{2013} In Review – {2014} Looking Forward

I rang in the new year of 2013 in Wisconsin with Jeremy’s family. He had returned from his second deployment a few weeks prior, in early December, and we enjoyed quality time together on a road trip to Wisconsin…it took 4 days one way!

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We visited some of our friends on the way, those who had gotten out of the Marine Corps and settled down in their home states. Missouri, Wisconsin and Michigan were our main stops.

On the way back I made Jeremy take a detour to the Grand Canyon, something I had been nagging him about for a few years.

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In January I started my last semester of graduate school, which concluded in my graduation in May of 2013. Jeremy had been away at six week training, but the Marine Corps was nice enough to let him come home for the weekend so he could be there to see me walk across the stage.

ImageAfter graduation I worked a few temp jobs and enjoyed my summer with Jeremy

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San Diego Fair

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Countryfest

In July I was hired on at my current position, my first “big girl” job!

Jeremy used the extra money from my income to buy a dirt bike….

ImageAnd a Jeep…which he got stuck

ImageI picked up a new hobby as well, photography

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Around September Jeremy and I were both anticipating our big move after he started Recruiting School. Then October rolled around and Jeremy got hurt and dropped from school, which completely changed our plans.

We bought a puppy in October (see below photo and saw “AWWWW”), and now we are looking for houses to rent in San Diego to enjoy our last 2 years in California before we pack up for good to head to Wisconsin.

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So here we are, looking forward to 2014….a completely different 2014 then we had expected. I suppose that is the military for you! We were expecting to be moving across the county for Jeremy to start his 2 years of recruiting. Instead we are still in San Diego, and Jeremy has decided to get out of the military after his current enlistment is over (which is 6 months shorter now that his extension was canceled after he had to drop from Recruiting School).

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I anticipate that 2014 will be an uneventful year for us.

No graduations, no deployments (hopefully), no big moves or new babies (again, hopefully!).

I will be working, starting to establish myself in my new career and pay of my student loans and credit card debt. Jeremy will be working his normal job and doing his physical therapy, starting a slow recovery from his injury. Our puppy will grow up, I will decorate our new home, I will make new friends at work, I will enjoy my weekends with my husband.

Simple. Perfectly Simple 2014.

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TBT: Our First Separation

After a fun summer filled with visiting Jeremy’s family in Wisconsin, I started my Junior year of college in September 2009.

Shortly after, Jeremy was selected to go to NDI School, which is kind of like a “promotion” in his job. It didn’t result in an increase in rank, but he was selected to go to the school which would allow him to specialize in a new MOS.

The school was 4 months long and was in Pensacola, FL…which means we were going to be separated for the first time in our relationship.

Jeremy left in the beginning of September and we spent three months apart before I went to visit him in December on my break from school (see next week’s TBT for my trip to FL!).

I didn’t handle the time apart very well.

We had just moved into our new apartment, which was about 30 minutes from where all my friends lived, by my college. At the same time, my best friend has recently gotten married and was living with her husband enjoying the honeymoon stage, aka spending a lot time with her husband and much less with her friends.  I hadn’t made any friend with any of the other military spouses in Jeremy’s unit, since we were so recently married.

I spent a lot of time alone, which resulted in a slow slide into depression.

I decided to start seeing a therapist after a few weeks.

My decision was prompted by the knowledge that Jeremy had at least three years left in the military, and I was his wife. That meant that I was going to be away from him again at some point in our marriage, probably for much longer than 4 months. I needed to be able to be okay with the separations. I needed Jeremy to know that he could leave me to do his duty to his country, and not have to worry.

It was my first experience seeing a therapist, and I had a great experience. Military One Source set up the whole thing, from finding me a local therapist to arranging the first appointment and making the payments.

I learned how to cope with the separations. I started a routine to fill my time. I took a ceramics class, started volunteering to fill my time. I went out of my comfort zone to make new friends in the military spouse community. I filled my time with things that I enjoy, which made the time go by so much faster.

I addressed my cognitive distortions that were resulting in my depressive feelings.

The techniques I learned during those three months apart prepared me for the following two deployments. I’m so glad I didn’t let myself wallow in my negative feelings, that I took action. Because separations and deployments don’t have to be all negative. Yes, there will be bad days, but they don’t have to out weight the good days.

7523_144885981818_8356871_nThe MCAS Miramar Air Show – October 2009

I always wanted to go and I didn’t let Jeremy being gone keep me from having a great time. My friend from college went with me.

Loving someone the way THEY want to be loved

I’ve been noticing a trend lately on the Military Support Sites that I visit, especially around the holidays.

The trend is women planning gifts or romantic gestures for their men. Sounds nice, right? But…these romantic gestures and gifts seem to me to be things that these women would want done for them, not necessarily thing that their man would like/want.

My favorite example of this was a girl who planned this whole scavenger hunt thing with clues and gifts that eventually lead to a picnic in the wood with a surprise photo shoot.

Umm…I realize that I don’t know her husband personally…but I doubt that there are any men out there who would describe that as a fun day.

To me, this trend is more about just giving gifts. I think it’s easy for most people to figure out that a real gift should be something that the other person wants, not what you want.

But the bigger picture is the idea of loving someone the way that they want to be loved, not the way you want to be loved.

Some people feel loved when their partner touches them, physical contact makes them feel appreciated and valued. For others, it might be hearing “I love you” or having a meaningful conversation. For others it may be gifts, having your spouse come home with a Starbucks for you because they thought of you while they were out.

The problem arrises when two people in a marriage have different “love languages”.

If your spouse feels loved with physical contact, then all of the “I love you” and sweet words won’t make them feel as loved as simply holding hands.

And it’s hard to change the way you love someone, because expressing your love language comes so naturally to you.

So isn’t that more an act of love? To put in the effort to meet your spouses needs? To speak their love language?

Love your spouse the way that they want to be loved.

Romance is Boring

A friend of mine posted this link on Facebook last week…I cried when I read it.

I’ve written before that my husband is not a romantic of flashy man. He is boring.

But to me, boring isn’t a bad thing. And this article describes it perfectly.

To me, romance isn’t about a fancy proposal or a big wedding…those things are only minutes in a lifetime of marriage.

(Romance is) a man who imagines washing puked-on sheets at 2:30 am, plunging out a full and plugged toilet for the third time this week, and then scraping out the crud in the bottom screen of the dishwasher — every single night for the next 37 years without any cameras rolling or soundtrack playing — that’s imagining true romance.

The man who imagines slipping his arm around his wife’s soft, thickening middle age waistline and whispering that he couldn’t love her more

How a man proposes isn’t what makes him romantic. It’s how a man purposes to lay down his life that makes him romantic.

This “boringness” is something that I’ve recently come to appreciate more about my husband as we grow together in our marriage (our 5 year anniversary is coming up soon). Perhaps it’s something that has come to me in my “maturity” (I just turned 25 lol).

When I see young girls posting on FB about the flowers or surprise gifts their boyfriends or spouses gave them, I am happy for them. But I am learning to not be jealous. Because what I have from my husband is a different kind of romance (I’m not saying it’s not better or worse). It’s a subtle, boring type of romance.

Sure, go ahead, have fun, make a ridiculously good memory and we’ll cheer loud: propose creatively — but never forget that what wows a woman and woos her is you how you purpose to live your life.

While I may have days where I want romance and I wish my husband would do something worthy of going viral on the internet, if I look deep inside myself, what I really want is a lifetime of steady and boring love.

Can you see it again – how your grandfather stood over your grandmother’s grave and brushed away his heart leaking without a sound down his cheeks?

50 boring years. 50 unfilmed years of milking 70 cows, raising 6 boys and 3 girls, getting ready for sermon every Sunday morning, him helping her with her zipper. 50 boring years of arguing in Dutch and making up in touching in the dark, 50 boring years of planting potatoes and weeding rows on humid July afternoons, 50 boring years of washing the white Corel dishes and turning out the light on the mess – till he finally carried her in and out of the tub and helped her pull up her Depends.

Be one of the boring ones. Pray to be one who get 50 boring years of marriage – 50 years to let her heart bore a hole deep into yours.

Sunset Cliffs – Marine Corps Ball Shoot {My Photography}

Last time I shot at Sunset Cliffs my models were actually going to the ball after, and with her 5″ stilettos she wasn’t too interested in doing any exploring or hiking. I decided I wanted to shoot there again, but with a couple that didn’t mind hiking down to the water. They decided to wear their formals, but since they agreed before hand to hike down to the water with me, I didn’t feel bad when they got a little wet lol.

Turns out they were not the easiest couple to shoot, very silly. I’m actually surprised I got so many good shot!

ImageImageI found the below composition on Pinterest and felt that Sunset Cliffs was the ideal location to replicate it. I love that it highlights the natural landscape.

ImageIMG_5347edit2My main reason for wanting to shoot at Sunset Cliffs again was to finally get to practice shooting sunset silhouettes. The sunset wasn’t as impressive as it had been for the last few weeks (of course, on the day I shoot it kinda sucks lol), but it was better than the sunset last time I was there. I need to work on it a little more to get the people in full silhouette, but I’m happy with how the composition turned out!

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In The Middle

On Saturday night I went to two parties back to back. I know, I’m wild! lol

The first was an ornament and cookie exchange that one of the wives I know hosted. It was at her house on base and the attendees were all military spouses.

After being a military spouse for 5 years I’ve come to learn that at some point during the night (if not the entire night), people will start taking about their kids and their pregnancies. This gathering was not any different. Out of the 17 girls that were there, probably 2/3 of them either had children already, or where pregnant.

I often feel like the odd one out and have trouble relating to the other moms, because I don’t have kids yet. However, what made this gathering worthy of mention compared to the many spouse events I go to where I am one of the few childless women, is that at one point during the night when we were playing a game, it came out that only 4 of the 17 girls at the party were over the age of 25.

I’ve always known that military families tend to be young couples (my husband and I were the typical teenage married couple!) and they tend to have children at an earlier age than the general public, but it was still shocking to see so many young mothers. They all seemed so young in their conversation and affect (and almost High Schoolish, sorry!), yet they were parents.

The next party I went to was for my friend’s birthday. She and I work together, so most people in attendance were work friends. Other professional adults well into their careers. My friend was turning 26, however, the average age was probably late-20’s with me (25 years-old) being one of the youngest out of about 25ish people in attendance.

None of them have children, and I was one of two married women/men.

The two back-to-back parities were such a contrast that I couldn’t help but notice. It was like going between two entirely different world.

And that is my life. Stuck in the middle between young military moms and career women. Feeling like I don’t fit in with the other military wives because I don’t have children and I’m *gasp* 25 years old; but yet standing out as one of the only married women in my group of young work professionals.

Do Military Families Need Hand-Outs?

I don’t normally post political topics on my blog, because people always disagree. It’s an inevitable result of a 2 party system. However, I felt strongly enough about this topic that I wanted to write a rebuttal, since what I wanted to say was too long to fit in the comment box of a FB post. Since many of my followers are also military spouses, I am expecting some disagreement. Feel free to commend and disagree, but please keep it polite.

A friend of mine shared this status update from a military related “support page”: OSMW Confessions

“Don’t care who gets upset about this: the fact that companies like WaMart do stuff for military families really bugs me. First off, military personnel are paid better than most Americans of the same job skill/background/training. And housing is free, plus your pay increases with each kid you have, meaning some tard toting around five brats gets more income just for having them. Which is ridiculous in itself, but I digress.

SO ANYWAY. There are HOMELESS children in America, there are FOSTER children in America, there are ABUSED children in America, there are broken homes and there are MILITARY VETS who are homeless and could much less get a Christmas present. Whereas people in the military get free (nice) housing and all their needs met in a paycheck and everyone bends over backwards for them to help them out at Christmas.

I don’t care if your soldier is deployed. That’s part of the whole thing. You still have a stable income and your kids are still fed. Therefore you do not need the charity. Others need it more. How dare these women with coach purses and Victoria’s Secret cards take toys for their own well-taken-care-of, free-health insurance, paid-for-by-the-government kids when some parents can’t afford a pair of shoes for their kids and would be more than thankful for a toy or two.

SORRY NOT SORRY

ps. my ex husband is navy, so I’ve seen it all: the people standing in huge lines for a damn ten pound turkey they could’ve picked up for fifteen bucks…women with dependa bags refusing to work but still taking donations for christmas presents. makes me sick and so am glad I’m out of and away from that base!”

The general response to this post was very negative.

Aside from the fact that she came across pretty bitchy and her facts are a little off (you don’t get paid for having more children and housing is not “free”, there is a separate housing allowance on top of basic pay) I agree 100% with her statement.

There were 514 comments on that status disagreeing with her, making me feel like a very small minority for agreeing with her overall point.

So let me break it down a bit and explain why I agree since apparently my logic is not intuitive to most people.

The military gets paid pretty good; I should know, I’m married to a Marine.

But just in case you don’t believe me, why don’t we look at some examples.

Let’s take a hypothetical military family of 3 in San Diego; and just to make it interesting, lets make him an E-2 with 1 year of service. BAH is $1,986 and basic pay would be $1,699.80, according to the pay charts and BAH calculator for his rank and time in service. That brings our total monthly income for Mr. E-2 to $3685.80, before taxes.

Now, let’s do some comparisons.

That monthly income for our E-2 comes out to an hourly $23 for a 40 hour week. I understand that military members often work more than 40 hours a week, my husband normally puts in 10-12 hour days, and that is when he is not deployed. But I think saying that they work 24/7 is a little extreme (which was the argument that many of the commenters made in explaining why military don’t get paid very well). While the military may be “on call” 24/7, they are not working all of that time. But, for the sake of being more realistic, if our E-2 was working 12 hour days he would still be making $15 an hour, which is more than minimum wage.

Now let’s look at someone working full time at Wal-mart. Minimum wage is $8 an hour in CA, making his monthly income $1,280 before taxes. That is 1/3 of what our E-2 is making!

*I want to add here that our Wal-mart family would not qualify for food stamps in San Diego because of their income and Section 8 has a 10+ year wait list, which means that they would probably be paying at least $1,000 for an apartment and having to pay all of their bills and buy food with $280 a month. Would you want to live like that?*

However, the original poster mentioned that “military personnel are paid better than most Americans of the same job skill/background/training”, which means my Wal-mart comparison might not be accurate since our E-2 is probably better skilled than a Wal-mart employee, depending on his job.

So let’s take my job. I have a Master’s degree and work full-time in my field as a social worker (not the highest paying career, but still requires an advanced degree). I have been at my job for less than a year, same as our E-2. My hourly rate for 37.5 hour a week is $19 an hour. Which means I am making more than our E-2 if we have him working 12 hour days every day, but less than our E-2 if we have him working a normal 40 hour week.

My point in showing all this math is to demonstrate that military pay is GOOD! (People who calculate only the basic pay and divide it by 24/7 work days to show how “little” military is paid are not being realistic, IMO)

Therefore, when I look at the whole picture of all of the people living in the United States, I can honestly say that I do not consider the military to be a “needy” population (in terms of needing financial assistance from charities).

I see homeless families as needy. I see domestic violence victims living in shelters as needy. I see foster children needy. I see individuals disabled by mental health or physical disabilities as needy.

Those are the people who need a food pantry because even though they are getting disability pay they can’t afford to feed their families after they have paid such high rent. Those are the people that needs financial assistance to move out of a shelter into an apartment because a single mother is starting over after being abused by her spouse and can’t afford 1st months rent and a deposit on her new minimum wage job. These are the homeless families who cry tears of joy when a social service agency donate shoes and they can give their children new shoes for the first time in months or years.

Being a military family I see all that we are offered. I see all of the free and discounted things that are given to military families. Just around the holidays alone I could have gotten a free turkey, a free Christmas tree, free holiday meals, free toys for my children and $300+ dollars from SEARS to by gifts for my family. Just to name the programs that I am aware of.

There are organization that will pay for car payments, auto repair, child care, rent, home repairs, etc. I’ve seen cars donated to military programs. I’ve gotten free glasses from Operation Clear Vision just for being a military spouse, regardless of my income.

Looking back at our income comparison, does our E-2 family need those thing? Or does our Wal-mart employee?

Now, before everyone gets on my case by saying that military families deserve all those things because of their service to this country, let me say that I am not saying that military families are not deserving.

However, is a domestic violence victim living in a shelter with her young children in fear of her life less deserving than a military family? Is a homeless mentally ill woman less deserving? Is a homeless foster youth who aged out of the system and has no family support less deserving?

Does someone need to “deserve” help?

I support the military 100%, but I don’t feel that they are the most needy population in the United States.

It’s not my place to categorize who is the most “needy” or who does or doesn’t “deserve” help, but when I look at this country and all the people who need a helping hand from social service agencies, I see too many people.

And if I had to pick who I would help buy Christmas presents for or a Thanksgiving meal, a military family would not be at the top of my list. And I don’t think that makes me a bad person.