Friday, December 9, 2011

New Camera Lens

Why in the world did I wait so long to purchase a new lens for my Canon Rebel??? Here's one of the first shots I took with the 50mm f1.4 lens today. I am not at all accustomed to using this lens as it is so different than our other lens, but I already love it! Oh and this image is straight out of the camera. Yay!

Not too horrible for a dreary, cloudy day. The handful of indoor shots I've taken so far are a hundred times better than what my old lens would have produced. This lens sucks in so much more light and will be so great to have all winter when we're mostly stuck inside. Sorry, I'll stop going on and on now. Go out and buy this lens (or the less expensive f1.8) now if you have a Canon DSLR!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lights at the Beach

Sometimes an event rolls around that reminds me how awesome it is to live in Hampton Roads. The McDonald's Holiday Lights at the Beach is one of those events. Finally, the boys and I were able to attend the opening night where they allow foot traffic on the boardwalk for this event. We've attended each year in our car, but this year the boys and I walked through the lights, played on the beach and enjoyed hot chocolate together. It was SO much fun!!!

Ian was trying to pose like Ronald McDonald. He rarely stands nicely and smiles for photos these days.

Both boys "presenting" one of the light displays. They make me laugh.

We ran into friends while walking along the boardwalk. Three of the boys just had to take a picture in front of the dinosaur. Why are there dinosaurs on the beach as part of a holiday light display? No idea.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Citizen of the Month

Ian was selected as the Citizen of the Month in his first grade class for the month of November. He was chosen under the "Diligence" category. Not only did we have this sign in our yard for a month, but Ian was also able to attend a special breakfast at his school. Oh, and his school mascot is a bear. Despite this, I find the use of "Beary" annoying.

Ian is doing very well in school this year...almost too well. He's reading at a very advanced level and finishing his work first every day. The teacher joked with me that she needs to expand her in-class library so Ian doesn't run out of books to read. We hope he doesn't grow bored or become disruptive. For now, he's perfectly happy reading every book in sight to stay entertained. Maybe I'll just start buying books in various foreign languages to challenge him. :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hello Again!

Look who is back home again! This has been such a crazy year. It feels like all we do is try to keep track of where Ryan is, when he comes home and when he leaves again. Fortunately he will be around for the holiday season this year. We are always grateful when that is the case.

The boys were so thrilled to pick Daddy up at the hangar after his cross country return flight from Nevada. Can you imagine spending about 9 hours in a plane wearing all of that gear (plus a helmet)? So glad it's him and not me...

Naturally, the boys wanted a chance to try on Daddy's helmet and pose for quick photos. Future Navy pilots or flight officers?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

10 things you may not know about military wives

If you're on Facebook and you have at least one military spouse friend, you've likely seen this link pop up on your news feed. As I sit here alone (as usual), I felt compelled to share this post here. I've been a Navy wife for over 11 years and the author has only been a Navy wife for 3. Her revision of this list will be more forceful in a few years. Ha!

Link to original post:

Hope you enjoy reading this! Couldn't resist adding my own thoughts in ( ).

Parenting Guru: 10 things you may not know about military wives

1. When a deployment is imminent, we just want it to start. That doesn’t mean we want our spouses to leave. We don’t. But when the date has been set and our husband’s bag is sitting half-packed in the corner of the bedroom, we start getting anxious, worried and a little bit angry. We think about the upcoming months and everything he’s going to miss and everything we’re going to have to do alone. It’s overwhelming. Once they leave, we can start to tackle the challenges one at a time and that’s so much easier than the waiting. But those last few weeks before he leaves are wrought with frustration, nervousness and a little fear. (YES!!! Just ask Ryan--it is so normal for me to just blow up over everything. This wasn't the case prior to kids, in case you were wondering.)

2. We are not miserable the whole time they are gone. We don’t like that our family is split up, but we can’t live in the future or press a pause button on our life, so we focus on other things. Hobbies, children, visiting friends and family, work; our life is still full. Just not complete. (I'm miserable approximately 1% of the time.)

3. But there are tears right underneath the surface. Whenever our children do something new, or something exciting or sad happens, or even when there have been just too many nights that we’ve stayed in alone, we get really sad. And we can’t always be sad because we don’t want to upset the kids. (I almost never get really sad, just frustrated. I'm more likely to cry from tears of sheer frustration.)

4. That being said, most of us like our lifestyle. We enjoy the adventure of moving every few years, starting over, making new friends and living in various parts of the country and world. We have close friends everywhere. It’s stressful yes, but also exciting. (We've lived here 3.5 years and I am so ready to move.)

5. We rely on our friends a lot. Even when our husbands are home, we are used to be canceled on at the last minute, not knowing schedules until an hour before an event, or having a job take precedence over the family. So, we have friends who are reliable, patient, flexible and who make us laugh. We love and truly appreciate our friends. So do the kids. (Um, I'm the friend everyone relies's the truth! I do have a handful that will help in times of emergency and definitely plenty who are there to support me emotionally.)

6. Our children are well adjusted and okay. In fact, most of the time, they are amazing in their ability to see the silver lining in every challenge. From the beginning of their lives, they’ve moved around, started over and had a parent leave for huge amounts of time. We have lots of strategies to help them stay connected, and we analyze how to make each deployment as painless as possible on the children. (The kids think our lives are completely normal. They are so very well-adjusted.)

7. We don’t need or want pity. We look for love, friendship and fun. We don’t need you to say “I’m sorry,” when we tell you our husbands are away. We knew what we signed up for when we got married. However, we’d be so grateful for a helping hand. Helping us with something that would normally take two people, like shoveling snow or even just bringing in our grill for the winter would be awesome and will relieve the stress a little. (DOUBLE YES!!! Let me take this opportunity to give a shout out to my neighbor (who will never see this). He mowed my front lawn the entire deployment. THIS is what we want/need.)

8. Please don’t ask us what we are going to do to “keep busy” when our husbands are gone. Just like you have a healthy relationship with things outside your marriage, so do we. We don’t need to “keep ourselves entertained” or “find something to do to pass the time” while he’s gone. Those comments are insulting. We will just continue to live our life. Yes, there will be a hole in it, but we will not be pining away for six months or a year. So don’t try to give us projects or find stuff to keep us busy. We’ll be fine. (People can be so dumb. Like our husbands are ever around even when they are home! No one should rely so heavily on someone else.)

9. There are romantic moments about military life that rival only the most dramatic movies. We’ve been spun around by a man in uniform after he hasn’t seen us in months. We’ve seen our children run toward their daddy with pure glee and excitement. We’ve dressed up like royalty and attended military galas and we’ve watched ships pull into port, with sailors standing at attention around the perimeter. (Royalty? Not me. That reunion at the end of every deployment (God willing) makes everything almost worth it.)

10. And sometimes the civilian population can be so supportive and sweet that it just brings tears to our eyes. These moments are precious and get us through all the tough stuff. So thank you. We appreciate all the thoughts, good wishes and the extra stuff you do to make us feel better. We notice it. We see it. And it really does help. (Again, my neighbor rocks! We need more people to offer to watch our kids for a couple hours for free, offer to help with the crazy tasks/heavy lifting, etc. Oh, well!)

Sarahlynne is a Parenting Guru and has been married to a United States sailor for 3 years and 3 deployments.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Catching Up

Ryan was home for all of 2.5 weeks and in that time he and I attended a Change of Command ceremony. Highlight of the event for me was when the outgoing Skipper requested a round of applause for all my work as the Ombudsman. Ha!!! Really, the highlight for me was wearing cute 4.5 inch heels and receiving a Starbucks gift card from the outgoing Skipper's wife...she knows me so well. Don't you love the blurry picture Ian took of us?

The next morning I raced out of here and headed to Baltimore. I had this tiny bed all to myself for two entire nights. :) I loved that the room was cleaned by someone other than myself.

I found this little park down the street from my hotel where I enjoyed a few hours of sipping my coffee and reading a book ALONE. I drove all over Baltimore, sometimes on purpose and sometimes accidentally. Everyone who knows me knows that I do not believe in owning a GPS and that eventually I can find my way anywhere. Poor Ryan did receive a couple calls from me when I followed my printed directions (which led me astray) and when I failed to look up directions for the return trip. Navigating DC without instructions is not recommended. Baltimore was a breeze though...just follow the other cars around town and you'll eventually get to some sort of highway.

While away the boys enjoyed many outdoor meals, lots of outdoor play and a fun movie night at home. We all had a great weekend!

Having returned feeling refreshed I cooked a "real" meal for the family which included these Ultimate Twice Baked Potatoes. As you can see, Ian was so excited to eat his potato that he couldn't be bothered with utensils.

Naturally, a 2.5 week "visit" with the family wouldn't be complete without attempting a home improvement project. Ryan ripped out our UGLY entry tile and I've been tasked with removing Pergo from 4 additional rooms. (How am I supposed to move the dining room hutch/buffet???) We are hoping the installation of our new flooring will take place while Ryan is away so we can check something off our never ending to-do list.

And, as always, we said goodbye yet again to the so-called man of the house. Pretty sick of all of this time apart...Ryan's never home long enough to remember all of my house rules! ;)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Home Again

Look who the boys found at the airport Saturday night...

We are so happy to have Ryan home (again) and a little bummed that it is only for 2.5 weeks. This is getting ridiculous.

On a bright note, I am getting away for the weekend ALONE!!! Can you believe it? I cannot. I'm heading to Baltimore to visit Ikea, Tiffany's (to fix/clean my ring), Container Store and West Elm. It will be so weird to be able to walk around and shop while not being forced to talk and explain myself aloud the entire time. I already feel guilty, however, and I haven't even left the house yet.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Today it was Nathan's turn to begin the new school year. My "baby" is in kindergarten!!! He was a little bit concerned this morning because his big brother warned him that today would be tough since he'd be learning Spanish. Thanks, Ian. Yes, this private kindergarten now teaches Spanish. I like Ryan's response to learning this piece of curriculum information: "Why not focus on getting English down first?" (Or something similar to that...sorry to butcher your quote, Ryan).

We were too early so I decided to snap a couple extra pictures outside of the school. As you can see in this photo, Nathan was totally thrilled with this decision. I have NO idea where he gets these expressions (or his attitude).

Happy first day of school to me! I am listening to very loud punk music while drinking my coffee. Bliss!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

First Grade

First grade? How did this happen so soon? Ian was so excited to start school at the "big" school (elementary school versus the small private preschool/kindergarten he has attended the past two years). I was barely able to slow him down long enough to take this quick snapshot this morning. I will do my best to get a decent shot this afternoon when he has hopefully settled down a bit.

Fearless and confident Ian headed straight for the bus without so much as a glance behind him. Nathan just kept waving and saying, "I love you, Ian!" Knowing Ian, he had a new best friend before the bus pulled up at the school.

Nathan begins kindergarten next Monday. I cannot believe that both boys will be in school FIVE days a week. Nathan, of course, attends a half-day type of kindergarten, but STILL!!! I'm so excited and cannot wait to celebrate that first day with a huge cup of coffee, loud punk music blasting through our surround sound and a book. My goal is to accomplish nothing that day, but some much needed relaxation before diving into volunteering, more schoolwork (me and the boys), etc.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Under the Sea Muffin Tin Monday

Earthquakes and hurricanes, oh my! We are in full hurricane preparation mode here in Virginia Beach while Ryan "enjoys" the desert of Fallon, NV, but early this week we enjoyed a fun playdate with friends followed by the largest earthquake experienced in this area in over 100 years. A little 5.8 (this description coming from the California girl, not the locals).

Our Muffin Tin Monday playdate technically took place on Tuesday since I have microbiology lab during the lunch hour on Mondays. Fortunately, the little ones are very forgiving. All of the moms brought a themed snack to share and I brought 3 snacks since we had two moms that needed to back out at the last minute. The fun fish-shaped bread was Nathan's request and quite tasty! We also picked up Sponge Bob Cheese Nips and Sponge Bob Graham Crackers. I had planned to make shell pasta, but ran out of time. The ocean-themed cookies were perfect as well! Notice we also had fish sticks and Swedish fish. Fun!!!

After lunch and more fun on the park's playground, each child took a break from the sun and worked on a simple fun foam craft. I had lots of ocean/fish fun foam and stickers on hand so we just dumped it all out and gave each child glue and blue construction paper. It doesn't get any easier than that! I attempted to cut up tissue paper squares so each child could decorate a chipboard fish, but the wind was gusting at random. We decided to save that craft for an indoor playdate.

My silly boys wearing their fish sunglasses which I purchased from Discount School Supply forever ago. After 3 hours of playing and crafting, Nathan was not interested in posing for this photo at all. Too bad! Ian was a great sport, on the other hand. With all of the crazy weather predicted for this weekend, I am so glad we had the chance to spend the better part of a day at the park this week. Thank goodness for 82 degree weather!

Okay, back to laundry and other tasks that require electricity.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Another "Ah Ha" Moment

I am still filling the freezer. I wasn't as motivated as I had hoped the other day. Ryan and I did manage to make 3 dishes/condiments (smashed potato soup - slow cooker, red beans and rice & chipotle ranch salad dressing), but then we ended up eating a bunch of it instead of rushing it to the freezer. Whoops!

As I type this, I'm making breakfast sandwiches to freeze. I'm making 12 and we will eat 4 tomorrow and 2 will be going to the parents of a beautiful new baby from our squadron (along with dinner and dessert). I decided to mix up the eggs and put them in a greased muffin tin in order to get a neat, round egg layer. We'll see how it turns out. Sounds like a good idea, right?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Back to Reality

Ryan returns to work tomorrow and we will be back to "normal". This normal will last for a couple weeks before he leaves again. In preparation, we've been working on small projects around the house (Ryan has, I've been taking a break from projects), hanging out not doing much of anything, attempting to buy a new car (that's a funny story), etc.

Tomorrow is my day to build up my stash of freezer meals. I'll try to remember to take pictures and share the recipes. Having homemade meals and snacks ready to go in the freezer brings me peace of mind and somehow makes me feel prepared to be a solo parent. With a new school year and completely new schedule for our family on the horizon, I want to FILL the freezer.

I saw this idea on Pinterest (my current Internet obsession) and wondered why the heck I never thought to do this before now. My boys love smoothies or yogurt for dessert. I now have 6 packs ready to go and Ryan just returned from the store with yogurt so I can make at least 8 more packs tomorrow. Make-ahead freezer smoothie packs - 1 cup frozen fruit, 3-4plain (or vanilla) frozen yogurt cubes (from yogurt frozen in an ice cube tray), then simply put in a blender, add milk or juice, and whirl until smooth. Genius!

Monday, July 18, 2011

He's Home!!!

Ryan is finally home safely from deployment. Yay! 6 months and 1 day. It seems like forever and nothing all at the same time. It's a very odd thing to experience. We all picked up pretty much where we left off and by the time we were back in the hangar Ian was already talking to Daddy about the Wii.

Enjoy just a couple of photos from our homecoming. More to follow eventually. :)

A photo of the boys and I waiting just inside the hangar for the planes to fly overhead. Beautiful shot by Amanda of Kimberlin Gray Photography, even if it was shot at an angle that makes my rear look larger than normal. ;)

The boys receiving their first hug from Ryan. This one is SO sweet!

A friend of mine took this snapshot (her husband returned the following day on the ship). Please notice that both boys are holding Daddy's hand. They both insisted, as did I, that we hold Ryan's hand. None of us were willing to let go only a moment after getting him back.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

For the Moms

Since I have officially reached the nesting stage of deployment and find myself cleaning and organizing more than normal, I thought I would share a photo from today. I decided to finally clean out my favorite red purse that I haven't used in 4 months and I came across a couple of crayons in the center pocket...

I laughed and thought that it's a darn good thing I've pretty much given up using my "fancy" Coach and Dooney & Burke purses.

Now it's time for a fun book recommendation for all moms, especially those who don't have a bunch of mommy friends. You have to read "I Was A Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids." Isn't that the best title? First person to send me an email (my maiden name will get my copy to read and pass on to another mommy friend. This book reminded me of my first MOPS meeting where I broke down in tears and realized I was not alone (on this crazy mommy train). Since then I've joined and started my own playgroup and have found many, many others more than happy to share their funny day-to-day tales from Mommyland. This book is filled with quotes quotes that will make you laugh from real moms from interviews conducted by the authors.

Most of my favorite quotes are not really appropriate for the blog. Oh, what the heck, I'm sharing them anyway! Maybe this will encourage some of you lurkers to post a comment so I know who you are...or maybe not. Here we go!

"Sometimes I think, I can't believe I gave up 9 months of drinking for this." (HA!!!!)

"Whenever my husband leaves his stuff lying around, I lock it in the closet." (Ryan, ignore that comment, I have NO idea where your work boots, Friday patch, hat, various uniform pins, etc., are.)

"A boner in the back is not foreplay." (Best. Quote. Ever. And totally the worst quote ever all at the same time. This book is too funny.)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

It's Almost Over!

This ridiculous deployment is finally nearing it's end. The ship is on its (long) way home after much detour and delay. We've rather happily survived 160+ days apart...I don't keep track, but my friends do. In fact, I won't begin counting down until we're under a week because I never really believe it's real until the ship is in the open ocean, preferably halfway across said ocean. To "celebrate" I'm sharing some pictures of Ryan's adventures. My adventures are more of the cleaning and reorganizing variety (Ryan is probably going to want his dresser drawers back) and not worth photographing.

Ryan while flying. The boys love seeing pictures of daddy in his uniform and flight gear, however, they failed to recognize him in all this gear the last time he stood directly in front of them in the hanger. Kids are funny.

The Big E posted the following two pictures to their Facebook website. Don't know if you'll notice, but I'm 99% sure that Ryan is one of the two guys standing up in the green flight suit in the picture below. Only wives tend to notice things like this when flipping through tiny photos posted by strangers.

The ship while it transits the Suez Canal for the second time this deployment. Yay!!!!!!!

Beautiful Souda Bay, Crete. The ship was only in port long enough to load supplies and mail which leads us to...

Ryan showing me some love and appreciation for his most recent calendar square. These hang in the ready room (the squadron's office, so to speak) and he did not really appreciate pictures of us from middle school, high school and one in his dress whites back in 1999. Whatever. I thought it was fun. His sense of humor must have been left behind during his last port visit...70+ days or so ago???

Despite all the jokes and sarcasm, we love and miss Ryan very much and can't believe how lucky we are that he will finally be home soon (soon, in Navy wife terminology). Keep your chin up, Ryan, and keep enjoying the delicious coffee I send your way as it's the very least I can do for you to help get you through these last weeks!

Monday, June 20, 2011

First Dance Class

Here's a terrible, blurry picture of the boys after their first dance class tonight. The loved it!!!

I found a really great local deal for 8 weeks of dance class (only $40/child) and Ian was SO excited. Nathan wanted karate and we had to convince him to try dance and promised karate would come soon (found a great deal on that too). Well, on the way home from tonight's first hip hop class, Nathan said that he wants to go at least 12 more times. Yay! It's a 6-8 y/o class so he was the youngest of the bunch at only 5. I was worried he would be intimidated as he tends to be a bit more shy than Ian in regular day-to-day activities. I am so excited that they loved their dance class and rushed into the house to show me their moves. Hopefully they'll let me record some of the class and I'll figure out how to post video to the blog.

Dad, are you proud of your boys? They're so modern.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My Mother's Day Gift

The boys and I had pictures taken of just the three of us for Mother's Day this year. The idea was to also share these with Ryan as a sort of Father's Day gift since there isn't really much to share with him from 8,000 (or however many) miles away. Plus that "lucky" guy will be hitting up ports in the Med again come mid-June so he doesn't need anything from us. (Right, honey?)

Here are some of my favorites from our mini session beginning with my favorite picture of the three of us.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ridiculous & Adorable

Friday was "Graduation Day" for both of the boys. Ian has completed kindergarten and Nathan finished preschool. Such a milestone! I did not really appreciate having to sit through two ridiculous graduation ceremonies, but they looked SO adorable in their caps and gowns that I forgave them.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Earning My Keep

Because I just didn't have enough to do (please note the sarcasm here) I thought it would be a great time to re-seed the backyard and see if we can actually grow some healthy grass. During the 3.5 hours the boys were in school on Friday morning I managed to swing by Starbucks, fertilize and seed the lawn, run to Home Depot to trade out one of the bags of seed, spread bags of compost over the sandy sections of the yard and then cover the super bare sections of lawn with the four huge bags of peat moss. Oh, and I was able to squeeze in a quick shower and clothing change before picking the boys up from school. Most productive 3.5 hours ever.

Here are a few "Before" pictures of our weeds and sand.

Ryan--Here you can see the compost I spread out to help feed the seed since sand doesn't contain nutrients. Who knew? Ha! I miss California & Washington and having DIRT in the yard.

The peat moss is spread over all the bare sections of the yard. This stuff is essential with our crazy weather. Highs of 70 one day and 89 the next. I wish we had a sprinkler system because I hate watering twice a day by hand and/or moving a sprinkler around. Wonder how much that would cost to install...

Here we are 8 days later. Really, 7 days later since I didn't water that first day. I just wish we didn't have to wait until mid-July before applying Weed & Feed. The weeds are going to drive me crazy! Tomorrow I'm going to try to pull the dandelions. Wonder how far I'll get before I give up.

See, new grass! I'm very proud. :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

FRG Halfway Party

This past weekend we celebrated reaching (and surpassing) the halfway point of our current deployment with a picnic and treasure hunt. It was a beautiful Saturday and we were happy to spend it with so many command families. Here are a few pictures of the boys and I having a great time.