Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Great Wal-Mart Debacle

If you're a frequent visitor of my blog, you'll notice it's a little different! I was ready for a change, and wanted something a little cleaner and more modern for my blog design. I found Kailey Annice Design on a random Etsy search, and she designed this beautiful layout for me! Her prices are SUPER reasonable, and I think she did a pretty fab job on my blog!

Back to what this post is REALLY about. I feel that I need to give y'all a little background beforehand. I hate Wal Mart. There I said it. I hate Wal Mart. I said it again. I have yet to go to a Wal Mart store where I truly have an amazing experience. Yes, shopping is an experience for me. Grocery shopping, clothes shopping, shopping for candles, shopping for sheets....shopping. I appreciate when a store provides outstanding customer service (or as a friend described as "Disney World level customer service"). It will make or break my opinion of the store and opinion of the products the store is selling. I can't tell you how many times I have overpaid for something or bought something that I did not need from a store because of the outstanding customer service (also the way products are displayed make a big impression!).

I hate Wal Mart because I've never had that level of experience shopping there. I understand some people may be saying, "you're seriously expecting 'Disney World level customer service' from Wal Mart?" The answer is yes. I am a consumer that is giving your company MY money. I expect to be treated with respect and provided a pleasant shopping experience. Every Wal Mart I have ever graced (which after living the Marine Corps life for almost 16 years now means I've been to a LOT of Wal Marts) is full of disgruntled employees who don't want to be there, don't want to at least fake it, and aren't very friendly (RUDE). I think this atmosphere bleeds into its customers too, because the customers I encounter at Wal Mart are equally as disgruntled and rude.

Several years ago, Nick's uncle David and his partner Andy came all the way from England to visit us in California. It's become a big inside joke between us about my hate for Wal Mart after a conversation about it that we all had during that time (after consuming some adult beverages). Just recently, they mentioned on Facebook about how it'd be great if I sent them some Hamburger helper from Wal Mart. (Side note: the British love them some Hamburger Helper. I'm not even sure why, but some of the British candy I like is equally frowned upon by actual British people). ANYWAY, to humor them, I went to Wal Mart today to buy them Hamburger Helper. I could have easily gone to HEB (it's closer), but I thought it would be funny. I went live on Facebook to prove I was there. A friend of mine even texted me this:

 So as y'all can tell, people who are close to me know that I prefer not to shop there. Also, I'm sure someone is gonna hate because they feel I am judging people who go to Wal Mart in pajamas. This is a stereotype of Wal Mart shoppers, and I have no regrets about saying it. It's funny! Look, I don't get all dolled up to go to Wal Mart, Target, the grocery store. In fact, you can catch me many times with wet hair thrown up into a bun, athletic shorts, and an old t shirt at the store. But let's be real here, I'm a self conscious person as it is, so you won't catch me in pajamas in public...ever. So if that is your choice of outfit, I say, "go on with your bad self!"

Afterwards, I posted about my experience...

"My Wal mart trip. The size is overwhelming. My cashier gave me an attitude because I asked if their chip reader was set up (how was I supposed to know?! Half the businesses that have them don't use them yet)...I asked an employee (based on the collared shirt with wal mart logo on it) what aisle hamburger helper was since I never buy the stuff...she claimed she didn't know because she doesn't work the floor....she looked less than pleased to help me find someone who could help me... I'm pretty sure I felt her rolling her eyes at me as I walked away after thanking her.
Why are they so unhappy? This is every dang wal mart I've ever been to."

As usual, my yearly trip to Wal Mart was exactly how it has been since I became an adult and had to shop for myself. This little Facebook post went viral. Ok, not VIRAL in the sense that it was shared a gazillion times, and now I will be on Ellen tomorrow. However, it garnered a lot of attention and comments. I didn't realize how many of my friends had friends and family employed by Wal Mart, and it surely was not meant to disrespect their place of work. I did get some insightful comments that I took to heart.

So why I am blogging about this? Because my Wal Mart Facebook post was based on an inside joke with family, and it got out of hand. I'm just going to add that there is a Fortune article that just recently came out saying that Wal Mart is laying off thousands of employees, and focusing on in-store customer service. Just last year, they closed hundreds of stores as well. They claim it is because of competition (sites like Amazon) that is taking over this industry. I find it hard to believe when chains like Target are doing amazingly well. I can't help but think that their customer service is a big reason why they are losing customers and business. It's sad that they're laying people off in order to focus on "in store customer service", but at the same time, their "in store customer service" is the reason why I (as many others) don't shop there. 

I'm not boycotting Wal Mart. I go there once in a blue moon, but each time I go there, I am always reminded on why I don't like it there.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Marriage and First Kill

If y'all have followed my blog long enough, you already know some of the marriage struggles Nick and I faced when we lived in Massachusetts. I like to call that phase of our marriage the "7 year itch". It's real y'all! Mix the "7 year itch" with the stress of getting out of the Marine Corps, losing half our income because of it, having a new baby, and moving a strange, unfamiliar (and cold) place...it was a recipe for disaster. I think it was the lowest point in our marriage thus far (and with a lifetime ahead of us, I'm sure there will be many more lows). I remember driving 45 minutes to Boston in the middle of the night from my quiet suburban home with Mattis in just a diaper and Dannika half asleep to go yell at Nick. Yell at him for getting drunk at a work function. Yell at him for not coming home. I remember driving to his office in fury, in the cold, with both my kids at 1 (maybe 2) in the morning with every intention of causing hell. I remember showing up at his office at Boston University (Mattis in just a diaper in my arms and Dannika behind me) and seeing him passed out on the floor wreaking of booze. I angrily woke him up (probably kicked him). Instead of the conversation I had envisioned in my head on the drive there, he was too drunk to have a coherent conversation with me. Instead, I left his office with a drunken promise from him that he'd be home in the morning, and a broken heart. 

He came home the next morning as promised, and we sat on the floor in our kitchen and talked. We realized our marriage needed repair, and I needed repair. I hadn't realized how much getting out of the Marine Corps had damaged my ego and my pride. I went from being a Staff NCO in charge of Marines to feeling like the most insignificant person in the world. I learned later that this is a common feeling most veterans go through when they exit the service.

Marriage is tough, and it's not everything you always see on my social media. I think Nick and I have an amazing marriage, and a strong foundation to get us through the tough times. After our low point, Nick and I decided to do counseling. I did counseling for myself and dealt with the issues I had with my "identity loss" from being a Marine to a "house wife". We did couples counseling together to work through our issues. I basically resented Nick for getting to live the life I used to live, and he was feeling guilty because of it. 

One of the things that Nick and I did to reconnect during this time was just have coffee together every morning before he went to work and before the kids were up. That meant getting up at 4AM every morning. We are morning people, but 4AM is still rough. We chose the early mornings vice the evenings because it is easier to wake up than to stay up (when you're tired). Those mornings were my favorite. We prayed together, for each other, and we just had coffee and talked about whatever. We slowly began to reconnect, and I honestly believe our marriage has never been stronger since then. 

When we moved to Texas, we were in such a great place in our marriage that we have just sorta "forgot" to continue nurturing our marriage. When things are good, it's easy to forget to maintain. We are still in a GREAT place, but I want to make sure we stay where we are. I decided to start a couples bible study book together for the New Year. Nick and I decided to wake up early every morning like we used to, drink coffee, pray, talk, and do our bible study together. 

  I chose this book by Jefferson and Alyssa Bethke.
I read a book by Jefferson Bethke a while ago called "Jesus > Religion", and I absolutely loved it.
This book is one of the best books I've read that is relateable to the "modern day Christian". 
He's not so "grandpa's church", but he's also not "Cheesy mega church Joel Osteen" either.
He's real, compassionate, loving, and tells the truth.
It's the reason why I chose to do this book with Nick.

I plan on blogging about it, and letting y'all know my thoughts about it so keep up!
I'm really excited to  be doing this!




Oh, and as far the "First Kill" part of the title of this blog...
Dannika shot her first deer...all by herself....no help from Nick...


 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Blogging

It dawned on my yesterday that I have been blogging for almost 8 years now. I started blogging when I was pregnant with Dannika to document my pregnancy, and keep my family and friends in Texas updated on our newlywed life in Southern California. It turned out to be a great little piece of my cyberspace where I could post pictures of my family, brag about "stuff",  and even vent. It's become a place where I've often shared my frustrations and struggles in military life, marriage, and parenting to complete strangers (and friends on family). I'm sometimes more open on my blog than I am to those who are closest to me. Writing my feelings and thoughts down is just easier than having to say it out loud to someone. In fact, I've used it to air my frustrations about Nick TO Nick. I vent on here, and I let him read it. It has saved our marriage hundreds of petty arguments because instead of me getting emotionally charged and saying things I don't mean, I can just write it, rewrite it, edit it, and really take a hard look at it before hitting "publish".

My blog has never meant make any money, nor is there anything I can really make money on. Who wants to pay me to write about my own kids and my own life? lol. I laugh as I write that, because I've always thought my testimony and life story would make a great book/Lifetime movie. I've done a couple little sponsored posts here and there for free, meaningless, and often useless "stuff". I've been paid a few bucks here and there to review something. Most of these posts were when I was in transition from Marine Corps life to Marine Wife life (hey, check it out...I'm a poet and didn't know it!). I was bored, home, and trying to find something to fill all this "extra" time I had all of a sudden. Yes, Marine wife and SAHM life is hard, but being a full-time, active duty Marine was like a billion times harder...I can say that, cause I've done both, right? 

Since moving to Texas and starting college, I've had less free time, and blogging has been on the back burner. I don't know how many times a day, I say to myself, "oh man, I can't wait to blog about this", but never get around to it. I've used Instagram and Facebook as a "not so great" alternative to blogging. But I truly miss consistently sitting down every day to write my thoughts. I don't make New Years Resolutions, because honestly, I'll forget what they are by January 10th (random date), but I hope this year, I'll make more of an effort to find time to blog.

I have also toyed around with the idea of transferring my blog to Wordpress, but seeing as how I am not using this to make money or using it to promote anything, I think I'll stick to blogger. I also am clueless on how to do it, which means I'd have to hire someone, and based on quotes I've looked at, spending 350 dollars to do that is not my priority. People have complained about this platform, but it's been pretty darn good to me for the last 8 years. I am planning on redesigning my blog theme, and by "I", I am going to hire someone to do it. I think I'll keep the name. I still feel like my life as an active duty Marine was still just yesterday, and most days, I still feel like a fish out of water trying to adjust to "Marine wife life". As for "domestic bliss", I am definitely a lot more "domestic"than I was as an active duty Marine. I actually do things like cook a homecooked dinner from scratch (almost) every night, and I no longer hire a cleaning lady to clean my house. GASP...I actually clean my own house (with a tremendous amount of help from Nick, and minimal help from the two little humans I created). I do things like take my kids to the park on a Wednesday at 1:00PM (notice, I did not say 1300). I like my new slightly "domestic" life, and I don't miss my old one. I take that back. I miss the people in my old one. I miss Marines. I miss going into work and hanging out and talking to Marines. I miss being surrounded by so much culture and diversity, and yet sharing the same title and uniform as a group of people. America could learn a thing or two from the Marines....

Anyway, it's a cold day today. I say "cold" in Texas terms because after living in New England for two years, my definition of "cold" is drastically different than those around me here. This cold made me want to blog, and reading back, I did a lot of rambling. Here's to more blogs in 2017!


And because no blog seems quite complete without a photo....
Here's an adorable one of my son!

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 Thoughts

Happy 2017, y'all! 

I'm a day late, but only because I've been sick and in bed all day yesterday (just a little cold and maybe some bronchitis). I am feeling a little better today, but still not well enough to be out and about. Thankfully, my illness did not hit me until after I got to ring in the New Year with our friends and my family. I am sad that I was not well enough yesterday to make my family a traditional New Years meal of collard greens and black eyed peas! My sweet husband made our kids pancakes for dinner and let me lay in bed and binge on Netflix.

Our family rang in the new year with our neighbors turned best friends on our cul-de-sac. I didn't think I'd make it to midnight, but I did! In fact, my entire family did, kids and all! My kids may have been a little delirious, but they were determined to make the countdown. 

 Only in Texas will you see someone wearing a tank top on New Years.


sparklers!


Cheers with Martinelli's sparkling cider!
It's hard to tell in this photo, but Dannika's eyes are bloodshot and she is delirious.

Happy New Year!


3 New Years together in a row!



This year marks our 3rd New Years in Texas. It's hard to believe how fast time has flown, and how quickly the end of our time here is approaching. 2017 will be year of big changes for our family. Nick and I will graduate in August. In October, he will be headed to Quantico, VA for six months for the basic school. I am staying back here in Texas since it's counterproductive to pull Dannika out of 3rd grade at the beginning of the school year just to take her to a new school for 6 months in a whole different state. That, and I am trying to cherish every minute I have left here in "God's Country". I'll be back to my all too familiar life of "solo parenting". I've been so spoiled these last few years having a constant partner (Nick) to help raise the children and just be around all the time. I'm a little nervous about being alone (although by now I should be a pro). I guess all good things have to come to an end, and you can only "run" from the Marine Corps for so long until it catches up to you. In a strange sense, I am sort of excited to move onto our next chapter of our life. I can't believe I just said that since y'all know just how much this Texas girl loves being home. So much of my heart belongs here in Texas. But, the adventure that awaits our family is also exciting to me. I guess this is why God made me a Marine, then a Marine wife. (Oh wait, as long as that "adventure" isn't back in Massachusetts, I'll be ok.) Who knows where we will end up? Ultimately, we would love to go back to southern California or go overseas to Japan as a family. However, as every good Marine should know, making plans or having wishes in the Marine Corps just sets you up for disappointment. I am just relying on God to place our family where He feels we can flourish. "Bloom where you are planted."

But, before I start thinking too deeply into 2017 and beyond (and stress myself out), I'm going to soak up everything amazing that God has in store for me right now (except for this nasty cold...this cold can leave now, thank you). 2016 was pretty awesome, and I pray that 2017 is just as amazing. 

I'm gonna go lay down now, and allow my kids entirely too much time on their Ipads so mama can rest. Nick went back to "work" today. Although he is a student, he is still an active duty Marine, which means that just because A&M is still on winter break, doesn't mean the Marines are. He's probably doing some menial tasks around the Trigon (the ROTC offices at A&M) like painting rocks and spray painting ammo cans or something (y'all think I'm joking, but you ever want to see some gunny's working like LCpls, come here and check out our MECEP'ers!)

Best wishes to everyone in 2017. I noticed a lot of my friends talked a lot about how 2016 was horrible, and my prayers for y'all are that this year is "your year"! Cheers!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Last Blog of 2017

It's crazy how fast this year has flown by. The saying that "time flies when you're having fun" is something I can stand behind this year. My 2016 was awesome. I've seen a lot of stuff on my newsfeed lately from friends and family posting about how they are glad 2016 is over, and how 2016 sucked, and how 2016 was a horrible year, and blah blah blah blah blah. Come on, folks! Do we really need ANY more negativity in our lives? My 2016 wasn't perfect. There's a lot of things I wish I would have done more of like spend less time on school and more time with my kids. Or go out of my way more to see friends. But that didn't happen, and I am ok with that. Here is a look back at all the wonderful things that our family did in 2016.

In January, Dannika had a random act of kindness project do for school.
She chose to take hot coffee to our local police department on a chilly, rainy day.


In February, Dannika and Nick went to their very first daddy/daughter dance.


March was exciting!
Our family went to Nashville to meet the newest member of our family, my niece Lulu (short of Lucia).



I celebrated turning 32 and fab...

And a birthday present from my hubby to me!


In April...
Dannika got to model and be part of a really cool ad campaign for the Texas A&M foundation.
Her photo made the cut, and can be seen on their website right here

We celebrated easter with a HUGE cul de sac Easter egg hunt!


In May, Nick and I celebrated 8 years of marriage!

In June, Dannika had her 7th birthday party!
A pedicure party with all of her friends!

In July...
Dannika went to summer camp for the first time at Camp Carolina Creek!

But most importantly...
This guy won yard of the month! lol


August was another fun month!

We went to the lake house on Lake Conroe with our next door neighbors and met up with a friend we hadn't seen in over five years!

This sweet girl started second grade!

And this big boy turned THREE!

September kicked off Aggie football season!
Lots of tailgates and football games!


We celebrated the Marine Corps' birthday in October!


In November, Nick got his Aggie ring and dunked it at Chicken!


And this month, we celebrated the birth of our Savior with our entire family in Houston!
 

I don't know about you, but our 2016 was pretty awesome.
If you really had a horrible 2016, the I wish you nothing great blessings for the new year.
I pray that your 2017 is your silver lining year, and that your year is amazing.
If you had an amazing 2016 like us, I pray that your 2017 will top it!

Happy last day of 2016, everyone!
See y'all next year!