Memorial Day Weekend

What a wonderful Memorial Day we had…

palmJust kidding. It was more like this…

But it was a good weekend nonetheless.

Friday started with a 12 mile run with my girlfriends followed by a pizza and wine girls night.
Saturday was for baby showering and Mary Kay partying.
I headed to church first thing Sunday morning and wrapped up the evening with a Navy family BBQ.
Yesterday, two of my fellow husband-less girlfriends went into the city to shop our blues away. This Memorial Day was a bit surreal since the hubby is deployed again. It gives these holidays a whole different meaning. Last year we were having a blast in NYC for Fleet Week not really thinking about the reality of Navy life.

The picture of the palm tree was taken in Hawaii. Man, I wish we were still there. Don’t you think a two year Hawaii shore tour would be the pits? Who would want to do that? [ME! ME! ME!] I’m already working on my husband to make this happen.

On the note of deployments, Hawaii and Memorial Day, the husband and I were lucky enough to visit the USS Arizona Memorial while we were in Hawaii. Being in Pearl Harbor really makes you stop and think about the sacrifices our service members made and continue to make. As we looked at the wall of names, we couldn’t help but notice all of the Ensigns (my husbands rank at the time) and that really hit close to home.  I am proud and also humbled to “serve” our country as a Navy wife.


Anyways, today is for recovering from a crazy busy (but oh-so-fun) weekend and running some energy out of Boom Boom.

 

“Epic” Beer Cake

beercake
I struggled with what to do for my husband’s homecoming. I, being a Susie Homemaker in training, wanted to go all out. Streamers, balloons, signs, American flags…
But then we found out he wouldn’t be home for very long and I felt like making a big deal out of this homecoming would be more of a slap in the face. “You will spend more time in a rack than your bed this year” didn’t seem like a very good sign.

So I decided I would make a basket full of his favorite things. Only problem, my husband is a simple man and loves queso, Japanese food and his bed. I got his entire family involved and they sent some of the best stuff. Thin Mints, Memphis BBQ sauce, Best Buy gift cards…
(I’ll tell on myself: I ate both boxes of Thin Mints and Goo Goo Clusters. It’s your own fault for sending a female with a deployed husband chocolate.)

One day I was poking around on Pinterest for a few minutes (said no one ever) and saw a ton of different diaper cakes. A cake made out of beer popped in my head and I knew I had a gem of an idea.

cake1

:: Ingredients ::
Beer. If this cake was for anyone else, I would have gotten a variety of beer. My husband (simple man) likes his Bud Light. I used 24 beers because let’s be honest – he was at sea for months… he only needed 1 to get a buzz on.
Curling Ribbon.
Crepe Paper Streamers. I found American Flag designs at the Dollar Store.
2 Small American Flags.
Poster Board.

:: Cooking Instructions ::

I can’t remember for sure, but I think there are 3 beers on the top layer, 7 beers in the middle, and 14 beers on the bottom layer. I just stacked each layer directly on the next. My original plan was to cut cardboard to place between each layer, but I didn’t want the cake to be huge and I also didn’t feel like trying to cut cardboard.

I stuck the two flags on top and surrounded them with curling ribbon. caketop

I wrapped the crepe paper around each layer and used double side tape to hold it in place.
I decided it needed something under the cake so I cut a circle out of poster board, wrote “Welcome Home” on it, and rebuilt the cake on top of the board.

cake1


He actually got home before I did so I couldn’t see his reaction, but I did receive this text:
epicI’ll consider that the male stamp of approval. I should also note that the best part of this cake is that is doesn’t go bad. Does beer go bad?

Now I just have to come up with something cool(er) for homecoming #2.

cake1

Proud Navy Wife

As you know, I am a military wife and a very proud one at that! While the lifestyle we live can be crazy at times, it also gives us opportunities that civilians don’t normally have. It is usually the very thing that makes me want to pull my hair out that I also love (i.e. living in three states in one year). Life is always an adventure. When my husband told me we would probably do our next shore tour in Washington my response was, “5 years here? That’s too long!”

The one thing that makes the submariner lifestyle really crazy is the secrets. Know that saying “secrets secrets are no fun unless they are for everyone”? Well, the hubby and I cannot teach our kids that. I have never seen where my husband works and have very little idea of what he actually does. When he returns from this deployment I will have no idea what he did or where he even was. Not because we keep secrets from each other, but he legally cannot. [Like signed a contract saying he would never tell.] I like to make up stories about what he does and I am always trying to keep up with the news, but the whole point of submarine service is go unnoticed. This also translates to the wives because the little we do know has to be kept a secret. I was recently in a meeting where we were told certain information couldn’t be written down and whatever you do, DON’T PUT THIS IN YOUR IPHONE!!! How is that for a what-my-husband-does-is-intense wake up call? It’s been a learning process for everyone because it is such a natural thing to ask “where is your husband” or “when does he get home”. I’ve learned to get past feeling dumb when I have to answer, “I don’t know!” Even if I do have a date, it will probably get changed anyways.

I found this video while my boyfriend was at Officer Candidate School and at that point it didn’t seem real. After marriage and almost a year of training we have finally made it to the point where the hubby is there. He does the same work on the same type of boat and holy crap that is so crazy! When I first watched the video it didn’t seem real and now it is our reality. I am very proud of my husband, but I’m also certain he is off his rocker for volunteering to do this.

From one submariner wife to another – All I have to say is thank goodness they run out of food 🙂

Salty advice

 

3 peaceful morning milesphoto

As a new military spouse, I am always seeking out advice about how to survive in this crazy world from “salty” spouses. One of the best things someone could have ever told me was this:

“Any duty station can suck if you make it. Any duty station can be awesome if you make it.”

 

When we first showed up to Bremerton, the hubby and I got scared. Most of the buildings could use some TLC and we were overwhelmed by the amount of stuff – houses and businesses – crammed on this peninsula. We could no longer have the “this is temporary” mentality, this was home for the next three years. The first week or so was rough – rain and snow and fog and more rain. Once we got settled into our house, started getting the lay of the land and meeting people, the better I started feeling. I’ve learned with Bremerton, you deal with the rain because when the sun comes out…

sunrise… you are in for a real treat.

 

 

Lessons learned from our first PCS

PCS BSR
We recently completed our first PCS with the Navy… and survived. (Note: I could do a whole post on military lingo, but PCS = permanent change of station)

Our pack out day went like a dream and we didn’t lose anything in the move (huge since our stuff changed trucks three times and went into storage for a few days). From New York to Washington, every last item made it. I attest to the fact that I was diligent in my prep work leading up to the move. Keep reading for a few of my tips. 1-photo 1 (5)

The Good:

Take everything off the walls. Gather all picture frames in one place. Not only is it easier to pull out nails as you go, it also means pictures get packed together. This also makes unpacking much easier. I chose to put all picture frames from the entire apartment in one place since I like to change things up every time we move. If you like to keep each room together, you could have one spot in each room for wall decor.

Baggies are your best friend. Take electronics apart and put all cords in a labeled baggie. Pack all the loose things in drawers in baggies. Go ahead and put small, lose kitchen items in baggies. Ration out dog food in baggies. I even found 2.5 gallon bags at Walmart that I used to pack our suitcase.
suitcase

Make a “do not move” closet. Everything in sight goes. It was so much easier to tell the movers, “if you can see it, it gets packed.” Pack out day would have been a nightmare if I was having to run around making sure laptops, cameras or jewelry boxes didn’t get packed. I think the packers appreciated it as well.

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Inside our “do not move” closet:
Air mattress (we stayed in NY for a week after our stuff shipped) – we ended up throwing it away because the car was too full.
Dog’s supplies (food, bowls, treats, car hammock…)
Hubby’s uniforms he would need right away in Washington
Moving Binder
Safe
Jewelry Box
Suit cases
Cell phones, computers, cameras and all chargers
Contacts/glasses…

I also put a “do not move” sign on the shower so we would have soap and shampoo for the week. We also put one on the fridge and washer/dryer since they came with our apartment. I would still keep an eye on the “do no move” areas though. We had a loader open the closet and let me know the packers forgot some. So maybe you should also tape the door shut?

DSC_0156

Car hammocks for dogs are a must for long trips. We bought one off Amazon (here). This one worked fine for us because our dogs are on the smaller side. I wouldn’t recommend buying the cheapest one if you have bigger dogs. Each morning we could shake out the crumbs from the day prior so the car stayed clean. It also acted as a barrier (or head rest for Boomer) to keep the dogs in the back seat.

The Bad and Ugly:

Put all bras and panties in baggies so the movers aren’t packing them by the handful. I was sitting at the kitchen table watching our stuff go into boxes when a horrible thought popped into my head. The packer emptying our dresser is packing my bras and underwear by the handful. OMG. Next time I will put all embarrassing items into baggies or fabric bags to spare myself a red face.

Have food and drinks available. I will admit it. I honestly didn’t think that this was necessary and only did it because it seemed like all Navy wives before me had done so. However, I do understand the theory “treat your packers/movers as you want your stuff packed”. We bought pizza and had water available. Some other ideas are deli sandwiches or donuts. At the end of the day, it cost us a little money, but the packers and loaders were appreciative.

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Make arrangements for alcohol if moving in winter months. Nothing makes a wine collector’s (as in I like to buy wine) heart drop like hearing the words, “due to the weather, we can’t bring your liquids.” I ended up getting most of them in our car so all was not lost. If you have an extensive “liquid” collection, make sure you have a party leading up to your move. Or make other arrangements. Which ever you prefer.

Delivery Day Tips

Put down plastic to protect carpets. In-and-out-in-and-out makes for a mess and potential carpet stains. Our movers ended up putting down blankets because we live in the wetlands known as Bremerton, WA.

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Have a game plan for the new house. I thought we had a good game plan. I went over it with my husband and made sure he knew the this-will-keep-me-from-freaking-out plan. However, as soon as boxes came in our house quickly went from organized to this…photo 3

Our house is small, so I didn’t think to make signs for each door saying which room it was. If you have a large house, you might want to label “Ashleigh’s Room” on the door so you’re not having to say “the first room on the left” every single time a box comes in.

Most importantly… keep a sense of humor. Just as I was about to kick my family out so I could actually get something done, my husband pointed this out…
photo 1

It took us a minute to figure it out, but now I know where my vackem is to clean up the floors.

photo 4 (1)Yes, it is important to wrap every single shoe in three sheets of packing paper. While I appreciate the extreme care for my shoe-babies, packing paper took over our house for a few days.

We turned it into a game of “lets see how much paper they fit in this box.”

We are in the “real” Navy now

IMG_6504 copy-001I’ve gone back and forth about blogging about my husband’s deployments during deployments. However, now that one is here I think it is something that I need to write about. This isn’t the first time he has been away during our relationship. After dating for about six months, he left for Officer Candidate School for four months. During the first 2 -3 months, we could only communicate via snail mail. It was hard to not speak to him, but I cherish those letters. I am sure the mailman is happy to have one less stalker.

A week after we got married, he left again for two months for more training. We were able to talk, email and Skype throughout the entire time apart.

Then I was spoiled and had him for 8 months with no fear of having to leave. Sure, rotating shift work stunk, but at least I got to see him.

Now I find myself in a new home, in a new city on the opposite side of the country with a deployed husband. This was so not the plan. I knew he was going to deploy often and without much notice, but gezz. Can’t a girl get settled into a new home first?

Anyways, I’ve done my crying and moping. Now it’s time to buckle down and kick deployment #1’s trash! (or something like that)

To keep myself busy I’ve started applying for jobs, signed up for a marathon in June, convinced my parents to come visit me next month (it was really hard to talk them into that 😉 ) and started taking a “Navy Spouse 101” course. After the first day I already have so many new resources and I kicked butt in the “guess the rank” game!

The good new is, I don’t have to plan real dinners (brown rice and sweet peas mixed together with tons of garlic powder anyone?) and I can go to the gym for as long as I want. I also don’t have to shave or wear makeup so it’s not all bad.

With Millie and Boomer, organizing the pantry (because yes, I did do that on a Friday night) and starting a life in Washington, the hubby should be home in no time.