Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cinnamon Sea Salt Roasted Walnuts

It's summer and you need beach snacks! What better snack than something that doesn't need to be refrigerated, is healthy, and gives you that punch of protein? 

Here's a recipe I've experimented with and created, that I sent to John while he was deployed. He loved them, and I think you will too!

You'll Need:
  • 3 cups raw walnuts (pecans also work)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • cinnamon to taste (at least 2 tablespoons)
  • sea salt to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 300 F. 
  2. In a large bowl, beat egg white until it is bubbly and the white is broken up. Add nuts to bowl and mix until nuts are evenly coated in egg white.
  3. Mix in cinnamon until nuts are evenly coated.
  4. Spread onto a cookie sheet, sprinkle sea salt over mixture, and bake at 20 minutes without stirring. 
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Monday, June 24, 2013

Five Lessons I Learned from Post-Deployment

I am not going to pretend that I'm the guru of homecomings (or anything military, for that matter). I've only been through one and am in awe of the couples who have been through two... or three... or five... or more. 

But for those of you who are anticipating or are in your first deployment, this may come in handy for you! (If you're looking for our homecoming story, check it out here.)

1. Schedule down time. John and I fit so much into the first week he was home. We traveled at least 2 hours every day for five of the seven days we were together. It was fun because we like to road trip and we got to see family (and do wedding stuff!), but   John was still dealing with jetlag, and he never really had time to really sleep and get his clock adjusted.

2. Take care of the most important stuff first before you lose steam. This probably goes without saying. I found it most helpful to get a few things done before relaxing ad hoc.  For us, that was getting John's cell phone turned back on and moving my plan to his. (We're really getting married now-- our phone bills are combined!) It also meant getting sushi, which John had dreamed about (probably) more than he dreamed about me. We did both of those things the first full day John was home.

3. Don't be disappointed if the military throws a monkey wrench. John's command was very generous with leave. I'm not complaining one bit! But remember, when deployment is over, there are a lot of administrative things that your loved one will have to do. John had to go in to work on the second full day he was back to get paperwork and other items out of the way; after that was finished, his leave began. Don't just assume that it's vacation time the minute they get off the plane (or boat), or you may end up with ruined plans.

4. Don't expect it to go back to "normal" all at once. There are more people serving as support in Afghanistan than as actual combat troops. Because John's days were usually pretty predictable, it is still sometimes easy for me to forget that he still had difficult experiences this year. I was ready to pick back up exactly where we left off last June, while John needed a little time to get organized, breathe, and feel like he was home again.

5. You both had it tough-- don't figure out who had it worse. There are hard things about deployment on both sides of it. For me, it was feeling powerless and worrying. For John, it was the whole being-in-Afghanistan thing. We've made it a point not to play the martyr about the deployment. If anything, we have conversations that advocate for why the other had it tougher during the past year.

If you want more homecoming-related posts, check out these:

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Friday, June 21, 2013

I Love My Post Blog Hop

Welcome to the I Love My Post blog hop where we invite you to link up your favourite post of the week, to show it off and hopefully receive some love from the others partaking in the hop!
If you are yet to participate in a hop they are really simple to get the hang of all you need to do is 'hop' around, hopefully finding some new great reads!
The Rules are simple.
1. Check out and follow the hosts and co-hosts. Leave them a comment if you would like them to follow back. 2. Choose at least 3 other blogs and hop on over and leave them some love, plus let them know how you found them - I'm sure they would love it if you followed as well! 3. Have Fun and come back next Saturday. 4. If you fancy being a co-host with us! Give Sarah an Email:
Please just don't link up and click off to make this successful everyone needs to hop around!
Your Host’s this week are: Sarah from Life in a Break Down Bex from Futures and our lovely co-hosts are: Jo from Jo, MyGosh Lyndsay from Fizzy Peaches Debs from Super Busy Mum
I would love it if you would tweet, share on facebook or place our button on your blog, the more sharing we can get happening the bigger this hop can become!
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This week's Featured Blog is: Meredith and Gwyneth, The New Yorkie
I clicked onto this blog only to be drawn in to it's style - the honest way Meredith speaks and the oh so cute Gwyneth make for a fascinating blog that is full of DIY and honesty. ~ Sarah
If you have been featured grab our button!
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Thursday, June 20, 2013

June's Sponsor Spotlight and Giveaway!

I am excited to introduce the wonderful ladies on my sidebar this month. You'll probably recognize quite a few of them from months past, which is exciting! I love having return sponsors! All of these women are truly inspiring-- check out their blogs and their amazing writing, photography, crafting, baking, and entrepreneurism! I think you'll love them too!

Take a few minutes, check out their blogs and enter this month's giveaway!

Meet Victoria from Felicitous Fruition
I'm a 21-year-old Marine Wifey from Seattle, pursuing anything and everything that makes me happy in San Diego! I'm super excited to get settled into this new blog and share my life with you. I keep myself busy during the day and on my blog with beauty and fashion tips, sewing shenanigans, and funny-exciting-so-cute-you-want-to-gag-stories of my loving husband and our spazzy puppy and kitten. Follow along with me, myself and my ridiculous life!  xoxo, Victoria

From June 7th to July 7th, Victoria is has a Mark Cosmetics Employee Discount sale going on! If you're interested in buying 3 products for $35, check out her details here

Meet Jen from Marine Wife, Mommy & Life

Wife to a Marine, mommy to two rambunctious boys and a crazy German Shepherd. Former and veteran Marine, stay at home mom, strong small business supporter. Coffee addict, lover of antique books, coins, guns, football, jewelry and shoes!

Meet Miranda from Hurry Up and Wait

I'm a small town Minnesota gal about to embark on life's greatest journey as a college graduate and Marine wife!

Meet Mia from The Chronicles of Chaos

I'm married to my high school sweetheart, a mom to 2 boys, a frequent shopper of Target, and a HUGE Adam Levine fan. I blog about the absolute chaos of my life and all the random things that pop into my brain and I love meeting new people, so come say hi! 

Meet Natasha from Serenity You

Hi, I’m Natasha. I’m mum to 3 cheeky monkeys and love to blog about our daily life, crafts, recipes and a little bit of everything else. My favorite thing to do is read blogs and I often browse Pinterest for hours!!

Meet Ashley from Love From Home

I'm a twenty-something newlywed embarking on all of life's great adventures: deployment, marriage, house hunting and more! 

Meet Jenni from A Dash of Sunshine

My name is Jenni, and I blog over at A Dash of Sunshine! I like to share my day-to-day ramblings, pictures of my favorite almost three-year-old, and the occasional recipes I am cooking up!

Meet Natalie from Beauty & Brains with Brown Eyes

I’m a 20-something Texas gal living in Aggieland. Right now I’m in limbo between being done with college and getting ready for the next step in my life. I love to cook & bake, so that means I love to eat! I like sports, but basketball is by far my fave. I’m also trying to lose weight (thanks to college) and I’m super duper tall. I say “y’all” all the time and I have an amazing fiancĂ©.

Meet Betsy from Musings of a Museum Fanatic

I am a museum and culture loving, sometimes recipe cooking, fly by the seat of my pants DIYer, always rocking out and just living life kind of blog. 

Come join in on the sometimes crazy and usually unorganized but always fun times at Musings of a Museum Fanatic!

Meet Alex from Munchkins and the Military

Hey there blog lovelies! I am Alex from Munchkins and the Military. I'm a stay at home mom of two toddler girls & the wife of a Soldier. I blog about mommy life and the ups and downs of life as a military family, along with some recipes and projects occasionally thrown in. I hope you'll stop by and say hello!

Alex has been nominated as a contestant for the Top 25 Military Moms competition. Vote for her here! (It's quick, easy, and you don't have to register!)

Meet Natasha from Natashalh and Natasha's Nibbles and Noshes! 

I love creating things! When I'm not busy with work or my double load of grad school classes, I'm writing, taking pictures, creating items for my Etsy shop, attending craft fairs, and sending long emails to my submariner. 

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

5 Tips for Military Homecomings

I am not going to pretend that I'm the guru of homecomings (or anything military, for that matter). I've only been through one and am in awe of the couples who have been through two... or three... or five... or more. 

But for those of you who are anticipating or are in your first deployment, this may come in handy for you! (If you're looking for our homecoming story, check it out here.)

1. Bring someone along.  I drove to the base with my friend Ashley who was also picking her husband as well. After we found out we had been given the wrong time by the FRG, and after we made it onto base, we both looked at each other and said, "I'm so glad I'm with you." When you're operating on a few hours of sleep and
a brainful of emotions, having another person to help problem-solve any last minute dilemmas, or even just to stand and wait with you is important.

2. Get someone to take a picture. I only have four photos from John's homecoming, all of which are selfies.I wish we would have asked someone at the airport to take a full-body photo of us, but I felt my nerve interrupting other celebrating families and couples. I know people who have brought photographers along to photograph the entire homecoming. You don't need to go as far as that (I wouldn't), but you may want to bring a friend or family member along (see the first tip) so they can get the first hug and smooch. You've waited for a long time for them! 
3. Plan your homecoming outfit early... so you can change it... a few dozen times. I bought three homecoming outfits. Yes, three. And all three of them have now turned into honeymoon outfits. Why? Because I looked at them while I was packing the day before, and realized that none of them were "worthy" of the occasion. They were cute sundresses, but wouldn't pack or travel well while I sat in a car for a seven-hour drive (which actually turned into a nine-hour one). I ended up choosing something from my closet-- something that John had seen me wear before. and something that I felt completely comfortable and pretty in.  Which leads to tip four...

4. Put a little effort in. It was a long four, or seven, or twelve, or fifteen months. You are tired, nervous, emotional, and completely sleep-deprived. But for the love of everyone else at the homecoming, wear something nice. Your loved one might not care if you're in too-short Soffees and a ketchup-splattered top, but inadvertently, you're going to be in the backgrounds of other people's pictures. There will be tons of cameras documenting every angle of the homecoming-- and they won't be individuals' cameras. There will most certainly photographers from the military and there may be newspaper photographers or other journalists there too. I'm not saying dress to the nines if that's not your thing. Just wear a nice top and jeans. 

5. Charge your phone and your camera! Buy a car charger and make sure that your electronics are fully functional and charged the entire day. (Don't forget to make sure your SD cards are empty, too!) You're going to do a lot of calling, texting, tweeting, and Facebooking leading up to the moment of homecoming, and then afterward as well. Even more importantly, you want to make sure that you're available for any updates or any changes in the homecoming plans. Don't be stuck in a frustrating cell-less situation that could have been prevented.

If you want more homecoming-related posts, check out these:
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Monday, June 17, 2013

There's No Place Like Home

John's homecoming story is long, which is one of the reasons I've been having such a hard time putting it into words. It began on Friday, May 30, when I drove to John's hometown for his side of the family's bridal shower.

Originally, the shower had been planned for Saturday, June 1 but of course, the Navy found the one day in a radius of three weeks that wasn't wide open on my schedule and plunked John's homecoming in the middle of it. John's sisters and mom had been able to quickly rearrange the party for the day before,  in the evening. So many people graciously changed their schedule and travel plans to make sure that I'd be able to drive the seven hours to greet John at the airport on Saturday afternoon.

During the bridal shower, I received a text from one of John's coworkers' wives, Ashley, who I've become good friends with over the past two years. She kept me in the loop throughout the deployment since I wasn't part of the FRG (Family Readiness Group). The plane had been delayed for five hours, so instead of an afternoon homecoming, it would be in the evening.

After a year, a few hours more probably doesn't seem like a big deal, but it took the wind out of my sails a little.  Even so, it was a blessing-- instead of waking up at 5 AM, I'd be able to sleep in and leave a bit later in the morning.

On Saturday morning, I drove from John's hometown to where he's stationed. After one stop for gas and McDonald's, sitting in traffic at least half a dozen times for half a dozen reasons, and about 9 hours of nerves and excitement while driving, I made it to Ashley's apartment, picked her up, and drove to the bed and breakfast to check in. While I got ready, Ashley checked her phone for updates from the FRG leader. Our boys weren't supposed to be in until 9:30 PM. It was 5-- we were good.

We decided to go to dinner to kill time-- after all, until we got off the base, we figured it would be at least 10 PM, if not later. During dinner, Ashley checked her phone repeatedly. When she ran to the restroom, she handed it to me instructing me to pick up any number that rang. Nothing.

After dinner, we decided to head back to Ashley's apartment to dump my car and drive onto the base with her stickers, when we received a phone call from the FRG leader.

"Where are you? They're here!" I could hear the woman on the other end of the phone.

Ashley grabbed my arm as I was driving, and stammered back, "They're coming in at 9:30!"

When Ashley got off the phone, she explained that the FRG leader had sent her an email that she hadn't gotten. As she said that, her phone dinged and-- of course-- the email downloaded.  Everyone else in the FRG had been waiting at the airport for three hours because they had received phone calls.

It felt like someone had stolen something from me. As I zig-zagged between cars and tried to decipher the muddled directions we had received, I could feel myself panicking, growing more furious by the minute, and tearing up. After 360 days of deployment, if John was standing in the parking lot of the terminal like a kid who missed the school bus... I didn't know what I would do with myself.

With a second phone call a few minutes later, we found out that the unit was still in customs-- we had about thirty minutes, and we could make it to the terminal before if we pushed it. And a chief would meet us at one of the gates to escort my car-- which has no credentials-- on base.

We missed the unmarked gate to the base and ended up at one of the main ones. When we pulled up to the window, the MP looked at our IDs and--miraculously-- let us onto base with directions for how to get to the terminal.

Of course, the road to the terminal was long, windy, and seemed at places, to be leading us in the wrong direction. Once we got to the parking lot, we ditched the car in the first open spot we found and sprinted into the airport.

The airport was very small, so security was right inside the door, as were all of the families waiting-- perhaps 50-60 people. We threw our shoes and bags into the X-ray machine and walked through the metal detector. I didn't make eye contact with anyone. I just wanted to get John and leave. I was insanely angry.

Is there anything more frustrating than waiting on the other side of opaque, frosted windows? I couldn't stop shaking-- partly from Ashley's and my near-miss, partly from excitement, partly from nerves, and partly from our break-neck drive to the base. I fiddled with my phone while we waited, texting family and friends as best as I could with hands that didn't want to do things in an orderly fashion.

A few times, the automatic doors that led to customs opened, and the collective breathing of 50 people caught on a corner of hope. And then, the disappointment of nothing behind those doors filtered through the crowd and people began their small talk again.

And then, suddenly, there he was. It sounds so cliche and smarmy, but I will never forget those first moments. Everything else afterwards is a little fuzzy-- it seems like it all happened at once. But that moment, John suddenly appearing from behind another sailor and turning the corner into the lobby of the airport, is the clearest.

I weaved around a few people and, clutching my homecoming poster, I ended up in front of John. I said something inane like, "Did you read the sign?"

"It's upside down, but I think I've got the general idea," he said, smiling as widely as he possibly could.

"Sorry," I said and didn't even bother to flip it around. And then we were hugging and kissing, (I'll admit, I was shaking and doing this weird cry-laughing that must have seemed creepy) and-- again, at the risk of sounding cliche and smarmy-- no one else and nothing else mattered.

After a hugging like we'd never get to hug each other again, we picked our way through other happy couples and families, found John's bags, and headed outside to wait for Ashley and her husband..

This is what the end of deployment  feels like: It feels like an immeasurable weight has evaporated and suddenly you're light and can move again. It makes you want to skip. And jump. And smile as far as your mouth will let you. It feels like freedom.
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Friday, June 14, 2013

5 Lessons from Pre-Homecoming

I'm going to level with you: I've been trying to write homecoming posts this entire week, and I've got nothing. Weird, right? You would think that, filled with so much happiness, joy, and relief, I'd be dashing off a dozen happy posts. 

I wrote about the homecoming sign I made for John's return, and then after that... nothing. I don't want to write something that sounds dis-genuine or forced, so I'm going to take it slow and start from the beginning: pre-homecoming.

Here are five things I learned in the last few weeks while waiting for John to come home.

1. Be organized and have a to-do list. John's homecoming was (apparently, from what I understand) a little unusual because we knew the date (and miraculously enough, the time) for about two weeks. Having so much time gave me a chance to get my ducks in a row in those two weeks; however, I had been preparing in increments even before we knew his arrival date. I made packing to-do lists, had prepared everything for my absence at work, had the gas tank filled up, and had my camera charged long, long before the day arrived.

2. Don't expect to sleep much but try anyway. I really didn't get anywhere close to a full night's rest for the last the last three or so weeks before John came home. I would fall asleep later, wake up earlier, and be jarred awake throughout what little time I did sleep with a racing heart or weird dreams. I found that exercise helped the most. That and cookies. (I know, I know: it always comes back to food for me.) 

3. Pack a civvies bag. John wanted nothing to do with the stuff he'd been shlepping around Afghanistan and across the world when he came home and previously asked me to grab a few essentials and bring them with me. Going shopping for it and putting it together helped me feel like I was doing something productive (like care packages did during the deployment) and it killed an afternoon. Of course it will depend on your service member and the things they want, but here's what I packed: a few sets of very recently washed clean clothes, underwear, and socks, new shampoo and body wash, a new toothbrush, new deodorant, and new aftershave. 

4. Try not to imagine what the homecoming will be like. That's really, really hard, I know. I imagined it at least once a day, every day for 360 days. I imagined it before he left on deployment. I imagined it as I drove away from the terminal when he deployed last summer. I had dreams about it. But plans change: they change fast, and the homecoming is not ever going to be exactly the way you imagine it. (More on that later.)

5. Be okay with not being excited. I don't know if anyone else has felt like this or if I'm just strange.  I didn't get really jittery and super excited until about an hour before our reunion. My brain just didn't want to let me get excited, and then be disappointed when the time was pushed back, or they were delayed in some country, or... the possibilities are endless when it comes to the military. And honestly, after a year, it didn't feel "real" anyway. I felt pretty guilty about feeling more or less numb in the days leading up to John's homecoming-- wasn't I a good fiancee? in love with him? actually happy he was coming home? If you feel that way, don't worry about it-- you'll get excited in your own time! 

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Monday, June 10, 2013

The Sign of the (Happiest) Times!

John's been home for a week and two days! (I'm sorry if you feel like I've been holding out on you.) We traveled every single day for a week, with the exception of Friday. It was a whirlwind, and I promise I will share everything!

But I can't help savoring every moment. This week, I'm going to detail the pre-homecoming, homecoming, and post-homecoming (and everything in between) festivities. Let's start at the beginning: the homecoming sign!

I had made up my mind at the beginning of the deployment that I wanted to make a sign for John's homecoming. (It's even on my 100 in 365!) I was very superstitious about making the sign-- I didn't want a sign laying around for a month if the date was pushed back. Probably not the smartest move, but I waited until three days before the homecoming date to begin working on it.

It was tough to come up with the message for the sign. I thought up variations of welcome home messages-- funny (a parody of "Call Me, Maybe" lyrics), cute, sappy, patriotic. Finally, I completely ran out of time (and space on the poster) and settled on what is probably the most "me": the two most important running counts I've kept all year.

I'm a perfectionist and it was vitally important for this poster to be the most perfect poster ever. Knowing I didn't have time to hand-letter the poster perfectly-- and accepting that I'm not the most artistic person-- I decided to use cut-outs instead. I didn't like the pre-cut ones at WalMart, so I tried making them on my own.

If you need to make a poster, I'd strongly suggest you take a look and check out this very easy tutorial on how to make perfect letters. Printing and cutting them expedited the process immensely.

You'll Need:

  • Microsoft Word
  • colored cardstock (I bought Michaels generic pack) 
  • a printer
  • a scissors or Exacto blade

Depending on your printer, you may have to change your paper settings accordingly. My printer did not need to be adjusted.

I used two-sided Elmer's photo tape to secure the letters to the poster board. It was way less messy and way more expedient than glue and it looked way more professional than tape doughnuts. (Even after a 4 hour drive and then a 9 hour drive, excited hugging, and dropping it on the ground, the letters didn't peel or fall off.)

I don't have a full-body photo of me holding the sign, but I do have the one below. (It was taken five or so minutes after John landed, so it's inestimably better than just a photo of boring, old me!)

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Friday, June 7, 2013

Mia's Homecoming Story

John is coming home from his year-long deployment to Afghanistan! It's really, really happening! In fact, by the time you read this, he may already be home! This week, I've got some of my wonderful blogging friends who are sharing their variations on the theme: homecoming.

I'll be back sometime during the week (or early next week) with pictures and at least one post about John's homecoming. Until then, I'll be off the grid, enjoying some much overdue time with my fiance.  

Enjoy my guest bloggers' stories! To see other posts in this series, click here.

Hi everyone! My name is Mia and I blog over at about geekery and girliness. Jo and I are trading guest posts this month (check her post out here!) and she mentioned she was doing a week about Homecomings. This is perfect because right now, I'm in the middle of a homecoming of my own. I don't usually get sappy on my own blog, so I'm excited to share this story with you all!


I am not a military wife/fiancee/girlfriend at all (that's a whole different ball game!), but my long-term boyfriend, Colby, and I have been dating long distance. With me in Dallas and him in Austin, we were still within driving distance, but life and other practicalities made it so that our visits were still infrequent. At most, I'd see Colby about once a month, and only for a few days during the weekend, since we both worked office jobs.

Scott Pilgrim and Ramona Flowers

When I first started dating Colby, I was not looking for a relationship at all. Instead, I found my soulmate. Neither of us was interested in attempting the long distance thing again, but it sort of just... happened. Next thing I knew, I was visiting Austin as frequently as I could.

Mt. Bonnell

As I was falling head over heels for Colby, I was also falling in love with Austin. The city, with its quirky touches, meshed perfectly with my own personality. From small local businesses with punny names to miniature mountains to climb, my date-weekends with Colby turned into exploring the city that I'd grow to think of as home, despite never living there. Suddenly, "home" didn't mean the place where I grew up or went to school, but instead the city I connected with and decided to make my own. I rushed through college to finish a full year early, the whole time thinking of living not only with the one I love, but also in the city I love.

Commencement Ceremony

I have just now reached the culmination of all my hard work, planning, tears, and triumphs. I have officially graduated with my Bachelor's, packed up everything I own and taken it to Austin. As I was driving away from Dallas and towards my new life, I reflected on all the work, emotionally and academically, that it took to get to this point. As I pulled into the driveway of our newly purchased house, I immediately knew I was home.

That feeling of belonging and knowing you are in the right place at the right time? That's what "homecoming" means to me.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Jessica's Homecoming Story

John is coming home from his year-long deployment to Afghanistan! It's really, really happening! In fact, by the time you read this, he may already be home! This week, I've got some of my wonderful blogging friends who are sharing their variations on the theme: homecoming.

I'll be back sometime during the week (or early next week) with pictures and at least one post about John's homecoming. Until then, I'll be off the grid, enjoying some much overdue time with my fiance.  

Enjoy my guest bloggers' stories! To see other posts in this series, click here.

Hi, I'm Jessica! I write over at My Baby Birds (Facebook) about our life as a Coast Guard family of six! I'm a veteran of the Coast Guard myself, and my husband (the Sailor as I refer to him) is a Maritime Enforcement Specialist for over 13 years now. We have four daughters, ages 10, 10, 2, and our happy surprise is 4 months old. We've experienced a lot of deployments, and a lot of transfers in the past 13 years, and are currently going through both! My husband returns home in June and we are moving to Cape Cod, MA in July.

I think one of the many unique aspects of the Coast Guard vs. other branches, is that our deployments are shorter, but frequent. My husband has spent 9 of his 13 years on ships, but instead of going away for a year, they'll spend 2 -3 months at sea, come home for 6 weeks, and then go back out for another 2 - 3 months. He's had two 6 month deployments, which is the longest we've done at one time. His first long deployment, in 2003, involves kind of a funny homecoming story. The ship he was attached to went to Iraq to travel up the rivers performing security, naval escorts, etc. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, he left right after we found out we were pregnant with our twin girls. Back then I was floored by the timing, but he's deployed almost immediately after every positive pregnancy test since, so by #3 I just expected it.

The Coast Guard is pretty good about trying to get their members home for births, and his Command was smart enough to fly him out right before the "shock and awe" to avoid him getting stuck in country. I had no idea when he'd be coming home and was about 7 months pregnant when I got a call in the middle of the night that he was somewhere in Europe waiting for his next flight. It took him five very long flights to get from Bahrain to Honolulu and he arrived late on a Wednesday night. Our homecoming was me, teary-eyed and alone in Honolulu airport at 10 PM. I've never been so happy to see anyone, and it was kind of perfect that it was just he, I, and my huge belly! Here's where it got funny...

We finished the pregnancy, had our twins, and 3 weeks later he had to fly back out to meet his ship, which was now in Australia. He was only going to be gone for about 6 weeks this time - easy breezy! When it came time for the ship to return, there was a big hoopla on base because of the length and location of the deployment for this specific Coast Guard unit. I showed up with the twins and stood on the pier waiting for the ship to moor up, with a car seat on either side of me and an itty bitty baby in each. Apparently someone told NBC news that I was also active duty and had given birth to twins during this deployment. Just a few minutes before he walked off the ship I had news cameras in my face asking questions I wasn't ready to answer. I was a deer in headlights and didn't have time to explain that he had just been home for several weeks for the birth of our twins. Crew members started walking off the ship and running into the arms of their spouses and children. Tears everywhere! Squeals, bear hugs, men spinning their brides in the air! It was a beautiful scene. Then there was my husband; cool, calm and collected, walking towards me.

As I got closer to him, with a news anchor and camera man following me, I tried to mouth something along the lines of "make this look good!". I felt pressure to do our crew and their families justice, and was wishing with everything in me that they chose someone else to highlight. It ended up being the most awkward hello ever. He was thrown by the news crew, I was worried about looking horrific on TV, we sort of miss-kissed each other and hugged like two strangers on a blind date. If I didn't have a news crew following me, we would've hugged, made a joke about it being a "short patrol" and I'd show him his girls. I'm such a dork, I should've just been real, but sure enough we ended up on TV over, and over, and over again that week. The most goober reunion on the pier that day!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Summer of My Youth

Together with some awesome co-hosts, I'm bringing you the Summer of my Youth Link Up Party.  
The idea is simple: relive your youth, blog about it, link it up!  Go somewhere or do something that reminds you of summertime when you were a kid - read a book (or series), visit a place that has meaning, make that recipe you couldn't get enough of, watch the show or movie you know all the words to, or listen to that CD you wore out.  It can be whatever brings back those awesome summer memories!

Before we dive into the deets, let's check out the awesome ladies who are playing hosts this summer:

The ladies bringing you your link up are: Love From HomeCharleston Crafted, Tarnished Silver, Jo, My Gosh!, Homemade Ocean, and Hungry Janey!

Now the deets!

Link Up Schedule:
TODAY!  Link your blog up below and let us know you're on board!  We want to where to be looking for those awesome summer memories.

JULY 1ST, AUGUST 1ST, SEPTEMBER 1ST  Visit the co-hosts on the 1st of each month of the summer for a fresh link up where you can share your Summer of My Youth blog post - tell us what you've done, where you've gone, how you're reliving summertime.  You can do all three months or just link up one - the choice is up to you!

Link Up Rules:
1. Follow the co-hosts!
2. Link up your blog! (You only need to link up to ONE co-host to be linked to all!)
3. Get started on recreating your childhood.
4. Come back July 1st to link up your 'Summer of My Youth' post with us!

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Natasha's Homecoming Story

John is coming home from his year-long deployment to Afghanistan! It's really, really happening! In fact, by the time you read this, he may already be home! This week, I've got some of my wonderful blogging friends who are sharing their variations on the theme: homecoming.

I'll be back sometime during the week (or early next week) with pictures and at least one post about John's homecoming. Until then, I'll be off the grid, enjoying some much overdue time with my fiance.  

Enjoy my guest bloggers' stories! To see other posts in this series, click here.

Hi, I'm Natasha. I am a grad student, avid DIYer, artisan, and blogger. I love writing about crafting, travel, and history, and I have my man talked into food blogging with me when he gets home from deployment! 

For me, the worst sight in the world is my man's back, sea bag over his shoulder, walking down the pier. That sea bag means this isn't just a day at work, and the hardest part isn't just that he's leaving – it's that his being gone is about all I know for certain. My man is a submariner, and they don't call it the silent service for nothing. Furthermore, he is on a fast attack sub, the most notoriously schedule-changing creatures in a world of unpredictability. This means that when he heads out, I don't know where he's going, when he'll be back, or even when he'll be allowed to send an email.

But, in spite of all this not knowing and uncertainty, things have a way of working out. Plus, loving a military man really teaches you to appreciate your time together! You literally never know when he could be unexpectedly called away, not to mention the known extended absences.

We'd tentatively hoped for a liberty port safe enough for me to visit, but things hadn't really worked out through most of the deployment, Suddenly, about five months in, I found out that I might, in fact, be able to visit. I say suddenly because there were quite literally three days between when plans were finalized and when I left! It was an emotional roller coaster ride. I got everything lined up and purchased on Monday. Then, I got an email saying the whole thing was off, cancel all reservations. I did, assisted by lots and lots of tears.I received an email saying don't cancel yet, it may still be happening, just a few days later. Ok...I got an email saying nope, it's game on, only even sooner! Actually, the highly specific email I received from him told me to rebook the tickets but “maybe with different dates.” Very helpful.

Three days later, I boarded the plane, very excited and more that a little nervous. Would he be there when I arrived? When were they leaving? Was I about to fly literally around the world to see him for one day? And how would things be between us? I hadn't seen him in a very long time and he'd already been on deployment for over five months. A retired submariner classmate of mine once explained that “If you're not funny before you go on a sub, you will be by the time you get back.” Great.

In the end, everything worked out amazingly. It was like our own mini homecoming in the middle of the Pacific. When I arrived, travel worn he really, truly was there at the airport to greet me. Not only there, but (I have to brag a little) with roses in hand. Oh, and he had a big bottle of water, too, because he knew I'd be dehydrated after the long plane ride. What a guy! He was the one on deployment, but he acted like I was the one who deserved special treatment.

It sounds cheesy, but the three and a half days we ended up having together were the happiest days of my life. I was really afraid things would be awkward between us after so long, but they weren't, at all. He was just as amazing as I remembered and every single moment was precious. We hiked, snorkeled, swam, went to the movies, had dinner out, sipped coffee, and generally did all the normal people things we hadn't enjoyed together in far too long. I pretty much grinned like a maniac the entire time, and he adjusted remarkably well to seeing actual daylight.

In some ways, seeing him made me miss him even more. He had duty the day before they left port and it was so hard to drop him off on base and drive away, knowing he'd be so close, yet totally inaccessible, for the next day before departure. But I also knew something else – this deployment hasn't changed who we are as people or how we feel about each other. No, that's not true – I firmly believe we are closer, better, and stronger because of it. I also know that I'd wait all that time over again, and more, for him because he's worth every minute of it. I'm still waiting for him and don't know, for sure, when he'll be home, but I know I'll be there at the pier when he does.