Farewell Fort Belvoir…

 

2015 — Left: Charli and Stella by Washington Monument; Top Right: Mitch, Charli, Stella off GW Parkway looking over Potomac River; Bottom Right: Me, Stella, Charli first day in house before HHG arrived

I haven’t posted anything in seven months so I really appreciate you taking the time to read our update.  A lot has happened since last post — I went back to work part-time as a pediatric SLP for a private clinic, our youngest (MaryClaire) started daycare, our oldest (Charli) started Kindergarten, hubby started new position, I took on a long term sub position for Bodyflow at the gym on my off day(s), and things just kind of took off….much faster than I anticipated….much, MUCH faster than I anticipated.  Honestly, I think maybe I took on too much too soon but here we are…still marching on.  I’d be lyin’ if I said all days were rainbows and butterflies.  One thing I’ve learned is that there will always be ups and downs, its just important to not dwell too long on the downs (overheard that from a conversation between a preschool teacher and a 4-year old).

Anyways…we are at that time of year…PCS season!  And, it is our turn!

Quick recap, we moved to Fort Belvoir, VA four years ago in April 2015.  FOUR.  YEARS.  AGO.  I wasn’t a fan of the area when we first moved here…hated the cost of living, hated the traffic, hated the distance from family, hated the allergies, hated the traffic, struggled adjusting to being a SAHM, and strongly disliked the traffic.  Those were my feelings my first year.  Then… every year grew on me and began enjoying NOVA more with each day we lived here.  The DC area is remarkable with it’s history, museums, monuments, sporting events, beauty, cherry blossoms, vineyards, breweries, proximity to the beach AND city life (NYC, Gettysburg, Virginia Beach), etc, etc.  It is the nation’s capital for goodness sake and that in itself is pretty amazing!!!  The relationships and friendships we made have just been the icing on the cake.

So…after countless church visits, daycare changes, gym changes, hairstylist visitations (which I finally found the perfect one after 3 years), school changes, new friends (some have moved, some still here), new jobs, new baby – Sidenote: I still can’t believe Charli was only 1.5 years old when we first came here in April 2015 – it is here, it is our turn to leave…

We are officially headed to FORT LEAVENWORTH, KS this summer.

Last PCS to VA, we were without household goods for 2 months, and they lost an entire crate of our HHG that we never received.  We were so thankful for understanding neighbors who let us borrow towels and a few other necessities those two months.  We learned very quickly that “things” are just that — “things.”  Gosh, we’ve all made some good friends here and it will definitely be rough as I type this through burning (allergy stricken) tears to say goodbye for all of us.  Please pray and send good vibes that the transition goes as smooth as possible (or at least smoother than last PCS).  This summer will consist of a whole lot of paperwork, re-enrolling in schools/daycares, licensure transfers, changing doctors, finding dentists, enrolling in CYS activities, meeting new friends, finding a church family/etc., all while reminding myself that God is in control of each and every path that crosses.  Many of you military families have been through the PCS crazy train several times so tips and tricks are welcome!  We may never know why this life was chosen for us but one thing I sure do love about this life are the relationships made and paths we cross along the way.  I’ll stop rambling now…

Ready or not, Fort Leavenworth, KS here we come!

Left: Charli our first week here 4/15; vs. present; Right: MaryClaire newborn vs. present

Take. The. Break.

So I’ve lived the semi-civilian life and the military life. I’ve lived the working life and the stay-at-home life. Right now, I’m living the stay-at-home, military life. (More to come on why I dont think I’m quite cut out for the full time SAHM life). Just when I thought life was difficult, God threw us a curve ball and made us an active duty, military family. I quit the job I loved to move 1,000 miles away from established friends and family to become a stay-at-home mom and essentially start a “new life.” I guess you could say I was excited at first but developed some bitterness along the “darling detour.”

I don’t write this for a pity party or for people to “thank us” for our service. I write this for the tired mom, dad, parents, spouses, etc. that live this same life. Before we became active duty, we had the ability to drop everything at any time to take a much needed getaway. We had our family, we had help. Now, it’s not that easy. If you live this same life and are hearing others tell you, it’s not that bad or it’s not that hard and they don’t live this life then quit listening to them. Don’t listen. No one will know the struggle unless they live it. They will never understand the guilt you carry with you when you do finally have a getaway because family you haven’t seen in months or years has arrived to take care of your kids only for you to say goodbye and good luck with YOUR kids. No matter how long it’s been since you had a break, you carry that guilt and feel selfish because others are making sacrifices so you can get that time away.

But, guess what??? YOU DESERVE THE BREAK. Some may disagree with me when I say this but it’s not your kids that should come first. I’m sure I’ll receive comments saying how wrong that statement is but you know what’s most important…. your relationship with the Lord and your relationship with your spouse and/or partner. If the foundation isn’t stable, the house will crumble.

Sure, it was only a few days but a few days alone for the first time in several years is NOT selfish. And, if it is then maybe it takes a little selfishness to take care of the relationships that matter most.

To the military parents: those feelings of guilt and selfishness you feel when you get a break are from Satan. Take the break. Know that you are doing what’s best, healthy, and required to maintain a healthy family and relationships. Take. The. Break. Don’t let Satan or others dictate what’s healthy for you. TAKE. THE. BREAK.

***A special thank you to my in-laws (Giddy & Pop) for loving on our two girls and furbaby while we took our much needed break.***

Bittersweet Beginnings – Old Town, Alexandria

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Alright, so one of the bittersweet aspects of living the military life are the people you meet along the way (the sweet part)….the bitter part comes when you have to tell the people you have grown to know and love “goodbye,” or as we like to say “see you later.”  The thing about military life is that the only people that REALLY get and understand the life are other military families because they are living the same positives/negatives, struggles/excitements, mishaps/celebrations you are…essentially.  With all due respect, there are things that happen in this life that no one else will truly understand unless you are living it…such as an entire crate going missing in a move, a family member going TDY or deploying, etc.  These connections make a friendship so special because you find those people that truly understand the life.  Anyways, more on the struggles and excitements of the military life in a later post.

This post is a little different. It is more informative focusing on places in Old Town, Alexandria to go eat or grab a drink.  The reason for this outing goes back to my original explanation of a bittersweet event.  We went out with another couple that we became best friends with and we were celebrating our friendship as well as them moving on to begin a new chapter of their life.  As much as we did NOT want to say goodbye, we are so excited for what the future holds for them.  We hold on to knowing that we are certain we will see them again.  So…if you’re ever in the area or live here, read on for a short list of places to go in Old Town, Alexandria.

Old Town has A LOT of history.  During the day, you can purchase a “Key to the City,” to visit various museums such as the Carlyle House, Apothecary Museum, The Tavern (where George Washington would dine), etc.  I will do a separate post on some of these places later or PM me if interested.  We went to several of these places when some hometown friends came to visit about a year ago.

Our evening out in Old Town, Alexandria started at Blackwall Hitch .  We did have reservations but arrived early for a couple of drinks on the patio.  It is located near the water next door to Chart House.  Chart House is a beautiful view of the water and has wonderful drinks as well.  There is a ferry from this area that you can hop on and ride to a Nationals baseball game and/or to National Harbor as well.  After leaving Blackwall Hitch, we stopped by one of our favorites Virtue Feed & Grain to grab a couple of drinks.  I got an amazing watermelon flavored cocktail at Virtue Feed & Grain.  We just sat in the bar area but if you want to eat then definitely make reservations.  After leaving here, we stopped by an Irish pub for a quick drink then moved on to Fish Market.  Fish Market was a fun place to land on with live music.  There are SO many places to hit in Old Town that it can be almost overwhelming.  I will post about others as we land upon them.  Off the top of my head, we had fun at another Irish Pub on a different night called Murphy’s Pub.  It is a little more of a loud, party, live music scene.

Overall, it was a fun night to say “Cheers, to a wonderful friendship!”

Small Victories Matter

It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, monotonous way of living.  Before even stepping out of bed, I’m already thinking of the diapers to be changed, the kids to get dressed, what to give them for breakfast, and if I can get my coffee made before the whining starts.  That is the basic morning routine here.

I find my days similar…checking each hour off the list, we made it through this, finished that, so on and so forth.  The weeks are the same…. ugh, Monday, only Tuesday?, halfway there Wednesday, one more day Thursday, finally here Friday, nice to see you Saturday, then Sunday is here before you know it to kick off a new week.  Unless I have a special event, date, outing, etc. to look forward to, it is as if I am just going through the motions each. and. every. day.  Here’s the thing, you’re not.  I’ll say it again, you are not just going through the motions each hour/day/week/month/year.  There are small victories throughout that are going unnoticed.  There are accomplishments you are conquering that you don’t even realize.  Some accomplishments may be stepping out of your comfort zone to interview for a new job, starting a business, trying a new class, taking lessons of some sort, moving to a new city/state/country…some may seem like small accomplishments but it is the small victories that lead to big ones.  When you accomplish a goal, whether it be short term or long term there is one common attribute and that is that you overcame.  Whether it be fear or anxiety, celebrate because you overcame that doubt and pushed through.

Celebrate the victories in others as well.  Today, I received a text from a friend saying that she hoped the class I helped team teach today went well, followed by another friend offering to help me practice, as well as an instructor that stayed to help me with technique/coaching.  How good does it feel when others want to celebrate your small victories with you?  I guarantee that once you start celebrating others, you will see the celebration reciprocated.  I’m not saying you have to start patting someone on the back for changing the toilet paper roll or washing a dish.. although, wouldn’t you be more inclined to do those things if someone told you how great you are for doing them (wink face here)?!  Just an example, of how much your encouraging words mean to someone.

So, what inspired me to write this post?  This picture.

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Nope, not some big event.  It was a short moment with my 22-month-old daughter.  She is strong willed and we sometimes have mutual frustrations with each other.  She will sit in my lap throughout the day for short periods but for some reason, this specific moment just felt sweet.  She was calm, I was calm, it was just a pleasant moment.  All of the hard, frustrating moments seemed to fade away.  It was short lived, let’s be real here (and I think she was hot and tired), but the fact that she still loves me and feels safe in my arms after all the frustrating times, was a small victory.  And you know what?  It is okay to celebrate small moments.  So as you read this, think of the small victories throughout the week and celebrate them.  Because once you start recognizing the small victories, it will only lead to bigger ones.  Also, recognize a small victory in someone else, and compliment or give them an encouraging word.  Just a few positive words can make a huge difference.

The small victories matter.

YOU matter.

Fitness – An encompassing and (to some) intimidating word.

Fitness is a very encompassing word…

Some may think of a body builder, a marathon runner, a two mile walk, a toned physique, a flexible yoga instructor, a loss of 30 lbs., a loss of 3 lbs.  The term “fitness” encompasses a wide variety of people.  Don’t let the word “fitness” become intimidating.  I used to and still get nervous when I walk out on a gym floor where the machines and weights are located.  Why?  Good question.  Because I shouldn’t.  We are all on a journey to build a better self.  The person next to you is not you.  Stay focused on your goals and what you need to accomplish for yourself.

This machine at the gym, used to be so intimidating to me.

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I would watch people use it out of the corner of my eye, trying to figure it out and build up the confidence to go try it out myself.  It is a pull-up assist machine.  I finally got the courage to try.  Of course, I get on and panic and have no idea what I’m doing.  I asked a “muscle-y” guy that was near to help.  (Sidenote: I get intimidated by this population for some reason.)  He was more than willing to help and so nice.  I try to remind myself that these “intimidating people” are just people with goals like myself.  But, I couldn’t figure out why this machine was so difficult for me to do a pull up on…IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE GIVING ME ASSISTANCE.  I finally figured out that on this specific machine, the more weight you use, the more assist you have.  So the higher amount of weight you put on there, the easier it would be.  Well, that made complete sense that I had it at zero which meant I was doing a full on pull up with no assist at all.  Well, more like just hanging there.

Anyways, after figuring out how the machine worked, I set a goal for myself.  My goal was to do fourteen pull-ups unassisted in a year.  I know many are laughing, because when I set that goal, I had NO IDEA how long it would take.  Just to give you an idea, I’ve been working on this machine for 8ish months and I can finally do TWO pull ups unassisted.  TWO!  IN 8 MONTHS!  The funny thing is, it is only two but I am SO proud.  The moral here is progress takes time.  Sometimes more time than we realize, but it is consistency that pays off.  Set goals.  I myself started with a goal and will now have many short term goals in between.  Now, I will double my amount to four pull ups unassisted.  Who knows, maybe one day I WILL hit fourteen.  But, don’t let the reality of things get you down.  Use it as a learning moment, modify, then move on from there and progress.

Will write more on a diagnosis that made me realize that fitness is an essential part of my life.  In all honesty, I’m finally transitioning from dreading my workouts to enjoying them (not all days, but many).  I’m realizing the relationships and support systems I have that are centered around fitness. How much of a stress relief it is for me.  It’s really about setting goals (even if that goal is to make it to 1 workout class), realizing there will be rough days but pushing through to meet goals. Don’t let the fears hold you back.  Be brave and push past the fears. Try to look at fitness as less intimidating and moreso motivating.  Yes, there will be challenges, but that’s how we grow.

Thanks for reading!  More to come on this journey!

Memorial Day – The sting that changed my outlook.

Memorial Day – A kickoff to summer, school is out (for some), pools are opening, a lake weekend, a beach weekend, vacation….many look forward to this weekend for so many fun, relaxing reasons.  I myself am one that loves summer and has always thought of Memorial Day as the beginning of warm weather, sprinklers, and cook outs.  Every Memorial Day, I would say a quick “Thank You” to those that gave their life, but then go about my fun filled weekend.

Embarrassingly, it was just last year when there was a specific moment that stung me.  I say “stung” because it felt just like that…a sting, a jab, a blow to the stomach.  I was upset with myself for only recognizing the holiday on the surface.  We live on a base in a military neighborhood and I distinctly remember the moment when Memorial Day took on a much deeper meaning for myself.  Last year on Memorial Day, our street was getting together for a pot luck where we all eat, hang out, and let the kids wear themselves out before bedtime.  I was with my husband and a couple of our friends.  We were gathered in a small circle casually talking and one of our friends said he wanted to take a moment and thank some soldiers that gave their life in war.  We then went around the small circle of about five or six of us and spoke names.  That’s when it hit me.  That’s why we are here.  Because soldiers- moms, dads, uncles, aunts, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, etc. gave their LIFE for me.  Soldiers that left with a job and did not return.  These soldiers that spoke each name trained with these fallen heroes, laughed with them, shared stories with them, confided in each other, had memories with them and they are gone.  Gone but not forgotten.

Some of these soldiers who died were children whose parents outlived them.  Some left spouses and children who were counting down the days for them to return, and there wasn’t a return.  Some may have had a pregnant wife and never got to meet their child.  Some were aunts and uncles who’s nieces and nephews adored them.  The scenarios are endless and I give you these scenarios because it is real.  These soldiers were real, their lives were real, and they died for us.  They gave the ultimate sacrifice.  They are fallen heroes.  Gone but not forgotten.

I was given a soldier’s name randomly that was killed in action at the Army Ten Miler to run in honor of and I will always speak his name in remembrance.  If you don’t know a soldier personally that was killed in war, I encourage you to maybe look one up and read about that soldier.  Then just whisper a thank you and state their name.  Let’s remember the fallen heroes.  Gone but not forgotten.

Today, please remember…

1LT Chris Goeke & SFC Ricardo Young

Thank you for reading “A Darling Detour!”  Hope your Memorial Day is filled with wonderful memories!  I encourage you to not just recognize Memorial Day on the surface and take time to remember those that gave their lives.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

 

Find Your Crew

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Life wasn’t meant to be journeyed alone.  I say that because we all need a “crew.”  Whether it is one crew, several different crews, a big crew, or a small crew…everyone in this world deserves one.  Finding a crew sometimes requires being brave and stepping out of your comfort zone, but the destination is worth the journey.

The last time I had my computer open before this post, I was beyond nervous because it was almost time to get up in front of thirteen people I hadn’t known for even 24 hours, plus an instructor to teach a track from the Les Mills Bodyflow release.  Some were already instructors, some had never taught a class in their life (I was one of those).  Though, I walked into that room initially with fourteen strangers, I walked out with fourteen crew members.  I was in a room with fourteen cheerleaders, fourteen people that wanted me to succeed just as bad as I wanted to succeed.  I was only with them for 48 hours, but meeting each and every person left a lasting impact.

Be that person in life who makes a lasting impact in a positive way.  With so much negative, be the good. Remember, we are only here for a moment so try to make the best of every single second you have.  Life is just a vapor.  Find your crew, your cheerleaders, your motivators, your uplifters, and try to be the same for them.

I will post more details about this journey to become a Les Mills BodyFlow instructor, once it is all said and done.  I still have a one hour class to teach, film, and send in for assessment.  Will have several shout-outs to many that encouraged and supported me to take this leap out of my comfort zone because it definitely takes a village along with several “crews” to make things happen.

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