Happy Spring.

We saw our first robins the other day, so hopefully spring is around the corner. It was finally 40°-50°F the past couple days. Nina (paternal grandma), came to Madison to watch McKenzie so I could have some girl time and go shopping for Easter goodies for the basket. I managed to find some great non-candy items, as well as some yummy treats she’s been eying at the store.easterbasket2012So this morning McKenzie woke up and discovered that the Easter Bunny had filled plastic eggs and hid them all over the house…and hid her basket in the shower! Silly Bunny. She totally did the “overjoyed face,” complete with wide-eyes and palms to her cheeks. We had a great morning! Happy Spring everyone. =)easter 2012

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So, I’m Officially an Active Duty Army Wife.

How am I doing? I’ve been asked that a lot lately. And I’m actually a lot more sad than I thought I’d be, which was a surprise. Maybe it’s my pregnancy hormones. But I’ve been an active duty wife before (USMC), so I didn’t think it would be that bad. We’ve been together through 2 combat deployments, but I guess I’ve gotten used to having him around the past 6 years. On top of that, it appears we’re looking at 23 weeks of training. 23 weeks training = 23 weeks apart…that’s nearly 6 months, which I was not anticipating (at least not immediately). Oh well, I know how that goes.ByeDaddyByeDaddy2

He was so sweet the day he left. He went to the bank to get a Power of Attorney for me, and made a surprise visit to Target. He came home and surprised McKenzie with Cheer Bear (the pink Care Bear) to comfort her when she gets sad, and me with a body pillow (majorly awesome in his absence). It was so amazingly sweet that it made me cry. Again with these hormones.CheerBear

And it’s been a little hard on McKenzie. It’s only been two days, but she really misses her daddy…in fact, I’ve brought Eddie back for a visit or two to cheer her up. And that’s the part that kills me: I am totally fine/composed until McKenzie starts crying. She’s been pretty great, but we’ve had 3 sad moments so far. Cheer Bear helps her, for sure. =) And I let her bring it to school.

We had a really great time spending time together these last few weeks, though. On Friday we went bowling and had a great dinner out. It was really fun, and I highly recommend bowling for young ones! But only do one round…McKenzie was definitely “over it” after the first game.bowlingBut we’re trying to stay busy. There are a bunch of things I’m looking forward to in the next month, including:

  • A trip to Minnesota to visit my sister and see her new house!
  • My first official doctor’s visit…with a doctor.
  • Getting my hair done.
  • A week-long trip to visit Grandpa Jeff in Laguna, CA (and to get the new stroller!).
  • Sleepover & Girl’s Disney movie night with McKenzie and my friend, Stephanie.
  • FINDING OUT THE SEX OF BABY #2 April 2!

Any guesses?!

Crunch Time

Valentine's 2013 FlowersWe had a great Valentine’s Day! I woke up to not one, but two beautiful flower arrangements & a sweet note from my wonderful husband. Our romantic evening in Milwaukee was so much fun (although, let’s be honest: the February horse-drawn carriage ride in Wisconsin was a little torturous). As expected, the food was amazing, and we had a beautiful river-view from our hotel room. I would say dinner was the highlight…we got to order whatever we wanted off the menu! Whatever. We. Wanted. I didn’t snap any pictures because I wanted to feel “present” in the moment with Jon, so my apologies (or not). We really did have a great time.

On that note, it’s crunch time: Jon leaves for the Army 3 weeks from today. It’s getting so close! I do a really good job of NOT thinking about things until they’re here…I think it’s a protective mechanism for me, but it helps me to enjoy the moments we still have without anxiety about the future. So overall, I think it’s a good thing. It won’t be real until we get back to the empty house without him. =( I figure we won’t see him for about 3 months. While he’s training, I plan on staying busy with McKenzie and going on a few trips.

As I mentioned in this post, my sister and her husband are closing on their first home on March 15th, so we’ll definitely make the trek to Minnesota to visit them and see the new place. I’m super excited for them. Any good housewarming gift ideas? We also plan on visiting my step-dad (Grandpa Jeff) in Laguna Niguel, California. Not a bad place to visit! He loves taking us out on his boat to see dolphins, seals, & whales on the weekends. We were out there for McKenzie’s birthday in August, and we always have a blast.

In other news, I have another doctor’s appointment this week. I’m hoping we’ll get to hear the little peanut’s heartbeat.7wks4days

 

And the winner is…

So, I shared our Love Story on the Facebook wall of The Pasta Tree (our favorite restaurant) to win a Valentine’s Day giveaway for a 1-night hotel stay, a round-trip horse-drawn carriage ride, and a complimentary dinner (a $600 value!)…and we WON!!! Thanks to everyone’s support we had over 100 “likes” on our story, and we are SO excited to spend a romantic night together. What a wonderful way to spend Valentine’s Day before Jon leaves for the Army next month. <3Jon&Nic

Like I mentioned, this restaurant is incredibly special to us: we had our wedding reception there, and it is literally “our” place. The food is delicious home-made Italian, the service is excellent, and it is SO romantic and quaint. If you’re ever in the Milwaukee area and you’re looking for a romantic evening with amazing food and atmosphere, look no farther than The Pasta Tree. Seriously, the food is to DIE for.

So, will ya help us win dinner & a carriage ride for V-day?

Well, it appears pregnancy insomnia has set in early. I don’t remember having sleep issues until the 3rd trimester with McKenzie, but here I am: wide awake at 3:45am. [Insert expletives here.] What better time to clean & do a little blogging? At least I’m productive, I suppose.

Jon&Nic

Our reception at The Pasta Tree, gotta love the “clinking” glasses. ;)

ANYWAY. So, there’s this little contest going on at our favorite restaurant, The Pasta Tree, for Valentine’s Day: they’re giving away a 1-night stay at a boutique hotel in downtown Milwaukee, a horse-drawn carriage ride to/from the restaurant, and free dinner (all valued at $600). All I had to do was share our “Love Story” on their Facebook wall…how awesome would that be?!?!

Now, not only did Jon & I go on many, many dates to this incredibly romantic restaurant, but we happened to have our wedding reception there! Granted it’s an hour-and-a-half away from Madison, but it is seriously “our” place. Only 2 people have posted anything, and obviously it would mean a lot to us to win…especially with Jon leaving next month, and all that jazz. I think we have a pretty rad love story (long, blog version here), but obviously I’m a little biased. ;)

Soooooo, to anyone who reads my little blog: would you please, please take the time to “like” and/or comment on my photo-post if you have Facebook? Pretty please? It would mean a lot to me. And you don’t even need to “like” their page, just our photo. It doesn’t say anything about the most “likes” winning, but I figure it can’t hurt. =) The contest is Feb. 1st-8th, so we should know by next week! I’ll keep y’all posted, wish us luck!

Big News!!!

For those of you who haven’t already seen via Facebook…we’re expecting baby #2! I’m 7 weeks 4 days, so it’s still very early…but we had an ultrasound today and everything looked perfect, with a steady heartbeat of 167. It made it so real to see it, especially for Jon, but for me too. We’re all very excited! In the pic below, the little bean floating in the black area is the baby. The top of the little bean is the head, and the white spot is the eye. It’s measuring perfectly, so they confirmed my due date of September 15th, 2013.7wks4days

And McKenzie is over-the-moon…she is so excited to be a big sister! Every morning she asks, “Is the baby snoring?” It’s adorable. She will be 5 by the time the baby is born, so I think I’ll have a pretty awesome little helper. I’m so glad we waited longer before having a 2nd, the timing is really great for us. =)

IMG_1120bwWe had already told our families, but to make the pregnancy “public” (aka: a Facebook post), I had this photo-shoot with McKenzie in her new “Big Sister” shirt. Her bedroom walls are purple, so it worked out nicely! I like how they turned out. =) I was excited to find a cute shirt, because sometimes I think the shirts like that are a little too “kiddie” looking.

COMING.SEPT.2013

As for me, I’m feeling pretty well for the most part, just super tired. And most foods sound gross…I haven’t gotten sick, but I’m definitely queasy. I’ll wait too long to eat (until I’m overly hungry), and then nothing sounds good and my empty stomach is upset. I’ll usually just end up having a few crackers. And one night I had wicked heartburn, which I never had with McKenzie. Nothing too terrible though, it could be worse.

For those of you who are curious: yes, we plan on finding out the sex of the baby (I’m too impatient not to know!). To be honest, I’m sorta hoping for a boy because I think one of each would be pretty awesome…but hey, if it’s a girl we can reuse all McKenzie’s stuff so that would be awesome too. Either way, we were so excited to see the little heartbeat today, and we can’t wait to meet “it”!

So tell me, y’all, are 2 kiddos a lot crazier than 1? Were your 2nd pregnancies different than the first?

Back from Mexico

We got back from Mexico on Saturday and we had a great time! It had a bumpy start when my luggage was left in the US for an extra day, so I went 1 day wearing the same clothes…and we basically lost a day because the sunscreen was in my bags. *sigh* Thankfully though, my parents always told me to pack a swimsuit & other essentials in my carry on. Smart people. The first night we ventured into town and splurged on some lobster…one word: amazing. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Also, I think I mentioned in a previous post that it was adults-only, topless-optional. I was brave & went topless. Oh yes, I did! I was shocked myself, but let me tell you: when you’re literally the only one in sight with your top on, you feel like a prude. So I figured, “Fuck it, at least I won’t have tan lines.” It was glorious, and unusually freeing. I definitely loved the care-free, relaxed environment. The motto was, “Nobody knows you, nobody gives a shit.” Nice.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe food also was excellent, the staff was wonderful, and the drinks were amazing. Cancun was nice because we were able to venture out into town & we weren’t stranded on the resort. Unfortunately, the last 2 days were rainy & chilly, and was very glad to have my jacket! Otherwise, we enjoyed fun in the sun and I read the book “The Poisonwood Bible,” which was very good. Definitely not something I would usually read for enjoyment, but great nonetheless. I usually love James Rollins, Clive Cussler, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child…my “adventure” books as I call them.

We had our own little adventure and Jon moved one of the beds onto the balcony. It was fun. We didn’t leave it out there, but it was cool just chillin out there. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As you can tell, I didn’t bring my “nice” camera with me on the trip because it’s heavy & bulky, but I found some old gems that I never uploaded from when McKenzie was 3 from our point-and-shoot…crazy what a difference a year makes!  Such a sweetie. McKenzie had a lot of fun with her Nina (grandma) while we were gone, and it was great to be able to FaceTime with her every day. It’s funny: when you have kids it’s just as fun coming home to see your kiddos! A bonus to parenting, for sure.IMG_0002 IMG_0011 IMG_0018 IMG_0037 IMG_0038OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Annnnnnnnnnnnd I’m definitely missing that “chilly” 65˚F in Mexico…it’s 5˚F here in Wisconsin with a windchill below zero! Yuuuuuuuuuuuuck.

He Graduated! Woo!

After 5 years working part-time at UPS, going to school with a  3/4-course load, and being an awesome husband and daddy, my hubbs graduated from UW-Madison! Now we just need a Rose Bowl win. ;) Here are some pics, as promised…2 weeks late. But I can’t believe he’s done with college, almost exactly 1 year after me. I’m so, so proud! In high school, he would not have been the kid graduating from a top-tier university. Funny what a good woman can do for ya. *pats self on back*

But now the Army is less than 3 months away. *eek!* Thankfully, we’re going to Cancun in less than 2 weeks now, which should be super-fun “alone time” before he leaves. ;) Can’t wait.

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A Love Story.

May 2003

Once upon a time, in early May 2002, Girl met Boy in study hall. It was her Freshman year of high school, and Girl thought Boy was pretty cute. He was older and he could drive, so that was awesome too…but not only was Boy cute, he was sweet and respectful, which Girl appreciated very much.

On their first date Girl and Boy watched a movie, complete with Twizzlers, which was supervised by her terminally ill (yet very protective!) daddy. Girl and Boy would talk on the phone til 3 in the morning, go on long walks in the park, and fell in love pretty much immediately. Their first kiss was May 21st, 2002 and they were 15 and 17, respectively. The rest is history.

Almost a year later, Girl’s daddy passed away in March 2003, and Boy was always there for Girl. He took two days off school to be with Girl. He sat next to her at the funeral and held her hand. Boy’s family was very supportive of Girl, too, and always there for her as well. But only three months later Boy left for Bootcamp because he had joined the United States Marine Corps, and Girl was very sad. Girl missed him very much and wrote him letters all the time.

Bootcamp Graduation

Boy graduated Bootcamp in September 2003, and became a machine-gunner with 2/7 Weapons Company, stationed in the Mojave Desert in California. Girl still missed Boy very much. He bought his first cell phone so they could talk on the phone all the time, and they did. They saw each other on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.

But they found out that Boy would be deployed to Iraq less than 5 months after graduating Bootcamp. Girl was scared and missed Boy more than ever. He left on Valentine’s Day, 2004, and they celebrated their 2 year anniversary in May with a long phone call. He was an accident in July which resulted in Boy calling Girl from the hospital with internal bleeding. She was terrified. Boy was resilient, though, and completed his 7-month tour, returning in September 2004 at the beginning of Girl’s Senior year of high school. They went to her Homecoming together, and his Marine Corps Ball. Since Girl had turned 18, she would fly to visit him whenever she had a chance, whether it was in L.A., Palm Springs, or Las Vegas. They loved each other very, very much and knew the long-distance was worth it.

Married June 17th, 2005

In February 2005, Boy flew home and surprised Girl. He proposed! Her Mom and sister were both willing accomplices in the surprise, and very supportive. Girl was over-the-moon! But then Boy found out that he had to deploy to Iraq for a 2nd tour in July 2005. Girl and Boy were both sad. They were going to wait to get married until after he returned, but eventually decided to “take the plunge” before he deployed. They got married less than a week after Girl’s graduation from high school on June 17th, 2005, after 3 years of dating. She was 18 and he was 20, and they were very happy.

Less than 3 weeks later, on the 4th of July, Boy left for his 2nd deployment to Iraq. Again, Girl was scared and missed Boy horribly. She knew he was in Fallujah and constantly in danger, so while Boy was gone she tried to stay busy. She was accepted to a top-tier university and decided to start her higher education in the Spring. Girl wanted to have a “normal” college experience, so she lived in the dorms. She had a great roommate and they had a lot of fun, but she was very studious as well. Girl was always faithful to her beloved Boy, and eagerly awaited his calls. ((And if anyone has ever said otherwise, they were fucking liars…mmmmmm-kay?))

Fallujah, Iraq 2005

Girl did very well in college, but after 1 semester, Girl could not bear to be away from Boy voluntarily any longer. 2½ years apart was enough! She decided to put school on “pause,” and she moved to California so she and Boy could be together at last. Boy returned safely from his 2nd deployment in late January 2006, but 3 of his good friends had been killed in action, so it was bittersweet. Girl was happy to have Boy back, and they were both very happy to be together again.

Girl had gotten Marine Corps base housing, and prepared the home for his arrival, meaning she bought a bedroom set. ((Heh, heh.)) Boy and Girl did a lot of furniture shopping together, and overall enjoyed each others’ company. It was refreshing to be together and they were still very much in love. This was the beginning of their married life together, without a war keeping them apart. In Spring 2006, they welcomed two puppies into their little family, a golden retriever and a yellow lab. Girl, Boy, and The Dogs were a little family. But it was not always happy. Boy was often irritable and volatile…an often unseen after-effect of war. This was a difficult time for Girl, but they changed and grew together, and never gave up on each other. They were still very much in love.

Girl & Boy 2006

Luckily, Boy did not have to deploy anymore. After 4 long years, he was honorably discharged from the Marines in June 2007. Boy and Girl moved back to their home state, and decided that they would finish college together. The adjustment was hard, but they supported each other completely. Boy got a part-time job at UPS to help pay the bills and provide health insurance, and fortunately the GI Bill helped with the rest of their expenses.

Girl was able to attend classes full-time, and was excited to be back in academia, but Boy was having trouble transitioning from a combat Marine mentality to the “civilian world.” Boy missed his friends, and it was a difficult change from the Marine Corps Infantry lifestyle. Mentally, the change was tough on Boy. Having been there with Boy, and experiencing it first-hand, Girl supported Boy and encouraged him to move forward and make progress. She listened. She didn’t pry or push. But she was always there, his constant. It was a very private and personal struggle.

35 weeks, July 2008.

On December 14th, 2007, they found out Girl was pregnant. This was a BIG surprise for Boy and Girl, since they had just started school again. The timing was not ideal, as their steady military income was gone, but Boy and Girl had been together for 5½ years, married for 2½ years, with two 7-month combat deployments behind them…so they knew if they could handle that, they could handle anything.

In March 2008, they learned that they were expecting a Little Princess. Girl was uncomfortable and felt like there was a parasite in her body draining all her energy. Boy was nervous and wondered if he would be a good Daddy, but Girl had no doubts that he would be an amazing father. They became more and more excited each day, and eagerly awaited the arrival of their Little Princess.

Little Princess, born August 24th, 2008

Nearly two weeks past her due date, Girl had become convinced that Little Princess was trying to torture her, but on August 24th, 2008, Little Princess made her arrival at 7:54pm. She weighed 7lbs. 11oz. and was 20 inches long. Little Princess was absolutely perfect, and Boy and Girl were amazed by the Little Princess they had created together. So Little Princess joined Boy, Girl, and The Dogs, and their little family grew.

Little Princess was a mercifully well-behaved little baby. Girl loved to play dress-up with Little Princess and give her lots of cuddles. Boy loved to tickle Little Princess to make her giggle, and give her lots of kisses. The birth of Little Princess also helped Boy change his outlook on life: he felt hopeful again, where he had previously been struggling with the mental implications of combat. Boy was constantly striving to overcome any war-related issues he had, not only for himself, but also for his relationship with Girl and Little Princess.

Little Princess, 4 months

Boy and Girl continued to go to school, which was very tricky with Little Princess. Boy and Girl both switched to part-time, but they alternated school days and made it work. They were both very determined to reach their goals, not only for themselves, but to set a good example for Little Princess. Little Princess was a very loved little child. Soon she was babbling and walking, and before they knew it, she turned 1….and then 2. Boy and Girl just loved watching Little Princess grow up.

Soon after Little Princess’s 2nd birthday, Girl’s mom became gravely ill, with a combination of heart failure, kidney failure, liver failure, and lung failure. Girl was very close with her mother and was devastated. Boy was an amazing and supportive husband, and he encouraged Girl to go spend as much time as possible with her mother, even though she was far away in California. But Boy was sad too, because he had known Girl’s mother for 8 years, and also because he knew that Girl was sad. Eventually, Girl’s mom came home from the hospital for hospice care and she passed away 6 days later on October 3rd, 2010.

Girl & Boy, Caribbean Cruise 2011

Little Princess was too young to understand why Girl was upset and sad, but Boy was a great husband and Daddy, so he always tried to cheer Girl up. He told her he loved her all the time, and always let her know she could talk if she wanted. Girl was grateful. But within the next few months, Girl’s remaining 3 grandparents died too, and it was overwhelming. Boy was vigilant and always let Girl know that he was there for her.

But Girl and Boy always made time for each other, they would go on dinner dates and grown-up vacations together. Their relationship was very important to them, so they made it a priority in their lives.

Over the next year, Little Princess turned 3. Time was flying. School kept Girl busy. Her hard work paid off. In December 2011, Girl graduated from college with her bachelor’s degree in English Linguistics, and minors in Women’s Studies and TESOL. She was very proud of herself, and Boy was very proud of her. He told her all the time. And Girl also knew her parents would have been proud, which made her feel good.

Girl Graduates College, 2011

Boy was going to graduate soon too (within the year), and Girl and Boy planned on moving back to California to get grown-up jobs. They loved the weather there, and Little Princess could play outside all day long if she wanted to. So, Girl started a photography business because she didn’t want to get a job and have to move right away, because it seemed impractical. Throughout the year, Boy kept busy with his last couple semesters of class, and Girl worked on her business. Boy had come very far recovering from the traumas of war, and Girl and Boy loved each other more than ever. They could still talk until 3 in the morning.

First Day of Kindergarten!

As for their Little Princess, she was growing fast…too fast! In August 2012, Little Princess turned 4. The next month, Little Princess started 4K kindergarten. Girl and Boy wondered where the time was going. And Boy started his very last semester of college. Then their plans for California changed.

The military had always been an ever-present thought for Boy. He knew that he missed it, and Girl knew it too. He missed the camaraderie, the structure, the “Man Shit,” the teamwork, the leadership, and the sense of purpose. In Fall 2012, Boy decided he wanted to join the Army (the Marines were downsizing and no longer taking prior service). Girl wanted Boy to be happy, and she was very supportive of Boy. She knew that nothing would ever compare to the military for him. Plus, Girl had her bachelor’s degree, so she wouldn’t need to work at the PX for minimum wage, or live vicariously through her husband’s accomplishments.

On November 8th, 2012, Boy officially enlisted in the Army, with Girl’s blessing. It was going to be a new adventure. By this time, Boy and Girl had been together 10½ years, married for 7½ years, and knew that together they could handle anything.

Now, Boy and Girl were not perfect, by any means, but they worked hard at their relationship. They tried, and continue to try. They communicated and never tore each other down. They refused to ever give up, and never will. They will always be there for one another, loving and supporting each other, through anything, no matter what. ‘Til death do them part.

Boy + Girl = Forever

Happy 237th Birthday USMC.

First of all, happy 237th Birthday to the United States Marine Corps! Especially my favorite Marine, my wonderful husband, Jon. 2 Iraq combat deployments as a machine gunner, and I was so happy to have him home. I can’t believe it’s been 5 years since he got out…he’s grown so much. And now he’s about to graduate from a top tier university. I’m so, so proud of him and I wouldn’t have wanted to spend the past 10 years with anyone else.

Anyhow, this weekend we’re going “Up North” to visit Jon’s cousin. It will be so fun! They have a 2 year-old daughter and I’m sure she and McKenzie will get along marvelously. More “life” updates to come soon. =)