Sunday, September 24, 2017

Three's Company

Nick left today for TBS (The Basic School). For all you non Marine types, TBS is a 6 month long school that all Marine Officers must attend before getting assigned an MOS and going into the fleet. I chose to stay back in Texas with the kids for several reasons:
1. We LOVE Dannika's school here so much, and we really wanted to make sure she got every she could out of this school before we are permanently assigned somewhere else.

2. For our family, I felt it was best for us to keep Dannika in the same school for her entire 3rd grade year. If we would have gone with Nick, we would have taken her out of school for AT LEAST a week while we moved and settled in, and put her in a brand new school for just 6 months...just to pull her out again when our family got orders.

 3. I will be more lonely at TBS than being here without Nick. I don't know anyone there. Virginia is cold in the winter. Nick will spend many long hours and nights in the field, and I will hardly get to see him anyway.

4. This is my home. A born and raised, proud and true Texan! I have friends and a village here that I am already depressed about having to leave next year. I am willing to sacrifice my husband to TBS as a geobachelor (what they call married Marines who choose to go to a duty station sans family) if I get to be with my friends, family, and my village for just a little while longer.

I'm a little sad, but I am more heartbroken for my kids...especially Dannika. Dannika is our "seasoned" military brat. She has gone through two combat deployments, a year long separation, and countless other separations due to training evolutions. I thought she would be ok. I really thought Mattis would be the one that I would have to worry about.

All day today, I could see the sadness on Dannika's face, and when I asked her how she was doing, she would put on a brave front, and tell me she was ok. I could see her eyes get a little watery and red sometimes as she told me she was fine. Meanwhile, Mattis has no clue, and carried on like he normally does.

Separations are nothing new for our family, but as a MECEP'er, Nick was never away. He was more physically present than he has ever been in our entire marriage. We were "spoiled" as a military family, and at times, I felt guilty. I felt guilty as I watched my friends' spouses deploy to combat and/or go train for extended periods of time....while I got to enjoy having my husband home almost every night.

So I am back in "solo parenting" mode. I never call myself a "single parent". Single parents deal with a whole another list of struggles that I do not need to worry about. But solo parenting sucks too. You have two kids who absolutely love their absent parent (who is normally present on a daily basis)...an absent parent who is devastated to have to leave their perfectly happy home because of the demands of a career....and the "solo parent" who is home raising children, and making sure that they know that their "absent parent" loves them so much...more than anything....and it is not their choice to be gone....

Either way...this is the life I married into. I would not trade it for anything. I would not trade Nick for a man who makes 10 times more than him and is home all the time. Money or time can not buy a man who loves God, leads his family unselfishly, loves people, works hard, and is humble...every. single. day.


 Our cul de sac threw Nick and amazing going away BBQ last night. 
So many people showed up to say goodbye!
This is Nick and his two BFF's from the Cul de Sac.
These two men have been such great friends to Nick, and we are so fortunate that God put them in our family's lives.

On Saturday, we all went to the new trampoline park in town.
Nick had a BLAST (probably more fun than the kids).
I love this photo of my sweaty D, and Nick....

Packing to leave...
It's been a few years since I've sat in the garage with Nick before he deploys or leaves...
I watch him pack up his life......
It's bittersweet.
I know he's excited to move on to the next chapter of his career, but at the same time, he's sad about leaving his family.
He's such a family man....

So the kids and I are fine!
By the time we get into a routine, we'll get into our "groove", and things will be "normal".
Thanks to all my wonderful friends who called, texted, and FB'ed me to let me know y'all were thinking of me. 
I am so grateful for each and every one of you!!!!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Viva XCaret!

Dang, I haven't blogged in a hot minute! In my defense, my life has a been a hot beautiful mess since graduating! We went on vacation, Dannika started 3rd grade, Mattis started Pre-K, Nick has been preparing to leave to go to Quantico, and I started a new part-time job! Life's been a little hectic!

Right after graduation, our family took a vacation to Mexico to a place that is an hour outside of Cancun called XCaret. We stayed at a family friendly resort called "The Occidental". It was an absolute blast. This was the first time our family took our kids out of the country. This trip is the beginning of a lifetime of traveling the world for our kids! My fondest memories growing up were all the family vacations we took around the world, and I am a better, more well rounded person because of it. I just thank God that we are able to afford our children the same opportunities.


**WARNING: VACAY PICTURE OVERLOAD**

My children are no strangers to traveling (#militarybratlife).
They're actually pretty decent travelers, and know the ins and outs of going through airport security.
Mattis has it nailed... 

Drinking on an airplane is just fun.
Especially when the flight attendant gives you a free Titos and your husband a free Jack Daniels....I'm assuming because she realized we were a military family.


The Gulf of Mexico

We got a room with two "queen" sized beds....although, I think they were more like full sized bed....maybe in Mexico, things are smaller? 
Either way, our room was amazing, and I recommend the Occidental resort to anyone who is traveling to XCaret.

Our first dinner at our hotel buffet after a full day of traveling!
We were all a little delirious and stinky, but absolutely elated to finally be on vacay!
The banana peel on Nick's head is courtesy of Mattis.


This is my third time in the Cancun area. 
I've been the Jamaica, Hawaii, Okinawa, Key West, Cozumel, Southern California, Cape Cod, and Chejudo Island....
Cancun has, hands down...the most beautiful beaches in the world...
It's prettier than it's neighbor, Cozumel.
 

Dannika, being my California girl has been to the beach many times (whether she remembers it is a different story).
This was Mattis' first time ever (not counting Cape Code, and I don't necessarily call that a "beach").





There were monkeys just hanging out all over our resort! Pretty cool!

Poolside chats


Our resort had put on some pretty awesome shows at night.
Our first night, they did a Disney themed show.
The characters sang songs from their movies in both English and Spanish.
My kids loved it!


This is my FAVORITE. 
Look at the pure joy on his face!


The water was SO CLEAR.
We could see hundred of tropical fish.
They would swim right up to you!

My handsome hubby



Dannika met friends pretty easily on he beach there.
These girls were from England and Canada!

The BEST seafood...










We celebrated both of our boys' birthdays here!
Nick turned 34, and Mattis was 1 week shy of turning 4!


 Entrance to our resort!

This little shopping village (kinda reminds me of the San Antonio Riverwalk was in our resort!)

 View from our hotel lobby. 
The resort was absolutely breathtaking!

Nick and I enjoying a show!

Airport pic!

We had an absolute blast, and our kids got to experience international travel for the first time!
We got to swim with dolphins too, but I decided to save that for a post all on its' own (because it was THAT EPIC).
Like I said before, sorry I've been so MIA!
Life is starting to settle down a bit....yeah right....but for real...I'm starting to get back into a groove, so I hope to be blogging a little more than I have been!


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Grand Ole' 2ndLt of the Marine Corps

August 11 was not only graduation day for Nick and me, but it was also his commissioning day! For those who don't know, Nick was accepted into an enlisted to commissioning program that the Marine Corps offers called MECEP (Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program). It's a competitive program that he applied for and was accepted into. It's how we ended up here at Texas A&M. He basically was getting paid active duty to get his degree. Pretty awesome deal if you ask me! Another unique thing about Nick commissioning is his time in service and rank in which he was enlisted. As far as we know, he's one of only two E8's in the Marine Corps to be commissioned as a 2ndLt (this was based on a google search). Oh, by the way, Nick was promoted to Master Sergeant (E8) on the first of this month!



 Yes, that makes his time as a Master Sergeant exactly 10 days, because on the 11th day, he became a 2ndLt. Also, Nick has already served 16 years in the Marine Corps. Some people have called it career suicide to decide to "start over" from the bottom of the Officer ranks after serving so long and making it up so high on the enlisted side. But this was a decision we made as a family, and it was not made lightly. A lot of personal reasons went into this decision, and ultimately, as long as Nick is leading Marines and taking care of Marines, he is most happy.

Nick's commissioning ceremony was truly special. His former battalion CO drove down from Ft. Worth to speak at his commissioning. He had some really kind words to say about Nick. Of course, because I am his wife, I think Nick is pretty amazing. However, hearing someone else speak so highly of him is truly humbling. He even mentioned that him and his SgtMaj thought that Nick would eventually become the next SgtMaj of the Marine Corps! Like wow! For someone to say that about him, speaks volumes about his character, leadership, and work ethic. Also, a good friend of ours from Orange County, CA came to administer the oath of office to Nick. LTC Dore Gilbert became like family to us while we were stationed in California. Him and his family really took care of Dannika and me while Nick was deployed to Afghanistan. He is an extremely busy man (he's the Mayor of Laguna Hills, CA, and runs a very successful dermatology practice in Orange county), so for him to make the trip to Texas to be here for Nick meant a great deal to us. Last, Nick's former battery gunny (retired) flew all the way down from Virginia to be Nick's first salute. He had a huge influence on Nick as a Marine, and gave Nick more than enough chances when he screwed up as a young Marine. He probably has stories about Nick that I don't want to know about! lol.

Nick received a Mameluke sword from our local Marine Corps League!
He was the recipient of their "Retreat, Hell!" award!





I love this photo of Nick and my parents!
I know Nick's mom watched her son accomplish some amazing things up in heaven with a proud heart.
My parents will never replace his mom, but they have been at every big milestone for Nick throughout his career.
They absolutely love him, and I am so grateful for parents who are so supportive of our family, and especially, Nick.

Huge congrats to my hubby for his amazing accomplishments! I am so proud of him, and can't wait to see the next big thing he does for our Marine Corps!