>Year Two: Second Installment

>September – 

  • Aaron came home for his four-day Labor Day weekend. We had a cookout on that Saturday. It was so hard taking him to the airport.. we knew we’d have almost three months before we’d see each other again (Thanksgiving).
  • School kept on truckin’
  • That’s all I remember.

October – 

  • What a long month! Considered either him coming here or me going there for Columbus Day weekend but decided against it because of the lack of extra funds.
  • Amelia and I had a scrapbooking date.
  • I got my hair cut, a little.
  • I got a classy, tasteful pinup shoot done for him by my friend Mila. He had no idea; it was his surprise Christmas present.

November – 

  • Hit the -30 lb mark on my weight loss.
  • Very emotional Veterans’ Day assembly at school. Two of my students’ dad (Katharine and Mark) was in Iraq at the time, due home in February 2010. We had a conference call with him in Iraq. It was so special. The family did a presentation.
  • Awesome, amazing, fabulous trip with Aaron to Phoenix. We stayed in a resort for one night and had a Thanksgiving dinner over $100. We deserved it! Came home reluctantly but knowing that I’d see him in only three weeks for Exodus.
  • Got into Peoria’s airport at 10:30; left for Chicago the next morning at around 4:30 for an all day conference. 

December – 

  • The semester wound down nicely at work.
  • I was supposed to ref for the Lego League regional tournament but was sick that day.
  • Aaron was waiting for me in uniform at home when I got there the last day of school, December 18 I think. It was the best thing ever.
  • We had a great Exodus.. 16 days of feeling like we’re actually married, haha! He loved his gift and he got me Army gear from Victoria’s Secret.
  • Joel, our nephew, turned 10. 

And that’s all I have for right now.

I went to Rock Island Arsenal today and got all my command sponsorship paperwork taken care of. I applied for my no-fee passport and visa and actually had to get more pictures taken.. I only had two and needed three. I got all my EFMP paperwork done and pending one little piece of paper that Aaron needs to take care of and fax to me, that will be sent off to Ft. Knox within a week hopefully!

I had such a great experience with everyone I talked to today. Everyone was so helpful and friendly. I went to the wrong building initially, and asked where a certain office was. The lady I asked asked her secretary and her secretary made a phone call to find out where I needed to go. Wow. Now that’s customer service! Except I’m not really a customer..

I’m so tired. Aaron has only a couple days left in the field and I’m getting really antsy to talk to him. He’ll be so proud that I got all of this taken care of!

>Year two (or year seven) in review.. first installment.

>Wow. As of May 9th of this year, we will have been “together” for seven years. I specifically remember the exact date we started being interested in each other. Yeah. I’m like that.

So much has happened in the past seven years, and the only thing I regret is staying in Peoria/Pekin for school instead of transferring to the U of I and getting married sooner. But hey, no biggie, right? 🙂 Naw, I’m glad everything worked out the way it did. It’s formed us into the adults (*gasp*) that we are today. I am 24, Aaron will be 26 in July.

So. As we near the end of this separation due to the military and our apparent “mature” decision (yes I do think it’s mature) to be apart for this year, I am reminiscing. Nay, remembering. “Reminiscing” has a more positive connotation to it I believe. Granted, there are many positive things that came out of this year, but we have missed each other like crazy. Anywho. Without further ado (actually had to look that one up for spelling).. I put on my big girl panties…

April

  • Aaron left for Basic the 14th for his security interview. Left for Leonard Wood the 15th I think. I had taken the day off for his swearing in, but had a crisis at school and needed to be there. 
  • Had my birthday the 22nd, which actually turned out to be very good. 
  • Finished up the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class. Got our “gazelle intensity” rollin’.

May – 

  • Finished up my first year of teaching. It was a great year.
  • I remember my in-laws taking me out to eat for my birthday at Avanti’s.
  • I remember Aaron calling me on a Saturday, which was unusual, while I was on my way to Midland’s graduation.
  • Took two days off to deal with a family emergency that scared the crap outta me. My boss was great about it.
  • Started summer!

June – 

  • Spent the first weekend down in Champaign at Carle with my grandparents. My grandpa had a tumor removed from his kidney and recovered so well. That whole situation was totally in God’s hands. Spent some very good quality time with my grandma. Really became closer to them. Never wanted to smell a hospital again, albeit a nice one. 
  • Emily got settled into her new apartment in Normal. 
  • Started swimming pretty regularly in the pool here at the apartment. Amelia and I spent a lot of time together.
  • Planned my trip to see Aaron graduate. Left Monday the 22nd, I think, a day after our anniversary. Spent two days in St. Louis to see Aunt Jane, Corky, Carol, Andy and Courtney. Had a great time even though it was hotter than Hades.
  • Stayed for two nights in godforsaken St. Robert, MO, in the Econolodge. Ick. My in-laws had it right when they stayed at the Drury in Rolla. Spent a lovely eight hours with my soldier after graduation. The next morning, saw him at the barracks and then met up with him at the St. Louis airport. Got some unexpected time together. Drove straight from St. Louis to Pekin in 2 hrs, 15 min. No stopping at “Go”, no collecting $200. Haha. Realized that we had a long haul before us.

July – 

  • Found out June 30 or so that Aaron got a four-day pass for the Fourth. Bought my ticket and started the multiple long weekends together that we’d have over the next year. Spent an awesome weekend together at Huachuca, complete with fireworks at the park. Just our little two-person family. I loved every minute.
  • Briefly considered quitting and moving. But obviously that was not financially possible.
  • Decided that I was gonna join the Army. My grandpa about figuratively drop-kicked me for that one.
  • Spent a week at my grandparents’ in Normal, but not before I told them about talking to a recruiter.
  • With my grandparents, went to the farmer’s market, Jo-Anns, went shopping at the outlet in Tuscola on our way back from Arthur.. went to Yoder’s to eat, went to Miller’s for fabric. Had a great time. They also took me to the tea room in Clinton. That was probably one of the best weeks I’ve ever had, ever.
  • Hit the -25 lb. mark on the scale.

August – 

  • Went to MEPS two days in a row.. August 3 and 4. I think. Took my ASVAB, got a 98. Took my DLab, got a 125. Scored a sweet job in MI to train for cryptolingustics. Realized that I made a huge mistake.  Got treated awful by multiple recruiters. Just a couple weeks ago from now (April 28) got a call from someone asking me to come in or call about my reasoning for not going. Did not call them back (my ship date was supposed to be June 9 of this year!)..
  • Started the school year off very excited but knowing that I was probably going to leave. Put in for the Friday before Labor Day.. Aaron came home for a four day. But I will get to that in Sept.
  • “Decided” that I was gonna stay in IL to do my Master’s. I was definitely crazy.. oh man. What in the world was going through my head? And why did I “decide” so many things?

Stay tuned for more..

>Orange blossom tea and FTX.

>Aaron’s been in the field since Thursday. He called for an ever-so-brief two minutes while I was on lunch on Friday. Since then I’ve been doing really well not being able to talk to him. In fact, I get ready to get under the covers and then I remember I need to e-mail him!

Lucky for him he gets to miss my freaking out/research out the wazoo/question stage of learning that we are going to South Korea (unless his orders get changed.. again). I’ve learned so much with endless hours of research with reliable Mozilla Firefox as my companion.

I called the ACS (Army Community Services, I think) office at Rock Island Arsenal today and got some information about applying for my no-fee passport, visa, and getting my EFMP (medical) screening done. Since the screening is medical-related I can take a sick day for it. Rock Island is about a hour and a half away. I’m thankful I took a look at Army One Stop’s map of installations otherwise I would have relented to going to somewhere much farther away. The Air National Guard base here in Bartonville might have done all of that, but I like being able to talk Army and have someone understand me.

Hopefully I can get that paperwork rolling next week. Aaron has to do the rest, and then it’s up to the command sponsorship gods to decide who gets to get put in the lucky pile. I hope and pray and hope and PRAY that this doesn’t take several months. I would go crazy being here in Illinois while he’s already getting settled in Korea. And me without a job to boot.

I think I’ve done all the research I need to do.. the next step like I said is going to RI Arsenal. Now I can relax. I can’t wait to talk to him again! I think he’s done on Sunday. Six days…

>Thank you, Army…

>…for giving my husband a stable job with good health insurance and a decent wage.
…for helping us both be healthy again and happy with our bodies.
…for strengthening our marriage through the distance.
…for helping us realize how important life is and that it’s short.
…for providing adventure… soon to be adventure in Korea!
…for keeping us on the edge of our seats and giving us no logical choice but to rely on God.

>6,561 miles.

>Aaron’s orders changed and I guess we’re off to South Korea instead of Texas! What a shock that news was, but we’re excited. As always. Put me in a van down by the river and I’ll be excited that I’m just with him. Or at least I’ll try.

14 hours time difference, 6,561 miles away, 16-hour flight or something crazy like that. Just south of the 38 parallel. You can drive the whole country in about 2.5 hours. Hmm.

Lots to be done I suppose. Paperwork upon more paperwork.

Aaron’s in the field right now (FTX = field training exercise) for ten days. He has a levy briefing tomorrow so hopefully he’ll get paper orders. Now, wouldn’t that be nice.

Bring it on!

>We’re getting close.

>I have 26 days of work left for the year. That’s a little over five weeks. I can’t believe it.

I’ve scheduled the piano movers and started packing up some things. We thought we might move ourselves and have the Army reimburse us, but after looking at all the costs we’re going to have in the next couple months we decided against it.

We also thought we might try to find a place and make a deposit by the time we get to Texas from Aaron’s graduation but decided against that. We get ten free nights in a hotel, I think, and that will give us enough time to actually look for a place and sign a lease.

All in all, it’s crunch time. And my current bedtime has scooted its way to about 11:30 or midnight every night. Darn.

>The last countdown.

>So, fellow bloggers, we have 53 days until I go out to Arizona for the next and final time. We’re spending two days of his four-day Memorial weekend at the Grand Canyon. I’m flying into Phoenix, and the Grand Canyon is only three hours north. We’re going with a group from the Huachuca Hospitality House. We’ll stay Friday and Saturday night with them and then go back to  post (probably a six hour drive from the GC) on Sunday.

He graduates AIT (finally! 47 weeks later…) June 3, the following Thursday. Whenever he gets cleared to leave, we plan to drive his car to Sam Houston, fly home to Illinois, get our stuff and my car and drive back to Sam Houston (San Antonio). We are planning on right now doing a DITY (do-it-yourself) move because we can make money off of it and we don’t have a ton of stuff. And of course it allows us to have complete control over when it leaves, gets there, and the fact that we’ll have everything when we get there.

Our to-do list:
-Call around to different rental properties in San Antonio
-Decide on something and put down the deposit
-Get this piano moved!
-Get boxes (I can get them from work most likely)
-Start packing!

Lord knows I’ll probably be blogging a lot.. there’s a lot on our plate right now.

>Nothing compares.

>As if I didn’t already realize this, but nothing compares to being with the one you love. No career, education or anything could keep me from being with Aaron after the next two months are over. This gets harder and harder every time we see each other.

I’ve been quite a good wifey today, cleaning up our room by doing dishes, doing laundry (it’s free here!) and packing up my things. I leave tomorrow morning about when Aaron leaves for PT. My plane takes off at 8AM, so that means I need to be at the airport by at least 7, if not earlier.

Saturday we got up at a decent time and went to Bisbee for a few hours. I conveniently forgot the camera so I have no pictures really, except for what’s on my phone, and I’m too lazy right now to upload those. Here is a picture from Google:

So cute. It was about a 30-mile drive from Sierra Vista and probably the most gorgeous drive I’ve had in awhile. Sure beats corn and soybean fields in Illinois!

Then we met up with some of Aaron’s friends and two of their wives at Texas Roadhouse. Yum. That evening we rented Inglourious Basterds. Good movie, if a little bloody.

Sunday we had every intention of getting to a church on time. After waking up around 9AM, we went to Denny’s for breakfast and it took about 45 minutes to get our food. We went to Mountain View AG. Then we went out to the Huachuca Hospitality House for Easter dinner and fellowship. It was fun, and they have a gorgeous view of the mountains. They’re down in Hereford.

Last night we went over our budget and realized that we’ve reached our financial (and main) goal for this past year apart. Just for kicks we worked out a budget with me making $45k as a full-time teacher in the San Antonio area.

I will meet Aaron for lunch soon; I made him a sandwich with some horseradish honey mustard we got at a honey shop in Bisbee. Then I’m going to a fellow Army wife’s place to hang out. Never met except on Facebook and the Army wife board we’re both on. It should be fun.

After I get home tomorrow (though I prefer to call home where Aaron is…) the countdown begins again. Somewhere around 51 days until May 28.

Have a lovely day!

>A lot to say: airports, Arizona and a look back.

>I was going to update yesterday when I was waiting for my flight at Midway, but my computer wouldn’t hook up to the wireless there. And I’m too cheap to pay $6.95 to use the Internet. Now this post is going to be very long.. mostly because I have the luxury of time to post such an elaborate entry.

I love airports. I got to Midway around 7:30 via Peoria Charter Coach. I checked my luggage, which was free through Southwest, and proceeded to my gate. Not before, of course, hitting up a cafe with the advertisement of “We Proudly Brew Starbucks”. Got my grande nonfat caramel macchiato (wow, I sound like a snob) and hung out until my flight boarded around 10:10. The whole experience with Southwest was great. They were friendly, offered free drinks and snacks throughout the whole flight and collected garbage about five times. Instead of being assigned a seat, I was assigned a boarding area out of A, B or C. I purposely sought out an aisle seat because I have a tendency to pee.. a lot. Sure you wanted to know that. I hate stepping over people or asking them to get up.

I was seated next to a couple really cute families with very well behaved children. This little boy, Samuel, popped his cute two-year-old head over the seat and said “Hi!” really loudly and with a cute smile. It’s times like that, and when Jackie’s daughter Libby gives me a huge enthusiastic hug, when I kind of wouldn’t mind a child right now. Kind of.

Something about airports just intrigues me. I love the feeling of anonymity. Maybe this is one of the reasons I know I will love San Antonio (besides the traffic!). I love the feeling of empowerment when I can speed through the security line in the “Experience Traveler” lane. I love wondering where people are going, where they’re from, what their families and lives are like. I have to say that an airport is one of my favorite places ever (as long as my flight is on time and I’m not stranded there! But that has yet to happen…).

My flight to Tucson was direct, just shy of four hours. Normally I get extremely restless and can’t focus on one particular thing, but I ended up almost finishing Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult, which I only started on Wednesday while my students were watching Toy Story in Spanish.

I got to Tucson and it was only about 60* and rainy there yesterday. Brrr, coming from Illinois and its heat wave. I got to the Enterprise counter and got my car. I rent with a debit card since we do not have credit cards, and I don’t have a problem doing that. Granted, I’ve rented from the same place all of two times I’ve needed a car in my life. But instead of debiting an amount of at least $250 off the bat, the only take out 20% more than the rental. And I got a 5% military discount. All in all it was $220. Not bad for a week and being under the age of 25. I got an aluminum can for a car because I’m cheap, like I said earlier, so I’m driving by default a Hyundai Accent. The salesman asked me what my husband would say if I drove up in a Camaro and I said, “He would ask me why I spent so much money on a car.” The salesman though did try to upsell about two more times, once citing safety and once comfort. Ehh. I’ll take my chances.

The drive to Ft. Huachuca was familiar and gorgeous. Unfortunately I forgot our camera. I was upset about that.. it’s the only thing I seemed to have forgotten! However, I enjoyed the view regardless. The mountains down here were so pretty yesterday, shrouded by indecisive clouds. One minute it’d be sunny, the next drizzling, the next actually raining. I cranked up the XM radio, much to my disappointment. Apparently the tin can comes with horrible speakers as well. I shouldn’t expect anything less.

I love flashing my military ID and just being flagged on at the entrance. I had directions to the housing office but knew the way. I got our room, only $290 for five nights, and moved in. This was the first time I actually took everything out of my suitcase and carry-on and stocked the dresser and bathroom. Our room has a small kitchenette (maybe that’s redundant..) with two gas burners.

I went to Walmart, hoping to find produce and a grocery store inside, but lo and behold they have not seen the glory of Super Walmart here in Sierra Vista, yet. Maybe they will someday. So, relegated to the few aisles of easy comfort food, I bought chips, salsa, popcorn, stuff to make PBJs and some wine.

I talked to my mom and my sister Emily when I got back to the room, and by the time I got everything settled in the kitchen Aaron called. He was in the parking lot! I am always taken aback by seeing my husband, who I knew for six years as just Aaron, in his ACUs and beret. He’s so cute. And sexy. He brought up his things and we went to dinner. We had Mexican takeout. It was yummy. That’s what I think of Mexican food – yummy.

I have to say that not for the first time I was not butterfly-afflicted or adrenaline-rushed when I saw him. I don’t consider that a bad thing. I think it’s natural when we’ve been videochatting with ease for two months since I got a new laptop. It was nice, to fall into his arms. I love that feeling of comfort and completeness, knowing that you’re with the person you’re supposed to be with forever. I have that feeling all the time, but it makes a big difference when you’re in the almost exact same place geographically.

Today I was up at 4:15, then again at 6:30. He got up at 4:15, got dressed and went to PT. I slept fitfully for a couple more hours, knowing that I had to get up in two hours because he would be back and we would be getting the continental breakfast. He came back, took a shower and then we went to get food on the second floor. (We’re on the third.) We enjoyed a cup of coffee and then he left for class.

I was going to go back to sleep, but decided to stay up. I got more creamer and sugar from the breakfast room and made coffee. I turned on Good Morning America and ironed his shirts and my dress. I found satisfaction in that.

I have to say that our transition to San Antonio in two months (only two months!) will be multi-faceted. It will be the first time we’ve really moved away. I don’t really count Peoria as it’s only 15 miles from where we grew up. He will be getting a new assignment, and I hope it’s something he enjoys. It will be completely new. I hope to find a job, because being a full-time stay-at-home-wife will not sit well with me. It’s strange; I’ve been independent for the past year. Still a wife, but by decree not by action really.

I’m trying to figure out how I will react to then again being put in that role. Don’t get me wrong – I love cooking, cleaning, taking care of my husband. But until we have children, which we don’t see happening anytime soon, I need a purpose outside the home. He wants me to have purpose outside the home. I hope I can find a full-time job, or at least something where I can work 25 hours a week. The best case scenario of course would be to land a full-time teaching position. If I get accepted to UTSA’s graduate certificate program for Spanish Translation, that will give me something to do.

I really think, though, that I’m underestimating the changes we will go through, as individuals and as a unit. I love my husband so much. I am so thankful for our relationship, that we understand and appreciate each other in nearly every way you can. I love that he supports me in my desires and doesn’t try to impose his opinions on me. It’s the best thing for me specifically – to be grounded but also to be able to be free to be myself.

I’m glad we waited so long to get married. Looking back, I can see the wisdom of that. When in the moment, you can’t really see too far. I think maturity is when you can see far. I am glad we spent five years getting to know each other. We made our mistakes, that’s for sure, but we’ve learned and grown from it. I’m glad we were married for a year before he joined.

In our first year of marriage we experienced so many different things. When we first got married and got our apartment, I was getting ready to graduate. I was working, by the middle of the summer, only 15 hours per week (not intentionally; I was told I’d be getting more). He was working lots of overtime, whenever it was offered. Then he got laid off at the end of the year and for two months before he left for Basic, I was the one working and he assumed the role of doing more things around the house and cooking. Not that we both didn’t contribute before. Then, for the past year, we’ve both been working and contributing equally. We had a common goal for the year: to pay down some debt so that we could live together without scraping by and incurring more debt.

Whenever things got rough this past year emotionally, I think we were both drawn to that goal. When I first came to visit Ft. Huachuca back in July for the holiday weekend, it took everything I had not to quit my job and move down here. Heck, the Army would have paid for it. But we knew we had to stick to our decision because that was what was going to get us through the year.

I’ve had a phenomenal year teaching, and it’s only shown me even more that teaching in some capacity is my calling. I’ve had little to no disciplinary problems. Maybe I’m more laid back and put up with more. But my classroom is still controlled chaos, and that’s the way I like it. I’ve gotten good review from my boss and I’ve grown a lot as a teacher. I’ve learned even more how to balance my work life with my personal life. I’ve never let myself get to the point in this year where I have been overwhelmingly overwhelmed.. to the point of depression or hopelessness. I am thankful for that.

I feel like now it’s time to move on. I would have felt that regardless of Aaron’s being in the Army. Regardless of whether I love my job at Midland or not. I have felt, since the beginning of our relationship, that we were never meant to be comfortable in one place for very long, whether physically, emotionally or spiritually. I believe that throwing all else aside, that is the main call on our life together. Yes, life is singular. Our life. As husband and wife, one in God’s sight and unbroken by the weight of the world.

Sigh. I feel so much better. I was thinking all these things for the past 24 hours and am happy to have it down on cyber paper. Now, I will enjoy some more coffee, maybe go for a run under the beautiful Huachua Mountains and then take lunch to Aaron and his buddies. I’m such a good wife. 🙂