Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Grand Ole' 2ndLt of the Marine Corps

August 11 was not only graduation day for Nick and me, but it was also his commissioning day! For those who don't know, Nick was accepted into an enlisted to commissioning program that the Marine Corps offers called MECEP (Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program). It's a competitive program that he applied for and was accepted into. It's how we ended up here at Texas A&M. He basically was getting paid active duty to get his degree. Pretty awesome deal if you ask me! Another unique thing about Nick commissioning is his time in service and rank in which he was enlisted. As far as we know, he's one of only two E8's in the Marine Corps to be commissioned as a 2ndLt (this was based on a google search). Oh, by the way, Nick was promoted to Master Sergeant (E8) on the first of this month!

 Yes, that makes his time as a Master Sergeant exactly 10 days, because on the 11th day, he became a 2ndLt. Also, Nick has already served 16 years in the Marine Corps. Some people have called it career suicide to decide to "start over" from the bottom of the Officer ranks after serving so long and making it up so high on the enlisted side. But this was a decision we made as a family, and it was not made lightly. A lot of personal reasons went into this decision, and ultimately, as long as Nick is leading Marines and taking care of Marines, he is most happy.

Nick's commissioning ceremony was truly special. His former battalion CO drove down from Ft. Worth to speak at his commissioning. He had some really kind words to say about Nick. Of course, because I am his wife, I think Nick is pretty amazing. However, hearing someone else speak so highly of him is truly humbling. He even mentioned that him and his SgtMaj thought that Nick would eventually become the next SgtMaj of the Marine Corps! Like wow! For someone to say that about him, speaks volumes about his character, leadership, and work ethic. Also, a good friend of ours from Orange County, CA came to administer the oath of office to Nick. LTC Dore Gilbert became like family to us while we were stationed in California. Him and his family really took care of Dannika and me while Nick was deployed to Afghanistan. He is an extremely busy man (he's the Mayor of Laguna Hills, CA, and runs a very successful dermatology practice in Orange county), so for him to make the trip to Texas to be here for Nick meant a great deal to us. Last, Nick's former battery gunny (retired) flew all the way down from Virginia to be Nick's first salute. He had a huge influence on Nick as a Marine, and gave Nick more than enough chances when he screwed up as a young Marine. He probably has stories about Nick that I don't want to know about! lol.

Nick received a Mameluke sword from our local Marine Corps League!
He was the recipient of their "Retreat, Hell!" award!

I love this photo of Nick and my parents!
I know Nick's mom watched her son accomplish some amazing things up in heaven with a proud heart.
My parents will never replace his mom, but they have been at every big milestone for Nick throughout his career.
They absolutely love him, and I am so grateful for parents who are so supportive of our family, and especially, Nick.

Huge congrats to my hubby for his amazing accomplishments! I am so proud of him, and can't wait to see the next big thing he does for our Marine Corps!

Monday, August 21, 2017

An Offical Aggie!

I've been an Aggie all my life, but....

I officially have the coveted Aggie bling and a diploma! Like I'm "officially official"!

Nick got me a Ring Wrap for Mother's Day this year.
I've waited 33 years for an Aggie ring...he figured, he'd go ahead and bling it out for me!
I waited longer for an Aggie ring than I did a husband....seriously.

Husband and wife Aggies!

I have neglected this blog because of school, family, graduation, vacation, and everything else that has been going on in my life the last month! I finally have a moment to sit down and share on my blog about everything that has happened!

First off...
Nick and I GRADUATED from Texas A&M on August 11! We are officially the newest members of the Texas A&M former students' association! I got the sticker on my car to prove it too! Some reasons why this graduation meant so much to us...

1. Nick never got to walk the stage at his high school graduation. He failed math his senior year, and had to take summer school to graduate high school and join the Marine Corps. Getting to (finally) wear a cap and gown and walk the stage was monumental to his life. He had a picture of his mum inside his graduation cap. It was so sweet and sentimental.

2. Nick is the first person in his family to graduate from college! HUGE!

3. My parents immigrated here to the good ole U.S.A. more than 3 decades ago. They had hopes and dreams. One of the biggest reasons why my dad worked so hard in starting his own business was to be able to put my sister and I through college. He truly wanted to invest in our education and our future. My mom and dad never went to college, and they didn't want that same fate for their children. It broke their heart when I chose to skip college upon graduation from high school to join the Marine Corps. Of course now, they are two very proud Marine Corps parents, and have expressed how proud they are of my life choices and how I have turned out. But I know a little part of them still dreamed about having BOTH of their children be college grads. Well, mom and dad....BOTH of your daughters are college grads and so are BOTH of your son in laws!

4. I've dreamed of becoming an Aggie graduate. There's just something different about calling yourself an "Aggie" while wearing an Aggie ring. I've whooped and "gigged" all my life, but having this piece of gold on my finger makes it feel so much more official. Like...I finally became part of the "club".

5. Statistically speaking, children of parents with college degrees are more likely to attend college, and excel in school. Of course, this is just a statistic, and we know many successful people without college degrees with successful children. However, just having a little more security in our children's future is well worth the little piece of paper saying "hey, I went to college!". And no...college isn't for everyone, and a college degree doesn't make you better than anyone. However, there are just so many more doors that open up as far as opportunities go with a degree.

And last...
6. Nick and I finished college while raising a family. Two kids, marriage, a mortgage, bills, etc. We volunteered in our community and stayed active at A&M. It literally took a village (thanks to our nannies, babysitters, friends, and family). But accomplishing college as 30 something year old undergrads with two kids is something that I will cherish forever. I hope that my kids will remember this and takeaway that nothing is impossible if you have the drive and the will.

Mark, me, and Nick! 
Mark is also a Marine veteran that graduated with us. 
All three of us had a class together last semester, and needless to say, it was probably one of the most fun classes I've sat through because of these two!

We were so blessed to have my entire family join us on our special day!
Special shout out to my sister and her family for flying all the way out here from Nashville to celebrate our accomplishment with us!
Oh, and my sister is pregnant with ANOTHER baby girl!!!!
I get to be an aunt again!

I will have to catch y'all up on everything else that has been going on as well in future posts! Nick is officially a Marine 2ndLt, I dunked my Aggie ring (and beat Nick), and our family also just got back from a vacation in Mexico! So much to talk about and so little time! Thanks for all the well wishes and congrats!