Sunday, November 30, 2008

Goodbye Merchants Tire, Hello Tune Up Plus!

SO, my car was a larger mess than I had originally budgeted for. My front brakes were falling apart in the mechanics hands and needed to be completely redone, my back brakes needed some part replaced, my switch for my blinkers was bad and when they replaced it, the new part blew the fuse and the sensor so I had to replace all those. The wiring for my window was a total disaster area and had to be completely rewired, AND to put the icing on the cake, my car is half a 2004 and half a 2003. Apparently it had been in a prior accident and instead of replacing the parts properly, the shop did a make-shift job fixing it. I knew when I bought it that it had been in an accident, had no idea they used all those random parts. It took 2 mechanics a day and a half straight, not working on any other cars and pulling overtime to fix all that crap AND they replaced my serpentine belt for free. I guess they figured since I was dropping $1800, they could thrown that in there for me. In all seriousness, they grossly undercharged me for labor. What they did should have cost me over $2500. (I know this because I've had nothing but lemons for cars and pretty much have a good idea how much crap costs.) Not ever did I think that they would have to rewire my whole door panel for my window, put the fire out in my dash caused by the blown sensor, or try to figure out which parts were 2003's or 2004's. They were very nice, they fixed all my car problems and there were a lot of them, the mechanic came out to talk to me and he didn't give me an attitude when I asked him to please explain to me the wiring in my car and why it was all f'ed up and if I could see my bad brake parts. They fixed my car in just over 24 hours, and gave me a discount.

I have to say that $1800 is a lot in car repairs, and I was upset about spending that much at first, but honestly I have had that car for 5 years, I have taken it from Virginia, to Maine, to South Carolina to Tennessee, I have put over 62,000 miles on that car in 5 years, and I have never had to do anything but change the oil. All that being said I suppose $1800 isn't too bad. Oh and uh, those 20-point car checks that Merchants Tire was supposed to be doing every time I bought the car in for an oil change, I'm gonna take a wild guess that they haven't been doing it. Goodbye Merchants Tire, hello Tune Up Plus!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving popping up tomorrow, I feel inclined to speak of that which I am thankful. Where do I begin...my job, I am thankful for my job, it pays the bills, it's a stepping stone for my career, and with the economy the way it is now, I feel fortunate that I do have a secure job. I'm thankful for my dogs. They drive me insane and they are a lot of work, but nothing says "Mommy I love you" from your pooch more than when you're laying on the floor doing your 3rd set of crunches and your pup lays down next to you and lays his head across your middle. I'm thankful for my car, despite the blinkers not working, the brakes grinding, the left headlight out, and the passenger window not going down, it gets me from point A to point B and I don't have to take the bus. I'm thankful that people read my blog! One step closer to becoming a world famous writer...well, in Stephanie Land anyways. I'm thankful for my friends. My friends that have helped me maintain what little sanity I have left, my friends that have smacked some sense into me when I'm having a panicky moment, my friends that tutored me through that last math class, my friends that have chauffered me around due to my car issues, and my friends that understand me and love me for me. I'm thankful for my family who are supportive no matter what. Most importantly I'm thankful for my husband who not only puts up with me and all my craziness, but who sacrafices part of his life to protect our freedoms. I'm thankful for all our troops, who sacrafice their own "freedoms" so that we can live with ours. (Out of all the troops I'm mostly thankful for my husband though, call me biased, it's true.) Times are tough, but there is something that all of us can be thankful for. Hey I'm pretty thankful that I caught my cell phone from falling in the toilet this morning, and I'm thankful that it only took me an hour to sew the buttons on my coat last night!

SD

Sunday, November 23, 2008

And The Waiting Continues...

We got Ryan's test results back, he didn't make rank. He has the opportunity to route a waiver that could enable him to re-enlist. He's talked to a few people and one of them is saying that he would need to extend, which doesn't make any sense. It's all very confusing. Once this waiver is routed and sent out, it could take months before we get it back, then Ryan will need to get with a detailer on orders. There's a possibility that he could be flown off the ship for terminal leave before he even gets the waiver back. One good thing about this waiver is that if Ryan doesn't like the orders, he doesn't have the obligation to re-enlist, he can decide to just get out. As of right now we're planning on him getting out on his terminal date. He's routing the waiver and if it comes back and he has the orders he wants he'll re-enlist, if not then we've already planned on getting out anyway. As much as I love being a Navy wife, the uncertainty of our futures that are even just 4.5 months away is very frustrating and stressful. I know that this will only continue while being attached to the Navy and Ryan doesn't plan on staying in for retirement, so why not just get out now and not bother with the waiver? Ryan said the bonus money is very large, enough to set us up for quite some time and we'd be able to have kids right away because of the Tricare insurance that the military offers. It's unfortunate that money has such a strong pull in this kind of decision but you can't live without it. Housing, food, insurance, they all cost money. Kids, pets, cars, they all cost money and a lot of it. Ryan has already decided that if the orders send him on another deployment immediately, he won't re-enlist. He's been gone enough. In the meantime, he has contacted a few friends of his that have already left the military and are now civilians working for good companies. He is preparing a resume to send out, and looking for jobs in certain areas. Job hunting in the US, while floating around in the ocean on the other side of the world isn't as fun as it might sound, interviewing will be rather difficult. We'll more than likely only have 30 days from the time Ryan is flown off the ship to when we are no longer attached to the Navy and receiving a paycheck. The country is in recession and jobs aren't exactly plentiful. I have contacted a contractor to get the house repairs and upgrades complete so that we have a better chance of renting the house out quickly. There's so much crap that needs to be done, the house repairs, renting the house out, Ryan finding a job, me finding a job, getting all our ducks in a row so that the Navy can pack us up and move us, moving the pets (a nightmare in itself, I have a dog and a cat that can't stand to be in the car more than 5 minutes). Not to mention that if we don't move to Nashville we'll need to find a place to live that will allow me to bring my zoo of animals. Ryan's overseas so it's just me doing all this. Ryan floating on the ocean somewhere so he can't help even though I know he wants to. I married military I knew that this would be a part of the life I chose, I just didn't think that he would be deployed while we were having to do this, and I'm very overwhelmed, on top of working about 40-50 hours a week, and going to school. I'm a planner, I made a plan, if it works is another story.

SD

Friday, November 21, 2008

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

I will have you know that when I got up this morning it was raining. As I loaded the dogs into my car to take them to doggie daycare (no laughing, I'm trying to get them comfortable with this place before I board them there for Christmas) it was sleeting. During the 15 minute drive from my driveway to Rita's house it started snowing. SNOWING! Not VA snow (flurries that melt when they hit the ground), but NY snow, BIG FLUFFY snowflakes gently floating from the charcoal gray sky. I get the pups out of the car and Thor and Orion are staring up at the sky. Thor turns to me and then looks back at the sky as if to say, "Mom what's it doing?" I'm stoked, I haven't seen real snow since I left NY almost 10 years ago. I get the dogs squared away and pull out of Rita's driveway and continue the drive to work. I'm rummaging through my CD's trying to find Christmas music, no luck, they must be in my trunk. I settle for Hinder, not quite the holiday music I was hoping for, but some dude screaming about his ex-girlfriend works just fine. I get closer to work and it's not snowing big fluffy flakes from heaven anymore, the sky is now spewing VA snow. I park the car and walk the 5 blocks from the garage to the building. I see people with umbrella's, running to their cars or into buildings. Not me! I'm strolling contently on the sidewalk, no umbrella, not a care in the world. It may not be NY snow, but it's snow none the less and it makes me happy. I needed that today.

SD

Thursday, November 20, 2008

If It's Not One Thing, It's Another...

If there is one thing that I despise, it's car repairs. They literally suck your bank account dry. I have been driving my car for quite awhile without blinkers, and my passenger window won't go down. My brakes have now started making this horrible grinding noise. I'm driving 500 miles to visit my sisters for the holidays, I need to get these things fixed. I have always had beaters, it's all I could ever afford. This is the first decent car I've had and this is the first list of repairs we've had to do in 4 years. I consider myself lucky.

When you bring your car in they always run a diagnostic test, depending on the problem they may run more than one diagnostic test. Each test could run you between $50 and $80. Then there's the part, and then there's the labor. It's extremely costly and they jack the price up because they know that we'll pay it. You gotta have your car to get to work. I brought my car into Merchant's Tire last week (I've had pretty decent experiences with them in the past). When I picked up my vehicle, they said that they couldn't fix the blinker/window problem because they aren't certain what the issue is and I should take it to a dealership. They said the grinding noise is from a loose bolt on my windshield wipers. YES, that's exactly what they told me. So I paid $100 to have two diagnostic tests run and be told, "We don't know, go somewhere else, and we tightened your windshield wipers for you." Fantastic. I'm trying to avoid the dealership like the bubonic plague. We all know it, the dealership charges an arm, a leg, and your first born child as payment. You only go to the dealership if you have a warranty through them. So I'm stuck in this dilemma, no blinkers, no passenger window, and my brakes are failing, where the heck am I supposed to go to get this fixed without them cleaning out my bank account. I'm looking at my schedule, and there's no way I can miss time off work, so I need my car during the week, mechanics shops aren't open on Sundays and most only work 1/2 day on Saturday. My friend, Alison was gracious enough to pick me up, and drop me off so I could get things done all day last Saturday, I can't ask her to do that again. I could wait until next weekend, I have nothing going on and my friend Marina said she would go with me to drop off my car, but that's another week and a half from now and I'm not sure if waiting that long is bad for your brakes. This would be so much easier if Ryan was here, he would go with me no problem. Again, the problem we single wives have while our husbands are deployed. Friday and Saturday are crammed with stuff going on and I can't expect my friends to chauffer me around, Alison was already gracious enough to do that for me last Saturday. It's just going to have to wait until next weekend. It's just one week right, how bad could just one week make it? I'm cringing as I think of the bill getting larger because the problem is now worsened due to my not bringing it in right away, but what are you gonna do?

SD

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Confession

I normally listen to one genre of music, rock. I don't like country, although I did buy the Carrie Underwood CD for that one song. I don't like Gospel, or Techno (unless I'm drunk in a club). I'll listen to some rap, it really just depends on what the song is and who is singing it and what my mood is like. I certainly do not listen to pop. Well...I was cruising through the world wide web the other day and listened to a few songs from the last Britney Spears CD. I was shocked to discover that it really wasn't that bad, I actually kinda liked some of the songs! I took a coupon to FYE and went on the hunt for the CD. Determined that I would find the CD and check-out faster than a speeding bullet. I certainly would not have to deal with the embarrassment of buying a Britney Spears CD. Of course, it was nowhere to be found so I had to ask a clerk. I found a girl stacking CD's on a shelf, walked up to her and in a low whisper said, "Wouldn't Britney Spears be in the pop section?" She hopped off the 2-step ladder and said quite loudly, "Which CD? Her newest one doesn't come out till the end of the year." She then proceeds to yell across the store, "Hey Tom! The new Britney Spears CD isn't out yet right?" I look up and see the people staring. Oh lord this is embarrassing, not that I know any of these people, but I don't want people knowing I'm purchasing a BRITNEY SPEARS CD. I looked back at her completely mortified and say, "Uumm...ya know, if you could just point me in the right direction I'm sure I can find what I'm looking for. I'm buying this for my sister for her birthday." TOTAL LIE, whatev, Jackie will forgive me. She walks me over and points, "She's right here. Let me know if you need anything." I quickly finger through the stack of her countless CD's, and pull out the one I'm looking for. I get to the counter and Tom is smiling at me. He then proceeds to say, "I hear Britney is making a comeback." I look back at him and say, "I have no idea, I don't listen to this crap, this is for my sister." He smirks. I pay for my CD of the paparazzi magnet, pop princess and leave. I get in my car, rip the CD open and drive away with "Gimmee More" playing through my stereo. I guess this makes me a closet Britney Spears fan.

SD

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Agony...DEAR LORD, The Agony

I'm not a very patient person, the waiting game is agonizing to me. Unfortunetly, the waiting game is the military's favorite one to play. We're waiting on the results of a test Ryan took. Depending on this test, and this funky point system the Navy has, Ryan could make rank. If he makes rank, we have decided that it would be best if he re-enlist for three or five years. The bonus would pay off all our debt, remodel our kitchen, take care of all the house repairs that are needed, upgrade his car and provide a small cushion for our emergency savings. If he re-enlists, he'll be up for orders, they won't allow us to stay on the ship due to him being on the ship for six years already. Which means we'll me moving, more than likely to NY or SC. If he doesn't make rank, he'll be out of the Navy this Spring, they more than likely will fly him home early due to his terminal date being before the ship comes home. He wants to move to Nashville, TN right away, which is fine...if he had a job there. In Nashville, neither one of us have jobs. I however, have a job here and I'm pretty sure Ryan could get a job at the shipyard here quite easily. I'm trying not to freak out and just be patient and wait for the test results, but literally we could be moving in less than six months and I have no idea where we'll work, where we'll live, or if we'll be able to rent the house out right away. If we can't rent the house out right away (with the repairs it needs, we more than likely won't) and with no jobs we'll need a large cushion to be able to pay for the mortgage. Honestly, we'll need that cushion regardless. It's all very nerve racking and I would really love if the Navy would just tell us his results so I can figure out what the heck we're doing.

If we didn't have the house none of this would be an issue. We bought the house two years ago with the initial thought of it being an investment. It's a cute house, a nice starter home in a fantastic neighborhood. We have hopes of it being our first rental of four. We live 20 minutes from the largest Naval base in the country, there are military families coming and going all the time, this is a perfect area to have a rental...we hope. Ryan said we should know the results by the end of this month. So until then, I'll do my best to remain calm, minus the twitching and nail biting.

SD

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Drama Begins...

We as Navy wives, live our lives as singles when our sailors are deployed. We take on the role of a single parent, single homeowner, singles in general. Some of us have kids, some have pets, some have both, some work, some go to school, some do both, some volunteer, some don't. Either way, our significant other is gone, floating in the middle of the ocean somewhere for a half a year or more. It's very taxing mentally and emotionally. I try to keep these things in mind in "dealings" with other Navy wives. We're all stressed out, have a BILLION things on our plate and haven't gotten laid in over 2 months, I try to take these things into consideration. Some of these wives, I really would just love to slap. Yes you're a new wife, yes this is your first deployment and yes you're only 20, but this is not junior high, this isn't your playground to spread rumors and gossip about OTHER wives, and there are rules you have to follow for government security reasons. These wives are driving me crazy! YOU married a military man, pull yourself together and deal with it! We all have bad days, we're all stressed out and exhausted, get over yourself. Sheesh. Some have more to deal with than others, I have two friends who are pregnant during this deployment, un-planned, this isn't a cake walk for them. Others are dealing with more serious issues and my heart cringes for them, but seriously, that doesn't mean you can take it out on others. I don't remember this much drama starting so early with our last deployment. This is only month three, lol, we have several more to go! Ok, well that is my venting post for the week. As you can tell by my last few posts, my patience is also wearing thin. Deployments are exhausitng.

SD

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Hello! Personal Space People!

I was at the mall, purchasing my sisters birthday gifts. I was in one of those little teeny bopper stores, Charlotte Russe to be exact. If you've ever been in those stores, you know that the check-out counter is about 2ft x 2ft. Not very big at all. I get up to the check-out stand and place my items on the counter. The girl behind the counter says hello and starts ringing up my items. Next thing I know, a woman comes up behind me, so close that I can feel her hot breath on my ear. She then proceeds to reach over my shoulder and place her items directly in front of me on the counter. I'm thinking, "Am I invisible?" I look at the girl behind the counter who is very much in a zombie state (it's getting near Christmas, I'll cut her some slack), and look over my shoulder, and say, "OH, excuse me." The rude woman behind me doesn't look at me, and doesn't say a word, just stands there arms folded. I turn back around and face forward. Hhmm, should I use my invisibility for good or for evil? I gather my items and my receipt and as I'm putting my wallet back into my purse the woman steps up and is literally on top of me. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with people? It's not even Christmas shopping time yet. This is the 3rd time this has happened in the last 2 weeks. Maybe it's me. Perhaps I'm just to anal about the whole personal bubble thing. I like my space, don't crowd me! If I can reach my arms out and touch you, you're way too close and you need to back off. Concerts, festivals and the ship's homecoming are the only times when super close is ok, obviously those events are packed and there's nowhere for people to go. These stores weren't packed. Hello, Wal-Mart self check-out-lots of room, back-up off me. Charlotte Russe-like 4 people in the entire store, back-up off me. Customer service at Kmart-dude it's roped off to give people space and even has a sign that asks you to stay behind the red line, BACK-UP OFF ME! I just don't get it, why would you ever CHOOSE to be on top of people like that?!?! I once knew this girl who would get extremely close to you when she talked. Like nose to nose. I would take a step back, she would take a step forward. I tried putting props in between us, such as chairs, tables, and book bags, she would just move them out of the way. It finally came to a point where I said, "Janet, stop it! You're freaking me out when you get that close." She smiled, said "OH!" and proceeded to walk right up to me nose to nose and apologize. Again, I ask, "WTF is wrong with people?"

SD

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Birthday Blues? Not Anymore!

Today is my 26th birthday. Birthdays were always big at my house growing up. Parties, lots of people, you got the special red plate at dinner time, and everyone had to be nice no matter how much of a brat you were (the next day however you got a firm talking to and one year I had all my brand new gifts taken away. I was a testy pain in the butt). I've had birthdays away from family while Ryan's been deployed before, it was a bummer, but no big deal. This year is just different. I'm 26, I still don't have my bachelor's degree, I have four pets that drive me crazy, and a house that won't sell in the market we have. I have a job that sucks my soul dry, and we have no idea if Ryan is getting out or staying in the Navy. So basically, in four years I have accomplished purchasing a house that I cannot sell, collecting two cats and two dogs that drive me insane, and changing companies but not really going up any corporate ladders seeing how I have to start at the bottom each time I change jobs due to my lack of a 4-year degree. I groan as I realize I'm closer to 30 than I am 20. I get to work and open my email, I have an E-card from my friend Denna (a fellow military wife that I used to work with at BlackHawk). I'm watching the green and pink rabbits sing "Happy Birthday" to me and I realize, when I'm 90 years old, shrively and can't walk, pets and houses and jobs aren't going to matter. What matters are the relationships you have with others. I have a good stable marriage, I absolutely adore my husband, I have good relationships with my siblings and I have some incredible friends! Tomorrow my girls are taking me to get the butterfly tattoo I want. I don't know any one other than Ryan who would be willing to get me a $200 gift for my birthday, I have some awesome friends. Next week I'm going to see Denna and Justine (my BlackHawk bitches, hehehe) we're gonna party down, and I'm stoked! So Den, thank you for the E-card that smacked some sense into me. I need a good smack upside the head every now and then.

SD

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vote!

Yes, I had to put a post in here about the election. Today is election day, the day we choose our President. Today is a very important day, and every vote counts. Although I have heard stories all day about people standing in the rain for hours in line and people being trampled in the mud and fights breaking out at the polls. I fully intend on driving over to that elementary school as soon as I get out of work to cast my ballot. This election could be a turning point for a lot of things. So go vote people!

SD

Just When You Think You've Got It All Figured Out, You Realize You Want A Baby

I was always the one who didn't want kids. I was the very career-oriented one and knew that kids probably weren't for me. "Maybe someday", is what I always told people. I've been worried that I wouldn't be a good mom, I can't even get my dogs to behave how the heck would I get a human being to behave?? I knew when I married Ryan, that he wanted children. I thought, "Well someday I'll want kids like he does, just not right now." Four years later and I still didn't have that desire. In the meantime Ryan's desire for kids has grown. Being the incredible man he is, he knew I wasn't ready so he patiently waited. Right after Ryan left for deployment I had a bit of a scare. I was late, VERY late. I always thought that if I got pregnant un-planned I would panic. Complete pandemonium and chaos! I thought I would be furious and upset and not know what to do. That is not at all how I reacted. I was excited and happy about the possibility of having a child! I emailed Ryan and told him, he remained calm and said we should just wait, it's still too early. Well, screw that, I was ready to book my sister a flight to VA to paint the baby's mural! I was ready to buy books and call our parents. I was stoked! Which is very odd, because I thought for sure that this would be upsetting, not exciting. It's funny how you think you'll react a certain way to something, but when that situation comes up you react completely different. Well to make a long story short, I'm not pregnant, but now I know I want to be and soon! I think that this was my body's way of telling me, "Hey you're 26, we don't have all day!"

Last week, I bought a book on pregnancy crap. Apparently there's a whole heck of a lot more to this than just getting off birth control. The stars and planets need to be aligned just so, and you have to think about body temperature and all this other crap. There's charts and graphs in the back of this book, maybe they're astronomy charts, to make sure the planets are aligned just right, who the heck knows! I figure Ryan won't be home for several more months, and we have no idea what we're doing, so right now I just need to focus on getting my body ready to house a person. I gave up soda and fast food many many months ago, but being stressed out as made me crave Burger King, and I have fallen into my onion ring fetish once again. So no more Burger King, no more soda, and no more coffee. The soda and fast food will be easy to cut out (even though I absolutlely LOVE Burger King, I can do without). The coffee however will be much more difficult. Every morning I wake up and insert my caffeeine IV into my arm; however I have made progress, I am down to 2 cups a day versus my usual 4 or 5. Once I have my caffeeine addiction under control, the rest should be smooth sailing. I was a personal trainer a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, so I can whip myself in shape pretty quick, so that this pregnancy doesn't take a toll on me. I don't smoke, and rarely drink. So really, it just comes down to my coffee addiction. Baby steps my friends, baby steps.

SD