Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What happens when your co-worker is a cat?

I would say the biggest struggle with working from home is the lack of interacting with people in the flesh. Most of the day, I'm by myself at home -- with the cat.

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that I have my cat to keep me company. Otherwise, I don't think I would do as well. Maybe not that, but my days would sure be boring. She adds some funny moments to my day and/or welcome challenges (i.e. walking right in front of my computer), but it's never anything that would compromise my daily tasks.

In general, it's nice to have a pet. I love animals and till now, I haven't been living in a situation where an animal would be comfortable in my home. My husband and I are in the position to give an animal a good amount of time and space.

My day starts with Xena (my cat) waking me up. I wake up when my husband does, but I still pretty much stay in bed (no commute!). She motivates me to be productive before I enter my office by stepping on my face.

Then, I get my coffee ready with her dashing back and forth down the hall. When I finally settle in my office, she LOVES to sleep on my printer or go by the window. She occasionally walks back and forth on my desk, which gives me the opportunity to give her a quick hug. Also, she takes some naps on my lap. :)

Yeah, yeah...I probably sound like the crazy cat mom. I'm totally okay with that. She gives me a sense of comfort, especially when I'm by myself. With my husband leaving for TDY, I'm extra glad she's around.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cabin Camping and Six Flags America

My husband and I have been keeping ourselves busy the past couple of weekends. We're trying to make the most of our final weekends of summer together because he leaves for Arizona again in just a couple weeks.

When we visited Colonial Williamsburg, the concierge suggested that we try camping at Lake Anna because there are cabins and swimming. I'm realizing that a lot of the parks around here don't have any swimming holes -- and my husband and I love to go swimming! Lake Anna has camping cabins and full modern cabins too (the kind with rooms and bathrooms). We decided to try a camping cabin because it pretty much is the legit camping experience without having to pitch the tent.

I have to say, it was a fun experience!

We were actually pleasantly surprised that the inside of the cabin had bunk beds, a sizable table and electricity. Honestly, I thought it was just going to be a shelter, so we brought an air mattress and chairs. We spent the majority of Saturday at the beach area of the lake. The temperature was perfect and we fired up our grill area and cooked some burgers and hot dogs that evening.

Last weekend, we decided to use the Six Flags tickets given to us by an AMAZING organization, Operation Homefront. If you don't know about them already, check them out! They offer some great stuff for military members and their families.

Anyway, my husband has NEVER been to a theme park nor has ridden a roller coaster (I know...crazy, huh?!). Growing up, my family always had season passes to the Six Flags in Texas. It's a fun way to spend the day together. I have to say, I'm a fan of Six Flags America. The lines weren't as bad as Great Adventure on a Sunday during the summer. We didn't wait more than 10 minutes on a line, plus the water park is FREE (included in general admission). After we rode all the rides we wanted to in the main park, we went to the water park. By far the scariest ride we rode was the Bonzai Piplines. It's a vertical drop down a water slide. Literally, my knees were shaking as I was standing up. It was insane.

Do you enjoy camping and/or theme parks?

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Adjusting to Married Life

I was brutally reminded that my husband and I will celebrate six months of marriage (again...) on July 25. (We have six months to create our wedding album and we have yet to do it!) It's incredible how time flies. He's actually been back from Korea for six months too.

What makes this six month anniversary different than the last is that we actually spent it together. The year he was in Korea didn't even feel like we were married. It just said it on paper. It seemed more like our engagement because we spent the majority of the year preparing ourselves for life together.

What was going to happen with me? What was going to happen with him? What would that mean for both of us? Also, how would we adjust to being together?

I knew we had love on our side -- and no matter what kind of challenge came our way, we would get through it together. The biggest adjustment has really been getting used to sharing things with a man. Honestly, I'm surprised how smoothly my transition to married life has been. Things are great -- and we're really embracing our live here in Northern Virginia.

I really like spending my evenings with my husband around our home, exploring our duty station and just everything else about life now. Weirdness just bothers me. For example, he leaves dirty dishes in the sink. And that's just a silly quirk! I'm the crazy one that washing things as I'm done using it. All the little nuances will eventually equalize and I'm sure we'll get used to it too. I'm just mostly shocked at how quickly things have been going!

In sad news, my husband will be leaving for a two-month TDY soon. And I'm also working on preparing myself for that as well. It's like as soon as you get a good groove...bam, the military comes down on you. Oh well, it will force me to think about (only) myself again -- and it will be a good thing.

I have some trips scheduled to my old stomping grounds in NYC to visit with friends in August and September. I miss them so much, so I'm looking at our separation positively. Also, I plan to see my husband when he graduates his class in Arizona at the end of September -- another opportunity to see Sierra Vista!

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Why I Work From Home

A couple months before my huge life change to legit Army spouse, I was really forced to evaluate my career moves. To speak candidly, it was really a devastating blow to lose the job I held in New York City. Despite the slight depression that set in when my former employer told me they wanted someone in-house, I knew there was more out there for me.

I've been writing career-related topics for NextGen MilSpouse because it is just too close to home. The transition from full-time civilian professional in New York City to collecting freelance/contract work as an Army spouse at Fort Belvoir has been a challenge. I could have just went from one job there to another job here in the D.C. area, but the unpredictability of Army life just convinced me that it might just be better to establish a home office.

For one, we were slated to go to Fort Hood. That was the plan -- then, just a handful of months before the PCS, we were moved to Fort Belvoir. I was already looking for opportunities in the Austin-area and had some game plans in mind. The fact that life can change at a moment's notice made me think of ways to make my career just as moldable as the military.

I LOVE to communicate. I enjoy sharing resources, life and everything in between. The career I chose allows me to do what I love -- and I wanted to continue doing what makes me happy.

So, I started to plan around the idea of setting up a home office. My husband and I looked for two bedroom homes/apartments with the intention of one room being an office (slash guest room). I continued my commitments to write for some awesome websites and now, I work for an amazing firm that allows me to share great resources to MilFams and personally connect with equally amazing women and MilSpouses.

My former employer knows that I'm freelancing and if any opportunities open up, the door is open. Having the ability to make my own schedule is amazing and quite liberating. There is a bit more work to maintain a home office. All expenses are on you and things can get costly. You really have to be willing to put some money down to get yourself ready. I went to an accountant, so they could help me understand what I'm getting myself into because math/$$ isn't my forte.

Read more about my story about working remotely on NextGen MilSpouse. 

I recently launched a professional website to help highlight some of my skills. I've been picking up on web design here and there (mostly on WordPress). I would love your input!

For all the MilSpouses out there that are thinking, I can't hold a career while being involved with the military. It IS possible! Just like the sacrifices our spouses made to the military, we have to sacrifice a bit on our options, but not entirely. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it!

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Monday, July 7, 2014

The Fourth of July at Virginia Beach

Hurricane Arthur couldn't wreck our weekend!

My husband and I drove down to Virginia Beach Thursday night as planned. We booked our hotel stay ahead of time -- and because we utilized a discount, we had to pay upfront with no refunds. I knew once we got ourselves there it would be okay. The goal was to get to Virginia Beach before the storm. Goal accomplished.

Of course, when we got there, things were closing up early and the boardwalk was empty because the storm was literally minutes away. We saw news crews setting up and reporting on how Virginia Beach was preparing. They postponed the fireworks show to July 5th and thank goodness we made plans to stay till Sunday, July 6th.

Anyway, as soon as we got back to our hotel room, our phones began to ring like sirens because we were in an area that had a Tornado Warning (that means, it's imminent!). Well, the conditions at Virginia Beach from 1-2am were really bad. Needless to say, I was on edge because I dislike tornadoes. The hurricane was pretty much on it's way north and we were getting the hurricane tornadoes. After the warning went away, I figured the best thing I could do was try to sleep through the hurricane. Luckily, it wasn't as bad as it was made out to be and the Fourth of July was actually BEAUTIFUL!

The only gripe was that the waters were still extremely dangerous. Literally, you couldn't really swim in it. On July 4th, we didn't even try to go to the beach. We spent our time at the hotel pool. My husband and I (along with a handful of other idiots) did get in the water on July 5th, but we practically spent our time just trying to stay on our feet. The waves were so intense and scary. I didn't want to get past my knees because I was certain the rip tide would take me away. I can't imagine how it was on the Fourth!

The fireworks show on July 5th were nice. I really liked sitting out on the beach and watch the fireworks get launched from the ocean. It was such a nice feeling. It's really funny to think that the Fourth of July holiday is one that my husband and I have luckily been together for it in the past four years! Even last year when he was in Korea, he was home on leave. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that it would be like this for next year!
All in all, I had such a great time at Virginia Beach. I love the mellow vibe and the beach area was just what I needed. We've already decided we would come back again. Sadly, not this summer because my husband will be headed out for a TDY, but hopefully next summer!

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What I Miss About Austin, Texas

The weekend before last, I was back in Austin, Texas again. Although, it's been for an unfortunate circumstance, it's nice to see so much of my parents. Since I've moved away for college in 2004, I would only be back in the area twice a year-ish.

When I was in college from 2004 to 2008, I would spend an extended amount of time at home for summer and the holidays, but it quickly shifted to just a couple of weeks a year after I graduated.

Every time I would come home from then would be such a treat -- and my trip would always end before I did everything I wanted to do. My last two visits home were bittersweet. It was very sad to come home for my grandmother's death and really quite difficult to get through -- but it's really made my think about the things that I've missed the most since leaving Texas. Besides my family (which is by far the number one thing I miss the most), there are a TON of things about Austin specifically I miss....

1. TEX-MEX -- Seriously, the food is amazing. I have yet to find a killer enchilada outside the state border. I'm sure it's just as amazing south of the border, but it doesn't have the Texan flair. Chuy's, Texican Cafe, Maudie's Tex-Mex are among my favorite places to eat and all originated in AUSTIN. Luckily, Texan transplants are bringing the goodness of Tex-Mex to other parts of the country, so those restaurants just might be in your neck of the woods. I just found out they are opening a Chuy's in Fairfax this Fall news EVER.

2. Barton Creek Greenbelt -- I think my love for hiking plus swimming started at the Greenbelt. It's a lush and green area deep in the middle of Austin that has amazing swimming holes. You can take your bike, pup, and friends.

3. The Heat -- Yes, I miss the 100 degree weather. I miss practically perfect weather all-year round. 70 degree winters, yes please. After battling through snow storm after snow storm in the Northeast, I think I've given it a good go.

4. BBQ -- The BBQ stands on its own. The food in general rocks in Texas. I love Rudy's, County Line -- and you can't forget the Salt Lick. DROOL....

5. Cost of Living -- I can't deny that I miss no-state-income-tax! Also, I'm sure I can get more out of $2K than a 500 sq-ft apartment. Let's face it, I would rather pay $.25 cents less a gallon than more.... I also think this is one major reason people are flocking to the great city.

6. Salsa on EVERYTHING -- Eggs, rice, beef, chicken, and whatever else you can think's the choice condiment for Texans -- or hot sauce...ok, salsa and hot sauce.

7. The sheer amount of relatively affordable things to do. Get your dinner and movie on at the Alamo Drafthouse...get your run on at Lake Austin...get your mini golf on at Peter Pan Putt music, it's everywhere. There is always something to do!

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