Make a Soldier Feel Special

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J is officially in Afghanistan and getting settled in. The week has been slowly getting easier, however my very good friend and her husband are leaving Friday, so that's one more person I'll be losing. It's hard living a military lifestyle since nothing is ever permanent. Plans, work schedules, friends, holidays: it's all up in the air and anything can change down to the very last minute. I'm working on getting a job to keep myself busy and have some money put away when he gets back. Fingers crossed.

I've been wanting to write this post for awhile now, and I actually have a relevant reason to. Being deployed is no walk in the park, as I'm sure you've already guessed. The people left behind are forced to try and continue a normal life without a member of their family and the soldiers themselves don't get the very best of living conditions. To put it bluntly- prisoners are treated better than soldiers. 

They call food mystery meat because they never know what they're eating, they share a tiny room the size of bathroom with 2 to 3 other people, and they tend to work 12-24 hour shifts. All this while being away from loved ones, away from their home country, and the possibility of getting injured. 

J has me back home waiting for him. And while I'm waiting, I'm here to send him whatever he needs, plus a little love and reminders of home to make him feel more at ease. Some soldiers don't have that. Majority of the military is made up of single soldiers, with no one back home to love and care for them. While they may have family, most soldiers have no one thinking about them enough to send them essential needs. It's shocking to think that family members wouldn't send their loved ones anything, but it happens a lot.

Think about your daily life, and how happy you are to open your mailbox and find a personal letter from someone waiting for you inside, or how excited you get when you open the door and see a package on the porch. Now imagine you're all alone in a war zone with no one to talk to. It would probably make your day to receive a heartfelt letter from someone back home saying how proud they are to have someone fighting for their freedom, or getting a surprise package filled with goodies that you haven't experienced in months.

You can make that happen for a soldier. You can make someone's day by simple words of encouragement or a box of snacks, letting them know someone is out there thinking of them, wishing them well wishes and a safe trip home. By adopting a soldier, you can literally lift their spirits and make them feel incredibly special. Sometimes it's all they have to look forward to. You can write them hand written letters, send them uplifting emails, and ship them care packages as often as you want, and in the process make a soldier's deployment just a little bit easier to deal with.

When you adopt a soldier, you can pick one or as many as you like by going through their profiles and learning a little bit about themselves and the things they are hoping to get. You can get them exactly what they ask for, or surprise them with a themed box or random goodies from where you live. Most have access to internet, although sometimes seldomly in certain situations, and can shoot them an email whenever you have free time. It means the world to them. 

So go ahead, make someone's day, and Adopt A US Soldier.
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The Lonely Army Wife

Half of my heart is on its way to Afghanistan.

J deployed Saturday afternoon and as expected, I'm an emotional wreck. Even now I'm tearing up typing this. I was fine a few minutes ago. It's as if you're telling yourself you will not cry, then someone asks if you're okay and you immediately start balling when you try to speak. I intended to write this post as calmly as possible, but that's obviously not going to happen. I'll have to take "water breaks" because my eyes are drowning in tears and I can no longer see my computer screen.

Okay, I think I'm okay....wait, nope. I'm not okay you guys. My heart hurts. If you ever wondered how it feels to not be able to function like a normal human being, have your spouse shipped off to another country with no promise of coming back. I am a walking ball of emotion. Who am I kidding, I'm lucky if I make it off this couch.

I don't even know where to begin because my mind is all over the place. All I know is it's going to be a long 9 months. Part of me wants to be alone and the other part doesn't. I don't want to become a hermit crab but I also can't bring myself to just hang out with people like nothing happened. It'll take time, and I wish I could at least fast forward this next month so I can start feeling like a normal person again.

Deployment is not what people think it is. Lately it's been shown as some sort of vacation for soldiers who don't have to worry about anything and the wives back home get a free pass to do whatever they want. The send offs are filled with glamorous photos of smiling couples and the welcome back has families holding crazy signs awaiting their soldiers, and the in- between is nothing but skype calls and endless emails. That isn't real life.

There was nothing happy or exciting about this past week knowing what was coming Saturday. There was tying up loose ends, taking care of billing cycles and packing duffle bags full of camouflaged gear. Saturday morning came tight hugs and tears. The hanger for departure had numerous families praying for a safe trip and countless wives so choked up they couldn't get a word in. There were no beautifully posed pictures or a quick good bye that had me instantly on the freeway back home.

There was only a girl, left alone sitting in the car crying her eyes out because she just watched her soldier walk away from her. When something like that happens, you have no idea what to do with yourself. I sat there for an hour just crying. I didn't know I could cry as much as I did, and once I finally started to stop I felt so out-of-body, like it wasn't real. Just completely dumbfounded at what just happened. My other half was now gone, and I didn't want to go home to an empty house. 

The only reason I have these pictures is because the wife of the other soldier in the photo with J sent them to me.

What kills me the most is when people tell me "Well it shouldn't be too hard since this is his second deployment." ...excuse me? That doesn't make it any easier to say goodbye to my husband. In fact, it's even worse because I have to be away from him yet again. Not to mention this time is completely different than the last time he left. Yes, it's for 3 months shorter but that also means we do not get an R&R. In 2011 the first 6 months I was living in Vegas with a roommate. I had 2 jobs, I attended school, and there was always places to be and people to be with because of the city. The last 6 months I moved back to California with my father and continued to work 2 jobs and attend school. My family and friends were there for me and there was always someone in the house.

Not the case this time around. I am on the other side of the country with no family and very little friends. The friends I do have are leaving because the military is constantly moving people. Friends are not a permanent thing in this lifestyle. I'm in a big house all by myself and I've never lived alone before. If one more person tells me it's the same I will punch them in the face. Yes, this isn't my first rodeo, but the circumstances are completely different and in all honestly- I'm terrified. 

I get a little hurt when other wives tell me to 'suck it up' or that this is their 3rd or 4th or whatever deployment. So? Since when is this a competition? Does that honestly make it okay for me to be able to just brush off the fact that my husband just fucking left and there's not a god damn thing I can do about it? We're supposed to be here for each other and support one another in this time of need. I don't care if your husband leaves for 2 days on a business trip, 2 weeks for training, 2 months for basic, or a deployment. The point is he left. 

I'm not saying I want to wallow in my own misery and feel sorry for myself the entire 9 months, but shit give me some time to adjust. The wound is still fresh, he JUST left 2 days ago. I don't even know when I'll get a call that he's there. Hell, it could be a month before I hear from him. Deployments are not filled with daily skype calls, you can go days or weeks without hearing from him and you start to think the worst. Every time someone knocks on your door you have a mini panic attack inside that on the other side there's a man with a flag standing there to tell you your brave husband died in battle. Then the day finally comes where you get a phone call at 4 in the morning, only for it to be full of static and last 2 minutes. 

But you'll drop everything for that phone call. You'll interrupt a class, you'll walk out of a movie theater, you'll take a break from your shift just to hear a few loving words from your husband. It's not the greatest way to live, but it's the one I've been dealt with, and I have to make the most of it. If not, I'll simply go insane. The emotions will get the best of me and I can't let that happen. 

So here I am- sitting on the couch at 2 in the morning, wearing J's dirty t-shirt from Friday because it still smells like him, dreading going to sleep because I don't want to be in the bed alone. I know I'll probably spend the next hour holding my pillow and crying, but I've accepted the fact that I'm going to be emotional for awhile and I just have to let it out. I'm no where near stable, but I'll get there soon. I just have to keep myself busy and hope September gets here in a heartbeat. Fingers crossed.

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A Prickle Christmas

Did you know a group of hedgehogs is called a prickle?

We had a prickly reunion upon arriving back home from our Utah trip, I think the boys were mad we left them behind. They're much smarter than people give them credit for and they made sure to let the sitters know they were not a fan. Poor babies.

I'm late on posting these but when am I ever on time these days. Milo and Kol behaved long enough to take some seasonal photos for you.

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The Ghost of Christmas Past

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Happy New Year Loveys!

Now that it is officially 2014 I thought it would be fun to look at Christmases past. After I put together yesterday's little collage of photos I found myself going through my old Photobucket. So here's a nice little treat [of what little photos I still have].

God I looked super young. Everyone always says chopping your hair off makes you look older and sophisticated. I think my long hair looks better personally. I am tempted to cut it though.

2008 was the year I graduated high school, so that pic is my official 'yay, I'm an adult at Christmas and I get to sit at the grown-ups table' picture. 2010 I was working in Vegas and 2011 I was working at Disneyland. There aren't any pictures from those years but they were way more hectic. 

Here's to an awesome New Year. Cheers. 

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