Tour of Duty

While Joe was home on R&R, I received a copy of this lovely book:

She even signed it! *gasp* Woohoo!

I was lucky enough to be one of the chosen few to review it.* =) The Facebook site for Tour of Duty put out a post asking for 25 bloggers to volunteer. I, of course, jumped right on that bandwagon!

I didn't have much time to sit down and read it - what with Joe being home and traveling back to the mainland - but I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

The author, Sara Horn, does an amazing job of explaining to the reader that military wives are NOT in this journey alone. The book focuses mainly on the challenges, ups and downs, of deployment. All military wives face them and, generally, we all have the same struggles. I think what I love the most about this book is the way in which she compares our struggles with that of Biblical characters.

We are not much different than the men and women in the Bible. Just like them, God has called us to serve Him. Everyone is called by God to do something. We are called to be military wives. Like the author, I believe that the military is a mission field.

She urges us to cling to God not just in the good times, but in the rough times - like deployment - as well. This is something that each of us has probably heard at some point in our lives. Personally, I felt like Sara Horn did a wonderful job of describing the benefits of a continued relationship with God during deployment.

Throughout the book, you can really see the heart that Sara Horn has for all military wives. I absolutely love what she says on page 33:

"I don't want this study to serve only as a soothing balm for our hurts. If I speak in generalities and platitudes, you could close this book and feel better for a day or two but then go right back into a sea of despair, struggling over an approaching or current deployment. Instead, I want to encourage you to grow closer to God during every season of your life, even the season rocked by deployment. If we want to see God more clearly, if we want to know Him better, if we want to face life's hurdles with hope, we need to trust His heart."

I think this would be perfect for anyone about to go through a deployment or currently going through deployment - like me. It will comfort you, lift you up and encourage you to continue a strong relationship with Christ even in the midst of a storm. It would even be great for a group of wives, too!

If you are going through - or about to go through a deployment - run, do not walk, to the bookstore and buy this book!

*I received a free copy of this book in order to do a book review.*


Late Christmas Gift

Showing my dad some things on my computer the day after Christmas, I opened a file and spied with my little eye something that was a tad more green than red. =)

Woooooooohoooooo!!!!! =D

*Insert happy dance here*

And, in case you were wondering I did get an awesome gift at 0600 (CT) on Christmas Day.

A phone call from my sweet husband. 

Best. Gift. Ever.

Especially after 5 days with no contact.

I'm currently spending time with our North Carolina family.

I love them. =)

And this cute little thing doesn't hurt either. ;-)

It's blurry because this girl hardly sits still! =)

Hope y'all had a wonderful Christmas!!!

Real post-Christmas blog to come soon. 


Bah Humbug

Seriously. I am so not even close to feeling all in the spirit of Christmas. 

My family is driving me nuts. As families go, I'm sure mine isn't the worst. There's just one really large problem with my family: I'm nothing like them.

I often wonder how on earth I'm related to them. Granted, the man I call "dad" is my stepfather... That probably has something to do with it. Still. My brother (who is 3 years younger) is the complete opposite of me. My mom drives me batty. Together, my parents drive me insane. Here's a prime example for you: 

Let's set the scene, shall we?

Mom turned on a Jeff Dunham show. Dad just wants to watch one of his little puppets.

Mom: Why don't we get the DVD out instead of watching it on TV?

Dad: No. We can just wait and then turn the channel later.

TV insanely loud in the background

Mom: But I don't like commercials!!! Starts searching for DVD

Dad: Let's just watch it on TV!

TV show still blaring

Mom: What the crap?! This is the wrong DVD! Starts freaking out.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to keep my mouth shout and not leave the room. This went on for a good 10 minutes before Dad gave up and let Mom put the DVD in. They fought. About a TV show. Really? I won't even tell you about the situation in the kitchen while I was making cookies...

I had such a good day today... And then I come back to their house and get inundated with insanely loud TVs, arguing and general crap.

I'm so glad I got to spend some time with my bestie today. She rescued me from what I'm sure would have been another interesting day in the 'rent's household and took me fabric shopping. =) Then we ran a couple errands and ate lunch at Olive Garden!!! Yumm-o! We don't have Olive Garden in good 'ole Hawaii, so it was really nice. Then, we went back to Melissa's and just chilled out for a while. Well, I say "chilled out" but we really sat in the nursery and organized baby clothes. =P Little Jorja is due on Jan 13th and her clothes needed to be sorted. We chatted while we sorted clothes. It was fun. And then we made my hubby a laptop cover with fabric we bought today! We had a really good time. I also got to ride in the truck that her hubby fixed up! It was really nice, but it doesn't have heat so I froze a little bit. =)

I'm praying that my hubby will call/Skype soon. I haven't heard a peep from him since Monday. =( I got so freaked out last night (partially because Skype was down...*sigh*) that I texted the FRG leader to see if her husband knew if mine was back on the FOB yet. She texted back around 1 am (OK time) and said that he was fine. =) Thank God for connections! Apparently, my husband was on Facebook this morning but didn't have time to call. At least I know he's ok. 

Between the lack of hubby and family drama, I'm just not into Christmas this year. I'm still incredibly thankful that God sent His Son to this earth to ultimately die for our sins. I just really don't feel like celebrating. The beauty of it all is that I can celebrate His birth and sacrifice any time I want. =) And, technically, I've already celebrated with my hubby.

I hope you all are feeling more Christmasy than I am and have a wonderful time with your own families. =)


It's Christmas?

I've been having a really hard time getting into the Christmas spirit. Honestly, I don't even feel like it's Christmas... I've been telling myself over and over again that Christmas happened 2 (ish) weeks ago when my husband was home.

Christmas morning photos are a requirement! =P

I also think that Hawaii is partially to blame for my lack of Christmas spirit. I mean, come on. It's not even cold in Hawaii. It has been rainy and chilly lately, but not Christmas cold. You know?

Now that I'm at my parents' house, I still don't "feel it." It does make me miss Joe, though. Deep down I know that' it's Christmas and I know that he's missing it. That makes me miss him, of course. It's so weird not having him here. We haven't spent a Christmas apart since we've been married. *sigh* But, I guess you're not a true military family until you've been apart for all major holidays...right? I guess we're getting all of them knocked out in this deployment!

That said, I am thankful that we got to celebrate Christmas together even if it wasn't on the exact day. It's just a day... Albeit a day full of more meaning than we can fully comprehend and appreciate. It's going to be different this year, but maybe next year I'll be all the more thankful that he's home. =)

I'm going to be super busy over the next few weeks, so please forgive me if I'm not around much. It's a busy time for all of us, I think. You can probably expect to see some pictures of my niece when I go see her next week. And of course there will be a recap when I'm back in Hawaii. 

Until then, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!



Well, I have made the first leg of my journey home. I bet you're all wondering what on earth I'm doing posting right now. Welll... It's 11:45 PM here in Vegas and my flight doesn't leave for 2 hours. Yay. So, I'm hanging out at the USO.

Did you know Vegas had a USO? I didn't. Joe told me that they might, but I wasn't sure. When I finally got to the correct terminal, checked in and headed up the escalator I saw "USO!" Is it totally weird that I was about 9 kinds of excited? I walked in and man - it is nice in here!!! 3 flat screens, super nice bathrooms, a snack bar, computers for your use and it looks like there's a TV room in here too. I'm in the "snack area" playing online and listening to another milspouse chat it up with the snack bar lady. =) The workers here are super friendly. I appreciate that so much.

My flight from Hawaii to Vegas was not very fun... I about barfed while we were landing. Most of you probably don't know this, but it's been raining like crazy for the last few days in Hawaii. California and other parts of the west coast have experienced our little storm too. What does this mean for flying? Turbulence. *sigh* I get airsick. Luckily, Joe experienced this before I did so I was prepared with dramamine. ;-) I still felt bad for him though. 

During my flight there were no movies. =( And I sat in a row between two babies... Two screaming babies. I think I slept for about an hour and read for the rest of the 6ish hour flight. Yay me. I loved that most people kept asking me how my visit was. Ha. I live in Hawaii! =P The lady who sat next to me literally spent about 5 hours on her little netbook playing what used to be called Bejewled. Not even kidding. She turned it off to get up to go to the bathroom and then read for a while... Oh, and she was reading a book in Japanese. Weird!

I did get fed, so I can't complain too much. I just wish it hadn't been such a bumpy ride! I was ok for the first half of the flight, but the second half wasn't so great. Probably because my dramamine was wearing off. 

Well, I'm sure 90% of this post doesn't make sense because I'm tired so I'm just going to end it here. I'm going to try to post as much as I can while I'm home but I make no promises!!!


R&R Recap

I'm really alive!! Well, mostly. =P

Honestly, I can't believe it's already over. As I told Joe yesterday, I feel like he just got here. On our way to the airport at an ungodly hour  this morning, he said that he felt like the first week went sort of slow and the second week just sped by. I think I agree with that. I was enjoying having him here and just relaxing during the first week and then the second week came around...and I blinked. Now he's gone again. *sigh*

I know I updated you about a week ago while I was on my death bed getting over a cold. I'm still scratching my head about that one. It would totally figure that I'd get sick while he was here, though. That's how I roll. =P So, here's a quick recap of our adventures during week 2 of R&R:

On Monday, we went to the Polynesian Culture Center. My lovely friend Chantal had suggested it to me at some point, and Joe was really interested in going. Being the history nerd, I was more than happy to take him. ;-) We bought our tickets from ITR, and then when we got to the PCC we upgraded. Not because we were unhappy with what we got originally but because my hubby wanted to do all that we could possibly do. And we did. We left our house at about 11:30 a.m. and got back home around 10:00 p.m. Yeah.

Yes, I took the easy way out and made a collage. I took like 400+ pictures, so....deal with it. =P Lol!

Tuesday we had a beach/do-nothing day. We went to our favorite (and most of the island's...) beach - Waimea Bay!

It is way less crowded this time of year!! I am so loving that fact. Now, we were there at about 10 or 11 in the morning, so that had something to do with it as well. I was just utterly shocked that we were able to find parking here. Usually, you have to drive around the entirely-too-small parking lot 4 or 5 times before you can catch someone leaving and get their spot. When we arrived, there were a slew of spots available. Score one for getting to the beach early!

However, the waves and undertow this time of year are ridiculous. Great for surfing - not so much for swimming. It wasn't bad, but it was difficult. And when I was trying to get out of the water, I got sucked back in by the undertow, scraped my shin and got sand in places a woman should NEVER find sand. I think I've said enough. *sigh*

After the beach, we were starving! So, we hopped in the car and drove to the nearest Taco smell Bell, aka my hubby's go-to lunch spot. =P On the way there, we did some awesome in-the-car dancing and signing [and probably scared innocent bystanders].

Hehe, these just make me smile. =)

Wednesday, we drove to the other side of the island for a couples' massage. I have one word for you: heaven. After our massage, we spent the evening hanging out with our good friends Mr. and Mrs. C and their neighbors. =) {No pictures were taken this day because I was feelin' way too good. Lol!}

We deemed Thursday "date day." It was just going to be "date night" but we were out and about pretty much all day. We hit the PX, the pharmacy (My doctor was nice enough to call in my allergy meds AFTER my cold went away. Thanks for that.) and Ross all before lunch. I really just wanted to get a few things for traveling from the PX. Really. But, I came home with these too:

New pots and pans!!!! =D You see, my lovely Nana bought us stainless steel pots and pans as a wedding gift. While I thought they would be great, they soon proved to be nothing more than annoying. If you didn't know, stainless steel has a tendency to stick. To everything. Nothing can be cooked in them without using oil. Sometimes even that doesn't help. If they hadn't been all I had, I probably would have tossed them about a month after we got married. I spied these bad boys on sale at the PX and promptly drooled all over them. ;-) They were on sale for $89 and had an instant rebate coupon for $20. So, that makes them about $60. WalMart, Amazon and other retailers sell them for $115-$119. Can you say "steal?!" ;-) The only downside is that they're porcelain and not dishwasher safe.... But they are non-stick and amazing! Oh, and they're red. =) I heart them.

After lunch, we "lazed around" a bit and then headed to Waikiki for dinner and a stroll! We hadn't been to PF Chang's in, oh, forever so we decided to go. =) 

I am in love with this photo!!! I don't know what about it makes it awesome, but I am in love!!! =D Maybe it's just because we were having such a good time? Maybe it was the half glass of wine in front of me...? ;-)

After our delicious dinner, we walked around Waikiki. Can I just say that I am loving December in Hawaii?! I mean, it doesn't even feel like Christmas, but I love seeing all the decorations. For instance:

I love seeing palm trees decorated!! 

This was done by the Royal Hawaiian.
They also have a huge tree behind me. =)

While we were out, we went to the International Market where Joe got me a pearl. =) They have these little kiosks where you can "pick a pearl" and then get a charm to put it on. I was dying for one of these before he left, but we never got around to doing it. I was so glad he wanted to get one for me! The pearls themselves aren't expensive...it's the charms that they get you with. The one I really wanted was a cute little palm tree with "diamonds" (I don't think they were really real) on it was over $300. =( Instead, I got a cute little spiral. The pearl is silver, which means love. Hehe. I haven't taken a picture of it yet... Oops! But, I told him I would wear it every day (which translates to "most days" for me) until he gets back. =) 

Friday we did absolutely nothing. We didn't even leave the house. He was scheduled to leave on Saturday afternoon, so we wanted a day to just relax and enjoy each other's company. It was nice. =) Then Saturday around noon, I got a mysterious phone call. Turned out it was AA and his flight from Honolulu had been delayed due to who-knows-what. It would make him miss his connecting flight, so they wanted to reschedule... Long story short, he called the military peeps who book his flights and they gave us another night together! It was such a gift. =) Earlier that morning, I had honestly prayed that I wasn't ready for him to leave and I really wanted more time with him. Little did I know that God was really going to give me that one. Hehe.

Joe left this morning at 8 a.m. Sucky time for a flight to leave. If for no other reason than I am NOT a morning person. We got up at the butt crack of dawn and got ready in a rush. We drove to the airport in the pouring rain... People in Hawaii don't know how to drive in the pouring rain so it took us a bazillion years to get to the airport. 

We get to the airport and there are 9 bazillion people there. *sigh* I advised my husband to cut the 9 bazillion people off in line so he could check in and get to his gate. Got him checked in...went to security and remembered we forgot to ask if I could go with him to the gate... Back to AA check in we went. *sigh* By the time we did all of this, I'm pretty sure his flight was already boarding. =( We got to his gate, hugged, kissed and he boarded the plane.I was going to sit and wait for his plane to leave, but I was tired of getting stares from random strangers. Then I couldn't find our car in the parking garage. Epic, epic FAIL. 

It was a rough morning, but I managed to get through it ok. My momma called me and calmed me down a bit. My bestie texted me and advised me to do something, so I started packing. Then I cleaned up my post-see-ya-later face and got ready for church. I'm really glad I went to church this morning. The message was exactly what I needed. Of course. =) God is awesome like that. Being here alone after having Joe for 2 weeks is...strange. Part of me wants to kick and scream and cry until he comes back and the other - bigger - part of me almost feels like he was never here... Except for the dirty clothes on the floor and random things placed where they shouldn't be. =)

Oh, it just dawned on me that I said I was packing and you guys probably don't know what's going on! I'm going to visit my family over the holidays! Once Joe told me he was headed home, I asked if I could spend a million dollars (hey, it might as well be) to book a flight home. He, of course, said yes. So, tomorrow I'm headed to see the family! Even better, my in laws are paying to fly me from AR to NC so that I can see that side of the family too! =D I will have lots of good niece photos for you guys! Woohoo! I'm looking forward to seeing everyone, but I know it's going to make me miss Joe too. What I am NOT looking forward to is the 15 hours of flying I'll be doing starting tomorrow afternoon...

Aaaaand if you made it to the end of this super-long post...you deserve many kudos. =)


Where Does Christmas Come From?

Hello again! Today is the last day of guest bloggers. I think that there is no better way to end this series of posts than the one that the lovely JG, from Me and My SoldierMan, has prepared for us today. JG is a woman after my own heart - a fellow Oklahoman, Sooner fan, lover of God and red-head (well, hers isn't real, but I'll let her have the title anyway, lol!). We have decided that someone had to have separated us at birth, and I can't wait until we can meet up! Please read this fantastic post on the real origin of Christmas and then head over and check out her blog.

Where Does Christmas Come From?

Most of my work experience was in offices populated predominantly or entirely by women. While this has its advantages, there was always an active rumor mill churning. And you knew which were the rumors and which were the true stories because the rumors were never told exactly the same way twice.

The same goes with what most people "know" when it comes to the origins of Christmas, or the celebration of the Messiah's birthday. Ask three people, and you'll get three different stories, usually about the "pagan origins" of Christmas.

Most people would say that Christmas came from one of three sources: Roman Emperor Aurelian's holiday of the Birth of the Unconquered Son; Julius Caesar's Saturnalia festival (which actually was not a religious holiday, it was really similar in significance to our Memorial Day or Labor Day, which we use to "celebrate" the beginning and ending of summer); or Emperor Constantine's attempt to create a purely "Christian" holiday to counter these existing pagan holidays.

But did you know that there is evidence that the practice of commemorating Jesus's birth predates all of these?

It was a common belief among ancient Jews that a prophet of God died on the same day of the year that they were conceived. I know, that sounds silly to us now. (Consider the people who make news by dying on their birthday - that's a LONG pregnancy!) But it was widely believed, even among early Christians who had no medical reason to believe otherwise. And as Jesus was not only a prophet of God, but God incarnate, the Messiah - it is understandable why they would apply this same belief to Him.

Early Christians took John's account of Jesus's crucifixion as being on the eve of Passover, which we today call Good Friday. However, as Christianity spread throughout the world, different culture's calendars were in conflict over the exact dates. It would take too long to go into here, but the most common dates that came forth for Jesus's death/conception were March 25th, and April 6th.

No one is really sure why the March 25th date won, but it did, and if you are a member of an orthodox liturgical church, you celebrate that time as the Annunciation, or the commemoration of the Angel Gabriel informing Mary she would be the mother of the Messiah. (The Good Friday/Easter celebration was moved to the April date.) We understand Scripture to mean that at that very moment the Holy Spirit fell on Mary and caused her to conceive. So, that would make Jesus's date of conception March 25th. What is nine months after March 25th?

And those pagan festivals? The Birth of the Unconquered Son came about in the late 3rd century to commemorate the winter solstice, the same way Julius Caesar did with Saturnalia in the 1st century BC. As far as Constantine is concerned, it's far more likely that he wanted to codify a uniquely Christian holiday that already was practiced, than that he randomly decided to create a holiday that had no historical significance among already believing Christians, who would likely have been skeptical of such a government institution anyway.

So where did the idea that Christmas came from pagan origins become widely believed? Actually, it was much later, during the Reformation era. Paul Ernst Jablonski, a Protestant, wished to show that the celebration of the Messiah's birth on December 25th was one of the many “paganizations” of Christianity that the Catholic Church promoted. Dom Jean Hardouin, a Benedictine monk, tried to show that the Catholic Church adopted pagan festivals for Christian purposes without paganizing the gospel. Funny, isn't it? Just like today, the idea that Christmas was pagan in origin was spread by those wanting to divide, not unify, believers.

Now, when most people point to a lack of historical evidence of early Church fathers "celebrating" Christmas, that's most likely because early Christians didn't celebrate Jesus's birth in any way resembling the way we do, which has changed over the years. Can you imagine what they would think of our modern celebrations of the Messiah's arrival? And there are definitely aspects of our modern "Christmas" festivities that have nothing to do with Jesus. *cough*Black Friday*cough*

But, it is what it is, and rather than letting these "secular" or "commercial" aspects mislead us into shunning the Christmas season, it should provoke us into an even more devoted effort to use this time to really celebrate and worship Jesus, the Messiah! After all, the date isn't what's really important; what's important is the real Reason for the Season:

Emmanuel! God is with us!!

"She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins."
 ~ Matthew 1:21


Ghosts of Christmases Past

Hello again you wonderful readers! =) I'm back today with another one of my favoritest bloggers! She's a special kind of awesome because her first name is my middle name!! Well, that makes her awesome in my book, anyway, and that's all that really matters. =P Today, I have the pleasure of hosting Mrs. S from The Adventures of Mr. Superman and Mrs. S! If you don't follow (and love) her already, let your fingers do the walkin' and head over to her blog as soon as you finish this post and leave a comment!


Ghosts of Christmases Past

Hey there Lovelies! I am so excited to be here guest blogging for G.I. Joe’s Wife! Um... the number one reason being because it means she is getting tons of lovey dovey cuddle time with Joe for R&R!!! The other being because I just love being hosted at other people’s blogs. Its the best right? Feel free to check me out at my blog!

Rewind to Christmas 2005. I know, you may need to sweep the cobwebs from your brain but I believe in you. For me, I was in high school. Blech. That Christmas was spent doing the same thing I always did. It always started on Christmas Eve for us. My whole life, we all got to open one present and it was ALWAYS new pj’s. Score! We always did the Nativity and read Luke 2 as well. The morning started bright and early and we all took turns going from oldest to youngest opening gifts. Then it was my parents turn and they took turns followed by us kids divvying up the “family” gifts. Afterwards we spent the next couple hours cleaning up and putting out all of our gifts on our beds for when people stopped by later. All of those shenanigans were followed by loading up and heading out for the annual Christmas Brunch. You know how I’ve mentioned that my mom’s family is BIG and LOUD? Yeah there are those two little understatements again. Thanksgiving is all about the volleyball game but Christmas is all about the omelets, muffins, basketball, and lots of talking and laughter.

Moving on to 2006. Life was different. Mr. Superman and I were together and I was so freaking excited for my first Christmas together with a man that I just knew was different too. About two weeks before the big holiday, he notified me that he would not be there. Yeah. A two week-long snow-boarding trip was on his agenda instead. He was sorry but not sorry enough to not go. I was more sad than mad but the gift he sent me that year was so worth it all. He topped it all off by fibbing to me and coming home early. What a keeper :)

2007 found us as a newlywed married couple. Booyah! Christmas was a blast and totally different just because of the feeling of finally being out on our own and starting our own traditions. I also had the beginnings of pneumonia. Sweet!

2008 was spent up in Utard uh I mean Utah with Mr. Superman’s family. It was really hard for me to not be with my family or even in our own space being able to continue with our own traditions, but we had a good time. Lots of food and snow! The snow was the bees knees.

2009... I guess all I can say is whoa. We were getting the hang of the married holiday thing, but it was our very first year of being in the military. We also had been in Georgia for a month and we felt a little lost being that far from everyone and everything familiar. We had a great time though. I made a Cafe Rio copycat feast for Christmas Eve dinner and we got to open one gift each. Whatdoyaknow? It was pj’s!!! We stayed up past midnight and then got to sleep in! Oh the perks of no longer living with younger siblings We opened our gifts and then had cinnamon rolls for breakfast. We got spent the day together and got to have phone calls with the fam damilies and Christmas dinner was complete with a honey baked ham, mashed potatoes, and all the other trimmings. We were a little lonely but so stoked about beginning our brand new adventure!

Here we are, now in 2010 and life couldn’t be further from our expectations or plans. That’s the military though right? Here we are, another holiday upon us, and we are nowhere near each other. Once again, we are determined to make the best of it all. I organized a drive to get fifty or so stockings to his unit and I sent a Christmas tree. I just tried my hardest to send bits of Christmas to The Sandbox. As for me, I will be spending it with my family back in Arizona, soaking up those traditions and making memories similar to my childhood. One thing that I have learned as my Christmases have transformed and changed throughout the years is that no matter where I am, who I’m with, or what I’m doing, the reason behind it all is to celebrate my Savior. He makes all things possible and the best way I can honor Him is to show my love for everyone dear to me and continue to give thanks for life, love, and happiness. 

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all you Lovelies!


Homeless Christmas

Aloha! I'm back again today with another fabulous blogger! Apparently, I have a lot of favorite bloggers. =) That's not a bad thing, though! Especially when they all agree to fill in for me in my absence. As much as I love blogging, I'm happy that I don't have to worry about my blog while I'm MIA. Today, I have the pleasure of hosting Wife on the Roller Coaster. I can't tell you how much I love her blog! So, once you read her fabulous post (that every milspouse can relate to) go visit her wonderfully fabulous blog. 

My husband and I never seem to celebrate Christmas the same way twice.  We’ve celebrated with my family and with his; with kids and without; with fake trees and real trees; CONUS and OCONUS; together and apart.  Along the way, we’ve celebrated the holidays in 8 different houses, and every year we find ways to make Christmas unique and memorable.  But it’s the year we were homeless that stands out in my memory as the worst Christmas I’ve ever had.

Flash back to Christmas Eve 2002.  The movers had just packed up all of our worldly possessions for our first PCS move, and we were living temporarily in a hotel at our first duty station.  We were too tired to think about how we were going to celebrate Christmas.  But the next morning, the reality of our situation trampled me like Rudolph on a rampage.

“Merry Christmas,” my husband whispered as we woke up Christmas morning. 

I burst into tears.

I looked around the dismal hotel room that had no Christmas tree, no decorations, no presents, no signs of holiday life.  We didn’t have a home.  We had few belongings.  We had no family or friends nearby.  We didn’t even have our dog because my parents were keeping him until we got settled.  All we had was a new life of uncertainties.

Mr. Roller Coaster, ever the optimist, hopped in the car to go exploring, but I clung to my pessimism and spent the day hiding under the covers feeling sorry for myself.   I was still sulking and wishing the day would end when he returned and forced me to get dressed for dinner. 

We drove for miles, searching for an open restaurant, for food that came from an establishment that didn’t offer a dollar menu.  Finally we stumbled upon a bar on the beach, a local hangout that looked like nothing more than a broken down shack.

I was accustomed to huge Christmas feasts accompanied by homemade appetizers and decadent desserts.  But as I stared through teary eyes at the menu, I realized I would be getting none of that.  My Christmas dinner consisted of nachos and Bud Light.

Mr. Roller Coaster did his best to make me smile.  He attempted to help me see the humor in the worst Christmas ever, but I was too busy feeling sorry for myself.  Instead of gazing at Christmas lights, I stared at television screens.  Instead of listening to Christmas carols, I listened to drunk people getting drunker.

 I was still drowning my sorrows in nachos and beer when he returned from a bathroom break and grabbed my hand.

“Come on, I want to show you something.”  I followed him, wondering what he could possibly want to show me in this redneck bar that would make me smile.

“Look over there.”  He pointed to a wooden beam covered with names and dates hand-written in permanent marker.  And that’s when I saw it: “Roller Coaster Christmas 2002.”  (Of course it said our last name, not Roller Coaster, but work with me here.)  I finally broke a smile.  And finally, I saw the humor in our homeless Christmas. 

We later learned we had spent Christmas in one of the most popular bars in town.  During the next 2 years, we frequently returned for date nights and family visits.  Each time we went, we found our wooden beam with our names forever etched in permanent marker and laughed about that terrible Christmas that introduced us to the roller coaster of military life.  And when this infamous bar was demolished by a hurricane shortly before we PCS’ed again, I was devastated to think that our beam no longer existed, that the one thing that made me smile on that sad Christmas day was sitting somewhere in a pile of unsalvageable debris.

My husband and I didn’t have a Christmas tree.  We didn’t have any presents to open.  We didn’t have a feast.  We didn’t have family or friends.  But we had a wooden beam, we had a big hearty laugh, and we had each other.  And when we headed back to our hotel room that night, I realized that this was the first lesson (of many!) that the military would teach me.  It doesn’t matter what the crazy circumstances are.  Sometimes all that matters is that we make the best of every situation and that we find a way to laugh through the tears.  

Thanks so much, Wife on the Roller Coaster!! Tune in tomorrow for another lovely guest!


Rain, Rain, Rain

Ugh. As I write this, I am sitting on the couch cuddled up with a blanket. There are two reasons for this: 1) It's 68ish degrees, rainy and windy out and 2) I have a cold. Trying to be the good wife, I sent my hubby out to have a good couple of hours with his buddies here. So, I'm not taking any time away from my hubby. (And this is a scheduled post.)

I have felt like ick for the past few days. I think my husband brought home cold germs. =( I am not happy about this. I have barely been sick once since we've been here. And now, this. First his throat was hurting and he had the sniffles. As he got worse, I began to catch it. It's hard not to catch a cold when you're sleeping in the same bed. I've felt sort of ok for the past few days and today it just hit me!! Sucky, sucky, sucky.

Yesterday, I woke up to the downpour of all downpours! I wish I had taken a picture or something. Mr. Weatherman had been saying we were supposed to get a rain and possibly a storm, but I didn't believe him. They don't exactly know what real storms are here. The last time he said we would hear "loud booms" of thunder, it was a low rumbling. You can see my issue with trusting the guy. ;-) Anyway, it rained on and off all day yesterday. Not just sprinkling either! One minute it would be raining like crazy with the wind blowing and the next it'd barely be raining. And then the cycle would start all over again. Then, last night we got a storm! Like a real storm!! Thunder (loud thunder), lightning, some nice wind and rain... I was practically in heaven! With no threat of a tornado, I was thoroughly enjoying it. Pretty sure my husband thought I was nuts. =P I even took a video!!!! I took it with my phone, and apparently you can't even see all the fun lightning unless you look at it on my phone. *sigh* Oh well!

Anyway, here's a little bit of what we've been up to.

Taken before we went to see Harry Potter.

We celebrated Christmas:

You know I love you guys if I share a Christmas morning photo.

Christmas breakfast:
Coffee & Grammy's Sugar Cookies
{They sent us cookies in the mail. =)}

I got him the Bible he wanted...
{NASB Thompson Chain Reference}

And a new outfit. 
Doesn't he look great?!

He got me these...

A MacBook Pro (15 inch)

And the iPhone 4!! =D

Yes, I am way spoiled. But I'm ok with it.
And, we've bought things for each other along the way too.

Us at the Dole Plantation...

We went through the maze!

 Mapping our route...

After our train tour. =)

Ever wondered how pineapples grow?

And we went to the beach...

We got some shave ice...
{Not shaveD. That's how they know you're from the mainland. ;-)}

And we've played Scrabble. =)

We've still got more time together too! Yay! =D

I hope you're enjoying my guest bloggers! I'm so glad they've been able to help me get some quality time with Joe while not leaving my blog for 2 weeks. If you're reading their posts, please stop and say something. =) And thanks for still reading my blog! It's hard to believe that I've been getting more followers even though I haven't been blogging!

Have a good weekend!


Lonely, Jingly Wedding Bells

It's another day of guest bloggers!! I am so thankful that these wonderful ladies [and bloggers] have offered to fill in for me while I'm spending some much-needed alone time with my hubby. =) Today I have the pleasure of hosting Mrs. GI Joe from ACUs, Stiletto Shoes and Pretty Pink Tutus. She's probably one of the best people ever and she has a seriously adorable little girlie. So, read her super sweet blog post for today and then go check out her blog!

Falling in love with a service member can do some incredibly strange things to a girl. Before the year 2005 if someone had told me I’d have my dream wedding on a Christmas Eve I would have thought it was the most romantic idea under the sun. But that’s the thing with military…sometimes what should be your best Christmas ever ends up on the worst list.

I’m not saying that Christmas was awful but there was something constantly hovering over our heads. We knew we had only one week as newlyweds before he left for a year of combat. If you’ve been through a deployment you can probably remember what that final week is like. In the end we were both just grateful for the chance to make our commitment official before he left. The following year I spent Christmas—and our first anniversary—without him. That’s definitely one for the worst list.

A funny thing happened last year for Christmas. We weren’t expecting G.I. Joe to be home but God did awesome things and allowed us to be together without a deployment there to overshadow everything. So how did we spend that miraculous holiday together? Arguing. Not like crazy yelling and screaming arguing, but bickering and snapping at each other for no apparent reason. December had been an extremely stressful month and I guess by the time Christmas Eve rolled around we were both exhausted. The sun set that night and we realized we wasted our entire fourth anniversary being childish. G.I. Joe sat with his hands on his head and was quite broken up over this.

“I’m so sorry I ruined our anniversary and made this the worst Christmas Eve ever.” He said.

“You think you ruined this day for me? This is the worst Christmas in your eyes? No. No, no, no. The WORST Christmas is the one where you aren’t here to argue with me. This will always be one of the best.”

After exchanging anniversary cards we went to sleep that night with the movie Elf flickering in the background. That Christmas morning I got to wake up next to the love of my life. Sometimes it’s the little things, like just having him in the same room when we are both in a bad mood, that can land one Christmas a spot on the “best ever” list. 

Thanks again, Mrs. GI Joe! Back tomorrow with another of my favorite bloggers!


Christmas Photos Gone Wrong

Hello, all! My hubby is officially home on R&R!! =D I am so, so happy to have him here with me for this short time. So, I will be blogging very little while he's here. I am going to enjoy these 2 weeks with him as much as possible. I have good news for you, though! I have some wonderful, amazing bloggers lined up to post for me while I'm gone! Today, I have the pleasure of hosting Just Another Milspouse!

First off, I'd like to thank GI Joe's Wife for having me as a Guest Blogger today. I am Just Another Milspouse and this is my first time as a guest. I am just SUPER excited that she chose me for today. Thank you, Sarah, YOU ROCK! So here is a story about our worst Christmas card photo ever!

Every year I see those beautiful Christmas cards with the smiling kids all facing the camera. I have wanted to send out cards like that every year, but I don't live in a fantasy land. I didn't have delusions of MY toddlers/infants being able to smile quietly for portraits. So, I planned to wait until they were older. Last year was that year. I was determined. I had a vision in my head of what I wanted; and I marched in there with my three boys following obediently with threats of "no dessert for a week if you act up".

It's funny how The Giggles work. Once you start, it's oh so hard to stop. I understand this. I still get The Giggles when I'm over tired or when I'm hanging out with my brothers. Despite understanding this, I still get frustrated when The Giggles start at inopportune times such as a portrait session.

This is one of the first shots we got. The photographer laughed so hard while I cringed with the fear of how the rest of the session was going to go. At least she had a sense of humor though.

After a few more shots with bunny ears, tongues sticking out, blinking eyes and someone's foot; the photographer decided to go a different route. She told the kids to play with their toys as if they were playing on Christmas morning. This came out ok, but not really what I was looking for.

I finally got my picture. After over an hour in that studio. C (the tall one) had just kicked B (the small one in green) in the back so his smile is more of a painful forced smile but hey, it works right?

So, I'm sitting at the computer picking out the Christmas cards to send out this year when the photographer comes over and tells me that she absolutely LOVES the first picture. "It captures their personalities" she said.

Long story short; I wound up putting THAT picture on my Christmas cards. Can you believe it? I must be nuts. At least my family had a good laugh out of it. The grandparents, not so much. I promised myself I would get it right for 2010, but for 2009 our Christmas cards were something most parents would CRINGE at.

May all your Christmas portraits come out perfect!

Thanks, again Just Another Milspouse! Back tomorrow with another great guest blogger!


The Best Present Ever

Hello, all! My hubby is officially home on R&R!! =D I am so, so happy to have him here with me for this short time. So, I will be blogging very little while he's here. I am going to enjoy these 2 weeks with him as much as possible. I have good news for you, though! I have some wonderful, amazing bloggers lined up to post for me while I'm gone! 

Today, I have the pleasure of hosting Mrs. Muffins!! I love, love, love her!! If I remember correctly, she was one of the first milspouse bloggers that I followed when I started blogging. Hehe. =) I was super excited when she agreed to blog for me...and even more excited to read her post. Here it is! 

When your boyfriend is in the military, having him come home on leave for the holidays is the best gift you could ever ask for. That is of course, unless you count having him propose to you while he’s home too! That’s exactly what happened to me five years ago.

Matt had been stationed in Okinawa, Japan for two years already and before he reported to his next duty station, he came home for ten days. I picked him up from the airport and for pretty much every minute he was home, we were inseparable.  On Christmas Eve, for a reason I can’t remember, I decided to get a manicure so Matt took me to the mall and dropped me off.
When he came to pick me up, he came in and as we were walking out Matt walked over to my door like he was going to open it for me. He stopped, pulled out a ring box and said, “Just say yes.” Of course I said yes and that was it, we were engaged!

Four days later, it was coming to the end of Matt’s leave. We woke up and Matt looked at me and asked, “Do you want to get married today?”. I didn’t think twice, I said yes and before we knew it we were at the courthouse filing for a marriage license. We arranged an appointment with the Justice of the Peace at his office and at four o’clock that day we were to be married.
I called in to work and asked my boss if I could come in late because I was getting married. She of course, said yes and we told both our families, and a few friends that we were getting married that afternoon. My mom was our only witness; she took pictures of us in the tiny office of us exchanging our vows… “From this day forward until death do us part”.

This year we will celebrate our five year wedding anniversary and not a Christmas has gone by without those words being re-played in my head, “Just say yes.” In fact, I can’t wait for the day we can renew our vows because I’d say yes again and again, until death do us part.

I love this little story! =D Thanks again, Mrs. Muffins!

Stay tuned for another wonderful guest tomorrow!