Tag Archives: Marines

I am Woman, Hear Me Roar: the most extreme road trip I’ve ever been on

24 Feb

I don’t know which makes me feel more accomplished as a person: giving birth twice without any drugs, or road-tripping up to Cleveland, OH for a long weekend with my husband, 4 year old, and 6 week old in an RV.

We left Wednesday night around 9pm. I tried to sleep, as the boys, our most precious cargo, were both asleep, but somehow the back of an RV in the dark feels like a plane about to take off. And I don’t really like planes that much, so every time I was about to drift away, I would suddenly wake up fearful we were going to crash into something or drive off the road.

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One of Dave’s best friends, a former Marine like himself, was getting married. We’ve been friends with the couple for a long time, so we knew we wanted to all attend, especially since Dave was asked to be a groomsman and W was asked to be the ring bearer. And there was no way I wanted to leave young Rex with grandparents for the weekend. After Rex’s birth I became unsure if I would attend, and this uncertainty stayed with me until I got into the RV to leave. I was even texting Jason, who was staying at our house with the animals, thirty minutes into the trip that I was insane and I should have stayed at home.

But I didn’t.

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I won’t lie, it was rough. It was a long trip for an already tired woman, but honestly I did it for Dave. He wanted his boys there, and his wife, to be with him as he celebrated this grand event with some of his dearest friends. There were other Marines there with their wives and kids whom we get together with every couple of years. We are scattered across the United States, but these people are very important to us, so we all make the effort to see each other when we can.

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Wednesday night we stopped at an RV park in Knoxville, TN. We figured the only way we could sanely make the 10+ hour drive was to not have to do it all in one day. We didn’t buy plane tickets because of the expense, for one, and also because we could never be sure who would go, given that Rex’s birth was so close to the wedding.

The first night was a bit of a disaster. We got in around midnight and tried as quick as we could to set up the RV for sleeping. Walter woke up and asked questions as we moved stuff around, and I got Rex fed. Then we all settled down for the night’s sleep (or what was left of it)… and the heat in the RV didn’t work properly. It was also 34° outside. The furnace would turn on briefly, get nowhere near the temperature we set the thermostat to, then turn off for good. If we wanted it back on, we’d have to restart the heat ourselves by getting out of bed and flipping the switch.

Walter seemed cuddled in his comforter (thank goodness I had brought a million blankets), but I was super worried about the baby. My face and hair were freezing to the touch. I bundled the baby up (which made me worry about him sleeping with loose blankets and a hat on in bed), and I climbed in with Walter in his twin — I abandoned Dave in the double bed because it was too cold on his side near all the windows. Eventually we just turned the RV on and ran the heater. I was having visions of all of us dying from exhaust fumes when I finally passed out around 3am. Soon enough I woke again because the inside was too hot, and I immediately ripped the blankets off the baby, worried about him overheating, and turned the engine off, worried that we were going to run out of gas. Falling back asleep, this cold/warm cycle continued until we all, rather tiredly, woke up later in the morning.

img_20170216_091557_648The boys were completely unfazed, of course.

img_20170216_091251_283First time in an RV park. Made me think of this romance novel I once read where they traveled around the country in an RV.

img_20170216_101413Keep both hands on the wheel, little man.

Thursday we drove the rest of the way, and I have to say, I love traveling in an RV. Dave has lots of experience driving large military vehicles, so during the day he seemed very at ease, plus the front seats are more like recliners than regular car seats. Walter got to watch TV, sleep, or draw on his clipboard. Rex slept for the most part. We had food, cold drinks, and a toilet at our convenience, and a comfy and easy place to nurse Rex when we stopped. And best of all, I got to buckle myself in to the couch and rest and read books when I wasn’t tending to other things. That’s the way to do it if you’re going to spend that much time traveling!

img_20170216_142006You know you’re redneck enough for an RV when your food prep area is the same as your diaper changing area.

Around 7pm we pulled into the hotel parking lot in Cleveland, unloaded our stuff, and parked by the trees. We quickly took showers to wash off the drive and headed into the chilly night to meet up with our friends for dinner.

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After a wonderful meal with the group, I actually asked Dave if we could hurry and go, which is very unlike me. I’m usually literally the last to leave any type of party, but I was about to fall asleep on my feet. Another night passed uneventfully. I had been very worried about all four of us sleeping together in the same space, but Rex only woke me during the night when he wanted to nurse. Walter, thankfully, is as deep a sleeper as his daddy!

Friday was reception-prep and rehearsal day. We were late to the reception venue to help everyone and drove the RV there (what else could we do?), and unfortunately a Pyrex dish fell during a turn-around-pothole-miscalculation and shattered all over the tile floor. Consequently we learned where the RV vacuum was and how to use it.

Later that evening we piled into our friend’s van, rather awkwardly but gratefully, to get to the church. I sat there nursing while the big boys practiced their roles. Because of my annual Christmas card mailings, I was approached by the best man’s wife, Dina. She said our card was on her fridge, and she loved the book list I put on the back. It was nice to make another friend, and we chatted during the rehearsal and sat together during dinner as well. She was a very lovely Jordanian woman who is a performance aviation engineer for GE. I find it very interesting to learn about the different, highly specific engineering jobs out there.

img_20170218_095822_584Walter knows how to dress sharp.

Saturday was the big day. It turns out that David had many hours of obligations as a groomsman, so for most of the day I was on my own. This brought out a few tears as I was exhausted and hadn’t made this big a trip so quickly postpartum to be on my own. It was made worse when Walter, after having come to sit with me mid-ceremony when his ring-bearing duties were over, saw Daddy walking down the aisle with a bridesmaid and asked, “Mommy, did Daddy just marry that other woman!?!” I kinda laughed and said “No, honey, he’s only married to me” and Walter replied, “But that was David.”

img_20170218_123409175_hdr#handsomemen #idontliketoshare

img_20170218_175051767We had several hours to kill in between the ceremony and reception while Daddy took pictures around town with the newlyweds. We played in the RV since we had checked out of the hotel earlier that day. Plans were to leave that night and repeat the driving procedure we had followed on the way up.

img_20170218_175129152#cutebaby #cutebabyjeans

img_20170220_095637After watching the first dance, finally in the same room together, Dave bee-lined for us. We ate a delicious dinner — one of the best wedding menus we’ve had — drank some tasty beer, took photos in the photo booth, danced (me with the baby at the breast, Dave holding an almost sleeping Walter, who had run around the dance floor with the other kids all night), and left early around 9:30pm. I didn’t want to go, but we knew we had to get out of there if we wanted to get to Cincinnati at a decent time.

img_20170219_032826631We rolled in around 2am and the blackout shades in the brand new hotel room proved to be very effective. We all slept until 9:30am, ate our last breakfast in the RV, and drove home. We even got to enjoy an extra hour and a half of driving time due to Sunday night road construction. Thank you, Georgia.

img_20170217_121004Thank goodness he loves his car seat. He probably thought we were going to leave him in there permanently.

48 hours of travel, 48 hours of partying. Totally worth it.

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We’re living like it’s Downton Abbey

4 Mar

This is multi-family household living at its best, just without Nanny. Or Carson & Mrs. Hughes.

Here’s what happened: my husband bought an expensive house during the real estate bubble of ’07/’08, right before he graduated college in 2009, during the recession. A + B = C, and C hasn’t been good for us financially.

College had delayed his transition from the Marine Corps to his career in his late twenties. I graduated college at the same time as him (but mid twenties) with my second degree, didn’t find a full-time job, didn’t get in to graduate school, and then became a stay-at-home-mama, which was my dream anyway. Meanwhile, my husband worked hard to pay the mortgage, while we watched many others get rewarded by buying foreclosed or cheap houses because of the recession and at one point getting huge checks from the government for being first-time homeowners. We have been the definition of “house poor” for the last 7 years, even though we lead really, really good lives. No denying that fact.

So in order to sell our house, we have moved in with my in-laws near Chastain Park. Oh how terrible! No, not really. It’s pretty awesome.

At our house, the floor needed a good sand and refinish. Our realtor recommended it. Our cousin, who’s the best real estate agent in Birmingham, said to do it before it goes on market. It’s not the most expensive reno job, it must be done by a professional, and it can totally change the look of the house.

I’ve been wanting to change the color for years anyway.

So I finally spent the last of our savings, touched up the paint (again), cleaned it up real nice, positioned the furniture just right… and now we pray we get some money back from the money pit that has been home ownership for us so far.

We moved in with parents so we can stage the house — and not live in the poly smell immediately post-floor refinish. I won’t have to battle the dog hair, kitty litter box, Walter messes, and my type-A cleaning personality all while keeping a house show-ready. We can also take our time to find the right house for us when it comes time to do that.

I have never been more excited to go shopping in my life. I’ve never had the opportunity to pick a house before. My husband bought our current one a year before we met.

So we’re in our thirties acting a bit like we’re in our twenties… but hey, we’re Millennials, so we’re allowed to do that, right?

IMG_20160224_192426Perks: Pop reading bedtime stories to his grandboy in what used to be The Serious Business Room for twenty years but has recently been changed by Walt to The Crossword Room (note WSJ crossword on end table).

Ladies Night Out 2-2016Perks: Ladies Night Out with the Sistas of the Pour at Terra Terroir

 

Texas or Bust?

28 Feb

A couple days ago I somewhat jokingly and also in a moment of profound fury after losing a contract on a house we loved and a hefty amount of cash asked my Facebook friends where in the world I should move if we left Atlanta.

Before I met Dave, I was interested in moving out of state. I had even applied to graduate programs all over the South. So far in my life I have only lived in Atlanta and also one other place (for a year or two). My first memories come from Claremont, California, with our rock garden, tangerine tree, pool, and the coyotes howling in the faraway mountains. But Dave had just bought a house here, had just moved back here after boarding school and college and Marines, and I loved Dave, so I stayed put.

Now, however, the world feels wide open and free. The house will sell. We are not obligated to buy anything else here. Yes, we have lots of friends and family here, lots of responsibilities and loves, but I feel something calling me out West.

Maybe it’s the books I’m reading. I never used to read multiple books at once, but right now I’m still in the middle of a Benjamin Franklin biography, a novel about Nazi resistance, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s On the Banks of Plum Creek, and Chris Kyle’s memoir about being a SEAL sniper since 9/11. Chris Kyle is a Texan through and through, and it has gotten me thinking about my husband. Dave has friends and family in Texas (that I like too!), and Texans really do love their veterans. I like horses, independence, cowboy hats, and *gasp* guns (well, in actuality I love the people who love guns. I don’t mind rifles but I am not comfortable with a handgun). And being closer to the National Parks out West. And Mexico if The Day After Tomorrow turns out to be correct.

Laura Ingalls Wilder is making me thirsty for wide open spaces. And making me wonder if we should hire a horse and wagon to move?

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I had to bring both books to the lunch table because I wasn’t sure which one I would want to pick up to read at that exact moment.

I don’t know what’s going to happen. Maybe we’ll get a house here in Doraville, or find another gem in Marietta, but maybe when everyone reminded me of “God’s timing is the perfect timing,” they were talking about this: a brief chance at freedom and exploration.

All about war

7 Aug

One of the things I love best about my husband is that he was a Marine. I am so proud of the determination and courage (and strength!) he had to have to go through that. But also it is something about him that remains a mystery to me — in a good way. There are things about him I might never know and that’s exciting. It was a seriously defining period of time for him that I can only hope to understand. I love hearing stories about it, and whenever I do, I am also so thankful that he came home alive and subsequently found me. He used to tell me that if he hadn’t met me, he would have kept going out to find wars to fight in, in the military or as a private citizen. It is a difficult concept for someone to understand who has a hard time holding a gun without getting scared. Some people just like war. Some for the destruction, and some to protect.

I’ve recently been reading about different wars. Fiction and non-fiction about WWII and the Civil War. It’s taking me a while to finish the collection of essays on the Civil War, even though they are fascinating. The author, McPherson, is a Princetonian professor who likes dispelling myths that have been gathering steam for the last 150 years. Like that Grant was an alcoholic. Or that Jesse James was a Robin Hood figure. Or that Europe really cared about slavery from the beginning and that’s why they didn’t help out the Confederates.

I find war — and history — very fascinating. Contemporary war is very different than it used to be. I know of some popular myths I could dispel with my husband’s first hand knowledge. He was there. He saw 9/11 like the rest of us, and had friends living in NYC. He joined up, and he went over there. So many people who talk about the military don’t actually know what it’s like to be a part of it. And that’s partly because people in the military don’t like to talk about it in public. They rightly think that many people will not actually hear what they have to say, so what’s the point? I think it has been this way since the Vietnam War. When I took a history class on the subject in college, I interviewed two of my dad’s friends who were in the war. We talked for an hour and a half. When we got done, they told me that was the most they had ever talked about it since they got back. How could that powerful fact not move me forever?

Somehow I’ve always been drawn to people in the military. In high school some of my best friends — and crushes, let’s be honest — were in the ROTC. Then I married a Marine. War is a very integral part of our history as well as our current climate. I’m not ever sure we will have peace on earth, though I’m not really positive why that is. I was talking to my brother recently who lives in Europe. He says he will never move back because it is so violent in the US. I mentioned this to David, asking him what he thought about that. Of course there are the debates about gun ownership, etc, but our overall violence rates are higher than Europe anyway. He suggested that our country was founded by aggressive people, who came over here and had to fight for their freedom. Maybe the love of the battle is simply in our blood. Either way, it is never ending fodder for discussion and examination.

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