Sunday, April 29, 2012

Last Weekend as a Family Again

 Let me just start off by writing that when I blog...unless I mention you by name, it's not about you.
I feel I need to write a "disclaimer" from now on.
I wrote a disclaimer on a satirical post I did a few days ago, and apparently, it did not "sit well" with some people who read it, and took it upon themselves to make fun of it and be catty about it on facebook behind my back....and I only found out because it was brought to my attention by a friend of mine.
I left it at that, didn't go bashing anyone on facebook, nor did I contact the said individual because I honestly do believe that everyone is entitled to their opinion.
That's why I'm a Marine, right? 
To give people their right to their own opinions.
I've always stated that this is MY blog, MY thoughts, and MY opinions...that's what a blog is, right?
So if you have read this far and do not like me...please just stop reading.

I think it's finally hitting Nick that our time together as a family is getting shorter.
He leaves in less than a week to Quantico.
Today, he just seemed "off" all day long.
He was moody and just not himself.
I finally just asked him what the hell was wrong with him.
He snapped back, "There's just not enough time for anything. All I want to do is hang out with you and Dannika!"
It broke my heart, and for the first time I felt a pang of sadness hit my heart.
For some reason, sending him off to Afghanistan was easier than sending him just to the other side of the country.
At least when he left for Afghanistan, I was expecting it for almost a year in advance.
I knew for a fact that he was going to be gone 7 months.
This time, it's a year.
I guess it's just the thought that if I weren't in the Marine Corps, I would be relocating my family with him.
Being forced to stay back because of my obligation to the Corps is what makes it least I think.
It's also the first time that we will not have lived in the same house together. 
So many emotions.
 I tried to cheer him up by including him in some finger painting with Dannika.
Dannika I did some finger painting when he was deployed and we both had a blast doing it.
Let me say, I think it DEFINITELY improved his mood.
I'll let the pictures speak for themself.

The masterpieces

Daddy, Mommy, and Baby handprints. I think I'm gonna frame this one.

It was Nick's suggestion that Dannika finger paint his face...seriously. He also decided to paint her face. I think this is what really cheered him up the most.

And we went fishing again...with no luck...
But it was still fun just to get to hang out with the family.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Home Ownership

Nick and I purchased a townhouse in 2009 literally 2 weeks before Dannika was born.
We searched for about 2 months, put offers in on numerous properties before finally getting the current home we live in now. 
Our house is nothing fancy or nothing huge. 
It's the perfect place for our small family to live in for now.
I always tell people that this is our "starter home" and not our "forever home".
However, the location of it is AH-MAZING.
It sits in the heart of south Orange County and for people who enjoy longs walks and runs, it is roughly a 7 mile run straight to the beach.
It is also on the outskirts of historic downtown San Juan Capistrano and literally walking distance to some of the most AMAZING restaurants I've ever eaten at.
I've turned into a bit of a "restaurant snob" since living here and the thought of ever eating at a chain restaurant like Chili's or Outback do not do anything for my taste buds anymore....but that's how amazing the food is at these restaurants.
So since the location is so awesome, and at one point (2005) our little townhouse sold for half a million dollars (real estate in California near the beach is insane), we plan on keeping it for a little while, renting it out, and possibly make it our summer home for when Nick retires from the Marine Corps and we move back to Texas :-)

I've had a few people ask me about buying a house and I thought I'd blog about it.

A lot of people are curious about prices too, and while I don't like talking about personal finances with the world, I think talking about the worth of our home and what we purchased it for is relevant.

Let me just add that I am not a real estate agent nor am I some finance guru.
I am however certified through the Marine Corps as a Certified Financial Specialist :-)...I be fancy.
I'll break everything down into 5's.

{5} PROs of home ownership:
1)'s YOURS

2) Don't like the tile in your bathroom? you can change it. Don't like the floors? you can change it. Don't like the appliances? you can change it (you get the point).

3) You're not throwing your money out the door for rent. Your monthly mortgage payments are going TOWARDS a loan that belongs to you. You're basically paying yourself back and not someone else's mortgage on their property.

4) It's great for your credit score and boosts it tremendously

5) It is an investment into your future

{5} CONs of home ownership:
1) If you're a military family like ours, it makes relocating a TEENY bit more difficult. There are government programs out there to help homeowners out if they are being forced to relocate due to the military, but it can still be a big headache.

2) There are costs to owning a home such as homeowner's insurance, home warranty (if you choose to get one which I HIGHLY recommend), property taxes, and homeowner's association (HOA) fees.

3) You have to pay for or do you own repairs. This is why I recommend a home warranty, but let's face it, insurance and home warranties only cover so much. Think of that time when you lived in an apartment and your toilet over flooded. You just call your maintenance department and they send someone out to fix it for free.

4) Utility bills. Gone are the days when you sign a lease and water is covered in it...or sewage...or water and sewage...or trash...OR WHATEVER. You pay for all of it.

5) It's a long term investment (for most). If 5 years later, you just feel like moving to a different place or a bigger place, it's not as easy as ending your lease and moving out.

{5} Things Nick and I Considered Before Buying:
1) What can we afford? Nick and I were looking in south Orange County close to the coast and close to base so we knew that because home prices are steep here, we wouldn't be moving into a 4 bedroom single family home. Homes like that are in the millions here (INSANE, right?), and even an affordable one, you have to drive further inland and further from the coast. We actually saw a listing for a one bedroom condo here going for 1.2 million dollars, and there was nothing spectacular about this condo except the fact that it had a teeny tiny bit of a ocean view. Here is a Newport beach condo for 1.3 million (15 minutes north of us):

2) What is your budget. I suggest using a mortgage calculator (google it), use an average current interest rate (assuming you have OK credit) and figure out roughly what you are willing so spend monthly. Don't forget that you have to consider property taxes, HOA fees, and utilities into that monthly payment.

3) Is this purchase going to be purely an investment or somewhere you plan on raising a family and living in long term? This will have a large determining factor on what kind of property to buy. Nick and I purchased strictly as an investment. There is no way in hell we are living in California forever (sorry Californians, but your cost of living and education in this state is horrrrrrriiibblllle!). With that in mind, we had no problem settling on a small townhouse. If this was going to be a home we planned on settling down in, we would have definitely purchased a 4+ bedroom house. Of course what we paid for our townhouse, you can buy a 5 bedroom home with a pool and a ton of land to go with it in Texas (but we won't go into that).

4)  Do you have any money saved up to do improvements to a property, or do you want to buy a "turnkey" home? A turnkey home is one that you can buy and move into immediately. Nick is a pretty handy guy, but we did not want to waste any time moving, so a fixer upper was out of the question. You can find lots of good homes that need some work. You just have the outweigh the costs it's going to take to fix it up. Nick and I wanted a townhouse that had wood floors, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, recessed lighting, a fireplace, and custom tiling in the bathrooms. Basically, we wanted a completely upgraded house that we wouldn't have to do much extra to. 

5) Can you get approved for a loan? Interest rates are insanely low right now, and just because you have a full time job does not necessarily mean the bank is just gonna give you hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a house. Make sure you credit is in tact. When we first applied for the VA loan, Nick and I both had NO idea that we had outstanding fines on our credit report and it was preventing us from getting approved. I seriously had a cox cable bill from when I was LCpl living in the barracks that wasn't paid and 2 parking tickets from Oceanside that I don't ever recall getting! Make sure you check your credit yourself the embarrassment of getting denied ( was embarrassing for me at least).

I hope this helps anyone out who is struggling in their head with the thought of buying a home.
It was a big decision for Nick and I, but so far, we have never been happier or more blessed!
Interest rates are ridiculously low right now, and I think that you're doing yourself an injustice by not taking advantage of it!

We looked at what our townhome had sold for in the past.
In 1996, it sold for $116,000
Almost 10 years later in 2005, it sold for $452,000.
Nick and I financed our townhouse in 2009 for $278,000 at A 5.5% interest rate (which at the time we purchased was good).
We looked at what other homes in the neighborhood were selling for, and decided that putting in an offer at $278,000 was reasonable and competitive to the neighborhood.

We recently refinanced our mortgage for a lower interest rate.
We were locked in at 3.78% which brought our mortgage payment down A LOT!

I guess in the end, you have to tell yourself that there is ALWAYS going to be a better time to buy a house, but if you keep waiting for the right time, you may never end up going through with it.
Nick and I thought that 3 years ago was the perfect time to buy, but recently, the townhouse next to us sold for FAR less than what we purchased ours for.
We were kicking ourselves in the butt saying, "we shoulda waited till now."
We were telling our neighbors this, and they both laughed at us and told us that there will ALWAYS be a better time to buy a house, and that when they saw what we had purchased our house for, THEY said the same thing that we did.

In the end though, we couldn't be happier with our decision....even with the ups and downs, the water damage, plumbing problems we dealt with, etc.
I'm thankful that Nick is such a handyman because he has literally saved us THOUSANDS of dollars on upgrades that he did himself.
After all is said and belongs to us, and it's the house that I brought Dannika home to from the hospital.

We had an amazing real estate agent who made the process so stress free for us, and I also have a few friends that do real estate that are just as if not better than the one we used.
Ask me if you're interested!!!

And if you're a real estate agent...facebook me your website, and I'll post it on here!

Nick did our backsplash in our kitchen

The finished product. He saved us roughly 800 bucks by doing it himself.

Last year, we had some SEVERE water damage in our home. This is a hole that was made in the ceiling with just a light finger prick...yeah...that's how wet it was...after we emptied out our savings to fix it and pretty much gut out entire house from ceiling to floor....we have a nicer ceiling, installed a ceiling fan in the living room, got higher quality wood laminate floor. Oh and our HOA reimbursed us for some of it...I suppose some is better than none. It was a blessing in disguise though cause we got to get rid of the hideous popcorn ceiling as well.

This hole in the ground is actually INSIDE our house in Dannika's room. The pipe that needed fixing was UNDER her room.

Nick is installing a better quality fence in our backyard.

Nick also build this nice wooden awning for shade in the backyard. Him doing it himself also saved us about $2,000.

The first part of the fence!

Sunny and Nick. Thank you Sunny for helping us build our fence!!!!!

They're so manly....

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Big Sister for a Day

My friend Kari is due to pop any day now.
She started having labor like contractions last night, so Nick went over to their house and picked up their sweet 1 year old, Madison while they went to the hospital.
Poor Madison was so confused when she got to our house.
 As soon as Dannika was up though, she was feeling a lot better.
I never knew how bossy Dannika was until I saw her interact with just us and a younger baby.
I think she really enjoyed playing "Big Sister" for a day.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Farewell to Tango Battery

I guess it is time for me to say goodbye to 5th Battalion 11th Marines and especially to Tango Battery since Nick is officially no longer part of 5/11.

When I met and married Nick, he was on the drill field.
He was bounced around in 2nd Battalion from Fox Co., Golf Co., then finally with Hotel Co.
I was on recruiting duty working 12-18 hours a day and Nick was working 12-24 hours a day (yes 24 hours...he didn't come home a lot when he was in the middle of a cycle)...AND I became a new mom.  I was soooooo busy, I hardly had time to really get to know anyone he worked with or his job.

When Nick returned to the fleet, he received orders back to Camp Pendleton with 5/11.
It was not the choice he wanted.
Mainly because 5/11 is one of the few artillery units that don't shoot "arty".
They shoot HIMARS.
Something that Nick was not familiar with nor wanted to be familiar with.
If he would have had it his way, he would have gone back to 2/11 Golf Battery where he started as a Marine (something I praise God everyday that he didn't end up with 2/11).
Like the good Marine that he is, he took his orders and was determined to learn as much as he could about HIMARS despite his "disgruntledness".
I was still on recruiting duty, so I continued to work ridiculous and stupid hours while Nick was getting familiarized again with the fleet (he'd been away from it for 3 years). 
He was the Platoon Sergeant for 2nd Platoon.

Then he deployed.

And I was alone for the first time since we had been married with a 6 month old.
It didn't even dawn on me to make friends with any of the other wives before he left.
I had always been the type of Marine that did not want to get involved with Marine wives.
It was ignorant of me, but in the back of mind, I always thought that I was WAY too different than them and there was no way I could get along (let alone be FRIENDS) with any Marine wife.
I was too busy working, being a wife, and running a household to even really care about friends.
When he left, I was alone.
I had Marines that I worked with that were AWESOME, and they took GREAT care of me.
In the end though, none of them really knew what it felt like to be a wife to a deployed Marine and a mother.

It's something that male Marines will never quite understand.

I struggled the entire deployment...
trying to do EVERYTHING by myself and beating myself up when I didn't accomplish something I wanted to.
While deployed, Nick became extremely close to his Platoon Commander, Capt Boera (1stLt then).
He emailed me one day and suggested that I friend his wife, Sarah, on facebook.

My first time meeting Sarah was right before the boys came home.
We went to lunch and she introduced me to THREE other Tango Battery wives.
Becca, Lindsay and Victoria.

These women became the first friends I have ever made since being a Marine that were Marine wives...and not Marines.
They were the first group of Marine wives I had ever met that were just genuine women who did not make their identities as a "Marine Wife" (my biggest pet peeve).
They were their own women who did not allow their husband's title as a Marine become their reason for existence.
They treated me like one of the girls, a wife, and a mother.
For once, I didn't have to be a "Marine".
In fact, Sarah and Ben became Dannika's Godparents.
And since meeting these amazing women, I became friends with and met several other incredibly sweet 5/11 wives (with a little help from facebook).
Some whom I plan to spend more time with in the next year or so when Nick is gone.

So 5/11...

Thank you for the awesome 3 years.
Thank you for introducing me to some amazing women.
Thank you for making me feel like a "wife" and not a "Marine".
Pics from my all time favorite 5/11 Ball!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Think Positive

If you get offended easily...this may not be one for you to read.
I currently have a myriad of acquaintances and close friends who have husbands or loved ones that are deployed.

As I have gotten to know a few of them through facebook in the last few months, I've come to several realizations.

There are 3 kinds of Military Wives that are going through deployment.

1) Deployment Cherry Wife
This wife is popping her deployment cherry.
She's going through her very first deployment. 
She's extremely emotional through the entire deployment.
She posts sad songs about separation and/or sad country songs about the military on her facebook page daily.
Every other post is about how much she misses her husband and how her life is just not complete without him...blah blah blah BLLLLLAAAH!
She has become even more patriotic than she's ever been.
She's the one who has the stupid "His boots, her flip flops, the perfect pair" stickers all over her "oorah'ed" out car.
She has a countdown pie chart, graph, stickers, paper lanyards....anything to make the deployment seem longer than it really is.
She makes sure the entire world knows when she gets a phonecall, email, skype date, letter, morse code, or smoke signals from her deployed husband.
2) Seasoned Veteran Wife
This wife has popped her deployment cherry.
The week prior to her husband leaving, she is helping him pack his bags and telling him to hurry the hell outta there.
She even knows what customs forms he needs filled out before he gets on the bus.
She's got a mission these next 7 months and she can't start any of it until HE leaves.
Her next 7 months consist of getting in shape, planning trips, wine nights, girlfriend time, watching Desperate Housewives, chick flicks, etc.
She gets annoyed with the "Deployment Cherry Wife" and is constantly saying in her head to "Suck it the 'f' up"
Her group of friends mainly consist of other "Seasoned Veteran" wives.
She has her moments of sadness, but she gets over it quickly with a glass of merlot and a viewing of the Notebook (a movie that her husband refuses to watch). 

3) The Active Duty Wife
The active duty wife is a combo of "Seasoned Veteran Wife" and "Deployment Cherry Wife".
Just cause she's a Marine doesn't mean she doesn't go through the same emotions as the above mentioned wives.
She just tends to get over it a little quicker.
She has a quick tongue that sometimes piss off Wives 1 and 2.
She just doesn't understand the boo hoos.
She forgets that not all Marine wives are indeed Marines and tends to hold them to the same expectations of her own Marines....which usually ends in severe disappointment.
She doesn't wear her husband's dog tags...she has her own.
 Her friends tend to be a tight knit group of Seasoned Veteran Wives and other Marines.
The Seasoned Veteran Wives that are her friends tend to have thicker skin than the average Marine wife...which is why they can put up with the "Active Duty Wife".

Now obviously,
This is supposed to be satirical in nature, and by no means ACCURATELY represents ALL wives.
I just made some generalizations and decided to write about it.

All I really wanted to get across was...

We are all wives going through the same thing.
We are just going through different things in our lives when our husbands deploy. 
Posting negative things and sad things on facebook all day will not make you feel any better.
In fact, it will make you feel worse...especially with all the fake sympathy you'll be getting from all your friends back home.
They don't genuinely care what you are going through.
They're just trying to be nice.
Let's face it...
Only a military wife truly understands what YOU are going through and they are dealing with their own separation to understand/deal with yours.
Keep your head high.
Stay positive.
Quit dwelling on how much you miss him....of course you miss him.
The world does not need to know every second of every day.
Stay busy.
Pray every day for safe returns.
Deployments do not last forever.

And you will hopefully get to experience this...


Friday, April 20, 2012

The Marine that is a Wife

I read an article this morning in the North County Times written by a Marine wife about why marrying her Marine was a "no-brainer".

You can read the article here.

It really got me thinking about my marriage and my life.
First off, let me just start by saying how blessed I am and how I could not be more content in my life than ever before. 

The most common question I get from people when they find out that not only am I a Marine but married to one....with a
"Oh my goodness! How do y'all do it? They can't ever separate you, right?"

First of all, they can separate us.
In fact, we are facing a year long separation on two different coasts of the country.
It will be the first time we have not lived together since we've been married.
Secondly, they can deploy us both.
We actually know a couple who are currently deployed together and their two children are living with their grandparents for the time being.
Oh yeah, and that couple...well...they're stationed in TWO different states.
So even when they are in the states, they don't live together as a family.

I have learned through many emotional roller coasters, that no matter what the Marine Corps says about family readiness, when it comes to a dual active duty couple, we hardly fit in that mold.
No, I can't always PCS with my husband and no, my husband can't always PCS with me.
Yes, when our daughter was born, we were forced to do a "family care plan".
The family care plan entails who will have sole responsibility of our child in the case that we can not fulfill our role as parents to her due to the Marine Corps.
Can you imagine not being able to fulfill the role as a mother to your child?!
I honestly still can not get my head around that.
It also entails custody paperwork on who will adopt our daughter in the case that something happens to both of us.
Giving birth to Dannika was the happiest day of my life, and a week later, I was seriously writing a will cause the Marine Corps was making me.
I had to decide who was capable of loving her just as much or if not more than I could. 
Is it possible for someone else to love your child as much or if not more than you?!
It was heart-breaking and a moment in time I wish I could forget.

It was then that I decided that this was not the life that I wanted or dreamed of.
This does not mean that a couple who decides to both be Marines and raise a family are wrong.
In fact, they have more strength as families than the average American family in my opinion.
I have more respect for the dual active duty couples that decide to sacrifice so much for their love of our country, our freedoms, their careers, and their lives.
It really takes an extremely strong family to decide that life for them.

It is challenging enough to be a military family.

The benefits are amazing.
Nick and I are able to provide a lifestyle for our family that we could probably never afford.
But to me, it simply is not worth it. 
I truly understand what it means when they say, "Money can't buy happiness."
It can't.
It can buy lots of nice "things", but when you're not happy, those "things" are worthless.
I've fought depression and anxiety from feelings that stemmed from not feeling adequate enough as a mother, a Marine, and as a wife.
I felt like because of the Corps, I could not dedicate myself truly as a mother and a wife, and because of being a mother and a wife, I could not dedicate myself truly as a Marine.
I felt like I faced shortcomings in all aspects of my life, and I just couldn't get ahead.
I hit an all time low.
I prayed, and I sought help.
I learned that I can't make the Marines, being a mother, and being a wife ALL one huge priority. 
No one can do that.
We have to prioritize our lives.
I had a long look at myself and my life and realized that I didn't care as much about the Marine Corps like I had used to.
For those who knew me as a young Corporal and a young Sergeant know that I was all about "God, Corps, and Country"
I LOVED being a Marine, I LOVED the Marine Corps, and most of all, I LOVED MY Marines.
But now...
I am in a happy place.
God is always first in my life.
Nick is second.
Dannika comes third.
(People always ask how I can put Nick before my own child. In a biblical sense, your children come third. They are a big part of your family, and are the fruit of your marriage. Nothing else comes before your children, except your spouse and God.)
and as for the Marine Corps...
It fits into my life for now where it can.

It doesn't mean I've just given up on the Corps.
It just means that I don't stay at work till 1900 everyday to finish menial tasks.
It means, I don't come in at 0530 every morning to PT with my Marines.
An old mentor of mine, MGySgt Jones once told me, "Sergeant, the Marine Corps will go on with or without you and the Marine Corps will not cease to exist because you didn't stay late yesterday. Go home!"

The answer to the question...
"Oh my goodness! How do y'all do it? They can't ever separate you, right?"

There is no answer.
I just do it cause I love my husband.
I love my daughter.
I love the Marine Corps.
It's just no longer the life I want to live.
I will always love the Marine Corps.

When you love something, it just happens. 

My marriage works, despite the challenges we face as two Marines trying to change the world and raise a family.
It just works.
Our bond and our love for God, family and Corps is the reason for our well-being and the reason for our strength.

I've said it before, but I am secretly insanely jealous of stay at home moms and moms who only work part time who get to take their kids to the park everyday, clean up their messes, and make lunch for them. 
I am jealous of the moms who do not have to do hours of research for a dance school that has weekend classes because I don't get off in time from work to take my daughter to a normal school that has classes during the week.

When I chose this life 10 years ago, I never wanted to have kids or a family.
I just wanted to be a Marine.
Funny how life changes.

Nick always tells me that he has more reason now than ever to do well as a Marine because our livelihood is important to him. 
More important than shooting a Howitzer.
More important than shooting rockets.
More important than killing the enemy.

How can you not love a guy who loves his family that much?

Our family's first trip to Disneyland!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Meet Dozer

He is the newest member of our little family.
He is a purebred American bulldog "puppy" that is 11 months old.
Yes..this big beefy fella is only 11 MONTHS old, and has 2 more years of growing to do.
I would guess he weighs about 75lbs right now.

The Story
I met Dozer roughly 8 months ago at my work.
He belonged to a fellow Marine I worked with, and because he was still a little itty bitty puppy who wasn't housebroken yet, he brought him into work.
I thought he was cute, and that was about it.
I had convinced myself that I did not want to have a dog after our short ownership of a dachshund named "Grizzly".

*Nick brought Grizzly home shortly after Dannika was born.
I tried my best to love him and like him.
When that didn't happen, I tried my best to tolerate him.
I just did not like Grizzly.
We decided to give him away because he was just not a good fit for our family.*

Fast forward to this past Friday.
It was my first day back at work since knee surgery, and when I came in, this humongous dog was sitting behind my desk!
He startled me at first just because of his pure size.
I realized he was really a big sweetheart, and I mighta sorta have fallen in love with him on Friday. 
I could not believe that this was the same dog that I had seen at work 8 months earlier!
That teeny tiny itty bitty puppy!
He had easily SEXTUPLED in joke.
The Marine that owned the dog realized that he just did not have to time to give him the attention that he needed so he gave him away to one of my Marines (a Corporal in my shop).
That Corporal lives in an apartment complex, and he knew that he could not provide a good home for him, so he had found a buddy with a huge yard that wanted Dozer (a civilian).
That night, I came home and told Nick all about Dozer and how THAT was the kind of dog I wanted.
The more I told Nick about Dozer, the more I realized that I HAD to have him!
I called my Marine that night and asked him...begged him...for Dozer.
With a little bit of selling (thank you recruiter school), he decided that Dozer belonged in a home with Marines :-)
Saturday morning, he dropped off our new son.

I have never been more in love with a dog in my life...except my first of course (Lucky).
RIP baby boy

Dozer is an extremely sweet and gentle puppy that doesn't realize how big he is.
Him and Dannika have become BFF's already, and she has hardly left his side since we brought him home.
He's roughly 75lbs, and supposedly, he'll gain another 20-40lbs!>!>!>!>!>!>!>!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ellen's Dance Dare

If you don't know what it is....
just search "Ellen Dance Dare" on youtube or google it.

This is Dannika doing Ellen's Dance Dare...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

'Egg'stra Special Easter

He is Risen!

I hope everyone had an amazing Easter weekend, and celebrated what today TRULY means to us.
It's not about fancy dresses, Easter baskets, egg hunts and bunnies...
It's about our Savior Jesus.
While he lived, he loved us.
When he died, he saved us.
When he rose, he gave us eternal life.
We had an amazing sermon at church, and I hope that all the newcomers to our church continue to come and grow with Christ.
Our family had an amazing weekend.
Friday night, we went to a Good Friday service.
Saturday night, we had a "farewell" bbq at the D's house.
I feel extremely blessed that Nick was here for Easter this year :-)
Easter Bunny Pic 2012 (Much better than last year)

Easter Bunny at the Dana Point Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Egg Hunt at the D's house

Easter Sunday


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Little Heavier on the Collar

It FINALLY happened!
Nick was promoted to Gunnery Sergeant yesterday!

Look at that handsome guy :-)

 He initially found out he was selected at the beginning of LAST Summer, and he has been patiently waiting almost a year to wear the rank.
I know how frustrating it was for to look at the MARADMINs every month to see how many GySgts the Marine Corps would promote that next month.
I am also thrilled that he came home just in time for me to be a part of his big day. 

Everyone who was anyone in the artillery community at Pulgas showed up to include some of our close friends.
I know it meant a lot to Nick.

Colonel Frazier, the Regimental Commander for 11th Marines came out to promote Nick.
That was a huge deal for Nick.
Nick had deployed to Iraq the first time with Colonel Frazier (then a LtCol), and he had made quite an impression on Nick.
Enough of an impression that the Colonel even could recall personal stories and details about Nick as a Corporal and a Sergeant.
I sorta got teary eyed when he was talking about Nick.

Part of Nick's speech included that everyone that came to support him had made some sort of professional or personal impact on his life.
As I looked around the room, it all made sense.
They were all great men, amazing Marines, and loving family (our friends are our family) that Nick had told me stories about at some point in our marriage.
Funny stories, serious stories, stories about courage....
They were guys that saved his ass a few times when he did something stupid (let's face it, even Nick isn't
They were Marines who motivated him when he wanted to quit.
They were friends who took stupid pictures in Iraq together of them in skivvies and their weapons.
They were friends who would risk their lives for him (and vice versa)
They were leaders who saw potential in a young NCO.

I'm a true believer that no one gets promoted just off their own merit.
It's the Marines around us that influence us the greatest, and the leaders above us that see potential in us.
You couple that with your own hard work, dedication, selflessness, and achievements......
God will do the rest, and He always comes through for us.

I know Nick isn't a big talker or one with words.
But I know if he could express just how much everyone's genuine support meant, he would.

Congrats, baby.
You deserve every rocker on that collar, and many more to come :-)