Sunday, July 28, 2013

Deployment Preps

I can't believe it's almost here.  However, this time around, Chet and I have been very organized and strived to be on the same page with what needs to get done before he leaves.  Here's how:

A couple of weeks ago I posted two calendar pages (July and August), as well as those orange sheets of paper you see (each sheet of paper is divided in two, with two lists per page...the bottom sheet on the right has only one list though).  On the calendars we only listed events that affected both of us/the whole family, such as birthday parties, meetings that I needed to attend and that required Chet to leave work at a reasonable time to come home and watch the girls (they always work late nights in the weeks leading up to deployment), date nights we planned, etc.

As far as the lists on the orange paper, I thought it best to divide our to-do items into categories.  Here are the seven categories everything more or less fit into:
  • Chet Buy
  • Chet Pack
  • Household (this is the "honey do" list)
  • Hurricane
  • Baby ("decide on names" was the first item on this to-do list)
  • Paperwork/Misc.
  • Fun
  • Post-Deployment (this is for me only, and lists things I need to wait to do until after he leaves, such as put his cell phone plan on hold, etc.)
I feel like these lists are pretty self-explanatory, but I'll elaborate a little bit.  The "Hurricane" list includes the things we need to do to prepare for a hurricane (since Chet will be gone during the height of hurricane season).  However, this list is still pretty short, because the girls and I will evacuate in case of a hurricane, so it's not as if we need to meticulously plan to be holed up in the house if one hits (although we do have hurricane lamps, MREs, and tons of bottled water in case it does come to that).

The "Baby" list is also short.  In addition to "decide on names", we are still working on getting all of the paperwork together to allow our non-military family members to come visit and help while Chet is gone.  There is a lot of paperwork involved in obtaining permission for people be allowed to drive on and off base without one of us as an escort.

"Paperwork/Misc." lists items such as attaining Powers of Attorney.

"Fun" was the most fun list to take care of (duh).  There were a few shows that Chet and I wanted to get caught up on before he left ("The Office: Season 8", the latest seasons of "Grey's Anatomy" and "Parenthood").  The Daddy Dolls were also on the "Fun" list, as well as putting together our candy jar:

We counted out how many days Chet would be gone (although it is impossible to know exactly at this point, but we tried nonetheless), and multiplied that number by two.  Every day, Sydney and Lorelei will each get to eat one dark chocolate M&M from the jar.  I've heard something like this is a good visual reminder for kids in understanding how much time is left before a loved one returns home (especially towards the end).  Lorelei was "helping" do this.  Here she is, requesting/begging for "more":
And, no, "get Lorelei's bangs cut" was not on the pre-deployment list.  :-)  Actually, she is finally to the point where she lets me fix her hair without any fuss, and 50% of the time she leaves it alone.  Baby steps, people.

Having those calendars and lists posted on the front of our kitchen cabinets has been instrumental in keeping us organized.  This is the first time I've done this, and I don't think I'll ever not do it again.  Having our to-do lists visible to everyone (rather than hidden in a notebook that only I maintain) has prevented surprises that lead to squabbles, and has forced us to actually do the things we know we ought to do.  I can tell you now that not everything on these lists will get done, but that's okay.  Chet and I are on the same page with what's crucial and what's "nice, but not 100% necessary."  Also, it is so satisfying to cross off the items with a red Sharpie.

The only thing that hasn't happened yet is Chet starting to pack.  Well, he's started a little bit, but not enough.  That's another mistake we've made over and over: waiting to pack until the night before.  It's miserable, and we're not going to let it happen this time.  In fact, he's going to do quite a bit of packing today, and continue a little bit each night this week.  Hopefully it will make that night-before-deployment a little more pleasant than it has been in the past.
I think one reason packing beforehand has been so hard is because of the lack of space we have at home.  What Chet needs is a giant empty room to lay everything out in, and we just don't have one.  Perhaps he could spread everything out on the floor in the main living areas if we didn't have Sydney and Lorelei running around, but we do have Sydney and Lorelei running around, so...
Anyway, here is the packing pile so far:

And one of his bags, waiting to be filled:

Like I said, we don't have much space at home, and we already have tons of piles going right now.  For example, here is Sydney's preschool supplies pile, which we will take with us to her Open House on August 1st:

And here are boxes and boxes of baby girl clothes, all of which I lent to my next-door-neighbor, and she recently returned:

I am not going to open these unless we find out we're having a girl.  If we're having a boy, these boxes may just go straight to the thrift store or someone I know with a girl (I'm certainly not going to hold on to them -- I've already saved the items I love best).

And there you have it, folks!  Our pre-deployment preps, and the piles of stuff around our house!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Daddy Dolls

Our Daddy Dolls arrived!  I am so pleased with how they turned out, and the girls seem to love/are a little weirded out by them.  (Don't worry, girls, you'll appreciate them when Daddy is gone.)


Sydney, Daddy, and The Blur

That's Chet's joking "Sit still, Lorelei!" face. 

There are many other pre-deployment preparations underway, which I will fill you in on soon.  I'm really glad these arrived before he left though.  I had big blogging plans this week, but then Sydney and I got sick (vomiting...for several hours...even with nothing left in our stomachs...gross, right?) Tuesday night, and that just threw us for a loop for the rest of the week.

I hope everyone's having a great weekend!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Happy Anniversary!

Today is our 7th wedding anniversary!

Wow, it was fun looking back at these pictures (and the hundreds more I don't have the time/energy to post)!

Anyway, today, our actual anniversary, has been very normal.  The girls and I went to Walmart this morning, and I'm still waiting for the medal for getting us all out of there alive (why do the girls insist on acting like juvie candidates when we have to go shopping???).

But, I digress...

Chet and I had more of an anniversary celebration on Saturday evening.  The base Chapel was hosting free childcare for Chet's battalion (because they are deploying soon) from 2:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., no questions asked.  We dropped the girls off after their naps, around 4:00 p.m., and headed to a work function that was being held at a local restaurant.  Our original plan was to go to the mandatory function from 4:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m., then out to dinner to celebrate our anniversary.  Instead, we were at the work function (which was quite fun) from about 4:15 p.m. until 5:30 p.m.  They fed us there, so instead of going out to eat, we decided to run errands, sans children.  It was SO much better than going out to eat!  We went to Academy, Pier One, Hallmark, and Barnes and Noble.  We relished every moment of the evening, and the peace and quiet.

Chet arrived home from work today armed with gifts for me:
Obviously, we'll be together forever.  I don't need much more than flowers, Flaming Hot Cheetos, and Junior Mints and/or York Peppermint Patties.

Don't worry, we don't just buy each other junk food for our anniversaries (although we really don't go all out).  I got Chet a few magazines he had been wanting, and he bought me a journal (of's really cool) that I found in Barnes and Noble on Saturday.

A funny thing about the cards we exchanged: Years ago, Chet bought me an anniversary card that he never actually gave to me.  I think it was in 2010, when he left for Djibouti shortly before our anniversary.  He must have bought a card when he got there, planning to send it to me, but realized it would never arrive in time.  So he returned home in December 2010 with the blank card, and I stored it away.  Every year since then, I had stumbled upon it after our anniversary, kicking myself for not remembering to pull it out.  This year I remembered!

I had also bought a card a few years ago that I never gave him (perhaps it was the same year, 2010).  It was a musical card that played "Unchained Melody."  I gave it to him this year...but the "Melody" no longer works.  Oops.  I guess those things poop out after a while.

Happy anniversary, honey!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Week Twenty-Seven: 21 graces

1. Sleeping in our own beds after a week out of town
2. The girls' fascination with their own toys after a week away from them
3. Not dawdling on the unpacking front (I'm usually bad about this; I have no idea why)
4. Having a full day (Friday) with no plans and with Chet around before he goes back to work
5. Sharing our Baby #3 news on Facebook
6. Making a detailed to-do list (that is posted all over the front of our kitchen cabinets) to help us stay organized and on the same page before Chet deploys next month
7. Chet taking the GRE (one of the to-do list biggies)
8. Post-church Mexican food with friends
9. A successful first OB appointment
10. Tricare (I know this has been on my list before, but I really am super thankful for the healthcare, etc. we have access to in the military)
11. Finding out my next-door-neighbor is expecting a boy (after twin girls)!
12. An early morning power walk (before Chet left for work and before the girls were awake)
13. A new renter moving into our condo in Jacksonville
14. An impromptu evening walk to the faraway park, allowing me to chat with a friend I don't see very often and tiring the girls out (making bedtime a snap!)
15. Going back to the gym don't even want to know how long
16. A post-gym trip to the coffee shop and library

17. Finishing Season 8 of "The Office" (this was also on our pre-deployment to-do list...seriously)
18. Sydney requesting a morning stroller walk (I obliged, even though it was threatening rain)
19. Placing an order for Daddy Dolls for the girls
20. Sydney reminding me to indulge in the finer things in life: leopard-print coats (she calls it her "giraffe jacket") and Snuggies

21. A 1.5-hour round trip to Walmart, squeezed in between dinner and bedtime -- and none of us "lost it"!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Father's Day

Father's Day wasn't even a month ago, and I'm already posting about it -- go me!

Before I forget, Chet is taking the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) this afternoon in Mobile, Alabama, so the girls and I will be on our own for most of this Saturday.  We arrived back in Mississippi Thursday evening (July 4th), and we're 95% unpacked (which I am extremely proud of).  We have no food in the house, so a trip to the grocery store is crucial at some point today.  I finally finished the May de-cluttering project, for those of you who were losing sleep over the not knowing.  And that concludes my stream of consciousness.

This year's Father's Day was very low key, but Chet claims he had a very nice day.  He opened his cards and gifts in the morning before church (sorry, those pictures are still on the camera), and then we went to early church.

After church we went to Starbucks for a late morning coffee/snack.  We went to Starbucks on Father's Day last year too, so perhaps we've started a tradition.
Chet and Sydney, 2013

Lorelei and Chet, 2013
Compare those pictures to last year's pictures, just for fun:
Sydney, 2012

Lorelei and Chet, 2012
Sydney actually happens to look quite the same...

After Starbucks, we did what every father wants to do on his special day: mattress shopping!  Since the girls started sharing a room in April, we now have a guest room, but no mattress for the bed (the one we had when we left Jacksonville wasn't special, and we didn't want to store the mattress in the humid garage for 2+ years).  We had started our mattress hunt the day before, but needed to finish the project before the weekend was over, because Chet's parents were arriving for a visit the following Friday (and there is never time during the week after work for such tasks).  So we went to Sam's Club after Starbucks, then home to eat lunch/put the girls down for naps.  While the girls napped, Chet went by himself to the Air Force Base Exchange (the first place we looked when we started mattress shopping on Saturday) to buy the mattress we had decided on.

Of course, simply purchasing the mattress isn't the end.  That afternoon we vacuumed the guest bedroom, put the bed together, hauled the mattress and box spring upstairs, hung pictures on the walls in the bedroom, and made the bed.  Poor Chet!  He was a good sport though.

After all that we went to dinner at our favorite Mississippi Mexican food restaurant.  These were taken outside of the restaurant, and I'll compare them to similar pictures from last year:
Sydney, 2013

Lorelei and Chet, 2013
Lorelei and Chet, 2012
Apparently I didn't take a picture of Sydney at the restaurant last year.

Happy Father's Day!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Swim Lessons

Chet and I are sitting at the car wash, waiting for our bug-laden van to get clean, so might as well blog, right?  (Only the outside of the van was bug-laden, just in case you were worried and/or grossed out.)

Two weeks ago Lorelei started swim lessons.  Due to several afternoon thunderstorms, the four lessons we paid for stretched out over two weeks, but we got them done.  We put her in the parent/tot swim class, which means that Chet or I had to be in the pool with her throughout the lessons.  She was the second youngest in her class of five kids, and she did great.  Except when it was time for her to float on her back (with us holding her up) and kick across the length of the pool and back.  She mistakenly thought it was relaxation time and that we were her servants as we pulled her back and forth across the pool and she basically took a nap.  But other than that...

She's aware of the importance of staying hydrated.

Sydney has not taken swim lessons yet.  I should have put her in them last year, but Lorelei was nine-months old and still super needy, and Chet had just had knee surgery, so Syd got the short end of the stick.  She is eligible for the parent/tot class, but I think she is more than ready to take lessons on her own, so I am waiting for a call from the pool to set up private lessons (there is a waiting list).

Can you believe it's already July?!?!

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Absent Blogger

That is me, the absent blogger.  But we are on vacation right now, so I call that a good excuse!  I have a lot to catch you up on, everything from swim lessons to a visit from Chet's parents to our current visit to Texas.  Right now we are in New Braunfels, Texas, which is a place that always makes me want to live in this great state again very badly.

Here are a couple of pictures to tide you over.