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!

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!

Cast Your Net

I can clearly remember a conversation that I had with my husband in 2014. It was one of our “checking in” conversations – we have these periodically just to discuss how we’re feeling, any goals we want to accomplish, or things that we weighing heavy on our hearts and/or minds.

“I feel like I should be doing something more.”

At the time of this conversation, I had a 4 year old and a 5 month old. I dearly loved my children, but I felt like I had lost a sense of who I was beyond being a mother. My days were wrapped up with caring for their needs, and somewhere along the way I felt like I had lost who I was.

“Well, what do you want to do?” my husband asked. That was the problem – I didn’t know!

“OK. Well, what are you good at? What makes you happy?” he asked.

Blogging has always made me happy. I started blogging in 2008 with My Chihuahua Bites. I love to write, and I’m really passionate about sharing my life and my story with other women as a means of encouragement and community. Over the years, blogging has changed. We’ve moved from Blogger, to Google Reader, to Twitter, to Instagram, and onto whatever social media platform happens to come along next. What has remained constant throughout the years is that I’ve maintained that passion for sharing my life. I’ve always tried to live my life in an authentic way, and I’ve hoped that my transparency will help some other woman through her own struggles.

It was through that conversation that Tickled Peach was born. I wanted more than anything to create a community. I am right here, in the trenches, raising my children and I wanted to reach out to other women who are doing the same. We are meant to live life in community and my goal has always been to create a safe, judgment free zone for women of all ages.

Well, life happened. I could offer you a thousand excuses as to why Tickled Peach didn’t take off the way I had hoped that it would. In the end, it comes down to me. I allowed myself to buy into lies – that blogging was dead, that there was no way I could ever write professionally, and that I would never make money off of a blog. I allowed myself to get caught up in stats, blog traffic, and engagement, and I told myself that I was putting in a lot of effort for something that wasn’t giving me the results I wanted.

But what if the problem was that I had a skewed sense of what my results really should be?

Over the years God hasn’t let me let Tickled Peach go. Even though I had “quit”, I continued to pay my monthly hosting fee and my yearly domain renewal. Why? Because something inside me said that I wasn’t done just yet.

Last spring I had a major AHA moment. I was participating in BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) and had been studying the book of John. We had reached the end of the year, and we were focusing on John chapter 21. Jesus has been resurrected, and has risen from the dead. From John 21:

Simon Peter said to the others, “I am going fishing.”

“We will come with you,” they told him. So they went out in a boat, but all that night they did not catch a thing. As the sun was rising, Jesus stood at the water’s edge, but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

Then he asked them, “Young men, haven’t you caught anything?”

“Not a thing,” they answered.

He said to them, “Throw your net out on the right side of the boat, and you will catch some.” So they threw the net out and could not pull it back in, because they had caught so many fish. – John 21: 3-6

I couldn’t stop thinking about that passage. Let’s think of the disciples for a minute – in those days, fishing was both a profession and a means of feeding your family. I’m not sure why the disciples went out that particular day. I don’t know if their ultimate goal was to fill their own belly or to sell their bounty. Whatever the reason, they had spent an entire night fishing with no result. They were likely tired, discouraged, and at the same time, they were likely struggling with their own feelings regarding the resurrection. I image they were grubby, exhausted, grieving, and discouraged…. and here comes Jesus.

Who they believe is a stranger speaks to them, and tells them to cast their net over the side of the boat.

If that were me, I can imagine I would be skeptical. If I’m honest, I would probably be a little annoyed. I’d likely be thinking “yeah, sure, don’t you think I’ve tried that already?

But they listened. They cast their net. And they were rewarded beyond measure.

The story continues. When the disciples dragged the net ashore, scripture tells us the net was full of 153 fish, much more fish than the net should have ever been able to hold. Yet the net did hold, and it did not break.

They listened. They did what they were asked to do. And they were rewarded.

I just kept turning this passage over and over in my mind. God has never let me forget about Tickled Peach. It’s always been there, in the back of my mind, as something I needed to do. But I’ve refused to listen. I’ve made a million excuses. I’ve pushed the thought away, time and again. But still I heard: Cast your net.

What needed to happen, for me, was a shifting of my priorities. Maybe I needed to let go of this idea of being a “success” and just go. Maybe I just needed to write, and let God do the rest.

I find myself at somewhat of a crossroads right now. I identify myself as a Stay at Home Mom, but my children are getting older. My oldest is in school, and I have one more year before my middle child starts kindergarten. In three years all of my children will be in school full time, and I need to start thinking about what I want to do at that point. Do I want to return to my career as a social worker? Should I complete my Masters degree? Maybe I should go into another field entirely.

When I start to ask myself these questions, my anxiety skyrockets. The truth is, I don’t want to do any of these things. After 10 years as a social worker, I feel burned out, and while the work is rewarding, it had become exhausting and emotionally taxing. I’m almost 40, and the thought of returning to school at my age is scary. So what do I want to do?

I want to write. I want to be home with my children, even when or if they go to public school. I want to be the person handling drop off and pick up. I want to have the freedom to volunteer at their schools and at my church. I want a lot of things that a full time job will never be able to provide for me. And….

Dare I say it? I’d love to write a book. I have a passion for speaking as well, and nothing would make me happier than to book speaking engagements.

Here’s where the doubts creep in. If I can’t even successfully launch a blog, how could I ever launch a book? Who would ever want to read what I have to say? This is all crazy talk. These are just dreams. Dreams are just something that sound really nice, but they aren’t achievable.

Except what if they are?

The problem is that you will never know if you never even try. I’m stepping out in faith, doing what I believe God has called me to do, with the desire to do great things in His name. I’m letting go to my definitions of success and instead and choosing to let God define me.

I don’t know your circumstances today. Maybe God has placed something on your heart, something that seems impossible and that you are telling yourself that you can’t do. He might be telling you to move. To apply for a new job. To have another baby. To adopt. Whatever He is asking, I’m here to tell you that he will equip you to do. The money you need will come. The house will sell. The baby you are praying desperately for is waiting for you as well. Whatever the circumstance, God’s ability is far greater than our own. Don’t worry about the how’s – walk in faith. Take that first step. See where God can take you.

Cast your net, friends. If He calls you to it, He will equip you to do it.

Welcome to Tickled Peach!

Hello and welcome! I’m so glad you found your way here. My name is Andrea, and I am the writer and founder of this blog.

I am a mom of two handsome sons – Cooper, 4 and Sullivan, 8 months. When I had Cooper in 2010, I worked full time as a social worker. My husband was active duty in the US Navy and we were living in Charleston at the time. I had a new baby, was living hours away from my family, and I had few friends. I interacted with people at work, but when I would come home it was my baby and my husband. All the time.

Don’t get me wrong – I was happy. I love my son and my husband. But it was isolating. I had no idea what I was doing right or wrong as a mom. I was stressed out, overwhelmed, anxious, and all I wanted in the world was to get this mom thing right.

I wish I had more support back then. I figured it out – eventually – but I feel like if I had a support system of friends I could vent to and ask questions of I would have had an easier time of it.

My family moved to the Augusta area in 2011. I continued working full time when we moved. In 2013, I had my second son and my husband and I decided that it would be the best decision for our family for me to stay at home.

I’ve learned from my mistakes as a first time mom. One of the things I wish I had done differently the first time around is surround myself with friends who were in the same stage of life as me. People who “got me.” The support and encouragement of fellow moms is priceless – sometimes it gets me through the day, one preschooler tantrum at the time.

A few months ago I had a conversation with my husband about an idea I’d been percolating. “I want to start a blog – a community, really – for moms. I want to share upcoming community events. I want to share the best places to go for outings or play dates. I want to give people ideas for arts & crafts or educational activities. I want to share recipes and beauty tips. I want to do home tours and post decorating ideas.”

Go for it, my husband said.

So I did.

And here we are.

This site is for moms. Young or old, new or seasoned. I hope to have something to offer you all.

Have you ever escaped to the bathroom, just to get a few minutes to yourself?

Have you ever driven in your car with the music turned off because you need to experience the absence of noise?

Does your house look like a disaster zone 50% (or more) of the time?

Have you ever had a complete meltdown (you, not your kids) during an outing because one (or more) of your children was acting like a wild animal?

I’ve done all of those today.

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, then I hope you’ll stick around. You’re in good company!

If you’d like to read more about the mission of Tickled Peach or about Andrea, please visit the About page of the blog HERE.