Wednesday, May 30, 2012

... on Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

I am so very proud of my husband for being promoted today :)  I won't discuss rank, but any wife can say that a lot of hard work and sacrifice goes into being active duty military and a promotion is a big deal!  I was able to go to his ceremony and pin on his new rank, but I know that we all would have loved for his family to be able to make it, too.  A schedule mishap occurred, and we were originally told that the ceremony would be on Tuesday morning... well at the last minute they switched the schedule to Wednesday morning.  Unfortunately for us, his parents had taken off work for Tuesday so that they could come to the ceremony and the schedule mishap meant that they could no longer join us  :(  We enjoyed a lovely breakfast together and we all know that his parents were there in spirit today.

Also... because my husband got promoted and because I started my job this weekend, we are making a nice sum of extra money each month.  We are happy in our simple little lifestyle and enjoy our frugality, but having more money is never a bad thing!  We have lots to save for and I'm excited to learn David's tricks for doing so :)  I found a new blog ( that has lots of money-saving tips, most of which David and I already follow, but there have been cool pieces of advice here and there that I've enjoyed reading about.

My job has been fun and I've met some awesome people.  Most of them are younger than I am, so I feel a lot more leadership responsibilities.  Although the other head guards have been there longer than I have, they still do a lot of delegating instead of leading by example.  I agree that delegation is a wonderful tool for someone who has inherited more responsibilities with a new job title, but I think that leading by example and jumping into the hard labor with your team mates allows you to gain respect.  Plus, taking out an extra bag of trash here and there never hurt anyone.  I have survived the opening weekend and can't wait to see what the summer has in store.

Friday, May 25, 2012

...on Cabin Fever

I need a date with my husband, and I need it now!

I love our home and our kitties with all my heart :)  I just feel like I've gotten stuck in a suuuuuper boring routine.  I wake up with Dave at o'dark-thirty, make breakfast, send him to work.  Then I spend the entire day avoiding boredom as best as I can.  I clean the kitchen, vacuum, clean the bathrooms, take a nap, read, visit my regular websites, yadda yadda yadda.  Every now and again I'll go visit my FRO, go to the library, or go workout.  I start dinner so that by the time husband gets home, we can eat, hang out, go to bed, repeat.

Mer.  I need something to break up this monotony!  My job starts on Saturday.  I wish it wasn't on the weekends at all... I would much rather work all day during the week and get to spend some actual quality time with my husband when he's off work.  Le sigh.

We both have read the book called, "The Five Love Languages," and it's a good read for any couples out there, married or not!  Anyway, my love language is definitely quality time... but with David's job, there doesn't seem to be much of that.  I'm in a poopy mood lately and I'm missing my husband a lot.

Today, my mother- and sister-in-law are coming over to spend some time with me.  I'm sure there's a great, fun day ahead of us!  I think we're going to cook lunch and take a walk on the beach.  It should be a good time.

Monday, May 21, 2012

...on Volunteering

If anyone reading this is a military spouse, I highly recommend that you start volunteering ASAP!!!  You might think that you'll get married to your Marine, you'll move in to your first home together, and you'll have a wonderful life together forever and ever, amen.  Then, when you least expect it, the Marine Corps will tell you otherwise!

Also, because military families can expect to move every 3-5 years, we military spouses may find it difficult to find a job.  That simple fact is one of the main reasons why I'm a lifeguard for yet another summer.  (I've been a lifeguard for 10 years now, people.  I have graduated college with a BS in Nutrition Science and a minor in health.  I had plans to do something, ANYTHING! with my degree... and here I am working at a pool again, haha!)  I'm not complaining, because it's a job and another source of income for us.  It's something that I can do this summer to feel like I'm helping provide for our family.  I will make more friends along the way as well!

I started applying for jobs at the beginning of February, when I decided to move in with David the next month.  Every day I applied for at least one job.  By the end of April, I had applied to about 75 positions in a 60-mile radius.  My mother-in-law was putting my name out as well, but nothing was happening!  I had two (let me repeat... TWO) interviews.  Needless to say, I was disheartened and felt completely unintelligent, lazy, and unwanted.  I didn't want people to get the impression that I was one of those women who wanted to get married and mooch off of her husband and be perfectly content with that.

In between applying for jobs and cleaning the house, I wanted to get out and meet people on base.  The Marine Corps has the possibility to become your second family, but only if you WANT it to.  The feeling of closeness is like having family members that you can choose to keep!  It is quite a humbling feeling to have people around you who know exactly what you're going through and can make you feel completely sane in your weakest, craziest moments.

The first 4 months of David's and my marriage has been a roller coaster, to say the least.  I tend to have trouble coping with things when I can't gain my footing and control over a life event... and there were plenty of life events shoved into that 4 month window!  I cried many times on David's shoulders (best husband ever!) and, until I got my "sea legs," I was a wreck!  Through volunteering, I was able to meet my Family Readiness Officer (FRO), who is an amazing human being.  She has helped me realize that my emotions are not actually all that crazy!  I'm all over the place because I am a very sensitive person, but she has felt the same things before.  I honestly can't tell you how amazing it feels to know that I'm not insane.  I already love her like she's my family, and I've known her for only 2 months.

I also started volunteering with LINKS, which is an organization in the Marine Corps that helps spouses, families, and the Marines themselves learn how to cope with and navigate the Corps.  LINKS gives seminar-style workshops that teach others about all of the resources available to service members on and off base, how to cope with deployments/separations/PCS, and how to be a positive attribute to the lives of your Marine and to the other Marines around you.  I went to the LINKS for spouses class immediately after I moved in and absolutely LOVED the environment.  The ladies who lead the workshop are all amazing people who genuinely love giving their time and effort to other spouses.  I met lots of people who have similar stories as I do and others who have been in much longer and could offer advice.

While David is gone for a year, I know that I'll at least have FRO and LINKS to keep me busy.  I'll be able to learn new things from more experienced wives, but I eventually want to be able to give my guidance to another young wife who was as lost as I was.  Life is hard, marriage takes effort, and the Marine Corps is a completely whole new world.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

...on Deployment

David thought that he was possibly going to a ~2 month training with his unit over summer.  Pretty much everyone in our unit will be there.  I was preparing for that, you know, getting into the mindset that my husband was going to be gone for the summer.  The FRO is dating a Marine who is deploying for 7 months, so she and I were making plans to stay busy together... even a girl's trip to Charleston, SC was up for discussion!

On Wed May 2, David was told he was being looked at for deployment... he would be attached to a different unit throughout the deployment, he would fill a billet for a higher rank, and he'd be good to go for promotion when he gets back!  He came home and told me that he was being looked at, but that he didn't know if he would go because of his rank.  The very next day, he told me that he was going.  I heard it in his voice when he called to let me know that he was heading home from base... something was amiss.  He got home 30 minutes later, just as I was getting out of the shower.  He walked into our bedroom and I could see that he wasn't happy... something was up... it hit me before he said the words!  "Well, I'm deployin."

I was in shock for a bit, scared, worried, wanted answers but didn't know what questions to ask.  I just kept repeating, "okay... okay... it's okay..."  I teared up a little bit and asked, "When?"  He said sometime in the fall, but that he didn't know exactly.  All he knew is that he wasn't coming back until fall of 2013...

A whole YEAR???  My friend's boyfriend was leaving for 7 months... why did I have to deal with a whole year?  I have to be in this house, away from my friends, away from my family... FOR A YEAR?  Needless to say, I was petrified.  I didn't feel ready!  We're going to miss Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, our First Anniversary, and our wedding has to be postponed.  WOW!!!  I cried a little bit, but I think it was all sinking in... I was just sad and numb.  I didn't sleep well at all that night.  I couldn't fall asleep, and if I did ever finally doze off, I was tossing and turning so much that I woke up again.

I do realize that this is the life I chose.  I married this man (and the military) out of my own consent... but it doesn't make it any easier to swallow the pill of your first deployment.  Needless to say, the first deployment being a year long is terrifying!  I'm worried about him being safe, I'm worried about where he's going and what he's doing, I'm worried about being able to take care of our home and bills on my own, I'm worried about staying sane!

I have lots of things to keep myself busy... I have volunteer stuff with LINKS and as my unit's AFRO, plus my job starts up some time this month.  I will be visiting my friends a lot (I hope) and if I'm lucky, I'll win a trip to see SNL!!!  Thank goodness that our unit is still his parent command.  If I had to leave my FRO and all of the new people that I've met through the unit, I would be very sad.  But I'm not!  So yay!

The day after he told me the news, I was ANGRY.  I was in a sour mood, I was snapping at David, I was being abnormally quiet, I was isolating myself from him, and I was just not myself at all.  My FRO texted me and asked how I was doing.  I told her my feelings, and she totally made me feel so sane.  There is a sequence of typical emotions that people feel in the pre-deployment stage, and I was just going through all of them.  She and I talked more, and like I said before, she was totally relating to me since her boyfriend is leaving soon, too.  I love her so much.  She sort of "gave me permission" to cry and shout and be angry.  Since I was home alone, that's exactly what I did!  My cats were hovered around me, giving me cuddles and love while I was crying it out.  When I was finished and emotionally dried out, I felt much better.

I wrote David a loving note, apologizing for snapping at him and being so angry over nothing.  I promised that I would work on focusing on the things that I can control, and that I would live in the moment.  Living in the moment is much easier once you know that your time is limited.  Every time I touch him, I soak it up.  I try to remember exactly how it feels so that while he's gone, I'll have something to think about to help me get through it.  I was going to help the FRO that day, so I dropped the note off with David while I was there.  He made me feel better, too, the way that only David can do.  He hugged me and said, "You are a strong and independent woman.  I am glad that I married you because I know that you can handle it and support me... but I know that you're upset right now, too, and you're allowed to be!  Tell me anything that's on your brain.  I'm your husband.  I want to know."

I have been much better since I wrote that note and promised David that I would be a better wife and supporter.  It really got my mind in check to control the things that I can control and to prepare for the things that I can't.  Since we can't have a wedding next year, I decided to change my name!  I went to the SSA on Monday May 7 and got that done.  Next up is getting a new license, getting my name on all of our bills, learning how to navigate our online bank accounts, filing away our important documents, get a Power of Attorney, and David also wants to get wedding rings so he has something to wear while he's over there.

I started looking up care package ideas, since it's been a loooong time since I last sent one of those bad boys.  A friend told my FRO and me about a great idea to send cake/cookies so they stay fresh :)  I can't wait.  Well... okay... I can wait... but he's going to be the most spoiled husband over there, for sure!  MEGAWIFE OF THE YEEEAAAAR!!

...on Being A Military Wife

Life has truly been awesome since we got married.  I have been absorbed into his family like I've belonged with them my whole life.  It's such a good feeling to never have to complain about the "dreaded" in-laws!  They are such great people and I'm fortunate that I am now one of them :)

Moving in was a big change.  I have been away from my friends and family for the first time in my life.  Yes, I know that I'm not "far" by most standards, but like Sam Gamgee says, "It's the furthest from home I've ever been."  I've had to rely on my husband for many things - I don't have friends close by, so he invites me everywhere.  I don't have family close by, so we go to his parents' house a lot.  I don't have a job yet, so he's helping pay my student loans.  All together, it has been a rough transition (and still is!)  I have been financially independent for a long time.  Having to ask someone for money was embarrassing to me!  Being home all day is not fulfilling.  I do dishes, laundry, take care of the cats, etc...  but it never feels like enough.  David never makes me feel this way, but I always feel like I should do more than sit around the house.  I got a job as a lifeguard on base, so I'll be bringing in money very soon.  I can't wait for that.  Luckily, I have the most supportive husband in the entire WORLD.  He has stepped up every single time that I needed him.  When I was unable to cope with so much change, he was there to hold me and let me cry it out.  What did I do to deserve this man?  I don't know... but I am the luckiest girl on the planet to have him.

The fun part about moving in was getting access to things on base.  Free stuff?  YES PLEASE!  It's been such a fun adventure learning about military life - there are so many good people on base who make it a point to welcome new members, teach them about base, teach them about military life, and support them when Uncle Sam calls their spouse to duty.  The LINKS organization really tugged at my heart strings when I took the class for spouses - I'm training later this week to become a volunteer mentor who helps teach parents/spouses/children about the military.  I cherish all of the friendships that I've developed over the past few months.

Mostly, my days are all the same.  I wake up with David around 5-6am and make him scrambled eggs for breakfast while he shaves and gets dressed.  We sit at the table, eat, talk about what our plans are for the day, and he leaves for work.  I rarely go back to bed afterward, so I'll usually check email/Facebook for a bit while I sip coffee and wake up.  Then I start with daily chores and errands.  It can get mundane sometimes, but I like the feeling of knowing that I'm taking care of my husband and keeping him from getting stressed out over what he needs to get done on top of a full workday.  When he was single, he never ate breakfast, would go to work, come home stressed and tired, would sometimes skip dinner and go straight to bed.  He was able to do shopping and errands on the weekend, if he was lucky.  He definitely makes me feel very important for all of the things I do around the house, even the tiniest and most insignificant things!

He'll say: "Awww, we're out of my yogurt."
I'll say: "No, we're not, babe!  Check in the refrigerator door."
He'll say: "Oh my gosh, you're the best wife ever!  I love you."

I'm not even kidding.  That's how it goes.  He's so appreciative of everything, and it's amazing.  To all of the husbands out there, make sure you tell your wife how cool she is for doing the little things... she'll appreciate it, I'm sure!

David and I will text/email each other during the day, and he always calls me as he leaves the gates from base.  I usually have dinner cooking and it's ready when he gets home.  He'll walk in the door, immediately dispose of his uniform on the living room floor, take a deep breath and say, "WOW!  Smells great!"  See, it's the little things :)  We sit down at the table together, talk about what we did that day, listen to music, check the new posts on Imgur, and then go to bed by 9pm.  We wake up and repeat.

Some days I'll bring lunch to the office and hang out with him there... Over the course of the last month, I met and became instant friends with the Family Readiness Officer (FRO) at our unit.  She is a civilian employee (nope! not a member of the military!) and her job is to give the families of the Marines all of the information about deployment and help us have fun!  We did Jane Wayne day where the wives get to shoot guns, run a Combat Fitness Test, eat MREs, and play Marine for the day.  She gets to put on unit events for families, spouses, etc. and then she does other things like morale boosters for the Marines.  Her first program was Combat Cookies where a group of us wives baked cookies and sent them to all of the Marines in our unit.  That was fun!  She helps spouses in so so so many other ways, too.  She helps out when the Marines are deployed and spouses don't know who to contact in case of an emergency (remember that the spouses are hundreds, even thousands of miles from home!)  I've been hanging out with the FRO and have become close friends with her.  We are able to relate on a lot of things (losing friends, coping with deployment, etc.)  She asked me to become her assistant, so I took some training on base to learn how to go about doing that... Again, I met some really great people!  So now I am the unit's AFRO, hahahahaha.  That's what the guys call me, anyway, and I love it.  I really feel like I'm part of the family.

...on How We Met

Marrying Dave is the best thing that has happened to me!  He is the sweetest, most loving man I've ever known.  Our relationship is so fulfilling in every way, which is why I wasn't afraid to jump into it head-first.

We met in 2009 through a mutual friend, Ryan.  Dave and I lost touch for 2 years for various reasons, mostly because he was in a long-term relationship.  Want to know something weird?  The night I met him, he was head-over-heels for his girlfriend and needed help picking out a promise ring for her... so I helped him out!  How strange, haha!  Anyway, we didn't speak again until fall of 2011, when I moved in with Ryan.  Dave had just returned from a deployment and was in the process of ending his relationship with his girlfriend.  Since there isn't much to do in Jacksonville, Dave would drive up to Raleigh to visit Ryan every other weekend or so.  We met, talked about life, and became friends.  By the end of October, we were texting each other daily and making plans for our weekends together.

Dave returned to Raleigh for a weekend celebration for Halloween and my birthday - it was a blast!!  The first night he was in Raleigh, he took me out to dinner at The Gourmet Factory on Western Blvd.  He was texting me through the week to see where I wanted to go and how I wanted to dress.  I told him I love any reason to get dressed up, so even if we hit up a sports bar, I'll probably wear something pretty.  When I suggested The Gourmet Factory, I mentioned that you can color on the tables... he was sold!  We had a 3-hour date that was never void of any conversation.  Dave even played the little piano that sits in the corner of the restaurant!  He is so much fun :)  [Shameless plug:] If you're in the Raleigh area, make sure you visit The Gourmet Factory!  It is a true gem.  The food is phenomenal, the atmosphere is lots of fun, and the waitstaff is beyond words.

The Halloween costume party on the following night was simply amazing  :)  A bunch of our friends dressed in Nintendo character costumes, which was hilarious to say the least.  I am so glad to have such silly friends in my life!  Dave was sneaking kisses throughout the night, and made sure to hold my hand as we walked up and down Hillsborough St.  I guess you can say this point in time is when we started an "official" relationship ... although we were dating exclusively before then.

Anyway, that's how we met and started dating!  We took a trip to Williamsburg, VA together when he was at a legal course in Norfolk.  We spent Christmas with each other's families.  We spent every weekend together that we could fit in.  It was definitely busy, what with all the traveling, but it was a lovely time in my life.

The first day I came to see the house that he bought was in Dec 2011.  We had a short, sweet weekend together in the same place I now call home.  When I returned to Raleigh, we spoke to each other again, and Dave asked me to move in with him.  I was astonished!  I didn't know he felt so strongly about me... apparently he had conversations with his dad about how he knew I was "the one."  His dad, having met and married his mom in the course of a few months, told Dave, "When you know, you know."  Anyway, we made plans to have me moved in after my lease ran out in May 2012.

Long story short, Dave was being looked at for deployment.  He didn't want to leave without marrying me, so we did it!  On January 23, we marched down to the magistrate's office, exchanged vows, and signed some papers that said we were legally married.  We were intending to call it an engagement until he came back from deployment and we could have a wedding... Well, we found out the very next day that he wasn't going to deploy.  So, we just started telling our families and closest friends.  In the military, getting married quickly isn't anything new; it's just another Tuesday to these folks.  To our civilian family and friends, we had to explain a bit more, and for the most part, people were very excited for us!

The day we got married, at the courthouse, Jan 23.

I was able to get out of my lease when a friend said she needed an apartment closer to campus for 3 months.  That meant I was able to get her to sublease my room from March until May... Isn't it great how life works out, sometimes?  :)  I moved out of my house and ended my jobs in Raleigh, came out here with Dave, and here we are.  We chose a different order of events than most folks do, but who cares?  We are happy.  I can't wait to see what else is in store for us!