Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Green to Gold & GI Bill Finances

Two posts in one day?  I know... what has gotten into me?

The VA

This isn't so much a rant, just a stomp-your-foot kind of frustration.  You see... this Green to Gold thing, while wonderful and a huge blessing, can come with it's fair share of decisions.  At first glance, it's great! (ok... it really is GREAT... but like I said, I'm stomping my foot) Full scholarship, get your degree, become an officer. Well the full scholarship is really more of a this or that.  You can get it for your tuition, or you can choose to get it for your room and board.  The great thing about Green to Gold though, is that most G2G-ers also have the option to use their GI Bill, so whatever you choose to use the G2G scholarship for, you can use your GI Bill for the other.**

This works out to be a pretty decent income for us while Sgt. is off taking 18 hours of classes called things like "Numerical Analysis and Theory" (Have I mentioned my husband is a Math major... with a Physics and Military Science minor? Have I mentioned that my favorite class in college was Children's Movement... where we learned how to juggle?)

Well... with his major and minor requiring lots of hours, he's had to take summer classes.  Luckily, the GI Bill will cover summer classes if you choose, or even break pay... like Christmas break for example... if you choose. Sgt. has opted for both at one time or another.

Now... if you're still following along here, this is where it gets fuzzy, so be careful.  We are nearing the end of our in-between Army world journey (YAY!) and we are also nearing the end of our GI Bill earning... (Oh No!) So, in an effort to extend the GI Bill through his senior spring semester... we stopped break pay this summer (basically turned it off for the 2010-2011 school year).  Then, this fall, Sgt. dropped one of his classes after the deadline so we had to pay back a little bit of money for the class and book allowance. That's fine, no big deal.

Well, the VA (The GI Bill issuers... and many other veteran services) decided to audit his file.  Fine, we have nothing to hide. Then they decided to send us a bill. Now, again, the VA is a great organization who has been pretty decent to us - except that they're crazy.  They decided that since he stopped break pay... they would charge him for every weekend throughout the summer as break pay that he received and needed to pay back.  Even though he was taking classes and receiving tuition pay.

So... a two hour phone call later my poor husband has to submit a written request to see his file and go through each number himself (because that's what he does... ) to find out exactly where they got this ridiculous number that we owe them.  The sad part... even THEY couldn't tell us.

Slow to pay you, quick to take it back.

Please VA... no more crazy bills for crazy things you can't explain... I already work too much, and I'm only on salary!

Christmas Recap

Hello all!  I'm hiding out under behind my desk.. if you see them... you know... my employees... tell them I left.  No, better yet, tell them I am EVERYWHERE.... watching...

Ugh... I wish I could have put a pause button on the Christmas vacation and continued sitting there in my underwear on the couch wrapped up with my husband watching movies.  And no judgement about the underwear...  wearing anything more than boy shorts and a t-shirt around the house on the weekends calls for a very special occasion.  Coming back to work after my four day weekend has been non-stop.  It began yesterday with an eye-rolling-poor-attitude-yelling-in-the-lobby-and-calling-me-a-racist employee (who's still here today.. I know. I know.) and hasn't stopped.  Yesterday ended with me leaving the office at 8:00pm (after arriving at 7:30am) after painting 8 life size stick figures doing physical activities (think, jumping, dancing, climbing, etc..)

No, that's wrong, it ended with a big glass of wine. Maybe two.

Oh yeah, I was talking about Christmas.  It was WONDERFUL!  Just the two of us.  We stayed home this year again and loved our first married Christmas :).  I got a new bedding set (!!!) that I have been dreaming of, a cute scarf-glove-hat set, some pretty picture frames with TBD wedding photos to put in them, a board game, and some other fun stuff.  Sgt.'s big gift was a blu-ray player so we sat around and watched movies the rest of the day/weekend. We drove around on Christmas night to find the one burger place that was open and indulged in some cheeseburgers. Laziness at it's best folks.  I also treated myself to a manicure and a pedicure since I never have time because I work 45 minutes away from home at least 10 but sometimes 12 hours a day

I've realized that I HAVE to get better at taking pictures of the two of us.  Honestly, I am a ham and really like being in front of a camera... but the down side is I never think to actually get OUT the camera... I just assume someone will want to take pictures. Except it's just the two of us and there is no family around... So, I have no photographic evidence of our first married Christmas.  Kind of sad. The memories were good though, and I promise myself that 2011 will be the year of picture taking!  Maybe I can take a picture a day?  That might be a little much. Picture a week?  Eh, I'll think about it.

Not really much else to report.  I work, he goes to school and works out, we eat dinner, and go to sleep.  Life as usual.  We are supposed to be driving up to Indiana this weekend.  Throwing a wrench in the mix!  I promise to put pants on for this occasion (mostly because it's about 30 degrees here, and we're visiting his grandparents) - but we also always make a mix CD of driving tunes for road trips.  We like almost every genre (between the two of us), so do you have any suggestions?!

Hope all is well in blog land my friends... I apologize for the random ramblings.  Well I suppose I have stick figures to hang up so I better get to it. It's times like these where I wish I had an invisibility cloak.

Monday, December 13, 2010

One year

A year ago today my sweet, handsome, amazing husband took me to the very top of a hill in middle Tennessee. We talked over a glass of wine about how wonderful life has been since moving to Tennessee.  He told me how much he loved me and how beautiful I looked.

Then he did it - he proposed and my world was forever changed in that moment because I knew for certain that the rest of my life included him.  That there would never be a time when we got back to the Army and they considered me "just a girlfriend." That I would be his wife, and that he saw all the things in me, that I saw in him - the other part of ourselves. 

Now, this doesn't mean that before December 13, 2009 I wasn't sure... I was pretty sure.  I knew that I loved him with reckless abandon.  I knew that every day when he woke up, he would do anything he could to make me happy.  There was just something about the officiality of it for me though... it mattered. 

I was so excited I must have asked him at least 3 times if he was REALLY proposing.  He was so excited he even has REAL smiles in our pictures from that day... not just that closed lip smile. 

This past year we have shared so much.  Planning a wedding, quiet moments where the world has disappeared around us leaving only each other, arguments over silly things like invitation envelopes, making up after realizing how stupid it is to argue over envelopes, surprise candlelight dinners just because he loves me, road trips, prayers, compromises, and much much more.  We continue to learn about each other every day and continue to set each other on fire with our love. 

During our wedding ceremony the pastor told us about the original translation of how woman came to be.  He said that what has been translated as "from the side" was meant to be the entire side... created from the half - the other half.  That when two souls come together it's more about finding the other half of you that has been wandering around.  It fit perfectly with the way that we fit into each others lives.  We are opposites in many ways, though we have the same values and passion for life. 

He is exactly what was missing from me... he is my analytical and "think it through" side.  He is the part of me who is certain and proud.  I could go on and on...

Thank you husband for the most amazing year since our engagement.  Thank you for wanting me to be your wife.  Thank you for the way that you love me every day - without hesitation and without judgement.  I am so excited for every day that is ahead of us! I love you more than words could say.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.  I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;  So I love you because I know no other way than this:  Where I does not exist, nor you, so close that your hand on my chest is my hand, so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep. - XVII ~ Pablo Neruda

Sunday, December 12, 2010


I've heard it many times.  In all of my marriage advice seeking, I often heard the term "compromise" thrown in to the mix.  And it's true.  I've learned that not only in marriage, but well before throughout the course of our relationship.  Everything from restaurant choices to duty stations have encountered a compromise at one time or another and this Christmas was no different.

My husband is not really a fan of Christmas time and holidays in general.  Which leads to interesting conversations this time of year.  For me, holidays have always been a really special time.  My family wasn't the close knit white picket fence kind of family growing up, but around the holidays we always had special moments together.  Some of my favorite times with my parents and my siblings involve putting the tree up with Christmas music in the background, driving around to look at Christmas lights, and my brother and I rushing downstairs on Christmas morning secretly, and an ungodly hour, dumping out our stockings all over the floor to see what was inside, and then putting it all back up and going back to sleep for a couple more hours.  I LOVE CHRISTMAS TIME.  I love celebrations and holidays in general.  I love gift giving and decorating and on and on and on. 

My husband... not so much.

So.  The questions remains... how do we find a common ground here?  How do I relinquish some of my passion for Christmas in order not to crowd him?  And how does he pep up and act joyful this time of year when he can hardly stomach it?  We're still working on it.  I hope that we can find a way to create our own traditions and memories around this time of year... but I think it will take time.

We've done pretty good this year.  For example - Sgt. helped me put the tree up, and then I did all the ornaments and decorating.  We're doing gifts but we put a spending limit on it, and we're doing "The Twelve Days of Christmas" where we get to open a gift (starting tomorrow) every day until Christmas.  We also made a gingerbread house! 

Gingerbread house?  Well that sounds pretty festive and traditional.  Doesn't it?  The compromise here?  We make a gingerbread house, as long as the husband gets to decide what kind of house it will be. Fair enough. 

Made all the more interesting by the fact that we created this type of house as a competition between two of our couple friends who also made the same type of house.  Just to spoil the end... we totally won :)

I hope you enjoy pictures of our Gingerbread house compound.  Complete with C-Wire, sandbags, guard towers with candy cane M-4s an ECP up front, and a moat with radioactive sharks.
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

To Bridalplasty or not?

Ok... I have no idea why I'm watching this, maybe it's because it's the first channel I flipped to when Sgt. went to study and I saw an airman in uniform and a bunch of women oohing and awwing.  I've seen a few commercials for this and wondered if I'd want to watch it.  I must say I'm a sucker for trash TV...

While I'm not really for or against plastic surgery as a general rule I wonder how Sgt. would have reacted if I said I wanted to go on a game show to win a bunch of plastic surgery for our wedding.  You're about to get married... do you think your future husband wants you changing up on him?  Of course there is the "They love you for what's on the inside" and while this may be true, I can't help but think that I wouldn't have gotten the same reaction from Sgt. (huge smile, deep breath, trembling hands.. I still love thinking about it) if I had gotten head to toe plastic surgery before the wedding. 

I did watch Bridal Boot Camp when it was on VH1.  Really over dramatized but I watched anyway.

The current challenge is to put a puzzle of their "future self" together, then grab a syringe and head down to the "First class injectables party!"... yowza

I may just stick with Jersey Shore as the tip top of my trash TV tower.

** Oh my gosh!  The way they send someone home is by saying "I'm sorry... your wedding will still go on, but it just won't be perfect" How sad!