a traditional New Years meal of collard greens and black eyed peas! My sweet husband made our kids pancakes for dinner and let me lay in bed and binge on Netflix.

Our family rang in the new year with our neighbors turned best friends on our cul-de-sac. I didn't think I'd make it to midnight, but I did! In fact, my entire family did, kids and all! My kids may have been a little delirious, but they were determined to make the countdown. 

 Only in Texas will you see someone wearing a tank top on New Years.


Cheers with Martinelli's sparkling cider!
It's hard to tell in this photo, but Dannika's eyes are bloodshot and she is delirious.

Happy New Year!

3 New Years together in a row!

This year marks our 3rd New Years in Texas. It's hard to believe how fast time has flown, and how quickly the end of our time here is approaching. 2017 will be year of big changes for our family. Nick and I will graduate in August. In October, he will be headed to Quantico, VA for six months for the basic school. I am staying back here in Texas since it's counterproductive to pull Dannika out of 3rd grade at the beginning of the school year just to take her to a new school for 6 months in a whole different state. That, and I am trying to cherish every minute I have left here in "God's Country". I'll be back to my all too familiar life of "solo parenting". I've been so spoiled these last few years having a constant partner (Nick) to help raise the children and just be around all the time. I'm a little nervous about being alone (although by now I should be a pro). I guess all good things have to come to an end, and you can only "run" from the Marine Corps for so long until it catches up to you. In a strange sense, I am sort of excited to move onto our next chapter of our life. I can't believe I just said that since y'all know just how much this Texas girl loves being home. So much of my heart belongs here in Texas. But, the adventure that awaits our family is also exciting to me. I guess this is why God made me a Marine, then a Marine wife. (Oh wait, as long as that "adventure" isn't back in Massachusetts, I'll be ok.) Who knows where we will end up? Ultimately, we would love to go back to southern California or go overseas to Japan as a family. However, as every good Marine should know, making plans or having wishes in the Marine Corps just sets you up for disappointment. I am just relying on God to place our family where He feels we can flourish. "Bloom where you are planted."

But, before I start thinking too deeply into 2017 and beyond (and stress myself out), I'm going to soak up everything amazing that God has in store for me right now (except for this nasty cold...this cold can leave now, thank you). 2016 was pretty awesome, and I pray that 2017 is just as amazing. 

I'm gonna go lay down now, and allow my kids entirely too much time on their Ipads so mama can rest. Nick went back to "work" today. Although he is a student, he is still an active duty Marine, which means that just because A&M is still on winter break, doesn't mean the Marines are. He's probably doing some menial tasks around the Trigon (the ROTC offices at A&M) like painting rocks and spray painting ammo cans or something (y'all think I'm joking, but you ever want to see some gunny's working like LCpls, come here and check out our MECEP'ers!)

Best wishes to everyone in 2017. I noticed a lot of my friends talked a lot about how 2016 was horrible, and my prayers for y'all are that this year is "your year"! Cheers!