I know we hugged, I’m sure we kissed, but the entire goodbye was so shaking that it was an instantaneous blur. The moment his arms slid off me, my heart crumbled into a million pieces. I got back in the car and watched him walk away for Basic Training Camp. I burst into tears and sobbed harder than I have ever cried. We had only been married for three weeks.
I don’t feel the need to share this with you because I think I’m the only one and somehow my story might make a dramatic impression on your mind. I feel like I need to share this because I know that I’m not the only one. I’m one of the thousands of girls every year that had a goodbye. A really, really hard one. One that American girls have been doing since 1775. Your man is going off to be a soldier. And though you want to be that proud Army-strong girl– in that goodbye moment–you are simply just his girl. And it hurts to let go of that hug. Because it hurts to let go of him.
Some of you have asked me if it gets better. I can honestly say yes and no. Missing him never goes away. Loving him never changes. Feeling like your world isn’t right when he’s not there will continue on, throughout this separation and into the next one. But what does change is you.
It’s hard to believe that, because he’s gone and you’re still the same person that he left behind. Or are you? I bet that you didn’t know that it would feel quite like this. And in examining that, you’re learning more about yourself. About your emotions–maybe even an emotional side of you that you’ve never discovered before. And learning to face them is definitely an exercise in change. You might have tried to distract yourself with something–and that’s developing a new skill or interest in you. It doesn’t have to be a new crazy activity like skydiving. Even just picking up extra hours on your shift to pass the time by is you doing something different. It’s YOU changing.
The thing is, we all know that we can’t change our soldier’s situation. He can’t accelerate through Basic and come home early. He can’t stop training and come home for our birthday. And no matter how much we wish he could, he can’t just pick up the phone for a goodnight check-in. But we can change our situation. And like I said above, a lot of times we change our situation (or ourselves) without realizing it.
The first night home alone, I cried myself to sleep. And I’m not going to pretend it was the only time I cried while he was gone. But I will say, I didn’t cry myself to sleep every night. And it’s not because I stopped missing him. It’s because my heart started learning how to cope. It’s almost as if my heart got stretched, all the way from Virginia (where I was) to Georgia (where he was). At first, it hurt terribly. My heart was so, so sore from the stretching. But over time, it became limber. I began to feel how flexible my heart was. How I could indeed be sad, but how I could also spend many days happy.
The easy days didn’t come automatically, and they didn’t come early on after he left. But eventually, a few weeks in, I was able to begin making my peace with our situation. I could either fight within myself for all 16 weeks and feel gutted, lonely, and crushed. Or I could begin to become the Army-strong girl I always pictured myself being. I had to do this, because I knew that he would walk out of Basic Training camp with 16 weeks of change in his heart and on his shoulders. I didn’t want him to be the only one that grew. I wanted to change with him.
I think I want to share a post about all ways I learned to change, and things I did to help my heart cope with the cure. But for now I at least want to say that, to the girl who just said goodbye to your future soldier: thank you. Because people will stop your soldier throughout his service and thank him. And they should. But almost nobody will thank you, and you’re the loving force behind his service. I’m not making that up either. Your soldier will tell you that he couldn’t have done this without your support. And he really means it. His leadership will also tell you that. They always do, and they always mean it.
I’ve always felt this about us Army-girls: “Behind every great man is a great woman.” And I think any soldier would tell you that’s true. So let’s be gentle with ourselves, right now, while we’re hurting. But let us take comfort in the fact that one day, our hearts will learn to stretch. We will grow and change and somehow learn to cope along the way. Because this is only the beginning of our journey in supporting a great man, for our great country. And we can really, truly do this.
~~ Now go get your pens and start writing him a letter! ~~
I love new years. It’s such a great time for making resolutions, accepting change, and working on making the future even brighter. Plus, if you’re sentimental like me, it’s a good chance to look back over the last year with gratitude and nostalgia.
Like I wrote in my 2017 finale post, there was a lot of change for us in 2017. But one of my favorite changes was our development of quality time. We transformed our quality time into a quality of life. It was a change in perspective and a change in our ways. I don’t waste time the way I used to, and I value time so, so much more. I spend it differently, and I spend it well. If there was something I could add to that, it would be this:
Don’t wait for tomorrow to do what you can do today.
And I definitely don’t mean paying the bills the day they come in. haha I mean, don’t save a new recipe for next week– why not make dinner tonight special? Don’t save my perfume for the weekend– go put some on right now. If I miss my sister, pick up the phone and call her. If I take a cute picture of my babies, send it to my husband at work right now. Life is too special and too precious to think that the future is somehow going to be a better time to make memories. Right now is perfect. Right now is all I have.
I’m hoping this will help me in three ways:
1) I forget everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. If I “save my perfume for the weekend,” chances are I won’t remember I wanted to wear perfume on Saturday! If I save a recipe for the next week, I definitely won’t remember to buy the ingredients the next time I’m at the store. haha Just being honest here!
2) I have always struggled with making decisions. I’m a really, really indecisive person. I’m hoping that by “living in the moment” I will stop hesitating on everything. I will just learn to DO things.
3) I need to learn to let go a little bit more. Something I definitely struggle with is second-guessing myself on a lot of things. Its part of being indecisive. And I’m hoping that by living in the moment, I will become more easy going, and be so busy living in my current moment, that I have less time for fearing about the future or my past efforts.
So that’s the plan. Obviously I have more resolutions for this year…but I’m planning to break them up into smaller posts– my monthly posts to be specific. In fact, my next post will be my monthly January post. Stay tuned! Thanks for stopping by. What are your 2018 goals?
I wish your families all the health, happiness, peace, and joy that this new year could possibly bring. I can’t wait to see this year unfold. And I hope it will be one of our best years yet. Take care and God bless!
There have only been two years in my life when EVERYTHING changed (which is saying a lot as an Army brat). One of those years, I graduated from high school, moved away to college, began chipping away at my liberal arts degree, and most importantly–met the love of my life. The other year, I graduated from college with my bachelor’s in English Literature, married the love of my life a month later, and entered life as I know it as a military wife. But if I was going to pick a runner-up year, a year that gets honorable mention in terms of change, keeping busy, and experiencing life: it would be 2017.
Two months into February 2017, my husband returned from training and we were once again a reunited family. (For any of my military readers out there–aren’t homecomings the best?) We weren’t supposed to be moving until June, but came down on orders in March to move the first week of April. That actually happened to us. (For my military readers out there–doesn’t that happen a lot? lol) So we had to pack up and leave our apartment, which was an extra big change because it was our very first home together. We travelled 500 miles (with a toddler, a lab, and a morning sick mama) to move into a house we hadn’t even been in before. Good news is, we loved the house! Fun fact: we didn’t have a choice. haha
Life in our new house, at our new duty station was great. In fact, I think we liked our location even better. (Although we will always look back fondly on our previous two years and would be more than happy to go back!) As our family excitedly awaited the arrival of our second baby, we also lived the hours of Army training life. Early mornings meant early bedtimes, and there was a lot of packing, meal prepping, and long days. We made the best of it. In fact, we made a goal to focus on our “quality” of life. That had been our goal for 2017. We knew that our free time would be limited, with pregnancy and Army training taking up so much space in our life. So we tried to squeeze every drop of value out of our weekends together that we could. I can honestly say we really, truly did.
Once the Army training came to an end (congrats to my husband on his graduation!!), life finally slowed down for us. And when I say it slowed down, I mean we had a lot of time off. More than we have ever had before. Some days it felt like we were back in college, hanging out on the weekend together–we had that much time off. And we loved every single second of it! We had spent so much of 2017 learning to make the most of our time together. And so when our break finally came, we really knew how to spend it. Our second baby came along, and our family went into full-hibernation mode, enjoying the peaceful calm that comes once the baby arrives. We spent some real, long, happy days as a threesome. And now, as a foursome!
Looking back at the year in review, I can say that it was the quality of life we shared that made 2017 so impactful. The hustle and bustle that took up so much of the year ended up being completely worth it. The pregnancy and Army training paid off. Because not only did they have the best conclusions possible (especially the pregnancy conclusion! haha) but because it was during those times that we really learned how to make the most of our life. Like I said earlier, we felt like we had to squeeze every bit of life out of the time we had together, because there wasn’t a lot of it. This year, we learned to make the most of our weekends, and even just the most out of an evening together. It was a daily practice at first, but then it became a habit. And now, I really feel like it is our lifestyle.
As 2017 comes to a close, I feel grateful. This year was filled to the brim with blessings. I’m still surprised myself when I look over the year and realize how much has changed and happened, how many prayers have been answered, and how many memories have been made. I know it’s cliche to say it was “the best Christmas ever,” but I can definitely say that the ending months of 2017 have been some of the best in my life. And while it will be bittersweet to say goodbye to 2017, I’m glad that I can pack it up inside my heart and take it with me into the new year. Or as we always say among military friends, it’s not really goodbye after all, but really just, see you later.
“Landscape sketched from memory, heavens and land entwine / Rapidly the scene is set, exquisitely divine. / Pine trees reaching tall and proud, like statues standing still. / There is no wind to speak of, more an icy winter chill.”
— Suzanne Bates
I began this blog post as a summary of the month, like I usually do. But three or four sentences in, my post was quickly spiraling into an assessment of my blog. And then a fond look back on my year of blogging. Then I found myself revisiting how blogging went for all of 2016. Then I realized I was completely off-topic. And so now here we are.
I feel like that happened a lot this month. I’d have something on my mind, and it would float away from me. Words wouldn’t be spoken, or I would remember what I wanted to say two or three hours later. I’d have intentions to do something, and somehow that thing would never materialize. I would mentally create a list, and completely forget about those things for days. It was kind of frustrating. It was kind of fun. It was pretty much December 2017 for me.
Maybe this year wore me out? I don’t think so. But I do think that my mommy-brain has gone into hyper-drive. My focus is kind of all over the place, but my heart feels really settled. It feels completely focused. Mostly on my life. Especially on my family. This month was one of my favorites.
This is how I basically spent my month:
Celebrate my baby’s baptism. She was baptized at the beginning of this month. SO happy for her. <3
Make 4 new recipes. Rigatoni, crab pot pie, and Instant Pot salmon and tilapia. (<-Christmas gift!!!)
Continue to toddler-proof the house. TOUGHER than it sounds…she keeps finding things I need to hide.
Play some Christmas music on the piano. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” was my favorite.
Read “A Christmas Carol” by Dickens. I looked at a Dickens-inspired statue. Does that count?
Bake Christmas cookies. We baked and decorated sugar cookies…one of my favorite Christmas traditions!
Finish my two knitting projects. I finished the stocking but not the turban. Still working on it…
Mail out Christmas cards! The photo was a Christmas miracle, but we got them all sent out. haha
Wrap presents. I might have had to wrap a few on Christmas Eve. But we did it!
Spend my very favorite holiday with my very favorite people. Some of my favorite 2017 memories!
But I can’t really cheer myself on for doing 9/10 of my to-do list items. Like I mentioned earlier, I specifically gave myself the easiest, lightest to-do list in the history of to-do lists. I don’t think I should have even called this a to-do list. Although, maybe it’s good that I thought of it that way. Because it’s so easy to think everything we have to do is all the unfun things, and we forget how trulynecessary the fun ones really are. At least I struggle with that. Anyway, this month, I’m thrilled that I did almost my entire list, because they were fun things that I really wanted to do. And January will come with more adulting than the last four months combined, so I was blest with the chance to take time off and smell the snow. flowers. the spanish moss. the Christmas tree? Moving on…
I don’t feel like I’m ready to say goodbye to 2017, or even just December 2017. So I will save that for my end-of-the-year post. But I guess for now I will just enjoy my last few days of December 2017, and will see you in my yearly round-up. Thanks for stopping by!
I hope that your Christmas Eve was full of exciting anticipation, and that your Christmas morning was filled with peace and joy. I truly hope that as Christmas continues on, your days continue on to get merrier and brighter! I didn’t get a chance to blog on Christmas, but I thought of my readers and of wanting wish you all a merry Christmas. Thank goodness there are twelve days of Christmas. They have saved me in more than one way! And saving, so fitting–that really is what Christmas is all about. Saving up the memories you make. Saving up to buy gifts for others. Honoring He Who came to Save us all.
I’d just like to take a moment to wish you a Merry Christmas!
“May you have the gladness of Christmas which is hope; The spirit of Christmas which is peace; The heart of Christmas which is love.”
– Ada V. Hendricks
“On cold December fragrant chaplets blow, / And heavy harvests nod beneath the snow.” — Alexander Pope
I’m so glad it is December.
This is absolutely one of my very favorite months ever. And the fact that this is my baby’s first Christmas…well, this month is more than welcome around here! As I said in my last post, I like writing to-do lists. But I like writing realistic ones. Or at least ones that give me a breather some months. Last month, my to-do list was pretty soft. But I knew I had a baby on the way and didn’t want to overcommit. (<–Or let’s be real…I wouldn’t have gotten anything done anyway, but I would have had guilt along with it!) Anyway, I’m looking at another soft month ahead, and I’m totally excited about that! Here we go, December 2017:
Celebrate my baby’s baptism. I’m about halfway done with her gown. I can’t wait for her special day!!
Make 4 new recipes. Currently thinking: rigatoni, crab pot pie, and sloppy joe’s…I still need one more.
Continue to toddler-proof the house. It’s part of my grand plan for a cleaner house with less cleaning. ha!
Play some Christmas music on the piano. “Sleigh Ride” is a real favorite of mine.
Read “A Christmas Carol” by Dickens. Because it’s Christmastime.
Bake Christmas cookies. See above.
Finish my two knitting projects. I’m making a turban and a stocking for my baby! Shhh…it’s a surprise!
Mail out Christmas cards! Because stationary and photos are so much fun. And I kind of need to.
Wrap presents. And there are a lot of them. Good thing I love wrapping paper parties!
Spend my very favorite holiday with my very favorite people. I LOVE Christmas!
And that’s pretty much it! So, not a lot of hardcore “t0-doing.” But that’s because I know myself too well. haha Because when it comes down to it, all I really want to be doing in December is spending time at home: cooking, knitting, crafting, drinking coffee (and shopping online). So here’s to a restful December 2017! What are your plans?
I was going to say that this November 2017 was my most eventful month of the year. But then I thought through the rest of the year and realized a lot happened in 2017: Army OCS graduation in February, moving in April, finding out in July we are moving again, another graduation in August, my daughter turning two in September, and then of course this month. Those were all big and fairly life-effecting events. But November 2017 still takes the cake. Because my baby arrived healthy and safe and perfect. And that’s a life-changing event! And my favorite kind of event.
But, in keeping with the tradition of these round-ups, let me review my to-do list to see how much I actually got done from it:
Develop a fixed blogging schedule. hahhahahahhaha. This month doesn’t count for having one. Next month.
Knit a Christmas stocking for my baby. I’m at least halfway there!
Write a bit in my novel. This one kinda makes me sad. I wish I had gotten some done. Even just a bit!!
Nest. I full-throttled nested! And still am.
Get back into pilates. It’s still modified as I have to heal my diastasis recti, but it’s going great.
Take a ton of photos. I’m not even done. But yes I took lots of photos.
Celebrate Thanksgiving. Baby’s First Thanksgiving!
Black Friday. With “black friday deals week” I didn’t actually have to shop on ACTUAL black friday.
Quite a few of those were softball assignments, but I did that on purpose. I like having a breathable to-do list when I have something big and life-changing and emotionally impactful coming up– in my case, having a baby. And just as a warning for next post, I’m pretty sure my December to-do list will be even MORE softball. But I don’t mind ending my year quietly–it only makes for an even bigger January!
Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ll come back soon. Not just for my December to-do list, but for a few posts I have in the works– specifically a gift-giving guide for your soldier, as well as my November ipsy unboxing, to name a few. Thanks as always for your support; I really enjoy writing for you, and I really hope you enjoy reading!
Bye-bye, November 2017!! You were good to me. In fact, you were my favorite month this year.
I know I haven’t been posting lately…but I couldn’t think of a better way to “get back on my blog” with a post wishing all my readers a happy thanksgiving. I’m so grateful for your readership! I know it goes without saying…but a blog doesn’t exist without readers. So thank you for coming back so often to read and to support this place!
Without taking up more of your time on this holiday– Happy Thanksgiving, 2017 style!
And PS: thanks for being so patient and understanding about my absence. I was taking off time for my little growing family. But you should see some new posts popping up here and there during the holidays. Maybe not as frequent as usual, but I’ll be around. I hope you will be too!
I’ve been meaning to do a post about this for a while. And since today is the 3-year anniversary of my husband’s “Turning Blue” ceremony, I thought it was fitting to do that post now! This might have quite a few cross-overs from my What to Expect on Family Day at Army Basic Training, but that’s just because visiting your training soldier has similar boundaries, no matter what the occasion is. It’s still a very different event, and one I will always remember fondly!
What Turning Blue Is:
It’s the day that your infantry soldier-in-training receives the blue cord that all infantrymen wear on their dress uniform. Without getting into the history behind it, the blue cord is a significant military decoration that designates them as infantrymen. It’s the proud symbol your soldier earns for serving in the Army as an infantryman. It’s a really special occasion when they earn it! The Turning Blue Ceremony celebrates that moment. You can read a bit more about why they wear the blue cord here.
What Turning Blue is Not:
It’s technically not a graduation. Your soldier has completed his AIT and is now ready to graduate. This is his award ceremony, but his actual graduation day is usually the day after the Turning Blue Day. It’s also not a full “day-off” for your soldier. He will get to see you at his ceremony, and will most likely spend the entire day with you. But just like for his Family Day pass, he won’t be able to spend the night with you. The soldiers aren’t officially released from their Basic Training Camp until after they graduate.
When the Turning Blue Ceremony Occurs:
This usually occurs the day before Graduation Day, in the morning. It’s such a pivotal part to your soldier’s career and graduation, that they set aside a day dedicated to celebrating it. The ceremony itself isn’t long, but you are given the entire day to spend with your soldier, commemorating his induction into the “Brotherhood” of the Infantry.
The Turning Blue Day Schedule:
Each company may run their ceremonies a little differently. But you can expect some kind of schedule like this:
7:30 am – Doors open for the families to receive a quick briefing of the day
8:00 am – Seating begins for the Turning Blue Ceremony
8:15 am – Turning Blue Ceremony begins (the soldiers march in)
9:00 am – Soldiers are released from the ceremony and get to spend the day with you!!
7:45 pm – Drop off your soldier back at his training camp
8:00 pm – Soldiers must be IN formation or else they might not be allowed to graduate the next day
Who can Attend the Turning Blue Ceremony:
Anyone. Family, fiancees, significant others, friends, etc. When I attended, they did give a bit of priority seating to the wives/fiancees. There were no name tags on the chairs, but it was announced that the closest seating was intended for the wives attending that morning.
Who can Participate in the Turning Blue Ceremony:
Again, any one particular person (chosen by the soldier) can participate. It can be a spouse, significant other, parent, child, friend, etc. Your soldier will probably have talked to you ahead of time (not that morning, but on the phone previously or over a letter) about who he wants to participate in the ceremony.
I have heard some say that there are a few soldiers there who have no one visiting them to place the cord on their uniform. If you see someone putting the cord on himself, and want to offer to help, it’s entirely up to you! Some might really like receiving the award from another pair of hands, and others are more than happy to do the honor themselves. It’s certainly okay to at least offer!
How do You Participate in the Turning Blue Ceremony:
If your soldier selects you, it will be your honor to place the blue cord on his sleeve! He will have been given the blue cord ahead of time by the drill sergeants (YOU don’t have to purchase the blue cord or bring one with you). The master of ceremonies will announce the time during the ceremony during which the blue cords are to be placed on the soldiers. This is the moment you get to walk up to your soldier! And don’t worry, they don’t do it one-at-a-time. It’s a big mob of family members stepping forward to place the blue cords at the same time. You don’t have to do it in unison with the other family members, or anything like that. It’s a relaxed but very special moment during the ceremony where you and your soldier get to interact.
You will step forward from your seating and approach your soldier (who will have been in a tight formation up until this point, but it will now relax). He will take the blue cord out of his pocket and give it to you. You will slide it up his right arm, and fasten the stay-loop on the button on his uniform (he will point out both the loop and the button to you). It’s easy–there is no need to have practiced ahead of time (plus you won’t have seen each other before the ceremony). After you have placed the blue cord on him, he is an infantryman! At that point, you can shake hands, embrace, kiss, or take a quick selfie with your newly-minted infantryman. Then you must return to your seat as the ceremony concludes.
Dress Code for the Turning Blue Ceremony:
There isn’t an official dress code for you. But your soldier will be in his “dress blues.” It is the equivalent of the civilian suit, so you can dress professionally and that will not be considered overdressing. However, the ceremony often takes place outside. So dressing casually isn’t inappropriate either for Georgia weather 98% of the time. 🙂 The Turning Blue ceremony I attended was in an outdoor pavilion in November, so there was shade and seating, and it was a bit cold. A final note: your soldier will be required to wear his dress blues the rest of the day (when he is in public). So you’ll be going places with him in his dress uniform all day. That’s just something to keep in mind as you’re planning your own attire!
Rules for Families on the Turning Blue Day:
There aren’t really any extraordinary rules for the ceremony itself. You can take pictures, applaud at appropriate times, and participate during the actual blue cord placement. It’s pretty much the couresty rules you expect at anyone’s ceremony: dress appropriately, be silent, don’t bring pets, and enjoy yourself!
But the rest of the day does have some boundaries. They are pretty much the same rules as the Family Day rules. So if you attended that, then you know what to expect! I’ll list them again here (this is not an exhaustive list, but its the basics):
Do not go anywhere on the training grounds except where the signs and aides tell you to go. You are NOT allowed to go into your soldier’s barracks. There will be a signs directing you to the parking lot, as well as aides (soldiers) who will be directing you from the parking lot to the briefing area. After the briefing in the classroom, you will be directed to the site of the ceremony. Don’t go anywhere except where you are designated to go.
After the ceremony, you have to be the driver. The soldiers aren’t permitted to drive for safety reasons. They haven’t driven in 14 weeks (nor have they explored the Army post or surrounding town) and the drill sergeants don’t want them to drive in unknown territory for fear of injury or getting lost.
You can’t go very far away with your soldier. He will have mile restrictions (usually a 25-mile radius). Don’t worry though, there will still be plenty to do within the restriction! Your soldier will just be thrilled to be leaving the training area to celebrate with you. It’s a rule simply to keep families from taking the soldiers too far away, risking no return for evening formation.
Rules for the Soldiers on the Turning Blue Day:
The rules during the ceremony are things your soldier will have already been briefed on. When he is standing in formation during the ceremony, he will not be able to look around and spot you, wave, or talk. It’s tough because you haven’t gotten to see each other before the ceremony, or the day before! He won’t have been able to see you until the actual ceremony when he marches in. But again, don’t worry about the rules he has for the ceremony, because he will already know them through and through.
The rules for AFTER the ceremony are unfortunately many. They are pretty much identical to the ones from Family Day. Note: this isn’t a complete list (and they can vary from battalion to battalion) but you and your soldier will definitely be told these rules ahead of time!
The soldier cannot drink alcohol AT ALL, nor can he smoke.
He can not wear anything besides his dress uniform in public (no going swimming or changing into comfy clothes). That includes his head gear (the black beret) if he is outdoors.
As stated above, he is not allowed to drive AT ALL. Nor is he allowed to travel outside a certain mile radius.
Though it’s a strange rule, he is not allowed to sit on the ground (don’t ask… I think it has something to do with soldierly bearing while wearing a dress uniform. Not to mention he has to wear it to graduation the next day).
He cannot bring snacks, or any other prohibited items, back to his barracks at the end of the night.
Until he is dismissed from the ceremony, he cannot leave the training area.
He can’t return late (missing the return formation). Big BIG punishments could await him (like not graduating).
Final Thoughts on the Turning Blue Day:
This is a very special day, both for your soldier and for you! Don’t over-stress about how the actual ceremony will go. It’s a really nice one, and the master of ceremonies will keep it all on beat. When it’s time for you to place the blue cord on your soldier, everyone will be paying attention to their own soldier–so don’t worry about having an audience or making a mistake. Your soldier will know exactly how to place the blue cord on, and will instruct you as you go. Just enjoy the moment because you will both remember it forever.
And once the ceremony is over, your infantryman is yours for the day!! Spend the time celebrating his accomplishments, and get excited because the next day is his actual graduation. That is again a really big and important day in the life of your soldier. And if you only remember one thing from this post, remember this: the blue cord means your soldier is now an infantryman! That in itself is a great accomplishment, and one that will shape his entire service time. He really deserves the Turning Blue ceremony, so enjoy it together!
Thank you so much for stopping by! If you have any Turning Blue stories to share, or questions to ask, please leave a comment below. Your feedback is always valued. I hope you’ll come back soon!