Request for your input

I would love to hear from you as to what things you are interested in reading about.  I try to write what I think others will be interested to read, but I could be way off.  Let me know what you would like to see more posts about, less posts about, or any new topic.  I welcome any and all feedback, criticism, and/or suggestions in the comments section of the blog.  Don’t hold back!

Independence Day

“Freedom is not free”

 

How many times have we heard this phrase, but fail to recognize what it really means?  The 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence risked everything to create an entity free from England.  Ever since then, our military risk their lives to maintain that freedom.  If at no other time than today, and other holidays such as this, I ask that you say a prayer for those serving our great nation, whether in the States or overseas.  I think they deserve at least that much.

 

Happy 4th of July!

Balancing act

My biggest challenge since Tony arrived home is finding a happy balance.  Balance for me means time to myself, time with Tony, time with friends, and time with family.  I don’t consider being at work my “time to myself” since most of the time I am busy with work.  I recently started attending therapy, and have found that having that hour set aside where I reflect on my situation and feelings, and brainstorm ideas for the future has been very refreshing.  I could probably achieve the same result from mediation or something like that, but sometimes I lack discipline.  So, having someone else there holding me accountable is a big help.  I also have begun working out again, albeit not every day of the week.  I exercise about 3-4 days per week, and find that time to be my “me time”.   I’m working on continuing to do things that develop me as a person.  Also, I know that my time with friends and family has decreased, as I am trying to balance life with my husband home, and I appreciate everyone being patient and understanding about that.

Food + Friends = Road Trip

Last week, we embarked on a road trip.  It started as a planned trip to attend a wedding in Cincinnati.  One of the Marines Tony was with in Afghanistan got married right before they left, and this was their big wedding with family and friends.  One of my dear friends recently moved to Lexington, and originally Tony told me the wedding was in Kentucky.  We decided to extend our weekend wedding trip to include a stop to visit Bridgit.  We purposefully were very spontaneous in our activities, trying to “go with the flow” and enjoy the trip.  Now, for those who know me, “going with the flow” is very hard for me.  I am a planner, so this was an exercise in patience and living in the moment.  I must say, I did pretty well :)

 

Here’s a summary of our trip:

Thursday, June 14:

-Left about 6:30am to drive to Lexington, KY

-Tony surprised me and we stopped for breakfast at Cracker Barrel

-Had lunch in Charleston, WV (the capital).  We drove for about 2-3 hours seeing NOTHING before hitting that city.  It’s in the middle of nowhere!

-My iPhone (which is jailbroken and unlocked) did not work the entire time we were in WV.  That meant for at least 6 hours, I had no service.  It drove me crazy.

-Arrived in Lexington, KY about 6pm.  We met Bridgit and her family for dinner, and hung out at their house that night.  You can read Bridgit’s blog post and see more pictures here: marshmallowmondays.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/orange-pa-friends-dad/

 

 

Friday, June 15:

-Spent the morning visiting with Bridgit and her family at her house

-Explored Lexington.  Tony has wanted a pair of cowboy boots for a while now, so we decided to look at them in KY.  He found a pair he liked, but they did not have his size, and couldn’t get his size.  We left empty-handed.  Lexington is beautiful, with lots of land and horse farms everywhere.  It’s a little bit country, with a pretty city not more than 15 minutes away.  I loved it.

-Met up with guys Tony served with in Afghanistan, went out downtown Lexington for dinner and drinks.  I tried Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, a beer that is aged for 6 weeks in empty bourbon barrels.  It was yummy!

 

Saturday, June 16:

-Drove about 1.5 hours to Cincinnati, OH for the wedding

-Sushi with the guys before the wedding.  Here are some pictures for you to enjoy:

There were SO many Marines there!

Us outside the church.  It was about 100 degrees

At the reception

Getting some Marine love

Sunday, June 17:

-Went to Longhorn’s with the guys to eat “breakfast” at 11:30

-Drove to Pittsburgh to Julie’s house.  Julie and I went to undergrad together, but because we live 4 hours away from each other, don’t see each other very regularly.  This past year though, we have gotten together 3 times, and we are quite proud of that.

-Had dinner and relaxed with Julie and her husband

 

Monday, June 18:

-Explored Pittsburgh

-We were going to go to a Blue Star Museum (a program that offers free admission to military families over the summer).  I wanted to go to the Andy Warhol Museum, but they are closed on Mondays, so we couldn’t go.

-Met up with another Marine and his wife at Primanti Brothers in the Strip District.  They lived in KY, but were in Pittsburgh visiting her family, so we didn’t see them when we were in Lexington.

-Went to the Waterfront to play at Dave & Busters (it’s like an adult Chuck E Cheese!), and did some shopping

-Drove the rest of our way home

 

Tuesday, June 19:

-Slept in, did laundry, unpacked, and relaxed

 

I really enjoyed our trip.  Over 1,300 miles driven in 5 days, but we weren’t rushed at all.  I love that we were able to see and catch up with so many of our friends in so many different places.

 

Living life

I feel like we are finally getting into living life together again.  Yesterday was a prime example.  We spent time together in the morning: drinking coffee, reading, and listening to the news.  I had a massage and lunch with a friend planned in the middle of the day.  After I got home, we went to the gym together to work out.  It was a crazy workout only Tony would come up with.  Later, we decided to go downtown to hang out for the evening.  We bought a bottle of wine and went to Rachel’s Creperie for dinner. Rachel’s is BYOB, so we were able to savor wine with our meal.  We sat at the tables on the sidewalk, enjoying the beautiful evening.  We rented some movies, and came home and watched them.  It was a fabulously relaxing and very normal day.  Very normal in that I feel that’s what normal couples do- just spend time together.  But, this is something we’ve been lacking over the past 14+ months.  As much as I get wrapped up in wanting to plan everything, yesterday helped me to appreciate unstructured time.  The ability to be spontaneous and just enjoy my husband’s company was refreshing.

Remember

As you spend time with your family and friends this Memorial Day weekend, please remember those who are not able to enjoy it with their loved one.  Say a prayer for those serving away from their families, for the families that are “holding down the fort” at home, for those who have lost loved ones, and for all who have ever served our great Nation.  That is the real reason for this holiday- not cookouts, and pool openings, and an extra day off of work.

 

I am grateful for brave men and women who “more than self their country loved, and liberty more than life”.

Our surprise trip to NYC

We were relaxing last weekend when Tony got an email from the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) looking for individuals to be on Fox and Friends for a segment on the Tough Mudder.  Tony originally had his LASIK/PRK procedure scheduled for the day the segment was to air, so he said he could not do it.  After some thought, and making sure that he could reschedule his eye procedure, he agreed to do it.

 

Everything was arranged for us, from the hotel room, to the taping, to other activities.  The entire trip was paid for by the WWP, and it was an amazing trip!  We decided to take the Amtrak up to NYC, since neither of us had ever done that before.  We left Thursday, May 17 about noon, and were at Penn Station by 3:15.  We walked the streets to our hotel, the Sheraton.  It is the 3rd largest hotel in NYC, and is just a few blocks from Times Square.  We were upgraded for free to the executive floor, where we had 24 hour access to a private lounge, and free wifi.  The lounge served complimentary appetizers from 5:30-7, so we ate some yummy food before we walked around the city.

Here’s the view from the lounge:

We walked to Central Park, Times Square, the Coach store.  We had a drink at a cool bar.

Later that night, we met with the WWP founder, Al, as well as the other warriors who would be participating in the F&F segment the next day.  The WWP gave us tee shirts, ball caps, and other swag to wear.  We were excited, and very anxious, and didn’t get to sleep until about midnight.

 

The next morning came VERY VERY early with my 4:15 alarm!  We met the others in the lobby at 5:15am, then walked to the F&F studio, where a catered breakfast was provided for us.

The warriors started running through the obstacle course at about 6:15, and continued in shifts until 9 when the show was over.  The course included low crawling through mud, climbing over a 9ft tall wall, going through an 18 degree ice bath, and running through electrical shocks.  Tony ran through it once about 6:30 as they were doing a “teaser”, and then again about 8:50 with the anchor Steve Doocy.  He was interviewed with the other guys at the end too.

We talked with Al again.  We met Wil, the founder of Tough Mudder,

and Alex, who designed the Tough Mudder course.  We also met the NYC Chief of Police, who invited us downtown for all the major events (New Year’s, 4th of July, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade), and offered us private seating for them due to our participation with the WWP!

Tony asked if it was possible to get a tour of Fox studios, and so we got a private tour (the biggest group he said he’d ever taken through!).  We sat in on a taping of a segment to air the next day, and were in the studio for the live taping of Bill Hemmer and Martha MacCallum.  Bill even gave us a shout out on air for being in the studio!

 

 

Tony and I walked back to our hotel and enjoyed a complimentary American breakfast, again comp’ed by the hotel.  Our bill for breakfast would have been $68!  We relaxed in the executive suite, enjoying the wifi and lattes, and the view from the 44th floor.  Tony and I walked around the city some more, taking in the sites such as Rockefeller Center.

 

We met Tony’s cousin Carmen (who lives and works in NYC) for a drink at a nearby Irish pub.  I don’t think we’ve seen Carmen since Tony’s going away party last year, so it was great to see her and catch up.  Then, we met the WWP folks again in the lobby, and took the subway to Yankee Stadium.  The WWP provided us with ball park food, and we watched the game.  I experienced garlic fries, which were AWESOME!

 

The Yankees won the ball game, 4-0, and there were 2 homeruns in the 8th inning.  We took a very crowded subway back to the hotel, where we worked on packing and then turned in for the night.

 

Saturday morning, we again woke up bright and early to walk to Penn Square.  Tony and I grabbed breakfast at a corner bakery, and caught our 7am train to travel home.  Our experience with Amtrak was amazing.  We were early getting into both Philly and NYC on our way there, the trains were on time, and everything was easy to navigate and very traveler friendly.

 

My mother-in-law picked us up at the Lancaster Train Station at 9:45, we drove home, got into our car, and drove to Harrisburg, where Tony had his PRK procedure done at 11.  Our day Saturday and Sunday consisted of sitting in the dark, since his eyes were extremely light sensitive.  He was pretty miserable and uncomfortable.

 

That was our whirlwind long weekend!  What a fabulous experience!  Thank you to the WWP!

 

 

New York, New York

I write this from the Sheraton in New York City, where Tony and I are staying for the next two days as guests of the Wounded Warrior Project. Stay tuned, I will blog about our whole trip when we get home!

The transition home….”reunification”

I am an optimistic person.  I try to only speak positive things about myself, others, and life.  I do not want to appear that I am focusing on the negative things about Tony’s transition home.  However, due to feedback from my readers, I am going to write about what is hard about the reunification for me.

 

Although this is our 3rd deployment together, it was our first as a married couple.  I had to learn to be self sufficient and independent while he was away.  I have been used to making my own plans, basically doing what I wanted to when I wanted to.  Now, I have to learn to take his interests/plans/opinions into consideration.  While he was away, I was the one who made all the decisions, from what I should eat that night, to who to have paint the front porch, to who to take the car to for repair.  I made decisions effortlessly, as needed, no consult required.  Or, no consult possible.  Sometimes I wouldn’t hear from Tony for weeks, so asking his opinion on things wasn’t practical, nor was it important to him at the time, so I didn’t bother him with details like that.  Now that Tony is back in the States, I need to include him in decision making, and to some degree I defer to his decisions as head of our household.  It’s not all up to me anymore.

 

I tried to stay very busy when he was away, for my own peace of mind and sanity.  Now, I want to spend as much time with him as I can, and so being with him has become my priority.  That is another piece I have been struggling with-not smothering him.  I have to reach a balance point, where I spend time with him, but am still maintaining my friendships and my independence.  I have to be careful to not lose touch with my friends now that he is home and not overwhelm him with wanting to be with him all of the time.

 

As with any married couple, there are things about Tony that drive me crazy.  The honeymooning part of him coming home has worn off, and so now those things drive me crazy again.  For instance, he loves certain tv shows that I can’t stand.  So, watching these tv shows annoys me (and he likes to have the tv on for background noise, which I can’t stand either).  He did laundry the one day, and folded the towels.  When I went to get a hand towel later, the towels were folded “wrong”.  I had to realize he was helping and not say anything to him because at least he did laundry and folded it, even if he did not fold it the way I would have preferred he did.

 

I need to figure out how many concessions to give him, since he is transitioning back home, and what I need to not compromise on because it drives me crazy.  And, I need to remember to be grateful that he is safely home to drive me crazy :)

 

It’s a fine balance of what he wants to do, or what he prefers or needs versus what I want to do or prefer.  We both have to be aware of that and work together to balance things out, even for things as simple as how we spend our time, or what to have for dinner.  From my perspective, I try to very accommodating, not pushing him for right now.  We need to adjust to being part of a couple again, instead of being two people who for almost the past year were operating fairly independently of each other.

 

Home For Good

As of today, Tony is home for good.  We can start living like a normal couple… seeing each other every day, working out together, waking up next to each other, spending time doing nothing together.  After 414 days apart, we will finally be living together again.