Saturday, March 18, 2017

St. Paddy's 2017

Since I normally manage to show up around here, at least for holidays, you know, sometimes...

I present to you, St. Patrick's Day 2017!

A whole lot of no green beer and lots of added Haka/ballet fun as they only agreed to take a photo if they could dance.

Eh. Sure, kiddos. You do you.

They did take this one for me, though.

I hope your day was filled with luck and love.

Evelyn Rae is 5.5, Liam is 4, Patrick is 2 (!!)

... and these kids, man.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Christmas Card That Wasn't

A few months ago, we had no idea where would be headed next, and in a panic, because we didn't know what any timeline looked like I emailed our family friend and multi time photographer to see if she had any remaining spots for photos in time for Christmas/New Years cards.

That sweet spot between homecoming and us needing to pack up and get the heck out of dodge was proving super difficult to nail.

We had been meaning to have photos taken in the downtown area of Yokosuka, since it is where we spend the majority of our days, but with Austin being gone so much and being here there and everywhere we just still hadn't found the time, so I was desperate to get them in before we would be leaving Japan!

I am so very glad we did.

But then, things got ...interesting. We had been fed all sorts of possible locations and things kept getting battered around and bandied about, but nothing stuck.

When we made our original announcement that we would be headed to Japan, we knew that we would be here through March of 2017. Which. You know. Is now.

So, naturally, plenty of folks have been asking about where in the world we would be headed.

I originally wanted to announce our new destination on our Christmas/New Years/Groundhog's/Valentine's.../now maybe just because here's a life update on our family(?) cards, but time kept wearing on as we waited for orders.

Eventually we received verbal orders and shared the news with immediate family, but have kept it close to the chest while waiting on written orders, in case something shifted dramatically and those verbal plans never materialized.

Just today (whenever today winds up being as I have promised to not publish this post until it is officially, officially, official) we received those orders, and it seems that our little Japan photo shoot was more telling than we knew.

Because, friends...

We are staying in Japan!


I know. It's a lot to swallow and definitely not what we expected - especially given that once upon a time I told Austin I would follow him anywhere in the world...but I'd really rather not go to Japan. Haha. And then Life laughed.

There were months and months of weighing different places, different jobs, pros and cons and timing and BLAH. But, the long and short of it is - there was a good job here. A great job. Checked all the boxes.

And so, we go where the job is.

And that job is here.

In many ways it has been nice to keep this news close for the last few months, so that we have time to process it all ourselves. We had already started researching all the things to make life work again back stateside and pulling back from some things here - sort of like when your plane begins the initial decent and then pulls back up because it has been rerouted at the last minute? Very much that sort of feeling around our house for a while there.

We cannot understate just how much we miss our families and friends back on the East Coast and everywhere, and so many things about life in America in general (mail delivered to your door, 2 day Amazon shipping, Target, drive thru Starbucks, not being you know, completely illiterate in your every day life, Mexican food, omg Mexican food - just to name a few), but Japan has also become our home in a way we never though possible, and we love our little life here.

Though Austin will still be in a job that does go out to sea, it shouldn't* be with the same frequency as we have experienced until this point - but that's another post for another day, friends - so we are excited to get to explore more of Japan and Asia with our favorite guy along for the ride.

We truly love and like so much about this country, its amazing people and beautiful culture and landscape and we want to experience as much of it as we can while we have this opportunity.

(*Turns out, I have trust issues with being given "concrete" expectations, so I'll believe it when I see it. Don't tempt Murphy.)

So, we stay for a while longer, and our Japanese adventure continues.

Mata ne!

Evelyn Rae is 5.5, Liam is 4, Patrick is a few days shy of 2

...and I'll share the normal holiday card kinds of family updates soon. Promise.

...and hey, also - we're open for visitors! Through 2019! Shoot us a note, we'd love to have you. Truly.

(Also, we are attempting to plan a trip home this summer. We have a niece and nephew we've only met over Facetime and we'd LOVE to get in some drinks, snacks and snuggles - as age appropriate - with everyone! We will keep you in the loop.)

(Also also, Austin is headed to a school in Newport, RI for a few weeks and flies out tomorrow, so he will be stateside for a bit, but pretty bound to RI. If you want to give him a ring, he will have my old cell with him. Text him, call him, email him...maybe all 3.)

Sunday, December 11, 2016

In which Patrick runs

We're just going to pretend that it hasn't been a year since I cam around these parts and charge on with a post, ok? Perfect. Moving on.

Though my sewing machine bit the dust a while back, man, there is just something about me and traditions. There are certain things that we have done in the past with the kids and I just cannot let go...not yet.

These orange gingham outfit photos are one of them. Y'all. I still have SO MUCH of this fabric. And though, as I mentioned, my sewing machine is deader than a doornail, I got the itch one day and dug out all the old orange gingham stuff, let down a hem, scrambled it up and restyled it a bit so that we could get those photos in again this year.

...annnnnnnd, we've got a runner.  Let's try again.

All the nopes.

 Nope, nope, nope, nope.

 I am outta here.

Little did I know, I'd be starting a trend.

Exhibit A: School Christmas Party


Exhibit B: Festival of the Trees, Official Santa Photos

 All the nopes.

Don't worry, he was fine about 2.5 seconds later.

Cheesing all over the place.

Waving at Santa. The uze.

Oh, almost 2.

How I missed you.

::eye roll::

Evelyn Rae is 5, Liam is 3.5 and Patrick is 1.5

...and hey, I'm gonna try to be around here more often.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Generally, one of my first stern "No"s with the kiddos come when I am breastfeeding and they inevitably  think, "Hey, let's try a little biting action, you know, just for fun."

Evelyn reacted in astonishment, a quick check in smile and then quickly covered with a sort of "My bad, Momma! Won't happen again."

Liam pulled his bottom lip almost up to his nose he was so sad, shed the largest crocodile tears ever seen and then nuzzled back in, preferring to pretend like nothing had happened.


This kid grins at me.

Straight up grins and laughs.

...I'm in trouble.

Evelyn is four, Liam is two, and Patrick is 8 months

...and these kids are fulfilling their birth order roles quite nicely, indeed.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


Turns out, I am an absolute sucker for traditions.


I know in the world of the internet Halloween was like, YEARS ago, rather than just weeks...but traditions.

So, alongside making the kiddos Halloween costumes this year - which -

When in Japan, right?

...I also busted out that damn orange gingham again. ;)

*and* Miss Evelyn's Halloween headband, which has definitely proven its worth from the random rural fair booth from whence it came.

I will admit that this year was a bit of a shortcut, because Patrick is wearing the overalls I made two years ago for Liam.

And since the boys' pieces are reversible, you know we had to do a remix.

Poor Liam was fading fast...

But then I promised snacks...

So, all was well.

Whew. Another tradition kept.

Which, apparently I never posted last year. Oops. My bad. Look at their little 2014 faces.

They were toasting pumpkins.

Ugh, I cannot even.

Evelyn is oh-so-four, Liam is so very, very two, and Patrick is 8 months (!)

...and speaking of traditions...

Baby in a pumpkin!

More of that to come.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Take a Break, Preggo.

Since the very conception (ha ha!) of this little space, this lady in yellow has been my companion.

Hey, Preggo.

So lovely in her little capris and gender neutral, but fresh and sunny top.

For a while she hung out here by herself.

Ah, this space was so clean, and free of clutter. Much like my life as a newly pregnant woman. Ha. 

A little yellow, a little grey, (remember how I liked gray before that was a thing? Enough to paint the nursery grey? Before the term "greige" existed on Pinterest? Ahhh. The good old days.) a whole lotta white space.

Totally sophisticated. 

You know, as sophisticated as an animated lady sitting atop words can be. Sure. That.

And then, my precious babe was born. And life got hectic. So I never changed her. I toyed with some ideas but never actually pulled the trigger.

And then I didn't need to, because by the time I got around to this...

It was perfect. Liam was on his way.

As things go, second babies make your life even busier. This time I got around to choosing a baby to represent Liam and was toying with what I should pick for me - I mean, let's get a little more on point, that lady has brown eyes! Mine are blue!


Like a self fulfilling prophecy, little Preggo up there decided to stick around for another term. And then we had this little gem.

But now? Now I am benching you, Preggo.

Look - you've served me well. Been a true and loyal friend.


On the off chance that keeping you up there is some kind of talisman, or fertility idol, or whatever. You gotta take a break. You've done good work.

Rest up and we'll discuss a fourth quarter sometime down the road. 
Way down the road. 
An American road. 
Back in America. 


Until then, I'm calling in the new squad.

Because her eyes are blue. Right. That.

Also, #notpregnant 

Evelyn is 4, Liam is 2 and Patrick is 8 months

...and man, she's cute. Better step up my game.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

183 Days

As of today, Tuesday, November 17 - my husband has been deployed (ok, ok, techincal Navy people, he has been 'at sea' or 'on patrol' since we live in Japan and are "forward deployed" which technically means he is *always deployed* or some such nonsense) - anyway, he's been gone for 183 days.

You know, not including sea trials or duty days or any of that other short business. Because a weekend? Girl, please.

That means that as of today I have been flying solo for half of 2015.

Now, this is not meant to say woe is me, when I damn well know that so many do this for longer, or maybe they do this for shorter amounts of time but more often and don't get significant stretches with their service member home, and of course this doesn't take into account all the folks single parenting every day of their lives for one reason or another - that's why I use "flying solo" because though I am "solo" parenting I totally recognize that I am not, in any way single parenting.

Ok...getting off track. Forgive me. Rusty.

Six months. Half of a year. Half of 2015.

Flying Solo.

(And not quite done.)

For some reason, I have always been struck by milestones. And 6 months for me, is a milestone.

I've certainly never parented for 6 months alone before - let alone parented 3 children for 6 months alone before. Heck, I've only been a parent to 3 kids for (barely) 8 months. I've spent 6 months away from my husband - longer, really but I was the one doing the traveling and he was at home - and we could call and text (who am I kidding - instant message. Remember when texts cost money? Ha! #old) every day. And we weren't married yet.  So... this is different.

And here's the kicker - we're going to do this all again next year.

That seems crazy and normal and insurmountable and doable all at the same time.

Isn't that just weird? We can agree that is weird, right? That being apart from your life partner and co-parent and best friend for half the year seeming doable and par for the course is just completely bewildering?

I hope so, because even after living, geeze, my whole life as part of this military community, it seems that way to me. Because, why should that seem normal?

I tend to think in letters these days - probably because I am always composing one to my husband inside my head, so here is a letter to Courtney of next year, the Courtney of 2016, staring down the barrel of this whole shebang one more time...

Hey girl - 
What's up? We have been through some shizz these last six months, haven't we? (Future Courtney is now nodding in eyebrow raising thoughtful reflection, I am sure.) Take a sip of that wine, you deserve it.
I know you are probably reading this like a week before deployment starts, or maybe a few days after it has started or - who knows - when you are up late one night on a tough night. Maybe our anniversary, or Ev's birthday, or her first day of school, or just some random terrible day where you have no idea how you are going to survive this mess. 
The kind of day where the kids have driven you up the wall and nothing is going right, because something was terrible and hard on base because of bureaucracy or you can't for the life of you find some... thing... out in Japan that would require a 10 minute trip to Target back in the states and now you are wondering if the shipping and two week wait time from Amazon is worth it...who knows. 
The kind of night where you take to your phone and ignore everything else and start pounding out an angry and self righteous email to your husband - the man that you love - the man that you feel like an absolute martyr for right now because you are so pushed to your limit... and then end up just leave it in the draft folder instead of sending.  
Because you know this is hard on him too. And you love him and you are feeling benevolent and better after venting to that nowhere space. You just needed to get those feelings out. 
(But - you save it in drafts instead of deleting, because damn, lady - there was some passion and good writing in there, and hey - if he really makes you mad you may want to pull quotes from that one in the future.) 
I hear ya. We had those days this go round, too. 
Anyways, whatever brought you back to this, my intention was to tell you - you can totally do this. 
I know, you are probably side eyeing sweet, naive 2015 Courtney right now, saying, ah yes, but that was before Evelyn was in kindergarten and we had to be out the door EVERY DAY for school at the crack of dawn, and before Patrick was running around and being ONE and doing all those things that one year olds do, and before Liam was a threenager. Oh, our dear, sweet Liam who feels so many emotions all.the.time as a threenager...I don't even want to imagine that right now. 
Well, let me remind you, you didn't think you could do a lot this go round either. But with sheer will power, a group of amazing and supportive friends, and lots of coffee and wine, you are doing this. 
When deployment started this go round - let me just remind you, your kids, especially Patrick, looked like this: 
Just a little squish. Barely two months old. 
Now he's a chunky 8 month old sitting next to you, continually lurching for this thing you are typing on, because, let's face it, he has seen an actual computer maybe 3 times in his life, and the only things he really lurches for these days seem to be technology based. 
(Kid loves to chew on a remote. But, you know, third baby, so you just take the batteries out and let him have at it.) 
You have been known to declare that the baby was the "least of your worries" given his inclination to sit, and stay where you left him for the better part of this adventure. And that's true. And I am sure that you are missing a bit of that right now, when it seems that no one knows how to sit still for more than 10 seconds. 
But, I implore you for many reasons - the least of which is your own sanity - do not be one of those moms who forgets just how demanding the new baby phase can be! Their wants are few, it's true, but they are often. You have been breastfeeding more times a day than you care to count. That kid has yet to spend a night in his room, because it just hasn't seemed worth the bother, which also means that you haven't spent a night truly alone yet.  
Both comforting and yet completely overwhelming when you look at the stark numbers of alone time you have managed in the last 8 months. Court, I say this with love, but you need to do better about some self care. Seriously. I know you are snorting right now, because, HA. But really, why are you reading this - go take a shower. Right now. I know that dry shampoo is literally saving your life, but it can only go so far...

Still here? Alright then. You do you. 
Let's talk about the things you have accomplished. 
Lady - you flew with 3 small children, alone, halfway around the world. On that flight back to the states? You made 14 trips to the bathroom on that 13+ hour flight. Only one of those times was for you to pee. And you know what? It wasn't so bad. Granted, having your mom fly back with you was the best gift she has ever given you, bar none, but you did it. And then you trekked those 3 kids all around the United States for 2 months. With cobbled together car and car seat arrangements, shared rooms and no personal space and a bajillion happy memories made and love showered on your kiddos from their grandparents. 
You baked your girl a birthday cake, drove across the country with your mother and all your children in a 1994 Caravan - remember how much Patrick liked his car seat? because that answer is NONE, then flew across the country to San Diego for a weekend with the baby to see your husband, spent money like you were setting it on fire and didn't regret a cent. Because HUSBAND and holding hands and sexy grown up times. You know, with a baby in the crib in a corner...but still.  
That look on that man's face when he got to hold that baby again? Priceless. I know you'll never forget that look. 
And then you came back to Japan, and brought your mom! and showed her some things, and made her eat food she didn't like. And you went on adventures with dear friends and their kids, and your three small children in tow. And  you brought the circus an lived to tell the tale. 
Because don't forget - you feel so much better about living in this far away from family place when you get out and experience it! Even when the kids have meltdowns and lose their minds for a small portion of it - you are always glad that you did it. Always. If you have a plan on the back burner right now, this is your reminder: RSVP yes.  
You have found such an awesome village here - hopefully one or two of them are still around (damn Navy life) - go plan a Wines-day if there is nothing else on the books. Keep the kids up way too late, tell yourself that snack food is an acceptable dinner for growing children and get in some belly laughs with the girls. 
Right now you were feeling pretty damn good because for the last three nights in a row, you have cooked a real dinner, that the kids ate (!!), had the dishes done before bedtime and had two kids soundly asleep by 8pm. You currently have a fully stocked refrigerator and pantry and a glass of wine in hand. Rock. Star.  
You did not let the fact that the playroom is a mess, there is laundry to be done and the fact that the baby has never ever been on any kind of a sleep schedule dissuade you from the success that you have felt these last few day by letting that shit go and focusing on the positives. The stuff you really feel good about. The stuff the kids care about. The stuff you can write to Daddy about without feeling torn between presenting life too well so that he is miserable and too honestly so that he feels guilty.
Stories and crafts (limited, because STRESSFUL and MESSY, but maybe you've come further on that? No? Ok then, no surprise there) and playing outside and time at the park.
Because you know what? When they are happy, you are happy too. Look for the stuff that's making them happy. Choose that. Let them play for a few more minutes so you can do the dishes before going upstairs. Man, that feels nice when you finally make your way back down. Or you know what? Skip the dishes and have a dance party. Better yet, buy some paper plates.
Don't get me wrong, those sweet small children you are conjuring in your mind and momma heart right now have both cried and whined and hit and told you to "Go Away!" in the last few days, too. We've had time outs and loss of privileges and "I miss Daddy"s and messes made.  
But, the hugs are here too. And the "I love you Momma"s, and the crazy from the inside of their head stories and jokes.  Remember how Ev and Liam tell jokes that go, "What about...(insert random assortment of words here)?" and then they look at each other and just laugh and laugh.  
Take some time to listen to the way these kiddos play together. God, I am so proud of that right now. It just makes my little heart burst a thousand times over to hear them interact. Because even though you know that you cannot be everything for them, you are trying your damnedest and it is reassuring to know that they have each other, too. There's no lack of love in this house, even with such a big piece of our hearts in another place. 
And when you miss that guy you call your husband - all the time, I know - but I mean those heart stopping moments where you miss him and physically ache, because that guy is supposed to be sitting there with you, listening to all these moments that only parents really care about and rolling his eyes with you the way that only parents can about their children, let him know. 
He wants to know, and you can be honest. You don't have to be the stalwart Navy wife all the time. 
Look for the bits and pieces of him in those kiddos. It hurts more and less all at the same time. Tell him what you see of him in them. Tell him about the mundane stuff too. But, if you fall asleep on the couch before finishing that email, do not despair. Give yourself some grace. 
Don't lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel. Don't lose perspective that this is such a small slice of time in the larger picture of your lives. It's hard when you are in the trenches and everyone is telling you to cherish every moment, but take a step back and look at the big picture. 
You love to remind yourself that the kids are developing and acquiring coping mechanisms and resiliency. That you can recognize that takes frustration and cognitive dissonance. Don't forget - you are right there with them.
You can do this. This is hard. But you can do it. 
You have already done it. 
I have faith in you. 
P.S. Do not let that love of your life forget that when he said, "Let's go to Japan!" you were promised a trip to Bali and a tansu chest.  

Evelyn Rae is 4, Liam is 2 "and a half!" and Patrick is 8 months old

...and dang, that was almost a novel. Get it together, lady.