On a whim over Christmas break in 1996, I joined the Ohio Army National Guard. I was studying Political Science and had an interest in Criminal Justice. So, I enlisted as a Military Police Officer. Who knew that such a decision would drastically alter the path of my life? I met my future husband in February of 1997 at my first weekend Guard drill, but it would not be until 7 months later that we would 'date'. Oh, it seems so very long ago. I was *ahem* quite young - only 22. He, a tad bit older. I even remember our first date - we went to Akron on a Saturday afternoon and checked out the University of Akron School of Law and talked about our future hopes and dreams.
Fast forward to January 2, 1999. Jason and I were married in the Blizzard of '99 - for those of you who don't remember, much of the Northeast and Midwest was literally shut down. But we managed to get most of our friends and family in from out of state and we had such a lovely little wedding. The reception was fun as well - alcohol for 300 people, but only 100 were able to make it through the storm, and they weren't driving home that night...
We bought our first home just one month after we were married. We had exactly enough cash in our bank account for the downpayment and a celebratory dinner afterward. I remember jumping up and down on the 'for sale' sign in the front yard, feeling on top of the world. We had 1 cat and 7 ferrets we called family. To this day, we still have that cat and the house - of course, the cat rules the house.
Fast forward again to February 2003. We welcomed Owen into our arms. We were both working in careers we had never anticipated. Snug in our home and starting a family, it was a wonderful, comforting time. We spent our 5 Year Anniversary (2004) in San Diego - another marked point in our lives (at least as far as I am concerned). My mother watched the baby while Jason and I jetted out west for a much-needed vacation. I had never been to California; Jason had lived there at one time. He showed me his favorite stomping grounds and we ate Mexican food every day for a week. We walked and biked along the shore on Coronado Island and watched the sunset over the ocean. We drove up and down coast and I was hooked, completely in love with SoCal. Why had we never considered living elsewhere?
Spring 2004. I was working in Pennsylvania; I read an article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette about people going back to school for a new career - nursing was highlighted as a strong career. I had wanted to be a doctor when I was a kid but somehow that dream had been lost. Could I do it? Go back to school to be a nurse? I remember showing the article to Jason, telling him I wanted to go back to be an RN. "Do it," he said. "You'll regret it if you don't." He didn't worry about the logistics, the difficulty, the sacrifices we would have to make. "Do it." I enrolled in school that summer. And got pregnant with Abby during the same time.
March 2005, our precious little girl was born. I quit my job and went to nursing school full time. I remember Jason and I talked about the places we would like to move to. The Carolinas. California. DC. Georgia. What would we do? What about our life here? Then Jason brought up a new idea - how about moving overseas? What about a new career for him?
I graduated nursing school in December 2006. By this time, Jason had taken on full responsibility as the stay-at-home dad so that I could fully throw myself into my career. I wanted to work ER and ER only - one of the most difficult new graduate positions. I started in a Trauma ER in February 2007. He never questioned my crazy desire, just fully supported me. He also enjoyed having the time at home with the kids. To this day, Abby is still 'Daddy's little girl' and I completely attribute this to all the time she got to spend with Daddy the year he was home full-time.
February 2008. Jason was preparing to start training for his new position in the foreign service. We were going to do it! Move, see, do! Previously, I had expressed a strong desire to travel nurse. We decided I would complete a 13-week RN contract in Bakersfield, California before he started his training in July. Jason stayed in Ohio with the kids while I completed the contract. His full support for my career. While in Bakersfield, I spent a weekend sightseeing in Los Angeles. I remember thinking 'maybe we can be assigned here someday' and I checked out some neighborhoods, dreaming of where we might live. In July 2008, the roles reversed - I stayed in Ohio with the kids while Jason was in DC and VA for training. Those months were hard but so exciting - so much to plan, to organize, to dream. Where would we get the 'handshake' for his first (U.S.) assignment?
Los Angeles, March 2009- March 2010. I couldn't (and still can't) believe how lucky we were to get his first choice assignment. It was a wonderful year, marked with discovery and excitement. The kids and I lived at the beach practically; I found a job at a nice, small ER and Jason immersed himself into his career. We added a new 'family' member - our au pair Jenny, from Australia and who will forever be the kids' big sister. I ran a half-marathon in February and found out just 2 weeks later I was pregnant.
Jason left for Iraq in August 2010 but to our delight he was able to be home for Kellen's birth. I will forever be grateful to those who worked so hard to make sure his leave coincided with the birth. It was something we never thought would happen. The three weeks that Jason was home in Oct/Nov are some of the happiest we've ever had.
And so here we are. January 2, 2011. What will the next 12 years bring?
Welcome to the Wandering Drays!
Not all who wander are lost...
Welcome to my blog dedicated to my family and our crazy foreign service life. Never content with staying in one place, we are excited to share our journey. We've survived two unaccompanied tour (Baghdad 2010-2011 and Baghdad again in 2015-2016), multiple TDYs, and enjoyed a two-year family assignment in Cairo, Egypt. The fab hubby is currently learning Turkish for our next assignment...Istanbul, Turkey! We leave for Turkey sometime in summer 2017. I write about what I know. Which is mainly kids, tween drama, gross pets, dealing with lots of government info, our moving adventures, being a nurse, yoga, running, living on too-little sleep, and an addiction to coffee lattes. I hope you'll enjoy this glimpse into our lives.