Learning to fight fair…with a Marine.

IMG_1133This post is long overdue.  I don’t know why I wrote this article first.  Maybe because when we woke up, Anthony totally went all men-o-pause and thought I said something I didn’t.  I was like, “whoa, I didn’t call you stupid or think you couldn’t talk to and get your point across to the doc.”  Let’s be clear, I may have been thinking it, and I should’ve just gone and did it myself but I didn’t say it!  Bless his heart.  😉

We all know, men are very simple.  The average man wants two or three things out of daily life and only uses 7,000 words a day but they aren’t counting Marines unless grunts are included.  They use maybe 3,000-4,000 a day.  This is no bullcrap.  I’ve caught Anthony just glazed over eyes, looking at my mouth moving but he ain’t listening to me!  I think sometimes they have so much on their minds they can’t multitask like our Google brains can.  Ohh, those sound like fightin’/challenge to me, men?!  They wouldn’t be able to juggle everything like we do in a million years.  Cue the Lifetime, man hating music.  LOL. Just kidding men.

So after a little “Semper Gumby” moments through our PCS across the country with two teenagers, my husband, two dogs and two guinea pigs (yes, pigs) we all survived yet got to practice what we preach a bit. It could’ve been worse right?  Don’t laugh too hard ok.

So let’s be clear, we’ve found two main points that really help us in positive communication and overall in our Marine Corps family.   I’m no Oprah or Ricki Lake, well maybe since she gave good advice too sometimes and I do accept wine if you somehow get extra attention from your spouse.  IMG_0302

Active Listening. If you’re already thinking of something sarcastic to say before the other person isn’t even done talking, you’re not fighting fair. When we were first married this happened a lot. He would tell me something & I was literally creating an Excel spreadsheet in my head of all the points I could make. Guess I wasn’t “fighting fair” by actively listening & being in the moment to hear what he was actually saying after he said that first sentence because I was creating Excel columns and rows.

No Negative Rebuttals. If constructive criticism is aimed at you and you quickly think of something negative, counterproductive or completely irrelevant to the entire conversation about that other persons flaws, character or habits, you’re not fighting fair. Once, we were discussing where to eat for dinner; which I somehow in my mind flipped his comment around because I know he said I was overweight and need to eat healthier. I told him that MAYBE he shouldn’t use the bathroom with the door open while talking to me. It took us a while to eat Subway again afterwards since it was such a “remember when you went nuts…” moment.  We laugh now. 7 years later.IMG_0329

Both points apply to both spouses.  Now with age and time come maturity for some.  Well this is the Marine Corps so these tips may not work while he’s wasted at a Dining In or the Ball.  In those instances we know they’re all the same age, crazy teenagers. It can also apply to dealing with other people who may not have the same common sense, manners or common courtesy as yourself.  Somehow it can be tougher to keep your calm in these situations so tread lightly…(cough, cough, military spouses…) IMG_1135

When conversations go negative, most people shut down and don’t even listen after a certain point & you start going in circles about the same thing.  Sometimes it’s wise to not even begin or get into it depending on what it’s about.  If its the toilet paper roll on wrong or the toilet seat down, there are worse things in life to holler about so perspective and rationality come into play here.  If he gets whole milk instead of 2%, just send his cute ass back to the commissary and get some chocolate and wine while he’s there.

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My husband aka (his cute little ass I’d send back to the commissary)

Momma always said, if you don’t have anything to say, don’t say it at all.  I don’t think everyone got that lesson.  Just saying.  She also had this little plaque in the kitchen that said, “The way to be seen is stand up, the way to be heard is speak up, and the way to be appreciated is shut up.”  I always wondered if my dad gave it to her.  LOLLL.

Marines (men in general) have a short attention span so make your words count (remember they don’t use very many in a day) & get your point across as calmly as possible. Despite wanting to shake the shit out of them and slap them silly, breathe, and even though they probably see the red in our eyes and Lorena Bobbit twitchy hand, maybe respond in your best and calmest “Horse Whisperer voice” and say, “Babe, I’m always thinking of you and what will be best for all of us and I’m only trying to help.”   After all, Bryan Adams says, “When you love someone, you’ll sacrifice. Give it everything you got…” Arguing should be the minimal part of your lives. Your spouse is the best part of this Marine Corps lifestyle and the reason you’re in it. Just eat the damn Subway and keep your possibly overreacting comments to yourself to avoid the awkward stories your family & even strangers will hear over and over.

Love, laughs and hugs to y’all!

-Crystal

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How to ship care packages

It can be nerve racking to ship anything overseas especially if there are precious items of comfort and love inside that can be pretty pricey to stock then ship.

Did you know? The Postal Service offers a discount on its largest Priority Mail Flat Rate box at $14.85. The price includes a $2 per box discount for military mail being sent to APO/FPO/DPO (Air/Army Post Office, Fleet Post Office, Diplomatic Post Office) destinations worldwide.

Did you know?  The Postal Service created a FREE “Military Care Kit” based on the items most frequently requested by military families.

The kit contains:

  • Two Priority Mail APO/FPO Flat Rate Boxes.
  • Two Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Boxes.
  • Priority Mail tape.
  • Priority Mail address labels.
  • Appropriate customs forms.To order the kit, call 800-610-8734. Guidelines for packing, addressing, and shipping items to U.S. troops can be found at usps.com/ship/apo-fpo-guidelines.htm. To order flat-rate boxes featuring the “America Supports You” logo, go to store.usps.com.

    To address the package, follow the instructions below:

    1. Write out the service members full name in the address

    2. Include the unit and APO/FPO/DPO address with the 9-digit ZIP Code (if one is assigned). For example:

    CPT JOHN DOE
    UNIT 2050 BOX 4190
    APO AP 96278-2050

    SGT ROBERT SMITH
    PSC 802 BOX 74
    APO AE 09499-0074

    SEAMAN JOSEPH SMITH
    USCGC HAMILTON
    FPO AP 96667-3931

    MSG JANE DOE
    CMR 1250
    APO AA 09045-1000

    3. Make sure to include a return address.

How to have A Healthy Marine Corps Marriage…

At least once new and seasoned spouses have all asked themselves the same question:  How do I maintain a normal & healthy marriage; if there is one?!  There are no simple or quick fixes and let’s face it; being a Marine Corps wife can compound the challenge. There’s no 9-5 civilian job to mull over.  At the very beginning we discuss funeral wishes, Wills & POA’s when most  couples are still in the honeymoon phase.  Absolutely no one has a perfect marriage but hopefully we can all learn from others’ experiences to obtain or maintain a healthy marriage.

1) Communication. Learning the art of having a solid positive communicative foundation in your relationship is a hurdle you have to learn to jump because issues only get more complex as the years go by.  Active listening means just that LISTENING.  Not nagging or thinking of a come back as soon as they open their mouths.  Fluffy surface stuff like “hi/bye, kiss me, I love you” get you nowhere as well.  I mean deep conversations into the how, why & plan of action for confrontational in-laws, finances, overspending, financial planning, how to raise your kids, ect.  Two people have become one and finding a neutral ground of compromise is a delicate balance.  Compromise doesn’t mean submission it means you can have an honest conversation without feeling slighted or run over.

2) Maintenance.  You get out of your marriage what you put into it.  You don’t overheat your car without getting it checked out; the same concept goes for a marriage. Aboard almost all bases there are counselors & classes like the 5 Love Languages and the 4 Lenses which introduce you to personality types and how to mesh them into your relationship so both parties feel validated, important and respected.  People go to the doctor for regular check-ups & maintenance is the same thing to prevent serious issues.

3) Reality. We live a unique life where it takes tremendous effort to communicate & maintain our marriage due to unaccompanied duty stations, deployments, trainings, ect.  Marine Corps marriage is a huge reality check. Priorities have to shifted because reality is you cant get upset when he isn’t around or remembers to celebrate that second Wednesday in June when you two kissed for the third time under a full moon and you were wearing red heels with your favorite jeans.

4) Salt & Pepper. Everyone knows salt and pepper are always added and additional spices as needed and so should be certain things in a marriage.  Always have undeniable love, respect, support, thoughtfulness, understanding and patience for each other and the spicy romance & extra goodies should automatically follow suit.

We’ve all heard the saying that anything worth fighting for won’t be easy and thats exactly what Marine Corps marriage is.  Marriage is meant to complement your attributes and personality so while you’ll constantly evolve into being a better person and an outstanding Marine Corps spouse because of your Marine remember to enjoy the ride along the way.  A spoonful of sugar will not make our lives easier as much as I’d love it to but leaning on each other for support and following the steps above may help a bit.

Planning Valentines Day for Men

Men can be pretty interesting and irritating creatures. Being that we’re married to the few and the proud makes life even more unpredictable & audacious. Even if he’s deployed you know your man and if he’s outgoing or a home-body hopefully you will be able to relate and utilize some or all of these suggestions to have a passionate Valentines Day! With some creative thinking you may just get some naughty time & fireworks at the end of your special night.

If your man says in his most cynical grumpy voice, “Valentine’s is just another day!” Don’t fall for it! It’s a cop out to not do anything at all. Tell him you’re not renting a helicopter to take you to an island to renew your vows like you’re on a tv show but the day can serve as an opportunity to reconnect with each other. He needs to suck it up!

Do you shop or not shop for him? It’s a huge thing now a days. Homemade means heartfelt. I say that it can be hard to figure out what to get them in general so do whatever you want to do and don’t feel bad for not crocheting a damn thing! Buying for men on any holiday is insane but especially this one since this isn’t the manliest of man days ever. Those little lollipop inserted cards were cute in 2nd grade but what about now?

Thanks to Pinterest “I’ve seen the light” (in my best southern preacher voice) and perfected the art of man-gift giving. For our Marines it isn’t quantity but quality ladies! I got a standing ovation for my Christmas gift buying skills so here are ideas for receiving a standing “O” yourself on V-Day:

Couple time: yes you have to touch him! hold hands, watch the sunset, walk on the beach or set some paper lanterns up (but not in California you’d probably go to jail)

Message/Poem: daily love notes enhance a marriage anyways to fill that “love tank” so on VDay make it spicy or corny but always from the heart

Scavenger hunt/O-Course: make him work for it! He can read instructions when he comes home that will have him seeking out his gifts or you in the end

Music: remember making tapes from the radio? They were so awesomely heartfelt & special. Make him a compilation of love songs to set the mood either on the IPod or a CD.

Food: the way to his heart is through his stomach! Cook/Bake at home or go out but 4 courses will get his attention!

Photos/Boudoir shoot: everyone has a tasteful temptress in them! No granny panties tonight! Check out that ‘skinny ladies’ secret or a normal sized persons lingerie store & buy some lacy items to cover your naughty bits! Do your hair & makeup then strike a pose for your love either before or on V-Day. He’ll never see it coming! (Deployed spouses: clothing is not optional for so many reasons!)

Retail: store bought/homemade doesn’t matter but a nice tactical Fossil watch, gun store gift card, hand sewn one-point sling harness, painted picture frame, mancave signs, truck accessories, ammo, tickets to his favorite team or a surprise trip to the gun range you set up will have him very fired up!

If you run out of time & all else fails, read the steps below and repeat!

Step 1: Make sure to put all phones on vibrate or silent so the mother-in-law/kids/dealership salesman/bill collector/Avon rep/librarian can’t interrupt!

Step 2: Melt some chocolate

Step 3: Meet him at the door with a smile on your face and not much else

Chocolate can make anyone smile!

 

How to help when tragedy strikes

Yesterday in Connecticut the world experienced a horrific tragedy: the loss of children.  These are little people who may have gone on to change the world, and their tiny lives have been snuffed out by a man full of evil.  When things like this happen, we all hurt, but what can you do?  You can pray, you can donate funds to help the families with expenses (there will be many), you can send cards/letters of support, or help support a memorial for the victims.   …all of those things will help.

What do you do when it strikes closer to home?

We all know someone, or will know someone who experiences something horrific in their lives: the loss of a parent, spouse or child, and nothing is more devastating.   What do you do?  How can you help?  You don’t know what to say, so you throw out a vague “I am so sorry!  …call if you need anything.” Then you stand awkwardly aside while your friend bumbles through their grief, because the reality is there is nothing you can do to take that pain away.

Now for the good news:  You Can Help!!

With any sudden loss, your life gets thrown into chaos.  Many times someone in the throes of grief and shock doesn’t know what kind of help they need, and if they do, they are hesitant to burden others by asking for help.  Here is a list of ways you might be able to help, some cost a little bit of money, and some cost nothing but your time.

  • Babysit.  Can you watch a couple of kids for a few hours to give both the parents and the kids a break?  Parents have things to deal with, phone calls to make, and tears to shed.  Kids need a chance to be kids: pop in a movie, make some popcorn and provide some much-needed attention.
  • Walk the dog.  Or offer to keep fluffy for a few days if that is a feasible option for your living situation.
  • Offer to be a point-of-contact for updates: there may be a million friends/relatives calling for updates, and that can be hard for the grieving individual to deal with.
  • Mow the lawn, trim the hedges, take out the trash, sweep the porch or whatever outside chores need to be done: there will be a lot of visitors in the days to come and those outside things will probably slide for a bit.
  • Pick up/drop off kids for school/sports/church if you have time or are headed that way.
  • Paper products: seriously.  There will be a zillion visitors.  Things like extra tissues (get the good kind!), paper towels, paper plates, coffee cups, plastic forks/spoons, toilet tissue and guest towels are all helpful items.
  • Food.  Not just meals for the family, but consider trays of finger foods for the visitors.  Cookies, veggie trays, crackers, cheeses, grapes, etc…   For the family, consider meals that will not leave leftovers, delivered in disposable containers.  Healthy meals with plenty of fresh produce will be greatly appreciated.  (Make sure you ask about food allergies and label your meals with every single ingredient!!!)
  • Gift cards: gas, groceries, coffee, spa (who couldn’t use a massage during this time?) pet boarding, movie theaters, etc… There will be a lot of extra expenses for the family, so if you are financially able, any gifts will be appreciated.

While this is a challenging time for everyone, please be there for your friends and family.  Even if you don’t know what to say, it is ok to say “I really want to be here for you, but I don’t know what to say.”  In a time of need, being there means more than saying pretty words.  Offer to pray with/for them, offer your physical assistance and offer your quiet companionship.

Don’t take it personally if you are rebuffed: emotions are running high and there is a lot going on.  Don’t give up, just step back, let them know you are ready and willing to help, then check back in in a day or two.  Continue to love them and remember this will take time for them to recover and develop a sense of normalcy.

Setting Goals for the New Year-Military Press article

Sometimes when people hear the words ‘goal or resolution’ it’s almost like a scary movie moment.  You’ve seen this before and are screaming at the screen, “No. Don’t do it!”  Although, try not to be too scared, pessimistic or standoffish this year when you create that New Years goal; it can be fun, if you let it.  “Just Do It” and try for something new, crazy, adventurous or financially responsible for the next year.

Let’s start a new craze like bringing the 80’s back, jeggings, Pinterest or Elf on the Shelf but free, less creepy & weird.  My idea is simple; just change your way of thinking about goals.

If you’re idea of goals is 100% negative and you know you’re going to throw your resolutions out the window almost as soon as you say it then don’t go as big.  Realize that you can achieve a small goal while working on the larger picture and your results will seem less daunting.  For instance, try to save $20 from each paycheck to put away specifically for holiday spending for next year.  You’re not saving an extreme amount of money at one time but you’re building up to what will be about $500 or more when December rolls around again.

Also, I’m not guaranteeing that on Dec 31st what you wish will magically be easier to do.  When you promise yourself, “I’m going to run 3 marathons by the end of the year” and you get winded by climbing the stairs; we have work to do.  Some things will need to be accomplished to get to marathon status but it’s absolutely attainable & one day at a time.  Rome wasn’t built in a day and anything worth fighting for usually easy but you’ll succeed.  Keep good motivators exercising with you, free financial advisors to keep you on track, find a Jane Wayne Day happening & keep striving for your goals.

It’s easy to get discouraged in 2012.  We’re almost all accustomed to instant gratification via email, text, television, Google, Skype, credit cards, ect and sometimes have forgotten it takes time to achieve some big steps and goals in life.  If you want a more communicative marriage, to start college, get a job, buy a horse, work on your Masters degree, have a baby, invest in the stock market, buy a house then you’ll have to do some homework and fight for what you’re working towards.  Marine spouses are no stranger to adversity and this year doesn’t have to be one of them if you set your mind to achieving a new goal out of 2013.  Whatever it is you intend to do always remember to think of others before yourself, love your Marine unconditionally (your kids too maybe), send handwritten cards because they mean more, volunteer when you have the time but do not forget yourself in taking care of everything and everyone else.

Happy New Year my Steel Magnolia’s of the Marine Corps!

Simple Baking Goddess 101

Crockpot candy is a family tradition in my husbands maternal side. Years ago, I asked for recipes and everyone was more than happy to share!! This is one of my favorites!

Ya’ll know me the easier the better. It’s a fun family cooking project that can be done in November and there will but some around for holiday entertaining!

LAYER IN CROCKPOT IN ORDER LISTED & DO NOT STIR!

1-16 oz. jar SALTED peanuts
1-16 oz. jar UNSALTED peanuts
1-4 oz. bar German Sweet Chocolate (broken)
1-12 oz. pkg Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 1/2 bars of (24oz) WHITE Almond Bark (broken) (Walmart has Plymouth Brand)

Cover and cook in crockpot for 2 1/2 hours on LOW. Do not lift lid or stir for 2 1/2 hours. NOTE: looks like it has not melted, but it is!

Turn off.

Add 2 tsps of vanilla extract then mix/stir well and drop by teaspoon onto waxed paper. Cool and store in tight-covered container. Makes 115 or more pieces. (You can freeze easily too!)

DELICIOUS!!!

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