Category Archives: Coast Guard

Coast Guard Day 2012

Yesterday was Mobile’s celebration of the Coast Guard’s 222nd birthday. Jason’s base rented out the entire West End Beach on Dauphin Island and everyone gathered for a nice day at the water. The weather was perfect, warm and sunny, a little bit of a breeze, nice gentle waves.

Food and drink were provided, sno cones for cooling off, inflatable bounce houses and water slides were set up for the kids. It was lots of fun.

We brought our EZ Up tent, blankets, and chairs. I slathered Jesse in sunscreen and took him out to the edge of the sand. The same little boy who is always terrified of our pool (hangs around our necks and refuses to be let go even when he has a life jacket on) wasn’t scared in the least of the waves lapping at his feet. As the afternoon went on, it was all we could do to keep him from running headlong into the ocean. As the water rolled back, Jesse would run out to pick up seashells, and Jason had to run out to snag Jesse before the water caught up with him. A few times he sat in the wet sand and waited for the waves to come wash over him. He laughed like crazy as it splashed around him and a couple of times it was strong enough to spin him around and roll him onto his side.

Julie napped pretty much the whole time, so she and I spent most of the day together in the shade of the EZ Up. I was pleased with how well she handled the heat of the day, but not entirely surprised. I take her out into the Southern humid heat every week when we go to the park for playgroup and she’s a real trouper during hot car rides and seemingly endless errands. I figure that if you get them used to it when they’re little, they’ll mind it less and have less to complain about when they get bigger.

I can’t wait to head back out to the beach when Jeremy gets back next month. The last time we took him he was pretty scared of the waves. He’s so much bigger now and I doubt he’ll be afraid if his little brother isn’t. And next time we won’t forget all of our sand castle making supplies!

July Family Update

What a cheeky smile, and look at that big belly!

Having children is so neat, and mind-boggling. You spend months growing them inside you and waiting for them to arrive, then they’re here and you instantly wonder how they were ever not a part of the family because it seems like they’ve always been there. Then the days start flowing together because you’re a very sleep-deprived parent and suddenly, BAM!, they’re already 2 months old and you ask your husband how that happened!

Julie turned 2 months old last Wednesday and had her check-up the next day. My big girl gained two pounds since her 1-month check-up, weighing in at just over 14 pounds. She also grew two inches and is now two feet long. Julie has been flashing us her precious smile for a while, but I very rarely catch it on camera. She also loves when we talk with her, Julie gets very chatty in the evening just before bed time.

After catching up with our favorite doctor (we’re so lucky to have our primary care physician also happen to be a good friend) my poor girl had to get her first round of shots. She had the one in the hospital after she was born, but since then she hasn’t had any until today. Julie cried through three shots and one oral vaccine; Jesse was very concerned about why his baby was so upset. It was sweet to see him caring for her so much. For being such a good big brother the nurse gave him a squeezy toy whale and two stickers (one even had Elmo – his favorite) which he decided were band-aids like Julie’s. He stuck them on his thighs and proceeded to cry and limp like he was the one who got the shots. My sweet little empath! (I also had to buy him a small bag of bite-size Oreos at the drug store because he was hugging and kissing his sister to keep her happy.)

We’ve also been asking ourselves lately how Jesse got so big all of a sudden. It doesn’t seem like it’s been over two years since we brought him home.

It’s been a slow and steady process to get Jesse from co-sleeping with us all night, to nursing to sleep and staying most of the night in his bed, then to rocking to sleep and sleeping all night in his room, to where we’re at now which is falling asleep in his own bed. This is a HUGE deal for him. It takes 30-45 minutes each night for Jason to work his routine with Jesse, but it is successful and the boy is getting used to falling asleep in there. I crocheted Jesse an Elmo doll (his favorite character) and having that to snuggle with seems to have helped greatly at bedtime. Hopefully he’ll be laying down and falling asleep on his own soon without needing us to stay in the room with him. Before long he and Jeremy will have the same bedtime routine and our evenings will be so much easier!

For now, since Daddy is master of the night time routine, I still get my one-on-one time rocking my boy to sleep for his mid-day nap. Well, it’s not always one-on-one because there have been a couple of times when Jesse *needed* to snuggle but Julie also *needed* to be held as well, so I rocked them both!

For the most part, Jesse and Julie nap at the same time and I don’t have trouble with them during the day. However, sometimes their schedules don’t always match up. There have been a few instances when Julie just could not wait for her feeding and I had no choice but to let Jesse stay up a little longer. He will usually wear himself out a bit more, get sleepy and let me rock him or he’ll fall asleep in any number of positions on the sofa. This is how I found him just yesterday:

Poor kiddo just rocked himself to sleep. I have a million more pictures of how I’ve found him, but I’ll save those for another time. Nap time changes every day because I never really know how it’s going to go down. It’s usually around the same time, but the method is different. I feel like I’ve focused mostly on Jesse’s sleeping, but that is currently our major battle, so that’s what’s on my mind. After bedtime and naptime are conquered, we’ll move on to potty training. Dun Dun Dun!!!

Jesse’s vocabulary is growing day by day. He picks up new words all the time and is learning to string them into longer sentences than he was just a couple of weeks ago. He is really good at telling us what he wants (and doesn’t want), describing things, expressing some general feelings, and just pretty much talking all the time. He also has started loving books and brings us big stacks to read. I love when he picks out one that we’ve read a million times and he shushes me. He doesn’t want me to read, just turn the pages for him and he tells me (in his best 2-year old way) what is happening on the page. He’s such a character! I love watching this big huge personality develop out of a small person.

Jeremy is currently at his dad’s house in California, but he has grown by leaps and bounds over the summer as well. Most of this past year we worked specifically on reading (sounding-out words and using sight words) and math (adding and subtracting). So over the late spring and early summer while he was here, we completed a workbook meant to be a summer bridge for kids going from kindergarten to first grade. He flew through it and enjoyed most everything. I’m looking forward to checking out curriculum for first grade so we can start on that in September.

By the way, can someone please tell me how my firstborn, my tiny baby, is suddenly almost 6 years old?!?! I am flabbergasted, utterly astonished, every time I think about it. This picture is from back in May, but it shows my favorite side of this kid. He is so funny (weird knock-knock jokes and all), and surprises me all the time with how smart he is. But my favorite part of him is his total goofiness. He can be extremely moody, but his goofiness always comes through eventually and totally knocks me out. πŸ™‚

So, that’s us in a nutshell! Our happy life is going along pretty well as we take things day by day. We’re still enjoying living in Mobile. Even though we do miss our family and friends in California all the time, we’ve got great friends here as well as well as some who have moved on to other places. Thank goodness for Facebook! It’s hard to believe that we’ve been here for 3 years already and are beginning our last year of this tour. Three houses in three years, whew! Military families really are professional movers. Around this time next year we’ll be packing up and moving to some other place. Coast Guard life is exciting!

Am I the Walrus? Who’s on First?

To expound on my cryptic and weird Facebook status from this morning…

Today is not Saturday, it’s Friday again. Tomorrow is Sunday and Monday is Saturday. Don’t question it, I understand but don’t get it either. I’m tired. Can you tell? Reading that again I feel like I said “I am, He is, You are, He is, You are me, and we are all together. Hohoho Hehehe Hahaha”

Remember when I wrote about Jason being amazingly lucky in his work scheduling not long ago? Yes, that was a really awesome week and a half. Well, he told me it would come around and bite us in the butt and did it ever! This past week has been harsh.

Him Me/Kids Family Time
Monday Regular work day. Get up early, take Jeremy across town to day camp. Get home just in time to have an hour for lunch and turn around to go pick up Jeremy. Adopt a new dog. More on that in an upcoming post.
Tuesday Oncoming overnight ready crew duty. Goes in later in the afternoon, but doesn’t get to come home for dinner. Goes to class on base. Sleeps at work. Get up early, dog to the vet, playgroup, then boot camp workout, lunch, then I’m the only parent all night til the next afternoon. Jason gets to hang out with the kiddos while I’m gone and I get them when he’s gone. But he and I are almost like ships passing in the night.
Wednesday Regular work day, but has been at work all night so it’s extra hard. Up early again, Jeremy to day camp across town. I’m really hating this 45 minute drive each direction 4 times a day. Home just in time to throw something together for lunch and head back out again. Early dinner, church in the evening. My friend Melissia’s last night in Mobile, moving in the morning. A bunch of us meet at our frozen yogurt place for a couple hours. I miss kid’s bedtime. Again, hardly see my husband even though he’s technically home that night.
Thursday Should have been a regular work day, but he took the ready crew duty for a friend. That means another overnight stay. Since he can’t leave base, he has to miss his other class which is held on a different base in Biloxi. No boot camp for me, instead drove across the border to the splash pad in Mississippi with our MOPS group. Lots of fun in the sun but very tiring. None together. Kids and I were gone while Jason was home in the morning. We got here just before he needed to leave for work.
Friday Instead of a regular work day, Jason got to go on a canoe trip down a nearby river with his coworkers. The morale day went well until one guy ruined it for everyone. I won’t get into specifics, but it left Jason feeling like he would have rather stayed at work instead of going on what was supposed to have been a fun trip. I put a lot of work into baking a bunch of monster cookies to send and the guy was messing around and dumped them and my two favorite big tupperware boxes into the river. Never to be seen again. I am beyond tired. Everyone acts badly in the morning (including me, I had a bad mama moment). Jeremy doesn’t like “Exploreum School” and I am not loving the several drives I have to take for it. We decide not to go to the last day. I forgot to mention it to my friend Nemesis and she went anyway, I was going to meet her there and hang out. Bad friend moment. Finally everyone’s home at the same time… but we’re all exhausted. At least we had a good home-cooked meal.
Saturday Duty again. If it was Mon-Fri, this would be a regular work day, home for lunch and dinner and sleep at home. Unfortunately it’s a weekend, which means this is a sleepover duty night. Jason will work all day, stay there for all meals, sleep there again tonight, and be on call all night just in case something happens. He’ll come home just in time for church tomorrow, tired as a dog. This is where I get to my weird Facebook status. It does not feel like a weekend day to me. No babysitter, so no boot camp this morning. Had to get up early anyway and take Jason to work. I’m feeling extra tired an emotional and had another bad mama moment. Jeremy’s happy and playing, Jesse’s napping, and I got a bunch of laundry folded. Stuff that we had forgotten about and had been looking for “Mom, where’s my favorite shirt?”, I dunno kiddo. Dust bunnies ate it. “Honey, I thought for sure that I had more underwear than this.”, Impossible dear, everything you have is clean and put away. “Oh man, I totally thought that I caught up on laundry, there’s the rest!”, Dang. Not going to be any time with the whole family til tomorrow. At least everyone is happy for the moment. Maybe later the boys and I will visit Jason at work and bring him some dinner and cookies so he won’t have to eat at the galley again.
Sunday Will feel like Sunday because we’ll have a good breakfast instead of cereal or a Nutrigrain bar. We’ll go to church as a family and come home to a late afternoon hot lunch. Skip dinner and have an early-evening tasty dessert.
Monday Will feel like Saturday because Jason will be off work (because he’s working on the Saturday before). We’ll do our usual “family day” stuff and hopefully fit in some blueberry picking.

Whew! Looking at Jason’s schedule next week, it appears “normal” with his usual two nights of class and without any overnight duty. No day camp for Jeremy and I only have one short commitment on each day. Not so bad. Then Jason gets three days off in a row for Independence Day. Family time coming right up! Oh wait, Independence Day is in July, how in the world is it almost July and what happened to June? I’m lost again.

Have you ever seen the Abbot & Costello skit, “Who’s on First?” It’s hilarious, and it’s how I feel right now. I’m trying my best to cover all the bases, but I can only be on one at a time and I have no idea who’s got the others. Maybe this mixed with a little bit of Twister. Oh geez.

Lucky Dog!

I think my husband Jason is a pretty darn awesome guy. He’s a wonderful husband and the best father our children could have ever dreamed of. Jason works hard to support his large family and he loves us so very much that it shows in his big happy smile every day. Great guy, huh?! I thought so. πŸ™‚

Here he is looking cool. Not smiling, but I love this picture of him.

Well, on top of all his usual wonderfulness, he must have done something extra good to get as lucky as he did this past week…

Last Friday he went to work at 7 like usual, and was home by 8 am. I was still in my jammies having breakfast with Jesse. Me, perplexed, “Hello, my love! What are you doing home already, forget something?” Jason, with a huge grin on his face, “I’m done working for the day.” And that started our loooooooong weekend…

For the holiday weekend, the Coast Guard moves shifts around so that everyone gets 3 days in a row. Some might not get Memorial Day itself, but they will get 3 days around Memorial Day to celebrate with their families. Jason was supposed to work all day Friday and get Saturday, Sunday and Monday off. He worked for 1 hour and essentially received Friday through Monday (4 days off so far). Had it been a regular (non-holiday) schedule, he would have had duty on Saturday and had a sliding weekend day on Tuesday. The holiday schedule over-rode the regular schedule, but since it ended Monday, he still got his “slider” today. That brings us to 5 days off in a row.

Tomorrow he’s back to work, but after calling in to check the flight schedule he found out that since he’s scheduled for a night flight, he doesn’t have to go in until 3 pm. So even though he still has to work all night, he has snagged another day off. Now we’re at 6 in a row. He’ll fly for several hours tomorrow night, sleep a few on base, and work until 4 pm Thursday afternoon (a rare 24-hour shift). Then, yes, you guessed it, he has Friday and Saturday off with duty on Sunday.

By the time he finishes this week, he’ll have worked 1 day over a 9-day period. He will have had 8 days off (6 of them in a row) and not a single one of them was charged as leave. What a lucky dog!

(PS: I apologize for the little bit of military lingo that I used. I hope that you get the gist of what I am talking about. πŸ™‚ )

(PPS: Major thanks for the pic Melissia. She took it at a dinner that a bunch of us went to at a local bbq joint a few weeks ago.)

Gratituesday – Coastie Chicks

Today’s post is two things: a simple “thanks for being there” and a little plug for one of my favorite websites.

As I’ve mentioned before, my husband is in the Coast Guard. He’s an AMT2, which means he’s a second-class Aviation Maintenance Technician. Though it might sound like he’s basically a mechanic, he does many things. From getting dirty in the maintenance shop, to being the watch captain (shift supervisor), to hopping on one of the planes and going on a search-and-rescue mission down here in the Gulf of Mexico, to standing the occasional duty night where he sleeps at work instead of home just in case they need him.

I love my husband so very much and we as his family are willing to follow him anywhere that the Coast Guard decides to relocate him. However, following him means leaving behind friends and family and plunking ourselves down in a new city amongst a bunch of people we’ve never met. Jason can quickly acclimate to the new work scene because the Coast Guard does things almost exactly the same at every base. Families don’t have it as easy. Sure, there are wonderful spouses clubs which often times set up play groups and the bases sponsor family days and picnics throughout the year, but what do I do on a day-to-day basis when I can’t just call up my mom or best buddies to chat because they are many time zones away and for them it’s not even dawn yet?

For those times I have my Coastie Chicks.

Our PCS (permanent change of station) together last summer was the first time I had moved a significant distance from everyone I knew. I’ve always lived within 30 miles of my family and friends. We’re now about 2,700 miles and three time zones from them. I was excited for this adventure in the South, but nervous. I’ve never been very outgoing and wondered what I’d do for friends for me and friends for my children. Sure, I can relish in my newfound love of being a stay-at-home mom, but we can’t possibly remain inside and keeping to ourselves all the time! I figured I would eventually wander out and find some people to befriend. But then we’d just end up leaving them too when we PCS again in a few years.

Then Jason came home from work one day during his first week at work and told me about Coastie Chicks. Another new guy heard about this site from his wife (**Hi Tracy!**), passed the word on to Jason, who then passed it on to me. Wow, was I ever grateful! Patty Wilson (“Mama Chick” as we often call her) runs it; the base site is incredibly informative and there is a discussion forum where I have found lovely friends, neighbors, and an amazing wealth of BTDT (been there, done that) advice. I can go on there and find answers to any question I could possibly have about not only life as a Coast Guard spouse, but also information about any base we could be stationed at, neighborhoods, new rules, etcetera. One of my favorite sections is the Local Events area for our district. This is where we post goings-on and such. Last October I saw a posting there from a local spouse (**Hi Melissia!**) offering a bar-be-que at her house. I had never met most of the people attending and normally I wouldn’t go to a party with a bunch of folks I don’t know. But we went, and we had a great time. Since then I have befriended many more Coastie Chicks, our kids are friends, our spouses are friends, and we get together all the time.

Without my Coastie Chicks (both the website and the ladies who are members) I’d be quite lost in this new place. This past year has been absolutely wonderful when it could have been quite lonely. I love ya’ll and while I am sad about someday leaving the fantastic Chicks here in the Mobile area, I look forward to meeting so many more in all of the other cities we may move to in the future.

If you are a spouse of a Coastie or know someone who is, please pass this link on to them. The Coast Guard is the smallest of the American armed forces and we often get lost in the shuffle. Many CG bases no longer offer housing to families and you may not be lucky enough to find a neighborhood out in the city where many Coastie families live. Pop on over toΒ Coastie Chicks and join the fun!

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Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!