Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Year in Review

********Update******** This was a post that was in a holding pattern... I'm guessing I started writing it and never finished it or decided to come back to it, or something. Either way... I hit PUBLISH and while it's not true year in review, it's something. It has been over a year since I've written... not for lack of things to write, mostly because my life has been sooooo busy, it's crazy. I'll try to post something else. Maybe...

Ouch! It's hard to believe that it's been almost a year since I last put fingers to keys and posted my drivel. It's not that I haven't had anything to say... Lord knows I always have something to say. It's just been a year of major adjustments, and it was truly a difficult year professionally for me.

I guess I should recap the year so that we can catch up with each other. Obviously it will be Cliff's Notes, but I'll include pics where I can, and if something requires more depth- it will be a separate post. So let's see what's been cooking the last year

July 2014
We can pick up here since my last post was June 28, 2014, seems logical. July went by as most Julys do: hot, humid, and mostly on an never ending quest to escape the heat. I did continue to exercise which was great. I was on a roll determine to get into shape and feel great by my 40th birthday. The biggest event of that month, hell the high point, was our Siblings Week, which had been in the works for some time.
You see there are 4 of us, 3 different mommas, and we range in ages from 40-22. So we have NEVER had a vacation where all 4 kids were with our Dad. So it became my mission to facilitate this excursion. In short, it was a great week! We had fun with our dad doing the touristy things, pool, and just enjoying our time together. I won't forget that week and the glimpse into what our sibling relationships could be if we lived closer. I know for dad it was great to have all 4 of his kids under one roof.
Bottom Left: Melissa, Gavin, Ashley and Megan
The low point of July? Going back to work July 28th. Because who doesn't want to start working again during the hottest month in Georgia. Welcome August and New Teacher Orientation.

August 2014
August was a month of UPs and DOWNs. While I started working, I was pretty sure about 2 weeks into it, that I was completely in over my teaching head. Just 2 days after I had signed my yearly contract, I was pretty sure I would have killed to break it. I wasn't happy with my job, and I knew it was going to be the death of me. You can't imagine how long a year can seem when teaching in a new environment, in a new state, in a very unique set of circumstances. It truly felt like year one all over again.
We also learned that Hubby did not get selected for promotion which left us one choice: retirement. Retirement became the focus of the next few months, with all efforts gearing towards making it a smooth transition.  While Hubby was transitioning out of the military, we saw our little girl transition into the ROTC program at Southern. It was an amazing thing to see her in her uniform and getting herself ready to be a soldier. Awesome!
We rounded the month off with the popular ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which proved to be cold and trendy. I always wondered how that became so VIRAL? Only on the internet will people dump a bucket of ice cold water on you in the name of charity. That is if people gave to the charity....many didn't.
Lastly, August ended with a great weekend visit by some old friends from our Maryland days. Jeff and Shelley has a great time with us in Savannah, and I can't wait for them to come back!
Girls just wanna have fun!

September 2014  
We have a few first and lasts this month. With the end of summer came college football, and our first game at Georgia Southern University. As proud parents of a new ROTC cadet, we attended our daughter's first military appreciation college game. I got to see her for the first time in uniform. It was so emotional!

Another first we had was our first Savannah River boat ride. The Norris Family took us out on the boat and we had such a blast! Who knew we would it would be so much fun to swim in the river!?

It seems that our family's professional life had some firsts. It was the first year I had ever taught in an urban setting. I won't belabor the point of how difficult it was, and how many challenges I faced this school year. Or how it felt like year 1 or maybe a little like year zero. What I will say is that I learned more about myself than in any other year of teaching. That's all I got to say about that.

224th MI Ball
Hubby and I attended our first ball here in Savannah, which ironically turned out to be our last Army ball. What made that event so bittersweet was the fact that I think it was one of the BEST balls/military events we have been to. Odd how at the end of your military career you sometimes have your best moments. We had an absolute great time!

Some first were my own: like the Outlander series started. Holy moly is that a great series! I was especially excited that I had already heard the books on tape while we lived in Germany, and so I was thrilled to see how it transpired on the screen. They did a phenomenal job at every aspect of having the story come to life on the screen. I can't wait until next season. If you haven't watched it, I completely recommend it for summer viewing! It's a must!

October 2014
October was quiet in that nothing "happened" that was note worthy, other than the daily business of living. Now don't get me wrong that can be consuming and tiresome, but not noteworthy. You see noteworthy would be Magic Mike the sequel coming to Savannah to tape, and the production looking for, seeking, women of all ages to populate the night scenes in the movie. Even more noteworthy would be me having a full time job, and being completely unable to provide my services of a middle aged Channing crazed MILF. So that.

Halloween came and went, as did the outrageous decor I did this year. While teaching tried unsuccessfully to break me down, and by 'unsuccessfully' I mean I'm still alive, although I'm pretty sure there were times where I reduced to a puddle of blubbering tears and snot. October was closer to December than August was and at least I could see a substantial break around the corner.

November 2014
Who doesn't like BIRTHDAY MONTH? Lots to report on November:
Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon 2014

  • We did the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon- LOVED IT! 
  • I was thrown a surprise birthday party by hubby. It was great since I'm not the easiest to surprise. 
  • We had a special "just us" dinner at the famous Pink House, where I devoured the BEST shrimp and grits I've ever had. No lie, hands down- the best!
  • Of course the big Thanksgiving blowout in the new house. It was a hodge podge of peeps that included local family as well as Granny and uncle from Florida, the Princess and the new beau, the Loud Cousin- he has NO volume control whatsoever, and our Canucks who came to see us and stayed for the American Turkey Shit Show at our house. By far the most surprising guest, was Hubby's oldest son and his wife. We weren't expecting that, and it was great to have him/them here. 
  • No month of November would be complete without Black Friday shopping. We took our Canadian friends out to do some combat shopping! And it was a huge success. All violence averted and sales targeted. I would say it was a win win!
Painting with Mom
December 2014

December was quiet and peaceful. We celebrated a quiet Christmas, and just enjoyed each other's company. It was the first year we had a real tree in about 4 years, and it was lovely to have up and decorate. I also just enjoyed having some down time to relax and not have to worry about school or grading or lesson plans. That was heaven!
I did make one discovery in December though: I discovered that I love to paint! I took my mom out to Painting with A Twist, and LOVED it. We had a great time and I realized how relaxing painting can be.

Gonna try to add.... but given that it's 3/17/2016 my memory may not be what it should be. Let's see what I can remember.....

January 2015- Outside of bringing in the New Year, our highlight was selecting classes for our rising Freshman! That's pretty cool, and our last one was getting ready for high school.

February 2015- seem least as far as I can remember. The highlight might have been Painting with a Twist with Mom. 
March 2015- Hubby had his retirement ceremony from the military. What a phenomenal ceremony and we had friends and family there and fantastic lunch together! He wanted the Old Guard Ceremony held in Washington, DC and it was beautiful and very formal and very fitting for 25 years of service. I'm glad he made that decision!

April 2015
Birthdays are the big deal in April and while that was true again this year the biggest deal was Harvey's last day in the Army. He transitioned into a job with a large aviation company here locally and during his 3 week transition he painted 4 big rooms in my house! Winner! It was great time for him to take some weeks, do what he wanted, work on the house, and just transition in civilian life. The only drawback was not having the time to be with him those weeks. 

May 2015
End of the school year and I couldn't be happier! Let summer begin.....

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Thursday, October 8, 2015


No two friendships are created equal
I think early on in this MilSpouse journey, I believed that all of my MilSpouse friendships were the same, or at the very least held the same importance. 

I know better now. It simply isn't the case. 

Not every friendship is cut from the same cloth. Not every friendship serves the same purpose. It's our job, our duty to ourselves, to determine the purpose and value of each of our friendships. There are many types of friends, but as a MilSpouse there's a couple that are just crucial to our existence.

Sometimes you have the Mentoring friendship. You know the one friend who might be older and wiser. They always provide you with little nuggets of wisdom that you keep with you forever. They walk you through those first years when you didn't know the alphabet soup of letters your military spouse would talk about. I can still remember the first time my Mentor friend helped me read an LES. Yes, these friends are important. 

Just as important as your guiding friendships are your everyday friends. These are the ones you can be silly with, hang out with, go to dinner with, have a few beers with, take a girls trip to Scotland with, vacation in Mallorca with, and in no uncertain terms be yourself with. From the gym to the lunch table, they make those difficult days bearable. You don't always need advice, but you can always use a shopping buddy. You need that goofy friend to laugh at your corny jokes, and to take those ridiculous selfies with you. Your Jokey Smurf friend is your lifeline for comedic relief. Make sure they are never too far away. 

Last but never least is that Lucky Penny friend. They are the friend that you can call in any kind of pinch. They are the friend (if your truly lucky- friends) that steps in the breach and becomes your surrogate family. They are the ones that you put on your child's emergency numbers at school because all other family members are just too far away. They are the friend that keeps you company on the lonely nights when your spouse has been deployed for what seems like a small eternity. You plan movie night with this friend. They help you shovel snow out of your driveway or drive you to the airport that is 90 miles away. They are your responsible friend that will keep your children so you can getaway with your spouse for a long weekend. They are the friend you call to watch the kids when you must take emergency leave to attend a funeral. They make the ebb and flow of friendship seem effortless, and you couldn't have made it without them. 

As a MilSpouse you have to incorporate these friends into your life. You need them, and they need you- especially since you will fit the bill of each of these the longer you and your spouse stay in the military. But make sure you remember, and understand, that while these friends are crucial to your survival, they don't have to be MilSpouses themselves. So long as you have the friends that help you navigate your way through the ups and downs of being a military wife, you will get through the difficult times and be a stronger wife, friend, mother, and person. 

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Challenge Accepted... and COMPLETED!

Sixty days ago I started a challenge. It was a simple invite by a friend to join a challenge group. I really had no idea what I was getting into, but I said yes. I said Yes, because I trusted that she wouldn't steer me wrong. I trusted when she said she had gotten results and she loved the products. I trusted her because I have known her for many years, and she is one of the most sincere and vulnerable people I know. So I said sure! What did I have to lose right? Ok, so I have about 30 lbs to lose, but who's keeping track?

Besides for trusting her, she also happen to catch me at the right time. I was feeling large, sluggish, and downright bleh! We had recently moved into our  new home, and I wasn't taking care of myself. I needed to get back into shape. By the looks of me you would never have guessed that I had completed a half-marathon in Sept 2013. I wanted needed something, someone, that would hold me accountable to daily goals and activities. Never mind the fact that I had watched Shaun T's Focus T25 informercial for the 4th time, and was really contemplating buying it. I already owned Slim in 6, Insanity and P90X- all great BeachBody programs. Many years back when I purchased Slim in 6, it helped me get in shape- but that was YEARS ago. 

Focus T25 really appealed to me for 1 main reason: it was done in 25 minutes. No hour long workouts that seemed to go on forever. Shaun T was promising me that I could be done in the time it takes to watch most sitcoms. So yeah, I purchased T25 in a Challenge Pack which came with this Shakeology shake powder stuff. 

What I never could've have predicted was the change the Challenge Group, T25 and Shakeology would have on my life. 

What's a Challenge Group?
The Challenge Group was a private Facebook group where all the participants could share their concerns and needs during the challenge. Everyday the group leaders would post a different daily activity. These activities would range from examining your daily eating habits to learning the power of positive speak. Everyday you were required to do your BeachBody workout, mine was Focus T25, which I LOVE! You were also required to have Shakeology on HomeDirect, which essentially is having Shakeology delivered monthly. 

I can't tell you how the Challenge Group truly helped me evaluate my fitness and nutrition. I helped me to understand how I focused on comparing MY journey to everyone else's, which ultimately always derailed my success. 

I learned how to appreciate my small victories and turn them into daily affirmations of how to continue along with my journey. 

I learned to eat clean, and drink enough water daily to sink a ship. Ok, so I'm not really sinking a ship, but some days I pee enough that it feels like I could drown a ship. 

I also learned that there are many people like me trying to get fit, struggling with the ups and downs of life, and learning to forgive themselves for slipping. 

That, my friends, is priceless!

Twenty-Five Minutes a Day is So Doable
The most often used excuse for not exercising is TIME. Well BeachBody and Mr. Ripped In Shape Shaun T have created a program that helps you lose the weight and get in shape in about 29 minutes a day. The program is called Focus T25, and the actual workout is 25 minutes long, and then you add about 2.5-3.5 minutes of cool and BAM! YOU ARE DONE! 

Don't get me wrong, the workout is NO JOKE! You will sweat your butt off, and you will feel like you are going to die that first week. Shaun T LOVES him some lunges and squats, which does wonders for the look of your legs and buttocks...but let me tell you, you're gonna be sore as heck! Just stick with it! 

Shaun T breaks it down into two phases, Alpha and Beta. Both phases have a trainer demonstrating modified low-impact versions of his exercises. You never feel like you CAN'T do it because there is ALWAYS a low-impact option. It was great because as I started getting stronger I could modify the modified exercise and do something closer to what Shaun T was doing, if not exactly what he was doing. It gave me something to progress towards, which is always feels good and gives you motivation. 

If you have struggled with motivation and time, Focus T25 is the best thing out there. Just when you think you have nothing left in the tank, you've got like 5 minutes left and let's be honest, you can do anything for 5 minutes. 

Plus it must be said that Shaun T is quite a looker and there are certain workouts where he is shirtless, and that my friends is worth looking at for 25 minutes- even if I'm sweaty, smelly, and huffing n' puffing like I'm climbing Everest. It's all good! 

Shake Up Your Nutrition
Before this challenge I had no clue what Shakeology was about, actually I had never even heard of it. So imagine my surprise when I received this bag of powder and I was supposed to drink it once a day.  Really? An expensive meal replacement shake was doing to do the trick?  Umm as a matter of fact... YES! 

What Shakeology did for me was simple. It helped me cut, actually I would go out on a limb and say eliminate, my carb cravings. Let's face it, I'm Puerto Rican and we like rice and beans, and bread and heavy starchy foods. I haven't had rice in 60 days. I don't crave pasta anymore. I still like my occasional bread, but who doesn't like Italian bread in dippy olive oil? Moderation right?

Shakeology is just amazing! I've seen complaints about the taste and truthfully, I loved it. But I'm a chocoholic so getting a rich thick chocolate shake in the morning suits me just fine. It's easy to blend, doesn't stay clumpy of powdery and they even send you recipe ideas to add different tastes to it. I use water or almond milk, but there are ideas for other blends. They even have the super vegan blend for those looking for no animal products. I can't say enough great things about Shakeology! Find me here if you want more info or just want to hear me rant and rave about Shakeology! 

Results? Nah, let's call them Successes!
This is the part most people care about- it's the determining factor if the products worked, right? Let me start by saying that I'm eating cleaner and healthier than I have since I was on formula, and who knows how good that crap was in the 70s. I've cut out processed foods. I've cut out sodas and simple sugars. I've cut out all white flour and bleached flours. I've been watching sodium and GMO content. I eat veggies and protein like it's my job. I just feel better about my relationship with food. So that is a HUGE SUCCESS!

Another huge success was actually getting smaller! Who knew? Yes I did lose inches and weight. I lost 12 pounds to be exact since I started this journey. It hasn't always been easy, but I did it. I still have a ways to go, and by no means is my journey over.  I will continue with Shakeology and I'm starting a new program called PiYo (Pilates and Yoga combo). I can't finish my T25 due to this ankle injury, but I will attempt the low-impact of PiYo, so I'm excited about that!              
I also completed another 5k run in May, and my first Mud Run last Saturday (which caused the jacked up ankle).  So I would venture to say that I'm more physically fit than I was 60 days ago, no doubt. 

No matter what the combination of the FB support group, the daily activities in the Challenge Group, the physical workouts and the Shakeology all came together in a PERFECT recipe for success. I'm so grateful for that invite from my friend. I'm so inspired by my journey that I want to help other Moms who think they can't do or think they don't have time, that they can make small changes that will yield large results.  I promise! I believe in it so much that I became a BeachBody Coach. I want to help other Moms entering their 40s to understand that fitness is possible at any age, and that we don't have enter our 40s the same way we left our 30s. It can be better... WAAAAY BETTER!

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Friday, June 13, 2014

The Uniqueness of Military Friendships

"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art...It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival." C.S. Lewis

As a MilSpouse, friendship is necessary to your daily survival in the world of PCS's, deployments and military life. Make no mistake establishing and maintaining friendships is not always an easy task. It can be difficult, scary, and even heartbreaking. Let's not forget rewarding, but most importantly it's essential to our survival through military life. In our world, no friends can equal no sanity. 

Building friendships is made more difficult because we don't have the luxury of permanence. It's not a word that is part of our military vernacular. You don't get to stay in the same neighborhood for years and watch your children grow up with the neighborhood kids. Your children don't have the luxury of staying in the same school system their entire educational career. You don't have the luxury of keeping the same job for more than a few years. Moving, changing, uprooting, new schools, new jobs, new units- that's permanent.  The only real constant is change. 

I've been a military spouse (on and off) for the last 20 years. I was young and naive when I said yes to the military, and I had no idea what to expect from this lifestyle. Hell, I'm not sure I even grasped the idea that it was a "lifestyle", and not just my spouse's career choice. Either way, my first move was from the town I call home (click here to understand) to hubby's duty station. It was at Fort Campbell that I made my first military friends. 

What makes these friendships unique? 

While not all MilSpouses form bonds and friendships in the same manner, I believe there are a few things that seem to be shared across the board. 
  • The need for friends is more urgent.
  • You give of yourself more freely because you understand that time is finite, and everything is short lived.
  • Every duty station presents it's own challenges, which force you to look for friends to fulfill different needs. 
  • Every new move and new duty location is the passage of the last one, and along with it, the change in dynamics of those friendships left behind.
  • Mourning those losses requires the hope of new relationships. 
It's because of this that military friendships are a breed of friendships unto themselves. 

Quick, Fast, and in a Hurry
Let's face it, military families are at a duty station for 3-4 years, 5 or 6 if we're lucky. We need to spend time with someone other than our spouse and kids. 

We need to be able to have a lunch date, or dinner, or drinks, or shopping, or anything seemingly adult- like in nature.

We need to have other moms and dads to vent to about our kids. We need to listen to their horror stories, helping us to realize that our hellions aren't really all that bad. We need to get advice from other moms who have "been there, done that."

We need to feel connected and part of a community. It's the only way to make this new location really feel like home. It's what will make the time meaningful and lasting, for us and for our families.

If we wait too long to make friends, it will be PCS time and we'll be moving again. Or worse, we'll have a deployed spouse and no friends. Trust me- that's not fun. 

So we make friends and fast. As MilSpouses we don't have the luxury of getting to know people over the course of years. It's like speed dating. We let ourselves hang out there in the hopes that we will make connections and friendships that will last, if not last, at least help us cope and survive. 

Open Books
Since time is of the essence in building these friendships, we I tend to be an open book. What you see, is what you get. This MilSpouse doesn't have time to deal with false niceties and pretenses. I want to know if you are someone I can spend time with and be myself. 
I want to know that you share my parenting values, that we have things in common, that you like to drink wine and/or beer. (Wine and beer are important things to find out in the speed friending rounds!)
I want to know if our kids get along. 
I want to know if our husband will 'play nice' together as well. 

For this reason, I'm open and honest, and I wear my heart on my sleeve. I can't afford not to be me, or to see you for you. "Ain't nobody got time for that!" 

I find many MilSpouses are open, honest, and welcoming. They are willing to let you in and form lasting bonds.

Understanding the Demands
We understand that every duty station presents its own demands, and requires adjustments. Because we know this, military friendships are understanding. They are flexible. They are just what the doctor ordered at that particular assignment. 

We are like the old psychic hotlines! We have experienced so much over the course of military lives that we either have the been there done that shirts, or we know a friend who had it happened to them. We know what it's like to have to find new schools for our children. We know what it's like to have a husband deploy for 6 months or 16 months. 

There is an inherent understanding of the way our lives operate that makes it easier to relate and connect with another.

So long, farewell and goodbye 
Goodbyes are inevitable. In our lives, they are as sure as the sun rising. 

It's the three letters that will change the dynamics of military friendships: PCS. You know the moving truck will come, packers will box everything, and you can expect a stay at lodging or a hotel as you transition from one post to the next. 

Along with moving trucks, comes the long string of goodbyes that seemingly takes days to complete. You also know that some of these goodbyes are permanent.

There are friends you positively know you will see again. You will speak often, and even plan to vacation with them in the future. 

There are those friends that you will miss, but you also know that time and distance will change your friendship. You know the friendship was meaningful and lived its life to the fullest, but will no longer be with you. You know that Facebook and other social media will allow you keep in touch with all the people you have met along the way, but you know that few will remain truly close. Its not personal, it's the nature of this life.

It's the nature of military friendship, they are meant to help us through and to allow us to connect, but not all are meant to last.  When we get to the new location, we mourn those losses. We miss our friends. We miss our old life. Mourn it, you're we're allowed to. 

And that's ok. There are new friendships on the horizon of a new state, new location, new assignment, new life. It was beautiful while it lasted, and this too shall be a great adventure. 

The bottom line is I disagree with C.S.Lewis. Friendship is essential to the survival of the military spouse, and military life. I can't think of a single MilSpouse that ever made it through on their own. Our identities are tied to the variety of people who have touched us throughout the tenure of our military lives. Embrace the friendships, they are the key to survival.

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