Monday, February 25, 2013

calendar girls

Well, my honey is back out on that fabulous cruise liner they call an aircraft carrier. (Too soon for cruise ship jokes?) This goodbye wasn't quite as brutal as the last one. I think that's because it's a bit shorter this time around. And also because he was barely home long enough to settle in. And let's be real, it's also because I'm a boss at deployments now. 

One of the things our spouses group does to support our troops is that every month we make a calendar for them to hang up in the ready room on the boat. This is a long standing spouses group tradition and it's a good excuse to get together once a month and drink wine and catch up. My spouses group is pretty much the best ever, which makes it even more fun.  And when we can't make them dinner or give them a back rub after a long day, it's a little something we can do for our spouses to help brighten up their otherwise grey surroundings. Literally.

I somehow found myself heading up the calendar committee at the beginning of deployment so, if I can brag for one small un-humble moment, I actually made all the calendars for this cruise. (Who knew I had such talent for felt and hot glue?) How it works is we'd pick a theme, I made the calendar, then everyone made individual squares with their pictures on them. Our fabulous XO's wife compiles them and sends them out to the boat where her husband unveils them on the first of each month. We also contacted families and girlfriends of some of our single guys, so it really becomes a nice little thing to look forward to. 

So without further ado, here is the 2012 Squadron Calendar Lineup! 

June was Bon Voyage as they departed. The nautical flags spelled out a message. If you're bored, feel free to kill a few minutes decoding it. 

July was a superhero theme for our heroes. 

August was a play on "the Sandbox," which is where they would be during that month. 

September was my favorite. It was a football theme, made on a piece of Astroturf that I spray painted, The calendar came complete with pennants that each of us made for our sailors with their favorite teams that they hung around the ready room. 

October was Halloween. And yes, those are felt spiderwebs. See why I feel like I need to brag just a teeny bit?

November was a really cool month too. We had all the family and friends we could possibly get in touch with write something they were thankful for for their sailor on a paper leaf, which we would have them hang around the ready room as well. We got almost two hundred leaves back from parents, cousins, grandparents, neighbors, even niece and nephews who hand wrote in scrawly, adorable kid writing. It was a really cool turnout.

December was decked out with a Christmas tree with aviation themed decorations (and yes, a mustache, too) and working lights around the border! 

We thought we'd have a few more to do, but them we got the call that they were coming home early. We have resumed our calendar making for round two of this cruise and I will be happy to share them once we're all done. 

In fact, we're working on April this week, so I'd better bust our the felt and glue sticks...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

what mama did.

I got this beautiful idea from a blogger I follow and enjoy very much. She posted this as a series and then invited her readers to share what their mama's did and link up to her site. I didn't link up, but loved the idea and wanted to share. If you have the time, definitely read her guest writers posts. 

What Mama Did: The Homemaking. 

I used to ask my Mom when I was a kid, "Mom, what did you want to be when you grew up?" And she would always answer the same, "I wanted to be exactly what I am: a homemaker." 

The ways my Mom has loved her husband and her four kids has always been in the little things, the thankless tasks that go unnoticed. She kept a clean and tidy home, made sure dinner was on the table, made beds, did what I'm sure was endless loads laundry for a family of six, signed field trip slips, got the lunch money ready. She did it with ease and with a cheerful heart. 

I remember countless afternoons standing next to the kitchen counter while she chopped or stirred, telling her about my day and all the dramas of my young life. If I was telling her a story while she was making beds or tidying rooms, she'd say, "Follow me while you talk." and I'd set out around the house with her, talking and listening all the while her hands busy with her task. She loved us in the everyday. She wove advice and prayers in between loads of laundry. She ministered to us while she set the table. She answered tough questions and spoke grace over our lives while she drove us to and from activities. For my Mom, making a home and faithful instruction were seamless. 

And in doing that, in loving us by making a home, she taught me a few things. She taught me about what it looks like to be the woman of the house, to make my own home; to entertain and to create a space where people feel loved. She taught me about being servant-hearted, about doing the things that need to get done even if you aren't going to get thank for it. She taught me a little bit about feminism, about my freedom to chose a career or to stay at home, and has always encouraged me that neither choice is more or less worthwhile than the other.

What my Mama did was make a home and so much more. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

flashback friday: #siblings

This rag tag group of kids are my three favorite siblings in the world circa 1994. My big sister Melissa, my big bro Brad, and the baby, Jonathon. We were certainly a fashionable bunch. I mean you can't beat a plaid shirt with a ruffle collar and ruffle sleeves. And tights. And jewel tone Keds. Fashion was pretty much my calling. 

We've shaped up a bit since then. This picture is from December. We're still a rag tag bunch, but at least we dress ourselves a little more acceptably. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

taking five.

Tonight is my last night with R for a long while so I am taking a mini-break from my 40 day blogging tonight and tomorrow night. (I suppose this kind of counts for tonight, right?) 

Tonight is for having one last beer and snuggling with our little brown pup before we say goodbye. The next time we'll be having a beer together, it'll be shorts weather. 

And tomorrow? Tomorrow is for me to take a long hot bath, drink a big glass of Merlot, and watch Nashville while I wallow in self pity. Then it's back to real life. 

At least the little brown pup will still be there. 

Thanks for understanding. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

ten things i think you should know about deployment

Ten Things I Think You Should Know About Deployments

1. They are occasionally lonely. 
I got married because I love R and I love spending time with him. He makes me laugh and he usually cooks dinner and he's is nice to look at. The Navy thinks I got married because they think I love moving every year and because I love alone time while my sailor is away at sea. The Navy is wrong. 

2. They are occasionally awesome. 
Are you married? Did you ever live alone before you married? Remember that brief period of time when you could leave your dishes in the sink and you undies on the bathroom floor and eat Oops All Berries for dinner and sing really loud to music from Nashville and no one gave you sideways looks? Yea. 

3. You better love writing emails. 
I touched on this here, but it bears repeating that writing emails is so lame! It's not so bad on those days when there isn't much to say, but on those hectic days when you just want to vent about the guy that cut you off on the freeway in rush hour, emails simply won't do. Which brings me to my next point. 

4. Your BFF's are the bees knees. 
Since I can't vent/rant/spillover with excitement and get the immediate response I need from R through email, usually I call up one of the next five people on my speed dial. In no particular order and depending on the time zone, that means my Mom, my sister, and my three best girls. When I need face to face time (read: wine) or have a military specific rant (see below), I am lucky to have a few good women here in VA to lend an ear as well. Probably a whole post need to be dedicated to the fine ladies who support me through deployments. 

5. The military can be the thorn in your side. 
What!? Who would ever complain about the great fighting forces of Amurica?! (Cue the National Anthem and an eagles cry.) Well folks, it's me. There is no institution I can think of that jerks you around more than the military. "Your deployment is six nine months. No wait, just kidding it's six again. You get to come home early! And then you're going back out. But maybe we'll sequester and we won't have money to send you. Or bring you back. It'll be one or the other for sure."  Even this week, as R is supposed to head back out, they have changed the departure time twice. However...

6. You will heart deployment pay.
To make up for the fact that the Navy is sending you on an ugly metal ship that stinks like jet fuel and serves nothing but mystery chicken for every meal, they don't tax your income while you are in a combat zone. Not bad for R when he's in port and not bad for me when I'm in need of a pedi. 

7. The port calls are pretty fabulous.
This is really R's number one favorite thing about deployment. Or probably anyone's. He visited Spain, Greece, Bahrain, and Dubai on the first leg of this cruise and there are some pretty cool new stops rumored for the second leg. He tried all the local cuisine and drinks he could and took pictures of everything. It truly is a great reward for the hard work and long hours and months away from home and I'm really glad he gets to see the world and get paid to do it. Really glad and a little jealous, of course. 

8. Other military spouses really get it. 
My speed dial girls aside, there seems to be no one who understands better than other military spouses all the nuances of deployments. They just nod and understand when you say you'd rather not get a call when he's in port than sit around and worry you've missed a call. They just seem to get it when you talk about all the fights you got into before he left. And they laugh with you when you tell them about a coworker/friend/relative who said with sincere compassion, "Oh, he's deployed? I know just how you feel, my husband has been gone on a business trip all week and miss him like crazy."

9. The goodbye is rough.
Nothing like dropping your sailor off and watching him walk to the boat with his sea bag all the while glancing back, while you think, "This is the last time I am going to see your face until ______." It sucks. That's my week this week and I am not thrilled about it.

10. The welcome back is really the best. 
Absence really does make the heart grow fonder and there is nothing like seeing his face and feeling his arms around me again after all that time. And the last two months have been spent richly, telling stories and catching each other up on everything that couldn't be expressed in emails. Deployments, with all their pros and cons, are good for helping me remember exactly why I love that sailor. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

two little men on a sunday night.

My big brother Brad, of trampoline and backyard shooting range fame moved from Mississippi to Virginia Beach last fall. That makes me pretty happy because I love my brother and because I love his sweet boys, Noah and Cain, and I get to see them a lot more often now. We had them over tonight and I thought it was a great excuse to bust out the fancy DSLR camera I got R for Christmas and take a few pics of my two favorite little men. 

They are watching Cain's absolute favorite video, Johnny Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet. Parents, is there a word for that toy or book or video that is your magic "calm down" trick? Because whatever that word is, that is what Johnny Fedora is to Cain. 

Uncle R and Noah in the middle of an intense game of Super Mario Brothers checkers. Noah does his best strategic checkers planning while perched on the coffee table. 

They had to put up with Cain swiping a few checkers to chew on. 

I just love that little face. He was very curious about the big camera. Unfortunately  big cameras are not made for little hands and he wasn't too thrilled to be denied a new toy. 

What night is complete without your Aunt teaching you how to do yoga moves? That's right, these two little yogi's are perfecting their shoulder stands. Namaste. 

After being in the military a few years, it's been really wonderful to live close to family and feel a little bit like how normal people do, getting to see my nephews all the time. It makes me very thankful and very happy. 

And it certainly makes my Sunday night a little more interesting. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

happy birthday!

Today we celebrated R's 26th birthday. 

It was cold and rainy and snowy and he leaves next week for the second leg of this deployment so he decided on a low key birthday. The older we get, the more attractive low key birthdays seem. (Besides, can anything compete with a birthday cake with a Lego RV on it? I mean, it's really just all let down after that.)

We had lunch at a BBQ place in Norfolk. The way I see it, BBQ is always an appropriate way to celebrate any occasion. I tried to talk R into having BBQ at our wedding. He is sometimes the classier of the two of us and he talked me out of it. 

Then we stopped at Virginia's only urban winery, Mermaid Winery. It was delicious and I love anything local named after things in the area. R was holding out for a stop at a local brewery, so he's making his, "Hurry up and drink this wine so we can get to the goods" face. 
We did stop at the brewery, but sometimes the beer is just so good, it doesn't occur to us to stop and take a picture. 

We made a final stop at a little eatery where this yummy appetizer came highly recommended. That is fried goat cheese in the shape of a pear. Let me reiterate... Fried cheese in the shape of fruit. Birthdays are made for eating unhealthy things in the shape of healthy things. 

I'm pretty thankful that this handsome man was born 26 years ago. He is my best friend and he makes me laugh and I can't wait for another 26 and lots more years. 

Happy Birthday, R! 

Friday, February 15, 2013


There's something you should know about me. You should know that I love hashtags. I just think they're hip and cool and all the kids are using them. I don't have a Twitter or Instagram, but I do sometimes use them in text messages. #ThatsStillCoolRight?

Probably not, but that's okay. It turns out that I'm getting old and there are things that I don't understand about what the kids do. Like when to use hashtags. And also girls who wear messy ponytails at the tippy tops of their heads and sweatpants in public.  Come on now. You look like you should be getting ready for bed not shopping at Target. But that's just me. 

Just because I don't understand hashtags and just because I have no social media platform to   use them doesn't mean I can't use them. And one way the kids are using them is on Instagram for #ThrowbackThursdays and #FlashbackFridays. At least I think they do. 
#ICouldBeMakingThisUpEntirely #TheKidsDontTellMeAnythingTheseDays

(Referring to anyone younger than me "the kids" makes me sound way older than I am. #OhWell.)

Either way, I love the idea of Flashback Fridays and I have lots of pictures of both R and I from various cute/awkward stages of our life with some good stories to tell. So enjoy my #FlashbackFridays.

Starting with these two kids. We were 17 and on a road trip with my parents.. We were absolute experts at love and relationships after being together almost a whole year at this point, which is like pretty long term for kids. This was the summer before our senior year and we discussed that probably a long distance relationship would be futile once we went to colleges in different states. I mean, hardly anyone stays together after high school and, come on, no one stays together over distance. 

Ten years later and almost half of that spent in different cities and over hundreds of miles of apart and we're still crazy about each other. 


Thursday, February 14, 2013

love and taxes.

Things I Am Loving About This Valentines Day 

  •  My sweet husband who took me out for sushi tonight even though I don't think he likes sushi very much. He also did our taxes and I know he doesn't like taxes very much. Nothing says, "I love you" like an intimate night with TurboTax. 
  • My sweet dog who spent the day at the dog sitters with his doggie Valentine, a Collie named Bonnie, and is now curled up sleeping sweetly on the bed. 
  • My super cute new shoes from Target that were a gift to myself. Happy Valentines Day, feet!
  • The Dr. Scholls blister pads I had to buy because my cute new shoes aren't broken in. Sorry, feet...
  • My little brother Jonathon, who made the above art in a card for me when he was in grade school. How profound, right? He's always been an old soul. Not sure about "love, Kiss, hog" though... 
  • My sweet husband who is making me a cocktail as we speak... That's way better than taxes!
Hope you are having a wonderful Valentine's Day and you are spending it with the people (and shoes) you love! 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

a lenten journey

I grew up in a church tradition where we did not follow the liturgical calendar very closely. We celebrated Christmas and Easter, of course, but it wasn't until I was in college that I began to get interested in different church traditions and the ways they observed holy holidays. 

There is something about the Easter season that has always been especially captivating for me. One year I attended a Tennebrae service on Good Friday and another year, R and I hosted a Seder dinner. This year, for the first time in my non-denom life, I'm observing Lent. After reading about it and reading about some of the creative ways other people observe this time before Easter, I was really drawn to participate myself. 

For this Lenten season, I am going to try to blog every day for 40 days. Let me explain. 

I was really intrigued by how some people talked about how, instead of "giving something up" in the traditional sense, they are "adding something". For example, adding a reading or daily prayer, or practicing charitable giving in a different way each day. I began to pray and reflect on what God has been trying to teach me lately that I could focus on during the next few weeks.  

The same thought kept popping up over and over: discipline in my writing. I believe that using our passions and talents is a form of worship and when we neglect those things, we neglect worship. Not to get too Sunday morning on you, but for me, neglecting my love of writing and the discipline it takes to cultivate it and get better has been a thorn in my side for a long time. I am constantly hearing the conversation in my head between my Father who loves me and loves when I write with reckless abandon and the nagging voice that, "You're not good enough. You have nothing to say. Just don't bother." Agreeing with that voice manifests itself in a stream of excuses about why I don't have time to sit down and just write. It's not just writing though. Neglecting to be disciplined about a whole bunch of other things (wait, what's a vegetable?) is also thorn in my side. 

So, for reasons more personal than I can put into words, I felt compelled to spend this time before Easter focused on carving out the time to be disciplined in my writing. Blogging every day creates a chain reaction where I have to manage my time better and better regulate my social media grazing. It creates the need for more self-reflection and and more personal writing time. It probably means I need to take it easy on the snooze button in the mornings. Basically, it's one part of a much larger effort to embrace discipline as I prepare my heart for the celebration of Easter. 

I realize this is a bit of an anti-fast and perhaps a liberal interpretation of the observance of Lent. When I struggled through that and asked my Mom if all the hardcore Lent-ers would laugh at me and tell me to go home, she reminded me that if my heart is in the right place, and if that place is desiring to seek God's face, and if I crave a posture of discipline, then overall I'm probably doing okay. Then she told me Lent-ers isn't a word. She is wise in a lot of ways. 

So, friends and family and whoever might stumble on this little blog, I invite you along for this journey. I hope there will be participation from you and grace all around, especially if I happen to miss a day. I assure you every post will not be sweaty-preacher altar call, but I do hope to create space for a little more intimacy as I find my footing. 

So for now, I invite you to check out the verse that started it all, Hebrews 12:11

See you tomorrow!