Most families of fighter pilots have yearly photo sessions with the husband's mistress... oh, did I say mistress? I meant jet.
Meet the F-22 Raptor, my husband's mistress. He spends more time with her than with the family, or so it seems.
We tried getting some great family photos to commemorate him joining his first active fighter squadron, no longer in training... but it didn't go so well.
The sun was shining bright. The wind was blowing SO hard. Jets were flying overhead. It was LOUD. The first couple photos are okay. I think they'd be better if the sun wasn't SO bright right on us, but it's not like we could move the jet. The photographer was shooting families all day in 15 minute increments, so this is what we had to work with.
Maybe next year will turn out better. We'll see!
At least the girls are cute, even when one is pouty and mad (she declared, "I all done with pictures!") and the other one won't sit/stand still for a single second. Maybe one day they'll pose for someone other than me so I can be in nice photos with them.
For Josephine's first birthday, we wanted to do something a little different. We had a traditional cake smash for Annabelle when she turned one, but Josephine really likes donuts. How did we know this? Because on Annabelle's third birthday in September, I took her out for donuts. Of course, Josephine was with us because Dan was TDY at SERE at the time. I got up to throw a napkin away, and I watched Annabelle break off a piece of her donut, pass it to Josephine, and whisper, "shhh" at her.
So hilarious. And adorable.
These two girls are the best of friends, and I hope it continues to be that way forever.
Anyway, back to the donut smash. One of my friends, Amber, a fellow Raptor spouse, is a photographer, so naturally, I hired her to take pictures of Josephine since she's known her since she was about six weeks old.
We set up in the backyard, and it was great. Josephine was a little overwhelmed by all the donuts and didn't really know what to think... but she eventually ate a couple of them and smiled for some photos (and cried for some too, ha!)
Anyone else have a hankering for donuts right now?! I know I do!
So many people these days make fun of parents who choose to document their baby's first year with monthly photos. To that I say... why does anyone care? I am so glad I decided to capture these moments with both of my daughters. It's amazing to see how they compared to each other at each stage and also how incredibly different they are!
Annabelle was born weighing in at 6 pounds 3 ounces, while Josephine weighed 7 pounds 3 ounces at birth... though hospital staff said she probably weighed at least a full pound more than she should have because I was on fluids for so long during labor.
Annabelle weighed 18-ish pounds on her first birthday, while Josephine was 22-ish pounds on hers. They were both breastfed (though Annabelle only took bottles), and it is just so fascinating to me. Annabelle wore 6 month clothes at a year, while Josephine is in 12 month clothing. Clothes fit Josephine better too - her body fills them out, whereas Annabelle was so skinny (still is, really) that pants especially fit her really oddly.
Both of my babies have been tall - 85%+ each in height! I'm 5'8", and Dan is 6'0", so I guess they're just destined to be tall humans.
I can't wait to see how they continue to be alike and different over the years!
If you have more than one kid, are they more similar or different?
This year, we decided to include a year in review letter with our card. I don't think we'll take this same route next year, as I don't like how small the photos had to be, but we may include a typed letter WITH our card from now on. We'll see!
Anyway... Merry Christmas, friends!
The Cook family sends warm wishes for a fantastic holiday season to your families! Enjoy!
I still can't believe it's been a year. How insane. Our final baby, the caboose to our little family, is one year old. She grew so quickly over her first year after starting out so slowly. We can't believe she blossomed into this 22 pound toddler from such a dainty little baby.
From her birth announcement photo taken at about 12 hours old to each of her monthly updates, watch Josephine grow!
Random fun fact: Josephine's birth announcement photo was taken in Wichita Falls, Texas, where we lived at the time of her birth. We moved when she was 2.5 weeks old, however, so months one through 10 photos were taken at our home in Panama City, Florida. We then moved to Hampton, Virginia, where months 11 and 12 were taken (11 in the TLF on base and 12 in our new home).
On November 21st, our sweet little Josephine Jayne turned ONE! How the time passed so quickly, I will never have any idea. She has been the perfect addition to our family and is an absolute delight!
We had a "donut grow up" party for her (I'll share her donut smash pictures soon!), and we had a few friends and my mom (her Gammaw) over to celebrate with a little brunch party. She even got to wear her donut pajamas! It was a perfect morning, and our teenie weenie Josepheenie had a blast! This girl has more nicknames than anyone in the history of the world, I'm pretty certain.
Josephine's personality is developing rapidly, and she is a hoot! She makes us laugh constantly, and she adores her big sister. Annabelle loves her too, thank goodness. Josie loves being tickled and spun around and rough-housed. She is a total mama's girl, but her eyes light up when her daddy gets home from work anyway. She is still breastfeeding, but she also eats literally any other food you give her. She doesn't turn anything away yet, and it's great.
JoJo doesn't love bath time, mostly because she hates having water poured over her head to wash her hair. Playing in the bubbles with her big sister helps a bit, though. Our Joey Girl babbles all day, claps her hands when she's happy, asks for more in sign language, says mama and dada, points at what she wants, walks all over the place, and is just a happy, delightful little girl. Jo makes people smile everywhere we go, and she is seriously such a great baby. Hopefully she'll be just as great of a toddler!
Josephine Jayne, we can't believe you've been with us for more than a year already. We love you more than anything, and we are so happy you're a part of our family!
Have you ever had anything other than birthday cake at your birthday party? We did have a cake as well (because duh - it was her first birthday, after all!), but we really did enjoy the donuts being different.
For my birthday this year, all I asked for was a family photo session. We had been having an incredibly difficult year (as Dan was so busy with B Course, and I was adjusting to running the house with TWO kids in a new place where we didn't know many people - and no one else with kids). It was just plain rough.
But our kids were growing so quickly, and I wanted to capture them at their adorable ages AND have photos as proof that we made it through our toughest season yet! We will always have these to look back on, and I am so grateful.
I'm also glad I chose to have the photo session on base. We had these taken at the bay (because Annabelle was scared of the big, nice beach on base) at Tyndall Air Force Base a month before Hurricane Michael completely destroyed the entire area.
It was almost bedtime, so the girls weren't too happy, but we did get some great shots that I am so happy with. Josephine mostly wanted to eat sand, and we were all covered in it by the end of the session. But we are SO glad we had these photos taken, and we ordered a few in large canvases to hang in our living room.
Do you take family photos every year or for certain occasions? I love the idea of yearly family photos to track how the kiddos grow!
Way back in April, we found out we would be moving to Langley AFB in Hampton, VA upon Dan's graduation from F-22 Raptor B Course in August. We were thrilled! It was our number one choice, and I will say, now that we've been here for a couple months, we are SO happy.
There's a lot to do here with and without kids, unlike our last base, and we have been having fun checking out many of the fun things to do. Annabelle is settled into a new preschool that came highly recommended, and Josephine is settling into her new routine as a one year old (more to come on that soon!).
We bought our house, and it's been fun putting effort into decorating it this time around since we know we will be here for three years instead of just one! It feels like an eternity, and I am so glad! We have been married for 4.5 years and have moved across the country FOUR times already! We moved from Colorado to Ohio... Ohio to Texas... Texas to Florida... and now Florida to Virginia! We are SO ready to stay put and lay down some real roots here.
I'm not sure how it's possible that my tiny little baby became a THREE year old who is in preschool... but it happened in September!
Annabelle Kathryn, it seems like you were just born yesterday. I can remember so much of your infancy, and while I'm so glad we can communicate better now, sometimes I wish I could go back in time and snuggle with you as a little newborn.
For her birthday, Annabelle chose to have a Paw Patrol party. She is obsessed with these silly dogs, but hey, it was her day! We had her party at the end of August since Dan knew he would be away for SERE training on her actual birthday, and my mom and one of Dan's aunts were able to come down for the party, too!
We had a hot dog bar (hahaha - get it?!), and it was a huge hit. Poor Dan was outside grilling in the Florida heat for a couple hours, but he had company, at least. We rented a giant bounce house from Outdoor Rec on base, and all of Annie's friends (from ballet, preschool, and the library) had a blast jumping until they were drenched in sweat and red hot - literally! We ended with a cake from the commissary (seriously - they're so good! I don't even shop at the commissary, but I always go there for birthday cake!)
Annabelle had so much fun opening her gifts, and what was great was holding most of them back in Dan's office to pull out one at a time during our cross country move so she wouldn't be bored in all the hotels we stayed in. I call that a win!
The girls' amazing babysitter in Florida wrapped Annabelle's gift with this - how incredibly thoughtful! I had to snap a photo before she ripped into it so she can have it forever. We miss her terribly!
Overall, Annabelle had a blast at her party! We are so sad that we moved away from all of her friends. She made so many in our short time in Florida, and she is still asking to see them two months later. Such is the life of a military brat, I suppose...
Hey there! Remember me?! If not... I don't blame you. It has been MONTHS. What can I say? Life has been extremely busy. A lot has happened since I last blogged in May... including surviving two of Dan's TDYs, his B Course graduation, a trip to Orlando, moving across the county, a Space A trip to San Diego, both girls' birthdays, and buying a house. Phew.
Anyway, I'm here today to chat about Dan's F-22 Raptor B Course graduation way back at the end of August. If you remember, he started B Course in January of this year. It was a nine month training course with a short TDY to Atlanta for the Lockheed Martin SIMS, a two week TDY to Savannah to fly with a bunch of other jets, and SO much craziness. This was undoubtedly the toughest nine months of our life together so far.
Dan pulled a LOT of 12 hours days. A lot. There were many days each week that Dan would leave before the girls woke up in the morning and would get home after they went to bed. It was so difficult when they (especially Annabelle) just wanted to see him... but somehow, we made it through! (But not without a lot of tears from the toddler... and me.)
There were a few hooked flights. There were lots of maintenance issues and jet availability issues. There were SO many weather issues. BUT, despite it all, my stud of a husband completed the B Course and is officially an F-22 Raptor pilot in the world's greatest Air Force! (But I'll be so happy to never go through this season of life again. Ha!)
Out of the 14 pilots in Dan's class, a whopping 13 of them had a spouse or significant other! These ladies GOT ME THROUGH. I seriously don't think I would have made it to the other side in one piece without the help of them. I am SO happy that many of us are still together at Langley - six of us, to be exact! (And soon to be seven, now that another is coming up from the squadron at Tyndall!)
This is what I got Dan for his graduation. It's a hand painted Raptor on a sectional chart of Tyndall AFB. I got him the same thing with a T-6 and a T-38 on the Sheppard AFB sectional chart for his ENJJPT graduation, so I wanted this to match it for his "I Love Me" room. If you're married to a pilot, you know the room I'm talking about.
Now that I'm back, I'll be back MUCH sooner than last time with a new post! I have four more to write about immediately to catch up before the year is over. See ya soon!