Year 6

Today marks SIX years married for Tom and I, and about this time 10 years ago we went on our first date.

1910200_512643506711_1292_n

10 years ago, a summer romance turned into a lifetime for us.

I really don’t even know where to begin writing this post on our 6th year of marriage. It seems like last summer was a lifetime ago, and so much has happened since our last anniversary.

Towards the end of the summer, we were able to pay off all our remaining debt and our finances really stabilized because of the incoming cash flow.

We started talking about the next steps for our family. We knew we wanted to have another child, and now it seemed like a good time to start. We felt ready financially, and we also felt like George was at a good age where we could manage two.

However first, we wanted to look at our living situation. We had some serious conversations on what we wanted out of a house. We really loved our property, but knew in the long run we would outgrow it. We decided to just go for it and add on to the house before we had another kid. Unbeknownst to us, we were already cooking baby 2 when we started drawing up the plans with our contractor.

In August, we celebrated George’s 2nd birthday. I loved how all of this came together to honor the little man. A week later, we gave him his first big boy haircut and lost those curls.

14233232_10101177594513521_9044211038328972909_n

We started another school year, which had me teaching in a classroom again. It was definitely the type of teaching that I enjoy, and I am so grateful to have that experience with the freshmen class.

George saw a train in real life for the first time, and we experienced Silver Dollar City a couple times that fall.

We traveled to Iowa a couple times to see old students and friends tie the knot.

We had a great fall season with many things happening:

  • George was George Brett for Halloween and went trick or treating for real.
  • I went to my Alma mater for Homecoming for the first time in a long time and marched on the field with George. #bandgeekforlife
  • I  ran a 10k with my sister-in-law.
  • We went to pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and did all the fally things.
  • George also got to experience his first Chiefs game.

But all of this pales in comparison to the news that we were expecting baby 2.

The year became about preparing everything for her arrival:  our hearts and minds, our house, our finances, and George. We needed to prepare for the ultimate expansion of our family.

Thanks be to God, I received a promotion not long after the news of the baby. If anything, this year really solidified that God blessed me with the most amazing work life. I love the job that I get to do, and the people I get to work with.

In January, we found out that we were having a girl. I realized I never shared the video of how we told Tom’s family we were expecting a little lady.

We also started potty training George in January. I am so happy this went over well, but it was a trying time in our house that first month. If Tom and I can overcome potty training, I feel like we can overcome a lot more!

In February, I went to my first work conference since having George. It was the first time I was away from him for more than 24 hours in his entire life. These are the moments that make me grateful to have a partner like Tom. He took off that entire week to be with George and made it a special bonding time for the two of them. He made it so I could go focus on my professional self more, which is something I have not done in years.

This spring I also went on a ladies only trip with my favorite women. Again another time that Tom knew I needed to foster my relationships outside of our marriage.

17626649_10101426110420651_1359260267846037844_n

April brought us our baby shower, and then we settled in for the last few weeks of enjoying time as a family of three.

IMG_4812

May was a big month for us. Our house was getting near the end of the renovation. I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia again and trying to get everything settled at work for my leave.

Then on May 18th, Daphne Christine made her way into the world swiftly.

18486193_10101491668910911_8225562684495644365_n

I had a traumatic experience the day she was born. I thank God every day that I look into my family’s faces that I came through that fully back to normal. By His grace alone was that possible.

Daphne has been with us for a month now, and we are adjusting to life as a family of four quite nicely I believe.

IMG_5595

This year has been so full of changes, but also was an opportunity for us to be still. Tom and I have had to have hard discussions about our future whether that be our investments or how we decide to parent. (Parenting a toddler brings out the best and worst in people.)

This year we really tried to make sure that each other’s needs were being met so we could be the best for each other and our children. It is still a work in progress some days, but marriage will always ebb and flow.

We have really come into our own as a couple this year. Our jobs are good; our family is good; and we love our newish house.

I was talking with a friend recently about how it seems like this is the time that we are no longer working towards something. We aren’t in school; we aren’t waiting for something to end like the Army; and we have the family and jobs we hoped and prayed for. We have everything we ever wanted and dreamed of right now. This is the time that we are supposed to just enjoy the fruits of our labor and to be normal and settled.

I can’t wait to see what this next year brings.

Especially with these two leading the way.

I am so thankful for the years we have had together. While every day is not a piece of cake, I am glad that I am in the search of that cake with you.

184067_718857137941_6947006_n.jpg

I love you more than yesterday. Let’s settle in to enjoy year seven.

If you want to read more about the past 10 years for Tom and I, you can go here to see several posts about our relationship.

What We Love About Each Other

Yesterday we talked about those little quirks that irk us about each other. Today we will flip the tables and talk about some of the things we love about each other.

We’ll try not to get too ooey-gooey.

163072_627536415401_573797_n

What I love about Tom…

  1. His woodworking skills. I love that he can make anything, and I do mean anything. His imagination and ingenuity is bar-none. It is coming in real handy with our house, and watching him and George bond over it is becoming one of my favorite things to witness. (Just wait until you see all the mini tools George has…post coming soon.)
  2. His humor is one that will make milk shoot out of noses. I often am left in the wake of his wit. I just can’t keep up with the daily talks with Tom, but they often lift my spirits and can make any serious moment not seem so serious. Sometimes the humor is crude, but I think it is always in an effort to bring some fun to the table and help people (like myself) not to be hoity-toity all the time. I appreciate his ability to make me smile every time I need it.
  3. His loyalty is pretty hardcore. I am always impressed with his willingness to go all in for a cause. His dedication to his city, his country, and his family is rare. He has no hesitation going to bat for the things that he holds dear. I don’t know if there are a lot of people out there that are willing to sacrifice what he will in order to protect those that he loves. He has stuck by me in some pretty rotten times, and for that I owe him all the love in the world.

165385_627523910461_1651230_n

What Tom loves about me…

  1. She is an awesome wife and mom. I don’t think I could put into words at how great she is. She is so legit. (Too legit to quit.)
  2. At the very least, she seems to appear to reserve judgements about some of my opinions about politics and humanity in general that are often shocking to say the least. I appreciate that personal leeway.
  3. The level of trust that we have. I don’t feel the need to go through emails or phone and we have joint accounts. I know everything is the way that it is supposed to be.

Tom also went on to say that he could go on and on but it would also be hard to wrap it up in words what I mean to him. And the collective awww..

What are things that you love about your partner?

4 Years

How has it been 4 years since the day we said “I do?”

Well really we never said I do. We high-fived it.

Fact.

Wedding 2

Year four was a rough one for us, not going to lie.

We experienced the highest of highs (George), and the lowest of lows (just stuff).

After celebrating our last anniversary, we found out that Tom was not going to be deployed. This was a huge turning point in our life. It meant that we could close this military chapter of our life. It meant that Tom could be there for George’s birth and first few months of life. It meant that we didn’t have to go through all the deployment emotions as a family again.

I was job searching, and continued to receive some devastating no’s during the end of my pregnancy. Honestly, there is one no that I still have issues with and to this day still haven’t completely processed. It was soul crushing to say the least, never mind the fact that I was also an 8-month pregnant woman-holy hormones.

It was no wonder my blood pressure was out of control and my doctor ended up putting me on bed-rest, meaning that I had to quit my part-time job a few weeks before I had planned.

Then George decided to make his appearance early. This is a day that was scary and wonderful all at the same time. The days that followed were terrifying as we watched him hooked up to monitors in the NICU, and also Tom and I were coming to terms with that we were actually parents.

IMG_4978

But seeing this beautiful face, makes every low point of this year seem like it was nothing. We love him so much.

IMG_4703

He is the reason for everything now. You can’t understand what your heart is capable of and how much it can grow until you have a child. It is amazing. I feel honored that God has chosen us to be the guiding lights for this little man.

10636849_10100577380432351_6447351313205665162_o

A couple weeks after George was born, a friend of mine let me know that a job was available that sounded perfect for me. I had put the job hunt on hiatus since that paralyzing no so I could focus on little man and to get my head right. However this job was just too perfect not to apply for. So it pushed me back full swing into the job search. I interviewed for several jobs through Skype and phone during September and October.

And low and behold, I finally got a yes (to that initial job my friend suggested). Everything had timed out perfectly. (You are good God. Why I doubted your plan, when you have it so perfectly made for me.)

Waiting for this job offer allowed me to stay with the doctors I loved to deliver George. It allowed me to stay at home with George for 2 months. It allowed me to stay with Tom a little longer while he started his out-processing in the Army.

September and October was also a very exciting time since our beloved Royals were making their way into the World Series, which was the first time since the year Tom and I were born in 1985. You can just search my blog for Royals baseball, and you can read for days about my infatuation for this team. We stayed up many nights to watch all the extra innings during Blue October!

In the beginning of November, George and I moved to Missouri, permanently. Tom stayed behind hoping he would be approved for an early out, otherwise he would still be in KY until June due to his military orders.

I started my dream job and juggled the demands of being a working mom.

Tom accepted a police officer job after about 6 months of interviewing with this one department. This also helped seal the deal on the Army letting him out early.

Before Christmas, Tom and the dogs finally joined us in Missouri. The place we have always wanted to be.

The place we were going to make roots and raise our children.

The place we were going to make the life we had always dreamed of.

But the sunshine and roses didn’t last very long.

December through March were some pretty dark days for us. Some of the darkest of our entire 8 year relationship.

Tom had started the police academy, which meant a lot of time away from the family. His focus was very much on succeeding there as it should be. But it meant George and I were alone a lot more than I imagined.

I was feeling a lot of anxiety and guilt from our breastfeeding experience and was also becoming resentful for Tom’s time away. Thinking back, I think I may have had some post-partum depression but wasn’t really willing to admit it, so of course I took it out on Tom. I am not proud of that, but it happened.

We had some other life things happen that definitely impacted our emotions. One of those being my grandma’s passing.

We were having a really hard time figuring out this newness of our relationship with both of us having new jobs and balancing being new parents. These new demands and expectations put us on the struggle bus to say the least. I have heard a lot of new parents say the baby’s first year is the hardest on a marriage, and boy was that true for us.

11133801_10100762436194121_1201675351862860129_n

But then around May things started to turn around.

Tom was finally on the road as a commissioned police officer. I am finally finding a groove with my job, and I feel valued and appreciated as a professional.

And George started sleeping through the night. (This makes a world of difference friends.)

We were finally communicating better with our needs and recognizing where each other needed more support as parents and spouses. We were clicking again. It didn’t hurt that we also took a night away and stayed in a B & B. This time we had to focus on each other was something we really needed. It was also the first night that both of us were away from George.

0509151927

May was also when we got really serious about finding a permanent house to pay a mortgage on. We were done with rental property, and we were committed to entering the next phase of becoming home owners.

All of that leads us to where we are now.

Today.

Celebrating 4 years of hard work and dedication to each other.

Celebrating the love between two people.

0949StephanieTom20110618

What this year has taught me is that everything in life will not be perfect, and that is ok. There are going to be some hard times; some times that you think you want to just throw in the towel because that seems easier. It was a year we definitely had to live up to our vows. But with some perseverance and a lot of prayers, God will show you the way. Life is never going to look the way you had imagined-and that is some good and bad. You need to take one step at a time and own up to your insecurities and flaws, especially with your spouse. We had our fair share of fights, and we both had to learn when to give in. This can be a hard lesson. (One that I have to relearn quite often) You often hear that marriage is about team work and compromise, but sometimes there is the reality that one has to give more than the other. As very independently stubborn adults, you can imagine this can sometimes cause some friction of the heart. We need to not let our pride get in the way of our marriage. Even after 8 years, it can still be hard to be vulnerable and bare with another person. There were also moments of great strength shown throughout this year. I would not have been able to pick myself up after being uttlerly crushed during that job search and keep on going if Tom had not been cheering me on or lifting me back up. We will always need each other. Even in the darkest moments, I knew that this season would pass eventually because that is the way of things. It was just something we had to get through to get to better moments.

This sounds like a very downer post about our marriage, but I think it is important for people to know that a marriage can struggle. People can struggle. That doesn’t mean that it is the end, and you CAN get past it. I think we often put this facade out there that everything has to be perfect, and honestly that was part of our issue this year (ok maybe my issue). We had to accept some of our realities and just muddle through it. We made some mistakes, but we always came back to we loved each other and that this marriage was important for us. I wish more people would be honest when they are struggling because it can be very lonely to feel that no one may understand. Things aren’t always perfect, but that doesn’t mean that there still isn’t beauty there to find. There were times that I didn’t want to admit what was happening because I was embarrassed and felt like I failed as a wife or I didn’t know if people would understand, but I also didn’t want sympathy or those looks (that I would assume are judgement on my “said” failure). Because this imperfection is something I really struggle with, I am working on being more open about these moments where my life doesn’t look like a fairy tale.

This is now part of us, and I believe that it has made us stronger in the end.

I want to document that this year was hard, uncomfortable, and difficult for us, so we can look back and be proud of what we came out of. And it is a little cathartic to admit that we had a rough patch and gives you a reason to just let it go instead of trying to hold on to it like a secret.

Tom and I have been together for 8 years, and there is still stuff that we are learning about each other. And nothing is bigger than learning how to be parents together.

In the end, there is the love that I have always had for Tom. (and lots of sideways glances)

267228_719154442141_3992572_n

This year both of us turned 30. We have the jobs that we have always dreamed of finally. We have the baby we never imagined we could have. Things haven’t always been perfect, but I couldn’t imagine doing life with anyone else.

Tom-thank you for showing me more every day. Thank you for putting up with all my emotions and silliness. Thank you for choosing to be my partner. Thank you for all that you do for our family. Thank you for loving me the way that you do.

11150561_10100762436199111_8208706944817980230_n

High five to us for making it through year four and bring it year five!

If you want to read more about our love story, there are links documenting each step here.

Whitener Wednesday-We have been married 3 years!

Today is our anniversary. It is hard to believe that it was only 3 years ago that I walked down the aisle towards the rest of my life.

Year 3 as with every year has had its good and bad moments.

We left off on our story last week with our first military ball.

Moving in together for realsies had its struggles. We were both used to having things a certain way after so long and then there are the added differences of life post-deployment and moving to a new state. I swore at times my husband resembled a caveman, but then again I wasn’t a perfect princess either with my nagging on where things belong. It was like we were recycling back to our first year of marriage.

The end of that summer I geared up for the beginning of a new school year at a new school. I felt like I was in a groove at work and was ready for the new challenges. I was continuing to job search for a full-time job because there did not seem to be any sign that they would be turning my part-time gig into something more permanent. I however, worked that semester trying to change their minds.

It was that fall that Tom started an intensive training schedule. He was out at a range or some training mission every other week it seemed.

In September, he had to undergo another surgery for a tumor that had grown on his hip.

Also in September, we made the plunge and added to our family by adopting Crosby. It has been a whirlwind with them since, but I couldn’t imagine not being a two dog family. I love my little pups, even with moments like this…

IMG_5728

I ran my fourth half marathon for a family that we have had a great time getting to know in the past year. They inspire me greatly as Tom and I look to start our own family.

Tom and I hosted Thanksgiving at our house for the first time, and I would like to think that it went off really well. We had turkey for days…

This year is the first year in our ENTIRE relationship that we have been together for every single holiday for the ENTIRE year. Mind boggling that it took us seven years to do that. It was so great to have Christmas, birthdays, and everything in between with Tom.

Right after the new year, Tom was forced into a job change. We also had to come to grips that Tom would be deployed again. Some days I have accepted it, other days there is just anger and bitterness knowing that he is so close to peacing out from the military.

We had been actively trying to conceive for awhile, but after the new year thanks to some complications I was having hormone wise, we decided we would look into a fertility specialist just to make sure that everything was hunkydory on this journey. We also wanted to get everything checked out before Tom went on deployment while we had the time.

It was then that our life changed completely. We found out AT the fertility doctor that we were actually 8 weeks pregnant. You can read more about that story here.  We are having a baby! We still get a kick out of telling that story.

Baby 1

Our lives have kind of been topsy-turvey since. Tom still has been doing training missions, and I have been working as much as I was allowed. We have crafted and DIYed our butts off this year. Check those specific tabs if you want to see what we have done in the last year! Some have been duds, but some have been the bombdiggity.

We then found out that we are having a boy, and we decided on the name George Lawson. We think the dogs know what is going on by some weird behavior we have been seeing, and we hope they are as excited as we are once George becomes their new playmate!

IMG_1699

I participated in my 5th half marathon with my sister-in law. I was 19 weeks along at the time, and we successfully made it all 13.1 miles.

2014-04-26 08.33.43

We have done some traveling over the past year. There have been countless trips to Missouri to see the famjams. We had a trip over Easter to see our friends in Indiana, and recently we took a trip to Iowa.

But mostly this year we have spent being homebodies enjoying being together. It was the first time we got to come home to each other every day. It was the first time that things seemed relatively normal, as normal as they can get being a military family that is. It was the first time that we didn’t have a countdown going until the next time we would see each other. So in our third year of marriage and seventh year together, we were still able to have a lot of firsts.

We have gone through every emotion possible between the two of us this past year. We both have been strung along and had discontent with how our careers were going. I had ups and downs of being a temporary employee (ups like I wrote here, here and here; downs like this) and being stuck in a never ending job search. Tom’s leadership has been less than stellar leading him down some paths he never wanted to go through during his Army career. For example, they forced him into a job he didn’t want and had him slotted for a deployment that he will need to reenlist for even though he has no intention of doing so, but they are sure he will. Hence him being on the list in the first place. You know stuff that we have no control over, but impacts our life dramatically.  It was during these times that we have had to be each other’s rock and just keep keeping on. We learned to accept things and make new plans when necessary. We learned a lot about ways to support each other through this year, and it has been nice to do that in person. Special moments.

And then to learn that we are going to be parents. Words cannot describe the happiness and content we have experienced since hearing, “You knocked her up.”

2014-04-20 14.29.07

It has been a year.

So much has happened, but yet at the same time very little in comparison to other years. Although, I think George kind of trumps everything as far as life changes. It is a little ironic that our first year of just us in one place, will also be our last with just us.

All I have to say for the last few years is, “High five Husband.”

315814_724513597351_3362186_n

Happy Anniversary to the man who has taught me so much about life, love, and happiness. To the man who can make me laugh even in my darkest moments. To the man who never ceases to amaze me with his courage and passion. To the man who is the best dog dad and soon-to-be-George dad. To the man who encourages me in all of my endeavors and has made so many sacrifices for our family. To the man who is always on board for crafty time and is the best handy man to have around. To the man who makes me prouder than I ever believed possible. To a man who has never doubted us for a second since we met.

Here is to many more great years to our add to our love story.

Blogaventure-Year One

It is crazy to think that my blogging journey started a year ago. I started blogging with the intent to talk about my crafts that were a distraction from Tom’s first deployment. It quickly turned into an all out life blog. Once Tom returned from his deployment and the move was impending, I wondered if I would continue blogging. There were parts of me that said, “eh I don’t need this anymore.” But after some encouragement from my those around me and seeing my blogging community grow, I knew that this blog was something I still needed.

It started out as a place that I could record my crafty side and keep me preoccupied. I remember having a conversation early last spring with someone saying that I may just quit after we move because the crafts will die down. I felt that I had to have a craft every time I posted otherwise I wasn’t being true to the original intent. Sometimes I get so stuck up in responsibility and structure that it becomes a hindrance-but that is a topic for another day. Anyway this person told me that I should keep up with it and talk about life as it happens with the move, the new job, etc. She basically gave me permission to move past just being a craft blog, even though I had pretty much done that anyway from the get go. (I promise the crafts are coming back, they just needed to take a brief hiatus.)

This blog has been a place of reflection when I can’t seem to piece things together. (It’s like grad school all over again…Reflection without worrying about APA format-heck yes!) It has been a place of triumph, celebration, and support. I don’t always say the right things or say the profound thing, but I speak about what is on my heart and about what is happening in my world. And sometimes I just want to show a dog video! (of my own dog naturally)

Writing has always been something I have enjoyed. I am not always quick to verbally say things on my mind, so writing gives me time to process things in my own space and at my pace. And as you can see, I just have at it and sometimes don’t know when to stop.

When I first started it was merely a way to share more with people I already knew. I had no idea the world that this blog would open up to me. I have met some pretty amazing individuals through the blog world. Living in Ames, I was not surrounded by many who understood what I was going through as a military spouse. Reaching out to fellow bloggers gave me a connection, that during the inception of this blog, I didn’t realize I needed. I was able to read others stories and feel their pain as my pain and saw feelings that I had not been able to put into words yet. For me this has turned out to be one of the greatest gifts of becoming a blogger. These strangers opened up to me in a way that made me feel that I was not alone while Tom was gone.

This has been a great journey to help me process life in relation to my role as an Army wife, but also spanned many other facets of my life unintentionally.

So thank you to those who inspired me to start this blogaventure and those that inspire me to continue.

Here are some of my “best ofs” from the past year:

My reaction to base living

Processing my grandparent’s deaths

First anxiety attack of the deployment

Do all that you can

Marriage is Awesome-probably my all time favorite for so many reasons I could not begin to explain.

My version of the ripple effect

Christmas Devotional

Have a little faith

Tom’s home! Goodbye Deployment!

There are more that I really enjoyed, but I will let you peruse through my blog past if you like. Not to be vain, but I think I wrote some quality stuff in the past year. In all seriousness though, I hope you enjoy it too.

And because I have been blessed with a community in the blog world, I wanted to share some blogs that I believe are brilliant. These are also blogs that I have enjoyed reading and feel moved by. These are military significant others, but let’s be honest, that is the whole reason I started blogging in the first place so I wanted to pay homage to those in that world.

http://armyamy.wordpress.com/

http://clickitupanotch.com/

http://armyeverafter.com/

http://sweettea-lemonade.blogspot.jp/

http://www.thenotquitemilitarywife.com/

http://lifearmywifestyle.com/

http://pearlsdiamondsandeverythingelse.wordpress.com/

http://www.wifessionals.com/

http://janelle-and-dan.blogspot.com/

http://jomygosh.blogspot.se/

I follow a lot of other wonderful blogs, and if you would like to see the entire list then check me out at Bloglovin. You can also follow me on there, just click on the on my sidebar.

If you have read me for awhile or this is your first time, I want to THANK YOU for spending some time with my thoughts. The support and remarks coming my way are at times overwhelming, and I am truly humbled by the comments and views.

So here’s to a Happy Blog Birthday!

***I promise the next time I will have a craft. Get excited, I got the sewing machine out!

20130731_195402