31 May 2012

oops.

jaxharmon_quilt1
(this is a common sight in my studio when I'm in the middle of a project. Nick is my puppy.)

So far I have made all of my children (yup, all 2 of them) a baby quilt. So there was no way I was going to skip out on Oskar. (despite the fact that we already have 10 million blankets in this house...) It does help that I firmly believe one can never have too many quilts. (I get my love of quilts from my mom) Although it's funny, as a kid I never would have guessed I would end up sewing just like my mom. (But I have nowhere near her brilliance when it comes to quilting.)

Anyway, I bought the book Handmade Beginnings by Anna Marie Horner a few months ago, mainly so I could have the pattern to this beauty:

jaxharmon_quilt3

Her Sixth Times the Charm Quilt. I fell in love with that quilt the first time I saw it so naturally I was soooo excited to make one myself.

And everything went beautifully until it came time to cut the triangles. And I realized I hadn't actually thoroughly read the pattern before jumping in. Or, at least all of the pattern. I read the first half really well, then skimmed the rest because I figured I could get the rest of the details when I got to that point. So when I sat down and read the rest of the pattern I realized I had missed a crucial part (in addition to some details not making sense, but after googling it found out there were a couple mistakes with the math so I wasn't as crazy as I thought I was). You see, what I had done up to that point I had to do two more times. Oops.

I did not have enough fabric cut out to make two more rectangles. Nor the time to cut more fabric and put everything all together. Not if I was going to be able to ship the quilt top off in time for my mom to quilt it before coming out to visit this summer.

So I had to figure out what to do. And I decided to use what I had and just make up my own design from where I was.

jaxharmon_quilt2

Yes, it required some math. And I pulled out my drafting triangles and graph paper and made templates and roped Rob in to help.

But I did it! I have a beautiful quilt top that I love! Granted, staying up as late as I did to get it done was not the best idea knowing I had a 7:30am doctor's appointment for Nick the next morning. Priorities, you know.

So, the moral of this story?  READ THE ENTIRE PATTERN FIRST.

And Sixth Times the Charm Quilt? I'm not giving up on you yet. I WILL have you someday.


30 May 2012

i am an introvert.

(photo is not mine, and I'm not sure of the original source. But it is fabulous so I'm borrowing it.)


I recently saw this photo somewhere online and screamed "YES!!!" in my head. Pretty much everyone knows what an introvert is, but few understand what that means. It goes beyond simply being a "homebody" or "quiet." Some of these things I didn't even know, but after reading it was like parts of me and my life suddenly made sense.

In addition to being an introvert, I'm also really shy. Which I think is typical, the two seem to go hand in hand. But I'm finding more and more that it is no longer socially acceptable to be shy or an introvert. Or at least, not the first thing people think of when they meet someone who is. Instead people automatically assume you are "haughty" or "aloof." When in reality you are just afraid of them. And just need time to warm up to new people and places. So don't give up on us!

Anyway, I hope this poster gives some insight into how to deal with us quiet folk. As the mom of a couple children who are proving to be just as introverted and shy as I am reading a few of these points came at just the right time.

29 May 2012

sunday best: pregnancy edition

I tried wearing this dress a few weeks ago and it fit me like a potato sack. But I've grown a lot recently so when I tried it on again last week it fit!! It is perhaps my favorite article of maternity clothing I own. And is also pretty versatile; I first wore it to the OCS ball (I fancied it up with accessories), but it works great for more casual settings than even church.

dress: Gap Maternity
shoes: Target
belt: Forever 21

jaxharmon_sundaybest

p.s. This is my 28 week belly!

28 May 2012

thank you veterans!

jaxharmon_fortbliss_flag

Despite the fact that I am not a holiday person (and often forget about holidays until they are right upon us), I am grateful for the opportunities they provide to reflect on things. And today, on Memorial Day, I'm glad to have a reminder of just how lucky we are to live in this country. There are so many things I take for granted and forget aren't available to everyone in the world. I'm not sure what I did to deserve being born in the United States, but I am grateful I was.

And, of course, a HUGE thank you is owed to our veterans and military. It's easy to think that they're "just doing their job," but without them I know we would not be able to continue to enjoy life the way we know it. 

I've been lucky to get a more intimate? view of what our soldiers do as a military spouse (although even that is still woefully inadequate to get the full picture). And I can tell you that the need for a job alone is not enough to sustain these guys (and gals) through all that they go through. More, much more, is needed, so rest assured that they are out there in the dirt and sand and endless MRE's and no porta potties and blistering heat and smelly bodies and heavy gear and equipment because at least a little part of them knows that what they do is important. And keeps the ones they love (and those they perhaps do not love) safe and comfortable. And our country free. I hope they understand how grateful I am for them.




And I think it is appropriate today to share some images a photographer friend, Christopher Wilocki, shot for Honor Flight Chicago. Honor Flight provides flights for WWII veterans so they are able to visit the WWII memorial in Washington DC. Christopher was able to volunteer with them a couple of times.



I hope you enjoy what he captured and that it moves you in some way. 

25 May 2012

bleh.

I've been feeling very under the weather the past couple of days so the weekly interrogation will back next week.

In the meantime, have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!!

24 May 2012

just a little confused...

(image from here)

Was anyone else taught as a kid to not release your balloon into the air because it will end up in the ocean where a sea turtle will think it's a jellyfish and eat it and then choke and die?

Well, I was and as a result losing a balloon was not only devastating because I was not only balloon-less, but I was killing a sea turtle too.

Nowadays, after seeing balloon releases ALL. OVER. THE. PLACE. I'm curious about the sea turtles... Was I taught wrong? Do balloons not end up in the ocean? Does anyone know where balloons do end up? I'm sure there's a science behind figuring out how long they stay afloat. Or have we just gotten to the point where we don't care about trashing the planet?

And a disclaimer: I'm not trying to knock on people who do release balloons (I actually think they're pretty, which is why I'm sure people do it), I'm just curious if this is just another vague thing from my childhood that isn't shared with others.

23 May 2012

just a little face shot

So I recently switched from the Army hospital here to an off-post provider and it was the best decision ever. It wasn't something I had planned on, but after asking questions about the birth and getting some unsatisfactory answers, along with the sub-par ultrasound experience I really felt like it was time to get the heck out of there. So I did, and I found a midwife!! That I absolutely love and puts me completely at ease. It's a good feeling to know you're in good hands. (and the brand new women's pavilion the hospital just opened helps too...)

And I was SO excited when she ordered another ultrasound done just to make sure everything was good to go! It was yesterday and I got to see the screen the entire time and the tech told me everything she was looking at. And I finally got to see Oskar's profile. 

oskar_profile
(he's got his lips pursed)

He even smiled for me at one point!

Unfortunately, we didn't get any awesome shots of his face because it was smashed into the placenta and both arms were up over his head (signature Harmon boy move). But I did find out he's got some big feet (just under 2 inches already!) and a big head (guess we'll see if it's still big when he's born). And while I'm 27 weeks, he's measuring 29 weeks (and is almost 3 pounds). The tech said that's normal, they'll go through growth spurts while in the womb too. I just hope she's either right or he comes early... we all know how tiny my body is so the last thing I need is a big baby. But since I'm really really hoping to deliver on Harry Potter's birthday, maybe the chances of that are higher? Guess we'll find out.

Also, only 10 weeks until I'm full term. This whole third baby thing is becoming more real all the time. (yes, I'm still wrapping my head around this pregnancy. Some days I really can't believe I'm pregnant again.)

22 May 2012

thank you.

Sorry this is so belated, but I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who left kind words over the past week-ish. And to say welcome to those of you who just started reading slash found me through the blog hop!

I do have an excuse for the delay, however...

The past week we were on the road fetching AUNT LAURA!!  (my sister and the current holder of "favorite aunt status")

IMG_9996

Her semester finished up a couple weeks ago and she decided she wanted to spend the summer with us (a fact I am not only not going to complain about, but embrace whole heartedly). I can't lie, it is amazing to have someone help out with the boys while I am still not 100%. And Max especially is over the moon to have her here. Our first day back he was showing her all of his favorite things and constantly asking her to watch him play video games or do this or that. It cracked us up. 

And I hope we are able to keep you all entertained! I'm actually pretty boring so hopefully I won't let you down:)


21 May 2012

TWO!!

IMG_0131

Today our Nicola is TWO YEARS OLD! 

I can't believe it. Well, actually I can. Every day we got closer to today he got a little more vinegar in him... (I know you moms of toddlers know what I'm talking about)

Despite that, he is still my "gentle soul." He loves to give hugs and kisses and to snuggle. And may become that artist I want so bad. 

He is also so so happy all of the time. He'll get upset, but is quick to get over it and revert back to his happy self!

He is also very mischievous. My studio is a gold mine of treasures for him to find in his mind! Never mind the gold mine of toys in his room...

It's hard to imagine life without this little one and I am so so grateful to be his mom. 

18 May 2012

2011 in review: november and december

The original plan was to post about 2011 at the start of the new year... then my body decided to freak out over being pregnant. So you get them now!

November:
november2011


first row, left to right:
1. Max the ice cream man! Seriously, Melissa and Doug toys are the best. 
2. Nick and his long hair. I loved it. Rob didn't. He doesn't like having people think his boys are girls.
3. We found a way to keep his hair out of his face!
4. Gosh, I just love his hair long! But I really didn't care if people though he was a girl. They still think he's girl. People are just weird.


second row, left to right:
5. Laura requested I make this for her:)
6. Rob being Rob.
7. Nick already knows how to sword fight. I guess you have to learn fast when your dad is Rob and your brother is Max.
8. I made this hat for Nick and LOVE how he looks like an elf in it!


third row, left to right:
9. I tried out an idea from pinterest; glow stick in the bathtub. It was a hit!
10. Another pinterest find; classifying colored goldfish.
11. And another pinterest idea; this one didn't keep them occupied as long as I thought it would. Especially considering the time it took to lay the track out (and the amount of tape it took). But the boys enjoyed it for the little bit they played!
12. Someone got into the chocolate milk powder...


bottom row, left to right:
13. We went up into the New Mexico mountains to see Rob and bring him and his guys food (all they had were MREs). It was FREEZING up there, however, and since I was unprepared for just how cold it was (in my defense, Rob told me it was in the 60s. Yeah, he forgot to mention the wind chill that made it feel like the 20's. I had brought coats and gloves and stuff, but you needed a full on snow suit) we sat in the car. Max enjoyed popping out of the sun roof (we did whatever we could to occupy the kids while we sat there).
14. My soldier with a mouthful of food.
15. One of the outtakes from the Christmas card taking session. I swear, Rob was more out of hand than the kids!
16. The little man running wild with the remote...


December:
december2011


first row, left to right:
1. This is where Nick sits whenever you play video games. Or just sit cross-legged in general. I guess he thinks it's a little chair for him.
2. Someone thinking he's cute for sitting on the table!
3. Rob and I went on the Fort Bliss tour of homes that was put on one weekend. I was in heaven getting to see the interiors of all the historic homes on post. The post commanders house took the cake though! In addition to all the wonderful quirks of old homes (extra random rooms, little nooks, various levels) and a guest house, the backyard was BEAUTIFUL! I would get married in it. I only had my iphone with me so all you get is this terrible photo, but there were several terraced levels with light strung through the trees. And a small koi pond and outdoor kitchen. And actual plants. It was seriously the most gorgeous yard I have ever seen.
4. Max got himself dressed this particular day. His choice? His pirate pants from Halloween with his rain boots.


second row, left to right:
5. I think I took this picture to see if my eye injury was visible, or for proof of how irritated it was a couple days after the fact. It's the left eye in this picture, if you look really closely you can tell it's not happy. And I was not happy to have to wear headbands to keep my bangs away from eye. It was a rough few days until it healed completely. So I'm glad it healed as fast as it did!
6. December was not my month. Just a week after getting my eye injury, I had this bulging vein in my wrist that freaked me out big time. And it was the doctor's visit for this where I found out I was pregnant. (which made perfect sense since I'd been having morning sickness since a few days before I hurt my eye. And since I was still days away from that time of the month you can imagine how excited I was to already be sick.)
7. Rob and I at the ball! Again, I need to get a good picture of the two of us all dressed up!
8. It snowed!!! And the power didn't go out!!!!!!!!!!!


third row, left to right:
9. It actually snowed Christmas Eve, and since we had a couple errands to run we bundled up and headed out. Nick was not too happy about not being able to move. This whole bundling-up thing was new to him.
10. I love how cute they looked in winter clothes though!
11. Rob throwing a snowball at my window.
12. We got Christmas donuts!!


bottom row, left to right:
13. Me and the boys in their matching pj's on Christmas Eve.
14. Nick shoving as much stocking candy as he could in his mouth before we took it away.
15. Max got this superhero cape and a matching mask but didn't want to put them on. So we put the cape on Nick and it took him awhile to notice it and rip it off. It sure was cute while it lasted!
16. The marble run was one of the favorite gifts. Rob and I even love playing with it!

17 May 2012

2011 in review: september and october

The original plan was to post about 2011 at the start of the new year... then my body decided to freak out over being pregnant. So you get them now!

September:
september2011
(I didn't take very many pictures in September. And almost all of them were of me. That never happens.)

first row, left to right:
1. My little cutie. One of his favorite things is to hang in the front where all the rocks are. We make sure to watch him closely so he doesn't throw the rocks at our cars.
2. Another shot of me all ready for the ball. I know you can't really see me too well, but I'm making an "alluring face." I find it kind of funny.
3. Rob and I at the ball! I really need to get a good picture of him in his dress uniform. Rob + uniforms = yum.
4. I love how his little face just barely peeks over the edge of the counter!

second row, left to right:
5. I officially stopped breastfeeding on our trip to NC and was super in love with my body for the next couple of months (before shrinking down to my normal weight. I'd prefer to be a few pounds heavier than my normal weight but I have no control over that so I just bask in my ideal weight while I have it). And I felt the need to document it this particular day. (I guess I really like how this outfit fit)
6. And I liked the shadows. The light in the back of our hose is my favorite.
7. I took some head shots during one of my Sunday best sessions (I was feeling sassy this day) and this was my second favorite. (my first is my profile picture on facebook)
8. Another Sunday best session, and not an image I chose but I love it. Nick is my little snuggle muffin.

third row, left to right:
9. I love the story this row tells... this picture is of Nick not happy I won't give him the remote to my camera.
10. He pulls the dramatics and throws himself to floor in protest.
11. I realize I won't get any more shots so give him the remote. And as I'm handing it to him he snaps this gem of my rear end. Good to know my posterity will know what I look like from that angle!
12. He, of course, cheers right up and takes about 50 pictures of himself pretty much identical to this one.

bottom row, left to right:
13. My five year old! This is pretty much what I get when I ask Max to take a picture of him. Although this instance I got lucky and he humored me and posed after I snapped this one. Normally I'd get this apathetic shot, then the hand.
14. The awesome pinata I made! Yup, pretty proud I managed to pull it off.
15. Nick having too much fun with the baseball bat. Even at 18 months he couldn't resist being ALLOWED to swing the bat something.
16. Max was just as happy to snatch candy off the floor as he was to open presents.

October:
october2011

first row, left to right:
1. We headed up to Washington state to visit the Goodwins right at the beginning of the month. To help with packing, I took pictures of outfits I could put together with as few clothing items as possible. This was one of my favorites.
2. I loved this one too.
3. And this one. I'll make sure to check these pictures out when it gets cold again.
4. Thank goodness for a play area at the airport! I don't think I would've survived our layover if this hadn't been there. (although it would have been even more awesome if it was enclosed. I spent half the time chasing Nick down since he loved running away)

second row, left to right:
5. We discovered Nick loves benches. It didn't matter what awesome place we were at (like the top of the space needle), he would find a bench to climb on.
6. Pink camo anyone? Sexy, right!?
7. Max and his best friend with a bunch of dead animals.
8. When we got home I made Rob an apple pie since he couldn't come.

third row, left to right:
9. Nick's favorite thing to do is crash my Sunday best sessions. He just loves the camera, what can I say?
10. My little stud muffin.
11. A friend sent us LEAVES!!!!
12. I rocked a shirt from high school... this is the same Jay Hernandez that helped with my website. He's always been pretty awesome.

bottom row, left to right:
13. Nick trying on his Halloween costume. I wasn't sure if I'd like it or not (a friend gave it to us since her son was terrified of it) but we put it on Nick and DIED he was so cute!
14. I think a big part of why he looked so cute in it was it matched his hair perfectly. Because let's face it, he already is monkey with all the hair he has.
15. Max ringing a doorbell while trick or treating. He's got this thing down pat now.
16. Nick got a bag of pretzels and a glow stick and was content to sit the rest of the night out!

Next up, November and December!

16 May 2012

2011 in review: july and august

The original plan was to post about 2011 at the start of the new year... then my body decided to freak out over being pregnant. So you get them now!
July:
july2011

first row, left to right:
1. A few days before taking off for North Carolina I took my car in for a safety inspection to make sure it could make the trip. And found out that it was iffy and would take several thousands of dollars in reapir to guarantee it could. In the absence of that much money and in light of the fact we were planning on getting a bigger vehicle in the next year, we decided to go ahead and buy a new car. I was devastated. And an emotional mess for a few days. This car was only short a color and upgraded engine from being my absolute dream car. I knew I couldn't keep it forever, but was anticipating having more time to say goodbye than I did. I still miss it today (and get teary eyed looking at the picture I took of it). My new car (a 2009 Subaru Tribeca) is awesome and perfect for our family, but this little wagon and I were one. I could whip it around and in and out of everything. The Tribeca, not so much. But sometimes you have to make sacrifices for the family, and this was one of mine.
2. My last moments in my car. I had Rob snap this picture, then proceeded to sob into his back as he scraped my DOD sticker off the windshield.
3. A few days later we were on the road... we stayed in a hotel one night while on the road and Laura was the lucky one to share a bed with Max. (she's the lump on the edge of the bed to the left)
4. I got blessed with awesome travelers!!

second row, left to right:
5. So happy to be in NC visiting friends!!
6. It was so sweet to see these two heads together again. They were baby friends, and had no issues picking up right where they had left off.
7. As it often goes with road trips, we hit up a lot of drive throughs. But this one takes the cake! (yes, that is a person in a booth in the drive-thru lane. I think I made him uncomfortable with all my staring.
8. We went to the petting zoo while visiting my grandparents in northern VA. Of course the quarter carousel was the most popular thing with this one.

third row, left to right:
9. Swinging at the same playground my mom did growing up, and that I did as a kid visiting my grandparents.
10. Someone not too sure how he felt about swings.
11. We had a blast visiting more friends! And very sad we don't live close anymore since our babies are only a couple months apart:(
12. Sleeping in the car. The boys did a lot of that this trip.

bottom row, left to right:
13. We WENT TO THE BEACH!!!!!
14. And checked out the sound.
15. Nick and I, posing in the crazy wind.
16. Someone LOVES marinara sauce!

August:
august2011

first row, left to right:
1. Rob finally arrived in NC too. We spent some time just chilling at my parents house in between all the craziness that had to get done.
2. Looking cute at Target! (and yes, we bought the hat. He didn't wear it much longer than it took to take this picture, but since he managed to drool all over it we decided to be nice and buy it)
3. Having fun in the car while the truck gets loaded up.
4. We made sire to stock up on Cheerwine since we don't have it here in Texas.

second row, left to right:
5. Being silly on a food break on the drive back to El Paso.
6. The Samurai managed to land in the rocks during the unloading process. It was quite entertaining watching this whole process of getting it stuck, then unstuck.
7. Avoiding unpacking as much as possible.
8. No matter what, this kid will stop and look at me when I have the camera out. It's amazing.

third row, left to right:
9. Just being silly.
10. Nick using his little brain to solve problems. He pushed the chair into place so he could get in his hight chair and have a snack.
11. He is a magnet to anything with wheels. It can be problematic at the park...
12. Trying on his little buddy's PT's!

bottom row, left to right:
13. I LOVE HIS HAIR!!!!!!
14. Little friends.
15. Max showing off the dimples.
16. So sad:(

Next up, September and October!

15 May 2012

2011 in review: may and june

The original plan was to post about 2011 at the start of the new year... then my body decided to freak out over being pregnant. So you get them now!

May:
may2011

first row, left to right:
1. Nick finding the view in my lens fascinating.
2. May the 4th be with you! (I made these sugar cookies and the white stars are sugar pearls)
3. This boy LOVES popcorn. Just like his Uncle Hunter and Aunt Laura.
4. My boys and I on Mothers Day!

second row, left to right
5. Grandpa came to visit! I love both of them in this shot.
6. And he brought Laura! (who stayed with us all summer)
7. I went for a bike ride with the boys and they both fell asleep:)
8. Perler beads with Laura is the greatest!

third row, left to right:
9. Enjoying his birthday cake!!
10. Already ONE YEAR OLD! (and on the move!)
11. Max concentrating on making a masterpiece.
12. Happy Birthday to Rob! He turned 32 and you better believe I put 32 candles on that cake. If yo can't tell, 32 candles makes for quite the fireball...

bottom row, left to right:
13. Playing in the backyard. In the blistering heat. We didn't last too long. (if you can't tell by this face)
14. The heat's ok if you stand in the pool though. Although the water was too cold for even this heat. I'm no scientist so I don't know if I'm right, but it seems that without any humidity cold water is not as refreshing as you would think. The disparity between hot and cold is too much for the body. And it's really hard to get the water warm because if you just let it sit the wind blows your pool full of sand, giving you mud. We just can't win here.
15. This picture melts my heart. These boys love their dad so so much but don't get to see him nearly enough.
16. I kicked off my Sunday best posting this month... this is an outtake. I can't believe the air Laura got!


June:
june2011

first row, left to right:
1. It RAINED!!!!! We stood at that window marveling at the event for awhile.
2. Nick practiced his balancing skills in such a novel place (the window seat!)
3. Showing off his cool camo bandaids after getting his one year shots.
4. This is the "are you really taking a picture of me?" face.

second row, left to right:
5. I love this action shot. And the flash of dimple.
6. This is what we call the ugly cry.
7. And what he looked like, quite literally, one minute later. All toddlers are bi-polar.
8. Self portrait in the bathroom mirror!

third row, left to right:
9. Rob bought me flowers! Well, technically I bought them for myself but since he's the one who makes the money I can say he bought them for me.
10. My Max.
11. Oh, this face!
12. And this one! It's ridiculous how many pictures I have of these boys.

bottom row, left to right:
13. Balloons are a BIG hit with my boys. Number 1 toy in our house.
14. Max will pose for Laura, but not for me...
15. Laura. taken by Max.
16. Look at those chompers!

next up, July and August!

14 May 2012

sunday best: pregnancy edition

Ok, so this is not a Sunday outfit. But I wanted to share and get opinions... Rob has dubbed this the "half muumuu." I made it from this fabric I had my eye on for a long time and FINALLY went on sale. And I don't know how I feel about it and have not worn it outside of the house yet because of that. I'm not sure if my indecision over whether or not I like it is because it didn't turn out the way I had pictured or if I just don't like it. I've been studying the few pictures I took and I think I'll be tweaking the neckline some more, and maybe mess with the shorter side of the hem. But I would really really appreciate it if you'd give me your opinions too! The idea was to have something that wouldn't constrict my very sore belly (all these stretching muscles and ligaments hurt. A lot. Add in lots of Braxton-Hicks and anything tight around the bump is really uncomfortable), with lots of room to grow.

dress: McCalls pattern M6556 (I made lots of tweaks to the pattern to guarantee it would fit the whole 9 months. Some of them really weren't necessary, like lengthening it. The pictures make it look a little short but it hits at the knee as is. Or, I guess I shold say if you're short like me it will hit you at the knee. If you're really tall it'll be like the model. I'm planning on making a non-maternity version closer to the original pattern once I'm done breastfeeding.)
undershirt: Halftee

IMG_9852

So again, please let me know what you think!  And I'll probably be sharing pictures of it again once I make the planned tweaks.

13 May 2012

happy mothers day!

I hope all you moms out there (especially the ones in my life... Love you mom! And grandma(s)!) are having a great day!

IMG_1739
I'm so grateful for these two monsters that never cease to make my life awesome.  Being their mom is the best.

11 May 2012

my career as an army wife

IMG_9889

I've been wanting to write a post about what it's been like to be an army wife for awhile. So when I heard that today is Military Spouse Appreciation Day I knew it was time. Only problem is, the reason I haven't written it yet is I don't know how to say what I want to say. But I'm giving it my best shot.


I do want to write about our service members at some point, but today I'm only going to focus on what it's like as a spouse. But don't think because I only focus on spouses I don't appreciate our soldiers. Because I still think I have the easy job in all this.

Also, every person's experience with the military is different. This is mine.



I guess I should start off by saying this is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Ever. Harder than college, harder than college with a baby. Harder than childbirth. But at the same time, I am in awe of how I have grown as a person since taking this title of "military spouse."

I know it's easy, when hearing about military service members and their spouses or children and what they go through, to say "Well, they chose that life. If they didn't want to deal with xx they shouldn't have joined." I know because that's what I used to think. But the fact of the matter is, you can't know what you're getting into. Just like you have no idea what you're about to get yourself into when having a child. Yes, you think you know. And scoff at people who tell you you don't. Then your child is born and you realize they were right. You really had no idea what it would be like. The same goes for military life. You don't know until you've done it. And like having children, it is so much harder than you ever could have imagined. But at the same time, you never could have imagined how wonderful it can be at the same time.

A lot of what a military spouse does can be compared to a single parent, or a family where the dad travels a lot. But it's not really a fair comparison. Yes, there are similarities. Yes, a lot of the same coping strategies can be used. But there is a big difference. In the civilian world, if you mess up it means losing money. Or missing a deadline. Or maybe getting fired.

When you're a soldier, if you mess up someone could, or does, die.

That's a lot of pressure. Not just for our soldiers, but for us at home too. Life is not perfect, things don't always goes well. But our soldiers need to be focused 100% on their missions, and that means putting our personal lives on hold sometimes. It's hard, but it's a lot better than knowing that someone lost their life because I had a bad day. (and it's not just deployments where lives are in danger. The equipment soldiers work with are dangerous, period. Lives are lost during training, in garrison, you name it. But the number of needless lives lost goes down when everyone is focused)

A phrase I think about a lot, use sometimes, and have to do myself, is "Suck it up." Not just for the reason I just wrote about above, but also because of how things work for us now. This is how life goes: Rob goes to work. I do everything else.

Now, before you get all up in arms about gender roles and all that, I want you to understand that it works this way because we have no choice. The cookie crumbles that way because he simply isn't around.  Deployed or not, our soldiers work long hours.

So that leaves me, the stay at home mom. My staying at home is my career. That doesn't mean I don't let Rob help when he can, it means the choices I make are weighed against what is possible for Rob. For example, I get up with the baby every. single. night. all. night. because I can take a nap the next day. Rob can't. I have power of attorney so I can handle all the financial transactions we have because I'm able to make phone calls during the day. Rob can't. I prepare all meals and do all the housework because my schedule is flexible. Rob's isn't.

This is my job. And you better believe I'm proud of it.

This doesn't mean I'm always awesome at it. And on top of things. I have my breaking points. But that is where the growing and stretching comes in. There are many instances where my right-brained dyscalculiac self hits a wall. And I have a melt down. But once the melt down is over, I pick myself up and do what has to be done. Because it has to be done. Had you asked me when Rob and I got married if I'd be the one in control of our lives I would've laughed at you. But here I am, almost eight years later, running our lives.


This is especially true during the separations. No, Rob has never been deployed, but he has been gone a lot. The hardest times of those are when he's gone with no contact. Despite the long hours he works all the time, I'm able to send a quick text asking for his opinion or talk to him about things when he is home. But when he's out in the field it's all up to me to make decisions. And entertain children. To handle breakfast. And bedtime. And the whole day in between. 


And there is always something to do. Always.


But it's not all bad. The excitement leading up to Rob coming home is unparalleled. The moment he walks in the door is the happiest moment of your life, every single time it happens. Separations can be the most romantic thing ever because you have to be vocal about your feelings since a phone call is all you have. You fall in love with your husband all over again when he finally gets to cradle your baby in his buff army arms. Your heart goes aflutter when you see your soldier in his uniform, because the fact is there is nothing sexier than a man in uniform. You soak up a simple moment because for right then, your life is perfect. And no matter how terrible the reception, or how short the time is, the sound of his voice telling you he loves you is the best sound in the world.


Military spouses are as diverse as it is possible to be. But the one thing we all have in common is we are in this because the person we love chose to defend our country. One of the questions military spouses hear all the time (and can be one of those "hated" questions) is: 


"How do you do it?"


And the answer is simple. We do it because we have to. If we don't no one else will. 

We are not better than you, we are not more capable than you. Simply put, we have been stretched and pushed to get to where we are by our situation. The same would happen to you if you were in our shoes. We don't need to be worshipped, or treated like celebrities. We do appreciate gratitude and respect though. For being those "silent ranks" that make sure our military is able to perform at their best. For doing this job day in and day out. And while your charity is nice, it's not expected. Or necessary. All we really need is someone to talk to after days of only speaking to kids. Someone to give us a hug when we haven't been touched by another human being in weeks. Or a smile to let us know we're not just another invisible person.

If you need to see what strength is, find a military post. Watch the young moms, the women running a fundraiser, the houses with their welcome home banners. Behind those tired faces, those determined looks, those typical houses, lie someone working as hard as they can to make sure they are doing their job, so that their spouse can make sure you are able to live the life you desire. Surely that is worth your gratitude, if only for today.




If you are here from the Military Spouse Blog Hop, welcome! Hopefully I can "meet" some of you as we "hop" around today! You can learn more about me (jax) and the rest of the squad on the about page, and of course, feel free to look around!

10 May 2012

2011 in review: april

The original plan was to post about 2011 at the start of the new year... then my body decided to freak out over being pregnant. So you get them now!

april2011

first row, left to right:
1. How could anyone resist that face? Really? I mean, he got away with trashing my studio right here simply by looking at me like that.
2. One of Max's favorite things to do in the nursery is squeeze behind that chair and play peek-a-boo.
3. Max is turning into quite the photographer...
4. This is the picture he was taking in the photo I took.

second row, left to right:
5. Someone thought it'd be fun to go into the sopping wet shower fully clothed and play.
6. Nick has been great at entertaining himself since he was born. Here he had crawled into Max's room and was contentedly playing with the big boy toys.
7. He too has inherited his dad's ability of sleeping anywhere. Although even I have to admit that really does look comfortable.
8. I caught this smile while he was having some nakey time!

third row, left to right:
9. Nana came to visit!! And brought gifts!
10. Bath time is better with Nana. Shoot, everything is better with Nana...
11. Rob, Max, and my mom went hiking while she was here. (we all took turns with a stomach bug while she was here... this day was my absolute worst time with it. But I was most sad about missing out on this hike) The trail ended up at some caves which I think is pretty awesome! But apparently Max was terrified of the bears in the cave. (there were no bears)
12. Playing with new toys Nana brought in the lovely weather outside.

bottom row, left to right:
13. Saying goodbye to Nana:( Her visit was WAY too short! And please note how sweet Nick is; he will just melt into whoever holds him. He's my snuggly baby.
14. We weighed Nick on the luggage scale... he was 18 pounds!
15. Max is my dramatic child.
16. My snuggle muffin and I!

Next up, May and June!

09 May 2012

all it took was a dirty diaper

I don't know how to say it, other than this pregnancy has been hard. Brutal, even. In every way possible. Thankfully I do have good days, but this past week(end) has been mostly bad days.

Yesterday I woke up feeling even worse than the day before for no apparent reason. Then I looked out the window, saw how the wind was bending our neighbor's tree, and remembered we're expecting storms all week. Which means a change in pressure. Which means my pregnant body hurts.

But I still went through our morning routine and showered and fed the kids and got them dressed. But it was so hard to keep moving. All I wanted to do is crawl back into bed and forget everything I had to do that day and have to do the entire week. But I finally pinned Nick down so I could change his diaper, and because it was poopy, I took it to the outside trash. Something I was dreading because of the crazy wind, since wind here means dust, and that's the last thing I need a face full of.

And that's when it happened. I got a whiff of the air moving quickly down the street and am instantly transported back east. It's moist. And smells like green things. And is chilly. And I'm sure I looked like a crazy person as I just stood there and soaked it in. After throwing out the diaper, I headed inside then went straight to the backyard and leaned against the house for awhile just soaking in the wind.

And it's amazing how much better I felt after I went back inside. My whole day was turned around and I was able to face my kids and my list with energy and motivation.

All because of some wind carrying the promise of rain. And a poopy diaper that forced me to go outside.

It really is the little things in life.

08 May 2012

news for jax harmon photography!

I've been working really hard the past few months, especially the past couple of weeks, to finalize things (I've made lots of changes) and get my business, Jax Harmon Photography, up and running and legal again! There's still a couple of things left to do, but all the big stuff is done (like contracts and business licenses and tax IDs). But the biggest "big" thing completed that I'm terribly excited about is the fact my website is done and live!!

So check it out at www.jaxharmon.com.

jaxharmonsite1

jaxharmonsite2

jaxharmonsite3

Let me know what you think! (and if everything works for you.)

Also, down on the right in the sidebar is a link to my business page on facebook if you'd like to become a fan there!

There's also a whole lot more information on this blog if you go to the 'Jax Harmon Photography + Design' tab at the top.

And finally, thank you to everyone who has supported me in this endeavor through the years! (you know who you are) I'm so lucky to be able to do what I love!





I also owe a HUGE debt of thanks to my friend James for his help with getting it done. Definitely an awesome person to work with. He's in the process of rebranding his business, so keep an eye out because once he's done you will hear all about it!

07 May 2012

sunday best!

Unfortunately, no pregnancy outfit this week. I spent too much time in the sun and heat Saturday and paid for it Sunday. (the one good thing I got out of it is I now know that I'm going to have to take it very easy this summer. The last thing this baby needs is a dehydrated or heat stroked mama) So today's outfit is from the week after Christmas (right when my pregnancy sickness was starting to hit full-force). I apologize for the poor quality photos, my usual photo spot was "taken" so I just handed the camera to Rob (and we know how that goes...). But I loved my outfit so I wanted documentation of it no matter what.

shirt: Old Navy
jacket: Old Navy
skirt: New York & Company (from high school...)
hose: Christmas gift from my grandmother! I never would have picked an animal print (I admit, I'm scared I can't pull it off) but I LOVE these! I can't wait until next winter when I can wear them again. (I'd totally do it now if it weren't so blasted hot already)
boots: Charlotte Russe
necklace: Forever 21 (it's a little turquoise owl. I know, so hipster)
overall "roughness": first trimester

5712

Man, that really feels like a lifetime ago instead of 5 months.

04 May 2012

weekly interrogation: Kjrsten Madsen!


Today I present to you another photographer friend, Kjrsten Madsen!  Despite having never met in real life I know she has killer style (in every way from her shoes to her website) AND a killer eye because her work is gorgeous. She also makes me insanely jealous that she lives in Europe, looking at photos of the trips her family takes makes me groan with how much I wish I was there too:)



name: Kjrsten Madsen

1.What do you “do”?
photography, mothering, wifery, and more photography

2. Why do you do what you do? 
I see better with a camera

3.Where are you from? 
Tacoma Washington, but now living in London England

4. Favorite color? 
Blue, in all shades but leaning towards the lighter and green-ish hues

5. Favorite food? 
cookies

6. Favorite shoes? 
this is an almost impossible question! But if I have to choose I pick these (attached)

7. Favorite place in the whole wide world? 
the Black Sea (where I fell in love with the Mr.)

8. Favorite piece of playground equipment? 
the merry go round or tire swing (I like to spin)

9. Your funniest story? 
it's too inappropriate to share over the internet!

10. Mac or PC? 
Mac

11. Manual or automatic? 
manual (my first car was a '79 silver VW convertible Bug, that was the first and last time I ever loved a car)

12. What do you consider your best asset? 
my ability to keep the peace, around me and within myself too.

13. Guiltiest pleasure? 
cookies everyday for breakfast.

14. Biggest pet peeve? 
the lack of proper Mt. Dew in London.

15. What do you consider priceless? 
time with my mom. she has terminal cancer. her days are numbered.

16. If you could sit next to anyone on an airplane, who would it be? 
same as above.

17. What would you choose as your last meal? 
a roscoe sandwich (fried chicken + waffles + maple syrup + mustard dipping sauce)

18. What era in time do you connect with the most? 
the 60's. I love that women wore dresses everyday- even to the grocery store.

19. Your motto for life? 
I like to break rules, live in the present, and not freak out over stuff until it's really time to freak out, but it hardly ever is.

20. Best advice you can give? 
Always be the first to forgive.



And here are some links to some of my favorite stuff she's shot recently:

First, I love what her daughter said about Paris. And then Paris itself is spectacular:

My brother lived in Jamaica for two years but did not take any photos that do it justice. These do!:

I just love these. In a big way:

Why don't we travel by train in this country? So much lovlier than cramming in a car for days... :

If you don't groan looking at these I don't know what to say:


I hope you're a fan now too!




If you'd like to participate, just click on the 'weekly interrogation' tab at the top and follow the instructions there. Hope to see you here!

03 May 2012

gift ideas

This post is pretty much for family who may read, so feel free to disregard if it doesn't apply to you!

I am an online shopper. I never used to be, then I had kids. Now it is so much easier just to order something and have it delivered than drag all of us out of the house and drive all over looking for what we need. (and often not being able to find it!) So at some point I discovered amazon's wish list thing and started using it to keep track of the stuff I planned on buying. And I never planned on sharing it with anyone, it was just another list I could keep. (believe me, I am a big time list maker too)

Well, the time has come to spread the word on it since 1. we no longer live close to the people who get gifts for us so we get lots of "What do the boys like now?" and "is there anything you want?" type of questions.  Which we don't mind answering, but I know sometimes something very specific is the most helpful. And 2. we are now up to our eyeballs in toys (which I'm sure every parent can relate to) and have plenty of clothes for the boys (especially Nick as I kept everything of Max's and the born-in-opposite-seasons dilemma is no longer an issue as Nick gets bigger) but we DO need various homeschooling items. Which I (of course) keep track of on our wish list.

So, without further ado, here is the link: Jacqueline's Wish List

If you do take a gander at it, I'm sure you can pick out the stuff that are my wishes for "someday when we have tons of cash to spend on whatever we like."

And, of course, this is not to beg for gifts or anything like that! I personally love giving gifts and the brainstorming that goes into finding the "perfect" gift so if that is how you are don't change! (and we've had some FABULOUS gifts show up in the mail so don't feel like we are criticizing anyone!) This is simply to help out those who do not find the "hunt" so fun.

Lastly, I have to say that we are so incredibly grateful for all the gifts and cards we do receive. It can be really hard (especially for holidays) to be so far from family and can feel like the long lost relatives sometimes. So when we find goodies in the mail from those we love it really helps to remember we're not forgotten.

02 May 2012

2011 in review: march

The original plan was to post about 2011 at the start of the new year... then my body decided to freak out over being pregnant. So you get them now!

march2011

first row, left to right:
1. I am so in love with Nick's lips. I have no idea whose genes contributed these beauties, but I love whoever did.  The same goes for his eye color; Rob and I both have green-hazel eyes and pretty much everyone else in our families have brown (including Max).  But Nick has these beautiful dark blue/gray-hazel eyes.
2. Max's army pj's are my favorite!
3. Baby feet!  Nick got his dad's hobbit feet as well:)
4. Nick and I at an army picnic, one of the few pictures of me that exists.

second row, left to right:
5. Someone found all the bath toys and bottles while brother was in the tub.
6. Max in either a striker or a bradley vehicle. We have a feeling he may be a soldier like his dad...
7. Field Artillery!
8. I can't get enough of his squishy face!

third row, left to right:
9. Max is very left brained, numbers and all that "math stuff" comes easy to him, but he's not as interested in reading. (this is SO hard for me because I'm the exact opposite!) (although he is learning, just at a much slower pace than the numbers) But what little interest he showed at first came in the form of reading video game labels and manuals.
10. Nick wishing he could be in there too!
11. Checking out Max's freshly painted room. With a nerf dart in hand.
12. Max has inherited his dad's gift of falling asleep anytime, anywhere. (I do not have said talent.)

bottom row, left to right:
13. Gotta love cloth diapered bums! And I know I've said this before, but the light is AMAZING here. It can get a little intense at times, but it's nice to have perpetual sunshine.
14. This is what I get 98% of the time I try to take Max's picture.
15. If you can't hear the maniacal laughter in your head when you look at this you have no imagination.
16. Always checking to see what big brother is doing.

Next up, April!

01 May 2012

2011 in review: february

The original plan was to post about 2011 at the start of the new year... then my body decided to freak out over being pregnant. So you get them now!


february2011

first row, left to right:
1. February was pretty uneventful for us. We stayed at home a lot and I continued to unpack/organize. And my kids looked very cute, even simply munching on some cheerios.
2. The Goodwins made a slight detour to visit us on their way to Ft. Lewis! Their visit was WAY too short, but we'll take any time with them we can! It does make for some sad goodbyes though.
3. Max was VERY upset when they left, if it were up to him (and me!) they would be our next door neighbors everywhere we go.
4. Mom's studio has the best toys. (ahem.)

second row, left to right:
5. I'm amazed I can get two kids on my lap. But that's what happens when you play Yo Gabba Gabba videos on the computer.
6. My happy, smiling baby! We had the best walks this month, the weather was gorgeous! And the light is DIVINE here!
7. Again, so happy!
8. Poor exhausted Rob. Being a soldier means long hours, which means passing out every time you sit down.

third row, left to right:
9. Playing with our shadows on one of our evening walks.
10. That, my friends, is astro turf. It is legit here. Before moving here I had NO idea people actually used it in their yards. I thought it was just for sports arenas and trailer parks. But no, you will have a mansion with straight up astro turf instead of grass. Craziness.
11. Max looking at the camera for once!
12. It must be nice to be so little and get pushed around everywhere.

bottom row, left to right:
13. Max noticed we have the same type of shoes. Twinners!
14. Love that face. And those eyes. Gah, I just love babies!!
15. Again, mom's studio is the best place to play! (he's holding a big knitting needle.  Don't worry, he was supervised the whole time. Nick mostly used it to beat on furniture)
16. Our house has that magical circle in it that means lots of chasing and lots of running laps!

Next up, March!