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Monday, September 3, 2012

How Does She: Being a Military Wife

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I guess this post is more of a How Did She, since we have been out of the military for about 4 years now. Although we may not be in the military anymore, I definitely learned quite a bit that I want to share. I know a few of my lovely readers have husbands who serve in the military. I am thankful for your husbands service and for your sacrifice. I am sure you will be able to relate to this post. Being a military wife is hard. You go long lengths of time, never seeing your spouse. Your children suffer because daddy is gone and you are all they have. Military wives have an amazing strength.

First off I guess I should share a little back story of how we ended up in the military. My hubby and I met in 2002. I had just graduated  from high school in June and met my hubby in November. He had just gotten back from New Zealand, where he served a two year mission for our church. He was home two weeks and then was set up on a blind date. Yep you guessed it. I was that blind date.

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I remember instantly being in love with that man. No jokes folks. Not only was he ridiculously good looking, but he made me laugh. He made me feel like the most important person in the room. I had never had that before. Yes we were young, but we feel in love. 1 year later we got married.

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Yes my hair is brown. I am sometimes a brunette:)

Now I remember he had briefly mentioned the military before we got married, but I shot it down with a BIG FAT "HECK NO". I had no desire to have my hubby in the military. It scared me to all heck. Our faith is a huge part of who we are. I worried he would lose it being in the military. We didn't really talk about it again. Flash forward 7 months later. I was 6 months pregnant with my son. Yes I know we went all in from the get go. Having a family has always been super important to us.

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Hubby started talking about the military again. He wasn't sure which branch, but kept feeling like it was something he should do. Oh man was this lady's heart worried. He made me come down to the recruiters office. He wanted to talk about all the options that go along with being in the military. He was stoked....me.....not so much. My hubby told me we should pray about it. I thought he meant when we got home. Oh no! Homeboy asked the recruiter if we could use his office to pray. I know right! We did and boy did I hate the answer I got. I know he was right. I knew that joining the military and starting this new journey for our family was exactly what our Heavenly Father wanted us to do. It scared me more than I had ever thought I could be. I knew my hubby would be gone and I was a newlywed. I had dreams of us being 60 and saying we had never spent a night apart. Fat chance now right?

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Well we made it. He went through boot camp and AIT training. I had our son, while hubby trained in Georgia. I honestly thought I couldn't do it alone, but somehow I manged. I know that God watched out for us. I learned from the get go that being a military wife meant I literally had to learn to suck it up. Whining and complaining was not an option. My family couldn't understand what I was going through. They didn't know what it meant to miss your spouse that much. The only one who came close was my mother-in-law. She had been a military wife herself. It was hard, but we did it. My hubby came home from training and we moved to Washington.

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I can remember the day we left in our Silver Daewoo. I had never lived out of state. In my whole 19 years, I had only lived in 2 houses. It was scary. I hugged my mother and waved to my dad, as we pulled out of the drive. Little did I know I was going to become the strongest I had ever been.

Now for all you military wives out there. I am sure you can relate to the goodbyes you have to endure with each transfer. Making a home and then having to pack it all up again. As a military wife, you learn that the military didn't issue the soldier a family. They primarily care about that soldier. As a military wife, it is not your job to complain to your hubby, but to encourage. To encourage them to serve and serve well. We made our home in Washington. We were there for 6 months. I remember that because I was scared, knowing he would be deployed to Iraq. I prayed every night for us just to have a little time. I wanted my son to actually know his father before he had to ship out. After 6 months my hubby came home and told me he was being deployed. Have you ever heard a heart shatter? Well mine did that night. We had a few months and then I came back to Vegas to live with family, while he went to that desert that many of us military wives have heard so much about.

I became a single parent. I did it all. The grocery shopping, full time child care, laundry, cleaning, late night wake ups with my son. It was hard. I did have some help, but nothing that could replace my hubby. I think this is when I learned something about myself. I was stronger than I ever thought I was possible. I knew I could do it. My Bubba and I did everything together and we still do.

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After Hubby was home and such, we had my daughter. Hubby was getting ready to get out of the military. We were making plans. Big ones I tell you. Hubby wanted to be a cop. Jobs were available here in Vegas and we were beyond excited. I think I talked to my Mom and Sisterinalws everyday about the "plan". Then that dreadful word stop loss. Anyone know what that means? Well Stop loss means that the military can prevent you from getting out of the military and make you get deployed with your unit. That is exactly what happened to us. Now we were facing another deployment. I couldn't believe it. Now I was going to have two children to take care and be on my own. Oh and the cherry on top, my hubby had to go back to that desert I had come to hate so much.

I honestly look at that next year as the worst year ever. Honestly. I can not joke about this one. I lived with family and it was ridiculously hard. I love my family to pieces, but it was still hard. I cried to my hubby every single night. I was one of the lucky few who got to talk with my hubby, since he specialized in communications. When I think back, I have no clue why he even wanted to call me every night. I seriously was a slobbering mess. I literally couldn't handle it. The finances were too much (I mentioned that here remember?),. Everything was too much. I literally felt like God must have some sense of humor because I couldn't handle it at all. My four year old son was angry. I was too. His dad had to leave and he didn't know why. He acted out and all I could do was love him. I knew exactly how he felt. I felt abandoned too, even though I knew deep down hubby had no control. I finally went down to the military base and just sat and talked to a counselor. She was the sweetest lady ever. I told her everything. I told her how scared I was and how my son was angry. She just sat there and listened. She was a military wife herself and understood everything I was going through. She had been there before. At that point in my life, that is what I needed. I just wanted someone to understand. Someone to understand how hard it is to be the one left behind. How hard it is to worry every day that your husband may not come home. That day, after I vented all my inner fears and secrets to this stranger, something came over me. Strength I never knew I had. I knew everything would be alright. My faith in God grew. I knew he had faith in me to overcome this trial, he was putting my family through. I just had to have faith too.

The military taught me to stand on my own two feet. It taught me to believe in myself and have faith in my hubby. He is the most amazing man I know. He sacrifices everyday for my family. That year that he was stop loss, changed our family. He got out of the military, after his deployment, to find our nation in one of the biggest economic depressions ever. Jobs were scarce. His dream job was no where to be found. The police departments had no money to hire.

It was hard, but I knew that anything was better than us being apart. He knew that too. Yes he could have stayed in the military, but for us being together was far more important. It is hard being a military wife. I did it for 5 years. I know there are many who do this every day, every year. Their husbands go career. You women are so brave and are the women I looked up to, when I got down and didn't know how I could get through. You all have so much strength and I am thankful for the service your husbands provide.

After getting out of the military, hubby went back to school. A benefit of being a soldier is a free college education. He goes to school and we get basic housing, which gives us our $14,000 to live off for the year. Things are tight. We struggle, but I would never change it. I would never change us. Being in the military has taught me never to take my hubby for granted or the time we get together. We have been apart and it royally sucks. We cherish ever moment we have together.

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One year after hubby was out of the military, I remember him coming home and asking me a question. He wanted to know if I knew now how our life would be, would I have still married him. I jokingly said "You mean if I knew I would be an ex-military wife and poor?" He laughed and said "yes, would you still have married me?". My answer is the same now, then, and as it was on November 29, 2003. "Yes!". We may not be rich, but I get to be married to my best friend. He is an amazing father and husband. I honestly can not imagine my life without that man of mine. I am thankful I met that green eyed man on a blind date. My life forever changed, but it changed for all the right reasons. I am thankful for all those military wives and spouses alike. You are the unsung heroes, behind the scenes of those amazing soldiers. You keep the lights on, while they are away. Thank you for all you do, everyday and night. You officially rock, if you didn't know it already. If you are struggling, remember it only gets better.

I don't want to forget my time as a military wife. It strengthened me to become the woman I am today. I have learned to stand on my own feet and know that I have more power than I ever thought I could have. I am a Mom, Wife, and Woman. I am thankful for that gift I get each day.

If you know a military wife, seriously give them a hug or a sweet smile.  It will mean the world to them.

Thank you lovelies for always reading and letting me share whatever is going on in this heart of mine. Thank you and enjoy this Labor Day. Remember those who have fallen and those who strive and live today.

God Bless you all and this 
amazing country we get to live in.

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34 comments:

  1. Wow, what a beautiful story...tears in my eyes...thanks for your service tot his country...would love a follow at threedawgladydesigns.blogspot.com when you get a chance. Happy Labor Day!

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    1. Thanks so much! I will definitely check your blog out;)

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  2. Awww I'm a Marne wife myself, (three months left to go thank God!) and I so know that feeling when the boys deploy. Michael has been gone twice, (two times in two years...) and I had our baby girl the second go around. It's sooo hard but sooo worth it. It has been a blessing to our marriage, because it has made it so much stronger, and you know that once you've been through a deployment, you can get through ANYTHING lol. This was a beautiful post!

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  3. I'm married to a man in the Air Force. 4 years this October. As much as I love him & us, there is so much unnecessary stress in the military. I think that's what gets me most. Housing being late, ignorance from the civilian workers, & half of the things that should be so simple are so complicated. That, on top of losing your family, makes the life that much harder. The fact that I don't matter to the Military & can't fix a thing is what bothers me most.

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  4. Danielle... thank you so much for sharing your story! My husband has been in the military for 9 years now, and you are so right - it's the hardest thing I have ever done, and a lot of times it is so hard to ask for help. But you are also dead on when you say it teaches you be strong and stand on your own two feet. I never knew how strong of a person and mother I could be until my husband went to Afghanistan, and I know without a doubt it brought my daughter and I closer. Thank you for being brave enough to tell everyone about your struggles :)

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  5. Dear Danielle,
    I normally love your blog, I follow it for a few months and you always have so many clever thoughts. I do not like to talk about politics and I do not think this is a place to do so, but regarding this post I have to give my opinion. I am orginally from a small country named Serbia, which had a terrible dictator making crazy things in '90s. In '99 Nato, guided by USA, severely bombed my country in order to help the removal of this dictator. It influenced our lives terribly, I was 14, bombs were falling all over my city (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1999_NATO_bombing_of_Novi_Sad), i did not go to school and my parents stayed without a job. We were never involved into military, my city is 300 miles away from the war areas, I was just a child and my life will never be the same. I know that the intention was good, but I do not think the violence is the way. So please all of you, think once again is the job in military (especially Air force) a good thing to do. Thank you :)

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    1. Jelena~ I'm sorry for the hardship and loss that you and your family endured in Serbia, but being a military wife isn't about politics. It's about patriotism, pride, and love for many things including your family, country and future. I wish that we were not engaged in conflicts all over the world, but I cannot make those decisions. When serving in the military you don't necessarily get a choice of what activities to participate in. My husband is in the navy, and I honestly cannot tell you what he does, or where he has been because I'm not allowed to know. The US no longer has a draft because people like my husband are willing to serve. I am proud of my him and the choices he has made. He is a great provider for our family, and hopefully when he gets out he will have a chance at a better future because of his military benefits.

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    2. I could not agree more with you, Jelena. The conflicts in Afghanistan and particularly in Iraq make me angry. There was a reason for Afghanistan; but 10 years later it is nothing more than another Vietnam. But Iraq was unnecessary, accomplished nothing, and hurt the people. My brother-in-law's sister lives in Baghdad. They went from a comfortable life (certainly more comfortable than the rest of my brother-in-law's family, who live in Egypt) with meat every day, reliable energy, clean water, good schools, etc., to poverty. Their children had to drop out of school because tuition went from nothing to several thousand dollars a term. They used to be safe; when things were at their worst the women couldn't even go outside without a man and spent most of the time cowering inside. I don't know if it's improved since then (although I doubt it) because another upshot of the war in Iraq is that my Egyptian brother in law will no longer talk to me because I'm American. It's torn apart families and for what? To get rid of a dictator? Why was Hussein so important when there are so many other dictators out there? I appreciate the hardships you went through as a military wife, Danielle, and I know your husband had no say in where he went; but I cannot thank him for his service to my country because, this war has served nobody.

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    3. (I'm the same anon as before) Here's another example of how much Iraq has hurt the US globally: When I learned that things were for my brother-in-law's sister - no food, no clean water, not even a bar of soap - I called up his wife and said, "I'd like to send some things to your sister-in-law in Iraq. Can you give me her address?" I thought I'd put together some basic foodstuffs, toiletries, etc., just because they needed it. She got very quiet and said, "Please don't do that. If you send them anything they'll think she's a collaborator and they'll kill her and her entire family." We have done nothing in Iraq (and Afghanistan) but create a new generation of terrorists.

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    4. Hi Jelena. Thankyou so much for your comment. I do not like to get political and my blog will always be a place to inspire women. Thankyou for sharing your comment. I appreciate it. Truly I do. I agree that war is not always the answer. This post was not a political one. I am not taking a stance on whether war is right or wrong. This post is for all those women who stand by their husbands.
      Women who support their soldiers, no matter where in the world they live. I will always support
      those patriotic men who sacrifice daily. I will always
      support those sisters, mothers, wives,
      grandmothers, etc. I am thankful for my husband and his service. I wrote this to share my experience, with hopes it might inspire others going through similar things. Thankyou again for reading and sharing.

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  6. I love reading your blog. It makes me laugh and gives me great ideas. I admire not only our soldiers, but also the families that sacrifice as well. I dont begin to know how hard that is, but I appreciate all that they do. Looking forward to more pics and blogs about the great deals you find at thrift stores. I love shopping at our local Goodwill stores. We have 3 within 20 minute drive. I find so many great deals. I love seeing what others have scored. Have a great labor day.

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  7. I love that you posted them. My hubby was in the Military was 2003-2009. We got married in 2007 and I moved to the military base with hubby. I've never hated the word "desert" more than I did then. He was in CA a lot for training while I was back in NC, then he deployed and was gone for what seemed like forever. My friends and family didn't understand either which made it harder. Hubby's out of the military now, and his dream job too was to be a cop but of course didn't get the job. Because of his back injury in "the desert" he had a hard time getting a job when he got out and was out of work until this past march. So I totally understand the "ex military wife and poor" life lol. But I love him and wouldn't trade him for anything.

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  8. Hi Danielle, I found your blog over the past few days and it has really made me think about the way I do things. I was a British military wife for 18 years and spent the first 6-7 years of our marriage shopping once a month ( normally pay day ), and having to seriously think about what we were going to eat and spend our few pennies on. I was lucky enough to have a mum that clothed both my children until they were 5 and 3 as money was tight. My husband was away for 6-9 months of every year and was terrible with money he would think nothing about spending everything in our bank account in one day! Normally pay day or the day after hence shopping on pay day. I took the decision to become a single mum when my children were 16 & 14 and things have been tough and still are. I am currently putting both through university as well as working full time, also paying a mortgage so that they always have a home. The past few days I have sorted through my larder cupboard ( built by one of my brothers on buying my house ) thrown all the out of date food away, made a cupboard/ fridge/ freezer spreadsheet, and a meal planner. First meal tonight leftover chicken biriani, all from what we already have, enough food for the next couple of weeks when we start shopping again how we used to, I am a master at making meals from nothing. I have tried your chicken and pineapple dish already, tweaked a bit as we do not have the seasoning here, and it was a big hit.
    W don't have thrift stores like yours, only charity shops. The clothing in them leaves a lot to be desired so we will have to think of a solution to that dilemma.
    I am hoping this is a new start as my aim is to reduce my mortgage to be paid off by the time I am 60 not the 70 years it is currently at.
    I would just like to say thank you for giving me the wake up call that I needed.

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    1. The changes you are making are awesome! You should be so proud of yourself. I am glad that some of my tips can help you out.

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  9. Danielle, I am so hurt and surprised to hear you say you had no support or help from your family. Justin jumped at helping you on a regular basis and I tried to always offer you love and support. You just made us sound like such a horrendous family to have been given to you. We are nice people who loved and still love you. Hopefully you publish this comment so I can stick up for Justin especially. To say he never helped you even when you asked for it is a gross understatement to the wonderful man who tried to make up for his brother being gone.

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    1. I am so sorry that is how the post came across. I love Justin. He is my brother and I would never want to hurt him. He did help me and has always been there when I needed him. When I wrote about my struggles, I only wanted it to be a way to help others going through something similar. I wanted them to know that they are not alone in their feelings and that it does get better. It was hard when my hubby was gone, but I got through it. I become stronger because of it. Truly Holly you are my family and I am thankful for my family. I would never want to hurt you guys.

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  11. Thanks so much for sharing this post. Seeing these last few comments helps me realize what a struggle you have been through. I've been through similar, and it is so freeing to have a blog, whether or not anyone reads it just to be able to share YOUR truth without being shut down, or told you "perceived" it wrong. Your experience is yours and it is real to you, and those that love and support you will be glad to know how you felt. I so appreciate the honesty and positive loving atmosphere you create on your blog. It has helped so many. I'm glad you and your hubby and babies have each other. We are all learning so much from what you learned the hard way! :).

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  13. Sometimes it is hard to convey the struggles a military wife may face without hurting your families feelings. There is an emotional and spiritual void in your home without your husband home. Sometimes it is hard for families of military members and spouses to realize no matter how they may try, they just can't fill that void. When you are stressed to the max comments they make when trying to be helpful may seem insulting to your parenting skills. It's difficult to do it alone, and all you want to do is try to be strong and fill that void for your children. It's definitely a balancing act. I don't think you meant to hurt your family with this blog, and I enjoyed hearing your experiences because my husband is going to deploy in a month. I worry about my child and about living with my parents again for the first time in ten years. I do know that this is Gods plan and that everything will work out for the best.

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    1. Thankyou so much for your sweet comment. It is hard and I totally agree with your comment. I will keep your family in my prayers and thanks for your husbands service.

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  14. I am in tears! This is a wonderful post! I am not a military wife, but when Hubby and I got married I moved 10 hours away from my family and everything familiar. I had only visited my Hubby at his home once before we married. The first 6 or so weeks were really difficult for us. I was loving being married, and at the same time so depressed. This was the biggest change I had ever experienced in my 21 years. I was so lonely when my Hubby was at work. I was used to having a lot of rich friendships, and then I moved and knew no one. I'm usually an outgoing person, but right after we got married, I didn't really want to talk to anyone at church without Hubby right there beside me. In fact, sometimes even just going to church was so overwhelming that we'd leave as soon as services and Bible class were over. This is a small struggle compared to your hubby being deployed twice, but reading your words is exactly how I felt just a few short weeks ago.

    God is faithful! He has thankfully helped me to feel at home now. I was just saying to Hubby this weekend that things feel "normal" now!

    Thank you for your words! It is a comfort to know that there is someone who knows how you feel!

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    1. What a wonderful comment Lori. I am so glad you related to this post. It is exactly why I wrote it. I am so glad that things have gotten better. Being married is wonderful and sometimes that transition can be a bit tricky and lonely when you miss your family. Once you get into the swing of things, married life is awesome;) thanks again for your sweet comment.

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  15. Looking through your blog has been so inspirational and I've been trying to implement some of your strategies... so I've nominated you for a 7 things about me award :) can't wait to hear what you share! check it out here! http://pinbusting.blogspot.com/2012/09/7-things-about-me.html

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  16. what a great story, Thank you for sharing

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  17. I thought your story was very touching. I do not see in your post what your family member is saying that you said no one helped. I too was a military wife many years ago at 17 pregnant with my first child. My husband had to leave when I was 7 months pregnant & I stayed with my parents. I am an only child & they were good to me but it is not the same as missing your husband. We were able to go overseas with him when our daughter was 2 months old. We were so poor but I was so grateful. Living in a foreign country I learned to be frugal & to grow up. I wouldn't trade those 4 years for anything. We had a son when we returned stateside. Now it has been over 40 years & I love to be with my best friend everyday. He was diagnosed with leukemia a year ago. We were devastated. It is not curable but it is the type you try to manage. We cherish each day with each other, our 2 children & 5 Grandkids. I am grateful that by being frugal my husband is able to retire early in his late 50's. You never know what life holds. He had went to the doctor for a regular checkup & found out he has leukemia. Keep spreading the word about living simply it is so important. There are so many young people today that don't know how to cook and manage a household. For that matter even people my age too.

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  18. As I finally sit down at the end of a long day I read your post, a little tender mercy. Just what I needed today, maybe even written just for me. Thank you! My husband is overseas right now, thankfully not in an active war zone, but still away for the next year with the Air Force. Today was our oldest's first day of kindergarten and it was heartbreaking for him to miss it. I know he would have given anything to be there. Later I realized that he will also miss our only other child's first day of kindergarten next year as he won't be back yet. It made the time ahead of us (14 months) seem to slow. However, one smile came today as he posted on Facebook that he received his first package from home after weeks of waiting for the delivery. I pray that this little box brings him joy for the weeks to come as it was stuffed with some of his favorite goodies and some items that he could not do without.

    We too moved with family to help. They help but it definitely doesn't mean that it is not hard. Oh, as you know, IT IS HARD! Even though with family, we are still displaced, having moved from Texas to Utah, from a huge military and supportive community to one that doesn't understand military life at all. We are living in tight quarters and back at home after being on my own for the past 15 years. I struggle settling too much here knowing that when he returns we will be moving on to California to accept our next assignment. Sometimes I question, just as you did how much my husband really wants to talk to me as sometimes I complain about the situation and how hard things are here when he is the one overseas serving.

    So maybe today is my day to say that this stinks and vent to someone else who understands how hard it is to be the one left behind. Reading your post made me know that there are others who endure this too. I too know we can grow through this experience and that increased faith can be a major reward if we rely on Him. Tomorrow, we military wives, wake up and do it again because we know that our husbands and families need us and because despite or individual political views, we honor our commitments, support the decisions of our leaders and as families make the sacrifices that few Americans make today. And as women, we love our husbands through supporting them across the distance and do our best to bridge the gap between.

    Thanks for encouraging the tears to fall. I needed it as I have put up a strong face for too long.

    Now ready to face tomorrow,
    Another Danielle

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    1. Danielle that was absolutely beautiful. I am so thankful that this helped you today to find the strength. Your family will be in my prayers. I do understand the hardships. We love our extended family, but nothing will ever replace not having your spouse there. I am glad that came across in the post. It was my true intention for writing it. I never wanted to hurt my family's feelings or make them feel like I didn't appreciate their help. I simply wanted to convey it was real hard. It doesn't mean others don't struggle. We all struggle everyday as moms, wives, and women. This is just one struggle I shared today. Have a wonderful day Danielle and thank you again for your sweet comment.

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  19. You guys are amazing! Truly inspiring to read this. You're a super momma! xoxo

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  20. Danielle - good for you for putting yourself out there so openly for everyone. You're so right about how much it helps people to know they are not alone in their feelings and thoughts. I can't even begin to imagine how hard it must be for those whose husbands have to go away for extended periods of time for whatever reasons. I know I'm lucky to have my husband home all the time - even if he does work long hours. I think it's just always easier to look to others and see what you DON'T have - you always do a fabulous job of looking at what you DO have - and that is a very special trait!
    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a fabulous week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success
    http://www.jembellish.blogspot.com/

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  21. I'm an Army wife. One deployment behind me and another on the horizon. I'm graduating in May with my Master's in Social Work, hoping to be a counselor just like the one you talked to :) I've been there, I am still in it, I get it, and I look forward to listening and helping in every way that I can. Thanks for the post. We are some tough cookies ;)

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  22. I married at 20 and become a young military wife too. Wouldn't trade that experience for the world, even though it was difficult at times.
    Thank you for sharing your story. :)

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  23. Danielle, I know this is comment is coming a long way off from when you originally posted it, but THANK YOU! Even coming from a military family, it doesn't make it any easier with my own little family now. I truly cherish your blog and love that you maintain a peaceful post, despite various comments. I am excited to narrow down our finances and be able to build and pay off our dream home in less than 15 years. Here in TN our prices for homes are much greater unfortunately :/, but still very excited as I love a bargain!! Thank you again!

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  24. Hi Danielle,

    I've been reading your blog for a short while and came across this post. I am in the military - active duty for 10 years, and a Reservist the past 3 years - and I am also a mom to three lovely babies. My husband was active duty when we first met, and I have experienced leaving on a deployment, being the one who was left (while he deployed), and being the sole supporter for a while overseas while my civilian husband stayed at home with our first child. It is tough for moms, military wife and military member. It is tough for husbands too, military husband and military member. One thing I learned to rely on was the strength of each other to get through the many uncertainties of military life - our relationship grew stronger because it had to. If we did not rely on each other, we would have divorced long ago (not an option). But I am trying things as a stay-at-home mom now, hence the switch to Reserves, and to my surprise, I love it. I love the military, and I love my family, and am making them a priority. Thank you for your blog, the honesty and the "realness" that so many of us are actually living. And of course, thanks for your service - once a veteran, always a veteran. :)

    Sincerely,
    Shannon

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Thank you so much for all your sweet comments. I read every.single.one. They rock my socks! Thanks!

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