Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Oh What A Year! (a few days late)

Happy new year, friends!  This morning I took a deep sigh of relief at my outlook for 2012 vs. 2011.  On January 1, 2011 I had a 7 week old newborn and was surrounded by boxes and paperwork and the stress that moving brings.  We moved in late January and then faced the "real" Navy for the first time in three years.  I knew I was staring down a deployment that would take my husband away for the majority of the year.  I was scared about what 2011 would hold for me and our family (and my frown lines).

But we survived.  Whew.  And unless the Navy pulls a surprise out of their hat, I should have John home for all of the holidays and happy outings that 2012 brings.  I couldn't be more thrilled and am really excited for this year.

Here is my year in review through pictures...


In January we were still living in Great Mills, Maryland as John finished up his time at VX-20.  Kate was 18 months old and Connor was 2 months old.  We were living somewhat in limbo - Connor didn't have a nursery (since I knew we would be leaving so shortly after he was born) and Kate was just starting to get used to her new brother.

Who is this guy??

Kate - 18 months
Connor - 2 months


In February, we made the big move back to Norfolk, Virginia. John joined his current command, CVW-8, and we moved into new (rental) house. While John worked with the movers and boxes and cleaners and property managers, I took both kids to my mom's house to hide. Connor was baptized at the Naval Academy.

Illustration of why babies and moving don't mix


John went out to sea for the first time in three years and gave me preview of what I would be in for in 2011.  When he was around we had fun re-exploring Norfolk with a different goal in mind.  Instead of being DINKs looking for a drink, we were parents of 2u2 looking for a way to entertain our kids.

Kate kissing John's picture while he is away for the first time in her life

Getting to know one another


Pre-deployment dread starts to kick in. John starts getting ready for deployment, I start getting ready for madness. The weather mercifully warms up and more outdoor activities become possible. I start interviewing cleaning services and therapists babysitters and ordering daddy dolls and recordable books. Our family comes down for Easter to celebrate the holiday and say farewell to Johnny.

The first (and only) time at the beach as a family this year

John's brother, Rich, takes a few family photos for us at Easter


On May 10th we said goodbye to John as he departed aboard the USS George HW Bush on their maiden deployment.  The rest of May is spent in a fog of figuring out how to juggle everyone alone.  I started this blog in May determined to "write it out" and have some accountability for my goals.  Some of my goals were to stay active, stay positive, and live in the moment. 

USS Bush leaves on her first deployment


I spend a lot of time outdoors with friends, take my first solo road trip to DC to hang with family, and get into a routine.  The goal: get out of the house every.single.day.  No pajamas after 10AM.  The microwave should not be the sole way to cook food.  Small steps but they did wonders for my mood.  I officially became addicted to caffeine. 

Three reasons to be calm...  Wine, cosmos, and family


Kate turns 2 on July 3 and I throw her a birthday party.  One of my best friends from Villanova flies down to hang out with me for a weekend.  My mother (bless her) arrives for the summer.  Things are looking up!  We spend mornings outside in the backyard playing and afternoons getting out of the house for the zoo and botanical garden.  At the end of the month we take a LOOOONG drive up to Connecticut to celebrate my amazing grandmother's 90th birthday.

Happy Birthday, Kate!

Thank the lord, my mom is here!

Kriste too!

How we spent most mornings...  Connor was a happy tug boat captain!

My lovely sister and grandmother at her 90th birthday shindig


In August I take a weekend away from the kids and head to a wedding in Florida.  I realize how lucky Johnny and I are to have known each other so long.  The wedding was for his USNA roommate, and despite the fact that everyone attending the wedding are "his" college friends, I have a blast and felt completely comfortable going solo.  On the family front, while my mom is away on a much needed vacation with girlfriends, John's brother Tommy and his family invade the house from Atlanta.  It was so awesome to have such a full house and catch up with them.

Hanging with John's friends in Florida

Brady and Connor (cousins, born 1 day apart)


In September I get the surprise of my life when my best friend from high school surprises me from San Diego to run the Rock 'n Roll 1/2 Marathon in Virginia Beach. I was so overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness of my friends that weekend and it really recharged my batteries. Kate starts preschool on September 7th (sniffle). She absolutely LOVES it and Connor and I get some much needed one on one time together.  At the end of the month I attend the Centennial of Naval Aviation Ball with a group of girlfriends and "balloon John".

Mel, Becky, and I the weekend of the 1/2 Marathon

Becky and I before the race

Kate on her 1st day of school

Solo at the ball!


October is when I started feeling sluggish and sad.  The summer had been a whirlwind of friends and family and activity.  The fall brought a little loneliness and jealousy.  I love autumn but had a difficult time watching other families enjoy everything while I physically couldn't do it logistically.  Aside from a few outings to the beach, a short road trip to DC, and Halloween with friends, October was a quiet month.  If I had "rock bottom" I think October was it.

Connor and the great pumpkin!

Going stir crazy and ready to kill each other.  Literally.

Alice and I trick or treating.  Connor wasn't feeling too well that night.


November came and I started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  Connor turned 1 on 11/11 and I threw him a small party.  At the end of the month I got to jump on a plane and head to Marseille, France to spend a few wonderful days with Johnny.  My family banded together to watch Kate and Connor for us.

Clearly, Connor loves cake.

Gorgeous Christmas decorations (on the left you can see the market) in Aix En Provence, France


HOMECOMING came on December 7, 2011. 

VAW 124 Bear Aces come home

Connor is THRILLED

As am I

We had a lot of down time in the middle of December - hanging in our jammies (I waived the 10AM rule), visiting Santa, and driving around seeing the Christmas lights.  At the end of December we headed to Northern Virginia for Christmas with Johnny's family.  We all enjoy lots of time with family and food. 

Kate in the life-size snow globe before visiting Santa

Connor climbing the gifts Christmas morning

I think that overall, 2011 was a success.  I had a lot of fun with my friends and family.  I missed Johnny every day but our relationship is great and I know that I appreciate him more.  I am stronger, more independent, and know that I am capable of doing things on my own.  It is amazing what can happen when you are given a challenge that seems impossible or difficult.  You.just.do.it.  Plain and simple.

I am happily bidding 2011 adieu and look forward to the fun things in store for 2012. 


Lori said...

Love the recap!!! Miss you lots!!!!

Karen said...

What a year! Happy 2012 :).

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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