Best Apps for a Deployment

Best for deployment: Military Wife & Big Day!

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

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

Seriously, how exciting is my most recent chart?!

It also tells you the time “over there,” and gives you the times for Afghanistan and Iraq.

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

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

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

This-Close

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

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

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

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

It’s going to be an interesting ride!

Life at the Beach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boston, Pink Hair, & Parties

Me & Sue
Boston was, of course, a fabulous time with Sue and Amanda. Sue looks FANTASTIC despite her recent surgery, and insisted on taking the T instead of letting me drive us to Quincy Market. We picked up lunch at the marketplace in Faneuil Hall and ate outside on the steps so we could people-watch. I miss Boston so much. If I could choose to live anywhere in the world, it would be Boston again. If only there were a Marine Corps base there!
Amanda & Sue
After lunch, we shopped around a bit at Urban Outfitters. I got the most awesome pint glasses there for Joshua & my apartment! Then Sue took us for cupcakes in the North End at a little Italian bakery called Modern Pastry. We sat outside and enjoyed them, then headed back to Sue’s apartment and Amanda and I headed home to NY not too late.
Modern Pastry
Friday, at my hair appointment, I got a full head of highlights for Joshua’s homecoming (quite the treat since I usually only do a half head!). I also donated $10 to Pink Hair for Hope for breast cancer awareness and got a hot pink hair extension. It’s so cute! I asked her to put it in so it’s hidden… so it’s behind my ear and you can’t really see it unless I put my hair in a half ponytail. I feel like such a little rebel with my streak of hot pink hair! Check here to see if a salon in your area is participating.
Today was the surprise 50th birthday party for my aunt. She was completely shocked and it was so nice to see everything being done for her for a change since she’s always the one to give, give, give. Her birthday isn’t until October, but my uncle wanted to throw her off. It was the first family function where my dad brought his girlfriend and my mom met her… it was weird. Nothing horrible happened, it was just an interesting party. My mom didn’t bring her boyfriend, either. We went together. It was catered at a family member’s house, and my uncle hired a DJ and a magician. Yes, magician! So silly. It was great to see my cousins and family friends before heading south, though. Good day!
I broke my to-do list down a bit more. It helps me, haha. It also helps when my real-life friends comment on my list and ask what else I’ve finished and what I still have to do. Thanks, friends!
TO DO:
1. clean/organize bedroom 
  • closet
  • bookshelf
  • desk
  • dressers
  • shoes
  • makeup
  • jewelry
  • hair accessories
  • bags & purses
  • scrapbook supplies
  • wedding things
2. organize boxes in basement 
  • college papers
  • art portfolios
  • art supplies
  • extra clothes
  • winter clothes
  • kitchen things
  • decor things
  • desk supplies
  • sewing supplies
  • books & magazines
  • Joshua’s things
  • holiday decorations
3. pack!!! 
  • kitchen
  • bathroom
  • sheets & linens
  • towels
  • toiletries
  • clothes
  • shoes
  • makeup
  • jewelry
  • hair accessories
  • perfume
  • nail polish
  • bags & purses
  • scrapbook supplies
  • desk supplies
  • DVDs
  • books
  • workout gear
  • iMac & laptop
  • Joshua’s things
  • portfolio
  • stationery
4. send clothes to Good Will
5. make appointment with event planner 
6. update wedding binder
7. get car visor replaced 
8. make hair appointment 
9. organize boxes in garage
10. photograph portfolio 
11. return clothes to Victoria’s Secret
12. send claim for contacts to insurance
13. update recipe binder
14. burn backup CDs of photos
15. load new music to iMac
16. scan scrapbook layouts 
17. organize/pack Joshua’s things
18. prep Mom for her interview :-)
TO GO:
20. BJ’s with Uncle Tom 
21. meet with 1st event planner 
22. crepes with Alison & Liz 
23. visit Sue in Boston 
24. hair appointment 
25. Aunt Vicki’s surprise birthday party

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

Nine Years Ago Today…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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