Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In

I lost 2 pounds this week! 

So, I've lost 18 since this deployment started and I have 7 more to meet my 2nd weight-loss goal of 25 pounds.  I feel really good about this week - I ate well, and tried to sneak-in workouts around taking care of my girls.  I don't know how it is for you, but I find it difficult to schedule 20-30 minutes for myself to workout when I have the girls to take care of.  So, I started working out randomly throughout the day.  I'll do squats while I'm waiting for dinner to finish on the stove, push-ups during commercials on TV and ab/back exercises while I'm holding the baby on the floor.  Oh, and I count an hour walk at the mall as exercise!

I saw my doctor yesterday for something non-weight related, but asked her what she felt my ideal weight would be.  So, we looked at the BMI chart together and talked some about it and she told me what she thought my healthiest weight would be.  Right now, I'm 4 pounds from that.  She told me to keep nursing, and it'll just fall off.  She's right, it's hard to give up nursing when you know 1) how healthy it is for your baby and 2) that you're burning approximately 500 calories a day doing it without much effort.  So, yes, nursing is part of my weight-loss strategy.  I'm not too proud to admit that.

Thanks so much for your encouragement in all of this.  It helps to know how many of you are cheering me on and how many of you look forward to my weekly weight updates.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Here's my third post about our marriage.  If you're interested, here are the first two posts:
State of Our Union and The Very Beginning.

So, after I decided to finally get in the picture and actually join our marriage, it was great!  We had a lot of fun and without a doubt, became best friends during this time.  We were both working - Joel was working full-time for the Guard and I was in sales for a health care network.  We both enjoyed our careers, had great friends and were really enjoying our marriage.

Much of that enjoyment may be because we had very little conflict during this few year period.  Our jobs had us working opposite shifts - I worked typical office hours and Joel worked from mid-afternoon until after midnight.  We rarely saw each other.  Seriously.  We say each other Saturday and Sunday mornings and Monday night after I came home from work.  Other than that it was just a quick kiss before I left for work in the morning. 

When we did get to spend time together, it was usually dinner out, watching movies at home and spending time with our friends and families.  We loved to take a long weekend here and there and get away.  Usually we'd go out to some nice restaurants, stay in great hotels and just relax.  Joel and I were still learning a lot about each other and working to figure out what are roles were as husband and wife.

So, this time was pretty drama-free.  It was also pretty stress free.  We both loved our jobs, lived a simple life, didn't own a home and didn't have much responsibility outside of work.  It was peaceful.  But you know what the say about the quietness before the storm...  More to come soon.

Friday, September 24, 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

Thanks Wife of a Sailor!

1.What characteristic about yourself has either been strengthened or weakened due to your experience as a Military Spouse? (from The Albrecht Squad)

I think I'm a lot more confident.  I'm confident in my abilities to take care of my kids, to handle all the chores around the house and to make decisions about finances.  The military life has made me more confident to be honest with others and stand-up for myself, even when I'm judged for doing so. 

2.What is your favorite vacation spot and why? (from ‘Tis the Life of the Army Wife)

I went to Alaska with my family in high school and it was the most amazing vacation.  I would love to go back some day, and hope to be able to go with Joel and our girls.

3.If you could have any fast-food restaurant in the food court on base/post what would you pick? (from The Only Pink in a House of Blue)

I love a good 'ol crappy cheeseburger from McDonald's!

4.Where did you go on your honeymoon? (from Pennies from Heaven)

Joel and I went to North & South Carolina.  We just rented a car and went wherever sounded fun that day.  It was so unorganized (which is so unlike me), but it was incredible.

5.If you could have any job in the world regardless of money, degree or experience, which job would you have and why? (from Proud to Be a Navy Family and The Calm Before The Storm)
I would love to do marketing again!  I think I would still choose to be in health care marketing, but more on the development side of things.  Marketing is so creative and there's a certain amount of risk, which keeps it exciting.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In

Well, I'm a little disappointed.  I didn't lose any weight today.

I guess I'm not all that surprised.  I didn't eat great this week and skipped out on two work-outs.  I had pizza this weekend and Burger King and Wendy's this week.  Now granted, I had chicken sandwiches at Burger King and Wendy's - but who am I kidding thinking the chicken sandwich makes up for the fries?

It's a fresh week and I get to make good choices this week.  I'll go grocery shopping later today, so hopefully I'll avoid temptation...

We'll see.

I've lost 16 pounds so far during this deployment, so I'll try not to beat up myself too badly.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

5 Months Old!

My baby girl is 5 months old!  I can't believe it and I don't want to believe it.

I love the baby stage.  I love all the cuddling that goes with it and the constant smooches.  I love the fact that I can get away with baby talk in public.  I love Autumn's chubby cheeks and all her rolls and dimples.  I don't want to let go of the itty-bitty baby stage.

To celebrate Autumn's 5 month birthday, I gave her what any good baby would want:  rice cereal.  It's kinda gray and smells like dirt.  What's not to love?

Autumn had no idea (obviously) what was going on.  She did great getting all strapped into the high chair.  (Is a 5-point harness really necessary?)  She didn't love the first bite, but did well with the rest of her cereal.  Success.
Hey, Cutie - please stay small a little while longer!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Care Packages 101

A friend of mine emailed me this weekend asking me for tips on care packages.  She knows someone who's about to be deployed and wanted practical tips on care packages.  So, here are my tips...

Each deployment location is so different, so the needs of the soldier will be different depending on where they're going.  They may not be able to tell you exactly where they're going before they leave, but they should be able to at least tell you what they would enjoy when they're there.  For example, Joel always requests that people not send him bulky things that he'll just have to carry home or have to pay to get sent back.  Some bulky things just get left there for the next unit coming in.

Here are some things that Joel loves to get:
  • Flushable wipes
  • Deodorant
  • Aleve
  • Gold Bond
  • Pictures/Drawings from home
  • Letters/Cards
  • Magnets for his locker
  • Batteries for his camera
  • Crossword puzzles
  • Magazines
  • Homemade goodies
  • One-serving drink mixes (he loves the KoolAid mixes)
  • Trail Mix
  • Oreos
  • Tea bags
  • Coffee
Keep in mind that most likely, your care package is going to the Middle East.  It's hot there.  Things melt.  There's nothing like being teased with homemade treats that are inedible because they're all melted.  That being said:
  • Don't send chocolate.  Chocolate trail mix, chocolate chip cookies, chocolates bars... they will not survive.
  • Aerosol cans
  • Alcohol - It can be done, but don't risk it.
  • Letters/notes from home about problems at home.  Keep letters fun, encouraging and light.  They have enough on their mind, wherever they are, and they need to keep focused on their mission.  They'll have plenty of time to get caught-up on all the drama they missed when they get home.
  • Your care package will go via USPS.  You will drop it off at a branch and they will ship it to a military base.  From there, it will go on a military plane and fly to your soldier's destination.  Packages can take up to 10 days to get there.  This deployment, packages take 6-7 days.
  • You package will need a Customs Form.  On the form you will need:  your address, your soldier's address, a list of the items in the box including the quantity of each item and the approximate value of all the items in your care package.  (I always bring a list with me of all these things, so I'm not stuck there wondering what I have in the box.)
  • The custom form only has 4 lines to list the items in the box - so if you're sending more than 4 different kinds of items, you may need to fill-out 2 forms.  I've gotten creative with this.  For example, if I'm sending 6 different kinds of snacks, I will list it as "snacks" and write 6 as the quantity.
  • When in doubt, ask.  I've found the Post Office employees to be so helpful!  They are always willing to take the time to answer my questions and they have always been very patient with me. 
  • Pack the box well.  I always keep brown packing paper around to fill in open spaces in the box.  Remember, both the USPS and the military are handling your box.  Just saying.
  • Double and triple tape the seams and edges of the box.
That's all I have.  I'm sure I'm missing some helpful tips, so I'll ask other military and MilSpouses to add any of your thoughts, tips or suggestions.  What have been some of your favorite things to send/get?

Friday, September 17, 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

Hop on over to Wife of a Sailor and join in on the fun!

1.How do you spend your deployment money, do you save, pay off bills or enjoy the extra money while it is there to buy the things you do not normally have? (from Troop Petrie)
We do a little bit of everything.  Joel and I have a goal to become debt-free, so I'm working to get some debts paid off, including my student loan.  (See ya Sallie Mae).  I have a few to-do's on my list that are not in our normal budget, including getting our trees trimmed (done) and getting some rooms painted professionally.  And then there's some fun trips to the mall to get this somewhat skinnier body some new clothes.  The extra money during deployment is definitely nice, but I'd much rather have my hubby home.

2.If you could relive one occasion or moment, what would it be? (from Currently On Land)
My wedding day.  It was just amazing - from beginning to end. 

3.What’s the worst job you ever had and if it was so bad why did you take it? (from Faith and Deploying)
I was a grocery store check-out girl for about 6 months in high school.  It was a new store that eventually had plans to have a Starbuck's inside.  I was hired on for Starbuck's, but worked up front while Starbuck's was being built.  I hated it.  I have so much respect for people who do this job!

4.If you could play any character on TV, who would you be? (from Many Waters)
I'd be Pam on The Office.  That show is hilarious and that particular kind of dysfunction seems like too much fun.

5.If you could become the world’s expert in something, what would it be? (from Army of Two)
I'd be the world's expert landscaper.  Crazy, right?  I love landscaping and have a stack of landscaping books that I could seriously read over and over again.  I watch all the landscaping shows on PBS and love to pop in to Lowe's and other greenhouses just to look at plants and read tags. I know I'm making myself sound totally lame here.  Don't judge me.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In

Hello All my lovies!  Do you like the new blog look?  My dear friend over at The Culinary Enthusiast helped me with it last night.  I did it on a whim and had a moment of panic when I deleted my html.  I always hold my breath because I'm sure one of these times I'm going to lose everything somehow.  Another anxiety of mine...

Anyway, back to topic.  I lost another pound this week - bringing my total since the beginning of this deployment to 16 pounds.  Last week I mentioned that since I met my goal of 15 pounds, I was going to think over what a new goal of mine should be.  I decided to aim for another 10 pounds, which will bring me to my wedding weight.  So, with this week's one-pound weight loss, I have 9 more to go.

I promised myself at the beginning of this weight-loss journey that I would treat myself to a Whopper with cheese if I made my 15-pound goal.  So, that's on my agenda for this week.

Now, back to my Oreos, um, I mean yogurt.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Little Business

So many MilSpouse bloggers have done posts about Operational and Personal Security.  I have no desire to go in-depth about these issues.  So, consider this a friendly reminder.

You've probably noticed how little detail I've given about Joel's deployment location.  There are a select few who know where he's at and that's enough.  People ask all the time where he's deployed, and I'm always very general.  For the most part, I think civilians understand this.  I know military people understand this.  But there are always those who bring it up a couple times, I think hoping that I'm going to slip and reveal where he's at.  It's not going to happen.

The saying "loose lips sink ships" is as true now as it ever was.  We'll keep it at that.

Besides Operational Security, there's Personal Security.  Again, so many bloggers out there have offered really great, practical tips in this area.  For those of you who do know us personally, I ask that you never give out our full names, our phone numbers or our address.  Giving this information out to anyone is a small crack in personal security and it only takes a small crack to create big problems.  Anyone who has an idea that Joel is deployed and are given a phone number or address, is given a great opportunity to put our family's safety at risk.  It's basically saying "HUBBY'S GONE, WIFEY'S ALONE WITH KIDS - TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS."  Please, please, please don't ever give out our information.

If someone asks for information and you want to help, ask Joel and I first if it's ok to give out our contact information.  But please don't discern this for yourselves.  You never know who's listening and you never know where information may end up eventually.

I spend a lot of time at night anxiously sitting on the stairs in the dark, wondering what that "bump" was downstairs.  I'm in a house by myself with two girls - and I have a lot of anxiety about what-happens-if....  I ask that you would kindly respect my anxiety and consider my family's safety!

The Very Beginning

Joel and I married in July 2003.  We met just a mere 13 months prior, dated each other for 6 months and were engaged for 3 months.  It was a whirlwind relationship, but we both knew when we started dating that this was "it" and because we knew that in our hearts, our dating relationship was really about preparing ourselves for marriage.

We got married just 2 months after I graduated from college, so I was going through a lot of changes that summer and suddenly found myself in a 'til death do us part relationship.  The years before that were all about me - my education, my friends, my relationship, my work, me, me, me.  Although I loved Joel with all my heart when we got married, there was way too much "me" during that first year.  I've said it before and I still believe it - Joel's the much better spouse in this relationship.

When we came back from our honeymoon, I suddenly found myself smack-dab in the middle of domestic duties.  Joel was working full-time for the Guard and I hadn't found a full-time job yet.  So, he was at work, and I was, well, at home.  And our home was a small two-bedroom apartment.  It took like 2 seconds to clean.  I was bored.

You'd think that boredom would lead me to cook extravagant meals or offer to starch and iron his uniforms.  Not so much.  I was still in the "me" stage.  Joel would come home from work and have to be the one to figure out dinner because his wife was way to self-focused to consider that perhaps her husband would want something to eat.  I would say the majority of the time, Joel would either cook or get so fed-up, he'd offer to do dinner out together.  We spent so much money that first year eating out.

Our physical relationship was great.  Again, I had nothing better to do then to do that and clean.  So, we were both pretty happy in that regard.  But inside, I was really struggling to let go of part of myself and become a partner with Joel.  I remember taking off my wedding ring/engagement ring at home, because the weight of it was too great for me - the weight of the responsibility and commitment.  I wanted to be married.  I loved Joel so much.  But I really struggled within myself to become his partner.

I think Joel knew in his heart, what my struggle was.  And because he truly loved me and wanted the best for me, he knew that he just needed to give me time to grow up and make the decision to be a partner.  He was so wise to do that, because if he had pushed me, I would have pushed back, and then I would have struggled even more to let go of my own interests.

I don't know when the moment happened.  The moment when I realized that in order for our marriage to work, I needed to stop fighting the "becoming one" thing.  I'm sure it was the Holy Spirit's conviction.  But, I can't pinpoint a moment.  Eventually, my heart opened to love Joel great, higher, deeper and truer.  He deserves that kind of love.  He's a pretty amazing guy.

I'm so thankful for a husband who was willing to sit-back patiently and love me, even when I wasn't who I was supposed to be for him.

More to come...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Journey Upstairs

It's after 11:00.  I shouldn't be blogging.  I should be in bed reading and getting ready to go to sleep.  The house is quiet, my chores are done and I'm avoiding taking the walk upstairs to go to bed.

This happens to me a few months into a deployment.  I avoid bedtime.  I want someone upstairs who will chat with me about my day, to sit next to me as I read.  I want someone to lay on my side of the bed so it's warm by the time I'm finally done getting ready.  I want to walk into the bathroom and find my toothbrush with toothpaste on it already.  I want someone to laugh at me as I dig through my way too messy drawer trying to find my pills before bed.  He's not here to be a part of this routine.  I love the routine.  There is so much comfort in it.

It's this time of the day when all the to-dos are done, the girls are asleep and the house is quiet that I cannot avoid the feeling of knowing that my man isn't home.  He's not here and he's not waiting for me upstairs.

Gosh, I miss him.

Be safe, Joel.  I need you back.

Friday, September 10, 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

Another great set of questions!  Thanks Wife of a Sailor and you other great MilSpouse bloggers!

1.Do you set goals for yourself during deployment? What are some of them? (from Military Mommy)
I haven't during the past two but I did this time around.  My goals this time include:
- Read a book every day
- Spend one-on-one time with my girls every day
- Lose 15 pounds
- Make a plan on how to better use our basement
- Study Scripture every day

2.What would you say to someone dating a military guy or gal? (from Mothering Off the Cuff)
Talk openly with them about what they hope to achieve through their military careers and ask yourself if you're willing to commit to those goals, too.  If you're getting serious and thinking about marriage, I would suggest finding a military spouse who you can talk to so that you can really understand the lifestyle of a military family.

3.If you have children, how do you prepare them to move to a new place? (from The Random Ramblings of A Household 6)
We haven't moved since our girls were born.  I remember how time consuming our move across town was when it was Joel and I.  I can only imagine how much more difficult it'll be when the time comes to move as a family.

4.Name one hobby that gets you through alone time. (from My Sailor’s Mistress)
Reading.  I'm so glad that I've got back to this.

5.What’s the one food you don’t ever get tired of? (from That Army Wife Life)
Cereal.  I love it for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Lucky Charms, Special K and Raisin Bran Crunch are 3 of my favorites.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tag - I'm It

I got my first tag from USNchic at Have a Great Navy Day.  So, here it goes...

1.  If you could have any super power, what would you have?  Why?
The power to make money (you know, without a job).  Then I could finally get a minivan (yes, I want one), a house with enough room for us and visitors and be able to afford private school for our girls.  Oh, and I'd totally get my sister a dream grand piano - she deserves it.

2.  Who is your style icon?
Britney Spears.  Um, just kidding.  It is probably Jennifer Aniston - I like the simplicity and timelessness of her style.  Oh, and her hair is amazing.

3.  What is your favorite quote?
"Be still and know that I am God."  It's found in Psalm 46:10.  It's a great reminder that when life is hard, trying, exhausting and busy that we should remember Who is really in control and submit control to Him.  It's really freeing to know that.  I constantly need reminded of that.

4.  What is the best compliment you've ever received?
Joel wrote me an email about a month back where he told me how much he appreciated having a wife at home who he knew he could trust to take care of things here while he's away.  I work really hard to make sure things at home are squared-away so he doesn't have to worry about them.  Sometimes I feel/think that he doesn't notice, so it felt great to be encouraged in that way.

5.  What playlist/CD is in your CD player/iPod right now?
I've been listening to Lady Antebellum for the past month or so.  They're just starting to get to the annoying stage, though.

6.  Are you a night owl or a morning person?
I'm totally a night owl.  I used to work a security job where I would be up most of the night by myself - I loved it. 

7.  Do you prefer dogs or cats?
Dogs.  Joel and I are "in talks" about getting a beagle at some point.

8.  What is the meaning behind your blog name?
I had a few close friends help me with it.  Originally, it was going to be A Soldier's Girl, but Air Force peeps call each other troop instead of soldier.  I guess soldier's an army-thing.

Ok, so the rule is I have to tag 8 people.  So here you go:

Emmy Mom
Honey Bunches of "Oaks"
In The Grip Of Grace
Of Skype and Sand
One Tired Momma
Our Military Adventure
The Ever Changing Life of a Military Wife
There Goes Our Hero

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In

I did it!  I met my goal - 15 pounds lost during this deployment.  15 pounds in 62 days.

I'm back in my normal pre-baby size clothes.  I'm 17 pounds lighter than before I got pregnant with Autumn and now I'm right where I was pre-Gracie.  Now, the question is do I continue on this path to get to my wedding weight?  Heck yeah!  I'm going to think some this week about what a practical, healthy and ideal weight for me is and then I'll come back next Wednesday and let you all know what I decide.

Who wants to donate to The Jill Wants/Needs New Clothes Fund?  Anyone?  Oh, there's also a Jill Wants New Shoes Fund.  You can decide which fund you'd rather donate to.

Monday, September 6, 2010

24 Hours

It's been 24 hours since I've heard from Joel.  I'm sure I'm not alone in this, but I go C-R-A-Z-Y when a day or more passes without a word.... Even a quick email that just said "Hi" would be great.  I'd be pretty satisfied with that.

My brain goes crazy thinking about what he may be doing, where he may be and what could possibly get in the way of him getting to a computer for a minute to drop a line.  I know there's so much there to keep him busy, that there are times that getting to a computer is impossible.  But I still need something.  Anything.

So, I sit here - refreshing my email, just hoping that something pops up from him. 

We're 60 days in.  I'm tired.

UPDATE:  I just got an email from Joel and he's safe and sound.  *big sigh*  I feel so much better.  Getting to sleep last night was rough, but I'm so glad to know he's ok.

Friday, September 3, 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

Thanks, Wife of a Sailor, and all you other wonderful MiSpouse bloggers for this week's questions!

1.What is a weird/funny superstition that you have? (from A{muse}ing Mommy on a Pink Park Bench)
I don't really have any superstitions.  But when I was younger, I used to have a thing about having my right foot be the first foot to touch the floor in the morning.

2.What are your hopes and dreams for the years AFTER the military? After all, we aren’t in it forever! (from Stetsons, Spurs and Stilettos)
I would love to start a family business of some sort.  Joel and my interests are at opposite ends of the spectrum, so we'd have to be creative with this one.

3.Since [this] month is National Apple Month (no really!), I’d probably ask: What is your yummiest apple recipe? (from NH Girl Displaced)
This apple crisp recipe is super easy and really yummy.

4.How long have you gone as a military spouse without talking to your husband/wife during service? (from A Navy Princess and Her Little Sailors)
Two weeks.  It was at the beginning of this deployment and it was so hard.

5.I occasionally watch When I was 17… on MTV. So, what was something that was significant about your 17th year of life? (from Ashley Amazing)
I've talked before about working at a grocery store in high school - it was horrible.  I give major credit to anyone who can do this joy joyfully.  Anyway, my manager came-on to me and I had to deal with a sexual harassment claim against him.  It made me realize how naive and trusting I was/am and that some men are absolutely disgusting.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

State of Our Union

Deployments are hard, I mean really hard on a marriage.  Communicating through email, quick phone calls and Facebook is not all that a marriage is supposed to be.  But since July 9th, that is all our marriage has had.

There are so many things wrong with that.  There's such a lack of intimacy when most of your marriage is through a computer screen.  And in order to make it work, there has to be a lot of work, effort and grace.

I want to start out a series of posts about marriage, with the current state of our marriage.  You ready?

Our marriage right now, is hands-down, the best it's ever been.  Can you believe it?  I can't.  But it's true and it feels so good.  Yes, there are major parts missing in our marriage.  Some are more obvious then others.  I'll just assume you get the obvious ones.  My mom reads this, for Heaven's sake.  *cough*

A few months before Joel left, we made the effort to be a united front.  We chose our battles, but most often we chose to let things go rather than battle.  Joel and I came together as a team and worked to make the last few months he was here fun, relaxed and special for us and our girls.  We didn't want to look back while in the midst of the deployment and remember the stupid fights.  We wanted to look back and hold on to the memories - taking walks, having dinner, playing Wii, hanging out with the girls, staying up late just talking in the dark and simply enjoying one another.

We said "I love you" about a million times a day - just to make up for the days when we wouldn't be able to hear those words from the other. 

Joel and I are still on the high from the months leading up to his departure.  We know there is always the possibility that he won't come back.  It's a tough reality.  We didn't want any tension in our marriage before he left.  So we chose to live without the tension, without the petty disagreements.  But why don't we choose that way all the time?  I hope we'll do better.

Knowing where we are at right now - how strong we are, makes this time so much easier.  Not that it's easy, but the state of our marriage is not something that I have to worry about at all.  Thank God for that.

Wednesday Weigh-In

I knew it was coming - the week when I would hop on the scale and not see any change.  So, there you go.  I didn't work out.  I didn't eat great.  *Ahem*... I didn't eat well.  I guess I could have gained weight. 

2 more pounds to go. 

Oh, and it seems Joel is a weight-losing machine.  I think the combination of it being hot as Hades where he's at, not having great food around and having nothing better to do then work out on his days off has helped him to lose one more pound then me so far.  We keep joking that by the time this deployment is over, we will both be at our 7th grade weight.  That would be the day