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Posts Tagged ‘military life’

I figured out a long time ago that I’m not a very good school student. If I’m not challenged and actually taught, I lose interest fairly easily. So when I entered into my Senior year of High School, at my “college prep” HS, I quickly realized things were probably going to go downhill. I had no real interest to go to college, which is problematic at the type of school I was attending. But I also had no idea what I wanted to do in place of college. I just kind of wanted to… be. And so I did. I bounced around a lot after graduating. Working odd jobs and varying between apartments and couch surfing. It wasn’t a complete waste of time, I had a lot of ups and downs, but eventually I had that faint feeling of want. I wanted to do a lot more with my life. Still not to the point I felt comfortable going to college, but I felt a calling. It landed me in the recruiters office for the United States Marine Corps. My family was on board for the most part, wary, but on board. While waiting for two waivers I needed in order to join, we found out I was pregnant.

Flash forward through five years of happy motherhood and homemaking, I am feeling confident. My husband and I casually talked over breakfast one day that I try joining the military again. We have a pretty good plan for the future as is, but none of my side of things is planned out. My husband has a career path set for the next… forever, and me? I’m just the retail-working Mom. Which isn’t good enough for me. Don’t misinterpret that, being a Wife and Mom absolutely take precedence over anything else in my life, and I have so much fun doing it. They are the foremost things in my heart and mind. BUT I still feel like I’m not achieving my full potential in life. And there it is again, the call. So after our brief talk, life started to get a little blurry again. The military thought was in my mind constantly, and finally my husband and I had a serious discussion about it. We talked about branches, options, the difficulty of being a dual military family, and still we felt excited and comfortable with the idea. We settled on the Navy, as I do want to end up in the medical field, and feel they work best with that, and the Marine Corps way of life we already lead.

So here I am, in the midst of another try at joining the military, this time with an amazingly supportive husband, and son to think about. Now before you get judge-y or concerned about the motherhood aspect of my life, know this: Our son has always, and WILL always be the light of our lives. He will ALWAYS come first. I understand that joining the military requires almost all of my time and focus, but in the long run, we both feel very sound with our decisions and the effects they may or may not have on him. The assumption that you can be a mother and wife OR in the military is ridiculous. I am multifaceted. I am capable of loving and caring for my son, and being an example to him that you CAN achieve your goals in life and care for the people you love at the same time. My being a wife and mother does not prevent my dreams, it fulfills them, and it encourages me to take on others. I won’t lie and say I am not a little worried about how he will handle Mommy not always being around, it would be silly not to be worried. But the relationship my husband and son have is stellar. If I had any inkling that our son did not come first in this decision, I wouldn’t be moving forward with it. I am so confident he will be loved and taken care of, that I feel amazing blessed and lucky to be able to try my hand at this path I am embarking on.

My marriage is probably the strongest it’s been to date. The excitement my husband has for my future plans, and the support he’s already shown make me love him more and more every day. We are not your average couple. Not by a long shot. We’re not even your average military couple. We are who we are, and right now, we’re damn amazing. You’ll notice I didn’t say perfect anywhere in there. We have our faults, and we know there will be challenges, but we’re ready to tackle them together as they come. I have no doubts in us, and that’s all that matters. I do not care what anyone else thinks about how a dual military relationship may work. Your misconceptions have no affect on how much we love each other, support each other, or rely on each other. We’re in this together, 110%, and will deal with the ups and downs like any other couple, just with a little more military influence. In other words, we’re super, super, moto, haha.

I have already spoken once with the recruiter here, briefly, about wanting to join the Navy as a Corpsman. The way the recruitment for the Navy goes is a lot different than the Marines, so we’re rolling with the information as we receive it. It is VERY difficult to become a female Corpsman right off the bat (lots of competition, the ladies alll want to be Navy Corpsmen). There’s still a chance I could qualify for it and there be an opening, after the ASVAB and MEPS, but we did have to discuss other options. I still have to take the test and go through the medical process, so right now, that’s where I’m at. I have a few other career plans in mind for the Navy, and will deal with that when the time comes. But for right now, I will need prayers for wisdom and guidance through this process. I am extremely excited and hopeful I make it into the Navy, but we also have a B Plan, should it not happen. My family has not taken it very well, though I am trying to come to terms with the fact that’s it’s because they love my son so much. They support me and love me, just not this decision. It’s been very hard for me to accept that, but it does not in anyway deter me from my dreams of supporting my nation, my family, and myself.

I know not all of my friends & family will understand this decision. I’m okay with that. I am doing what I feel I need to do, what I want to do, and my husband supports me. That’s all I need. Would it be nice to have some support through this process? Absolutely. But I want to make it clear that I don’t require the approval of anyone but my husband and son. We have an unconditional love, probably more than most, and we will go at this head on and hope for the best. We are making this decision together, we are informed and educated on almost all aspects of being dual military. We do not take this lightly.

So here’s to joining the Navy and being the person I knew I should be, 6 years ago. The fire has not gone out I assure you. If anything, my husband and son have fueled the flame, and no matter the outcome, will be there for me through the entire process. I hope I’ve made you understand a little bit of what I am going through, and you can comprehend that my love for my husband & son come first, but the military service and support for my nation are a focus we share. We are a military family already, we have the strength and perseverance to overcome and enjoy the dual military family title as well.

I’m going back to the recruiter today, updates will follow as things move forward.

Here goes…. everything.

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When you get orders to Camp Lejeune (or one of the bases nearby), you’re told one of two things;

“UGH. I HATE THAT PLACE.”

or

“Oh, I LOVED living there, you will LOVE it!”

I got a lot of both. A lot of the hate came from either single Marines, or people who are not as adventurous as I am. The love side was a mixed bag.  I think if I had gone from my home on the West Coast, straight to living here on the East, I would have joined the Debbie Downers. But luckily for me, I had that… we’ll call it, interesting 3 years in Okinawa, Japan. I won’t lie, things are almost as different here on the East Coast as it was switching from San Diego to Okinawa. There is a CULTURE SHOCK here, believe it or not. And while, yes, Jacksonville is mainly chain stores and restaurants, with no large amount of local fair, it is special in it’s own ways.

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You really just need to venture out. And this post applies to wherever you reside, not just Jacksonville.  I suppose we’re well off, considering we’re very outdoorsy people and I’m not one to be caught dead in a mall unless it’s been a few months and have a friend to go with. I really love the movie Mall Rats though. I make no sense. Anyhoo! Generally I can get us all in the car and head out to just about anything. The Mr. is all about fishing at the current time, his myriad of hobbies usually reduce down to one at a time, and right now, fishing is IT. Once the cooler weather comes to stay, I’ll be breaking out the camping posts left and right after multiple trips to reside in a tent for a few days. AKA: HEAVEN. I grew up camping. I grew up visiting Yosemite and staying in a cabin. I grew up heading to the lake to ride around in a boat. These are things I will pass onto my son. If God graces us with a daughter, she better buckle up for a lifetime of tomboyhood because this Mama is no sissy pants. Unless a big bug tries to fly at my face, I ain’t havin’ that shit.

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Now I will admit that this is no San Diego or Olympic Peninsula, but it’ll do. Bloom Where You Are Planted, right?  I do miss hiking, and local hole in the walls, but if I really need those things, I can drive to them. Here, right in Jacksonville though, it does take some exploration to make this place home. I fell in love with this park, Onslow Pines. The trail isn’t extremely long, but it’s full of trees and peacefulness, and suicidal mosquitoes. Seriously don’t mess with me bugs. It’s long enough to occupy us until we come back around and burn energy at the playground. I found it through my running group, Stroller Warriors, and have since made it a favorite stop when we want to get outside.

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The simple truth is, this park reminds me of Washington. Of home. I think that’s very important. That no matter where the military might move you, you find something that reminds you of home. It’s harder here. Nothing is really quite the same. When I buy a new plant, I think of my Dad. When I watch a sunset on my back porch I think of my Mom. Small things take me back home. Small things, make it easier to be away. People in the civilian world don’t think it should be hard for us, afterall we’ve just moved somewhere else, people do that all the time.  We still make friends, do normal tasks, but we do it with only the memory of our once homes, instead of the actual thing. So I highly encourage you to high five a military family member, we love that. Maybe not in a creepy way though okay? Just a, Aww yeah way to be, kind of way. Because most of the time, we’re trying to make a place home, that is very much far from the original.

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You get homesick. You get used to your new home. You get homesick again.

Make the best of the middle bit.

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As you can see, New Bern is really, really hideous.

Oh who am I kidding, it’s adorable. All of the houses on this street looked like the doll houses I begged for and never received. Lookin’ at you parents! To make them even better, most of them were little B&B’s. Swoon worthy little B&B’s. Dreamy little B&B’s.  It was such a sleepy little town. No really, we went on the wrong day and basically everyone was sleeping. I am not accustomed to the South and how Sundays and Mondays are basically off days for everyone. They don’t really do that in Southern California, instead, mornings things are closed if the surf is good, and open if the surf the prior evening was bad.

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There is no surf here. But everything is closed. Brain does not compute.

Thankfully, there were a couple of shops open we could cruise and escape the heat for a moment. The HEAT. Oh man, another Southern staple I am not a fan of. I like the sunshine… and the thunderstorms, but the heat? No thank you, sir. I do like on the sleep days how a lot of the shop owners had their dogs with them. One shop had a multitude of Corgis, one of which slept in a playpen which was squee worthy.  I think I’ll make a few more trips to check out the Farmers Market, bike rentals, carriage rides, and a few of the restaurants. We ended up back at our favorite sushi joint, Ginza Japan.

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It’s a bummer I don’t drink soda, and never have, or I’d probably be really excited about it being the birthplace of Pepsi.

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Oh and did I mention there’s bears everywhere?

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No not those kinds of bears. These:

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Please excuse my child.

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Let’s be honest, my life is basically a vacation. I’m a stay at home Mom, married to what I assume to be the only Marine who doesn’t really leave a whole lot. See, he’s such a good Marine, that they want to keep him around a lot, which I know sounds a bit silly, but making sense of how the Marine Corps works is almost an impossible task. So how on Earth do I feel like I need vacations still? Especially after having just moved from Overseas? Well because even though my life may seem like a vacation to the every day outsider, it’s not always the case. I do have an amazing amount of free time, with no real duties outside of making sure my potty training son is aiming the right way and that the laundry doesn’t meet the same height as Mt. Kilimanjaro. My husband works 14+ hour days, 5 days a week, and our weekends are really the only chance to be a normal functioning family. I hadn’t seen my Dad in person in over two years, so when he told me he was coming out for a quick visit, I was ecstatic. Because when it comes down to it, THAT’S where I struggle with military life. Missing our families. Okinawa was somewhere around 6,000 miles away from my family. Now we’re about 2,000 and some change miles from home. SO close, yet so far. We’re on the wrong coast for both of our families, so sometimes it’s hard making the Skype, texts, and calls the real time we have with our family. Enter: Dad Visit.

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After picking him up in Raleigh, I immediately made him wander through the packed streets of Raleigh for their 4th of July festival and fireworks. My Dad is such a good sport and totally put up with all of my mini adventures while he was here. The people on the left of the photo above taught my son to take small flowers and shoot them off using their own stems, and the people to the right of my Dad & Jax got engaged right in front of us. Raleigh is not a boring town my friends. When they found out we were from California they were kind of amazed we were there. I almost forget sometimes what it’s like outside towns that aren’t completely run over with military families. It’s such a nice break when you see the clueless faces of people who know nothing of your crazy life. Hearing “Thank you for your service” never gets old. These days hearing it is pretty rare, and that’s a really sad fact.

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We made side trips to New Bern, Wilmington, and little areas around home. Somehow I also got my Dad to transplant my tomatoes and Angelonias, in true Dad form. We did our favorite things, like visit an aquarium, and drink craft beers, even managed to check out the State Farmers Market in Raleigh before he flew out again. The weather was amazing while he was here, the day he came the rain stopped, and the day after he left, it began again. As if my Dad brought the California sunshine with his smiles. If you live around here, definitely get out and explore. A lot of military here complain about what a terrible place is, and I’d guess they would be right if they stuck to only our small town. But there are a lot of hidden gems, you just have to get out and find them.

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It’s so amazing to have family around. I look back at how I took it for granted living in the same town as them for so long, and am amazed at how military life has made me appreciate the time with them so much more.  If you’re lucky enough to spend time with your family regularly, you’re lucky enough. For this part of our lives, I’ll look forward to the short visits, and the silly calls and texts, and when the time comes to settle down, I’ll hold onto what the military way of life has taught me about being thankful to be able to hug the the ones you love or share a cup of coffee in person.

I’ll be posting small posts about some of our Adventures with Papa soon.

xoxo

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