Happy Veteran’s Day!

Happy Veteran’s Day!

I have a special place in my heart for Veterans, because my husband is one.

Boot Camp, 2001 – skinny!

Jason’s desire to join the Navy was born out of both necessity and patriotism. In 2001, he was living in Illinois and working a factory job. He wanted to go to college and get a degree in agriculture, but the cost was beyond what he could afford. The economy took a terrible turn, and he was laid off. It seemed like he didn’t have a lot of options – he couldn’t afford college without taking out loans, and the job opportunities in Illinois were not promising at the time. He had always had this sense of patriotism and desire to serve, and it seemed like the perfect time to enlist.

So he did.

We met in 2003, when he was in Charleston South Carolina for nuke school. Jason’s rate in the Navy was Electrician’s Mate, and he was a nuke, meaning he worked on the nuclear reactor system of the submarine. He had to complete extensive, difficult schooling before being sent to the fleet, and he was in Charleston from 2001-2003. I was there at the time going to graduate school, and the rest as they say is history.

I had never had any desire to date a military member. I was convinced I would marry a hometown boy, get married, and live within 10 miles of my parents. It wasn’t to be. God knew better than I (isn’t that ALWAYS the way?!) and he lead me to a boy who served.

I can remember one of our early conversations when we were dating with crystal clarity. Submarines were sort of a foreign concept to me. I mean, I knew they existed, sure. I knew the Beatles had a song about them. But I didn’t really understand how they worked or what they did. Jason was trying to explain to me what he would be doing when he reported to his first duty station aboard a submarine.

“So, do the submarines have windows? So you can look out into the water and fish while you drive around?”

Jason had quite the laugh at my expense. The answer is no (the pressure would make the windows break, or they could leak = very very bad on a submarine, and the depth at which they cruise isn’t really conducive to fish exploration).

Change of Command Ceremony while stationed at Subase Bangor, WA

We got married in July of 2003, and moved to his first duty station of Kings Bay, GA that same month. He reported to the boat in August and was told they would be leaving in two short weeks for his first deployment. Our first four months of married life were spent largely alone.

The submarine force is voluntary – meaning, you have to request to go subs if that is where you wish to serve. Navy sailors have the option of surface (aircraft carriers) or subs. Jason chose subs, and was stationed on the USS Nebraska 739. The USS Nebraska is an Ohio class ballistic missile submarine. She carries trident ballistic missiles. Fun fact: there are submarines on alert at any given time in the sea for warfare situations. This means the submarines are locked and loaded – if they get an alert, they can shoot off the weapons they carry to virtually anywhere in the world.

Photo Credit

This is a picture of the submarine pulling into port. The tug boat guides the submarine into place, and the sailors stand on top as ceremony to usher the boat home. Best. Feeling. Ever.

A few weeks after we reported to the USS Nebraska in Kings Bay, GA we were told that the boat would be undergoing a change of homeport to Subase Bangor in Silverdale, WA. This was especially fun news, since we had just bought a house in Kingsland. Jason had actually had a conversation with his sponsor before we started house hunting – a conversation in which the sponsor never mentioned the impending change of homeport that would make our buying a house we would live in for one year seem foolhardy.

Fun times.

During his time on the USS Nebraska, Jason went on 6 patrols, ranging from 10-12 weeks each. During this time he was submerged underwater and as such, communication is very limited. I was allowed to send him emails whenever I wished; however, the boat only received emails when they would surface. As the mission of the submarine is stealth, that didn’t happen often. I think I have 20 total emails from his 6 patrols. We also had about 3 mail drops per patrol. We would be alerted of the date our drops were due, and would turn them into squadron. We had strict guidelines to follow – whatever we sent had to fit into a flat letter sized envelope. We would occasionally get letters back, but it wasn’t something you could count on. In all the time Jason ever was out on patrol, I never received a phone call. That is a luxury submarine wives just aren’t afforded.

The interesting thing about submarine patrols is that life kind of pauses when they leave. Don’t get me wrong – life goes on. You do what you do, and time moves forward for both of you. But it is almost as if you married life just hits pause, and resumes when they finally come home. The lack of communication just kind of puts you into a bubble where neither of you really know what the other is doing, so its kind of like life starts again once they come home.

Cooper, 2010

In 2008, Jason was eligible for shore duty, and we moved to Charleston, SC. He was stationed the Naval Weapons Station Charleston as an Instructor. This was quite an adjustment – our entire married life thus far had been patrol/refit/off crew/repeat and now he was home at the same time each and every night. We finally felt settled enough to have Cooper, and that decision is what led to Jason separating from the Navy in 2011. At this point he had served for 10 years, and he wanted to be able to raise his children without the fear of being deployed and missing major milestones. The military life was all either of us had known in our married life, but I supported his decision.

Sullivan, 2013

We moved to Augusta, GA in 2013 and Jason began working for Southern Company at Plant Votgle. He missed the military. That desire to serve just wouldn’t go away. In December of 2013 he enlisted in the Navy Reserves.

The commitment to the Navy Reserve is for (at minimum) one drill weekend per month (Saturday/Sunday) and two weeks of Annual Training. There is, of course, always the possibility he could be called up for a deployment.

November 2017

Jason separated from the Navy as a 1st Class Petty Officer (E6) and in September of 2017, he was pinned as a Chief Petty Officer (E7).

September 2017

I truly am so thankful and grateful for my husband, who sets such an amazing example of true patriotism and service for our children. Thank you to ALL our Veterans for your service, and a special thank you to all the loved ones and family members who make their service possible. Happy Veteran’s Day!

Life Lately – September Edition!

I’m not sure about you guys, but I feel like we go through periods were life is calm, comfortable, predictable even and then BAM! Something happens and all of a sudden I am part of the crazy train. That’s how it has been since August for us. Our summer was slow and easy and then all of a sudden August hit and I felt like I was on a roller coaster and I couldn’t get off. Jason was out of town, then he was participating in Chief season, then he rolled right into 3rd shift schedule/6 days a week for work. In the meantime, we had several birthdays: my mom’s, Poppy’s, Jason’s, and Sullivan’s. I started teaching a 9 week bible study at church, my volunteer service to LILY Moms (formerly MOPS) started in September, Bible Study Fellowship began, and we were finishing up a season of sports for Sullivan. We started some diagnostic testing for Cooper, and that ran throughout August and September. It was a busy time, and since Jason was working such odd hours, I felt as if I was handling it all on my own. I’m SO glad things are finally starting to get back to normal.

That brings up to a little Life Lately: September Edition! (I’m throwing in a little bit of October, too, since I’m planning a Halloween specific recap for later this week.) I want to do a better job of documenting my life, and I think (hope) that it gives you a glimpse into who we are as a family and what we’ve been up to. Fair warning: this is a picture heavy post.

First up, this big girl. I feel as if I blinked and all of a sudden she’s a preschooler. Seriously, I dressed her one Sunday for church and as I took this picture I said – WHEN did you get so big? Where does the time go? I’m having such a hard time with her growing up because she is 100% our last baby.

Sullivan’s birthday was September 4th, which fell on Labor Day. He is still Mickey Mouse obsessed (I think I’ve used these decorations for 3 years now). We started off the day with a doughnut breakfast, had a full day of playing, and then finished off the day with a big old chocolate cake. I go big for a lot of things, but I let the kids’ birthdays be pretty low-key. We either have family over for dinner or we go out to eat, we do something fun of the birthday child’s choice, and we have cake and presents. Easy peasy! I have great memories of my Aunt Beth and the way she celebrated her children’s birthdays – she always had the family over, made a homemade cake, and it was a special celebration. Years later I remember the time we spent together, not the gifts that were given, and that’s what I want to pass on to my kids.

I’ve been a part of a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group for 3 years now. I’ve been part of the Leadership Team for 2 of those years. This year we cut our ties with MOPS and re-branded/renamed ourselves LILY Moms (Life in the Little Years). I am volunteering as Social Media Facilitator and I am also a Table Leader. I feel so passionately about supporting and empowering women, particularly those in this chaotic and crazy stage of life, so LILY Moms is a great fit for me.

Before our first meeting in September, we joined all our friends for an introductory play date and popsicles in the park.

On September 15, we finally reached the end of Chief Season and Jason was pinned! I talked a little about this journey in my August recap, but this is the culmination of years of hard work and a grueling 6 week initiation period. Cooper and I pinned on Jason’s anchors – SUCH a proud moment. I have this hope that one day the roles will reserve and Jason can do the same for Cooper.

We got a lot of laughs that day – I was consumed with pinning Jason’s anchors in the right spot, but apparently Poppy and Sullivan were being little hams to the audience.

Photo Credit: Joey Workman Photography

Jason went straight from Chief Season and pinning into an outage schedule at the plant. During an outage, he works 12 hour shifts 6 days a week, and his assigned shift was 6pm – 6am. He’d leave for work around 4:30pm (it’s an hour commute each way), work until 6:00am, come home around 7:00ish, eat, sleep until 3:30pm, and then start it all over again. We were like ships passing in the night but the great thing about the outage is that it doesn’t last forever. You can do anything for a little while, right?

This all sounds pretty positive, I know, but the reality is that I was worn down. Jason was gone for 2 weeks in early August for Navy training. He came back and went straight into Chief Season, which meant he worked his regular 9-5 and spent his evenings training and doing projects. We never saw him, at all, and then as soon as that was done he went into 4 weeks of outage in which we only saw him once a week. It was hard. I was stressed. I didn’t always handle things correctly or well, but on the plus side, all the one on one time with my kids is truly special, and Jason and I always do have a greater appreciation of one another during these times.

Even if I did want to run away the minute he returned to a his normal work schedule. HA!

It was during this time that the kids begged to go to Target to try on Halloween costumes. Sure, I said. Can we be food for Halloween? Why not, I said. I was obviously worn down and tired at this point. LOL.

Jason was working so much that he missed most of the start of the college football season. Poppy had to put on her cheerleader uniform to cheer on the Gamecocks and we sent it to Daddy since he was working. Daddy responded with a big “NO BELLY SHIRTS” rule. Poor PG. If he’s already worried about her clothing at 2 years old, her future fashion choices are looking pretty restricted.

Jason’s work was absolutely fantastic during Chief Season. They allowed him to flex his schedule, and his co-workers covered for him during outage so we could go celebrate at the Khaki Ball. I talked a little about my outfit HERE.

It was a fun night but I was unprepared for the fact that they would call the new Chiefs up to dance with their spouses in front of the crowd. Jason and I are NOT dancers. At all. I have zero rhythm and I can count on one hand the number of times we have danced as a couple. It’s just not our thing, and it isn’t like we lead a lifestyle of going to “da club” or balls, you know? So when they called us out onto the dance floor I was like — Where do my arms go? Do I loop them around your neck like I did at the 7th grade dance? Do I put one arm around your neck and hold your other hand? Are we swaying awkwardly? PLEASE GOD LET THIS SONG END.

It was terrible. We were surrounded by people with far more talent and rhythm, scooting and swaying and practically doing the dang waltz. Still, we persevered.

We just didn’t look good during the persevering.

Cooper’s school had a Fall Festival, and I rallied to take the kids. They had a Scholastic book fair at the same time so they all got to pick out a few books. Cooper has developed a new love of reading and is working his way through the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Do y’all have any other series recommendations that are not scary or supernatural? I went to the bookstore a few weeks back and the pickings were slim. Everything was either Goosebumps or vampires.

The kids all had a dentist appointment in September. This was Poppy’s first appointment. Cooper had his first cavity. BOO. Apparently it isn’t a brushing issue but the enamel didn’t form properly on his molars, and the tooth is soft and weak.

Once the outage was over, we headed to Charleston for a quick getaway. This is when we brought Saylor home!

Saylor update: she is doing SO well! She’s gained almost a pound and is eating and drinking normally. We went back to the vet last week and she had a wonderful check up. He said he would consider her fully recovered! Now that her sickness is behind us, I have to get down to business trying to potty and crate training her.

It is not going well.

We had our family pictures in October. The last time we had pictures made of the kids, Poppy was about 7 months old. We haven’t had family pictures done since I was pregnant with Poppy. I wish I had a better excuse, but I just haven’t wanted to be in pictures lately. I don’t love the way I look and the idea of capturing my flaws for years just was the last thing I wanted to do. I do know it is important, which is why we finally had them done, but being real – I would honestly just prefer not to be in the pictures at this point.

(Which if you are reading this you are probably thinking — but she takes selfies! And outfit photos! Somehow in my head it is different. My kids won’t be looking at my selfies in 25 years, but they will look at our family pictures. Does that make sense?)

I also signed up to participate in a Jesse Tree Advent ornament exchange with some ladies at church. This is the devotional we will be using. Let me know if you want more information on how this works!

Whew, if you’ve made it through this whole post thanks for reading.

I want to know – what has your family been up to lately?

Five on Friday Halloween Edition!

Today I’m joining in for Five on Friday! Lots of random but fun things. Make sure you pop in on Christina and April if you want to partake of the fun.

ONE / Oh, the annual visit to the pumpkin patch. I look forward to these pictures all year. Cute, coordinated outfits, beautiful backdrops, sibling love….

And this is what you end up with. My children act as if the light of the sun scorches their eyeballs every single time we step foot outside. Poppy wouldn’t look, Cooper whined about how bright the sun was, and Sullivan just wasn’t happy with the world that day.

The pumpkin patch had this area set up so you could take photos – I have to admit to being a smidge irritated that this lady in the background would NOT move out of the frame. We stood there for awhile waiting for her to move, and she wasn’t budging, so every shot has her in the background. None of them were good anyway, so I guess it doesn’t matter, but… girl. Move your hiney when you see people using the designated spot for photos.

Rant over.

TWO / We were booed!

Our neighborhood isn’t the best at this sort of thing. I’m not sure why, so basically me and my neighbor just gift each other back and forth for every holiday. I have amazing neighbors, that’s for sure, but I wish my entire subdivision was more child friendly. (We actually have a house in the neighborhood who puts up signs on Halloween night saying no one is allowed to step on their lawn. Yep.)  I tried to boo all my surrounding neighbors the first year we lived here and it never went any further. Whomp whomp…

You can’t see them, but my neighbor included two boxes of Duncan Hines mug cake mix. For sure going to tear into that tonight!

THREE / Thoughts? For me it is that weird taffy-ish candy that comes in the orange, black, and tan wrappers. Tootsie Rolls and Sugar Daddies come in a close second.

Speaking of, are you a “buy really nice, brand name candy” person (Snickers, etc) or are you a “buy the cheap candy” person? I fall somewhere in the middle. I buy good candy and then I pad it out with Dum Dums and bubble gum. NO SHAME.

 

FOUR / Finally got myself together to have our annual Boo to You Halloween Dinner. We had mummy dogs, zombie brains, and some pumpkin shaped pasta with sauce. We did manage to carve our pumpkins but that Halloween house kit is still sitting in the box.

This is random but we call it Boo to You Halloween Dinner because years ago the Disney channel had a song that played all throughout October that went  – “ghosts and goblins, vampire bats, witches in their pointy hats, something something something something the best you’ve ever seen! Boo to You Halloween!”

No one remembers? Just me? Ok then.

FIVE / I am SUPER excited that Instagram live just released an Instastories update that allows you to go live with another person! Patricia is a long time friend of mine and we share a love of all things beauty. She is a professional makeup artist, Rodan & Fields representative, and she blogs over at Jacksonville Moms Blog. We are going to do an Instagram Live together next Thursday, November 2nd, at 10:00 a.m. Please tune in!

That’s all I’ve got for today! What’s plans do you have this weekend?

Meet Saylor!

I mentioned in Monday’s post that we got a new dog, and I wanted to introduce her to my Tickled Peach family!

Meet Saylor! She is a miniature dachshund. She weighs 2.2 pounds currently and shouldn’t grow to weigh more than 10 pounds.

So some backstory: Jason and I adopted two precious chihuahuas early on in our marriage, George and JC. George and JC were my children long before I had children (we had them for 6 years before our first child arrived). They were our hearts, and loved dearly. They remained with us from 2004 until 2013, when they went to live with a family member. Long story short: as George aged, he became intolerant of the children. Even though we tried every single thing we could do to both train him and the kids, separate him and the kids, protect everyone involved… he began to attack the kids when they would try to interact with him. After a particularly scary incident where he bit Sullivan’s face when Sullivan was doing nothing more than crawling around the floor near him (Sullivan was at the time around 1 year old), Jason told me that he felt it would be best if we sent them to live with a family member, whom they knew and loved. It was such a heart wrenching decision for me because I had never been without them in our married life. I got George when Jason deployed for the first time and well… it was hard. Very hard. I know there are lots of thoughts and opinions about re-homing dogs, but I hope you know as I write this that: a. I’m being authentic, honest, and vulnerable and b. I did not make the decision to re-home them lightly, and I would not have ever done it had we not had a family member they were familiar with to care for them and love them.

Anyway. George passed away this summer. He was 13 years old. JC is doing well, but he does have some health concerns.

Cooper has been asking for a dog for years. I’ve always said no, because I miss my chihuahuas desperately and couldn’t imagine (in my mind) replacing them. Lately he’s been begging, making promises, bargaining with me to “please mom, please let me get a dog. I’ll be the best boy ever. I’ll take care of the dog! I’ll do my chores!” He’s worn me down, ha! I started to discuss it with Jason in July, and we thought it would make a good Christmas present. We knew we wanted a small dog, preferably a puppy, maybe a Chihuahua again. I started to look at breeder websites, Puppy Finder, and our local shelter’s website, but I couldn’t find anything that met all our criteria that was available. I started to get really discouraged.

Fast forward to two weekends ago. We headed to Charleston for a little getaway, and we drove around town looking at all our old haunts from when we were stationed there in 2001-2003 and 2008-2011. We drove to Summerville, and pulled into a gas station to get gas. Off to the side, a woman had a booth set up with puppies. (Jason tried to swing out of the parking lot when I squealed “PUPPIES!”) Jason got gas, and I wondered over to talk to the lady. She had several puppies, and I asked her some questions and talked to her about our desire to get a dog for our children. She ended up giving us her address (she lived about 45 minutes away) and inviting us to come by the next day.

So we did. I saw her home, which was clean and in good repair. Nothing about her home indicated “puppy mill.” She had records of the dog’s shots, plenty of information about their history (eating patterns, etc), and the puppies themselves seemed very healthy and happy.

One puppy in particular stood out to us – a mini dachshund that we brought home. We talked about names on the way home to Augusta and settled on Saylor, because Jason is a Sailor and it seemed fitting that we give her a nautical name after visiting Charleston, the place we were stationed for so many years.

Our first two days were normal, or so I thought. Saylor didn’t eat well, but I assumed that was because she was adjusting to a new home and owners. The kids have very quickly gotten attached to her, and she has become my shadow. We are in love.

On Tuesday I noticed she seemed less energetic, and I started to monitor her. She had some mucous-y diarrhea, so I called the vet for an appointment. They couldn’t get me in until Thursday, but they told me to watch for a refusal to eat, vomiting, or blood in her stools. On Tuesday evening I slept with her on my chest because she was acting so pitiful. On Wednesday, she hadn’t improved, so I called the vet and asked to bring her in immediately.

Well… she tested positive for both parvo and giardia. Both are internal parasites and both can be deadly. Parvo in particular is very nasty and is spread easily (to dogs, not humans). The vet told me at the time he was most concerned about the giardia because the parvo positive was a “weak positive” which he said can happen sometimes when you recently are exposed or receive shots. That day we did IV fluids, he gave her a B12 shot to stimulate her appetite, and he also gave her an anti-nausea shot to help her keep down her food and water. He sent me home with a high calorie canned food and a syringe, giving me the instructions to feed her and give her water every 2 hours. I also had a 14 day supply of antibiotics that I had to give her 2x a day.

I’m not going to lie; I was scared. I knew parvo could be bad, but I freaked myself out when I asked for advice on social media. I got a lot of “she should be under continuous vet care” and “this is what you get when you buy from a puppy mill.” Google did not reassure me, but I was committed to doing whatever I could to get her healthy.

So I did. I gave her food and water from a syringe every 2 hours, even during the night. I did that for two days, until mid-day on the second day when she approached her bowl and started to eat on her own. That’s when I cried.

The vet called me the next day to check on her, and when I told him she had started to eat, he said that he couldn’t believe it. He really felt like she might not make it. He said it was a positive sign that she was eating and that it could point towards her pulling through this.

She’s continued to improve! Her appetite has improved, she’s eating on her own, she is running and playing and using the bathroom normally. We are finally starting to see her real personality, and she is quite the energetic and mischievous girl.

I took her back to the vet on Thursday afternoon, and the whole staff just couldn’t believe how much she has improved. I am SO thankful. I prayed desperately for her to get better. Not only am I attached, but my kids and Jason are as well. She’s already a member of our family.

Before I continue on with this story, I do want to say – I know people have strong thoughts about “adopt, don’t shop.” I completely respect your opinion if that is how you feel. I can understand where someone might feel frustrated or disappointed that we didn’t go through a shelter to find a dog. However, I don’t regret for a minute getting her the way we did. It’s clear she came to us with both giardi and parvo. In both cases, you show symptoms 7-10 days after exposure, so considering she got sick 2 days after we brought her home, she was sold to us having already contracted the virus. I feel 100% certain (based on the breeder’s reaction) that had we not brought her home, she wouldn’t have gotten treatment and she would have died. I believe she’s alive and well now because we got her, and I can’t regret that for a minute.

Moving on… the vet recommended that we call the breeder immediately to tell her what had happened. I was not looking forward to this conversation and had decided to pawn it off on Jason. I was upset and angry, and when I get upset with someone, I tend to ruin the conversation by crying. However, I ended up making the phone call. I was really polite and respectful because even if I suspect she came to us sick, I cannot prove it, and I didn’t want to blame her for something I have no solid proof of (although some would argue Saylor being sick is proof, I know). I just never want to think the worst of people, and I didn’t want to believe she knew. The breeder immediately started arguing with me, telling me the vet was wrong and that it wasn’t possible for her to have parvo because none of her other puppies were sick. She said she had never heard of giardia and told me “well, if she dies, you let me know and I’ll give you your money back.” I calmly let her know that wasn’t why I was calling. We intended to treat Saylor and prayed she would pull through.  I ended up cutting off the conversation because it had become unproductive.

Anyway… we took the best care of Saylor that we could and she had vastly improved by Friday. On Friday we were sitting on the couch, watching TV, and someone called Jason. He got up and walked into the other room to have the conversation.

Apparently the caller was the breeder. She called to say she still didn’t believe Saylor had parvo or “that giardia mess” but that she had found MICE in her puppy food so maybe that was why she was sick.

MICE DROPPINGS.

IN THE PUPPY FOOD.

Sigh. Sadly there is no one I can report her to because South Carolina does not have laws for breeders. They do not have to have licenses and they aren’t accountable to a set agency.

So I’ll say again – I’m glad we got her because in our home, she is now healthy and safe. And I can’t and won’t regret that, regardless of how she came to be here.

Again, I know this is a hot topic, and I hope my heart comes across in this post. I fully respect anyone’s decisions regarding their pets, and Jason and I donate to our local shelter. It just didn’t happen to work out that we found a pet that would work for us there. But again, I don’t regret how we got Saylor at all. We may have very well saved her life.

I also know you may read this and think “why would she blog about this? Why not just not disclose it?” Well, Tickled Peach is about being authentic and Saylor is a part of our life. Her story is part of our story, and I’m not going to hide details because I am worried about what people will think of me. I hope you all see my heart and know my intentions.

Tell me – do you have pets? How many and what kind? I’d love to hear from you! Also, if you have potty training or crate training tips, send them my way!

Weekend Recap

Hey friends! How are you? This weekend has been absolutely uneventful. Poppy has had a low grade fever that started on Saturday, and Jason had drill, so it has been very low key and restful. Last weekend was chock full of exciting events so I thought I would do a (last) weekend recap.

As I said last week, we jumped at the chance to go to Charleston last weekend. Jason was able to scoot out of work early and we left Augusta around 2:00 and arrived in Charleston around 5:30 (you know you always have multiple stops with kids!).

We dropped our things off at the hotel and Jason decided it was his turn to make the “what should we eat? where should we go?” calls. Since I’m normally the one making those demands decisions, I was happy to acquiesce. He decided we should head to the Cooper River Bridge – just under the bridge is the Mount Pleasant pier, which is a wonderful place to spend a few hours.

Of course we had to let Cooper take a picture with this sign – we did name him after the Cooper River, after all.

If you’ve never been, please try to stop by on your next visit to Charleston. The views are absolutely breathtaking. Just before the pier, there is a grassy area with benches and swings that overlooks the marsh. It would be the perfect spot for a romantic picnic! The pier itself also has swings, benches, a cafe, and a gift shop. If you like to fish but don’t have a boat, this is a great spot, and they sell bait at the gift shop. Our kids love the Mount Pleasant Pier because it has a great playground. It’s a wonderful spot that is FREE which y’all all know is nice when you are traveling with your children. 

Our next stop was a Mount Pleasant restaurant, Crave, which we had stumbled upon once before during a trip in 2016.

Crave would be a great spot for a Girl’s Night Out or a romantic date with your spouse (it’s a tad fancy) but they’ve also been really kind to us both times we have visited with our children. They boast of having the best macaroni and cheese in Charleston and it is TRUE. Holy cow, it is amazing. This visit we got – you guessed it – macaroni and cheese (as an entree, no shame) and a fried chicken sandwich that Jason and I shared. The fried chicken sandwich came with pimento cheese and a pecan mayo that was out of this world. It was served with sweet potatoes fries and between that and the macaroni and cheese, everyone was stuffed. The kids gorged themselves on their bread basket, which contains bread and muffins, and whipped butter which I was told is a secret recipe of their chef. It’s honey-ish and cinnamon-y and Sullivan literally licked the bowl before I took it away from him.

Fantastic choices, Jason!

I’m always worried about sleeping arrangements during hotel stays. You know, you just never know how your kids will do, and if they cry, what the heck do you do with them? We’ve spent many a night just walking around hotel halls with our kids in strollers to try and get them to go back to sleep. I’m happy to report the kids slept wonderfully, even if I did wake up at several points with Sullivan literally laying across my face. #bedhog

The next morning was rainy and grey so we scrapped our plans of heading downtown. I always love a stroll around the market and window shopping on King Street, but it sounded miserable in the rain. After grabbing breakfast we decided to go on a throwback tour and visit some of our old haunts.

Jason and I met when he was attending nuclear power school in Charleston and was living in the barracks on Naval Weapons Station Charleston. I was living downtown, on Calhoun Street, managing a residence hall and attending graduate school at the College of Charleston. We visited our first apartment in North Charleston and even drove by the site of our first meeting – Barnes and Noble in North Charleston. We drove to our house in Moncks Corner (which we still own and rent) and drove through the town to reacquaint ourselves. We eventually headed to Summerville, which was mostly where we shopped and ate when we lived in Moncks Corner almost 10 (!) years ago.

After we drove around Summerville, we headed to Sullivan’s Island (can you sense a theme with our children’s names?) so we could walk around the beach.

Except I did not plan ahead and bring bathing suits (boo)… but in the spirit of spontaneity I let the kids wade in the water in their clothes. We saw tons of hermit crabs and our toes were sandy… signs of a great trip to the beach.

At this point, it was 5:00 and I had soaking wet kids, so we headed back to the hotel to shower and change. We were hungry and tired and wanted something to eat quickly, so we ended up at Manny’s Mediterranean Cafe for dinner.

I mean, you could pretty much tell me any restaurant has gyros and I’m there. They had a Greek nachos appetizer that even my kids devoured! It had fried pita chips, chicken, this whipped tzatiki sauce… holy cow it was good.

On Sunday we packed up, ate breakfast, and headed out early because we were on our way to pick up a little surprise for the kids…

Meet Saylor! She’s a mini dauschund and she has every one of us wrapped around her sweet little paws. More on Saylor later this week!

What have y’all been up to lately?

August Review

Today I’m linking up with Momfessionals for Friday Favorites! I know we are nearing the end of September, but being the procrastinator that I am, I wanted to do an August review. Our August was busy and packed, full of fun and exciting things!

We started off August by prepping for back to school. Here in Augusta, school starts at the beginning of August. On August 3rd, we had Open House and got to meet Cooper’s second grade teacher.

August 3rd was also the day we found out that Jason made Chief! As I mentioned earlier this week, Jason is in the Navy Reserve. He’s submitted a packet to the board for the past three years, and this was the year he was selected! We were all so proud and thankful. We have been praying for this and I know Jason would tell you it was an incredible feeling to get that phone call and know his prayer had been answered. It’s incredibly hard to make Chief in the Navy Reserves, particularly for his rate. I had no idea what that meant at the time – we were just excited for the promotion. Little did I know that only meant he was Selected… and the next 6 weeks would determine if he would actually be accepted and pinned.

We found out Jason made Chief on Thursday, and that following Saturday he flew to Maine for his Annual Training (AT). As a Reservist, he must complete at least two weeks of AT per year. Here he is with the kids about to fly out (and away! from all parenting responsibilities!) for two weeks.

We had plenty of things to keep us busy in the meantime. That Sunday was Promotion Sunday at church. This is when the kids move into their new Sunday School classes for the year. Cooper moved into the second grade class, Sullivan moved into the 3’s (his birthday is just after the school cut off, meaning he is always the oldest in the class), and Poppy Grace moved into the 2’s class.

I came home that day and as the kids napped, I prepped for our Back to School Dinner. This is an annual tradition for us. I like to decorate the kitchen and Cooper gets to pick what we eat for dinner. This year he picked salisbury steak and mashed potatoes.

This was my big boy on the first day of school! He looks so big. I can’t get over how tall he has gotten or the fact that at some point I blinked and he became a teenager.

I had to hustle that night and switch out the decorations because Poppy Grace’s second birthday was August 8th! I picked up a Publix cake and some Trolls decorations and we had a great celebration at home.

I tried to get Sister to dress to match her birthday theme… but she was NOT having it. She’s become very particular about clothing and apparently this dress was not comfortable.

This was a really packed week. On Wednesday, I taught the first session of a fall women’s bible study at church. I am co-leading with  another wonderful woman, and we are doing Listen Love Repeat by Karen Ehman. (not an affiliate link)

Sullivan has been enjoying a late summer season of t-ball. One of our local churches does an indoor t-ball league for kids 3-5 years old. It is absolute chaos but it is so fun to watch the younger kids be introduced to the game.

Cooper and Jason both got baptized in late August, and on August 13 we had a picnic at the baptism site to introduce the younger children to what and where it would happen. Our church is one of the oldest churches in Georgia, and we have our baptisms at the original church site, in a baptismal pool that is fed by a creek on the property. 100 years worth of church members have been baptized in this same spot. It’s full of tradition and reverence and I’m so thankful Cooper and Jason both were baptized here.

Poppy enjoyed both the cupcakes and blowing at the “iders” (spiders, her new obsession).

This pretty much sums up how my life was when Jason was gone. Everyone was fighting, someone was yelling, and at least one person was always crying. FUN TIMES.

Jason finally made it back home, just in time for me to participate in our LILY Moms retreat at church. Our church has hosted a MOPS program for the past two years, and this year we decided to break our association with MOPS and make the program our own. I am serving on the leadership team for the second year. This year I am Social Media Facilitator and a Table Leader.

This was another packed weekend. I had LILY Moms training on Friday night (thanks Mom for watching the kids!). On Saturday I had a full day of training, and Sullivan had a t-ball game. Jason’s plane was supposed to land on Friday, so he could handle the kids on Saturday, but his flight was cancelled. Thankfully, my mom stepped in and handled the t-ball game and picked Jason up at the airport so that I could attend the training.

Sunday evening was so special – our entire church gathered together to observe about 20 members be baptized. I am so grateful that Jason was willing to be baptized, and it is so very special that he and Cooper were baptized on the same day.

Jason grew up in the Catholic church. While he was saved as a child, he was never baptized fully submerged, which is what our church observes.

Here’s where the month got even more crazy. I had no idea how time intensive Chief season really would be. I think I just thought it would be like any other promotion, but the Selectees had to work hard to be accepted by the Chief’s mess. We didn’t see a lot of Jason from here until mid-September. He would work his regular job, leaving as early as 4:30 and working an 8 hour day. Then he would come home, change, and immediately either go to training, go to someone’s house to work on a project, do PT… it was a busy time. We really only saw each other in passing and what phone calls we could sneak during the day, and there were many days the kids didn’t get to see him at all, because they were in bed before he made it home. It was all worth it in the end… but I’m not going to say it wasn’t hard.

On August 27, we had the our Women’s Ministry Kickoff Dinner at church. We have table hostesses, and each hostess decorated a table to the theme of her choosing. My friend Wendy and I decorated a fall table and it turned out so cute! We used Wendy’s blanket scarf as a tablecloth, and Wendy’s husband cut and sanded blocks that we wrote bible verses on as gifts.

Our speaker that night was Karen Ehman, who is the author of the bible study I am co-leading. It was such an honor to meet her and I may have slightly gushed and asked her to sign my study.

That was August! Super busy, super chaotic, but that’s pretty much life these days.

Meet My Family!

I’ve been blogging for a long time. I started my first blog in 2008 with My Chihuahua Bites. Blogging was creative outfit; it was an opportunity to connect and establish friendships with people all over the country – in some cases all over the world! I’ve always had a passion for writing and I love to share my life and learn from others. I love the community of women I’ve “met” throughout the years. Although blogging has changed, our relationships have not. Women who first read My Chihuahua Bites migrated to Twitter, then to Instagram, and hopefully now you are back here at Tickled Peach. To those old friends – thank you. Thank you for supporting me through the birth of three children, through countless military moves, through job changes and promotions, and through my depression and anxiety. We may have never hugged each other’s necks, but you are important to me. You are a part of my story.

If you are new here, I hope you will become a part of this community. I’m passionate about women supporting other women. Being a mom is hard. Raising tiny humans is HARD. My mom is fond of saying “it takes a village to raise a child.” In her days of raising babies, that meant her extended family – her grandparents, her parents, her siblings, and her friends. Now, for me, it means my community – the community outside my door and the community of friends I’ve met online. I really hope you will become part of that community!

So without further adieu… Meet my family!

Hello, friends, new and old. I’m Andrea. I’m 38 years old and I am a mom of three. In my professional life, I was a social worker who worked primarily with foster children and adults with special needs. I was a working mom until I had my second child, and I have been staying at home with my children for the past 4 years. I do have a Bachelor of Social Work degree, and I have two years of course work towards a Master of Arts in Teaching. I’m also a trained Mediator, specializing in Parent/Youth mediation, Peer Mediation, and Victim/Offender mediation. (That felt like a resume – but I’m always curious about what SAHMs did prior to staying at home, so I figured you might be, too.)

I am a South Carolina native turned Georgia girl. I grew in North Augusta, SC and attended Winthrop University for my undergraduate degree. I attended graduate school at the College of Charleston, and that is where I met my husband (also the reason I never finished that degree, ha!). I traveled around a good bit in the early years of my marriage as a military wife, but we returned to the area in 2011 and settled in Augusta, Georgia just 25 minutes from where I grew up. I still catch myself saying I am a Palmetto Girl, but I guess in reality I am now a Georgia Peach.

My faith is very important to me, and it is something you will hear me talk about a lot on this blog. I was saved when I was in the 6th grade, and I have identified myself as Christian throughout the years, but it is only within the past two years that I would say my faith has truly rooted and grown. Last January, one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to grow as a Christian, and in the past year I have seen God do extraordinary things in our lives. I completed my first year of BSF, which truly changed my perspective about studying the Bible (and what I learned in BSF is a large part of why I’m writing this blog!). My family joined a church. I am serving on the leadership team of LILY Moms (formerly MOPS). I shared my testimony of overcoming depression in front of a large group – something I can honestly say I never thought I would do. My oldest son was saved, and he and my husband were baptized. I am co-leading a bible study at church this fall. SO MUCH GOOD STUFF! I will never claim to be an theological expert, but I am a woman who loves Jesus, and I hope you will see that through my blog.

I’m not really sure what free time is anymore, but on the rare occasion I have it, I like to read and take bubble baths. I love everything beauty related, so you’ll hear me talk about skincare and makeup quite often. In another lifetime I think I would have trained as a makeup artist. I am certainly no professional, although my vanity may tell you otherwise. I wouldn’t really say I’m a fashionista either, but I do enjoy putting together cute outfits. Plus size shopping can be hard, and I love sharing my fashion finds!

Meet Jason! Jason and I met when I was in graduate school at the College of Charleston. He was also in Charleston attending Navy schools and believe it or not – we met online. IN A CHAT ROOM. I feel ancient saying that, because chat rooms no longer exist, but the truth is we met online way before meeting online was cool. Ha!

Jason is a two years younger than me, so I guess that makes me a cougar. He’s originally from Illinois, but I’ve converted this Yankee to a Southerner. He likes to say he now has an accent… he does not.

Jason was active duty for 10 years as a Navy Submariner. We made the decision to separate from the Navy in 2011, but he still wanted to serve his country, so he entered the Navy Reserves 6 months later. He has been in the Navy for a total of 16 years and he just made Chief Petty Officer this past month. We are so proud of our CPO! Jason’s “regular” job is at a nuclear power plant.

Jason works really long hours and has a 2 hour daily commute, so he doesn’t have much free time either. But when he does have free time, he loves watching SEC football and playing fantasy football. He loves politics, and if he had his way our television would be permanently affixed to a news channel. He’s recently started attending local political meetings and volunteering for campaigns.

These are my babies. Cooper is 7 years old, and he is in the second grade. He loves Legos, Super Mario Brothers, and he recently started taking archery lessons. He thankfully has inherited his dad’s mathematical ability and lately has been sharing my love of reading. Cooper and I have a special bond, partly I think due to his medical diagnosis (which you’ll read about more later) and due to the fact that he just loves his Mama. Cooper is my child who loves to cuddle (not so much as he has gotten older… TEAR) and he is always very quick to say “I love you.”

Sullivan just turned 4, and he is our joker. He always has an infectious smile and is quick to make you laugh. He is the most athletic of our bunch. We just finished up a season of t ball and we are looking forward to playing again in the spring! Sullivan is my rule breaker… he’s definitely the child who has tested the limits the most. (Case in point: the paint I just found on my living room rug and the 4 year old that had green palms.)

Poppy Grace is our baby. She turned 2 in August, and she runs this house. She has had her brothers wrapped around her fingers since the day she was born, and they are quick to comfort her when she is upset. Poppy Grace loves playing kitchen and taking care of her baby dolls. She is fiercely independent and does things in her own time. We’re starting to get into battles over clothing – I can tell the coming years are going to be fun! She and Sullivan are the best of friends and the biggest troublemakers together.

I am so very thankful for this family of mine. God has blessed me beyond measure, and I’m so thankful to my husband for his hard work, which allows me to stay at home. If I had to describe our lives in two words, they would definitely be chaos and joy. It’s always loud, crazy, and messy around here but being a mom and wife has refined me and brought me unspeakable joy. I wouldn’t change a thing about our lives!

I would love to hear from you in the comments! Please tell me where you are from and a little bit about your family!

Lately

Happy Monday, friends! I’m sorry for my unexpected absence of late. I’ve had a horrid cough I just can’t get rid of.

First off, I want to announce the winner of the Wiggle Worms Boutique giveaway! Thank you so much to Sarah for hosting. Ellen Bowles Fortier, you are the winner of a $50 credit to Wiggle Worms Boutique!

So, what have we been up to lately? Well, to be honest, it’s been a rough couple of weeks. I feel like I’m downplaying it by saying rough – brutal would be better – but I really don’t want to focus on that. Yes, we’re going through one of those “if it can possibly happen, it will, and all in a matter of weeks” but I’m confident that like anything else… this too shall pass. Hopefully soon.

In the midst of storms there are always rainbows, right? I am trying to focus on those.

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Jason and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary on July 26th. Eleven years! It’s strange to look back and think about the young, clueless kids we were when we got married. I’m lucky to have this supportive, hardworking man in my life.

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Sullivan is into everything. Everything! He’s a path of destruction that follows me around the house, undoing anything I dare to put away or clean. I really don’t remember Cooper being this way. I told Jason the other day that I quite literally spend the majority of my day picking up the messes that he makes.

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It’s been a crazy busy summer. I was worried about how we’d fill our time once school got out, but we have been running around all summer! Cooper has had swim lessons once a week, and he’s taking indoor t-ball (best thing ever in the hot Georgia summer)!

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We’ve also stayed busy by hanging out with friends from Moms Club of Grovetown. Last week we went pony riding and toured the stables the ponies live in!

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I love that my boys are becoming friends and are learning to play together.

What have you been up to lately?

 

Lately

Lately….

(Both the title of this post and a rather awesome slow Jodeci slow jam from my high school days…)

I’ve found it quite hard to get back in the swing of things lately. I’ve just been off and not myself. It’s a little PPD, a little of the summer doldrums, and a lot of loss.

On August 11th my grandmother went into the hospital for what we thought was a routine procedure. She’d been having shortness of breath and chest pains so her cardiologist wanted to perform a cardiac catheterization. Basically, it is procedure where they shoot dye into your arteries to see if there are any blockages. My mom called me around 10:00 a.m. to say one artery was 98% blocked and they had to do immediate open heart surgery. One oh-so-helpful hospital aide actually said to my mom “I can’t believe she hasn’t died in her sleep!” Thanks for that visual, dude.

She made it through surgery and we expected a long, tough recovery. I went to see her that night and the following days. While she was definitely not herself and was in quite a lot of pain and a little loopy, I was still able to talk to her and tell her I loved her.

The following Monday, she started hallucinating, seeing and talking to family members who had passed away. She wouldn’t sleep and my mom, who was staying with her in ICU, reported she was extremely agitated. She finally fell asleep after being up about 24 hours early Tuesday morning. She never woke up again.

When she couldn’t be roused a CT scan was ordered and was performed Wednesday. The news was not good, but they wanted us to wait and consult with a neurologist before making any decisions or really making a ruling on her condition. I took the kids up to the hospital on Wednesday afternoon and waited on the neurologist to arrive.

The neurologist came late that afternoon, around 6pm, and spoke to my mom, aunt, and grandfather privately. My mom called us all back into a private room shortly after to share the news – my grandmother had had a major stroke and was, for all intents and purpose, brain dead. She would not wake up and was expected to live just a few days.

That was hard. I mean, of course it was hard but it was even harder because it was so unexpected. I kept thinking – you’re kidding me, right? Of all surviving three grandparents, my Mama Betty seemed to be in the best of health. She’d been walking around, shopping it up, just two weeks prior. She’d survived open heart surgery and the insertion of a pacemaker just to die of a stroke?

But our plans are not God’s plan – I know that.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks, for sure. It’s hard to lose a grandparent. It’s hard to see your grandfather and mother grieve. Loss of any type is hard. I know my Mama Betty, had she been able to talk to us, would have said she was excited to go to Heaven. I know she’s not in pain and she’s rejoicing and celebrating with our other family members.

Death isn’t hard on the one who dies; it is hard on the ones that are left behind.

I keep thinking of all these things I wish I had asked her. You always think you will have more time, and even though I am sure most of us say that we live by a “seize the day!” attitude, do we? Do we really? There are so many things I want to know. What it was like being a working woman in the 1940’s? How did she live on her salary of $10 a week? What was it like to get married at 16? What are her secrets to a successful 64 year marriage?

I never asked, because I thought I had time.

Friends, do you have time? Do any of us? You just never know. Ask your questions now. Let your loved ones know your feelings. Hug them tight.

You just never know.