Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's Official

We're moving to Texas!  The hubby received his official orders this weekend, and he's expected to report for duty in early April.  I about had a fit when he told me yesterday that he didn't see on the orders where I'm authorized to go with, until he finally realized it was one of the very first things listed at the top of the paper.  I'm not necessarily looking forward to living in Texas (I was hoping for a place that actually experiences all four seasons -- or at least has milder summers than Georgia has), but I'm very excited for the change and to be living under the same roof again!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Italian Rainbow Cookies

When I was little, my family's usual summer "vacations" were to head north to Connecticut to visit family.  Every time we went, we would always visit this little mom & pop Italian bakery in the town where my grandparents live to get various cookies and pastries.  The one treat that always stood out to me and that I just had to get was these little layered almond flavored colored cookies.  I think the main thing that excited me about them was their bright colors and the ability to break off each layer and savor them longer.

I had forgotten about them for a while until one day several years ago when I was in college and working for the University dining hall.  I was hanging out with the ladies in bake shop and we were all perusing some Taste of Home cook books looking for holiday sweets when I stumbled upon a recipe for this cookie.  I immediately made a copy of the recipe and was determined to replicate it at home.

I first made the recipe around Christmastime four years ago, and I fell in love with the cookie all over again!  It's not a recipe I make often because there are several steps involved in the assembly of the cookies and the process usually spans over two days.  It's very easy to make, it just takes time.

I have wanted to make these again for a while (I've actually had several of the ingredients for it sitting on my kitchen counter for about a month now), but I have now finally gotten the motivation to just do it.

I will warn you that if you're not a big fan of the flavor of almond, you probably won't like these cookies.  I have seen a recipe or two that also calls for adding almond extract, in addition to the whole can of almond paste that is already in the cookie, however I think that would be overkill and do not use the extract in my cookies.

Whipping up the batter and assembling the cookies is definitely easy, and I follow the recipe I've linked above exactly and come out with great results.  The hardest part of making these cookies is cutting them up as the chocolate layer on top likes to crack and break if you're not careful.  Per a recommendation I saw someone post online, the best method seems to be to first use a serrated knife to cut the chocolate layer on top, and the follow behind that with a regular smoother edged knife to cut through the remaining layers of cookie.  The edges of the cookies don't necessarily come out the smoothest, but the taste is really all that matters, right?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

M&M Kiss Pretzels

I have officially begun whipping up my menu of Christmas treats.  Last year's holiday baking & candy making ordeal took me an entire week of late nights and a 14-hour day on Christmas Eve in order to get everything prepared to pass out to our families.  In total I believe I spent just about 40 hours in the kitchen or at the table working on all of the various goodies.

This year I am determined to get everything finished before the hubby even gets home for leave, which means over the next several days I will find myself in the kitchen.  Fortunately I have decided to do a lot less this year, and plan on doing much less candy making and more cookie baking, which means the whole process will be a lot less time consuming too.

After seeing these treats pop up on Pinterest, I decided to give them a try.  They're super simple to make, with the most tedious thing in the entire process being to unwrap all of the Hershey's Kisses.

You simply line a cookie sheet with some parchment paper, and then arrange a bunch of pretzels on it all lined up to be topped with your choice of Kisses.  I decided to go with half of the regular milk chocolate ones, and then half with the white & milk chocolate Hugs variety.

I simply preheated my oven to 200 degrees, and then placed each tray in the oven for just a few minutes.  The cookie sheet with the regular Kisses baked for about 5 minutes, and then the sheet with the Hugs baked for about 3.5-4 minutes (white chocolate melts faster so they didn't take as long).  Then once they're out of the oven, you very quickly just go through and top each with an M&M, pressing the candy into the Kiss.

I found that my white chocolate kisses were a little more melted than the regular milk chocolate ones, even with the shorter baking time, so the chocolate spread out a lot more when the M&M's were added, but I find that I actually like the look of them a little bit better after all was said and done and they firmed up in the fridge.  Next up: Italian Rainbow Cookies!

Friday, December 9, 2011

You're Giving Up Your Career for Him?

Aside from a family member or two who cannot stand the idea of the hubby and I moving away to who-knows-where (currently Texas) at some point in the spring because they are worried about how they will be affected and what the change means for them, most people whom I have told about my husband joining the Army have been very positive and respectful of his decision and the new life we're beginning.

That was until I had a brief conversation with the woman who is currently performing an audit on our department and mentioned how I will only be in the office for another 3 or 4 months because come the end of March or so we'll be moving to our FDS.  The very first thing out of this woman's mouth was "you're giving up your career for him?"  Well, not that I consider what I'm doing right now a career so much as just a job, but damn straight I'm giving up what I'm currently doing for him!  Given the sacrifice he is making, it's the least I can do to show my support and be with him.  And it's not like I'm not going to try to find a new job, and hopefully I'll be able to get on board in the federal GS system so I can secure a position that will better allow me to move around.

It's been a good month since this conversation occurred, but I still cannot get what she said out of my head.  It probably doesn't help that her follow up to that was "why do you want to have children at such a young age?" when I mentioned wanting to start trying to have a family next year.  Since when is your late twenties too young of an age to have children?  This was then proceeded by complaints from her about her kids.

I'm sorry if you're not happy with how things are going in your life and/or you do not agree with how my husband and I are choosing to live ours, but please do not project your view points on me.  I have always been of the mindset that whether or not I agree with how you live, the choices you make, or what you believe, I'm not going to tell you what I think you should do because if there was one correct answer, then that's what we would all do.  This is not to say that I don't believe there are inherent rights and wrongs concerning some things, I just believe there's a reason why God gave us free will and with His guidance we're all able to choose the path in life that works best for us.

I apologize for the little rant here, but this is just something that has been bothering me for a while and I needed to get it off my chest rather than letting it continue to fester inside as I tend to do.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Proud Mommy

I just got the digital copy of Sunday's picture with Santa

Kiba and Saki have made me one proud mommy

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Today I took our dogs to the pet store to get their picture taken with Santa.  I last did this with Kiba three years ago, and she just hammed it up for the camera and was perfect.

Kiba with Santa, 2008

With this being Saki's first Christmas, I wanted to be sure to take the dogs this year.  I just about missed the big day, but thankfully I thought to pull up the pet store's site a few nights ago to see when they were planning on doing it, and saw they were taking appointments for today.

Saki is still very much a puppy (he'll be turning 1-year old three days after Christmas), and I was very nervous about bringing him.  Will he cooperate and actually sit still for Santa?  Will he think Santa's beard is fluff from a stuffed toy and try eating it?  Will he actually look at the camera rather than turning his head from side to side to check out the different surroundings?

Thankfully he was pretty good and worked with Santa and the photographer and made me a proud mommy.  The photographer said she got a really good picture of them.  And Saki was good and left Santa's beard alone, which I was VERY happy about given that his beard was actually real.  In order to be quick today with getting everyone in and out in a timely manner, they just took the pics today, and then on Friday I get to go pick up the picture of my babies.  I cannot wait to see how it turns out!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ready for Christmas

I am ready for Christmas to get here this year, more than ever.  It means getting quality time with my husband and to have our little "family" together again for a couple weeks, as well as getting to see family of ours that we don't get to see as much of as we'd like to.

I'm always one who looks forward to this time of year, but this year it's even more special.  To celebrate, I decided tonight to go ahead and put up my little 3-foot Christmas tree.

The hubby loves real trees in the house, but unfortunately it's a little difficult for me to obtain and setup a 7-foot fir on all on my own this year, so I decided to go ahead and break out my old little tree.  Now I just hope that the pups and our cat don't decide to eat the tree during the night while I'm asleep!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thankful for Time

For Thanksgiving this year, I'm thankful to be married to my best friend and to have had the opportunity to spend the last four days with him.  It was absolutely wonderful to be able to get all of that time with him and do things at our own schedule, not having to worry about returning him to base until it was time for me to head to the airport to catch my plane home.

We had our Thanksgiving meal at the dining facility on base, which wasn't half bad by any means.  And you could tell that the workers there are used to feeding hungry soldiers every day as the amount of food on my plate could have easily lasted me for about two or three meals.  Thankfully my husband was still hungry after eating all of his and finished off my plate as well so none of it went to waste.  He showed me around base, and most of the time I felt like I was just driving around in circles with how the roads all wind around and intertwine with each other (though by yesterday I had finally learned my way around enough to be able to find my way to the PX, commissary, and his barracks from the starting point of the main gate without him having to tell me where to turn).  We then spent most of our time hanging out in our hotel room, out shopping at various malls and stores, and filling our stomachs full with lots of yummy food that neither of us had really eaten in a while to the point of wanting to pass out from food-induced comas.

I sure did love hearing him say how much happier he was and how much better his days were by having me there with him.  I don't think either of us would have traded that time together for anything.  We've now got just over three weeks until we're together again, but this time it will be for two straight weeks.  Let the countdown to his Christmas leave begin!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Loss of a Legend

The Bulldog Nation lost a great one last night with the passing of our legendary former announcer, Larry Munson.  He was an unapologetic Bulldog fan who threw objective play calling to the wind, and opted to call it as he saw it.  He was generally pessimistic in his calling of our games, except for the moments when amazing plays were made and points were scored, at which times his noted and widely quoted remarks would become forever etched in the minds of the Bulldog faithful.  You will forever be missed Larry!
"Glory glory to old Georgia.  Heroes have graced the field before you, men with the hearts, bodies, and minds of which the entire bulldog nation can be justifiably proud.  A tradition of unbridled excellence demonstrated by these individuals and many others spans more than a full century.  And now a new breed of bulldog stands ready to take the field of battle; to assume the reigns of their Georgia forbearers and continue that tradition understanding that there is no tradition more worth of envy, no institution worthy of such loyalty, as the University of Georgia.  As we prepare for another meeting between the hedges, let all the bulldog faithful rally behind the men who now wear the red and black with two words.  Two simple words, which express the sentiments of the entire bulldog nation: GO DAWGS!" – Larry Munson

Friday, November 18, 2011

Is Everything Really Bigger in Texas?

I've heard from many other spouses who have been through this before that typically you do not find out where you will be stationed until towards the end of AIT, often times just a week or two before graduation.  So you can imagine my surprise when my husband's company all found out this week the duty stations they're all assigned to once they graduate in March.  Well, at least their assignments as of now -- nothing is definite until you have paper orders in hand, so it could easily change at some point over the next four months.

When he created his "wish list" during reception, he got to select one stateside location and three overseas.  For stateside, we were hoping for a base in the Virginia/DC/Maryland area so we'd be near some family that we're close to but don't get to see as much as we'd like, as well as to have greater job/grad school prospects for me, so he selected one of the bases in that region as his one stateside pick.  For overseas, he selected Germany, Italy, and Japan.  We were really hoping to get Germany or Italy, because we think that would just be an amazing experience to get to live in Europe for a few years (especially while we don't have children yet).  We also figured we would have greater odds of getting overseas since he was asked to select so many more of them compared to stateside.

As of now, it looks like we're heading to Texas!  We're a little disappointed we didn't receive something on the official wish list (or even something on our personal extended wish list like Fort Lewis in Washington, or Fort Carson in Colorado), but we still feel pretty good about getting the base we've been assigned.  Out of the three Army bases in Texas, it's certainly the best one.  And we'll be right in a major city with a lot to do and see.  Plus there's always the huge plus that my husband feels good about the unit he's assigned to and that he'll actually be able to do the job he's training for, rather than being assigned to some random infantry unit like is common with others in his MOS.  The planner in me certainly finds comfort in learning this so early on, but then there's still the discomfort of knowing that this could easily change.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Not Soon Enough

While overall this past month since I last saw the hubby has been easier than the two and half months he was in basic, I've had a bit of a difficult time these last several days.  At first I thought my kind of down and out and just overall bad mood that I woke up with Saturday morning was due to womanly hormones mixed with having to drive a couple counties over for the day for a dinner I was told I "must attend" but didn't care to be at.  But when it continued for all of yesterday and through to this morning and tearing up while making my morning coffee, I accepted the fact that I have entered a bit of a depressed state.  I'm trying my best to think positively and keep myself busy in hopes of pulling myself up, but it's been hard.

One thing that I've found today that is helping with this melancholy is the Train inspired station I've created on Pandora to listen to while at work... Train, Matt Nathanson, Michael Buble, Anna Nalick, and more wonderful voices to serenade me all day helps make for a happier me!  All I need is for Thanksgiving to get here so I can have four glorious days to spend with my husband.  A week and a half just seems to be too far away still.  I'm just glad that the hubby received a good pick-me-up on Friday in the form of a surprise off-base pass for volunteering to march in the Veteran's Day parade and got to enjoy hitting up the mall and Best Buy, eating out at Chili's, and wearing regular civilian clothes for the first time in over three months.  He really needed that day and the sense of normalcy it gave.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

'Tis the Season for Pumpkin

Every year when fall rolls in and the holidays near, my desire to bake heightens.  I especially love trying new recipes at this time, perhaps possibly due to the fact that stores discount many of my favorite, and sometimes pricier, baking supplies.  I'm super excited about the new Publix ad that starts today that has Ocean Spray Craisins on sale B1G1 so I can pick up a few bags at half-price for this awesome Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chip cookie recipe of mine that is perfect for Christmas-time.  Coupons for baking items also tend to increase during this time of year (for example, I just found out about a coupon for 50¢ off any Gold Medal flour product, which means much cheaper flour once it doubles up to $1 off).

This weekend I attempted two recipes I've been wanting to try for a little while and combine them into one tasty treat.  I LOVE pumpkin in baked goods and have had many pumpkin cupcake recipes sitting on a shelf just waiting to be tested for some time and decided to just go for it after my awesome trip to Publix on Sunday.  While I do enjoy creating baked goods from scratch, I am not opposed to using cake mixes for simplicity's sake.  I found the recipe for this cake from Kraft Foods and decided to use just the cake portion of the recipe as I wanted to try my hand at a different icing recipe.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I ♥ Publix

It's been a little while since I've managed to get a really good deal at the grocery store.  This is partially due to not putting a whole lot of effort into my couponing adventures now that I'm only shopping for myself at the moment, and partially because coupons have not been the greatest as of late, while also matched with disappointing sales at my stores.

While at the store this morning, I grabbed all of these items pictured above, as well as the Sunday paper.  They retail for $27.75, and I paid only $5.60 for it all, making for a total savings of just under 80%!  This is actually largely due to the Crest Whitestrips.  This travel size version retails for $5.99, but I had a store coupon for $10 off any Whitestrips product and a manufacturer's coupon for $7 off any Whitestrips product, both of which did not restrict size.  So the strips came out for free and gave me an $11 overage that was used towards the rest of my groceries (along with another $3.20 off with coupons, plus $1.95 in-store savings from sales).

I really enjoy when I can save money on goodies as otherwise I cannot justify the expense of spending money on snacks and I am happy about the extras I was able to pick up... the cookies were only 99¢ after $2 off in coupons, I had store coupons for the Swedish Fish (for me) and Sour Patch Kids (to send to the hubby), and my overage made the cake mix, sour cream, and pumpkin all free!  Now it's off to the kitchen to whip up those last three items into some (hopefully) yummy pumpkin cupcakes!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Latest Project

One of my latest Pinterest finds has inspired me to create some wall art for our bedroom.  Our bedroom walls have been completely bare for the 3+ years we've been living here until the end of July when I finally hung up a nice frame the hubby's grandma bought me after our wedding earlier this year, so I decided to create this project using a color scheme that will coordinate with our room.  This project is very simple and is an easy way to add some personalized wall art to a room without the use of photographs.  The idea behind it is to list out important dates for you and your significant other or family.  The dates I used are my birthday, his birthday, the day we first met (roughly), the day of our first date, and the day we were married.

I used Photoshop to create an 8x10 document, with the background shaded to a shade of teal that will work with our green curtains and blue bedding.  After playing with various fonts, I settled with Goudy Stout for the dates and shaded them a light but muted blue-gray color.  Lastly, I found a design online that I used to add some depth to the background and inserted it in black behind the text.  I decided to just print it out on regular weight glossy paper on a color laser jet printer, rather than onto photo paper and really like the added "texture" that was added by printing it like this.  I love the way it looks hanging on the wall in our room in my favorite frame.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Is It Called Nesting When You're Not Pregnant?

Lately I've been in a re-organization/re-decorating mood and am attempting to slowly overhaul our apartment.  I'm sure much of this has been due to inspiration I've received on Pinterest.  I love crafty and DIY projects, and many of the links/resources found via this site are allowing me to spiff up our place without spending a lot of money.

This past week I finally accomplished one of my goals of cleaning off all of the junk that has accumulated on top of our table.  Rather than using it to sit down at to eat our meals, it has served more as storage space for the last couple years.  I have decided that I no longer want it to look so bad and have since cleared off all of the old mail, papers, and coupons that have been strewn across it for so long.

I thought creating a centerpiece for the table inspired by some of my Pinterest finds might be a good way for me to help keep the table cleared and decided to go for it this weekend using finds from the Dollar Tree.  There are a lot of "pins" posted regarding the use of candles, vases, jars, and hurricanes to create displays and centerpieces and I used them for my inspiration and came up with this...

If you couldn't tell based on the coasters I created previously, we've got a bit of a red & black color theme to our living room space.  Each glass holder, candle, and a bag of the red vase fillers were $1 a piece at my Dollar Tree, making for a very inexpensive addition to our table ($9.63 in total after tax).  The black base that I have two of the vases on is from a zen garden I received from someone I used to work with as a Christmas present last year that I then flipped over to elevate the center vases (this zen garden can also be found at Dollar Tree).  Since taking this picture I have decided that I prefer the vases with the red candles positioned at the sides with all of them lined up in a row rather than grouped up such as in the picture, but overall I like the appearance and the element they add to the table.  I only wish that I liked the table they rest on and that it were at least espresso or black in color (it's a 20+ year old table that was a hand-me-down from my parents when I moved into my first apartment).

One of the next projects I would like to take on is to "refinish" (aka paint) our coffee table to give it an updated and cleaner look.  Like with the vast majority of our furniture we own at the moment, it had a previous owner before making its way to our home and was a $13 Goodwill find several years ago.  I have found a couple online tutorials on how to paint over wooden furniture without leaving lines from a roller or brush and to give it a finished look.  Hopefully one of these methods will allow me to get the refreshed looked I desire.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Good Morning

So far I have to say I am a huge fan of the hubby being in AIT now.  He is lucky enough to get to keep and use his cell phone and laptop right from the beginning!  He can use them during off-duty time during evenings and on the weekends, so we can now stay in much better communication with each other and no longer have to rely on writing letters every day with supplemental phone calls once a week.  Four phone calls yesterday was terrific, especially at the end of the night and being able to say goodnight to each other.  This morning's "good morning" text message from him was great too.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I Love My Soldier

I just returned home from spending the last four days in Missouri to see my husband for the first time in over two months as he graduated from BCT at Fort Leonard Wood.  Family Day was on Wednesday, and that moment when we first saw each other was wonderful.  They were all lined up in formation by platoon outside of the theater where we had our brief, and I spotted him in the middle of the front row of his platoon, and I could feel my face light up instantly.

The hubby is front and center
Once the DS released them, my hubby's straight soldier face changed into this huge grin, and he and I immediately ran towards each other and found ourselves in the best embrace.  Not being able to hold hands as we walked was so difficult for me, as we're one of those couples who holds hands most of the time when walking out and about (silly no PDA while in uniform in public rule).  The time he and I had together was amazing though!

Thursday was graduation day, and my hubby was nominated to be the soldier from the company to narrate the ceremony, so I got to hear his voice and see him on stage the entire time.  He told me about this on Tuesday night when they finally got their phones back for good, and he was so incredibly nervous about this duty, but he did a terrific job!  I was so proud of him.

After the ceremony, they exited the theater and we were able to meet up with them again after they were released from formation by their DS.  During this time we got a picture of him with his DS, and I also was able to meet some of the women who I had become friends with on Facebook who had sons in my husband's platoon.

Although our time together over those two days was not nearly enough, we enjoyed finally getting to see each other so much!  And we're very thankful he now has his phone back as he journeys to his new base for AIT -- he and I spent all of yesterday and all of today texting each other (with phone calls sprinkled in) as he sits on the long bus ride out to his new post.  We're very excited about the upcoming holidays and Thanksgiving being just over a month away, as I'm planning on flying out to see him if he's getting the long weekend pass his new base usually gives to soldiers still in training.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Let's Get This Show on the Road

I'm just about all packed up and ready to go see my husband!  I have all of my essentials ready, my gifts for the hubby, and a few personal items he's requested me to bring him to have for AIT (mainly his laptop).  I've been a smiling, giddy girl all day at work anxiously awaiting the end of the day to arrive so I can finish my last bits of packing and get ready to go see my man!  The only other item remaining on my to-do list is to print out the (currently) 11 page letter I've been typing up since the last time I was able to send him mail last Wednesday morning.  I cannot wait!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Wonder that is Pinterest

During my time reading various blogs and seeing posts made by friends of mine on Facebook, I started seeing a lot of mentions about this website called Pinterest.  I visited the site once or twice to see what the big fuss was about, and at first I wasn't too terribly impressed.

This week I decided to give it a real chance after I saw an image of a DIY home decorating project that I really liked.  I requested an invite to the site, registered, and am now hooked!  The idea behind the site is it is an online pin board where you can "pin" ideas/inspiration/projects that you like, giving you a single, centralized location to link to such items all over the web for future use, and gain inspiration from others as you see what they post.

One of the first projects I found was for creating your own coasters.  The hubby and I have said for some time that we need to invest in some coasters, but have never really put forth the effort to look for some.  Perhaps it was because before we had two solid incomes, that was an expense we couldn't really justify.  Nevertheless, I have decided this is the first project/idea that I would like to tackle, and have since bought the essentials to complete it.

All you need are 4x4-inch tiles (you can pick these up for super cheap at a hardware store -- I nabbed them at Lowes for 10 cents each), mod podge (I got mine at Hobby Lobby for $4.18 after using a 40% off coupon), clear gloss spray paint, small felt pads (for the feet of the coasters), and of course the paper/images you want displayed on your coasters.

I have decided to create two different sets of 4.  The hubby and I are Georgia Bulldog fans and love our alma mater, so I found an image of our school logo (the Georgia G) and printed it out using different red & black color schemes.  My second design is going to be made using a piece of scrapbook paper I found that has black & white flourishes on it, which I just love the look of.  Whatever image(s) you choose for your coasters, just be sure to cut the paper down to 4x4-inch squares to fit onto the tiles.

The assembly process really is quite simple -- you adhere your paper to the tiles using thin coats of mod podge.  Once the paper has dried, you spray the tiles with clear gloss spray paint in order to seal the tiles.  Then once the paint has dried you simply attach the felt pads to the bottom of the coasters, and you're done!

My latest "pins" as of today have been cute ideas I've seen for when the day eventually comes that I am pregnant and we have a baby.  Those won't be used for a while still, but one of them did give me some inspiration for another little present I now want to make to give my husband when I see him this coming week for his graduation.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Chocolatey Goodness

My husband is one of those people who can just take a look into the pantry and fridge and come up with an idea for some wonderful dish that he just whips up out of nowhere.  As for me, I've never been much of a good cook.  I'm just not as familiar with different flavors to be able to easily combine various items without having a recipe to follow.

I do have my place in the kitchen though.  I love playing with my wonderful stand mixer and whipping up sweets!  The hubby loves that I enjoy baking and am somewhat decent at it.  For this last Christmas, we actually decided to give edible gifts to all of our families, which had me in the kitchen every night for an entire week, as well as all day on Christmas Eve, making up goodies like cookie dough truffles, mocha truffles, oatmeal cranberry white chocolate chip cookies, marshmallows (shaped like stars and trees to accompany mugs of hot chocolate), peanut butter fudge, meringue candy canes, and chocolate covered Oreos.

About two weeks after the hubby left for basic, he started bringing up in his letters a triple chocolate cheesecake that I made once a few months earlier that he fell in love with.  I could tell he was craving it and had decided that I might make it as a surprise gift for him when I go to visit him for his graduation from BCT.  He then finally came right out and said that I needed to bring it with me, making sure to bring enough for him as well as some of his friends there to whom he's been bragging about me and my baking abilities.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

World Travel Map

While browsing through blogs of other MilSpouses, I became inspired to create a world travel map to mark all of the places around the world the hubby and I have visited.  After reading about the idea on another blog, I thought this would be great for the hubby and I as we love to explore and want to travel together and see as much of the world as we can, especially given our new nomadic lifestyle.  The idea for the map is simple and I thought it would be a great addition to our spare bedroom/office space.

The supplies you need for this project are a map, foam core board to mount the map on, spray adhesive, map pins, and then a frame (with glass removed).  A ruler and knife or box cutter would also be handy tools for cutting down the foam core board.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Blissful Relaxation

I'm usually a pretty frugal person and am not one to spend money freely on wants.  I'll go and look at whatever it is I may want, but usually end up talking myself out of the purchase in the end.  So when my husband told me that he had earmarked several hundred dollars (that we didn't have at the time) to spend on surprises for me while he's gone in basic, my heart about stopped for a few seconds.  He of course wouldn't tell me what any of the surprises were going to be, as he very much enjoys keeping me in suspense as he knows I cannot stand knowing that something is coming but have no idea what it is.

He told me to keep today open as I would be going somewhere to do something for several hours, and they would call me a couple days ahead of time to let me know where to go and when.  He wouldn't give me any real hint as to what the surprise would be, but just said that it is something I've hinted at before and would really enjoy, but would never spend the money on myself.

Today I got to spend several hours at the spa getting pampered from head to toe.  I got a facial, manicure & pedicure, and my absolute favorite, a massage.  I so could have fallen asleep during the massage!  The only disappointing part of the day was not having my husband to go home to afterwards.  Now I'm even more excited to see him in a week and a half so I can really thank him for arranging this day for me!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Phonetic Alphabet

Every now and then, I get the feeling like my letters to my husband are just kind of dull and boring.  They usually are just recaps of my day, you know the kinds of things I would tell him every evening at home after work.  He says he enjoys them because it provides him with a sense of normalcy, but every now and then I like to change things up a bit.  One thing that I will do is to use the military phonetic alphabet to write sentences here and there in letters, which gives him a little bit of a puzzle to figure out.  They're always trivial little things like tell him how much I miss him.  One of the last ones I wrote was:

India Charlie Alpha November November Oscar Tango Whiskey Alpha India Tango Tango Oscar Sierra Echo Echo Yankee Oscar Uniform!

Translated: I cannot wait to see you!  I was inspired to do this by posts the U.S. Army Future Soldier Family page on Facebook makes every once in a while.  Doing this has since helped me to check off one of my goals on my 101 in 1001 list, to memorize the phonetic alphabet -- I now no longer have to look at my cheat sheet to write out these sentences!  With this whole journey and entrance into this new way of life, I figure if it's something that he has to know, I want to learn it too if I can in order to make this transition easier (and that way I'm not as confused when he uses some term or phrase that isn't common in civilian life).  I even got my husband on board with this apparently as in one of his letters to me this week, he wrote his name out using the alphabet at the end of the letter.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Weekly Delivery

Before my husband left for basic, he arranged some surprises for me to receive while he's gone... just some sweet little things to show he loves me in hopes that I won't miss him as much.  But of course they just make me miss him more!  The main thing he has done is have a vase of flowers delivered to me at my office every Monday since he first left.  They've all be beautiful arrangements, but this week's was the first fall-ish looking one and has the cutest little baby pumpkins in the arrangement, so I just had to share!

Of course weekly deliveries while he's in basic means I'll come out of this with 9 or 10 new vases, which is much more than any normal person needs!  But I'm planning on bringing most of them back to the florist when it's over so they can reuse them.  I've been told that my one BIG surprise is coming this Saturday! :) All the hubby told me before he left was it'll take several hours, is in the city where we live, and to just keep the entire day open until I get a call with all of the details this week.  I cannot wait!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

He Passed!

I just received the phone call that every spouse, significant other, and parent looks forward to while their loved one is in basic training... the hubby has passed is final PT test and is officially graduating in just over two weeks!!  He had the test on Friday, and I've been on pins and needles for the past two days anxiously awaiting today's phone call to hear the results.  I normally wouldn't be too worried because he did well on the last PT test they had, exceeding the minimum score necessary to graduate, but last weekend he got kneed pretty hard in the ribs during combatives and was in so much pain that we were both pretty worried about how he'd do -- even if they pass previous PT tests, only the "final" one counts for graduation.  I'm so excited he did it and cannot wait to see him!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Worried Mommy

There's nothing quite as nerve wrecking as having a sick child, especially when you have no way of easily getting in touch with their daddy.  Now, my husband and I do not have any actual children just yet, but our pets are our babies (as I'm sure many others can relate to).  We routinely refer to them as our kids and treat them as such.  Yesterday our oldest "child" Kiba starting showing signs that she wasn't feeling very well.  In the morning she threw up, but it didn't worry me immediately as this sometimes happens if she's got an empty stomach.  However the worrying began when I gave all of the little ones breakfast and she hardly touched her kibble.  I got home from work to find she had gotten sick a couple more times, and still hadn't touched her food.  Then when I took her outside to go to the bathroom, her stools were liquid and kind of pink in color.  She was also rather lethargic.  I kept a close eye on her during the night, and then decided to take her to the vet first thing this morning when she showed no improvement and actually appeared to be getting worse.

My baby and her usual happy self

After giving her an exam as well as running some blood tests, the vet diagnosed her with a mild case of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis.  There is no precise known cause of this disease, though they do say a contributing factor that can bring it on is stress.  Our baby already has some anxiety issues as is, which has been made worse by her daddy being gone for BCT.  She's 4-years old and has had plenty of time to develop deep attachments to the two of us.  Thankfully the vomiting had already stopped last night, and the diarrhea should go away on its own, but she had to receive fluids by IV in order to counteract the severe dehydration that occurs (approximately 90% of dogs who are untreated and do not get these fluids, or who do not receive treatment soon enough, do not survive).  The vet also gave her some antibiotics as well as some steroids to help her body fight and get rid of any bacteria that she may have in her system.  Thankfully I was able to bring her home today, and the fluids seem to have helped her a great deal as she has more energy, and she also seems to have her appetite back as she got jealous when Saki got dinner and she didn't (Dr.'s orders!).  I just hope this upward trend continues and she doesn't have a relapse.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jet Lag

I'm a member of an Army Wife group on Facebook, and someone posted this song by Simple Plan and Natasha Bedingfield a couple weeks ago called "Jet Lag" and I have found I just cannot get enough of listening to this song.  I sent the lyrics to my husband last week and during today's phone call he mentioned that ever since he got them he's been reading them a few times a day every day.  It's just such an easy song to relate to for anyone who has had to endure being away from the one they love.  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 Years

I was a senior in high school, making my way from second period AP Statistics to third period architectural design art class when I learned our great nation was under attack.  The news of an airplane flying into the first World Trade Center tower spread like wildfire throughout the school until soon enough every classroom had their televisions set to the news, where many of them remained for the course of the day.  We turned on the news right after the second tower was struck and continued to watch in a confused state all the way through witnessing the collapse of both towers.  I remember administration at my school trying to get teachers to turn off their televisions so we could get back to our work for the day, but thankfully most teachers turned a deaf ear to the request because, as they told us, we were living history at that very moment and were experiencing something more important at that time then what we might find in a textbook.

Today marks the 10 year anniversary since 9/11 and the tragic events that took the lives of so many.  Where were you when you learned of the news?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

The decision to join the United States Military is not an easy one.  There are many things that need to be thought through before signing that contract and taking that oath, especially when you have a significant other to factor into the equation.  The decision to enter this new nomadic lifestyle has to be one that you both agree upon as it takes a lot of strength and dedication from both people.  It can really test your relationship and you need to be sure you have good communication with each other as that will be the #1 thing to make the whole experience easier.  My husband first brought up the idea to me a couple years ago when he was approaching graduating from college.  My first reaction when I heard “Military” was hell no!  I was convinced that it was not a lifestyle I wanted.  Slowly I managed to come around, but it took about a year’s worth of researching about the different branches and all of the Hubby’s options, in addition to many long discussions and having him telling me that it’s honestly always been an option that he’s entertained the idea of, not just something he decided on a whim because of a lack of other options.  I now think this is the best thing that we could have done for us and our future and I stand behind him 110%.

Every branch of the Military has its positives and its negatives, and different branches work best for different people depending on your preferences.  We first looked at the Air Force, but he decided against pursuing that option given how selective and competitive their Officer program is.  With this being something he wants the ability to make a career out of, he wanted to be sure to have the highest odds of being commissioned as an Officer.  We then looked at the Navy and the Hubby and I both quickly came to the same conclusion that we did not like the idea of him being away for sea duty on a ship or in a sub for extended periods of time.  He’s never really been interested in the Marines, so we ultimately ended up with the Army as being the branch that would work best, both career wise for him, providing him with the most potential options for advancement, as well as for our future family and time together.
The best advice I can give to anyone considering joining the Military is to research, research, research and learn as much information as you possibly can before making the commitment.  And then once he, or she, has signed and made the commitment, continue to research in order to learn ahead of time every possibility that could be headed your way!  In the new age of social media, Facebook and blogs can be really good sources to find out information by connecting with people who have been through what you’re facing and can give you the honest to God truth that you may not get from a recruiter.  It’s always nice to find people to connect with who are going or who have gone through the same thing as you.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Little Intro

I am Andrea (aka "The Wifey") and am married to my best friend and love of my life.  My husband (aka "The Hubby") just recently left at the beginning of the month to begin basic training with the United States Army.  He just completed his third week of training, and we have both come to find that being away from each other is more difficult than we had expected.  We originally started off our relationship years ago doing the long distance thing while he temporarily lived four hours away from me, so we knew distance wouldn't be an issue.  Little did we know how important talking to each other every day is to both of us until we no longer had the option to do so.  He and I tell each other everything and have always been good at communicating with each other, and to go from spending every waking moment together for the last two weeks before he shipped off to going days or weeks at a time without so much as just hearing the other person's voice has been difficult.  Thankfully we have good old fashion letters as well as brief phone calls (usually) once a week in order to stay in touch and remind each other how much we miss the other.  I'm just happy to have our little ones at home to keep me occupied :)

Aren't they the cutest?!  It's not quite the same as having their daddy here, but I'll take what I can get!