Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Monkeying Around for Halloween!

Last year, we took Avery trick or treating at a trunk or treating event held by our church in San Antonio. She was dressed up as adorable. OH WAIT! She's adorable everyday. She was a pumpkin. Here is the picture from last year.

What a difference a year makes, eh? So this year, Avery received a sock monkey outfit from her Gran-Gran. We decided that she would wear it for Halloween and it was perfect!

Troy really wanted to take her trick or treating, but he wanted to dress up. The first year we were stationed in Dover, one of our neighbors took his kids trick or treating and he was the highlight of our night. His daughter was Winnie-the-Pooh, his son was Piglet, and he dressed up as Tigger. He didn't just have a black sweatsuit that he striped with orange duct tape. It was a full on Tigger suit. ADORABLE.

Troy wanted to think of something that would tie Avery's monkey outfit to him. So they could be a pair. I love him :) This is what he decided he wanted to be:

The man in the yellow hat. Avery's sock monkey outfit could easily translate to monkey. So anyway...Troy asked me to find him a FULL ON YELLOW SUIT! Like Dumb and Dumber style.

Except for yellow of course. I was like, "um are you kidding?" So instead, I got on Amazon (oh good old Amazon, you are so dependable) and ordered a long sleeve hanes yellow t-shirt and a yellow hat. Total of 11.16 + shipping. I used black electrical tape to make his tie.

We walked outside to take a picture on the porch and Troy was like, "TAKE A PICTURE OF AVERY BEING CURIOUS!! GET IT? LIKE CURIOUS GEORGE???" Apparently being "curious" translates to putting your baby on your car and making a scared face. For the record: This picture was Troy's idea. He completely posed them both for the photo. Another reason I love him: He's silly.

Look how excited he is:

Getting ready to leave:

Troy said that they went to about 15 houses. And only about 1/2 of the people got their costumes. READ PEOPLE!!!

Avery was super excited about her candy. I know she doesn't look like it in the picture, but she ate 2 kit kat bars and figured out how to chew through a Butterfinger wrapper and was found eating the paper and some of the candy bar. Bad mommy points. Overall, she had fun!

Here is Avery enjoying her kit kat and making monkey noises while her mouth is full. For the record, we did NOT teach her that monkeys go "oo oo oo." We taught her that they scream. More like "aaaaaaAHHHHH aaaAHHHHHH" so that the pitch and volume go up at the end. It's more accurate.

My Oscar Speech...Should I Ever Win One. NOT. But this Little Blog Won an Award!

I'd like to thank Troy for be so ridiculous. Without your weird awkwardness, I would not have stories to tell about you. Thank you to Avery for being so cute. Without which half of the people reading this blog would not even look. Okay...anyways....

Okay so I'm pretty sure I will NEVER win an Oscar. But I did win an award. My first one ever. Literally.

So I read this blog called CrakGenius. And he is a genius. A witty, sarcastic, pessimist. I love it. Here are some of my favorite posts of his:

- His addiction. Not to crack. To Reeses Peanut Butter anything.

- Cars that he would drive in the Zombie apocalypse. GENIUS. He found these on Craigslist or an auction website. SO FUNNY!

- And a story about how he wound up completely naked in his front yard. It's such a good story, he broke it up into part 1 and part 2. I peed a little bit when I read them.

It's called a Liebster Award and started in Europe somewhere. It is designed for well known bloggers to recognize bloggers that they like and enjoy and encourage others to click over and give them some love.

Original(ish) Rules For The Liebster Award

1. You must thank the person who gave you this award.
2. You must display the Liebster heart on your blog.
3. You should nominate 3 to 5 up-and-coming blogs (with less than 200 subscribers)

In accordance with rule 1, thank you CrakGenius. You make me laugh with every post.

In accordance with rule 2, here is the Liebster award logo (I included 2, because apparently there is some confusion about which is the true logo):

So I am apparently a bad blog reader. All of the blogs that I read daily have more than 200 subscribers/followers. I read about 6 religiously. So I am going to have to ignore the nomination portion because I literally don't have anyone to nominate. Sorry Crakgenius. Love you....

CrakGenius also requested that we respond to his 11 questions:

11 Questions For Awardees

1. Are you a grammar Nazi? (Spoiler: if you wanted to tell me that “awardees” isn’t a word… you are)

I am going to go with no. My husband has to read all of my posts before I publish them as my acting editor. The problem is, I read a lot. Like A LOT. My brain has learned to correct grammar, add words, and correct spelling automatically so that I don't really see it. My brain just skips right over it. Have you seen this floating around facebook?

I cannot tell you how easy this is for me. The only issues that I have (that would qualify me as a grammar Nazi) would be the improper use of there, their, and they're as well as your and you're. COME ON PEOPLE! Get with it.

2. If you had to choose just one, Facebook or Twitter?

I'd go with facebook. I don't have a twitter account. Don't tell me merits of twitter. I don't need another time suck in my life.

3. How long have you been blogging?

I've been blogging since the middle of June. I moved to Alamogordo, New Mexico while Troy was in training and we were living in a hotel room. I started out of boredom and was SO OVER calling and talking to people about the same updates. I swear, I spend 4 less hours a week on the phone talking about the same story. So thank you blogging!

4. What’s the worst search term which led someone to your blog?

It's not a "bad" or "embarrassing" search term, but the best one would be "frilly socks." Apparently someone was looking for frilly socks and was led to the blog with this post. About Troy using a "frilly sock" of Avery's to bandage my dog's foot. SURPRISE!

5. What’s your most popular post and why?

My most read post is about the day that Troy and I fought all day putting up blinds and installing ceiling fans. I think the reason it's popular is because a lot of people can relate to the silly crap that couples fight about. And the things you say in frustration. I also think that people who know Troy and I pretty well, know that generally, we try to play nice in public. So putting that fight out there in words for all of eternity on the internet was a little view into our relationship that we try to hide.

6. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Um. Tough question. I'm going to have to go with the ability to make a day last for longer. I feel like I can never get everything done that I want to do. My to do list keeps getting longer. And it's not stuff that needs to be done. I always get housework and cooking and cleaning done. My problem is "me time." I have so many projects to do, books to read, and movies to watch. My DVR is FULL. So maybe my power would be to move with the speed of light so that I could get all the stupid responsibility stuff done so that I could have me time. What would that be called?

7. What’s your favorite curse word and why?

I'm gonna go with shit. For sure. It's my favorite. It's my "oops" word. I am super clumsy. So I probably say it or think it several times a day. It's also my praise word. As in "you are the shit" or "I am the shit." Which really doesn't make sense. Why would something/someone awesome be proclaimed as "the shit"? It's also my go to name calling word. As in "you are a shit" or "he was a shit head." I need to find a new favorite oops/praise/name calling word. Avery is a sponge.

8. What’s your porn star name? (First name is the name of your first pet, last name is the name of the street you grew up on…)

Haha....mine is really good. My dog's name is Optimus Prime and the street is Landing. So it's Optimus Prime Landing. Translating to "The Number One Landing" spot. Yucky. And hilarious.

9. Do you have any tattoos? If so, how many? If not, would you ever get one?

I do have a tattoo. It's a cross in the center of my shoulder blades.

10. Introvert or extrovert?

This is a tough question. I am terrible in groups of people that I don't know. I just sit and listen. So an introvert in groups. I do better in a one on one situation. But then (as mentioned here) I talk way too much. I just get nervous. I would say in general I am an extrovert. I feel like you'd have to be an extrovert to some degree to write a blog. You are sharing moments and stories from your life with the whole world.

11. How did you meet your spouse / significant other?

Troy and I met in church youth group when we were 16, right at the beginning of our junior year. We started dating our senior year while I was at JMU and he was at ECU. It wasn't pretty. But we made it! Long distance relationships CAN work!

So that's me. Thanks so much for the award CrakGenius. I wish I could continue the tradition and give it to someone else, but I don't read any blogs with less than 200 readers. Fail on me.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

3 Couples Who Have Influenced Our Marriage and Lifestyle: Part 3

Lesson 1 from Bryson and Lori Smith: Love God. Love People.

Lesson 2 from Rob and Cynthia Wittwer: Work Hard. Play Hard. Choose to be Happy.

I grew up as a military brat. I went to 3 different high schools and the longest I have ever lived somewhere was in college. I lived in that town for 5 years. That's a long time for me. Troy was a military brat too. But after his dad got a staff job at the Pentagon when Troy was in 6th grade, he stayed in the same school system until high school graduation. We were both used to moving and making new friends and starting over.

Troy and I got married right after undergrad and they scheduled him to go to ASBC in Montgomery 3 days before our wedding. Oh. Hell. No. Troy called and asked them to move it back seeing as how they were giving him 2 weeks notice to report to Alabama and our wedding was already paid for, guest airline tickets were bought, honeymoon arranged, etc. They obliged. Thank God. However, that meant that his active duty date was pushed to November 6th of 2007 rather than in July.

We lived in a tiny apartment in downtown Harrisonburg with my roommates (I was starting my 1st year of grad school, which was on campus). It was seriously the tiniest, cutest apartment you ever saw. Anyway, we got lucky and Troy and I got an on base house. And it was brand new. Seriously awesome. They literally finished the house painting the day before Troy moved in. Poor guy. He had to move in by himself because I was still in school and he didn't know anyone there. Yet.


His first day reporting to work, he met Truth, another 2nd Lieutenant with vast prior enlisted experience. And yes, that's actually his first name. And Truth was on babysitting duty for the new LT. The job NOBODY wants. Watching the newly commissioned officer, who has no idea how the military works yet, asking all kinds of silly questions and is trying to figure out their ass from a hole in the ground. Truth had been prior enlisted for 8 years (like Rob) but he got picked up for Officer Training School after busting his butt to get his degree while working full time and raising 2 kids.

Lesson 3: Have your own friends and have your own hobbies.

Truth and Shannon were dating when they were 18 and 19 (Shannon was a cougar...rawr) and working in an Italian restaurant. They got married and Truth went off to basic training and Shannon lived with his parents and their first born, Jake. She's a saint. I kid. I've met Truth's Mom and she's AWESOME. She brought me puppets for when I worked in a school and the kids loved them. Anyway, they were finally joined again when he finished basic. They had another little boy named Issac.

It is important to mention that their ENTIRE families live in Ohio. Grandparents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews. Their whole life. In Ohio. "The Land of Milk and Honey." Seriously. When they talk about it, their eyes glaze over. And Ohio State. Don't even get them started. Truth met Jim Tressel when he was deployed and it was like he met Jesus in the flesh. I learned the most interesting things about Ohio. The first Buffalo Wild Wings was there. Every time we went, they mentioned it. Rascal Flatts is from Ohio. Every time they were on the radio, they mentioned it. They plan to move back there when Truth retires from the Air Force. Wright-Patterson AFB is the number 1 move on their wish list. Being away from their very large families is hard very for them.

When my Thanksgiving break started (JMU got a full 10 days, not just a 4 day weekend) I drove from Harrisonburg, Virginia to Dover, Delaware and let me tell was my first time doing ANYTHING as a military spouse rather than a dependent. It is so stressful. I couldn't figure out where I was going on base. I had never done a move without my parents. Moving to a new place and knowing no one except your husband is scary. Because we were newlyweds and I still hadn't decided if we had done the right thing. And the military is scary.

Troy brought me over to meet Truth and Shannon the first night I was there. They had just moved from old base housing into new base housing and Troy had helped them with their "across the base" move. I remember when I met Shannon, she was super quiet. And me being me, I couldn't shut up. I feel this need to talk and talk and talk when there is silence. You can psychotherapy me or whatever but I can't help it. Poor Shannon took the brunt of my babbling while Truth and Troy talked shop. Looking back on it, that was probably the best thing for our friendship. She understood early on that when I was on a roll, to get out of the way or hop on the train cause I can bulldoze you with my chatter. She still makes fun of me and the way I can talk for 15 minutes without prompting.

I can say looking back on it, that particular instance of babbling was nervousness. She had kids that were 9 and 11 and a was super-experienced military spouse. I was talking and talking hoping that I would say something that she connected with or thought was funny, hoping that she would be my friend or feel sorry for me or something. Which I know now was a risk. When Shannon meets people, she's super quiet and takes everything in. Well, I'm a whole lot to take in. I think she could tell I was scared. So I met them right before Thanksgiving and didn't see them/talk to them again until June, 7 months later.

I finished the coursework for school and was going out to start my clinical rotations, which were all arranged in Dover. Shannon didn't work at the time and the guys were working like crazy because they were having an ORI (some kind of crazy inspection) and I was super lonely. So I was being a little pushy about spending time with Shannon. It was the first time as a military spouse where I needed the support of another spouse to get from day to day and vent because (seriously) Troy slept in his car instead of coming home.

Shannon is super into hobbies. And TV. She introduced us to Big Bang Theory. She knits and crochets. She paints. And refinishes furniture. And dumpster dives. And does drive bys on trash days. And hits up Goodwill on military discount days. And antique stores. And uses crackle paint. And has quick and easy recipes. She taught me how to fry chicken. And use my crock pot. And plant flowers. And make homemade wreaths for every season. She is my original pinterest. I would use her house, style, and sarcastic quotes as inspiration. She showed me how important it is to have hobbies and interests that absolutely DO NOT include your husband at all. If you structure your life around your spouses schedule, hobbies, and friends, you'd never get anything done as a military spouse. Having a military spouse means always depending on yourself. You can't depend on them to be home for dinner or help with the kids. Or change your oil or cut the grass. You have to be the mom and the dad. The chef and the chauffeur. The landscaper and the banker.

Truth deployed in January of 2009 and Troy and I took care of Shannon. Troy went over and played video games with the boys while Shannon and I went to midnight Twilight movie premieres and went to yard sales every weekend. We had them over for dinner. And had Christmas in July. Complete with decorations and music. I spent at least an hour with her everyday, but to be honest, but could have been up to 18 hours. We would have these epic movie rainy days that started at 8 am with coffee and breakfast and ended with popcorn and beer at 2 am. When Truth came home in August, we took a trip to Atlantic City for the weekend and it was EPIC. I look back at it and kind of wonder how we lived. So much alcohol. Not enough sleep. So much conversation and laughing. It was so good to be back together.

And then Shannon and Truth got orders to Elmendorf, Alaska 2 weeks later and 3 weeks before Troy was leaving for a deployment. I was crushed. We were in Germany on vacation when she told me. I was devastated. I was depending on my friend to take care of me while Troy was deployed the same way that we had taken care of them while Truth was deployed. That sounds so selfish, but I was seriously counting on them. As it turns out, they ended up living with me for 2 months (after Troy had left) while Truth went ahead to Alaska to get settled and moved into their house.

The day they left to fly to Alaska, I felt like my world ended. It was seriously awful. My house felt so empty. I went from having Troy and Optimus to having Shannon, Jake, Issac, Lucy, and Optimus to just Optimus. We were so depressed. I totally threw myself into work and hobbies. I kept busy. I kept going to Goodwill on wednesdays like we had done. And crafting. And I watched 6 seasons of Lost in 3 weeks. It was an addiction. I started watching the Bachelorette with my friend Brittany every monday. And going to girls night with some of my neighbors every tuesday. And I had an epiphany.

If I am going to be a happy spouse of a military member, I have to have my own interests, my own friends and my own life. And that's okay. Shannon totally got that before she met us and just integrated us into her life. They left, and I'm pretty sure her world didn't end without me.

I feel like the lesson I learned from Truth and Shannon was learned indirectly. I became super dependent on them and our friendship. They were the first people that we had a great connection with in Troy's military career. And we love them SO much. But when they moved, I was devastated. I had to relearn how to keep myself occupied and literally GET A LIFE. Having friends is SO important and having hobbies is SO important. I knew this, but it was reinforced when reality hit hard and I was left alone.

When Troy is home, we definitely love doing things together. But we also realize that when we have our own interests and friends and spend time apart, our time we spend together is better. You bring a different experience, perspective or skill to the conversation. You have more to talk about.

As much as Troy and I love each other, sometimes you just want to do something alone. Or with someone else. To make yourself better. Or the world better. Or have an experience to share. When you get married, do not lose yourself to the title of husband or wife. Or become dependent on someone else to keep you happy. You need to have things that you do alone that bring you joy.

Thank you to the Fincks for abandoning me or I may not have figured this out. And this is becoming SO important now that Troy's schedule is such a mess. I love you guys.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

3 Couples Who Have Influenced Our Marriage and Lifestyle: Part 2

The next couple made me a better mom and a better wife. Troy continues to use then as a shining example for "attitude is everything." Have you heard that quote that "life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond?"

To recap:

Lesson 1: Love God. Love People.

No matter what anyone tries to tell you, when you have a baby, it changes your marriage. You don't do it on purpose, but you can't help it. Everyone tells you "be married for a few years before you have kids so you really have time to enjoy each other get to know each other." Well, we were married for almost 4 years before we had Avery and as it turns out, we definitely knew each other before she was born, but it didn't make one bit of difference.

Things change when you have a baby. You can't plan for it. You don't know how you or your spouse will react. You think that you can handle it. You have great days. And horrible days.

There are parts of my body that have been completely off limits since Avery was born. I have become a nagging nagger. Troy has been subject to the crazy. As a family grows, there are just more things to do. Especially when you have a dog and buy a house. No more sleeping in until 11 on weekends and lounging all day. You have to cook food and eat meals. Babies can't eat cereal and ice cream for every meal. Well, they shouldn't. It happens. On your days off work, you can't "do nothing." Days off work are work days at home. It's a huge adjustment.

Rob and Cynthia would never let that 10% ruin the party called life. Ever. If life gave them lemons, they'd make sangria and bring some limes and tequila.


Rob and Troy met at East Carolina when Troy was a freshman in ROTC. Rob was "the old guy." I kid. But really. Troy was a young, impressionable 18 year old and Rob was going back to school to get a nursing degree with his GI bill after serving 4 years in the Marines. AND he was married. AND he had a kid. Not to mention he didn't live on campus. As it turns out, Rob was the cool guy.

One of Troy's first memories of Rob was at an ROTC tailgate for a football game. Rob showed up with a kid. ALL of these irresponsible college kids drinking and playing beer pong. And who's the guy who brought the freakin' kid? Rob. Troy remembers watching Rob and his 2 year old play football the whole tailgate. He doesn't remember who he talked to, anyone he met, or who played at the game. All he remembers is thinking, "there's a good guy right there." And later telling me, "that's the kind of dad I want to be."

Rob and Cynthia got married young. I think they were 19? And then immediately started popping out kids. By the time Troy and Rob graduated (they were in the same commissioning class) Rob was up to 3 kids. During Troy's college career, he spent many many nights at their house. Rob and Cynthia GOT it. They invited people over, knowing that they wouldn't be able to go out with a gaggle of kids. Instead of going to parties, they had parties. They had taco night every week (Troy always brought avocados), dirty Santa dress up parties, and as Rob's birthday is on leap year, the year his birthday day actually fell, they had a power rangers party. Hilarious.

Rob went to full time nursing school and worked at Olive Garden. And helped Cynthia. She waited tables and was a bartender while Rob got his degree. She was the poster child for supportive military spouses everywhere. They bought houses and flipped them while they lived in them. And moved over and over. Haha. I have helped them move several times, the most recently into their house in Maryland.

I remember meeting Cynthia while she was hugely pregnant with surprise baby number 3. We went over for taco night and I remember thinking "how are they doing this?" How is Rob in nursing school full time and working full time? How do they have energy to host parties every week? With 2 kids and one on the way? And how is such a tiny little lady not falling over with that huge belly and still waiting tables? They are making me feel so inadequate! HOW DO THEY DO IT?? How are they keeping it together and so happy? I need their secret. I think I have figured it out:

Lesson 2: Work hard. Play hard. Choose to be happy.

The next time I met them, I was helping them move. They moved a couple times while the guys were in school. After they flipped a house (while raising 3 kids and going to school and working) they couldn't sell it for the price they wanted. So rather than rent it out, they decided to sell the house they were currently living in and move into the flipped house and wait it out for the market to improve. Cynthia had just had Preston, baby number 3. She was a rock star. She was packing and nursing at the same time. And feeding kids. And chatting with all Rob's friends.

I offered to supervise the kids in gymnastics while she ran errands (buying cleaning supplies for the new house, etc). I rode with her to gymnastics (Brennan was like 5 and Aiden was about 3? and Preston was maybe 3 months old) and was in complete awe watching her keep them together in the parking lot. We pulled into the gym. Those kids knew exactly what to do. The older 2 unbuckled themselves and hopped out of the car and stuck their little hands on the tail lights while Cynthia lugged that heavy infant carrier out of the car. I was like "uhhhh what can I do??" all intimidated by Cynthia's organization and lack of order barking. She was like "oh nothing." I went in and watched the kids and rocked Preston in the carseat, terrified he would wake up and I would have to manage a crying infant. Just one kid...I was freaking out. Anyway, he was fine the whole time and Cynthia got her errands done.

Fast forward 6 years and Troy and I are moving to San Antonio last summer. They had lived there for several years. Avery was about 6 weeks old. We stayed with them for 2 weeks while Troy and I house hunted. They treated us like family. I remember the day I flew there. It was awful. I had gotten up at 3 am east coast time to catch a plane to San Antonio and was breastfeeding so Avery was like a hungry hippo. I was exhausted by the time Troy picked me up at the airport and dropped me off at Rob and Cynthia's. He had to go immediately back to work because it was only like noon or something. It was the first time I'd seen them or spoken to them since Troy's graduation and commissioning day. So over 4 years. I was a little nervous. I just remembered Cynthia being super mom and I was feeling like a mess. A hot mess.

So I go upstairs to nurse, being all private, and try to take a nap. Well Avery won't sleep a lick and I am trying to "rock" her to sleep inside a dresser drawer. Not kidding. I put Avery in the top drawer of their big dresser and was rolling the dresser in and out gently (not closing her in!) to fall asleep. It was NOT working and I was exhausted. I was crying and distraught thinking "I AM THE WORST PARENT EVERRRRRR." Cynthia sticks her head in the door at my LOWEST moment (I AM NEVER SLEEPING AGAIN.........) and says, "I want her. I'll take her." Hands all grabby and held out expectantly. I handed her right over and crashed immediately face first into the bed and slept for 5 hours.

When I woke up, Avery was STILL ASLEEP! Cynthia had put her to sleep immediately and she'd been sleeping for almost 5 hours. She is seriously a baby whisperer. I was determined to learn her ways and soak it in. I learned the tightest baby swaddle ever. It is unbreakable. By the end of the 2 weeks, I was straight up nursing without a shirt on in their living room and that whole "privacy" thing went out the window on day 2. Thank God Rob is a nurse and not a creeper. Their poor kids got an in depth education about female anatomy and how mommies feed babies. Cynthia was a serious breastfeeding cheerleader. I totally think God put us together for that time period because I needed a mommy mentor. I needed Cynthia.

Rob and Cynthia arranged for us to have a sitter so we could go out. That's right. You read it correctly. Avery was less than 2 months old and we left her with a sitter. In a house that wasn't ours with a girl that we didn't know. And everything was fine. Apparently having date nights is super important. Your kids will grow up and leave you and get lives. If you don't keep your relationship with your spouse number 1, you'll be left with crap when your kids become adults. When I look back at those 2 weeks at their house, I can honestly say it was a turning point for me as a mom and a wife. Cynthia was like, "you do what is best for your family and your baby, screw everyone else. Don't listen to 'experts' or whatever. You know your baby better than any book."

And also not to take myself too seriously. Laugh when you mess up. We were outside having dinner with a bunch of their neighbors and Avery was asleep in her stroller. The automatic sprinklers turned on and we all shot up and got out of the water. I looked up when I was safe from the showers and was like, "uh, where's Avery?" Yeah, I totally left her to get soaked. I was all "SAVE YOURSELF!!" Oops. I gave myself a hard time about it and Cynthia thought it was the best thing ever.

Rob and Cynthia treat each other so well. They are so in love. They are so supportive of each other. Sometimes it makes me gag, but I think it's mostly because I'm jealous of the absolute passion they have for each other and for their kids. I feel like they are the perfect example of "the American dream." They went through a lot at a really young age and made their own way to get somewhere. Rob enlisted and used his GI bill while they both worked in the service industry and had kids. Cynthia moved and moved and waited patiently and now has a KICK BUTT job that she rocks at. It's 10 years in the making but they are true examples of how hard work pays off. And making things work even when it's really hard. And being happy about it. And realizing how to make the best of a crap situation. And not quitting. And always having fun. They will totally draw you in and hold on tight.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

In addition, you can tell they genuinely enjoy each others company. How many couples do you know that seem like they merely tolerate each other? They always have fun together. Even when they're doing nothing. Or going out. Or doing P90X together. For the record, that's true love. I could NEVER let Troy see me sweat and struggle like that. I'm afraid he would stop loving me. Anyway, can't you just tell how much they love each other??

I think we'd have a great time in Vegas Wittwers. What do you say? Let us host you for once ;) Thanks for the memories. More to come...

3 Couples Who Have Influenced Our Marriage and Lifestyle: Part 1

I feel like throughout a couples marriage and lifetime, there are people who influence you, teach you, and give you guidance or perspective. Troy and I have definitely been challenged in the past year with the lack of stability, moving 3 times, living in a hotel room, and OH YEAH, if that weren't enough, we had a baby.

Lesson 1: Love God. Love People.


Troy and I met in high school youth group at church. I lived in Northern Virginia (which is apparently different from the rest of Virginia, because if you grew up/lived there, you know what I am talking about) from 4th grade until 7th grade. We moved away to Texas from 8th grade to 10th grade, where I went to a different school every year. Literally. I moved back to Virginia VERY hopeful that life would be easier and I would fall back into my same friend group from middle school. I was excited to go to the same school for 2 years in a row and graduate and then go to the same school (college) for 4 years. Troy's dad was in the military and he moved to Northern Virginia in elementary school and his family still lives there.

I was involved in church in Texas and our first weekend back in Virginia, my mom brought Tyler and I up to youth group on sunday night. I was pretty nervous. They had dinner at 530 and then we took the church vans to mini golf after. I was lucky. When we got there, a guy I was friends with in middle school, Kyle, was there. It turns out, his mom was a pastor at the church. Kyle (who was the best man at our wedding) introduced me to Troy. Troy and I sat in the back of the church van to and from mini golf and talked the whole time. It turns out, when Troy moved to VA, his family had moved from San Antonio and we had gone to school with the same people and lived on the same street in base housing. We also figured out later that our parents had known each other before we were born. Our dads were in the same training class in California for navigator school. Crazy right?

Anyway, we went to rival high schools. But we saw each other every sunday at youth group. And that's where I met Bryson. Bryson was the youth pastor and led the contemporary worship service at church. He was the young bubbly pastor "keeping church cool." Troy met Bryson when he was 14 and his dad was doing a remote tour to Korea for a year. Bryson was FRESH out of seminary, 22 and ready to make a difference in the world. Little did he know, Bryson would make a PROFOUND impact on Troy throughout his highschool years, beginning when Troy's dad was stationed in Korea for a year.

Troy was saved when he was 9. He accepted Jesus into his life on his living room sofa with his Mom. Troy's mom is an amazing and prayerful woman. She has always had Jesus in the center of her life even when times were tough and she didn't know where her life was heading. Troy's dad was not as strong a believer as the man I know today. Christie had been praying for Jim to focus more on a relationship with Jesus. Jim read the whole bible while he was in Korea and committed himself to Jesus, coming home a changed man. He started going to church when he came home and considers Bryson one of his best friends.

Meanwhile, Troy is struggling without a male role model at home. Enter from stage right, Bryson, 22 year old youth pastor. Troy spent a couple evenings a week over at his house with his new wife Lori. Troy was in that "weird teenager stage" where you don't really know who you are, your goals and your overall purpose in life where you just rebel against your parents. Or in his case, parent, because his dad was gone and he didn't want to talk to his mom about some stuff. Bryson and Lori took Troy under their wings and fostered an environment where Troy could open himself up instead of going out and getting in trouble because he was "keeping it all in." I know that Troy is the man he is today because of the influence of Bryson and Lori at such a crucial time in his self exploration as a man, he was guided by such a wonderful, loving, God fearing man. And for that, I cannot thank him enough.

With that said, when Troy and I met, Troy was like "the guy" in youth group. Most of his friends were from there and he dated girls from youth group. And scared them away. Kidding. Sort of. Troy and I started dating at the end of our junior year of high school. When we broke up about 2 months later, I didn't get scared off. HA!

We were able to stay friends and I kept going to youth group, watching him continue to date girls in youth group and then make it awkward. In the meantime, Bryson tsked in the corner and kept a watchful eye on Troy. We started hanging out with friends in youth group outside of structured youth group meeting times and Bryson found himself in a tough spot at times. For example, Troy and I used to skip school a lot senior year. A LOT. Like a couple times a week. We weren't doing anything bad. Most of the time. We would skip and go hang out with Bryson. And he never tattled on us. One time, Troy had called in to his school and POSED as his dad, leaving a message on the answering service to excuse himself from school. When the school called his actual dad back, Jim covered and said that he did, in fact, call in, knowing what Troy had done it. Troy's dad IMMEDIATELY called Bryson and was like "have you seen my son today??" And of course, we were sitting on the chairs in Bryson's office. Bryson, put on the spot, covered for him!!!! He was like, "uhhhhh noooo, I haven't seen him." He hung up the phone and looked at Troy and was like "YOU MADE ME LIE TO YOUR DAD!! YOU CALL HIM RIGHT NOW AND FIX THIS!" Troy was all "I didn't MAKE you do anything! You covered for me without prompting!" Long story short, Troy called and confessed. But really, how could you be mad at your kids for skipping school and hanging out at church? Haha.

Anyway, Troy and I go off to colleges in different states and when we come home, always go bug Bryson and Lori. They had a GORGEOUS baby boy when we were freshmen in college. Troy was in the waiting room with some other kids from youth group when Jackson was born. When Troy proposed to me, we knew that we wanted Bryson to marry us. We went to counseling with him and honestly, it was one of the best things we have done in our marriage and I think of it whenever we are fighting. Bryson had us tell him why we love each other. Little did we know that it would end up in a monologue of crying and talk of future parenting goals. He told us to remember these monologues when times are tough because if we keep those "little things" at the forefront of our minds, the other things we fight about won't seem so major.

When we got married, our bridal parties were made up of 5 girls and 5 guys. 3 of my girls went to the church and 3 of the guys went to the church. 60% of our bridal party was made up of youth group members. Crazy right? Bryson did an amazing, funny, and very personal service. We got lots of feedback after the event that it was the most memorable service they had ever attended. We love him.

We went through a phase after we got married that we didn't see them/talk with them a lot because we were so busy and focused on settling into our house and "adult lives" that we kind of dropped off the map. We started trying to have a baby. And nothing. And doctors. Nothing. And then Troy deployed and I found out I was pregnant a week later. And miscarried at 14 weeks. Troy called and I had to tell him over the phone. It was awful. Troy probably hadn't talked to Bryson in over a year. But who is the FIRST person he called? You guessed it. Did it matter that it was the middle of the night? Nope.

I haven't said much about Lori at this point. I realize this. I think that I never really "knew" Lori until recently. I had always seen her as the shining star example for the type of wife I always wanted to be. I mean, you know, she's a preacher's wife. She is perfect. And supportive all the time. And has it all together. Right? WRONG! And that is totally normal and okay. I didn't know this until recently. We went and stayed with them in Blacksburg after Avery was born for her baptism. We stayed for 4 days. She had ALWAYS had a wicked sense of humor. Super sarcastic. And such a great listener. And SO real.

But then I told her what a blessing Avery was because I struggled to get pregnant for so long. And all of a sudden, instead of someone I put on a pedestal, she came down to my level. We suddenly became peers. Even though they were only about 8 years older than us, I had always seen them as mentors and adults who had it all together. Well, let me tell you, NO ONE has it all together. And she made me realize how normal it is to be confused about your faith and to struggle. She talked about her struggle with her faith and God's plan in her life when they couldn't have more children. And what it means to trust in God's plan for your life and your family even when it's not what you pictured or planned for your entire life. And the cycle of anger and disappointment and acceptance. I felt so humbled by her words when she told me that she's accepted God's plan for her life because she realizes that she doesn't need more children to check a box. She sees Troy and me and others in the church as her children and leaves her mark on the world in a totally different way than if she had more children. She has the opportunity to give herself to others in a way that she might not be able to if she had to give herself to more kids right now.

My fear of not being able to have more children went away. Sometimes perspective is everything. It's more service, it's focus on loving what you have and not what you wish you had. It's counting your blessings rather than wishing you had more. It's being truly present in your day and seeing the little things rather than wishing you had something else to split your time up.

You meet people in your life who influence the way you choose to live your life. Troy and I will be in the middle of a fight or "discussion" and I'll say something nasty. I immediately think to myself "is this how Bryson and Lori would speak to each other?" Troy and I use them as an example of a "Kingdom Family." How man and wife should serve God and each other. Is every marriage perfect? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Is their marriage perfect? NO! I have seen them argue. I have seen them disagree. And discipline their son. And mess up. But it's all about keeping the main thing the main thing. And if you are doing that, I mean making God the center of your life, you're doing pretty good.

We love you. And miss you so much.

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Puppy has Alopecia...Maybe. Probably Not. But He is Balding.

I haven't talked about our first child as much on the blog as I probably should. He is kind of a lurker in pictures. He sneaks in looking all cute but isn't normally the star of the show.

How handsome is this boy?

He's been through a lot this past year. We were living in Dover for about 4 years and got him 6 months in as a puppy in May of 2008. Avery was born in May of 2011. We moved to San Antonio in September of 2001 and lived there for 6 months. Then we drove from San Antonio to Virginia where I lived with Troy's parents and their dog for 3 months. Troy was living in New Mexico for training in a hotel room starting in March.

About mid April, Troy decided he was too lonely to go on alone until Avery and I got there in June. Troy's dad was planning to drive our car and Optimus to New Mexico for Troy's graduation and we would get him then. But then we mailed him from DC to El Paso. And Optimus was traumatized in the plane, but SO happy to be with Troy.

So then Avery and I arrived in June and the 4 of us lived like sardines until mid August when we moved into our house in Vegas. And Troy started working full time. And I got a job. And we hired a nanny. And she brought her 20 month old into the picture. Sounds like a lot right?

So then we noticed Optimus losing hair. OH THE STRESS OF IT ALL! New people, new schedule, new weather, new house. I thought it was just stress.

But it started as just a thinning of the hair. And then went to full blown balding! Okay so maybe he was rubbing on something. We watched him close and nothing. It went from normal to full bald spot in about a week. I googled it and BIG MISTAKE. I had no idea there was a petMD. And then I found a slideshow with pictures. I was like "hormone imbalance? But you're a dude! That sounds like you're going through menopause!! What's wrong with you??" Or "OMG YOU HAVE MANGE!!!" Or "YOU'RE ALLERGIC TO DIRT! DAMN YOU DESERT LAS VEGAS!!!" After freaking out, Troy made a vet appointment!

The vet said that if it was "over grooming" it would be red, inflamed, and bleeding. His skin is normally black, but the skin where the hair fell out was white. Okay, so maybe he got bit by something on one of our hiking trips? The vet said the same thing about the condition of the skin. It would have been raised, red, and he would have been biting or scratching. Well maybe he was having a reaction to the flea/tick guard. The vet said that normally, reactions to that are RIGHT where you put the medicine and this bald spot is lower and off to the side.

Basically, he was a mystery. They brought in the other vet too. No solutions or ideas. They took a skin scraping sample with a small razor and some hair from the spot and looked at it under the microscope to rule out mites, mange, and a fungal infection. Nothing. He has had no change in eating, personality, energy, or pooping. All is well except for the overshedding ALL OVER and the bald spot that emerged in about a week. They told me I had 3 options:

1. Wait it out and see if it fills back in. It might be nothing.

2. Wait it out and if it doesn't fill in, bring him back in for a blood panel to see if something systemic is going on. Or I could do that now. It all depended on how aggressive I wanted to be.

3. Do the blood panel and see what comes out of it. Depending on the results they could do a biopsy (involving anesthesia) and see what is up with the skin where the hair is falling out.

I decided on option 2 for a couple reasons. It was only 85$ for piece of mind. They really think it's nothing and if it fills back in, great. If not, then I'll already know what is going on without bringing him all the way back to Nellis and paying visit fees and such again. Also then I won't be wondering what if? He is our first baby and I want to make sure he is as healthy as can be. He is only 4. Just like with humans, if you go to your regular physicals and catch things early, it's preventative medicine and can save you lots of money and time later.

Our policy with our kids (dog and child) is that something weird might be going on, but it they don't seem bothered by it, we try not to be bothered by it. Meaning, no pain, eating, sleeping, pottying normal - don't worry about it too much, it will probably pass. Get it checked out but don't lose sleep over it until a doctor tells you otherwise. The good Lord is watching out for us and won't give us more than we can handle.

Here's my sweet baby boy :) I'll be back with blood results when they come in! Hopefully it's not menopause!! I kid, I kid.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Letter to My Bed Making, Spider Killing Husband

Dearest Troy,

I love you so much. You made me so happy yesterday. You did your honey-do list and then more. You put together the patio furniture and had dinner (complete with fall decorations) ready out on the porch. And a glass of wine waiting for me. Of all the days to fill out my first incident report at work (why yes, a completely naked 250 lb woman fell doing therapy with me in the awkward) it had to be the 10 hour shift. Sigh. There are so many things that I love about you that I decided I was going to list them out for all the world to see.

You follow my very NOT weird bed making rule. You know that I FREAK out if the bed is not made. You understand that a family of spiders will lay eggs and they will hatch in the 16 hours we are out of bed and have a spider party in the bed that will be in full swing when we go to bed later that night. You understand that the bunnies made of dust will breed and make baby dust bunnies on our pillows. You know that Optimus will rub his nasty dog butt on the sheets in the place we place our heads at night. I mean, I think you know all this. Or you fake it really well. Either way, you humor my weirdness and make the bed for all the aforementioned reasons that are totally true.

You put your hand over my mouth or yell at me to shut up in the middle of the night when I start talking crazy. Like the time I was yelling and you put your hand over my mouth and were all "SHHHHHHHHHH" like I would hear you or remember it. Or when you pushed me off of you when I dreamed that Avery was your thigh and I tried (not so delicately) to pull her (your leg) out from under your body (or out of your hip socket) because you were suffocating her. True story. Or when I was in OT school and would practice my range of motion techniques on you in the middle of the night. You supported my education with that midnight study session.

You love all of my girly shows on the DVR even though you pretend like they get on your nerves. I love that you pretend like they annoy you because they are so bad. But honey, I got you figured out. You love Intervention and Hoarders. Except for maybe the episode where the lady saved all of her poop and pee from her lifetime in jars in the house and then you were gagging. I was too. Yuck. Either way, I know you look forward to it. And you watch Grey's Anatomy with me. I know it's not what it used to be, but I love your faithfulness to it even though it's not as awesome as the first 3 seasons. I know you love my shows because if I watch them without you, you get all butt hurt about watching them by yourself later. I know it's because you want to spend time with me. But also because you really love my shows :)

You put up with my thrifting. You understand that it's my favorite kind of alone time. I know it's a problem. You know I love Craigslist. And stopping to look at things on the side of the road that say "free." You let me have alone time at Goodwill or Salvation Army and watch Avery so I can dig through other peoples' cast offs by myself. You support my weird habit of bringing things home and painting/refinishing/repurposing some weird crap. You're the best. Even though I should have that bumper stick that says "I brake for yard sales." Or just free junk on the side of the road. I'm not proud of it, but I have actually dug through a dumpster with Shannon. And now we have no secrets. Love you!

I love that you know what scares me. And that I would consider setting a house on fire just to kill a spider. Or that people touching eye balls makes me gag. It could to be someone else's, mine, or their own. Any eyeball touching makes me gag. I love that you don't your contacts in when I'm standing at the sink. Or that the sound/smell/sight of anything to do with vomit makes me vomit. Or that wet eggs in the sink are the worst thing EVER to put in the garbage disposal. The thought of it is making my skin crawl. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

You are good at so many things that I am not good at. Maybe I should rephrase that. You do so many things that I just don't want to do. You pick up dog poop. And you clean the toilets. And you spray the poop off Avery's diapers, even when it's my turn to change her. You take out the trash and recycling. You empty Avery's diaper genie. You make bacon while I'm not home so I don't have to smell it and barf. Sacrilegious I know, but the smell of COOKING bacon is disgusting. And if you can't make bacon, you eat facon (fake bacon) so that I don't have to smell it. You're the best.

You are such a good Dad. You make the silliest faces for Avery. And sing her the best made up songs while she's taking a bath. Every morning when I get her out of bed and say "Good Morning," she's all "Dada?" Like she's wondering why you aren't there to say good morning too. And then I'm all "he's at work, you can play when he gets home" and she nods like she really understands. And then right when she hears the garage door open she's like "DADADA!!!!" all excited and starts waddling to the door. The second you walk in she's like, "hi" all shy. It's so cute. She just wants you for your flight suit patches and pens. I kid. Sort of.

The letter has gotten a little longer than I thought it would be when I started, but either way, it shows how much I love you. I love you more than I love back rubs. So you know it's a lot.

I know your schedule change is about to suck hard. I'll read this list when I get upset about it and feel better :)

Love you

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Homemade Halloween Cards

The same night that we made carved our pumpkin and Avery painted hers, we decided to make some halloween cards to mail from Avery. I had seen some SUPER cute ones on Pinterest (here, here, and here) and decided that I was going to make some with my own spin on it.

So before she painted her pumpkin, I put some black paint on her right hand (while Troy took pictures and freaked out) and mushed it onto the paper. Then I turned the paper 180 degrees and stamped it again. They aren't the prettiest, but I LOVE THEM!

They say "The itsy bitsy spider says BOO! Happy Halloween! Love Avery"

Seriously how cute are those??? We made 5 of them in about 2 minutes and I'm sure the recipients will LOVE them!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Lady of Many Faces. And How I Never Need to Spend Money on Toys. Ever.

We all know that I think Avery is the cutest thing to ever walk the planet. I love her laugh and her hair and her kiss sounds and her fatty legs. I just love it.

I feel like people tell you things, but you don't believe them until you see it for yourself. So here is the truth:

No matter how many cool toys and gadgets and tv programs you have, your child will always always always prefer a simple toy over the fancy stuff.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C:

Now that she's a little bit older, she is super into peek a boo and anything that jumps out at her and scares her. She is a little thrill seeker and definitely prefers to play games where she interacts with us rather than playing alone.

Right now, her favorite game is to ride on my foot. When I am sitting on the couch when my legs crossed, she walks up to me and sits on the foot of the leg that is crossed like a little seat. Then I just flex and extend my knee. Best. Game. Ever. And she makes the BEST faces during this game. I should have some KILLER quads in the next few months.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pumpkin Painting Party (Troy is NOT Invited Next Year)

Avery is my little pumpkin. My little painting pumpkin. My little pumpkin painted a pumpkin. She calls it a ball. It's SOO cute. She's sees it on the counter when we walk by and she's like BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL!

I got this idea from The Petersiks. Avery had a grand ole' time with it. Troy did not. He took tons of pictures and tried not to gag. Seriously. He cannot STAND to see her dirty. The whole time she's LOVING it and he's like, "Oh my God. Look at her. Oh gross. Oh God. You have to give her a bath. Ugh. Oh no. That's disgusting." He seriously cannot stand when she's dirty. This child had the CLEANEST face ever while eating. Except for this time:

That was the first time Troy ever let her eat on her own. And he couldn't even LOOK at her. In all fairness, refried beans may not have been the best choice. But hindsight is always 20/20.

But that is neither here nor there. This is about Avery's pumpkin. We started with this:

Then we went out on our new patio (WAHOOO) and sat on a big cardboard box. I put a sheet of tinfoil on the box and just picked out a few colors and put the paint on the tin foil. I'm glad the random colors I picked (when mixed together) didn't turn brown. Cause she started swirling them around and around.

You can see in this picture where she rubbed her hands in the paint. She liked how it felt. I realize she isn't old enough to "get" painting BUT she definitely understood the cause and effect. She "got" the whole "there is something on my hands and if I rub them on this than it changes color." So she was all over it. Literally. It started where I held the pumpkin and she painted it. If you look closely, you can see that her tongue is out. I think it must be reflex. Think hard, tongue out. I love her :)

Then she decided that she wanted to hold it and keep painting. And then she threw it. And yelled "BAAAAAAAAAAAAALL!!" Oops. Oh well. Her belly, arms, and inside of her legs and feet were COVERED in paint. Troy was all, "Oh God. You're giving her a bath." And then she kissed the newly painted pumpkin. Troy was like "CALL THE POISON CONTROL CENTER!!" I laughed. And then I kissed her face and got paint on my mouth. And Troy almost flat lined.

How can you resist this face??? I can't.

And here are our pumpkins after we peeled the tape off hers and carved ours. We are smitten! Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Avery vs Optimus Tug of War

Playing tug of war with the rope :) How cute is my baby and my furry baby? The answer: SUPER CUTE!! I love it when they play together. In general, he is less than impressed with her. Like avoids her. I think she's too unpredictable and flails too much.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

No More Emphysema! Yay Me!

Despite my complaining and need for an inhaler, we have continued hiking. AND BONUS: I am actually enjoying it.

Our typical weekend routine is to wake up saturday and Natalie is REQUIRED to eat. Like a carb and a protein. Or she may actually die. Like sugar crash and turn into a raging crazy bitch.

So that's first. And while I feed myself, Troy is on Avery duty. He feeds her, gets her dressed, and packs the diaper bag and camelback for the next 4 hours. He also gets Optimus ready. He gets his collar and leash, a nalgene of water, and a ziplock bag (we use it as his water bowl) packed. By the time Troy does all this, I am usually fed and dressed with a mug of coffee for the 20 minute drive up to Mt. Charleston.

Right now, we have only been up to Mt. Charleston because it's 20 degrees cooler than Vegas. We are looking forward to going out to Red Rocks when it's cooler. Like maybe in December. I kid. I hope. Whenever the average temperature is around 80 we'll plan a few trips out there. Which may be right before Thanksgiving. But we are running out of trails at Mt. Charleston that are less than 5 miles. I'm not ready to wrap my brain around more than that. So either Troy is going to make me start hiking longer trails, or we need to hit up another site with shorter trails. Sooner rather than later.

This is Troy and Avery and Optimus on a hike that included "rock scrambling." It is exactly what you are picturing in your head. We pretty much hiked up (what looked like) a dried up river/creek bed right in the middle of a canyon. It has water in it in the spring when the snow on the mountain is melting, but in the fall, it is dry. Optimus did great, hopping from rock to rock and Troy did great using hands and feet to climb up. That trail was my FAVORITE hike that we have done so far. We probably went further than we should have with a baby on board, but it was GORGEOUS. We had a snack and some water at the end of the Big falls trail:

This is the next weekend and we hiked a trail called Cathedral Rock. Talk about steep. It was uphill the whole way. There was a trail crew doing some trail restoration and they were all super nice. They had to carry all the tools and things they needed up to where they were doing the work. There was like, 10-12 of them and they had jackhammers, igloo coolers, wheel barrels and other unidentifiable things to me for trail maintenance. Troy was all "ooo that would be so fun!" And I was like, "I can barely hike this trail holding a dog least. How did they hike 2 miles uphill with a giant igloo cooler??" That does NOT sound like fun.

Anyway. The scenery was GORGEOUS!! Look at that. I love this picture. It's frame worthy:

When we got to the top, I snuck in a picture with Avery. We were looking into the sun and Avery was more concerned about eating her snack than posing for the camera. Love her.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Avery Gets a Brain Freeze. Who Said You Need a Spoon to Eat Ice Cream?

I feel like I take a lot of videos of Avery eating ice cream. Because I tried to bribe her to walk with it. Hilarity ensued.

This is a great video where she is motivated to use her baby sign to get what she wants. And eats ice cream without a spoon. Love her.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Question, Answer

Q: So how are you liking Vegas? How is your house?

A: So far so good. We are struggling a little bit to find family friend activities at the moment. Since starting work last week, I have been asking around for different things to do around town that DON'T include one of the following: a bar, a show, a casino, or shopping. The other problem is that there definitely are family activities, but a lot of them are for kids that are a little more independent and abstract thinking than Avery is at the moment. So far I've gotten a recommendations for an outdoor theater, an aquarium (Avery is obsessed with fish right now), a children's museum, and hiking. We have definitely been hiking. We've up to Mt. Charleston to hike almost every weekend since we've been here. Mostly because it's still too hot to do anything outside in town. It's 20 degrees cooler up there. SO nice. And Avery loves being outside. And I'm enjoying it MUCH more than our first time up there.

The house is great. We are still struggling with some of the "last minute" things. We still have stacks of pictures leaned up against the wall. Troy is struggling to go through some of his stuff from high school and college, so there are a few boxes sitting around. We haven't unpacked and organized the office, which is located in the room on our master bedroom. So I have to look at that mess every morning when I open my eyes. The upstairs guest room is pretty much a hot mess. The curtain isn't hung, or the curtain rod. No pictures are hung. There are power tools on the beds. We know we are going to use them soon. Well soon-ish. Whenever we get around to it. So we just haven't put them away yet.

But we are loving it. It is so much better than TLF. We have a TON of space. The backyard should be done in the next week, so we will be able to hang out in the yard. Which will be great because (from what people tell us) it should start to cool down soon and feel like fall. We are looking forward to it. APPARENTLY October and November are absolutely gorgeous. We will see and I'll let you know. I'm skeptical.

Q: How is Troy liking his job?

A: WELL he just got assigned to a team, which designates what team he is on. Troy is currently on day shift for the next 6 weeks. He is going to be working from 8-4 which about a 40 minute commute on each end. Swing shift is from 4-12 midnight and mids is from 12 midnight to 8 in the morning. Troy will go to swing shift right before Thanksgiving. I think swing shift is going to suck the most. The days that I work, I won't see Troy AT ALL. Because he will be at work when I am getting home from work. Mids won't be too bad because on days that I work, he will be sleeping while I am at work OR he'll be awake for a bit and then asleep from like 10 to 6 so that he can have dinner with us and hang out with me before I go to bed and he goes to work.

So far, he is really liking it. While we were in Alamogordo, we were having SERIOUS doubts about Troy's decision to cross-train from Logistics. We were just not sure if it was a good idea. Troy can't really tell me the details, but some of the people he's met since we have been here have really helped to validate his decision and make him feel better about it. So really, if he's happy, I'm happy.

Q: How are you liking your job?

A: So far, so good. When we moved here, I was pretty set on not working until January. YEAH RIGHT! Troy called it 6 months ago. Our house got mostly set up and then I was like, "ugh, I am not stay at home mom material." Troy and I are both happier when I am working. I think of all these fake problems and obsess about things to fight with Troy about so that I can get some adult interaction. It's really not good. I feel like Troy gets to "escape" when he goes to work and I'm "stuck" at home with Avery. Which is terrible. I know.

But I know that while I am working, when I am home, I am engaged with her and happy to read the same book 10 times because I haven't seen her all day rather than feel like I've been stuck at home with her. But anyway...the JOB is great. From the time I decided I needed to work until the day I started, it was a little more than 3 weeks. I am working on a rehab unit (and am going to start floating to acute inpatient) right now. It's a 42 bed unit (which is huge) and it's awesome. I am working 3 full 8 hour days a week, and sometimes 10 hour days depending on Troy's schedule and nanny availability. They hired me knowing that I wanted to do my own schedule so that I could be off on days that Troy was off. They were agreeable. YAY!

I had 3 interviews and 3 offers. 2 of the jobs were close. 1 was far. Like down on the strip. The one on the strip got GOOD cases. Like the shootings, like the people who played slots for 48 hours straight and stroked out or fell on their way out of a casino. Or people who were visiting from Japan. Or New York. So far, about 30% of the patients are visiting Las Vegas and end up in the ER. So discharge planning is interesting. Another 50% are from the states around Nevada. A TON of people from Arizona and California. The other 2 jobs sent all of their exciting cases down to the other hospital. Those 2 jobs would be mostly joint replacements and debility. No thanks. Needless to say, I took the job with the further commute on the strip with the more exciting and interesting cases.

Not gonna lie, so far, the commute sucks. But I had also worked everyday last week. So I had to do the commute everyday. In reality, I'll only do it 3 times a week. I've been using the commute to drink coffee, listen to music, make phone calls to family, and relax. It's really not comparable to DC traffic. DC traffic is WAY worse. So I just try to use the time away from Avery to do things that I wouldn't be able to do at home because Avery would be screaming for breakfast or to read a book. It's been good.

Q: How did you find your nanny? How is Avery doing with her?

A: We used to find a nanny. I placed an ad on monday and had 13 responses by tuesday night. I responded to all of them and based on their responses, set up 5 interviews for saturday. Troy did not want to know ANYTHING about who I "had a feeling about" or what their profiles were like online. He wanted to go into the interviews completely blind and knew that I wouldn't ask someone for an interview if I didn't think they might be a fit.

We interviewed a couple different kinds of people. There was a lady who was in her late 60's, a couple of stay at home moms looking for some extra cash, and a girl in her early 20's who was in college. We ended up going with a stay at home mom who has a 20 month old little girl. We were debating on going with an in home day care because we wanted Avery to have some interaction with other kids to learn about sharing and being patient, etc.

When it came down to it, I leave for work about 7 and didn't want to drag Avery out of bed and spend an extra 30 minutes (so I'd leave at 630) in the car/getting her settled in child care, and I really wanted to have someone come to the house. So when Carolyn said that she had a 20 month old AND she would come to us, I was like, WIN! I had a feeling she was "the one" based on our emails back and forth before the interview on saturday. We had a whole list of interview questions and ended up not using it with her because the conversation flowed so naturally and she was able to answer our questions without a structured interview. And she was bringing her daughter so that Avery could get that interaction Troy and I wanted her to have.

When she left, Troy was like, "Ok, call the other people, she's the one. You can tell them not to come!" I didn't do that and we interviewed everyone, but we did end up extending an offer to her, which she took. And in the process of all the interviews, we found 2 people additional people to put on our babysitter list for date nights. Which was perfect because Carolyn wasn't available to start on my first day of work. Avery went to one of the their houses for monday and tuesday of my first week and it worked out great. Overall, we had a GREAT experience with and would recommend it to anyone. Even if you are just looking for an occasional sitter.

So far, so good. Avery just loves her. She loves having another kid to play with. And she loves how happy her mommy is to see her when she comes home from work. Win all around.

Q: When are you coming back to the east coast?

A: Troy's schedule is crazy. The next time we will be on the east coast as a family will be in April for my sister Lindsey's wedding. We are going to Ft. Walton Beach. The next time I am coming back will be in January for Lindsey's bachelorette weekend in Savannah, GA. I'm pretty excited because Avery isn't coming, so that will be an adult weekend trip for me :) We will be using Carolyn to supplement child care while I am gone because there is no way that Troy will be approved for 4 days off in a row. Especially since the squadron is already scheduling leave for March. Ouch.

Anything else??