The Last Ten Years-2002 to 2012

In the last ten years, I’ve been VERY busy and I’ve moved around A LOT so we have a lot to cover in this blog entry. Stick with me, ok?

Florida southern College (August 2002-May 2003)

Ah….the start of my adult life.  The journey to travel from Portsmouth Rhode Island to Lakeland, Florida was certainly an interesting one and more so because I had ALL four of my wisdom teeth taken out a short while before the road trip.  My dad had a number of laughs at my expense as I tried to eat burgers and mashed potatoes without wincing in pain and then laughing at the ridiculous way I tried to nibble my food.

Ashley, Jennifer (my roommate), Amy (next to Jennifer, one of my suite mates), and Kelly (my other suite mate).

I am still friends with my roommate and my suite mates plus a handful of other friends of mine from my one year at FSC.  We keep in touch via Facebook, which is certainly a lifeline for me.  With all the traveling I’ve done, I don’t think I’d get around to sending snail mail to everyone without running out on a weekly basis to get stamps. So I save money using Facebook and I get immediate updates on everyone. It suits me.

My friends down the hall: Ivy, Emily (middle), Amy, and Christina (kneeling)

I took seventeen credits my first semester and fifteen my second with the goal of obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Biology at the end of the four years I intended to spend in college.  My luster for education dimmed a lot when I realized I wasn’t ready to sit in class and actually apply myself just yet nor was I interested in accumulating $80,000 worth of debt.

We went dancing in Ybor City, Florida. I am on the far left and my friend, Jucette, is to the right of me. In the bottom photo, my friend, Michele, is on the left. She is my favorite Korean and she knows it!

I had looked into a stint with the Army Reserves since I was doing Army ROTC to serve as my financial crutch, but I knew pretty early on that my heart wasn’t in it.  When I returned home, I caught up with a good friend of mine, Jim, who was going to Marine Corps boot camp that summer and we reminisced about a number of things and I got ridiculed for even THINKING about going Army.

Army ROTC

I can’t sit here and tell you that I wasn’t already thinking about the Marine Corps before I left FSC because I was.  My close friends knew how much I loved the Marine Corps and why it was important to me.  It was a matter of getting up the balls to do something completely opposite of the person I thought I was and you know what, I made it happen.

On July 14, 2003, I started my journey to be a United States Marine.

United States Marine Corps (July 14, 2003 to July 13, 2007)

Boot camp was hilarious.  It sounds crazy but it seemed incredibly strange to set into a situation I never planned for myself.  I was only in the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) for a month before a slot opened up for me to go to boot camp.  I was totally unprepared but excited.

I was not the best recruit as there are many skills I am not particularly good at (and that’s happened throughout my Marine Corps career) but I did see some people at boot camp that absolutely floored me as to why they ever decided to try to become Marines.  We had one girl in particular who would throw temper tantrums like a little child (Recruit Willaby was her name) and it was hard to not want to break down and laugh your head off at such insane behavior.  My drill instructors had quite a time humiliating her and weeding her out as someone unfit to be a Marine.  My favorite part was that our drill instructors made a fake little graveyard and put tiny tombstones of the recruits we dropped; our senior drill instructor didn’t think it was so funny.

While I was at boot camp, I got to run into Jim again.  I remember one of the squad leaders telling me some guy at church was asking about me, which I thought was her trying to play a joke on me because I did not go to church.  After she told me his name, I went the following Sunday to church and we talked as best as you can at church there.  We kept in touch throughout boot camp and our Marine Corps careers and both got out in 2007.

I later graduated boot camp in October and was quite surprised that my dad and sister, Megan, made it out to see me graduate.  My dad had told me he had court on the day I was scheduled to graduate and I had spent the last few weeks at boot camp thinking I’d be the only one there without their immediate family attending.  My grandmother and her boyfriend were there as well and it AMAZES me how they didn’t let on that my dad and sister were going to be there, too.

Boot Camp

After boot camp, I went home and took my leave before heading down to Camp Lejuene to complete a month long stint called Marine Corps Combat Training.  We were staying at Camp Geiger and like everyone else, I pretty much ate and ate to stay awake in our death by Powerpoint training sessions.  I will tell you I don’t remember much except for being utterly exhausted all the time.  On the day I graduated, someone had to keep reminding me to stop closing my eyes during the graduation ceremony and I was relieved when it was all over.

MOS (military occupational school) wasn’t all that exciting of an adventure for me.  I was stuck in Ft. Leonardwood, Missouri until we graduated in March 2004.  I was studying to become a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense Specialist.  The highlight for me was the fact that unlike the other two females in our group I could actually run well.  It made me feel a bit better since to this day, I still can’t get a Sanator (piece of decontamination equipment) to function.  I really did not pick my MOS all that well considering that wearing a gas mask makes me feel like I’m running out of air (I have a huge fear of suffocating to death).

From March 2004 to August 2004, I lived in one of the barracks for Headquarters Battalion in Camp Margarita on Camp Pendleton (California).  I will try and get photos for you in the future of my room because you share a room with other Marines just like a dorm room.

From August 2004 to February 2005, I served in Iraq and my base was just outside of Ramadi.  I really enjoyed my first Iraq deployment.  It was a unique experience that I never want to forget and I took about seven 35mm cameras with me so I wouldn’t forget.  I was pretty fortunate that I only knew one person who was killed while I was there; other friends of mine have not been lucky and have had to say goodbye to a lot of people.

The front of my barracks (first deployment)

I met my husband I’d like to say in May of 2005 but we didn’t start dating until October 14th, when we went to Barnes and Noble for the first time together.  We have been known to spend HOURS book shopping.  I transferred to 3rd Marine Division in March 2006 and deployed with MAG-16, one of their subordinate units, on July 14, 2006  to a base outside of Al Asad, Iraq (the day I earned my Good Conduct medal).  Thomas and I had gotten married June 23, 2006 so heading off on this deployment wasn’t all that exciting.  I was gone until February 2007 when I came home on emergency leave after learning of Thomas’ father’s death.

View outside my barracks (Second deployment)

3939 Mesa Drive. Apt. 205, Oceanside, CA (September 2006-for Thomas; February 2007 for me through March 2008)

In my absence, my husband had secured us an apartment with the Villages of Monterrey in Oceanside, California.  Now this establishment calls themselves “luxury apartments” but I would not describe the experience as such.  Our first apartment according to Villages website was 728 sq. ft.  It was a one bedroom, one bathroom with a combined living room/dining room space, kitchen, and a balcony that faced the street.  We had one covered parking spot and parked the other car wherever we could find a space.  We had our first Christmas in that apartment; Thomas had been deployed most of 2008 and came home just prior to Christmas.  I spoiled him with a $400 Wii ( had to buy it after Black Friday on eBay) and he got me a butterfly necklace from Zales.  We got our first “kid” together, an English Bulldog that we named Molly January 2008 the day before I started my first school semester with Palomar College.

First Apartment Floor plan (728 sq. ft)

When the apartment next to us became vacant, we jumped on the opportunity to move in there.  And it was probably a very good thing we moved then because our first apartment had poorly sealed windows that started to develop a bunch of mold. Yuck!

3939 Mesa Drive. Apt. 206, Oceanside, CA (March 2008 to March 2009)

Miss Molly and Thomas 2008

Nothing too different on this one.  Our new place was a two bedroom, 854 sq. ft place that allows us more room to expand our growing family.  We got two more English Bulldogs (Toby and Gus) who are no longer a part of our family.  It was a busy year when we lived here; we were constantly on the go until Thomas got orders to attend Marine Corps Recruiters School.  We had been trying to purchase a condo but had to put that dream aside.

Apartment 2 Floorplan (854 sq. ft)

With the completion of Recruiters School, we moved to Cody, Wyoming.

801 15th St. Cody, WY (April 2009 to July 2012

This home was never really my favorite as far as style goes but there are a lot of memories here. This is the home where we welcomed our daughter and where we met our friends, Ken and Jacquie. We’ve hosted A’s birthday parties and dinner dates with our friends. Cody is where I have met a slew of my adult girlfriends; I know it sound crazy but living three years in one place is certainly new to me as an adult. Cody is VERY rural; think, population less than 10,000 people. It is a bit of a tourist trap since it’s cheaper to stay there than in Yellowstone National Park. (I’ve been to Yellowstone twice by the way; I highly recommend doing the northern loop since that’s where you’ll see more animals like buffalo, elk, and bears. I wasn’t impressed when we did the southern loop to see Old Faithful.)

The town was finally getting around to repairing a number of sidewalks before we left; a number of them had been broken by tree roots growing around them and were quite hazardous, in my opinion. Since the town isn’t too big, we had a fairly simple life compared to California. I’d go to the library with Avery quite frequently to see my friend, Katie, who works there in the children’s section. Avery and I would go on walks with my girlfriend, Carin, and once got to witness a fawn take its first steps. I’d go to Zumba classes taught by my girlfriend, Rosy, who emigrated here from the Dominican Republic. Our family hangout was definitely Granny’s Restaurant located on Sheridan Ave. The bacon there is incredible; I am not fond of the other diners in Cody but the Cakes and Eggs from Granny’s sustained me a lot during my pregnancy.

While the home we lived in didn’t suit our family’s needs all that well, the location was quite nice. We could walk to Sheridan Ave (our main street) in just a few short blocks. On Sheridan Ave, we had a liquor store and Walgreens so last minute essentials were always easy to come by. I was close enough to our church, The Living Fortress, that was established by our friend Ken’s dad. Ken’s mom, Connie, runs the local candy store, Cowtown Candy, and I must say, she makes toffee, fudge, and turtles that I adore (Turtles are my favorite, Connie!!) And if can you need an appliance repair, contact my friend, Ken. He and Jacquie own Your Appliance Man and it is because of their business that we met; Ken came out and repaired our fridge and from that day on, he, Jacquie, their kids, and Ken’s family have been part of our lives.

Connie and Avery at Cowtown Candy

And if you love movie theater popcorn, you’ll love the movie theater popcorn here even more. Bighorn Cinemas makes this kettle-cooked popcorn that is incredible covered in butter. Local “secret” for you too: you don’t need to see a movie to get the popcorn; just go in and order your popcorn to take home with you for your own movie night at home. We were informed of this secret some time ago and finally decided to indulge before we left; we did a marathon night of Smallville with a gluttonously large tub of popcorn just lovingly covered with melted butter. Mmmm. I miss their popcorn.

801 15th St. Nov. 2011

Now that I’ve let you in on my foodie weaknesses, I’ll tell you about the house. It was built in the 50’s and still has the original windows upstairs (which are very drafty in the winter). Being an older home, it was also plagued by spiders throughout the year, which I hope I never have to deal with again in a home. The wood siding just got repainted earlier this year and it has a one car detached carport as part of the property. There is a shed that we were never allowed to use and the sizable yard is fenced in by chain-link. There are a handful of lilac bushes and pine trees on the lot, a friendly rabbit who has taken refuge in the yard, families of birds that return each year (maybe not the same families..but always birds), and you have my friendly neighbor, Bob, next door. Inside the house you have a combined living room and dining space that has an “entry” established by wall with a cutout. On this same floor, you have two bedrooms, a full size bath, and a narrow galley kitchen. Going downstairs, you have a landing with an access door to the yard, a large open rec room, one full size bath, a storage room, and an “office” with another small room attached to it.

And that currently “ends” our home history. I am leaving out the details of my in-law’s place but later on when they sell the place, I’ll tell you all about it.

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