Thursday, August 31, 2017


Bainbridge Island Ferry, Seattle Washington, Bainbridge Ferry, Downtown Seattle

Well, I've done it. I've officially hit the age where I'm now "in my 30's." I'm no longer just thirty (which was a pretty killer age if I do say so myself), my grays/whites are creeping steadfastly through my scalp and becoming more and more visible, I hardly ever get carded anymore, and gosh dangit--I still feel like a kid but have all the responsibilities of an adult. Welcome to 31, Annelise.

In all actuality, I'm thrilled about turning 31. Daniel and I have accomplished some big goals for ourselves over the past year, and I can't wait to see what we will do together this year now that so many of our boxes have been checked. For instance, we recently did a very Dave-Ramsey-esque "Debt Free Scream," after getting ourselves completely out of debt for the first time in almost five years of marriage. Now THAT was exciting. I also finished up the last bit of my out-of-state training for the Air National Guard, and have no more commitments in the foreseeable future where I'll have to be away from Daniel for an extended period of time... HOORAY!

So you know what that means? That means 31 is going to be a banner year. That's what I was praying for when I blew out my candles, anyway. I've got some big hopes and big dreams, and regardless of what does or doesn't happen, I'm happier than I've ever been and there's no value or price tag I can place on that feeling.

To celebrate my birthday this year, Daniel and I road-tripped to Seattle, Washington to spend some time with my sister and family. It's the third year I've been with my sister on my birthday, and I'm liking the idea of making it an annual thing. We are 12 months and 6 days apart, so sharing our birthday weeks together is pretty darn special.

Over the course of the weekend we played games (10 Penny & Scattegories), ate all the food we could possibly fit into our bellies, took two delightfully long beachwalks and filled our pockets with agates, hugged all the family members we could find (all grandparents & one uncle), and regretted the fact that we didn't have just a couple more days to do it all over again.

Ivar's Mukilteo Landing, Ivar's soft serve ice cream
If you're taking the Mukilteo Ferry to Whidbey Island, stopping at Ivar's for a cup of chowder and a soft serve swirl cone is a must. Now the real question... cake cone or waffle? We stop every single time we take the ferry and this tradition has been a treat for me since I was a kid.

Some of our foodie adventures included chowing down on slices of Neapolitan pesto pizza and caesar salad at Village Pizzeria in Langley on Whidbey Island, savoring Penn Cove mussels and clams in green curry broth with a dessert of a key lime tart at Gordon's on Blueberry Hill on Whidbey Island, destroying a pot of chilled peel-and-eat shrimp alongside a Bloody Mary at Doc's Marina Grill on Bainbridge Island, demolishing a soft serve swirl cone at Ivar's, tasting the delights of Mexican mole enchiladas and ultimate margaritas at Senor Moose in Seattle, overlooking Seattle with a caesar salad and white chocolate mousse cake at Salty's on Alki Beach, and treating myself to a double scoop of oatmeal cookie dough and smore's ice cream at Molly Moon's in Seattle. I mean, can-I-get-a-food-AMEN?!

Maxwelton Beach, Whidbey Island, Clinton Washington
My happy place--Maxwelton Beach. I don't know how many times I've walked these beaches scouring the rocks for agates, but I will never turn down a 2+ hour beach walk or a chance to make it to the point.

Maxwelton Beach, Whidbey Island, Clinton Washington, Maxwelton Beach agates, Whidbey Island agates
I found this big & beautiful agate nestled in the tide flats on Maxwelton Beach. It was glowing just enough for me to spot it amidst the sand. I did an agate dance for that one!

Ebey's Landing, Ebey State Park, Whidbey Island, Ebey Beach agates, Whidbey Island agates
Our second beach walk landed us at Ebey's Landing, just outside of Coupeville on Whidbey Island. We took home 23 agates of all different shapes, sizes and colors. Daniel did really well... he didn't have time for the small ones that day!

Whidbey Island, Gordon's on Blueberry Hill
I hardly get to see my grandparents enough (mom's & dad's), so it was our pleasure to treat them to dinner at Gordon's on Blueberry Hill in Freeland on Whidbey Island. I don't know if I've ever dined at such a fine restaurant (read: expensive), but every penny spent was so worth the experience... plus the food was DELICIOUS, so it made for a very memorable, enjoyable evening. I'm so blessed to be able to spend time with all my grandparents and treasure our time together.

Whidbey Island, Gordon's on Blueberry Hill
This delectable dessert was the key lime tart from Gordon's. For my actual birthday, my grandma took me, Daniel and my sister to Salty's on Alki Beach in Seattle. The food wasn't quite as spectacular as Gordon's, but again... the time spent with Grandma meant more to me than any gift or birthday treat.

You know, I don't think I've ever had a birthday that I just didn't love. But this one felt different. It felt exciting. It felt real. It felt new. I felt so loved. And most of all, I feel ready for what's next. So let's go, 31, show me what you've got.  

Past birthday posts: twenty-six │ twenty-seven │ twenty-eight │ twenty-nine │ thirty

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Security Forces Training

Security Forces, 124 Fighter Wing, Defenders

Since June of last year, I've been working as the full-time Operations Officer for our Security Forces Squadron. However, it wasn't until graduating the Security Forces Officer Course back in May that I actually received the training to enable me to do the job. So here I sit--several months later--still working as the Operations Officer and absolutely loving every minute of it.

Since coming home from school, I've taken a team out to the desert for two weeks of field training, gone to Dayton, Ohio for the MAJCOM Challenge trophy presentation, gone TDY to Klamath Falls, Oregon to support the Sentry Eagle open house as the lead of a security detail, and have worked more 60+ hour weeks than I can even count on two hands. And seriously, I love it.

Anyway, today's post is not about how insanely rad AND tactical AND sah-weet my job is, but instead it's to show some of the cool photos of our field training exercise (FTX) we did back in June. When I got home from school, I transitioned straight into an entire month of work (one single day off), and part of that month was planning and executing a four-day field training exercise out in the Idaho desert for our Defenders.

My role in the exercise was to be the Flight Commander for our three flights of 27 total troops. I wrote and presented the Operation Order (OPORD), planned the 3.5-hour convoy to get us to the site, set up a bare base, and then rocked it out in the field with the troops for four days while we held security of our base, ran missions against opposing forces (OPFOR), and had a heck-of-a-time bonding in the middle of nowhere. I mean, when you have no showers, eat nothing but MREs, sleep out in the open air, and have no cell phone connection... what's better than some good 'ol squad bonding? Nothing, I tell you, nothing beats it. Man, I love being a Defender.

Security Forces, 124 Fighter Wing, Defenders
During the two-week training and prior to heading out to the field, we started most mornings off with squadron PT. For this session, we hit our range and did log, sandbag and bucket carries up a 200m hill ten times, with sets of 15 burpees & log jumps between each hill repeat. It was a killer workout and we really bonded as a team. Break down the body--build up the resilience--bond the team!

Security Forces, 124 Fighter Wing, Defenders
A shot from our lead vehicle of our convoy headed out to the training area. Our convoy was 3.5-hours long. We suffered a broken down HMMWV on the way out, so we had to tow it the entire way. Talk about a wrench in the system! But hey, we made it and it was just one more lesson learned--always have a back-up plan!

Security Forces, 124 Fighter Wing, Defenders
We set up this bare base around these conex boxes that were out in the middle of the desert at the Saylor Creek Training Area. With the help of a ladder, they provided a place for us to make static overwatch posts and they also provided nice wind barriers at night! We held this camp as well as the base perimeter, which was blocked with C-wire, for four days.

Security Forces, 124 Fighter Wing, Defenders
One of our missions/trainings involved a Blackhawk Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC). Typically, we rehearse MEDEVACs with 9-line cards and radio traffic. This time, however, Blackhawks showed up to pick up our guys and we were really able to put our SABC (self aid buddy care) and litter carry training to the test. The ride in the Blackhawks was the favorite experience by most of our troops at the FTX.

Security Forces, 124 Fighter Wing, Defenders
Both Blackhawks landing at our camp after being signaled by one of our troops who popped smoke to signify their safe and designated landing point.

Security Forces, 124 Fighter Wing, Defenders
I lead our MEDEVAC mission from our Base Defense Operations Center (BDOC), because I didn't want any of our troops to miss out on the Blackhawk ride. To my surprise, after the mission ended they came back to give the rest of us joyrides who didn't get to go. Just my luck!

Security Forces, 124 Fighter Wing, Defenders
Our entire FTX flight. What a great group of people this was. This was our flight (Armageddon Flight! BOOM!) and OPFOR members on our last night of training.

If the pictures didn't do it justice, check out the video of our training that a visiting troop put together for us.

I don't think I can say it enough--I love my job. The opportunities I'm being given at the Air National Guard and within Security Forces are more than I could ever have asked for. Every single day brings something new--a new challenge, a new dilemma, a new way to help, a new lesson to learn. The hours are long and the work can be rough, but this job and the people I get to work with make all the difference in the world. As I say every single day (and sometimes it's to remind myself as well--trust me--we all have those days)... "I love my job. I love my job. I love my job!"