So...I guess it is finally time to "blog" and update everyone on our lives. I apologize it has taken so long, but we have been quite busy. Brace yourselves, there's a lot to catch up on. :)
For starters, Christopher graduated from West Point on Saturday, May 23rd. We had about two weeks to finish up last minute wedding stuff and it was so incredibly nice to have him there to finally be with me to do "wedding things". We got married on Saturday, June 6th. Our wedding was amazing and more than either of us ever dreamed it would be. We cannot say thank you enough to everyone who helped decorate, run things, cook, clean up and everything that went into making our day perfect. We went on our honeymoon to Jacksonville Beach for a week of relaxing and doing nothing FOR ONCE!!! It was very needed for the both of us. After that week was over, it was back to craziness. The movers came to pack all of our stuff at my parents house on Wednesday, June 17th. It was so amazing how it all worked. We did NOTHING! They came and packed up everything while we sat and watched. Christopher was itching to help! But couldn't. :) (let's just say the packing was a much better experience than unpacking!) We spent a few more days in Jacksonville spending time with our families before we left and packed up the car and left Jacksonville on Monday, June 22nd. And PS - Saying goodbye to my parents was the hardest thing I've had to do. We debated about what route we wanted to take on our road trip to Oklahoma, but decided we wanted to detour to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina first to spend a few days with Chris' sister, Crystal, her husband Cliff, and Liesey (unfortunately Destiny was in Puerto Rico). Cliff will be deploying to Afghanistan in November and we realized who knows when we will see him again since we will be heading to Germany after the first of the year. It was so great to see them and we had a blast!
Our Road trip:
Day 1: We left early in the morning on Wednesday, June 24th and headed for Asheville, NC for our first stop at the Biltmore House. It ended up being an absolutely gorgeous day outside and we enjoyed ourselves so much. We ate lunch at a restaurant there and Christopher finally got to try a fried green tomato! :) We started our drive on to Knoxville, TN where our next stop would be. Something I should let you know up front, Christopher's favorite TV show is on the Food Network - Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. So before we left Jacksonville, he printed off the list of all the places Guy Fieri has visited and he highlighted all the ones in the states we were going through. So, we would put the address of the next place in the GPS and that was how we made our stops the rest of the trip. So the first restaurant we would visit was in Knoxville - it was a place called Pizza Palace. It was like a Sonic drive in type place where you order your food and eat it in the car. But of course, Christopher had to go in and ask what Guy ate so we sat on two stools at the window ledge. We had pizza, spaghetti and onion rings. What they are "known" for. It was SUCH good food. We stayed the night in Knoxville.
Day 2: We got up the next morning and headed for Nashville. We debated on whether we would go to Opreyland or The Hermitage - Andrew Jackson's home. Neither of us are really music people so we decided to do The Hermitage. It was such a cool place. His actual house with all of his original things in it. We saw his grave and that was pretty cool! We went through the house tour and around some of the grounds but we didn't see everything because we wanted to get back on the road. Our next stop was a BBQ restaurant in Nashville. Awesome BBQ. We asked our waiter what Guy ate and got a sampler platter appetizer and a BBQ platter. We shared everything. There was a gift shop in the front of the restaurant where there was a very sweet old man working. We got two t-shirts, and Christopher got a pig hat (that literally has a stuffed pigs head on the front and a pig tail on the back) as souvenirs. The man at the register was so sweet. He started talking to us and asked us where we were from. We told him we were there because of the show and we also told him our plan of stopping at all the places. He laughed and told us we were "too young to be foodies" haha. He also told us that he was in the kitchen when Guy was there and said the guy can EAT. He wasn't the first person to tell us that. He also said he was making batter for their onion rings and when Guy felt comfortable enough he stuck his finger in the batter and licked it, stuck another one in and licked it and told him 6 out of the 7 ingredients in the batter without even knowing. We were planning on staying in Nashville and going to Graceland the next morning, but for some reason all these restaurants are in pretty "bad areas of town" and no the "nicest" ha. To put it nicely. So there were no nice hotels around that looked even somewhat safe to stay in. So we said forget Graceland let's just start driving. So within probably 10 to 20 minutes we crossed over into Arkansas. We just said we were going to drive until we saw a decent place to stop and stay. We stayed the night at some Holiday Inn in the middle of NOWHERE.
Day 3: We again got up early the next morning and started driving. We had talked about going to Little Rock, but once we actually got there - we hated Arkansas so much we just kept driving. Arkansas was by far the worst state ever. We did drive past the town where Carrie Underwood is from - the sign that she won American Idol was bigger than their own town sign. We finally reached Oklahoma and could not have been happier to see the state sign. Our next stop was in OKC for the restaurant we were going to. It was called Mama E's Wings and Waffles. When we finally arrived - we drove in the parking lot and Christopher turned in a circle and said I don't think we should stay here. It looked somewhat awful. We ended up going inside and I will be honest, there was this little roller bar of food that looked like it had been sitting there a while - and the wings and waffles just did not sound appetizing at all. Christopher ordered the wings and waffles. The owners was a man and his wife - they pastor a church together. They were the sweetest couple. We stayed and talked to them for a long time. It was so neat to hear their story and how they started from just a little trailor type thing. They only serve red koolaid to drink. :) After we pretty much closed down the place by staying to talk - we were on our way to Lawton. Our final stop. We had called prior about staying at the hotel on post and they had no vacancies. But we tried calling one last time that day and they had someone leave so we got a room. Such a blessing! We finally drove into Lawton and drove around the town for a little while. We arrived late evening on Friday, June 26th. Let me just say, the road trip was WAY better than I had expected. I hate riding in the car, and I hate stopping. When I'm headed somewhere, I go. But the stops made it so much fun and we made so many memories.It made it much more bearable for sure!
Our first week in Oklahoma:
We had called a few weeks before leaving while we were in Jacksonville about an apartment to live in. We faxed our deposit and application fee and filled out everything. Chris' sister looked up the reviews (which I will do from now on) and they were not good at all. We called the police department and it was no good. So, we ended up losing $150 and got up on Saturday morning and drove around to every apartment complex we saw. Some were awful, most didn't have availability for months. We finally chose one we had seen and went back and signed our lives away. :) We spent a week in the hotel on post. A lot of driving around, learning our way around Lawton. Eating at pretty much all the restaurants there are here because we didn't have a kitchen. We finished everything we had to do with paperwork and making sure all my information was in the Army system, got my car registered and got my decal. :) We could have moved into our apartment right away but the movers couldn't come. The movers finally came with all of our stuff on Thursday morning, July 2nd. They were great and we took them to lunch at a Mexican restaurant afterwards. It was July 4th weekend...so needless to say we didn't get much unpacking done. Christopher set up the TV stand that very day and put the TV and Wii up (OF COURSE). On the Friday, July 3rd, there was a Tim McGraw concert on post so we went because it was the "thing" to do in Lawton. :) On Saturday, the 4th, Christopher has a buddy from West Point that is from here so his parents had a cookout at their house for us and some of his buddies. It rained that entire night, so no fireworks. On Sunday, one of his buddies made dinner for us and some friends.
Christopher reported early Monday morning, July 6th to his first school he would be training, BOLCII. For me, the unpacking began. I had to do it all alone. Christopher was gone all the time. He had to stay in the barracks at night. There were some nights he was able to come home for a few hours, some nights we had dates in the park on post eating fast food in the car. Finally, this week, we are in the last week of this training. It has been a long 7 weeks but I honestly can't believe it's over. It has been rough. I have had a lot of time alone. He went in the field several times for a week so I would be here day and night alone. It's definitely been an adjustment and once the unpacking was done it was quite rough to keep myself busy. We have hung out with Christopher's friends a lot of the time on the weekends. His buddies come over often and hang out with me, play the Wii and there is a couple right across from us that is another one of Christoper's buddies from West Point that I have dinner with his wife and him often when Chris isn't here. We stay busy or try to. I was able to spend my birthday evening with Christopher. We went to a steakhouse with some of his buddies and it was SO nice to be with him for a few hours after not spending a birthday with him in over 4 years, much less even being able to hear a Happy Birthday from him because of summer trainings he was in and not able to call and always wondering if I would hear from him!
So this week is the last week for Christopher and BOLCII. He is happy because it's been rough. I am super happy because this means no more nights alone for me. :)
Now, for the newest addition to our family. Christopher and I have always talked about what type of dog we wanted. He grew up with a Doberman Pinscher (Columbus) that he got when he was a little boy and had until he went to West Point and he had to be put to sleep. And I have always grown up with MULTIPLE dogs in my house. We really wanted a dog, but I THOUGHT we had decided to wait until we come back from Germany. Once we got here and got things unpacked and I was lonely...I THOUGHT I wanted a puppy. So we threw the idea around a lot that we wanted to go and look, but there are NO puppy stores here in Lawton. Well, we don't have a washer and dryer in our apartment so, on Saturday's we go to the laundry mat to do it. We were waiting on Christopher's stuff to finish and he started looking at the classifieds. There were ads in there of course for puppies. Two separate ads for lab puppies. So, Christopher and I got all excited. He called both, neither answered and he left messages. One man called him back almost immediately. Christopher asked if we could come and just look that afternoon, and he said yes and that he had one left a black female. He was located in Cache - which is about 20 minutes from Lawton. We left the laundry mat and headed there. We met the man at a gas station and followed him to his house (he lived off Shady Lane - just thought I'd throw that in there :)). We stopped and got some cash from the ATM and I said, we are just going to get her now? Christopher said no, but at least we will have it just in case. He told me, don't get immediately attached to her. So, we drove about 5 minutes. Got to the house. Went in the backyard and there she was all alone. ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE. We played with her for a few minutes, Christopher said "we will take her" - and I leaned on his shoulder and said in his ear "we will"? Ha. Gave the man the money, he gave her one last shot and the deal was done. OH BOY!!! Did I have NO idea what I was getting myself in to. So, we got a new black lab female puppy on Saturday, July 25th. She was born May 27th and we got her at 8 weeks old. We were supposed to go to dinner with all of Christopher's West Point buddies, but that soon changed because they were headed to dinner and we had just gotten the puppy. So, we headed straight for the pet store and bought her everything she needed. Christopher came here and bathed her while I went to Wal-Mart and picked up a few more things. Everyone came over after dinner to play with her and fell in love. So, it began. Christopher put her in the bed because he wanted to sleep with her. I knew it was a bad idea. So he was here on Saturday night and of course she did well because she was snuggled up right next to him. He left Sunday evening to go in the field for a week. Let's just say, that was the worst week I've had since I've been here. I couldn't talk to him, I had to take the puppy out 3 times at night in this scary town outside by myself in the middle of the night. She was so much work, I felt trapped like I couldn't go anywhere. I would put her in her crate and she would use the bathroom so I didn't want to go anywhere because I knew I would have to come home to a royal mess. I basically sat on the couch and cried the entire week long. I tried to crate train her at night for her to sleep in there, she barked and cried for 4 hours until the neighbors started pounding on all sides so I had to take her out. It was AWFUL!!! Let's just say we didn't really TALK and REALLY THINK about having a bigger breed puppy (because she has TONS of energy and nowhere to go but in our little apartment - so for her to run around I have to take her to a park), trying to potty train a puppy in an apartment when you immediately walk up stairs when you go inside so she doesn't have a door to scratch on and trying to crate train when the walls are PAPER THIN! I wanted to get rid of her. Christopher was getting frustrated with me because of course he wanted to keep her and only gets to see the cute side of her when he comes home from work for a few hours and leaves to go back to the barracks. It was rough. I literally for two weeks was MISERABLE. LONG story short, she is doing MUCH better and I absolutely LOVE her to death. We still have some potty training issues. But I have already taught her how to sit, to fetch her ball and bring it back, to drop it and sit. She is super smart. We named her Mayva. For a few days - maybe a week - she didn't have a name. Christopher and I couldn't agree on one. :) So we called Destiny, our niece. We told her we got a girl puppy, that she was born May 27th and we needed her help naming her. She told Christopher she would have to think about it and call him back. And she did. She called us back and told us we should name her Mayva since she was born in May. So it kind of stuck. We call her Mayva Jade. We have a love hate relationship. She is a TON of work and I can't take one eye off of her. But I love her so much...NOW! :) I have taken her to the vet twice. She weighed 16.8 pounds the first time and the very next week she weighed 20. something...it's been almost a week so I'm guessing she weighs a little over 20 pounds. She is growing quickly. Christopher really wants her to be a "smart" dog. He expects her to already know how to catch a ball and frisbee but is quickly learning she isn't there yet. He also wants her to be a "hunting dog"...for whatever reason (he doesn't even hunt) so he has bought her two ducks for her toys. Oh, and we went to hobby lobby this past weekend and he bought two BIG figurine black labs. One that is sitting, that now sits on our end table. And just a huge head of one with a duck in it's mouth that sits on the bookshelf. OH BOY! :)
Christopher has been very antsy to decorate our place - much more than I (my mentality is as soon as I get it up I'm going to have to take it back down, but not him). The past three weekends have consisted of decorating. The first weekend he hung most all the stuff on the walls we had. He put pictures in the picture frames and hung them. Two weekends ago we went and bought a bookshelf that he put together and took no time to fill up. And also a "mirror to go over the couch" - that was ALL him! :) He has been so cute. This past weekend we went shopping for more decorations for the place. We went to Hobby Lobby on Friday night, they didn't really have anything. Friday night Christopher wanted to go on a date because he had been in the field all week. We ate at a Japanese restaurant (hibachi) then went to Wal-Mart and bought guitar hero for the Wii. :) Finally! Christopher has wanted it for a while. Saturday we took Mayva to a lake called LETRA on post. He wants her to get "used to water and swimming". Before we got there we stopped at the gift shop on post because Christopher really wanted a field artillery painting to put on one of our walls. He went inside alone because we had the puppy and I told him not to get anything until he told me first. He came out a few minutes later and was like you have to come inside. He hit jackpot and the man told us we could bring Mayva inside as long as we held her. He got a painting that he wanted, a poster, we got two field artillery coasters, a magnet, three decorative cannons and a crossed cannons flag. We finally got some field artillery decorations in our house. :) Christopher is super happy. We took Mayva to the lake and she absolutely loved it. She was so cute chasing her ball and splashing in the water. It was such a beautiful day. After while we wore her out and brought her home. Christopher bathed her while I got ready. We took the painting and poster to Hobby Lobby so we could get it framed and two of Christopher's buddies called and asked us to go to dinner. We ran on post, came back and got the pictures, brought them home and let Mayva out and headed to Olive Garden to eat dinner. They came back and played guitar hero for a while. On Sunday, for lunch they met us back here and one of his friends made us lunch. It was AMAZING.
Anyways, that is an update on us. I am sorry it is so long, but I know everyone always asks my family back home how we are doing and what we are up to and I tried to make it all in a nutshell what has been going on to catch everyone up. Everyone made Oklahoma seem so awful. But we like it here. It is SUPER hot. The first two weeks we got here it was 115 degrees almost every day, there is humidity just like Florida, it's just not sticky. When you open the door there is a breeze and it feels like a hot oven being open on your face. It cooled off a little and hasn't gotten that hot again. But most days are still 100's. Everyone said it was flat here, totally not flat. There are mountains. And some of the prettiest sunsets I have seen. The post here is nice, very spread out. I am getting used to the whole "wife" thing. Going grocery shopping, running errands for the husband and hoping I get the right things when he calls me and needs stuff to clean his weapon with and take it to him! And cooking, I have started cooking. I hated it at home and never really did it, but I cook here almost every night Chris is home unless he wants to go out. And I want to say I haven't made anything that wasn't edible and nothing has made him sick and I haven't burnt anything. :) (I say that because my family made the biggest deal about me not being able to cook to Christopher before we left - making jokes about it was his last homecooked meal) He has had three buddies over on random occassions, that I didn't know about until after I had cooked and I had all the West Point guys over one night and cooked for them. I am actually really loving it. My only challenge is just trying to think of meals.
I still don't have a job. Haven't tried ha. I want one, but there isn't much around here and I really don't want to work retail or fast food. I may try, but Christopher is kind of against me getting a job now that he will be home more often, he wants me to be here. So we will see.
We also found out, I guess, about two weeks ago where we will be headed in Germany. We are going to Vilseck, in Bavaria, near the Czech Republic. He will be with the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment. Here are two web sites that will tell you a little more about it.
We still don't know a lot but we are trying to research as much as we can. We still aren't sure of his exact report date, but we are assuming sometime late January? He may have to stay here in Oklahoma for an extra two weeks after this second school of training is over for heavy field artillery, but again we still aren't sure. It's all up in the air and we haven't heard anything from anyone for definite.
I have uploaded all pictures from the wedding, our roadtrip, our lives here and our place (undecorated - we are still trying to finish decorating and I will take some) here http://picasaweb.google.com/chris.n.court.carnes for those of you who do not have Facebook.
Again, sorry it took me so long. Hope you have enjoyed and I promise I will do my best to do this much more often and not wait so long. Hope everyone back home is doing well. We miss everyone so much! I hope I did an ok job at this "blog" thing and didn't bore anyone too much. Love you all!!!
Christopher and Courtney