Deployment Diaries: How to Go Weeks Without Speaking to Your SO

Every deployment and situation is different. You may go through a deployment and have decent communication the whole way through or there could be periods of time where you haven’t received any kind of communication for weeks or maybe months.

It would be an understatement to say that going with no emails or phone calls is hard. It’s hell. I had no idea if he was okay, I missed his voice, I missed telling him about my day and his advice, I missed hearing about his day and I hated that I couldn’t comfort him or celebrate his successes.

It’s a test of your patience and of your relationship but there are ways to make it through.

Continue reading Deployment Diaries: How to Go Weeks Without Speaking to Your SO

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Six Tips to Surviving the First Underway

*For the safety of my sailor and his boat, there are no dates, locations or names posted. The article has been written and posted after his underway was long done and over.  OPSEC for the win.

I have been very fortunate in the fact that, for the first two years of this adventure, I have been able to speak to my sailor on the daily minus bootcamp of course. I actually forgot what it was like to not speak to him for more than 24 hours. After he graduated from all of his schooling, he came home for a month of leave, left for his first duty station and shortly after came the first underway. For those of you that don’t know, underways are like mini deployments that only last maybe a month or two at most.

This was like bootcamp all over again. And it sucked. He said his goodbyes over text to me and that was it. So began the first underway.

Continue reading Six Tips to Surviving the First Underway

I Didn’t Choose the Military, I Chose Him

Military relationships are not Dear John. It’s not romantic. It’s not wonderful. When you ask a little girl where she sees herself one day, most likely, the answer will not be sleeping in a bed by herself while her husband is fighting a war and her kids are asking where daddy is.

Most people already understand that so it’s no surprise that I often get asked the question, “Why would you ever put yourself through that?”

I asked myself that same question when I first met Taylor. We met at a small gathering of friends and he kept talking about leaving for bootcamp in a few weeks and how excited he was. Being a military girlfriend was never in my plans and I never even thought about what it would be like. Actually, believe it or not, it was a deal breaker for me.

But our second date was when I saw Taylor. And I don’t mean literally. I had my contacts in that first time and could see just fine. I saw what kind of person he was. After that second date I felt like I had just met my best friend. It was the best and easiest date that I had ever been on. I drove home and battled with my previous thoughts and what I considered to be a deal breaker.

I didn’t choose the military. I wasn’t on the hunt for a single, military man. I really don’t like the long distance and the worry. I don’t want him to be deployed. I don’t want to move far away from my family and be alone a good majority of the time. I hate that one day I will have to explain to my kids why their dad can’t be at their sports tournament. I didn’t ask for any of that.

But I did choose him. And that’s where people start to lose understanding.  I chose to be with someone who works hard and who treats me better than anyone. If I was going to live 1,000 miles from anyone, I wanted it to be him. And no one I have ever met was worth me leaving my little hometown until I met Taylor. And if my kids had any father, any man to look up to, I’d want it to be a man who works hard, loves his family and loves his country too. A man that is courageous in both heart and spirit.

I don’t want any sympathy. I didn’t want a military relationship so I could be the victim. I didn’t want this so I could go out and see other men but still have the security of a relationship.

When you love a person, and I mean truly love a person, you take the good with the bad. Being a military girlfriend wasn’t ideal for me but all the other good things far outweighed any anxieties I had.

I chose to love another with everything that I have…even if he chooses to wear a uniform.

 

 

Five Tips on How to Handle the Distance

There is no denying that distance is hard and I would be silly if I told you that I have found a way to deal with it completely. I haven’t. But I have found ways to bring comfort during those times when I feel like my heart is literally tearing in my chest, those nights that I toss and turn and can’t fall asleep.

1.Grow yourself a support system

I think of my support system as a circle. The reasoning for that is because none of them come before the other and they are all there for different kinds of support.  I have my parents, friends, Taylor, his family, military girlfriend Facebook groups, I have pen pals I write to and of course I have His First Mate and the community that comes with that. My family and friends are there for physical support like hugs and an actual listening ear, etc. Taylor and his family are on there for the obvious reason that he knows better than anyone else what I am going through. I have my military Facebook groups in case I have questions or just need to see that I am not alone in this. And of course, I have His First Mate as my outlet to express myself and help others.

circle of support

Make a circle for yourself. Maybe yours looks different and that’s okay. Keep that circle someplace safe where you can look at it whenever you need to. Some good places are your wallet, a drawer at work or hung up in your room.

2. Become a Hoarder

Normally, I wouldn’t recommend this but desperate times call for desperate measures. Be a hoarder of everything that is your significant other. I can’t even tell you how many hoodies, t-shirts and blankets that I have of Taylor’s (some he may or may not know that I even have but that can be our secret). These things are pieces of Taylor and some still have his smell which is a huge comfort to me in times where I feel like I’m falling apart. And not to mention, men’s clothes are significantly more comfortable than anything in the women’s department.

Below is a list of things you can ask to borrow from your significant other:

-Bottles of cologne/perfume

-Blankets, pillows, stuffed animals

-Any clothing items

-Mix tapes they have or create for you

-Keychains they have

-Jewelry

3. Have Christmas in July

Not having Taylor here for holidays absolutely kills me. With Taylor’s first deployment coming up, I have made a list of every holiday that we will miss together. When he comes home in the next couple of weeks, we plan on celebrating every single one: Christmas, Valentine’s Day, both of our birthdays and a close friend’s birthday and Thanksgiving. It will literally be Christmas in July.

I think what gets me most is looking on Facebook during holidays and seeing all these other happy couples spending time together. Take lots of pictures during these “holidays”  that you’ve created together so you can post them to Facebook or look at them whenever the actual holiday rolls around.  My other piece of advice is to just stay off of social media as much as possible during holidays.

4. Save letters and text messages

Be a hoarder of their items and be a hoarder of their words. It helps a lot to hear their own voice and words come through a page to comfort you.

bootcamp

When Taylor deploys, I am asking him to write me some “Open When” (read what these are here!) for me to read when I get upset or I miss him, etc. so I have that handy.

5. Make a Deployment Bucket List

Stay busy! One thing that I like about military/long-distance relationships is that I get a lot of time to work on myself and my dreams. So, make a list for you! This keeps you busy and always gives you something to look forward to.

What are things you have a ways wanted to do? You can add in things that you like doing but haven’t done in a while. When you are feeling down or feel like you have nothing to keep you busy, turn to this list.

 

How to Budget Your Travels into Your Monthly Expenses

 

For two years now, Charleston has become my second home and it wasn’t too traumatic on my wallet most of the time. My airline tickets averaged around $300 and if I couldn’t do that I could drive.

The next stop on our military journey, however, is going to be Hawaii, a trip that will most definitely not be too kind on the old wallet. But I have recently put in place some tips and tricks that will get me, stress-free, to Hawaii and back… I might even be able to afford a nice dinner while I’m there.

The key to making all of this easier on you is to answer four questions:

How much will your trip cost?

The first step is knowing how much your trip will cost for the big stuff such as hotels, rental cars, gas, plane tickets, food, souvenirs, etc. Keep in mind that it is best to over guess prices than under guess. Also, keep in mind that many places, if you are married to the military, you can get discounts! You can make a rough calculation based on these prices…

Food: I know that, personally, I spend about $20 on each meal when I go on vacation. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it is less depending on where I am going and what meal it is. All in all, I give food about $60 per day. Take that and multiple it by how many days you are staying.

Plane tickets: A round-trip ticket to Hawaii is about $850 give or take. Look around on Google or there is a really helpful app called Hopper that will tell you pricing and pick a median price that sounds good to you.

Gas: If driving is your choice of transportation, find out how many miles it will be and find out what your car’s miles per gallon rate is. Divide the miles it will take to get there by the miles per gallon of your car. Then find the average gas prices in your area and multiply it by the numbers you just figured.

EX:) It used to take me 923 miles to drive to Charleston, SC. My little Honda Civic drives about 33 miles per gallon.

923/33= 27.97 gallons of gas to get to Charleston

I usually round up just to be safe so we’ll say about 30 gallons of gas. (I tend to get lost a lot.)

The gas prices around Chicago are about $2.20. So, 2.20×30=66. It will cost me about $66 in gas to get one way to Charleston.

Also, keep in mind that you will be driving around while you are there. Take that into account when finding out how much you will spend in gas.

Rental Cars: This one you should do a bit of research on. This all depends on the company, the type of car, the size of the car and how many days you will be renting it for.  This will require a bit of your own research to figure out, however, USA Today wrote a good article to see what the averages are.

Hotels: Again, this will require some research on your part. Based on where you stay and how nice you’d like your hotel or motel to be, these prices can range greatly.

Ex:) Whenever I go to visit my boyfriend, I already have my transportation and sleeping accommodations taken care of so really that just leaves my plane ticket, food and souvenirs and money for the things we want to do.

Plane ticket: I averaged this out to $850.

Food: I will probably spend about a week in Hawaii so my food will come out to about $420.

Souvenirs/things to do: I gave myself a budget of about $75 a day for things I want to buy and things we want to do. This adds up to about $525.

 

All in all, my trip to Hawaii will cost me $1,795.

When are you planning to go?

Whew! You’ve now have the first and maybe hardest step done! Next comes planning when you’d like to go. Pick a month and calculate how many months that is from today.

Ex:) I would like to go to Hawaii at the beginning of September. That is about 3 months from now.

budgeting travels 1

How much money do you make a month?

Take your paychecks and add them together! If you are a bartender, waitress or anyone who has varying paychecks a month, figure out an average. About how much a day or a week do you normally bring home in tips.

Ex:) One of my paychecks a month is about $800 and the other one is about $900. I also freelance a little so I added in about an extra $50.

Turns out to be about $1,750.

After paying your bills, how much “fun” money do you have to spend?

I have a whiteboard next to my desk that lists out all of my bills that I have to pay, when they come out and have a space for me to check mark them when they have been paid. I know, I know, I’m a really big dork.

But it helps! Write out all your expenses, take what you make monthly and subtract them.

EX:) I make about $1,750 and lets say, for the sake of this post, that my bills come out to be $1,000 a month. That leaves me $750 to spend on whatever my little heart desires.

Put it all together!

Take how much your trip will cost and divide that by how much time you have between now and then. Take that number and look to see if you can feasibly afford to put away that much every month. If not, you may need to think about moving your trip a little farther back.

EX:) My trip is going to cost $1,795 and I have three months to save up.

$1,795/3= $598 per month that I need to save.

We already figured out that I have $750 to spend on what I would like every month. With that being said, if I put away about $600 a month toward my trip I would still have about $150 dollars to spend on going out with friends, new clothes, etc. which is fine for me.

 

Once you have figured out a good monthly budget for you, now it is time to start saving! Once a month, place that money into a savings account, under your bed, a piggy bank, and save up for that trip you’ve been dying to take.

Life is way too short to not travel. Don’t let your financial status stop you.

 

 

DIY Pencil Holder for Father’s Day

My parents are the kind of people that literally have everything which makes holidays a bit of a challenge. Gift cards get old. Clothes are boring. And this year for Father’s Day I wanted to do something different. Something hands on and from the heart.

My father owns a business and his office is right next to my bedroom. I went in there the other day and noticed that he has absolutely no place to put pens or any other writing utensil for that matter. They all kind of just hung out in a pile off to the side.

Hence, a pencil holder… which is inexpensive to make and actually kind of fun (I spent an hour and half at Michael’s planning this thing out!).

What you’ll need:

A jar or can- I chose a mason jar but you can use cardboard, go to the craft store and pick up a wooden container, anything!

Paint- I chose to use acrylic.

Paintbrush

Decorations- This is where you get to be extra creative! I thought about putting a picture of me and my dad on there, you can grab extra paint and paint on decorations, get ribbons to tie around the top, glitter, stickers, etc. I chose to buy some decorative gears at Michael’s to paste on along with a sticker that I can write, “I Love You” on.

Glue- Make sure to buy something that dries clear in case you get glue somewhere that it’s not supposed to go. Tacky Glue worked wonders for me!

I bought everything at Micheal’s for a grand total of $15.28. Print out a coupon off their website and it’ll be even cheaper!

jar

Step one: Paint your container

Lay out some newspaper on a table and get the paint ready to use on a plate. I wet my brush and painted on one layer, waited an hour and painted another layer. I continued to do this until I was satisfied  with the color and what it looked like. Let it completely dry over night.

Step two: Add the decorations

Pretty simple step. Start adding on you decorations! Plan out where you’d like things to go, whip out the Tacky Glue and start sticking!

Let the holder dry for another day before handling it.

 

 

How to Plan a Welcome Home Scavenger Hunt for Your Significant Other

Taylor has been pretty grumpy lately (for good reason too) so I went last weekend for two days to cheer him up a bit. It was a normal morning when we woke up. We got up, took a shower, got dressed and went to Waffle House for breakfast. As we sat at Waffle House waiting for our food I asked, “Do you have tape at home?”

Continue reading How to Plan a Welcome Home Scavenger Hunt for Your Significant Other