Closing the 2018 Chapter


I took this photo of my husband, Matt, whom I was away from all of January on a trip to West Virginia. I remember going back to work after the New Year and being told that three days later I would be traveling there for a month-long course. I was miserable in West Virginia. When I came back, Matt had a surprise date night prepared. He took me to an arcade where we played all sorts of video games and had a blast.

In March, I traveled to Okinawa, my first time ever seeing Japan. The views of the water were amazing, especially at sunset, but the sushi and ramen were even more amazing! I felt so fortunate to travel to such a beautiful country and be immersed in its culture.

In the Spring, we signed up for a couple’s retreat to the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue, Washington. We took our Australian Shepherd, Titan, with us. We spent one night playing pool and walking around a mall area. I remember one kid played on a grand piano and Matt took my hand to waltz with me in the middle of the mall. My heart exploded and I could not stop smiling.

I couldn’t have been more proud of my husband for receiving this award. He works so hard everyday and truly takes pride in what he does.

As a reward for Matt’s achievement, I signed him up for basic rider’s course to receive a motorcycle endorsement on his license. The bike hunting began soon after he completed the course, and he came across this beauty. He bought his first bike and rode it to work throughout the summer and fall. On some nights, he would ride me around town, cruising roads that overlooked the Sound. I had never felt so free. I smiled riding behind him while he listened to music play on his Sena. He would let one hand off the handle to pat me on the leg or do a little dance just to make me laugh, which happened frequently. And then I would smack him on the helmet to pay attention to the road.

On June 9, 2018, we had our big wedding in Missouri and it was the happiest day of my life. It truly was the wedding of our dreams. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day.

In August, we got all fancy and I took Matt to his first theater showing of Phantom of the Opera at the Paramount in Seattle. He surprised me with a beautifully orchestrated dinner at Ruth’s beforehand.

I found a new hobby with painting in my free time. Painting with acrylics was a little scary at first, but the more I practiced, the less cautious I became. It makes me proud to look upon my work that hangs on our walls and know that I created a work of art.

In October, I made the big decision to reenlist for an upcoming assignment that Matt and I are incredibly excited about. My coworkers and I took a short hike down to the water where our officer reenlisted me. Matt and Titan came along, and I gave Matt an appreciation award because of his continuing support of my military service and our future together.

I earned my first foreign wings following one of the best jump experiences I have ever had as a paratrooper. I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful December day in Washington or a softer landing! It was also an honorable day to participate among our Canadian partners and be led by a new Jump Master.

Matt and I attended the military ball together where we enjoyed many wonderful ceremonial events, especially hitting the dance floor at the end of the night!

We challenged each other to see who would give the better Christmas gift this year, and I do believe Matt won! He bought me my first really nice camera and paint set. He did, however, love his present which was a hand sewn Baker family crest on a leather vest. Matt said that he hadn’t felt this excited about Christmas in a long time, and that really made this holiday special.

We have so much preparing to do and I may not be writing as much because of this. But I am thrilled to announce that we’ll be moving to Germany next year! It has been my dream to travel more throughout my life, and now I have the opportunity to live that dream with my husband. I cannot wait to share this experience with him and possibly grow our family along the way. 🙂 It’ll be a huge adjustment, but I know we’ll be more than ready for this new chapter of our story.

Bring it on, 2019!

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What 2017 Taught Me

I swear I was just on a plane to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a shy little Specialist Amanda Ridder straight out of airborne school traveling to her first unit, unsure of practically everything you could imagine. I blinked and here I am: Specialist Amanda Ridder about to become Specialist Amanda Baker, a young woman open to a new chapter of her life once again.

2016 was the year I graduated basic, AIT and airborne school. Before joining the army, I was a 25-year-old college graduate living at her parent’s house waiting tables. I took the leap and joined the 1%, and no regrets ever since. And I’m just getting warmed up.

After the whirlwind of 2016, I wasn’t sure how I was going to be ready for 2017! I had conquered my biggest fear yet by volunteering to jump out of five perfectly good airplanes! I set the bar pretty high for myself.

In 2017, I grew to understand that time would open my eyes to even bigger challenges that I never predicted; that Google never told me; that a manual could not teach me. I fell in love and got engaged. I am planning not only one, but two weddings: one here in Washington in 18 days and another in  Missouri on my fiance’s family property next year. This alone goes to show how blessed I am. And yet again, I have set the bar higher.

I can only imagine what 2018 has in store.