Back on Land

He deploys, and I make a life back on land.


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6 Tips for Homecoming Day

The time has come.

You’ve waited for him and longed for him. You’ve written emails and waited endlessly for replies. You’ve sent all your love and two pounds of candy in a gallon ziploc bag twice (if you were lucky), but now the waiting is over. It’s almost here. HE’S almost here, and here are 6 Tips for Homecoming Day.

6 Tips for Homecoming Day2

  1. Find out if your sailor has first-day duty. It’s no fun to show up, dressed to the nines and smiling like a lovesick fool, only to find out your sailor isn’t leaving the boat today. A lot of sailors have duty the first day because SOMEONE has to continue the work, and that could mean you won’t even SEE him until tomorrow. Find out ahead of time and avoid the disappointment.
  2. Dress to impress … and to wait. I’m a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl even for homecomings, but I’ve seen some beautiful spouses, fiance’s, and girlfriends dressed better for homecoming than I did my wedding! If that’s your thing then I say go for it, but remember you WILL be waiting. Possibly for a really, really long time, and DEFINITELY in a large crowd of families. Maybe wear flats, bring heels. Bring a sweater in case it’s cold (or to stay covered up) and supplies to touch up hair and make-up. It may be a long day, but if you’re prepared, you can stay pretty as picture until you see your sailor!
  3. Be prepared. This is NOT the day to skip breakfast. This is not the day to wear brand new (read: not broken in) high heels. This is not the day to forget to charge your phone. Be prepared. Did I say that twice? I meant to say it three times. Be prepared.
  4. Bring your camera (if you are permitted). I have been celebrating homecomings for thirteen years, and I have photos from exactly ONE of them. It breaks my heart that all those years, all those memories, are only just that … memories. As I get older the details will fade, and there will be no way for my kids to remember them. Snap away! (Again, if you are permitted. Follow the rules, people!)
  5. Pay attention to your kids. Homecoming can be such a great time, but it can also be confusing and difficult for the kids. I remember watching Sydney run out to bus after bus at our first homecoming on this boat. She ran to greet each one for over five hours, and it nearly broke me watching her little heart break each time. I know it’s been a long patrol for you, too, but you still need to be the strong one for one more day.
  6. Savor the moments, even the ones that aren’t yours. Homecomings are just beautiful. Sit back and really see them. First timers so filled with longing. Last timers ready to move on to their next chapter. First time seeing a pregnant belly, or first time holding a brand new life. These moments, these memories, are what we will take with us. These are the reasons we do this.

 Do you have a tip to share in the comments? Fill in the blank: I always ____________ for homecoming, and I will NEVER _______________ for homecoming again. I’d love to hear your homecoming stories in the comments!!!

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You Might Be a Sub Spouse If …

Yes, we’re all military spouses, but some things are kind of particular to submarine spouses. Give me an “AMEN!” if you feel me …

You Might Be a Sub Spouse if

 

  1. Sometimes hearing “You’ve got mail!” is better than hearing “It’s a girl!” or “You’ve just won …”
  2. Then you get your hopes dashed when it isn’t sailor mail but rather a JC Penney sale flyer and two ads to drugs that will NOT enhance your particular anatomy (and you keep click refreshing no matter how many times this happens …)You've Got Mail
  3. Saying the word “duty” DOESN’T even make you giggle anymore …
  4. When someone speaks of homecoming in public, even in loose terms, your heart beats like a hammer, you begin to sweat profusely, and you might even blurt out “OPSEC!!!!”opsec
  5. You know phone trees aren’t just for the PTA anymore.
  6. You can squeeze two magazines, a box of Cheezits, a clear container of homemade cookies, two pounds of candy, one pound of beef jerky, 26 letters, and 200 4×6 photos into a one gallon maildrop bag and STILL close it without using tape.
  7. You get a little jealous when you see signage, news coverage, and weeks of hoopla every time a carrier returns to port.

    stennis

    We still love you, Stennis! We’re just a little jealous … 😦

  8. You want to scream when another military spouse talks about Skyping with his/her service member.
    skype
  9. You’ve spent $20, $40, $60, or maybe 100 bucks to win a First Kiss.
  10. The very sight of a submarine, THAT submarine, can be simultaneously majestic, humbling, heartbreaking, and joyous … oh, and DAMN SEXY!!!maine

God, I love my sailor!

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I’m Letting It Go

I’ve often said that there was divine reasoning in my family transferring to Washington, and I honestly believe that it was because this momma had a whole lot of hard lessons to learn. Washington is so far out of my comfort zone that lessons were inevitable, and some days it seems like I may not have known anything before I got here. Since moving here I have stopped being an I Would Never Mom (well … I’m working on it). I’ve figure out I can’t fix everything (and I’m not supposed to anyways). I’ve also figured out a few things I’m okay with liking (that in the past seemed so not okay).

Another important lesson I’m in the thick of at the moment is simply being okay with me. I think at 37 I am simply who I am. Yes, I am still learning and growing, but there are some simple truths to me that I need to stop fighting.  All my life I’ve believed I should be doing more, should feel a certain way, should act or be a particular person, but as Carrie Bradshaw once said, “Why are we should-ing all over ourselves?”

So I’m learning to accept who I am and letting get of the shoulds. Here’s a list of things I’m letting go of right now …

I'm Letting It Go

  1. Kale. No thanks. It came in my Bountiful Basket last week, and for a moment I entertained the idea of kale chips. Yes, I (lover of beef jerky, Dr. Pepper, and all forms of fried potatoes) almost jumped on the kale train. Almost, but nope. I just can’t buy into the kale craze, and I let both bunches go. This goes for other health food crazes as well. I don’t juice. I won’t do Atkins. If utter the words “Whole 30,” that’s going to be a quantity of snacks I ate not number of days of going without … and that’s okay. I’m totally down with fruits and veggies, and I’m learning about healthy portions. I’m learning to avoid overly processed foods most of the time, but guess what? Beef jerky is my jam. So I’m letting it go.
  2. A Perfect Home. I don’t have one, and I never will. I have friends with beautiful houses, and I am soooo jealous of them sometimes. And Pinterest? Are you kidding me? The gorgeous mantels, the perfect furniture, the Pottery-Barn-inspired-but-for-a-fraction-of-the-cost kids’ rooms? What the heck?!? I’ve had my own place for 18 years now; why can’t I figure it out? Well, the answer is simple. As much I appreciate beautiful decor, I just  don’t care enough to do the same at home. I like simple, clean lines. I prefer functionality. I crave organization … and I tend towards small piles and growing messes, but I’m okay with it. We live in this house, and as I’ve recently shared, this mess is exactly what my “I got this” looks like. Beautiful decor, I’m letting you go.

    It's a beautiful mess, and it's MINE.

    It’s a beautiful mess, and it’s MINE.

  3. Figuring out my “parenting style.” So much has changed since Aubrey and Sydney were little. Back then, I chose carseats based on pretty fabric, bottles based solely on price, and had never heard of attachment parenting, but from the moment I found out I was pregnant with Alli, I’ve felt bombarded with websites, books, commercials, and “friends” telling me how I should be raising my kids. Are you a crunchy mom? Will you rearface until she’s 4? Will you breastfeed until she’s 6 months? One year? Two? In public? You DON’T provide your baby with 100% organic, free range, grass fed, homemade sealed-in-sterilized-glass-jars baby food and only on a baby led weaning schedule?!? Sigh … here’s my “parenting style.” I make the best choices I can in the moment. I make mistakes. I laugh about it, cry about it, scream my head off, and move on. I don’t have a philosophy; I have a reality. Three kids doing pretty darn good. Not perfect but certainly my pride and joy. I’m letting it go.
  4. The Ideal Marriage. I kind of blame TV for this one. I grew up watching perfect couples with problems always solved within a one-hour window. Husbands always seemed to make crackpot decisions, see the error of their way, and always realize in the end that their wives were right in the first place, and wives, well, they were always right, always understanding and perfect, and … well … fake. That’s NOT what marriage looks like. I’ve had a hard time figuring this out, but Josh isn’t Ray Romano (classic goofball), and I am NOT Claire Huxtible (in my eyes the most perfect TV mom EVER). We are two intelligent, strong-willed people who make mistakes, who suck at compromise (but are trying), and who have decided together that sticking it out is worth every fight, every misunderstanding, and every “communication issue.” Fourteen years in we’re still figuring it out, but … we’re 14 YEARS IN to this marriage. We may not be the Cleavers, but we must be doing something right. I’m letting those “ideal marriages” go.

 

I can assure you that this list is incomplete. There are so many things I’m done with or trying to be done with “should-ing on myself” over. Letting go takes time. Letting go is hard. Letting go sometimes even hurts. But when it hits, when whatever it was, simply isn’t important anymore, I am able to focus on the things that really matter. The happy kids that live in the messy house and the usually happy husband that won’t always let me be right and I couldn’t love him more for it.

Those things I will never let go.


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What Will You Complain About Today?

 

Will you complain that he has duty? Will you complain because he has to work late?

Remember that when you haven’t seen him for a week. It wasn’t that bad …

Will you complain that you’ve only seen him for six hours over the last 96 during refit?

Remember that when you haven’t seen him for a month, and six hours sounds like heaven.

Will you complain that he left his boots in the middle of the floor?

Remember that when he’s been gone six weeks, and you would give anything to see those boots again.

Will you complain that departure has been extended for the third time?

Remember that when return has been extended as well.

Will you complain when it’s been a week since you saw his face?

Remember that when you haven’t had an email in three.

Will you complain when his pillow smells more like you than him?

Remember that on those offcrew days, in the midst of an argument, when you wish he could go out to sea for just. a. few. damn. days.

Will you complain when homecoming times change AGAIN?

Remember that when you wrap your arms around his neck for the first time in months.

Will you complain when he doesn’t show up on the first homecoming bus or the second or the third?

Remember that as you walk away with him, hand in hand, past other wives still waiting.

Will you complain when there is no stand down, when one crew has to support the other even though they’ve already been gone SO LONG?

Remember that when he comes home at night, as other wives begin their lonely night journeys.

Will you complain that this life is so hard? That deployments last too long? That you just can’ do this without him again?

Remember that every single time you see a Gold Star.

What will you complain about today?

What Will You Complain About Today


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A Tomato Revelation

I was walking around downtown yesterday, snapping a few photos for an upcoming post and reveling in the sunshine and warm air, when I decided to stroll through the Bremerton Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Terminal. I was thrilled to buy some homemade soaps and giddy to find my favorite salsa vendor had shown up. Then I saw the real reason I love farmers markets, the vegetable stand.

I love a vegetable stand. Love. LOVE.

In my head I picture tractors and dirty overalls, calloused hands, and good clean country living as I stare at each and every handpicked pepper and zucchini. It reminds me of my own Granny and Papaw and their amazing garden that grew everything from green beans to grapes and of the family dinners we shared around Granny’s table. The vegetable stand is a trip down memory lane.

On that day my eyes were drawn to the tomatoes. These tomatoes, in fact.

A Tomato Revelation

“They don’t quite look like what I normally buy at Safeway. Are they a special variety?”

The farmer smiled and chuckled and began to educate me about her tomatoes. She told me that they were in fact not a special variety; they are what tomatoes are supposed to look like. She explained that somewhere along the way someone decided that tomatoes should be bright red, quite large, and perfectly round, the better to fit on a sandwich, I guess. I’d never given it much thought, but it made sense to me. She went on to say that these tomatoes would also be more fragile, more prone to bruising or bursting if I wasn’t careful, than the store bought variety, as they haven’t been bred for the sole purpose of travelling well. This also made them juicier because the skin was not as tough as the others. She shared their names and the special attributes of each type: one sweeter, one meatier, all much tastier than what I usually pick up at the store.

This struck me as particularly sad. I bought two pounds and walked away deep in thought … about tomatoes, about expectations and reality, and about my own life. The tomatoes in the store, the ones I buy for just a dollar or two per pound, are barely a hint of what nature intended them to be. Somewhere along the way, a person decided how they should look, feel, and travel and changed them. It was probably a slow process. It likely took years, but it happened, and now I have children, just one generation away from the farm, that looked at these real tomatoes and said, “What are they?”

I have definitely looked at myself with that same cock-eyed questioning at times and asked, “Who are you?” I have for most of my adult life struggled to be something different than who I am, struggled to become like that store-bought tomato, perfect for every situation, the right look, the right response, and I always find that when I am looking for that type of one size fits all presentation, I take on the less appealing attributes of the store-bought variety, a water-downed, less appealing version of myself.

These tomatoes, the real tomatoes, are funny looking, but I like to think of it as character. They aren’t what we’re used to; they are surprisingly delicious. They are what a tomato was intended to be before someone decided that was no longer what was best. They are perfectly imperfect.

I hope that from now on I can remember this each time I try to dress or speak or act to impress. Character over curb appeal. Flavor over fashion. Substance over what someone else would have me to be.

I want to be like that funny looking tomato, just what God intended.


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A Tomato Revelation

I was walking around downtown yesterday, snapping a few photos for an upcoming post and reveling in the sunshine and warm air, when I decided to stroll through the Bremerton Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Terminal. I was thrilled to buy some homemade soaps and giddy to find my favorite salsa vendor had shown up. Then I saw the real reason I love farmers markets, the vegetable stand.

I love a vegetable stand. Love. LOVE.

In my head I picture tractors and dirty overalls, calloused hands, and good clean country living as I stare at each and every handpicked pepper and zucchini. It reminds me of my own Granny and Papaw and their amazing garden that grew everything from green beans to grapes and of the family dinners we shared around Granny’s table. The vegetable stand is a trip down memory lane.

On that day my eyes were drawn to the tomatoes. These tomatoes, in fact.

A Tomato Revelation

“They don’t quite look like what I normally buy at Safeway. Are they a special variety?”

The farmer smiled and chuckled and began to educate me about her tomatoes. She told me that they were in fact not a special variety; they are what tomatoes are supposed to look like. She explained that somewhere along the way someone decided that tomatoes should be bright red, quite large, and perfectly round, the better to fit on a sandwich, I guess. I’d never given it much thought, but it made sense to me. She went on to say that these tomatoes would also be more fragile, more prone to bruising or bursting if I wasn’t careful, than the store bought variety, as they haven’t been bred for the sole purpose of travelling well. This also made them juicier because the skin was not as tough as the others. She shared their names and the special attributes of each type: one sweeter, one meatier, all much tastier than what I usually pick up at the store.

This struck me as particularly sad. I bought two pounds and walked away deep in thought … about tomatoes, about expectations and reality, and about my own life. The tomatoes in the store, the ones I buy for just a dollar or two per pound, are barely a hint of what nature intended them to be. Somewhere along the way, a person decided how they should look, feel, and travel and changed them. It was probably a slow process. It likely took years, but it happened, and now I have children, just one generation away from the farm, that looked at these real tomatoes and said, “What are they?”

I have definitely looked at myself with that same cock-eyed questioning at times and asked, “Who are you?” I have for most of my adult life struggled to be something different than who I am, struggled to become like that store-bought tomato, perfect for every situation, the right look, the right response, and I always find that when I am looking for that type of one size fits all presentation, I take on the less appealing attributes of the store-bought variety, a water-downed, less appealing version of myself.

These tomatoes, the real tomatoes, are funny looking, but I like to think of it as character. They aren’t what we’re used to; they are surprisingly delicious. They are what a tomato was intended to be before someone decided that was no longer what was best. They are perfectly imperfect.

I hope that from now on I can remember this each time I try to dress or speak or act to impress. Character over curb appeal. Flavor over fashion. Substance over what someone else would have me to be.

I want to be like that funny looking tomato, just what God intended.


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I Got This! (But You Might Disagree)

I had  a revelation yesterday. It was equal parts empowering and freeing, with a hint of hilarity and a moment of self-doubt. All within the span of about 25 minutes.

I Got This

Driving home from Compass, as Alli napped in her car seat and Jack Johnson crooned about banana pancakes on the radio, I was feeling pretty damn good about myself. I’d just finished up another great session, feeling like I’d had one of my best teaches ever, like I’d found my groove as the Food Coordinator, and already excited for next month’s class. Though busy, the week has been all around pretty good at home, too. No fast food, healthy lunches, clean clothes for everybody, homework done, happy kids. Boom! I GOT THIS!!!

I got home, parked the car in the garage (all the while congratulating myself for being so clearly awesome), and walked into the family room. A strange, unpleasant smell and an overly excited chihuahua met me at the door. Two baskets of laundry taunted me from the couch while a crowded floor begged to be picked and vacuumed. As I entered the kitchen, I was further taunted by a sad sink full of dishes crying out to be washed. My house was speaking to me, and it was saying,

“Oh yeah? You got this? I disagree.”

I immediately began to doubt myself. Have I got this? Really? REALLY?! How can I say “I got this!” when this house is such a mess?!? I sat there for a moment taking it all in, trying to sort out my feelings, before I realized,

“Oh yeah, I GOT THIS! I really do!!!”

So my house isn’t showroom ready today. If I’m being honest, it never is. On my best days, I’m lucky to see a clear and vacuumed floor. I mean, a family of five lives here. We kick off our shoes wherever we land after a long day. Alli colors more pictures than my refrigerator can hold and leaves them here there and everywhere for me to enjoy. We have frequent movie nights that REQUIRE loads of cuddly blankets that remain scattered all around. All those things equal a messy family room, but they also equal a happy family.

As for the kitchen, on one hand dirty dishes mean we cooked and we ate. Feeding my family makes me happy, and eating makes us ALL happy. On the other hand, dirty dishes also mean that I’ve fed my girls one less fast food meal, and as we struggle with a deep and unabiding love of McDonald’s, I call that a win! How often are your “on one hand or the other” choices BOTH so positive?

And the smell? The “mess” that the excitable little chihuahua made? Well, Charity has joined right into the fray of teaching this impatient momma the art of letting it go. Messes happen, and that’s precisely why I own a carpet cleaner. Besides how long can you really be angry with this little face?

charity

My house is, admittedly, a hot freaking mess today, but I’m okay with that. Are you okay with that? Maybe not. Maybe your “I got this!” moment comes from a desire to deep clean and a sense of pride in sparkling counters and neatly folded t-shirts and underwear. Maybe my “I got this!” week  sounds terrible to you. That’s okay!!! You scrub your kitchen; I’ll catch up later. We’ll both be happy. You don’t have to like the things that fulfill me, and I could never attain the immaculate home that makes some people tick.

But if I’ve had a great week and your house sparkles, do you know what that means to me? It just means we’ve BOTH got this … in our own ways … separate from one another yet sharing that awesome feeling of accomplishment. WE GOT THIS!!!