What I meant to say was…

Over the past weekend Steven and I attended a “marriage retreat.” It’s a paid weekend off post, in our case Kansas City, where you attend a few seminars on having strong bonds and have time to do fun activities the rest of the time. Going into the weekend, I figured it was going to be somewhat preachy, some gobbledy-gook “here’s what would happen in a perfect world” kind of thing. For a two night stay and five meals paid, I did not think it would be a horrible trade off though. I was excited to spend time away with Steven as well as be back in Kansas City!

I never sleep well in hotels, especially if the beds are not as soft as I would like. The first night (and the second, for that matter) I woke up with the slightest sound and did not get the rest that I might have needed. I drank three cups of coffee the next morning with breakfast, and that was two cups too many. We split into groups, the service members on one side of the room, and their spouses on the other. We were going through questions having to do with deployments, how we spoke to one another about them and what happened during them, both while they’re happening and now that they’re all home. The day before when we took the introvert/extrovert quiz, my test results were 7 introvert answers and 7 extrovert answers. I’ve never been one to really speak up in classroom set ups, it’s the introvert in me. However, since we were all a group of wives with similar life experiences, I was trying my best to be an active participant.

How do you feel your relationship has grown (since their return home)?

The other wives talked about how their relationships are always growing, how they learn with their spouses and about their spouses every single day. I believe that to be true about my husband and myself. This question hit a tender spot in my heart, though. This year, instead of having a new years resolution, I had a word of the year for myself to focus on: GROW. The first ten days of this year I was pregnant; my belly was going to grow, our family was going to grow, myself as a mother was going to grow. Instead, after now two miscarriages, I’ve had to grow as a human being and fight for my positive attitude in times of utter defeat.

There I was, apart of the two couples without kids out of the 18 total couples, over caffeinated with very little quality rest. When I spoke up I got unexpectedly emotional. I said my husband and I have grown since his return from deployment because we have had to go through some hard battles here at home too. I cried a few tears with a very shaky voice. I think what I said was quick but thinking back on it, it felt like I went on longer than I needed to – without even addressing the question. I was so embarrassed after that. I will probably cringe about it for a long time, really.

Not like any of the wives will read this, but I needed to put this out there for myself. What I meant to say was, my husband and I have grown immensely in the last year. During deployment, he was over there dealing with a ton of stress and danger, all while being in a place that was so completely different than what he was used to. I was back home, in a place we had just barely moved to, miles and miles away from friends and family back home, and learning and dealing with some weird medical conditions of my own. During a deployment, you do not communicate as well with your spouse like you normally would. You protect them from any burden happening on your end of the world, you keep it to yourself, you learn to become strong in a way that civilian relationships don’t. When they get back, that’s when you get filled in, and it can be a lot to take in at times. You are forced to grow, and reconnect, learn each others schedules and lives all over again – it can be fun, but it can be stressful. Steven came home from deployment earlier than the majority of the other spouses at our retreat. Shortly after he got home, we were pregnant, and it was something we had been wanting for over two years at the time. Two months after that, I had a miscarriage. When we were starting to get positive again, we suffered another. With deployment and with miscarriage, they are not something that ends and you just get over. It takes time to get back to who you were.

With infertility issues there can be a lot of miscommunication, or lack of communication at all. Trying to fight infertility can take away from intimacy in a big way. When it comes to military situations, I think there’s a pretty good community of people and support to take care of yourself and get what you need. When it comes to infertility situations, there’s not that community and support, and we’ve had to lean on one another above everything. We have been put in two not-so-normal situations that force you to get thicker skin, get in there and fight those battles, and you can only hope to come out on top, but there’s so much not knowing at the same time.

We’ve grown as a couple because we have learned how to be strong on our own, but at the same time, to be strong for the other person. We have fought our way through times apart and learned how to be so thankful and appreciative during those times that we are together. No matter what the situation, we will always experience them differently, but it is up to us to communicate and to understand one another and offer support when it is needed. Excuse the corny Army related lingo statement, but Steven has been the best battle buddy I could have ever asked for. We’ve made it through some pretty hard battles, and I could not have done it without his continuous love and support.

I guess the biggest lesson I took away from the marriage retreat focused around (my year of the word:) Grow. It’s important that you grow and that you develop, not just as a person but as a couple. It’s also important that you, as a spouse, support the growth of your husband or wife as you both learn and do new things. You two are the foundation of the relationship, where it began, and where it grows, and that is just as crucial as what you have grown to be. A mediocre metaphor, my apologies.

If you are a military spouse, a highly recommend attending a marriage retreat if and when you can. It was not life changing, but it was helpful. There’s nothing wrong with getting a new perspective on something you know well.


Snow Day in Kansas

They’re real! Snow days do really happen!

So, if you did not know, I’m from the golden state, California! I’m from Sacramento, to be more clear. That’s about a seven hour drive to Los Angeles ON A GOOD DAY. We were about an hour and half drive from San Francisco, or if you wanted to drive in the other direction, Lake Tahoe. We lived in the valley (no, no. Valley girls do not talk like that in real life). It snowed maybe twice in the twenty-six years that I lived there – and it melted within an hour or two.

I’ve never been that excitable about snow. As a kid, when I was out of school and my parents offered to go to the snow, I opted to sleep in instead. Mention a day to the beach, though, and I was up and ready before dawn. I’m a southern Californian at heart with Northern/Central Californian tendencies.

When asked by friends and family back home what it’s like to live where it snows, I think they expect me to say something exciting and how different it is. Snow to Kansans is no different than Californians and rain. There are the people who drive like jerks because they believe they are untouchable, and there are the people that lose their mind and drive slower than molasses on a cold day. It makes driving a little scary, because you might slip on ice (but back home it was oil and grease on the roads that made them slick).

Steven got the day off today! We got about three inches of snow last night and we are expecting a minimum of another eight inches during the day today. SO really, he got a snow day because it would be completely unsafe otherwise. It’s pretty and it’s soft. To me, it’s overrated.

I’ve been planning an updated version of my Californian in Kansas post, but a winter edition. This Californian misses the comforts of JUST rain (not like they’ve even seen a lot of that back home this year). When it rains you can still go places, you don’t have to worry about your pipes freezing, you don’t have to spend a lot of time shoveling rain water off sidewalks and your driveway.

Snow is pretty! Snow let me have my husband all day today! Silver lining? Sure. Here are a few photos I took over the weekend after we received six inches of snow:

The Manhattan sign on the hill covered in snow

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE it here in Kansas. It’s beautiful here and the people are great! The weather, well, it could be better. I’m a Californian in Kansas, and I am out of my element!

Christmas 2013

I blinked and then the day was over. Christmas 2013 was very different for us, and a lot less busy than previous years, but it seemed like it went by so much faster! Usually we would wake up to the sound of my nephews ready to open presents. We would all huddle together in the living room and spend hours ooohing and ahhhing at what everyone got from Santa. This year, Steven and I woke up at 5:30 (when we usually get up and ready for him to go to work). He was ready to get up and open presents, but I was not! While he watched the already looping A Christmas Story on TBS, I managed to work in an hour or two more of sleep!

When we did get up, we had gifts to open from one another as well as my parents. Steven got a few PS3 games he had been wanting, a man scarf, a beer to brew (he brews his own!), and many other goodies. I got the NAKED and NAKED 3 Palettes, a gel manicure set up, a Betsey Johnson bag, a Doctor Who blanket, and a few other items! In other words: WE GOT SPOILED! Since we are two hours ahead of everyone back home, we had time to play with our new toys and get dressed before they were even up. Thank goodness for technology, because I still got to watch my nephews open their gifts via Skype!

We’ve been lucky enough to find incredible friends here in Kansas! Dinner was at their place, UGLY SWEATER required! Since it was a non-traditional (away from home) Christmas for the majority of us getting together there, we also had a non-traditional menu. For Steven and me, Mexican food at family functions is not all that unusual! BUT This was all Mexican dishes. No ham, turkey, cranberries, NONE of that! AND it was delicious! We also did a white elephant, but I think the receivers of our gifts got the best ones! Steven got a lot of One Direction items (oh man) and I got two frozen drink mixes!

We were able to crash my family’s get together (via Skype again) right before they sat down to dinner. We got to share some good news with them right before the sound stopped working on our end. In that picture you can only see a few members of my family, but they all sure do make my heart happy. This moment definitely made my Christmas!

Steven and I finished our evening at home watching the new episode of Doctor Who. I knew I was going to cry because I knew it was the episode that the Doctor was going to regenerate. I totally understand that this will make no sense to you if you do not watch Doctor Who. If you have Netflix, you should probably go watch a few episodes. You will get hooked! BUT ANYWAYS. Matt Smith has been BY FAR my favorite doctor since the newer episodes have been on. He is my Doctor. I don’t know how to feel about Peter Capaldi as the twelth doctor yet. I’m sure with time, just like all the rest, I will love him just the same. Seriously though, I’m going to miss that raggedy man of a Doctor! Bowties and all. Bowties are cool!

What was your Christmas highlight?!

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! Now it’s time to prepare for 2014!

What I’ve Learned About Infertility

It’s really time for me to explain what’s going on with me because it really is messing with every aspect of my life. I haven’t been myself for the past few months, I’ve been trying really hard, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. I’ve wanted to make blog posts, YouTube videos, and just be myself, but I’ve been dealing with a few things.

In August my husband was deployed to Afghanistan. That alone was pretty hard to adjust to. Shortly before he left we went to a few doctors trying to get some answers for what was going on with me and my health, reproductively speaking. I was pretty sure we had been successful in the whole making a baby process, but when I kept having symptoms but all negative pregnancy tests, I went to the doctor again.

No one seems to understand what a slap in the face it is to think you are pregnant, to really want to be pregnant, and instead you are told that you may have a tumor in your head. Maybe I’ve experienced the lack of understanding because it is a weird connection between the two things.

I always just assumed I would be a mom one day. No big deal. I did not realize HOW BAD I wanted to be a mother until I was told I may never be able to. Typical woman, right? Always wanting what she can’t have.

SO LET’S GET PERSONAL for a minute. I have a pituitary tumor. It is benign. HOWEVER, it is releasing a hormone called Prolactin. The release of this hormone causes my body to think that it is already pregnant (and thus, it is preventing me from becoming pregnant also).

I drove two hours to see a specialist a few weeks back. He also preceded to tell me I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). This specialist, whom I’d driven two hours to see, told me to GOOGLE it to learn more about it (sad thing is, this wouldn’t be the first time I’ve heard about someone being told to GOOGLE PCOS after being told they had it). So I spent all day stewing on the fact that because of my tumor AND because of PCOS I would more than likely not be able to ever have kids. I think I was so angry about it by the time I got home and was able to GOOGLE it, it didn’t even matter to me that I did not think for one second I had PCOS. I think the doctor was completely wrong. AND it says a lot when I GOOGLE something and think that I DON’T have it. Yes, I am a hypochondriac.

Said specialist… doctor… go Google it man, prescribed me medication for my pituitary tumor in attempts to control it, possibly shrink it, possibly get my hormone levels in check. This particular medication is given ALSO as an alternative to chemotherapy for cancer patients. It is ALSO given to patients with Parkinson’s disease. AMONGST other things. That scares me. My pituitary tumor is no where near being as severe as those ailments, but it terrifies me to be grouped together with it. Not to mention said medication has a lot of debilitating side effects. I get weak. I get nauseous. I get headaches. I spend a lot of time in the bathroom. I have absolutely no appetite whatsoever. I’ve lost eight pounds in two weeks. In another few weeks I will be tested again to see if I’m evening reacting to this medication. I do not want to discuss or think about what happens if I am not reacting to this medication.

I see this specialist guy again in December. I don’t even want to talk about PCOS with this man until (if/when) my tumor is under control. I think he couldn’t be more wrong with his diagnosis. You don’t have a completely normal ultra sound one month and get told you have PCOS the next. You just don’t.

I have cried a lot in the last few months. I have been angry and bitter and downright spiteful the last few months. I hope I have the strength to keep my mouth shut the next person who says “We are so blessed! We are pregnant and we weren’t even trying!”

I know people are trying to be optimistic for me. Telling me it will be okay. Telling me just relax, in time. If you are doing this to your friend/family member/whomever – STOP. Optimism is normally great and I’m a huge advocate of it! BUT when you are told by a MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL that you may indeed NEVER be able to conceive, OPTIMISM pisses you off. AND DO NOT get me started on the “Well if it’s meant to be it will be” or the “There’s always adoption” comments. Please, feel free to just stab me instead of saying those things. Those things hurt. Those things make me feel like an absolute failure. I am a woman and a woman’s body is designed to be able to produce little humans. BUT not mine. Oh yes, and it is really great that you know someone who knows someone who had the exact same issue as me (weird!) and has had five children since, but they were probably wrongly diagnosed and/or miracles happen. I WILL LET YOU KNOW when I think a miracle can and has happened. Until then, please STOP.

This is all very personal. I did not intend on this getting out further than my really good friends and close family. BUT you tell someone who tells someone who tells someone who tells someone. It’s really a weird situation being upset about yourself, but instead having to comfort someone over the phone about it because they thought you were going to die (people hear pituitary tumor, think brain tumor, think you’re going to die). I needed to be comforted but instead I’m having to say, “No, no. I will be fine.” AND I will be fine. I may never be able to have children but I will live. I will be fine.

This is my personal struggle. I am outing myself.

Infertility is not uncommon. It’s upsetting how many women and couples have to deal with it and are lead to believe that they are alone. People keep this a secret because it is personal, it is absolutely heartbreaking, but they ARE NOT alone. So here’s my situation, if it helps someone feel some sense of comradely, great!

My husband and I have only been “trying” for a year. That’s not even a realistic measurement because he is in the Army and the Army has had him away longer than I got to be near him. I understand that there are couples out there who have tried MUCH MUCH longer than I hope we ever have to. I know some women out there who don’t have a exact reason why they can’t get their hormones in order. I at least have a few things to blame, that may or may not be fixable.

I just need to put this out there, for whatever reason. Take from it what you will.

I hope one day I will be able to give my husband babies that have super blonde hair like him and that are awkwardly tall like me. Realistically, I may never get to. I’m trying not to be angry at myself. I’m trying to keep a positive outlook. I’m trying not to unfollow every pregnant friend posting belly pictures and (GOOD GOD) videos of their bellies 89390287 times a day.

One day at a time. That is all I have. That is all WE ALL have. Life is a funny thing and I am constantly learning from it. I may not always be happy with the lesson, but hey, I’m told it builds character.

When the going gets tough… I sit and pout and Pinterest all day.

My lack of blogs posts is due to my inability to take my own advice about being happy. I’m a naturally nervous and anxious person. When I get stressed out, I don’t think I recognize it anymore. That is, of course, until I find myself crying in the grocery store because I can’t seem to find where the cilantro is in the produce section.

On New Year’s Eve 2011, going into 2012, I dislocated my knee playing a game of Just Dance 3. At the time I was a bank teller, where I would have to stand for pretty much 8 hours a day. With my bum knee, it got angry (shooting pain and would swell) after 30 minutes. I went on disability while going to physical therapy and trying to get it right again. After five months, and my knee not showing a whole lot of improvement, they finally sent me to a surgeon. The surgeon then told me they would not touch me with a knife. My knees are normal, but not normal, she said. See, I’m practically six feet tall. I had an extreme growth spurt when I was in the sixth grade and really, that’s when my knee problems began. I grew up too tall too fast, my muscle tissue couldn’t keep up with the bones. Thus, my knee caps sit higher than they should and will be prone to dislocation, MY ENTIRE life. I think when I was told this was when my self-loathing really set into high gear. There was something bad about myself that I just couldn’t fix. It was normal, but not normal. WTF is that all about?!

I think as females I (we, I suppose, if you reading this also have a vagina) am taught to never really like the way we look. Maybe it’s the fact that we are so in touch with our feelings and we just perceive things that way. MAYBE it’s just me, BUT! Advertising, for instance, we’re told there’s always something newer, something better, that we can and don’t yet have. I mean seriously, is BB or CC Cream really that great?

While my knee was giving me issues I started gaining weight, mainly because it really hurt to walk and get around. I became the heaviest me I’ve ever been. Not to mention, at the time, I was the only one working in my husband and my marriage. We are the kids that went to college, got good grades, graduated, and couldn’t find jobs with our degrees. We were mid twenties living with our folks. Again, the new normal but not normal.

When my husband left for the Army my body stopped working properly. Not in a horrible way, but that’s something I’ll save for a later post. I worked out practically everyday, and became a toner, lighter version of myself than I’d been in quite awhile. It was great for stress, but still, nothing could help what was really going on inside.

When I finally got my husband back, eight months later, we moved here to Kansas. First time being miles and miles away from family and friends, not even being in the same time zone! I think any “milso” can go along with this when I say it’s REALLY hard to get used to (especially if you choose to live off post). Again, here I am, with my good ol college degree, in a place that again has no positions available for me. My husband, did and does have a steady income at least. I hate feeling so dependent though. If I want to spend $50 on a makeup palette I don’t want to feel bad about it because I didn’t earn the money to pay for it.

And coming back to my body malfunctioning on me. It stopped momentarily but I think it was a fluke. I don’t want to get into that too much yet, because let me tell you, the Army Life has not made this topic any easier for me to deal with. ACK – Sorry for being vague. BUT. eventually I will explain.

Anyways, in this whole being in Kansas thing I’ve found myself EXTREMELY unmotivated. I’ve gotten to the point where I get so overwhelmed with being told what I can’t do, that I just stopped trying. The more I want to do something the more afraid I am to try doing it, it the event I’m told I’m not good at it, or whatever it is is not successful. I really love writing, and that’s why my blog posts came to a screeching halt.

But this blog has to be for me at this point. If you, the reader, like it, AWESOME. If not, so be it. This is me, this is my life, this is MY BLOG. I’m going to vent, I’m going to boast, I’m going to be a whiny baby, and maybe I’ll occasionally share a recipe (but I doubt it. I hate cooking. BUT I do like to bake sweets… so maybe).

This self loathing has got to stop. My writing it out is the first step towards that.

Hi. My name is Kristen. I am human. I am an Army wife. I am not a mom but I’m learning how desperately I would love to be one. I’m a Californian living in Kansas, and loving it. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I have a cat. I don’t have a job. I do have a camera and I like taking pictures. I am a work in progress. I don’t make sense and I’m ok with that (most of the time). I overuse parenthesis.

Another day down to becoming the person I want to be. CHECK.
Another day of coping with what I can’t control…. I’m getting there.
But I’m going to be pinning for the next hour to nine hours so…. 🙂

The Adventure that was April

This past month has been so hectic. I’ve been in shock all month how quickly time was passing. This month we quickly said our “see you later”s to friends and family, spent two and a half very long days inside a moving truck, and moved into our new home in Manhattan, Kansas.

I don’t have a favorites list this month because I honestly haven’t had enough time to try anything new. Some days I didn’t even put on makeup, and I don’t believe my nails have been painted at all this month! Some days I didn’t even wash my hair, but that I am doing on purpose. I’ve gotten my hair to do two days really well, working on getting three. I want my hair to get healthy again! I didn’t even rediscover anything I already had and love enough to say “HEY! this is awesome!”

I loved April entirely. April, itself, has been my favorite so far. I had my husband the ENTIRE time (well, for the most part. It was as “normal” as it has been since last August!), I tried a lot of new food, saw a lot of new faces, had a lot of new experiences, and I’m becoming a new version of me. This is Kansas Kristen, ya’ll!

(Mini plug! Follow me on Instagram! CameraKristen)

April was full of a lot of highs and it’s definitely ending on a low. Three people I hold near and dear all lost someone over the weekend. But like I said, April started some new chapters. Spring is starting to blossom, and Spring is kind of an interesting season. I always say Spring is my least favorite season (due to allergies), but it’s so darn pretty! So excuse me while I try to make an analogy. Life can bring some struggles, some cold days, some unexpected snowstorms, but sooner or later the season will change and the flowers will bloom again. Yes, it might hurt (sneeze and sniffles and sinus pressure – amongst other things that are not allergy related: sadness and loss), but it’s up to you to see the beauty in those flowers. You can look from afar if need be, ease your way in (take that allegra!), and get yourself back out there. That wasn’t that great, sorry! I meant well.

For me, April was pretty stressful but exciting. We packed our moving truck with the help of our parents, my sister and nephews, and left the next day. We stayed a night in southern California, another in Albuquerque, and the night after that we had made it to Fort Riley. We only stayed on post two nights, another night in Manhattan, and the next day we were moved into our new home. Unpacking seemed like a never ending process. Organizing it all was another thing. It didn’t really hit me that we were so far from home until I went to find a place for a cookbook holder my mom and got for me a few days before we had left home. I haven’t been on post too much, but it seems nice enough. Manhattan, on the other hand, I LOVE! It’s such a cute college town. It has Target and Chipotle, and those were the two things I begged the Army gods for. I should have thrown in a Ross or Marshalls too but hey, there’s one not too terribly far away. Ikea, on the other hand, is an eight hour drive away. I’m starting to finally get used to our house, where everything is, and trying to work out a daily schedule for myself. We only have one car, so I’m stuck being a home body for now. HOWEVER, I am in walking distance of quite a bit, so, it is all good!

I took these panoramas of our living room about a week ago. Still on the messy side, but it’s all coming together!

Anywhos! Here’s to a new chapter, a new (but really, very much the same) Kristen, and a whole bunch of new adventures!