TBT: The {Unofficial} Proposal

It was November 2008. Jeremy and I had been dating for 6 months. We were young and in love.

Jeremy had been dropping hints about getting married for the last few months, and we had talked about it seriously many times. We had made the decision together to get married, now we just needed a ring and a proposal.

We casually looked at rings when we were out shopping a few times, the purpose being for Jeremy to get an idea of the style that I liked.

However, we kept running into the problem of Jeremy not having established credit. He was 19-years old and the only thing he had ever bought on credit was his car, which he had been making payments on for less than a year. So every time we went to a jewelry store (Kay’s, Jared’s, etc), he was told his credit limit was very low (around $300).

I was beginning to wonder if he would be able to even get me a ring when we stopped by Harris Jewelers in the Devil Dog Mall (aka the mall in Oceanside by Camp Pendleton that is always filled with young Marines). They have financing specifically for military service members and set up an allotment to take out a set amount per month from your paycheck. Because of that, the prices were higher than other places we had looked, but since the financing was guaranteed and we had been struggling to a loan, we bought a ring that day! (I wish I could remember the exact day, but I don’t lol)

We had not gone to the mall with the purpose of buying an engagement ring, it was just a random stop!

Originally I had wanted Jeremy to pick out the ring and surprise me with proposal. I wanted the whole traditional proposal, down on one knee, seeing the ring for the first time and him slipping it on my finger as I cried out “yes!”.

But when we found a ring that I liked and actually got financed for the ring, we didn’t want to pass up the opportunity.  But that is how we are, overly practical and not very romantic.

So I don’t have a cute proposal story. I don’t have cute proposal pictures.

But I still ended up with a ring on my finger and engaged to be married to the man that I love, so I consider it a successful proposal!

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I remember how odd it felt to wear the ring for the first few weeks (I didn’t wear rings before getting engaged). I remember driving and starting at my ring, being startled to see it on my left hand and yet smiling with happiness every time I looked at it.

My ring has now become a part of me. I only take it off to sleep and I feel naked without it on my finger. Funny how things change over the years!

(Our official proposal story coming up next week! Jeremy wanted to ask my Dad permission before we made it official)

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Maintaining Civilian Friendships

Taking a cue from a fellow blogger, I wanted to share my thoughts on maintaining civilian friendships.

From what I have observed, it seems that most military spouse’s main objection to civilians is that they don’t understand what military spouses go through and are therefore not supportive.

I’ve heard the common situation of a woman getting upset that a friend is complaining that her boyfriend has to go out of town for a week and is therefore not understanding of how difficult it is to go through a deployment. (My response to that is always to point out that friendship is a two-way street, there is no reason that a military spouse can’t put aside her issues to support a friend going through a hard time)

Then there are the women who feel that once they move to another state/country to be with their spouse, their friends from back home don’t keep in touch and therefore don’t understand their lifestyle and were never “real friends” like the military wives they meet at their new duty station. (I find this baffling, from my experience most of the time friendships are based on sharing time together and therefore naturally tend to fizzle out when that contact is taken away. It’s not a reflection of that person not being a “real friend” or not understanding the other persons lifestyle, it’s just a result of distance).

In most of these situations, I think that it is important for military spouses to understand that most civilians are completely ignorant of military life.

That means that they will say the wrong thing when they try to talk about military life (“aren’t you afraid he is going to die?”, “can you visit him?”, etc.). They don’t mean to offend you, they just don’t know.

Or they won’t say anything at all because they don’t know what to say and therefore may come across as uninterested and unsupportive.

I think that there are two options when it comes to overcoming these barriers with your civilian friends.

#1: Educate them. As explained nicely by the aforementioned blogger, there is a nice way to educate your friends and family. You can tell them why their comments may be rude and educate them about what they can do to support you when you are having a hard time with deployment.

#2: (the options I take) Separate your military life from your civilian friendships. I don’t mean to hide the fact that your spouse is in the military or never talk about it, but I think I can safely say that us military spouses are a lot more than “just” military spouses. We have other interests that we can connect and bond to people around.

Personally, I have a variety of friends in my life. I tend to categorize them: my military spouse friends, school/work friends and my hometown friends, etc.

I have a variety of friends because I have a variety of interests.

I am interested in the military community. I volunteer with my husband’s command and I like the spend time with women who can emphasize and relate to my military life. I like knowing that my military wife friends and I can get together when our husbands are gone. I like that they know how much it means to have a friend ask you to hang out when your spouse deploys or leaves for training.

I am also interested in Social Work. For the last 2 years I was in graduate school and I like having friends who could share my stress and misery over a difficult paper or test. I now work at a social service agency and I like having friends who I can talk to about difficult clients with and who know what I am talking about when we discuss DSM diagnosis.

I like line-dacing. I like shopping. I like chick-flicks. I like action movies. I like football. I like cats.

I have a variety of interests and therefore a variety of friendships

The Friendship-Dating Scene

This post was shared on Facebook today, and the story really resonated with me.

Dreading the Friendship-Dating Scene, Again

Yep, that’s what I have to look forward to after we move in December. Unfortunately there are no such sites as militaryspousematch.com lol

Only once have I have I moved somewhere new and known absolutely nobody. It was my freshman year of college and I moved across the state to go to a college over 500 miles away from my hometown. I didn’t know a single person in San Diego. I had to start completely over building a life for myself and making new friends.

But I think moving off to college is easier than moving to a random new city. When you start college you have a cohort. Everyone else is in the same situation. Everyone else is new to town and looking for new friends.

I think the same can be said for military bases. There are always new families being stationed and PCSing, rotating new neighbors. It creates an easier environment for making friends because people are always looking for friends.

When we move off to Wisconsin, I won’t have that. Everyone we meet will likely already have a life and established friends. They won’t necessarily be looking to expand their friendship circle like many military spouses and college students.

So I will have to dip back in to the Friendship-Dating Scene.

I won’t have other spouses to connected with, I’m not in college anymore and I don’t have kids, so I guess that leaves work! I better gear myself up to be that overly friendly new employee asking out the girls for happy hour! lol

Anyone have any tips for meeting people in a new area? How have you made friends when you move to a new city?

Jealousy

I recently started following this girl on Instagram: cheyennesimonds

She and her husband are both Marines stationed in Southern California and she posts the most adorable photos all the time of the two of them doing outdoorsy things like hiking and kayaking.

They look like they are having so much fun and are so happy.

Seeing that made me compare my relationship/pictures to hers (although I have nothing to base my knowledge of her relationship off of except photos). So in reality, I am comparing my relationship (the good “picture perfect” memories, and the bad/boring daily life that comes with marriage) to her “photo perfect” relationship, which is just a snap shot of what her marriage probably is.

Expectedly, my marriage was falling short of the ideal that her photos present.

Today I realized that my marriage was never going to measure up to hers. Besides that fact that I was comparing my entire marriage to a brief snap shot of the happy/perfect moments in her marriage, my marriage is not her marriage. My husband is not her husband, and I am not her. There is no better or worse. No good or bad. Just difference.

The secret to being happy is to focus on what you have, rather than pining over what you don’t have.

My husband is amazing.

He isn’t the kind of guy to play with me in the waves and take cute photos at Disneyland.

But he packs up the car when we go on road trips and have to leave early so all I have to do is wake up and roll out of bed (and then fall asleep in the car while he drives).  He gives me massages anytime I ask and surprised me with massage oil completely randomly. He laughs when I trip over things and thinks its cute that I can’t tell my left from right.

He is faithful, loving and kind.

We may not have cute pictures, but we have so many other great qualities in our marriage. Qualities that I should appreciate more often.

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Have I mentioned that my husband hates taking pictures? lol

Saying Good-Bye

Yesterday I had my first experience of saying good-bye to a close friend due to a PCS. 

Jeremy and I have been stationed in Southern California for the last 6 years. In that time we have had friends leave for other duty stations or moving back home when they got out of the military. But only one of them has been my close friends, and they moved to WI, so we see them when we go home to visit. Most have been Jeremy’s work buddies, who I was friends with too, but they were more his close friends. 

But in this case, it is now my close friend, Brittany, who is the one leaving. 

We have been friends for the last 3 years. Her husband and Jeremy worked together, but they didn’t become friends until Brittany and I became good friends. She supported me through 2 deployments and actually videotaped our first homecoming. I was there for her through the birth of her second child and supported her when she and her husband temporarily separated and she moved back home for a few months. We both volunteered for the command, and even when Jeremy and I moved down to San Diego and got re-stationed at Miramar, we could make an effort to hang out and see each other, even though it was a 45 minute drive. Jeremy and her husband would go dirt biking together and we would hang out at the beach with her kids. 

Yesterday we had one last get together, and it finally hit me that she is really leaving. That I can’t call her to hang out or stop by her house when I am in the neighborhood anymore.

I guess that’s the double edged sword of military life. You get to meet people you never would have had the chance to, you quickly become friends and bond over your shared lifestyle and rely on each other when you are alone in new city/state. But your time together is always limited, and you go into the friendship knowing that. 

I hope that never limits me in making friends. I hope that I never hesitate to get to know someone just because of the inevitability of our friendship. Because to have friends all over the country/world is a wonderful thing and I have had the chance to meet some great people. 

28At my first homecoming, waiting for Jeremy to arrive. I was texting him…not sure who she was texting lol

DSC00359We share a love of all things country. This was at a Monster Trucks derby. She is also my go-to person for line dancing, rodeos and concerts.

IMG_3817Yep, she is “that friend” lol. This was at a command volunteer event haha

 

San Diego Bucket List

I’ve lived in San Diego for almost exactly 6 years. I remember when I first moved down here I was excited to have the beach so close. The beaches in Northern California are nothing like the beaches in the south. Up north they are cold and it’s a long drive to get there.

I’ve since gotten used to living in San Diego and I don’t really do many of the typical touristy things. I’ve been to Sea World (many times), to all the beaches (including the nude beach!), Downtown, Old Town, Torrey Pines and many other San Diego travel destinations.

But now that we have a date for when we are moving (in December), I’ve realized that there is so much to do in San Diego that I still haven’t done and so many things that I should continue to take advantage of! I never go to the beach anymore and I rarely eat at a local restaurant. Now that my time in San Diego is ticking away day by day, I want to make a bucket list to be sure I don’t miss anything.

First on my list was kayaking. I’ve been to the beaches, but I’ve never been kayaking. So when a Groupon popped up in my email, I jumped on it. A few months ago me and my girlfriends took a kayak tour of La Jolla Coves and it was so much fun. We got to go in the caves and get up close to the seals.

Next on my list was SUP (Stand Up Paddle-Boarding). I’ve been surfing, I actually took a class in college (and got school credit! Yup, “surfing” is on my college transcripts lol), but paddle boarding has become more and more popular here over the years. So I got another Groupon and Jeremy and I paddled around Mission Bay last weekend.

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My next plan is to go hiking at all the top-rated trails here in San Diego. In addition to my desire to lead a more healthy lifestyle, it’s not everyday that you get to live by the beach and hike along the cliffs over the ocean. I need to take advantage of it while I can!

When I was looking up trails (specifically ones that include Cliff Jumping, which is also on my bucket list), I stumbled across paragliding at Torrey Pines! That is now on my list too. It’s only $150!

If you can’t tell, I am not afraid of heights and I like to try everything at least once. I’ve been skydiving (for my 18th b-day outside of San Francisco) and I really want to go on a hot air balloon ride. Unfortunately, my husband does not share my enthusiasm and thinks I am crazy and have a death wish (slightly dramatic, I think), so he has been nominated to be my photographer.

This weekend is hiking. Next weekend is paragliding! Let the adventures begin!

TBT: My First Ball

I was hoping that this post would cooincide better with ball season, but it’s a few months early. Oh well, guess I will just have to write a stand alone “ball etiquette” post when it gets closer.

In all honesty, I’m running out of stories to share! Jeremy and I only dated for 6 months before we got engaged, and it was a fairly uneventful 6 months. I was actually sharing with another blogger that I am running out of throwback pictures as well lol.

This post bring us up to November 2008, less than a month before we got engaged.

Jeremy and I were definitly in a serious relationship. We had said “I love you” to each other, he had met my family and we were spending every free day together in blissful dating land planning our future marriage.

I’ve always heard of girls getting “asked” to the ball by their boyfriends, like being “asked to prom”. But when Jeremy told me about the ball, I just assumed I was going as his date. Who else was he going to take? His other girlfriend?! lol

So I went out and bought a dress ($30 at Ross!!!) and spent the evening getting all dolled up for my (second) Marine Corps Ball. (more about my first ball when I write the etiquette post, along with more about my dress choice).

Jeremy showed up at my door in his dress blues with a dozen red roses (awwww). It was my first time ever seeing him in his blues and he looked very good.

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He whisked me off in a carriage (jk, we too my car) to the Marriott Hotel in San Diego. I felt like a princess in my fancy dress. I had only been to my senior prom in High School (without a date), and already the ball felt much more exciting.

Jeremy had been promoted to an E-4 the month before, which was something to celebrate, except for the fact that it meant  that we couldn’t sit with any of his friends. In the Marine Corps, the jump to E-4 distinguishes NCO’s from….I’m actually not sure, whaterver E-3’s and below are called. So we got assigned a table with a buch of NCO’s…whom Jeremy did not know. All of his friends (E-3’s at the time), got to enjoy their own table togehter, major bummer.

There was the traditional ceremony and speeches. The one part I remember distincly was when they asked all the wives to stand up and Jeremy told me not to stand. Still to this day I remember that and I think that it is part of my feelings on the difference between wives and girlfriends. One is not better than the other, but I think that being a wife is a different level of distinction and one that should be acknowledged.

I don’t remember too much else about the night. There was food and cake, of course. I think we eventually moved over to the other table with our friends afer the meal was over. At the time, Jeremy and I had only been dating for 5 months, so I was very unfamiliar with the Marine Corps and the tradition that goes into the ball. I think a lot of it was lost on me at the time.

When I go to the ball now, as a spouse of almost 5 years, I have a different experience. The tradition, the stories, the ceremony, it impacts me on an emotional level now that I have experienced military life with my husband. I have experienced deployments and kown women who has lost their husbands. The ball isn’t just about getting dressed up (although that is a plus!), its about honoring the Marine Corps and all that our Marines do on a daily basis for this country.

I can’t wait till this years ball, November 16th! It will be my 3rd ball in 6 years! Jeremy always seems to be deployed or at school in November. We are probably going to be taking my parents with us as well, which I think will be a really exciting opportunity for them to experience the tradition and history of the Mairne Corps.

Stay tuned for my etiquette post around October. You don’t want to be “that girl”….trust me, I was!

Fashion for ALL Women

I LOVE to shop. I jokingly tell my husband that shopping is my “hobby”. Okay…maybe I’m not joking lol.

I could easily spend hundreds of dollars on a shopping trip (although I only shop at discount stores like Marshalls, TJMaxx and Ross), but I limit myself to $300 a month because I am frugal.

I enjoy hunting through clothes and finding the perfect top or dress. I enjoy accessorizing and creating outfits with scarves and chunky necklaces. I enjoy fashion.

I’ve discovered, through watching “What Not to Wear” and talking to my friends, that clothes shopping is often not enjoyable for “plus size” or “curvy” women. When you are not comfortable with your body, then trying on clothes and not having them fit can be depressing and frustrating.

I am here to say to all those women, ITS NOT YOU! 

I am by no means obese, but neither am I tiny. I typically wear a 12/14 in pants and dresses and a Large in tops and jackets. If anything, if I was the type of person to judge my body by the clothes that fit me I would be very frustrated since I am often too “big” for regular sizes (the size Large pants at Charlotte Russe are a joke, they are actually about a 7/9…in what world is that “Large”?) and too “small” for the plus size stores (A cup boobs over here! lol)

Today I went into the dressing room at Marshals with about 25 items. I ended up buying 5 of those. I view that as a successful shopping trip.

When I tried on those 20 items that did not fit, never once did I think that I was too fat. The clothes did not fit, that does not mean I need to change my body, it means I need to try on a different item of clothing.

Lets be realistic, all women have slightly different body types. Even if you bring together all the woman who wear a size 8, I can bet you that not all of them carry their weight the same way. Some women are pear shaped, some women have no curves, some women have big busts, some have big butts. The list goes on. We are all built different (even if we wear the same size) so why should we expect that all clothes that are in “our size” are going to fit us?

Hence my original point: it’s not you, it’s the clothes.

Now that we’ve settled the fact that you don’t need to change your body, the solution isn’t that designers need to change how they make clothes. That same pair of pants that you just tried on and passed over because they didn’t fit right, may fit the next woman who tries them on perfectly, because they work with her body type.

So the solution is to figure out what clothes work with your body type and what styles flatter your figure.

Not gonna lie, I have a muffin top. I would never buy a sweater dress or any type of dress that is form fitting all the way down, no matter what size it is. It will never be flattering on my body. I grab dresses that have a defined waist and then flare out. Does every dress that meets that criteria look good? Heck no. But there is a way better chance that it will look good compared to a form fitting dress.

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Don’t let you body stop you from enjoying fashion. Fashion is not some reward for skinny people, it’s for all women.

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My Letter to All Military Fiancees

(This post is a few days late, Oops! Pretend that it is July 30th)

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Your engaged! Congratulations! What an exciting and wonderful time in your life.

Now all your energy and focus has shifted to that one big day that all women dream of: The Wedding

Let the planning begin!

If you are engaged to someone in the military, that planning can get complicated pretty quickly.

First off, how can you pick a date a year from now when you don’t know what country or state your service member will be in next month?! Second, it really sucks to not be recognized by the military as a “fiancee”, especially when facing things like moving (very expensive when the military doesn’t pay for it and you aren’t “allowed” to live with your fiancee) and deployments (wouldn’t it be nice to be included in all the spouse events? Some medical benefits would be nice too!)

Believe me, I felt the exact same way when I was engaged to my Marine. So what is the solution? One that many military spouses jump to (just like I did): have a quick courthouse wedding and either a) hide it from everyone or b) only tell a few people, and then plan a big wedding for later on when you can afford it and he is out of the military and/or is at a steady location/deployment schedule.

It’s the perfect plan! The courthouse ceremony gets you legally married, which means medical benefits, living together, being included on his PCS orders, etc. Plus, if you keep it on the down low then people will still be excited for your “real” wedding and it won’t take away from your big day in your big white dress. Then you can still get all the military benefits and have your big dream wedding late on when you have time/money to plan it.

That was my exact plan when I got engaged. I figured that we were going to get married anyway (that wasn’t a question), it was just a matter of when. My lease was up in a few months and Jeremy and I wanted to move in together. But since he was a lowly enlisted “single” Marine, he was required to live in the barracks until he got married. Jeremy’s brother was also about to leave on a year-long deployment, which meant that if we wanted a big formal wedding, it would have to wait at least a year, and we couldn’t live together during that year. So we decided to get hitched at the courthouse and then have a big wedding later after his brother came home.

I remember telling my Dad about our plans and he was not thrilled. Besides that fact that his little 19-year old only daughter was going to elope with a guy she had been dating for 6 months, he hated the idea of a courthouse wedding. I told him my plans, that our courthouse wedding wouldn’t be a “real” wedding, that our wedding day would be when we had our big formal wedding. The courthouse wedding was just paperwork and legal stuff so we could move in together and be recognized by the military.

I remember him telling me that I was wrong (I was 19, so in my mind, I was never wrong lol). He told me that the day you say your vows is your wedding day. No matter where it is, what you are wearing or who is there. The moment you say those vows and legally become Husband and Wife, that is your wedding day and the day you will remember and celebrate for the rest of your life.

I refused to believe him, of course. I fully believed that when we had our big wedding it would be our wedding day. It would be the magical day that all girls dream of, walking down the aisle to the man of their dreams in a big white dress with all their friends and family to witness.

So I rejected his appeals to wait a few months and have a cheap backyard wedding (since money was an issue as well) and went through with the elopement. He did manage to guilt me into a wedding dress (he had dreamed of walking his daughter down the aisle in a wedding dress), and on February 14, 2009, in a dark and tacky courthouse, I became the Mrs. to his Mr.

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The emotions I felt that day are almost indescribable. I was so happy, content, excited, and nervous all at once. The feeling you get when you promise yourself and your future to the person that you love with all of your heart, is incredible. To make those vows publicly and be recognized as having committed yourself fully to this person is a joyous moment in life. There has never been a day where I have regretted my elopement, because of the fact that it is the day that I became the wife of a man that I love with all of my heart.

But the wedding planning continued. After two date changes, one deployment and a magical homecoming, Jeremy and I, along with our family and friends, gathered in Wisconsin on July 30, 2011 for our vow renewal.

I wore a wedding dress, he wore his dress blues. There were bridesmaids and groomsmen, flowers, a DJ, cake and a photographer. The venue was beautiful, the food was delicious and we had an amazing night.

289255_10150268463021819_660371818_7843046_1806723_oHowever, that day felt nothing like my wedding day. Nothing happened on July 30, 2011 other than a pretty awesome party where I wore a very nice white dress.

I didn’t marry the man of my dream, I had already done that over two years ago at the courthouse. I didn’t get butterflies when I walked down the aisle towards Jeremy. I didn’t tear up when we said our vows for the second time. And the ring he put on my finger had been on that same finger for the last two and a half years.

I say all this because I wonder if I would have done things differently if someone had told me all of this when I was engaged. Now that I am involved in the military significant other community, I see so many military fiancees asking for advice about wedding planning and courthouse weddings vs. traditional weddings. I always like to tell my story, not to convince them to avoid the courthouse, but just to give a different perspective. A perspective that I wish I had been given (although my Dad did try lol).

My advice is to have the wedding you want. Whatever that may be. The day you exchange those vows and become Husband and Wife is your wedding day, it’s up to you on how you want to remember it.

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