One of my favorite songs right now is Lauren Daigle’s “You Say”. If you haven’t listened, I urge you to look it up! It touches right where my heart and insecurities have been my whole life, but mostly over the last few months/years.
Life is hard. Being a military wife is hard. Being a mom is hard. Having no “tribe” that everyone seemingly is ecstatic about is hard. Dealing with diseases/medical ailments is hard. Add it all together… We all have our mountains to climb, but God never promised this life would be easy.
It’s all too easy to focus on the negatives and to wonder why family and others don’t want you in their lives, but I have been depressed about it for far too long. Maybe sometimes God allows people to be removed from our lives for a reason. Maybe the old cliche is true: “things fall apart for better things to come together”. If people let you go that easily, then maybe they’re not your people.
You don’t have to dim your shine for anyone!
It is definitely possible to be “too much” for some people and that’s okay! You don’t have to dim your shine for anyone! You don’t need to change who you are to make others like you or want to be in your life. God made you just the way you are not to be a photocopy of someone else or to fit in their mold. God says you are fearfully and wonderfully made and He’s never wrong!
The other big, important day while in flight school is the day you receive your orders for your follow-on duty station! The aviators are allowed to maintain a list of the Top 3 places that they would like to go, and the Army (most of the time) attempts to grant it to you and your family. As with anything in the Army, nothing is guaranteed, and it’s both exciting and nerve-wracking waiting for these to come through!
“They say” can often get you into trouble and for us it did. We were told an average of 4-6 weeks from selection he’d receive the draft of his orders telling him where we’d be sent next. 4-6 weeks turned into 7, then 8….then the rest of his class (all but Ryan and 1 other) received their orders. I’ll admit, I didn’t handle this frustration in the most graceful way! I’ve moved around my entire life as an Army Brat turned federal contractor, turned Army wife. Literally my first passport had my hospital birth picture. However, we’ve been trying to get back up North for 7 years. Ryan’s first duty station was supposed to be Alaska…then those were pulled for Ft. Bragg. Ugh! Our family is in Maine and New England will always be HOME, so we were so anxious to find out if our hopes would come true!
FINALLY, 9 weeks from selection and halfway through his advanced airframe training his orders came through!!
And our next duty station is….
FT DRUM, NEW YORK!!!!!!!!
Ft. Drum was our #1 choice and we were praying so hard that Ryan would get selected to go!!!!! We are beyond excited for the next chapter of our story and to FINALLY be back closer to home. It’s about 7 hours back to our home town in Maine which is the closest we can get. We are so thankful for snow…and 4 seasons!
Life in an active duty Army family comes with many tear-jerking and monumental moments for your soldier and your family. Some are sad and oh so difficult…while others can be some of the most memorable moments of your life.
Ryan (and TeamGrim) has had many of those! Flight School on the Warrant Officer side (there are Commissioned Officers as well) goes through several phases which are best broken down as follows:
WOCS: Warrant Officer Candidate School. About 5 weeks of training that is worse than basic (according to Ryan haha) that breaks down the enlisted soldier to turn them into an officer. At the end is a very special graduation where your loved one(s) can pin your new rank on you. Logan & Emma (and I) had the privilege 🙂
WOBC (A) Follow-on Training for their rank that lasts for about 3 weeks.
SERE/Dunker: Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape. POW training that is called the best worst school you can attend in the army. Ryan already had this training so he able to bypass it. Dunker/HOST teaches them how to survive a water landing and techniques for water survival.
Finally, FLIGHT SCHOOL BEGINS: This is being revamped by the Army, but Ryan’s was broken into a few different sections of training where he had “check rides” showing his proficiency in each before he was able to proceed.
At the end of this first portion of training a very special and much anticipated day arrives that determines the course for the rest of their careers: ADVANCED AIR FRAME SELECTION DAY!!!!!!!
Up until Selection Day the active duty flight school students have no idea what air frames will be available when they walk into that room! The board will be revealed (dramatically!) and each student is able to pick their bird from the ones that are available based on the OML (Order of Merit List: ranking by their grades in school, check ride grades, PT Test, etc.). The OML is so competitive that the top people are usually only separated by .001 of a point!!! These people are truly the best of the best in the army!
Since Ryan spent the first 7+ years of his career as a Chinook maintainer his heart belongs to the big girl. We prayed so much over the course of our time here that he’d be able to have his number 1 pick. Of course, he would have loved any rotary wing, but to get your #1 is incredibly special. To add to the intensity, there are well under 200 slots a year so it’s the hardest airframe to choose! Most classes have 1-2, if any, and Ryan’s class had 8 slots available for Warrant Officers!!!!
“You guys, God is an on-time God and His timing is ALWAYS perfect.”
This was totally a God thing! When Ryan’s packet took a while to get a waiver and a few pieces of the puzzle to come together I told him it was all God’s timing. I said “I’m claiming it and God’s trying to put you in a class flooded with Chinooks!!! You guys, God is an on time God and His timing is ALWAYS perfect. He’s taught us over and over again to lean on Him and one of these days maybe it will stop blowing me away.
From here Ryan will move on to his Chinook training that will last approximately 16 weeks. After that he’ll got another short training to pick up his CW2 rank and he’ll be able to pin on those wings at his graduation!!
On the 16th of March, Ryan’s flight school class had their long-awaited family day. Ryan’s Mom came up from Florida for the weekend and we all got to take a ride out to go watch Daddy fly “wop wops” (helicopters)! It was his 7th week of flight school (5th actually flying) and we’ve been so anxious to see him in action in person… Talk about surreal!!
Once we followed the caravan out to airfield, we kept looking all around for his tail number that he gave us since he was one of the last helicopters to make it over to the stage field, and Grams and I both started crying once we finally spotted him coming in for his landing! We got to see them hover, complete a few different landings, as well as completing their traffic patterns. We are so proud of our pilot-in-training and all that is to come on this adventure! All of the long nights, studies, check rides and tests will be worth it when he gets to have the coolest job in the military when he graduates!
SLIDESHOW: Here are a few of our pictures/videos from the day. We hope you enjoy!
A good friend of mine posted on Facebook last week and reminded me that sometimes things aren’t your fault. Sometimes, people are so wrapped up in their own problems/joys/lives that they simply don’t think about you. And that’s okay, but it’s still hard to keep it from hurting sometimes. I tend to internalize everything. If people don’t call, text or visit…I feel like they must not care, and that’s not always the case.
Things have been really rough since Ryan went back to work. He burned through all of the vacation that he’d been saving since we’d started trying to conceive just so he could spend 6 weeks with us after the babies were born. And Thank GOD he did! Since then he’s worked until a minimum of 6:30 pm every night…often later and missed out on so much with me and the kids. (No, there’s no particular reason…just new requirements for his platoon). I’m alone, as a new mom, with twins, for 14 hours a day (minimum). He leaves by 5-530 every morning and isn’t back until at least 7pm due to work and the INSANE Savannah traffic. Plus, I also work from home 20 hours a week. I love these sweet babies more than life itself, but it can be so hard to feel so lonely. I feel like i’m not enough for them by myself because neither get me all to themselves…ever. That’s a lot for a newborn to handle! By the time Ryan gets home, I have to have dinner made so that we have time to eat it and get the kids sleeping at a decent time. I’m trying very hard to establish a schedule. 🙂 To make matters worse, thanks to the Army life, he’s leaving for training for several months very soon after Christmas. YAY! We’re still trying to find a way for us to be with him…if possible.
Yes, I know that our children are our responsibility. But everyone always says: “It takes a village”. Apparently i’m a village of 1 1/2 when Ryan is able! Haha It’s hard when we don’t have any friends or family to help. My sister, who also has twins, gave me the advice to ask visitors to come once Ryan went back to work. She said she had scattered help and it made a world of a difference because the first few months are so hard. That didn’t work. 😦 It’s so hard to not feel so lonely and forgotten. I had visions of people being so excited and visiting lots once the babies were born, but I think people get so wrapped up in their own lives that it’s not exciting once the babies aren’t “new” anymore.
This isn’t meant to be a bashing of anyone, just getting my feelings out. It’s okay that people have their own joys, their own families, and their own struggles. Heck, we all get wrapped up in our own lives. I know that as much as I always try to be there for everyone else, it hasn’t been as easy now that I have two newborns. Sometimes you just hope that when it’s your turn and you really need people to care that they’ll return the favor. I hate it for our babies. They’re the most amazing and precious gifts EVER and i’m sad that it seems that more people don’t want to be a part of their lives.
Thankfully when Ryan does get home or is around on the weekends, he’s the most amazing husband and Daddy. He tries so hard to give me breaks and let me take baths or helps with Yawkey and the cooking/cleaning (or takes the babies so I can do all of that). I seriously don’t know what i’d do without that man! I just oh so wish he could be with us more. I know it wears on him to be away from us so much and stuck in such a time consuming job.
As my friend said, I have to remind myself that it’s not always because of us or that people don’t seem to care…often times they do…it’s just that they have so much in their own lives that they forget to notice. I’m going to keep on trucking and praying that God will carry my little family through to easier days. I’m going to do my best with what we’ve been given and snuggle my quickly growing babies a little tighter today and show them as much love as I can possibly show them. I have my perfect little family and we have each other…and that’s enough! And i’m going to lean on my Heavenly Daddy for the strength that I need to carry us through. I’m going to try to be “Army Strong” even when I don’t feel it.
I recently changed the name of the blog to “Team Grim” since this has really become more of a place for my family than for just me and my thoughts. When I originally started my blog it was to get out some of my thoughts and feelings about my husband’s (then boyfriend) first year long deployment. Now it has become a way to document some of our life together and the excitement/difficulties that we face. “Team Grim” was started as a bit of a cute name for ourselves when we got married and stuck when we started running our obstacle course races together. I truly believe that marriage makes you a team and that has never been more apparent than it has in the past year-ish of our lives and dealing with infertility, but i’ll share more on that later.
As most people do, we had a lot thrown at us in our first year of marriage and even a bit prior to our wedding. Surprisingly to some though, there were never issues between the two of us. Ryan was gone for a total of about 9 of our first 15 months of marriage. We started PCS-ing (permanently relocating for those non-military friends) about a month in and he had several schools to attend in order to be spun up for a new unit. That led to multiple TDY’s, schools and a deployment to close out the year. On top of that we had a few very painful family situations relating to both health and relationships that gave us no choice but to learn to depend on each other and God.
I truly believe that our relationship has been made easier by keeping God at the center of our marriage. We prepared a lot for our marriage beforehand and I prayed often for my future husband before we ever started dating. I’m a firm believer that everyone should spend considerably more time preparing for the marriage than for the wedding (as beautiful, magical and fun as ours was). Recently we’ve been told by a few people, who we respect dearly, that we should start training/outreach to other married couples. While I think we still have a lot to learn about marriage ourselves, this truly touched me to hear that people believe that we are on the right track and have something to give back to others. With me as the aspiring counselor, who knows what may be in store for our future 🙂
“I’m a firm believer that everyone should spend considerably more time preparing for the marriage than for the wedding.”
I don’t say any of the above to brag on us as people, but to demonstrate how much God can lead a marriage when you continuously give it over to Him. I want to be a testament to others that marriage can be wonderful and fulfilling! There is no way that we would be this strong and still so much in love were it not for His love and guidance. We are still learning every day to trust in Him as we face the most difficult journey of all so far, but we wholeheartedly believe that He will give us the desires of our hearts. As a dear family friend and former teacher reminded us this week that faith is what it takes:
“He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” – Matthew 17:20
My amazing husband knows how much the 4th of July means to me (and to him) so he tried very hard to get me home to celebrate with my side of my family. Being from Maine, 4th of July is big in my family and we always have a huge cookout at my parents’ camp complete with lobstah, brisket and sometimes clams. When we were engaged he was deployed and last year we were PCS-ing to GA and never got the opportunity. It was very hard for us to not be home with everyone and he definitely made up for it this year! With his current unit they deploy pretty frequently so he volunteered for an early deployment in order to get home in time for celebrating America’s birthday with me. How special it was for us this year to celebrate America’s independence with him freshly home safe from war!
Within 24 hours of Ryan coming home from deployment, we were packing up the car and driving straight to Maine (22-24 hour drive). (Did I mention how much he loves me?) We couldn’t fly because it is the Army and the second you try to book something, plans will change. However, he was blessed with good leadership that allowed him to leave so quick after a deployment. As always, even a long and traffic filled road trip is a blast and filled with so many memories!
We got to see most of our family members while we were in Maine and definitely hit up some sightseeing. My parents have a camp on Loon Pond in Maine and I always wanted to move back home after my Dad retired from the Army. Sadly I never got the chance, but Ryan has fallen in love with New England as well and even claims it as his home (who wouldn’t??) Since his Dad’s side of the family is from Conn, it counts, right?
While at home we also got to tour Fenway Park and catch a Red Sox game…and a little bit of a thunderstorm/tornado watch. Hey, we always keep it interesting! Touring Fenway has always been a dream of mine and it was so cool seeing the stadium from every view possible and from behind the scenes. 🙂 Also, Cask 'n Flagon has the BEST Fish 'n Chips this side of Ireland! 😉
Best of all we got a lot of history lessons/sightseeing in as well. We visited Concord, MA and the Minute Man monument and even caught sight of the actual lantern used in the Old North Church during Paul Revere’s ride. We climbed Bunker Hill in Boston since he’s never gotten to do that part of the Freedom Trail. Unfortunately the USS Constitution was closed (yet, again!) so we still haven’t been able to see that! Lastly we visited a few of my favorite lighthouses in Maine! I may be biased, but I have lived and visited many places in the US and the world…Maine is the most beautiful: hands down! I will say from the pictures, Michigan may run a close second 😉
With everything that Ryan ends up missing out on with his job, I am so thankful that we got this much needed time with family. It was so great having my hero home to celebrate Independence Day and New England is most beautiful in the Summer. 🙂