Saturday, September 26, 2009

Abbie's Morning Oatmeal

This week we started feeding Abbie rice cereal and oatmeal. She didn't care too much for the rice cereal, but the oatmeal...she luv-a-de oatmeal. After about 2 feedings she caught on and now gets super excited to see that spoon in her face. You just can't seem to feed her quick enough. Here's an 8 minute video of her enjoying her breakfast.

(To hear the noises she's making, go to the bottom of this page and pause the music.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Abbie's first encounter with cereal

(These pictures took me a ridiculously long time to get on the blog for some reason. I got like 12 error messages and it was driving me nuts.... But finally, they're all up!)

We gave Abbie rice cereal for the first time on Tuesday, and well, you can see for yourself how it went.

"Hmm.. wonder what that is?"

"What the heck am I supposed to do with that?"

"I'm not so sure about this."

"What IS this stuff?"

"I'm not so sure I like this."

"You're not going to try to give that to me again are you?"

"Nope, wasn't any better the 2nd time."

"Maybe 3rd times a charm."

"Nope, 3rd times not a charm and now I'm getting mad."

"Maybe if I feed it to myself...."

"I really don't think I like this stuff."

"Now I'm really letting you know that I don't like it."

"Okay, if you insist, I'll try it again."

"Hm... maybe it's getting a little more tolerable."

"Nope, HATE it!"

"Okay, last try."

"What's in this stuff anyway?"

Overall, the first time wasn't a huge success. She didn't like the rice cereal at all, but I'd heard from several friends that their kids liked oatmeal much better, so we switched to oatmeal on Thursday. I was mainly worried about the rice cereal constipating her, but she didn't really have any problems with it. It didn't hurt her night time sleeping, but it didn't help it either... Bummer. It's amazing how quickly she's learned how to eat from a spoon. By the 2nd day she knew what she was supposed to do, and now she's like a little bird. Too cute. Mark just put up a video of her eating oatmeal and as you can see, she loves the stuff.

Abbie Rose is 4 months (and 3 days) old!

I truly don't know where time goes. I can't believe our blueberry is already four months old. A year and 2 days ago (Sept 21, 2008) we found out we were pregnant with her and that seems like it was just yesterday.

Mark was able to go to her 4 month appointment with me, which was the first one he's been able to go to with me since she's been born... I couldn't believe it. He'd never been in the peds clinic on base.
We went to the immunization clinic first to get her part of her 4 month shots. I'm doing delayed vaccinations with her, so she got her rotavirus vaccine (which is oral) and her DTaP. I tried to prepare Mark some since it was the first time he'd seen her get poked, and he seemed pretty nervous about it. However, she did great. She got a funny look on her face and cried for 10 seconds and was over it. She's pretty good about shots. And her leg never seems to bother her either. I've never had to give her tylenol after her shots or anything. She's never more cranky or tired or anything. (Knock on wood)
While we were waiting in the clinic, she started laughing at Mark. She's just recently started laughing and Mark had only heard it one other time (when Abbie and I were sitting on the back porch watching Mark "golf" for mushrooms with the skinny end of a rake). She apparently gets a kick out of daddy because she laughed at him for about a minute straight. Mark and I were about crying we were laughing so hard at her, and she liked that because seeing Mark laugh made her laugh even more. Too cute!

She is now 25 3/4 inches long, weighs 13lbs 9oz and her head circumference is right around 41cm. So for length she's above the 95%, for weight she's right at 50% and head circ. she's also right at 50%. For weight vs length she's under the 5%, which means she's still her daddy's girl (tall and skinny).
She's rolled over (front to back) a few more times in the past month and she's getting VERY close to rolling back to front. She likes to lay on her side. Her hand/eye coordination is improving quite a bit and she's figuring out how to use her hands pretty well now. Anything that's within her reach, she'll grab on to, which unfortunately for me, includes my hair quite often. She loves it when you get close to her face so she can grab you.
She loves watching the dogs, and will grab them any chance she gets and she loves going for walks. I try to take her for a walk every day. She's a screamer too. This kid has THE most high pitched squeal you've ever heard.
She likes to be able to see what's going on also. She's much happier if you're holding her facing out so she can see where's she's going vs where she's been. She's happiest when she's sitting there watching the world go by and she just loves watching everything and anything, including the TV if it catches her attention.
She teases us with her sleep patterns. For about 4-6 days she'll sleep GREAT - as in 10:30pm-6:30am, but then she'll have a week or so where she's hard to get to sleep and then she wakes up 2-4 times at night. I haven't really figured out a rhyme or reason to any of it. She's a night owl too. Very rarely will she go to sleep before 10pm. The pediatrician said to just let her make her own schedule for now as long as it works for us. I'm going to work on getting her on a better schedule though. I think most of her problem is I let her take these marathon naps during the day - like 2-4 hour naps, because either I'm tired or I have a bunch of stuff I want to get done while she's sleeping. I think I need to start cutting them down to 2 hours and then get her on a night schedule.
She still takes her naps in her swing most of the time. I've tried to get her to nap in her crib and it's a battle that I usually end up losing.
She's to the point now though, where she's more fun than she is work. She's outgrown most of her 0-3 month clothes, mainly bc they're all too short. Some of her clothes are even 6 months because she's so long. It's fun for me to dress her in stuff she hasn't worn before though.
Speaking of nap schedule, she's been sleeping for over 2 hours now so I should really go wake her up. We've started her on rice cereal, but that's a whole other post in itself and I'll try to put up those pictures too. We've take over 350 pictures of her in the past 9 days alone.... I probably have over 5000 pictures of her since she was born. It's hard trying to decide which ones to post on here!

Friday, September 18, 2009

CAF orientation brief

Today I went to a brief at the squadron about life in the CAF (combat Air Force - the "real world" in the AF, not training bases, which is what we've been at previously). This is some crazy lifestyle we've gotten ourselves into, let me tell you.

The brief was given by Mark's squadron commander, Rico and his wife, Colleen, so we could hear the active duty side of things and the spouse's viewpoint. It was probably good for some of those guys to hear the wife's viewpoint. Although Mark's pretty considerate of my feelings, I'm glad he heard what Colleen had to say also.

Because it's easier for me, I'm going to type what I remember bullet-style.

  • Once we get to our next base, Mark is going to be working long hours. Longer hours than he has here even. He'll have 12-14 hour days, right off the bat, and often times have to go in on the weekends also. One of the bases in Korea has a mandatory 6 day work week right now. Yay.
  • They said in their first 2.5 years of marriage, Rico was gone for over a year on TDY's (temporary duty assignments) and deployments. They told a story about how they were living in Germany and he came back to the States for Red Flag (training exercise) for 6 weeks. Well that 6 weeks ended up being 6 months because he ended up deploying straight from Red Flag, which he didn't know about before hand.
  • Colleen and I were talking without the guys around, and she said one of the hardest things for her about the deployments, is the lack of concern for her as a spouse. She said that yes, the guys are in a war zone and in danger, but she said they're also very well taken care of over there. They often times stay in 5 star hotels, they are fed well, etc, while you're stuck sometimes in a foreign country, by yourself (or in my case with Abbie). You're left to fend for yourself, to deal with whatever life hands at you - broken cars, house problems, bills, taxes, being a single parent, etc, and yet any time you talk to anyone, usually their first question is "How is your spouse?". She said that she just wanted someone to ask how SHE was and to send her a care package, because she was by herself and no one else was taking care of her.
  • They said that more than once they had great vacations planned, only to find out a day or two before they were supposed to leave that Rico had to leave and they had to cancel the trip. They said if we're stationed overseas that I shouldn't wait for Mark to explore and go on trips because if I do, most likely it won't ever happen because he'll be so busy and his schedule will be unpredictable. They said you have to learn to become very independent very quickly, or you'll be miserable.
  • Some squadrons aren't "kid friendly" at all, as in, they don't allow kids to come to any of the squadron functions. I pray to God we don't have a squadron like that, or I won't be able to be involved at all.
  • Mark WILL deploy. Most likely he will kill people. Most likely he will be shot at. But that's what he's been training for for the past 2 years and that's his job as a fighter pilot. We both have to be able to come to terms with that.
  • There are quite a few things about his job that Mark is not allowed to talk to me about. Sometimes when he deploys or goes TDY, he won't be able to tell me where he'll be going until after he's been there a while, if at all. They also said that if they said they're supposed to be back a certain day from deployments/TDY's, to not hold your breath, because invariably they'll get delayed and will not get home until later. I've also heard from friends to not ever tell your kids that daddy will be home a certain day in case it changes.
  • Colleen talked about how difficult it is for spouse's to make friends sometimes. The guys are thrown into new squadrons and they automatically have friends and acquaintances at work. They all do the same job, they dress alike, etc, but the wives don't have that immediate support system 9/10's of the time. It takes us a lot longer to meet people in the area, or our husband's co-workers wives, and it's harder for us to find our place in new squadrons.
  • They both kept stressing the importance of communication between husband and wife. I think Mark and I have a very open line of communication, so I'm not too worried about this aspect. He's great at keeping me in the loop as much as he can.
  • Rico said that the military basically owns Mark. He's not going to have the opportunity to put his family before his job much of the time, and I'm not sure who that's going to be harder for - me or him. Colleen said that as a spouse it's hard to find your worth since your life revolves around your husband's job and you basically get to tag along in his wake.

They definitely laid it all out there on the line for us. I had already heard quite a bit of what they said, but it's hitting closer to home since this is going to be our life in a few short months. It's very hard for me to think that I'm going to be separated so much from my "other half", the person I love more than anything else in the world, and that most of the time he's going to be doing dangerous stuff while he's gone. I cried for WEEKS before he went to survival training, and that was only 3 weeks long! I really don't know how I'm going to deal with possibly living in a foreign country, where I don't speak the language, with a child, and have him deploy to a war zone for 4-5 months. Just thinking about it is enough to give me hives. But that's the reality of our life, and we're just going to have to take what the Air Force dishes out. We have a very solid marriage and I'm not at all worried about our relationship, but I know for a fact that parts of his time in the military are going to be tough for both of us. Hopefully the good outweighs the bad though and we can remain positive through it all.

One of my friends here has a 3 year old and a baby who's a day older than Abbie. Her husband was TDY to Italy last month, and he was having more fun traveling, than he was doing work related stuff and she was having a really hard time with it. Here she was at home, by herself, with 2 very small kids, handling all the parenting and all the household stuff on her own, while he was basically sightseeing around Europe. She was pretty resentful of the situation, and I was resentful for her. That just doesn't seem fair at all, and it's not, but it's our reality. I know that I will be in her situation and feel that resentment most likely way more than once in the years to come. Colleen said the military spouse is the most unappreciated job in the military.

I'm not sure I would have chosen this lifestyle for myself, given the chance, but you can't help who you fall in love with. Mark is 110% worth all the stress and heartache we'll go through/been through, but it seems like it would be 1000 x's easier to be married to a teacher or an accountant or anyone who's job is more predictable and less dangerous than Mark's. We're in for a wild ride and all I can do is hold on tight. To Mark.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Black and white is best

Mark got us a new lens for our camera for my birthday. It's a 50mm lens, which has a GREAT depth of field, meaning it does a really good job of focusing on the subject you're shooting and blurring the background. We've been playing around with all weekend, mostly taking pictures of our munchkin. We took probably 75+ pictures (which isn't unusual for us in any given weekend), but for some reason I think the black and white photos of Abbie really depict her well. I think the b&w photos make her eyes stand out and catch her many expressions better than color photos do. Here are a few of my favorites, taken by both Mark and me. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tanker ride

I got the opportunity yesterday to watch Mark do mid-air refueling from a KC-135 (tanker). I feel really lucky to have had this chance since not many people get to do what I (and 6 other wives) did. Here are a few of the pictures.

We met at the squadron at Luke at 5:20am (ugh) so we could drive to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, which is where the guard base was that was the home of the tankers.
We had to sit through 2 short briefings on evacuation procedures for the plane and also what was and wasn't allowed. The guys in charge where really laid back though and light-hearted about the whole thing. The rules were serious, but they were trusting that we wouldn't break them.
We were escorted by "Brick" from Mark's squadron (one of his IP's) - he's the one on the left, and the guy on the right was Don. He's the "boomer", or the guy who operates the boom (see following pictures). Don's been in the guard as a boomer for 25 years and was retiring in 19 days.

The top half of the plane was for people and/or cargo. They can fold up all the seat to make room for more cargo if need be. The bottom half was all fuel.

Here's the cockpit of the KC-135. Quite a bit bigger than the F-16 cockpit and both the people sitting there are the pilots.

I believe this is Mark's friend and classmate, Joe Bob. The pictures through the side windows are kinda funny colored bc of the polarizing filter I had on the lens.

I believe this is Mark's classmate/ friend, Mike and his IP waiting for their turn to refuel. They'd fly in formation with the tanker and then one would stay on the left wing, and the other would go to the back to refuel. And then when the first one was done refueling he would go to the right wing and wait for the second one to refuel.

I think this is Mike flying on the wing, waiting for his IP to finish refueling.

Mike again. They were flying with live bombs and you can see them on the bottom of Mike's jet.

This is Mark's IP flying to the right wing after he got done refueling. I couldn't get these pictures of Mark because he didn't fly down as much as his IP did when he was done refueling.

Mark coming up to the tanker. To get these pictures, you have to lay on your stomach in this little area at the very back of the tanker. This is the boom.

Mark coming up on the boom. His IP had some trouble getting attached to the boom, so he told Mark to hold back until the tanker was flying straight. They flying a running track shape in the sky and it's easier to connect in the straight aways vs in the curves, especially when you're weighted down with bombs. He would have had to use AB (after burner) to keep in position with the tanker.

That's my husband in the cockpit of that jet! Crazy! It was so neat to see him in his element. I got to say hi to him over the radio, but I didn't hear that he said hi back. The headphones were really quiet (or I'm just deaf).

So this is how they refuel mid-air. The boomer can control the boom, and make it move around and extend. So the jets just try to get close to the boom and then hold their position and then the boomer moves the boom the last foot or two and starts and stops the flow of gas to the jet.

All refueled and ready to go drop some live bombs! I like this picture.

Flying off into the wild blue yonder. I didn't get pics of Mark on the wing of the tanker because I was already down in the boom area when he was on the wing.

Me in the boom area. I got to stay there for the landing, which was really neat. Makes you dizzy when you get really close to the ground because it's going by so fast, but I loved it. Don, who was down there with me and one other wife, said that less than 100 people in AZ have gotten to lay in the boom area during a landing. It was kinda like the batman ride at Great America.

Me by one of the 4 engines. The tanker was huge! (I need to get a hood for my camera to prevent those circles on the pictures. They drive me nuts!)

It was tons of fun to see Mark and his friends in their jets like that. It's hard to believe that this is what he does every day at work. It was beautiful in the air also, and neat to see all the AZ terrain. I might get to see them drop live bombs at the range sometime in November and then I'll get to go on the spouse taxi (where they take us on a ride down the runway really fast, but we don't get to take off unfortunately, unless I "accidentally" bump the stick) the day before he graduates. So exciting!
When we first saw the jets coming up on the tanker, my friend Julia (who was also watching her husband refuel) said "That's such a sexy job!" Haha! I agree.