Saturday, April 13, 2013

Dear "Old Army" Life

I sat down the other night after taking time to pull away from conversations and everyday life and took the time to think about what we have been through, where we have been and where we are now. Where we are now is so incredibly different than where we were in life just a couple years ago. After all this time, I have found a way to be content with the past and our experiences/obstacles because each significant and insignificant moment in our lives have made each of us who we are today. They have molded us into the lives we live and left us with the will to survive and fight harder for things we desire in life. Things will never be the same, not as they once were. But, that is okay because things always happen for a reason. With all that I have been through from the army life, Kev's time active duty and now as a wounded veteran, kids, and my own serious health issues/surgeries, this is our life and I am so proud of where we are and who we are. 

When I sat down and wrote, it became a letter to our old Army life. It all just poured out of me in an unexpected way. I never thought I would just sit down and become honest with myself and then share it with others. I did this because often we lose ourselves in the negative side of this life and forget that there is so much positive to it - even with the breakdowns and numerous shedding of tears. I have decided that I am going to put a sincere smile on my face and enable myself to be happy despite the hard times, despite the breakdowns, despite the injuries and despite what we are going through - and you can too! Our lives as spouses of wounded veterans is far from easy, but the more any of us dwell on the past and focus on the negative aspects, the worse off each of us will be. Why bring unneeded misery to our lives, we have enough of that with daily living when moments are rough. We can all make a difference, whether it's revolving around our families or taking our own experiences and using them to help others. I have taken this stand and want to use our experiences to help others, to let them know they are never alone. We have all been there.

I submitted the below article to Yahoo Contributor and they published it a couple days ago, I won't share the whole thing on here, however you can always click HERE to view it on Yahoo's website.

.......While I so desperately have wanted to hate you, I simply cannot. Had it not been for you and all of your experiences, Kevin and I would not be anything close to what we are today, nor would our marriage hold the love and strength it does. Sure, I despise the stress that came with you, the numerous times Kevin spent away from us, the many super close calls, multiple changes you brought into our lives, injuries Kevin now faces, and so much more. Yet, without you, this strength that now lives within me would be nonexistent and my heart would never swell with pride every time our National Anthem plays loudly through the speakers and brings me to tears. I wouldn't know what my heart is capable of handling and loving, just as I wouldn't know what it is like to miss someone so much every ounce of my being hurts or what it's like to fall in love with the same person over and over again upon every return home. I wouldn't know what it's like to fill with pride and love as my husband dressed in his BDU's and later in ACU's, stood in formation, or led his soldiers. I wouldn't know what it's like to wait for that one phone call to come in in over two months and that one call get me through two more months of limited communication while he was in a war zone. I wouldn't know the feeling of rockets hitting his FOB while we are talking on the phone and listen to him as he drops the phone after telling me he loves me; only to breakdown hours later as his voice came through the speaker of that same phone telling me he was okay, they had just lived through another attack........

.......You've taught me patience in every step, just as how you have taught me "Hurry up and Wait" in everyday life. Everyone knows we all became professionals in this sense. During his first deployment, you taught us to never take a single moment for granted and to cherish every day that we live, good or bad. You've given me strength and confidence to stand up for what I believe in, to never give up, and to fight for Kevin with his injuries, after all no one else can advocate for him as I can. You left us with the cold reality of tomorrow not being promised so to enjoy each breath we take and to always smile.......

To read this article in full, please visit Please feel free to share this blog post and the article. 

To contact me, email

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Eggs in a Vent

You know that moment when you grab the clothes from your dryer only to find everything is still damp? You have to throw everything back in and start another dry cycle, of course with a bit of frustration. Then, as the dryer is turning, your mind starts running crazy... "Is it the heating element?" or "could the vent be clogged somewhere?". Regardless what it is, in your busy life it's an inconvenience. This is what happened to me last week, however it was neither of these issues.

Kevin and I went to Home Depot to pick up some things to clear the vent, thinking the cause was it being clogged. The dryer is barely eight months old, so we were hoping it wasn't the heating element or anything like that.

When we made it home, we pulled the dryer out and found two things... 1. The vent and duct leading from my laundry room to the outside is NOT closed off. In other words, there is comets openness for things to come in and out! and, 2. This is what we found...

Super cute, blue bird eggs!!! I wanted to cry. By running the dryer with the best and eggs in the vent, those babies had absolutely no hope in surviving!

What gets me even more, not even a few days before Spring Break I was downstairs and heard a scratching noise upstairs. Every time I made it to the top of the staircase, the noises stopped, so I could never find the freaking noise! All we can think is the mama bird decided to form her best in the vent right before w left and laid the eggs while we were away for the week. Why she would decide upon our dryer vent is beyond me and I hate that she did!

So, next time your dryer isn't drying all the way, check all areas before taking the time to spend money and time on parts that may not be needed!

Also, keep in mind clogged vents in dryers can lead to house fires. We are very lucky in this aspect that it did not catch on fire as clogged as it was.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Looking Back on February

February was an amazing month, it started off wonderful and ended the same. It's been such a long time since I have been able to say something such as that. Sure, there were plenty of bumps in the road and difficult times, but so much was learned and many unexpected experiences were lived. I wrote about the WWP Caregiver Retreat that I was blessed to attend and the impact it made in my life, but I have not yet shared the latest trip I was on - I was simply blessed to attend the USO Caregivers Conference in San Diego, CA on February 25. This was an unexpected trip for me and it was one that I am still trying to process and that will play a part in my life from here on out.

Early on February 24th, I "fearfully" headed to Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta to start by short, but amazing journey. Fearfully because I HATED flying, especially being that the only time I had flown before this was from Atlanta to Frankfurt, Germany; which is a bit crazy as first flights. This time, however, I was flying solo - no husband and no kids. To my surprise my flights were actually pretty good and a bit relaxing for the most part! There was a bit of turbulence on the way to San Diego as we flew over El Paso and then on the return flight home from Vegas we hit quite a bit of turbulence that had me uneasy for a few minutes. On the way to San Diego, I had a connecting flight in Houston, TX then on the home we connected in Vegas. All in all, the flying and connections were actually kind of fun!

I arrived to the Atlanta airport a few hours before my boarding time and being that I had free time I was able to meet up with a long time friend of ours, Jason. It was so good to see him and made me miss hanging out with him and his wife, Heather even more. It's so good to still have friends after so many years and experiences in life.

After hours of flying, I arrived in San Diego a little after 4pm. I met up with someone from the USO and another fellow caregiver at the airport and together we headed to Camp Pendleton. San Diego is a beautiful city - well, from what I could see between landing and our drive. It is definitely a city that I would love to return to and actually spend time sight seeing. We arrived and checked into our rooms right as the sun was beginning to set. To those of you who don't know me real well, one of the things on my Bucket List was to see the sun set on the west coast...this trip enabled me to complete this. The sunset was beautiful, a bit magical. My room faced the Pacific Ocean and was an amazing view. Following the sunset and some downtime to collect ourselves, we all met in the lobby to go out for dinner. Once dinner was over, we made it back to the hotel around 9 and I believe most of us headed to our rooms and crashed for the night.

Early Monday morning, February 25, 2013 we all headed to the opposite side of Camp Pendleton to begin our day with the USO Caregivers Conference, which was above and beyond outstanding. I highly recommend all caregivers to attend a conference if given the opportunity. I won't go into a ton of details on this post since I already posted a pretty detailed post a couple weeks ago. Honestly, I started this post last month and thought that I completed and published it. Obviously, my thought process was not accurate and I am now trying to catch back up! To read more about the actual conference, click HERE. I still feel incredibly blessed that I was fortunate enough to attend this conference and to meet the people I met! Absolutely amazing experience with fantastic bonds that were formed! Connecting with people is the key to so many things in life, especially when connecting with individuals that get us and our lives!

Following our day, we all headed back to the hotel for some downtime...or in mine and Monique's case, a walk to the Exchange, which was down hill from the hotel. How neither of us slid down this hill is a bit of a mystery. We enjoyed our afternoon and the warm, sunny California weather. We did take some time to ourselves after our trip out before dinner. Dinner was spent with a nice group of people, and many conversations at our table of seven. I thoroughly enjoyed the people I sat with and chatted with.

Once we were back to the hotel, Monique and I talked to Kristen who happily took us to Oceanside Beach for a few minutes! This trip was for me to dip my toes in the icy cold Pacific Ocean and walk on sand that literally felt like ice! It was so cold, yet such an awesome experience for me! This was the first time I had ever been able to step foot in the Pacific Ocean! The furthest west I have been is the eastern side of New Mexico!
Beautiful way to start my morning!!!

Monique and I with Elmo at the Conference

Oceanside Beach, CA - My FIRST time ever at the Pacific Ocean!

Following an exciting evening, Monique and I said our goodbyes in the lobby and each headed back to our rooms. It was time to pack and get ready for bed. The following morning I met a group in the lobby at 5am so we could head to the airport in San Diego. Our few days there had sadly come to an end.

This trip is one that will stick with me from here on out for so many reasons. I was able to mark things off of my bucket list; flying from the east to the west coast, seeing the sun set on the Pacific (beautiful), see San Diego (even if it was to land and take off), visit California, walk on the Pacific beach and dip my toes in the cold water, see the Grand Canyon (okay, so we flew over it. I was still able to see it, which is what counts!), and to make more connections that I will always carry with me in life. February changed so many things about me and my life that I am still trying to process it and take it all in. I feel as though a weight has been lifted off and that I can breathe again.

Thank you to all in Tampa, FL and San Diego, CA for making such a positive impact in my life! I can only hope and pray that I can leave people with a better outlook in life and a reason to never give up in life!
Until next time, San Diego...
Flying over the Grand Canyon was a picture perfect site
Leaving Vegas, flying over states, and landing in Atlanta... Home for this southern girl!

Monday, April 1, 2013

iTunes Giveaway

To many, music is a true therapy in life. I know for me it definitely is! I can relate to so many songs and have many that have helped me get through some of the most traumatic times in life, as well as the best. For example, "Somebody Must be Prayin for Me" by Tim McGraw. For years now, that has been a song that has guided me through so much, especially the bridge and chorus,

Sometimes she stares out the window
And wonders about her hollywood dream
But when she tucks her kids in bed
she softly whispers as they fall asleep

Somebody must be prayin' for me
Somebody out there must be prayin' for me
Ain't it funny how you always find just what you need
Somebody must be prayin' for me 

If you know me well, then you know the reason without me having to go into an explanation. There was so much I wanted to do in the music business, then I found out I was pregnant with Breanna at the young age of 17. Five months after an emergency c-section and holding my sweet preemie, we found out that we were having baby #2, Caitlin. At the age of 19, I had carried two high-risk pregnancies, survived two c-sections and watched as two sweet little girls took over every part of my life. At the age of 23, Nicholas was born via c-section. At 25, I had to undergo a hysterectomy due to my medical issues. All of the dreams and goals I had that I walked away from, were for a reason. At the time I could not see that of course, now I do. It leaves me so thankful for taking pregnancy on and becoming a mother at a young age. Had I not, I never would have been able to have my children. That alone has left me so blessed in life.

Anything Miranda Lambert makes me smile. There are so many songs I can relate to and that seem so fitting in life. Heart Like Mine is one of my absolute favorites and makes me think of me every time I hear it. When I See You Smile is a song that has helped me stay strong and helps me know that everything will be okay. It was mine and Kev's wedding song. Long Trip Alone by Dierks Bentley was Kevin's Skype ringtone while he was deployed. Every time it would play through my cell, I just knew everything was okay...he was okay. If I Could Reach by Gloria Estevan is another that hits me real hard... Caregivers, listen to it when you get a chance. You will understand. My list could just go on and on and on since music is my number one outlet in all that I do. It is the one thing I could not live without.

So, what song helps get your through good and bad times and why? Right now on my Southern Girl's Stand Facebook page, I am giving away a $10 iTunes Gift Card! To enter in this giveaway, you must like my FB page and comment on the status, which you can click here to comment! Also, make sure to share this with others you know! I can't wait to read what songs/music gets you through life!!!