Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

Goodbye 2014 and hello 2015!

The New Year always brings with it an opportunity for reflection as well as a time to look ahead towards the future.

While 2014 did have some lower points, such as my husband being away from home for over 1/3 of the year due to TYD's and his current deployment, overall it has been a pretty good year.
  • Early in the year, I said goodbye to my twenties as I turned 30 years old less than two weeks into 2014.  And it didn't bother me one bit!
  • Our daughter quickly mastered crawling and moved on to cruising, took her first solo steps at 9 months old before she began full-blown walking on her own at 10 months old, and turned one year old this summer.  She is now running all over the place and climbing onto everything.  She is also learning new words day after day and trying to her best to begin speaking in sentences.
  • My husband and I hit new milestones in our relationship and saw our 3rd wedding anniversary in April, celebrated 7 years as a couple in October, and most notably passed the 10 year mark of when we first met and became friends in August.
  • I received a promotion at my job in July (my second there in less than two years) and finally feel like I'm beginning to forge an actual career for myself.
  • My husband and I became more involved in our church and began volunteering, putting some of our talents to use to assist the church.  We started to develop relationships with many of the people on staff there and feel more at home.

For 2015, I definitely have some goals set, not only for myself but for my family as well.
  • When my husband returns home, I would like for the two of us to spend more time together and work on bettering our relationship.  I do not believe our relationship is bad by any means, but we have definitely shifted the focus from the two of us and moved our priorities to our daughter and our careers.  We do plan to take a vacation together, just the two of us, in order to have some alone adult time and get that honeymoon we never took.  But more than that, we need to actually schedule date nights at least once a month, bringing in a babysitter for our daughter in order to have that time together.  Since Abby was born summer 2013, my husband and I have only been out on about 4 dates without her.
  • I would like to lose the final 10 pounds of baby weight I have been hanging onto for the last year and a half.  I have managed to knock off about 4 of those pounds in the last month or so after some dietary adjustments.  While I would certainly like to lose closer to 20 pounds in total, just getting back down to my pre-baby weight would be wonderful!  Before getting pregnant, I was beginning to feel a lot more comfortable with my body thanks to the 5 workouts a week I was putting in while my husband was deployed in 2012.  The biggest thing for me is getting back into a consistent workout routine, which is hard to do when (temporarily) solo parenting a toddler and working a job that typically requires 45-50 hours a week.  As I found the last time I was working out consistently, as long as I keep at it, the pounds will come off slowly & steadily, which is the best way to maintain the loss.
  • Work on becoming more focused on the task at hand in an effort to not become quite so overwhelmed with everything on my to-do list, especially when it comes to work and my ever increasing list of responsibilities as I grow in my position.
  • Apply to graduate school in order to begin working on getting an MBA.

While I'm not fond of the fact that one of the items on my list for the year includes losing weight (so stereotypical of New Year's resolutions), it really is part of a total picture to become a healthier and happier version of myself.  I spend so much time focused on others that I forget about myself until I hit a breaking point.  That needs to change.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

The day after Christmas is as good of a day as any to pick this blog back up, right?  While I did have a pretty good Christmas Day, it certainly wasn't the happiest of days.  Remember that post I shared about six months ago mentioning a possibility of my husband deploying?  He wasn't selected for that mission (which is good, as the hypothetical four-month time frame which was being tossed around turned into one year).  But he was picked up for another one which saw him leave ahead of the holidays for six months.

My daughter and I spent Thanksgiving Day home alone with our pups.  I prepared a scaled-down version of Thanksgiving dinner, complete with usual dishes such as stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce, and Abby's great grandmother's sweet potato casserole.

Before we found out about the possibility of my husband deploying, we had planned on traveling to see family for Christmas ahead of the holiday, returning on Christmas Eve in order to have Christmas morning in our own home, so that Abby could see what Santa brought her under her own tree after waking up from her own bed.  While I know she's still too young to remember it at 18-months old, I really wanted to begin our own Christmas traditions as a family.

Once the deployment orders were handed down, I immediately thought about just staying home for Christmas, but my husband insisted that I still follow through with the plans we had laid out to visit with his family in Georgia and Tennessee.

While traveling solo with a toddler was no easy feat, I'm very glad that I stuck to our original plans and made the trip to spend time with my in-laws.  She got to see her great grandparents, great aunts, one set of grandparents, and two of her aunts.

This wasn't my daughter's first time traveling on an airplane, however I was much more nervous about this trip than I was her first.  First off, I was traveling alone, unlike last year when my husband was with me to assist.  Secondly, Abby's first time flying was last Christmas when she was 6-months old, so I was able to count on her passing out shortly after receiving a bottle on take-off.  This time around, she's much more active and strong-willed.  I wasn't sure that I'd be able to contain her in my lap, let alone get her to be calm and quiet for the duration of the flights from Texas and back home.  Thankfully, she slept for half of the flight out of town (and was reasonably well-behaved and quiet for the second half), and she slept like a rock for the entire flight back home.

Christmas morning proved to be very exciting, with the slew of presents Abby received from Santa and all of her grandparents, aunts and uncles.  She is one very loved little girl.  I just hope she doesn't get used to getting so many presents each year!

The only presents under (or around) that tree that weren't for Abby were just a few gift card envelopes.

She had such a fun time opening her presents that she wore herself out pretty quickly, and I actually had to coax her to open her final few gifts, as she just wanted to curl up on the floor and rest.

It really was an enjoyable Christmas.  And thankfully my husband was able to call a couple times during the day, so I got to hear his wonderful voice.  I just wish he could have been home to share the day with us.

I hope everyone else is having a great holiday season and has a terrific New Year!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Expecting the Unexpected

Learning to expect the unexpected has been the hardest lesson for me to learn after my husband joined the Army. I'm a bit of a planner and not a huge fan of surprises, but overall I think I have handled all of the twists and turns fairly well.

In the less than three years my husband has been in, I've made it through basic training, AIT, a 5 month deployment to Afghanistan, a PCS, a 1 month TDY while 8 months pregnant, a 2 month TDY with a 2 month old, and another 2 month TDY which my husband just returned from a month ago.  Did I mention I also have a full-time job in accounting to balance this all with as well?

When my husband returned home last month, he mentioned several times that he does not foresee any travel for work on the radar for at least the next year.  The next big training course he could be slated for requires he get a little more experience under his belt and likely wouldn't be suggested until next year.  And the unit was not looking at any deployments given the draw-down in Afghanistan.

He jinxed it.

First, we were informed last week my husband is now going on a two week TDY next month.  Okay, that's not too bad, especially considering he'll be heading to a base that's within driving distance.  So if he's approved to bring a POV, he'll be able to come home over the weekend that falls in the middle of the course.  And if he cannot bring our car, it's just two weeks.  No biggie.

At the end of the week, he learned that they want to send a group of 10-15 soldiers on a deployment later this year.  Rumor has it, it would likely last for about 4 months.  He didn't think he'd be as likely to be selected, but he told me about it so I could be prepared for the possibility.  He then learned yesterday that he has one of the longest dwell times out of the unit, so there is a really good chance he could be chosen.  Given how much he has been away this past year, he has already said that he will definitely not volunteer to deploy.  However, if not enough people volunteer, there's a good chance he will be deploying again.  Oh and that 4 month time-frame?  Apparently just a rumor and no real length of time has been decided.

While I obviously do not want to deal with another deployment this soon, I really hope they will settle the who & the how long rather soon so we can be prepared.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Big ONE: Banner

Last week, while spending time browsing through Pinterest, I saw a couple cute Happy Birthday banners that I liked. However, with my daughter's birthday now less than three weeks away, I knew I likely wouldn't have time to order one from Etsy and guarantee it would arrive in time unless I paid for a rush delivery. So like I did with Abby's tutu, I decided to make her banner as well!

I gathered ideas from various pins and Etsy listings, making note of various elements I liked from various designs. This past weekend I picked up some sheets of card stock in the party colors (50% off the regular price, too!) and began work on the project.

I purchased several sheets of blue, purple, green, pink, and white card stock. I cut one sheet of each color into 4" squares, and then cut a few sheets of my white paper into 3" squares, on which my letters will then be attached.

While deciding how much of a colored border I wanted, I simply cut some 3" & 3.5" squares of regular printer paper to visualize, before ultimately decided I liked the look of the 3" the best.

Next, I glued my white squares onto my colored ones.

For my letters, I wanted bright, block lettering that would really pop from the background.  I printed out the letters needed to spell out Happy Birthday Abbigail onto some white cardstock and then cut them out to use as a template.  After my letters were cut out, I then traced them onto the bright pink cardstock I purchased and cut out each letter (I'm a bad blogger and did not capture photos of these steps, I apologize).

In order to help make the letters pop and provide dimension to the banner, I used a roll of foam double-sided tape to adhere the letters to the background, just to add a little depth.  The next step for me was to then "hang" the banners and ribbon to the wall.

While I had intended to actually thread the ribbon through the squares, I decided to go for an easier approach and first attached the ribbon to the wall with some mounting putty, following behind with each letter square over the ribbon to give a banner effect, without having to worry about actually attaching my squares to the ribbons.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Big ONE: Birthday Outfit

When I began reviewing items on Pinterest to start coming up with ideas for Abby's birthday, I quickly decided I wanted her to wear a tutu for the big day. When I saw that many are going on Etsy for $30+, I thought I would look into making my own to help save money.

After a quick Google search, I found this online tutorial on how to quickly make a no-sew tutu. It looked so simple, so I picked up my supplies at Hobby Lobby so I could get to work on it. Hobby Lobby and Michael's both regularly have 40% off coupons available, so it makes these types of craft projects more economical/enjoyable.

The supplies for this project are pretty minimal. You need a crocheted headband, which will serve as the tutu's waistband, rolls of tulle, scissors, and a ruler or tape measure. Other useful items to have to make cutting the tulle easier are a piece of cardboard, cut to either the length you want the tutu, or twice the length, as well as some rubber bands.

While you can simply cut pieces of tulle one at a time, per the video I linked above, there is a much easier and more time-efficient way to do so. That's where the cardboard comes into play.

You'll use the cardboard to wrap your tulle around. I found it easier when getting started if I used one rubber band to help hold my beginning piece in place.

Once you have the edge of your tulle lined up with the edge of your cardboard, you'll continue to wrap the tulle around. You can either do this until you go through the entire roll, or just until you have wrapped around the number of pieces you need for your skirt.

If you cut the cardboard equal to the length you want your tutu to be (as I did here) then every full wrap around (front & back) will equal one strip of tulle. If you cut the cardboard equal to twice the length of your tutu, then every full wrap around will get you two strips of tulle.

Once you're done wrapping your tulle, you will want to place a rubber band or two around the whole thing to help keep the fabric in place when cutting.

Next you'll be cutting. If your cardboard is the length of your tutu, you'll make just one cut, along the edge where you lined up the beginning of the roll. If your cardboard is twice the length of your tutu, you'll make two cuts, one along both edges.

When cutting, be sure not to pull too much with your scissors or to veer towards one side or the other in order to keep your tulle lengths as close to even as possible.

Once you're done, you can remove the rubber bands and you'll be left with a neat stack of tulle.

Complete this process again as many times as needed for each color you're using. I am using four colors for my daughter's tutu, so I completed this four times.

Once you have all of your tulle ready to go, you'll simply follow the directions outlined in the video for tying the strips to your headband.

You'll grab a piece of tulle, gather it and fold it in half, then thread the loop through the back of one of the holes on the headband. You'll then pull the ends through the loop on the front side and pull down to create your knot.

Keep going around until you have made a full circle around the length of the headband, and before you know it your tutu will be complete!

I just did one layer of tulle and used the second row of holes (rather than the very bottom row) on the headband to provide a little more strength. And if you want a fuller skirt, you can circle back around with a second row.

This is such an easy project, I created two of these for my daughter. One will be used in the next week for her smash cake photo shoot, and the other will be worn at her party.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Big ONE: Planning

Now that we're in April, it has hit me that my daughter's first birthday is rapidly approaching. Yes, it's still a little over two months away, but when all of your family lives out of town and has to make travel arrangements to attend, you have to begin planning a little more in advance.

Invites have been sent out. Materials to make my baby girl's party outfit have been purchased. Party supplies and decor are being finalized and I will begin buying items soon as I find deals and coupons. Cake/cupcake designs and recipes are being put together. And I already have the day before her party off from work so I can spend the day baking and decorating.

I have decided to make the desserts for the party. I love baking, but ever since I first became pregnant, that love and desire has been pushed aside between lack of energy and lack of time to play in the kitchen. I am really looking forward to having fun with it!

My plan is to bake a two-layer 6" round smash cash for Abby, and then cupcakes for the rest of us to indulge in, all decorated similarly to incorporate the theme of the party. I just need to finalize the design of the smash cake (cupcakes are all set) and determine what recipes/flavors I want to use!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Everything is Awesome

If you've seen The Lego Movie, that song is probably now stuck in your head.

If it wasn't already, it probably is now that I mentioned it! You're welcome!

My husband and I went to see it for our Valentine's Day date, in the afternoon before getting our daughter from daycare. Yes, we went to see a movie targeted towards children for our date, and without our child. We're awesome dorks like that. If you haven't seen the movie, it is worth checking out. We really enjoyed it.

The point of bringing up the movie is so I can share an activity that we did at work last week during our monthly department meeting. This meeting actually comprises of four departments, all of which our Controller oversees. She enjoys incorporating an activity of some sort into our meetings as an opportunity to bond with those from the other three departments with whom we do not regularly work.

For this meeting, we were each given a 2 inch square cut out of a larger picture, and were instructed to draw that image onto a 7 inch square piece of paper. And we weren't allowed to see the original image until the activity was complete. 

As soon as I got my picture piece, I immediately knew it was from The Lego Movie. And the artist in me wasn't happy we were given markers and not colored pencils, as it made the shading I wanted to do a little difficult.

Once we were all done, we each brought our enlarged puzzle pieces up to attach together and complete the picture.

This is what our final product looked like.

And here is the original image we were trying to recreate.

Overall I don't think we did a completely horrible job. The lesson behind the activity was to show how we each have part of the puzzle in the company and we are dependent on each other to accomplish the whole picture

Queue music! "Everything is awesome! Everything is cool when you're part of a team!"

Monday, March 3, 2014

Weekend Recap

Friday Evening

A nice thing about my job is they let us flex our schedules during the week. There are guidelines in place to make sure we don't take off too early on any given day without arranging for the time in advance, but we are able to come and go as we would like within certain windows in order to take care of things we need to outside of work that a standard 8-5 workday may not allow.

Earlier in the week, I worked an extra 1.5 hours between Monday & Thursday. So on Friday, I was able to leave work that much earlier. I used that time to head home and get in a nice relaxing shower before picking up the baby from daycare. 

Sure, I could have gone shopping or even used the time to see movie with my husband or something fun, but I decided this would be a better use of my time. I was then able to just relax after getting Abby down for the night and not worry about squeezing a shower in before bed.


On Saturday, I finally cashed in on a present my husband got me for Christmas and had a relaxing morning at the spa.

I'm pretty bad about taking time for myself. I always have been. It's just become even worse since I became a mom. For example, in January, I got my hair cut for the first time in 9 months (and I could have used it a long time before then). And while I mentioned to my husband that one thing I would love for Christmas was a massage, he knew that I wouldn't actually get one unless he paid for it in advance.

So on Saturday, I got a few blissful hours to myself while I relaxed in an aromatherapy whirlpool, received a 60-minute massage, and got a foot therapy scrub and a facial. It was very much needed, though I will be honest about the fact that I found it difficult to turn my brain off and stop worrying/thinking about things and fully enjoy the moment. 


It was another run-of-the-mill kind of Sunday for the most part.

After church, we stopped by Home Depot, as my husband has decided he wants to take the time to spruce up our yard a bit. We are renting our house, however the homeowner doesn't seem to take much pride in the condition of his grass or the overall landscaping (even though we were told he had a landscaping company that would come treat the yard when we signed the lease). The only effort he puts into it is he sends out a guy to cut the grass every few weeks or so.  So my husband has decided to take on the task of fertilizing the grass to help bring it back to life, remove any weeds, and plant new shrubs in the front yard.

This Sunday was our first trip to the store to pick up the lawn food, weed killer, and other essentials to prep the yard. Then next weekend we'll make our way back to select the shrubbery and/or flowers we want to decorate with. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Abby - 8 Months Old

My baby girl turned 8 months old last week. Boy, time sure is flying by!

This month, Abby started cruising and loves her new found ability to walk around while holding onto things. She has even taken to the point where she will actively push her play table while standing, moving it across the room. She then gets upset when she pushes it into something and cannot move it any farther.

She also cut two more teeth, bringing the total up to four. Now that her pearly whites are poking through, we started brushing her teeth and gums. The very first time we did it, she did not care for it one bit. Thankfully she actually began to enjoy it and loves it when I do it (probably because it helps to soothe those poor gums).

Watching her, it appears she is becoming stronger and stronger each day. Looking at her, you wouldn't be able to necessarily tell that she is closing in on 20 pounds, and I honestly believe it is because she has so much muscle. She lifts and pushes around toys that I wouldn't expect her to be able to move so easily at this age. She has also taken to doing little baby pull-ups and loves to grab onto the top edge of her pack 'n play and work on pulling herself up.  Needless to say, we were sure to lower her crib down to the lowest possible setting this past month :)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Making the List

Today is a very happy day in our home.

After being on the promotable list for months and seeing points maxed out month after month, promotion points were finally lowered for my husband's MOS for March and he has made the promotion list!

I am very proud of my husband and happy for him, as this achievement helps to bring him another step closer to reaching his goals for his military career.

Weekend Recap

Friday Evening

My husband got off from work really early on Friday, so I was expecting we'd have a nice little evening together before Abby went to bed, especially since he had begun feeling better. I was wrong. Very wrong.

I got home to find my husband out of it and passed out on the couch, exhausted from pushing himself too hard during the morning's PT (even though he's on a no-PT profile for a week while recovering from pneumonia -- he pushed himself, it was in no way mandated by his Sergeants). So I was left to take care of the baby, the dogs, and the kitchen on my own while also checking on my ill husband to make sure he was still breathing.

Funny to think about what my Friday nights used to be like just a few years ago. Oh how things have changed.


As usual with most Saturdays, we ran several errands that needed to get done, such our bi-monthly trip to Sam's, a trip to the barber for my husband's haircut, and grocery shopping at the commissary.
Abby & her dog both have a love for the tennis ball

As I have been going a little stir-crazy and feel like I'm being stretched too thin, I also wanted to enjoy some leisure time as well, so we opted to stop by the mall. After browsing around a bit and picking up a couple shirts for the baby (not that she necessarily needed them -- the girl has a better wardrobe than I!), we stopped at The Cheesecake Factory for lunch. Even though I keep telling myself I need to eat healthier to aid in losing these last 10 lbs of baby weight, I couldn't help but give in to my weaknesses of chicken carbonara and a slice of red velvet cheesecake! It was absolutely delicious!


We were able to make it back to church this week after spending last Sunday morning in the urgent care clinic at the hospital for my very sick husband. We first found a church here in San Antonio this past fall and instantly decided it would be our church after attending our first service in October. While there are some differences, it reminds us of our old church from GA that we loved so much. 

The day wasn't nearly as productive as I had hoped, as Abby more or less refused to nap other than for about 30 minutes. Our girl is VERY active and loves to explore & get into EVERYTHING, so it is a little difficult keeping tabs on her while also taking care of things around the house.

Thankfully she sleeps really well at night and is usually good about going down for the night early enough after our bedtime routine, but I'm usually left with so little energy/willpower by that point that I want to do nothing more than relax on the couch with my husband with a glass of wine in hand.

Good thing she's such a cutie!

How was your weekend? Did you accomplish everything you set out to do?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Survival Mode

That's how I've been living much of the last week and a half, in survival mode. We're still recovering from two illnesses in our house, which has left me completely spent after caring for a teething baby with bronchitis and a husband with pneumonia.

We are also still wrapping our heads around the loss of someone in my husband's family. One of his grandpas suddenly took a turn for the worse this past week after recovering from surgery and passed away. While it's still hard to believe, we are taking comfort in the knowledge that he is in a better place and has been reunited with the love of his life.

I am very thankful that we were able to make it back home to Georgia for Christmas this year and were able to spend time with him so recently. While she won't get to know him other than from stories that are shared, I am also very glad that Abby was able to meet her great grandpa.

Sadly we were not able to make it back home for the funeral, but thanks to my brother- & sister-in-law, we were able to watch most of it via Skype. It certainly wasn't the same as getting to be there with our family, but it helped to feel like we weren't completely missing out.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

New Blog for a New Life

After realizing that I miss blogging like I used to do fairly regularly over at my old blog (Life Adventures of a New Army Wife), I decided to dive back in to it and have created this new blog.  I thought that a new identity was needed given where I am in life these days.  We're still a military family, however a lot has happened since I last blogged over at my old site and I decided that I wanted a new place to write down my thoughts and document this life of mine.

Over the next little while, I hope to do some recap posts to fill in the gaps from my last post up to now and document things that have happened over the last year+ in which I have been MIA.