Monday, October 13, 2014

Here or There?

     Finally a little over halfway through second deployment! While the actual deployment was the same as last time for him, it has been far different for me.
     First deployment, was of course different because it was new to the both of us. Neither of us knew what to expect. I stayed in Hawaii the whole deployment, and I worked 40+ hours a week. I heard from him every couple days, with a communication dry spell of about 3-4 weeks towards the middle. I stayed very busy, working, running 5K's, getting my Hawaii state fire warden certificate, buying patio furniture and putting it together by myself, learning to change tires, getting clogs out of the shower, etc. The first couple weeks of that deployment went slow, and then it was over before I knew it!

     This deployment, I have been home in Kansas the whole time. Being his last deployment, it made more sense for me to come home so we could make some extra cash before he leaves the military. I used to envy the women that went home, and now I'm realizing how much I miss being on base sometimes.

     Staying at your duty station during a deployment can suck if you're like me because you don't have kids. I think that having children can really make a difference because they keep you driven to go on to the next day, and they are FAMILY. Since I have no children, I was there, doing the deployment on my own, which is an incredibly lonely feat for 6-7 months. I didn't have the ability to just hop in a car and drive home to see my family. I didn't feel as though I had a lot of friends on base, but it really helps to know that most of the wives you know, are probably in the "SS Husband-less" boat too. (It's a really big boat when you live on a military base.) While you may not be buddy buddy with these women, you quickly learn to find solace knowing that you are not the only one going through it.

    Being home for deployment has some serious pros and cons. My biggest con is not living in a military community anymore, where people understand deployment. That being said, it has been a huge struggle to not punch all the people that have been talking behind my back. Since no one understands why I am here while my husband is gone, I have run into various rumors:
"Oh yeah, Emma and Brandon aren't doing good."
"He kicked her out and made her come back."
"They're getting a divorce"

For the record, these are all completely untrue, and I am so so sick of hearing about my life through my community. When we decided to save money by having me live off base this deployment, I had not mentally prepared myself to deal with such negativity from a community that I respected and loved. It's hard to not be overwhelmed with frustration when people message you and say, "hey I heard a rumor…" Halfway through the deployment and it still really really bothers me. It is also hard to be around a civilian lifestyle. For weeks I was so confused when I didn't hear colors playing in the morning, or taps at night. I had to figure out 12-hour time again too, (although my phone remains on military time) It was weird to have people check my ID, and not know how to read it because I had instinctively handed them my military ID. It's been hard to readjust, and learn how to explain common military acronyms and lingo to people at home who don't understand, or don't really care to try.

     Being around family however, has been great. I really missed them over the course of two and a half years, and it feels like such a relief knowing that they are easily accessible to me now. I don't feel as though I'm missing out on all the fun stuff. It can be hard being away from home and checking Facebook only to see your whole family minus you went on vacation.

     So while I have been home, I started working, because really, I can't not work. I will go crazy if I don't. I am also back in school! Which feels so good. I am so happy to be older and have a little bit more life experience because it has really shaped my career path.

     All in all, I have really learned a lot about myself between the two deployments. I have had a lot of unexpected twists during both, but when it boils down to it, deployments suck, no matter where you choose to be. There are pros and cons of both, and they need to be expected upon making a decision. I went home with the attitude that this deployment would be so much easier, only to learn that emotionally it has been a lot tougher. Be realistic in your choice, and don't expect either way to be easy. Deployments are all hard in their own ways, and it's all about the way you cope!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Moving Blues

     Anyone that has ever moved from one house to another knows that it is no fun. Multiply the lack of fun by 1000 when you have to move by yourself from a house in Hawaii to Kansas. 3,000 miles of PAIN IN MY REAR. I guess I should explain my life right now a little bit first.

      Deployment number two was nipping at our heels, and with hubby having only about a year and a half left of the Marines, we decided that I should go home during the deployment to be with my family and save money. Normally a move like this is stressful, but minimally, because when you're on orders, a company comes and packs up all your stuff for you and loads it up and ships it for you and it is just magical and helpful and wonderful. However, because I am not on orders to go home, and I am leaving early, we are on our own. That means, we pay for all of our shipping costs, plane tickets, storage, etc. Now imagine my excitement when we learn that husband is leaving almost five weeks earlier than we had planned for. SURPRISE!

Through all of this we have learned a lot the hard way. So I figured I would share some helpful hints to help a fellow Mil Wife out someday, if needed.

1. If you come across a situation in which you need to go home early, not on EAS or PCS orders,
make your husband request an EROD. (Early return of dependents) He needs to apply for it MONTHS in advance, so be prepared. An EROD basically gives orders that you are going home while your husband stays overseas. You get all the amenities of a regular move, and it takes most of the work out of it for you. For more detailed information, check out

2. For animal lovers: I HIGHLY recommend American Airlines Cargo for shipping your pets! Anyone who has known me for 2.8 seconds knows that I LOOOOVE my cats. Getting them home can be very expensive, especially if it is considered overseas. (Guess what?! Hawaii is considered overseas!) For both cats it was going to be at LEAST $600 to ship back to Kansas. I love my fur babies more than life, but I had some serious thoughts about shoving them in my suitcase. (Just kitten ya, obviously.) Upon days and days of research and recommendations, I decided on American Airlines, not only because they had great reviews, but they also give 50% discounts to military family members. They don't really like to advertise it, but I got it out of them. In the end we paid $275 dollars total for the shipping of my kitties, who arrived safe and sound back in the Land of Oz.

3. Join a base website. Storage out here is the upwards of $200 a month for a 5x5 unit. Needless to say, we needed to downsize our household crap significantly. The fastest and easiest way that we found, was posting our items for sale on the base website. Craigslist is nice and all, but this was better because all of the people on the page are military families either selling items you need, or needing to buy items you want to sell. Also, they are usually all on base, which makes pick-up simple and quick. You can usually find them on Facebook as a group. Word to the wise: Be fair on your prices, and be firm if need be. People WILL try to talk you down. (Example: while selling our 42" flat screen TV, and various bedroom furniture, I had a lady offer me $40 for a dresser and the TV.

4. Take it one day at a time. This is very very important. It has been so easy to get overwhelmed during this process, especially because this is our first time doing it and Brandon left right in the middle of it. (Not his fault) We started by emptying all of a room one day at a time. (Well, that was the plan, but one day I came home to find the entire contents of three bedrooms, three closets and a bathroom piled and strewn over my stairs. Brandon decided to do the whole upstairs in one fell swoop. I still love him by the way) The last few days he was here we slept on our mattress in the living room, and it was a big relief being able to say, "Well at least the whole upstairs is empty."

5. Don't be a hoarder. I totally fail at this. It is so easy to be really sentimental and want to keep EVERYTHING. Especially because this was our first duty station, and it holds so many memories and monumental moments in our marriage. (Like the first time Brandon actually changed the toilet paper roll instead of just putting it on top of the sink. I was so proud. It only took two years!) It was hard giving away the set of dishes we bought together and ate off of for the first chapter of our marriage, but it was good knowing that we had donated them to a freshly married military couple that were still eating off styrofoam.

6. Ship with the post office. Comparing prices of Fed Ex and such, the post office always had the best rates when it came to shipping stuff home.

7. Housing inspections SUCK. I mean, I know I'm supposed to be giving advise here, but I think it's just best if I tell you that there is really no way around this one. It sucks, you're going to have to pay no matter what, and try to not cuss out the inspector for charging you for paint on the floor of the garage that was definitely there when you moved in. By the way the little wand things on the blinds? They are really important to these people.

All in all, it has been crazy and tiresome. But I am grateful for the experiences this life has thrown at me. Military life is never an easy one, but I have learned so much thus far and really grown into an adult along the way. Keep your chin up, and don't be afraid to throw some stuff. I mean you have to sweep it for inspection anyway. ;)