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Saturday, September 22, 2012

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

30 and Counting

Sunday was my 30th Birthday.  I don't even know what that means.  I'll not spend a whole blog reflecting on the previous 30 years and what has gone right, what has gone wrong, what I wish I could do again, and what I just wish hasn't happened.  I will, however, share the story of how I spent the evening of my birthday.

I've never had big fancy birthday to-dos.  It kind of goes in hand with having a birthday in June.  Growing up most people were on family vacations, and as I got older in college once my birthday rolled around everyone had scattered to the wind returning to their homeland for the summer hiatus.  Since I've been married I'm pretty sure Cayce's missed several of them, been deployed or been on duty.  This year however Cayce was home, and I was determined to DO something for my birthday.  I'm not a big drinker, even less so since Lily, and I knew I just didn't want dinner and a movie.  I wanted it to be an experience.  I *think* 30 is supposed to be a big deal?

So here we are, once again, living in a coastal region surrounded by water.  Which thinking of that, I'm sure it's odd that even though I have lived literally blocks away from the beach (in FL) I still prefer the lakes of Oklahoma to the beach and ocean.  But anywho, I digress, I love the water in whatever form.  I wanted to do something on the water.  So I got the brilliant (so I thought) idea to go kayaking for my birthday.  I asked some local friends for suggestions,  and we ended up booking a sunset trip on the Chesapeake Bay with Chesapean Outdoors.  I was psyched.  Overall I think the trip was awesome, but my view of what is awesome may differ significantly from a balanced human being.  Because, honestly, it was a disaster.  But I had fun!

Disclaimer:  Kayaking is a wet activity (even more so in our case) and cameras, phones, valuables, etc. are not recommended.  So we bought a cheap water proof disposable camera before our trip.  It came in handy. It has been well over 8 years since I've used a traditional camera without a preview screen.  I know I used regular cameras relying solely on the viewfinder for 21 years, but man, going old school was a chore.  It was fun dropping off the film to be developed anticipating the pictures we'd receive, but I don't want to do it again. So I apologize for the poor quality of the pictures.

The trip started out normal enough.  Cayce and I were in a tandem kayak.

Much to my chagrin, one does NOT wear makeup when kayaking.

Here's our guide.  He was a beach bum all of maybe 20.  Sweetest kid, from Pittsburg, new to the area, completely unaware of military rules and regulations (this comes into play later). Here is a "native fishing" net with some brown seagulls and a blue heron.
Here is the whole reason I wanted to go on the trip, the dolphins! They came MUCH closer, but I couldn't get a picture of them. Speedy buggers. :-( (In the background is Ft. Story Army post - remember that).

So we cruised along at a pretty good clip out to Cape Henry looking for more dolphins.  We finally headed back after we got a good glimpse of the lighthouses.  I don't have a picture.  Unfortunately it didn't turn out. Now, while the trip there was pretty easy the trip back, was, ugh.  No bueno.  Muy mal.  The trip is scheduled for 2 hours, so we were half way through with our trip when we turned back.  We were fighting the current.  All we did was zig zag back and forth.  I laughingly told Cayce I'd like to see an aerial view of our path b/c I know we weren't making any progress.  On the way out we passed Ft. Story, and kept going for about 500 yards.  On the way back I kept my eye on the equipment on the beach to judge the distance traveled.  A depressing and daunting method.  We just weren't making progress.  Finally Cayce realized there was a lot of water in his section of the kayak.  The guide and I both told him it was okay.  Just natural accumulation.  Boy were we wrong.  The water was pretty busy that evening, and we kept getting bobbled in the wake.  Finally we hit a wave too hard and the inevitable happened, we flipped over.  Now here's where a normal person may get mad, but I was thrilled!  I was so worn out from fighting the current, and my hips were sore b/c I couldn't stretch my legs out all they way in the kayak so dumping into the ocean actually felt great to me.  I floated around stretching out while the guys righted the kayak.  It took two tries for me to climb back in, but I eventually did.  We got settled and continued on our journey. But not 2 minutes later, back over we went.  This time I was a little exasperated.  Only because I started thinking we were never going to make it home.  So once again I watch the guys maneuver the kayak.  However, this time they realize, oh crap, there's a leak in the hull. She's full of water.  So, me still happily floating around, watched and took pictures of their "plan" to empty the water out of the hull.  Not just water in the seating area of the kayak, but INSIDE, the actual shell.  

Our kayak resting on top of the guide's kayak in an attempt to empty it. 

This plan wasn't working.  So at this point our guide decides we should head for shore and empty it there and start over.  Yah, that shore over there is Ft. Story.  We weren't stepping one foot on land before some uniforms were out there aggressively asking questions.  Unfortunately we didn't have our IDs with us either, so saying Cayce was Navy wasn't going to help.  So while they keep up this emptying tactic, along comes a savior. A man in a shiny white boat motors over and asks if we would like assistance.  We sure would.  So the three of them decide to put the kayak up on his swim deck and empty it there.  While this is happening Cayce explains it's my 30th birthday.  Jokester then hollers to me happy birthday and suggests next year I try something more laid back like jumping out of an airplane.  I liked this guy. He then throws out the suggestion that the kayak is probably shot, and we should ride with him back to the park and call it a day.  Inside I was screaming YES YES YES! but outside I was cool as a cucumber.  Whatever the guys thought was best.  Thankfully they opted for the cruise.

Rescued by For Play

One kayak on.

Two kayaks on.

The greatest guy ever.  He actually was fantastic.  He totally reminded me of someone you would meet out at the lake in OK.  Just really chill, up for anything, and willing to help.  He was also kind enough to give us quite the detailed tour of the landmarks we were passing. So really, it was a nice cruise back.  Did I mention his boat was GORGEOUS? It was so nice that once I finally embarked and he moved all the gear so I could sit on one of the supple white leather seats I hesitated to walk on the spotless cream carpet.  He saw me hesitate, and said to me, "it's okay, it's a boat, they get wet."  :-)

As for our poor guide.  He felt terrible.  Absolutely terrible.  Cayce and I kept reassuring him that we were having a great time, and this is story to remember.  You can see by my smile I was a happy girl.  I really couldn't have asked for anything better.

Cayce's view home.  It took the entire trip back for the kayak to finally empty.  We weren't making it home in it.  Thank goodness for a kind stranger.  I should add there were actually several other boats out, all within viewing distance of the swamping fiasco.  No one else offered assistance.  He's a good guy. 

We returned to the kayaks in about 3.5 feet of water, and made a quick paddle to shore. 

Two soggy happy customers.

I know we had a good time and wouldn't change a thing, but I think the next kayak trip will probably have to be in one of the rivers around here.  I'm certainly not put off by the experience, I just don't think we're cut out for a hellish ocean current.  I'll take my kayaking like a canoe trip down the Illinois next time, please.  :-)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

In Summation

Hey there.  I've been MIA for a while huh? Well I won't bore you with a long story of why I've been absent from Bloglandia.  I'll just be honest and say I was lazy.

So let's see.  It's been since the beginning of March since I've posted.  A lot has happened.  Cayce had surgery on his shoulder, Lily turned two, I finished my first semester of grad school, we celebrated Easter, Cayce was given 8 weeks of TAD orders to finish healing from his surgery, we've had a TON of quality family time, Cayce finished his associate's degree, I've gotten a lot of "me" time, we've traipsed all over the Mid-Atlantic, we've been to the zoo more times than I have fingers and toes, and now I'm just days away from the big 3-0.  :-D

At Lily's 2 year check up she weighed in at 27lbs and 33 inches.  Just slightly below average for both marks.  I'm not too surprised though.  She's not a meat eater really, and the only meat she does like is fish, go figure, and she pretty much survives off of fruit, cheese, beans, and milk.  Her pediatrician pretty much said her lack of meat isn't a big deal, and if she didn't ever start to eat it she would probably be healthier.  Love hearing that non-traditional line of thinking from a Navy doctor. So I'm not pushing meat.  She either eats it or she doesn't.  It makes it onto her plate, but rarely makes it into her mouth.

She talks a mile a minute.  If she's awake, she's talking.  I can't even tell you how many words she knows or what words she knows because every day she comes up with a new word.  When we tried counting before her second birthday we were up to 200.  I'm sure that number is much larger 3 months later.  The big thing we've been working with is her colors. She knows all the words, but correctly identifying the colors is hit or miss.  She has her shapes down, the basic ones at least.  Circle, square, heart, star, triangle.

As for her favorite activities she loves dancing, singing, and anything physical.  Her Pamaw gave her a trampoline for her birthday.  She spends a long time in there, and she is amazing at it now.  It has a safety net that she used to bounce against to stay in control.  Now she doesn't use it (it's still on there of course), but rather practices jumping and tucking her feet, and bouncing from her feet to her bottom and back again.  We have the same little swimming pool from last year, and every day she asks to swim.  As long as it's warm and dry, out we go each afternoon.  Her latest craze is walking after dinner.  She goes to the door and asks "go walk?" We usually oblige.  She gets very upset when it's raining and we can't go out.  The only big problem is that she's afraid of cars, and we don't have sidewalks in our neighborhood so anytime a car approaches she get's scared and starts asking to be picked up because her of her "tummy." Which I've decided is her identifying being nervous.  You know how as an adult your stomach will get filled with butterflies when you're anxious, I think that is what is happening with Lily when she's scared and says "tummy."  She's still a tough independent girl, but she's become more interested in being near us.  I don't mind b/c I love the cuddles and kisses.  Lily was never the cuddly baby, so even as a 2 year old it's nice to have that cuddle time.

She's still at home every day with me.  I'm giving serious though to putting her in part time daycare in September.  I start school again then, and the past semester was very tough without any dedicated "me" time to do my work.  Lily was going through a phase of hit or missing her nap so even that time wasn't guaranteed. She's back to napping for a couple hours each day, but Cayce's schedule is about to pick up on the ship and I don't want to worry about trying to fit in homework while trying to care for Lily all day every day.  Our church has a day school that accepts 30 month olds, and I think it would be perfect to send her a few times a week for 4 hours.  I would get protected school work time, and Lily will get some true interaction with other children.

Now that the business end is over, here are some pictures to capture the last few months.

This is Melanie.  She is from the same small town in Oklahoma as I.  We were bosom buddies for summers and spring breaks during our mid-teens.  She moved away, then joined the Marines, and I went to college and married my Sailor.  Nearly 10 years later after leaving the Marines, graduating from college, and all in the Lejuene area of NC Melanie's Marine husband decided to go Officer and join the Navy.  Now here they are stationed in the same town, 1300 miles from our home.  It is a small, small, world.  She gets to do fun things like take cake designing classes.  She offered to make Lily's Birthday cake. 

I "helped."

Ta da! Melanie kept the cake at her house, and when we picked it up on B-day Melanie was chagrined to find one of her cats had tasted the frosting.  It was still pretty!

So I wanted to do something special for Lily's birthday.  First I thought to take her to Sesame Street at Busch Gardens, but it was closed that day.  Then I had the genius idea to take Lily to the Children's Museum here in town (it's supposed to be fantastic).  On B-day I woke up and checked the hours only to find....they are NOT open on Mondays! So scratch that.  So instead we had a simple day at the park.  It was a beautiful day.  Gorgeous.  We hiked up this hill and played with bubbles (Lily's fav!).

And flew a kite!

But running down the hill is what Lily wanted to do the most.  So she did, over and over and over.

Then came Easter.  Lily was VERY excited to help dye the eggs.

Flying solo.

"Here, let mama help."

Meeting the Easter Bunny at our church annual pancake breakfast and Easter Egg hunt. This year went much better than last year.  She didn't just want to look at him from the distance, she actually wanted to touch him this year.  Success.

Our beautiful girl in her Easter dress.

So I read like my life depends on it.  It probably does.  The degree I am working on is Library and Information Science.  I chose this degree so when I finally go back into the workforce I can do that knowing I'm leaving my child to go spend my day surrounded by something else I love, books and information.  One of my absolute favorite authors traveled to the Charlottesville area to do a lecture and book signing.  Melanie also loves Lauren Willig.  We made the 4 hour round trip, and had a fantastic time.  Lauren was super entertaining and very kind.

Here we are with the authoress herself.  She personalized our books, and happily took a picture with us.

And in case you were wondering just how big of a nerd I am, here's a means to quantify my geek quotient.  After the lecture while Melanie and I were cruising around Charlottesville finding a place to stuff our faces I came across this status update by Lauren.  You can see the exchange between the two of us in the screen shot above, and I'm pretty sure the level of fan-girl squeeing emitted by Melanie and me was only a few decibels short of glass shattering.  Melanie and I thought it was the coolest thing ever that Lauren remembered us, BY NAME, and put it out there for the whole Facebook world to see.  Our day was awesome.  Awesome.
So we finally did make it to Busch Gardens.  Lily was awesome. She had so much fun riding the rides. She soaked in all the surroundings, and was quite the trooper for a long day at an amusement park.

Here she is riding her first solo ride. I'm pretty sure I didn't breath the whole time she was on it, but she thought it was fun.  I couldn't get her to look at me to get a picture close up.  As a matter of fact, that's one thing about Lily.  I promise she is a happy child, bubbly, and full of laughs and smiles, but if one were to judge her demeanor by photo you would assume she's always grumpy and never in the mood for anything fun.  She is just the most difficult child to photograph smiling.  I dunno what it is, but hopefully that changes soon. 

This is the little marching band show we watched during lunch.

This marching band geek was very excited her baby couldn't tear her eyes away from the performance.

We stumbled on the free petting zoo park in Hampton call Blue Bird Gap Farm.  It was full of animals that could be petted and fed.  Lily of course loved it.  I loved it.  This sweet deer pretty much tried to eat my hand, but in a loving way. :-)
Lily with the sweetie.
One of Cayce's shipmates and friends was awarded the 2011 Sailor of the Year, Fleet Forces.  We drove up to Washington, D.C. to support her during her Chief pinning ceremony at the National Navy Memorial.  One of the perks of being awarded Sailor of the Year for the Navy as a 1st class is that you are automatically awarded the rank of Chief Petty Officer.  Cayce is up for Chief for the second year, but making it is very difficult and it takes some sailors many many years to put on Chief, if at all.  I found this picture in the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy's (MCPON) photo album of the event.  The credit is to an MC2.  This picture was taken during the Advancing of the Colors.  I pretty much always choke up during all that pageantry, the flag, the band, the singers.  It's always beautiful, and makes me proud.

Here we are eating lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe after the ceremony.  Can you tell I'm tired? I was tired.  Lily refuses to sleep in hotel rooms.  Refuses.  While she sleeps like a champ at home, and even in other people's homes, when it comes to a hotel room where she is required to share a room or bed with other people, game's over.  She will stay up all night.  All. Night. And so will you.
We went to the beach over Memorial Day weekend.  Lily's not crazy about the ocean water.  It's still pretty chilly, and the day we were there the waves were big due to a tropical storm brewing just south of us.  So we dug a hole and let mother nature do the rest.  Lily loved playing in this water.

At home she plays in her little pool.  She decided to taste hose water.  Apparently she liked it b/c she probably had a gallon of it.

We spend a lot of our time outside.  Here we are working on some coloring.  As you can tell art is serious business to Lily.

I have a garden in the backyard.  We have Strawberries, blueberries, onions, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, cantaloupes, pumpkins, and of course tomatoes.  Lily kept asking for the "apples" which were actually tomatoes.  I kept telling her that, and finally gave her one.  She excitedly took one bite, and promptly spit it back out.  Not a fan of tomatoes, yet.


Well summer has just started, and Cayce heads back to the ship next week.  He's going to be pretty busy over the next several months so our quality family time will lessen.  It sounds like he's heading to Boston in July.  I'm trying to figure out if Lily and I will be able to go spend a weekend up there.  We will see.  Remember she doesn't sleep in hotel rooms. Once again, though, Cayce gets to go somewhere I would love to visit while I, instead, stay at home.  Sometimes I think the wrong person joined the Navy.  While I would love to travel the world like he has done Cayce would happily spend his life in the same 50 mile radius.  Oh well.  He'll make the best of it, and we'll make the best of it.  Chief results will be out sometime in late summer, and whether or not he makes it will have an effect on our future.  As it always is in the Navy nothing is settled, and there's always something on the horizon that can have a huge impact on our future.  You'd think after 8 years I'd have this down and be comfortable with it. ;-)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Not even a year

We went to the zoo this week.  The weather was gorgeous on Thursday, and we just had to be out in it.  The zoo was fantastic.  We definitely had our best zoo trip ever, no fussing, no falls, no drama, just fun.  I was flipping through the pictures, and I had to go back and find the matching picture of Lily from last year.  We took the pictures in the same spot.  The first was taken in June of 2011, and the second March 2012.  We no longer have a baby.  We have a big girl.  :-)

I'll post about the trip sometime later.  It was full of discoveries, and really fabulous pictures.  But I thought it would be fun to show her change in appearance.  Sweet baby.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Belated Valentine

As always...

Cayce's ship has been in a busy pattern recently.  Here for a week, gone for a week, here for a week, gone for two weeks, etc.  Between his sailings and my return to grad school this house has been chaotic.  Cayce's currently on a 30 day convalescent leave following shoulder surgery...again....and I'm winding down on my final few weeks of classes so we're taking time to enjoy family life.

Cayce's ship was gone for a couple weeks around Valentine's Day.  As a fun little thing to do Lily and I made sugar cookies for Cayce to take with him on the ship.  I for one am not a fan of sugar cookies...they're just sugar? However, Cayce loves them and it was something fun for Lily and I to do together for Cayce.  Cayce photographed the event for posterity.  :-)

First of all.  Lily and I are in complementary Mary Englebreit aprons.  She had a lot of fun and exercised her mischievousness. 



Looking adoringly at her mother... she always does this.... I promise.  ;-)


This was hilarious.  I turned around to wash my hands following the egg cracking and Lily, as any child should, immediately grabbed for the spoon.  Of course she had been trying the entire time, but Mommy kept saying "no." Smarty knew with my back turned that spoon was hers for the taking... and may I point out Cayce was standing right there, but was she afraid of Mr. Softy's response? No. Choco's also very jealous Lily's getting some of that and not her. 


Playing with the flour was the best part for her.... other than eating raw cookie dough.

Ooooooh.  Yummy cookies.  :-)

Cayce wanted to make a special cookie for me. ;-)

Finished product.  Not beautiful, but something to remember.  Yes, I used a package mix.  Yes, I put in actual red dye.  Sue me.  I was making cookies.  :-)

Cayce took a little video.  The quality is not the greatest, but it's something.