The Most Wonderful Time of the Year


Hi Everyone!

It’s December (finally? already?)! Another year is coming to a close and I can’t believe how quickly it has gone by. First and most importantly, my little girl is turning TWO in just a few days.  Where did the time go? I’m incredibly amazed at how quickly she has turned from a baby to a smart, loving little kid. She talks up a storm and is a great helper around the house.

Which is wonderful because come June I will need a big helper around the house! We are having our second little miracle! We announced our pregnancy over Thanksgiving and it was met with such joy. There is something special about being able to see the happiness on people’s faces when you announce good news. I will be entering my second trimester in just a few days (14 weeks coming up on Wednesday). As many pregnant ladies know this is a big milestone in a healthy pregnancy. For me, the first trimester has seemed incredibly long because we found out when I was only 3 to 4 weeks along. Technology is amazing these days! With Sophia I was almost 6 weeks before we had our first positive test. Anyway, I’m excited that I’m starting to show and have had several successful doctors appointments.  Baby Choo (like choo choo train) is healthy and growing right on track.

Also, this time of the year I give so much thanks to be home in the States. The holidays always made me homesick when we lived overseas. It’s great to be able to see our family frequently and especially at Christmas. I’m also thankful for my new job. I am able to hone my writing skills, help others, and work from home to be with my baby girl and baby bump.

I hope everyone is well!

Aly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Turner Update


Today, on Emu Turner Update:

It’s been a while since I have had a free moment to sit down at my laptop. I’m always glued to my phone, but I feel like I never actually make time to sit and write. I try to keep up with each one of my lovely friends and family members, but the days go by so fast.

We had a lovely summer. Jayden came from Ohio to visit us. We went to Ocean City and spent lots of time down the Shore House. When August ended Richie and I decided we would move back into Mom’s house for a while to save some money and begin the search for a house hunt. After years of renting and military housing we are ready to find “our” home. Sophia is thrilled to have her “Lala” and “Pop-pop” with her every day now though. She sure keep us all on our toes! There is a huge part of me that is super excited about finding a house and I wish we were ready to buy one NOW. The other part of me doesn’t want to rush it. It’s a huge commitment; the wandering Turners would be putting roots down after FIVE years of moving from place to place. I’m sure we will find the right place after a while.

The beautiful Sophia (“Fifi” as she calls herself) will be two in a few months and I can’t help, but feel sad. My little baby, my tiny munchie, is now a walking,talking kid. She speaks so clearly sometimes it’s hard to remember she’s not yet two. It’s true what people say “you never know until you have kids of your own.” Yup! I would never have known how much I could be amazed and in awe of one tiny human. She’s funny, she laughs all the time, she is compassionate and is always giving out “huggies.” She can destroy a clean house faster than the Tasmanian Devil. :-). But she’s amazing and We made that (Richie Turner, I think we are doing pretty good).

I’m not the perfect Pinterest mom. I’m sure that we spend too much time inside some days and that I give her too much candy on others, but hey we are having fun! She teaches me new things every day including patience and compassion. Being a parent has also taught me that I need to listen and compromise (even though my hubby knows I’m STUBBORN! love you babe!). I can’t imagine our life without this little beautiful girl. She definitely fills our hearts with joy every day!

Richie Turner is working hard as ever. During the day he works as a newspaper man by the byline of Clark Kent. No, that’s not right.  He’s a reclusive billionaire who wants capture criminals and save Gotham, mmmm still not right. He is an amazing father who works full-time during and attends college at night pursuing a degree in Education. And he’s the best and Sophia and I are blessed to have him in our lives. He also has some wonderful charity projects and is working on starting a foundation for volunteer works at The Good Among the Wicked. You can follow him and catch up with him over at Mankind is Great.

As for me, I’m just trying to figure it all out. Applying for part-time jobs, submitting freelance stuff, and keeping my toddler happy and healthy all keep me busy during business hours. Weekends and evenings I love to spend with my hubby and baby exploring the great, wide world Maryland.

Hopefully, I won’t wait another month to update, but who knows. One last thing….in case I haven’t told you all…you are loved <3. Be kind to each other. 14 years ago today we were reminded that life can change in an instant. So say a prayer for those we have lost and tell someone you love them today. And be thankful that people have given their lives for these good things we have. *Never Forget*

Aly

The Dream Job


I never imagined I would be a stay at home mother. I never imagined that I would find so much joy in being with one little tiny person day in and day out. I guess that’s motherhood. My mother used to say, “You’ll never understand until you have kids of your own.” (You know your mom said it too). I would just laugh and brush her off. I knew everything. I knew that she just didn’t understand ME or MY FEELINGS.  Wrong again. My mother was right. (Hear that, Mom?). I never understood how much love I could feel for my own child. So I’m glad that I have been given the opportunity to stay home with her. I haven’t worked outside of my home in almost two years. And I’m eternally grateful for that.

But, as I mentioned in my previous post I have been job hunting and looking at opportunities for writing and editing. I LOVE writing. I really do. It’s been my creative outlet for twenty years. I also love being home with my baby girl. She’s still my baby and I want to be here for her during the day. We are still proudly breastfeeding at 19 months old and I know it would be hard on both of us for me to be gone all day. (Oh yes, Happy World Breastfeeding Week!). I’ve been submitting article after article for publication as well as applying to writing and editing positions. I have even had one decent interview, but no luck so far. I have also been working on my memoir. I’d love to be able to work from home to still have time with Sophie.

It’s not truly about money. Though, being paid to write would be ideal. It’s more about keeping up with the other parts of me. I’m not just a mother (though I am devoted to that part of me) and I’m not just a wife (also one of my favorite parts of life). I am many things among them a devoted mother, wife, daughter, and friend. I’m also a writer and (if my husband is to be believed) I’m pretty good at it. I’d like to keep writing, share my words, express myself in that way, and grow in my craft.

Yes, I’d love to get paid for it too.

I know there really is no “dream job”, but there is something out there for me, I hope. Something that I can do to share my writing and editing skills. To take the passion in my heart and the knowledge from 7 plus years of schooling and do something amazing with it. Know what I mean?

Journey On


Being a stay at home mother to my darling girl is the joy of my life. I love being able to wake up with her, feed her breakfast, play and learn and grow with her. I also enjoy being able to work on my memoir during nap time. I know there are so many people who can’t afford this opportunity. There is a reason for that! This job while wonderful and fulfilling doesn’t pay anything in monetary value. Living on a single income is a challenge for so many people. Another great challenge is returning to the workforce after staying home to raise children.

I’ve been out of work for two years now and I am slowly easing my way back in by applying for work-at-home jobs. I would love to have the flexibility to work from home doing something with writing, online media, editing, or something similar to these fields. I don’t want to end up sitting home alone in 10 years when all my kids are in school and my husband is at work. I want to keep myself sharp and relevant.

The toughest thing about the job search is the rejection. You feel so hopeful when you click “Submit” just to get let down when they have “decided to pursue other candidates.” I know it’s not personal, but it feels like it sometimes. For now, I’ll just keep pushing forward. There is the perfect position out there for me and hopefully I can find it. In the mean time hopefully I can publish some of my writing. Don’t forget about me, world.

Write on, my friends, write on.

The Real World


Hey everyone,

Look at me two posts in a week! I’ve been looking online at different jobs. I’m hoping to get into something flexible/part-time so that I don’t have to put Sophia into daycare. I love our days together, I’m already sad thinking about her going to school.

I find job hunting really scary. Reading requirements for jobs and thinking about starting at a new job is overwhelming. Even though I spent two years writing for a magazine and doing advertisements it still seems like a lifetime ago. The past year and a half with Sophia has been amazing, but it is so different from working at a nine to five job. It’s challenging and frustrating and wonderful all at the same time. I’m just not sure how to put myself back into “the real world.” I’m guessing I’ll need to start out slowly.

I’m also currently in the middle of my memoir. I love writing about our life and journey to Japan. I can’t wait to have a finished draft. It’s a life long dream of mine to write a full length book.  That’s also my goal for 2015 is to finish the first draft.

I promised that I would share part of my book so I am including the opening chapter here. If you would like to share this chapter or any chapters please ask permission first.

©.2011-2015. Embracing Life. lifepassionlove.wordpress.com. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. All work on this blog is original writing by me and not to be reproduced, copied or distributed.

Who Says You Can’t Go Home?

           “Get in the water. Get IN. Come on.”

“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just watch. Hmm, I’m not sure.”

“Just get in here. It’s easy. Everyone else has tried it.”

I laughed at the exchange between my brother, Michael’s girlfriend, Renee and my great-aunt, Angie. Renee stood in the waist deep water holding the 10 foot paddle board while she cajoled and pleaded with my aunt to get in and try the board. After three years of living overseas in Okinawa, Japan it was refreshing and comforting to be back with the comforts of my childhood; the creek, The Shore House, my family. Everything felt so perfect, it made me wonder why I had never appreciated it before. I had been so eager to grow up and leave my home town behind that I never realized how blessed I really was. I knew everyone or so it seemed. I guess that’s what happens when you live on a peninsula. One road in or out. Unless you went by boat you had to meet up with the same people; the same gas station attendants, the same grocery clerks, the same preachers.  The town I grew up in, Pasadena, (Maryland not California) had a population of about 25,000. It may seem like a large number of people to be acquainted with, but I really felt like knew everyone in town. There were only two high schools in town and plenty of people to be friends with. Even though I attended a private high school in another town I still knew so many people from my neighborhood and through other friends. I had my immediate and extended family all around me and we never wanted for company because we always had each other.

“Why don’t you let Aly try? She’s never been on there.”

“I’m getting in the kayak now. Go on in,” I said.

“Mmm, I don’t know,” she hemmed and hawed at the idea, “I don’t think I could stay on there.”

I slowly paddled the kayak up the creek and against the current putting the house behind me. The sun beat down on me and reflected off the water making the day seem that much hotter. It wasn’t unlike the humid temperatures we had grown used to in Okinawa. The scenery was quite different though. Living on a subtropical island just wasn’t the same as growing up on the Bay. From the time I was born, I had been fortunate enough to be able to experience summers on the water. My great-great grandparents bought a summer house in 1908 on the Bodkin just off the Chesapeake Bay in Pasadena, Maryland. They spent their winters in a house up the beltway on the northern outskirts of Baltimore City, but every weekend in the summer they were at The Shore house. The property is now co-owned by my great grandmother and her remaining living brothers. The house sits on a corner lot that in today’s market would cost several million dollars to purchase. If we had the money, my grandparents would buy out everyone else’s share. Just so we could keep the house in our family and never have to worry about someone wanting to sell it. It has charm and it is definitely old, but I loved going there when I was a child. It never occurred to me that other people didn’t have the luxury of a waterfront view and a readymade vacation home. We spent our days riding jet skis into the mouth of the Bodkin and taking boat rides out on the Bay.

When my grandfather would drive the boat, he would give us a history lesson; pointing out all of the landmarks and historical points on the water.

“There’s Bethlehem,” he would say waving his hand in the direction of the smoke stacks. It used to be so much busier and more alive. Bethlehem Sparrows Point Shipyard was known to local residents as Bethlehem Steel for the steel plant that you could see the smoke stacks from the Bay. I always thought it looked intimidating and never wanted to go near there. These days the steel plant sits empty and cold because it couldn’t survive the tough economic times. I hear they are demolishing the place piece by piece. Just past that you can see the Key Bridge named after Francis Scott Key, the man who penned the Star Spangled Banner. The raising of the American flag at Fort McHenry in Baltimore was said to have inspired the beloved anthem. That little piece of trivia is one that Marylanders are proud of.

As I grew older and became busier I spent less time at the Shore and on the water even though it was only a few miles from my mother’s house. When I left for Okinawa I never thought about how much I would miss this place and the people that came along with it. I figured a subtropical island country would satisfy my need to be on the water and my desire to see something besides my town. It wasn’t the same. The sounds and smells were different. Instead of flowing creeks, chirping crickets, and muggy summer nights you had crashing waves and overly salty air. It was pretty, but it was never home. There were so many days and nights that I fought homesickness and the urge to just jump on a plane and go back. Back to my family, back to my hometown. Even in my darkest days of anxiety when I thought I would lose my mind, I stayed in Japan to be close to my husband because I knew that I would miss him just as much if I left. But still always there was a part of me that longed to be where I grew up.

“Ang, just get on the board. I’ll hold it up here and Michael can hold the other end,” Renee told her, “Pull up onto the board on your belly. Then, get up on your knees.”

“I’m tryin’, I’m trying. Ahgh.”

Splash.

The sound of laughter echoed across the creek as Angie tumbled into the water. I craned my neck to see her, but the kayak had floated down the creek and I had lost sight of the house. As I paddled farther ahead, I looked into the tree line where the trail leading to Downs Park. The park is located on the Chesapeake Bay in Anne Arundel County. It is situated at the end of a peninsula just before a gated community called Gibson Island. The park is named for former County Councilman, John (Jack) H. Downs. The park was named in his honor for his years of service in Anne Arundel County. We never cared about the park’s name or history. It was just a fun place to hang out when we were kids. To run and scream and chase one another throughout the trails and picnic spots.

The park has so many winding trails throughout the woods and along the water line. It’s great for riding bikes or running through the woods. There are children’s playgrounds and an outdoor performance theater where Sunday concerts are held during the summer months. Local residents and tourists can learn more about the indigenous wildlife by visiting the information center located at the park. When my cousins and I were kids we sat through two Saturdays of classes to receive our personal boating license right at the park. These days children can attend summer camps and families can picnic and cook out at one of the many pavilions with charcoal grills. It is the perfect place for families to go and it was the perfect place to be a kid. I had craved this familiarity when I was gone. Even though I didn’t know I would miss it at all.

“There ya go, there ya go. Just stand up from your knees,” Michael’s voice echoed down the creek.

“I don’t have my balance. I think I’m going to fall,” Angie replied.

Splash.

The town where I grew up and the areas surrounding it are rich with history and culture. It wasn’t just a place for me to learn about it. It was the place where I grew up. It was the town I learned to be an adult in. I learned so much about myself and I grew into a woman. I was so eager to get out that I never stopped to think about all that I was leaving behind. I can hear my brother pulling the paddleboard out of the water. My aunt must have given up for the day. Maybe she’ll try again tomorrow. I reflect once more on how glad I am to finally be back where I belong.

Three years had passed in the blink of an eye. There were amazing memories, there were okay times, and there were some downright frightening moments that were all behind me now. Being back here made Japan feel like nothing, but a distant memory or a dream, even. I turn the kayak around and let the current take me home.

xo Aly

The End of An Era


Last week brought about the end of an era! After three years and three months I have finally completed my graduate program. I will be receiving my Master of Arts degree in English and Creative Writing with a Nonfiction concentration. It feels unreal to me because I have been working on this degree for so long. Through a full-time job, pregnancy, anxiety attacks, birth, a new baby who grew into a wild toddler and now I am actually finished! It feels amazing and sad all at the same time. This was such a long time goal of mine that I feel sort of stumped now that it is over.

For my final project I turned in 84 pages of my memoir. It’s only about a third of the way finished, but it is a really great start. My goal for 2015 is to finish the first draft of my book. I’m not sure when it will get published, but I know one day that it will. My dream has always been to inspire others with my writing and if I can just encourage one person with my story than I will have done something great. My professor gave me some really nice feedback and encouraged me to keep at it. He said I had a really great voice that resonates with people. I’ll take it! Now if only I can hold on to my motivation to keep going.

Things are always busy these days at our house. Sophia bug is 16 months old! I know it feels like yesterday I was writing about her birth. She is a busy, active, smart, independent little girl. She is definitely not a baby anymore. She loves to run around, hug, kiss, and chatter up a storm. She also uses sign language quite often. My favorite sign is for “milk”. When she wants to breastfeed she signs “milk” and climbs up into my lap. She also says “meh-meh” if I’m not paying attention. It’s adorable and so smart. She is also a lover of music and dance. She will sing along with Alvin and the Chipmunks and dance to any music that she hears. She will even shake her little butt to the music.

I love being able to stay at home with her, sometimes it is a challenge because having a toddler is like living with a tornado, but I am truly grateful. Richie works full-time for a local company doing IT work. Then as soon as his work day is over he heads to school for night classes! I could not be more proud of my husband. Working full-time and pursuing a college degree. It is hard and exhausting. So a major shout out to my love, you are amazing! He works hard every day to take care of me and Sophia and gives me the ability to stay home with her every day. Even though I am a writer, I don’t have the words to tell him how much he means to me and how much his support is appreciated. I’ll just keep it simple, I love you, Richie. You truly are the best.

Life in America has been good, Okinawa creeps up in my thoughts often. I never thought I would miss it there, but I do. Great friends, food, culture. Almost seems like a dream most days. Although I am happy to be back with family and friends here. Okinawa changed my life and brought about the most amazing things including my marriage and family. In just 10 days it will have been one year since we left Okinawa. It’s definitely been an interesting start back in America and I am ready to see where the next year takes us.

If you are still out there reading, thanks for sticking around! I’ll update again soon. Maybe share some of my writing with everyone.

<3.

Finally Friday!


I worked hard this week. I probably say that often, but this week I accomplished a lot in the way of work. I had my clubs back page to do (a monthly advertorial that lists events going on at our clubs/restaurants), and my feature story. To many, this may not seem like a huge deal, but to me it is. I can become somewhat of a perfectionist, in the way that I worry that my work isn’t complete even when it’s finished. This was a challenging article for me to write as well because the subject was cooking, and to be honest I’m a pretty boring cook. I usually stick to noodles, steak and chicken. So this was a learning experience for me as well as a feature article for my job. The article itself won’t come out for another month, but the text version is complete….now for design, layout, editing and printing, but fortunately, these tasks are for my teammates here and the printing company. Either way, I’m glad to say that I finally have a completed draft, though it may change between now and then, it feels good to have something finished.

I counted and over the course of 21 months I have written 6 features, 2 photo essays and three restaurant reviews (not to mention the advertisements and event advertorials I have done). Not to shabby, I’d say. I feel that a quality in myself that I have to work on is to speak up and propose my ideas for articles, in that way I think I’d get more writing experience and coverage. For a first writing job after college I think I have done pretty well. I’ll have to remember this for my next job interview, when they ask about a situation or quality in your work that you would like to improve….I definitely want to speak up and share more ideas with the team instead of being shy or even timid. I hope that the next job I take whenever we move back to the States offers me great flexibility and creative room. To see my name in print offering some really interesting topics (sumi-e painting, various restaurant reviews and food reviews, traveling around Okinawa on public transportation, snakes!) that I most likely would not have considered writing about on my own personal time. I also hope that this blog shows my dedication to writing (Hello Future Employer! Pick Me!) and the passion I have for all types of writing.

To some people, it may sound crazy, but it’s all I ever wanted to do…write poems, write stories and these days write non-fiction features. I never really enjoyed my newswriting classes, but I made up for it in my magazine and feature courses. I knew that these were the perfect mix of truth, yet telling the story in a creative way. I think that journalism as well as story telling is essential to us. Journalism reports the truth, but stories, legends and tales all give us a break from reality when the world seems too dim.

I’m glad it’s Friday, the bug is keeping me awake at night. Richie has baseball for a few hours, so I think I will cuddle up on the couch and watch NCIS after I get home from work. I’m also going to post some of my previous articles from the magazine if anyone missed them the first time around.

Life Outside the Uniform: Finding a Civilian Job After the Military


As many of you know, I am closely involved with the military in both my professional and personal life. (I guess my blog title gives that away!) Yesterday, I posted about something extremely personal to me, but today’s topic is significant not just to my future, but to many in the military and their family members. I have been given the opportunity to work with fellow blogger, Emma Banks, who is studying to be a Career & Life Coach. She has written an excellent piece as a guest blogger on finding a civilian job after the military. This is important to so many of my colleagues and friends because in the next year or two many are preparing to make this transition from the military to the civilian sector, including my husband. I would like to thank Emma for her help and the excellent resources she is sharing with us. Make sure you visit her blog and show some love!  -Alyson

Life Outside the Uniform: Finding a Civilian Job After the Military

By Emma Banks

Leaving the military to enter into civilian life can be daunting. With so many challenges in front of you, finding a great job on top of everything else might seem impossible. I’m here to assure you that you can find your dream job as a civilian, no matter how many years you have served in the armed forces. Keep in mind that job searching takes time, and you’ll meet several myths designed to hold you down. Ignore them. I’ll outline four of the most common job hunting myths and the reality behind them so you can enter the civilian workforce with confidence.

Myth #1: No one is going to hire me because I have a service-related disability.

Truth: By law, an employer cannot discriminate based on disability, and there are many organizations willing to defend your right to work. If you’re worried that your disability will hold you back from performing your dream job, then rest assured that there are services to help you. For example, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers programs designed specifically to work with individuals with service-connected disabilities. These programs offer job training, counseling and other services to help you find a great job and keep it.

 

Myth #2: It’s time-consuming and difficult to apply to jobs.

Truth: Back in the old days, companies relied on paper resumes and a physical application process. Recognizing the need to meet the demands of busy applicants, many top companies today have streamlined the application process, making it much easier and faster to submit resumes and other documents. Mobile recruiting platforms like JIBE allow you to upload resumes, cover letters and more right from your smartphone. It’s never been easier or more convenient to apply to jobs.

Myth #3: My spouse is on his or her own when it comes to finding a job.

Truth: While there are a lot of great resources for you as a veteran, there are actually many services available to help your spouse find a rewarding job. A new program called Joining Forces works to find steady employment for military spouses, especially those who have to move a lot due to constantly changing orders. They offer career development services and work with companies to enhance the experience of military spouses.

Myth #4: The “hidden job market” contains all of the best jobs.

Truth: The so-called “hidden job market” allegedly contains all of the jobs that are never posted, the ones that people really want but have to know someone to get. In reality, companies hire people who qualify whether they know someone or not. As a veteran, you’ll be attractive to a wide range of companies and industries so don’t sell yourself short. Develop a strong resume and excellent interview skills, and you’ll land your dream job. The hidden job market might exist, but it doesn’t hold a monopoly on the best jobs.

After spending years in the service, it can seem daunting to take the next step into the civilian sector.

After spending years in the service, it can seem daunting to take the next step into the civilian sector.

Making the transition from military to civilian life can be challenging, but it is not impossible. With hard work, determination and the right resources you can be successful in your new life after the military.

Making the transition from military to civilian life can be challenging, but it is not impossible. With hard work, determination and the right resources you can be successful in your new life after the military.

 

Emma is a mid 20-something year old with a passion for life, love, fitness, and helping others. She loves to be active and get involved in as many sport and community activities as possible. Emma is currently studying to become a Career & Life Coach, and loves to network with people from around the world! Check out Emma’s blog at http://smileasithappens.blogspot.com/! You can also follow Emma on Twitter.