Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It's a Conspiracy

All good things must eventually come to an end.  Last week my mom had to go home and back to work for the new school year.  It was awesome to have her here all summer.  We all enjoyed the time together and know that we took a not-so-great situation (deployment) and made it into a unique opportunity for her to get to know Kate and Connor on a special level.  As awesome as my mom is, I know John doesn't want the "dreaded mother in law" living with us for months on end.  So this was one of those serendipitous summers where the timing was right and everything worked out amazingly well. 

Connor has been working on crawling for the past 6 weeks or so.  He would rock, army crawl on his tummy, and occasionally get his knees under him and go a foot or two before going splat on his tummy.  I was wondering if he would go straight to walking because he seemed much more interested in pulling up and cruising than practicing his crawling technique.  Until last week. 

Last week my little man decided he wanted to be on the move.  It was like a switch flipped and he was off to the races.  Into everything.  Chewing on every surface possible.  Pulling every electrical cord he could find (he has unplugged my phone and answering machine twice).  Getting into places Kate hasn't even given a second glance.  I am learning quickly that this little boy is going to pose very different challenges than my daughter ever has.  Baby-proofing is going to have go to a whole new level.  He is awesome and I love watching him but my life has changed drastically in the past few days and it is harder than ever to be by myself.

You see where I am going, right?

I am convinced that my mom and Connor had a little conversation about how it would be "hilarious" if he was stationary and easy-peasy all summer and then decided to become a bull in a china shop two days before she left.  Murphy is having a good laugh.  My mom even had a little smirk on her face as she was packing her suitcases and Connor was crawling down the hallway trying to see what all the commotion was.  I am in So.Much.Trouble.
Monday, August 29, 2011

Home Sweet Home

My home in Norfolk is in an amazing neighborhood.  Beautiful old homes, crape myrtles, waterfront, parks, sailboats, a cute library, and a few independently owned restaurants.  I will even be able to walk my daughter to her little preschool when she starts in 10 days.  I love it here and we picked this area on purpose.  Unfortunately, it has one issue that gave me a little bit of pause when signing the lease:  flooding.  Major *build an ark just in case* kind of flooding.  If it rains hard or the moon is at a certain phase people park their cars on certain streets to avoid the 3 foot deep "puddles" that show up. 

It is a delicate balance between this view:

The view from behind the library near my house

And this view:

Typical flooding in Larchmont - this street is on my everyday running route

So when Hurricane Irene had her sights set on the Outer Banks and Hampton Roads I knew that it probably wouldn't be safe to stick around.  The City of Norfolk then made it easy when they declared my street a mandatory evacuation zone.  Okay okay, twist my arm.

I packed my kids up and we headed to DC where my mom lives.  But not before I had run around the house like a crazy person making sure it was "hurricane" ready.  Windows, doors, outdoor furniture, electronics, my husband's car - all had to go somewhere special or be turned off.  Packing for the three of us (plus my dog), worrying about the traffic heading west, wondering when we would come back and if our house would be damaged.

Add to that that we own two homes in Irene's path.  We own a small home in Norfolk and another home in St. Mary's County, Maryland that are both rented out. So I had three houses on my mind, plus my kids, my pets, and of course my husband is 8,000 miles away.  Not even able to talk to me on the phone about all of my fears and anxieties.  It was hard.  The hardest and most frustrating thing so far this deployment. 

But we got lucky.  All three of my houses fared well in the storm.  I have a mess to clean  up in my yard, but nothing that an hour with a rake can't handle (or possibly a phone call to a yard guy).  We have power and everyone came through in one piece.  I am very grateful for good friends who helped me get my husband's car to a garage, who made sure I had a place to go during the storm, offered their homes, their time, their babysitting services, and who checked on my houses after the storm to calm my nerves.  Friends who had lunch with me in Northern VA even though I come with two very unpredictable kids.  In the heart of the storm I really felt loved and appreciate the community I have surrounding me so much. 

Now that I am back in Norfolk, with babies in their own cribs, and a glass of wine in hand I can finally say that "I Survived Hurricane Irene".  
Thursday, August 25, 2011

Earthquakes and Fires and Hurricanes, OH MY!

We are in the midst of a natural disaster trifecta.  As I type this, my house smells like a bad BBQ thanks to the Great Dismal Swamp fire, friends all over the region are debating evacuating thanks to the westward shifting Hurricane Irene, and Virginia is feeling aftershocks following the 5.8 earthquake this week. I am feeling annoyed and anxious right now.  I live in a very flood prone neighborhood and the house we are renting is surrounded by very large (and not properly maintained) trees.  It is times like this where I really feel John's absence.  I shouldn't have to take care of all of this by myself.  It isn't normal or natural and I fight the urge to let it make me angry at the Navy or at my husband.  I found myself muttering under my breath at the television this morning when the Navy mobilized their crews to evacuate the ships out of Irene's path.  Of course it is more important to move government assets.  The fact that these sailors have families in the path of the hurricane is secondary.  (and yes, I sound like a whiny brat, but I am just annoyed)  I just sometimes wish my husband worked for a company that said "go home, take care of your families" as opposed to "come to work, we need to fly this plane out of the path".

No, I am not mad at Johnny.  Yes, I will be totally fine and "this too shall pass".  I just wish I didn't have to be such a grown up sometimes.  No hurricane parties for me.  I'm headed to DC to stay with my mom.  Assuming no major damage to my house and no long term power outages we will make our way back here sometime early next week. 

Here's to hoping that Irene does some good and puts out the Swamp fire!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Halfway!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Wheel in the Sky Keeps on Turning

On Friday night I went to a Journey concert with a fun mix of friends.  As my husband put it in an email, I "couldn't name any Journey songs if [I] tried", so it was slightly surprising to him that I went.  Of course I know some Journey songs, but it is accurate that I haven't ever shown much interest in their music (or their strange and intriguing metamorphosis over the past 30 years).

As we sat on a blanket on a really nice August night listening to the epic 80s rock ballads that make Journey famous, I came to the conclusion that they are the perfect go-to music for girls with deployed husbands.  Their music is overwhelmingly positive and upbeat.  They talk of time moving forward and of the importance of a positive self worth.  And of course, whose mood wouldn't be lifted by watching girls with big hair, legwarmers, and blue eyeshadow jamming out to "Open Arms" and "Don't Stop Believin'". 

It is true that Journey's new lead singer, Filipino singer Arnel Pineda, sounds exactly like Steve Perry.  Our entire group froze solid and looked at each other in amazement when he starting to sing.  If you closed your eyes you would have sworn you were listening to a track off of their "Escape" album from the early 80s.  We all found it highly amusing that Neal Schon (lead guitar, vocals since the band was formed in '73) discovered Pineda on YouTube doing covers of Journey songs for his band.  He has been their lead singer for 4 years now.

When my friend Julie bought these tickets several months ago I was excited because I thought it would be a fun way to mark halfway through the deployment.  I seriously cannot believe that in a few days we will (assuming no extensions) be 50% done.  Over the hump.  Downhill from here. (insert your saying here).  The days are flying by right now.  I can feel fall in the distance and am so excited for autumn temperatures, pumpkin spice, Halloween, and college football.

To end this post I give you what I consider one of the best 80's songs out there (and best karaoke tracks available).  Beware, it will be in your head all day long!

And in a nod to my husband's former squadron, the VAW 126 Seahawks, I give you their "we're bored on deployment and need a creative outlet" version of "The Wheel in the Sky".  The guy in the blonde wig was at the concert with me on Friday (though, without his wig which was disappointing).  As you can tell from the airplane, "wheel in the sky" takes on a whole new meaning for Hawkeye peeps.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

9 Months In - 9 Months Out

My son turned 9 months last week and I just got around to taking a picture of the two of us.  I've always enjoyed the "9 months in, 9 months out" pictures on the interwebs. It amazes me how quickly babies grow, how they develop from two cells into an infant in 9 months.  Then how they develop from a tiny newborn (well, Connor wasn't so tiny at 9 pounds 11 ounces.. but still) into a baby that crawls and babbles and pulls up and charms the socks off of you.

Happy 9 months, sweet boy!  I love you!

Left picture : 11/11/10, the morning of my induction
Right picture : 8/18/11, 9 months and one week old
Tuesday, August 16, 2011

F Word(s)

This past weekend I took a flight to Florida.  Saw lots of friends.  Had tons of fun.  Ate tons of food.  Get it?  Oh, you were wishing for a post full of F bombs?  Well, I'm sure there will be one soon enough (especially with my mom going home next week... eeek), but for now all F stands for is fabulous.

My wonderful mother watched Kate and Connor and I took a flight to Florida for an extended weekend.  I stayed with my friend Amanda and saw lots of old friends from our college days.  One of the great things about marrying your high school sweetheart is that there is no "his" friends or "my" friends - they are all "our" friends.  Not everyone would understand why I would fly to Florida solo for John's old USNA roommate's wedding.  But these are people I have known for 12 years now and who I love like family.  I knew that if I had any way of getting to the party wedding that I was going to be there.  If you know me you know that I love a good party reunion!

The wedding was beautiful.  The bride did a fabulous job with everything - good food, beautiful flowers, great band, perfect venue.  She looked glowing and gorgeous and there was a nice buzz in the air.  I haven't been to a wedding in awhile (it has been baby shower and birthday parties galore around here lately) and I felt like a dorky geezer walking around going "wow.. they didn't have this when I got married"...  I sounded like the old ladies in my neighborhood who always comment on my stroller or diaper bag and how they had "nothing so amazing as this when" they were a young mom. 

It might sound bad, but it was really nice to miss my kids for a few days.  I was so so so happy to get home and snuggle with them on Sunday night.  But having an opportunity to see my friends, have adult conversation, drink several glasses of champagne without worrying about caring for my kids with a hangover, shop without a stroller, eat meals without highchairs, read alone on my flight, etc was very nice.  Luxurious even.

Here is one picture of our group:

Thanks for being great hosts, K and B!  Best wishes for many happy decades together!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Three Months Down

I'm not sure if time is flying or not.  Sometimes it feels that way - I wake up, get dressed, and then 5 minutes later I am putting my kids to bed and falling onto the couch exhausted.  Other days I watch the clock hit 5:30pm and wish wish wish I was waiting to hear my husband's car pull into the driveway.  Wish for a hug, a kiss, and some help with dinner, bath, books, and bed.

But today marks 3 months since he walked out the front door.  I am going to celebrate that milestone and look forward to this fourth month. 

So, without further ado:

The Good:

*  We survived!
*  We have had lots of family time this month.  My mom is still here (for 2 more weeks) and my husband's brother and his family visited.  We had a blast!
*  Kate finished her first set of swimming lessons and did great.  She LOVES the water which, as a former competitive swimmer, makes me really happy.
*  We started potty training and Kate is really doing well!  She enjoys the concept and loves the praise and attention.  I just need to take the leap to underwear and see how it goes.  Thank goodness for hardwood floors!
*  Our road trip to CT proved a success.  The drive was hard, but it was more than worth it to see my kids and my grandparents interact.
* My friend Mary moved in down the street (we met at Pax River and I convinced her that Norfolk was the place to be.  Or something like that).  I am so excited to have a close friend within walking distance!
*  Connor is crawling, pulling up, and just making my life chaotic and fun.

The Bad:

* Ugh... well, let's just say that weight loss resolution from last month didn't happen.  Again, no gain, but seriously - I need to get on this.
*  Running has tapered considerably due to illness and a fall down the stairs.  While I am still hoping that I can make the run happen, my hopes are dimming.  Unfortunately, running without training isn't really an option when you have to wake up and care for two kids the next day.  Either way it'll be a fun weekend, and the Wicked 10K is still in October (which would mean I ran a race before Connor's 1st birthday) but I am really hoping I can pull it together for the Rock 'n Roll. We'll see.
*  Some days I feel like all of my friends are flocking to San Diego.  Without me.  Take me with you!!!
*  The chance to visit John in port at all during this deployment doesn't seem like a possibility.  I realize that with two kids I would be very very lucky for that to happen.  But it still bums me out that after 3 deployments I have yet to go to a port.  What is wrong with us?!?

Goals for next month:

*  Kate starts preschool (2 days per week) on September 7th.  I vow to soak up that day as much as I can, take a zillion pictures, and make sure Johnny doesn't feel like he missed out.
* I will try to start blogging about my diet and exercise.  Not sure which day or how I will do it.  But look out for some accountability in this blog.
*  Sign Connor up for swim lessons.
*  Enjoy Florida!  On Friday I am flying to Florida sans kiddos to attend a wedding.  I am so excited to have a few evenings with adult conversation, drinking, dancing, and SLEEP.  At this point I am counting down the hours.

We are about 2 weeks from the halfway point to this deployment.  Three months down, four to go!
Monday, August 8, 2011

A Pity Post

I battle anxiety on a daily basis.  I don't take any medication (I honestly don't think I need it at this point) and do my best to try and put things into healthy perspective by talking to friends and family, writing, exercise, and focusing on hobbies that keep me healthy and balanced.  And of course by liquid happiness - a glass of wine or  martini after a long day never hurt me.  One of the things that has made me successful in life has also made me more jittery than I would like.  I love a plan, a schedule, to know what is coming, to plan for all contingencies, and to feel like I am doing something about it.  When the boat rocks I react a little quicker and with more purpose than the average person.  Type A to the bone. 

But we don't always have control.

One of my fears has been that something will happen to me during the day or night and that nobody would know about it or find me.  That I would get hurt and that my kids would suffer because nobody would be here to take care of them.  I'm not afraid of dying, I am just afraid of my kids being safe in light of it only being me.  Sometimes being a grown up totally sucks.  Is it rational?  I don't know. I can't be the only military spouse (or any mother I suppose) to worry about that?  Right?  Right?

Last night I fell down the stairs.  It was about 4am and I was going to make Connor his "morning" bottle.  Obviously I'm not laying in my foyer knocked unconscious.  But it definitely wasn't pretty and I am now the proud owner of a pinched nerve (I think?) in my neck and a large bruise on my wrist and arm.  I thankfully was awake enough and had the reaction time to catch myself before I tumbled too far.  OUCH!  Today's run will be interesting to say the least.

I am now (seriously) wondering if I need to have my mom or sister or aunt check on me every day through a phone call or text message.  The normal Jill would say, "Oh geez, that is so incredibly ridiculous and paranoid".  This morning it seems like the safer thing to do for my kids.  And maybe I need to set aside my pride and install a safety net where people would start to look for me if I wasn't calling or answering my phone. 

What do you readers think?  Should I have a system in place so that if I did get hurt they would realize it sooner rather than later?  Is that paranoid?  Rational?  Something in between? I honestly would love to know!
Sunday, August 7, 2011

Atlanta Invasion

My husband's brother and his wife and two sons came to visit this weekend.  It was awesome to see them and to have all of the craziness that four kids under four can bring to one house.  Tommy, Carrie, Cash (4), and Brady (8 months) drove far out of their way to see us and I am so incredibly appreciative of the effort.  Having family around really helps the time fly and I think it is good for Kate and Connor to be surrounded by as much love and support as possible.

My son Connor and my nephew Brady were born one day apart last November.  It is like watching twins - and not having the care or sleep deprivation of twins. WIN!  We all wish that we lived closer because it would be so awesome for these cousins to grow up together being that they are almost exactly the same age.  Of course, that isn't possible, so we take what we can get.  Aren't they adorable?!

Brady and Connor (8.5 months)

They are both big boys so inevitably they were a few "baby sumo" matches where they would wrestle for a toy or crawl on top of one another.  I think it ended in a tie. 

The only bittersweet moment was watching my sweet Kate get confused because of how much Tommy looks like John.  At one point yesterday when we were at the Botanical Garden she looked at him from a distance and screamed "daddy!" and ran to her uncle.  It broke my heart to see that joy and then have to explain to her that daddy is still gone and that Uncle Tommy is not her daddy.  She is okay today and did well with their departure so I don't think she is that confused.  No more confused than any 2 year old with a deployed daddy is. 

I am looking forward to the coming week.  My mom will be coming back on Wednesday (after a 10 day vacation with friends) and then I am headed to Florida (ALONE!!) on Friday morning to attend a wedding.  Knowing that two solid nights of sleep await me Friday and Saturday is almost too much excitement to handle.   

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Status Quo of Clearance Sales

This morning by 9:45AM I have received 11 different emails telling me of major sales, markdowns, "friends and family events", and prices that can't be beat.  I have also been tempted by Groupon, Living Social, Troopswap, and Zulily. I'm sure by the end of the day Kidsteals, Babysteals, and a half dozen other sites will have emailed me.  I know this is my fault, I subscribe to these emails (or at least didn't opt out from subscribing when I bought an item in the past).  But geezy pete - that is a LOT of temptation for mid morning.

I'm not sure if we have noticed this slow progression to the eternal sale.  In the rough economy, businesses are clamoring for our cash and are willing to slash prices lower and lower to draw us in.  So I have been wondering, is anything really on sale anymore?  Or is it just clever marketing and advertising to get us to perceive things as being the cheapest or the most affordable?  I don't know.  But I have been thinking a lot about how I need to start avoiding the impulse buy because I think that Ann Taylor LOFT is having the "most stupendous, amazingly cheap friends and family sale-a-thon EVER".  Because next week, it seems the sale is recreated with different wording with a different gimmick attached. 

Yesterday my friend Karen from My Goal is Simple posed a challenge to herself that she would not purchase any new clothing for 6 months.  That she would force herself to use what she has, simplify, and create new outfits out of her current wardrobe.  It is just the challenge that I think I need.  My closet is full of nice clothing that I barely wear, and somehow I get those tempting emails and think I "need" more.  I don't.  What I need to do is really utilize and get my money's worth out of what I currently own.

So I am taking up Karen's challenge but doing a JV version. For the next 3 months I vow not to buy any new clothing for myself.  I will make the exception in two areas: running gear and bras.  I won't get into gory details, but those two areas need some help because of the races I am running and because I stopped nursing Connor last week.  But no new dresses, no new jeans, no new tops.  Until November 4th.  I will wear what I own and create new looks with what is in my closet. 

Hopefully by November I will be a little richer but also more aware of what I own and what I need to donate to Goodwill.  Now I am off to go unsubscribe to about three dozen "daily deal" emails...
Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Puddy in Her Hands

Before John and I became parents he would always joke about my spoiled upbringing.  I will admit that I was a very lucky little girl and had a lot of privileges that many would dream of having.  One of things John would rib me about were my horses.  Yea yea, I was one of those little girls who said, "daddy I want a pony" and actually got one.  A real live horse.  As a young child I would ask to go to the Great Falls stables in the evenings to pet and feed carrots to the horses.  My first tooth was lost because I was standing on a fencepost and fell (hitting my chin) when a horse decided she didn't like the little kid pestering her.  I spent much of my childhood and teen years on horseback - trail riding, showing, jumping.  It was a hobby and an outlet for me.  My father still has horses - he fox hunts and his girlfriend plays polo.  It is definitely in our blood. 

The first time I rode a horse was at my 5th birthday party.  My parents called a local pet farm and they brought one of their little Shetlands over so that my friends and I could ride in circles around my backyard.  John says that is where it started so when Kate was born he vowed that she would never ever have a pony at any birthday party.

Until now. 

A few days ago our local library had a pet farm come to their "backyard".  Thankfully, the library is literally a 5 minute walk from our house so my mom and I put the kids in the stroller and went to see the animals.  It was really cute - they had chickens and ducks, a horse, a donkey, two sheep, and two goats.  Kate really took to the pony and donkey - she had absolutely no fear and picked up a brush (without prompting) and began to "clean" the donkey.  My timid, shy baby girl was in love and was a complete natural around them.  I was honestly shocked, but if she is anything like me, she will be asking for a pony in no time.

That night I sent Johnny a few pictures of Kate with the donkey

His response? 

How many ponies does she want?  One for each year that she’s celebrating?  It’ll be challenging once she hits double digits, but I’ll make it happen.

Yup, that's what I thought.  Puddy in her hands.

Hi, I'm Jill!

Hi, I'm Jill!
Extrovert. Mom of two. Wife of a cute Naval Aviator. Lover of wine. When I'm not chasing my two kids around town you will find me writing, taking too many photos, and researching the ten future areas the Navy could potentially (but probably won't) PCS us. We are fish out of water, landlocked at 7,000 feet. For now.

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