Category Archives: Army Life

I died…

Last week my life changed forever, I died.

Ok I didn’t completely and literally die, but after this last weekend I will never be the same. It all started a little over a year ago I began my healthy life crusade. Working out was a regular part of my schedule, I even found a tribe of women working out and supporting each other. We hiked and I shared part of my journey here.  I was preparing and planning for my very first Spartan race; hiking and weight lifting to prepare myself physically, especially hiking around with Baby K on my back. I could handle a little 3-5 mile obstacle course, no big deal! Ugh if I only knew then what I know now… I could not imagine what a life changing event I was in store for.

The original plan was to go with a group from Tribe, but this summer has thrown all of our schedules off and no one else was able to attend. AJ had previously volunteered with me at a race so we both had a free race coupon to use. His original plan was for a Beast or Super Spartan. Knowing I would be alone, I registered for my very first Spartan.

I knew going into the race there would be obstacles I was not ready to overcome, the rope climb is my ultimate nemesis. Even knowing this and knowing the 30 burpee penalty per failed obstacle, I was going to finish! My goal was to come in under 5 hours.  I know, 5 hours for 4 miles? Yes, 4 miles of up a ski resort mountain and back trails, cleared specifically for the race. Oh yes and 20 obstacles and doing 30 burpees per failed obstacle, this was going to take some time.

Race Map

To my surprise (and complete gratitude after the fact) AJ registered Friday night to race with me. He wasn’t doing it for him but for me! In reality, going into it I was not certain how nice I would be able to be. This might make or break our marriage. We would come out of this more in love or I’d be so raging angry and cranky I would say not nice things to him causing a rift in our relationship. 

Pre-race face

Morning of the race we were running late but arrived with time to spare. 8:30 am we climbed over the Spartan starting wall to begin our very first Spartan Sprint. Up the mountain we started, over 5 foot hurdles, yes while still going up the slope of the mountain, further up we went still. The first mile was the longest drudge to the peak. It was not a straight up climb nor was it a well worn path. There were some more walls to climb over but these I did on my own since they were on level ground. Although I did smack my ribs pretty hard on either these walls or the hurdles when I broke the mouth piece off of the camelpak I was wearing ugh! Bruised ribs SUCK! Over another wall, under another and through a third, yep through it, there were holes.

Miles 2 and 3 blurred together for me.  Hiking up and down hilly, rock covered, sprain your ankle terrain, intermixed with obstacles designed to push you to your physical, emotional and mental limits, you bet I lost track of what mile and obstacle we were at. Obstacles such as crawling under a cargo net in swamp mud fit for any wallowing pig. Then make it thru the crawl and slush thru a few more mucks of water to a dunk wall. Down into a pit of water, scramble up, back down into another and up again until the third time you’re down in deeper water facing a wall you now have to go under, the dunk wall. After the mud it was actually refreshing.

Back up the mountain we went to the slip wall. You’d think having a knotted rope to climb up a slippery wall (remember all the mud and water we just went thru?) would make it easy. Sure I did. I got right on up there, grabbed the rope and scrambled up the wall. I was about to pull myself up to the top when someone next to me lost his footing and slipped. I lost my concentration and footing as well. Then I felt the ribs, again. I was going to fall, until someone behind me stopped me. Someone was below me helping me to stay up, AJ up top reached his hand out to help me over the top and I made it! Dang slippery wall. There were more variations of walls and other obscene obstacles. Some were a cake walk for me, others… not so much. There was a sandbag carry, just like it sounds. Grab a heavy bag filled with sand, lug it up and around the mountain a bit and drop it back off. The Hercules hoist, using a rope and pulley system hoist a heavy bag up to the top of the rigging and back down again. Don’t let the bag free fall to the ground… not cool, or part of the challenge. The plate drag. This was cleverly designed on the side of the mountain with little holes dug into the path. All in all those were the easy ones for me, and the ones I enjoyed. Oh yes and lets not forget the bucket brigade. Fill up a 10 gallon bucket to the designated fill line (probably about 2/3 for the women) with small pebbles and carry it in front of you up and down the mountain. The biggest burpee maker of them all was the spear throw. You get one chance to throw a spear at a hay bale Spartan target. The spear has to stick. ONE. CHANCE.  Yep I came close but you know the saying… horse shoes and hand granades…

I learned very early in the race, this is not a place for “every man for himself” mentality. This is a place for first timers and experienced Spartans to come together, uplifting, supporting, cheering and helping each other all along the way. I cried so many times and for different reasons, heck sitting here thinking about it I still get a little teary. There were people who had finished their own race come back over and help AJ finish my burpees for the rope climb! I was so beat down I didn’t have the capacity to do more than 5 burpees without feeling like I was going to pass out. They knocked em out like it was nothing. Strangers boosted me up and pushed me over obstacles. Some held out a hand to help me up. Others gave me a conversational distraction from my fear of heights atop the A-frame cargo net. Another kind soul named Katie stopped and helped encourage me thru the barbed wire. Most people were rolling thru, we were crawling; that rolling crap for that long makes me dizzy.

My EVERYTHING was challenged and I came out on top! I still can’t believe it myself. I have officially conquered the mountain and finished a Spartan Sprint!

Let’s recap the obstacles:

starting wall: CLEARED with assistance
hurdles: CLEARED with assistance
walls: CLEARED
OUT: CLEARED
Mud Crawl: CLEARED
Rolling mud/Dunk wall: CLEARED
Slippery Wall: CLEARED with help
Barbed wire: CLEARED
Spear Throw: failed
Rope Climb: failed
Sand Bag: CLEARED
Plate Drag: CLEARED
Herc Hoist: CLEARED
Olympus: CLEARED with help
7 foot wall: failed
Inverted Wall: CLEARED with help
A-frame: CLEARED
Twister: failed
Bucket Brigade: CLEARED
Multi Rig: failed


Fire Jump: CLEARED

I died. I have been reborn over the fire and now…
I AM A SPARTAN! AROO!!

I’m not quite ready for a beast or super but there are other venues this summer for Spartan Sprints…. maybe! I said never again when I finished this one and I’m already looking at the schedule for this year! Oh man I’m in trouble!

Part of me will never be the same and I am glad for that. If it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you right? I have been changed. The Spartan community is a unique creature in itself as well. I ended up finding out the names of most the Spartans who helped me on the mountain. Part of me will never forget them. They and that mountain were part of an experience I do not wish to soon forget. 

What is something you’ve done and conquered? Did it scare you? Would you do a Spartan?

Check 3 and 4 off of my 40 by 40 list!

I’ll Show You My Blessings.

This month in honor of Thanksgiving we are taking our blog collab and making it grateful. This month I’ll Show You My… Blessings, 30 things I am thankful for. Normally the month of November social media is plastered with daily posts of gratitude. We decided to post in our blogs for you to read in one place. Katie, Tracy, and I are joined this month by Dara and new blogger Danielle.wp-1469151611004.png

1. Freedoms.
Recently the kids and I took a day trip to D.C.  Dawn studied early American history last year and is taking American government this year. Of course a visit to the National Archives was s must. The decades and centuries of fighting, debating, and molding our country are awe inspiring. I am beyond grateful for the men and women who sacrificed, fought and worked so dilligently for the many freedoms we are able to enjoy. Some, possibly most, I take for granted on a daily basis. God bless America! 

2. Extended family
HUGE blessing! From cousins to aunts and uncles to grandparents and in-laws, our lives are full of love and blessings from our extended family. We don’t live close to any of them but if we needed them they’d be here.

3. Stay at home mom
Growing up I knew I always wanted to to be a stay-at-home mom, eventually. I had a lot of wild ideas. Never did I imagine I would actually be able to be a stay at home mom. Some days I love my children more than I could imagine and other days I lose my sanity. All in all I get to be home with my kids as they grow.

4. AJ’s job
This is a double blessing for me. I have the ability to be a stay at home mom because AJ has a job. He works so hard to make sure our family has everything we need and sometimes things we want. We have been thru tight times financially but we’ve never been on hard times so much we couldn’t see a way out. His always having a job has been a huge blessing for our family.

5. Baking skills
Some people can cook a mean steak or prime rib or a great chicken pot pie. I am not one of them, I feed my family and they definitely don’t starve but my skills are in the baking. It may have some connection to my love of sugar and desserts. Fall is the big kick off of my baking season and I’m super excited!

6. Friends
After living out here for 7 years, being an adult for over 15 years I can say I have this “friend” thing down. What I mean is, I have friends, great friends, even some amazing friends; but I have learned I do not need a TON of friends. I have no desire to be the cool kid sitting at the popular table. I am who I am and so are my friends. I know when the crap hits the fan they will be there for me.

7. Religion
We posted on our religion last month so you can read more here. Having religion in my life has been a blessing in my hard and good times. No matter where I live the gospel and Church have always been there providing me a stable foundation.

8. Adoption
Adoption processes have been a part of my life, woven in and out like a tapestry. I have friends who were adopted, and other friends who have adopted. I can’t imagine my life without any of these people and I know I wouldn’t have them if it weren’t for the ideas, processes, and ability of adoption.

9. My health
In all I do to my body and in my life I have been blessed with a healthy body. My blood pressure, despite my self induced stress, has been in normal limits. I have been working on getting my resting heart rate down with working out. I haven’t had any medical problems or difficulties so despite my own self-induced physical body abuse I have quite the healthy body. I have been blessed with great genetics.

10. Healthy kids
My kids have never had major illnesses, (knock on wood for eternity) and other than one broken leg over the last 16 years no broken bones or visits to the ER. No stitches either! We have truly been blessed in this department.

11. Beautiful seasons
Other than a few years in Utah, my seasonal changes have been nil. 90 degrees year round with a slight chance of rain were my seasons. Now I can sit in any room of my house and watch buds sprouting on trees, blossom into full green leaves, blow in the summer breeze, change colors and fall to the ground, then the tree gets covered in a beautiful white blanket. Such a beautiful blessing of colors and changes to watch each year.
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*I found this image here

12. Owning my home
Ok technically, it is AJ’s house, but it is our home. We spent over a year looking for a house in NJ but could not find an affordable house with affordable taxes. After what seemed a small eternity, we finally landed in PA and have a lovely home. So many people are unable to find a place to call home and we have been blessed.

13. Being able to breastfeed
With the first two kids I was able to breastfeed short term. Afterwards they were on formula and on to organic whole milk. We have been so blessed to not have the added expenses of formula or special milk for baby boy K. He is still nursing, bonus! No formula this time around. Added blessing: special bonding moments with baby K.

14. Running water
Have you been anywhere without running water? I have… well water requires electricity and when we lose power we have no running water. One of the many modern day conveniences in America is running water… nope I don’t think I’d survive the zombie apocalypse.

15.Walks in nature
Living in north eastern PA has become a blessing in disguise for rediscovering nature. There are many walking and hiking trails in the local forest. Some trails lead to beautiful waterfalls, others to panoramic scenic views of the local area. Each one

16. Comfort food
My tastes have grown from instant pudding and mac’n cheese as a kid to dark chocolate and shrimp alfredo. ahh the good things in life.

17. My grandparents
These two amazing people have always been there for me. I can not imagine life without them. I really don’t want to. They will live forever right? Lie to me!

18. My husband
This man of mine… such a blessing. He is an answer to so many prayers, even the unasked prayers. Great to the kids, helps out around the house, and… he even loves me in all of my crazy quirkiness.
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19. My mom
Cheesy? maybe… but my mom has shown me I can overcome any challenge, to never accept failure as the end and to keep searching for my happiness. She is one of my best friends and I am so blessed to have an amazing relationship with her.

20. Relationship with siblings
Four girls and one boy… this is my core sibling list. My sisters and brother. Of course they’ve added on with spouses but my core siblings, the inner-inner circle if I may, are a crazy bunch, yes, and my crazy bunch. They call and text, check in, and fight as siblings do. They are MINE!

21. My Tribe
My tribe! Oh man I’ve been on a physical journey this last…. mmm not quite a year yet. They have been there to laugh, cry, fall, and push me when I need (and sometimes don’t want) it. I have held memberships to gyms before but have never felt like I was a part of a gym. I belong here. Best workout sessions ever! I mean have you ever laughed while doing an ab workout? I do!

22. Military Moments
This sounds a bit vague but it’s a broad topic covering many facets of the military life. Recently I attended a dedication ceremony on a gazebo for families of local fallen military. It was touching to see families and soldiers being honered and remembered years after their passing. The military community is another piece of the puzzle making me. I have been blessed to meet and volunteer with incredible men and women in the military community.
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*photo courtesy of Linda Kerr/Tobyhanna ACS

23. Technology
How did we survive without cell phones, instant internet access and google? Seriously? Does anyone remember. I do, but it’s all a blur like a different lifetime ago. No technology is definitely a 1st world problem. I take it for granted but know what a blessing it is being able to utilize technology every day to reach family and friends across the globe.

24. My education
Walkingor driving to school was no big deal. High school was… well I’m not telling how long ago. After high school I went to community college for the majority of my general education classes then continued onto a university for my undergraduate degree in business management, yep I have a BS in BM haha. Not everyone has these opportunities and I recognize the blessing school has been for me.

25. Music
In high school I actually wanted a doctorate in music and my big plan was to teach… ya I know big dreams. Music has always been a part of me and my life. I sing, dance, play instruments, everthing. When I’m home alone during the day music is playing. I’m not a technical music gal but I dabble a bit. Music brings joy in ways I can not describe. Aside from signing and dancing, music is a talent of mine. I have played an instrument since I was in 4th grade. I picked up a flute and haven’t quit since.

26. Talents
I believe recognizing and knowing our talents is important so we can expand on them. I’ve talked about music and baking. I am a Jane of all trades, master of none, as the saying goes. I dabble in much. Sewing, writing, sketching to name a few. The blessing of talents is the ability and opportunity to bless other lives with those talents.

27. Two car family
This may seem silly but if we only had one car (which many people don’t even have one car) I would never leave the house during the week. No tribe, no errands, no shopping. What would I do?! We do not have public transportation here. Life. Would. Be. Terrible.

28. My exes
Yes, my exes are blessings. The broken hearts, bad boys, terrible mistakes, ones that didn’t last… all of them helped mold and shape me into the woman I am today. They also helped prepare me and my life for the wonderful man I have today.

29. Creature comforts
This includes more of those little blessings I take for granted most days. Heat, a warm bed, comfy blankets, a fireplace, fans during the hot months, thick wool socks. The little things in life really make it great don’t they?

30. All of you
I am blessed to have followers and readers such as you.  Each of you brings new light and perspective to my blog and online life.

What are some things you find yourself thankful for this month? Posting your blessings and gratitude on your blog this month? Post your link in the comments.

On the Road – lots of unlabeled pictures

Every year AJ goes off for two weeks with the guys, to the middle of nowhere to run around and play with grown up toys. Ok it really isn’t as fun as I make it sound. He goes for his annual training (AT) with his national guard unit.  This year I wanted to go somewhere as well, especially after having the new baby and not really having a vacation yet this year.

I knew I wanted to go out west to visit my family, especially since my sister and sister-in-law both had new babies too! After much research and debate I determined driving would be cheaper, especially in the Prius.

After three full days on the road, with many stops along the way, we arrived at destination Utah. One of Dawn’s lessons on this trip is to use the camera and take different photos using the various options and features. Here are a few along the way across the midwest.

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Obtuse October

Going back through my posts and photos I realized there were a few things I missed in October. In no particular order…

Halloween – we decided to not do a “family” theme this year. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on costumes either so I pulled something together for AJ and me. We were Catwoman and Batman. Yes he still wears the sweater.

Another after shot for a better look.

Dawn, after many ideas, landed on a “cereal” killer and the little of course wanted to be a princess, Princess Aurora to be precise (aka Sleeping Beauty).
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A few weeks before Halloween we found ourselves down at FT Indiantown Gap (FTIG) for a special event. While killing time waiting for said event (I’ll get there) I took the girls over to Hershey to play around. Little did I know the amusement park was actually still open, I was not prepared for a day at the amusement park so we did the Hershey World experience instead. We took a tour, learned about making chocolate, made our own chocolate bars and just had fun together.
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We were down in the area for a special event. AJ was getting promoted to Captain and officially taking command of the unit. He addressed the troops, the Colonial said a few words then asked me to “pin” him. Colonial ripped off the old rank and I punched on the new one. No one really showed me how to do it but that’s okay. It was my first time and I’m so proud of AJ and glad I was able to be there to support him. The COL had a bit more difficult time getting his rank off the hat, it was pretty tightly pinned down.
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Pondering the Past

AJ and I both have lived what seems like two lives, the lives we lived before we met and our lives now. We both wish we had met earlier in life so we didn’t have to go through the heartache and troubles we did. We also would be further along in our lives together.

The first time we were married we were both younger and going places. AJ was in college doing ROTC, and living an active lifestyle. I was working and going to school as well. We both made our own fair share of mistakes over the years with life and people. We both wish our first marriage had been to each other and not our second time around. We would still have our girls, #1 would just look a little different but she would still be herself. On that aspect I am still grateful she looks so much like me.

They are a lot of things that would be different in our past if we had met and married sooner but when it comes down to it I don’t think either of us was ready for the other when we were younger. Our pasts have molded us into the people we are today allowing us to work so well together now. As difficult as our pasts were I know we would not have each other today without them.

Goodbye Devry

These last four years have been almost torture with AJ being full-time school, work and the guard. When he came back from deployment to Afghanistan in 2008 he found a job on Picatinny with a company contracted with the government. He was hired on with a stipulation of getting a degree in electric engineering tech. When the job was side barred for full time orders with the guard he continued with his degree, being more than half way done. April of this year he FINALLY finished his last course in his degree and Friday 27 June he walked with his class for his accomplishment.

It has been a rough roller coaster ride but he has finally made it and I am SO proud of him. He tells me he will be going back for his Master’s degree. I’ll complain and drag my feet but it’ll be good for him and our family in the long run. In the meantime we are enjoying the brief time off of school work, from the civilian side anyway.

 

Oh and did I mention AJ made cum laude?! He missed magma cum laude by two-tenths of a point.

 

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New Blog

I’m haven’t been keeping up with the other blog and the support on my portable devices isn’t all that great so I’m starting a new blog here. My old blog is still up but won’t be updated anymore. Start following me here.

There is no set thing I’m blogging about just our lives. So here is a quick brief update:

1. AJ is almost done with school only 2 classes left! So proud of him!!

2. Little Ginger just turned 4!!

3. Dawn just started on the track team at school, we will see how that goes.

4. I taught my very first lesson in Relief Society on Sunday! New found respect there!!

5. I have been going to the gym, albeit on an irregular basis, but I’m going!