Post Marine Corps Life…So Far

Jeremy officially picked up his DD214 last Friday and arrived in WI (with all of our household goods) on Monday!

So far, EAS life has been good to us. My job allows us the security to rent our own apartment and have a stable transition from the military. We even decided we could afford for Jeremy to get a new truck, something he has been wanting. Plus, the extra money we will get for moving ourselves is going to buy new couches and a living room set!

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Jeremy has been attending numerous job interviews, and it seems like it won’t be a problem for him to get a job in his field. Unfortunately, the pay is less than we expected. Because his work in the military doesn’t transfer over to the civilian world (with certifications and such), he has to start at the bottom and work his way back up. It’s been frustrating for him, understandably, that his 6 years of experience mean nothing and he is being offered the same pay as young guys fresh out of school.

But there is a lot of potential for him to move up in the next few years, and he already has plans for college and what he needs to do to move his career to where he wants to be.

12002934_10153196589581819_1307070056759988120_nWe now live two hours from Jeremy’s family, and we have been visiting almost every weekend. Next weekend is our nieces birthday party, it’s so nice to be able to attend! We have plans with his siblings to go camping/horse back riding, to a local Fall Festival, and just to get together to watch the game. Being back in WI close to family has been everything we hoped!

Jeremy hasn’t changed at all since getting out. I had hoped that he might be “happier” (not that he is mean or angry or anything…but the military was stressful), but his mood seems to be the same. I guess life/career/marriage is always stressful, even away from the military. But I suppose no change is better than a change for the worst!

In other bigs news…a few days after Jeremy went on Terminal, he was selected for E-6! He had put in for non-promotion, because he was getting out, but apparently the Marine Corps didn’t notice or didn’t care, and selected him anyway. Jeremy is conflicted over the selection; while part of him is happy for the recognition that he deserves E-6, he also knows that his selection took away a spot from someone else. I understand his feelings completely, but as a spouse, I’m leaning more towards being proud of him and happy for the selection; he deserved it! The downside being that he won’t actually get promoted, since he is on Terminal Leave. Bummer!

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Greetings from Wisconsin!

I type this post sitting on a twin size mattress on the floor of the master bedroom of our new apartment in Kaukauna, Wisconsin.

11659279_10153051605611819_5460364305688212637_nI left sunny San Diego on Thursday and spent three days driving cross country with my dog and my cat (NEVER doing that again!). The drive was long and tedious, but so very beautiful. The further away from SoCal I got, the more beautiful the landscapes.

I had a few moments of panic. Thinking, what am I doing with my life?! I’m moving by myself to the other side of the county!

Then other days, when the landscape turned into the stunning corn fields of Iowa, I would be reminded again of why we are making this move. Small town Wisconsin is where I want to raise my children. Seeing the families out walking their dogs, kids riding their bikes to the public pool…that is what I want. That is what San Diego was never able to offer us.

I arrived in Kaukauna on Saturday afternoon and spent the night with our friends. While I am so gracious for their hospitality…two people, a 3 year old, 3 cats (one of which was mine) and a dog do not mix well together.

Thankfully, I had an appointment the next day to check out an apartment that we had put a deposit down on. It turned out to be suitable and I moved my stuff in that day. Moving took all of about an hour…since I only had what was in my car.

I’ve spent the last few days running errands (setting up internet, buying household essentials, etc.) and exploring my new neighborhood.

One of my favorite things about our new apartment is that we are walking distance from an amazing dog park! It’s about 2 miles round trip, so I’m hoping to make it a daily trip with MacGyver after work.

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Jeremy will be joining me on August 24th, and then driving back to CA with his brothers to get our stuff and officially terminate with the Marine Corps! EAS is so close, and we are looking forward to starting a new life together in Wisconsin.

Military Life: Job Searching from Across the County

I’ve officially been applying for jobs in Wisconsin since April 25th!

So far I’ve had two interviews (both with the same company) and I’m waiting for an official job offer early in June (not to jinx myself, but it sounds very promising that I will get the position!)

Having only ever applied for local jobs, I had no idea what to expect when I started this process.

Here are two of my “tips” that I’ve gathered so far!

#1: Be very clear about your relocation in your cover letter. I used something like this:

“I am looking forward to permanently relocating to Wisconsin this summer as my husband transitions out of the military and we return home.”

  • Let them know this is not a “if I get a job I’ll move” type of situation and that you are serious about moving.
  • Be as specific about the date as possible (in my case, I am willing to move before my husband gets out if I get a job, so I put “summer” rather than his actual EAS date)

At first, I was unsure about mentioning my husband or the military. I feel that military spouses in particular often mesh themselves with their husband’s career more so than other non-military spouses. However, this experience taught me to not be afraid of using the “military card”, because it ended up getting me an interview!

#2: Phone Interviews: After completing my first phone screening I was contacted from the agency again and informed that they wanted to move forward with me as a candidate and schedule an in person interview.

This was challenging for me. On one hand, I completely understand that a company would want to meet a candidate in person before offering a job. However, because I’m out of state, it’s a little illogical for them to expect me to spend upwards of $1k to fly out just for an interview.

After discussing it with my husband, my mom (who owns her own business and hires employees often) and other military spouses who have been through the same situation…I decided to be very clear about my situation and offer only a phone or Skype interview.

Initially, my offer was declined and they passed over me as a candidate. It was disappointing, because I really wanted the job, but I felt confident in my choice. It is just not realistic for my husband and I to spend that kind of money for an interview when we are preparing to EAS.

Here is where my comment about using the “military card” comes into play. I got a call later that week from the same company asking me to do a phone interview. They had discussed my situation with the hiring manager (who is former military) and they decided to make an exception for me because of my qualifications for the position. YAY!

Phone interviews are tough! It’s hard to hear if you are on speaker phone, people talk over each other, and you can’t judge facial expressions…your voice has to fully represent you as a person.

At the end of my interview I then offered to fly out and meet them; I wanted to be considered equally to locally candidates, and because I am very interested in the position, I am willing to make the trip now that they are seriously considering me for the position.

This is where my story ends. Right now I’m waiting for a call back by June 9th either offering me the job (which seems to be the way things will go) or asking me to fly out for another in-person interview. I suppose the other option is no call back and not getting the job…but I’m thinking positive!

All in all, this job searching experience has been a huge learning opportunity! But I’ll be glad when it’s over and I’ve secured an awesome job!

EAS Fears

Well, looks like our time as a military family will be coming to an end in a few months. Jeremy has decided to EAS at the end of his current (second) enlistment, after nearly 9 years of service in the Marine Corps.

It’s a decision that I still struggle with. I am happy as a military family; it’s a life that I have thrived in during the last 7 years, and I imagine I would continue to be content for another 11 years until retirement.

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Jeremy is a wonderful Marine. He will be promoted this year if he stays in, and I know it’s hard for him to walk away from a career that he has dedicated 9 years too. I know it will be a struggle for him to start over, to go to college and be the “old” guy applying for jobs.

I also can’t help feeling responsible for this decision. Jeremy is getting out because he doesn’t want to have children in the military. He has seen his co-workers break down on deployments being away from their children. Combined with his own less than stellar childhood, he doesn’t want that life for our future children. Because I am the one who wants children in the next few years, this decision to EAS now is being sparked because of me.

Logically, I realize that it’s not all on me. It’s his choice, and I need to respect that.

But I’m afraid he will come to regret this choice. I’m afraid he won’t be happy with a civilian career. I’m afraid that I won’t be as happy away from the military life. I’m afraid we will struggle financially and I won’t be able to be a stay-at-home mom. I’m afraid we will struggle financial in general. I have so many worries and fears.

But I suppose that is normal with such a big change.

I’m trying to think of the positives…being near family, buying a house, no more moving, being able to settle into a career, having my husband home every night, etc.

breath in…breath out!

5 months and counting down!

Memorial Day – (what it means to me)

This morning when I woke up my newsfeed was filled with Memorial Day posts, almost completely shared by my fellow military friends.

When I was younger, Memorial Day was lost on me. Like many American’s I simply enjoyed my day off from work/school and celebrated the start of summer.

Now that I am a military wife and I am so completely immersed in the military life, Memorial Day is an emotional and powerful day for me.

As I’ve said before, my husband has a safe job as far as military jobs go. He is a helicopter mechanic, which means that even when he is deployed to a combat zone he stays on a secure base.

The luxury I have of not being filled with worry when he serves overseas is not one that all military spouses get to enjoy. I wanted to take today to share a story of one of those spouses, and her husband who was KIA in Afghanistan in 2010.

Jeremy deployed to Afghanistan for his first deployment in November of 2010.

During this time I decided to get more connected with the military community and meet fellow military spouses for support as we were going though our first deployment. I went to a few get togethers and BBQ’s, met a lot of young military spouses and added a ton of new wives on Facebook in hopes of sparking a friendship.

One of those spouses was Katie.

Her husband was infantry, and he deployed on his second tour around the same time that Jeremy did.

On December 1, 2010 he was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan.

I didn’t know Katie very well, one quick meeting at a busy house party and a brief FB friendship, and I had never met her husband. However, his death impacted me in a very significant way.

For the first time I knew someone who had lost a loved on in war. Not Vietnam or WWII, but someone my own age, serving in a war being fought in my generation.

Having an Uncle or a Grandfather who served years ago, one that you remember in passing on Veteran’s Day or wear a Go Army shirt for on the 4th of July is a completely different experience then sending your spouse, child or parent off to a war with the knowledge that they might not come home.

I used to be that person. Although my husband is a Marine and was serving in Afghanistan, I hadn’t yet realized what that really means.

It means that not everyone has a homecoming. Not all the men who wear the same uniform that my husband does will get to come home to their family. It means that war is real. It’s more than just a flag you fly at half mast on Memorial Day. It’s widows who will never feel their husbands arms around them again. It’s children who will grow up without their fathers.

Today is the day that we remember those men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice while serving their nation. Today is the day that I remember Chad and Katie.

*reposted from last year: Memorial Day – what it means to me

TBT: Surviving Deployment – the first few weeks

The next time I heard from Jeremy was the following morning, he was at the airport in Maine waiting for his next flight on the journey to Afghanistan. We chatted briefly, but he didn’t have much time to talk other than to check in with me.

Three days later, I finally got the call that he had made it safe and was all settled in on base.

I remember driving to school on that third day with no contact, it was the longest we had gone without talking to each other.

When that “unknown” number showed up on my phone, I immediately pulled over and excitedly answered the call. It was such a huge relief to finally hear his voice.

For the remainder of his deployment we had regular contact with each other. He was never able to get his Skype to work very well, but we always had email and sometimes phone calls.

Talking to other military wives who were also going through deployments at the same time, taught me to be very grateful for the communication that I did have.

I never had to wait weeks to hear from my husband; wondering if he was safe, wondering if he was injured, wondering if I would get that knock on my door.

Every deployment experience is different, and most of that has to due with the service members job.

Jeremy’s job involves being on a base working on aircraft and having computer access. Which means that we were blessed with frequent contact and I was never in fear for his safety.

There was an element of danger, of course. He was in Afghanistan during a time of war.

But compared to many of the other spouses that I knew, who were married to service members that were infantry or had another more dangerous job, my deployment experience was tame.

And that is something that I will always be appreciate.

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TBT: Afghanistan Deployment

Jeremy left for his first deployment to Afghanistan on November 3, 2010.

76606_453861516818_6808194_nHe had to report to Camp Pendleton around 2 am to get his weapon and load up on the busses so they could drive to March AFB and fly out.

We decided not to sleep that night, instead we stayed up cuddling on the couch watching movies and enjoying our last few hours together.

I was surprisingly unemotional the entire day. He loaded up his bags and we drove his truck to base. He checked out his weapon. We waited around for a few hours (because it’s the military and there is always waiting lol).

He left with a fairly small group of Marine, probably 25-30. The rest of the unit had left a few days prior and his detachment would meet up with them in Afghanistan.

A few other wives were there, only about 4-5. Most were crying. A few left before the busses came, probably to get home and get their kids to bed.

One other wife stayed until the busses left. I didn’t know her at the time, but we ended up being good friends when her husband and Jeremy became friends during deployment.

I didn’t cry when he got on that white bus. I didn’t cry when it drove away. I didn’t cry when I drove home.

But when I got home and saw the gifts that Jeremy had left me; a teddy bear with a voice box in each hand that he had recorded with his voice, flowers, and my favorite chocolate; I cried.

“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”

And when I woke up in the morning; alone. One day down out of 7 months; the end seeming so very far away…I cried again, for the last time of that deployment.

I missed my husband, of course. But I felt that the best thing I could do for him during this deployment was to be strong. Be strong for him so all he needed to worry about what his job. He didn’t need to worry about me, about if I was sad or depressed. He had a job to do, and my job was to help him do that job to the best of his ability.

To be continued….

What’s In A Name? – Link-up

I’m a day late, but I wanted to participate in this link-up! The prompt is asking bloggers to share the story behind their blog name:

My current blog is actually the second blog I’ve ever created. I decided to deactivate the first one after I started developing my career in Graduate School…I didn’t want client’s to be able to Google me and find my personal blog. Awkward!

So I switched formats (from Blogger to WordPress) and created a new blog, one that wasn’t attached to my full legal name.

I took the opportunity of starting a new blog to also create a new title. My current title is actually part of a quote that I very much relate to:

This quote first came to me when I was searching for “positive deployment quotes” when my husband was first deployed, back in 2010.

I’m a huge advocate of keeping a positive mindset during deployment, I think its is one of the major things that can help military spouses not only survive deployments, but to thrive.

There is no denying that there are many negative things about deployments, and I promise you, if you focus on them the time will drag by and you will likely be unhappy for most of that time.

On the other hand, if you look beyond those negative things, you can actually have a shot at happiness during deployment. A positive attitude makes the time fly by so much faster than wallowing in the misery and loneliness. A positive attitude helps your spouse maintain focus on deployment, since they aren’t worried about you or feeling additional guilt for your unhappiness.

The quote choice is also the reason why I chose the cover photo that I currently have, it was from my husband’s first homecoming from Afghanistan.

The smiles say it all.

Military life can be filled with many “imperfections”, but there are also many beautiful moments, like homecomings.

So I choose to be happy. Not because my life is perfect (there are deployments, trainings, work-ups, etc.), but because I chose to see the positives in my life and look beyond the imperfections.

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.