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Ah, my inbox has never been so full as it has been the last six-ish months with questions about ETSing. Getting out of the military is a very daunting transition, and what makes it even more of a blurry road is that you’re often left with very few people to ask questions to. As a […]

The post Most Commonly Asked Questions about Getting Out of the Military appeared first on Whimsical September.

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The last couple weeks have been flying, and I mean FLYING by (!) around here. We’ve had a zillion balls in the air at all times it seems, but now we’re at the point where our packers are on their way this morning and the “to do” list has dwindled significantly. It’s go time! Last […]

The post Packer Prep & a Week That’s Flyin’ By appeared first on Whimsical September.

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Since my life is my blog’s content, it makes sense that a good chunk of my material revolves around military-related topics. Some were written as resources, some were written with the intention of simply being relatable (i.e. so other military families know they’re not alone with x, y, or z struggle), and some where written […]

The post 13 Posts Military Families Should Read appeared first on Whimsical September.

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Today’s post is all about a fun event coming up for the military community, so check it out for details about where, when, and what’s involved! Big thanks to Costco for sponsoring this post. I think it’s so neat when brands view blogs and social media as legitimate forms of advertisement because they know that […]

The post Costco Military Hour on March 24th! appeared first on Whimsical September.

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If there’s one thing you’ll rarely experience in the military, it’s monotony.  Jamie’s career in the Army has allowed us to experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, often back to back to back. I’ve always said that the good times are really, really, really good (they have to be for anyone to choose to stick out the bad parts), but the lows can knock the wind out of you.

Instead of feeling emotional about leaving our active duty lives behind, I’ve instead felt nothing but excitement and gratefulness, while also feeling more reflective than melancholy. Excited for the brand new chapter we’re going to start as a family, immensely grateful for how the last decade has shaped us, and reflective about what a wild ride it’s been.

I’d love to share a few brief summaries of stories where I was feeling “all the feels”, both high and low. A few minutes ago I quickly jotted down a bulleted list of memories where my emotions felt off the charts in one direction or the other. I’m sure if I took a couple days I could probably come up with a really long list, but I wanted this post to be full of the moments that immediately came to mind; the stories that left such big impressions on my life, that I’ll never, ever forget how I felt while experiencing them.

Reality hits

We got married in January 2011, and he deployed to Afghanistan three months later. I was still living in Alabama with my parents while working as a teacher, so Jamie and I spent every weekend together during those few months in between.

One weekend he drove down to see me about three weeks before he left, and for some reason I become completely overwhelmed with fear that he was going to die in Afghanistan. I remember sitting on my bed in my room, still wearing my professional clothes from school (I included this detail because I can still distinctly remember what I was wearing), while he kneeled in front of me, and I just hugged him and sobbed into his shoulder for a good 20 minutes while he talked me off the ledge.

The war was extremely intense in Afghanistan during that time, and we were losing a lot of soldiers.The reality of his departure and his mission hit me like a ton of bricks that day, and I think I needed to get out that emotion in order to power through that final “anticipation” period before he left.

When they lost soldiers

Jamie’s task force lost six soldiers the two days before my sister’s May 2011 wedding, and Jamie looked several of them in the eye before they went out to do that mission during a brief he was apart of. He actually took a picture with one of them a few days prior, which is the last picture of John alive. I remember laying in my parent’s guest room talking to Jamie as he was falling apart on my sister’s wedding day, while everyone on the other side of the door was celebrating and getting ready for the wedding. I wanted to be so present for Jamie but so present for my sister, and I tried to do both. That was a rough one; still is sometimes when we talk about it. So many realities of this war people don’t realize.

Our reunion at a hospital in Germany

I flew last-minute to Germany in October 2011 to be with Jamie for a small, unexpected procedure he had done.  He was exhausted from his travel, and I was exhausted from traveling and trying to find him all alone in this foreign country without cell phone service for either of us. Long story short, I tracked him down at the hospital, and I sat in the waiting room for him. When he finally came out I bolted to him and hugged him and cried. In hindsight, we both felt like big goobers because everyone around us probably thought we were crazy, but after six months apart as newlyweds, it was a euphoric feeling to feel him and have him in my arms and know he was okay.

That horrific sound of a car door slamming

Most military families know how the notification process works incase your loved one is KIA. I knew it would start with a knock on the door. I remember sitting in my living room feeling elated that Jamie was only three days away from returning from his first deployment, and I heard a car door slam so loud that I was sure it was in my driveway. The only windows to the front of my house were in our guest room, and I remember my heart stopping and running to the guest room to look out the window in fear, like I had done dozens of times throughout the last 10 months.

Sure enough, it was just someone parking in front of my house to visit people across the street, and I remember feeling numb as I walked back to the living room. I’ll never forgot that feeling for some reason. I knew Jamie was just hours from getting on a flight to come home, and I realized that that was the last time (for a while) that I would do that routine run to the guest room window. No more of that. He’d be home and safe soon. I didn’t cry. I was just numb as I thought about how unnatural it was to live that way – in fear – for so long every time I heard a car door slam in front of my house.

When he told me he was leaving again

About nine months after Jamie got home from his first deployment, he was selected to interview as a General’s Aide. Neither of us wanted this because it meant he would go back to Afghanistan for a year, so he didn’t pursue the opportunity quite as hard during the interview (one of the reasons was that we were considering starting a family soon).

When his superior got word of how Jamie’s interview went, he was furious. He selected Jamie to interview with another General later that week, and told him that he better not screw it up (but the words he used weren’t quite as nice). I was nervous about it all, but Jamie said it was a long shot that he would get it anyway. A couple days later, I pulled in the driveway from work, and Jamie pulled in right as I was getting out of the car. I was confused why he was home earlier than expected, and when I asked him why he was home already, he just said we needed to talk.

I immediately knew he got the job. I started somewhat laughing (that kind of laugh where you’re asking if this is joke) and saying a lot of curse words (also not super characteristic of me). I couldn’t even cry. I was just in shock as we stood in the driveway together. I then got so angry, threw him my phone, and told him to call my mom and tell her the news himself. I wanted her to know but I couldn’t bare to talk about it. After that, we bolted straight for a Mexican restaurant to laugh, cry, and mostly curse over queso and margaritas.

That memorable birthday…

I was six months pregnant on my 28th birthday, and Jamie had been deployed in Kuwait for three months. I had plans to go eat a birthday dinner with a couple friends that night, but that afternoon snow swept in out of nowhere, making it really gross (and somewhat dangerous) to be outside. I remember the wind was horrible as well, and I hated for my friends (and some of their kids) to get out in that. We agreed to postpone dinner, which wasn’t a big deal to me.

But then I remember sitting down on the couch around 4:30 and feeling so sorry for myself. Jamie had missed most of my birthdays throughout the last few years, he’d already missed our anniversary (again…) earlier that week as well, and I remember tearing up as I scrolled the internet trying to figure out what Hadley and I could have delivered. Jamie was already fast asleep in Kuwait and had no idea what a crappy birthday I’d been having.

Out of nowhere, our MOPS advisor Linda called and asked if she could take me to dinner. She and I hadn’t spent any time together outside of MOPS before, so I was floored by her offer. How did she know to call me? Just three weeks prior, her newborn granddaughter had passed away, but in Linda’s own season of grieving, she and her husband thought enough to take me (and my big pregnant belly) and my two year old daughter out to dinner. She had no idea how much her generosity and kindness meant to me and how perfectly timed her phone call came. About a year later I sobbed at a MOPS meeting as I told her just how much that meant to me. She was an absolute angel during a very difficult deployment day!

His homecoming from Afghanistan, round two

Seeing Jamie march in proudly after completing his second deployment was incredible. I couldn’t wait for him to see my pregnant belly for the first time (I was 38 weeks large and in charge). He must have touched and looked at my belly for 10 straight minutes as our photographer hung back and took pictures. Everything was right in the world during those few moments. He was home from one of the most dangerous countries in the world, we hadn’t seen each other in eight months, and I wouldn’t be giving birth without him.

The brigade ball

I didn’t attend my first ball until five years in, but it was worth the wait! It was for the whole brigade, and the head of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (highest ranking military officer) was the speaker (his son was a major in Jamie’s brigade). While listening to his incredible and humorous speech, I remember looking around at the 1,000k+ people around us and thinking about how they understood us. They got us. All of these spouses around me? They were gearing up for a nine month deployment too. I felt oddly so comforted and proud in that moment that our family was apart of something so great.

An unexplainable meltdown

The meltdown of the century came during Jamie’s third deployment. I was seven months pregnant, and Hadley and I were spending a gorgeous spring Friday afternoon at the park with our best friends. All of a sudden my friend’s husband pulls up to surprise all of us since the park was on his way home, and I remember seeing his son bolt for him. They laughed and played and had so much fun, but that site was akin to a dagger through my heart because I wanted that kind of joy so badly for Hadley.

She hadn’t seen her dad in four months, and she and Jamie were missing out on so much joy together. I went home that night and sobbed my guts out. My mom was so confused as she tried to comfort me on the phone about why this one tiny incident set me off. I didn’t really understand it either, but I remember so clearly how truly sad I felt that we still had so long to go before we’d be whole again. This situation had little to do with my friends and what I saw that day, and EVERYTHING to do with the fact that it was nothing more than the straw that broke the camel’s back at the halfway point in the deployment. I wanted what everybody else had, which was to have my family whole.

An airport reunion

And finally, picking Jamie up at the airport three days before Sadie’s birth was a very emotional moment for me. I had been so convinced for so long that he probably wouldn’t make it home in time, so having him walk through that jetway at the airport and into our arms was a surreal feeling. I had multiple people offer to come take pictures or just come to help me out with Hadley, but I was so emotional about the whole thing that I didn’t want anyone around. I just wanted Jamie. In hindsight, I wish I had pictures of that moment, but at the time I just didn’t want that. Deployments are SO hard, and to have your person in your arms is a feeling unlike any other. For me, they’ve always rivaled the happiness I felt on my wedding day or the moments I first held my daughters. They’re unbelievably blissful moments.

Thanks for reading through and sharing in these memories with me. <3

Thanks for the Monday link-up, Lindsay!

Hi! I’m a proud Army wife and mom to two little girls (ages 1 and 4), and I love sharing our lives with you. I blog all about motherhood, our time in the military, our travels, our meals, my fitness journey, my fashion favorites, and so much more. I truly enjoy sharing it all! I can’t get enough of birthday cake ice cream, weekend sunrise runs, or making my girls belly-laugh. I write almost daily about my family’s lives, and though I like to keep things light, I also share the messy parts too. Welcome! So glad to have you around. I’m active on Facebook and Instagram and would love to communicate with you there!

The post Stories of the Highest Highs and Lowest Lows from our 8 Years in the Army appeared first on Whimsical September.

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So now that you know what’s next for our family and Jamie’s job specifically, let’s backtrack and talk about how we got here. In the education world, we called this “Backwards Mapping”, where you know what the end-goal is, but you now turn around and connect the bricks that built the path. If you missed […]

The post Deciding to Get Out of Active Duty Army: Part Two appeared first on Whimsical September.

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Jamie and I were talking the other night about the range of emotions we are both feeling about March 2018 being around the corner. We’ve had our eye specifically on March 2018 for two solids years. If we can just make it to March 2018. I wish March 2018 would just hurry up. All of […]

The post Deciding To Get Out of Active Duty Army: Part One appeared first on Whimsical September.

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Jamie and I have both tried really hard to stay relaxed, patient, and level-headed when it comes to this whole house-selling thing, but I about lost my cool Sunday when I got a text from our realtor saying that the people coming to see our home that morning would need to reschedule. Major sad face. […]

The post House-Selling Update & Some Real Talk appeared first on Whimsical September.

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Mission freaking accomplished! We found ourselves a little dream home to call our own this spring in Madison, Alabama. But whew buddy, this house-hunting trip gave me a few new gray hairs! I mentioned in my post earlier this week that Jamie and I were looking at houses through the lens of “Could we stay […]

The post Finding Our Forever Home appeared first on Whimsical September.

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All weekend long we floated on cloud nine as we celebrated not only Jamie’s homecoming from Poland, but more importantly the fact that he’s home with us for good. With the exception of 2014 (which included two cross-country moves), every year since 2011 has been touched by a deployment, so Friday night was a huge, […]

The post The Sweetest Weekend (He’s Home!) appeared first on Whimsical September.

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