Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Things I Wish I Had Thought About Before Having Kids

There's actually a LOT of things I wish I would have thought about before having kids. But seeing as how neither of my kids were truly planned, I didn't get much time to think about it. But aside from thinking about how much childcare costs, the late nights, the early mornings, or the massive amounts of food a three-year-old can actually consume in a day (seriously, my son is a bottomless pit), there is one thing I wish I could change. I wish I would have planned to have my kids between the months of January-May or Mid September-December. Do you notice that all the summer months are absent from the months? Out of ALL the things that parents think about before having a child, parents don't think about the timing. Both of my kids have summer birthdays. My sweet Dannika was born in July, and my rowdy Mattis was born in August. Why is this a problem? Aside from the fact that I spent both of my third trimesters of pregnancy in the sweltering months of summer dealing with swamp butt and all sorts of other pregnancy unpleasantness, my kids are eternally screwed with birthdays. Ok, maybe I'm being totally dramatic about being "eternally screwed", but it still isn't ideal! Here are my two reasons:

1. Summer birthday kids are always the youngest in the classroom when they start school. At age 5 (when they normally start Kindergarten), summer birthday kids are usually smaller, and slightly developmentally behind some of their peers (some whom are almost a year older than them). There is a HUGE difference between a 5 year old and a 5 and a half year old when it comes to size and development.
Lucky for us, Dannika is actually tall for her age, and developmentally has exceeded many of her peers. Teachers tell us it's a "girl thing". Girls tend to mature faster than little boys (is what we're told at least). Mattis hasn't started school yet, but he is small for his age, and he is definitely not where Dannika was intellectually or developmentally at this age.

2. The most important reason why summer birthdays can stink is BIRTHDAY PARTIES! With Dannika's birthday in July, by the time July rolls around after schools gets out in May, we've lost touch with classmates. Many have gone on vacations, camp, grandma's, etc. Getting a class together after losing touch for almost a month and a half is impossible. As for Mattis, his birthday is at the end of August. When he starts school, his classmates will be foreign to him by August. It also stinks for him, because school usually starts right after his birthday, so even if he wanted to do a party with his new classmates, he has the daunting task of befriending them (in like a week).

Dannika's school has been really great with acknowledging her "inconvenient" summer birthday! Her first grade teacher celebrated half birthdays for her summer kids, and her Kindergarten and 2nd grade teacher let us choose a day the last two weeks of schools to celebrate her birthday at school. We have found a pretty awesome way to celebrate Dannika's birthday as well. We throw her a party in June as soon as school gets out. We send out invites before the last day of school, and we've always had a great turnout! 

So despite the "inconvenience", we have managed to make it work out, and Dannika has celebrated 8 glorious birthdays. The birthday I'm not looking forward to is the year all her friends turn 16 before her. Sorry baby girl, you'll be "the one"...the one that is always bumming rides with her friends because you'll be the last one to get your license. 

But still, if I could have planned when I'd give birth, I would have preferred not to to have babies in the summer...

Dannika recently had her 8th birthday party just last week! Her and her friend had a joint party at a local "water park" (term used loosely). They had a blast, and it was absolutely memorable!

The Birthday gals!

Thanks to everyone who came out to make our girls feel special!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Life These Days

I don't blog a lot these day. Heck, I hardly have any time to read my favorite blogs that I used to frequent daily. Thanks to Instagram, however, I get to keep up with most of the bloggers I love through wonderful filtered photos. I want to get back into blogging a lot more. But things like school, kids, school, life, happiness, Texas, school....they all seem to take precedence over blogging. I do post a lot on social media, so if you follow me there, you get a pretty good idea of what is going on in my life. Here's just a little recap for those of you who don't follow my IG.

 Dannika is having an early birthday celebration tonight with a joint birthday party with one of her besties at our local pool. Joint birthday party = best idea ever. The other family and I split the cost of everything right down the middle, and it is so much less stress! Hassle free! Nick is relieved, because I tend to go into super party planning mode when it comes to my kids' parties. I turn into a bit of a momzilla.
We did a cute Evite photo shoot.
Look how adorable it turned out!

Sweet nanny Rachel came for a quick, short visit!

We made our Summer bucket list.
Fingers crossed we get through all of it!

We've done some frog catching at night.

I've woken up in the mornings a few times to find these two cuddled in bed together.
*insert melting heart*

Random morning doughnut dates

Playing outside in the rain

Dannika attended a Christian day camp last week called "Pine Cove in the City". Pine Cove actually has  two locations in Columbus and Tyler Texas where they host their overnight camps. Pine Cove in the City are satellite day camps they do all around Texas. They give kids the fun camp experience without the over night part. This is the first year Dannika has done Pine Cove, and she had an absolute blast! Dannika will be attending Carolina Creek Christian Camp for their overnight camp again this year (for the full week this time!). So Pine Cove was the warm up! I was so impressed by the staff, the camp counselors, and the activities that they had planned for the kids each day. They made learning about Jesus fun and interactive. Dannika actually came home from camp each day excited to read her bible and dig into the word. It was really exciting for me to see her willingly want to do that! I highly recommend this camp! It's especially great for parents who are not ready to send their kids away for overnight camp!

Dannika and her camp counselor "Boom". 
Dannika was described as selfless, compassionate, and trustworthy by her camp counselor!
What amazing words of affirmation for a 7 year old girl!

 We've done lots of swimming at the neighborhood pool!

Mattis started gymnastics this summer!
It's been a great way to wear him out, and also start building some strength, agility, flexibility, and balance!
We're hoping it pays off when he starts to play sports!

And of course, lots of sprinkler fun!

Summer has been busy so far!!
But we've been having a lot of fun! 
Prayers for Nick and I to finish classes this summer strong so that we can graduate in AUGUST!

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Belated Father's Day Post

I love Father's Day. I feel like dads don't get nearly as much credit as they deserve when it comes to parenting. I'm not discounting the role that mothers play in parenting, but oftentimes, father's are seen as "babysitters" and incapable of doing anything as good as a mom can. When in reality, most of the fathers I know are the most competent, nurturing, caring, and loving individuals who play an important role in their children's lives. I experience this firsthand, every day, with my own husband.

Nick is so intentional in his way when it comes to how he leads our family and raising our two beautiful kids. He gives baths, he has changed diapers, packed lunches, chauffeured D to gymnastics, piano, etc, cleans the house, does the dishes, gets the kids dressed, and so much more. When our kids were infants and up at all hours of the night needing to be fed, whether I was breastfeeding or bottle feeding, he always woke up WITH me just to be awake with me. Even after my insistence that he go back to sleep, he always stayed awake and watched me feed our children. He oftentimes woke up without waking me, to change their diapers and feed them in the middle of the night, just so I could sleep. I'd wake up in a panic the next morning thinking that my child was starving and in a full diaper because I forgot to set my alarm, only to realize that he had shut my alarm off to take care of "night ops" (as we called it) with the baby. He tucks them in at night and says prayers with them. He never says no when one of them slowly opens the door to our bedroom (long after being tucked in) because they need "fresh water". No matter how comfortable he's gotten in our own bed, he always gets up, without complaint, gets fresh water, and re-tucks them into bed. He is our children's biggest hero and cheerleader. As long as military duty hasn't kept him away, he has been present at every single special moment in our kids' lives (sometimes via Facetime even). He takes our daughter out on dates and pulls out all the stops. He teaches our son the importance of respecting women through his actions on the way he treats D and me.

What's odd is that Nick never had the greatest role models when it came to fathers. His own father is far removed from his life, and his step dad was always on the road as a truck driver for most of his formidable years of life. His mom practically raised him as a "single mom". I truly believe that Nick gets his parental instincts (what some people might call "maternal instincts") from the fact that he had such an amazing role model in his own mother (the late, Sandra). She often played the role of father and mother to him, and she rocked it (obviously).

And of course, if y'all keep up with my blog, know that my relationship with my own father was not always the greatest. I had a great childhood, a god awful teen/adolescent period, and over the last few years since being married and having my own children, my relationship with my father has slowly improved. My dad's not a man of many words. In fact, I've never spoken to him for longer than a minute or two on the phone. When we do talk in person, our conversations are shallow (mostly about current events, sports, the newest gadget on the market). However, my dad is a man of God, and the most powerful thing he does is pray for me every single day. I've watched my dad pray for me into tears, and that is more powerful than anything. Watching the leader of our family reduced to sobbing tears as he prays for me has shown me his soft heart and his sensitive nature. Because of that, my dad doesn't have to say many words to me. I know and feel how much he loves me, and how deep his love for me is. My dad is a man that would give me the world if he could (my dad's love language is "giving gifts" While "receiving gifts is a love language, my dad's love language is truly "giving gifts". It's how he shows his love, gratitude, and appreciation. I know my dad is proud of me and the woman I've become, and he doesn't have to say it out loud.

So with that, Happy (belated) Father's Day to my wonderful husband and my wonderful dad. Thanks for being so deliberate with your love for your children/grandchildren. Thanks for setting the bar so high when it comes to fatherhood. Love you.

Photo from my actual BIRTHday!

Y'all know I like to go ALL OUT for little celebrations!
It drives Nick crazy, but he secretly loves it.
I made it a "Father's Day" weekend for him!
On Friday night, the kids and I took him to his favorite burger joint in town, Grub Burger.
Saturday night, I took him to dinner (sans kiddos) at our favorite taco joint (Mad Taco), and to see Wonder Woman in theaters. 
Nick loves movies...I don't. So it was a big deal that I was willing to sit through a movie in a theater with him...and surprise...I DIDN'T FALL ASLEEP, Y'ALL!

Sunday morning, D and I woke up at 6am to go to a local specialty doughnut place (Kai's donuts) in town to grab kolaches and donuts for Nick!

I also got him a new table saw (not pictured), and a bucket of his favorite snacks and stuff.

He got himself a root beer at the Father's Day tent at church.

Then we headed over to our friend's house to swim, have drinks, and grill burgers!

 The kids ended up swimming for 6 hours!
They were EXHAUSTED!

 And because I can't pass up an opportunity to take a photo of a gorgeous Texas sunset....

I couldn't think of a better way to end Father's Day than to watch our heavenly Father's masterpiece in the beautiful Texas night sky.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

California Love...

Are you "Tupac-ing" it to "California Love"? Nick and I were invited to a wedding in California two weekends ago back at our old stomping grounds in Orange County! It was the perfect opportunity for a little getaway for us, and to visit our old home. Southern California will always have a special place in our family's heart. It's where both of us spent the majority of our Marine Corps careers, it's where Nick and I met, it's where we bought our first home, and it's where our first child was born! We have wonderful memories there, and it's always a treat to get to go back!

And airport selfie, because we can....
So funny story...
We originally purchased roundtrip tickets to fly out from Texas on Friday and fly home the following Monday.
We made a last minute decision to fly to California a day early so that we could enjoy an extra day to hang out and see friends. 
Since changing our ticket was going to be costly, Nick decided to purchase two one way tickets on Thursday, and just fly back on Monday with our original round trip tickets.
He purchased our tickets online through Expedia....through SPIRIT AIRLINES!
If you know anything about Spirit airlines, you know that they are an ultra low budget airline that nickels and dimes you for EVERYTHING (just google the horrific reviews).
They also have THE WORST reputation in the airline industry for flight cancellations.
You can literally buy a round trip ticket for less than a hundred bucks through spirit, but in the end, you end up paying to print your boarding pass, pay for all your bags (checked or not checked), etc. 
They also have the worst legroom, non reclining seats, no complimentary beverages.
It's basically "bare bones" flying. 
I was SO irritated that Nick did not take this into consideration.
Look, I'm no diva (maybe a little), but I prefer to fly in comfort.
I forced him to pay the extra 50ish bucks for the emergency exit row, because if I'm gonna sit on an airplane for 3.5 hours with non reclining seats, I NEED some legroom.
With that said...
Our flight was not cancelled.
The flight attendants were SUPER friendly.
The money spent on the emergency exit row seat was worth it.
The aircraft was tidy.
Would I fly Spirit again?
Probably not.
The seats were really small, so I felt a little squished on the sides.
Also, I can not gamble with my travel with the possibility of having a cancelled flight.
But, it wasn't a terrible experience.

Our first stop when we arrived in Orange County was San Juan Capistrano!
SJC has a very special place in my heart, because it's where our first home was!
This is a cute little historic area just down the road from where we used to live.

Then we hit up my favorite little bistro/café in SJC, The Sundried Tomato!
Dannika and I used to come here every Saturday morning for brunch when Nick was deployed!

Sundried Tomato soup!

My all time favorite, Dr. Rick's salad.
Spring mix salad with prosciutto wrapped goat cheese and a balsamic glaze over the salad!
absolutely delicious! 

One of my favorite things to do when we lived in Cali was go on runs by the beach!
The views and the ocean breeze made running so enjoyable and fun! 
Of course Nick and I hit up the beach run up and down San Clemente beach.
One of my favorite beaches!

 We stayed at the Laguna Cliffs Resort with the rest of the wedding party.
We love this resort, and it was such a nice treat to come back for old time's sake.
Nick and I spent several anniversaries here for a weekend getaway.

 We hit up our favorite Mexican restaurant, El Adobe...
I had the most delicious lobster tacos.

Because every Aggie always takes photos of their Aggie ring on vacation...

Nick hit up his favorite barber shop for a haircut!
Military bases always have the best barber shops around it!
They give the best razor fades!

 Because food...
We hit up our favorite sushi place in San Clemente, Tak-a-o.

The hummingbird special.
No idea why it's called that.
It's stuffled and fried jalapeño with their special sauce.


Our good friend Paul met up with us there!

Lounging poolside...
In jeans....

Rehearsal dinner!

 After the rehearsal dinner, Nick and I decided to hit up an old bar that we used to frequent.
We convinced this mom and son who were there for the wedding to join us!
It was so fun!

 More food...
We hit up Wahoos fish tacos!

 And finally, the wedding day! 
The wedding was at the Ritz Carlton at Laguna Niguel.
It was an absolutely breathtaking venue.
The ceremony was on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

A good friend of ours owns a photobooth company, Stay Golden Photobooth.
Nick and I decided to get the bride and groom a photobooth setup as a wedding gift.
It was a big hit!

 Aggie ring pic...

Nick was the lead sword arch for the wedding.

 Because I like taking photos of pretty salads...

The wedding was a blast, and we were so honored to be able to share it with our friends.
Until next time, California....