North Carolina Goodbyes & California Vibes

So we did A Thing: We moved across the country…. to California! I can’t believe we did it, but we did. It wasn’t easy–that’s for sure; and it’s not over yet! It has been stressful, both physically and emotionally.


This adventure in our life has been Crazy with a capital C. There’s so much I want to say and yet, for weeks now, every time I try to sit down {‘try’ being the operative word because A) I own three needy little humans, and B) because I’m sleep deprived} I just can’t seem to put into words all of my emotions. Like the fact that I’ve been wanting to write a “love letter” of sorts to my friends in North Carolina, but I keep pressing the delete button because I don’t feel like my words emulate just how much they mean to me.

Moving with the military is bittersweet. Getting to live in different locations, climates, and houses is both fun and exciting, for many reasons. If we weren’t forced to purge our stuff every two years, I’m slightly afraid we’d be submitted to be on the TV show, Hoarders! The hardest part about moving every two years in having to leave behind some wonderful people. There’s no other way to say it, except for: “It sucks!” But I truly believe it is “better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.” I wouldn’t be the person I am today without every single one of my friends from past moves. And that helps ease the sting a bit…

Making new friends can be tough, so when you meet people you really connect with, it can be very difficult to leave them. But what’s even more devastating than leaving your own friends, is watching your kids leave their best friends.

There have been some rough days, watching my girls (especially Emmalyn) feel sad over leaving her friends. When she says things like, “I wish we didn’t have to keep moving houses. I wish we could just buy a house and stay with our family forever,” it breaks my heart! But she continues to show me just how strong and resilient she is, and it puts a smile on my face whenever she FaceTimes, SnapChats, or Marco Polos her friends.

I’m sure going to miss our quiet and quaint little Nicholas Sparks town, and all the people in it! But as Winnie the Pooh once said, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” That chubby little cubby is a wise one.

The logistics of sending your entire life across the country is quite tedious. It took months of preparation, starting with my aunt helping me organize and purge a lot of our stuff. I don’t know what I would have done without her help! I am 100% positive all of her hard work (and a dash of mine) is going to pay off WHEN we move in to our new house.

Oh, that’s right… we left North Carolina on May 22, and still haven’t moved in to our house. We have stayed in three different hotels and are now in a vacation rental condo (for another three weeks!!!) At least we can see the Pacific Ocean from our window…

Some days I feel like I’m losing my damn mind, y’all! One Friday, I went the entire day thinking it was Thursday. Now, people do this a lot of the time, but usually snap out of it within a few hours (or at least by the end of the day). Well, NOPE, not me. I woke up Saturday morning believing it was Friday. I looked over at my still sleeping husband and was worried his alarm didn’t go off for work. I asked him, “Do you have to go to work today?” and was elated when he answered, “No,” believing he had a surprise weekday off! Later that morning I got a phone call from the massage place asking if I wanted to reschedule since it was 10:05 and my appointment was for 10:00. I confidently said, “My massage is for tomorrow.” The lady on the phone apologized and said she would see me then. When I got off the phone Blake asked, “What about church?” I was all like, “What do you mean? Tomorrow is Saturday.” He said, “No it’s not. Today is Saturday.” Then I continued to argue with him over it. Seriously, folks, I am losing it!

Living out of one container of toys and books, and living off of ten outfits is difficult, to say the least. The girls have been fighting a lot more because they’re on top of one another 24/7, sharing every inch of this condo. Fortunately, Emmalyn will be going to musical theatre camp this week, giving the girls a break from one another. 

We have definitely made a lot of happy memories amidst the chaos, though. We’ve gone to the zoo, the beach, Balboa Park, lots of different playgrounds, hiking, outlet shopping, and swimming. We’ve also met some wonderfully kind families, welcoming us to this beautiful new town (and watching my kids so I can go to the grocery store in peace and pick up everything on my list because I can actually hear myself think!).

I joined the good ‘ole YMCA, and have taken Barre and Yoga, which has been super helpful for my psyche. Pinteresting paint colors and loft beds have also distracted me from being “homeless” this past month.

Knowing that “This Too Shall Pass”, helps me get through the OMG-I’m-Going-To-Sell-My-Kids-To-The-Circus moments.

Normalcy is right around the corner–I can feel it!

loyally,
katie

Better When We’re Together

There’s a reason this little blog of mine has been neglected lately… Because for the last six-and-a-half months, we experienced (and survived!) Our First Deployment. My better half has been on the other side of the world since the beginning of August and for safety reasons (both on his side and mine) I didn’t want to talk about it in real-time. It was hard not shouting it from the rooftops, because after all, those who read my blog have offered me so much support in the past, and have continued to do so for years now.

BUT now that B is safely home, I can shout it as loud as I want: HE’S HOME!!!!!!

And the girls and I couldn’t be happier! 

Homecoming was a whirlwind, and waiting for him to land felt longer than the last 6+ months. I’d love to share more about how we didn’t just survive, but actually THRIVED during deployment, but for now I’ll leave you with these priceless pics.



loyally,
katie


*All pictures by the amazingly talented Candice Avery Photography

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Military Wife Life


I don’t talk about my life as a military wife that often. I’m not really sure why, either. I think maybe it has to do with that fact that it’s always changing and uncertain. 

But the one question I’ve been getting a lot lately is: Do you know when and where you’ll be moving? 

The answer to that, simply, is: No. 

And the follow-up question is usually: How can you do that–not know where you’re going?

Trust me, I surprise myself on that one, too. By nature (or maybe nurture?) I am A Planner. I am A List Maker, and am truly obsessed with planning every little detail. So naturally, one would think not knowing where we are moving to in roughly three months would drive me insane. But it doesn’t. 

I am living this life for the adventure God has planned for my little family and me. We have some guesstimates of where we may be living next: Hawaii, San Diego, Virginia, South Carolina, Guam, Washington, Japan… but most likely we will not find out until about a month before we are set to leave. That’s right, folks… I said ONE MONTH before we are set to leave. We’ve already begun taking necessary precautions on the chance we get shipped overseas, such as getting the girls their first passports, and quarantining our dog (which is really just making sure he stays in the house and backyard).

Another question I get asked quite often is: Where do you want to go? 

And my answer is: Far Away. 

It’s true. I do. (Sorry Mom & Dad!) I don’t like the thought of being far away from family (even though we are already an eight hour drive away), but the way I see it is: 

Why the heck not?! 

We have this whole world surrounding us and I don’t want to live my life never seeing it. Life is too short to stay in your comfort zone!

When I think about it too deeply, I tend to get very misty-eyed over the thought of Emmalyn leaving her friends. She has made some of the greatest friends at school over the past two years and I’m going to be so sad to pull her away from them. I’m sad for her, but I’m also sad for me, because I’ve made some pretty stellar friendships as well. It really does put knots in my stomach when I think about not seeing them on a regular basis. 

But that’s military life.

And there are so many more pros to the cons. So all I can say is, thank goodness for Facebook, FaceTime, and airplanes! 

loyally,
katie

Have you ever made a really big jump in your life, moving far away? If so, how did you deal?



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Guest Post – Learning to Be a Better Me

The following is written by my friend, and former collegue, Vanessa. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at a large university:

It was the day after Halloween. I kissed my husband goodbye as he left me to deal with two kiddos who had just been out Trick-or-Treating and full on candy. He was going away for the weekend–about two hours west, to participate in his monthly Navy Reserve drill weekend, like he had for one weekend a month, two weeks a year, for the last eight years.

I was a bit mad. Frazzled actually. He had been gone two weekends before that, and was going away two weekends later. He was gone half the days of August and September. I was frustrated in that moment because I knew I was in for a fight getting the kids bathed and to bed, and I was exhausted from working full-time, helping other people solve their problems all day and all year. I’m a mom, a Navy wife, and a full-time therapist. To be fair, my husband also works a full-time job, in quality assurance/IT for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, so he basically works two weeks straight every month.
Our little family has been through a lot recently. 
The kids are used to going places and staying with others, sometimes because I am also out of town. Both our one year-old son and four year-old daughter can fall asleep easily, almost anywhere. My daughter knows that Daddy flies on an airplane to Bahrain and where in the world on a map that country is located. My son knows that Daddy works at what is essentially an airport/seaport and is obsessed with my husband’s Dixie cup hat.  They are resilient kids, just like most other military kids. They are “go with the flow” type of kids. They make me laugh every day. But, they also make me pull my hair out and get easily frustrated. 
Because I am alone with them so much due to my husband’s travels, I have discovered something about myself…
I have learned that I have low distress tolerance levels and am easily set off by something little. Spilled milk? Check! The dog runs loose around the neighborhood? Check! I locked my keys in the car when out to eat with both kids alone? Check! 
I often wanted to yell at my kids or to cry. Sometimes I did both. I had to get it together. I teach distress tolerance skills to my clients: Things like learning to self-soothe and finding things to distract yourself “in the moment” in order to calm down. This helps college kids to stop cutting or drinking, and get their lives together. 
I just wanted to be a better parent.
I started working on myself. 
I took a few deep breaths before responding to anyone to check my tone and formulate my response. I adjusted my work schedule to get thirty minutes of alone time before picking up the kids every day. I learned to laugh or make due with a lot of situations. I practiced mindfulness (the act of going within oneself; purposefully doing things one at a time to practice being in the present moment). I laughed at myself practicing mindfulness. I laughed so hard one day when the dog licked my face while doing yoga and no one was even home to hear me. 
I became happier, less stressed, and more confident. My kids and husband noticed, and things were going well.
Back to the day after Halloween: I felt that frazzled feeling coming on. I felt sorry for myself that I was going to be alone again for a few nights. But, I took a step back. I didn’t say something spiteful or curse the Navy. I thought to myself how thankful I was that my husband could be home to Trick-or-Treat with us, as many military families are separated for much longer. I thought how grateful I am to be living in my childhood home. I took stock of what my life has become, after marrying that handsome Sailor eight years ago after his first deployment. 
I can be proud of our family. 
I am not perfect. We’re not perfect. I don’t ever intend for us to be. 
But, we—and especially me–have been working really hard to be on our way.
***
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My Moving Tips.

So it’s been well over a month since we have moved, and if I had it all to do over there are a few things I would do differently!

#1 PACK TOILET PAPER

Self explanatory, don’t ‘ya think?? I actually had a box filled with essentials (toilet paper, wipes, etc., but didn’t know which box it was in!) Fortunately for us, the tenants before us left a couple of rolls behind. I texted her a “thank you” and she said she has moved enough times to learn her lesson!

#2 DRINK COFFEE

Life works so much better with a cup of coffee. Honestly, I don’t think of myself as a coffee drinker. Maybe once a month–if that–I would drive thru Starbucks for a Frap, but while we ate breakfast with my in-laws at their hotel, I figured I’d give it a go. Let me tell you, I was wayyyy more productive than I normally am, and it felt so good. The ONE morning I didn’t drink coffee, our landlord commented on how tired a looked. Coffee it is.

#3 BE ON THE SAME PAGE AS YOUR HUSBAND

Sooooo super important!! There were a few discrepancies that threw us for a curve ball… i.e., where furniture was going… where the TV remote was… & others that I have probably blocked from my mind. Next time, we will come together well in advance, and map out a plan!

#4 LET YOUR INNER OCD/TYPE A PERSONALITY OUT!

I’m a natural Type A girl, but I vowed to myself that I would go with the flow for this move. But this was not the time to be all loosey-goosey. My husband kept saying, “Why didn’t you make a list? I figured you would make a list. You always make lists.” & I was all like, “Because I was trying to be relaxed!” Lesson learned.

#5 HAVE A ‘DO NOT PACK’ BOX 

& pack it up in the car BEFORE the movers arrive. I had a DO NOT PACK box clearly labeled, but it still got packed in the moving truck. It had all of our important bank information/checks in it! Yipes! Fortunately, it was delivered with nothing missing. Thank goodness! On the day that the movers came, we were scrambling to grab stuff so they didn’t pack it up. These guys were fast, let me tell you!

They even packed Emmy’s “port-a-potty” with PEE IN IT! Yes! You read that right. Our sitter had taken Emmy to the park for a bit, then came back for lunch. She put the potty in the bathroom, and before she could even tell us it was in there, the movers had wrapped it and placed it in a box! I’m sure glad we found which box it was in otherwise it would have made for an interesting unpacking!

#6 HAVE A BABY & PUPPY SITTER

Thankfully my parents kept Indy out of our feet, and our sitter took Emmalyn out of the house while the movers packed us up. We couldn’t have had such a smooth move without my in-laws entertaining Emmalyn in our new city. They took her to the zoo, the beach, a museum. I got so much accomplished without her around. (No offense Emmy!) 

#7 HAVE YOUR MOTHER-IN-LAW UNPACK YOUR KITCHEN

This was amazing! A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I couldn’t be more grateful!

// // //
Having the Military set up our moving service was an absolute dream! They seriously spoiled us. I wouldn’t do it any other way!
loyally,
katie

We Moved Today.

It was very bittersweet, and I can honestly say that it hasn’t quite hit me yet–I don’t think. Last night, my husband was feeling pretty nostalgic about it all and he couldn’t quite wrap his finger around the fact that I wasn’t emotional about it, too. I told him we don’t always need to experience the same emotion at the same time–that my time for reminiscing would show up eventually.

Everything happened so quickly today. Since we are moving because of my husband’s Residency in the NAVY, movers were sent to our house to pack up everything. And when I say *everything* I mean E V E R Y T H I N G ! Right down to our last Cheerio, folks! I swear, if I wasn’t careful they would have packed me up in a box!

My anxiety genuinely thanks these kind movers for making my life so much easier. I seriously don’t know what I would have done without them! They packed up our ENTIRE house in just a matter of hours! I kid you not–it was ahhhhmazing!

Since we can’t move into our new house until Friday, we will be shacking it up with my lovely in-laws for the night (seriously, I have the best in-laws ever! & I’m not just saying that just in case they read this LOL). Then, we are heading out to spend the night with family Thursday, before driving the rest of the way Friday morning.

I’m super excited! Emmalyn keeps talking about her “New Blue House”. In fact, she’s so thrilled, that at 4 in the morning, she couldn’t stop talking about it. It would have been cute if it hadn’t had been in the middle of the night! 😉

So far, our moving experience has been pretty dang easy. It helped immensely that Emmy’s *favorite* sitter took her out of the house for a few hours so she was out of the movers’ way. Plus, our dog Indy, was at my parent’s house for the day. He, for sure, would have been mistaken for one of Emmalyn’s stuffed animals and packed away!

Welp, I hope the rest of our move is smooth! I’ll be sure to update y’all!

loyally,
katie 

Separation & Being a Married, Single Mom

There will come a time when my husband and I will have to be separated for an extended period of time; and for multiple reasons. Fourth year med school rotations require him to venture out to other hospitals in other states to get a better learning experience. 
And then there’s the Navy. (AKA: Separation Central.) 
Blake and I didn’t just wake up one morning and decide Hey! Wouldn’t it be fun to join the Navy?! Let’s get dressed and go sign the papers! It was something we discussed and prayed about together for over a year. And it’s something that Blake thought about long before we ever met. As much research and conversing you can do with men and women whom have gone through the military, you can never be totally prepared. Military or not, that’s just life.

The advice we’ve been given, and the stories we’ve heard are completely bipolar. 
One person can say:
It’s hell on wheels. My husband had such psychological problems that he would wet the bed… He was a completely different person… My kids hated moving from place to place… We ended up getting a divorce.
While another can say:
It was the greatest experience for our family… We got to see the world… My kids loved it!… Just don’t move them during their senior year of high school ::wink wink::
From Day One, Blake and I agreed we wouldn’t plan our lives based on other people’s stories. We would gladly welcome their opinions and suggestions, but we would never allow them to freak us out (or fill our heads with fantasies). I’m very much aware of the life we have chosen for ourselves. But I’ve also kind of put it out-of-sight-out-of-mind. I don’t want to be anxious leading up to the inevitable day he’ll leave. Through all of my PPD therapy, I have learned how to cope; how to handle stress. I’ll deal with it when I need to, but I don’t see the point in *worrying* ahead of time. Making sure everything is in place–yes. But dwelling on things–no!

I can’t tell you how I’m going to feel the first time Blake has to be away for 3-4 weeks for a hospital rotation, nor can I predict how I will feel the first time he is deployed for six months. (Or even how I’ll feel the second or third time…) All I know is: I know it’s inevitable. 
It’s the life we signed up for. 
From time to time, Blake and I talk about what we’re looking forward to, and what we’re afraid of throughout this journey. I always say I’m excited about traveling and moving to different climates and cultures. I’m a Native Floridian. I’ve never lived outside the Sunshine State. I’m ready to get out! Undoubtedly, I will miss my parents and in-laws tremendously, but you know what Pinterest says: Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. 

{& only living twenty minutes to two hours away from family is definitely my comfort zone.}
What am I afraid of? 
Getting used to him not being around.
I’m afraid that Emmy and I will develop “way-of-life” rituals; and when Blake comes home, it’ll throw off our whole *ebb and flow*. After all, I’m basically going to be what ‘they’ call a “Married, Single Mom.” I’m faithfully and legally married, but am a single mom. Trust me, I know how that sounds… selfish. I mean HE’S the one that will be away from US. Don’t get me wrong… I know it’ll be difficult for him, too. {But that’s a whole other post} I can be a very set-in-my-ways-kinda-gal. I like to do things a certain way, and my husband knows this. 
We’ve discussed the latter, and came to the conclusion that I’ll keep a diary of what is going on in our lives back home, and how I’m feeling. My husband and I are not phone people. When we talk on the phone, I can’t remember what is going on in my life for (er, well) the life of me! 
But by keeping a diary, I hope to hold myself accountable for expressing my feelings. That way, when Blake comes home, he can read the details of our happenings while he was away. We hope this will ease the transition better….
So I ask you fellow & seasoned military wives OR any wives out there who are “Married, Single Moms” if you have any advice for a *newbie* like me?
Loyally,
Katie
p.s. what do you think of the new blog set up? Still not finished, but I’m learning this on my own 😉 

It’s Official!

Blake was officially sworn into the Navy yesterday. B was board selected back in the summer for The Health Services Collegiate Program (HSCP). This particular program is designed to provide financial incentives for college students in designated health care professions to complete degree/certification requirements and obtain reserve commissions in… Medical Service Corps (MSC). (source)

When Blake entered med school, he became aware of military scholarship programs. With military service in his family tree, it’s something that has always been in his blood. There were many reasons that led us to choose this particular program. 

{one}
Active duty status as OCP01, Petty Officer First Class (E-6, for those that know the military lingo) in the Naval Reserve, upon enlisting. 

{two}
B will receive full pay and allowances. 
[Tuition and books are not included–there is another program that offers only this]

{three}
We are covered under TRICARE, the Military’s insurance. We have heard nothing but wonderful things about their insurance. 

{four}
Service to our country

{five}
Chance of a lifetime to travel (possibly overseas)

{six}
Accumulating active duty years during medical school (unlike other programs) and residency which can lead to the possibility of retiring 20 years from now with a Pension

…just to name a few…

Blake’s main job is to successfully complete med school. He cannot be deployed while he is in school. For his third and fourth year, he will do his rotations, then graduate and potentially do a GMO (General Medical Officer) Tour. In this situation, he would be a general medical doctor for the Navy, wherever needed. THEN, he would continue on to his residency. Blake has a lot of time to explore different specialties before deciding on one. 

So what does this mean for our family? After Blake graduates med school (Spring 2013) we will go wherever the Navy takes us, living on or near a base. I’m especially excited to live someplace other than Florida, as I’ve lived here my entire life. We eventually want to settle in Florida because both of our parents live here, but I’m ready for a change in scenery. 
[I wouldn’t mind some fall colors, y’all!] 

For our friends and family, I hope my explanation helps!

NOW! Here are the pictures of the big day!


Signing LOTS of paperwork!!!


Swearing in…


SO PROUD!



Now, I can officially say I’m a Navy Wife! [weird] Then in two and a half years, I’ll be a Navy Doctor’s Wife. 

Going the military med route is something we’ve discussed for well over a year, and we feel it’s the best decision for our family. I’m so proud of my husband for all that he’s doing for Little Miss and me.

I love you so much, B!