Monday, November 19, 2012

The Week of Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving.  What can I say?  I love to eat and Thanksgiving is great excuse to eat until your family and friends have to roll you away from the table so that you can fall into a food induced coma on the couch.  I love how my husband takes cooking the turkey VERY seriously.  In no way, shape, or form can the Schwartz house merely bake a regular turkey with stuffing.  Oh no.  We must take this opportunity to try something new and different.  Last year we did an apple cider brine turkey, and discovered that an un-stuffed turkey takes significantly less time to cook than a stuffed one.  This year, we will be trying a honey citrus glazed turkey.  Now, when I say we I say that with the knowledge that Chad finds the recipe and I do most of the cooking.  This is not because he doesn't want to, or it's "not his thing".  It's because he is working.  So the day before and the morning of I'm preping the turkey and making the sides while Chad does his duty to Uncle Sam.
So while food is, of course, the centerpiece of activity during this holiday I do realize that it is not the spirit of Thanksgiving.  We do not come together with our family and friends simply to eat a big meal and watch football (not happening anyways this year due to a lack of cable).  We invite these people into our home because we care about them.  They are our family, or our friends, or sometimes they are just sailors who need a place to go so that they are a part of something for Thanksgiving.  They are all welcome in our home.  They are welcome because they have made an impact on our lives and we are thankful that we have them.
Secondly, the spirit of Thanksgiving is ... wait for it ... being THANKFUL!  It is so easy in our lives to not realize all that we have.  Most Americans (including myself) have never been to part of the world where the idea of having clean water, regular meals, and a pair of good shoes is more than they could ever hope for in life.  It's easy for us to be focused on what we don't have and what we want rather than what we have.  We become so miserable because we don't have a new car, a bigger house, that designer (fill in blank), a bigger TV, a new computer, or we can't go out to eat as much as we want or at that fancy restaurant we want to visit.  We don't stop to think about the fact that if you make $30,000 a year you are in the top 10% of the world in income level.  The top 10%!!  You make more than almost 6 billion people!  The list of what else we have goes on and on.  So, I hope that this year, myself, my family, and those around us can truly realize why we celebrate Thanksgiving.
This is the start of my list of what I'm thankful for this year,

  • That I have the love of God in my life, and that He saved me.
  • That I can worship Him without persecution, or fear of death.
  • That my husband has a job that provides a home, medical coverage, and all of our other bills and necessities for us.
  • That I have a job that can help us with supplementing our income.
  • For our baby that's growing within me and that it happened so easily for us.
  • For our family.  We have one of the most loving and supportive families that you could ask for.
  • For our friends.  Just like our family, they have been so supportive and helped us through every hard time.
  • For our pets, because they make me laugh and keep me company when Chad is away.
  • That I have never known true hunger
  • That I have a room full of clothes and good shoes
  • I am not afraid for my life and have never lived in a war zone.
  • I live in the United States of America

Thursday, November 8, 2012

So, we're going to have a baby...

On September 16th Chad and I found out we were pregnant! It was a surprise just because we didn't anticipate it happening so quickly.  I didn't even know what to say to Chad.  I just showed him the positive test.  He got the biggest smile on his face and just hugged me and I started laughing.  We found out right before we went to California so we were able to share the news with our families.  We kept the "Circle of Knowing" very small at first since we hadn't even seen the doctor yet to confirm that everything was okay.  To tell our parents we made them gift bags with baby safety devices, onsies, and bottles.  They were all very excited too.  After getting back home and seeing the doctor, along with two ultrasounds showing that everything was going well, we felt that we could share the news with everyone else.  

Us with our 8 week ultrasound
Since then we've been pretty much in full baby mode.  Chad has been doing extensive research on the safety information and product reviews on child seats, strollers, and more.  We registered at Target and Babies R' Us. The biggest issue that we have come across with registering is that we aren't going to find out whether we are having a boy or a girl.  It is very difficult to find gender neutral things to put on our registry.  We've decided that green is our color of choice though.  There are so many things to think of.  Which kind of pack n' play?  Do we want a changing table or a dress/changer that can be used later?  Get a regular stroller or a jogger that's more versatile?  Will I strictly breastfeed or supplement with formula?  Can we use cloth diapers to cut our disposable costs?  Where is the best place to purchase cloth diapers?  Luckily, we've had a lot of help from family and friends to help us with a lot of these questions.  We've also started on our stockpile of diapers and wipes.  One thing at a time.  Slowly things are coming together and we are confident that we can get all of this done and mentally prepare ourselves before our child arrives.  

11 weeks!
The timing is going to be a bit off though.  On the one hand, this will be almost perfect for me working.  I'm due at the very end of May and by the time school starts back up I'll be ready to return to work and the baby will be old enough to go into childcare.  The first problem with the timing of our child's birth is that Chad, most likely, will be at sea when the baby is born.  Also, since school will not have ended yet, my mom will not be able to be here for the baby's birth either.  However we are fortunate in that we have other family and friends who can be here with me for that time frame.  We are trusting that God is going to take care of us no matter what through this exciting and stressful time.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What we've learned on patrol

Over the course of our navy time I have learned a few things.  I have learned that the navy will do what it wants with my husband.  I have learned that my plans will change and that I can do little about it.  I have learned that my husband will be removed from me for months at a time with little to no communication between us.  I have also learned that Chad and I have an amazing marriage.  I have learned that distance, emails once a month, and not being able to hear his voice aren't enough to hurt our commitment to each other.  I have learned that through patrols we can grow as children of God and as spouses to each other.

Chad left shortly after we arrived in Washington.  We had just received our belongings from the moving company.  The whole house was in boxes and we were scrambling just to get him packed and on the boat for our first patrol.  It all happened so fast, we didn't really have time to realize what was happening.  Then Chad was gone.

For the first few weeks I unpacked the house and put it together.  It's odd, putting together a house for you and your spouse by yourself.  Where should I put his things?  Is there anything I can get rid of?  Luckily, in a couple of emails Chad was able to let me know what he wanted done with some of the items I was having a lot of trouble with.  The whole time before he left I kept joking with him that I was going to put things in crazy spots just to confuse him when he got home.  Things like coffee cups in the bathroom and linens in the kitchen.  Of course I didn't though.  It'd be too confusing for me!  Eventually the house came together.  I even got the spare room ready so that we could have company over the summer.  Then I got to start in on the yard.  Vegetables were planted in May and are just now starting to produce fruit.  Flowers and herbs were put in the back yard.  We are very fortunate to have a neighbor with a lawn mower that they are willing to loan us now and then so that we can keep up on the yard work.

I have been very fortunate to also meet a lot of good women during this patrol.  When I arrived I had several ladies make contact with me to help me with the transition.  They'd check in and see how I was doing with Chad being gone.  There are all kinds of navy wives.  Just like there are all kinds of civilian wives.  But I've been very fortunate to make friends with the navy wives who love their husbands like I love Chad.  These ladies made me feel welcome and gave me company when I missed Chad the most.  It's hard to miss your husband.  To not hear his voice, see his face, hold his hand, or kiss him for months.  When you are at home by yourself you can feel like you are the only person in the world going through this.  The only one who hurts like you do.  I would find myself sliding down that path so many times.  I thank God that he placed those women in my life, because when I was lonely and hurting I knew I could call them.  I also knew, that they felt exactly like I did.  There's something comforting in knowing that I was one of dozens of wives in this situation.  That I wasn't alone, and that there were ladies who I could talk to, who understood what I was feeling and who needed support just as badly as I did.  It also meant that I had someone to celebrate with too.  When we'd get emails, text messages would race between us so that we would all run to check our inboxes.  When a very precious phone call came in we were able to share that.  Finally, when homecoming came, we were all able to stand there together on that pier and share in each other's joy at being reunited with the men we had missed for so long.  Community is everything here.  It's how we make it through.

This was a hard patrol for Chad and I.  Not only was it our first, but it was long, and it was quiet.  For a boomer (ballistic missile submarine) patrols are generally less than 90 days.  Ours was longer.  Granted, we are very lucky that it isn't the length of carrier or fast-attack submarine deployments, which can be 6 months to a year.  But what makes ours seem so long is the communication.  All we have is email.  All we have is email when they are not on alert.  This patrol had unusually long periods of alert time.  That means that Chad would receive my emails pretty regularly, but I didn't receive his.  They went into a "holding tank" while the boat was on alert and I would only receive them when they went off of alert...which ended up being every 4 to 5 weeks.  Four weeks without a word from my husband.  How was he doing?  Did he have any questions from me?  Is there anything he would like in the mail (which happened twice)?  I didn't know.  Oh the sweet relief it was every time the emails went through.  Little things become very precious.  Here's the amazing thing to me though.  I feel like Chad and I got closer to one another in a way through all of this.  Since communication was so limited and precious, we used them to the best of our abilities.  Building each other up, praying for each other, and sharing our lives.  We still have so much to catch up on, but at least we weren't completely in that dark the whole time.

Adversity comes to everyone.  Hard times, and struggles.  It's easy to give up or to say it's too hard and that we don't have to deal with it.  But it's worth it.  I know that Chad and I have plenty of hard times ahead of us.  We have almost 4 years left in the navy, and the rest of our lives after that.  But on this patrol I learned that we can make our marriage stronger when we have hard times.  I've learned to appreciate him more when he's here.  I've also learned who my support system is and who I can rely on.  We are both stronger, better people after  it all.  That was worth fighting for.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Chat Schwartz - According to Us

So, I'm having a ridiculous time trying to embed a slideshow right now.  I don't know what I did, but I messed it waaaay up.  So this is how I can actually share photos right now.  Blah, I'll figure it out later.

Getting back to the world...

So! I'm going to try to get back into the blogging world to keep people up to date.  In other words ... I need another thing to keep me busy :-)

In late March, Chad finished qualifying for his program.  We pretty much spent the month of April traveling.  First, we went to Boston, which was awesome!! Thank you Nate and Casie for letting us crash at your place and for showing us around Boston.  Mainly, for showing us really good food, like the Gas Lamp Bistro/Cafe, whatever it was, and Mike's Pastry.  We loved it!  After Boston, we needed to get ready to be packed by the navy (thank you God that we had this option) and moved to Washington state.

We drove ourselves across the country, which for the most part was pretty fun.  For fun, we decided to call it "Adventures with Yoda".  We encountered severe thunderstorms from Georgia to Louisiana.  Since we were driving with a load of stuff in the bed of the truck we were thankful that we had a tarp...which we destroyed over the course of the next few days.  Ripped right down the middle with the eyelets ripped out from flapping in the wind.  We were incredibly fortunate to be invited by our very good friends the Darlings (no joke, that's their name!) to stay the night with them in the Dallas area one night. After Dallas, we did have a bit of trouble with our transmission from West Texas to California.  Something was going on where it wouldn't shift into overdrive, but we luckily seem to have resolved  the issue since then.  After 4 and a half days of driving we finally arrived in California.  For a week we were able to visit with family, catch up with friends, attend The Well, which we have truly missed.

After making the final leg up to Washington Chad and I finally signed the lease on our new home.  We are in a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom, 900 square foot apartment, with a garage, and a yard.  Our things were delivered to us a week later, after a weekend diversion where I went to Lansing, MI to see my best friend graduate from Michigan State with her DOCTORATE IN VET MED!!! I'm so proud of her.  Back to the apartment.  I've been unpacking our things for a little more than a week now and I'm almost done.  It's getting a little difficult to find where to put things since we are downsizing by 300-400 square feet, but it's been a good opportunity for me to sort through our things and make a fresh start of it.


Chad has checked in with his boat, the USS Nebraska, and met his crew.  Everything that we have learned about this boat and this crew makes us very optimistic and excited about our time here.  The wives have been super welcoming to me and I've been enjoying learning about what the area has to offer.  We are looking forward to sharing our new adventures with everyone!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Christmas Time!!!

     We were very blessed to have family and friends to spend the holiday season with.  Chad was fortunate enough to get both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off.  Which was a huge surprise, but it was very welcome.  Some very good friends of ours invited us over for Christmas Eve so that we could still have a family experience.  They were only expecting me since Chad was originally scheduled to work.  So they were also very excited to have him there.  We had our first deep fried turkey courtesy of our friend Jason's dad, Chip.  Delicious.  Then we were able to go to the Christmas Eve service at our church.  After the service we went to The Festival of Lights in James Island County Park, which was fabulous.  They have wonderful displays!

    Christmas morning was just Chad and I.  We were kind of like little kids.  We woke up early, took a few photos, and tore into our presents!  Our families were so good to us.  We were hooked up with Fresno State gear, movies, video games, home decor, and gift cards.  Chad surprised me with a keyboard and all of the necessary accessories because he knew that I was wanting to get back into playing piano, along with a pair of Sanuks (shoes I've been wanting).  I gave him a pair of custom Oakleys since he's been wanting new sunglasses for about a year, a video game, t-shirt, and some movies that we found on Black Friday (thank you Jason for taking us this year, we got some great deals).  The rest of the day we relaxed and enjoyed the day off.  For dinner I made us cornish game hens with a raisin cream sauce, rice, and french green beans.  It was pretty good!

     The day after Christmas, my family flew in to visit from California.  So we had Christmas all over again with them!  It was a lot of fun having them here.  Chad was in the middle of transitioning between shifts so he was having to stay up all night and sleep during the day.  We did what we could with him, like going out to dinner.  I took the family to downtown Charleston to show them Battery Park, the mansions, and the Market.  We also took the ferry out to Fort Sumter to explore that and learn more about the history of the fort.  Before we left Patriot's Point where the ferry is based out of, we toured the Yorktown, looking at the aircraft and going through the Medal of Honor museum.  It was really nice just to have them here and spend that time together.