Plano Balloon Festival

IMG_2749-EditFriday we went to the annual Plano Balloon Festival! This was our first time going to the event and I’m glad we had a chance to see it before moving away. It’s a Friday – Sunday event with morning and evening launches and a nightly balloon glow! There are other events throughout the day but as it’s a balloon festival that’s all we cared about seeing πŸ˜‰ We got there in time to see the evening launch but they ended up cancelling it due to weather which was a bummer. (Even though it was completely clear skies with a very light wind, but what do I know about hot air balloons lol!) But there were lots of food vendors and activities for the kids so the time moved by quickly as we were waiting on the balloon glow.

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This is really the reason I wanted to come at night! I knew the kids would love it! They even let you walk around and see the balloons up close.

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The announcer would do a little countdown and have all the balloons light up at once, pretty cool to see!

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The kids loved all the character balloons and each of them had a favorite that we had to get up close and see! Definitely recommend going it you happen to be local!

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A look back!

So as I sit here patiently *not so patiently* waiting to hear what our next duty station will be, I figured it would be fun to look back on our last duty stations and share a bit about them all! So far we’re on our 4th duty station. Our first was…

Camp Pendleton

Brian was stationed here from around the beginning of 2004, I joined him at the end of 2004 and then we moved away in the summer of 2011. We were super lucky and got to stay here back to back and we ABSOLUTELY loved our time there. Brian started off as a helicopter mechanic and then LAT moved after his first enlistment to combat camera. When it comes to first duty stations, let me tell you, it doesn’t get much better than southern California! There are so many things to do in the area. I feel like we did a good amount but looking back I wish we would have done even more! There’s the beach, hiking, parks, local sports teams, farmers markets, Disneyland, the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, lots of adorable local/a few hour drive cities to travel to and I could go on and on and on. This was by far our favorite place we’ve lived!

Syracuse, NY

Up next was Syracuse, NY July 2011 – June 2012. Syracuse University runs a military program yearly, where a few combat cameraman from every branch of the military, apply to attend their program and go to college for a year (really just Sept-May) through the Newhouse School of Public Communication. When Brian came home from deployment as a newly promoted Staff Sergeant it was time for orders and with such a small MOS, the only place he could get orders to was Syracuse. For 11 months. He hadn’t even applied for the program! I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this duty station. This was our first time having to rent a place “out in town,” our oldest was starting kindergarten and since we were 2,700 miles away in Camp Pendleton we had no idea where to live. I decided to take a step back from my controlling ways ha, and let my husband find a house for us. NEVER AGAIN! Within the first 5 minutes that we arrived at our house, I wanted to cry and punch him all at the same time lol. I say that lovingly as we just laugh about that house now. But at the time, oh man did I want to kill him. There was only one bathroom, no A/C (and it was 95 degrees outside,) it was a dingy old house and we lived about 2 streets over from the crappy part of town. But for how horrible our house was, his time at Syracuse was a huge blessing to our family. We had just came off of three deployments and his first semester he had classes 4 days a week and his second only 3! It was amazing! We had so much family time together. Syracuse wasn’t my favorite town but the towns around it were absolutely beautiful. This was the first place I ever lived that had all fours seasons, got REAL snow, the kids LOVED it and we traveled all over in our short time there.

Marine Corp Base Quantico/Pentagon

So after our time at Syracuse, my husband received orders to Quantico, VA and we stayed there from July 2012 – Dec 2014. This was the first place that we decided to buy a house (mainly because the housing list was 12 months long and we didn’t want to move twice.) We bought a home in the town south of Quantico and really loved that house! After living in base housing/renting for the last 7 years it was pretty fun to own a home of our own, it made me feel like a real grown up! All we had heard about Quantico was that the traffic really sucked. I’ll be honest, I heard people say that and blew it off like they were crazy. I mean we grew up in DFW and had suffered through the traffic on the 5 all up and down CA! But they were right. It was was an horrible as people say it is. I honestly don’t think people know what traffic is til they live in NOVA. I can not tell you how many times the simple 13 mile drive from Stafford to Fredericksburg – which should take 15 minutes – took an hour! You literally plan your life around traffic. You’re constantly having the internal battle of do I attempt to fight the traffic or not. It was insanity. That part about living in northern Virginia was pretty darn miserable. But other than that, the area really grew on me and I miss it more than I thought I would. It’s an absolutely beautiful area, with SO much history and lots of things to do and see. Another area with a beautiful fall, just enough snow that you don’t hate life and a base where you don’t have to worry about deployments which was a nice break. Brian stayed at Quantico for about 2 years and the last 6 months was moved up to the Pentagon which sounds cool (and I think it was lol!) but it made Brian’s commute to work extremely long. It was 35 miles away and easily an hour and half drive home. I should mention though, exactly 4 months after buying our house Brian got put on the HSST list and a couple months later received recruiting duty orders. Not what we were hoping for as he had just tried to be a DI before coming to Quantico and his MOS told him no, we need you! Apparently they didn’t need him that bad! But if you ever happen to be stationed in the area or live in NOVA, you will love it! So much history, historical places to see, battlefields, museums, beautiful parks, a couple national parks even nearby, not far from DC and all it has to offer – cherry blossom season is my favorite!, 4 different seasons, lots of local sports teams again and so much more.

Recruiting Station Dallas

And last – our current location, RS Dallas. Jan 15 – Jan 18. While I’ll be the first to attempt I was dreading coming on recruiting duty, our time on it has been a complete blessing. We ended up being stationed 20 minutes from family. 6 months into recruiting duty, Brian’s higher ups pulled him up to the RS headquarters to be the program specialist because they loved him so much. We went from horrible 12+ hour days 6 days a week, to pretty much a normal working day. We couldn’t have had a better experience! While Texas isn’t my favorite as far as places to live goes, there is some nostalgic about being back near our hometowns. And our kids getting to live so close to lots of their grandparents is pretty dang crazy for military brats!

I’d love to hear what your favorite duty station has been?! Or your favorite place you’ve ever lived?!

Cadillac Ranch

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Yesterday my phone told me it was completely out of storage. So I decided it was finally time to transfer over the 11,000+ photos (no joke!) to my computer. But then when I did that my computer told me it was also completely out of storage haha, so I was transferring over photos to my external hard drive when I came across many many dates of photos that I never edited! So that means I get to have a little #throwbackthursday and share some oldies but goodies πŸ™‚

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Two summers ago was our epic road trip from here in Texas up to Colorado! This was one of my favorite trips we’ve ever taken, we all still talk about how much we loved Colorado quite often. Since Texas is gigantic and takes forever to get out of, we decided to stop in Amarillo for the night before making our way into Colorado. While in Amarillo we got to see Palo Duro Canyon and Cadillac Ranch! This place is awesome. There are a handful of old Cadillac’s, nose first in the ground that have layers and layers of spray paint on them. So cool!

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The kids had a blast and loved getting to write their names on the cars. Definitely a cool experience and something worth doing if you happen to be on a road trip through Texas πŸ™‚

Writing our last name!

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Q rocks!

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I’m so glad I stumbled across these photos, I love looking back at old photos and seeing how much the kids have grown πŸ™‚

Our last kiddo is in school!

Last week Cal had his first day of preschool! IMG_2475-Edit

He goes to a local church, two days a week and so far is loving it!! You may remember that I was nervous about getting him potty trained before the start of school but thankfully I’m happy to report he’s potty trained and doing awesome. I thought he’d be a bit nervous, not want me to leave but even while we were just in the parking lot walking in he was telling me bye and ready to go! He LOVES that he gets to wear a backpack and bring a lunch like the big kids. Feels crazy that all four kiddos are off to school and that we no longer have any babies in the house. I miss it but I also love watching them grow and enjoying these older years too. It’s kind of fun having a mix of ages in the house. From tweens on down to preschoolers – life is nothing short of busy and fun!

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Have you jumped on this trend?!

Painted rocks!!

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I feel like all summer long I heard about painted rocks! At first I had no idea what they were and had to google it. Which made me feel old – ha! But I decided this was something I could get behind so I again googled – best types of rocks for painted rocks – and thankfully the internet saved the day and we were off to Lowe’s to get our supplies. The kids LOVED this activity! They each had a few ideas in mind and I love what they came up with.

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I read that it was best to seal them after you paint your rocks, in case it rains or they get wet. I checked my craft cabinet and discovered that our mod podge had dried up – oops! So the kids actually had a wait a bit til we got back from our Charleston trip to hide them. We walked to the playground that’s right in our neighborhood and hid them all our the park. The kids loved hiding them just as much as painting them!

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We’re always on the hunt when out and about looking for painted rocks but haven’t found any yet, hopefully we’ll stumble across one sometime! Funny enough, that last picture that shows the paint painted rock hiding on a lamp post – it stayed there for weeks til I finally decided to just move it to somewhere else!

Our little chef

Adelyn LOVES to help us cook! She actually just loves to help out in general but when it’s time to start cooking dinner she loves if there’s something that she can help us do. While we were in Charleston last month, we were shopping at the local market and I saw some adorable aprons. I knew I wanted to get one for Addy’s birthday! The shop owner said she could personalize it for me and ship it to me once it was finished, which made me love it even more! She’s always wearing my apron when we cook and I love that she has her own now. The other night for her birthday dinner she requested ham and cheese sliders, she loves them lol. So she got to put on her her apron and help me cook, she was in heaven!

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If you’re looking for a good ham and cheese sliders recipe – this one – is amazing!! We are all obsessed with these little sandwiches!