Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Checking In

Never was there a more random post but here's what we've been up to lately!

  • I'm still running and hoping to do another couple of 5ks in August.  Still not super fast..but getting faster! I ran with Brian the other night and I ran a 9:33 mile!  That's a huge improvement for me.

The kids are super, super helpful when we go running on base. They usually are good for 1 lap but then scream and whine until we let them out to roam the parade field.  I guess being near cannons is more fun than being strapped in a stroller??

  • Brady is in the throes of the "Trying Three's" and I'm pretty sure he's moodier and more hormonal than a group of teenagers. I may be biting my words come 13 years but woohee!  Today after I wouldn't let him wipe Layla's bottom (yes, you read that right, wipe her after she pooped) he ran to his room screaming "It's not fair!!" Oh the drama.  Some days he's an absolute joy to be around and other days everything is wrong. 

"Mommy!!.......Mooooommmmy!! MOMMY!! Look! I'm a turtle! Take my picture?"

  • My kids are obsessed with brushing their teeth. And doing it together.  It's the weirdest thing and it feels so wrong to tell them, "Ok, you brushed your teeth 4 times this morning already, no more!" I mean, is it normal to threaten a time out for excessive teeth brushing?  I know, I know, you're thinking she's crazy for being annoyed that her kids like to brush their teeth but every time I step in the bathroom they want to brush their teeth aka make a water mess everywhere and if I don't let them one child cough, cough, Layla throws her body to the ground in a fit of terror.  Yes, this is my life. At least it's entertaining, right?

  • Don't let this child fool you....behind that sweet smile is a bunch of mischief with a basket of screams. She has discovered just how fun it is to run away when we're out at the park and scream bloody murder if I should  pick her up or direct her in the correct direction. She is also a teething monster so that's been fun.  Good thing she's cute! :)  She's been talking so much more now though and her new favorite thing to scream is, "DADDY!"  It's pretty cute.  Her personality is really developing and she can be so sweet (especially with her dolls) but she can be tough and hang with her brother too. I can't wait to see what kind of little lady she turns out to be!
What, Mom?

  • Brady is starting preschool in less than a month! I have mixed feelings about this.  One one hand I think it's crazy he's even old enough to go but I think he's ready and we got him potty trained just in time (whew)!

This was our Mommy/Brady date night. He got to go out with just mommy and pick out a new backpack for school and then out for frozen yogurt after.  We pretty much had a blast!

  • We've been so blessed to have so many visitors lately and the trend continues! Our friend from high school, Mike, is coming to visit this weekend. It's his first time visiting us so we're going to try and show him what Omaha's all about!

Uncle Mike (Papa's brother) was in Omaha on business last week and we got to have dinner with him. It was so good to see him and the kids had so much fun playing with him!

  • We've been going to the park a ton lately. We've just had the best weather so we've been outside so much more this summer than past ones.  

  • Layla's hair is starting to get a little longer and sometimes she rocks these ponytails.  It distracts a little from the lady mullet.

  • We're gearing up for a very busy August and September followed by a deployment..blah.  But we're traveling next week to Mississippi for a friend's wedding. Never thought we'd make it back to Columbus, but we are!! Can't wait to see our friends and celebrate their marriage.  Now I'm just hoping we survive the 13+ hour drive there.  With a newly potty trained child. And a diabetic dog. And a screamer.  Pray for us..please?!  

Mississippi or bust!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Truthful Tuesday: A Mother's Perspective

This Tuesday I have a special guest blogger: my mom! She is going to do a short post truthfully describing what it's like to have a child marry into the military. Thanks Mom for your honesty and your perspective! 

We've known Brian since Rachel introduced us to him when they were just 15 years old. I actually met him at Rachel’s 15th birthday party. He was a cute, quiet, nice boy. I thought well here the string of boyfriends begins! They continued to date through high school and to our surprise were still together when they started college. When Rachel was at the University of Minnesota and Brian was off at the Air Force Academy in Colorado I was 100% sure they would both start dating other people. Long distance relationship for 4 + years is impossible! So I said. We knew they had a very special relationship and we absolutely adored Brian but we never thought that the boy she started dating at 15 would become her husband.

Were we concerned our daughter was marrying someone in the military? Of course. We worried where would they live, would we see them, what would Rachel do and how would she cope when he is deployed? I was uncertain how to feel about them being a military family. All I knew about military life is what I have heard from a few people and what is shown on TV. Some people seem to love all the changes and others don’t. 

I'll be honest, in 2008 after they got married and moved to their first base, I was very miserable missing Rachel and Brian. I would sob every time they left. It was so hard; them just being married and not seeing them on a regular basis. Ever heard the song “Stealing Cinderella”? The words are true. You couldn't ask for better for your child but they still are your baby and it's hard to let them go.

But at the same time how can I complain about the man who completes our daughter? The person she adores. The man who is a wonderful father and has enabled her to be a stay at home mom (having done it myself 8 years, I know how great it is)? It is so hard though having grandchildren far away. I am very thankful for cell phones and Skype to keep in touch but it is not like being there. I wish I could hold them, kiss and hug them at least once a week. It is so unusual to see them like 2-3 days straight every other month. It changes the dynamic of the relationship. It is nice how excited they get to see us when we do get to spend time together though!

The other unexpected plus is learning about the military. We thoroughly enjoy hearing stories and learning about flying the planes he's flown. Once again, something I know nothing about but love to learn and he is very patient teaching me. I just wish we could know more about his job, not easy for a nosy mother-in-law like me! ;) I love how our daughter supports him in all of this. It is not easy with 2 little ones at home. She has proven to be an amazing wife/mother/daughter. Love like that is hard to find.

If I had to give any advice to a parent whose child is going to marry someone in the military it would be this: Have faith. Trust in your children’s abilities and support their choice. Visit as often as possible. The other advice I would give is have a full life besides the children. Have a job, friends, and hobbies so that their being gone doesn't cause such a hole in your life.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Weekend Recap: Papa's Here!!

We had another jam packed fun-filled weekend!  The weather was absolutely beautiful: 70's and little to no humidity so we took advantage of that and were outside as much as possible.  We also had a special visitor this weekend: Papa and Mack!  Nana had to work and we really missed her! Here are the pictures from our fun weekend:
Friday night we went to an outdoor concert at the nearby mall. Brady and Layla were slow dancing together...melts my heart!

Then to run off more energy we let the kiddos play outside.  Clearly we are starving this little girl.

The next morning Mack and Papa were here! It may not look like it, but they (Brady and Layla) both were super pumped!

We had Brady's final t-ball game of the season so we had to get out to the fields bright and early.  Hurray for no more early Saturday morning games! :)

Papa and Layla even got to play an inning!

Hornets last cheer

Brian with his t-ball team! No picture is complete without a preschooler crying.

After the game we did a park hop (kind of like a bar hop...but with parks..duh) through the neighborhood. This was at the yellow park.

Rascal and Mack came too

Here's Layla taking herself for a walk at the blue park.

She couldn't hang much longer though.

Then it was the red park. We wore Papa out too.

Picture break!

After naptime Layla fed Papa some snacks and played dolls with him

After that we went to the end of the YMCA t-ball season celebration at the Omaha Stormchaser's game at Werner Park.  Brian got to participate in the coach's wiffle ball home run derby before the game. He didn't win but he got a nifty goody bag!

Then it was time for the players and coaches to march on the field. We all got these free blue hats at the game too.

Marching and waving at his adoring fans. Brady, that is. Not Brian.

I even got to march too!

Just walking past Warren Buffett, no big deal.

Pretty neat!

Then Brady's bff Judah and his family came to watch the game with us. Their favorite part was not the baseball but all of the music.  Here's them shaking what they've got.

Brady and Judah

And their daddy's too. Going on deployment #3 together this October so they're basically BFF's too.

Layla and I at the game.  Pretty sure I maybe saw 1 play of the game between chasing kids and chatting!

Group shot!  Gosh my kids take wonderful pictures.  This was about .2 seconds before all of the kids were just done!

Then the next morning it was absolutely beautiful out so we went to one of our favorite places: Fontenelle Forest to go do some hiking.

Family shot. We had fun, I swear!

Layla's too cool for hiking.

Walking through the forest

We went to their downstairs exhibit and the kids rode some know, normal things.

It also blew their minds to sit on bean bag chairs. We couldn't contain their excitement.

Then we finished out the hiking with a nice DQ trip because why not ruin the calories you just burned?

Brady's shot of us.  Layla needs a drip of constant food/beverages, I swear.

Thanks for coming to visit us Papa! We had such a fun weekend! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ways To Keep Busy During Deployment

*I'm going to try and blog once a week about a military topic, today's first topic is about keeping busy during deployments.*

We're pretty blessed with the air frame Brian flies to have advance notice of when he's going to deploy next. I am definitely a planner so as soon as I know when the next deployment is scheduled for**, I break out my planner and my notebook and I set to prepare.  Deployments are not easy but a little planning ahead can make things go a little smoother and hopefully include less "Is it bedtime yet?" kinds of days! Here are my tips to keeping busy during a deployment:

**Funny thing is the day I started this post, Brian got word of when his next deployment is which will be in a few months.  So I'm putting my advice to work as we speak! :)

1. Plan out the deployment in advance.  Obviously if a last minute deployment gets sprung on you, you can't do too much ahead of time. When we get word that my hubby is deploying I pull out my calendar and my notebook and I just plan as many things as possible.  Sometimes I'll write a "deployment bucket list" for fun activities to look forward to while Daddy is gone.  Usually too I'll look up what is going on in the community.  In Omaha we have access to a great website Moms Of Omaha that has a calendar of activities happening around the area.  I use it when Daddy is home too but we seem to try and do more activities when he's gone to keep busy.

2. If possible, have a deployment buddy (or two or three!).  Find someone deploying with your spouse or find someone who's spouse is deployed around the same time yours will be.  Having someone going through the same thing at the same time that you can call and commiserate with or spend dinners with makes things SO much better!  It's no fun to be lonely, it's nice to spend time with others that know exactly how you're feeling and miss their spouse just like you do.
These were my deployment buddies that first deployment. Us with our boys waiting for our hubbies to return!

3. Have trips/visitors to help break up the time and to give you a break!  As part of my deployment planning I try and see when I can have visitors come or when I can take a trip home to keep from going crazy. For me the weekends are the hardest so if I have a visual of say, I only have to make it 3 weekends until we have a visitor, then 2 more weekends till we travel, and then 4 weekends we have another visitor, and then in 5 weeks he'll be home that makes it much easier. I seem to count the time by how many weekends until he's home.   Having plans during the weekend seems to help me cope better too.                                  

4. If you have kiddos, sign them up for new fun activities.  I remember Brian's first deployment  and Brady was 10 months old.  I signed him up for swimming, a baby music class, Gymboree, and we would go to a free baby gymnastics class.  I went a little overboard that deployment but my oldest wanted to constantly be stimulated (which was exhausting to do by myself) and it was nice to be around other people when I was feeling lonely.  I just seem to do better when I'm out and about but no need to overdo it with a ton of new activities, maybe just try one or two! 

5. Do something for yourself like pick up a new hobby or get involved in an activity yourself.  Usually when Brian's gone I make it my #1 goal to lose weight.  I'm pretty successful at that while he's gone. It's much easier to eat healthy when I'm cooking for 1.5 (I only count the kids as .25 each since they don't eat much!)  I usually fall off the wagon when he's back home and I'm cooking big meals again though.  My local gym (that is literally blocks away) has childcare so I plan on taking full advantage of exercising and getting some me time while the kids play and have fun. I also told myself that this fall I would get more involved such as in my MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers) group and with the squadron.  Knowing that he'll now be gone this fall I know that I'll have activities to keep me busy.

6. ACCEPT HELP!  I can't stress this one enough although this is the tip I need the most help with.  I tend to go with the "I can do it all" mentality and that's just not good for anyone.  There's no reason to stress yourself out when you have family and friends willing to help you out.  So if someone offers to watch your kids for a couple hours to give you a break, mow your lawn so the city doesn't come a knockin on your door, or bring you dinner so you're not eating mac and cheese for the 5th day in a row, TAKE IT!!  For our next deployment I am forcing myself to take help!  

7. Try to embrace the positives. There are some positives to being on your own like: Controlling the remote, after kids go to bed it's "you time" to do whatever you want, and getting to sprawl out on the whole bed.  Ok, I know there aren't too many positives but take what you can get!  

8. Make the homecoming a big deal.  When we get word that Brian will be coming home soon we head to our local party store and pick up decorations, we make signs, get fun homecoming outfits, and plan the fun things we'll do when Daddy will be home.  That homecoming is one of the best things in the world so knowing that's coming makes things so much better. Especially those last couple weeks because they're the worst.  I think the next deployment we'll do some sort of countdown since Brady's older and understands a little more. I think that a visual will be good for him.
Our first homecoming

I know that there are so many things you can do to make a deployment more bearable...military mamas any other good ones you can suggest?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Weekend Recap: Happy Birthday Gramma!

We had a wonderful weekend!  Gramma and Grampa visited and it happened to be Gramma's birthday too so we of course had to celebrate! Here are some pictures from our weekend:
The fancy, fancy sign Brady and I made for Gramma.  We will be taking orders if anyone is interested.

Our morning started bright and early with Brady's t-ball game.  Layla thought Grampa's hat was pretty neat

Brady taking a snack break after his game which is probably 90% of the kids favorite part of t-ball. Only 1 game left (YAY!)!

After the game we hung around the house for a little bit and then Brian and I went on a date (thanks Mom and Dad!) and had some much needed time out!

We went to HuHot Mongolian Grill in Omaha. I'd heard so much about it but had never been so Brian convinced me to try it and it didn't disappoint! 

Trying to get him to take a nice picture is like trying to get Brady to poop on the potty...messy and exhausting.

Great iphone quality pictures but the food was delish!

We came home expecting some chaos but of course both kids napped nicely..and snuggled which she never does

And they were playing nicely too...of course they were.  Yeah save up all of your good behavior for the grandparents!

Also this weekend Layla got to try her first lemon...

not too sure!

We also got a yummy cake from the the Omaha Cake Gallery

Happy Birthday Gramma! Not a day past 29!

I didn't know they were both dragons but apparently..

Gramma with her favorites...

Who snuck some frosting too

Grampa and Brady watching Cars together

We also finally put Brady's big boy bed together and he LOVED it! It's pretty comfy, I don't blame him!
The birthday girl!

Gramma and Grampa with their babies. 

The next morning we went to a place called River City Star which has public river cruises. I had bought a Groupon a couple of months ago for a sightseeing cruise and thought this weekend would be a perfect time to use it!

We barely made it on time but we did!

Here's the boat

Just crusing on the river. And yes Grampa has a Vikings Hawaiian shirt..perfect for cruising!

It was really warm so we would go below deck to cool off

Birthday lady with her mimosa

Brady and I on the boat...he wasn't too sure

View of downtown Omaha from the river

Layla thought it was pretty neat

It was their first time on a boat and they both had fun but about 10 minutes into our hour tour Brady said, "Ok! Time to go home now!"  Yeahh bud that's not how it works.

Supermodel Layla with her hair blowing in the wind.

Group shot!

We had some people take our picture when Brady started screaming. I know that scream and I know that scream means vomit.  He had some orange juice on the boat and for some reason he struggles with citrus if he has too much and yep about 1 minute after this picture he "spit all over the grass" as he calls it.  Oh well it was fun otherwise! Thanks for coming to visit! :)
Content The Ross Family | Design Poppiness Designs