• Allie and Ryan

    Allie & Ryan

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    Allie & Ryan

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    Allie & Ryan

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    Allie & Ryan

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    Allie & Ryan

Monday, January 26, 2015

Tune Ups

I have never been one to air dirty laundry on my blog. Most bloggers I know don't. Our blogs are a place where our lives tend to be a little more glossy sheen than chaos. Occassionally people will write about a frustration or two, but I usually will not write about arguments or difficulties. One, it is not something I wish my blog to focus on, and two, it is out of respect for the relationships I do have. That being said, this particular entry is one I have wanted to write for awhile, and everything I mention here has been something my husband and I have both said we are comfortable disclosing.

Marriage Counseling.

We agreed years ago, back when we were newlyweds, if one of us (did not matter which one) ever wanted counseling then we would go... no questions asked, no stalling. We had one time a year or so ago where one of us mentioned it and we looked in to going, but then we managed to regain our footing and never actually went. Or so we thought. The past year or so have been hard for us. Last year Ryan came back from Afghanistan and we jumped right into the holidays. Immediately after that we went out our trip to Europe and as soon as we returned my aunt passed away and I flew to New Jersey. The day after I returned from her funeral I was thrown in rehearsals for a show I had been cast in. So we went from living apart with the deployment, to reintigration that never really had a chance to take and by the time we were both on normal schedules again it was summer practically and Ryan was putting in for his SDA. Then I had another show as Ryan started school for his SDA.... and we both just realized we were fighting a lot and were both pretty unhappy overall. After a particularly large (amd stupid) fight over something insignificant we decided we wanted to go to counseling.

Ryan instantly made a phone call to Military OneSource. Military OneSource offers active duty, reservists on active status, and National Guard members and their families twelve free, non medical, face-to-face counseling sessions with a professional in your area. We had an appointment with a counselor for the next day with that one call. Even making the appointment we felt better and had what felt like our first real discussion in a long time. That was when we realized we both were unhappy... not unhappy that we were married or together, but overall the general feeling of this could be better. This has been better.

We went in to our first session with a little bit of unease, but our counselor got us to talk. Then we had one of our small fights. And he let us. We were on opposite ends of the couch going back and forth jumping from topic to topic when our counselor said something that seems so incredibly obvious, but until we heard it, it never occurred for a moment.

"Is this how you speak to someone you love?"

No. No it isn't.

When we had those stupid arguments, and lord knows we had them a lot, we were both just trying to be heard. It wasn't about the sweet potato or the volume on the tv (seriously), it was wanting our spouse to hear us. We always were the type to bicker, both our parents independently nicknamed us "the Bickersons", but lately it had been so much more than that.

Once we heard that, we began to make a more conscious effort to really hear one another, and talk to each other the way we wanted to be talked to. It sounds so simple when I type it, but it was something that in our frustrations we were missing. We both were overly frustrated to the point where we felt like we weren't being heard and all we did was make our voices louder and louder with effort to be heard. But when someone yells usually the knee jerk response is to stop listening anyway... it is a vicious cycle we were stuck in for sure.

If we are arguing it becomes about winning... and in order for one of us to win one of us has to lose. And marriage shouldn't be about winning and losing. We are on the same team. If one of us loses then we both lose.

Our counselor told us around the five year mark is where a lot of marriages will stumble or falter... it is totally normal. He told us that we both drive cars and every 3,000 or 5,000 miles we need an oil change, right? Well, this is our oil change. We hit so many miles in our marriage and just needed a tune up. We needed to hear some things we had forgotten. After many years together it is easy to fall into a rut or a bad routine or habit, and sometimes you just need someone to nudge you onto the right track again.

After a little more than six or seven sessions there was a remarkable improvement. Heck, after our first session there was improvement! Our counselor recommended a certain book for us, and I am kind of embarassed to say we had a copy already and once we started reading it, it helped. Seriously. We have had more meaningful, real conversations in the past two months than in the whole last year combined probably. We were making the effort to really hear one another again. In our last session, before Ryan started his SDA, we watched a DVD our counselor recommended. During the DVD Ryan had his arm around me and I held his hand. We all noticed how different it was from our first session when we were as far apart as possible on opposite ends of the couch.

Even though it hasn't been long, we are so much happier already. We communicate better... we hear each other more... and we have slowly started eliminating bad habits we formed together. We take responsiblity for our own actions and behaviors, we try and help each other when we have bad days, and we both love each other enough to fight for our marriage. We were never on the verge of divorce or anything, but we knew that our marriage could be better because it had been before. Once the newlywed glow fades and time goes on it is easy to forget you have to check in with one another. This SDA is not going to be easy, and we knew that going in to it, so we both felt very relieved that we were able to reconnect on this level before it started. We plan on going back for another session when his first training cycle is over, but just to check in. We already know we are on a better path at this point and have the tools to keep moving forward.

This isn't a quick fix. Your car still will always need an oil change after so many miles, but at least now we have the tools to do it ourselves next time. And if we keep up the regular maintenance, we will have less problems later.

If you are in a similar situation and a military couple, I highly recommend using these sessions from Military OneSource. Even if you aren't military, some insurances cover counseling for a certain amount of sessions. I am glad we did. And if blogging about it helps anyone else, than the point of writing this has been achieved. I blog to chronicle our lives, sure, but also to help other military spouses who find my blog randomly or who are even regular readers. So there you go... someone else who has been there in some capacity. Every couple has issues and every couple needs a tune up now and then. Go for it. As always, feel free to comment or email me if you have any other questions that I may be able to help with.

Thanks for reading.

PS - This is a non sponsored post and all opinions are my own. Military OneSource is a great resource that we happily used, but they are in no way responsible for the content of this post. Same with the book review on amazon, purely my own opinion.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Training Cycle 1 and Life Goes On

As many of you know, my husband recently began his new job as a combat instructor with MCT (Marine Combat Training) as part of SOI East (School of Infantry). We are well in to his first training cycle and things have definitely been an adjustment. The hours are crazy, some nights he doesn't come home at all (and I have my trusty 9 mil on standby) and when he does the poor guy eats, showers and sleeps. He is definitely exhausted and I am trying my best to help where I can. I make his coffee, grab snacks and things for him when I can, have the house clean and leftovers in the fridge, and I try and keep the noise level down when he is home and asleep. It is weird after how much time we spent together lately that we barely see each other any more, most of that time is just sleeping, and he is usually too busy to even answer a text during the day. Training cycles are 29 days straight, so we still have a bit left to go in this first cycle, but hopefully with each cycle things will get a little easier. I know Ryan is pretty worn out already so here is to hoping things get better on his end too.

I finally had my pre-op appointment on Wednesday for my gallbladder removal. I met with the nurse, anesthesiologist and got blood work done. In between my meetings with each of them my doctor's office called me. I listened to the voicemail and they basically were saying there was a scheduling problem and they were wondering if I could push my surgery back until February 4th. Oh. Heck. NO. I was literally AT my pre-op appointment! Since Ryan cannot take leave my mom is flying in to take care of me. I am already scheduled for the time off work and the surgery is a week away! The surgery THEY scheduled back in MID DECEMBER.

Needless to say I was not happy.

I called them back and basically told them no... I could not switch. I mentioned my mom was flying in, ticket already booked, and it was not possible for me to reschedule. The nurse said "Ok, we will see what we can do. We just wanted to check with you and see if it was possible."

Well, it isn't.

I have been sick since October. I waited a month to get a diagnosis. When I finally did get one I had to wait another month to even see a surgeon. Then when I finally saw him I had to wait a week for them to schedule the surgery. Then I had to wait another five weeks for said surgery. Meanwhile I have been sick this entire time. I have altered my diet, I have endured gallbladder attacks, been nauseous nonstop, missed out on holidays and delicious food with my family, ruined date nights, been throwing up/nauseous/in pain/on medicines and I am DONE. There is no way I am switching my surgery when I am a week away from it... even if it is only by another week. Sorry. Done.

Anyway, I am working this weekend and Monday and Tuesday. My mom flies in Tuesday night and then Wednesday morning is my surgery. If anything changes that the hospital will have one angry patient on their hands! I may sound ridiculous right now, but I am so tired of not feeling well. I really hope this surgery works. I want to be able to eat again without being worried it will make me horrendously sick. I miss cheeseburgers. I miss just ordering whatever I want at a restaurant. I miss having the ability to cook anything and eat anything without fear of getting horribly nauseous or throwing up. I really, really hope this works.

Send some good vibes my way if you can!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Mike's Farm

As you may remember Ryan and I spent Christmas just the two of us in North Carolina this year. Christmas Day we were very lazy and the day after wasn't much better. Come Saturday we knew we had to get out of the house and do something. We had heard a lot about Mike's Farm, a local farm and restaurant that is very popular around here, and decided to give it a try. We left around two thirty Saturday afternoon since we knew the restaurant opened at four and they were doing Christmas Light hayrides starting in the evening. It was semi warm when we left the house but I did change in to a heavier sweater thinking it would get colder as the sun went down... boy am I glad I did!
We got to Mike's Farm a little after three o'clock and the place was packed. There was a huge line of people, which we naturally got into, not quite knowing what it was even for. We eventually realized it was the line for the restaurant that was not even open yet! As the sun got lower it started getting colder and Ryan and I spent a good bit of time in that line. At four o'clock it started moving. By the time we got to the front the first seating was full and we added our names to the wait list with an hour and a half wait looming in front of us! By this time it was pretty chilly but we made the best of it. We explored the farm store, the bakery, and got ourselves tickets for the hayride for after dinner.

Waiting in the cold to eat
At almost exactly an hour and a half we were called in to eat. The place was packed and absolutely adorable, decorated with old farming equipment, fake store fronts, and other fun things. The dinner is served completely family style and you eat as much as you want and they will bring you more of whatever you desire. Ryan was in heaven! We had our drinks served in mason jars (water for me, sweet tea for the hubs) and instantly had a full table of food. Biscuits, ham biscuits, fried chicken, pork loin, macaroni and cheese, corn, string beans, mashed potatoes, gravy... it was incredible.

The macaroni and cheese was to die for!
My full plate
Now I knew with my gall bladder issues I should not eat a lot of this stuff (ie the fried chicken and the macaroni and cheese and the gravy... you get the idea) but I figured I could do small pieces and portions and be ok. Nope. Even before the end of dinner I was six shades of white and deathly nauseous. Thankfully I had my medicine with me (Zofran, you rule) so I took that and sat there trying not to make any sudden movements. I skipped on dessert (banana pudding, chocolate cake, and cheesecake.... yes Ryan had all three) and sipped my water until Ryan was finished. I felt terrible but I definitely didn't want to go home after paying for the hayride and all the waiting we did.
So we went back out in the cold and got in another line for the hayride. The longer we stood in line the better I thankfully felt. It also helped the family behind us had two very entertaining kids and an even more entertaining mom. She was cracking us up the entire time we were in line and on the hayride. At one point she had asked us which line we were in, and we told her, and her son piped up "MOM! Stranger Danger!! You can't talk to them! Do you know them??" Hearing her explain how mommys are allowed to talk to strangers more than six year olds had us both laughing. We definitely had great conversations as we all stood in line. Finally we got on the hayride!

We had some Christmas music playing on our hay wagon and we rode in the dark for awhile... we were starting to get nervous about there actually being lights on this Christmas Light Hayride but we finally rounded a bend and BOOM! Lights everywhere. It was gorgeous!
Towards the end of the hayride I noticed a figure walking in front of our tractor. He was in USMC cammies and heading towards a building in front of us. The music changed to Kenny Rogers A Soldier's King, which I had never heard before, and our tractor stopped. During the following lyrics the Marine knelt down and handed over his medal to the baby and I basically had tears in my eyes. It was beautiful.
"He stood before the son of God, come to pay our debt
He smiled up at the soldier that the world would soon forget
So he held out his medal and said this for you I bring
There he swore allegiance to the newborn baby king"
After there were a few more lights and some fake snow (which was the soapy kind but still really gorgeous) and then we stopped again. Lee Greenwood's God Bless the USA started playing and then this giant American flag lit up with huge lights going off like fireworks behind it. Then a recording of children saying the Pledge of Allegiance played and the entire hayride stood up and said it along with them. Very patriotic and very touching for a finale!

That was the end of the hayride and by this point we were both pretty chilly! We got one last picture in front of the Merry Christmas sign (hey, it was still Christmas weekend!) and then got back in the warm car and headed for home.

We definitely hope to at least go back to the restaurant (after my surgery) and maybe even bring my family as it is definitely the sort of place my parents would get a kick out of. We also hope to maybe try to go next fall for their pumpkin picking and more hayrides! Definitely recommend a visit if you're in the area.... just be prepared to wait to eat! It is worth it.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

New Year's

Since we spent Christmas at home on our own we decided to spend New Year's with my family at their house in the mountains. I was really looking forward to a few days off and spending time with my family, so naturally five hours into the six and a half hour drive I get hit with a vicious gallbladder attack. I was instantly horribly nauseous and for the first time in some serious pain all across my back and stomach. I was worried I wasn't even going to make it to my parents' house without being sick so I was taking my zofran and trying to close my eyes and hope I made it. The thing with my gallbladder attacks has always been if I actually throw up it continues in that vein for days and days, so I was really hoping to avoid that. We eventually made it to the mountains and less than a mile from my parents' house it started to snow. It was gorgeous even in the dark. We made it and I sat up with my mom a bit (who plied me with more stomach medicines she had) before we went to sleep. The next day, New Year's Eve, we woke up to a beautiful dusting of snow.

And I still felt awful.

I laid on the couch (mistake 1) to nap on and off. My mom and Ryan went to the Cherokee Casino to do some gambling and have lunch and I knew I was in trouble when even that didn't want to entice me to get off the couch. I took a bath in the amazing bath tub at the house and still felt awful. We planned to go out to a fancy dinner that evening and as I sat up to get ready the pain that shot through my stomach and back was enough to make me sob like a five year old. So no dinner for me. We had reservations, and I felt terrible messing everything up, and was trying to get everyone to go. Ryan insisted on staying home with me and my parents and brother went for the dinner. Since they had made reservations and it was price fixed people had to go or pay anyway. It turned out the dinner wasn't that great and they got some BBQ for Ryan and came home with that later on.
I sat up on the couch and dozed all evening. Laying down apparently is a big no no during an attack (at least for me now) and my mom said she had the same problems. We all watched the ball drop at midnight and I went to bed drugged up and sick. New Year's Day I sat up on the couch all day barely moving. We watched football and I napped on and off before going to bed early.
Happy New Year, right?
Friday I was finally feeling better, I managed to eat a bit and shower and my mom and I even ventured out of the house. She took me to get my nails done and the color was a bit darker than I normally get but I love it. It is the shellac (no tips, my natural nails but the gel over it) so my nails still look great a week later.
I also discovered my eighteen year old brother can do hair better than I can. He did an elaborate braid for me one day when I was feeling a little better and it was way nicer than anything I can do! Apparently his girl friends all taught him how.
The rest of the weekend I wasn't up for much but I was up and moving. Stefan and Ryan got some guy time too. Mainly to watch football and talk Marine Corps stuff and working out... things like that. My family also celebrated a late Christmas together and we exchanged gifts one afternoon. My parents got us some much needed lotions and perfume/colognes, ornaments, candy, and some things from my grandparents like a knitted hat from my Babci.
Frick and Frack watching football
Ryan and my dad hiked a lot and took the Dup with them. I think out of any of us the Dup had the absolute best time. I swear my dog is part billy goat, she can climb straight up the side of a mountain like it is nothing! My dad took her to the ski slope one morning and she happily dragged him over the ice in excitement.

One of the days when I felt better Ryan insisted I go with him and the Dup on an easy walk. I wanted to get out of the house so I went, and it started raining naturally. We were all bundled up and under my parents' large umbrella but we had a wonderful time. The Dup climbed straight up and down the sides of the mountain and even jumped into the freezing mountain stream regardless of the fact it  was absolutely freezing!
Rylie was more concerned that we stopped than anything.

On a rock after hiking with Ryan and my dad.
Part mountain goat, part Dup.
Ryan managed to take some gorgeous pictures of their hikes and the scenery too since I wasn't exactly up and able to most of the time.
The creek that goes through my parents' back yard.
Part of a very difficult hike I did not go on! Ryan, my dad, and the Dup did
Yes, she climbed all the way up (and down) there by herself and absolutely loved it!
Dup on a log
The days I spent feeling better went by too fast. We went out for sushi one night all together and had a really great time. Lots of football was watched, Frozen was watched (since my mom had never seen it and got it for Christmas) and all too soon it was time to go home.
Such a gorgeous view from their driveway
I managed to drive a good portion of the way home before my stomach decided to roil a bit again and Ryan finished up the drive. Sunday we got home semi late and rushed to unpack and get ready for the week ahead.... which is now over and I am already behind blogging! Ryan picks up his first class this week as a Combat Instructor and our "new normal" for the next three years will begin. Wish us luck! And I hope you all had a Happy New Year.

PS - Gallbladder removal in T-17 days!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Retrospect

I try and do a retrospect of my year (at least via my blog) every year. Here is 2014. This was a rough year for me and for my family. We had a lot of things go wrong, dear family members passed away, relationships faltered and regained footing, accidents happened, illnesses... definitely not one of my better years. I am severely depending on 2015 to be better than this!

Past retrospects:


We spent our New Year's Eve in Morehead City at the Crystal Coast Countdown. New Year's Day was spent watching the Capital One Bowl.
I started working out again, this time weightlifting. Also didn't last.
Then we booked our AMAZING trip around the Mediterranean. I spent many later entries blogging about it afterwards, but the trip itself was in January. It was fantastic but...
The week we returned my beautiful Aunt Joan lost her battle with cancer. Our family was devastated.
I was still reeling from my Aunt's passing and as soon as I returned to North Carolina I started rehearsals for a show at the community theatre. I honestly didn't blog the entire month save for one give away. Probably the least amount of blogging I did since I began this thing five years ago.
I spent most of March blogging about our Trip from January.
I was cast in a production of A Doll's House that performed in March and April.


I blogged about acting and the show again.
I realized how badly I was slacking on my blog and talked about it. Plus I made Pisanki.
And I worked Easter Sunday. Which kind of stunk.


Ryan and I celebrated our Fourth Wedding Anniversary.
We had tickets to see Lady Antebellum in Raleigh, our first country concert!
I acknowledged how awesome all the mothers in my life are, especially my mom, for Mother's Day.
Ryan and I took a trip to Duplin Winery to celebrate our anniversary.
I attended the Paraprofessional Library Conference
And my BEST FRIEND in the whole world GOT MARRIED and I got to be a bridesmaid for the first time! Plus Ryan and I had a day to play in NYC and see a Broadway show together for the first time.

I blogged about being frustrated.
Then, a first for me, I angrily posted about a current event... I never do that!
Hurry up and wait strikes again. The Career Planner didn't submit my husband's SDA package (it sat on his desk for two weeks) so my husband had to come up with a Plan B.
 I had my first major sickness of the year and ended up in the ER... they thought I had meningitis but luckily that was not the case.
Plus we went fishing. And had lots of Stormy Weather days.
And Josh Groban answered me on Facebook, completing my life.


We had my sister in law Hannah here and spent the 4th of July with friends.
Ryan asked me out for a special Date Night.
I made some Observations stemming from my job.

 I mention my lack of blogging again, a theme for this year.
I was shattered when my childhood icon and favorite actor Robin Williams passed away.
Then Ryan and I got into a serious accident in our truck. We were lucky to walk away with cuts and bruises but our truck was totalled. We went to the ER to get checked out to be sure we were ok, my second trip this year.


I turned 27.
 Ryan and I had a "redo" of our Labor Day Weekend, what we would have done originally had the accident not happened. First he had a goodbye dinner with his shop since his SDA was finally approved and then we started our time together at Battleship North Carolina.
Then we did Hungry Town Bike Tours and Fort Macon.


I officially mention Ryan starting his SDA and we attend Oktoberfest.
 Then I got really sick. Sick enough I was out of work and rehearsals for about a week. ER trip number three as well as Urgent Care and my regular doctor.
The Dup turned 3!
I was in another show, Dracula, over Halloween weekend playing Lady Van Helsing.


The Marine Corps turns 239.
I finally got some answers as to why I was so sick. My gallbladder basically stopped working.
Ryan and I spent some much needed time together.
We attend the Birthday Ball for SOI in Wilmington.
I blog about being Thankful, regardless of the rough year.
We spend Thanksgiving in South Carolina with both of our families.


My childhood dog Dippy crossed the Rainbow Bridge at 13 and a half years old.
I shared our Christmas Decorations.
Ryan graduates SOI Instructor School.
My surgery gets scheduled for January 28th, 2015... adios gallbladder and nausea!
We spend a cozy Christmas at home together.
And for New Year's we plan on visiting my family in the mountains. I will probably blog about that in the New Year.

I hope you all had a fabulous 2014. Our was a little rough, one of our roughest, but there were still some great high points. I don't blog about everything, most of the good and bad made it here, but some things do not need to be shared with the internet. I know many bloggers braver than I who do share everything, but I am not able to do that. Know things are getting better and I am optimistic for the year ahead. I hope 2015 strengthens my relationships, my faith and gives us more ups than downs. I know Ryan's work schedule will be absolutely INSANE but I hope I use that time constructively too. I hope I am happy. I hope when I do my 2015 retrospective I make you all positively nauseous with how amazing the year is.
Happy New Year everyone. Once again, thanks for sticking with me through another year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas 2014

This Christmas Ryan and I decided to stay home and celebrate with just the two of us. We were expecting him originally to work through the holiday and when we found out he was off we decided to not stress with travel and stick with our original plan of staying home. As much as I missed seeing my family, it was nice to have this memory together. I worked Christmas Eve and then met Ryan at church on base for mass. It was beautiful in the church but outside it was pouring rain all day. At least it was warm, a balmy mid 70s for Christmas... very unusual for this Jersey girl!

After mass we went home and had a nice dinner (care of Honeybaked Ham Co to be honest!) that we just had to heat and put out. It was delicious and the Dup was begging at our sides for most of it.

After we ate we watched some TV together and I learned my husband had never seen It's A Wonderful Life. It was naturally on TV so I made him watch even though we missed part of the beginning. That is a classic that must be watched! We then exchanged one present for that night.... mainly because Ryan got me some cozy pajamas he wanted me to wear that night and for Christmas morning. I gave him the tablet he knew he was getting since he picked it out! He spent the rest of the evening adding his coursework to it and being geekily excited about the entire thing.
Christmas morning we had some left over ham and biscuits and exchanged presents. First we spoiled the Dup who was very excited (if not a little confused) about getting treats and presents. Her giant bone became her prized possession and she carried it around for three days before she realized she could eat it... then it vanished! Her stocking was full of stuff for her to destroy and only one toy survived the Christmas shredding, but she was occupied all day with them at least.

All of that kind of wore her out (overly stimulated much?) and she napped the rest of the day in a sun beam!
Ryan and I did the presents thing, he enjoyed his super large coffee pot and 24 hour vacuum sealed thermos I got him (as well as socks and exotic jerkey plus his stocking) and I cannot wait for my spa day he customized for me! I also got more pretty pajamas and a stocking with plenty of chocolate in it.

We spent most of the day watching A Christmas Story but then watched A Muppet Christmas Carol and White Christmas to break it up. Then my friend Donna came over, we ordered Chinese food and we opened a bottle of champagne to watch the Doctor Who Christmas Special. So it was a different Christmas for sure, but still very very enjoyable. I hope you and yours had a fantastic holiday and have a Happy New Year!