Sunday, December 11, 2011

And You Thought Buying Gifts for Dad Was Hard.

So during this lovely holiday season something serious has been brought to my attention. I've dealt with this same issue throughout the deployment and several of my friends and family have come forward, confessing that this problem has plagued them multiple times as well. And the dilemma that is causing so many people grief is...what kind of gift do you get a soldier who is deployed?

It's a real pickle to be in. You have to think of something that would survive being shipped in the mail that far but is still special. Something they can enjoy but that won't take up a lot of space. Something that is useful to them but not against regulations. It's difficult to come up with ideas for Christmas, for a birthday, for Valentine's Day. So I've done some pondering and came up with a list of ideas of personalized gifts that you can send a soldier who is deployed (or away for training.) Hopefully it will get the juices flowing.

  • A Love Letter - This may seem cheesy but you would be surprised how much they crave that feeling of being loved over there. Surrounded by pain and anger all the time, your love written out in a simple letter reminds them that the whole world isn't like that. It gives them the hope and the strength they need. Even the tough boys need hugs. 
  • 101 Reasons Why I Love You - Why not sit down and make them a list of all the reason's you love them. Get a little silly too and tell them even the quirky things you love. Make them see just how special they are. 
  • Baked Goods - Bake them a batch of their fave cookies. To keep them fresh put them in a Ziploc bag with a slice of bread. Or get creative and bake them a cake in a jar. Here is a link on how to do that and some good tips about sending food overseas.
  • Love Coupons - Make some homemade love coupons that promise him all kinds of fun when he gets home (maybe even a little over the phone or Skype *wink*.)
  • Make him a special homemade card complete with your best artistic skills! =)
  • Make him a photo book of pictures of what is going on in your life (and your kids lives if you've got them) back at home. Here are two great sites to do that. and
  • Make him a home video or slideshow of pictures for him to watch on his computer with messages from everyone he knows and loves back home.
  • Sew him a blanket. Fleece tie blankets are very simple to make if your not good with a needle.
  • Personalize a mug or t-shirt or pillowcase. There are several sites online that will do that.
I hope that gives a few of you some ideas in the future. If you think of any others that I don't have up here leave a comment telling about it!

Keep L i/o ving!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Excitement vs Terror

The days are ticking by as I'm trying to get ready for Christmas and every day brings my husband one day closer to coming home. I couldn't be more thrilled. I can't hide the fact that I'm very nervous about the upcoming day as well though.

This is gonna be a big change in my life. Brandon and I have never lived alone in our own place. I've been doing everything my way for the past year with no one to answer to. Obviously, if my husband wanted to know what I was doing and where I was I would tell him, but it came down to me not needing to be home at any certain time cuz there was no one to come home too. Now there will be.

My husband and I have been around each other enough to know what each other's little quirks are but there is something very different between spending a lot of time together and actually living together. Learning to adjust to someone constantly being right there, up in your business, can cause stress and frustration. I guess more than anything, I'm afraid that I'm gonna get on my husband's nerves so much that he won't wanna be around me, that he'll be sick of me. And as dumb as this may sound, even though I act like it doesn't bother me, normal bodily functions embarrass me around him. Guess I'm gonna have to get over that one hahahaha.

On top of dealing with all that, I'm rather nervous about us being able to reconnect after all this time. So much has happened over this past year. Both of us have grown, have changed. What if we don't fit together as well as we did before? There are so many questions and fears floating around in the air and none of them can be dealt with until he is home. Until I know exactly what I'm dealing with.

Down that same line is the fear of the unknown that he will have to go through when he tries to reintegrate into the lifestyle here. No one knows how a soldier is gonna react to being thrown back into life in this country after being in the sandbox for a year. Can you imagine living in fear for your life and your friends like every day for a year? What about being surrounded by people that hate you and want you dead? Can you picture what it would feel like to be on your guard all day, every day just to come back here and be told not to be cuz now your safe. You can't just shut off ingrained habits like that. If he starts to struggle I want to be there to help him through it...but I have no idea what I would need to do. I don't want to fail him.

I'm lucky to have a lot of support from seasoned Army wives here on post. One friend in particular has been amazing. I don't know what I would do without her. She told me that I needed to trust my husband, let him call the shots at first. Don't push him to do anything that makes him uncomfortable. Don't tell him what he should do. The first little while should be about him, what he needs. After he's been able to get back into a normal routine, back to himself, then and only then will he be able to truly focus on you. I've also found a lot of help dealing from online support groups for military wives. And a lot of them have been telling me that going to a few sessions of couples therapy can't do anything but help. It gives the couple a safe, neutral ground to talk. Fear, anger, and pain can safely be brought to the surface and dealt with. Coping strategies for both spouses can be discussed. Re-connection can be helped along. Brandon and I are considering the idea if we feel that we are struggling. I encourage everyone else who is feeling lost during a redeployment to think about this possibility. And don't let anyone tell you the counseling means your weak. The best advice that I got, do what is best for your family. Trust your spouse. Trust yourself. Get help if you need it. Don't let other people tell you how to deal with your relationship.

Keep L i/o ving.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

1 Year Under Our Belts

Well, today was my 1st Anniversary. Though having my husband actually here would have been nice, I was surprised at how much I still enjoyed the day. My husband really tried his best to make it a special day from afar.  He called early and spend several hours talking to me. Right in the middle of our conversation the doorbell rang and there was a gorgeous bouquet of all my fave flowers. Totally surprised me. He had them custom order Gerber Daisies cuz I love them so much. I've never had such a beautiful bouquet. I'm so loved and so lucky.

Aren't I just so spoiled!

I can't believe a whole year has gone by. Being married felt unreal to me and now realizing that I've hit that one year mark feels even more strange. Partly because my husband has been gone practically this whole year. There are still times that I wake up and feel like I must have dreamed it. I have to look at my hand at random times just to make sure the ring is still there.

It's been a rough year...but a good one as well. I've learned a lot about my own limits and grown a lot. And I can't regret all the amazing people I've met over the time either.

I've grew up rather sheltered. My parents did a great job teaching me about responsibility and how to save money but when it came down to the basics of taking care of myself (such as making phone calls and dealing with bills) I was lucky enough to have a mom who loved to do it for me. I like to be taken care of. My husband likes to take care of me. It worked out perfect...until he up and deployed and left me alone hahaha. This year forced me to really grow up and learn that I have the ability to do those little things. There were several melt downs and several moments where I just wanted to give up. I'm standing here today proud to say that I've made it and in only a few more weeks my husband will be home!

So here is to the next year and all the challenges it brings. Next goal...learning how to live with my husband actually being home with me! =S Wish me luck!

Keep L i/o ving!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Luvs and Hugs

So I went to my parent's house for the past month and it was so great being back in the town that I grew up in...even though it snowed several feet while I was there. It was an adventure living in someone else's house again and though leaving everyone again was bittersweet, I was happy to be back in my own home.

I never would have guessed how much I needed to reconnect with old roots. Having a group of friends that have stayed in contact, even after high school, has been a foundation for me. Being able to see them and reconnect with them was exactly what I needed. We'd all ended up scattered all over, doing our own things and starting our own lives. We had grown apart in a way. No one to blame but ourselves on that. We all seemed to think we were better off on our own for one reason or the other. Turns out we needed each other more than any of us could have realized.

Having someone there who has grown up with you is a priceless thing. Someone who knows u that intimately is a gift in a moment of weakness. They understand who you are. They know exactly what to do or say to keep you moving forward. I'm lucky to have several friends like these. I'm lucky to have been reminded of how much they love me and how much I adore them.

There is Amber. Oh my dear sweet Amber. She has known me the longest and knows me the best for sure. We first became friends when we were 4 years old. I may have been small then but I have never forgotten how much I loved her even then. She was my best friend in the whole helped that she had awesome toys hahaha. One day she moved though and for years she remained a faded part of my life. Then along came Middle School and there was my beautiful lost friend again. It took me awhile to realize who she was and why we connected so well but when I did, it felt like a blessing from above. She has been by my side ever since. We've been through thick and thin together. Nothing will ever be able to separate us. Both of us have chosen to do things that the other doesn't agree with but that has never changed our love for each other. She was the one person who held my hand through my worst days and was never ashamed to call me her best friend. She has recently come out that she is a bisexual. I don't agree with that kind of lifestyle but I would never think less of her because of it. I will never be ashamed of her. I will never stop loving her. And you can be dang sure that I will always fight on her side, no matter what. She is a sister of my heart. Beware to anyone who tries to destroy that bond.

Katie, my friend who is one of the most stubborn people I've ever met and I have to love her for it. She can totally give me a run for my money when it comes to refusing to give in...on anything hahaha.We've sure had our ups and downs. Strong personalities can clash something fierce after all. But even though there have been moments where we swear we can't stand each other anymore, I've always known that when I truly needed her, she would be there. She's also the one who somehow seems to end up in the same kinds of situations as me. Sometimes good ones and sometimes not so great ones. Though it hurts me to see her hurt at times, it's good to know that there is always someone out there who understands what I'm dealing with. Her recent discovery is how sucky Army life can be. Silly girl, after years of teasing me about how she couldn't understand why I turned into a mush every time a man walked by in a uniform, went and fell for an adorable guy who had just happened to sign over his soul to the Army. He is now currently doing his basic training. Being able to she her face to face and talk to her about things that go on in your heart when your man is away was bonding in a way that both of us needed. She has helped me feel not so alone in this strange military life and I can only hope I'm doing her some good too. I know she is strong enough to make it through being an Army wife. She just needs to believe in herself too. I can't tell her how proud I am of her. She has grown up so much and really has become a gorgeous woman. That boy is a lucky one.

Lyndsai, as special as the spelling of her name. I've known her for the shortest amount of time but that doesn't mean I'm any less close to her. She came into my life as a shy and quiet home schooled teenager. But I found that she was a ton of fun and completely lovable. She quickly became one of my best friends and I introduced her to the rest of the group. She fit right in. Soon every sign of being shy and unsure had disappeared. She's been an important part of my life ever since. No matter how much we might have fought we always forgave. We've done a lot of silly and irresponsible things together but we've created some unforgettable moments as well. When I spoke to her before going back to visit, I was worried about her. But spending time with her made me realize that she was really in charge of her life. She knew what she wanted and she was making plans to get there. I think she is doing amazing. There is no reason to worry about her at all.

Brittnee I didn't get to see much of since she is making us all proud by serving a LDS mission. I'm so happy and excited for her. Her letters seem to show just how happy she is to be doing what she is doing. I can't wait to see her again.

Brynn is doing well. She is facing her demons and getting help. She is one of the strongest women I have ever met. For as long as I have known her, she has witnessed some of the nastier sides of this life, yet she always comes out pumping the air with a fist on the other side. That girl will never give up on life. She will never give up on happiness. I'm so glad to see that she finally has found a decent man who treats her right too. She seemed to glow when I saw her again. Nothing is better than to see someone you love finding what she deserves.

The best part. Though all these girls have their own lives that they are dealing with every one of them was there to support me. They were there, wanting to listen, wanting to be a part of my life. It was exactly the therapy I needed. I'm am a lucky chick. I couldn't have made it through this deployment without my girls. We're the real Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants without the stupid pants. We may need a reminder every now and then that we need each other, but we will never leave any of the others behind. These are my girls for life.

Friday, December 2, 2011

We Found Love In A Hopeless Place

Ever found a song that pulls at some emotion u buried deep down? A song that seems to capture the true essence of a situation that u've been through and that no one who is in ur life now truly understands. U listen to the song and find urself wanting to pick up the phone and call the someone whom those emotions embrace and see if they are ok. Have u been there? I am tonight...
I went to a friends house tonight to catch up and while we were in her room she got on YouTube to play some music videos. I watched causally while she talked about what had been going on...until Rihanna's song "We Found Love" came on and then it was like I couldn't hear what she was saying anymore. I was focused on the song, the words, the flashes of images in the video. I was transported back into memories of a time before. A time that I try to hide from now. A memory I make excuses for and one where I never truly understood the emotions I felt. How could someone who didn't exist in those moments ever get it either? And is it so horrible of me to want comfort from someone who lived it with me?
It's not that I want to go back to it. It's not that I'm unhappy where I am. It's IS a part of me and though people may find it a blemish in my appearance, I can't make it go away.