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A Boy, A Girl, and The Marine Corps: A Love Triangle: September 2012

A Boy, A Girl, and The Marine Corps: A Love Triangle

"I cast my lot with a Marine and where he was, was home to me." ~ Anonymous.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Carpe The Hell Out Of This Diem!

If you are reading this, and it's 9/29/12, then I am at the Tough Mudder Seattle and either registering, running, or recovering from doing it!  Or I'm dead.  But I'm sure someone will notify y'all if that is the case.

Yes, the day if finally here.  I've been training off and on since February of this year, I've been running, recovering from injuries, fitting it into life and generally being determined to participate in the event that claims to be the hardest in the world.

In honor of the day being here, let's recap my journey (you can view my July training update HERE):

In Nov of 2010 I attended USMC ball in a dress that was a size 12, but it was a bit tight, so I was getting close to that size 14.  I was in a fair amount of denial about the weight I had gained.  I was 110lbs when I got married in 2008 and I was 148lbs in this picture, just 2 years later.

When New Years Eve rolled around, we were invited to a party at a friends house.  I rarely shop or buy new clothes and discovered that I had nothing nice that fit all that well.  Note that I'm wearing the same shirt in both of the pictures below.  At New Years, I could barely fit into the shirt, but had no other options.  I decided right then and there that it was time to lose weight.  It was that or spend a lot of money buying bigger clothes... So I joined Weight Watchers online.

The picture on the left is shortly after we had gotten back from Europe and I had begun to run.  I had lost a decent amount of weight on WW, but canceled the membership when it started getting too expensive to afford.  I was not exercising, but simply using the WW principles to maintain the weight I had gotten to.  I was not unhappy at all at 132lbs, but a friend talked me into doing the Tough Mudder in February and the training began.

 I trained, learned to eat even better than I already had been and joined a vegetable co-op.  The co-op forces me to eat mainly fresh foods and I have begun to cut out many of the process foods I previously ate regularly.  The running, cutting Starbucks out of my life and eating better all lead to what you see below.  Though I haven't lost much weight since July, please be excited for the slimmer hips, butt and midsection, as well as the more defined abs!!!!  I also have thinner arms and calves now!  I've lost a lot of inches off my mid section, bust and hips and have been seeing the tone come back slowly but surely.

A year and a half journey to being a healthier me, but also a journey of training for an event that no one believed I could do.  Everyone dropped out of it on me and I'm running it alone.  I kept up my training (mostly) and, though I'm very terrified that I will epically fail at all that I try to do, no one is going to stop me from giving it my best shot.

My goal is to run the 11 mile, 26 obstacle course in 4 hours.  The average is three.  I don't care if I complete all the obstacles, but my goal is to not skip any.  I will give them all my best efforts.

I'll post pictures as soon as I'm able to move again!


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Friday, September 28, 2012

My Life In Pictures: The Bacon Edition

A friend of mine posted an article about the possibility of a bacon and sausage shortage on Facebook.  I have to admit that that might be the scariest thing I've seen posted in a while.  Everyone loves to talk about the polar icecaps melting and global warming.  They love to ask what will happen when we run out of trees.  Don't get me wrong, I recycle, I try to cut our waste when we can, I'm big on reusable items and repurposing things when possible, but a world WITHOUT BACON?!

It's like the balance of good and evil in the world has suddenly gone terribly off kilter.

So, here's an ode to bacon:









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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Deployment Series: Coping With The Dreaded D-word





Deployment.

The dreaded D-word. Most of us military spouses are going to get hit with the d-word at some point, and most likely more than once. You come to expect it, maybe even be okay with it. But no matter if it’s your first or fifth, it never gets easier. You do, however, learn how to cope. And that’s what I’m here to talk about.
My husband and I were married for 2 years when he left for his first deployment to Iraq in 2009. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I didn’t know many people who had gone through one. I was apprehensive but also spent most of my time in denial. But finally the day arrived and I realized you have to handle a deployment the way you do just about anything else: one day at a time. That year taught me so much, and as I gear up for our second one, I wanted to write this to remind myself of that as well as encourage anyone else who may be facing their first one.
First of all, I learned that the weeks leading up to deployment are much worse than the first few weeks of deployment. Seriously. As terrible as this sounds, I got to the point where I just wanted him to leave already, and he was feeling the same way. He was also becoming a little detached, as his own method of coping. Also, everything we did and talked about and everything he did at work was in the light of the impending deployment, and you just get worn out with it. The anticipation is horrible. Now that I know this, I am determined to handle it better this time around. Instead of getting into a massive fight a few days before he leaves because I finally had a meltdown and expected him to just KNOW that I was upset about him leaving  (don’t you love how we always want our guys to be mind-readers, ladies? Lol), I’m going to know that these emotions happen and tell him when I am feeling overwhelmed and needing him to love me and tell me it’s going to be okay.
Then I learned how important it was to have a good support system, and for me that included other military spouses (as well as my church, my family, and other friends). I know everyone is different, but for me, I needed friends who were going through the exact same thing I was. Don’t avoid friendships with other military wives because you’re afraid of “the crazies.” Yes, they’re out there, and you’ll probably attract one every now and then, but chalk it up as a good story and move on. =) My deployment buddies, or “battle buddies” as we called ourselves, kept me sane and I don’t know what I would’ve done without them! We had dinner together, watched favorite TV shows together, celebrated each other’s birthdays, attended gym classes (one of my buddies joined me at a 5:15am spin class several days a week!), went on mini road trips, assisted each other with house projects, planned monthly karaoke bashes, etc. etc. We were there for each other through thick and thin, no matter what. It’s just as important for you to have battle buddies as it is for your husband!
I learned to keep busy. I determined  early on that I would never spend a deployment moping at home and obsessing over missing my husband. Besides the fact that I worked full time, I also kept my social calendar so full that the weeks passed by in a blur. I volunteered for my Family Readiness Group, helped lead a ministry at church, and spent mass amounts of time with my friends. You know you’re staying busy enough when you find yourself begging for a night at home all alone, just to wear ugly pajamas and watch TV!
I learned to avoid toxic people. That’s good in any situation, but it’s especially important during a deployment. It isn’t good to be around people who are constantly focused on the negative and try to drag you down with them.
I learned to let myself cry and have a bad day if I needed it. There is no way you’re going to be able to feel strong every day of a deployment, and there’s no shame in that. Some mornings I would just wake up in the dumps, and nothing I did could shake it off.  Instead of fighting it, I’d let myself have a good cry if that was what I felt I needed. But the next morning I’d get up and go on. I knew that if I kept trying to keep up a brave front 24/7, eventually I’d explode and the mess would be much worse than if I just let myself have a bad day every now and then.
There is a lot more I could say, but those are the main things and what I like to share with others when they ask for advice. You will never regret the determination to make a deployment a positive experience instead of a negative one. And no matter what, homecoming day makes everything worth it!


Sarah blogs at My Life, Army Style where her Bio reads: Christian. Proud Army wife. Loving fur-parent to two adorable kitties. Loyal friend. Cooking addict. Fitness enthusiast. Lover of wine. Adventurous. Coffee snob. Quiet but fun-loving. Reader. Procrastinator. Sweets devotee.

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Be sure to check out the other posts in this series!  You can view them under the Deployment Series tab, or by clicking HERE

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Find Your Passion

William Shakespeare wrote: "Nothing is so common as the wish to be remarkable."  It's a very true statement.  I think everyone has a secret desire to be remarkable, special, and amazing at something.

So many people I know are happy being who they are, doing what they do and living the life they live... For some reason, I never really have been.  Not to say that I hate my life, but I've always felt like there was something more out there.  Something waiting for me.  It makes it that much harder to be married to a man who knows exactly where he is going in life and who makes strides each day to get there.  I wake up each day and take strides towards nothing much at all.

I fell into my current profession and not many people I work with really know that.  Of the few that do, who have had a glimpse into the inner workings of my mind and heart, are always shocked to hear that.  How can someone who is so good at what they do, not have passion for it?  I don't know.  I tend to throw myself whole heartedly into whatever I am doing.  So, when I was in school to learn my trade (so to speak) I threw myself into it.  I learned all that I could.  If I'm going to do something, I'm going to be the best at it, the most knowledgeable and constantly seek to learn more.  But I don't wake up everything giddy at what I do.  I like it.  My job is great, my co-workers rock and my employer is pretty awesome... But is it my passion?  No.  Is it something I want to, or can even see myself doing for the next 20 years?  No.

It has been something so curious to me to see my friends who are content with what they do, never aiming to move higher, push farther, try harder or move forward.  They are content to go to the same job each day, do the same stuff and never be anything more than that... I envy them.

I am not one of those people.  Even in a job I don't love to the point of never wanting to give it up, I am constantly striving to be better, learn more, push myself harder and work towards moving up.  Not up into management, but up.  I've looked into my 4 year degree, I've looked into a specialty in what I do.  I've looked into ways to be a front runner in what I do. I'm not content to just show up, do the job and head home.

But what I really want, is to do something that I can't imagine not doing.  I want to find something that I love so much, that nothing else will satisfy me.  All of the things I've ever been encouraged to do by teachers have been things that I've looked at as something I enjoy, but not as my passion.  All the things I adored, I was told to keep dreaming.  My mother once shot down something I had often been told I was good at, by telling me that people who "make it" in that chosen field have different backgrounds than I do, and thus I would never make it... Nice, right?  Well, I gave up.  I never pursued it.  And now I sit and wonder what this world has in store for me.  Where am I going in life?

So, I suggest you find your passion.  Find the thing that you dream of doing and don't let anyone, not your mother or spouse or friends, tell you that you can't do it.  Anything is possible in this world.... Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basket ball team only to later become one of the most amazing basketball players to grace the court.  Shikira was told by her choir coach that she sang like a goat and would never make it.  She is now an international sensation.  They didn't take no for an answer because they knew where their passion was.

"To have passion is to love without recognition of failure." - A Girl


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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Deployment Series: There's A Season For Everything In Life

I'm Neidy from Neidy's Infinite Playlist! I'm 21 (almost 22! My birthday's August 13!), brand new mommy to a sweet little boy, wife to an amazing man who happens to be a Marine, a firm believer in Jesus Christ and proclaimer of His Gospel, a music fanatic, film enthusiast, photographer/cinematographer, and overall, just a silly girl who loves the simple things in life like crunchy leaves to step on, lunch with good friends, a sleeping husband by her side, and cute baby giggles :D



There's a season for everything in life.

I remember repeating that to myself several times before he left. This season though, there was a new person that would have to deal with his departure. 
Photo Credit: Keary Dee Photography

I  love this picture so much because it is literally minutes before he came. That was the last time he would be clinging onto me solely.

My baby didn't know what he was missing; but I knew. I knew the smiles from his daddy that he was missing. I knew how much he wanted to play with his little toes. I knew how much he wanted to read to him and put him to bed. 

I knew that in that season, his daddy wanted to be there the very second he came into this world, breathing his first breath, and looking at his new family.

But the season didn't allow for it. And that's sometimes what has to happen.

Like all seasons though, they pass. And that's what I had to remember. "This too shall pass" became my favorite verse and saying. All the countless nights sleeping alone, all the tears I shed, the difficult delivery, the long nights awake, and the countless feedings. I had to be a double parent when I had just become one. 

It was hard.

But it passed. Even with the crazy that happened all through deployment though, there were good times. There were cute little smiles when Charlie would hear daddy on the phone. There were special mommy and baby bonding moments. I discovered I had great friends that would do anything for me. 

Sometimes you need those seasons to realize that little things like that matter...and they accumulate into the next season.
Photo Credit: Keary Dee Photography


And the next season...well, let's just say that it's the best season of all.


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Be sure to check out the other posts in this series!  You can view them under the Deployment Series tab, or by clicking HERE

Monday, September 24, 2012

I Love Fall in Seattle- A guest post


Check out my guest post over at Soldier's Wife, Crazy Life!  It's about Fall in Seattle and why I love it. :)




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Friday, September 21, 2012

Grief

I have to go to a funeral tomorrow for someone I truly loved.  It's a funny thing, death.  When someone you love dies, it feels like your heart stops, but the world doesn't.  I spend my time wondering how people can keep moving on in their lives, go to work, laugh and drink coffee when someone so special is no longer in the world.

I have suffered a number of losses of family members recently, and know that there are more losses to come as people I have known my whole life continue to age and grow ill.  These are people who I have never thought of as anything other than the people I knew as a child.  It's astonishing to realize that they are elderly now.

My mother failed to tell me my uncle was ill... He died the day after we arrived in Europe.  I never got to go to his memorial dinner with my family because they didn't tell me when it was.  I never got to say goodbye to a man who was so special to me.  A person who, in my youth was stoic and rarely spoke to anyone, but in his old age, became a joyous man who couldn't wait to talk to me about my wedding when I got engaged.   We spent hours discussing the most mundane things in life, like the best kind of cutting boards, and where to get the best food... But it was those talks that I love so much.  He never spoke down to me, I was his equal.  And he adored The Boy.  We often talked of trying to get together outside of family gatherings, but were never able to make it work.  And I never got to say goodbye to a person that meant so much to me.  And my family HATED that of everyone he could have chosen to be open with, it was me.  I don't know why he picked me, I don't know what about me and The Boy made him want to be interested in our life, but we were the only ones he really spoke to.  And that meant something to me.

My aunt, who's funeral is tomorrow, was also very special.  She was very ill and had been for quite some time.  But she was grumpy and stubborn.  She may have lived longer if she had been willing to do what was right for her health, but she wasn't.  Most of my family was frustrated with her.  She was in an assisted living home and my family was always going down there and dealing with her and trying to force her to "be good."  I never did that.  I didn't get to see her much because we live fairly far away.  It meant that the times I saw her, I was never exhausted from arguing with her.  I found her quirks endearing.

She would steal books from the free library area, and hide them in her room.  She would insist that they belonged to her, in spite of the clear stamp with the Home's name on the cover.  She would sneak candy when she was diabetic and piss off my mother when she did.  She refused to eat what she should and would fight anyone who tried to make her do anything she didn't want to.  I loved every bit of her. Right down the the kleptomania.  I always wondered why everyone pushed her so hard to be what they thought she should be.  Heck, she was aging, maybe not as old as some, but if she wants to not care about her health, that's her choice.  She was older, getting senile and just an old bitty.  Let her do what she wants.

When she died on the 4th of July it was a shock.  I was sure my mother was calling to tell me that my grandfather had died.  I was numb.  I was angry... And I was utterly heartbroken.  How does the world just keep spinning after that?

In just a few months I lost two of the only family members I really liked all that much.  And the world didn't care.  People kept showing up to work, I kept showing up to work, and soon it was like they were never here...

I have to go to work tonight.  I have to work and talk to people and hide my grief.  The grief I never truly got to feel.  And it feels so odd to me that I will be surrounded by people who don't care.  I will be surrounded by people who do not understand how special and wonderful and loved my aunt was, and how much my heart aches that I never got to say goodbye to her either. I never got to tell my aunt or my uncle how much I really did love and adore them.  And how can the world just keep moving on and spinning in orbit, when I feel as horribly heartbroken as I do?

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Deployment Series: Our First-Ever NTC


 Hey y'all! I'm JG from Me and My SoldierMan. We met when we were 13, married when we were 23, and became an Army family a couple of years after that. We've got a couple of crazy big puppies that I talk about too much, and love life at Ft. BlissTX. We're currently experiencing our very first ever NTC. SoldierMan left a few weeks ago and now seemed like a good time to sit back and reflect on some of the things I've learned during our first-ever NTC.


1) Anticipation truly is the worst part, for me anyway. The closer we got, the more anxious I was. Then the day SoldierMan left, I could literally feel the stress leaving my body like a slow exhale. Now I could get into a routine, start counting down days and feel like I had something positive to look forward to. Hopefully I remember this in a few months when deployment comes around.

2) "Staying busy" is helpful. My definition of "staying busy" and other people's definitions are different, and that's okay. Both are good to know. This introvert needs lots of down time, even when SoldierMan is gone! Thankfully, I've been able to stay busy, only slightly above my comfort level. God's really looked out for me that way. Just when I've needed something or someone, I "happen" to have that gap filled in. I've also got a great support system here, which leads me to...

3) Civilian friends don't really "get it," but they're just as important as milfriends. It's a little weird going to church and having random people come up and pat my arm and ask how I'm doing in a very concerned voice. Um, he's not dead. He's not even deployed. He's just training. And I can cook for myself, so I'm doing just great. Those moments are a little awkward, and I can laugh about them later with my millies. But it's really refreshing to be able to get together with people and not talk about the Army, deployment, FRGs and all that stuff for a few hours every week. Maybe that's just me, I don't know, but I need the separation, the reminder that I'm more than just an Army wife and can still have conversations without acronyms. At the same time...

4) As much as this will kill my mother, NTC has reinforced my decision to stay at Ft. Bliss during deployment rather than move home. I would love to be able to hang out in my parents' hot tub whenever I want and have dinner with my family a few times a week and generally be back in Oklahoma again with all its wonderfulness. But I need my millies. With SoldierMan being gone and incommunicado, I've truly realized just what an awesome community I have here, and one that is still growing. We're going to be transferred to a new unit soon, and I'll have to start building relationships all over again. I don't want to leave right as that's started. We have a house. We have a church. We have the dogs (who would be a pain to move with). We have gorgeous desert mountains and long sunny days and friendly neighbors. We have a home. It's not our dream home, or our final home. But right now, it's home. I'm not in a hurry to leave until SoldierMan is leaving with me. **I'm not saying anything against moving home during deployment. I have friends who have done/are doing it and I know they are going home to wonderful situations and it's absolutely the right thing for them and I'm happy for them. I'm just saying that, for me, it's the right decision to stay here.

5) I can do this. I really can do this. God's gotten me this far and He'll see me through till the end.

Of course, by no means do I assume I've got this thing figured out yet. You learn something new every day, truly. But if there's one thing I do know, it's how to learn. 


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Be sure to check out the other posts in this series!  You can view them under the Deployment Series tab, or by clicking HERE

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Collection of Things My Heart Aches For

There is no rhyme or reason as to why, but for some reason I rarely share my dreams with the lovely readers who join me here on this blog.  I share my irritations, my frustrations, my pain and the things that make me laugh.  Heck, I even share embarrassing stories about myself to show you all why it's ok you are who you are, because at least you aren't me... But, the truth is, I'm a very private person in a lot of ways.  It takes a lot to get to know the real me and I don't have many friends who I truly, in my heart, feel close to.  My husband is probably the only person in the world who knows me all that well, and even then, I sometimes have a hard time wanting to tell him my secret dreams.

So, in light of this realization, I felt it was high time to share a few things with you that have been weighing heavily in the far distance of my dream world.

I currently cannot look at pictures of Paris, London, or Edinburgh.  We were looking at art work the other day and the most lovely painting of Paris was one of them and it physically hurt to look at.  I spent my whole life dreaming of making it to Europe one day.  I don't know that I've ever wanted something so much as I wanted to have at least one stamp in my passport.  Planning a trip of my dreams for an entire year was beyond my wildest hopes.  Spending 2 weeks in Europe seeing all the things I had dreamed of seeing was something I spend 2 weeks not believing was real.  I would wake up each morning and, before I opened my eyes, would think, "What a lovely dream." And I thought I might cry each time I realized it was real.  No, our trip wasn't perfect.  My husband was still in his funk (still is I might add) but I didn't let that spoil a true life dream come true.  My heart dreams of going back.  My sincerest wish is to move there, or return for another long trip.  I want to spend more time in Edinburgh, I want to revisit all the places we went to and view them with fresh eyes.  I want to see the subtle nuances I didn't notice the first time and feel the awe of walking through buildings that have stone worn smooth from centuries of existence.  I loved Europe more than I thought I would and it hurts to see pictures and know that I am not there.

Another thing I rarely discuss with anyone is another deep dream of mine.  I had always wanted to own a home.  Something that was mine, where I could wake up each day and love the time spent there.  I wanted to have the pride of decorating, painting and filling a home with touches that were a little bit of me.  The Boy never seemed to care either way.  When he was deploying, I talked to him about buying a house.  He understood this deep craving of mine... Well, he didn't, but he respected it.  So, he bought me a house. (I'm not even kidding.  We own a home because he wanted me to have it, it also just so happened that we could afford it because the market had just hit rock bottom)  I unpacked, loved it, and lived in it while he was gone.  I didn't do anything to it until he got home, but have been spending the last few years painting and decorating.  Thank God for Pinterest because it combines my craftiness with new ideas from others and tips on how to save money while still having awesome stuff.  But I've always known that nothing was ever going to be perfect unless I built my own home.  That was something The Boy and I agreed on.  We have talked ever since getting married that it would be a starter home first, a real home second and thirdly, building our dream home.  Last year, we decided to cut out the second step.  We are currently shopping for 40 acres of vacant land.  Then we will begin the process of building our dream home.  If you follow me on Pinterest, my "For my dream home" board is not just a dream, it's a collection of things I think are amazing that I want to think about putting in my actual dream home.  Not a day goes by that I don't think about this goal.  We are financially preparing for it.  We plan to buy the land, pay it off, then begin building.  It's going to be as "green" as we can make it, not just because of my social conscious, but because we are looking at being out in the middle of no where and will need to be semi self sufficient.  It is so hard when I find the most amazing pieces of property and know we are not quite to the place to buy yet.  But we hope to buy the land in the next couple of years, though we are likely to wait to build anything for a number of years after.

The reason for so much land? Another thing I ache for.  Horses.  Just today my husband and I discussed horses again.  We talk about it every month or so.  We strongly disagree on it.  We both want horses, that's not the issue, but I want a hot blooded horse, a Thorough Bred to be exact and he wants a warm blooded horse, a Quarter Horse to be exact.   I love to ride english and he rides western.  I want a covered/heated arena, he says I'll be lucky to have it covered.  I want my dream barn with large stalls, a dream tack room and heated water in the bathing area, oh, and I want it attached to the arena.  He thinks a standard barn should be good enough.  But I found a place that builds my dream barn and does it for an amazing price.  I dream of mucking stalls, riding my stubborn horse and racing across my property. I miss riding so much.  But we don't own any horses right now and, even though my riding lessons were dirt cheap, they are not in the budget when we are trying to save up to buy land, while redoing our house, while paying off our debt and everything else. Sigh.  (for the record we plan to have two horses, so I really don't see why I can't have a TB and he his QH and us both being happy)

I dream of goats.  Pygmy Goats to be exact.  I love them.  I always have and I want to have a giant paddock full of them.  The Boy says I can have ONE goat to be a companion to my horse.  I say, one goat per horse... And it won't be my fault when they are a boy and a girl and have babies.  HAHA! But every time I think about life in my future, I see horses and goats.  I would see pigs and cows, but Hubs hates them both and I know I won't win that battle.

And the last thing my heart aches for is really quite simple.  You see, pretty much since the time my husband and I got our first apartment together, we have had different work schedules.  At that time, I worked nights and he worked days.  For a while I was a housewife and love it. Then I went back to school and he worked days and I went to night classes.  Then I got a job working days, but I STARTED work at 5am and thus was asleep by the time he got home.  We just can't seem to find a balance.  For 5 months I worked as a Vet Tech at a day practice, but that was the only time we were on similar schedules.  I now work nights on the weekends and he works days during the week.  We see each other, but not a lot.  Toss in how often he is gone for military duty and we spend more time apart then together.  I see pictures of my friends and cousins out with their spouses taking lovely walks, doing fun things on the weekends and generally spending quality time together.  I would love nothing more than to have more quality time with The Boy.  I would love to walk the dogs together and go to the park sometimes.  Simply things really, but just nice time together on a hike or even just strolling through the neighborhood.  He works such long hours that he is not home until very late and is too tired to do things like that on weekdays.  And I'm too tired on the weekends because of my long work hours.  I dream of a time when we will finally have real time together.  I wish I could go back to being a housewife, but my extra income is what is helping us be able to accelerate some of our dream home plans.  And, I honestly really like what I do, even though I sometimes bitch about a female dominated field, my current job and crew is pretty great.

It's strange the things that your heart dreams.  And, lately, it feels like my heart aches more than ever for some of these things.  Sometimes I think that is why I blog, why I work late, why I clean so much, and why I craft.  These are all things that distract me from aching for the things my heart is reminding me I've always dreamed of.  We are working towards our dreams, both of us, but sometimes, my heart is impatient.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Deployment Series: Deployment Timeline

It’s been about 14 months (at the time that I’m writing this) since my husband, Brandon, came back from Iraq. Honestly, I’ve pretty much forgotten what it was like when he was gone. Erased it from my memory, you know? But right now I’m going to try real hard and let you know exactly how our year went. It was a year of emotional highs and lows, sometimes trying, but we made it through with flying colors! At least in my head!



July: July 1, he leaves. I’m kind of relieved because I was so hyped up, I was ready for him to be gone!




A month later… Still doing fine. He’s only been gone a month, whatevs. I leave on a two week trip to visit family. I don’t have time to miss him!




Gone 7 weeks… Wow, this is the longest we’ve ever been apart. Can you believe that? It feels like a rite of passage.




October: You know, this isn’t too bad. I think we can handle this.




November: We can handle this! Almost there, right? Wait, we’re not even halfway…?




Christmas: The first Christmas we’ve spent apart! It’s sad but at least we get to Skype. I’m with family so it could be worse.




January 1: Six months! Halfway! Yay!! He should be coming home soon for R&R.




End of January: Um, are we there yet? It’s been nearly seven months. I’m getting tired of this.




February: What do you mean, R&R is being pushed back another month? I’ve been looking forward to February since, um, last summer. I want to see my husband! I’m tired of this deployment!




March 1: Any day now…




March 2, 3, 4, 5…6: Aaaaannnyyy day now…




March 7: At this point, I have no idea where in the world my husband is. What a funny thought.




March 9: He’s here! He’s home! Finally we can enjoy some time together after over 8 months apart. My body had been hurting - I just needed a hug from him. It only took him nine days to get out of Iraq and back to me.




March 25: Bye Bye Brandon.




April, May: Oh goodness, they weren’t lying when they said the second half is just as bad. Was R&R even worth it? Holy moly. Is he coming back now?




June: Word is, they’ll be coming home this month!! But when? Don’t even know.




June 16: I get a phone call. Brandon hastily says, “Hey, I’ll be coming in on Saturday. Gotta go.” Wait, what? Saturday? THIS Saturday? That’s news! Of course he calls as I’m about to go to sleep. Now I can’t sleep!




June 18: I put on a pretty dress and try to sit calmly while I wait for them to march into the meeting place. There they come. Where is he? I told him to head to the left! Wait wait… there he is!




June 19: What deployment?






Chantal is a wife and SAHM, fiction writer, blogging enthusiast, and Instragram addict.




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Be sure to check out the other posts in this series!  You can view them under the Deployment Series tab, or by clicking HERE

Monday, September 17, 2012

My Life in Pictures: The Rough Weekend at Work Edition

I had a long weekend at work.  Super slammed, long hours, no breaks, gonna cut a bitch if I don't at least to eat a granola bar kind of weekend.  So, I'm tired and grumpy.  Thank goodness I have awesome co-workers and we are all there to get through it together and help each other or my job would truly suck sometimes.

But it does mean that I've gotten hardly any sleep and my mood is somewhere between "murderous" and "you might get punched in the throat if you don't stop irritating me RIGHT NOW!"  I've accepted that I'm not fit to be in public for a bit.

So, I have a delightfully snarky Life in Pictures for you this week.

Enjoy!









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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Creating Time

There are days that I wake up and think, "If I had one wish, it would be to have more time."  But who are we kidding folks?  You and I both know that if I had one wish I would wish for my own wife.

I laugh to myself often as I wonder what it must be like to be my husband.  To have a wife at home who cooks (most of the time), cleans, takes care of the dogs, trains the dogs, does all of the laundry, finds innovated ways to save money buy utilizing her crafty Martha Stewart like talents (and Pinterest) and also magically has time to decorate another room, paint, or do some other home improvement project.  Oh, and then she goes to work and fits in an entire weeks worth of part time hours into just two days.  In other words, I often wonder what it must be like to be able to come home and eat the dinner that is already made, then watch some TV, then go to bed, while on the weekends having nothing but free time to play with the dogs and have beers with my friends.

Today, I found myself sitting on the couch, with a dishwasher to unload then reload, laundry to swap and fold, a kitchen floor to wash and my list of home improvement things to accomplish and just felt... Overwhelmed.  Now, this list of items is about a tenth of what I do in a normal day, but for some reason, sometimes it catches up with me on occasion.  Today was one of those occasions.

I really do wish there was a way to create and/or manufacture time. Wouldn't that be swell?


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Friday, September 14, 2012

What Makes a Good Marine


I never knew my husband as a civilian.  I have no idea what kind of person he was before bootcamp or who he might have been had he never joined the Marine Corps.  What I do know is the kind of man my husband is now.

I cannot tell you what his MOS is.  I can't tell you what schools he's been to, what his rank is, or even where he are specifically stationed.  What I can tell you, is each month, my husband spends more hours doing the duties set forth to him, on his own time, then he spends with his wife.  I can tell you that rarely does a week go by that we do not get some midnight phone call waking us up because one of his Marines need him, whether for personal or Marine Corps related reasons.

I can tell you that he doesn't let geography stand in the way of his duty to his men, of his loyalty to their safety and well being, nor does he let his title of being a reservist stand in the way of doing what is right by them, even off the clock.

Each month my husband wakes up early, stays up late, and arrives at drill days before his men.  He allows scores of his own to lower, so that he may run an unofficial PFT with a Marine who needs encouragement, even when it means being too exhausted to better his own times.  And he cares more about the quality of the Marines he is helping strengthen and the ability of them to do their job well then he does how good he looks on paper himself.

Not a year passes that we do not get word of letters of recommendation for promotion or talks with superiors about reenlistment.  He spent years non-ob, choosing to attend drill and spend his life in the Corps, rather than being forced to.  And he reenlisted simply because he wanted to and his superiors pray that he never leaves.

When the time came to deploy, he chose to go with his men, while being non-ob.  His fear being that they were his responsibility and how could he let them down by staying home.  He needed to keep them safe, he needed to remain loyal, so much so that our marriage suffered upon his return.  Our marriage suffered because he continued to choose his men over me, even when stateside.  He worried about their wellbeing and reintegration back to life at home.  He felt compelled to ensure their successful return to life at here.

What makes him a good Marine, is what makes him hard to be married to.  His undying love and loyalty to the Corps and to his men never falters.  Sometimes, his undying love and loyalty to me is hard to feel as a result.

What makes him a good Marine, is what makes him hard to be married to.  Because I have no doubt in my mind that he will take a bullet for each of his men, he will jump on a live grenade to keep them safe, he will readily die to ensure that others make it home safely.  And I live in constant fear of the day he gets that chance.


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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Deployment Series: Expectations


Hello! I am LC and I blog over at Faith & Deployments. I’m the wife to an Airman and we’re about to embark on our second PCS in six months.  I’m a mom to two furbabies, lover of running and wine (will run for wine!), and an explorer taking life for all that it has to offer.

It’s been almost two years since my husband’s third homecoming. Did I mention we just had our third year wedding anniversary? That’s right. We had 3 deployments within 2 years of each other. Thankfully Air Force deployments used to be shorter deployments. Generally 4-6 months. I know that has changed now, but a few years ago that was a blessing and a curse. It meant he went more frequently and it meant more time away total. We had a lot of ups and downs with deployments and I like to think by the third one, we had it in the bag. We communicated a lot better. We had rules to follow to help our communication and we worked on some bible studies together that helped us in turn, strengthen our marriage.

I am not going to lie. I had some dark days. Ones where I laid in my PJs, didn’t bathe for days, and all I ate were chocolate and cheese. But compared for our first one before we were married and I was graduating college and planning our wedding alone, to our second one where we only talked on the phone once (Skype was forbidden where he was), the third was cake. Now that we have PCSed away from my hometown and state and are embarking on a new adventure in California, I’ve learned some things about the military. People told me this all the time, but I think I needed to see it to listen.

Don’t expect anything.
Period.
Whatever your expectations are, they will be shattered. The Military will always disappoint. Whether it is a homecoming date, a shift change while on deployment, that requires you the spouse to wake up at 3am just to skype with your husband that day, to lost care packages that arrive 3 months after homecoming, to bad internet connections, to poor living conditions that make your husband irritable and not a happy person to talk to. Don’t have any expectations. If you do, you will be disappointed. The best advice I can offer is take everything as it comes and figure it out then. There are no plans in advance for your duct work in your house collapsing while your husband is deployed. There are simple, smart things you should always plan for: have a POA, again I repeat, have a POA (we learned this the hard way), make sure you (the spouse) are on ALL accounts having to do with everything in your life (or USAA will tell you they can’t help you when your duct work collapses), have an emergency plan (hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires, Tsunamis, they HAPPEN), have some sort of network. Even one person can make a difference in making it through a deployment. If you take comfort in church, don’t quit once he’s gone. Go on play dates with your kids, join a gym, take a class on base, join a spouses club, go hiking/walking/running. Whatever you do, don’t shut yourself out. You will find that deployment much harder to deal with if you close yourself off and don’t live life.

Time spent apart definitely makes time more precious together. We’re coming up on him being home for almost 2 years and I just know, the next deployment is looming in the distance. So I am getting all my hugs, date nights, cuddles, meals cooked out of him that I can.

Since going through three deployments back to back, we are so much stronger. It allowed us to not have a honeymoon phase in our marriage and to be thrown into the rattlesnake that the military is. We in turn, learned a lot about each other and since his last homecoming have been able to enjoy us. Remember why we fell in love, why we’re perfect for each other. I look at his face everyday and I don’t just see someone with a love for duty and our country, I see this sweet, caring man who put so much thought into his actions, that he makes marriage everything it was cut out to be.

Deployments take two. Not one person but two. You have to communicate. Only you and your spouse know the best way to work through hard times, but learn from people’s mistakes and talk about things. Be honest. I couldn’t ask for a better marriage than what we have right now. And I owe it all to the Air Force and our deployments and PCSes.


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Be sure to check out the other posts in this series!  You can view them under the Deployment Series tab, or by clicking HERE

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

An Act of Love or An Act of Selfishness, The Choice is Yours

*Warning*  This post is a heavy, sad, painful topic and involves death.  It is not for the faint of heart.  It is definitely not for those who cry easily, who love their pets deeply, or who simply are not in a place to hear something painful.  I suggest you skip it if you are not up for anything of that nature.  I have also, for the first time in the four year history of my blog, disabled comments.  If you truly want to reach out and contact me, you may do so by emailing me.  
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I do not have children, so I understand loving your pets like your children.  My pets are my fur babies and I can't imagine loving them any less.  I also understand that, should I have children, my dogs would still be family.  They would be my children's first playmates, first best friends, and first experience of loss.  My dogs are what brighten my day.  

When I am at work, I nurse my patients the way I would want to know my own dogs were being treated if hospitalized.  I would want to know that their medical condition is not just being looked after, but they their best interest is.  I want to know that their nurses do not see them as just another patient, but as someones best friend and family member.  And each day at work, I look into the faces of scared kitties with compassion when they hiss at me.  I look into the faces of growling dogs and understand that I am a stranger reaching for them and they don't know why.  And I look into the faces of the ill, the dying and those that we cannot help, and give them as much love and tenderness as I can, so that they do not feel like they are facing such a scary thing without "family" with them.  I tell my clients that I treat my patients like family until they are able to return to their own.  

I work in an ER.  I do not do "new puppy/kitten" exams.  I do not do wellness exams once yearly or vaccinate pets.  I see families go through their first experience with death, I see children lose the only pet they have ever known, and I help heal animals for those who have no one else in their life.  I take this very seriously.  

You can scoff and say that all I do is work with animals, but I will tell you that I save family members of the non-human variety.  I help patients that don't understand what is going on, who can't be reasoned with, who no amount of explaining will ease their anxiety.  I speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, who are unable to say that they are ill, who cannot not express the depth of their pain.  I give a voice to suffering.  

When in my care, I fight for my patients.  That doesn't just mean that I sometimes have to stand up to doctors and insist that I know something is wrong, even if they don't see it.  It sometimes means sitting next to them and urging them not to give up, because I'm not giving up on them. And sometimes it means sitting next them, and stroking an ear, and watching them suffer while I stand by helplessly.  

This weekend, I had a patient who suddenly crashed.  He had been in oxygen and his heart rate dropped suddenly.  I grabbed him and rushed him to our treatment table and began to work to save his life.  Our whole team jumped in, someone alerted the doctor and I began to fight to save my patient.  And I did.  But we quickly discovered that that one moment of triumph would not mean much, because his disease was winning and there was no longer anything we could do.  We called his owner and explained that this wonderful dog was dying.  He was bleeding to death internally from his disease.  He was throwing clots in his brain that were causing repeated strokes and he was struggling to breath.  She was hours away and he was suffering.  She refused to euthanize him.  So, I sat there, for 4 and a half hours, monitoring his condition, watching him suffer in agony.  Every so often he would worsen some more and we would call her again.  And again, she would refuse to end his suffering.  

And I sat there, physically exhausted, having been at work for over 15 hours without a break.  I sat there, emotionally drained having to watch this beautiful creature slowly and painfully bleed to death on my table, while all I could do was try to make it slightly less terrible for him. 

Suddenly, he began to buck and throw his head.  I though he was going to code again.  Instead, he began to cough up blood.  He was now bleeding into his lungs and drowning.  He was fighting to breath to the point of exhaustion.   And I sat there.  I suctioned his mouth and throat to ease his effort.  I kept oxygen flowing by his face so that his body would not have to struggle so hard to get enough.  I sat there, while this dog fought a losing battle to live, when his owner couldn't bear the idea of letting go.  

No one wants to think about letting go.  No one wants to have to make such a choice.  But I have to tell you, it is an act of pure selfishness to tell me that you would rather let that happen to your "beloved" pet.  The excuse we were given was that she didn't want him to be at the hospital and euthanized all alone.  I'm here to tell you, he couldn't have had a more loving staff, who would have stroked his ears, and kissed his snout and told him what a wonderful dog he had been.  

And no one knows that each time an owner elects to do that.  Each time an owner refuses to let go, while hours away, they are condemning me to that fate.  The fate of siting with my patient, watching them suffer, watching the unspeakable happen, while I can do nothing.  The emotional toll is almost too much to bear.  To sit helplessly and watch an animal die, drowning in their own blood, too tired to keep fighting.  

When I was finally relieved of this duty, my patient had suffered a significant seizure and slipped violently into a coma.  No longer aware of his surrounding, he would not know if his owner ever showed up.  But he would continue to physically suffer until she did. 

I urge anyone who loves their pet to never let that be their fate.  I understand, having been through it myself, how difficult it can be to lose a loved pet, family member, and friend, but if you love them, don't let them suffer in that way.  

And if that doesn't encourage you, then think of it this way: If you couldn't bear to sit and watch what I did, then don't condemn your pet's nurse to have to do the same.  

An act of love, or an act of selfishness.  The choice is yours.


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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Who I Once Was- a 9/11 reflection

I was once a young girl, fresh out of high school, who was pretty sure how my life would turn out.
I was once a young girl, following various dreams, sure of where they would take me.

I was once a civilian, who had no dreams of an association with the military, who didn't care a lick about about how long the war would take, how long the president would take to respond or how it would take it's toll on our nation, because I was youthfully self absorbed in my own life.

A few short months later, I was standing in Time Square while visiting a friend at college.  I was still very critical of those who honked their horns at the people holding signs on the street corner in support of patriotism... I knew what would happen.  Each day, those horn honks would be come fewer and fewer, and those sign holders would be out there less and less.  Then one day, the patriotism would fade from their lives and quickly as it burned in their hearts, overnight.  I refused to be a false patriot, I would not hold any signs on street corners, nor honk if I couldn't count on my own heart to mean it each day after.

So, there I was, standing in Time Square, on a cool night, when the world went quiet.  I paused, unsure of what was happening.  I looked around me and saw it.  The entire population of Time Square, in Manhattan, in New York City, was quiet and still, facing the giant screen in the center.

We stood there, quietly, afraid to talk, as President Bush issued his 48 hour ultimatum.  I knew in that moment, that our world had changed.  I knew, as surly as I sensed the tension in the air, that I was not a false patriot, who would forget tomorrow what I had witnessed.

I was in a television studio audience, when filming stopped and a production assistant came onto the stage to tell us that the US had begun to bomb Iraq.  And I knew in that moment, that who I was, I would never be again.

I did not know that I would marry a Marine a few years later.  I hadn't met him yet, and he hadn't enlisted yet.  But I was no longer that young girl, who sat on a couch and watched the Towers fall, unsure of how that would effect my life long term.  I was no longer that college student who knew the world was changing, but didn't think it would change me.

I can never be the girl who was separate from the war or 9/11 again.  But I had no idea how deeply ingrained these things would become in me, how they would be come apart of the air I breath and the daily life I lead.

I look back on that day and each day after. I think of the moment in Time Square that changed how I thought of my own self and I wonder how many still reflect on who they were 11 years ago so deeply. How many of us, who are not married to the military or have lost loved ones associated with 9/11 and the resulting war, think about how the world has changed every year on the same date.  It changed in an instant, and it changed the course of the lives of more people than we will ever realize.

That girl, the one I don't recognize from my pictures of that trip, is a stranger.  Not because she is so young, but because who she once was disappeared in seconds and was lost in the smattering of the rain on a cold night in New York city.  But she began to crumble on a strangely sunny day back in September when she watched an event unfold on live television that she didn't really understand.

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** I write each year from my own perspective.  I choose to not speak on behalf of others, and feel that the best way to remember 9/11, is through the first hand stories shared by those who have had the events effect their life, no matter how the association.  It is through these stories that future generations will learn what life was like before and after. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Deployment Series: You Are Not Alone


First of all, thanks so much to A Boy, A Girl and The Marine Corps for hosting this amazing series! I'm honored to be a part of it.




My husband's first deployment ended in March. Sometimes it feels like just yesterday and other times it feels like a lifetime ago. Let me first back up and introduce myself.



My name is Brianna and I blog about our unpredictable life at Adventures of a New MilWife. My husband's name is Joshua and in addition to our way-too-spoiled 90lb dog Balak, we have two
children-the boy, who is four and the princess, who is a little over one.





If you haven't done the math already, our princess was born while my husband was deployed and no, he didn't come home for the birth. He left for the 13 month deployment when I was about 4 1/2 months along. It was high risk and seemed to get more difficult with time. We had endured three miscarriages (two before our son and one after), I have what is generally considered a "minor" heart condition but when you're pregnant nothing is minor and just a couple weeks before Joshua left I began bleeding and we were told our daughter had a significant chance of being born with Down's Syndrome. The closer we got to deployment, the more it felt like my world was falling apart. The boy was two and a half but thanks to the Sesame St deployment dvd (highly recommend it!), he fully understood that his Daddy was about to leave. Then, two days before Joshua left, I began throwing up blood. I had torn my esophagus from all the morning sickness that never seemed to get better but thankfully the tear was high enough that it was able to heal itself after a few days of rest.

I hated being pregnant while he was gone. I hated going to multiple doctors appointments every week with our toddler son. I hated the distance the deployment created in our marriage as he withdrew and communication became more difficult. I hated that because my husband is in the National Guard and not active duty my FRG meetings were three hours away when I wasn't allowed to travel more than an hour. I hated that civilian friends didn't get it and said cruel things like "at least your kids are young and if he dies, they'll get over it quickly."

I hated the deployment...especially in the beginning.

I never really grew to enjoy it (who does?) but I grew from it and I will always be grateful for that. Once our daughter was born and I was free from bed rest, free from the fear of her dying, of her having Down's Syndrome (she's 100% healthy btw), I was free to embrace some of the positives of deployment. I'm a stay-at-home/homeschooling mom so the world was ours. As soon as our daughter was cleared at six weeks for travel, that's exactly what we did. We left. We went to Pensacola first to visit my aunt and grandmother for a few weeks before Joshua met us in Orlando for R&R. We've been asked many times why we didn't have him come home for the birth and to be honest, the dates wouldn't have worked with the way the deployment played out and his mission if we wanted it to and more importantly, we didn't want it to. We didn't want to spend half his time home at the hospital. We didn't want our son to take a backseat to his sister from day one. We didn't want his R&R so early in the deployment-it would have been nine months before we saw him again if he came home for the delivery. And we wanted alone time which bed rest did not allow.





So, at the end of September/early October we had two of the best weeks of our life at Disney World we're Disney veterans to say the least so it was easy to plan. Joshua met our princess while she was still "squishy" and the boy got to spend time with his Daddy away from home which we believe made it easier on him when Joshua had to leave again. But most of all for me, I got to reconnect with my best friend. R&R was a turning point for us. It was just over the halfway point and with the holidays coming, time started to finally speed up. Before I knew it, it was March.

I'll never forget the nerves of homecoming. I felt like a teenager. It had been the longest year of my life. We had both changed. Reintegration has been awkward and even painful at times but we're adapting and learning. Thanks to my best friend (JG from Me and My SoldierMan), I began blogging when Joshua left for basic training but I really became active when he deployed. It has been the thing that saved my sanity. I'll admit, I'm a bit of a lurker and can sometimes really be bad about commenting but just knowing that there were other women out there who felt the same loneliness and fear that I felt, kept me sustained. So thank you ladies for your ability to open up and share your heart, it made all the difference for me and my family. And, if you're in the midst of your own deployment, just know that you're not alone.



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Be sure to check out the other posts in this series!  You can view them under the Deployment Series tab, or by clicking HERE