The Great Wait… For Orders

It’s that time. Time to start thinking about deployments and care packages and how I’m going to adjust to solo parenting without any communication with my husband for months at a time.

Yup… we are in the window for our orders (and yes, OUR orders because as a MilSpouse, I’m included on those orders). Huzzy will be detaching his current command in November and should have to report sometime in December.

Besides a three year tour recruiting in Michigan (which was kinda his choice), he has been stationed here in Washington state ever since he completed his training. That’s more than 10 years here, total. There are only two places he can be stationed (besides recruiting), and that’s here and Kings Bay, Georgia. KB is the armpit of Georgia… it’s 40 miles north of Jacksonville, Florida, so it’s definitely southern Georgia. It’s located on a built-up swamp and is a pretty isolated area.

It’s always been easy to stay in Washington because, for some reason, many people would prefer to go to Georgia (maybe because they like the heat or closer to family, etc), and 60% of the submarines are stationed in Washington. Never been an issue.

Until now.

Huzzy’s ability to look/shop for orders was supposed to open on the 1st, but now it’s been pushed back to the evening of the 13th. However, he talked to the detailer and was already asked if he’d go to KB… and to the least desirable boat type as well. He’d be miserable. Absolutely miserable.

We do not, under any circumstances, want to go to KB. Besides the fact that we love it here in Washington and absolutely hate weather in the south, we have a house here, my mom is considering moving here to help me with Skipper once she’s born (and she will not move to Georgia as she hates the heat as much as I do), and it’ll be financially detrimental to us. I have been planning on starting my own communication consulting business after she’s born, which I wouldn’t be able to do if we moved until after we moved and got really settled and THEN had to start fresh with no contacts. We also have a house that, due to the current market, would cost us several hundred a month even if we were able to rent it out… on top of the rent in KB that we’d have to do. I’ve looked at rentals there and, like here, the BAH is several hundred dollars shy of what we’d need to rent a house. So we’d be out probably at least $500 a month between the two… and BAH is more than $200 lower there. So that’s approaching $1,000 less in the budget. Not do-able.

I could get an additional job, of course (on top of Jamberry and my Navy Reserve stuff)… but the closest city where that would be possible is 45 minutes away with no traffic. Commuter traffic would probably make it in the hour one-way commute. Plus, then there’d be daycare expenses as well that would eat into it.

And really, I realize that this is something all military spouses go through, but when you have been told (and have 10+ years of personal experience behind it) that you’d never have to leave… it’s a rough transition of thought. On top of that, I’m, of course, just about two weeks away from full term and five weeks from my due date. I have enough to worry about without this unexpected stress.

I just hope Huzzy can grab orders to something here. Even if it is the least desirable boat.

 

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A Moving Celebration Contest!

If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score?
~Vince Lombardi

Yeah, I know, I haven’t posted since I came back from DCO school this past weekend. A whole post is going to come on that. But that’s not what’s exciting right now…

*insert song and dance here* I’m going to see Huzzy in two days and a wakeup!  I’m going to be living in Washington in just about 10 days!

And that, folks, deserves a treat. And since I feel guilty treating myself, I’m going to treat you. We’re gonna have a little contest.

Contest: Guess how many Wal-Mart trucks we are going to see on our trip.  (Why? Because I swear you see them everywhere!)

Contest Rules: Come on down… you’re the next contestant on your guess is right! The winner will be the person who comes closest to the correct answer without going over. In the event of a tie, I will use random.org to name the winner. Sorry folks, but only one guess per entry. The contest will end at 2359PST (or 11:59pm PST for you non-Mil-Spouses) on Sunday, March 7. I will announce the winner as soon as I can… I might not Internet access for a while so be patient!

Contest Tips: We will be traveling from Southwest Michigan to the Seattle area. However, due to northern mountain pass closures, we are planning to travel there via St. Louis, Albuquerque, NM and Las Vegas (no, we are not stopping at the slots!). That comes to around 3,200 miles for our trip. So, plan for 3,200 miles of Wal-Mart truck sightings. We are also going to be driving straight through for the majority of it (stopping only once or twice to sleep in a hotel) so that may play a factor in how many we see. Makes me wonder if we’ll see more during the day when it’s easier to stay awake and during “normal” business hours or more at night when the semis have the road to themselves. Hmmm….

How to Enter: First and foremost, you MUST leave a comment on this post with your 1st guess. However, there are many other ways to increase your chances of winning:

  1. One (1) additional entry if you: Follow my blog and leave a comment (with another guess as to how many you think we’ll see) on this post letting me know that you are following. And if you are already a follower, let me know via a comment (with another guess as to how many you think we’ll see) you will automatically get an entry… uh, as long as you remind me that you are a follower.
  2. One (1) additional entry if you: Put me on your blog’s blogroll and leave a comment (with another guess as to how many you think we’ll see) with the link to it. And if you already have me on your blog roll, leave that link in a comment (with another guess as to how many you think we’ll see) on this post for your entry.
  3. One (1) additional entry if you: Blog about the contest on your blog and leave a comment (with another guess as to how many you think we’ll see) on this post.
  4. One (1) additional entry per day for each day you: Tweet about this contest. While you can Tweet as many times as you want a day, only one per day will count! Don’t forget to @wifeyofasailor so I know you did it. Leave a comment (with another guess as to how many you think we’ll see) with your Twitter name, the time you Tweeted and what you said.

That’s a total of 16 chances to win if you start today!

Now, I’m sure you want to know what the prize is. And honestly, that’ll depend on the winner. See, there are just some contests that I don’t enter because I’m not the biggest fan of what is being given away.

So, for my contest the winner will get a $25 gift certificate to his/her choice of whatever I can purchase or buy online (without huge shipping charges). Meaning, I know that the area I’m moving to has gift cards I can purchase for Target, Wal-Mart, Bed Bath & Beyond, malls, Qdoba, iTunes, etc.  Now, if you have a local store/food place that is just in your area, chances are I can’t get a gift card to there. But, I’ll try. So, as long as I can get one, you’ll win a $25 gift card of your choice to what you want!

Good luck!

Found a Home Sweet Home

Where thou art – that – is Home.

~Emily Dickinson

–updated with yard and kitchen photos!–

Well, we found a house to rent. It’s a bit farther away from everything than we’d like (I’d have at least an 75 minute

Back of the house

commute to Seattle) but we think the house is worth it.

We put a listing on Craigslist advertising ourselves. With three large dogs, it’s hard to find someone who will rent to us. I find that mildly amusing and highly annoying since a family with three kids (or even one or two!) have the potential to make as much or more mess than the dogs. Our dogs won’t be spilling grape juice on the carpet or writing on the wall with a magic marker 😉

Anyway, we were contacted by a couple that have a 2,300 sq ft 3-4 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath home that sits on nearly two acres, half of which is fenced with a brand new 6ft privacy fence. It has a two car garage, a storage shed in the fenced in area, central heat and air (yeah, air conditioning in Washington, ya’ll… the fuzzy dog will appreciate it), a monitored alarm system, a 5-piece master bath with jetted tub, a 6’x6′ master bedroom walk-in closet and what my husband calls a “gorgeous” kitchen.

This is all for $150-$200 less than our BAH per month. So sweet. They had been asking $650 more a month for it and didn’t get any takers, so they dropped it to way less than they should for us. Why? Because we are a military family and they were BOTH previously in the military. How awesome is that? Plus, they are only asking for a $500 damage deposit and a $300 pet deposit. Seriously. No last month’s rent or deposit equal to a month’s rent. And even the pet deposit is refundable if we don’t kill the house (which we won’t, of course).

Deck being built

The family has told me that they will pay for garbage and for the alarm system. WOOT!  Also, they will let us paint the walls as long as we paint them white before we leave. No problem!

So here are some photos. There aren’t any of the kitchen because I was never given them. Boo! And none of the “yard” shot, just things in the yard (like the brand new deck and the new storage shed). And while I do have one of the front of the house, for PERSEC reasons (Personal Security), I won’t ever show the front of any house we live in. Just in case any of you want to try to stalk me 😉

(Actually, this is a good idea, especially for those with kids… you don’t want someone to drive by and recognize your house and have your kid(s) be called by their name or be told that it’s okay to come with a stranger since s/he knows x, y & z about him/her– thanks to the information from your blog).

New Shed

Guest bedroom

Master Bedroom... but only part of it... it's huge

Part of the master bathroom

Other side of the master bathroom

I *think* this is the guest/ 2nd bathroom

Hallway. That much I can figure out. HA!

The backyard. They plan to put grass in this spring after the winter rain stops

More backyard. Looks like there's a screen door for the summer. Yay!

Uh, it's gonna be muddy until the grass is put in!

And the kitchen! With the same stove I have now! I LOOOVE my stove! I won't miss it. Woo!

The kitchen. It even has the same stove I have in my current house! Yay, I love that stove and now won't have to miss it!

It’s Time!

“The future is always beginning now.”
~Mark Strand,
Reasons for Moving

For those of you who follow me on Twitter (wifeyofasailor… but if you aren’t a MilSpouse or somehow connected to the military, I’ll probably block you if you don’t message me to let me know who you are!), you know I’ve been hinting at a secret that I was about to reveal. Well, it’s time to do that. Since I let my boss know at work yesterday.

I purchased Huzzy a ticket to come here to Michigan to visit me at the end of February. A one-way ticket.

No, he’s not going AWOL and running away from the Navy. He’s coming here and driving me back to Washington, ya’ll. That’s right. I’m moving. At that point, we’ll have been married just a few weeks shy of one year and spent only 7 1/2 weeks of that.  Many of you who have gone through deployment will be like, “Yeah, my deployment was 14 months, what of it?”  And those who aren’t MilSpouses may say, “That’s what you signed up for when you married him.”  (HINT: NEVER tell a MilSpouse that’s what he/she signed up for. That’s a 0-60 bad reaction waiting to happen).

Well, yeah, I signed up for deployments and dealing with them. But I DIDN’T sign up for being away from my husband because the economy sucks and I can’t sell my house. Only a few months of that time we’ve been apart has been due to deployment.

Of course, he’ll deploy a few short weeks from the time I arrive in Washington, but that’s another topic later. But at least I’ll get to spend a few weeks with him before I won’t see him until mid-to-late-summer.  A few weeks is better than nothing, eh?

And for those who are excited that I’ve finally sold my house or got a job… uh, no. We just can’t do this anymore. So I’m going to go on unemployment (Michigan allows MilSpouses to do this if their spouse is PCSed to another region) and try to find one in Washington. I know it’ll be sooo much easier to find one when I’m actually living in the area.

As for the house… well, that’s a very sore subject that I don’t want to write about in this VERY happy post. I’ll do it another time.

So in just seven weeks (funny, the amount of time we’ve lived together during our marriage), I’ll be living with my husband again.

*do a little dance… sing a little song*

Can you tell how freakin’ happy I am? OMG, I can’t even stand it.

Good Ol’ 2009

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in.  A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.
~Bill Vaughan

2009 was a year that had its ups and downs. It was the year I said goodbye to my husband (for eight months of the year) and it was the year I went through my first deployment as a Navy wife. It was a year of injury and a year of being in constant financial worry. But it was also the year I got engaged. And the year I married my fantastic husband.  And the year I became a Navy Reserve officer. So I have mixed feelings about 2009. But, in all, I’d say it was a pretty good year. No one close to me died. I consider that a very good year.

2009 is also the end of a decade.  Or so most seem to think. I’m not sure about you, but I count 1, 2, 3, … 9, 10. So wouldn’t that make 2010 the end of the decade?  We had this discussion back in 2000 when the class of 2001 argued that THEY were the first class of the new millennium.  No matter, I’ll follow like a sheep and recount my first decade in the new millennium too.

2000- This year saw me graduate from high school, become a camp counselor at a YMCA camp, take off on an international trip to the Dominican Republic with two friends and start college on the other side of the state.

Sadie with her teddy bear

2001- I got my first animal as an adult, my calico cat Sadie and become an RA at my college. 9-11 also happened and that’s when I first realized that the U.S. is not invincible.

2002- Honestly, I can’t really remember much of this year. I know that I was working full-time (two jobs) plus going to school full time. One of the jobs was as an animal demonstrator at a zoo… yeah, I got to play with the snakes, birds, opossum, and more!

2003- I turned 21 (which really isn’t a huge deal) and graduated from college after being there for just over three years.

2004- This year saw me get my first real-world job (and subsequently move an hour south of the college), become financially independent and adopt my second cat, Jake.

Skiing in Colorado

2005– This was a rough year for me. The worst in my life. In February, after a week of my dad being close to death in the hospital, making a miraculous recovery and being sent home by flabbergasted doctors, I found my dad dead outside from a heart attack. It was a very dark year. My mom, grandma and I spent Father’s Day in Colorado with my cousin to help avoid the holiday. I started a new job (which is where I work now) and used the money I received from my dad’s estate to put a down payment on my house.

2006- I can’t remember much about this year, either. I do know that for the first anniversary of my dad’s death, I headed by myself to Colorado to see my cousin again. We had a great time. I adopted my first dog, Chase the Greyhound. Four months later, I agreed to foster two Greyhound puppies and three months after that, I officially adopted Lulu (one of the puppies).

Chase and Lulu

2007- While recovering from a tonsillectomy, I met Huzzy, who I had been talking to online off and on for a few months (have I ever told you the story of how we met? If not, it’s funny).

2008- Continued to date Huzzy, he moved in and he got a fuzzy Great Pyrenees puppy called Skah. I also decided that I wanted to put together a package to try and receive a commission as a Navy Reserve Public Affairs Officer.

and that leaves us with 2009….

January: I found out I was recommended for commissioning by the Navy board that looked at my officer package.

First Navy function with Huzzy

February: Huzzy proposed to me on Friday, February 13. Yes, Friday the 13th. I think that makes Friday the 13th a lucky day from now on, instead of an ominous one. Right? Also, started planning the wedding… we only had five weeks to plan.

March: Huzzy and I were married on March 21st. The first day of Spring. For our “honeymoon” (which was really 3 days of house-hunting leave for you MilSpouse) we flew to Washington state. It was my first time visiting the gorgeous land that will eventually become my home.

April: Huzzy checked out of his recruiting command and started his 40+ days of leave. The movers came and packed up our entire house except what we figured we’d need to get by for a few months. How wrong that assumption would end up being.

May: Huzzy left to PCS to Washington. We had been married for seven weeks at the time. I slept on couch cushions surrounded by our three dogs and two cats. I started living with about 7 changes of clothes, one pot, one pan and one baking dish.  It was this month that I also received my official letter that I was going to be commissioned.

Skah at 6 weeks

June: Raised my hand and swore to defend the Constitution of the United States and signed my life over to the military for eight years.  Well, kinda, since I’m in the Reserves, but they have rights to me for eight years! Oh, and my mom brought me a twin mattress so I didn’t have to sleep on the couch cushions anymore. I continue to sleep on that on the floor. I started working a second job to make ends meet.

July: Stepped on a carpet staple on my second toe on my right foot and thought nothing of it. It didn’t even bleed. This started four months of hell. Flew to Washington to drill for the first time and to see Huzzy for the first time in weeks.

August: Spent two glorious weeks of vacation (with a drill weekend thrown in!) with Huzzy. We went whitewater rafting, too… a first for both of us. We thought this would be the last time we’d see each other before deployment. Toe was still injured and a pain–literally–to walk on. The Navy realized they screwed up Huzzy’s paycheck six months prior and decided to rectify it… by taking ALL of his pay for the entire month of September. Not fun.

March 21, 2009

September: Stopped working the second job because I couldn’t do another 57 day stretch where I got only 3 days off.

October: Drilled for the first time with my new (and current) unit. Surprisingly was able to see Huzzy one more time before he went on deployment. Finally got the toe taken care of. Apparently, my skin decided to go crazy and make extra scar tissue (from the pin-prick that never bled!). Had the extra scar tissue removed ala “cookie-cutter” method.  Huge hole left. Nice scar now.

November: Went active duty for one week where I traveled to Rhode Island for the first time.  Was immersed in deployment. Spent Thanksgiving without Huzzy. Didn’t get to talk to him for the last half of the month.

December: Spent Christmas without Huzzy and didn’t hear his voice for nearly the entire month. Spent New Year’s with a friend at a local hockey game… but was in bed before midnight!

Cold Weekend

Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts.
~Janice Maeditere

It’s been an interesting weekend here. Five dogs in my tiny house has been… interesting. Not as bad as I thought it would have been but still. It’s been about 10 degrees here with the windchill. With five dogs, I had to be out of the house longer during potty breaks (Chase has to go out alone due to his back injury two years ago and one of the two Greyhounds I’m sitting is very Alpha and can’t go out with Lulu since she’s so Omega that she freaks out… plus, the monstrous fuzzy dog needs to go out on leash since he has Doggie ADD and if he didn’t, he’d “forget” to go potty because everything would distract him).  It was a COLD weekend!

I’ve also come to a realization. I’ve decided that I’m done. I can’t do this anymore. And by “this” I mean living away from my husband (yes, he’s deployed right now, but when he gets back, I’ll still be away from him). It’s been eight months since we’ve lived together. Eight months of our 9 1/2 month marriage. He left for deployment in October… which means we should have been together for five of those months.

The last thing I want is for him to come back from deployment and us to be STILL apart and them him to be gone in a few months again on his next deployment. I don’t want us to find ourselves a year and a half into our marriage (approximately what it will be after his next deployment) and only lived together for seven weeks.

I just can’t do it. But, this is a decision for Huzzy and I to make together. According to Michigan legislature (Section 421.29 for any Michigan MilSpouses out there), you are disqualified for receiving unemployment if you voluntarily quit except for two conditions including: The individual is the spouse of a full-time member of the United States armed forces, and the leaving is due to the military duty reassignment of that member of the United States armed forces to a different geographic location.

So tomorrow I’m going to try and call the unemployment agency to verify that (yeah, that could be interesting… more than 15% of Michigan’s workforce is unemployed so getting a hold of someone is apparently pretty hard).  If that is true, Huzzy and I lose approximately $700 a month if I went on unemployment. Not to mention the extra $1200 or so in paying rent in Washington (extra if my house doesn’t sell by then, of course). Not sure how we can swing that, which is why I need to talk to Huzzy.

But for me, I think it’s almost worth it to do it. We can’t afford it for long, but I truly think that job hunting will be easier if I actually LIVE in Washington. Plus, both of us are miserable not being together. It truly is one thing to be apart due to deployment… we expect that… but to be apart during his very, very short stints on land? Unacceptable.

Of course I still need to talk to him and I’ve only had two phone calls from him and average about one e-mail a week, so that might be tough. I really don’t want to do it via weeks of e-mail so I’m hoping that I get a phone call in the next several weeks. He indicated that I probably WOULD get at least one more phone call during the deployment, but that can always change depending on the mission. I hope so. I’d like to talk to him before/around Christmas.

So I think I figured out what I’m going to get Allison at I Heart Change for the Blogger Santa exchange. Normally, when I do exchanges, there is a $20 limit and I can usually find some great stuff for that, but this is only $10. It was tough to figure out something, but after searching around on her blog, I think I found the perfect thing. Of course, I can’t tell you what it is because even though I don’t think she reads my blog, she might with that link in there to hers LOL.

Now, I just have to go shopping to find the best of that “thing” and send it to her!

The Dawn of Understanding and Stupid Mistakes

Money is the root of all evil… and man needs roots!
~Unknown

Well, we now know why we are being docked the money.  Or at least have a base understanding.  Are you ready to hear what might be the biggest cluster @*#$ of the year?

Looks like my husband isn’t married.  Or at least, not in the Navy’s eye.  Or rather, he isn’t in the pay side, but he is on the DEERS side.

Apparently, when Huzzy checked into his command, someone forgot to pass on the copy of our marriage license that Huzzy gave them.  And since, in truth, he had been married for two months at the time, he claimed married on the PCS move.   So when they decided he “wasn’t married” because there was no proof of it, they decided to take that money back.

But that’s not all.

Since he just started the other month actually getting married BAH, they decided they needed to take that back too. Since he wasn’t married, you see.

Oh, but wait.

It seems as though the farther the Yeoman looked into why his pay was screwed up, the more he found out how much MORE screwed up it was.

Apparently, besides being “single,” he apparently is living in the barracks (in reality, he’s not!) so they have been taking nearly $300 out of his paycheck for galley food expenses. Also, they still haven’t paid us back the $300-$500 of travel claims that he submitted in June.  And there may be more that is screwed up, but the YN couldn’t figure it all out in one sitting.

So when Huzzy asked for a breakdown of everything that was wrong with his paycheck and what the Navy was going to owe us, the YN said that it was so screwed up that he couldn’t even give him an answer at the time.

Suffice to say, nothing is our fault.  This is a total cluster you-know-what on the Navy’s part. The YN also told Huzzy that if we could get a copy of our marriage license by Monday that we might be able to get a “hardship” check of the back BAH (and what they took back on the last paycheck of BAH that they shouldn’t have) by next Friday. He said the rest would be given to us on the 1st.  Now, the back BAH still won’t be what Huzzy’s normal check is, but it will at least help.

And it helps to know that we will see the money eventually even though it will totally make us miss bills this month. And not only that, but we will be getting MORE THAN our normal paychecks due to all the back BAH, the money they’ve been taking out for his “living in the barracks expenses” and travel claims. Money that we never expected or knew was coming.

Do I dare hope… could this be… is our luck starting to change?

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