Tuesday, July 30, 2013

rearranging the room.

I was inspired by my beautiful friend Mindy and her burst of creativity over at LoveMin to finally make a few blog changes that I'd been thinking of. 

When we were kids, my older brother and I used to rearrange our room every few months. We'd move the bed around, find some new spot for the dresser. It gave us a change of scenery and a sense of accomplishment and something to do for a few hours other than bug our poor Mom about what was for dinner and how bored we were. We felt like little interior designers. Making changes to my blog is my grown up version of that same thing. Except that I'm the one making dinner now...and when I work on my blog all night, there is no dinner. 

Feel free to check out some of the changes! I'm still adding a few things, but I had to finally call it quits for the night because it's late and I wasn't kidding about the no dinner thing. 

Stay tuned for my next post about me and R's amazing mountain vacation this past weekend. Spoiler alert: It involves lots of rain and lots of wild horses! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

four years.

Today celebrates our fourth year of marriage. We spent a total of two months together during this fourth year, so it's a strange one to reminisce on. It's a year characterized by emails instead of dates, almost no real conversations, and so many experiences that we shared separately. It was a strange year for our marriage. 

Today though, there are no emails. There is the Reisling we discovered on our honeymoon. There's this song, which we walked down the aisle to, on the stereo. There's steaks on the grill and chocolate cake for dessert. Most importantly, there's knowing he's down the hall, in the office, instead of 7000 miles across the globe. 

Happy Anniversary, indeed. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

project refuge.

Yesterday, I made the announcement on Facebook about closing the doors on Project Refuge. It's been a roller coaster year and making the decision to no longer pursue my Dad's organization was one of the toughest of my life. There were a lot of reasons why I chose to shut it down, the most practical being the fact that there was no one to lead the organization back home in Milwaukee and also the lack of operating funds. Somehow things just did not materialize the way they needed to to really launch. But there are other, more difficult to sum up reasons. I've been honest over here about grief and the murky mess that it makes of things, and this whole Project Refuge situation was probably the prime example of that. There was a lot of emotion attached to taking over my Dad's organization and it made wading through the grieving process even more difficult. There was also the problem of deadlines, which under the best of circumstances tend to be tough for me, but with the weight of my Dad's death and the pain in my family, not to mention my husband's absence due to deployment, I was in way over my head in stress and anxiety. 

It was such a bittersweet decision to close the doors. On the one hand, it feels like I lost another piece of my Dad. And if I'm being honest, I haven't really processed that completely. I guess there's time for that. On the other hand, though, it was such an enormous, relieving weight off my shoulders. You know that feeling when you don't know it, but you suddenly realize you've been clenching your jaw or holding your breath and you finally relax? Yea. That first week I made the decision felt a lot like that. 

In a lot of ways, I don't really have anything figured out. I'm back to square one when it comes to knowing which direction my life is going, where my career is headed (I really thought I was going to take Project Refuge on for the long haul), and how to navigate my grieving and my family's grief. But for the first time, I feel an incredible peace and a sense of confidence in feeling like I don't need to have any of it figured out just yet. I can just be for a while. 

I really meant it when I said on Facebook and in my letter to my donors that I am taking this season for rest. Like, pure, unadulterated rest. I have very few obligations on my plate right now and that's intentional. It's a new feeling for me and I plan to continue to process, in part, here in this space. Thanks as always for coming along as I do. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


One week ago I drove out the the pier to meet a big grey boat and bring my husband home with me. Because it was our first deployment, and because it was extra long and difficult, and because I love beautiful pictures, I hired a photographer through an awesome service called Welcome Them Home, where local photographers offer greatly reduced or even sometimes free homecoming sessions for military families. I found the lovely Tianna from T.Y. Photography, who is a Navy wife herself and pretty much the sweetest person ever. 

Because I hadn't been the homecoming in December, this was my very first time seeing a ship pull in. It was pretty impressive and full of excitement and emotion. There are all these cool traditions like manning the rails and a big huge lei that adorns the ship's bow, made by the family support groups. My favorite tradition is that some of the first people allowed to get off the boat are the new dads who haven't met their babies yet. Swoon! They're even allowed off before the captain and top brass are off. It was so sweet to stand waiting for R and see all these handsome sailors and their excited wives, walking back to their cars, holding pudgy legs and teeny little hands that they've never held before and beaming ear to ear. If you need a good, patriotic cry, just head over to your nearest military homecoming and watch a new dad meet his baby. 

After the new dads and people who won the "First Kiss" and "First Hug" raffles, the officers can start walking off. And that's when I started getting butterflies!

To set the scene, Tianna suggested we wait somewhere away from the crowds a bit so she could get some good shots. I stood there making nervous chatter, doing a double take at every sailor over six foot and my stomach doing a little flip each time it wasn't my sailor. The buzz of excitement is just contagious as you're standing waiting. I'm midway through some distracted story about the weather or some nonsense, my eyes scanning the crowd, when I catch the eye of the most handsome man and he's walking towards us. 

I have said before that I am a complete sucker for a man in uniform. But right then, against the backdrop of that giant grey ship and looking crisp in dress whites, my breath literally caught in my throat for a moment and I wondered if I could really be married to that handsome sailor walking towards me. Or maybe I thought that just now when I was looking through these pictures. Or, no, maybe it was this morning when I woke up next to him. I suspect it was all these times because that guy is so easy on the eyes sometimes I have to stop and marvel at my very good fortune. Le sigh. 

Anyone who has spent any time away from their best friend knows how good those first, sweetly familiar hugs are. 

We took a few posed shots, you know, something tame to put on the mantel, then R wanted to book it out of there. Apparently ten months on that boat really makes a guy appreciate the way it looks in the rear view mirror. I was all too happy to oblige. 

And in the week that has followed, there has been some of this:

And a lot of this:

And some of this, which makes me very happy indeed:


And now that he's home, all is well again with the sailor, his girl, and their dog. 

[Homecoming photo credits, again, to the charming Tianna from T.Y. Photography! So glad she captured our happy day!] 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

twas the night before homecoming.

Twas the night before homecoming, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even the spouse! The floors were all swept and mopped clean with care, in the hopes that her sailor would soon be there. 

The beer was stocked in the fridge nice and cold and his car freshly detailed and not smelling of mold. The puppy who who sheds more than any Lab should was brushed and scrubbed and smelling quite good. 

It was a very long cruise, and it didn't go fast, but after ten lonely months, it was over at last! The girl and her pup, on their last night alone, nestled into sweet sleep to dream of ships coming home.