Friday, February 21, 2014

monterey bucket list

When we first moved to DC we took our time getting settled in. There was no rush to see all the monuments in one weekend. There would be plenty of time to explore the city before we left. And then we got engaged and had a wedding to plan, and then we got married, and then it was time to move. In the blink of an eye the tour was over and it was time to say goodbye to the east coast. And while we were able to see a lot of our nations capital, there was still so much more I wanted to experience. I never got to see Gettysburg, darn it! So when we moved to San Diego we decided to make a bucket list. All the places we wanted to go and places we wanted to eat at would be written down as a to-do list of sorts so we wouldn't forget. Since we had both lived in the city before our list was pretty short. Sea World, apple picking in Julian, etc. By the time we left we had "conquered" San Diego!

We did the same thing with Monterey. I started the list a few months after we moved in and continue to add to as I hear of any "must-do's". We have managed to cross a lot of the things off, but not everything. And with only 4 months left in the tour, I know time is going to fly by and I want to make sure we conquer Monterey too! It is a pretty small town, we shouldn't have a problem. 

Here is what we have left on our list:

Lemongrass Thai

Hiking top 10 (will cover all these when we finish them and I have pictures to share!)
Whale Watching
Alcatraz (Matt has never been!) <--- going here this weekend
Night out at Casa de Hicks <--- staying here this weekend!
Picture in front of our house

Some of the fun things we have done while living in Monterey:

The famous Monterey Aquarium (we go here a lot!):

playing with the penguin

Moss Landing (eating at the Whole Enchilada):
mmm churro

My Museum (kids loves this place!)

playing on the firetruck

enjoying the beach and the sun

Big Sur: we have done this drive many times, pretty sure every single person that has come to visit us has been on this drive. It's beautiful!
and we typically stop at our favorite restaurant, Nepenthe, which has great food and a view!

Pebble Beach golf (Matt)
cloudy day but still a good game!

Santa Cruz (you can see the boardwalk in the background)

Walking across the Golden Gate Bridge

Wine tasting:
in Carmel
in Santa Lucia Highlands
In Sonoma
in Napa!
(we sure do love our wine! haha!)

Some of the delicious restaurants we have eaten at (and loved): Red House Cafe, Trailside Cafe, LouLou's Griddle in the Middle, Gianni's pizza (the BOMB), Il Vecchio, Sardine Factory, Mission Ranch, Passionfish, Beach House, and Patisserie Bechler bakery (the BEST almond croissants). I am sure there are more, but right now that is all I can think of and it's starting to make me really hungry (especially for a pastry), so I better stop.

I encourage all military families to make a bucket list every time you move. Add in restaurants for date night, places the kids want to go, family fun activities for the whole family. That way, when it is time to move, nobody says "I wish we could have done this…". You never know if you will live in that city again, so make the most of it while you can! Plus, if you are ever bored one weekend, looking for something fun to do, you can consult your list. And if you are a type A personality like myself it sure feels good to cross something off your to-do list....what a sense of accomplishment!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

mommy/military confessions: moving with little ones

When I first became a military spouse, the thought of moving around the country/world, seeing new places and making new friends, sounded exciting. I knew that as long as Matt and I had each other we could do anything. And it seems like wherever you go there is a welcoming military community waiting for you. Naturally there would be moments of fear and awkwardness, but it had to be better than being stuck in the town I grew up in. I loved being near my family but I knew that town had nothing for me and it wasn't where I pictured myself living forever. 

So it was a pretty easy 'yes' to Matt when he asked me to move out to DC to be with him. We got married, enjoyed our time on the east coast near his wonderful family, and then moved back to San Diego. And three years later we got orders to Monterey. Another beautiful city right on the water. Matt would get a little time off from his ship and I would get to spend more time with my side of our family. It was the perfect time for them to bond with Charlotte too. With every one of those moves we were excited and thrilled, it was something we were looking forward to.

A few months ago when we started negotiating for orders to our next duty station, I felt this change in me. I didn't want to move around anymore. And some of the places on the list, they were just too far from anyone or anything we knew. I was less and less excited about moving and finding a house, and more and more fearful. What had changed?! One word: Charlotte. Now that she was in the picture things weren't as easy breezy as they used to be. The thought of moving just wasn't as adventurous as when it was just the two of us. We had to think about how it would affect her and what kind of support system we would have at our new place. Having children changes everything. I know, breaking news! Alert the press! Having kids is life changing! No, but seriously, moving around when there are kids in the picture just isn't as fun. And it's not because they are young and you can't live in an apartment in the city. You have to think about the schools or other age appropriate activities near by. It would be ideal to get a house with a yard, not to mention a bigger house than before so you can accommodate your growing family pile of toys. Not to mention looking into the neighborhood crime rates and keeping an eye on those child predators. And the list goes on….

More than any of that, it sucks that these little ones change so quickly. I was gone for one weekend and I felt like she learned at least 10 new things. In an ideal scenario, our entire family would be just around the corner, able to rush over and witness each milestone. But sadly, that is just not the case. And it sucks. Big time. This last year has been wonderful because my side of the family has been a short drive away. Easy for long weekend visits and special occasions. And when we move, we will have the exact same scenario, but with Matt's side of the family. I just wish we could have both.

You see, I grew up in the same town as my entire family. My grandparents were a huge part of my life. (I still have a very close relationship with my Grandma) I saw them all the time. They picked us up from school almost every day. And my aunts lived in the same neighborhood as us. We could walk to their house! We vacationed together in the summer. And of course, I want Charlotte to have all those things too. I want to recreate the best parts of my childhood for her. But I cannot. She may never live 10 minutes from her Grandparents, so close they can pick her up from school if she gets sick. And it breaks my heart. And it is all because we are a military family.

I thought eventually I would get used to the moving around and having to travel to see family, but now I know I never will. It's going to be hard every single time. And we will cry when we have to say goodbye after a visit, because not seeing someone for months is just way too long. And because a 5+ hour flight is terrible. Ugh. And because Charlotte is going to change so much during that time.

My hope is that even though we may be far away, that with FaceTime and phone calls we can all keep in touch, send videos, and Charlotte can maintain those wonderful relationships with everyone from a distance. And someday, maybe we can all live close together. Clutes & Halls in our own little cul de sac. Haha! 

Unfortunately, this post doesn't come with some magical solution to home sickness. Lord knows I sure wish it did. It is part of being a military family. (And sometimes even a non military family) It comes with the territory. Yes I knew (kinda sorta) what I was in for when I signed on the dotted line, but having a little one makes it all the more difficult and sad. Just know that as a fellow military spouse and mommy, I feel your pain and understand exactly what you are going through. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

BIG news

First up, no I am not pregnant. But, there is a big announcement that includes a lot of changes for our little family. Wait for it…..we will be moving to Southern Maryland in July! Matt got selected for one of the best contracting jobs available, located in Pax River, so we will be moving out there in the summer. We lived in that general area about four years ago, so we won't be total newbies. Although this time around we will be outside of the DC metro area, living the relaxed country vibe type of life. Coming from small town Monterey, that is absolutely perfect. The only thing that would make it better was if we had an ocean view house. Ah well, we can't have it all.

We will be saying goodbye to my side of the family (super sad face) and moving close to Matt's, which means lots of quality time with the Clutes. Weekend trips and dinners, and maybe even some vacationing together.  His parents will also be able to see us more often since the flight from Florida to DC is much easier. Plus, since we've lived in DC before we have friends in the area and are looking forward to reconnecting with some of them. Woo hoo to play dates! :)

And surprising announcement #2…….WE ARE BUYING A HOUSE! I know, I still can't believe it either!! That American dream, we get it too! I honestly never thought we would be able to buy something of our own. The military usually have to sacrifice this dream, at least until after retirement. We move around so much that is usually isn't worth it. Plus, we typically want to live in the heart of the city or near all the action and that doesn't come cheap. It has been better, financially, to rent rather than buy. Take San Diego for example: we got to live in an amazing house with a great yard and a view of downtown in a prime location. If we had decided to buy, we would have ended up in Chula Vista or El Cajon (no offense to those who do live there, just not our style). We didn't have any little ones yet so being near downtown and the beach was more important. And now Monterey, two words: ocean view. I am sitting at our dining room table right now, looking out at the ocean, writing this blog. We could never ever have afforded to buy this house. But we can rent it! And it's awesome. This is by far our favorite house of any tour. I am going to shed a few tears when we have to leave this place. 

But I will be able to dry my eyes quickly when I think of the amazing new house we are getting. We will be buying a brand new house. We will be the first people to live in it. The floors, the cabinets, the countertops… we get to select it all. It will be on an acre of land too! Great for children and pets! It will be in southern Maryland, about an hour or so from the city. Closer to Matt's new job. But not too far from his family. And a little out in the boonies. It will be about a 20 minute drive to anything…..Target, Costco, groceries. Tis the country life, right?! I think we are really going to love living there. And honestly, I still can't believe it is happening to us. And I don't think I will until we actually move in. 

A few weeks ago we made the long flight to DC, selected the lot and picked out all the finishes for the house. (And to make sure the quality was up to our standards.) We got blasted with arctic air and a bit of snow while we were out there too. It made selecting the lot a tad more challenging but overall still very fun. 

 On our way!

enjoying lunch on the airplane

The lot!! 
everything to the left of the green boxes

our lot and our neighbor

standing in the kitchen

standing in the living room!

Some of the finishes we chose:
the exterior brick, siding, and shutters

exterior lighting

counter tops and cabinet color

cabinets will be the design of the ones on the far right, but in white

floors, "saddle", the one on the right 
Bathroom details: cabinets (color "toffee"), white marble countertops, tile floors, glass tile detail in the master bath

A few pictures from a spec home, same layout as ours:

kitchen design and size! So much storage!!

family room (we are doing hardwood throughout the first floor)

master bath with a shower large enough to fit 5 people!!

my side of the bathroom

basement (ours will be an area way walk out due to the lot being flat)

And while we were busy doing all the house stuff, Charlotte got to get reacquainted with her east coast family. It had been 6 long months since they had seen her, and boy had she changed!! 

GrandDave and GranSuz

doing some reading

ooo kitty!!! Miss Chloe doesn't look too thrilled about being "petted" by Miss C
checking out the snow

had to touch it to see how cold it was

reading with uncle jim


having a blast!

Charlotte sized pancakes. mmmmm

showing her tongue!
Aunt Jenny and Uncle Mike were there too, but someone had to be taking the pictures :). Or repairing the computers. haha. Charlotte had a wonderful time playing with her aunts and uncles and can't wait to see them again very soon! Our move date will be here before we know it!  Tear and smiley face.