Friday, January 31, 2014

Master Sergeant Tack On...FINALLY!

A year ago Man was under the gun, again, testing to make his next rank.  After not making it the year before we set a new path for conquering the "beast".  Because he sewed some of his early stripes on quickly he has to make these ranks almost totally on the points he earns from taking the test.  Meaning, he has to know his stuff.  So, he studied for ONE year.  He dragged the books on vacation, used the apps, and fell asleep with papers on his face many nights.  BUT...he passed!  And since I am his wife, I can brag and say it wasn't by just a point or two.  Icing on the cake?  The cut off was the highest it has been in 30 years!  After we got the awesome news (while at Disney World no less) we celebrated and then waited for eight months to actually see him put the stripe on.

The girls and I, along with the best neighbors ever, were there to see him put them on.  I can't say how wonderful it is to have other people be there to support you and celebrate with you when these moments are happening in your life.  The military life can feel very lonely at times but them being there truly felt like we had our family right beside us. 

This is how it works.  They call your name, you come onto the stage, they say lots of things that I can't remember, give you a piece of paper, shake your hand, and wave your family to come up.  Of course, the girls were on the edge of their seat and were on the stage in seconds of getting the "ok".  

Olivia and Addison actually put them on for the first time, under the close supervision of his Chief (on the right) and Commander (on the left).  Then came the part they had been waiting on.

The tack on.  Yes.  Each arm gets "tacked on" with a good solid punch.  In our case, he got four punches.  :)

 This is yet another shining example for our children that tenacity, hard work, dedication, and sheer determination will achieve results.  He let nothing stand in his way for this and I could not have been prouder of him!  

----The Mama

Monday, January 20, 2014

Cruisin' and An Epiphany

A little less then a year ago Man and I began to plan our 10 year anniversary trip.  We have been on one adults-only trip in the last eight and a half years and that was for two nights after Olivia turned one.  So, we were long over-do.  I am certain I was caught in a moment of weakness when I agreed to a seven night cruise.  You know, the kids had probably rope tied me, painted the walls, and ran naked through the yard that day.  But, I agreed.  And, for quite some time I was very excited.  Then the worry and mommy in me began to get the best of me.  I couldn't sleep and I was terrified to leave them, especially Allye.  I honestly felt like I was somehow being unfair to her to do this, when I had never left the other girls that young.  While I had the best replacement lined up, I couldn't get over it.  I even got slightly hysterical one night and told my mom and Man I just couldn't do it.  They were very polite to me now that I think about it.  Then, the next day, the kids were back to swinging from the fans, screaming at each other, and I didn't even get to go to the bathroom alone.  I packed my bags that night.  The cruise was a month away.  

For this cruise we chose Royal Caribbean and I cannot say one bad thing about them, except they wouldn't let me have my iron in my room.  I am my mother's child, what can I say?  I ironed what I needed to with my curling iron.  So there.

We were soon setting sail to St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and the cruise line's private island. 

St. Maarten
 I didn't have to beg Man too hard to take me zip lining in St. Maarten.  The drive to the location was less then glamorous but the location itself was beautiful.  After a short lesson we were off and zipping from tree to tree and navigating the rope courses when we weren't able to zip.  He was impressed.  There were no cameras allowed on the course, for very good reason I realized after seeing it.  I was able to snap a few of the grounds once we were done.

The road we walked on to and from the transportation.

 The next day we landed in St. Thomas and WOW!  I think I could live there.  This place was stunning!  As soon as we disembarked we saw gondola chairlifts in the distance and made a beeline for them.  Wearing swimsuits and cover-ups we thought we were beach bound for the day but so thankful we made this detour.  After riding the chairlifts up the mountain we landed in a hillside shop with a restaurant and outdoor bar area.  

St. Thomas
Our next day was spent on the ship.  Being that the theme of the year is outdoor adventures I couldn't pass on the outdoorsiness (it's a word now) offered right aboard the ship.  First up, rock climbing.  

I chose the dark blue course, as it is labeled beginner, and I made it to the top!  Man had done this once, earlier in the week, so he was going to choose tan.  I began to notice he was using many different colors, so when he arrived back at the bottom I called him out casually mentioned my observation.  He's married to a rule follower.  He knows it.

Then there was the Flow Rider.  If you haven't met, let me introduce you.  The Flow Rider is a wave simulator.  A very nice mate assists you onto your board, gives you detailed instructions, pushes you out, and you ride.  Or not.

I watched Man do this for quite some time before I was brave enough.  I took lots of wonderful pictures that look like this. 

He offers to take some of me so the kids will believe I actually did it.  Once I settle back in after a couple of turns I am so thrilled to see the shots he got.  

Yes, I am that white.
The power of the wave is no joke.

Lookin' good right?
He let go!  How dare he?
So, after I gathered my swimsuit bottoms  from my knees and trudged to the back of the line, I tried it again.  And guess what?  I stayed up for more then five seconds.  But you know what?  I don't have any pictures to prove that.  I'll give you two guesses why and the first one doesn't count.  Uh huh.  You know who was already to the back of the line plotting his next turn before I could say, "Flow."

Moving on.  Boogie boarding.  

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Having lots of time to reflect during this trip I actually came to terms with something that is very hard for me to swallow.  We all come from different places and make our decisions about our marriages, families, children, and lives based on our past experiences.  For me, I grew up during my youngest years, with a single mom.  She worked herself to death to better our lives.  For me, this often meant long hours in daycare, many times followed by a trek back across the hospital parking lot for a night meeting.  It took many years, and lots of growing up to be able to be grateful for the dedication and hard work she put in so that my life could be what it is today.  I know, without a doubt, that I would not be where I am without her fortitude.  I have chosen to not work outside of our home because my work ethic matches hers and I never wanted to have to choose like she did.  So far we have been able to make this happen for our family.  But, here is what I realized also happened along the way.  I have become so much a part of my children I often "forget" that I am a woman and a wife.  I have been working so hard for my children to "have" me that I spend every ounce of energy on them, leaving nothing else at the end of the day for myself or my husband.  This trip was a HUGE reminder of the woman I am, the wife I am, and that I owe it to myself, my husband, our marriage, and our family to reserve a part of me that is in no way defined by our kids or my successes and failures as a mother.  It can eat you up.  It has eaten me up at times.  When I think about what really matters, the one thing that comes first to me, every time, is that my three precious girls can look back and know that I loved them.  Because for all of my days in daycare and nights at meetings...that is never what comes first when I think about my mom.  I always, always think about her love for me first.  Our paths in motherhood are different, but I can only hope the outcome is the same.

----The Mama

Friday, January 3, 2014

December. Reviewed in Pictures.

We are stowed away in the mountains of North Carolina eating the remnants of Christmas sweets, playing board games, making new memories and enjoying old ones of this special place.  Most of all, we are sharing laughter and time together.  What a wonderful way to begin this new year.  

As we have shared about all of our December fun with my family this past week, I thought I would create a little December in review with pictures.  A picture's worth a thousand words.  Right?  December is truly becoming a special time for our family.  I love as the holiday approaches, the older girls start asking about our traditions and if we will be doing those this year and when and how.  They bring the magic to this holiday season.  This one was no exception.

My step-brother and his wife added the ninth grandchild to our family on November 30.  Another boy!

Eli arrived and was very unhappy that we were not home and he had to hang out in the garage.

Christmas parade night.

We live in the South folks.

On our way to see The Christmas Carol.

Baking some of our favorites.  This photo sent me to my sewing machine.  We now have proper baking aprons.

First day of winter.

Annual baking day.  Allye ate more then she baked.

Christmas Eve.

Christmas morning. 

The only electronic toy we "let in" this year.  They have to share.  This will be interesting.

Christmas at Meme's.

New Years Eve.
 ---The Mama

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Tubing. Tobogganing. Sledding.

When our family was in the mountains at Thanksgiving we were so fortunate to be in Boone one afternoon when a snowstorm came in.  It was wonderful, miraculous, and beautiful.  Since we already knew about our outdoor theme for 2014, and seeing the excitement in the girls about the snow, we knew what our first outdoor adventure had to be.  With a return trip to North Carolina already planned for Christmas, our idea was set in motion.  We were taking our girls sledding.  Or tubing.  Or tobogganing.  Depends on who you I have learned.

  We initially had one location selected but then chose Sugar Mountain Resort once we realized that the snowstorm we needed was not going to "hit" in time.  This is a larger resort with great snow making capabilities and we can't just come back next week folks.  We had a blast and the girls had so much fun.  I was quite upset to have all of our plans made and then find out Allye could not participate.  Thankfully we had Popi and Meme and they were all the entertainment she needed.

Never having had an experience like this, I was so impressed with how organized, efficient, and kind all of the employees were.  We enjoyed two hours of solid riding and it was a great way to start off our Year in the Great Outdoors!

---The Mama

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...