Friday, December 30, 2005

A Wedding: Military Style

Mike's fellow Marine Officer, 2nd Lt. Dan Evans, invited Mike to be part of his wedding in Forth Worth Dec. 30. It was a full military wedding where all the groomsmen were in dress blues. They also performed the sword arch, of which unfortunately I didn't get a picture.

I always like to see Mike in this uniform. He looks so handsome, especially with the white gloves and cover (hat).

Monday, December 26, 2005

Ahhh.... Warmth!!!

The day after Christmas, Mike and I started on the second leg of our holiday break -- a long drive to Tyler, Texas. Twelve hours later, we arrived at Mike's parents' ranch. We were thrilled to step out into sunny 75 degrees in late December! It was beautiful. We spent time relaxing with Mike's mom and dad, two of his brothers (CJ and Bill) and my soon-to-be sister-in-law, Amber. CJ, Amber, Mike and I went golfing one afternoon. Well, Mike and CJ golfed anyway. Amber and I spent the time catching up. CJ and Amber will be getting married in a couple weeks on Jan. 14.

Mike and CJ playing at Garden Valley Golf Course.

Amber and me.

On another beautiful afternoon, Mike and CJ went to fly the plane they bought a few years ago. They couldn't have asked for a better day for a joyride in the sky.

Mike and CJ with their 1941 Interstate Cadet.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas in Kentucky!

Dec. 17... We packed up two weeks worth of clothes and a ton of Christmas gifts and headed out the door at 7 a.m. for a much anticipated holiday break. The drive to Kentucky wasn't too bad. We didn't hit much traffic and we arrived at my mom and dad's around 4 p.m. We even arrived in time to watch the Cats play in the second half of the Kentucky/Louisville game. Mom had just prepared some fresh homemade fudge and chocolate chip cookies. Needless to say I was more interested in the fudge than the game! Brian and Carrie came over that night and we all ate a delicious dinner together. It was so nice to be home with my family.

Dec. 20... Mike and I traveled to Lexington to meet with some friends we hadn't seen in a long while. Mike dropped me off at Carabbas as I had dinner plans with some friends that I used to work with at Lexmark. Mike met up with some college buddies close by. Afterward, we stopped by Meredith and Chad's house, friends from EKU.

Julane (middle) and Debbie (right) were two of my closest friends at Lexmark. They were two big reasons I loved my job SO much. I hated leaving! They are still very dear to me and we try to get together as often as possible.

Meredith (right) and Maggie (left) were ADPi's with me at Eastern. We've had so many great times together, both during school and in the years since we left. They are both wonderful friends. Love you guys!

Dec. 23... Mike and I went out to eat with our friends Lyndsay and Pat, and then we all went to a Christmas party at another friend's house. We saw several buddies from high school that we hadn't seen in years. It was great to hear what new things were going on in their lives.

Lyndsay was my very first friend. We met at a baseball park when we were four years old. She has been such a blessing in my life - a constant and unconditional source of friendship for all these years. I love you, Lynds! It was so good to see you.

Dec. 24... We spent Christmas Eve at my Grandmother's house as my family does every year. There are many new faces there as everyone keeps having more and more babies! They are all adorable. Unfortunately, Brian's wife, Carrie, was sick so they weren't able to make it. We fixed a plate of food and took it over to them.

Dec. 25... A very merry Christmas was had by the Carnes family! Mike and I were given some really great gifts and we were happy to see that everyone loved the gifts we gave as well. Oh, and Mike shocked me with some beautiful diamond stud earrings!!! Thanks, honey!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

One Fine [Field] Day

Today is the fourth day Mike has been in the field (which means outside all day and all night in the freezing cold, running around with guns). While the guys were gone, my friends and I had our own field experience, albeit a much more fun one. We like to do theme nights. This time it was "G.I. Jayne Night" at Carolyn's. We all dressed up in our husbands cammies, played games, drank out of plastic canteens and decorated some truly original Christmas cookies. We had a ton of fun! Spending time with them made Mike's absence a million times easier to bear.

Trying to pose in time for the camera's self timer. From left, me, Sommer, Marge and Carolyn.

It's still very cold here and snow is falling again today. I know Mike will be glad to get back home to thaw out. I'm looking forward to his return this afternoon!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

It's Snowing!

It's a winter wonderland here in Stafford. Temps dipped and the snow came on Monday. Mike is out in it right now in fact, running some sort of hour-long obstacle course through the woods in 20-something degrees. Sounds really fun. Wish I was out there. Ha, ha. It's really cold, but I'm enjoying wearing my heavy winter coats, scarves and gloves again. It felt like summer year-round last year when we lived in Texas. My friend Carolyn from California is having a ball in the snow, as she's never seen it before. She just got her first ice-scraper this week. Welcome to freezing, Stewi!

This was taken at Mike's company event for the lieutenants and their wives yesterday. It was more like social hour for my three friends and me. From left: Sommer, Carolyn, me and Marge.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

New Links

I've just added a couple new links to my blog here on the left sidebar.

The first is a link to my new online digital portfolio. This will come in handy as I continue to look for more freelance design work. It's a small compilation of some of my more recent work, but I intend to add some of the older stuff, too. Check it out if you have time. And feel free to share the link with others who may need a graphic designer!

The second link is Mike's platoon's blog. It has a few pictures of what they do every day. We are behind in updating it, but we'll be adding a lot more photos soon. I also designed their "Fox, 1st Platoon" thing. It's a little too edgy for my taste, but they like it, being big bad Marines and all. :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Hi Honey, I'm Home...

Last night Mike came home looking like this:

Turkey Day in Texas

Ginger carving her 22-pound turkey!

Matt and his new bride, Beth.

Almost ready to eat!

Amber helps with the rolls.

We're thankful it's time to eat!
Like most Americans, I ate my weight in turkey, stuffing and pie last week. Mike and I spent Thanksgiving in Texas with Mike's family. We had a nice, relaxing time with lots of great food. Ginger, you are such a great cook! We played card games and board games, which I always enjoy. The girls (Ginger, Beth, Amber and I) went shopping at a Christmas Village-type place and found some cute gifts. The warmer weather was a definite highlight, too!

Once again, Junah came with us on our travels and was such a good boy the entire time. Here he is in his "carry-on" with Bunny. He hates that I always have a camera in his face, hence the "oh, Mom" stare.

It's a Bird, It's a Plane... Yup, it's Brian!

I stood under a rain-soaked umbrella at the Manassas Regional Airport for no more than a minute when I saw the bright lights of the airplane I knew my big bro was flying. The plane was beautiful! It was so neat to see Brian in the cockpit as they taxied up. He came to Virginia for an overnight in D.C. last Monday, and I told him he must stay with us. So I drove up to get him and had the opportunity to meet Ron Geary, the CEO of Louisville Executive (the company Brian flies for) and ResCare (another company Mr. Geary owns). Brian flew him to D.C. for a business meeting he had in the city. He was nice and had some very positive things to say about Brian.

After we left the airport, Brian let me dig into one of the leftover catered lunches they'd had on the flight (so delicious!!!). Then we did some all-day Christmas shopping in Dale City. We had a ton of fun, laughing and joking around, as always. Brian got to meet my "Stafford Wives" when we met the three of them for dinner that night. When we got home, Brian could barely hold his eyes open after getting up so early. Mike didn't get home until midnight, unfortunately, but they got a chance to visit the next morning before Mike left at 6 a.m.

I was so glad Brian was able to stay with us, even if it was only for one day. I'm so proud of all his accomplishments in doing what he loves.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

A Frozen Fox

Mike belongs to Fox Company here at The Basic School in the USMC. Once a month, Fox Company has to spend a week in 'the field.' The company is deemed "The Frozen Fox" because all of their field exercises are during the winter months.

So last Monday, Mike packed up a ton of Marine stuff in this gi-normous camoflauge backpack that he calls a "ruck." I helped him strategically pack it, putting his clothing in plastic freezer bags to keep it dry during the forecasted thunderstorms. The ruck ended up weighing around 75 pounds, which he had to carry around for five days in the freezing cold. They were truly roughing it. No bathrooms, no showers, no tent, no fire to keep warm - only a sleeping bag. Temperatures got down to 22 degrees at night. I bought Mike some Baby Wipes (maybe he'd rather I call them wet towelettes... ha, ha) so he could semi-bathe, but he said they froze solid!

This time they practiced certain 'enemy objectives' which have a bunch of names you wouldn't understand. Well, maybe you would, but I don't understand them enough to explain them anyhow. They also watched artillery demos (ie: watched a bunch of big guns unload), a close air support demo with an F-18 (ie: watched a really loud jet fly around) and then ended the week with an 8-mile hump (ie: a really long jog carrying 100lbs on their backs).

Needless to say, he came back a dirtball and couldn't wait to get into the shower. He's been brushing his teeth several times a day since his return - just because he can, I guess! Good thing he has another month before he has to do it all over again!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Happy 50th Mom!

First, I'd like to say happy birthday to my mom who turned the big 5-0 Friday! I spent the last month trying to plan a surprise party for her. I sent out an e-mail invite, which she inadvertently saw while watching my brother check his e-mail on his new phone. That and a couple other slips made me believe she knew something was up. However, she never figured out the where and when of it until she showed up at the party, so I'm still counting it as a surprise. It was a great party and a very happy birthday for Mom. A million thank-yous to my sister-in-law Carrie, as well as Dad, Brian and Joy for all your help in planning.

And to my dear mom: You are such a wonderful mother and I love you beyond what words can say. You are so caring and giving and just amazingly beautiful from the inside out. Happy Birthday, and thank you for a great time at home last week!

Cookie Cake: Mom's favorite

Sunday, November 06, 2005

USMC Birthday Ball

Saturday, Mike and I had the pleasure of attending the Marines' Birthday Ball, held at the Marriott in Richmond, VA. There were an estimated 1,500 guests. We had a great time getting all dressed up and spending the evening celebrating with friends. The dinner was delicious and I even got Mike to dance a little. It was the first time Mike wore his Dress Blues. I know he wasn't comfortable all night, but he looked so great in them!

From left: Chad (Sommer's husband), Mike and Mike Trent (Jody's husband)

From left: Carolyn, Jody, Sommer, Me and Margaret

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Cheers to my 'Stafford Wives!'

A few days after we moved here, I arranged a birthday dinner for Mike and invited a few of the guys in his platoon. Little did I know that 25 or so would show up! And to my delight, a couple of them brought their wives. The result? Instant bonds and friendship that I did not anticipate. I met Carolyn (far left) and Sommer (middle) that night at the restaurant, and shortly after, we met Margaret (right) at the spouses' orientation. These girls have truly been my saving grace here. Without them, I don't think I could stand the long hours Mike is gone every day. We are experiencing the same new lifestyle together as our husbands are going through the same things as well. Their support/company is a Godsend!

We like to joke about ourselves becoming the "Stafford Wives," as a play on the movie "Stepford Wives" because of our experiences with the sometimes overbearing traditions and proper etiquette that's expected of Marine Corps spouses.

We have such a great time. Our dogs are like our children. We take them everywhere we can, and this week we discovered a beautiful lakeside park on the USMC base. They all ran around and played - well, except for Junah, who isn't a big exerciser. Since he's a bit um... shall we say, 'fragile,' I took him over to the swings instead of risking the other dogs' rough play. This swing is just his size! (Now don't laugh... I may be a little crazy, but he's all I have.)

Friday, October 28, 2005

How does "Aunt Casey and Uncle Mike" sound?!

I'm so excited to report that my brother, Brian and his wife, Carrie, are expecting! Congratulations to them!!!! Carrie is now eight weeks along and doing great except for a little nausea. She is due June 7th. The day after we heard the news, Mike and I went to buy he or she a little gift. We tried to find one that said, " My Uncle is a Marine," but there were none, so we thought this little number would be just as cute. I'm sure it's the first of many baby items I'll find too irresistible not to purchase for my niece or nephew. We're thrilled to be aunt and uncle! Mom and Dad are ready to be grandparents, too. They're going to be great ones. Mom is already planning a little nursery for the new house they just moved into.

Please pray for a smooth pregnancy and a healthy baby for Brian and Carrie. :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

My Man in Uniform

'Uneasy' would be the word to describe my feeling when seeing Mike in this uniform for the first time. Given that I never imagined Mike would be a Marine, I guess that makes sense. But now that I see him in his gear every day, it's become a normal thing. In fact, Junah is getting used to it, too. There are Marines all over this place, so every time Junah sees someone in their fatigues, he goes crazy thinking it's his daddy.

Here, Mike is dressed in one of his work-day uniforms. They have so many, though. I'll try to take some pictures of him in the others as well. In fact, just recently Mike was fitted for his "Dress Blues." It's the most formal uniform they have. It's the one with the dark jacket, blue pants and white hat and gloves - the equivalent to a civilian's tuxedo. We'll be going to a Marine Corps Birthday Ball in a couple of weeks where he'll be able to wear it for the first time. I'll definitely post some pictures so you'll be able to see how handsome he looks!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Shut-eye: A Precious Thing

As I've said before, Mike has some really long and tiring days doing drills, taking hands-on navigation tests, running obstacle courses and hiking for miles and miles every day with 100 lbs strapped to his back. Tonight I was able to capture his utter exhaustion from an especially long day. (It also happens to portray Junah's sheer laziness as I assure you his day was anything but taxing. He's bound to cuddle up to whomever is sitting or laying down.) When I looked over to see them sleeping so soundly, I couldn't resist.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Tricks for the kids, Treats for me!

So here's the extent of my Halloween decorations. My friend Sommer and I spent an afternoon painting the pumpkins we picked. I was going for cute and friendly, but I think it came out more on the crazy-mad side. I'm not sure if we'll have trick-or-treaters here at the apartment complex, but I'm planning to get some candy just in case. But those who know me well know that candy in my presence is a dangerous thing... 'sorry kids, no more candy - that scary lady ate it all,' Mike will say. As soon as the candy corn hits the shelf each year, I have to pry my fist off the bag in a desperate attempt to make it out of the store without any. Sadly, I have failed time and again this season. Treadmill, here I come!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Congrats to Matt & Beth!

Unfortunately, Mike and I couldn't make Matt and Beth's rehearsal dinner because of Mike's work schedule, but we were thankful to be there in time for the wedding Saturday. The ceremony was beautiful and the reception was very nice, too. We enjoyed visiting with family and meeting Beth's family. We also had time to look around the city and campus of Matt and Beth's alma mater, Valparaiso University, were we took a few pictures with Matt.

We're looking forward to attending CJ and Amber's wedding, January 14, in Texas. I'm so excited to have two new sisters-in-law!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Not Your Typical Frequent Flyer

Mike and I boarded our plane to Chicago Saturday at 6 a.m. in Washington, D.C. We traveled to Valparaiso to attend Mike's youngest brother's wedding. It was an early morning. We had to get up at 3:45. Mike and I were dragging, but The Kid (a name we lovingly call Junah sometimes) was jumping all over us, ready to go. Junah has flown several times with me, but Mike's never seen how well he travels on a commercial flight. As you can see, he's a seasoned traveler and prefers the window seat. He's also much more comfortable with "Bunny" by his side. We were so thankful for his good, calm behavior. Everyone cooed over him, which Junah always eats up. The flight attendants brought him a beverage and snack.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Taking in the Sites

After our move, Mike and I soon discovered we were very close to our nation's capitol. Just 30 miles, in fact. So we headed up to DC last weekend to do some site-seeing. We took Junah with us, but since he's so lazy, we ended up carrying him the whole time. (He's rotten.) The monuments, memorials and the Whitehouse are gorgeous. It was neat to be so close after only seeing them on television and in movies. We didn't do the entire tour, so we plan to go back - sans puppy next time - to see the rest.

Seasons Change

Mike and I moved about a month ago to our new residence in Stafford, VA. Mike is currently at The Basic School at the Marine Corps Base, Quantico. Although he spends long, tiring days and sometimes entire nights on base, he's enduring it all and doing quite well with all his training. It's still strange for me to see him walk through the door each day wearing his camoflauge get-up, but I'm getting more used to it. We look forward to the weekends when he's off work. We spend a lot of time with the other married couples here, which is a welcome change from not knowing many people in Texas. I've continued to work some from home, doing various graphic design projects. I've applied to several companies, but apparently no one is interested in hiring someone for six months. I stay busy though, so I can't complain.

We aren't sure yet where our next move will be. Mike is still hoping for a flight contract. If that happens, we'll be headed to sunny Pensacola come March.

Last weekend, we went pumpkin picking with two other couples. We walked for hours through a puzzling corn maze and then took a hay ride out to the patch to pick out our little winner here. Ain't she a beauty?