One Year Ago

One year ago, I was gearing up for the holidays, and was dreading every moment being alone.

One year ago, I woke up every morning to my beautiful Gracie, but without my husband.

One year ago, my husband was here.


One year ago, we were having our holidays worlds apart.

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One of the hardest parts of being part of the military is knowing that you will miss out on days together. Days to make traditions. Days to be lazy. Days that are holidays. Days that are just days.

toms holidays

Here is where Tom and 9 other soldiers stayed during on of their missions. He received “holiday” meals a few days after while on guard duty.

Last year I was so apprehensive to go home for the holidays. I didn’t want all the reminders that Tom wasn’t there to share them with us. These were also the few weeks where I had very little to no contact with Tom. Come to find out later, these were the biggest weeks for Tom’s unit because this is when they got their CIB and had some pretty out there missions.

But all I knew were the days of silence.

tom's shots

One year ago, I jumped every time my phone rang, vibrated, or shuddered when I looked at it and saw nothing. One year ago, I was grasping for peace of mind.

One year ago, we both had to make the best of our distance.


Deployments are hard. They are hard for so many obvious reasons.They are hard for reasons I could never begin to explain.

And because of that, I don’t want to take this year granted. I want to make these moments we have been blessed with ones that we will cherish forever.  I have loved being able to experience holidays with Tom. I love the sense of being normal. I love knowing we are both safe. I love having the peace of mind.

I know that there are so many soldiers that are still overseas. Many military families are going to have distance between them this year. I think about this often, and know that this year I am extremely blessed to have my family whole again. My prayers, thoughts, and heart goes out to those who wait for their homecoming.

This company was shared with me recently, and I thought it was pretty neat to think about how far technology has come in the past few decades. It makes deployment a smidge easier to swallow when you can have glimpses of each other through the various means of technology like Dropcam.

This was taken from their website:

Dropcam’s simple live streaming abilities allow soldiers and their families to experience the joy of the holiday season together, even when they’re miles apart.  Military members can tune in and watch the excitement on their children’s faces as they tear open presents on Christmas morning.  Dropcam’s Two-Way Talk feature allows our soldiers to speak directly to their families as they watch the action unfold online right before their eyes. If schedules don’t permit our service members to tune into the live stream, 24-hour Cloud Recording makes it possible for them to relive the moments whenever it’s convenient for them. Dropcams can even be purchased by military members and their families using a special discount at the Apple Store

How cool is that? Looking back, Tom was not able to do much on either Thanksgiving or Christmas because of their mission at the time. Plus the time difference may not have allowed for our holiday contact either. We also only used Skype one time during the whole deployment due to the internet connection and availability. So the chance to have these moments recorded and saved for when it becomes possible for the soldier is really a great idea. Much better than pictures, or trying to mail tape recorders, although those are great too!

Dropcam also has shared some heartwarming holiday homecomings. Grab your tissues and be ready to weep! Obviously, the one that got me the most was the one with the dog. Such a powerful moment, to see your loved one again after so much heartache, unknown, and waiting. Such a relief and a renewed sense of life and focus on what matters. I remember one year ago watching videos like these on Christmas morning so thankful for these families to have their family together, and praying that mine was ok.

It is a gift to have our soldiers home, and one that I am not taking lightly this year!


Proud to Be

My husband has always wanted to be an Army man.


Tom as a kid playing in his Grandpa’s old Army helmet.

I know he had considered going after high school, but he choose to head to Warrensburg to start the normal track of a college freshmen. While I was in grad school, we had talked about the service, but in the end Tom decided to finish college and see where that took him. Once we were in Iowa, his job situation was not panning out as quickly as we had hoped and the thought of the military came up again. We went back and forth making the decision on whether Tom would enlist. It is not an easy decision for anyone to make and we made pro/con lists for months. It is not a decision that we took lightly, especially when we made this decision we had only been married for a hot minute.

But as you can see, Tom has always felt a calling to serving his country. So not even 6 months into our marriage, Tom took an oath to serve our nation.

This was the time for the Army. Every time before there was something else that he was destined to do. If he had joined before now, he would not have finished that degree. If he had gone after high school, we would not have met at Worlds of Fun that fateful summer. If he had gone during grad school, our relationship (eh maybe just me) at the time was not strong enough to endure the stress of the military. This time around, there was nothing holding him back. He was ready; we were ready.

I could not be prouder of the things that Tom has done in the last year and half as an American soldier. He put so many things on hold to fight for the things that he believes in the most.

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He is not one to let others fight his own battle, and he puts in everything he has to fulfill his duty. He would do anything for his unit, which as his wife can be terrifying because I know that he would give his life to save any one of those men.

But that gusto, courage, and confidence are the things that I am proud of. I am married to a great man, a brave man, a sweet man, an Army man.

And yesterday, I got to share him with the elementary school his sister works at. They had a Veteran’s assembly, and Tom was asked to speak since the school knew about him from sponsoring him during his deployment the year before.


If I was proud before, I was in tears proud of watching him be the keynote speaker for those kids. Yes I am that blubbering wife. It also did not help that I was sitting next to the sweetest little old Vietnam vet as well. And they played taps and a hero memorial montage video, I mean really how was I supposed to keep a dry eye?


We were able to see TJ there as well. Tom made him “his guest” to the reception they had for families, which meant he got out of class for about 10 minutes to eat cupcakes. Awesome!


Tom and TJ.

We also got to hang out with our little niece a lot this weekend. And of course the relationship between Tom and Ava is priceless.

uncle and niece

Yes, Tom smashed her face in her cupcake. After a moment of pouty face, she dug into the cupcake like nothing happened.

We had a great weekend back home, and it was great to see the outpouring of support for our Veterans. It was a little crazy to see the reaction to the uniform though. Around here in Clarksville, uniforms are such an everyday thing, so seeing people react back home was interesting to say the least.

Proud wife moments!

Acascuse Me?!?

First of all, if you haven’t watched Pitch Perfect, you need to add it to your life like yesterday. Aca-amazing.

Second of all, this is going to be the post where I pull the Army Wife card. I have pulled back from writing this post when I am highly emotional, and I have debated whether to even write it ever. But I feel that it is a post that needs to be expressed.

Throughout my short career as an Army Spouse, I have been appalled on many occasions at the misunderstandings and perceptions that people in our nation have about the military.

Sometimes I have gotten so angry at an individual’s disdain and rudeness that I think I might throw up. Then I have to remind myself that many people just don’t know.

So let me educate you just a bit from my perspective. These are just a few things and definitely only hit the tip of the iceberg.

1. Men and Women of the military make a choice to defend our freedom and our country’s constitution. They endure months/years of demanding training both mentally and physically to be able to protect the rest of us in our very cushy lives.

2. Ultimately, they do not get to choose the missions they go to or where they are stationed. My husband got out of basic and then not even four months later was sent to Afghanistan. Not exactly how we imagined our second year of marriage.

3. Just because they are trained killers, doesn’t make them crazy and evil. No matter what the news/Capital Hill may say. My husband is one of the most loving, loyal and dedicated people I have ever met. The military is trying to help other nations keep the peace and find the means to better themselves. Our military gets a bad rap because that’s what sells newspapers. Because they wouldn’t want you to know that all over the world, units are supplying food, medical care, education, and just general support to help countries in their time of need.

4. They have the utmost respect for our country’s values. To hear these men and women talk about their pride or watch them when the national anthem is played-it leaves me speechless. Many of them learn how to care and be considerate of others because of what they have been through in the military. I think many people in our nation could take a lesson from what the military teaches about respect.

5. Not all people in the military are homophobes. Stop labeling them as such. That just makes you the judger.

6. Deployment is not vacation, even if they are surrounded by sand. There are no beachy umbrella drinks found here.

  • They can’t call home whenever they want. And when they do, it is not a private call. It may only last 30 seconds, but could last 30 minutes. But you never know when you get that call.
  • They can’t eat whatever they want. At Tom’s station there was one cook for the unit. So you ate when they served. If you happen to have night duty, you ate what family/friends sent you in care packages or MREs because the cook wasn’t on duty. Dietary choice is no longer a luxury. (However, my husband does love those MREs.)
  • My husband’s living situation was a room that is smaller than most walk in closets. This is where all of his gear and cot were. He now lives in a room the size of our bedroom with 7 other men (cots and all their gear).
  • They may not have typical modern toilets and have more of an outhouse situation going on. Can you imagine going in a port-a-potty for 9 months?
  • It isn’t a walk in the park. It’s dirty, temperatures cannot be controlled…most Americans would be miserable in their conditions. (I know I wouldn’t last one day…) But they do it willingly, many signing up for re-enlistment for a shot at another deployment.
  • They may have internet, but the connection isn’t as nice as they make it out to be on TV. Tom and I were only recently able to skype and even now the video is about 3 minutes behind on the audio which can make things weird while you are talking. Some places have it capable in their room and some don’t. Some have to wait in line to only have a few minutes online. And there are some people out there that believe that since they have internet that their deployments must be a breeze and not so horrible for the internet and Facebook must mean 1st world living.  Seriously?
  • They are away from their loved ones and miss out on holidays, birthdays, big milestones, and just every day life. This has got to be one of the biggest sacrifices of all.
  • I could keep going, but I won’t. Just know that they are making substantial sacrifices and don’t act like it is nothing just because you may not agree with why they are over there.

7. There are a lot of good things that come out of a military career as well. To name a few:

  • You have a paying job and benefits, which in this economy is a blessing.
  • Education can be paid for. Yay no debts!
  • You get to see and experience the world. I know I have really enjoyed the unique knick knacks that have been sent home from other cultures.
  • There is support for not just you, but your entire family. This includes benefits, housing, education, lifestyle, counseling, etc.
  • Great sense of accomplishment and pride. Not everyone can do what they do.

I am not trying to say that being in the military makes you better than those that aren’t. We each have our own thing, and Lord knows that not everyone would flourish in a military lifestyle. What I am saying is that our country needs to take a little more time understanding what the military endures to protect us.

This week I had to deal with a financial situation where we were being charged for something that we had thought we had taken care of. Since it was Tom’s card, the customer service rep said I was not an authorized user. Even after explaining the situation, giving them all the card information, and letting them know I had power of attorney, they still denied me the right to take care of it. And they just kept saying, “Well you can take this into a branch to speak with someone in person.” The closest branch for this organization was 163 miles away. Then they said that since I was not authorized to do so my deployed husband could just call and take care of the dispute. They said this even after I explained to them repeatedly that he was deployed.

Oh no girl, you didn’t. Them is fighting words.

This situation made me furious. It takes me a lot to get heated, but this just kind of pushed me over the edge. So naturally I started crying to the rep and blubbering “He is deployed” over and over again. I was totally trying to pull the Army Wife card, and it just wasn’t working! He can’t just call willy nilly, he is half-way across the globe! I can’t just make him appear to fix this issue. Believe me, if I had that power, I’d be on that. (FYI, they still did nothing to help me that day. Tom ended up having to call when he could to take care of it, which was uber frustrating for both of us.)

It is situations like that that just make me sad and angry. There are so many misconceptions around the military, so please seek first to understand their situations. Even if you don’t agree with their purpose, they have a unique story to tell and has a right to be heard. They make sacrifices that even I don’t always understand. I have to check myself sometimes too, so I know it is not an easy pill to swallow.

These sacrifices are made so that we can live as a free nation. Our history is based on acts that service members have diligently fought and died for so we could get to where we are. Take a moment to honor that, I mean you are on the internet and all. 🙂

Maybe if we all knew what was at risk, we would be more appreciative of what we have.

I know after this experience I am.

One thing I know is that the military is a proud group who is willing to fight for the country and you. But I will ask you, who is fighting for them?

So with that little nugget to munch on, I will move on to my craft.

Every year I take some time to make a blanket for my honors fraternity, Phi Sigma Pi. We have an auction every spring as a fundraiser, and my contribution, even after graduating 5 years ago, is mailing in a homemade crocheted blanket. So each year, I come up with some new design and pull out yarn that are some shade of yellow and purple. It’s like my yearly challenge to come up with something better than the year before. Sometimes, I surprise myself with my creativeness and skill; other times I am just hoping someone will bid at least $5.

This year was a good year.

I tried a new stitch-the treble crochet.

My pattern was:

1. 3 single white on each end

2. purple 1 treble, 1 single, 1 treble, 1 single, 1 treble

3. 2 single white

4. repeat step two with yellow.

5. repeat step 3.

6. repeat step 2-5 until hit desired size.

I really like the effect of the treble.


And here is the full effect with Grace hogging the limelight as well.





In Remembrance.

It seems like today we are surrounded by death. With media, we hear about different deaths every day. It is on many TV shows, some of them my favorites. It seems that they are all trying to find a new spin on the murder mystery storyline. I will admit some of my favorite shows are Castle, Law and Order SVU and Pysch, which have a death in pretty much every episode as entertainment. I think at times we forget the seriousness that comes with such finality.
This month especially I have been reminded at every corner about the mortality that we all face. The 11 year anniversary of September 11th came and reminded us all of so many who gave their lives willingly and unwillingly. Such a tragic event reminds us that we are not untouchable.
Then there are the daily conversations that people have around me about the possibility that my husband may not come back. Yes this happens on a regular basis, and it is not the most comforting thing to face. I know that most people are trying to be comforting and become uneasy and the awkwardness just pops out. But it becomes exhausting hearing “I feel so sorry for you,” and “How do you do it?” or seeing “The you poor thing” face. I think about Tom and the danger he is in every day enough on my own without the help of these conversations. And, again, I know people do not mean to put this pressure on and are wanting to show care and concern.
Hint: Ask me how Tom is doing just like you would if he worked here in the States. Yes he is making a huge sacrifice, and yes it is dangerous, but we are trying to live as normal as possible. So say thank you for the service if you want to mention the topic of the Army, and then ask normal questions and treat us like normal people. You don’t have to walk on egg shells around us. We made this choice to do this adventure so you don’t have to be uncomfortable and act like we need saving. We’ll let you know if something happens, then the saving can occur. And I will need lots of saving if something were to happen. Otherwise, I can just tell you how his first mission was attacking a bee hive. Hard at work I tell you.
These things were all just reminders about death, but then I had to deal with real life ending stories when both of my grandparents passed away recently. My grandma passed after a stroke in July, and my grandpa gave into his fight with cancer earlier this month. I have been very fortunate to have all 6 of my grandparents up to this point, so lucky.
I have had people I know pass away in my life-time, but never anyone that I was super close to and depended on. So the concept of death being real is something very new to me. I did not have my first real experience with death until I was in grad school when one of my staff members, Sam Rankin, passed away from a disease she was struck with suddenly. She and I were extremely close after her time on staff. She became like a little sister to me, and I was devastated to learn of her passing at such a young age. Sudden events like this make you think how you can change your own life to make the best of the time you have on this earth. Sam is my inspiration in a lot that I do at work to always be mindful of helping students have an meaningful time while they are at college. You can always do more. She had a wonderful zest for life and was always positive, and I hope that I can live up to her spirit.
As for my grandparents, I still am trying to process their passing. It’s hard to believe they aren’t just a phone call away when I need advice. Or that when I head south they wont be there to go to a buffet for dinner. They lived in South Carolina my whole life so they weren’t always here in person. But they were grandparents who made you feel loved and special with the time that you did have with them and never forgotten when we were apart. They always made it a point to call whenever we did have big things going on in our lives, and did come to things when they were able.
They lived right outside of Clemson where I went to grad school. Having a different relationship with them was one big reason that I went to school down south. I wanted to know how they were on day to day. During those two years, I was able to get to know them differently and learn so much more from them. They were the most compassionate and generous people that I know. They opened their door to so many people even when they had nothing. And the love that they had for each other is something that we all should aspire to. So to remember them I thought I would tell some of my favorite memories or tidbits of their lives.
1. Anytime we went out to eat we always asked for a to-go box even if there was only 2 bites of mashed potatoes left. Grandma wasted nothing.
2. We called him “Grandpa Christmas” because he sounded like Santa over the phone and always came to visit at Christmas when we were a kid.
3. While I was in grad school, whenever I came over Grandma would have piles of newspaper clippings to help me solve an issue for a problem that I had had a month ago and had probably forgotten about.
4. Grandpa giving me transparencies of his lectures to help with my counseling classes.
5. Seeing my grandma play the piano and my grandpa sing along. They had a way with music.
6. Watching their faces when I told them I was doing an internship at SWU, their beloved school my Grandpa had worked at for years.
7. My grandpa’s sense of humor and his impeccable timing for his wise cracks.
8. Grandma giving you a back rub every time that you got a hug from her.
9. They always spoke so highly of the family and showed true dedication and love to us. And you could see the pride and joy they had for us when they talked about any of us.
10. Grandma fixing my soon to be dead flowers I had in Clemson and teaching me a thing or two about gardening.
11. When I went to visit them we always went to Ryan’s, and when they drove into Clemson we always went to Western Sizzler. Guaranteed.
12. When I broke my butt, they came and cleaned my apartment so I wouldn’t have to worry about it while I hobbled around.
13. Both of them had infectious laughs that shook their whole bodies, and is making me giggle right now to think about them.
14. The fact that I come by being a packrat honestly. When I came for the funeral I realized that the kitchen window was actually a door. They just had junk piled in front of it for years that I never had seen it open or that it had a door knob.
15. I don’t really remember this, but my parents say Grandma had a knack for potty training, and was able to train my brother and I on weekend visits. I wish she had spilled that secret before she went.
16. Taking us to the zoo when we were kids.
17. Grandma being terrified of bars. Her reactions/stories about “bar folk” were priceless. I am pretty sure she thought anyone who drank in a bar wore all leather and was in a vicious biker gang.
18. Whenever I had a break-up, I could expect a letter from Grandma soon after telling me about a story of her love life and how things will get better.
19. Grandpa asking me how we got Grace and if the same shelter would give him a dog to help Grandma through the stroke. (FYI: Grandma did not like dogs.) Adorable.
20. Not one of my fondest memories, but a good life lesson. They always had a way of putting me in my place when I was being selfish. It wasn’t that they would point it out, but they truly lived by example and taught me so much in the way they lead their life that it reminded me what was really important. They never meant to make me feel guilty, and I don’t think that they even knew that I did. But their life and their actions were constantly showing me that this world is bigger than myself.
21. They taught me to always serve others and always show kindness.
22. Their dedication to the Lord. Their faith was unlike any other. They had bible study every morning and every night with each other. When they were in hospice before Grandma passed, Grandpa insisted that we took his tithe to church for him. We told him that he had given enough and that he did not have to worry about it that week. He then proceeded to give us a lecture on the importance and wrote out the check for us to take. Always giving to the Lord, even in their last moments.
22. Lastly their marriage will always be something that I look upon with fondness. I have a memory of them doing dishes in the kitchen, and they are singing and being playful with each other. Just precious. They were so sweet to each other and would give and give. Their love was unwavering. They grew together over the last several decades, and were always there for each other. This is something that will always stick with me as Tom and I begin our marriage. One year strong!
They were wonderful people. Seeing the hundreds of people who came to their services shows they are going to be truly missed by so many people. Words cannot even begin to express what influences they had on people. They gave all they had in everything they did and everyone they met. And it showed in their celebration services. The best that we can do now is to take what we learned from them and continue living our lives the best that we know how.
Some days it is hard to accept death, others it may never even be on our radar. In thinking about Sam and my grandparents’ deaths, I am reminded to never forget that each moment is precious. It is a moment where we can be an example and show compassion to others. It is a moment to love life and be thankful for the gifts that we were given. We should be thankful for the moments that we have and just live.
And so with that, today I am thankful for a weekend of rest and the chance to make things!
Now the holiday season is upon us (sort of), so that means that some of my creations will be for “Homemade Christmas.” I have gone back and forth about whether I should post these on here or not, and I have decided that we are all grown-ups, and it’s the thought that counts not the surprise on Christmas day. And this way you can share in the story. Or maybe I don’t want to wait until after Christmas to talk about all these goodies and post all the pictures. You decide.
I have wanted to do a Chevron thing for a while, and this weekend I tried. Here is my story of how it went.
To do chevron patterns, it takes a lot of time and patience.
First I measured out and marked the squares on the canvas.

Caution, when you are making the lines, try to be as light as possible. I had a hard time erasing some of the pencil marks at the end.

Then you can use tape to start marking off the stripes. I used painter’s tape, but I would suggest something else like Frog tape or masking tape. My paint bled through-not living up to it’s name.

You will do diagonal lines in each square alternating directions as you go across the canvas.

This takes FOREVER. You have to cut the tape as you go to make the precise lines. I think doing the markings took me about an hour alone. So if others have suggestion on how to make this a quicker process, feel free to chime in. I was not able to make it quick.

I wanted to make one for me and one for my mom, but I got sick of the tediousness by the second canvas that I just made up a design by making a whole bunch of diagonals with the tape. And I actually like the funkyness a little more.

Then comes painting.

I let it dry over night before I took off the tape. Like I said some of the paint bled underneath the tape. Bummer.

While I was waiting for this to dry, I took on the second part of the project. I wanted to personalize each one with our last names. So I had to spray paint wood letters.

I wish I could have found a little bigger blocks, but the next biggest size were about the size of my hand and would not all fit on the canvas I had already bought. Sometimes you just have to go with what you can find.

Once everything was dry, I hot-glued the letters on the canvases. And here is the final project.

I still don’t know how I feel about either of them, but here they are. I am hoping its like when you get your hair cut. At first you hate it, but then it starts to grow on you.

Mom, act surprised. I hope you like it!

Where am I?

I know it has been awhile, but welcome to August and the first weeks on a college campus. I have not really had time to make crafts let alone write about them. I do apologize up front for the length, but I have a lot to say today.

These past few weeks, I have been submerged even farther into military life. Sometimes it is hard understanding that world when I am here in Iowa around no one in the service. But, over Labor Day, I was well educated on various factors of military living.

Tom was scheduled to deploy the first week of September, so I took vacation for a week to spend some much needed quality time with him, but also to learn how to navigate a base. Once you pass the highly decorated fences and ledges of Gate 4, a whole new world emerges. At first being on base is really intimidating. There are people with guns all around; helicopters and tanks are just hanging out as decoration. I mean, we are trained our whole lives to think that when we see people in military uniforms or tanks, there must be trouble. So my first thought is don’t take my hands of the steering wheel, drive the speed limit, and try not to attract any attention. So needless to say, I am freaking myself out as I am trying to take in the first few yards of my “new home”. Then I see a Bank of America, then the Craft building (Yes, calming down but then freaking out in excitement), then a Burger King, wait there are stop signs and street signs? What is this place?

The farther away that you get from any gate, the more normal and even tranquil base is. (Ok, well except the training areas and places that they store all the mobile units-then you remember it’s a base.) It is a city inside very secure and very pretty walls. Since Tom worked a few hours every day while we were there, Grace and I had a little bit of time every morning to explore our neighborhood, of which there are hundreds.

After reflecting on everything, and obviously feeling much more comfortable, I thought, this place is like Pleasantville– the movie with Tobey McGuire and Reese Witherspoon where they go to the idyllic town through a TV. Everything on the surface seems so perfect; people always friendly, everything you need is right there. If you have seen the movie, I need you to know that I am not comparing military bases to the rest of the plot of that movie, just the opening scenes of the freakishly friendly small town atmosphere.

I tried explaining this to Tom, and he argued at first saying, well we all have guns so it’s nothing like it. Then I took him on a walk with me, and he then understood. Everyone you meet says hi and wants to have a conversation. Doors wide open and kids playing in the street with no supervision (Coming from a big city, this just blew my mind.) Perfectly tailored lawns-mostly because the Army hires someone to do it. I mean everything just seems perfect. There are playgrounds around every corner in the neighborhoods. And they all have swings so they are obviously the best play grounds! And to top things off, at the top of our street there is a gas station (Shoppette) that, wait for it, sells ICEES! I mean what could be more perfect? I really don’t know how it could get better than a Cherry ICEE machine being within walking distance of my house.

All week, I felt like I was in a trance. It was very odd but awesome at the same time. Then having my first PX and Shoppette experiences rocked my world with the prices. Being a penny pincher, I am pretty sure my jaw never left the floor while we were shopping for basic necessities. The Army really tries to take care of you.

And did I mention there is a CRAFT building? Yes, that’s right, just play into my blog. They have classes for pottery and stained class and provide materials for projects for a small fee. They don’t have everything that a Hobby Lobby would, but it is a great work space for bigger projects such as furniture building that most families on base don’t necessarily have. What a wonderful world.

So what I am saying, is that if I didn’t want to, I would never have to leave the tall guarded gates of Ft. Campbell. They have anything and everything I would ever need. (Even a vet for Grace.) It was very comforting becoming more familiar with things.

And my family made me feel like I was really “in” when they called because they had gotten lost on base. “Oh yes, welcome to Pleasantville-ugh I mean Ft. Campbell. I will lead the way.” Don’t worry fam, I, too, was once nervous about my presence on the base, I remember the white knuckles. But it becomes old habit after a few times in and out of the gates to whip out that ID and flash a smile to the MPs. Oh and it made it more enjoyable when you have a dog in the back who apparently is not fond of MPs and decides this is when she will find her voice. (Grace, who never usually does more than a whimper, growled or barked at the MPs every time we went through the gates. Hilarious.)

My experience on base was great. I feel good about the impending move, and seeing our place really calmed a lot of fears. We are so well taken care of by the Army.

It was also nice to meet other soldiers, and a little scary. And by scary I mean, imagine lots of people like Tom. Crazy huh? One of his besties, I swear they came out of the womb together. They talk alike and even have similar contingency plans for when the zombies attack. (You think I am kidding, but we seriously have had a conversation about how to get a pulley system into our 2 story apartment so we can get food in without getting attacked. You learn to just go with it and enjoy the imagination, ugh I mean preparedness.) Anyway, it was comforting to finally meet people that he will be with on his deployment as well as those that will be close at home.

I also was able to meet significant others, which is also nice to hear my own thoughts being said from others. We had a nice BBQ at Tom’s buddy’s where we sat around a bon-fire and chatted away. Actually meeting these women gave me a little more confidence in what we are doing for our men and some solace that I am not alone in this experience. Although we didn’t get to know each other well, I truly enjoyed being able to meet all these people. Also another effect of Pleasantville: Base Edition, I gave Martin THREE hugs over the course of the week. Anyone who knows me, understands I don’t do physical touching. So yes, I was entranced by the military giddyness of wanting to be friends with everyone I encounter. Meeting these people really deepens the experience and makes it more real. Sometimes I feel like this is all a dream and Tom will be here next to me when I wake up.

Well that will not happen for another 9 months now. Tom officially left for deployment last week, and he is slowly making his way to his base overseas. There were a lot of emotions throughout the week. I freaked out with dread one night, the next I was beaming with pride. I kind of ran the gamete of emotions last week to be honest. I like being in control, and this is not easy for me to just go with the flow. There were parts of me that wanted to pack myself and Grace into his giant extra duffel bag because I was so scared I would never see him again. Then I would snap back into reality thinking, “1 out of 250,000 is killed. And that won’t be Tom.” Then I would think “what if he is that one?” This back and forth was my life last week. Exhausted. Then an overwhelming calm came over me once I accepted that he was gone.

The comfort though is that Tom and I have been able to talk pretty regularly through Facebook since he left. It’s not the best, but we have become experts in long distance communication. Well at least for us, we are. We understand what each other needs and when we need to be the strong one even if we aren’t there in person to do it. Yea, we are pretty awesome. Feel free to be jealous.

This was tested even more so today when I found out that after years of battling cancer and just watching his wife die a couple months ago, my grandpa passed away. You think that you can stay on top, but then you crest that hill and roller coaster plummets. It is moments like these that are the absolute hardest to be away from your “forever person.” Yea it is hard not having him here for the every day things, but when your world is shook to the core, you look for some stability. And for me that has been my relationship with Tom. He has always been able to ground me and be a rock for me. And I don’t write this to gain sympathy. My grandpa lived a full and wonderful life, and I was able to spend a lot of time with my grandparents while in grad school since they lived 20 minutes away. I was able to say goodbye without regrets and let them know how much they meant to me. And I also don’t regret supporting Tom with his dream to be in the Army. The distance is just a part of this experience that we have to accept. I tell my story about these challenges so that you don’t take your “forever person” for granted. Don’t waste the time you are lucky to have with them and find ways to still support each other when you are apart. Love so hard that they can still feel it when you aren’t around. These are lessons I have both from my Grandparents and Tom. I can always trust in that love to motivate me through.

As I mentioned, hugs give me the hebeegeebees, but I would give anything for Tom to be here to give me one now. It’s that safety net to make you feel better in any situation. Having him gone makes it hard to recover from the bad or to rejoice the good things. And yea, I have family and friends that I can lean on and share my stories with, which I have been so thankful for during this journey. Their continued support and love do help tremendously, but it is not Tom. It is simple as that. Sometimes I just want to call him up and say “I had this great conversation with a student, and I feel awesome. Love you, bye.” He lets me dork out about my work and celebrates with me. His comments of support lift me up in ways that aren’t describable. Who doesn’t love a good Jerry McGuire quote? “You {Tom} completes me.” So right now it is like I’m trying to figure out the puzzle without the edge pieces there. He knows me inside and out, and unfortunately someone else cannot take that place. Go figure-Tom is one of a kind. You have to just keep trucking on and again have faith in the love. And so I become really skilled at distracting myself and finding ways to channel that energy else where and save our news for a later day.

Hence the crafting distraction.

I have been wanting to do this particular item for a long time. Unfortunately, I was in such a hurry to work on this craft since my creative drought over the last month, I did not take before and after pictures.

Here are the steps of this craft.

1. Supplies: cookie sheet, spray paint, puffy paint, scrabble letters, magnets, glue gun, command strips. The flowers were given to me by my sister in law, so felt if you want to make those.

2. Spray paint the cookie sheet. This took a lot of coats to get it to the desired color. And be careful if you do spray paint. If you spray to much at one time, it will drip to the center. Also let it dry between each coat. I was not patient at first and tried layering on the paint which led to messiness, which led to me slowing down and adding a lot more coats.

3. I added the puff paint as an added pop.

4. I hot glued the flowers to the top for some more flare. I have been holding on to these for months trying to find the perfect project for them, and I really like how it turned out.

5. I put command strip hooks on the back to hang them up.

6. I put magnets on the back of each letter. You can buy magnet strip tape which may be cheaper than discs. I will probably have to go back and hot glue the magnets to the letter because the stickyness isn’t as great from the magnet tape.

7. Hang it up and make words.



I hope you enjoyed my stories for today and hopefully my staff will enjoy this craft at the front desk!

Another friendly reminder:  Love unforgettably.