Merry Christmas! See you in 2012!

Thank you so much for sharing your stories with us here on The Graduate Wife, and thanks for reading too!  It’s truly been a gift journeying with each of you. We’ll be taking some time off for travel and we look forward to seeing ya again in 2012!  If you can, spend some time writing and reflecting on your graduate wife experiences while you have a break over the holidays and submit your stories to us in the new year!

p.s.  We put together a little dance just for our GW viewers. We hope you enjoy.  :)

Monday’s Food for Thought: Everyone has a Story

So you are standing in the massive line at Tescos, ready to check out, watching the clock to make sure you catch the bus on time, and your toddler starts to whine a little.  Maybe it gets a bit louder…and it becomes more than a whine…it turns into a full on cry.  You try to comfort, give in to temptation and try to bribe them…nothing is working.  You are exhausted in a hurry and have your hands full.  You just take a deep breath and try to make it through to the checkout.  The man behind you starts sneering.  He sneers some more and then it turns into criticism of your parenting.  He is grumpy, old, up tight and he has nothing better to do than to be angry at you for something you really can’t control.  Seriously…did he ever have kids?  Doesn’t he have anything more important to fret about?

Does any of the above scenario sound familiar?

In moments like this I find it easy for my anger to start building… especially in the heat of the moment when the man is getting grumpier and I start getting more annoyed.  However, over the past year or so I have started understanding something really important.  Something that is incredibly hard and something that involves stepping outside of oneself and really trying to ‘give the benefit of the doubt’ to another.

I came across this video recently and it really spoke to me.  Everyone has a story.  Everyone of us has a past and everyone of us has been shaped and molded by it.  We can never assume we know it in all about someone by a brief encounter…or even if we’ve known that someone for many years.

I hope this leaves you with much food for thought this Christmas season.  It’s a busy time of travel, hurry and family.  If you are stuck next to a grumpy gills on the plane, or are having a hard time relating to a difficult family member…. remember that everyone has a story, we just have to take the time to read it (or at least recognize it).

 

-M.C.

Shuga’ Mommas: Viv’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

My Mom, Viv, is a master in the kitchen. A goddess, really. She grew up on a farm in southeast Missouri, and started cooking at the age of eight. She’s not afraid to try new things, and while in her kitchen, you’ll often hear the term, “It needs to be doctored,” said with quite a southern flair. 100% of the time, she’s right.

One of the things my Mom spent years perfecting were her chocolate chip cookies. They were legendary in our church and school. In my high school years, it was nearly impossible for us to attend any event unless we brought cookies with us.

Then college came. I moved 12 hours away. The cookies did not come with me.

What was I supposed to do? I begged my Mom for the recipe, and she relented, making me promise I would NEVER give the recipe to anyone else. I agreed.

The cookies were back in my life!

12 years later, we were in the middle of a master’s program in Florida, and had just received our acceptance into Oxford. Our friends knew we would be leaving them soon. So, the questions, started.

“Do you think you could give me the chocolate chip recipe?”

“How in the world am I going to live without these cookies?”

My answer was the same, every time. “You’ll have to ask Viv.” In 12 years, I had kept my promise to my Mom. I had not given the recipe to anyone.

On my 30th birthday (which we’ll pretend was last year), my husband threw me a surprise party, and flew my parents and brother in for it. I was shocked, to say the least. At the party, some of our friends pulled me aside, and asked if they should ask my Mom for the recipe. I said, “Sure! But she’s probably not going to give it to you.”

How wrong I was.

Five girls cornered my mother, and the whining ensued, for a good 15 minutes. I think my Mom was so amused by it that she finally said, “Fine. You all can have it.”

The cheering could be heard for miles.

So, this is my Christmas gift to you. Santa will be more than pleased.

VIV’S CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

  • 1 cup shortening (Editor’s note: I have dropped this from the recipe since moving to England, as it’s nearly impossible to find shortening)
  • 1 cup butter (melted) (Editor’s note: If you drop the shortening, do not melt the butter)
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 TBSP of Vanilla
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 5 cups flour
  • 2 bags chocolate chips

Mix (hand or stand) the shortening, butter, sugar, and brown sugar, until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, stirring each one until completely mixed into the dough. Mix in vanilla, salt, and baking soda. Add flour a bit at a time, until mixed into the dough. Then, add chocolate chips.

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

     

Once the dough is mixed, spoon onto baking sheet.I use a tablespoon to scoop the dough; although an ice cream scooper will work just as well.

(Note: I’m seriously drooling looking at this dough).

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve cookies warm, with a glass of cold milk.

Merry Christmas!!

-Mandy

I’ll Be Home For Christmas, If Only in My Dreams……

                                                                                             -written by Deanna, a current graduate wife

My husband and I have been doing this grad-school thing for 5+ years now and we have at least 2 to go.  Possibly as many as 5.  We’re in the thick of it.  Although we are both from the US, we started our grad-school adventure in Canada – but only about 7 hours from our families.  We had a semi-dependable car so, of course, we drove home for Christmas.  Easy peasy.  As relative newlyweds and people with great families who grew up with well-loved Christmas traditions, we really enjoyed sharing the nostalgia of childhood Christmases with each other those first few years.

Our third Christmas in Canada our daughter was born.  I literally went into labour after breakfast on Christmas morning, went to the hospital that afternoon, and delivered her at some unholy hour the next morning.  Adoring grandparents and aunts quite literally dropped their forks on their Christmas dinner plates and braved icy roads in the midst of a massive snow storm to come to us that Christmas day arriving at the hospital in the middle of the night… just hours before our daughter was born.  It was an eventful Christmas but needless to say, we didn’t travel that year.

The next graduate degree took us much farther from our families.  Instead of being a few hundred miles away, we were nearly 5,000 miles away (including crossing a rather significant ocean.)  Money was tight… very tight.  A flight home simply wasn’t an option.  In fact this is our third Christmas overseas.  Is it hard being away from the family we love so dearly at such a special time of year?  Yes.  (It’s even worse with a child!)  Does it get easier?  That depends on you.  But here are a few survival tips from a graduate wife who has lived it a few years running. 

First things first, admit that it sucks.  If you’d rather be back home – just say so.  Don’t bottle it all up with a brave face until you crack and turn into a big weepy puddle on Christmas day.  Talk to your spouse.  Tell your spouse about the specific things you’ll miss.  Chances are that they have a list of things they’ll be missing as well.  Grieve it if you need to.  And don’t forget to tell your family and friends back home too! They’ll be thrilled to know you want to be with them – even if you can’t be there that year.  Be sure to plan a time to video chat with your family too!

But then you’ve got to move on.  Don’t wallow in self pity day in and day out.  It isn’t pretty.  Turn off the sad songs you’ve had on repeat.  (I may or may not be speaking from personal experience when I’m guessing your repeat list includes Michael Buble’s ‘I Want To Go Home’ and the Christmas classic ‘There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays’.)  Whether intentional or not, your wallowing will likely make your spouse feel like scum for dragging you away from your family at the holidays even though, in reality, you probably made the decision to move far away together.  Instead, try to be thankful that you don’t have to deal with the headaches of holiday traffic, airport crowds, and jet lag.  And then use some of the following tips to keep your Christmas spirits up and truly enjoy the season where you are!

1.    Make some of your favorite traditions from back home happen where you are.  It may take a little ingenuity, and it won’t be perfect – but it can be done!   Here are a few of my favorites:

• Bake a plate of Christmas cookies for your neighbors (or just for yourself!),

• Put up a tree.  Make it out of paper or felt and tape it to your wall if you must – but at our house we don’t go without a tree of some sort.  Then cover it with ornaments, homemade if you didn’t bring any of your own (we didn’t).  Cut out paper snowflakes, tie a bit of string to the top of pine cones (and add a little glitter?), shape some stars out of pipe cleaners, and string popcorn.  Is it going to look like Rockefeller Plaza?  No.  But it will still be festive!

•Bust out some nostalgic Christmas music.  Try Grooveshark to put together free playlists of all your old favorites.

•Make yourself an advent wreath and follow the true story of Christmas for the 4 weeks leading up to the big day.  It can really help your perspective!

•Curl up with your spouse and watch your favorite Christmas movie with a cup of cocoa.  (Stir it with a candy cane if at all possible.)

2.  Embrace where you are.  After all, you may never be here at this time of year again!

•Pick something to do with your spouse that you couldn’t do back home.  December is packed full of concerts, plays, Christmas fairs and festivals, tree lighting ceremonies, church services, Christmas carol sing-alongs, etc. pretty much wherever you are.  Find a unique setting like a cool playhouse, grotto or cathedral near you to experience some of these things in a new way!

•Take advantage of the weather.  If it’s cold where you are, go ice skating or build a snowman with your spouse and then take a picture of the two of you with your snowman and send it to family and friends.  If it’s warm where you are, hit the beach for the day to work on your tan and fire up the BBQ for Christmas dinner!

•Try some local Christmas food traditions.  Here that means fresh roasted chestnuts, mince pies, mulled wine, bacon-wrapped sausages, brussels sprouts, roast potatoes, stuffing rolled into balls, roast turkey, Christmas pudding (doused in brandy and lit on fire!), Christmas crackers and wearing a paper crown during dinner and/or dessert.

•Volunteer in your community.  Chances are, as poor as you might feel sometimes, there are people in your city who are much worse off than you.  Find a soup kitchen or homeless shelter to help out at.  Bless people less fortunate than you are and then go home feeling grateful for all that you have instead of feeling miserable about all the things you don’t.

•Find out who else is spending Christmas away from their families and plan something fun to do together:  attend a midnight carol service together, invite someone to Christmas dinner, host a Christmas cookie exchange, organize a white elephant gift exchange, bundle up for a walk together and then head back to one of your homes for a Christmas movie and some hot apple cider, etc.  The possibilities are endless – and all the friends who traveled home for the holidays will be sad to have missed such a fun time while they were away!

3. Create new traditions.  Old traditions are great.  But creating a tradition that is unique to you and your spouse (and kids!) is especially wonderful!  I’m not sure we would have discovered this truth if we had simply gone back to our parents’ house every year to take part in their traditions.  Let me encourage you to seize this opportunity!  Here are a few simple ideas:

•Build a gingerbread house together.  Can’t find gingerbread where you are and don’t want to make your own?  Browse the cracker, cookie, and candy aisles at your local shop and get creative with what’s available to you!

•Hang a stocking (or just a sock!) for each person in the house on Dec 1.  Then every day, write down one thing you appreciate about each of the other people in the house or perhaps something funny/memorable they did or said that day on a small bit of paper and put it in their stocking.  On Christmas day, each person will read dozens of affirming observations about themselves!  What a gift!

•Go for a Christmas day walk.

•Plan a yummy Christmas breakfast together.  It doesn’t have to be complicated – just something you’ll do year after year.  We tend to go for homemade cinnamon rolls smothered in butter and frosting served with eggs, fruit, and bacon or sausage.

•If you have kids, pick a small Christmas object (a star, a candy cane with a ribbon tied round it, a particular Christmas ornament, a santa hat, a small stuffed snowman or elf, etc.) and hide it in a different place in the house every day.  Whoever finds it first wins a small prize like a piece of chocolate!

I hope you will try some of these tips and that you will find them to be as rewarding as we have over the past few years.  From my family to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year wherever you may be!

Monday’s Food for Thought: ‘pearls before breakfast’

If you didn’t run across this fascinating Washington Post article a few years ago, I hope you will check it out now.  It’s an incredible stunt involving world famous violinist, Joshua Bell, a 3 million dollar violin and rush hour in the DC metro.  ‘His performance was arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment in context, perception and priorities — as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?’

So much food for thought…do people have the capacity to understand beauty in our fast paced world?  Or is it irrelevant because our priorities are skewed?  What is taste?  Do we have to be ‘told’ that something is beautiful for us to appreciate it?  Do children really have a ‘one up’ on adults in their ability to recognize the good and beautiful?

Hope you enjoy…and I hope you keep your eyes and ears open today to the beauty around you. :)

-M.C.

Beauty and the Budget: Giving Gifts

So, we all know that Christmas is about much much more than giving gifts.  So much more.  However, if your love language is ‘giving gifts’ (like mine is) it’s a special time to shower love on those special people in your life.  I am ALL about DIY gifts, especially those that cost as little as possible to make.  I hope that if you are on a tight budget this Christmas some of the below ideas will be helpful and fun!  Enjoy!

1. {For the baby in your life}  If you are anything like me, you have to use your fingers and toes to count the number of friends and family in your life that are pregnant right now.  I have one word for you: onesie.  Being a mom myself, I can’t tell you how many onesies you go through with babies.  So it is great to have some that are fun, colorful and hand-made by a friend to add a little something extra.  I have another word for you: (well two) fabric paint.  Amazing stuff.  Pick some up at any craft store (or order online in the UK on amazon.uk) and go to town! I recently picked up a pack of 3 onsesis for £2.50!

Print out a silhouette of any object you like.  I have included a little template here (with some  I made and others I found on google images).  Print it out and then use an exacto knife to cut out the image and then tap the ‘stencil’ onto the onesie.  Paint over the stencil and after giving it a minute to dry, pull it up.

I packaged them up in an egg carton (because I chose a farm theme).  It was free and turned out great.

Could he be any cuter?!! This is my nephew Levi modeling his rooster onesie! :)

2. {‘For the ‘butcher, baker and candlestick maker’ in your life}  Ok, really just for the baker. Super easy little gift below.  Pick up an inexpensive oven mitt (this one was only £1!).

Sew on a little heart and some buttons and tada!  It’s something special.  Tie it up fancy with a nice cookbook (tip: charity shops are GREAT places to find fun/hardly used cookbooks) and your set!

3. {‘For the hard to shop for’ in your life}  Sometimes there is that one person that you really want to find something special for, but can’t quite put your finger on what to get them.  Find something personal that you know they will love, print it out and frame it up!  I simply love finding random old frames at charity shops and markets.  You can create something pretty special for nearly 1/10th of what you would pay to have it done in a framing shop.  Rip open the backing, recover the matting, possibly paint the frame a brighter fun color, add in your personal printed piece and your done! I hope to share more on this process in a later post. You can also find frames at Ikea or even the pound shop (equivalent to the dollar store) and come out with some pretty inexpensive, but personal gifts.

I bought this frame at the pound shop, used a piece of blue paper and then wrapped it around the mat (hope to show more details soon) then printed off this lovely little image from {the graphics fairy} and added a bible verse.  It makes for a perfect gift!

I searched for some vintage postcard images online and printed off some that reflected the ‘home’ state of several good friends.  I then cut them out and framed them with a pack of .50p clip frames from the charity shop down the street!  Pretty great.

Here is another great example from a wonderful blog called: Metal and Mud.  She used the same image I used previously, but printed it on yellow paper and framed it for a piece to hang over  her bed.  All she paid for was the frames!  Great gifts huh?

She also had the absolutely genius idea to frame some fun fabric scraps and then use the frame as a dry erase board!  Talk about a fun and unique gift! And super easy and inexpensive too.

I hope to include some more fun, random and inexpensive gift ideas next week if I can get around to it!

‘Carry me home…’ & more thoughts on ‘sharing worlds’

‘Big wheels keep on turning…carry me home to see my kin’ 

These famous words are running through my ears as I start the tedious task of unpacking our suitcases that are tightly squeezed into my daughter’s closet (because we have no room elsewhere to store our summer clothes than inside these suitcases) and re-packing them for our Christmas visit that starts on Friday.

I have done all the laundry, thought through all the bare essentials I will need on my trip back to the states (because let’s me honest, you know I am needing all the space I can get in these suitcases to bring back some American treats on our return).  I hear my husband telling me what a great packer I am and I try desperately to keep my daughter entertained with my bracelet drawer from my jewelry box so she won’t start to un-pack all I’ve managed to squeeze in at this point.

Carry me home to see my kin…

I am going to Alabama on Friday.

I am going home to see my kin.

There is always a rush to make it to the awaited deadline of  ‘traveling home’.  So many dinner dates, lectures, evensongs, and coffee dates to squeeze in that we almost tire out before we get to the finish line. We sometimes feel like we try to squeeze every ounce out of the last few weeks before leaving.  We look forward to the time away…the time at home to rest, re-group with ourselves and our families and to feel refreshed.  Although, I know that  for some of us, this isn’t always the case.

 We live really interesting lives don’t we?  We graduate wives.  Many of us have moved away from our family and close friends.  Almost all of us have started over in a sense.  Almost all of us have forged new community around us (or are trying to) and forged  new friendships….which have become like ‘family’ in many ways, when we do find ourselves geographically distant from our actual families.  We have learned to live with many sacrifices and learned to live with much less than we thought we really needed.  We’ve learned how to support, how to give space, how to understand and how to communicate with our husbands in ways we would have never known if not for the graduate journey experience.  We’ve learned a lot about ourselves (and are daily doing so).  We’ve been stretched, challenged and shaped.  And most of all, almost all of us have…..changed.

We’ve changed.  We’ve lived some interesting, hard, wonderful, strange and fascinating stories. Try as we might, it is sometimes hard to communicate on skype just how drastic or significant the change in our lives and hearts might have become.

Sometimes there develops a large gap between our past ‘shared’ lives and our current lives as graduate wives.  For some of us the journey has been painful and it’s been easier to keep the heartache inside rather than try to share with family or friends back home.  For some of us the journey has been more enriching than we had ever imagined and we haven’t know just how to articulate the joys and highs with family or friends back home without making them feel ‘left out’.

With many of us traveling home for Christmas (yeah!) we thought we’d share the below.  It’s just a few thoughts that have helped us along the way as we’ve tried to share our graduate wife journey with those back at home.  I hope you will chime in with any insights or thoughts of your own as well!  Merry travels and enjoy your visits home!!

1)   Be as intentional as possible about sharing ‘your world’ before your trip home:  This one is a bit of a no-brainer, but I have found it so incredibly helpful to share little bits, even if it is just a quick email or a photograph or a one liner on the phone, about my life here.  I then have a seed planted and look forward to the chance to develop it more when I see the family/friend in person.  All it takes is a conscious effort to share things so that when you go for a visit it won’t seem a daunting task trying to fill in gaps on your life over the past months/year.

2)   Make a ‘thanksgiving list’ listing what makes you thankful for your home and your family/friends there:  This is incredibly helpful if you haven’t seen your family in a while and if you have become happily immersed in your current role of a graduate wife in a new environment and setting.  It is refreshing and helpful to remember where you come from and what joys you are getting to return to on your visit.

3)   Bring pictures, items, and souvenirs from your life now Pick up some of the traditional ‘local favorites’ of your new home.  If in England, bring home some tea to share, or if you moved to a new area of your country, bring home a regional cookbook or some local artwork.  Have a slideshow on your computer of pictures of your lives in your new home and point out the faces of new friends, your colleagues and the University.  Be creative on how to visually share your graduate adventure with others.

4)   Don’t set expectations that are too high:  Let your family be your family and let you be yourself!  Don’t try to force anything, don’t come with a long list of things you feel like you have to talk about or share.  Come prepared with lots to share of course, but don’t push it and don’t expect it all to come out at once.   Relax and try to just enjoy the time rather than always having an agenda.  When we are far apart it is so easy to want to pack in 1,000 things into the week or two of our visit, but try to limit that…allow for time to just ‘be’. And don’t expect everyone to ‘get’ you and your lifestyle, now.  Give them space to see and understand the changes you might have gone through.  This can be especially hard for someone who’s family isn’t all that familiar with ‘going back to school’ and lifestyles and research requirements that come with graduate programs. It might take time for them to process your new graduate wife/student lifestyle.

5)   Give them time:  Similar to what I just stated, step back, relax and give your family and friend’s some space.  Just like I shared in my first piece on ‘sharing worlds’, let them share first.  As my husband always asks about my day, before sharing about his, do the same with your family.  Ask, question, listen and learn from them and then give them space to start the process of digging into your life.

6)   Don’t compare your life to others: Beware of this.  It is so easy to do and before long you start wishing that you or your husband wasn’t in grad school and start to question why you ever decided to follow your dreams in the first place.  It’s tempting to look at friends with big houses, with no student budget and who don’t deal with the stresses of graduate school and get envious.  Maybe it is a good idea to even make a ‘thanksgiving list’ of why you are grateful to be a graduate wife and keep it handy as you are home and around friends and family that aren’t ‘in your shoes’.

-M.C.

Monday’s Food for Thought: Comendi

 

You HAVE to check out this new website. It’s going to be huge.

This is the place to ask for and give recommendations. (Need a sushi restaurant in St Louis, MO? This is the place to find it!) And, the wonderful thing is, it will feed your facebook contacts in, so you can follow each other.

I love this site!!

Our Little Adventure

written by Emily, a current graduate wife

My journey begins probably much like many others who have, along with their spouses, made the decision to attend graduate school.  John and I were college sweethearts and had the wedding of our dreams soon after we graduated from Samford University.  After our honeymoon, John and I fell into a wonderful rhythm of living and working in Memphis, TN, and enjoyed a season of sweet friends and family there.  We bought a house and spent months renovating and decorating it, planning on staying there until we had a few children of our own.  Well the Lord had different plans for us and a fire was ignited in John’s heart to pursue his dream of going to graduate school to earn his MBA.  We prayed, and prayed, talked and talked, cried and cried (ok, just me), wondering if this was the right decision.  We decided to uproot our comfortable lives and move twelve hours away to North Carolina.  We left great jobs, great friends, our first home, and a wonderful church, not knowing what the future might hold.  We did know however that we were in this together.  Our little adventure, we liked to call it. Something so ‘out of the norm’ and something so challenging, exciting and new.

 

Here we are 1 1/2 years into business school, and we are very much still living in our adventure.  We have gone through the ups and downs that come with moving and going back to school.  Such as: John staying at school until 10pm every night, only to come home and do more work, adjusting to a tiny apartment where we can hear our neighbors sneeze, me finding a new job and having to work for 52 straight weekends in a row, the we’ve suffered through the stress of being apart for an entire summer as John went away for an internship.

 

Spending the summer apart might have been one of the hardest things we have done together as a couple.  Since I wasn’t able to pack up and leave my job here in NC, John had to gather up his things, his side of the sink, his pillow, and drive 10 hours north to Philadelphia…without me.  For eleven full weeks.  I still remember the day he left, not knowing how I was going to make it without him.  We had never been apart over the 7 years together (3 1/2 married).  Could we survive with just phone calls and skype dates, and only 2 visits over 2 1/2 months?  I seriously contemplated hiding in his suitcase and just quitting my job all together.  The first week was definitely the hardest.  Going to bed alone, cooking dinner alone, and seeing his face on skype brought tears to my eyes every time I saw him.  BUT, the first week came and went…and so did the next two.  each day, I felt stronger and my love for him began to grow in a new light. I could DO this! Our conversations were deeper and more meaningful.  Our skype chats were long and mushy.  My trip to visit him in the one of the following weeks was one of the sweetest times we’ve ever had together.  They say distance makes the heart grow fonder, and I am now a 100% believer in that.  Being apart made us cherish our time together so much more, and although we had to face trials and frustrations, I am so grateful for last summer.  If I had to give any advice to someone who is gearing up for time apart from their spouse (whether it’s an internship, or residency, etc.) I would say these 3 things.

 

1. Start a new “tradition” with each other for that time (whether it’s calling to say goodnight, a “good morning” text, a weekly piece of snail mail, or sharing a daily scripture verse).  Having something to look forward to each day together is fun and exciting and it will bring at least some form of consistency to your life.

 

2. Listen to each other.  Phone and email conversations are probably not what you are most used to in the daily communication with your spouse.  It’s really easy to misunderstand or mis-communicate when you are not sitting right in front of each other.  Sarcasm is sometimes very hard to interpret in a phone call.  Listen well and make it a point to let each person talk about his or her day.  Ask questions.  It’s a new and different way to communicate so treasure learning these new ways to share and grow.

 

3. Enjoy the present.  It’s very easy to just mark off the days on the calendar until you are together again, and constantly look towards the future, but try to enjoy the ‘in between’ phase.  Spend time with your girlfriends and watch “the notebook” 15 times in a row.  Light candles and eat popcorn for dinner.  Take long baths and buy yourself fresh flowers.  Sometimes it’s the little things that make you enjoy the day.  Take time and do that for yourself, trust me you’ll be glad you did.  You will be refreshed and happy when you have your phone call with your spouse later that night, instead of feeling isolated and alone.

 

Through our entire graduate journey, we have learned a lot and have grown in so many ways.  We have learned to never take a single moment together for granted.  We have learned that our cozy little apartment makes us cuddle that much more.  We have been reminded of the importance of encouragement and unconditional love in a marriage.  We have re-learned our love languages and have strived to put them into practice every day.  We have learned how necessary it is make decisions together and for us, to pray together.  We have been through weeks at a time where a quick meal at the dinner table was the only time we had together that day — and have learned to turn off our phones and tv’s during those times.  We have been shown that having friends that are in this same phase of life can make such a difference to your sanity.  And, we have learned what it means to be TOGETHER every step of the way.  Homes may change, friends may come and go, doors may close, and dreams may change, BUT, no matter what — it’s our little adventure. It’s one of support, sacrifice, and unconditional love.  And as long as we are together, there is nowhere else I’d rather be. 

Have you had to live apart from your spouse for an extended period on your graduate wife journey?  How have you handled the transition?