Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New house?!

When I opened my eyes this morning afternoon, I realized that my body felt like it had been hit by a truck.  I knew today was going to be a slow moving day.  Ben and I have been putting in new flooring in almost the entire first floor of our house over the last week.  We just finished the last board last night, still have baseboards and some minor painting to do, but in all the transformation is incredible.  We are only the 2nd owners of our 1984 house--the previous owners lived in it for a while, then rented it out for a few years.  Yes, our house was a rental.  And you could tell when we moved in, too.  But we were attracted to the "bones" of the house.  We knew it would be easy (and time-consuming) to make it our own.    Some discoveries we made this last week:

  • the first floor was re-carpeted at least once: from an ugly yellow color, to a more neutral (and more dirt-filled) beige
  • the kids who lived in this house REALLY liked hiding things behind the built-in bookcase in the living room (and they also REALLY liked pokemon...)
  • the smell is completely gone now that the carpet is gone; it wasn't too offensive--after I sprayed it a few thousand times with Febreze over the last 2 years
  • there was an unbelievable amount of dust and dirt underneath the carpet.  Like sickening.  Like somebody could get sick breathing it in every day (oh that would mean me....)
I am SO excited the carpet is gone from the first floor.  It smells better, it feels cleaner, and It. Looks. Incredible.    Also, our living room was awkwardly positioned due to the large bookcase at one end.  It allowed for no conversation area.  One couch was along one wall (blocking the closet), and the other was 10 feet away on another wall.  Now our couches are next to each other, and bonus: nothing is blocking the closet.  I will add some before/after pictures soon, once we finish up the baseboards and painting touch-ups.

In other news: tonight I am making a real meal.  I am actually sick of Bertolli's.  (I know, I can't believe I am saying it either.)  Bertolli's are AMAZING and so quick.  The last few nights Ben and I have been working for hours on the floors, and we couldn't devote any time to cooking, so in ten minutes we'd have a meal from a frozen bag.  Today, however, I am whipping up this little treat.  (To be followed by this little treat.)  And wow, does it smell good!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Return

It has been a while since I've been on say the least.  I didn't mean to neglect anyone, and I wasn't going through anything traumatic.  I just didn't feel like posting.  It takes me such a long time to write a post because I rethink everything I say before I make it public knowledge, and the last few months I just didn't feel like putting that much effort into my blog.  However the good thing about it is that if you leave, you can always return.  So here I am.  :)

 Let's see...a quick re-cap of the last few months: I'm still technically a substitute teacher in my area, but since the economy is so low almost no one is calling out sick, so really I am jobless (which, of course, I don't mind).  Ben always jokes that I'm retired now and later on when he retires from the Navy I'll be working to support us.  Probably true.

Ben just returned home from a 5 month deployment a couple of weeks ago. This was our second deployment, and we're about to hit our third before the end of 2012.  In just 3.5 years of marriage we will have endured 3 deployments.  Yes, you read that correctly.  And no, it is not that common, those are just the cards we were dealt.  However, we are still going strong and making the most of our time together.  Here are two pictures of his homecoming (at the airport), taken by my sister-in-law, Holly:

Georgia, our vizsla, is wonderful.  She grows more precious to me everyday, and I was especially thankful for her during each deployment.  It is so nice to always have someone to go home to.  She still has lots of energy, but always loves to cuddle.

Our Big News: we are getting a new addition to our family....another vizsla puppy!!  (Haha, you thought I was going to say a baby).  More on that later once things become final.

In the last week we've started putting in wood floors on our whole first floor.  Ben is a seasoned pro at that, so we will probably finish up in the next week and I will add some pictures.

So now we are about caught-up!  Our lives have been very exciting the last few months, I can't wait to see what's in store for us next.

Friday, June 17, 2011

First Floor Renovations

Ben has finally been home for more than 3 weeks!!!  Yay!!  First time in the last year.  Pretty crazy, huh?  Well we've been pretty busy lately.  After almost 10 months straight apart from each other (give or take a few days....yeah I'm not kidding) we finally had some time to devote to the first floor of our house.  I uploaded a few pictures of the bedroom renovations we had recently started on a little while ago, but this time we decided to paint the downstairs.  We gave ourselves a deadline: last weekend we had a few friends over for a barbecue.  We only had 2 weeks to get everything done, and I think we did a pretty fantastic job.  Now that everything is over I am L-to-the-A-Z-Y.  But here are some pictures so you can see the Before and Afters (my favorite part!)

Hallway Before (notice the awesome Gold paint---it was a theme in our house)

Hallway After

Office Before (What color is that?  Oh, gold.)

Office After

Living Room Before

Living Room After

Living Room Before

Living Room After

Living Room Before

Living Room After

Living Room After (yes, that is my sweet Vizsla!!)

Porch Light Before (yeah, not kidding)

Porch Light After

Laundry Room Before

Laundry Room After

Bathroom Before (yes, I shared this paint renovation before, but for some reason the pictures I put on this blog already didn't quite look as gold as it really was/ as it is in this picture)

Half Bath After

Half Bath Before

Half Bath After
Dining Room Before

Dining Room After

Dining Room Before
Dining Room After

Dining Room After

Kitchen Before

Kitchen After

Kitchen Before
Kitchen After

Kitchen Before
Kitchen After

So there it is; the product of our hard work over the past few weeks.  We still have future plans to replace the flooring all over the downstairs (i.e. tile & hardwood), but those will have to wait.  Right now we are enjoying our time together before Ben heads out yet again for another deployment.  Let's hope this one doesn't last as long as the last one...  We have plans in the next few weeks to take a trip to Ireland to visit Ben's grandparents and to Italy to visit his parents; a lot to look forward to before the impending deployment.   For now, we will be enjoying our "new" home :)

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Did you get enough of the Royal Wedding? Because I didn't :-)

Yes, I woke up this morning at 3:55am so that I could see full coverage of, quite possibly, the most fantastic wedding of my lifetime (of course apart from my own to my wonderful husband! :)  I promptly went downstairs and watched the events unfold, decked out in my LONDON sleepshirt.  I even made chocolate-chip muffins & tea for breakfast.  I may have been sleepy, but I quickly woke up with the excitement of the wedding atmosphere.  (To answer your question, yes, Ben is underway.  We are in the Navy, where else would he be except on a ship?) 

Being married myself, I was able to relate how I felt on my big day, just 2 years ago, to how they were probably feeling.  I remember being extremely nervous to walk down the aisle, but also strangely calm, knowing that soon, finally, I would be Ben's and he would be mine. 

I was excited to see him, and I was excited for him to see me since I had prepared to look my best for him.  I had endlessly prepared for our day for many months prior, so I was ready to enjoy it.  I never realized, until my own wedding, how many little details there are in a wedding and how many decisions (which, in the end, aren't even noticed by most guests) you have to make.  Anytime I attend a wedding (or, in this case, watch a wedding) I, like most others, always think back to my own big day. 

You feel such joy for the couple because you remember how excited you were in your own time.  Needless to say, I enjoyed having the opportunity to celebrate with Will & Kate.  In a way I feel weird commenting on someone else's wedding as if I have a right to.  In this case, however, I loved it completely, so I don't feel too bad about it :)

I would describe my own style as traditional, classic, and low-key; very much the same as Catherine's.  I was thrilled by the loveliness and elegance of the Royal Wedding, but was also quite surprised at how comfortable and relaxed it seemed.  They really seem like they love each other, which gives such a breath of fresh air to the British monarchy.  First let's talk about: the dress.  If you go back to this post (written just a few weeks before my wedding) I mentioned that the wedding of Princess Grace to Prince Rainier III of Monaco had particularly caught my eye.  I loved her dress.  Even now, 55 years after their wedding, her dress is classic and could be elegantly worn by a bride today.  If I had had to have my shoulders covered on my wedding day, I would have chosen a dress like this with lace on the top.  So beautiful, and elegant, and not frilly!!  I was so happy to see how lovely Catherine looked.  Her dress, of course, emulated Princess Grace's, so of course I loved the style.
image courtesy of Google images

Another thing I want to especially remark on:  the maple trees in the Abbey.  I thought it was such a lovely touch and really made the Abbey seem more magical.  What a great idea to have the beauty of the outside transported inside in such a unique way.  Not to mention the added beauty that those same trees will be planted in the garden of Prince Charles' estate in Highgrove, and will grow alongside the couple.
image courtesy of ABC News online

Why, yes, I am a sucker for a man in uniform.

image courtesy of ABC News online

I thought the mother of the bride looked particularly stunning.  
image courtesy of
 Of course Pippa Middleton looked elegant.  I loved her dress, and was not at all put off by the fact that it was white.  I think it was a conscious decision on Kate's part to make sure her younger sister received a bit of the spotlight as well.  They seem to have such a loving and very close relationship, very much like my own with my sister, Katherine.
image courtesy of ABC News online

The couple looked so happy.
image courtesy of ABC News online
 Check out those crowds!  At this point, I'm glad I'm watching the wedding at home, and not stuck in a crowd that large!
image courtesy of ABC News online
 The first public kiss of Prince William & Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.
image courtesy of Google images

 What an elegant wedding.  I'm so glad I woke up early to watch it, and I'm positive we'll still be talking about it for years to come.  I am so happy for the couple, and I wish them a lifetime of happiness.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Confused, and quite possibly disgusted

So many things went through my head yesterday when I heard the government wouldn't pay the military on schedule.  How long will this last? What FT job can I get to make some quick money?  Should I cancel the automatic payments?  How will we pay our bills?  I'm honestly stressing over this. 

First let me explain something.  Have you ever wondered why so many military spouses are stay-at-home moms/dad/wives/husbands?  I can tell you from experience, it is not because we are lazy or that we have no ambitions...I had a full-time job a few months ago for about a year (before and during our last deployment).  I decided to quit so that Ben and I could spend more time together. 

If you are not military, imagine for a moment that you don't get to see or hug or kiss your spouse for 6+ entire months.  When you come home from work, you have to feed the dog and play with her, even though you are tired.  You make your own dinner-for-one every night.  You go to bed looking at the picture of your spouse by your nightstand.  You wake up by yourself, eat breakfast by yourself, and start the day all over again.  Maybe once a week, if you're lucky, you'll get to talk to him for about 30 minutes (if the connection doesn't go out).  You never know where he is, and the reality is you probably don't want to know since that information will only worry you more.  You deal with things mostly on your own.  If something goes wrong, you have to make the decision if you want to tell him about it or not, since there's nothing he can do about it so far away. 

Let me tell you something else: Ben and I will never get to spend an entire week together (and have yet to do so in our marriage), with the exception of POM leave.  (If you don't know what that is, look it up.)  That's once a year, if that--until our shore tour kicks in.  But I'm not explaining this to get pity, nosirree.  We don't need it.  Our experience in the military has been a rewarding one.  I've learned things about myself that I never would have known before.  I never thought of myself as a strong woman, and after this last deployment, I know I am.  Ben really helped me out during the deployment by always calling me whenever he had the chance.  He sent me the sweetest messages that I never would have known he had the capacity to write, if we weren't separated for so long.  I knew, even though he was on the other side of the world, that he was completely mine.  The thing that I will treasure the most from this first deployment is the inner strength that I found in myself. 

So now you can imagine how it is, for a moment, to be a military spouse.  Now don't forget the all important fact that every time your spouse is out at sea (or deployed in Army/ Marine Corps/ Air Force cases), they are a target.  It's in the back of every spouse's mind that they could get a "knock on the door" any day.  Civilian jobs just don't warrant this kind of worry. 

Now tell me why my husband isn't getting paid again, and yet those in Congress, and the President & VP still are?  Because I can't seem to understand it yet.  The President, VP, and those in Congress were elected to stand up for others, so that everyone had a voice.  They have a duty to be the first to accept a pay "pause" while those in harm's way are away from their families.  They set the example.  There is no reason that a family should be separated and not paid, because the government tells them so. 

Remember, the majority of military families are one-income families--simply so that spouses can actually get to see each other.  We are a one-income family.  If Ben's pay is stopped (insert the argument for "Oh you'll get the money back later once the situation has cleared")  we will not be able to pay our bills.  We can't pay our mortgage, phone bill, tv bill, internet bill, car payment, utilities, credit card bills, as well as the other various bills every family has to pay, on time.  The problem arises in the fact that no one knows when this situation will be over.  If it lasts just a week, fine, we probably won't be affected as long as we get our full paycheck on the 15th.  If it lasts any longer, it's only going to go downhill for us and so many others.

This is not a message directed towards friends or family...this is a message directly to those in Congress.  Forget that I'm a military wife and remember that I am speaking not only for my own family, but also for others.  Quit playing the bipartisan politics he said/ she said game.  I know you think your party is right and the other party is wrong.  But now is not the time to argue Republicans vs. Democrats.  Now is the time to step up and give a little on both sides.  Stubbornness got us to this point, six months after a budget should have been approved.  Now is the time to remember (dare I say it?) that your paychecks (Congress) aren't as deserved as the military ones.  Our fate lies solely in your hands at this point.  You can be as stubborn as you want because your pockets aren't being affected.  It is not fair to require of others what you would not do to yourselves. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Just a Little Paint Makes All the Difference!

Since Ben came home from deployment, I've had some extra time on my hands. Well, actually he hasn't really been "home," his ship has been on quite a lot of underways lately---Boo. (For those of you who don't know: an 'underway' is when the ship goes out to sea for training. The length of an underway can vary anywhere from 1 or 2 nights, to a couple of months--but less time than a deployment.) Since he's been out so often lately, I've had to focus my attention to our house. The first 7 months we lived here I didn't do too much decorating to the house since Ben was deployed and I was working full time. Really, I just positioned the furniture and that was about it. Living in this house for a few months has really given me the time to notice little things I would like to change about it---especially the fact that EVERYWHERE you look everything is the same color! Painting the trim the same color as the wall? Not my cup of tea. Here is an example:

Yikes. This lovely color was in our half bath downstairs. I'm happy to show you the brightened up version:

So much better. Now without further ado I will give you (and my husband) a 'before & after' tour of the few rooms I have finished painting.

Here is the half bath downstairs:

Back Guest Bedroom: (Now a light yellow & white trim)

Master Bedroom: (Now a dark gray & white trim)

The Master bedroom looks extremely blue in these pictures, but that is due to the sunlight and the reflection from the bedspread. The walls are actually a dark gray. It took us a while to find the gray we liked (we even painted half the room with another color before we decided it wasn't the correct gray we wanted).

So there it is. I still have one more bedroom to finish, which I will post well as the rest of the downstairs. The interior renovations are coming along slowly but surely. It's great to look around the house and realize that it's becoming more of our home day by day.