Monday, February 29, 2016

4 Tips for Making Travel Easier


Long distance relationships are hard, for lots of reasons. One of the burdens that comes with a long-distance relationship is travel. I currently live in Baltimore, MD, while my boyfriend is stationed at Fort Benning, GA. It's been that way for over six-months now and we've accepted it as part of our relationship. There are things that I have done to make my traveling easier and more doable for us as a couple.

Most of my travel is for my relationship or business, but these tips can also help you for other travel!

Tips for making travel easier! These are so helpful I can't wait to try them myself.

Tips for making travel easier

Use Tripcase

Tripcase is a free app that helps consolidate all your travel information in one place; this includes your flights, car rentals, and hotel information. It also has a built-in countdown to help build excitement and reminders to check in for you flights 24 hours before. If you flight gets delayed or your gate is moved, the app will let you know! I once had Tripcase let me know my flight was cancelled before American airlines told me!

Prepack your food (and maybe drinks)

Airport food is expensive, but when traveling for a lot of hours, you need to eat! Consider pre-packing your meals in Ziploc Bags, which take up less space than tupperware. This will also let you eat better-for-you options, making it a double-win! If you're one of those people with a little anxiety around flying, you can pack 2-3 oz shooters of alcohol in a one-gallon ziploc bag. Buying a soda or a sprite inside the terminal and adding your own Jack Daniels too it is much cheaper than buy a Jack and Coke at the airport bar. While I don't reccomend turning to alcohol to calm your fears, if you're going to do it, at least be cost-efficient about it.

Use Ride-sharing

Traveling can be tough. Flights are delayed and it can be a pain to coordinate with someone from while in the air. It's easiest to get to their airport and then just go, so no one is left waiting or at a loss. I suggest trying either Uber ($20 for signing up with this link) or Lyft ($50 for signing up with this link). Both of these ride-sharing apps are easy to use and integrate with your Facebook account. Before getting into a car, I always check the license plate and make and model of the car. I've taken tons of rides and spent hundreds of dollars across both of these companies, and I feel very comfortable recommending both of these apps!

Be strategic in your spending

Because of the military base Casey is stationed at, I sometimes have to fly Delta. Soon after discovering that, I signed up for a Delta Skymiles Gold Credit Card. Now, every time I fly Delta, I get a free bag! Plus, the miles I got from being approved for the card let me book 3 flights for free!
While sometimes I have no choice but to fly Delta, I usually fly Southwest. By signing up for the card, I earned enough bonus points for SIX flights to Casey!
Now remember, signing up for credit cards are not things to be taken lightly. I say this as I'm actively struggling to re-pay my debt. Nonetheless, the bonuses from these credit cards can be strategically used to get ahead, as long as you don't also get buried in debt during the process! (For example, my Starwood rewards card has given me enough points to stay in Times Square! I haven't used these yet, but when the chance comes, I'm excited for it!)

Traveling doesn't have to be a stressful experience. I hope that these four tips can help take your traveling from painful to enjoyable!

Let's talk: What other travel tips do you have?


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 Author Information

Emilie is a recent Princeton University grad, currently living in Baltimore, MD. She is half of the brains behind BurkeDoes.com, a lifestyle blog by the two sisters. Together, they write about the struggles of long-distance sisterhood, life management tips, their favorite art projects, and their obsession with food. She also makes to do lists at MyToDoList.Me. You can follow her around the web: Twitter. Instagram. Foodstagram. Facebook. Pinterest. Bloglovin'

Friday, February 26, 2016

Between the Firsts

Today's topic for #LoveBlog is firsts. I can't even tell you how many ideas went through my head for this one. It made me realize that relationships are basically a series of firsts - first kiss, first love, first date, first goodbye, etc. I knew that I could pick any one of these topics and spin it in a million directions. There's something more important than the firsts though and that's what I decided to focus on today.


First word...first step...first date...first kiss...first kid. Life is full of firsts and milestones. These tend to be what we compile together for the story of our life. But what about everything in between? Doesn't it deserve a place of recognition?

I want you to take a moment and think about your favorite kiss or favorite date. Was it the first one? Probably not. That's because all of those in between moments hold a big spot in our lives too. Yet, they are often overlooked in conversation.

I just wanted to pop in today and give you a friendly reminder not to overlook those in between moments. Make note of them and keep them close to your heart because they are just as important as those milestone firsts.

Here's a few ways to track the in between moments:
- Jar
- Journal
- Scrapbook
- Box
- Photo album

However you choose to capture those in between moments, please make sure that you are! These are the moments that you're going to enjoy much more than your milestone firsts. Let's face it - firsts are often awkward and messy anyways!


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Why I Won't Give You Marriage Advice

Today's topic for #LoveBlog is advice. If you've been around the blog for a while, you'll know that I love giving advice for military spouses dealing with deployment. Marriage is a different story though. I don't believe in giving marital advice and I'm going to talk about why today.


Google defines advice as "guidance or recommendations concerning prudent future action, typically given by someone regarded as knowledgeable or authoritative."

Marriage is a commitment between two people. Those two people make the decision together to take their relationship to the next level of commitment. The only two people that are an expert on the relationship are the people involved in it. Therefore, no one else can truly give those two people advice on their relationship because no one else is the expert.

But wait...a week ago, I said woman talk is important. Doesn't this include talk of our marriages? Yes, I believe women should talk to each other about their relationships. They should share stories and maybe even ask for advice. However, they shouldn't give advice - especially unsolicited advice - to each other. Instead, they should focus on "What works for us..." This turns it into sharing instead of telling the other person what to do. 

I have a ring on my finger, but this doesn't make me an expert on marriage. I am an expert on my relationship though and I'm happy to share what works for us. I won't give you advice on what works for you though - you have to figure that out on your own. You can use my story as an example, but I don't want anyone using my stories as advice. 


What are your thoughts on marriage advice?  Who do you feel is authorized to give advice on marriage?


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Hello Military Girlfriends!

I wanted to take a moment today to direct you over to Happy Fit Navy Wife, where I'm talking about tips for conquering deployment as a girlfriend. There's lots of things in place to help spouses but girlfriends battle their own special set of issues during a deployment. Since I was a military girlfriend long before I was a military wife, I thought I'd share a few of my reflections and tips with you! Head on over to Happy Fit Navy Wife and check out the post!

http://happyfitnavywife.com/military-girlfriends-conquer-deployment

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Seven Little Ways to Show Love

I had every intention of blogging yesterday - and then I encountered a lot of internet problems and it just didn't happen. On a happy note (because I like happy notes!), it did give me more time to think about the prompt of "little things" and thus I bring you today's post for #LoveBlog!


I wanted to share little things that you can do to show your spouse some love. It took me a little while to decide how many to share but I finally settled on seven because that's one for every day of the week. I'm challenging you to pick a week and focus on showering your spouse with love in these little ways!

1. Do one of their chores.
If you're like us, then you've naturally fallen into a method of doing chores. For example, the husband takes the trash out and I'm the one that dusts. Surprise your spouse by doing one of their chores for the day. You could also offer to help them with a chore that they are in the middle of completing.

2. Cook something.
Surprise your spouse by taking care of one of the meals. It could be breakfast in bed, a prepacked lunch, or even dinner on the table when they get home. If you're the primary cook in the household, then I suggest surprising them with something special for one of the meals (see that breakfast in bed suggestion).

3. Write a good old fashioned love note.
It doesn't have to be long and it doesn't have to be fancy - it simply needs to be handwritten. Why handwritten? It gives the note more meaning and show that you put more effort into the note. (It takes longer to find paper and pencil these days than a computer.) It can be as simple as an "I love you" on a post it note or as elaborate as a two page letter. Leave it somewhere that they'll find it - everyone loves a good surprise after all!

4. Take them on a surprise outing.
Plan something little that your spouse enjoys - maybe a coffee date or even a trip to Target - and surprise them with it. Tell them "let's go!" but don't give the destination away. The suspense will make it feel special even if it's a normal little errand.

5. Do something different together.
Are your evenings always spent watching Netflix? Surprise your spouse one evening by suggesting something new. You could play a game or go for a walk together. Vary up your routine and avoid getting in a "rut."

6. Randomly give your spouse a massage. 
It could be a foot massage or a back massage. It doesn't really matter - as long as it's comforting and surprising. After all, who doesn't like the surprise of a massage? Not good at giving massages? Find another way to help your spouse relax - a bubble bath perhaps?

7. Shower your spouse with "just because" affection.
Have you ever gotten a random hug or kiss from your spouse? Did you ask them what it was for? The random moments are the ones we tend to remember. They're also the moments that make us smile. Randomly give your spouse some extra affection to remind them of how much you love them!

I would love to hear how you show your spouse love! What are some little things you do from time to time to show love?


Friday, February 19, 2016

What I Want my Kids to Remember

Today's topic for #LoveBlog is family heirlooms. I'll be honest - I thought about skipping this prompt because family heirlooms are not a big thing in my family. There's a couple of items my mom has that kind of qualify but they are more pieces that have been saved rather than things that have been passed down. To me, a family heirloom is something that is passed down from one family member to another. The biggest thing that has been passed down in my family is values and that's something I want to continue with my own kids. We don't have any yet, but I've certainly thought about the future and what I want them to know.


Here's a few of the things that I want my kids to remember:

Family is important.

You only have one body - treat it well.

There are no do-overs in life.

Mistakes teach us to be better people.

Life is messy - and that's okay.

Goals are important but so are adventures.

Be flexible.

Take the path less traveled.

Always follow your heart.

Never forget your roots.

See the world.

Pain is temporary.

Everyone is different. Respect that.

Memories are more important than material things.

I could keep going but essentially, I want my children to remember that they control their fate and that life is too short to be lived simply.

What about you? What do you want your kids to remember?


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Woman Talk

I'm really enjoying these prompts from the #LoveBlog challenge. They are perfect since I'm temporarily running the blog alone due to deployment. They are making me think of new and interesting topics for you. Today's topic was "boundaries" and it took me a little while but the post finally hit me during a conversation with some online friends. Get ready for a little insight on "woman talk" and why we should be engaging in it more often.


Do you remember the game Girl Talk? It was a game that prompted girls to engage in conversation and fun while playing a game. There were truth and dare cards full of conversation and tasks. If you chose not to complete one, you ended up with a zit (red sticker) on your face and no adolescent wants those! I can remember endless hours of conversation with friends due to this game.

Why am I bringing up a game from my childhood? To me, it's the perfect example of what we need to be doing now as adults - engaging in real, truthful conversations. We need to be talking about the good and the bad. And we need to be talking about all topics like we did as kids. Think about it - things were a lot less "off limits" as a kid engaging in conversation because we were still learning social norms and what was expected of us.

I understand the reasons for social norms and I definitely know how to follow them. However, I feel that among friends and family, these norms can be dropped a little to allow for more "real" talk. My mom was always very open with my sister and me growing up and even to this day, we know that no topic is off limits. (And when I say no topic, I really mean no topic. There have been some conversations between us that you wouldn't believe.)

Why do we put up barriers and avoid topics with our friends? I always find it refreshing when I find friends that I can have "woman talk" with. You know the kind of conversations I'm talking about - the nitty gritty of being a woman in today's world and what our bodies go through in the process. It lets me know that I'm not alone in this world.

I first discovered the need for woman talk when I was a teenager. My body was going through the normal changes that every girl's body goes through. Some of these were the ones shared in textbooks and sex ed classrooms. Others were side effects that people forget to mention. I didn't feel like anything was wrong with me but at the same time, I wondered if certain things were "normal." These things randomly came up in a conversation with my mom and I discovered that everything I was going through was 100 percent normal. (To this day, I don't remember what these "certain things" were, but I do remember the relief of talking about it with someone.)

Fast forward to adulthood and you add way more scenarios than just puberty. As women, there's so many things that we can learn from each other. Instead, we search the internet and wonder in silence about things. Wouldn't it make more sense to simply ask a friend?

If you already have friends that you can be open with, you're lucky. If you don't, I want to encourage you to start some woman talk the next time you're together. You might be amazed at what comes from breaking the ice.

We really shouldn't be afraid to open up to each other. After all, there's a good chance that we're all dealing with some of the same things but we don't realize it because we don't talk about it.

Do you talk openly with your friends? Why or why not?


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Ten Ways to Show Love

It's another day of #LoveBlog and today we're talking about the love language of service. For some, it's the actions that matter more than the gifts or words. I decided I would share ten ways to show love in honor of this love language!


Here's ten simple (and inexpensive) ways to show your someone else some love!

1. Surprise your spouse with something special. Surprises from the husband are always my favorite!

2. Leave a note for your spouse in a spot where they'll discover it without you - lunch box, mirror, car, etc.

3. Let them control the remote for a night. (You could do like the husband and change Netflix to Gilmore Girls when I come home after a bad day.)

4. Fix their favorite meal. Bonus points if it's a surprise!

5. Take interest in something they love. (For example, the husband once went to barre class with me...)

6. Give them a massage or foot rub.

7. Listen to them when they're telling you about their day.

8. Pick up something small and special for them on your way home. (Yes, this one crosses over into gift giving but if the item is small and cheap, then the gesture speaks louder.)

9. Do your spouse's chore without being asked. This one can be huge especially if your spouse is tired. Sometimes someone else loading the dishwasher is all it takes...

10. Ask your spouse how you can help them with something they're working on. Communication is key!

What other ways do you like to show your spouse that you love them? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Social Media Across the Miles

Today's topic with #LoveBlog is social media. There are so many directions that I could take this one since social media is a big part of my life as a blogger while my husband really only uses Instagram (and that's been a newer discovery for him). In the end, I've decided to talk about social media and how it impacts families separated by distance.


My dad retired from the Air Force when I was in college. We lived in South Carolina while my grandparents lived in Indiana. Growing up, I honestly thought it was normal to live away from your extended family because all of my friends (who were also military) lived away from their extended families. It wasn't until middle school that I realized some people lived near their extended family and got to see their grandparents all the time. I guess you could say I was living in a military bubble until that moment.

Distance was simply a normal part of growing up in the military. Now that I'm married to a military man of my own, I'm finding that distance is once again playing a huge role in my life. I do have to say that I have it a bit easier than my mom did though and I have social media to thank for that.

My mom was able to talk to her parent about once a day and only by phone. In addition to that, she had to keep track of their long distance calling plan and was sometimes limited in the hours that she could call. If she didn't get a hold of them, then she didn't get to talk to them - especially since they didn't have an answering machine. Needless to say, communication could get a bit stressful.

Fast forward to today when I'm in the same position my mom was in - living miles away from my family but still wanting to be close to them. I can text or call my mom at any time because my cell phone is still in the same zip code as hers. (Plus long distance calling plans have changed a lot in the last 20 years.) I can also share pictures and snippets of my life with her in a split second via social media. There's no waiting to see what's going on in each others lives - it's all right there on the computer.

There are definitely plenty of downsides to social media but I have to say it's ability to close the gap that is created by distance is a huge plus. I love knowing that my family and my husband's family is able to see what we're doing even when we're across the country from them. It helps us keep in touch without the extra stress that my mom endeared when I was growing up.

And the best part of social media? I get to see my cute nephew growing up in South Carolina even while I'm living in California! It doesn't get much cooler than that!


Monday, February 15, 2016

Five Tips for Communicating During Deployments

As you may recall, deployment has been a huge part of our dating and married life. After five or six deployments (I've honestly lost count), I've developed five simple rules for communicating during a deployment. They are what help keep me sane and I thought I'd share them here with you today in case they can help you out as well.


These are in no particular order because there is no way to order them by importance. Some days, tip number one is what keeps me going while other days it's tip number two. If you have additional tips, I'd love to hear them in the comments!

1. Remember that it's only temporary.
I'm not going to lie - there are days when I wonder if we're going to survive the latest obstacle and if it's all worth it. The phrase "it's only temporary" is what keeps me going on these days. I look to my calendar and find that end date to focus on. (If I don't know the exact end date, then I make one up.) When communication gets slow or tricky, I refer back to the phrase as well. Temporary is easier to deal with than permanent.

2. Keep your expectations low.
There are days that I wake up eager to hear from the husband. If I don't get an email (our primary form of communication when he is underway) from him, then it's a giant let down and puts me in a mood for the day. Over time, I've learned to keep my expectations low. There's less chance of being let down this way.

3. Don't compare.
Social media makes this one really hard. Perhaps you're reading that another wife got a call from her man today or you're reading about how often other couples keep in touch during deployment. These can lead to some unhappy thoughts if you start wondering why it's not the same for you. I want you to remember two things to help you stop the comparison monster: "Every couple is different." & "No two deployments are the same." Seriously, post these somewhere as a reminder if you need to!

4. Avoid negativity.
Try your best to avoid negativity in conversations. I'm not saying don't ever allow negativity to creep in - honesty and openness is still the best policy. Rather, avoid ending on a negative note. You don't want to go to bed angry and alone. That's no fun for anyone. Try to focus on the positive as much as possible.

5. Always end every correspondence (email, phone, mail, etc) with "I love you." 
This is probably my biggest tip! Make sure that you always remind each other of the love that you have together. That love is what will help you survive the deployment after all. We always end our emails, phone calls, and stuff with "I love you." This rule extends into our time spent together as well. It's the last thing we say before we go to bed or leave each other for work.

What helps keep you going during a deployment? How do you handle communication with your significant other (whether deployed or at home)? Do you have any special phrases that are important?


Friday, February 12, 2016

12 Things I Learned from My Parents

Today's topic for #LoveBlog is role models. At first, I wasn't sure which direction to take this post because my husband and I have had to forge our own path for the most part. I don't know many couples that have been through the same things as us. Then, it hit me. I do have role models I look up to and they come from my childhood.


I'm a firm believer that childhood affects adulthood in some manner for everyone. For some, their childhood is what sets them on the path that they follow. For others, childhood is what makes them decide to create their own path in life. One thing I do know is that parents and authority figures are often our first "role models" before we even know it. I'm going to share a few things today of what I learned about family from my mom and dad.

1. Love is unconditional.

2. You will argue with the ones you love. It's how you come out of the arguments that matters.

3. Communication is important.

4. Love is special and should be treated as such.

5. Family comes first. (I can't tell you how many times I heard this growing up.)

6. Parents are always there for their children.

7. It's important to spend some time just the two of you before you add kids into the mix.

8. Marriages can survive a lot of things.

9. Loyalty and honesty are important at all times.

10. Never settle for less than you deserve.

11. Life is short. Enjoy it with the ones you love.

12. You'll know when you've found the one. (I never understood this one until I found the one. Now I understand it.)

What about you? What sorts of things did you learn (or not learn) from your parents in regards to marriage and family?


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Create the Perfect Date

Today's topic for #LoveBlog is perfect date. I had a hard time with this one. I sat here and I thought and thought about the many dates I've been on. Then, I started to wonder which one to describe as perfect and I realized none of them qualified. When I started to analyze why I felt this way, I realized it was because while a lot of them were awesome in one way or another, none of them were truly "perfect" because perfect doesn't really exist. Life is messy and things go wrong and that's okay. Perfect is essentially something that is unattainable. Then, I came up with a way to make the perfect date...


Are you ready for the steps for creating your very own perfect date? It's really not as hard as you think!

1. Select a date from your memories.
It can be an awesome date or a mediocre one. It can be a date you hated. It doesn't really matter - just select a date. (Or hey...you can even make up one.)

2. Think about the good and bad moments of the date.
Analyze your date - what went well and what went wrong? What were the highlights of the evening and what were the downers?

3. Tell someone about the date omitting all of the bad details.
It's as simple as focusing only on the good. If you focus on the good every time you tell the story, then that becomes the one you and your friends remember!

4. Post about it on social media.
We all know that social media only shows the highlights of someone's life, right? So, make sure you post that perfect date story as one of your highlights!

Those steps were obviously for humor. I do believe in one thing that makes a date perfect - being with someone you love. In the end, it doesn't matter what happens on the date as long as you're with the one you love. After all, just think about how many rainstorms spark a perfect first kiss in the movies.

Do you believe in perfect dates? What do you feel is most important in a date?


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Deal Breakers in the Dating World

Today's topic for #LoveBlog is deal breakers. It looks like you're getting another look at how our relationship started in this post. I'm a firm believer that deal breakers are important but that you have to be flexible with them as well. Once you read today's story, you'll understand why.


It was sometime after college when I decided to try out the world of online dating. I have to say I was intrigued - it was like window shopping! I could decide what I wanted to look for and then I could browse to my heart's content - only making a connection if I felt it was worthwhile.

While I was immersed in the world of online dating, I set a list of "no's" for the guys I considered. Smokers were a definite no. I have breathing issues and have lost two grandparents to lung cancer. Needless to say, cigarettes are not my friend. Military was another deal-breaker for me. This one was a different kind of deal breaker though. I had nothing against military men - in fact, I had a huge love and respect for them. This deal-breaker came from growing up on an Air Force base (yep - I'm a military brat) and knowing what the lifestyle can be like. I didn't want that for my future. There were a few other things on my list, but these were two of the big ones.

I met a few interesting guys through online dating and even went on to date a few of them. It was after a not-so-good eight month relationship with one that I decided to take a break from dating. That was (oddly enough) when I met my husband.

We met in a historical pub in Charleston. (Historical pub sounds so much more romantic than bar, right?) I was out with friends for the night and the last thing I was worried about was men. I had decided to take a break after all. Well, it was pretty crowded and we had extra room at our table. It was only right that we say "yes" when a guy asked if he could sit with us for a while.

I spent most of the night talking to this guy. It wasn't long before I learned that he was a smoker and in the military. Needless to say, I basically ruled him out right there. However, the conversation was easy and pleasant so when he asked for my number, I went ahead and gave it to him.

(For the sake of time, I'm going to skip ahead. There's too many stories after that first night and I don't want to fill a book right now.)

Before you knew it, we were dating and eventually facing a long distance relationship. (Thank you military.) I never expected marriage to be at the end of everything - after all, he met two of my major deal-breakers!

Marriage was in fact at the end of everything though and I'm happy that it was.

How do I stand on those deal breakers? Well, he quit smoking while we were in the middle of our long distance relationship - as a surprise for me. And I've learned to embrace and love the military lifestyle. It's full of ups and downs but then again - isn't everything in life?

What about you? Do you have any deal breakers or stories of times when you were flexible and it worked in your favor?


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Free Things to do Together

Today's topic for #LoveBlog is quality time. Since I already discussed quality time during deployments, I thought I would focus on things you can do when you're together. Since I'm a fan of saving money, I thought I'd give you a list of free things you can do together!


I find that the best quality time spent together is the kind that doesn't cost. That's why I'm giving you a simple list of free things you can do with your significant other.

Watch a movie at home.
Pop some popcorn and pick out a movie to enjoy together. Can't agree on one? Each of you can pick a movie and you can watch two for the night!

Take a walk.
It doesn't really matter where you go. Use the walk as an opportunity to talk about things. Discuss real world issues or simply talk about silly things going on in your life.

Cook dinner together.
Enjoy some time together in the kitchen. One person can cover the main dish while the other makes the side dishes. At the end, you'll have a lovely dinner date to enjoy at home.

Play a game together.
There are so many different kinds of games out there - computer, video, board, etc. Pick one out (or pick many different ones out) and make it a game night! You could even up the fun by placing bets (for non monetary things).

Work out together.
It may not sound like a lot of fun but you'd be surprised how much fun working out can be when you have the right partner. You could go for a run or if the weather is right, take a dip in the pool.

Go sight-seeing.
There are lots of places where you can sight see without paying a dime - trails, parks, beaches, and even downtown areas. Enjoy seeing something new together.

Take it to the bedroom.
Cuddle up under the covers with an enjoyable drink and talk about the past, present, and future. Or you could...well, you have an imagination!

What are your favorite things to do with the one you love?


Monday, February 8, 2016

Wedding vs. Marriage

Today's topic for #LoveBlog is marriage because it's apparently National Marriage Week. Seems fitting with Valentine's Day coming up. Since the topic today is marriage, I thought I'd take a moment to discuss wedding and marriage in a post.



A wedding has guests. A marriage is a private affair.

A wedding may have 100+ people involved. A marriage is between two people.

A wedding is full of formalities and scripts. A marriage is messy and unscripted.

A wedding can take months to plan. A marriage changes with time.


A wedding is filled with everyone looking their best. A marriage is filled with bed hair and make up free moments.

A wedding is captured perfectly on film. A marriage can never be caught on film.

A wedding lasts one day. A marriage can last indefinitely.

I'm sharing these oversimplified comparisons to point out the importance of marriage - it's so much more than a frilly white dress and penguin suits. If you're in the midst of planning your wedding, I want you to remember that it's the marriage that matters. Your wedding is just the start of the memories that will fill your marriage. If you've already had your wedding and it didn't go perfectly (because when do they ever?), I want you to remember that it's the marriage that matters the most.

Simply put:

A wedding is a plan for one day of your life. A marriage is a plan for the rest of your life.


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Blog Love

Today's topic for #LoveBlog is blog love. I thought I'd take this as an opportunity to introduce you to some of my favorite military blogs and why I keep going back to them. (If you're interested in the non-military blogs that I follow, you can find those here.) I'm also helping cohost today, so please link up your themed posts at the bottom!


Jo, My Gosh!
This is a great site for any military spouse or girlfriend. Jo is very down to earth in her posts and gives you the nitty gritty of what it's like to be a military spouse. She covers the ups, downs, and everything in between. She also has a ton of care package ideas up on the blog for those of you looking for ideas!

High Heels & Combat Boots
I first met Keating in a non-military related group. I quickly realized how much I enjoyed her blog and have been checking in ever since then. Her husband is currently in Japan while she's stateside. I can relate to long distance relationships so much that I find comfort in reading her posts. (In case you didn't know, the husband and I were in a long distance relationship for almost a year and a half.)

Blog Legally
Rachel is a military wife who runs a blog all about the legal side. I find her blog super helpful right now since I'm in the process of making some major changes to Hodge Podge Moments.

An Aiming High Wife
I first discovered Tara through a Chopped Inspired challenge that she hosted on her blog. The husband and I really enjoyed taking on the challenge and I've been returning to her blog since then.

Munchkins and the Military
This blog is perfect for moms! We're not quite there yet but I enjoy following her adventures on Instagram. I know I'll be coming back to her blog a lot in the future!

Army Wife 101
I mostly follow this one through Facebook, but I enjoy everything she shares. Even though the title mentions "army," her site is so helpful to all of the branches which is what I love about it. I definitely recommend stopping by or following on Facebook.

Who are your favorite bloggers to follow?

Before you link up, I'd love to introduce you to the cohosts for today's link up!


Meet Brita Long: Christian feminist blissfully married to Dan Fleck for almost two years. Lover of Paris, pink sparkles, sensible shoes, manicures, and books. Fueled by hot tea and mimosas.

 

Meet Tayler Morrell: Mormon stay at home mom married to her best friend, Justin, for 3.5 years. Mother to 19 month old Rhys. "Retired" history and English teacher, runner, lover of video games, fantasy, books, and cooking. Consumer of Italian food, chocolate, steak, and strawberries.

 

Meet Pam of The Coastie Couple: Coastie wife married to Josh for a year and a half. Experienced at fending for herself after a year of long distance and multiple deployments courtesy of the Coast Guard. Teacher, writer, lover of puppies, obsessed with anchors, and adventurous at the core. Fitness and wine help her through the tough times.


And now...it's time to link up!


Friday, February 5, 2016

Instead of Gift Giving

The fifth prompt for #LoveBlog is gifts. I started thinking about gifts and realized that my husband and I don't exchange a lot of gifts - especially now that we're married. And I'm perfectly fine with that. I thought I'd take a moment to give you some ideas of things we do instead of gift giving for holidays.


We take trips together.
I can't even begin to count the number of trips - short and long - that we've taken in our year and a half of marriage. One trip that deserves special notation since we're talking about gifts is our anniversary trip. The husband was deployed at the time of our one year anniversary so we definitely didn't exchange gifts. I got the bright idea that we should do something fun instead when he returned and found a spa for us in Calistoga near Napa Valley. So, instead of exchanging gifts, we enjoyed an overnight stay filled with massages, wine, and lots of memories.

We cook together.
We both love to cook and we often take turns during the week preparing dinner. Holidays are a different matter though. Holidays are the time when we plan a meal that we can cook together. It's a great way to spend quality time together without spending money on gifts that end up taking up space.

We shop together.
We go shopping together and while we're out, we'll often pick out things that we want. It's much easier than saving them for a gift list down the line. Every now and then, we'll also surprise each other with something small while we're out.

We simply spend time together.
It doesn't really matter what we're doing as long as we're together. In the end, this is much more meaningful to the both of us than gifts. In fact, the husband is constantly asking me what I would like for him to pick up in the countries that he visits. I typically tell him that I'm good without gifts as long as he makes it home safe.

I guess this goes back to my love language being quality time. We prefer to spend our money on things that will create memories because memories last forever and material things don't always.

On the other hand, I do enjoy finding the perfect gifts for people...

What about you? Do you prefer to give or receive gifts?


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Valentine's Day & Deployments

Valentine's Day - it's right around the corner and a holiday filled with mixed emotions and opinions. It's also the topic for #LoveBlog today. I figured I'd discuss how I'll be spending Valentine's Day this year. (Hint: it's the same way I've spent it the past couple of years.)


How will you be spending Valentine's Day?

This is the question that was asked along with today's prompt. I'll get to the answer soon, but first, I want to give you some background on my relationship with Valentine's Day. 

My husband and I have been in a relationship for a total of four Valentines. Of those four, we've only spent one together and that was our very first Valentine's Day. He's been deployed for all of the other ones. Honestly, I believe anniversaries are the true celebration of love because they are personal.

Valentine's Day is a holiday though and I like to celebrate holidays. As a result, I have created my own method of celebrating Valentine's Day. Essentially, I set up a date with myself.

I pick out a favorite meal. (Not going to lie - it's often pizza.) Then, I pick out my favorite chick flicks for a movie marathon. There's often a bath in there somewhere and a glass of wine. All in all, it's a great day spent with one of my favorite people - myself! (You've gotta love yourself, right?)

For years, I let Valentine's Day be a negative day when I was single. Then, one year I decided to turn it around and enjoy the holiday. I decorated my apartment in red, white, and pink with hearts and flowers everywhere. I figured that I would have to give that up someday when I was married. (I was wrong - I still decorate for the holiday with the same color scheme.) I also decided to watch all of the girly movies that I love and to enjoy the day as much as possible. I didn't look back after that - every year was dedicated to dating myself.

Until a special boyfriend (the husband) came along. I honestly wasn't sure what to expect for Valentine's Day because I had never really been in a relationship for it. (At least not since high school.) I made him a small, simple gift and he got me something small in return. I came home from work and we picked out a movie together (we actually agreed on the first try). The rest of the evening was spent getting tacos and going to the movies. It was a pretty average date and I'm happy for that.

Over the years, I've learned one major thing about love - the grand, public gestures aren't the ones that matter. It's the small things that matter most. So, a special date for a commercialized holiday doesn't mean near as much as the unique, spontaneous date that happens as a result of love.

I'm sure you've figured out my answer by now, but I'll go ahead and share it anyways. I'll be spending Valentine's Day on a date with myself. I haven't quite worked out all of the details yet but I'm thinking there might be a pedicure and spa night involved...

How will you be spending Valentine's Day? Is it a happy holiday for you?


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Am I Dreaming?

I've decided that the #LoveBlog challenge is going to give me a reason to share some of our love story with you. I'm not sure why I haven't shared some of it before, but you can expect to see scattered bits and pieces of our love story over the course of this month. Today's theme is "fictional love" so I'm going to focus on a moment in our relationship when things just didn't quite feel real.


Am I dreaming?

Those are the exact words I asked myself last January after my husband left for yet another deployment. This deployment was different for many reasons and it all hit me at once. I'm going to have to back up the story though for you to understand what I'm talking about.

We met in June of 2012 at a pub in Charleston, SC and dated for about a year before finding out that the husband (then boyfriend) would be moving to California due to orders. We knew a move was coming but we never expected for it to be clear across the country. We faced the tough decision of starting a long distance relationship or ending things. After much debate, we opted for the long distance relationship.

We did the long distance thing for about a year and a half before I quit my job and started the process of moving to California. It was at this point that a proposal happened on the flight deck of his cutter (ship). More on that story later, though.

After he proposed, that's when the whirlwind (the dream, if you will) began. Things happened so fast that it might have well been in a book or movie. We found an apartment, returned to Charleston, crossed the country with my stuff in a uHaul, drove back to Arkansas, got married, and then returned to California where I found a teaching job within two weeks. I'm exhausted just thinking about everything that we threw into a month.

You read that right - a month. We got engaged, moved across the country, and got married all within the course of a month.

Life was good. Life was happy. We were married, enjoying our new town, and finding new adventures around every corner. Then, he left for another deployment. And I woke up one day, looked around, and wondered if it was real. The story seemed too incredible in my own head.

Am I dreaming?

I remember asking myself this question. I also remember telling myself that everything was real - I was married, living in California, and teaching fifth grade. (My passion is the younger kids - first and second.) I remember thinking "I should write a book because all of this seems like fiction." And maybe, just maybe, someday I will write a book about our love story - with some name changes and such of course.

This isn't the only time that real life has felt like fiction to me. Have you ever experienced a "fictional" moment in your life? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Why My Husband is My Best Friend

It's day 2 of #loveblog and the topic is best friends. I can't tell you how many ideas I had for this topic. It took me a lot of thinking before I finally settled on a topic. I do think you'll like the one I chose...


I want to start this post with a simple question for you to think about.

Who says you only get one best friend?

Please note that this isn't meant to be a sappy post. I never quite understood when people referred to their spouses as their best friend until I was married. Now I understand it all too well and thought I would take this post as an opportunity to reflect on the concept.

Before I started this post, I went looking for a definition for "best friend." Guess what? There's not one. I did find one for friend though - "a person who you like and enjoy being with." Unfortunately, this definition didn't help me much so I decided to create my own definition as I explain why my husband is my best friend.

A best friend is...

Someone you like spending time with.
Spending time with my husband makes me happy. I cherish the moments we get to spend together, whether we're curled on the couch or out being adventurous.

Someone who supports you.
My husband has supported me in every crazy idea I've come up with - even the ones he wasn't so sure about. He even gives me new ideas (like this blog) that he knows will make me happy.

Someone you can count on.
He's there for me all the time - even when he's out to sea. I feel secure in knowing that my husband will always be there for me when I need him, even if it's emotionally rather than physically.

Someone you miss when they're not around.
Do I really need to go into this one? We spend plenty of time apart and I definitely miss him when he's not around.

Someone you can be yourself with.
He has seen every quirky side of me - right down to the side that sings along to songs I don't know. He may find some of my ways odd but he enjoys them anyways.

Someone who will love you unconditionally.
A best friend is there for you in your good times and your bad times. They don't judge unless it's needed.

Someone special.
Yep. He must be someone special in order to live with me. I moved across the country just to be with him - that's no light commitment.

Someone you include in all of your plans.
What's a party or adventure without your best friend? You can bet he's included in all of the plans (when he's home).  You can also bet that he helps me come up with some of the plans.

I could probably keep going because a best friend is one of the most important people in your life. I don't believe in having just one best friend though. My best friends span the country and help support me on a daily basis - especially when my husband isn't around.

Do you consider your husband one of your best friends? Why or why not?


Monday, February 1, 2016

Quality Time during a Deployment

Today's prompt for #loveblog is the 5 Love Languages. I wasn't sure what I was going to write about for this post because I honestly do not know much about the five languages. So, I did a little research and took a quiz to discover that my love language is "quality time" which makes perfect sense. So, I thought I'd talk about some ways to create quality time even during a deployment.


Let's first start by saying that quality time during a deployment is awfully hard to come by. This is where it helps to have good friends who can help fill the void when needed. This doesn't mean you can't find opportunities to fulfill your love language, it simply means it's a difficult one to fill with miles between you. It can be done though and here's a few tips to help you out!

1. Enjoy phone calls when they happen.
View phone calls as a positive thing and try to keep them that way. Instead of complaining about all of the bad, focus on something positive and uplifting. Phone calls are few and far between and they're often what keeps you going. You're going to want a happy memory of the last one.

2. Play games via email.
If you're like us, email is the primary form of communication. In the past, I have sent discussion questions for the husband and myself to answer. I find questions for married couples on Pinterest and then send a few at a time to the husband. We've had great discussions as a result.

3. Recognize that you're going to have to take care of yourself.
Treat yourself well and spend some quality time with yourself. Think back to before marriage - I know it's hard - you were able to show yourself enough love to keep happy and fulfilled for many years. Try that again.

4. Plan for the future.
During the husband's last patrol, we planned two different trips. Knowing that I would be spending ample amounts of quality time with him in the future definitely helped keep me going. It gave me something to look forward to.

5. Remember the past.
Feeling a little blue and unloved? Start browsing through old photos and memories. We rarely save things from the bad memories so you're guaranteed a pretty positive trip through memory lane. Sometimes that trip through memory lane can pull you out of your funk. (Bonus tip: Email your husband about the memories. It'll bring a smile to his face as well.)

Remember that even during a deployment, it's important to remind each other of the little things. Take every opportunity you get to talk to say I love you and to remind your spouse of why you're in this together.

P.S. I'm an email away if you ever need to talk!