28 September 2010

Best Apps for a Deployment

Best for deployment: Military Wife & Big Day!
Before Joshua deployed, I bought myself an iPod touch. I got it so I'd have some games, music, videos, etc. in case I ever got bored or to make the time pass by more quickly. I also found two of the BEST apps EVER for getting through a deployment. They both only cost $0.99 and are well worth the pennies!


My top fave is the Military Wife Deployment Survival Guide. It's hot pink camo and super cute. I never did the whole "donut of misery" a lot of girls do because I can't stand Excel, which is why this app is soooo great. It does a little pie chart for you right on your iPod!

Seriously, how exciting is my most recent chart?!
It also tells you the time "over there," and gives you the times for Afghanistan and Iraq.


So that and the pie chart are the two best features. There are some other cutesy things as well, like "Get Motivated!" and "Find My Zen!" quotes. There is a "Surprise Me!" part that you click on the box and it makes this sparkle noise and gives you a present. There is also a "cork board" where you can save your fave quotes and add photos. I didn't really use that over the deployment but it's there if you like it!




My second favorite app is the Big Day Event Countdown. There is also a lite version that is free, but I like the paid version because it supports multiple events. For me, that's homecoming and our wedding! I love this app. You can upload your own photos as the background and move the little counter wherever you want on the screen.



These are older countdowns I caught screen shots of so I don't violate OPSEC. I also removed the dates from the Military Wife countdown screen shot for the same reason. But they're so fun!

27 September 2010

This-Close

I feel like I've been holding my breath for 7 months and I can almost just almost let it out. I'm going to have to learn how to breathe again... How to walk without feeling like I'm tiptoeing around eggshells. How to sit without being on the edge of my seat. How to sleep... without my phone on the pillow next to me. How to get through an entire day without playing every worst case scenario over and over in my head. How to answer the phone without the first words from my mouth being "Are you okay and do you have all your body parts and did you get any concussions?!" How to say "I love you" without worrying it'll be the last time I hear it back.

If these are the thoughts going through my head... which believe me, they are... I can't even begin to imagine the thoughts going through his head.

The homecoming sign is waiting to be hung. The kitchen cupboard is stocked with all his favorite snacks. New bottles of shampoo and body wash are lined up neatly in the shower, new razors and toothpaste and a toothbrush on the shelf by the sink. I picked up all his favorite magazines and set them on the coffee table. I bought all the ingredients to make his favorite cookies. I'm washing all his clothes to freshen them up.

It doesn't seem real. Will this really be over soon? Will he really be home again? Has anyone else ever felt this way, or am I just nuts? I wasn't like this the first deployment... I was sane, I think. More sane than I am now. Oh, my.

It's going to be an interesting ride!

25 September 2010

Life at the Beach


I've officially made it and I'm in North Carolina! I'm at the beach house that is to be our home for the next three months, yay! Not much longer until my love comes home. The past week and a half, I've been busy moving in, unpacking, and hosting company. My mom and cousin drove down with me from New York to help me move in, but I had to put the unpacking on hold when two of my girlfriends from NY also came down to spend five days here. My mom and cousin ended up staying six days too since they liked it so much! I hope the husband-to-be likes it as well.

It's been a LOT of work. You see... no one ever warned me about the "water bugs" aka "palmetto bugs" aka ROACHES that live in the south. Up north, it's spiders and black ants, and I can deal with either. But down here, I wasn't expecting the roaches! It's a funny story, really...

After about a 13 hour drive down from NY with my mom and cousin following behind me, I arrived to the condo around 2am... only to be greeted by two dead roaches on the carpet! Ew! After the three of us completely freaked out, we decided we were tired enough to just go to sleep and deal with it in the morning. But then... there was a roach crawling up the wall in the living room. We screamed, grabbed our bags, and left for a hotel.

I was near tears at this point, thinking the condo was infested; that I'd have to move back to NY; that I wouldn't be able to live with Joshua; that I already signed the lease and would still have to pay for it even though we couldn't live there; etc. So that's when the kind people of the south assured me that "water bugs" are completely common down here, and they're nothing to worry about. First, the man at the hotel. Then, the cleaning lady they sent over the next morning after I called at 8am, half hysterical. Then, the exterminator they sent over. Then, both ladies at the rental office. Then, the locals... and finally, my fellow Marine wives and girlfriends who have been living down here already.

So, fellow northerners... if you move to the south... don't freak out when you see a cockroach!!! Lucky for me, I've only seen one more since that first night. At my place. Tonight there was one at my friend's house, and she doesn't even live in the same town. Creepy little critters. Ew!

Other than that initial horrible first impression, it's been GREAT! I've been so busy since the day I got here, it's insane. The condo we're renting is fully furnished, but the owner's decor was simply hideous. So I spent a good half a day taking off all their bedspreads, pillows, decorations, whatever and throwing it into the extra closet. Along with their kitchen utensils, plates, gadgets, also whatever. I'm using all my own things.

Shopping has been fun. I bought two sofa covers for the living room and new comforters for both beds. Lots and lots of cleaning supplies... I spent a good four days moving every piece of furniture and deep cleaning after the roach scare! While my amazing mama was here, she helped me rearrange all the furnitire and make it more "livable." I'll post photos soon! Everything is done except for the master bedroom, which I'm still working on organizing. I'm setting up my desk and workstation in there so I can freelance and have my own space. So far, it's working out just fine.

I've been on base several times and shopped at the commissary! I actually loved it. I went mid-morning and there were no lines and minimal screaming children. I also went to the return & reunion brief for Joshua's battalion, which basically consisted of a bunch of wives bitching about everything that went wrong during deployment. Oh, Marine wives... such an interesting bunch!

12 September 2010

Boston, Pink Hair, & Parties

Me & Sue
Boston was, of course, a fabulous time with Sue and Amanda. Sue looks FANTASTIC despite her recent surgery, and insisted on taking the T instead of letting me drive us to Quincy Market. We picked up lunch at the marketplace in Faneuil Hall and ate outside on the steps so we could people-watch. I miss Boston so much. If I could choose to live anywhere in the world, it would be Boston again. If only there were a Marine Corps base there!

Amanda & Sue
After lunch, we shopped around a bit at Urban Outfitters. I got the most awesome pint glasses there for Joshua & my apartment! Then Sue took us for cupcakes in the North End at a little Italian bakery called Modern Pastry. We sat outside and enjoyed them, then headed back to Sue's apartment and Amanda and I headed home to NY not too late.

Modern Pastry

Friday, at my hair appointment, I got a full head of highlights for Joshua's homecoming (quite the treat since I usually only do a half head!). I also donated $10 to Pink Hair for Hope for breast cancer awareness and got a hot pink hair extension. It's so cute! I asked her to put it in so it's hidden... so it's behind my ear and you can't really see it unless I put my hair in a half ponytail. I feel like such a little rebel with my streak of hot pink hair! Check here to see if a salon in your area is participating.

Today was the surprise 50th birthday party for my aunt. She was completely shocked and it was so nice to see everything being done for her for a change since she's always the one to give, give, give. Her birthday isn't until October, but my uncle wanted to throw her off. It was the first family function where my dad brought his girlfriend and my mom met her... it was weird. Nothing horrible happened, it was just an interesting party. My mom didn't bring her boyfriend, either. We went together. It was catered at a family member's house, and my uncle hired a DJ and a magician. Yes, magician! So silly. It was great to see my cousins and family friends before heading south, though. Good day!

I broke my to-do list down a bit more. It helps me, haha. It also helps when my real-life friends comment on my list and ask what else I've finished and what I still have to do. Thanks, friends!

TO DO:
1. clean/organize bedroom 
  • closet
  • bookshelf
  • desk
  • dressers
  • shoes
  • makeup
  • jewelry
  • hair accessories
  • bags & purses
  • scrapbook supplies
  • wedding things
2. organize boxes in basement 
  • college papers
  • art portfolios
  • art supplies
  • extra clothes
  • winter clothes
  • kitchen things
  • decor things
  • desk supplies
  • sewing supplies
  • books & magazines
  • Joshua's things
  • holiday decorations
3. pack!!! 
  • kitchen
  • bathroom
  • sheets & linens
  • towels
  • toiletries
  • clothes
  • shoes
  • makeup
  • jewelry
  • hair accessories
  • perfume
  • nail polish
  • bags & purses
  • scrapbook supplies
  • desk supplies
  • DVDs
  • books
  • workout gear
  • iMac & laptop
  • Joshua's things
  • portfolio
  • stationery
4. send clothes to Good Will
5. make appointment with event planner 
6. update wedding binder
7. get car visor replaced 
8. make hair appointment 
9. organize boxes in garage
10. photograph portfolio 
11. return clothes to Victoria's Secret
12. send claim for contacts to insurance
13. update recipe binder
14. burn backup CDs of photos
15. load new music to iMac
16. scan scrapbook layouts 
17. organize/pack Joshua's things
18. prep Mom for her interview :-)

TO GO:
20. BJ's with Uncle Tom 
21. meet with 1st event planner 
22. crepes with Alison & Liz 
23. visit Sue in Boston 
24. hair appointment 
25. Aunt Vicki's surprise birthday party

Okay, so since I had to add some things to my list, I also had to take some things off. I didn't go to the meeting with the 2nd event planner or to Alison & Eric's party. I also didn't make plans to meet Beth & Josh for lunch, or the florist or DJ. I'll have to wait until I'm next home in October to do that. Just too much to do, and I'm supposed to leave tomorrow! Ahhhhh! Freaking out now. Maybe I should wait to leave Monday afternoon, when my Mom & cousin Matthew are leaving to come down to help me move in? I was trying to get a head start, but... there's still so much to be done.

11 September 2010

Nine Years Ago Today...

I was 16 years old and in the 11th grade in Sparta, NJ... about an hour outside of New York City, where many of my friends' parents worked. I know so many of us remember this day as though it was yesterday, and I always find it interesting to find out where people were when it happened and what they remember. Luckily, I kept an online journal at the time and chronicled every detail of that day. I wrote the following on September 13, 2001, just two days after 9-11.

As the bell rings and everyone grabs their books and hurries out of second period, an announcement comes on the speaker, calling a long list of students to the main office. There are so many people, I wonder what it is for as I walk to my third period Algebra II class. Maybe senior parking got screwed up? Or maybe there's an FBLA meeting after school today. Who cares, all I know is that it's been 2 minutes and they still haven't finished calling kids to the office. "Damn," I think to myself, "Couldn't they have called everyone at separate times?"

I walk into the Algebra room and start chatting with my neighbor about the homework and what I did after school yesterday. Across the room, I hear someone say "Oh My God, are you serious? That's horrible!" Suddenly all attention is on her as she explains to the class what she just heard last period on the radio in art class. "A plane crashed into the World Trade Center, they think it was terrorists!" Everyone in the room quickly picks up conversation about how on earth that could possibly happen. But as soon as the teacher walks in the door with a horrible look of shock and amazement on her face, we all stop talking. She looks at us and says "Do any of you have parents who work in the World Trade Center.." No one responds. "No?" she says? "Okay, everyone sit down and listen to me. There's been an attack in New York City. Two planes hit the Twin Towers, and they're not sure if there are any survivors. They just called a list of people to the office whose parents may have been in the city at work today."

Mouths drop open, eyes become teary, and blank looks come over the faces of all in the room. "Can I go call my dad?" says a voice in the back of the room.. "Of course" says the teacher. More and more people leave to call their families, but they all come back to the room saying that the lines are too tied up to get through anywhere.

We all know that we are less than an hour from the city, and we all know how many of our parents and our friends and our family members and friend's family work in New York. Everyone is thinking of someone right now. I'm thinking of my dad, because I know he isn't at home. He's traveling with work.. Why didn't I listen when he told me where he was going? Was it Chicago? Or Phoenix? I have a vague recollection of him mentioning San Francisco or Los Angeles.. I pray to God that he's in California, anywhere but the city. After what seems like a million years, the bell finally rings and I bolt out of the classroom looking for my younger brother. I never see him between classes, so I ran through the link hoping that he was taking the same way as me. I was so glad when I found him, I grabbed his arm and I said "Where's Dad?" and he had no idea what was going on, so I explained to him and again I said "Where's Dad?"

"Don't worry, he's away.." But away where?! Where away? "He's not in New York, he's in San Francisco." Phew. I say goodbye and hurry into my next class only a minute or two after the bell rings. "A plane hit the Pentagon." What?! This is surreal. It can't possibly be true. By the end of the period, we learn that a plane has also crashed in Pittsburgh. What's next? How much more is going to be destroyed until everything is at rest? Everyone is thinking the same thoughts: I want to go home. But still the teachers drag on the lessons.. some try to teach us, others do not. Some tried to get our minds off it, others talked it out with us. The internet was shut down so that we couldn't see the pictures of what was going on.. mindless administration thinking that it would "disturb" us too much. Don't they realize that they can't lock us up inside a classroom for 40 minutes and not tell us what's going on around us? But we make it to 9th period. The day was filled with many more people being called to the office and half the school bawling and walking out the door with their parents or whoever came to get them. The principal comes on the intercom, telling us how well we handled the "events" of the day. We were "caring, considerate, and we know that not only does it Take A Little More To Be A Spartan, but it also Takes A Little More To Be An American."

God bless America. Everyone's coming together, the United States is proving that we really are United. They say carpenters are coming from all across the country, and thousands of people are donating blood, and ambulances firefighters are volunteering and saving what is left, and shelters are providing places for people to stay and vendors are donating food and people are donating clothes...When I was coming home from school today, nearly every house I passed by had its American Flag up, the colors waving proudly and encouraging the nation to be strong. We wore yellow ribbons at school yesterday. And today and tomorrow we're wearing Red, White, and Blue.< My dad is stuck in San Fransisco. You know the 747 flight from Newark to San Fransisco that crashed in Pennsylvania? He took that same flight the day before it crashed. It was this close to.. to something beyond my comprehension. But everything is okay, he's okay, I'm okay, my family is okay, Sparta will be okay, and hopefully you are okay too. Rock on, U.S.!


Unbelievable how I still get chills thinking about it, and it still brings tears to my eyes to read this journal entry. God bless, America!

09 September 2010

Boston Today!


Today I'm off to Boston to visit my bff Sue! She has a blog too, about her adventures as a single gal living in my favorite city in the whole world, Boston. She recently had surgery and will be out of work 6-8 weeks, which I just know will drive her crazy because she's used to working nonstop, 25/7, and for the most part enjoys it. But I have to visit her one last time before I move, especially now when she can use the company!

My closest cousin, Amanda, is coming with me for the day. It's the only day off she has all week, and we've also wanted to spend time together before I move. So I get to see two of my favorite people today and take a break from packing and my to-do list! Speaking of...


TO DO:
1. clean/organize bedroom 
2. organize boxes in basement 
3. pack!!! 
4. send clothes to Good Will
5. make appointment with florist 
6. make appointment with event planner 
7. make appointment with DJ 
8. update wedding binder
9. get car visor replaced (done! thanks to my cousin, Eric!)
10. make hair appointment 
11. organize boxes in garage
12. photograph portfolio 
13. return clothes to Victoria's Secret 
14. send claim for contacts to insurance
15. update recipe binder 
16. burn backup CDs of photos 
17. load new music to iMac 
18. scan scrapbook layouts 

TO GO:
20. BJ's with Uncle Tom 
21. meet with 1st event planner 
22. crepes with Alison & Liz 
23. visit Sue in Boston 
24. hair appointment (Friday morning)
25. Aunt Vicki's surprise birthday party (Saturday afternoon)
26. Alison & Eric's party (Saturday night)
27. meet with 2nd event planner (Friday morning— new appointment since we weren't crazy with the first one we met with)

Crossed a few things off, yay! After today, 3 days to go to complete everything. Oh, my. I did have a bit of a break yesterday though... after meeting with the event planner (which went okay, more on that another time...), Mom and I stopped by our favorite little shop and got Vera Bradley yoga mats... on sale! And I got 2 new Pandora charms. NO MORE SPENDING FOR ME, okay? Okay. :-)

P.S. My love called twice yesterday after over a week since last hearing from him... I love that man! He always knows just what to say and we always have the best conversations in the world... I can't wait until he's home! It's been a very long, stressful, dangerous, anxious, scary deployment!

08 September 2010

Clutter-free Wannabe

I am so exhausted. I've been going nonstop since I woke up this morning and I feel like I got so much done... my bedroom is immaculate and completely organized everywhere except my desk, which I had to save for another day. Then, I began going through all my boxes and bins in the basement. I got rid of 3 boxes full of clothes, a few more full of household things for the Good Will, dozens upon dozens of books that I'm going to try to donate to the local library, and about five or six huge trash bags full of crap I just decided to throw away.


I feel lighter, somehow. :-)

Can I just say it is SO HARD going from having your own apartment for several years to moving home and only having one bedroom? I'll be so happy to have SPACE again!

I still have 3 boxes full of kitchen things, 1 box full of desk supplies, and a giant bin of art supplies to go through. Not bad though. But then of course there's the garage full of things I forgot I must sort through... must add that to the list! I have so much stuff, for real. My problem has been that I keep everything, so I'm finally just getting rid of it.

How? I tell myself that I'll soon be a military wife and whatever I keep is what I'll have to take from base to base with me every time we PCS. Goodness, it's helping! So here's an update on my progress. Bold is in progress.

TO DO:
1. clean/organize bedroom (all complete except desk area & closet)
2. organize boxes in basement (5 more boxes/bins to go!)
3. pack!!! 
4. send clothes to Good Will
5. make appointment with florist 
6. make appointment with event planner 
7. make appointment with DJ 
8. update wedding binder
9. get car visor replaced (my awesome cousin who works at Honda ordered the visor and is coming by tomorrow to install it for me, yay!)
10. make hair appointment 
11. organize boxes in garage
12. photograph portfolio 
13. return clothes to Victoria's Secret 
14. send claim for contacts to insurance
15. update recipe binder 
16. burn backup CDs of photos 
17. load new music to iMac 
18. scan scrapbook layouts 

TO GO:
20. BJ's with Uncle Tom 
21. meet with event planner (Wednesday morning)
22. crepes with Alison & Liz (Wednesday evening)
23. visit Sue in Boston (all day Thursday)
24. hair appointment (Friday morning)
25. Aunt Vicki's surprise birthday party (Saturday afternoon)
26. Alison & Eric's party (Saturday night)
27. lunch with Beth & Josh 

Lord. I hope I can get everything done by Sunday. I'm feeling a bit stressed/overwhelmed again. Not to mention, I hope everything I'm packing to move will fit in my Civic and my mom's Jeep. If it doesn't? Umm... I'll have to leave it here until late October when I next come home... with Joshua, whoo hoo!

07 September 2010

Master To-Do List

This is my first week OFF! My last week of work ended fantastically. I'll save that story for a whole post on its own. :-)

I'm taking this week and next week off, then I'm getting back to work via the 5 or 6 freelance assignments I already have lined up. I'm using this week to finish the monster to-do list I have before I leave New York, and I'm using the week after to move into my new place in North Carolina! I'm leaving Sunday evening (I always prefer to drive overnight to avoid traffic).

SO MUCH TO DO before then! Here is my list so I remain accountable. Things in bold are *in progress* and things striked through are completed.

1. clean/organize bedroom (it's a mess and needs serious organization right now— my desk, closet, jewelry armoire, etc.)
2. organize boxes in basement (when I moved home with my mom a year ago, all of my things were put into boxes in the basement— I have to go through all these boxes and repack what to take to NC & what to trash from previous apartments)
3. pack!!! (i have a master list for this too... it's pages long!)
4. send clothes to Good Will (my mom & I donate clothes on a regular basis... we have a lot!)
5. meet with florist (must discuss wedding flowers)
6. meet with event planner (must discuss table linens & chairback covers)
7. meet with DJ (must figure out who to book for the wedding)
8. update wedding binder (so I only have to bring my binder and a few wedding magazines, as opposed to dozens of loose papers/flyers & 2 years worth of magazines)
9. get car visor replaced (it randomly broke last week and won't stay up in my car! SO ANNOYING)
10. make hair appointment (highlights before homecoming! I will NOT go to a new stylist before my wedding)
11. visit Sue in Boston (my maid-of-honor recently had surgery and I must visit her before heading south... all day Thursday with my cousin Amanda)
12. photograph portfolio (all my work is in-store at the supermarket to I have to buy it all while I'm still in the area and professionally photograph it for my portfolio redesign)
13. return clothes to Victoria's Secret (all the dresses I ordered to find the perfect homecoming outfit! I ended up finding it at VS)
14. send claim for contacts to insurance (I ordered new contact lenses and I want to get reimbursed for them via my FSA before my insurance runs out)
15. update recipe binder (finishing adding mom's recipes)
16. burn backup CDs of photos (God forbid anything happened to my backup hard drive or iMac during the move)
17. load new music to iMac (not bringing any CDs with me, just my computer and iPod)
18. scan scrapbook layouts (leaving my many, many scrapbooks home... but I want to have a copy of the pages I've done on my computer)
19. Aunt Vicki's surprise birthday party (helping with the setup and will be there all day Saturday)
20. crepes with Alison & Liz (two of my co-workers and I tried to go last week but the crepery was closed! must go once more before I leave)
21. lunch with Beth & Josh (my boss and co-worker want to meet me for lunch one last time before I leave)
22. BJ's with Uncle Tom (my uncle just got a membership and I want to stock up on razors for Joshua before he's home)
23. Alison & Eric's party (Saturday night after my aunt's party... oh my)


Lucky for me, I have my mom to help with/encourage me to finish most of these things. Thank you, Mom!

01 September 2010

30 Days Hath September...

...and I'm making it my personal goal to blog as often as I can! I think it will help me stay on task, connected, and inspired as everything around me changes. Whoo hoo!

My love was able to call last night before going out on his next rotation/patrols. Hopefully I'll hear from him in another week... I wish I could hear from him now though, since I just found out another Marine in his platoon was killed today. It's so, so scary... THIS CLOSE to homecoming?! I've felt sick to my stomach all day.

Luckily, we were able to talk a bit about the move, and he convinced me to stay in New York for another week to get everything done that I need to before I go so I don't have to come back and forth as I was originally planning. Our lease started today and I didn't want to lose two weeks of the month by staying in NY, but he had a good point that I'd be losing the time anyway by going back and forth. Such a smart future husband I have. :-)

Tomorrow after work is the big goodbye party my co-workers are having for me, and Friday is my last day. Eeee! I have so much planned for after I leave though that I still don't think I'll have any time to be bored. Packing, purging, wedding planning, designing... still a very busy girl!

Have a great September, friends!