Pre-Ball Photo-shoot at Sunset Cliffs

I wanted to share some photos from the pre-ball shoot I did last weekend.

I was looking forward to this shoot for weeks! I checked out the location, research the poses I wanted to try, and the entire week leading up I would longingly stare at the sunsets, anticipating beautiful lighting for my session. Then on the night we were scheduled to shoot, it was cloudy! No stunning lighting, no sunset. Just clouds. Thankfully the couple was stunning enough to compensate for the lack of beauty in nature.

Location: Sunset Cliffs, San Diego

Photographer: Alison V. Photography
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Escape (My Master’s Graduation)

Yesterday I graduated with my Master of Social Work degree from San Diego State University!

ImageTwo weeks ago I posted that my husband was not going to be able to attend my graduation because he was away at training. However, he talked to his higher ups and got permission to come back to base on a supply run just for a few days! He came home on Thursday morning, my graduation was Friday, and he just left today (Saturday). I could not have been happier to have him there to witness my official graduation!

Although he was only here for just a few days, it was amazing to have him home. Every time he comes home from being away it’s like a mini-honeymoon. He is my escape.

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Post-Deployment Reintegration

Now that my husband has been home from deployment for a month I thought I would write a “reintegration” post.

I’ve read a lot of reintegration blog posts and even been to a lecture about it at the return & reunion brief before homecoming. So I will start by saying that everyones experience is going to be different, because every couple is different, every deployment is different and every Soldier/Marine/Sailor/Airman reacts differently to deployment.

But from my extensive experience (lol, 2 deployments), I’ve found that my experience has been a little different then the typical one they prepare you for with awkward readjustments and fights.

When Jeremy comes home it feels like he never left. There is no awkward phase.

The best way I can explain it is like being on summer break then going back to school.

When you’re a kid you have a routine during the school year. You wake up at a certain time, go to the same classes everyday, do homework at night, etc. And you get used to that routine.

Then summer comes along and you change your routine. You have freedom, you start sleeping in and staying up later at night. The first few days you may still wake up at 6:30 am, but eventually you adjust and pretty soon your sleeping in. (aka, deployment lol)

But three months later and school starts again. A new routine. But not a different routine. It’s something that your already used to, and waking up for the first day of school might be a little hard, but when you get there you know exactly what your doing and it feels like a normal part of your life because (when your a kid), it is the normal routine of your life.

And that’s what deployment and reintegration feels like to me.

Jeremy being home is a routine that I know, a routine that is my normal life. It feels natural to fall back into it.

This experience may not be normal for every couples, as I said above. And it certainly doesn’t mean anything negative about your marriage if you don’t have a smooth transition, that’s normal for a lot of people as well.

But that has always been my experience and I wanted to share it in case anybody else feels this way or is worried about what reintegration will be like. It’s not always as scary as they make it seem ๐Ÿ™‚

What Deployment Means to Me

I made this list while Jeremy was deployed last time (Nov 2010 – May 2011), adding things as they happened. Some are happy, some are sad, but that’s the way deployments go. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback and compliments on this list, I think almost all military spouses can relate to it, even if you didn’t go through the same experiences as me during deployment (moving by yourself, graduating college, etc.). ย So enjoy, and let me know what you think.

  • Deployment means spreading out over the entire couch and wishing you had less space
  • It means making dinner and having left overs, because your not used to cooking for one
  • It means holding your phone in your hands during a movie so you donโ€™t miss a call and jumping every time it vibrates
  • Deployment means forgetting to check the mail for the first week he is gone because that used to be his responsibility
  • It means tearing up whenever a patriotic song comes on the radio, because even though you hate being away from your other half, you couldnโ€™t be more proud of him and what he is doing to serve his country
  • It means getting to watch all the chick flicks you want because you donโ€™t have to share the TV
  • Deployment means having a smile on your face the entire day, just because you got a 15-minute phone call
  • It means getting excited to wake up every morning because you know you have an email waiting for you
  • Deployment means taking multiple trips to bring in your groceries
  • It means maintaining two vehicles; oil changes, registration, etc.
  • It means having to pay all the bills
  • Deployment means waking up in the middle of the night to skype and not caring that you’re losing sleep
  • It means trying to look as cute as you can for that middle of the night skype dates
  • It means doing things you have no experience in because he isnโ€™t there to take care of its, like changing a tire by yourself and setting up a TV
  • Deployment means not only talking to your cat, but having a full-blown conversation with him
  • It means watching every football game so you can report back the highlights to him
  • It means taking pictures of everything you do so that he can still feel involved in your life
  • Deployment means crying over a letter from Afghanistan because you canโ€™t believe how lucky you are to be married to such an amazing man
  • It means figuring out how to ship strange objectsโ€ฆ.like golf clubs
  • It means becoming obsessed with crafts because it keeps you busy on those lonely nights
  • Deployment means being grateful everyday that he is alive and that you somebody so wonderful to miss, because not everyone who says goodbye to their husband for a deployment gets to welcome them home
  • It means spending the holidays alone, but not being sad, because you know that you have the rest of your lives together to celebrate birthdays and anniversaires
  • It means girls night, is every night!
  • Deployment means having the post office lady recognize you because you mail out so many care packages
  • It means stressing about picking out the right apartment because you donโ€™t want your husband to hate it when he gets home
  • It means trying to pick out an apartment when you’re 7,000+ miles away from each other and all you have is one email a day = nearly impossible!
  • Deployment means feeling happy/jealous when someone else gets their homecoming, because even though you are so happy for them that their husband is home, it hurts inside that itโ€™s not you
  • It means packing and unpacking the entire house on your own
  • It means being so thankful that you have such amazing friend to help you move
  • Deployment means coming to a point when you realize that living alone feels normal and youโ€™ve forgotten what it feels like to live with your husband
  • It means having to be the man around the house: hanging up pictures, assembling furniture, and fixing the broken washing machine
  • Deployment means forgetting the sound of his voice, the smell of his skin and the feel of his touch
  • It means that while everyone else knows exactly how many days are left till graduation, the only day you are counting down to is homecoming
  • Deployment means welcoming your husband home after 7 months, because no matter how many ups and downs you go through during deployment, there is always an end: Homecoming! And holding him again makes it all worth it

90% Done with Deployment!

Homecoming is slowly but surely sneaking up on me.

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I have been trying not to get too excited or get my hopes up, because I think that would just make time slow down even more lol. But I went to the movies with a friend last night (Breaking Dawn, of course lol) and she was asking me how long till Jeremy get’s home. So I actually stopped and counted the days and it sounded so close when I said it out loud. It could be as soon as (OPSEC) weeks!

But, as all military spouses know, the military likes to change dates and times whenever they feel like it. We don’t even have a date yet, just a 10 day window that is approaching quickly.

There is a Return & Reunion Brief in 2 weeks though, so hopefully I will get a date and time then ๐Ÿ™‚

And let’s not forget the fact that Jeremy got suck on the ship and is now in the middle of the ocean nowhere near the rest of his unit. And this awesome secret mission the ship is on currently has no return date so he might not get to come home with the rest of his unit and would have to wait till some other unit was returning to CA.

The military is so awesome some times (<— can you feel the sarcasm? lol)

So I’m still not getting my hopes up, but I am going to start preparing. Jeremy is due home right in the middle of my finals for school, so I don’t want to be caught unprepared and not have time to get his truck washed, clean the house, go grocery shopping and make sure I look like a million bucks ๐Ÿ˜‰

So I made my hair and wax appointments and finally (almost) settled on a homecoming outfit. I haven’t officially settled yet because it depends on how cold San Diego decides to be in December. Sometimes it’s raining and freezing (aka 60*), and sometimes it’s sunny and warm. But I have concluded that I am going to wear my American Flag scarf, because it’s awesome and homecoming and 4th of July are pretty much the only times I could get away with looking over the top patriotic ๐Ÿ™‚

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Marine Corps Ball

It’s that time of year again, the Marine Corps Birthday! Which means it’s also time for the best part of being a Marine wife, the birthday ball! Unfortunately, with Jeremy deployed we will be missing it again this year, just like we did in 2010 when he was deployed in Afghanistan and 2009 when he was in school in Pensacola, FL. 5 years we’ve been together for ball season, and we’ve made it to 2 lol. But we have 3 more chances before his contract is up, so I’m hoping for at least 1 more!

Seeing all my fellow military wives dressed up for the ball made me reminisce about our first ball, 2008. We had been dating for 6 months and I was excited but also terrified to be going to such an important social function. Thankfully he told me what to wear and I wasn’t “that girlfriend” who shows up in an inappropriate dress lol.

I was at my apartment all dolled up and waiting for him to pick me up (we didn’t live together). When I opened the door he had a bouquet of red roses and I saw him in his dress blues for the first time. Wow. I’m pretty sure I was speechless for a few seconds.

I honestly think the Marines have the best dress uniform, and I’m not just saying that because my husband looks damn sexy in them ๐Ÿ˜‰

I was incredibly nervous at the ball, seeing everyone in their uniforms was intimidating, I had no real idea what all the ranks were or what the medals meant.ย I probably didn’t appreciate the ball as much that first time. We were so young and I was inexperienced with the military lifestyle. I was excited to be with Jeremy, but all the ceremony and tradition was a little lost on me I think.

Now when I go to the ball, I feel a sense of pride. Pride in the tradition of the Marine Corps, Pride in my husband for his service, Pride in myself for supporting him through two deployments, Pride in my country and Pride for all those who have sacrificed for our freedom.

I love getting all dressed up, but the ball is about so much more than that. It’s not just Prom for adults. It’s about honoring the Marine Corps and all those who serve in it. It’s an honor to attend, and I feel honored to be on my husband arm when he wears those dress blues.

Marine Corps Ball 2011

I like the uniform, but I LOVE the man wearing it

When I move to a new place and start looking to make friends with other military wives, there are a few things that I look for as signs that we will be compatible or not. I try not to judge too much right off the start, but a red flag for me is anything along the lines of:

“If your with a Marine raise your glass, if you’re not, raise your standards”

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While I do think the military is more than a job, it’s a lifestyle, it in no way makes the service member any better than somebody who works a civilain job.

I love my husband, and I will continue to love him in 3 years when he is done with his contract.

I respect everyone who makes the choice to voluntarily serve their country. But that one choice does not make them a respectable person. One choice, one action, does not define an entire person.

The military is filled with cheaters, alcholics, child abusers and assholes. Their job in the military doesn’t mean they are automatically a good person. I still respect the choice they made to serve their country, but that doesn’t mean I have to respect all their other bad choices.

My husband is not better than a civilian guy, and our marriage is not better than a civilian marriage. It may be different, with different challenges and strengths, but it’s not better. I’ve seen wounderful marriages outside of the military, and I’ve seen abusvie unhappy marriges in the military.

In conclusion, this is pretty much how I feel

“I like the uniform, but I LOVE the man wearing it”